How we lamented our dear boulevard on M.G. Road being razed to ground by the menacing Metro. It’s back and happily wears many more colours
Where does the heart of a city lie? In its art — a representation of the aesthetics of a time. In its culture — a formulation of the behaviours, beliefs and institutions of an era. In its relationships — the bonds we forge, the way we behave with other people, the way a society works.
The newly re-modelled M.G. Road Boulevard is all about celebrating the city’s heart and personality. The walkway may be only around 550 metres long but a walk down it is a dizzying medley of vivid shades, vibrant colours and intriguing sights that leave you hungering for more. Aptly named the Rangoli Art Centre, the stretch extends from the Anil Kumble Circle to the Metro station and is divided into various sections which include the Vismaya, Chaya and Belaku art galleries, 14 Nagara Pete (market) stalls, Rangasthala (an auditorium), Chilipili (children’s play area), Bayalu (open space) and Hoovina Haadi (upper walkway).
Both the levels abound in greenery — lush green grass grows dense fed by recycled water, colourful strands of Bougainville straddle the dark green grated borders, arches covered with plants pepper the upper walkway (under which young romancing couples and narcissist young men click highly filmy ishtyle photographs).
But though a walk down the upper walkway with the wind in your hair watching the world drive down M.G. Road is a great way to unwind after a hard day’s work and enjoy Bangalore’s famously good weather, most of the action is happening a few feet below.
A pottery maker slaps clay on his wheel and coaxes it into a long-necked graceful vessel while a weaver plaits together bamboo, creating little baskets. You can try a hand out at both, free of charge. Or perhaps you can play a game of snakes and ladders on a large board painted across the kids’ corner. Or simply sit on one of rustic benches, watching the fountains spurt water and change colour as the light below them does.
Enter the intriguing world of numbers at Number Nagar. Buy handloom at one of the handloom stalls or simply gaze at ancient photos of Bangalore’s transition, showcased at the Chaya Art Gallery. Notice the sculptures, paintings and artefacts that line the walkway. Tie a coloured band to mark your friendship.
And if you visit on a Sunday, don’t forget to visit the bazaar. Nibble organic Mysorepak made with jaggery and ragi. Buy a plastic bottle filled with mud, with a hole cut out for a plant to grow. Slide wooden bangles down your arms and hear the dull wood clank as they jostle with each other. Watch toy-makers at the Channapatna stall paint their timeless offerings. Virtuously quaff a health mix or some herbal juice or some buttermilk. The options are endless.
A confluence of art, culture, entertainment, food or curios — you can find all that and more at the M.G. Road Boulevard. But most of all, it induces in you a sense of peace and tranquillity and you can’t help going back for more of it.