The Cubbon Park Experience

The famous Cubbon Park is one of the most favoured haunts of several citizens of Bangalore- whether they are humans or dogs. A brisk run or a leisurely walk in the park in the early hours of the morning is bound to leave you feeling refreshed and in high spirits for the rest of the day or maybe even longer; those of you who visit the place often will know exactly what I’m talking about here.

Photo by Duffy Brook on Unsplash

If you’ve been in Bangalore for a while now, I’m quite sure you would have made it to Cubbon at least a few times (I refuse to accept the possibility that you haven’t). If you are new to the city, however, and are wondering where to start exploring, pick a weekend and drop by Cubbon Park in the morning- I guarantee you will instantly fall in love with both the park itself and with Bangalore for being home to such a beautiful space.

So first, a quick lesson on the place and its history. Established as long ago as 1870, the park is located in the central administrative area of the city and has several entrances to it (such as from Kasturba Road, Corporation Circle etc.). It was originally intended to be a 100-acre park in the middle of the city but has expanded to become much bigger over the years- a refreshing piece of information in a city that has become infamous for rapidly losing its green cover. Fun fact- it was originally called Meade’s Park before becoming Cubbon Park, and also officially acquired the name of Sri Chamarajendra Park in 1927 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the Wodeyar rule in Mysore.

The park is lush with all kinds of greenery- according to official reports, it houses over 96 plant species. Cubbon Park is also the address of several important governmental and non-governmental offices. Some of these include the High Court, the Museum building, the Central Library and the Press Club. As you walk around the park, you will also stumble upon several statues, some of the colonial ones dating back to the early 20th century.

The park is closed off to vehicles on Sunday mornings so that people can exercise or walk their dogs without the obstacles of traffic and noise- as a runner, this is why I prefer going on Sunday mornings. Moreover, the park is just buzzing with energy on the weekend mornings because of the sheer number of activities happening. Being there to witness it all and to soak in this energy along with the Sunday morning sunlight is a feeling that I’m finding rather difficult to express in words. I would definitely advise you to get out of bed and visit Cubbon on a Sunday morning, especially if it is going to be your first time there.

Cubbon Park
Cubbon Park

Weekends also see the park hosting several events- fitness related and otherwise too. There are at least a few marathons happening at the park every Sunday morning; these could be running, walking or cycling marathons. A quick look around social media is sure to let you in on the upcoming ones. These marathons are often corporate affairs, used as a promotional strategy by businesses, but you also find several activist groups running for social or environmental causes- see if you can find something that you would like to support and join the gang. Other fitness events that I’ve seen happening in the park include zumba, aerobics and so on. More often than not, you can register for these events on the spot as you walk in on them.

Even if you aren’t that much into fitness and exercise, Cubbon Park has several other kinds of activities to offer you; there are often photography walks, portrait painting workshops, city exploration walks as well as classical dance and music performances happening at the park on Sunday mornings- it’s a really good thing the park is big enough to let all these things happen simultaneously without obstructing each other!

Dog Park

At the end of the day however, the one major thing that actually draws me to the place is the dog park. Every Sunday, people from all over the city bring their dogs to Cubbon Park, where they have a designated, closed off space to run free and wild, and play with other dogs and humans. Even if you don’t have a dog, you can still go into this enclosure and play with all the lively, affectionate dogs there. The park is truly a dog lover’s heaven!

Another exciting thing about weekend mornings at Cubbon are all the fresh produce and food. Steamed and grilled corn are favourites among the crowds, as are the fresh mango and grape juice bottles that you will find being sold at several spots inside the park- they’re perfect for after your long and tiring run! There are several stalls including HOPCOMS that sell fresh fruit and vegetable produce and the crowds are usually quite dense around these locations. Several health food companies also set up counters to give you samples of their products—the taste of a ragi (finger millet) malt drink that I had from one of these counters after a run some weeks ago still lingers in the back of my mind! And if you aren’t particularly inclined towards any of these, there are some restaurants near Cubbon Park that are big crowd favourites for South Indian breakfast- my picks are Airlines Hotel and MTR.

People go to Cubbon Park for several reasons, and however different these motives may be, the fact is that there is something for everyone at Cubbon Park. Whether you want in on the energy and vibrancy of the place as you practise for that upcoming marathon, or you want to play with dogs of every size and breed imaginable, or you just want to spend some time alone, walking under trees that are several decades old and breathing the refreshingly clean air, Cubbon Park is sure to fulfil your wishes. Get yourself there and see what you find.

Let us know what you like about Cubbon Park in the comments below.

Out and About on a Sunday Morning in Bangalore

By Nirupama Rajan

Come Sunday, and the first thing most of us look forward to is a late rouse. Wake up the early afternoon with a hangover that threatens to stay forever, make an omelette and call it brunch, and spend the rest of the day parked in front of the TV catching the Sunday afternoon blockbuster that you would never otherwise deign to watch voluntarily. And yet, while you are bang in the middle of your most interesting dreams at 7 or 8 in the morning, there is an entire city outside your door, painted in colors that you’ve never seen it in before.

Yes, sleeping late is an art that must not be dismissed. But perhaps once every now and then, you could let that alarm clock ring on one more day of the week so you can have the chance to witness this city in a completely different light, quite literally.

Here are some things that I like to do on Sunday mornings in Bangalore; perhaps with time, you may come up with a different list of your own?

On wheels at dawn

Before anything further on the subject, I will say this: be careful, wear a helmet and if you’re cycling make sure you’re carrying sufficient fluids. That said, riding the streets of Bangalore and its outskirts early in the morning is probably my top pick from this list. Our city is quite infamous for its traffic jams, but riding early in the morning, you wouldn’t think it’s the same roads that trap you for hours in the later periods of the day. Even the air feels refreshingly cleaner and clearer at this time. In fact, I’ve long since come to the conclusion that early morning riding is far more pleasurable than night rides. The sights keep changing every few minutes- first the early morning tea stalls open, then you’ll see hawkers slowly amble about with their baskets of flowers that can overwhelm you with their morning fragrance, then the cleaning of thresholds and streets is underway while vegetable sellers steer their carts through the dense residential areas and so on. If you’re lucky, you might even find yourself riding along a lake as the sun rises and believe me, you’ll come back for that experience.

Many people also enjoy the ride to Nandi Hills for the sunrise view and the highway breakfasts, so you could try that as well, although the hilltop tends to get quite crowded on weekends.

cycling wheels bangalore

Park yourself at Cubbon

This one is a crowd favourite. In fact, Cubbon Park is one of the few places that you’ll find packed on Sunday mornings regardless of how early you are. While Sunday may be a day off from exercise for many, several others get to don their running shoes only on the weekends and what better place to sweat it out than Cubbon? While there, make sure you visit the dog park; it is only active on Sundays and is a star attraction, with good reason! You could also buy fresh produce and juices from the HOPCOMS stalls or simply get lost wandering under the ancient trees inside the park. Cubbon Park is also often the location for several events on Sunday mornings ranging from yoga to photography and you could sign up for one of these through Facebook or other platforms.

Of course being the garden city, you can’t ignore the other parks (like Lal Bagh, for instance) that have their fair claim to fame, but Cubbon Park is by far, my favourite.

cubbon park

Go meet some birds

Whether you like identifying, photographing or simply watching birds, Bangalore is surprisingly home to several avian species despite the increasing crowds and concrete of recent years. Go on over to any of the many lakes in the city- some favourites are Jakkasandra lake, Puttenahalli lake, Madiwala lake etc. Quite a few lakes have actually been restored recently by active citizens and you have them to thank for being able to enjoy a peaceful morning by the now cleaner water. Look for bird-watching groups on Facebook; they usually hold events on Sunday mornings and you could sign up for one of these, especially if you want someone to show you the ropes.

Idly-dosa and some legends

Vidyarthi Bhavan Menu

Vidyarthi Bhavan, MTR, Veena Stores… the list can go on for a while yet. You’ve probably heard these names being dropped even outside Bangalore and it is probably because these age-old South Indian eateries actually live up to their reputation. Most of them, such as Vidyarthi Bhavan, Veena Stores, and CTR are located in older, more quaint localities such as Malleshwaram and Basavanagudi (on a side note, did you know that these two places were R.K Narayan’s favourites in the city, thus giving him the idea for Malgudi?) while MTR, for instance, has several modern-looking outlets across the city for those unable to find room in their original restaurant at Lal Bagh. So go enjoy a hearty meal of masala dosa and vada at any or all of these eateries- they have been the haunts of several legends in the past!

Or maybe you prefer pancakes?

Bangalore is as cosmopolitan as a city gets and it has something for everyone, whether it is activities and events or breakfast choices. So if you’re in the mood for a fancy morning meal and scrambled egg-toast at home just won’t cut it, fret not for there are more than a few restaurants willing to whip up their fluffiest pancakes and omelettes for you with your choice of toppings. While the list seems to be growing every day, my picks would be The Hole in the Wall Café, A Hole Lotta Love Café and DYU Art Café (the hot chocolate here is a must). If you get out a little later in the morning, there are some great brunch options like Bangalore Brew Works and Three Dots and a Dash.

Walk through history and heritage

You might have traveled to Hampi, Gokarna, Badami or any of the numerous historical sites in Karnataka. But what do you know of the history and heritage of your own city? If you enjoy walking and good stories, then exploring the older neighborhoods of the city would be the best way for you to spend your Sunday mornings. Even better, there are several organizations including Bengaluru by Foot, Bangalore Walks, and INTACH that conduct these weekend walks, covering some of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods and historical sites such as Bangalore Fort, Basavangudi etc. Rumour has it they even stop to sample some fantastic local cuisine en route!

bangalore fort

Feed the bookworm in you

What better way to let the bright morning slowly morph into the lazy haze of noon than with a well-loved book in your hand? Bangalore is home to some very iconic bookstores as I’m sure most of you would know. My top choices would be Blossom Book House (I prefer the old one, although the new building is also definitely worth visiting) and Goobe’s Book Republic; you’re very likely to lose track of time wandering the musty aisles of these stores with books of every age towering over you on either side. The staff is very friendly and you might even find yourself a rare novel at a bargain price in these well-stocked stores.

If you don’t want to buy books per se, you could also drop by Atta Galatta in Koramangala and settle down with a book from their reading library over a steaming cup of lemon tea.

books

Contribute to your city and the world beyond

If you’re looking for something productive to do on the weekend, then this is probably it. Several good Samaritans get out of bed on weekend mornings to spread awareness of how we can make our world a better place to live in and you can join the effort by attending seminars and workshops or participating in their events. Aikyam Community for Sustainable Living, for instance, conducts discussions titled ‘Earth Friendly Choices’ where you can learn much about the environment and ways to restore it from experts and activists in the field. Some others like Kaulige Foods and HappyHealthyMe conduct workshops on healthy and sustainable cooking choices. My Dream Garden regularly conducts organic terrace gardening workshops and almost every weekend sees a clean-up operation under the banner of The Ugly Indian, so these are good options too.

So what are you waiting for? Get out of bed and gift yourself all these experiences and several more that are waiting out there for you to come discover them!