Mumbai is the curate's egg of Indian sightseeing. Some critics deplore the city's monolithic architecture while others delight in Mumbai's eccentric gigantism that climaxes with impossibly excessive Gothic spreads such as Victoria Terminus.
Gritty and glamorous, Mumbai personifies today's India. A megalopolis of 14 million people, Mumbai is India's commercial and business hub. Contributing to Mumbai’s tourism industry is the city being host to the world's largest film industry (Bollywood, of course). Mumbai is also home to the region of Dharavi, one of the world's largest and most idiosyncratic slums.
Though Mumbai thrives during the daytime, evenings take a much more sedate turn and the most popular evening activity in Mumbaiby faris strolling on the beachfront promenades and taking in the markets and outdoor activities there. Families enjoy an occasional night at a local restaurant or an evening cricket match.
Located on the far western coast of India and bordering with the Arabian Sea, Goa is a small seaside state that is a colorful and interesting fusion of Indian and colonial Portuguese styling. Well-known for its beaches, as well as its laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, Goa has been attracting a wide array of foreign tourists since the 1960s.
The unique background and architecture of the city makes tourism in Goa comparable to no other place in India or the world. It seamlessly blends old colonial Portuguese styling and architecture with modern India. The state has a wide variety of impressive sightseeing options, interesting attractions and ancient landmarks.
Restaurants in Goa offer visitors a wide selection of flavors and cuisines from around the world as well as an abundance of local restaurants serving unique Goan dishes. The local Goan cuisine was influenced by the Portuguese during colonial times but today draws many of its influences from the rest of India.
A international city with a classically Asian street-food core and incessant buzz, restaurants in Mumbai offer cuisines from all over the world, but visitors would be missing out if they didn't have at least several Indian meals prepared in the various styles of different regions of the country.
Hyderabad is well known for its delectable cuisine. Dishes have a strong Mughal flavor, and locals have a great passion for food, similar to the Mughals. Meat dishes are prominent, and the pounded meat dish of haleem is the most popular dish in the area.
Situated up in the Aravalli Mountains of the northwest Rajasthan area and not far southwest of Delhi, historic Udaipur is one of India's romantic hotspots. Founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1568, it is often coined the ‘City of Dawn' and is positioned on the sizeable Lake Pichola.
Cochin has a long list of activities available to visitors, spanning cultural exhibitions, theme parks and water sports. Outdoor sports are particularly attractive due to Cochin’s beaches, mineral springs and forests.
Udaipur is one of the more relaxed and safer cities in northern India, with little violent crime and hassle for foreigners. Pickpockets and scammers are apparent, however, while being aware of certain vaccinations before traveling to India is advised. Udaipur is best visited in the winter when it is dry and cool.
While Udaipur is not as high profile for its eating as Madras or Mumbai, this is India, and it still has great food. There are curries galore in any and every bazaar that can be had for a snip and at any heat, right up to the swankiest restaurants amid the picturesque Lake Pichola.
Hyderabad has been at the heart of India's commercial industry for centuries. Shopping in Hyderabad's various bazaars and outlets allows visitors valuable insight into the local culture, as well as the opportunity to hunt for unique gifts and beautiful souvenirs.
On entering Hyderabad, visitors are immediately blinded by an urban maze of gleaming malls and glass-fronted office blocks. However, once they discover the charming Old City, they realize there is substance behind the shiny surface.
Hyderabad is one of India's safest large cities; however, a number of terrorist bombings shook the city's confidence in 2007. The attacks targeted major tourist attractions including Mecca Masjid, Kothi and Lumbini Park.
Cochin has been a diverse, international destination for centuries, and today’s tourists find locals well-versed in the customs of the West. This enhances the opportunity for cultural exchange and also makes shopping and price negotiation easier, as locals are more likely to speak and understand English. The transportation scheme of Cochin loosely organized, but between taxis and auto-rickshaws, visitors have no trouble getting from point to point.
Cochin may not have the massive shopping complexes of larger Indian cities, but it still offers a satisfying selection of antiques and handicrafts. Tourists who enjoy the experience will get plenty of mileage out of the small shops and galleries in the area.
Cochin is a South Indian destination that has served as an important colonial port since the 16th century. It’s considered to be the cultural hub of Kerala, with contributions from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities. Known for its sites as well as shopping and nightlife, Cochin is one of the best-loved tourist destinations in the region.
Udaipur is fantastic for traditional crafts and everything from wooden statues to silk ties and high-end fashions can be had. The best shopping is in the many bazaars that can be found all over Udaipur.
Cochin doesn’t receive the attention that it is arguably due, a fact that pleases the relatively few tourists who decide to take a look around. This town is full of historic sites dating to Portuguese colonial times, many of which were renovated or outright rebuilt by Dutch and British colonists.
Lake Pichola presents options for entertainment away from the busy streets of Udaipur. Various companies and private individuals run boat trips around the shores of the lake and out to the islands. You get to take in the city from another perspective and you can also head for Jag Niwas Island to dine at the restaurant there.
Most of the city's attractions are tucked away in its old quarters. Although the multitude of glass-fronted modern buildings reflects attention away from the historic Old Town, they do nothing to taint the city's undeniable charm.
Udaipur has a rich history that is best seen in its palaces and temples. Most sites are based on a religious theme and it is easy to be impressed by the sheer scale of some of the palaces.
The Cochin dining experience begins and ends with seafood. Fishermen bring in fresh catches daily and by mid-morning local chefs have already set about preparing their fish for the evening’s specials.
There is no shortage of entertainment in Hyderabad as the city offers visitors a host of exciting activities during the day and after dark. Amusement parks are the main source of entertainment in this area of India. An endless selection of rides provides much adrenalin-fuelled excitement for all the family.
The local arts and crafts culture in Jaipur is as fascinating as its religious monuments and palaces. Shopping varies from traditional market places brimming with bargains to more refined options that offer gems and jewelry.
Jaipur's shopping and historical draws are supported by the city's wealth of tasty cuisines that are on offer for as little or as much as you wish to spend. The markets are home to an abundance of food stalls selling everything from breads and rice through to coconut curries and barbecued meats.
The capital of Rajasthan State, Jaipur offers its visitors more than just a wealth of interesting history, with lively markets, authentic restaurants and a multitude of ancient palaces to also occupy its guests - all set in the heart of a desert. Often referred to as the ‘Paris of India', Jaipur is home to more than two million residents.
The surprisingly modern city of Jaipur successfully mixes and blends an interesting history with captivating architecture in the form of palaces, temples and lively commercial centers that house numerous businesses and companies.
Jaipur is home to a surprising amount of attractions and a wealth of activities that rival that of any major city. Visitors to Jaipur can choose between an authentic visit full of local markets and temple hopping and a luxurious break in a five-star hotel complete with spa treatments. These options blend together to make this diverse city a great choice for people searching for all types of holidays.
Shopping is one of Jaipur's primary draws and the city's multitude of impressive palaces and temples are another prime reason for many to visit. Restaurants usually close at 23:00 and the nightlife in Jaipur is relatively calm in comparison to that of other cities. Theaters often host puppet shows that are colorful and fun for all the family.
Kolkata's restaurant scene would be the envy of most world cities and is certainly the dining out capital of India. Kolkata's restaurants are famously diverse and though some of them are 200 years old they tend toward décor that is simple, 1930s Art Deco rather than ornately moldy.
No city in India can compete with the Southeast Asian cities of Bangkok and Singapore when it comes to shopping, but Kolkata more than holds its own as a place to spend money. There are a growing number of shopping malls and department stores, particularly in South Kolkata and the plethora of souvenirs left over by the Raj keep outdoor markets very well stocked.
Mumbai is a progressive and modern city that isn't easily offended and draconian laws related to dress, alcohol, and homosexuality that apply to other Asian cities are far more lax in Mumbai. On the other hand, there's no pumping club scene here and raucous night-owl behavior will only really interest the local police.
Mumbai isn't a shopping paradise along the lines of Singapore or Bangkok. Even though this is a great city of commerce, mass retail has yet to really catch on and department stores or shopping malls are very thin on the ground. Instead, visitors should aim for eclectic market purchases or excellent second-hand buys.
Kolkata may boast a dozen major universities but anyone expecting a swinging student bar scene here will be disappointed. Students here take their studies seriously and time away from the books is invariably spent earning some much needed part time cash, and budget beer busts are not the norm.
The intractable poverty of Kolkata—which reverted to the Bengali spelling of its name in 2001—may be the stuff of legend but the former Indian capital's heritage as a center of arts and literature is under-reported.
Kolkata is a cosmopolitan city and its sheer size may intimidate the first time visitor. It is a very safe city though with the only recurring crime-related problem the drug dealers of Sudder Street, who tend to keep to themselves anyway. Public transportation around the city is excellent but visitors on a tight schedule may want to narrow their Kolkata trip down to just one or two key districts.
There are hundreds of grand buildings built by the British Raj in Kolkata, since it was the capital of India during the British years and everything from a semi-replica of St Paul's Cathedral was built here to celebrate and emulate the style and power of London. The so-called ‘City of Joy' is a bounty of grand colonial architecture and the Ministry of Tourism provides a comprehensive Kolkata guide.
Despite being one of India's largest cities, Chennai enjoys a slower pace of life compared to others. However, there are plenty of entertainment outlets for both locals and visitors alike.
Goa offers visitors a wide array of entertainment, from water and sporting activities to museums and casinos. The nightlife in Goa is lively and exciting, with countless bars and discothèques as well as frequent outdoor parties in the jungle and along various beaches.
The Indian city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is a major industrial center and the capital of Tamil Nadu. The city was established by the British in the 17th century and functioned as a large urban center and naval base. By the 20th century, Chennai gained more significance and has become India's fifth largest city.
Chennai is Tamil Nadu's dining capital. The city has an excellent selection of both Indian and international restaurants. The restaurants along the waterfront have unrivalled ambience, are the best maintained and serve the most authentic cuisine.
Goa is an easy city to visit as the pace of life here is decidedly egalitarian and laidback. A multi-cultural but decidedly modern city, Goa offers visitors friendly hospitality, high-tech conveniences and plenty of diverse recreational options.
Due to the vast array of different cultures residing in the city, Chennai is a cosmopolitan city. It is also one of India's safest cities in terms of crime but like all big cities it has its fair share of pickpockets.
Chennai is gradually emerging as one of India's top shopping destinations. The city offers immense variety, ranging from glitzy malls to busy bazaars.
Aside from an exhaustive list of religious sites, Chennai's tourist appeal is rather limited. Most of the city's colonial buildings have been converted into offices, and the traditional Tamil territories of Triplicane and Mylapore are overpopulated and somewhat intimidating for visitors.
Visitors who enjoy bargain hunting will be in shopping paradise in Goa with its extensive array of markets offering a wide selection of goods for sale. There are food stalls with dried fruits, nuts and local delicacies as well as handmade items, jewelry, clothing and home wares on offer.
Spend a holiday in Goa and relax on powdery beaches dotted with swaying palm plantations. Stroll out from your Goa hotel to dine at rickety shacks serving fresh curried seafood. Inland, dusty roads link villages and towns in rainforest clearings, while Hindi shrines and hippy trail culture live side by side.