Walking is the best way to discover new places. India’s cities, with their brightly woven tapestry of culture, cuisines, history, religion and communities, opens up to walkers in myriad ways. These amazing city walking tours are must-do’s whenever you are visiting these cities! Whether you want to look at a new city with the local’s eye, or you simply want to capture the life of the city on your camera, walking tours are a wonderful option to explore India’s chaotic, rich cities with their unique characters. Here’s our list of the best!
1. Biryani Detour: Hyderabad
Company: Detours India
Hyderabad, the jewel in the crown of the Nizams, is the birthplace of the famed Hyderabadi Biryani. Much has been spoken, argued and fought over the reigning queen of Biryanis, while the Hyderabadi and its Awadhi cousin fight it out! Find out for yourself about the secrets, sights and aromas of this delicious dish as you take a walk through the Biryani haunts of Hyderabad. Not only will you learn the history of the biryani, but also the iconic restaurants that serve Hyderabadi Biryani, the preparation, and of course, a grand tasting session in one of the authentic places! For foodies, this is it! To book the tour or find out more, contact Detours India.
(Also try: The Andhra Crafts Detour, for an interesting insight into the colourful crafts of the state)
2. Jewellery Jaunt: Chennai
Company: Story Trails
The gold designs of India’s southern states are exquisite, unique and intricate. Find out the techniques, the history, the legends and more, with this interesting walking trail through Chennai’s Mylapore, where artisans create these pieces of handcrafted beauty. Walk through dingy bylanes, into tiny, claustrophobic rooms lit up by the sparkling jewels and gold, listen to stories of how each piece of jewellery is crafted, and how the designs take shape. There are fascinating legends about royals and their jewellery fetish, and about the placing of jewels in an ornament. Love gold? With these fascinating stories, you’ll love it even more! Book it here!
(Also try: Dancer’s Trail, for that interesting insight into Bharatnatyam, cinema, choreography and more!)
3. Bringing the Goddess to Earth: Kumartuli
Company: Calcutta Walks
The Ganga is the lifeline of Kolkata, and many of the city’s unique cultures thrive on the banks of this ancient river. It takes this epic walk by the Ganga to understand Kolkata. The walk, starting the early morning, traces the pulse of the city; from the flower market of Howrah, the wrestlers who go about their morning routine on the soft clay, to Kumartuli, where idol makers breathe life into clay with the idols of gods and goddesses. Ending on the cremation ghats, this walk comes full circle, from life to death. To experience it, contact Calcutta Walks.
(Also try: Confluence of Cultures, a walk that takes you through the lives of the now dwindling communities that made Calcutta their home.)
4. Purani Dilli
Company: Delhi Heritage Walks
While in Delhi, you can’t miss out on this quintessential walk that epitomizes Delhi in all its glory. The walk through old Delhi takes you through the narrow lanes of Old Delhi, through its many bazaars, street food stalls, crumbling havelis, Jain temples and finally to the Jama Masjid. Climb up the minarets of the Masjid to get a stunning view of the old city. Whether you are a true-blue Dilliwala, or a traveller, this tour gives you a new insight into the centuries old legacy that is ‘Dilli’. Book it now!
(Also try: Wedding Walk, a walk through the chaotic Chandni Chowk, with its shops for saris, lehengas, jewellery, wedding cards…and every other paraphernalia that makes up an Indian wedding! And of course, there’s food!)
5. Brush With the Art galleries of South Mumbai
Company: Seek Sherpa
Mumbai, the very filmy city, has its arty side, too. Explore the culture of the city through its art galleries which preserve and foster art. Take a walk through the heritage art galleries of South Mumbai, interact with street artists and know about their kitschy artwork, their livelihood, view art exhibitions, and end your walk at the beautiful Blue Synagogue and the David Sassoon Library. The best part is visiting the art hubs like Jehangir Art Gallery and Kala Ghoda. You could even have a portrait made! It’s a trip all art and history lovers would enjoy. Book now!
(Also try: Mumbai Bazaar Walk, which takes you through the mind-boggling array of markets in Mumbai)
6. Northern Bazaars and Hidden alleys: Varanasi
Company: Varanasi Walks
The narrow, winding alleys of Varanasi hide their own secrets. Unfold these secrets as you walk through the chaotic bazaars on the northern part of the city, the labyrinthine alleys and secret passages that criss-cross the religious maze, and leads to the ghats. From the centre of the city to the oldest ghats, this walking trail has it all, and not to mention, exciting photography frames too! To know more, look here.
7. Green Heritage Walk: Bengaluru
Company: Bangalore Walks
Bangalore, India’s Garden City, has some beautiful gardens like Lalbagh and Cubbon Park that house old trees, more than 50 species of birds. Take this leisurely stroll though these parks with naturalist Vijay Thiruvady. After you spend a lovely morning with the trees, end with breakfast at MTR, Bangalore’s legendary dosa place! Book the tour here.
(Also try: Neighbourhood Stroll, a unique walk by INTACH through the many community-specific neighbourhoods of the city)
8. The Sao-Tome Fontainhas Heritage Walk: Goa
Company: Wonobo Walking Tours
We’ve all heard about Goa’s Portuguese heritage, but seldom do we take time out to get a feel of the lost era. On your next visit, head to Panjim for this fascinating walk through the old Portuguese quarters of Sao Tome and Fontainhas. Walk through the quaint cobbled streets, the beautiful houses built in the Mediterranean style, and elegant cafes that have sprung up here and there. This walk is also a great excuse for photography, the vibrant houses, charming signs and décor throw up so many frames. Watch time stop still in Goa, with this tour.
9. Heritage Night Walk of Ahmedabad
Company: Cruta Foundation, with House of MG
See the city of Ahmedabad in new light, with this interesting Night Walk tour. Begin your walk from the historic Mangaldas ni Haveli, walk past heritage buildings to Manek Chowk, a busy late night food court that serves Gujarati food. You will also witness a ritual at Raja no Haziro, dating back to more than six centuries. This is where drummers signal the closing of the city gates at 11pm each night. Book your walk here.
10. Evening Culinary Tour: Lucknow
Company: Lucknow Walk/Tornos
Think Kaleji Kebabs, Tundey Kebabs, Pasandas, Biryanis and Nihari Gosht…pretty much sums up Lucknow! Spend a yummy evening in Lucknow by walking through the lanes of the historical city, and sampling some delicious food, and learning the secrets that go into their making. Also visit the ‘Bawarchi Tola’, the neighbourhood of chefs. To book this evening of deliciousness, check the website.
Most city walking tours are guided by locals, experts and enthusiasts with a flair for storytelling, so, on your walks, don’t miss out on the snippets of information, anecdotes..it all makes a new place more special. If you want to go deeper into the Indian cities, then you can try out more amazing city walking tours: Try the Heritage Walk in Jaipur, which takes tourists through the walled Pink City and its marvels, the Once Upon a Madurai, a unique walking tour that traces the beginning of Madurai’s fame through its central temple, Cemetery Lane Walk in Shimla takes you through spooky cemeteries and dilapidated, beautiful houses in the woods. Before you embark on the tours, check availability, and the tour calendars, as some tours depend on seasons. If you have more amazing city walking tours to share, do write about them in your comments.
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