How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India (2024)

Sitting under the ceiling fans in Koshy’s Restaurant, a fixture in this city since 1952, it felt as though nothing had changed. White-uniformed waiters with silver buttons on their tunics attended to elderly customers in pressed shirts.

Even the items on the menu seemed like artefacts from a different era – cream of vegetable soup, pineapple steak and onions, glazed mutton. They harked back to the years after Indian independence, when Queen Elizabeth and Jawaharlal Nehru visited Koshy’s – at least according to the menu – and Bangalore was a leafy, temperate city of 750,000 people, loved in particular by middle-class retirees.

I first came to Koshy’s in 2006. By then, Bangalore was the centre of an extraordinary economic boom that was transforming India. The city had swollen to six million people, drawn by its expanding IT industry.

I was working on a screenplay – finished, but never produced – set in one of the city’s call centres. It struck me as an extraordinary moment. An old India, sluggish, bureaucratic, poor, conservative, religious, was being modernised at incredible speed.

In 2006 I visited a charity school which educated children from Bangalore’s slums. One classroom was full of the children of snake-charmers – really a form of pest control in India. The snake-charmers were all unemployed because the vast amount of construction in the city had scared the snakes away. Every child in the class wanted to become a software engineer.

I went to inbound call centres where young employees were studying the movies Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary to tune their ears to British accents. They might spend their days in a traditional Hindu home where arranged marriage was the norm, but at night they answered phones under assumed western names, trying to assist callers whose lifestyles were totally alien to them.

The training they got included lessons on British culture. I jotted these words of wisdom down from one of the so-called soft-skilled trainers I met then: “The Brits take a lot of time to open up. They’re very commanding. Once they get irate they can’t calm down. They don’t like Americans, or even if you mention America.”

The gleaming, air-conditioned campuses where the young employees worked seemed like evidence that India was changing irrevocably. Coming back 18 years later, I wondered if I would recognise anything.

How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India (1)

First of all, it’s no longer Bangalore. The old name has been retired – not completely, people still default to it in conversation – but Bengaluru is the official one. It’s now a megalopolis of at least 13 million people. It has a new metro system. And the new airport, opened last year, is an architectural masterpiece. Billed as an airport in a garden, it’s full of living walls, plants and giant hanging baskets.

I had flown in on one of Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural direct flights from Heathrow. These daily flights, which link up with onward routes to San Francisco and beyond, are further evidence of the city’s economic clout.

Arriving at night, driving from the airport on the elevated highway to my hotel, I didn’t see a single autorickshaw. In the distance, there was a row of shiny tower-blocks and a new luxury shopping centre – the Phoenix Mall of Asia – that wouldn’t look out of place in Dubai. We were headed to the Leela Palace Hotel, a five-star Indo-Saracenic behemoth built on the edge of the city.

Although it looks like a palace, the Leela is not in fact much older than Bengaluru’s economic boom. Opened in 2001, it’s vast and opulent, with an army of solicitous staff, a spa, a pool – and even a Tokyo-themed speakeasy in the basem*nt which is said to be the sixth best bar in India. I can’t comment on that, because I was turned away for wearing flip-flops.

How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India (2)

Flip flops, however, were no obstacle to my enjoying a club sandwich and a non-alcoholic co*cktail in the Library Bar – named for its library of rare spirits – under an enormous alabaster light-fitting as big as my car.

It was the Leela Palace Hotel that in 2009 hosted the wedding reception of our current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and his bride Akshata Murthy. I rather wish I’d had my wedding reception at the Leela Palace. Unfortunately, my in-laws didn’t have such deep pockets as Mr Sunak’s.

Ms Murthy is the daughter of NR Narayana Murthy, one of the superstars of Bengaluru’s software boom – a multibillionaire businessman who co-founded the tech company Infosys.

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the software industry on India. In 2021, India earned more from software exports than Saudi Arabia did from exporting oil: $178 billion dollars. Thanks in large part to India’s tech industry, an economy that was for decades regarded as a basket case is now the fifth largest in the world.

How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India (3)

By the time I ventured out of the hotel, I was expecting to find a subcontinental version of Miami: palm-trees and flyovers, maybe even some bold tech-entrepreneurs commuting to work with jet-packs. Imagine my surprise when I was plunged into a very familiar world of dusty streets, honking autorickshaws, women passengers in shalwar kameez, riding side-saddle on overloaded motorcycles, chai sellers and even cows wandering occasionally through the traffic.

But even this familiar-looking India wasn’t quite the same. I was able to use Uber to hail an autorickshaw. A driver called Naveen took me to Khoshy’s for 86 rupees – less than a pound. It felt in some ways a lot like the old India – just better. There was still the thrill of zooming through the streets, but there was no haggling over the price, no worrying about unexpected side-quests to a relative’s curio shop, and no arguing over whether the notes I was paying with were torn or dirty. Naveen’s rickshaw was one of the newest models, powered by compressed natural gas and running much cleaner than the old diesel ones.

How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India (4)

Of course, the huge growth of Bengaluru has brought problems. The traffic is a nightmare. The sleepy charm of the city, the carefully managed greenery that shades the streets, and the municipal water supply are all under strain. But there’s something intoxicating about Bengaluru’s energy and the strange contrasts between the new India and the India that hasn’t changed at all.

On a walking tour of Krishnarajendra Market, I watched a man sitting half-lotus in a cubby-hole painstakingly threading tuberose blossoms onto a string to make garlands. Up the road at the 300 year old Shree Kore Venkataramana Temple, sacred to Vishnu, there was a bare-chested priest performing a holy ritual – and a QR code for electronic donations.

How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India (5)

In a microbrewery called Toit, I watched local tech bros sampling the range of craft ales. Up the road from Khoshy’s, a sign outside the Lit gastropub advised me to “Head inside coz it’s gonna be Lit tonight”. I fell in step behind a young man on a phone who was saying loudly: “We’re going to invest more money in this specific sector and rethink our overall approach”. In Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, an oasis of green first laid out in the 18th century with fountains and a glasshouse, there were courting couples, families and Instagrammers posting content for their followers.

Riding the metro – clean, cheap, fast – I fell into conversation with a young entrepreneur called Clinton Baptist. He owed his unusual surname to a Goan ancestor. He was dressed in the uniform of today’s global citizens: jeans, a plaid shirt, sneakers and back-pack, and he carried a business plan in a roll of paper like a treasure map.

How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India (6)

Like many new arrivals to the city, he’d been drawn there in the hope of finding start-up capital to launch his business and replicating the success of the founders of Infosys. Clinton’s big idea was to use Artificial Intelligence to transform India’s education system. He talked passionately about AI and how we stood at a historic moment, comparable to the birth of the internet or the Industrial Revolution.

He was on his way to a place where he liked to sit and brainstorm. It turned out to be an independent cafe-bookshop, called Champaca, overlooking a garden. The tables were full of young Bangaloreans working on tablets and laptops. Despite opening just before the pandemic, the bookstore’s founder, Radhika Timbadia, had found a devoted clientele and strong demand for her carefully curated selection of novels and non-fiction books.

Champaca would be an ornament to any neighbourhood. It was calm and, as Clinton had promised, conducive to work and brainstorming. Its youthful customers drank kombucha as they read or chatted or put the finishing touches to business proposals.

Champaca was also a reminder that India is a country of the young. Half of its 1.4 billion population is under 30. And whereas in the past ambitious young citizens had to move abroad to chase their dreams, today’s Bengaluru represents a home-grown promised land.


The Leela Palace Hotel Bengaluru (00 91 80 2521 1234; has doubles from £206 per night. Virgin ( flies from London Heathrow to Bengaluru from £499 return.

How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India (2024)


How Bangalore became the Silicon Valley of India? ›

How Bangalore Became IT Hub – The Silicon Valley of India? In the 1970s, the Indian government began investing in Bangalore's IT sector

IT sector
The information technology (I.T.) industry in India comprises information technology services and business process outsourcing. The share of the IT-BPM sector in the GDP of India is 7.4% in FY 2022. The IT and BPM industries' revenue is estimated at US$ 245 billion in FY 2023. › Information_technology_in_India
, attracting foreign giants like Texas Instruments and IBM. By the 1980s, Bangalore's IT industry boomed due to skilled workers, government support, and its strategic location.

How did Bangalore become the Silicon Valley of India? ›

Bangalore is known as the "Silicon Valley of India" because it is the nation's leading software exporter as well as a major semiconductor hub. Several state-owned aerospace and defence organisations are in the city.

Which is the Silicon Valley of India one word answer? ›

Detailed Solution

The Correct Answer is Bangalore. Bangalore is also regarded as the "Silicon Valley of India" (or "IT capital of India").

Why Bangalore is called the silicon Plateau of India? ›

Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India because of its role as the nation's leading information technology (IT) exporter. It is called so due to any number of startups coming up in the city. The city is situated on the Mysore plateau and the area is often referred to as silicon plateau.

Which is the Silicon Valley of India answer? ›

Answer: Bangalore city of Karnataka is known as the Silicon Valley of India.

Why is Bangalore so developed? ›

The city is the favourite destination of foreign investors and MNCs. As per the data of FortuneIndia, Bangalore is the headquarters of 80% of global IT companies, and the city accounts for almost 34% of India's total IT exports. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Wipro, and Accenture have offices set up here.

Why do IT companies prefer Bangalore? ›

This is because of the cheaper manpower they can employ in India as compared to cities such as Berlin or other US cities. Bangalore is very organised and advanced in a lot of ways. Not only the infrastructure but also due to the massive growth and sustainability it has shown to the world.

Why is Bangalore called the information technology capital of India? ›

Bangalore is sometimes referred to as the “Silicon Valley of India” (or “IT capital of India”) because of its role as the nation's leading information technology (IT) exporter. Indian technological organisations ISRO, Infosys, Wipro and HAL are headquartered in the city.

What is the similarity between Silicon Valley and Bengaluru? ›

The similarities which exist in between Banglore and California regarding information technology industry are as such: (a) Mild climate of both the cities is one similarity. (b) Availability of skilled labour. (c) Best means of transport available. (d)Presence of educatiion/ I.T industry in the region.

What is the nickname of Silicon Valley of India? ›

Bengaluru is silicon city of India because, the Silicon Valley of India is a nickname of the Indian city of Bangalore. As Bangalore is on the Mysore Plateau, the area is also sometimes referred to as "Silicon Plateau".

Why was Bangalore changed to Bengaluru? ›

"Benda-Kal-ooru" became "Bengaluru" when the town became a trading hub. Being a major British Indian Army base during colonial times, the name stuck. Bangalore remains a military and security hub, with the Indian Army present.

How appropriate is IT to call Bangalore the Silicon Valley of India? ›

Bengaluru is located on top of the Mysuru Plateau. It emerged as the IT hub in the 1980s and quickly became the leader in IT industry in India. In the United States, Silicon Valley is the major hub for IT companies. Since Bengaluru is the major hub for IT companies, it became known as the Silicon Valley of India.

Why is Bangalore called the space city of India? ›

Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka is called as the Space city of India, as it houses ISRO and other space application centres like URSC & ISTRAC.

Why is Bangalore called Garden city? ›

This is because of Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore, liked the cool climate of Bangalore and so planned a garden that was named as Lalbagh. Apart from this, its greenery was further improved during British rule. This abundance of greenery earned it the nickname, 'Garden City of India'.

Why is Silicon Valley of India famous? ›

Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, is known as the "Silicon Valley of India" due to its thriving IT industry. It is the capital of Karnataka state and is located in the southern part of India. Bengaluru is home to many multinational IT companies, such as Infosys, Wipro, and TCS.

What is India's version of Silicon Valley? ›

Bengaluru, which was a marshy piece of land, became India's Silicon Valley, attracting millions of workers and regional headquarters of some of the world's biggest IT and finance companies.

How did Bangalore become its capital? ›

1984: The Making of an IT Capital

With the announcement of the new computer and software policies in 1984, imports and exports of hardware and software in India were liberalised. This set the foundation for organisations like Wipro and Infosys to set up camp in Bangalore and hire Indian programmers.

Why does Bangalore have so many startups? ›

Access to funding has also played a critical role in Bangalore's start-up growth. There exists an established investor community here with venture capital firms, angel investors, and corporate funds actively investing in promising start-ups - this capital fuelled their expansion.


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