If you live in one of India’s metropolitan cities, you probably spend a whole lot of your time inside vehicles ferrying you from one place to another. That’s just the way that our biggest cities are designed – to cater to the convenience of the vehicle over that of the pedestrian. However, if you know the city well enough, you also know that there are certain places which are still perfect for exploring at a more leisurely pace.

There’s nothing quite like taking a walk through your city if you want to really soak in all that a place has to offer. Take your camera along and saunter down some of these routes and you just might learn a thing or two about your city along the way. These are the best walking routes in your metropolitan city:

Chennai

Where: The area around Elliot’s Beach

There’s nothing quite like a walk by the beach to start your day. We recommend getting there early in the morning, because we all know what Chennai’s infamous weather is like – get there any later than 8:30 am and you’ll end up melting into the road yourself. Start at the beginning of Besant Avenue (colloquially known as Theosophical Society Road) before cutting into the small street that leads to KFI’s The School and finally making your way to the beach, where you can end your walk with coffee or soup from one of the many vendors there.

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Bengaluru

Where: Hebbal Lake

If you really want to soak yourself in Bengaluru’s past, look no further than the gorgeous Hebbal lake, which is one of the three lakes created in 1537 by the legendary Kempe Gowda. If you get there early in the morning or just before dusk, the ornithologist in you is in for a special treat – several species of bird can be found in the area, often hidden amongst the thick coating of water hyacinth that covers most of the lake’s surface.

Hyderabad

Where: Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park

Yes, it’s a National Park inside city limits. And to tell the truth, this place is crawling with people during its limited visiting hours, but it’s still a haven for those of us who want to return to nature and escape the city’s din. What’s wonderful about the place is that it’s a safe space for animals and birds – regular visitors can spot peacocks, jungle cats and porcupines – due to the administration’s determination to keep all development inside the park to a minimum. In other words, once the sun begins to go down, you’d better get out of there, because there’s no provision for electric lighting in there!

Mumbai

Where: The by-lanes of Bandra

Sure, Marine Drive may seem like the more picturesque location, but it’s done to death. Avoid the milling crowds around Mumbai’s tourist hotspot and make your way instead to Bandra. Start at Lilavati Hospital in Reclamation and then wander down Chapel Road. Many of the homes here have belonged to the same families for generations, so it’s almost like stepping into another world – everything here seems stuck in time even as the rest of Mumbai seems to race forward. Once you’re at the end of Chapel Road, take Waroda Road to St Andrew’s Church and then up St Paul’s Road until you reach Carter Road. A little history, plenty of potential for photographs and the seaside – a perfect walk, indeed.

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Pune

Where: Koregaon Park

We know this is the standard suggestion whenever someone is looking for suggestions of places to visit in Pune, but we aren’t talking about the main road here. Skip the endless lines of bars and shops and wander instead into the smaller lanes that branch out from the main KP road. Depending on which lane you choose, you could either end up in the oasis of greenery that is Osho Teerth Park, or if you’re in the mood to grab a bite to eat, try one of the many fantastic small eateries that pop up seemingly out of nowhere.

Kolkata

Where: Start in Bowbazar and end at Chitpur

The city is soaked in its colonial past and the resulting heritage buildings and sites make up a large part of the must-see spots in the city. You’ll find that walking is very popular in the city, with several walking tour operators offering visitors a variety of trails to choose from, so it’s safe to say that walking is one of the best ways to see the sights that Kolkata has to offer. Our personal favourite walking path takes you from Bowbazar, which is full of quirky shops and bakeries, through the only Chinatown left in India, and finally ends in the cosmopolitan Chitpur, which is home to a Zoroastrian fire temple, an Armenian Church and three synagogues.

New Delhi

Where: Mehrauli Archaeological Park

Not so much a park as it is an entire area of the city, Mehrauli was redeveloped into an archaeological hotspot and model of conservation at the turn of the millennium. Take your camera along and walk through the only area in Delhi which has had over 1,000 continuous years of occupation and is, consequently, home to just over 100 historically significant monuments. If the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital is too much for you, this will feel like a return to the city’s colourful past.

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Cover Image Courtesy: Shutterstock.com

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