Trek in the middle of the city?

When I created this blog, I wanted it to be a repository of all the public places where we go for trek or a nature ramble, if you will, which is family friendly. By family friendly, I mean that kids as young as 3 can tag along and enjoy nature. This I hoped will be useful for other parents like me looking for a good and close by places for kids to run free and explore and not having to pay exorbitant money to go to some resort for an artificial nature outing. So, we had 2 really nice treks, both close to Bangalore which certainly came under the definition I had. Then I added the birding places in Chennai city on a whim as I enjoyed that day very much with my 7 yr old daughter, Nithila. On a similar vein it will be remiss of me if I don't mention the best place for a good nature walk right in the middle of Bangalore which I enjoy at least once a week! Yes, I am talking about Lalbagh. It is certainly over crowded these days and losing some of its charm but I feel it still is the biggest jewel in the Garden City crown.

Lalbagh has plenty of things to offer to everyone from a casual walker, jogger, photographer, nature lover to just being a place for a simple family picnic. We can combine it all and look at it as a nature trail and experience it that way. The park has 4 gates. The east gate from double road is the largest entrance and has plenty of parking. It is close to the stone mountain which has a small temple structure. All other gates have limited parking mostly roadside. The west gate is towards Basavanagudi and is next to the lake. The north gate has the welcoming arch and can be entered from the circle near MTR.

Possible Trek options:

Lake Trail: There is a mostly muddy track all around the lake. It is about 1.5 km in length. There are lots of water birds, like Egrets, Herons, Pelicans, Swamphens, Coots, Waterhens, Lapwings, Cormorants etc., to spot in the lake when taking this trail. At the start there is a tree covered strip where we can find scrub birds also like Parakeets, Mynahs, Orioles, Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers etc., Dont forget to pay attention for bird life in the swamp from the bridge. Purple Swamphens are a certainty here. If you are lucky there will be a Purple Heron and/or a Grey Heron also.
All around the park: The track going all around the park is about 3.5km. From the west gate turn right to go along the lake. Cover half the lake and turn right after the bridge to skirt the stone mountain, go along right of some expansive lawns, then find the East Gate entrance and go along the compound wall to get back to the west gate. Near the stone mountain you can take a break and do some scrambling there or check out the Glass house. There is a floral clock also near the East gate which is worth finding. The lawn is also a good place to picnic and play some frisbee or soccer if its not too crowded.

Random walks: It is also fine to walk around randomly and find other good spots. There is a large Rose Garden, Band stand with lawns all around, Japanese garden and interesting trees all over the place.

If you do plan to go, keep plenty of time and enjoy what lalbagh has to offer in a leisurely manner. They charge about 10rs per adult and 5 per child from 9am to 6pm. Entrance is free early morning before 8.30am. As always, do not thrown any trash other than in a proper litter bin. Don't play loud music and shout/scream which not only spoils the ambiance but defeats the purpose of the park as a horticulture and nature showcase.

Location: Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Jayanagar, Bangalore
To get there: Use the map at the above link or ask any pedestrian for directions or if going by auto or taxi, just mention the place.
Facilities: Near the stone mountain or glass house there are shops which sell ice-cream and junk food. Lots of roadside vendors ( no idea how they get in.. bribe? ) sell mango, corn, etc. Best to pack a healthy picnic. There are public paid restrooms (Nirmals) at the West Gate and the North gate.

Other informational links:
Karnataka Horticulture website
Website for Lalbagh only

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