A Green Guide To Bengaluru, India, With Manisha Vinod Of The Circus Canteen

Manisha Vinod, co-founder of high-flying Bengaluru community hub The Circus Canteen, takes us on an insider’s tour of the Karnataka capital’s blossoming green spaces, farmers’ markets, restaurants and drinking dens

Bengaluru , the mighty capital of India's Karnataka state, has attracted a fresh breed of eco-conscious travellers of late, in part, thanks to the arrival of its community-first restaurant The Circus Canteen. A dynamic farm-to-fork set-up crafted from reclaimed materials, the venue hosts monthly farmers' markets, art and wellbeing festivals, pop-ups, craft and gardening workshops and a range of immersive exhibitions, making it a creative hub for locals and tourists alike.

Manisha Vinod, co-founder of the hangout, reflects on the process of building the space from salvaged materials. "There was a commercial building being refurbished at the time, so we took everything we could to save the materials from going to landfill," she says. "We reached out to the wider community, asking locals to donate any broken household goods or unwanted furniture." Be it rainwater gutters repurposed as planters or air-conditioning units reimagined as art installations, each design detail has its own story to tell.

Entrance, BCC
The Circus Canteen, Interiors

A look inside The Circus Canteen

In 2022, The Circus Canteen won the "sustainable interior of the year" category at the Dezeen Awards - a triumph that Vinod describes as a matter of pride for the community at large. The Circus Canteen has created employment opportunities, provided education for young people and continues to be a pioneer in bringing greener and cleaner choices to Bengaluru. Read on for Vinod's picks for a top weekend in Bengaluru.

Where to eat, drink, stay and play in Bengaluru with local Manisha Vinod

What's Bengaluru's vibe?

Bengalauru is experimental, free-spirited and honest. It's a fun city with beautiful greenery and perfect weather. Outside of the seemingly never-ending summer months, there are incredible monsoons. The city was purposefully designed so that there are different flowering trees in every month of the year, which explains its "Garden City'' nickname. This month, the tabebuias are in full bloom.

Where should we stay?

Indiranagar is a stunning residential area in the east of the city. As of late, it's bustling with bars, restaurants and cafés in every nook and cranny. It's the ideal green, pedestrian-friendly base.

Bengaluru, India Skyline
Bengaluru, India Streets

Sun-kissed Bengaluru, left, and a bustling street scene

What should we eat for breakfast?

That would most definitely be a crisp, hot dosa [a pancake made from fermented butter, lentils and rice] at the Central Tiffen Room. Otherwise, a benne masala dosa courtesy of Vidyarthi Bhavan. The vadas [fermented pulses formed into cutlets and deep-fried] at Ballal Residency are a must-try, also.

Where would you recommend for a romantic meal?

Manu Chandra's new restaurant Lupa is a great choice. Olive Bar & Kitchen is better suited to those that prefer a calmer, quieter vibe.

Any other food-focused spots to make time for?

Plenty. Start with authentic ramen at Naru Noodle Bar, before enjoying a seafood feast at Karavalli. Then, try Oota Company for a fusion of Gowda and Mangalorean cuisine.

Give us a run-down on the local bar scene.

Bengaluru is often referred to as the "Pub City'', so you're spoilt for choice when it comes to drinking dens. Microbrewery Toit is a neighbourhood favourite; Toast & Tonic is renowned for its gin-based concoctions - the herbalist is a must-try; and Sly Granny delivers when it comes to stellar playlists, vintage interiors and killer cocktails. If it's a night out you're after, Mirage, Raahi and Gawky Goose are solid options.

Bengaluru, night
Bengaluru, city

Nightfall in the city, alongside a contrasting streetscape snap

How should we spend a weekend in the neighbourhood?

Kick-start your Bengaluru adventure with a visit to Ulsoor Lake, then head over to Bengaluru Palace and Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace. Swing by the Malleswaram neighbourhood for streets lined with street art. For lunch, it has to be The Circus Canteen - you can easily spend a solid three hours at its Bangalore Creative Circus, flitting between the art spaces and farms. My order? The chimichurri prawns to start, followed by the Chiang Mai mushroom pepper curry served with Coimbatore red rice. Early evening is a great time to visit Lalbagh Botanical Garden.

Wake up the next day with a walk in Cubbon Park, a green haven in the heart of the city. Grab breakfast at Vidyarthi Bhavan, then explore different pockets of the city on foot with Gully Tours. Refuel at the Barton Centre, where you'll be rewarded with sweeping city views. I'd strongly suggest the Asian dishes at On the Edge. Walk off the food with a wander around the National Gallery of Modern Art. Come sunset, bar-hop between the city's coolest watering holes.

Bengaluru, Market
Baskets, roses

Market scenes and baskets brimming with colourful roses

Any local markets you'd recommend?

Early mornings are best spent at Russell Market - it's brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and meats. Bangalore Creative Circus' Farmers' Market takes place every first Sunday of the month, too. VV Puram Food Street should be on every foodie's hit list.

Tell us a secret spot only locals know about.

Kebab lovers should have Frazer Town firmly on their radar. Eden Park Restaurant is a firm local favourite. If it's a slice of culture you're seeking, a cycle around the waters of Hesaraghatta Lake will satisfy.

Something to bring back as a souvenir?

Bold, bright shirts from Varnam, wooden crafts from Channapatna and, for those with a sweet tooth, a suitcase full of dharwad pedas - a rich, milk-based sweet unique to Karnataka.

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