Freshly washed clothes flutter in the wind
Photo Location : Washermen’s Colony along the Mahalakshmi train station

Tony Deemer

It’s no wonder that Mumbai has the ability to jostle, shove and hurry you more than you would like. This is what Rochelle felt on her first trip to the city. But then it can also shed its big city drawbacks and immerse a traveller in its fascinating aura. Rarely dull, Mumbai offers more than just the lure of movies. Rochelle found this out on a walk to a fishermen colony, where bright white clothes swayed in a soft breeze over a jumble of drains, washing units and washing slabs. To her, this is the image of Mumbai she carries with herself – a place with dual identity. One that can have a village like charm and then throw you right in the middle of metropolis buzz.
Dal Lake, Srinagar
The biggest travel hooks on the map of India
When travelling, we often use the bigger cities to jump off to more atmospheric places. That’s fair. Cities all over the world are becoming more homogenous each day; a mall in Singapore is not quite different from one in Delhi. But still, the metropolis cities give the traveller an orientation to the real vibe of a country, away from the images of brochures and websites. These are windows for travellers to peek in, to understand the socio-cultural fabric of a country. Many of these cities are reflections of a great historic past and roads into the future. Travel with us to five most bustling metros of India, and understand why you should slow down to soak in the city.

The capital of India, Delhi is a city shaped from a number of battles and historic events but holds a vivid essence of modern India. The city is fragmented into the new and old; both rich in variety and experiences. Delhi flourishes in its contrast and should not be missed by travellers. A visit to weathered monuments, enriching museums, a robust shopping spree and a lesson in north Indian food can be the highlights of your trip here.
A city world famous for starlets and seaside balminess is a hotspot for culture, history and business. This is treaded by the richest of India and at the same time, is home to one of the world’s largest slums. Needless to say that contrast is ironic yet fascinating. This is a city with great resilience and something that sweeps you away. Stand at the edge of the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s postcard icon and you’ll fall in love with it instantly.

Roam the streets of Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, and it seems like the hands of time have slowed down. This is a city stuck in a time warp. Trams, hand pulled rickshaws and yellow taxis trundle in the city and a touch of colonial air stills hangs defiantly. This was one of the earlier settlements of the British. Kolkata is the unsaid seat of intellect and your gateway to the eastern part of the country.
Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary
If flowers could symbolize each city, ‘jasmine’ would be the identity of this cultural hot spot. You will find scores of jasmine sellers line the markets and women using the flowers to adorn their hair. Chennai’s ancient temples, balmy weather and intensely woven love for traditional dance and music makes the city a must for culture-vultures. Here, you can treat the palate to South Indian flavours and the eye for a different landscape altogether.

One of India’s most evocative destinations, travellers often give Hyderabad a miss. What they miss is the richness of history in ancient monuments that dot the city and its signature rice based dish, the biryani. It’s a city steeped in history that buzzes with commerce. In the new parts of town, you can see modern architecture shining under names of big international tech giants. Hyderabad is well under way to explode as one of the biggest metros of India.
Footloose in Mumbai
Get local in the city that never sleeps
If Hollywood blockbuster, Slumdog Millionaire is anything to go by, then Mumbai is tough and heartless. But walk down the streets and get oriented to different flavours of the city and it will make you fall in love with it. This is exactly what happened to our editor, Supriya Sehgal, who spent ample time to pick what you can do here in 48 hours. Here are some of her suggestions.
Experience the streets of Bandra
Looking for a hip, boho vibe smack dab in the middle of the city? Walk in the streets of Bandra, walls on either side splashed with graffiti and make stops at the characterful coffee shops. In fact, there is no better time to this than the early hours of the morning, when the lanes are relatively empty. Sample the cinnamon rolls of A One Bakery; maybe bag a few before strolling through Ranwar that connects to the main Chapel Street.

A jumble of homes and businesses, India’s largest slum is not to be viewed with any disdain or pity. The area is a thriving hot seat of businesses and Mumbai’s resilience. Sign up for a Dharavi walking tour that is run by the people who live there. ut a Danny Boyle-sque tinge.
Ranthambore Fort
This will give you an authentic insight into the lives of people here, with reliable and realistic viewpoint witho

Chor Bazaar
Shopping enthusiasts should not give this a miss. Chor Bazaar (Thief’s Market) is ideal for bargain hunters that scour the market for Bollywood posters, antiques, period furniture and spare parts to vehicles. If you have a keen eye for the odd, this is a great place to stroll around and pick unique souvenirs. Stolen goods are circulated early on Friday mornings from 4.30am, but the usual market opens from 10.30am and 7.30pm every day.
Surwal Lake
Chic Colaba
You could find yourself here for three reasons; a bite of the sinful ‘chocolate overload’ brownie at Theobroma bakery, stretching the buck while shopping at the street market or lining up at the classic beer joints, Leopold’s or Café Mondegar. Either way, Colaba will never disappoint. From here, you can also walk to the edge of the bay monument, Gateway of India, to watch locals throng the area for a seaside stroll in the evening.

Marine Drive

Clichés are well worth your time if they exemplify the accurate vibe of the city. A necklace shaped road by the sea in south Mumbai is a perfect place to relax and watch the world go by. The 3.6km long boulevard along the sea will offer views of young college goers hanging out, men selling tea and coffee from thermoses and even a quick foot, head or back massage. e and adventure quotient.
IHG offers a new Kolkata address to Holiday Inn
Intercontinental Hotels Group increases its presence in the eastern part of the country by introduction of its first Holiday Inn hotel in Kolkata. This will be a 137-room hotel in partnership with Jain Group. With this, the total number of Holiday Inn hotels has gone up to 11 in India. Shantha de Silva, Head of South West Asia, InterContinental Hotels Group said, “Holiday Inn brand family is one of the growth drivers for IHG’s expansion in India. We are proud to add Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport to our portfolio and look forward to expanding our footprint in West Bengal. We are delighted to be working with the Jain Group and look forward to offering business ready services to our guests in Kolkata.” Shrayans Jain, Vice Chairman, Jain Group said, “We are very happy to partner with IHG and announce the opening of ‘Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport’. Due to increased business activity in the state, West Bengal has become the gateway to North East India enabling an upward swing for the hospitality sector. Strategically located near the airport, the hotel caters to the needs of the guests visiting Kolkata for both business and leisure. We look forward to fulfilling our guests’ expectations with services unique to a Holiday Inn hotel.” The hotel is located just 5 km away from the International Airport, with close proximity to Business Parks, SEZs and IT hub of Kolkata. It is aimed at both business and leisure travellers.
IndiGo connects the north to the south again
IndiGo Airlines has announced two new flights to the southern city of Madurai. IndiGo will operate a maiden flight from Delhi to Madurai via Chennai on in the first week of March. Madurai has now become the 37th domestic and 42nd overall destination for the air carrier. Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole Time Director, IndiGo, explained the rationale for the introduction of this sector. “Madurai being a pilgrimage spot and a flourishing cultural hub in Tamil Nadu attracts tourists from across the globe. It gives us pleasure to add Madurai as part of our growing network, which will only help us serve the growing demand from the southern region. IndiGo’s domestic network expansion program renders special attention to non-metro cities aimed at unlocking the tourism potential in these cities. The new flights and frequencies – on national and international sectors – is a testament to the growing customer base and we are hopeful that these flights will prove to be popular and convenient for our business and leisure passengers alike”, he said.
Accor and Rixos enter a strategic partnership
As a part of an expansion plan, the two hotel chains have entered into a partnership to increase presence in the Luxury segment. Under a long-term joint venture, both the hotels intend to collaborate, develop and manage Rixos branded resorts & hotels worldwide. Upon closing, AccorHotels will own a 50% interest in the joint venture management company. Through this joint venture, AccorHotels will integrate in its network 15 iconic hotels that are ideally located in premium resort markets in Turkey, UAE, Egypt, Russia and Europe and which benefit from strong room rate performance. As part of this transaction, Rixos plans to reflag five city-centre hotels to AccorHotels brands, which will also be managed by AccorHotels.
Now, free SIM cards for tourists on e-visa
Welcome kits with preloaded SIM cards have been launched by Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Tourism & Culture, Govt. of India, in collaboration with BSNL and Telco for the benefit of foreign tourists visiting the country. He announced, “We are glad to be launching this initiative and hope it is a success. Our aim is to make the tourists’ stay in India a good one and their safety and security is our utmost concern. Hence, the sim cards have been preloaded with about Rs. 50 talktime and 50mb data so that they can connect with their loved ones after landing in India.” The kit is currently available at T3, Indira Gandhi International Airport and will subsequently be rolled out to 15 other airports where e-visa facility is accepted. Tourists can avail the free sim card from the Bureau of Immigration at the airport after filling out an information form.
4th weekly flight connects Ahmedabad to Singapore
Singapore Airlines has announced the launch of its fourth weekly flight from Gujarat’s key city, Ahmedabad to Singapore, starting last week of David Lim, General Manager India, Singapore Airlines, commented, “Travel to and from Ahmedabad has steadily increased over the years. Singapore Airlines is pleased to offer an additional frequency to meet the growing market demand. The new service will provide travellers a much sought after weekend departure window, to travel to Singapore and to onward destinations.” Moreso, travellers from India can redeem a complimentary S$20 Changi Dollar Voucher for use at all participating shops, restaurants and lounges when they transit at Singapore Changi Airport. Indian nationals can also avail of one-way, Visa Free Transit Facility for up to 96 hours in Singapore with a valid onward ticket and a valid visa from selected countries, on the discretion of the immigration officials.

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