India is country full of a mixture of cultures, religions, languages and people from different strata of society.The climates vary from north to south and so does the food and the style of dressings. There is also a huge divide of rural and urban areas in the country.
Still there are villages which do not have the basic amenities of electricity and on the other hand cities like Mumbai can blind you with huge, brightly lit billboards and streets. So in this land of contradictions, life continues to throb and people still pursue to make ends meet. Lets take a look at the famous cities in India. The four main metropolitan cities of India are Delhi, Kolkatta, Mumbai and Chennai. But with the advent of the huge IT industrial success, Bangalore and Hyderabad has also joined the list.
Delhi – The Political Capital of India
The Capital of India is its third largest city, with a population of about 10 million. Its strategic location along the north-south, east-west route has give it a focal position in Indian history, and many great empire have been ruled from here.
Delhi is the largest metropolis in India, and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It is also the world’s most populous city within the municipal city limits. It is located on the banks of the River Yamuna, and as the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), has the political status of a federally-administered Union Territory within the National Capital Region. In 1991, a constitutional amendment gave Delhi a special status among the Union Territories and its own legislative assembly with limited powers.
Places to see in Delhi
1. Red Fort
The Red Fort, known locally as Lal Quila, is Delhi’s signature attraction, rising high above the clamour of Old Delhi as a reminder of the wealth and power of the Mogul empire.Visitors can marvel at the intricate decoration and only imagine the scenes here at the empire’s height when the walls were studded with precious stones and a ‘stream of paradise’ drove an ingenious air conditioning system. The fort was the scene of the Indian uprising of 1857 and the mighty Lahore Gate, on the west side of the fort, remains a potent symbol in the fight for Independence.
2. Jama Masjid
This grand structure is situated on a hill a few hundred yards west of the Red Fort and towers over the mayhem of Old Delhi’s sprawling streets. Jama Masjid is India’s largest mosque and can hold 25,000 worshipers at one time. Wide red sandstone steps lead to entrances on the North, South and East sides of the mosque. Inside is the massive courtyard dominated by two red and white striped sandstone minarets that cap the main prayer hall on the west side (facing Mecca). There are smaller towers at each corner of the mosque.
3. Parliament House
This massive domed structure is almost one kilometer in circumference. The building houses both Lok Sabha (The Lower House) and Rajya Sabha (The Upper House). Tourist can gain access by obtaining a special pass.
4. Qutub Minar
Standing 238ft (72m) tall, the Qutub Minar tower is decorated with calligraphy representing verses from the Koran and tapers from a 50ft (15m) diameter at the base to just 8ft (2.5m) at the top. There are five distinct stories each encircled with a balcony, the first three are built of red sandstone, and the upper two are faced with white marble. In the corner of the mosque, stands an Iron Pillar, bearing fourth-century Sanskrit inscriptions of the Gupta period attributing it to the memory of King Chandragupta II (373-413). It is said that anyone who can encircle it with their hands whilst standing with their back to it will have their wishes fulfilled.
5. Chandni Chowk
Chandni Chowk is situated in Old Delhi, where shops and stalls display a wonderful array of goods and offer a pungent and colourful insight into Delhi life. Chandni Chowk has a large number of galis (lanes) and each one is different, with their own atmosphere and smells. Naya Bazaar, on Khari Baoli, is the spice market that displays a wonderful selection of foodstuff in neat, colourful piles. The nearby Gadodial Market is the wholesale spice market. Hundreds of spices and condiments can be found including aniseed, ginger, pomegranate, saffron, lotus seeds, pickles and chutneys, to name just a few. Chor Bazaar sits behind the ramparts of the Red Fort and comes to life on Sundays to trade a collection of ‘second hand’ goods. Chawri Bazaar was once notorious for the ladies who beckoned men from the arched windows and balconies above street.
True food culture in Delhi is a mixture of North Indian food, Mughlai Cuisines, Punjabi food and mouth watering street food. It also includes a variety of cuisines from different parts of India. Delhi is a hot spot for Continental food as well as Chinese food.
We can get a number of low budget restaurants, eating joints, road side Dhabas and mobile food wagons to get the taste perception of food culture in Delhi, the capital city. A number of popular road side eateries in places like Paranthe wali gali, Annapoorna, Ghantewala, Bengali Market, Greater Kailash and Sunder Nagar are famous for entertaining their gastronomes with kababs,rotis chaat, bhelpuri, sweetmeats and biryani. The local population enjoys tandoori chicken and tandoori roti at low budget in roadside dhabas.
Climate of Delhi is semi-arid with high variation between summer and winter temperatures. Summers are long, from early April to October, with the monsoon season in between. Winter starts in November and peaks in January. Due to Delhi’s proximity to the Himalayas, cold waves from the Himalayan region dip temperatures across the city. Delhi is notorious for its heavy fog during the winter season.The city has a pleasant climate from February to March, and from September to November.
Kolkata – The Cultural Capital of India
One of the world’s great cities,this vibrant city with its distinct imperial flavor, is the capital of West Bengal, the only Indian State with a Communist-led government.
Over the years, the city has flourished into a commercial center with imposing Victorian Gothic buildings, churches, and boulevards. An intellectual and cultural live has bloomed along side, with a renaissance of Bengali art and literature, and the growth of a strong nationalist reform movement that led to the founding of the Brahma Samaj, an enlightened off-shoot of Hinduism, and the establishment of Presidency College, then the foremost centre of English education. In 2001, Calcutta became Kolkata, the Bengali pronunciation of its name. The city is crowded and dirty in places, but is nevertheless full of character. The teeming life of the waterfront along the strand, the noisy jumble of bazaars and pavement stalls, the residential streets with their once gracious mansions, all make for an electric, cosmopolitan atmosphere, rarely found in other Indian cities.
Places to see in Kolkata
1. Eden Gardens
Eden garden of Kolkata, India is one of the major tourist attraction places of the city of joy. Eden gardens is basically a cricket stadium, where people have witnessed the history of Indian cricket. It is the oldest cricket playground in the country and also the finest one. Calcutta Eden Gardens Cricket Club came into existence in the year 1864. The first ever first-class match that took place in the Eden Gardens was in 1917-18 and the first test match to be played here was in January 1934. It has undergone a tremendous modernization and infact, today it boasts of its large accommodation that can hold about 1,20,000 persons.
2. Victoria Memorial
Calcutta Victoria memorial hall is a fabulous museum that was established in the year 1921. The credit for designing and drawing the plan for this monument goes to Sir William Emerson, President of the British Institute of Architects. Victoria Memorial of Kolkata, India is a fantastic place that will take you into the world of past history, where you can view the photos and effigies of prominent personalities, who made an incredible contribution in the glory of India. Today, Victoria memorial is one of the finest art museums in Kolkata. It is a 184 ft tall edifice that was constructed on 64 acres of land.
3. Howrah Bridge
Howrah Bridge, located over the Hoogli River in West Bengal, India, is said to be the busiest bridge of the world. It got its name owing to the fact that it connects the city of Howrah to Calcutta. Hawrah Bridge in Kolkata, India, also known by the name ‘Rabindra Setu’, was set up in 1874. It stands on two 270 feet high pillars. Calcutta Howrah Bridge is a cantilever truss bridge that was constructed without using any nuts and bolts. Though, earlier it had a tram route, but presently, it is serving mainly as a Road Bridge. Howrah bridge has got two sister bridges also, namely, Vidyasagar Setu and the Vivekananda Setu that are situated at different points over the hoogly river. This bridge acts as an important symbol of Kolkata.
4. Birla Planetarium
Birla planetarium of Kolkata, India is one of the largest museums in Asia. It came into existence in the year 1962 and the credit for establishing this wonderful center of science, communication & environment goes to Birla Education Trust. It is situated at the Eastern metropolitan bypass of Calcutta. It provides useful piece of information about our solar system, galaxies, life span of stars, space, planets and other heavenly bodies in the most interactive manner via audio video aids. Usually the lectures are given in English, Hindi, and Bengali and occasionally in Oriya, Tamil & Gujarati.
Kolkata has a tropical wet-and-dry climate.The annual mean temperature is 26.8 °C (80.2 °F), monthly mean temperatures range from 19 °C (66.2 °F) to 30 °C (86.0 °F). Summers are hot and humid with temperatures in the low 30’s and during dry spells the maximum temperatures often exceed 40 °C (104 °F) during May and June. Winter tends to last for only about two and a half months, with seasonal lows dipping between December and January. Rains are brought by the Bay of Bengal branch of South-West monsoon and lash the city between June and September supplying with most of its annual rainfall of 1,582 mm.
Bengalis are well known for their love of fish and sweets, which feature prominently in their diet. Two of the best places to try some authentic Bengali cuisine are Kewpies and Oh Calcutta!. Kewpies, located at 2 Elgin Lane (Ph: 033 2475 9880), has a charming homely setting and serves up a delicious Bengali thali. Oh Calcutta!, which has now expanded throughout India, is located at the top of the Forum shopping complex on Elgin Rd. It’s dishes of jumbo prawns and fish are deservedly very popular.
For sweets, you can try your luck by picking a random selection of sweets, for around Rs 5 per item, or ask for some of the Bengali specialty rasgulla (sweet cream cheese balls flavoured with rose water).If you’re longing to relax with some good food and inexpensive drinks, the old-world Peter Cat, in Middleton Row just off Park Street, is a reliable favourite. Try the Chello kebabs here. The cocktails for only Rs 80 and glasses of wine for Rs 150 are a great find too.
Mumbai – The Business Capital Of India
The capital of Maharashtra, is India’s most dynamic, cosmopolitan and crowded city. Some 15 million people, from billionaire tycoons to homeless pavement dwellers, live in this teeming megalopolis. Mumbai, which was previously known as Bombay ,is known as the business capital of India, it being the country’s principal financial and communications centre. The city has the largest and the busiest port handling India’s foreign trade and a major Interntional airport. India’s largest Stock Exchange which ranks as the third largest in the world, is situated in Mumbai. Here, trading of stocks is carried out in billions of rupees everyday.
Mumbai (Bombay) lies on the western coast of India. It is a group of seven islands in the Arabian Sea which lies off the northern Konkan coast on the west of Maharashtra state in India. These seven islands which were once seperated by creeks and channels were filled and bridged over the years by the inhabitants.
Mumbai can not be complete without the mention of Bollywood, the biggest Indian film industry which churns out hundreds of Hindi block-busters every year. Mumbai is known as the City of Dreams and houses the prime centre of Hindi Film Industry, better known as Bollywood. Acclaimed as one of the biggest film industries of the world, Bollywood produces over 1000 films every year.
Bollywood imbibed its name from the merger of the term Bombay (now Mumbai) and Hollywood, the American Film Industry. Another point worth-mentioning is that Bollywood is just the part of Indian Film Industry, which also encompasses other language film industries. Bypassing the reality, Hindi films are usually ‘masala’ (spicy) movies that comprise all the ingredients like music, dance, violence and melodrama of a good entertainer. The languages of Hindi, Urdu and English are extremely common in Bollywood.
Places to see in Mumbai
1. Gateway of India
The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay, prior to the Darbar in Delhi in December 1911. The Gateway is built from yellow Kharodi basalt and reinforced concrete. The central dome is 48 feet in diameter and 83 feet above ground at its highest point. Initially used as a disembarkation point for passengers alighting from steamers, ironically twenty-four years later it became an exit point for the British troop who had to leave India when it got its independence in 1947. There are launches and cruisers anchored in front of the Gateway, that take people to the Elephanta Caves, or for short rides
2. Marine Drive
Also known as the ‘Queen’s Necklace’, this is the city’s pride and joy and it’s most spectacular verandah. Built on land reclaimed in 1920 and running parallel to the shoreline of backbay, from Nariman Point it sweeps past Chowpatty right up to Malabar Hill. The place is a crowded thoroughfare by early morning joggers who pound the promenade during the day, and an equally crowded promenade in the evening. Except during the monsoons you can board a hovercraft from here. Marine Drive can be best viewed from ‘Hanging Gardens’.
Situated at the northern end of Marine Drive, it is a stretch of sandy beach and attracts hordes of people during the weekends and on holidays.A ‘food-mart’ of stalls have become a permanent feature and offer a range of eatables from ‘bhel-puri’. The local speciality, to ‘chaat’, ‘kulfi’, coconut and other snacks. A larger portion of the terrain is left open for the public where people come to enjoy the evening sea breeze and the children to play. As a part of the city’s cleanliness and beautification drive, Chowpatty is also being given a face lift.This stretch of beach is well known by locals and tourists alike as a great place to indulge your taste buds in the evenings. A ‘food-plaza’ of stalls offering a range of snacks like ‘bhel-puri’, ‘chaat’, ‘kulfi’ and fresh coconut water! Chowpatty, situated at the northern end of Marine Drive, is a great place to witness the annual Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in August/September when large images of the elephant-headed god are immersed in the murky sea. As a part of the city’s cleanliness and beautification drive, Chowpatty is also being given a face-lift.
4. Shopping In Mumbai
Colaba and Flora Fountain (Hutatama Chowk) in the heart of south Mumbai and at walking distance from Bombay VT and Churchgate railway stations are full of shops of all kinds, mainly ethnic artefacts and departmental stores. It is a good place to find shoes, cotton clothes, Kaftans and children’s clothes.
Crawford Market is famous for flowers, fruits, meat and fish. Poised between what was once the British Fort and the local town, Crawford Market has elements of both. Now named after a local patriot called Jyotiba Phule, Crawford Market looks like something out of Victorian London, with its sweet smell of hay and 50 ft high skylit awning that bathes the entire place in natural sunlight. Mountains of fruit and fresh vegetables are sold here at wholesale rates. Next door there’s also a meat and poultry section along with stalls selling smuggled cheese and chocolate.
4. Haji Ali Mosque
The Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque and dargah (tomb) located on an islet off the coast of Worli in Mumbai. Lying as it does in the heart of the city, the dargah is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Mumbai.
Although it is a mosque and dargah, it is very popular among Hindus from Mumbai itself, other parts of Maharashtra and southern Gujarat. It is believed that praying at the dargah helps fulfill one’s wishes.The Sunni Barelvi Movement of India Controls the Dargah and Masjid as is the case of most of the Masjids of Mumbai.
5. Juhu Beach
Like Chowpatty, its downtown counterpart, uptown Juhu Beach is also a bourgeois paradise, filled to the gills with screaming children, courting couples and rowdy adolescents.
If you want a more fancy excursion, however, retreat behind Juhu’s many five star hotels, for a steaming cup of coffee and a splendid view of the coast. The most popular of these beachfront hotels are the Sun and Sand and Holiday Inn. The government run Juhu Centaur also has a 24 hour coffee shop with a view of the sea.
Most of the year, Mumbai’s climate is warm and humid. Between November and February, the skies are clear,and the temperature is cooler. From March the temperature becomes warm and humid till mid June, the beginning of monsoon. During monsoon there are torrential rains, sometimes causing the flooding of major roads and streets of Mumbai. The average rainfall which is brought by the south-west monsoon winds in Mumbai is 180 cms. Monsoon ends by the end of September. October is comparatively hot and humid.
Bangalore – The IT Capital of India
Bangalore is the capital of the state of Karnataka. Often described as Asia’s Silicon Valley because of its thriving information technology industry, Bangalore which is now also known as ‘Benguluru’, is India’s fifth-largest and fast growing city.
Until its high-tech boom in the late 80’s city was as the Garden City, with greenery flourishing its pleasant, temperature climate.Today, with a growing population of young professionals, it has acquired a vibrant, cosmopolitan air.
Now known as the ‘City of Opportunities’, Bangalore was founded in the 16th century by a local chieftain, but derives its name from the Kannad word Bendu kaluru, or “boiled beans”, which an old woman gave a 10th century Hoysala king when he turned up hungry at her doorstep.
NASDAQ opened its office in Bangalore on Feb 12, 2001. This was seen as a major victory for Bangalore.The Software Technology Park plays a big role in encouraging this industry in Karnataka. One of the important factors spurring Bangalore’s growth was heavy central government investment in Bangalore’s public sector industries, partially due to the fact that it is geographically out-of-reach from India’s rivals Pakistan and China. This led to the concentration of technical and scientific manpower in Bangalore, and is a factor in leading the “IT revolution” in Bangalore.
Electronics City was the brainchild of R. K. Baliga, the first Chairman and Managing Director Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation, a government owned agency aimed at expanding the electronics industry in the state of Karnataka established in 1976.The agency purchased 335 acres of land 18 km south of Bangalore for its Electronics City project, which was meant to establish an industrial park in Bangalore.
Situated at a height of 949 metres (3113 ft.) Above the sea level, the city is blessed with salubrious climate throughout the year.In
summer the maximum temperature can rise to 36°C while the minimum temperature can drop to 20°C. In winter the maximum temperature can rise to 27°C and fall to less than 17°C. The monsoons begin in July and carry on till September.About 85% of the rainfall is recorded between 4 and 7 in the evening. Bangalore has a pleasant climate.
The diversity of the cuisine available is reflective of the social and economic diversity of Bangalore. Roadside vendors, tea stalls, South Indian, North Indian, Muslim food, Chinese and Western fast food are all very popular in the city. Udupi restaurants, are very popular and serve predominantly vegetarian cuisine. The Chinese food and the Thai food served in most of the restaurants are customized to cater to the tastes of the Indian population.Bangalore also has some fine dining and specialized restaurants that cover various cuisines of the world.
For good Mangalorean and Konkan style seafood, there’s Kudla and Sa-na-dige.The city also is known to have really good Italian and new-age continental food in places like Sunny’s on Lavelle Road and Olive Beach. The various restaurants in the five-star hotels in the city also offer some very authentic and delicious meals.
A conglomeration of several overgrown villages, Chennai has no single centre, but can be divided into a numerous urban districts, connected by four main roads. George Town is to the northeast of Periyar EVR High Road (Poonamallee High Road), while Egmore, Triplicane and Mylapore are to the south. The city’s main thoroughfare, Anna Salai (Mount Road), links Fort St George with Mount St Thomas, to the south. Chennai’s other main road; Rajaji Salai (North Beach Road) and Kamarajar Salai (South Beach Road), run along the seafront along the popular Marina promenade towards Kalakshetra.
Visit the museum to see the art and Bronze Gallery. (Closed on Fridays and Public holidays) Drive through the flower and Fruit market, High court, Fort museum, Marina Beach, Santhome Cathedral and Snake Park.