Folks, I’ve taken you to all parts of the globe, at least as far as I’ve been, and shared my favourite cities. But this here is my last post in this regard. And some great cities and towns on this list. I always find it impossible to lump what is sometimes called the ‘sub-continent’ in with the rest of Asia. It’s so different, so unique even from region to region. Which is why it’s separate here too. Plus you know, I get an extra post out of it!
So anyway, here we go!
I visited India’s famous ‘blue city’ a couple of years ago now when I returned to Rajasthan for the first time in 19 years. I could probably include Udaipur on this list, but I haven’t been there for so long and my memory is poor on Udaipur. But I know I liked it a lot back in 1999, and Rajasthan in general as a region is brilliant with its incredible cities.
And Jodhpur was the one I loved most. It’s amazing Mehrangarh Fort sits atop a hill and you can see the whole of Jodhpur wrapped around, and you can see why it’s called the ‘blue’ city. Not far from the fort is the Jaswant Thada, a beautiful temple with gardens where you can while away an hour or two. It’s somehow peaceful, even with the selfie-takers!
Its alleyways are great fun to explore and there are so many little hidden things you’ll find in Jodhpur. There’s a market and a clock tower you can climb in the centre of town, and on another hill on the other side of the city is the Umaid Bawan Palace, which you can enter and see a little of (still operating as a very exclusive hotel I think). Also check out a wonderful collection of vintage cars.
Finally, there is the Toorji Ka Jhalra Bavdi, a sort of water tank where kids dive in with lovely architecture surround it with lattice-worked arches.
Nestled in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya is a town of great beauty that I really loved visiting back in 2018. I can’t recommend it on the basis of thousands of things to see and do, but I can recommend it for a place to escape the heat (its elevation is over 1800 metres) and a place to waste a bit of time relaxing in a great atmosphere.
There’s a beautiful lake (with those paddle-swan things if they take your fancy!) surrounded by the hills it’s seriously picturesque. The centre of town is the busiest spot, and is quaint in its own way, and if you are into tea, well, you’ve come to the right place because there are a number of tea estates around which do tours and tastings. There’s also a lovely botanical gardens to explore, and the town, although hilly, is great to walk around.
On top of that it’s great for excursions further into the Hill Country, and it’s a stop on toy train ride which is a must-do when in the region. There are hikes around the hills too if they take your fancy. I visited Pedro Tea Estate and had a tour, as well as taking a short walk to the ‘Lover’s Leap’ waterfall.
More here – Little Places – Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Pakistan’s cities are something else. They are, at least in my experience, like the wildest of the Indian cities I’ve ever visited. The one I took to most was Lahore. I met some friendly people there, got around the place a bit, and of course it is the preferred Pakistani location of friend of the blog ‘Urban Duniya’.
My first taste of Pakistan, and before I knew it I’d been taken out (with others) by the owner of the hostel to see motorcycles zooming around a barrel. Yes, really! And it’s a crazy, busy place, but it’s essence is something special.
The Badshahi Mosque is a beautiful, large, red mosque with three domes which dates back to the 17th Century. It’s really stunning, open, with shaded walkways and a collection of Qurans. It would probably be the number one thing to see in Lahore, and there are corridors designed so that if you were to whisper in one corner, someone in the opposite corner can hear you.
It’s opposite the Lahore Fort. Built in the 11th century, and completely rebuilt in the 17th, it has large open areas and plenty of grass, and like the mosque is Mughal in design. The fort also gives you views over the Minar-e-Pakistan, a spire that is also a typical place to meet people (as in people you’ve arranged to meet). Short trips from Lahore will take you to mausoleums and gardens which are also highly worthwhile, or the Wagah Border Crossing with India, where you may be able to catch the famed ‘changing of the guard’ ceremony. Being just over the border, Lahore is the perfect place to dip your toe in to try a little bit of Pakistan, should you feel the need!
More on Lahore here – First Taste Lahore, Pakistan
And yes, finally I am finishing on Mumbai, which I wrote about a week and a half ago when I said I was keen to return. Read about that HERE. Mumbai is the stuff of legends, with a colonial past but yet fiercely Indian today. The buildings are impressive, the buses are double-decker and red, and there is cricket happening here, there and everywhere? Plus, it’s a city that fought back proudly after the 2008 terrorist attacks to retain its identity and status.
And despite being a much-visited place, I found the people to be extremely friendly there. Ghandi had a house in Mumbai, and it is the home of Bollywood. It’s a city with a buzz, with life, with so much. The Gateway to India is this proud arch on the water’s edge, and the Taj Mahal Hotel is one of the grandest in all of Asia. Mujhe mumbee se pyaar hai!
So. There you are. My favourite cities – what are yours? Do you like the hussle of Kolkata, or the holiness of Varanasi? Perhaps the ‘modern’ Islamabad floats your boat? Please do comment, and as always – May the Journey Never End!