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Cubbon Park is Bangalore's equivalent of Central Park: a place of relaxation, open space and some worthwhile attractions. In and around the park are the State Central Library, two municipal museums, an art gallery and the Government Aquarium (which is actually best avoided). The intensely red Attara Kacheri, which houses the regional high court, is unmistakable and eminently photographable. The State Archaeological Museum is one of the oldest in India, has artefacts dating back 5,000 years, and is well worth a visit to gain some historical context to this relentlessly modern city. The handsome and photogenic Seshadri Memorial Library is another distinctly red building on the fringes of the park. At the northern edge of Cubbon Park is the imposing Vidhana Soudha, home to the State Legislature and Secretariat. The massive sandalwood doors to the Cabinet are a notable feature of this handsome colonial structure, built in a neo-Dravidian style; the construction work was done by over 5,000 prisoners - who, fascinatingly enough, were set free once the building was finished, in 1956. First and foremost, however, the park is a green lung, a peaceful and pretty place to take a break from the traffic and noise of this bustling city. It is a great area for walkers and joggers - particularly early in the morning and in the evenings. If you are travelling with kids in Bangalore then Cubbon Park has many lovely picnic spots and open space to let off some steam; there is also boating on the lake and a toy train that runs around the park. Note that there is a busy road running through the area so it is not completely devoid of traffic.
This splendid botanical garden, laid out by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan as a private royal garden in 1760, contains over 1,000 species of rare flora in its enormous grounds. Lal Bagh is an internationally renowned centre for the scientific study and conservation of plants, and also a centre of botanical artwork. The name Lal Bagh means 'red garden', in tribute to its celebrated red roses. The centrepiece of Lal Bagh is the Glass House, which hosts an annual flower show and is modelled after London's Crystal Palace. Apart from the many old and imposing trees which delight visitors, the gardens also house a deer park, an aquarium, a lake and one of the city's four Kempe Gowda Towers. The gardens are large and very beautiful with a great variety of scenery, many well-maintained paths to explore, and lots of shady nooks and lawns for picnics and relaxation. There are four entrance gates to the botanical garden and it is very popular with locals and visitors alike. None of the features are really stand-alone attractions but the gardens are a refreshing green lung in a crowded city, and a lovely place to take a morning stroll or jog and enjoy the peace.
The small, relaxed town of Hampi - located in the state of Karnataka, about 220 miles (350km) from Bengaluru, and about the same distance from Panaji (in the neighbouring state of Goa) - not only boasts one of the weirdest, most awe-inspiring landscapes in the whole of India, but is also a fascinating historical site. The capital of the once-great Vijayanagar Empire, the ruins of the 14th century village and temple complex found in present-day Hampi have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, as impressive as these ruins are (especially the multi-tiered, ornately-sculpted Virupaksha Temple), the grandstand attraction of Hampi remains its natural landscape. A severe, desolate and boulder-strewn wilderness, tempered by a slate-grey river surrounded by lush groves of banana, mango and palm trees, you will frequently find yourself at a loss for words to describe it properly. Hampi might be slightly off the beaten track, but it is a manageable excursion from Bangalore and will deeply reward all those who seek out its thoroughly singular charms. Hampi is a must for rock-climbers and is considered the bouldering capital of India, which is not surprising considering its rocky landscape.