Saturday, July 30, 2005

City sightseeing? Take a walk

City sightseeing? Take a walk
Deccan Herald

Bangalore Walks, a new initiative modelled on the lines of London Walks, is set to begin next weekend. Arun Pai, the brainchild behind it, shares his ideas with Metrolife.

Accident or design? A concatenation of circumstances along with geographical location is what made Bangalore what it is today. Yes, Bangalore is considered to be the pub city but is that all there is to do here, as most tourists think?

Banish those complaints about nothing to do in Bangalore, which is a rich melting pot of diverse cultures, and get set to learn a slice of its history through Arun Pai’s Bangalore Walks.

“A colonial legacy, the thirst for learning is what makes most Indians students living on shoestring budgets and young working professionals opt for the famous London Walks for less than five dollars. My one year stint in London got me interested in them and when I returned, it got me thinking on starting something similar here, considering Bangalore’s eventful past.

“Being a student of IIT and armed with an MBA and also having been a successful venture capitalist, my friends think I’m crazy. This calls for a lot of work and there are bound to be clones in a while but I’m extremely passionate about my City,” he laughs.

In its introductory stage, the ‘Victorian Bangalore (1820s to 1900s) walk’ takes off from one end of MG Road at the beautiful Trinity Church with its breathtakingly stunning stained glass paintings, and covers the stretch of MG Road till the Cauvery Emporium junction where you turn into Brigade Road before branching into Rest House Road and eventually getting back to MG Road. You get to linger at beautiful buildings with different architectural influences nestled inside little lanes or behind huge walls that you normally overlook, not stopping to wonder about its past. “I take pictures of these buildings and sometimes ask people to recognise them. Nine out of 10 people say Rome or Vienna,” he says.

Little known jewels of wisdom on a range of subjects from where Churchill stayed in Bangalore, to the City’s influence in his formative years and the like that Arun reveals are lapped up eagerly. These in turn initiate discussions on a plethora of other topics, making the two-plus-hour walk encyclopedic with each individual contributing unique perspectives on the different facets of Bangalore.

“I have taken the help of historians to put together an extremely simple and easy-to-read map of the City created by well-known caricature artist Paul Fernandes, and will also provide participants with facts and authentic anecdotes,” he explains.

A peek into the City’s rich history and heritage, taking you back almost 200 years is what most people relish on these walks. You are almost transported back into the Victorian era and it is easy to imagine the clippety-clop of horse driven carriages, women in stiff gowns with parasols and garden parties being held on massive front lawns.

Being a Bangalorean by birth, I was quite taken aback and almost ashamed at my ignorance.What you learn on the walk is fascinating and will leave you thirsting for more. One another walk- End of Empire that covers the period between 1900 and 1956- takes up where Victorian Bangalore leaves off. It starts at the beginning of MG Road and ends at Vidhana Soudha. In the pipeline is also a pub crawl but not what people have in mind.

“I have no interest in getting people sloshed, it will be more to do with the history of the liquor business in Bangalore. I will also include pubs visited by famous personalities,” he confides. The other walks include Brunton Road, Primrose Road, Museum Road, Crescent Road, St Patrick’s Church area. They are, as his catchline goes, truly ‘History, culture and discovery’. For details and registration for the walk call 98455-23660 or visit


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