Take a day trip to the Araku Valley, which is home to lush forests, gorgeous waterfalls and hiking trails. Do also check out the Borra Caves, which are calcite and limestone structures believed to be millions of years old.
SEE & DO
Bay of Life Surfing School
Learn to ride the waves under the tutelage of a qualified instructor. As a bonus, the school supports local communities and helps to conserve coastal fauna.
The centrepiece of Hyderabad, this arched structure was built in the 16th century by Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah, the erstwhile ruler of the city. Its name translates into “four minarets”, each of which is 48m tall. Do also stroll through the bustling old-world market situated outside its walls. With glass bangles, perfumes, footwear and accessories for sale, it’s a haven for bargain-hunters.
Gass Forest Museum
Opened in 1902 to showcase the province’s forest life, this natural history museum has exhibits ranging from animal and tree specimens to weaponry used by local tribes. Other interesting artifacts include a piece of asteroid, believed to be several million years old.
Six miles west of the city lies this majestic fortress, which has been standing since the 12th century. The former capital of an ancient kingdom, it features elevated fortifications, intricate carvings, stucco work and imposing ramparts. Don’t miss the sound and light show, which takes place at dusk daily.
Conducted by local heritage activist and guide Jayashree Hatangadi, this heritage walk will take you through some of the oldest parts of the city. Step back in time to the era of the Zamindars and British rule, and take in some of the city’s major sights, including the European cemetery, a Masonic temple, and the old lighthouse.
Hussain Sagar Lake
This vast artificial lake in the centre of town connects the sister cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. Stroll along the waterfront, amble through one of the bordering parks, or go boating. At night, the road circumscribing the lake comes alive with glittering lights, hence its name “Necklace Road”.
Founded in 1814, this is one of the most historic attractions in the city. Its 35 galleries are divided into cultural and scientific sections, housing everything from paintings to botanical exhibits.
INS Kurusura Submarine Museum
The doors of the INS Kurusura, a 300ft long decommissioned submarine from the Indian Navy, have been thrown open to create a decidedly unusual museum. Visit for a glimpse of life on board a naval submarine, and marvel at the photographs and other artifacts on display.
Trek up to this hilltop park for picturesque views of the city and its surrounds. Here, you can also marvel at enormous idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. Take the ropeway cable car for a more leisurely trip to the summit.
This pre-eminent academy is dedicated to South Indian classical dance forms. Catch dancers working their magic at monthly recitals, or sign up for a heritage walk around the centre.
Kerala Kathakali Centre
This is a learning centre for traditional art forms such as the kathakali (a classical Indian dance), kalaripayattu (a martial art) and chenda (a percussion instrument). There are performances every evening, as well as daily yoga classes and meditation sessions.
This beautiful beach lies around seven miles from the city. Go early (around 6am) to catch the sunrise and watch the local fishermen putting out their nets. Then, walk along the shore to the distinctive red-and-white striped Vizhinjam lighthouse, and grab a bite at one of the beach shacks along the way.
Magen David Synagogue
Built by Elias David Ezra in 1883 to remember his father, this synagogue is a vestige of the city’s diminishing Jewish community. Its façade is clad in the signature red brick of old Calcutta; inside, you’ll find intricate floral motifs, chequered floors and arched galleries.
Marudhamalai Hill Temple
Nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghat mountains, 15km from downtown Coimbatore, this popular 12th-century temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Murugan. The hilltop setting and lush surroundings add to the temple’s appeal.
Museum of Kerala History
Learn about Kerala’s rich art and history through a series of different collections housed in brickwork rotundas. Original works by great Indian sculptors and painters are also displayed in the adjoining art gallery.
Museum of Natural History
Offering insights into the animal kingdom of the past, this museum showcases a fine collection of skeletons and fossils, as well as a section devoted to taxidermy. Natural history enthusiasts will appreciate the separate galleries spanning vertebrates, mammals, birds and even ethnic tribes.
National Gallery of Modern Art
Drop by this public gallery to discover how Indian art has evolved since the 18th century. Apart from the permanent displays, there are also film screenings, themed exhibitions and art workshops held on a regular basis.
This is one of the best preserved medieval palaces in India. Built in the 16th century, it was the abode of the Travancore royal family for several centuries. With brown tiled roofs, thick wooden pillars, flagstone paths and solid teak furniture, this granite fortress is a distinctive work of architecture. Its setting at the foot of the Veli Hills adds to its charm.
Kochi had a thriving Jewish community as far back as the 12th century. Today, the most visible link to this past is the tiny neighbourhood of Jew Town. There, you’ll find this synagogue, best known for its hand-painted porcelain tiles, exquisite rugs and ornate chandeliers.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
A designated tiger reserve, this wildlife sanctuary in the Nilgiris biosphere is also home to elephants, lion-tailed macaques, spotted deer and other protected animal species. Guided treks are available, as are other activities like bamboo rafting and camping.
Take a day trip to this tiny hill station located approximately 38 miles from the city. Perched 1100m above sea level, it offers beautiful views and several hiking trails. You’ll also find the Vana Sree store, which sells fresh forest produce such as honey, spices, herbs and roots, all rich in culinary or medicinal value.
Salar Jung Museum
Dig deep into the country’s past at this museum, which showcases a diverse collection of ancient manuscripts, garments, paintings, sculptures, carvings, ceramics and metalwork. One of three National Museums in India, the artifacts contained in its 30-plus galleries once belonged to the personal collection of the Salar Jungs, a powerful local family.
Shreyas Yoga Retreat
Take time out for a Hatha yoga session or an Ayuverdic spa treatment at this luxury retreat, which is set amidst lush greenery. The masks and scrubs used are prepared with fresh ingredients from the organic gardens on site.
Also known as Kovai Kuttralam Falls, these cascades are located in Siruvani Hills, around 30 miles from the city. Splash around in the cool waters or take a short hike through the forest for a spot of bird-watching. The falls are at their peak during monsoon season, between June and October.
Sree Chithra Art Gallery
This 82-year-old art gallery was inaugurated during the Travancore dynasty. Its chief attraction is a set of paintings by Raja Ravi Verma, a celebrated artist and erstwhile ruler of the kingdom. Works from the Tanjore, Mughal and Rajput schools of art can also be found here.
This photography-focused gallery hosts regular exhibitions by both emerging and established creatives from India and abroad. The works of big-name photographers like Raghu Rai and Prabuddha Dasgupta have been displayed here in the past.
Set in a wooded 250-acre campus hugging the Adyar estuary, this society is a
bastion of Chennai’s cultural heritage. Attend thought-provoking talks, exhibitions
and screenings, or simply admire the 450-year-old banyan tree located in the heart of its grounds.
EAT & DRINK
Broadway Gourmet Theatre
Tuck into an array of artistically presented dishes at this sleek gastrobar, which offers views over Old Bangalore from its terrace. The menu here is an eclectic mix of Indian, South-East Asian, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisines.
Church Street Social
This quirky blend of casual café, hip pub and informal office space boasts a perennial buzz that few other places in the city can match. The menu offers a mix of comfort dishes from around the world, which can be enjoyed with quirky cocktails like the Aacharoska (Caipiroska with a bite of Indian lime pickle).
Head to this popular restaurant for an introduction to Andhra cuisine, which is a coastal variation of Telugu cuisine. Ask for the vegetarian thali, a multi-course plated meal comprising puris (unleavened, deep-fried bread), rice, and a range of local curries and pickles.
Indian cuisine and molecular gastronomy come together to great effect at this stylish bistro. The desserts here offer particularly delightful spins on old favourites: think lychee-flavoured ras malai (spongy cottage cheese cakes in a milky syrup) and crème brulée made with Rooh Afza (a concentrated squash of fruits and herbs).
Also known as Kethel’s Chicken, this restaurant is famous for its Keralan spicy fried chicken. It’s located in the heart of Chalai Bazaar, a bustling traditional market.
Some of the recipes at this traditional restaurant have been handed down over four generations. Go for the signature virundhu, a veritable feast of 17 different dishes, such as mutton chops and fish curry, served on banana leaves. The use of hand-ground spices makes the food all the more aromatic.
Kayees Rahmathulla Café
Located near Mattancherry’s bustling spice market, Kayees serves up traditional breakfast dishes like appam (rice pancake) and parotta (layered flatbread). For lunch, try the signature mutton biryani, which is accompanied by several fragrant curries.
With its atmospheric décor and classic wooden furniture, this hotel bar does a good job of evoking the city’s colonial past. It offers a menu of excellent cocktails made using local ingredients like fennel and bitter gourd.
Drink in gorgeous city views at this gastropub, which shakes up creative cocktails made from local ingredients. Try the refreshing Toast to Calcutta, a mix of gin, basil, and house-made Gondhoraj cordial.
This funky gastropub offers comfort food like pizzas and burgers, as well as regular DJ nights and live music. The creative cocktails are another big draw: try Mad Men, a combination of whiskey, coffee, orange shrub, tonic and rosemary.
Situated along Fort Kochi waterfront, this popular restaurant serves up an array of seafood dishes, from grilled tiger prawns to fish molee (fish curry in coconut milk). The deck also offers excellent sea views.
Sera the Tapas Bar and Restaurant
India’s first tapas bar is one of the most popular watering holes in the city. With its comprehensive menu of small plates and creative cocktails, it draws a lively crowd every evening.
Shadab Hotel Restaurant
The classic rice dish of biryani comes in many forms, but the Hyderabadi version is especially popular thanks to its aromatic blend of spices. This venue is well known for its biryani and haleem, a lentil, wheat and meat stew. Round off your meal with a dessert like kubhani ka meetha, a puree of dried apricots.
With flavours from across four southern states, this is the best place in town for South Indian fare. The plush ambience and superlative service at Taj Coromandel make for a top-notch dining experience.
Cauvery Handicrafts Emporium
This store in the heart of Bangalore carries the widest range of South Indian arts and crafts in the city. From sandalwood statues and heady incense to soft silk shawls and hand-woven floor rugs, there’s something for just about everyone.
Stock up on essential oils, teas, handmade soaps, and traditional Keralan handicrafts. The store is also home to the world’s largest vaarpu (a traditional brass vessel used to cook feasts), which was painstakingly built over 13 months.
Stock up on antiques, essential oils, teas, soaps and Keralan handicrafts at this famous store located in the historic Jew Town.
Sienna Store and Café
This store markets the creations of rural artisans from all over West Bengal, from hand loomed textiles to glazed earthenware.
Koder House Hotel
Built in the 18th century, this former family home has been converted into a lovely boutique hotel. Four of its six suites come with balconies, offering excellent views of the beach and the vibrant Vasco da Gama Square.
Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Village
This four-star beachside resort offers simple thatched-roof cottages, a lush garden, and an open-air restaurant that serves up organic food. There’s also an in-house spa with a range of Ayurvedic treatments and even yoga sessions.
Old Lighthouse Bristow Hotel
The former colonial residence of Sir Robert Bristow – who was chiefly responsible for building Cochin Port – has since been converted into a beautiful hotel. Rich in old-world charm, it offers expansive suites, three stellar F&B options, and top-notch service. The old lighthouse of Cochin is situated in the same compound.
Sunray Village Resort
Nature takes centre stage at this eco-friendly resort, which is surrounded by a lush plantation. Eco activities on offer include horticulture lessons, koi fish-feeding and high tea in the middle of the garden.
The Corner Courtyard
Experience colonial Calcutta in this 108-year-old heritage building, which was recently converted into a boutique hotel. With elegant chandeliers and top-notch hospitality, it’s a tranquil oasis in the south of the city.
The Residency Towers
Offering 135 rooms, this business-focused hotel also features a spa, gym and outdoor pool. There’s also an array of F&B options to choose from: an English-style pub, a Chinese restaurant, a 24-hour café, a cocktail lounge and an open-air grill.
This 19th-century heritage bungalow with a garden out front is located in a quiet and leafy neighbourhood. With only five rooms, you can be assured of a relaxed vibe and personalised service.
Vivanta by Taj – Malabar
Situated on Willingdon Island, with a magnificent view of Cochin harbour, this 82-year-old hotel strikes a fine balance between the past and the future. Its classic decor (think wood-beamed ceilings and marble bathrooms) is complemented by mod cons such as a top-notch spa with an infinity pool.
INS Kurusura Submarine Museum
Marudhamalai Hill Temple
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Sunray Village Resort
The Residency Towers