India’s cities may be crowded and chaotic with little or no place to walk. But if you closely look around you will find some of the most beautiful sidewalks. Whether you enjoy a leisurely stroll or a brisk walk, make it a point to visit one of these fantastic pedestrian walkways if you reside in, or are visiting any of these cities. With spectacular views and ample open space, these are undoubtedly some of the best sidewalks of India.
1. Marine Drive, Mumbai
Marine Drive is one of Mumbai’s most defining features, referred to as the ‘Queen’s Necklace’. The 4.3 km long road that stretches from Land’s End, Nariman Point to Malabar Hills follows the natural curve of the bay and is lined with a broad promenade aligned with palm trees. The entire stretch is beautiful, with a wide six-lane road, gorgeous art-deco buildings, and the shimmering waters of the sea; the promenade is every walker’s idea of paradise. With a lively buzz and crowds always frequenting the stretch, walkers here can look forward to spectacular views, Mumbai’s big-city vibe, and at the same time plenty of quiet space.
2. Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmadabad
The Sabarmati Riverfront is the pride of Ahmedabad, the growing metropolis in the heart of Gujarat. Situated along the banks of one of the largest rivers in the state, the natural beauty of the region has been exploited to create what is one the most beautiful sidewalks in India. Sabarmati Riverfront snakes along the banks of the river, stretching as far as 10 km. A delight for pedestrians, the walkway doesn’t just attract fitness enthusiasts, but it also draws families and other residents, simply looking for a place to relax and enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the river. The stretch is adorned with benches and streetlights for the benefit of visitors.
3. Marine Drive, Kochi
Kerala is known for its natural beauty, among both international and Indian tourists. Its cities are however just as impressive as its small towns and villages, with Kochi boasting one of the best sidewalks in the country. Contrary to its name, Marine Drive, in Kochi, is a pedestrian-only walkway that stretches for almost 2 km. The sidewalk is extremely popular with the locals, and is a must-visit for any tourist, especially if you love walking. Off course, you don’t need to do a lot of walking to appreciate Marine Drive. You can simply sit back and soak in the beautiful surroundings, as the sidewalk overlooks Kerala’s picturesque backwaters. Sunsets at Marine Drive are beyond compare, and you will always be treated to a gentle sea breeze.
4. Cubbon Park, Bengaluru
Popularly referred to as India’s ‘Garden City’, it should come as no surprise that Bengaluru is home to some of the most beautiful sidewalks, with its many urban parks. Cubbon Park is probably the most famous of the city’s gardens and it is home to some of the most refreshing sidewalks, with lush greenery all around. A stroll down Cubbon Park’s walking trails and sidewalks is quite literally a breath of fresh air and it is regarded as the lungs of the city. Carpeted in green, shaded by huge trees, and lined with neatly-trimmed shrubs, Cubbon Park is inviting to both avid runners and those looking to simply kick back and relax.
5. Seaside Promenade, Pondicherry
Pondicherry is famed for its gorgeous beaches and delightful French architecture and the Seaside Promenade at Promenade Beach treats you to both of these attractions. The promenade stretches for 1.2 km, with the sandy beach and sea on one side, and an open road, lined by quaint French villas on the other. The sidewalk is a treat for walkers and is especially beautiful in the monsoons when the beach is lashed by heavy rains. You can amble along the promenade, rest at the benches, or walk in the sand with waves washing your feet.
6. Nehru Road, Darjeeling
Nehru Road, in Darjeeling, is worlds away from the traffic and chaos of India’s big cities. Although Nehru Road is an important route, connecting two major locations in the city, it is off limits for all motorized transport. A haven for pedestrians and shoppers the narrow road is lined with small shops and restaurants, selling everything, from shoes and clothes, to handicrafts and food. Life seems to slow down when you’re walking down Nehru Road and shopping here is also a more laidback experience. The locals, store-owners included, are polite and friendly and no one seems to ever be in a hurry. Technically, sidewalks do not run along the entire length of road, but who needs a specially designed walkway, when the entire road is meant exclusively for pedestrians?
7. Mall Road, Shimla
There is nothing quite like a walk down Mall Road, in Shimla; a stroll down the enchanting walkway will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Located in the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, Mall Road is in fact the city’s main street. Despite this, no vehicles are permitted to use the road, with the exception of emergency vehicles, making Shimla one India’s most pedestrian-friendly cities. Free from the honking and fumes of vehicles, tourists and locals flock to Mall Road to enjoy leisurely strolls and to indulge in some shopping. The road is lined with shops, eateries, and cafes, but you won’t find any of the glitzy retail chains that you see in most other cities. There are only cozy shops that sell woolen clothes, pottery, handicrafts, books, and lots more.
8. Carter Road Promenade, Mumbai
Carter Road Promenade is more than just a beautiful sidewalk; it is also a testament to the civic awareness and dedication of residents in the area. Located in Bandra, Mumbai, the wide promenade, adjacent to Carter Road, stretches for a kilometer. It starts at Jogger’s Park and extends right up to Khar Danda, clinging to the beautiful shoreline throughout the entire way. The coastal road always presents spectacular view of the Arabian Sea. But this was not the case, a few years ago as there was not much space for pedestrians and the shoreline itself had begun to deteriorate due to years of neglect. Active citizens groups in this upscale residential area took it upon themselves to clean up and beautify the stretch. The gorgeous promenade is a result of this labor and today it hosts walkers, a kid’s park, a park for the dogs, and small street performances and shows. There’s scarcely a better place in the city to enjoy the sea breeze and unwind.
9. MG Road, Gangtok
MG Road is located in the heart of Gangtok city, in the state of Sikkim. Walking down MG Road is equivalent to strolling through one of those old-fashioned village markets of Europe. The road is free of vehicles and it is also remarkably clean, with regular placement of bins and environmental conscious inhabitants ensuring that it remains litter-free. Imbibed with a warm and laidback vibe, the street is dotted with benches where you can simply relax and do nothing, or you could grab a bite and a cup of coffee from one of the numerous little eateries along the road. Both sides of the road are lined with shops and eateries, but the area still manages to retain a convivial atmosphere, free of excessive commercialization. This is the destination in Gangtok, where everyone comes to hangout, relax, shop, or simply enjoy a walk.
10. B.B.D. Bagh, Kolkata
B.B.D. Bagh, or Dalhousie Square, as it was called earlier, is located right in the heart of the city of Kolkata, West Bengal. The area is near the Hooghly River, along its waterfront, in the western part of the city. It was one of the oldest areas to be brought under British colonial control and grew into an important commercial and administrative center. It still remains the seat of power for the state government and is the main business area of the city. The entire area has also been declared a World Heritage Site, because of its rich collection of majestic colonial era buildings. It is in fact believed to be one of the best locations of colonial heritage in the world. Although B.B.D. Bagh may not have huge sidewalks to boast about, it provides an experience that no other city can offer. The sidewalks that line the roads, weave in and around the historic plaza, are shaded by great old trees and are well-maintained. Besides, walking down these sidewalks will make you feel like you’re passing through old London, with all of the magnificent colonial architecture around you.
If you ever visit any of these cities, or happen to live in one of them, make sure that you visit some of these sidewalks. A trip to one of these places may be just the motivation you need to start walking.