Walking is one of the best ways to get a real sense of any town, city or village that one is travelling to. The easy pace allows you to slow down whenever you want to and lose yourself (quite literally) in the sights, sounds and smells of your surroundings. Here we highlight our favourite walking tours in three of India’s most bustling towns and cities, each a different theme but just as engaging.
Varanasi Heritage and Bylanes Walking Tour –
Start your walk through the alleys around the temples of old Varanasi and you’ll find yourself ambling in tune with the ringing of the temple bells and with the fragrance of incense filling the air. Discover the ancient temples this city is so famous for. Among these, the Vishwanath temple, the Hanuman Sankatmochan temple and the Durga temple
are the better-known ones.
Synonymous with Varanasi and its streets are the exquisite Benarasi Saris and brocade textiles woven in the history of this city. This age old industry dating back to the Mughals is popular till today. Walk in the lanes, chatting with weavers and getting a hang of this skill that has passed on from one generation to the next. Right next to the Laxmi temple you’ll find Kapoor Art Pvt. Ltd, here you’ll find a beautiful collection of saris at reasonable prices. Buy a Benarasi Sari, absolute poetry in silk, with gold or silver thread worked with intricate and elaborate patterns. Also popular in Benaras are the carpets, jewellery, brass-ware and clay and wooden toys. A shoppers delight walking around the markets of Benaras makes it worthwhile and enjoyable. Of these, a visit to the Thatheri Bazar is a must for all if only to see the vibrant and colourful atmosphere.
An offbeat place to explore is the home of Bhartendu Harishchandra. This old house has on display several things belonging to the renowned writer and poet who lived here from 1850 to 1885. Another charming place to visit is the Sher Wali Kothi, an old haveli (mansion) of a prominent business family of Benaras. Known for the tiger statues on either side of its main entrance, this old home also has a family temple with intricate carvings within its premises.
While you’re here stop for a bit and enjoy the delicious local sweets and savoury snacks that are typical of the city.Interact with the locals and soak in the history and culture which is so much an integral part of this holy city.
Mysore Royal Culinary Walk –
This is a walking tour that allows you to best experience what the wonderful city of Mysore has to offer. Synonymous with yoga, Mysore is also home to stunning architecture, delicious food and lush scenery.
Start your walking tour in the heart of the city at the Town Hall. Agrahara. It is the oldest part of the city and still bears the marks of the time that has gone by. Explore the century-old market and immerse in the vibrancy and colours.Walk by the charming old heritage structures that have played host to greats such as Gandhi and Nehru. See how the story of Mysore connects to several significant historical events around the world.
During the walk, you will visit the fort, Mysore Palace, old monuments, colourful markets and temples. Some of the highlights other than the palace itself are the Jagmohan Palace and Art Gallery, Karanji Lake and St. Philomenas Church. If you’re craving some more walking, head to nearby Chamundi Hills. The view from the top of the city, especially at sunset and sunrise is lovely. You can also combine this with a visit to the nearby Sand Museum. By the end of the tour, you will walk away richer in memories than when you started. Don’t miss the opportunity to acquire the knowledge about this historical city by walk.
Mysore has lent its name to some famous dishes like the Mysore Pak, Mysore Masala Dosa, Mysore Churumuri…the list goes on. If you are a foodie then Mysore spoils you with its wide variety options. For lunch head to Hotel Mylari, a restaurant that is famous for its dosa. On a led tour you can even learn to make dosas and akki rotis (rice bread) in a local home
Mumbai By Dawn Walking Tour –
Mumbai by Dawn is a walking tour that pays homage to the people of Mumbai and venerates all those who go about their business obstinately with one purpose – a better life. Start this tour early in the day and find yourself at the chaotic docks, where amidst understanding the life and times of the Koli fisherfolk (the original inhabitants of Mumbai), you will see the arrival and grading of 25 tonnes of fish. You will also be privy to a one-of-its-kind fish auction of the famous Bombay Duck. You will be right at the centre of all the action, as thousands of illiterate vendors sort out newspapers of 7 different languages, that too in the middle of the road. These markets are not only a great introduction to the people of Mumbai but also a photographer’s dream come true.
Milkmen drive past with milk canisters; freshly baked bread is delivered, to the melee of colour and fragrance at the nearby flower market, all these bazaars add to the frenzy of Mumbai. Next, head to the ‘all herb mandi’ spread across the Dadar Tilak bridge. Possibly the only market of its kind in the world, this green market has a thousand vendors sitting atop a bridge selling various leafy vegetables. What’s interesting is that when you walk the same lanes a few hours later, you wouldn’t find any evidence of the morning’s flurry. End the walking tour with a walk across a cricket ground and learn about the game that has captured the hearts of a billion.
All in all, this cavalcade of life in the morning will show you the real spirit of Mumbai. It comes at a price, though – waking up at 5.15 for one.
NOTE: You can do these tours on your own or go on a walking tour with Far Horizon Tours. To know more about doing the tour with our local and knowledgable guides you can contact us by clicking here.