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Living Abroad with Children in Bangalore, India

Both children are a constant source of fascination to the locals in India.
Both children are a constant source of fascination to the locals.

The city of Bengaluru (or Bangalore as it is still more commonly known) in the South of India is home to proportionately more expatriates than any other place in India. The range of professional and voluntary opportunities and the temperate climate attract expats.

While I have traveled a reasonable amount previously, this stay abroad related to my husband’s job has been quite a different experience. This time, I have two children, aged one and three. I want my children to engage culturally and emotionally with India. Finding numerous safe and engaging activities has helped to make our time in India a fascinating and enriching experience for the entire family.

My three-year-old on her father's back in a sling while he enjoys chai at a market in Bangalore.
My three-year-old on her father's back in a sling while he enjoys chai.

Settling into Bangalore

Bengaluru is a fantastic place to start if a child has never been to India. The “garden city” is rapidly developing and expanding. While it may not be as leafy as it once was, it provides the expatriate a view into both faces of India. On the one hand, India is in the midst of a technological and developmental boom. On the other hand, India maintains traditional bustling markets, vibrant colors, and street-side chai wallahs. The city sits at 3,000 feet, so while it can still get sweltering, neither the heat nor the monsoon rain is as intense as in many other Indian cities.

My elder daughter was nearly three when we arrived. I was keen to find her a preschool so she could integrate with other children and have the stimulation of a new environment. Preschools are ubiquitous in Bengaluru — you will not have to look long to find them. A good idea is to visit several in your area (they can be found on the web using search engines and Ask Laila), look around, and ask questions about the school. It took some time for my daughter to feel settled. Wanting to blend in was not easy for her as she was the only non-Indian child. As a result, she found herself the center of attention. However, she now loves school and looks forward to going each day.

Getting Around in Bangalore

One factor anyone must understand before embarking on any of the activities described below is time: traffic is a big problem in Bengaluru. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to your destinations. Avoid trying to do too much with your children, or you will end up disappointed and frustrated. Sundays are a good day to travel further afield in the city or the environs, as traffic is just a third of what it is the rest of the week. When traveling around for anything other than short journeys, taxis are preferable to auto-rickshaws, which are noisy, unpleasant, and pollute.

My three-year-old is in the back of an auto-rickshaw.
My three-year-old is in the back of an auto-rickshaw.

Activities in Bangalore

Wherever you go with children, they will attract attention. While this can be intimidating for some children (as it certainly was for my sensitive 3-year-old), it should be explained gently to them that people are just curious and want to be friendly. Routine is not as strictly defined as it is in the West, and wherever you go, day or night, you will come across many children out and about with their families.

Visiting temples: Temples are everywhere. They are an incredible eye-opener for a child in India. Temples are very child-friendly, as many Indian families spend time together.

Visiting markets: Bright, colorful, and teeming with life, there are numerous markets around the city where you may take your children. Be careful of your possessions, of course. For babies, slings are a good idea. Aim to stay for a short while and leave longer-term browsing for a time when you can visit without children. Markets can become very tiring, especially for younger children. Russell Market is a friendly, colorful market selling a plethora of fruit and vegetables.

A vegetable vendor at Russell Market in Bangalore.
A vegetable vendor at Russell Market in Bangalore.

Play parks: There are parks all over the city with variable quality and safety standards. While several malls have play areas (e.g., Forum Mall & Oasis), a far more interesting experience is finding a good park that presents opportunities for your children to get to know local kids. Our favorite is the Defence Colony Children’s Park in Indirangar.

Bookshops: They are essential to Indian culture, and you are never far from one. Bookshops nearly always have seats so you can sit and read. Many larger bookshops have well-stocked children’s book sections and weekend storytelling and craft activities.

Monkey Maze: This is a soft play area for children up to eight years of age, complete with slides, balls, a climbing area, and many books, games, and toys. This play space is not culturally distinct from what you might find in other countries. Yet, it sits on the rooftop of a building in a quiet, leafy street. It is another excellent opportunity for your child to interact with local kids. There is also a mother and tots activity time and activities such as kids’ yoga and Bollywood dancing.

Swimming. There are many pools in and around Bangalore. Your best bet is to go to a hotel and spend a few hours there. Our favorite peaceful pool is the Jayamahal Palace in a green, sprawling garden. The staff here is unusually amicable.

Hippocampus This is an excellent children’s library, which we were delighted to discover as we found good children’s books generally hard to come by. In addition to occasional story-related activities, the library also houses many games for children of all ages, providing a good afternoon out.

Outside Bangalore

Georgia Sunshine Village: As in any city, sometimes the noise, traffic, and pollution can get to you and provoke a desire for open spaces and immersion in nature. A wonderful city escape is Georgia Sunshine Village, nestled in the lush countryside on the road to Mysore. Only a few hours’ drive away, it is worth hiring a taxi to take you there and collect you. The area is fantastic to go with children: not only is it teeming with wildlife, but the bungalow accommodation is comfortable, and there is an area for games and a swimming pool. Short guided morning walks take you through the surrounding fields and villages — an excellent opportunity for your child to experience the Karnatakan countryside.

Bannerghatta National Park: About one and a half hours from Bangalore is the Bannerghatta National Park. Here, you will find a zoo, a butterfly park, and 25,000 acres of protected parkland. Take walking boots if you are feeling adventurous. The zoo includes numerous animals, ranging from tigers to reptiles to various birds.

For More Info on Bangalore

Ask Laila Bangalore: is a very busy portal site with a lot of info about events in the city, and some gems can be found with patience.

Taxis: There are dozens of taxi firms around the city. Call at least 45 minutes ahead. They are also happy to wait for you.

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