The capital city of India is a glorious concoction of the old and the new. Temples that are centuries old, archaic Muslim quarters, and modern residencies, all exist alongside each other. Home to over a crore people, Delhi is a treasure trove of historic gems, gardens, museums and a thriving food culture. Travel to the metropolis for the vibrant bazaars of Chandni Chowk that give way to Lutyens’ New Delhi, which is the historic heart of the city. For an insight into the legacy of the Mughal era, go to the 16th century Humayun’s Tomb, the towering sandstone mosque of Jama Masjid, and experience the sound and light show at Red Fort. Tourists can spend mornings at the extravagant Akshardham Temple and evenings at the Hazrat Nizam-ud-din Dargah (shrine) that boasts of sufi music and delicious kebabs. Another popular attraction of Delhi are its pulsating markets that sell everything from baubles to handicrafts, sell everything you can possibly think of. Those who have travelled to Delhi for its particular brand of food, will have a lot on their plates. From hole-in-the-wall eateries and local student cafes in North Delhi to lavish restaurants and bars in South Delhi, there is no dish or cuisine you won’t find here. A huge incentive for travellers is the variety of public transport, wherein the Delhi Metro is the cheapest and easiest way to get around the city.
India’s second largest city, Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, is home to a few hundred captivating contrasts and creeds. Mumbai is bursting with frenetic bazaars, shaded avenues thronged by commuters and roads brimming with traffic. The dynamic Maharashtrian metropolis is also a powerhouse of India’s business and trade sectors. But regardless, the city’s ethos lies in its biggest railway station - Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, in people-watching and eating bhelpuri by the iconic arch of the Gateway of India and in the exquisite Taj Mahal Palace, that holds a decade worth of stories about both Bombay and Mumbai. A few other places to visit in Mumbai are Nariman Point - a legion of office blocks in the heart of the city and the Prince of Wales Museum for its eclectic architecture. Watching the sunset with a plate of vada pav at Marine Drive and experiencing the vibrant festival of Ganesh Chaturthi at Juhu Beach are few of the best things to do in Mumbai. One must also travel to Mumbai to be dazzled by the country’s biggest, and most prolific film and media industry, wherein if you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a Bollywood star or two.
If you live in a hot part of the country, Bangalore's good weather will immediately put you into a good mood. While the centre of the city has remained as it was during the British Raj, the area encircling it is on a constant boom with a vibrant student culture, popular pubs and a major electronic and industrial lifestyle. As a tourist, you can go see the Bangalore Castle. Modelled on the lines of the Windsor Castle, the one on Bangalore is a great example of the Tudor architectural style. It has beautiful gardens and the wooden carvings. The glass house at Lal Bagh and its botanical garden is a good place to relax while taking a walk. Cubbon park is one of the primary reasons why Bangalore was formerly nicknamed as the Garden City. The picturesque greenery in the middle of the city is stupefying. You can visit the Peninsular Gneiss to witness the oldest granite formations and also the look at the city from an elevated land. For a perfect end to the day, grab a beer at Toit or Peco’s. Follow it up with a grand meal at Koshy’s or Ebony, or the hundreds of other quirky restaurants in the city.
Located off the coast of Bay of Bengal is Tamil Nadu’s capital and India’s fourth largest city. Formerly known as Madras, the metropolis is the main transportation hub for southern India. Travel to Chennai for the unique exhibit of architecture from the British Raj, peaceful pilgrimage sites and a delectable South Indian cuisine. Tourists can start their day with a walk by the beautiful Marina Beach, teeming with fishermen and their boats, and makeshift bazaars fringing the shore. Among the other places to visit in Chennai, start with the characterful neighbourhood of Mylapore that houses the vibrant Kapaleeshwarar Temple. Then head to Rajaji Salai’s Fort in St George that once was home to the British East India Company. The Government Museum inside the imposing Pantheon complex of the colonial era is a popular attraction. The state museum is decked with bronze antiques dating back to the 7th century Pallava era. Surfing along the Covelong beach and walking through the bustling bazaars of George Town are a few of the most common things to do in Chennai. Also, don’t leave here without getting yourself an authentic South Indian thali from the illustrious Saravana Bhavan.
Rajasthan’s opulent capital is a magical land brimming with desert camps and lakeside palaces. Sitting on the edge of the Thar desert and surrounded by the Aravali hills, the Pink City boasts of hilltop forts, bustling bazaars and the best pyaaz kachoris you’ll ever taste. Among the places to visit in Jaipur, the grandiose pink sandstone Palace of Winds, or Hawa Mahal, towering over the hustling streetscapes and the majestic City Palace are the ones attracting the most tourists. The 18th century old astronomical observatory of Jantar Mantar in Jaipur is a UNESCO world heritage site and a major tourist attraction. Perched proudly on the top of a hill is Amber Fort, dating back to the 16th century. The red sandstone structure houses palaces, temples, gardens and a lake inside its premises. One of the most favoured things to do in Jaipur is to walk through the lively Bapu Bazaar, and come out with bags stocked with bandhani-printed sarees, lac bangles, meenakari trinkets and blue pottery. And while you’re at it, shop for some string puppets or kathputlis that make for some excellent souvenirs. Galtaji temple, also called the Monkey Temple, is another must visit. If your eyes just can't get enough, visit Amber Fort, which has its own 600-year-old story to narrate, through its spectacular light and sound shows, cultural performances and folk music. Rajasthani tailored clothes, jewellery and handicrafts are a huge hit as souvenirs, for their exquisite mirror work, embroidery, leather and splashes of colour. Some famous places this illustrious workmanship can be bought from are Rajasthali, Anokhi, Johari bazaar and Sireh Deori Bazaar, but remember to bargain. Central Museum and Albert Hall museum are great places to learn about Rajasthan's rich history and culture and also to buy handicrafts. The Jaipur Literature Festival, the world's largest free literature festival, is dear to almost every bibliophile around the globe. Here, enjoy literature and music, amidst the likes of William Dalrymple, Stephen Fry and many other renowned writers and personalities. The 5-day festival is hosted in Diggi Palace, which gives people around the world an insight into Rajasthan's captivating cultural heritage. For those interested in pampering their palates with the flavourful Rajasthani cuisine against the backdrop of a picturesque village should visit Chokhni Dani. For a regal experience, a stay at the Suvarna Mahal is a must visit.
Kolkata, or Calcutta (also Cal), is a kaleidoscopic melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. There's quite possibly no Indian festival that the city doesn't celebrate with glorious hoopla. Each month sees small festive marquees popping up at every corner of the street and come October, throngs of women enwrapped in silk sarees and red bindis convene around the city, undeterred by the ever-present rains. This celebration alone is reason enough to travel to Kolkata. From the glut of vibrant attractions, the city also holds a rich vehicular heritage ranging from the big yellow taxi that floods both parts of the city (Calcutta and Howrah) divided by the reticent river Hoogly, to the hand-pulled rickshaws and rickety trams meandering the roads. Tourists will hardly ever run out of things to do in Kolkata. Starting from Kumartuli, a traditional potters’ quarter, famed for its sculpted idols of gods and demons, to the architectural spectacle, that is the Howrah Bridge, Kolkata city will engulf you with its sights, sounds and scents. Calcutta’s biggest, most prismatic wholesale flower market on Mullick Ghat, Victoria Memorial, the old Chinatown Tiretta Bazaar, the magnificent Nakhoda Masjid and Jorasankho (Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral home) are few of the most picturesque places to visit in Kolkata.
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