May 19, 2008


During my days at Simon Fraser University, it was known for being a commuter campus. With a solitary location upon a mountain peak and a limited amount of on-campus housing available, students would make the trek to the campus just for their classes and immediately head home afterwards. In the same way, Bangalore is a commuter city with car, motorcycle, rickshaw, and bus loads of individuals being carted to and from work, followed by a mass exodus on weekends (in particular long ones) to the cities or towns that each calls home in Karnataka or the adjoining states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa. Most of these locations are within a 6 to 18 hour bus ride away from Bangalore.

On Friday evenings, a great many of these people will converge at the Majestic bus stand, which is conveniently located across the street from the Bangalore Central Railway Station. The whole area in fact bears the label "Majestic" for some unknown reason. Local lore says the name comes from the name of a nearby movie theatre, but this has not been verified. It is a well planned station with plenty of signage indicating where to wait for which bus. Amenities such as restaurants, cloak room, bathroom facilities, drinking water, phone booths, information counter, convenience store, and hair dresser are all available.

Officially named the Kempe Gowda Bus Station, the sprawling complex provides the hordes of travelers with many types of buses upon which to place themselves within or on top. Some buses have air conditioning (A/C), some have 1/2 A/C, some have windows that open, some do not have windows, some have A/C that is currently malfunctioning, and some make no mention whatsoever of A/C. Some buses accept advanced bookings, some sell tickets to passengers once they are aboard, and some sell the same seat twice using both methods. Most of the buses are operated by the state government sponsored KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation), and have "Majestic" names such as Airavat ("Elephant" - the carrier of the gods), Rajahamsa ("Royal Swan"), and Mayuri ("Peacock").

For longer rides, travelers may opt for sleeper buses where they can lie down and relax throughout the night. There are solo bunks available on most buses, but not always. Sleeper buses are not recommended for solo travelers who may have concerns about their mystery bedmate for the night. Once the sex of the traveler is verified by the operator of the bus, he or she is assigned a bed buddy of the same gender, which increases the likelihood of an unpleasant, though never unremarkable, journey.