The beating heart of the Indian state of Gujarat, Ahmedabad has managed to preserve its cultural integrity through the centuries, remaining relatively unaffected by the British colonial rule. Little-developed by the tourism industry, the city remains a true hidden gem inhabited by remarkably hospitable Gurajatis, teeming with exquisite historic temples, renowned universities, and world-class vegetarian eateries able to convert diners of the most carnivorous persuasion.
Once a sleepy regional capital, Bangalore today is a modern metropolis that will come as a big surprise to those who are visiting for the first time. Also known as Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka is the technological hub of India and this is the very place where the country’s new, confident and global identity is being forged. As the fifth largest city in India, Bangalore is said to be the fastest growing city in Asia, with a plethora of interesting buildings and high tech industries. As wealthier Indians flock to live here, Bangalore has become a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant cafe and bar culture. The city might lack historical sites but it compensates it with its buzzing, relaxed and liberal atmosphere, providing the perfect base for exploring the beautiful temples and evocative palaces of the Deccan.
The site of former Indian, Portuguese and Dutch settlements, today’s Chennai was established by the British in the 17th century as a trading port. This colonial town, formerly known as Madras, has since grown into India’s fourth-largest city and the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Home to a colonial fort and an array of beautiful temples, monuments and churches, water sports and amusement parks, street markets and shopping centers, fine dining and luxury hotels, as well as one of the longest sandy beaches in the world. This bustling and colorful Indian city is bound to have something on offer for everyone.
Cochin, also known as Kochi, is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in India. This comes as no surprise, since Cochin is known for its rich history, culture, and attractive nature. Many centuries ago, the city was a hub for international merchants who traded various products for aromatic spices, the finest fabrics and shiny jewellery. This is why you can still see Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese and Italian influences run through Cochin's architectural styles. The city is filled with museums, temples, shops, restaurants and so much more; you will never grow bored of one of the most amazing cities in India.
Hyderabad is India's national treasure, full of history, culture and amazing architecture. The century-old city never ceased to attract visitors from all over the world, international influences first pouring in with trade merchants in search of aromatic spices, shiny jewellery and gorgeous pearls. Today, Hyderabad is still known and loved for these goods, and many still travel here from afar to purchase them. The city also has numerous museums, shops, cafes and restaurants, so it's near impossible to be bored.
A city of architectural beauties and dazzling contrasts, Mumbai showcases the untold side of the charming state of Maharashtra. With an increasing population, it has become one of the world's most populous metropolitan areas, making Mumbai a heady hub of diverse cultures. Here, in the commercial capital of India, the financial district lumps together with Asia's largest slum, Dharavi, while one of the most expensive residential properties has risen up shoulder to shoulder with Dhobi Ghat, an open-air laundromat where workers still wash laundry in stone-made basins. A megalopolis where extremes meet and the pace is fast, Mumbai, love it or hate it, will certainly leave its mark.
Delhi is a thoroughly inscrutable onion of a city: every layer you peel off reveals an even deeper layer of history. Rebuilt eight times by its many conquerors, it has been the seat of the Hindu, Muslim and British Empires. All of them have left their mark in the architecture, customs, food and people of this relentless city. Now they are all undergoing a new transformation as the capital of modern India.
Kerala’s first city, with its knotty official name of Thiruvananthapuram (often substituted by the shorter, more manageable Trivandrum), is an exhaustive introduction to southern India's urban and cultural life. Trivandrum tends to be unjustly overlooked en route to the state's beach-side settlements, but easily warrants a few days of its own.