Bengaluru gives travellers compelling reasons to fall in love with it: sprawling bookshops, ghee roast dosas, parks in the heart of the city, the century-old, red-brick State Central Library. But residents often forget their own city’s charms.
So this April, artist Shikha Nambiar decided to illustrate 100 of her favourite things about the city in her Instagram project, #100DaysOfBangalore. The result is a colourful, virtual sketchbook of places and experiences that capture the essence of the city she has called home for the last five years. “I started the project in April to simply discover neighbourhoods beyond my own. But the further I went beyond my comfort zone, the closer I felt to this city,” says Nambiar.
Her posts are as delightful for travellers as they are for long-time Bengaluru residents. Some, like her doodle of Toit, a popular microbrewery in Indiranagar, are accompanied by recommendations: Have the Tintin Toit beer, she says, and visit during the day to see the light seeping through its tiled, sloping roof. Others, like her illustrations of the tailors of Commercial Street, put the spotlight on a part of the city that tourists often skip. “Some tailors will even show you patterns to choose from on their iPads,” Nambiar writes.
Nambiar loves food, and Bengaluru’s street food often finds its way into her sketches. Among her more popular illustrations are ones of ThindiBeedi, a street food market in VV Puram where “vendors pour ghee directly from packets onto the tavas,” she writes. And the Benne Masala Dosa in the Central Tiffin Room in Malleswaram, slathered with butter sourced from a village 100 km away. “The project made me look at the city with fresh eyes. Some neighbourhoods are all about the new and trendy, but it was heart-warming to see how many old haunts have stayed the same,” says Nambiar.
She has completed 99 illustrations for the project, and plans to compile all 100 in a book along with illustrated maps of the city. These are some of her favourite Bengaluru experiences:
It might take 40 minutes to score a seat at this eatery, which lies in a small temple compound and seats only 20 people at a time. But Nambiar says the wait is worth it. “Every morning, it serves only four, lip-smacking items—idli, rice, kali dosa, and a small dosa called Half Masala Dosa. All dishes are served with chutney and sagu.”
The gallery has some great exhibitions but it’s the majestic, gnarled banyan tree in its compound that Nambiar loves. “It is my secret nook, and I can sit there for hours.”
Shikha Nambiar goes by the name chicabeingme on Instagram.
Kareena Gianani is the former Commissioning Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She loves stumbling upon hole-in-the-wall bookshops, old towns and collecting owl souvenirs in all shapes and sizes.