India’s Big Cities – if you have to

I am not a fan of India’s big cities, and that’s an understatement. Yes, there are beautiful buildings and gardens and temples, the bazaars are colorful and the food amazing, but you can find all these in smaller cities and towns, without the surrounding urban squalor. Rural squalor in India is somehow more palatable. But the gateways to India are mostly in the big cities, so here are my recommendations for spending a day or two in transit.

Mumbai: near both airports, Le Royal Meridian www.leroyalmeridian-mumbai.com is a haven of tranquility, for a layover or just to reenergize before continuing on. A bit further into town, on Juhu Tara Rd, and with nearby streets to walk around, are the medium-rated Ramada Palm Grove www.krahejahospitality.com, with complimentary jacuzzi and steam room and great massages, and the luxury JW Marriott mail@jwmarriotmumbai.com with a wonderful bookshop cafe. In town, delicious food is served at Chetana veg restaurant and bar at 34 k Dubash Marg, tel 2284 4968, and at Leopold Cafe (since 1871!) on Colaba Causeway, around the corner from the Taj. Upscale and upper priced, but with great food and wine, is the Moti Mahal restaurant in the north of the city, in Bandra, tel 91 22 26408577, at junction of Gurunanak and Waterfield Rds. An excellent guide in Mumbai is Mrs Madhavi Marwaha tel 0091 9987399683,  madhavi_dw@hotmail.com.

Chennai: Taj Coromandel, at 37 Mahatma Gandhi Rd. An oasis of luxury: feather quilts, an unbelievable buffet breakfast, and service extraordinaire. www.tajhotels.com  Note: I have been in many guesthouses, in India and elsewhere, but the worst was undoubtedly Broadlands. Filthy, badly lit, surly service and to be avoided at all costs. If you go anyway (some people are masochists) ask for directions to the nearby Hotel Sree Bhavan restaurant at 339 Triplicane High Rd, which serves some of the best food – achingly cheap but fabulous – in India.

Delhi: Hotel Broadway (3*) on 4/15 Ali Assaf Rd, near the train station, is clean, safe and convenient for visiting the markets of Old Delhi (Chandni Chowk for jewelry) and catching long distance trains, but its claim to fame is the fabulous restaurant, Chor Bizarre, written up in the NY Times and elsewhere (tel 91 11 23273821, broadway@oldworldhospitality.com) The cuisine is superb, the decor amazing and in spite of their name (thieves’ bazaar) prices ultra reasonable. They also offer walking tours. Do not miss!! 

In New Delhi, Connaught Circle can keep you busy shopping for a day or two, but beautiful and expensive one of a kind jewelry can be seen  – and purchased – at Indian Arts Palace (since 1840!), at 19E Connaught Place, tel 23416203. 

4 Responses to “India’s Big Cities – if you have to”

  1. Madhavi Marwaha says:

    My phone no needs to be modified to 00919987399683 from the one given above as 0919892001453

  2. Madhavi Marwaha says:

    Thanks in advance to all

  3. RA says:

    phone # updated nov 09

  4. so nice blog and nice information…
    good work keep going..