Riding high on colour

Get on a colourful ride on Bangalore’s many decorated buses in this photo feature.

Once upon a time, buses were…boring.

Not boring only because one had to wait endlessly for them, but also because the buses were uniformly coloured and so dull. All that has changed now, and I would like to share with you some of the rainbow bursts that ply through the city’s roads, some sporting pictures of nubile maidens and some messages laden with deep significance. I decided to take a ride on a couple of these buses just to talk to the conductors and the drivers.

In some instances, the driver had been assigned recently to the bus, and was not even aware of what was written on the outside of the bus; but several drivers have been driving the same bus regularly, and are proud of their vehicle, and the pictures or messages they carry. Chennabasava, who drives the ‘Love and Love Only’ bus below, says that he is very happy about Aishwarya Rai’s picture being on his bus. ‘Nodakke chennagaithe’, he said, beaming from ear to ear.

It is the owners of the fleet who decide how the buses will be decorated, he said, but often, the driver and conductor have a say in it, too. "We like to think of words or pictures that we feel will attract customers," says Aziz Ali, as he expertly turns the steering wheel to take advantage of a break in the traffic. Do passengers really bother about the words outside the bus? "Yes," says Krishna, a conductor. "Our passengers are often illiterate; the patterns on the bus tell them that it’s the one they have to take." Good substitute for route numbers!

Having been struck by these messages and patterns, I took some snapshots over several days:

Let me start with the one I like best…at first there was Queens, a suburb of New York, and then the TV serial, "King of Queens", as a pun, and this bus guy thought he could cap THAT with this lovely, romantic title!

King of all Queens

King of All Queens (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

Here are a few more.. the Chevrolet, or rather, Chevorlet, bus!

Chevorlet bus

Chevorlet bus (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

Does the SST on this bus stand for "Super Sonic Transport", ( not Super Sonic, as in, a very fast bus…that is an impossibility in Bangalore traffic…but Super Sonic, as in, it makes a Super Amount of Noise)?

Colorful Super Sonic Transport (SST) bus

Colorful Super Sonic Transport (SST) bus (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

Love and Love Only, proclaims the back of this bus, next to the picture of the PYT… Aishwarya Rai.

"Love and love only" message on Blue bus (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

This bus doesn’t have messages, but the marbled effect is fantastic!

Sri Vinayaka's multicolor bus

Sri Vinayaka’s multicolor bus (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

This bus is a Golden "Charriot"…they don’t spare the hues!

Golden chariot bus

Golden chariot bus (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

There are messages like Aero Lite which will, hopefully, make you think that you will have a light-as-air ride in the bus…

Aero Lite bus

Aero Lite bus (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

Some have shades of colour as in this bus which announces, Kannadada Kanda…notice the same PYT Rai with a reflection/echo!

Shades of color announcing Kannadada Kanda

Shades of color announcing Kannadada Kanda (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

Here’s a bus which requests you not to disturb it!

Colorful bus

Colorful bus with "Dont Disturb" message (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

Sometimes delusions of grandeur seem to rule:

Emperor bus

Emperor bus (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

But at other times, a simple, confident message is sent out:

Born to Lead bus

Born to Lead bus (Pic: Deepa Mohan)

Notice that every bus will definitely have someone riding on the steps….! I have two pictures (the King of All Queens and this one) where the doorway is visible…and there the youths are, quite literally, hanging in there. I do love looking out for these Bangalore buses.


  1. Poornima Dasharathi says:

    Very Colourful & Imaginative, I must say! These drivers must have been inspired by Pakistani truck art. I had first seen truck paintings in Palin’s Book on Himalayas. Here’s another link
    http://www.pakistanphotos.co.uk/ .

    Good Observation & great writing Deepa.

  2. Anjana Vivek says:

    Good and colourful visual treat; would love to see more such photo articles capturing the variety and spirit of the city

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