5 Cities Rediscovered with the Help of Concierges

Your best guide to unearthing little known delights even in a city youíve often travelled to

Published: Dec 25, 2009 09:30:58 AM IST
Updated: Dec 25, 2009 09:30:16 AM IST

1 BANGALORE
Local Cuisine

You can get authentic South Indin fare (Chettinad, Andhra, Udipi, Konkan, Mangalore) at restaurants in M.G. Road, Church Street, and Residency Road.

Art and Culture

  • The Bangalore Habba, a two-week-long festival, usually starting in December each year. Artists from across the state gather in the city; a number of performances are held — theatre, folk dances and parades.
  • Dusshera festival in Mysore. It is grand, colourful and showcases tradition in all its glory. A tour of Mysore Palace is a must; a trip to Mysore can be done within a day.
  • The H.A.L. Aeronautical Museum is a must see for aviation history enthusiasts.

Short Walking Tours
  • The Lal Bagh botanical walk, across a nature trail in Bangalore’s famous horticultural expanse, the Lal Bagh.
  • The Bangalore Walks. These theme-based walks include Cantonment history, Old Bangalore, Churches of Bangalore, Food Trail, Pub Crawl etc. Prior reservations are a must as it often gets sold out quickly (More info: bangalorewalks.com).

Nightlife, Clubbing
Guzzlers Inn, Peakos (Brigade Road), Tavern (Museum Road) and The Windsor Pub (Vasanthnagar) offer the old world pub culture of Bangalore. The 13th Floor Terrace lounge (M.G. Road) offers a gorgeous view of downtown Bangalore and the Cubbon Park while you sip your cocktail in the cool evening breeze.
Shopping

  • Flea markets and bargain shopping: Commercial Street, for everything from Indian jewellery to artifacts, clothes, accessories and sarees. It offers all the trappings of a rustic Indian bazaar. Brigrade Road comes a close second.
  • Luxury shopping: The UB City Shopping Galleria and The Collective on Vittal Mallya Road. Here you can shop for all major and niche global brands.
  • Special gift: Silk. M.G. Road and Commercial Street have a number of silk shops, the government authorised ones being Mysore Silk Udyog and Karnataka Silks.
Courtesy, the Concierge Desk, The Oberoi, Bangalore

2 CHENNAI
Local Cuisine

Saravana Bhavan and Murugan Idli Shop (located at various places) serve authentic South Indian vegetarian food. Anjappar and Arasappar (K.K. Nagar and Mylapore) both serve Chettinad cuisine.

Art and Culture

  • Annual Bharatnatyam ballet festival at Thiruvanmiyur Kalakshetra in December.
  • Mamallapuram dance festival, a 15-day festival that begins mid December. Distance: 60 kilometres from Chennai.
  • Carnatic music festival, begins in December, continues till early January.
  • Among the temples and churches, don’t miss the Kapaleeshwarar temple (Mylapore), Parthasarathy Temple (Triplicane), and St. Thomas Basilica.
Must See, Must Do

  • The Theosophical Society. Set on the banks of the Adyar River, the wooded Society grounds is home to a huge banyan tree — the Theosophical banyan.
  • A stroll on Marina Beach. This 4.5 km long beach is the world’s second longest.
  • Shopping for a Special Gift
  • Tanjore paintings, gold ornaments, silk sarees (available at all markets such as T. Nagar, Pondy Bazaar).
Courtesy, the Concierge Desk, Trident, Chennai

3 DELHI
Local Cuisine

Mughlai cuisine at Gulati’s (Pandara Road), Moti Mahal Deluxe and Park Balluchi (Hauz Khas village).

Art and Culture

  • Sound and light show at The Red Fort every evening; Musical Fountain show at Akshardham temple every evening.
  • The National Museum. And art exhibitions at The India Habitat Centre and the National Gallery of Modern Art.
  • Must See, Must Do
  • Ceremonial changing of the guard at Rashtrapati Bhavan every Saturday
  • A walk through Hauz Khas village, with its set up in converted old homes.
Nightlife, Clubbing

  • F Bar, at Ashoka Hotel
Shopping

  • Flea markets: Delhi Haat and the flea market at Janpath. Delhi Haat gives you a flavour of India with handicraft and food stalls from all the states.
  • Luxury shopping: Santushti (near Jaipur Polo Road); Emporio (Vasant Kunj) and Qutubh Crescent (near Qutub Minar)
For Rejuvenation/Relaxation

  • A walk through Lodhi gardens
Courtesy, the Concierge Desk, The Oberoi, New Delhi

4 HYDERABAD
Local Cuisine

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani and Khurbhani ka Meetha (made with apricots) at Paradise in Secunderabad. For a romantic dinner, Ohris and Water Front at Necklace Road; both overlook the lake, offering a spectacular view at night.

Art and Culture
The Bonalu festival (in July/August) offers a carnival like atmosphere as the city celebrates the Goddess Kali festival.

Must See, Must Do

  • Salarjung Musem, especially for the British Bracket clock (at the European clocks gallery) and the Veiled Rebecca statue. The clock has a doll that comes out and strikes a gong to announce the hour; the Veiled Rebecca has her face hazily visible through a veil carved out of marble.
  • Golconda Fort (Sound & Light Show).

Short Walking Tours
The gardens at Hussain Sagar Lake
Shopping for a Special Gift
Pearls and handicrafts, the latter from Shilparamam craft village and Lepakshi, a government store.

For Rejuvenation/Relaxation
Thai Spa at Ellaa Suites; Latitudes at Jubilee Hills.

Courtesy, Subramanyam R., Concierge Manager, Taj Krishna-Hyderabad

5 MUMBAI
Local Cuisine

Seafood at Trishna and Indian cuisine, especially Mughlai at Khyber (Fort); street food like bhel and pav bhaji from Swati Snacks (Tardeo); fine dining at Bonobo (Bandra). It offers an alfresco dining experience. For a romantic dinner, Blue Frog (Lower Parel). It gives new bands a platform, and a live band plays every evening.

Art and Culture
“Utsav” at Ravindra Natya Mandir in Prabhadevi. They enact Indian festivals on stage every Monday and Saturday at 7 pm.

Must See, Must Do

  • RBI Monetary Museum (Fort).
  • Dr. Bhau Daji Lad museum in Byculla. This 150-year-old museum — the oldest in Mumbai — was renovated two years ago. Its Kamalnayan Bajaj gallery depicts Mumbai’s origins through dioramas.
  • To get a flavour of the real Mumbai, take a train ride from Churchgate to Virar and back. Leave at 8.30 - 9 a.m. from Churchgate, when the trains are not crowded. Along the way, you see the suburbs, the countryside, the creek, salt pans, etc.
  • Strapped for time? One guest had only 30 minutes to spare and wanted to see the city. The concierge took him to the terrace of the 34-storey Trident hotel for a 360 degree view of South Mumbai. Of course, only guests at the hotel can have access to the terrace, but others could go to Malabar Hill for a panoramic view of the Queens necklace from the viewing gallery there.

Short Walking Tours
From Charni Road station, to Khotachiwadi, a heritage village. Or from Charni Road station to Balasaheb Jaykar Marg, on to Bhuleshwar, Mumbadevi temple, Abdul Rehman street, Mangaldas Market, Zaveri Bazar, and Lohar Chawl. Along this 2.5-kilometre route, you get a glimpse of villages, old buildings, wholesale markets. You end the walk at Crawford Market, which is opposite Lohar Chawl. If you want Indian spices, visit Mirchi Galli, behind Crawford Market. Here spices are pounded, not by machine but by hand in huge vats.
Shopping for a Special Gift
Handicrafts from Central Cottage industries Emporium at Colaba.

For Rejuvenation/Relaxation
Kamla Nehru Park at Malabar Hills, one of the best gardens in Mumbai.

Courtesy, Ruffino D’Souza, Concierge, Trident, Mumbai

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  • Peter Griffin

    p.s. There are some descriptions here: http://www.caferati.com/kgaf/category/heritage-walks/

    on Dec 29, 2009
  • Peter Griffin

    Lubna, try http://bombayheritagewalks.com/ and you can get in touch with them via info@bombayheritagewalks.com

    on Dec 29, 2009
  • Lubna

    Who conducts the walking tours in Mumbai? Would love to go on one such tour.

    on Dec 28, 2009
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