New Delhi, January 30, 2010
First Published: 13:35 IST(30/1/2010)
Last Updated: 20:00 IST(30/1/201
I’m travelling to Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad or Pune’ –chances are that
if you mention this fact to any of your acquaintances, they will assume
that you are headed to a business meeting, conference or seminar. But
an increasing number of Indians are heading to the country’s metros for
leisure travel. Specifically, they’re looking to holiday in Bangalore,
Kolkata and Mumbai.
According to many travel experts,
there’s a varied cultural life waiting to be explored right in the
middle of the bustle of life that is called a metropolitan city. That’s
what Bhawna Agarwal, founding vice president of Yatra.com,
means when she observes that the number of people wanting to travel to
other Indian cities has gone up over the last six months. "This was not
the case earlier,” explains Agarwal, adding, "We’re noticing that there
are a large number of people interested in going to metros for short
Agarwal adds that there are two kinds of travellers
who wish to visit metros. The first kind is looking for a short /
weekend getaway, while the other is probably visiting family or
friends. "These are the two things that take most people to metros. But
I think the trend is catching up even more, and we need to do a lot
more to make sure our cities are noticed,” she says.
Agarwal adds that at Yatra.com,
they’ve realised that a lot of weekend trips are to other metros. "This
is something we noticed during New Year’s eve,” explains Agarwal,
adding, "A lot of people came to Delhi to celebrate. Earlier, the
obvious choice would have been Goa. A lot of people did this even
during the Republic Day weekend.”
City side Lights
expert, Thomas Thottathil, head of corporate communications at travel
company, Cox and Kings, agrees that this trend is on the rise.
According to him, there are various reasons why people choose to visit
cities, including the desire to explore different cuisines. "For
foreign tourists, there’s shopping and sightseeing. Mumbai’s sights and
sounds, nightlife and food, Delhi’s historical buildings: these are
some things that bring people to these destinations,” he says.
traveller Babul Bhatt is someone who frequently visits other metros for
both work and pleasure. This executive at a telecom firm loves
photography and visits different places to take pictures. "The cities I
visit most frequently are Chennai and Delhi,” says Bhatt, adding, "I
really love the cultural life of Delhi: there’s so much history, and
for me it is a place to see our country’s Mughal architecture.”
on the other hand, attracts Bhatt because of its many temples. "Every
city has something to recommend it. With Jaipur, where I just recently
went, it’s the palaces,” explains Bhatt.
Swift upgrade needed
is there enough to keep tourists coming back to metros? Infrastructure
is an issue that needs to be urgently tackled, admit most experts – but
what is equally important is affordable hotels. "Transportation is
improving,” says Agarwal. "There was a time when Delhi was an extremely
difficult city in terms of public transport; but this is no longer the
case today,” she adds.
Sharat Dhall, managing director for
Tripadvisor, India, says that good accommodation in a metro is
something that should be a priority. "Not everyone can afford to stay
at properties like the Taj and Oberoi,” he says.
On the Town
also agrees that the number of tourists travelling to metros is
increasing. "There are definitely a lot of gaps here. We’ve not taken
enough interest in promoting our cities as we should have,” he admits.
cities like Paris, London and New York may have an active tourism
industry backing them, the same cannot yet be said for Delhi and
Mumbai. "But this too is changing,” says Agarwal. "Delhi is positioning
itself as a leisure spot: it has wide roads, greenery and spacious
houses that make living here an experience.”
that the tourism industry needs to be more proactive about metros.
"With the Commonwealth Games, the government is waking up too,” adds
Agarwal. "There’s an urgency to have more affordable hotels, more bed
and breakfast places, as well as realistic hotel prices.”
Love your Metro
Mumbai: Entertainment capital, has a a rocking nightlife. Good public transport system. Visit:
Victoria Gardens, Gateway of India, Haji Ali dargah, Colaba Causeway,
Chowpatty and Juhu beaches, Borivili National Park, Kala Ghoda, Flora
Fountain, Nehru Science Centre.
Delhi: Our political and cultural Capital. There’s also an endless amount of heritage and history to be explored. Visit:
Humayun’s Tomb, Akshardham, Raj Ghat, India Gate, Qutub Minar, Dilli
Haat, Chandni Chowk, Jantar Mantar, Red Fort, Jama Masjid. http://www.delhitourism.nic.in
Chennai: A spiritual hub. The city has many temples you can visit if you’re spiritually inclined. Visit: Marina Beach, Government Museum, Ramakrishna Temple, Kalpeeshwar Temple, Crocodile Bank.
Bangalore: There’s more to this IT hub than meets the eye – after all, it is the ‘Garden City’. Visit: Lal Bagh Botanical Garden, Bannerghatta National Park, Lumbini Gardens, Innovative Film City, Bangalore Palace, Cubbon Park. http://www.karnatakatourism.org/
Calcutta: Known for its academic and intellectual culture and vibrant social life. Visit:
Victoria Memorial, BBD Bagh, Fort William, Writers Building, Shahid
Minar, Marble Palace, Botanical Gardens, Nicco Park, Science City,
Howrah Bridge. http://www.westbengaltourism.gov.in/wb/
Pune: This ‘Oxford of the East’ is known for its cuisine, student and youth culture, and vibrant arts scene. Visit: Osho Ashram, Shaniwarwada, MG Road, Visapur Fort.
Hyderabad: Best known for the Charminar and other historical monuments. Visit: Charminar, Golconda Fort, Salar Jung Museum, NTR Gardens, Banjara Hills, Ramoji Film City.