I wrote this for an online competition on 100 new ways to see Bangalore, (http://thealternative.in/travel/100-new-ways-to-see-bangalore-contest/).
I moved to Bangalore two months ago and was filled with trepidation on whether I would like the city, love the city or dislike it intensely. The commute and traffic did nothing to help my settling in, but the subtle unseen charm of Bangalore crept up behind me, over me and I have to admit that I am captivated.
A friend and I have decided to explore the city, its nooks and corners every spare weekend. On our first trip, a few weeks ago, we spent a Sunday at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), a green and white delight, and one of the nicest places I have ever been to.
The gallery is housed in the erstwhile Manikavelu Mansion, a breathtaking piece of architecture which was at one point owned by the King of Mysore. The new gallery has been thoughtfully juxtaposed with the old, resulting in a sensitive campus. The white buildings of the campus, are set a midst many old trees, and they even have a map that helps you identify the type of each tree in the campus.
We started our visit with a quiet lunch in the cafe, under the shade a giant Rain Tree. The food is good and very pocket friendly. The ambiance is perfect to spend the day with a good book, and countless cups of coffee. Post lunch we walked around the sculpture garden soaking in the green, the art, and playing guessing games on what some sculptures meant. Modern art can sometimes be very elusive.
A 10 rupees entrance ticket gets you into the well maintained galleries, which are again white with high ceilings. The exhibition on at that time was commemorating the World Heritage Day, and there was a showcase of brilliant photographs that had documented the influence of French architecture in India. Apart from the usual suspects such as Pondicherry, there were pictures of a small town, Chandernagore, 30 Km from Calcutta which were so breathtaking, that I have begun saving up money for my ticket.
The galleries seamlessly flow into each other, and friendly staff directed us through a courtyard and up the stairs to their permanent collection. The collection of modern art dates from the 60’s to the 80’s, but there is nothing more recent.
We ended the day at the gift shop, which surprisingly had souvenirs. My biggest grouse with Indian tourism is the lack of postcards, mugs, fridge magnets and shot glasses. Although under stocked, the gift shop had mugs, prints and post cards, and a glimmer of hope.
In my short stay here, this is a favourite, a great place to spend a quiet day, in the company of ancient trees, art and questionable art.