If you've been in India awhile, the capital of Karnataka will probably feel like a long, soothing break from endless commotion. The first city in India to get electricity, Bengaluru continues to blaze the trail in terms of the country's quest for a modern identity. Once known as the Garden City, the country's most pristine city evolved significantly when the high-tech revolution arrived and Bengaluru suddenly found itself at the center of the nation's massive computer hardware and software industries, earning it new sobriquets such as Pensioner's Paradise, and Silicon City. Its cosmopolitan spirit, fueled as much by its lively bar and cafe culture as by the influx of international businesspeople, gives India's high-tech hub a high-energy buzz, yet it's tangibly calmer and cleaner than most other places in the country, with far and away the best climate of any Indian city -- no doubt one of the reasons the majority of upwardly mobile Indians rank it the number-one city in which to live.

Unless you go in for cafe society or are keen to see India's new moneyed elite flash their bling and wads of cash, you won't find very many attractions in Bengaluru -- perhaps a relief in a country that is so saturated with historic must-sees. An excellent option to the standard sightseeing would be to opt for a walking tour. The city's real appeal is its zesty contemporary Indian lifestyle and its usefulness as a base for getting to the extraordinary temples and ruins of the Deccan interior and the cities of Hyderabad and Mysore.