Tag Archives: india

HipHunt: Mumbai

With an empty belly (you’ll be eating a lot, today!) begin your day in Mumbai at the Gateway of India. Built in 1924, the colossal structure overlooks Mumbai Harbor and was built to welcome trade vessels to India’s main port city. Book a short passage on a boat that circles the harbor (about 70 rupees, or $1), or take in the view from a bench and watch the tourists stroll by. Have someone snap a photo of you by the gate and make sure to tag #hipmunk on Instagram (we want to see your adventures!).

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Once you’ve had your fill of the water, walk down PJ Ramchandani Marg until you hit the Taj Mahal Palace. Not to be confused with the other Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal Palace is one of Mumbai’s most famous architectural locations. Peek inside for a look at the gilded architecture, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, reserve a table for High Tea and nosh on an elaborate display of local delicacies. Instagram your favorite dish, tag us, and tell us all about it! After your snack, make sure to tour the historic halls.

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Resurface on PJ Ramchandani Marg and hail a cab, then head to the Leopold Cafe on Colaba Causeway. Taxis move quickly through the narrow streets of Mumbai, so keep the window rolled down and feel the breeze as it jets in. Take in the smells of street chai and roasting sugar, and the whirling reds and pinks of the buildings. Snap a photo of the view from your window and see how many sites you can tag from memory and remember to #hipmunk on Instagram!

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Once at Leopold, grab a seat (the most prized spots are right under one of their ceiling fans). The cafe is a famous meeting ground for artists and writers, such as Gregory David Roberts of Shantaram fame. Order a coffee and a masala savoury tomato omelette and enjoy the prime people-watching on the busy Causeway. Step outside to explore the streets of Colaba, then duck into one of the silver shops and barter over a necklace or ring that catches your eye. Take a photo with the shop owner while wearing your newfound piece of jewelry and share it with us!

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After Colaba, head toward the roundabout at the end of Colaba Causeway. Walk along its outer edge until you hit Mahatma Gandhi Road, then continue for a few minutes until you hit VB Gandhi Marg. Turn right, and you’ll be standing in the middle of the Kala Ghoda Arts District. Explore some of the small sides streets to the left and right, including the plentiful local art galleries. Snap a pic of your favorite piece of art, tag us, and tell us what it means to you. Make a quick pitstop at the Kala Ghoda Cafe for a selection of delicious sandwiches and salads. Or, if you’re in the mood for traditional Indian fare, check out Paratha Mantra along B Bharucha Road.

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Head out on B Bharucha Road until you hit Nagindas Master Road. Turn left, and at the next corner, turn right on Dalal Street. Follow it until you reach Horniman Circle Garden, a large expanse of green lodged into the pit of a quiet shopping center. Take a seat in the garden to catch your breath, then pop into the Central Library and the St. Thomas Cathedral Church. Or simply enjoy the lush flowers and the warmth of a Mumbai afternoon.

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As the afternoon sinks into evening, grab a cab to Delhi Darbar, one of Mumbai’s most famous restaurant chains. Order one of the delectable lamb curries (around 275 rupees) and enjoy a post-dinner chai. After dinner, walk to the Regal Cinema at the end of the road. After all, a trip to Mumbai would be nothing without taking in a Bollywood film! The cinema doesn’t offer subtitles for movies not in English, but the dancing and lively music will more than make up for it. Tweet @thehipmunk the name of the movie you decide to see and a quick review!

After the movie, grab a drink at the Woodside Inn, or if you’re too exhausted, take a taxi back to your hotel and rest up for the next day’s exciting adventure! And remember to share your photos and observations with us here at Hipmunk. Your funniest posts might just win you a Hipmunk tee!


The Beautiful Temples of Kanchipuram, South India

Temples are located throughout India, and Asia for that matter, but the ones in South India are gigantic and architecturally brilliant. I was born and brought up in India and our favorite family activity during the holidays was to visit one temple after the other, right from a young age. Religious tourism is the popular with most families in India, including mine. When I was young, visiting temples was like a picnic, a family outing. With age, the temple visits have lessened but I have always had a special place for temples in my heart.


One of the beautiful Hindu temples in Kanchipuram, India


This specific temple, Ekambareswarar Temple, is particularly beautiful; it is located in a temple town called Kanchipuram, near Chennai, in South India. Ekambareswarar temple was initially constructed in the 7th Century AD and since then it has undergone many modifications and additions and the temple now stands at an impressive 59 meters high.

Kanchipuram, one of the more popular temple towns in India, is called the “Land of 1000 Temples,” and for good reason—the town has been in existence for a very, very long time. In fact, written history of this temple town goes back to at least the 5th Century BC. South Indian temples, unlike their North Indian counterparts, have been relatively lucky because their location down in the south shielded them from the destruction caused by wars and foreign conquests. Hence, there are many ancient temples in this region that have survived—almost completely intact—until today.


One of the things I love best about the temples in the south are the intricately carved stone sculptures. These beautiful carvings and sculptures can be found on the temple’s towers, the walls, on the pillars, practically everywhere. Even smaller temples in the region have beautiful stone-art inscribed right into the temple structures. One neat thing, if you look closely at the temple towers, many resemble pyramids because pyramids concentrate energy at their base-point (that’s why corpses are kept there in many cultures). Similarly, here in India, the pyramid temple towers concentrate energy at the base and that’s one reason people walking through and around the temple often feel refreshed.

Personally, though I don’t often visit the temples for praying, I do visit them to capture the beautiful sculptures and stone-carvings in my camera. It is unfortunate that many temples in India (including this one) do not allow photography inside, but even with that rule in place, I always end up with some beautiful photos of the outside—if these are the type of sculptures you can see on the outside of these temples you can imagine how many more beautiful ones decorate the inside!


It takes many years to build a tower like these, and the sculptures inside the Temple were carved over centuries and by many hands. The Ekambareswarar Temple (also called as Ekambaranathar Temple) is one of the most popular temples in Kanchipuram, and I think for good reason. Inside the temple you’ll discover a thousand-pillared hall, a huge temple pond surrounded by long steps, a 2000 year old mango tree bearing four types of mango fruits, and many other beautiful offerings and additions to make the temple a holy and welcoming place.  Also, located right next to the temple (in a 300-year old heritage house) is the Shakuntala Jagannathan Museum of Fine Arts, which is worth visiting while you’re on the temple grounds. And since photography is prohibited inside, you’ll just have to go yourself to see the inside of the gorgeous Ekambareswarar Temple.

As for visiting, foreigners and visitors are very much allowed inside the temple (except a small hall where the main deity is kept). If you visit you should buy and eat the prasadam, food offerings, called Puliodharai, Vadai and Chakkarai pongal. These foods are made from rice and are very tasty— my favorite, so don’t miss!  🙂

Photos by Destination8Infinity.


I live in South India, I travel around South India, I blog about South India at Destination Infinity. Forget Taj Mahal, Forget Jaipur Palaces, Forget Delhi/Mumbai. The real gems of India are in the South. Welcome.

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