India pulsates with a spectacular mix of people, traditions and landscapes. Her cities buzz and confuse you, they overwhelm but welcome you. Your mouth waters at the never ending food experiences as you fry, simmer, sizzle, knead, roast and flip across a deliciously diverse repertoire of dishes. The culture, people and landscapes inspire, frustrate, thrill and confound you all at once. The best way to embrace India’s unpredictability is to embrace her soul and what better way to discover her soul than to explore on foot through heritage rich cities.
Chennai – The Mylapore Walk
Mylapore is one of the oldest residential neighbourhoods of Chennai and is known as the cultural hub of the city. Mylapore’s tree-lined avenues are home to elegant old-style houses, beautiful temples, church and mosques, vibrant music halls and some of the finest schools in Chennai.
The walk: The exquisite Kapaleeswarar Temple, the lovely central temple tank, the tranquil San Thorne Basilica, the beautiful 16th century Luz Church, the quiet and sprawling Sri Ramakrishna Mutt, and the ever active Music Academy. Then make your way through narrow, fascinating lanes that are busy with fruit and vegetable sellers, flower sellers and tiny old shops selling just about anything – from jewellery to silk to herbal oils and powders to interesting local crafts and ware to music and religious memorabilia. Once you’ve finished your walk, you can stop at Saravana Bhavan to enjoy Chennai’s famous coffee and snacks.
Mysore – The Mysore City Walk
Mysore (now Mysuru) is the roaul city of Karnataka and was the capital of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom ruled by Tipu Sultan. The city’s glorious heritage and history is evident in its fabulous palaces, monuments, art galleries and universities. The Mysore Palace, of the Wodeyar royal family is one of the grandest and most beautiful palaces in India. Mysore is also famous for the production of sandalwood, incense and fine silk.
The walk: Explore Mysore’s culture and heritage through its impressive colonial style buildings, and traditional yet exciting city markets: begin with the Big Clock, then move onto the Town Hall, Freemasons Hall, Chamaraja Circle, Palace Gates, K R Circle, Small Clock, Devaraja Market, K R Hospital, Mysore Railway Station, Maharani College, Maharaja College, DC Building, Mysore University and finally the Oriental Research Institute.
Goa – The Panjim Walk
To discover a slice of Goa’s fascinating history and heritage, walk through Soa Tome, the oldest district in Panjim, that is quaint and brimming with Latin heritage. See charming bungalows, churches, houses and cafes on a quiet and pleasant walk through this part of Panjim. Next, walk through the lanes of Fontainhas, which gets its name from the Phoenix fountain which used to supply water to the area. Finish the walk with a stop at one of the nice cafes here for tea and snacks.
We recommend two special walks in Mumbai.
The Worli Walk
Walk through the busy and fascinating Worli fishing village where the Koli fisher folk community still follow traditional ways of work and living. See the fisher folk set out into the sea with their nets and boats, and wait for the mornings catch as it comes in, walk through the incredibly busy and noisy fish markets, and experience a day in the lives of the hard working Koli. Also visit the Worli Fort, built by the British in 1675.
The Dadar Walk
Take an early morning ‘tree’ walk in the lovely green Five Gardens in the neighbourhood of Dadar, also known as Dadar Parsi Colony, the largest Zoroastrian enclave in the world. Learn about all kinds of tree species, the history and culture associated with them, and hear interesting anecdotes about Mumbai and its localities.
We recommend two special walks in Delhi.
The Humayans’ Tomb Walk
Humayan was the second Mughal Emperor to rule parts of northern India from 1530 – 1540 and again from 1555 – 1556. His tomb was built in 1570, and is unique because it was built as the first garden-tomb on the India sub-continent. Humayans’ Tomb is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk the beautiful tree lined path to the spectacular vision set against the Delhi skyline that is Humayun’s Tomb. Walk up its steep steps and around the monument. Next, take a stroll through the green and elegantly laid garden complex below, in the midst of which stands the stunning tomb. On your way back down the same path, walk through the lovely Nai Ka Gumbad (Barber’s tomb), Isa Khan’s tomb and finally finish at the Nila Gumbad.
The Old Delhi Walk
In 1638 when Emperor Shahjehan shifted his capita from Agra to Delhi, the Chandni Chowk Bazaar came into being. Many generations later, families are still in the same business, having built reputations for themselves. Today, Chandni Chowk is perhaps Delhi’s busiest market square, its narrow, crowded lanes filled with jewellery shops, silversmiths, repair shops, special clothiers, show shops, super street food, spice markets, traditional sweet shops and much, much more. It’s mind boggling, fascinating and amazing all at once! This is where Delhi’s rich and diverse social and cultural heritage and history come together beautifully.
The walk: Begin with the Dariba Kalan (the silver market) lane, then the Kinari Bazaar (for wedding trousseaus) and Paranthewali Gali (famous for the most delicious kinds of paranthas). Next, visit the Gurdwara Sees Ganj Sahib, go past the fantastic Jama Masjid mosque and then move on to see the temples and churches, all standing not too far from each other.
Want to explore India? Check out some of our Small Group Tours.
Track Snowleopards in the Himalayas – With an expert tracker, follow these ghosts of the mountain
Hornbill Festival – Experience a traditional Naga Warrior festival
Hemis Festival – Feast your eyes on the sacred dances and music, colourful masks and shimmering brocades robes.
Nehru Boat Festival – Deep ties of coastal people with the waters, make the boat races an integral part of village life as villagers train for months seeking out the famed trophy.
Durga Puja Festival – Every year the city of Kolkata takes on a new visage as the city celebrates Durgapuja, the largest and most vibrant festival of Bengal.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.