Gung-ho on Gurgaon
Not too long ago, Gurgaon was a sleepy satellite town of India’s capital city. But in the last two decades or so, this little suburb has flowered into a hip-and-happening town with exciting business and leisure opportunities. Tourists readying to make a beeline for the regular Delhi haunts are advised to add Gurgaon to their itinerary, and to spend at least a few days exploring this area of India’s National Capital Region (NCR).
It’s only about half an hour’s drive away from South Delhi, and is also connected by the Delhi Metro, so there’s no reason why you should miss out on Gurgaon even if you’re staying in Dilli. Keep this little Gurgaon Guide by your side and we bet you’ll fall in love with this new kid on the block.
Places to visit
1. Kingdom of Dreams
For a grand introduction to Indian culture, art, heritage, craft, cuisine and performing arts, visit Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon. The sky is always a beautiful blue inside the Culture Gully, and you can wander along this excellent display of Indian culture, shop for curios from all over the nation, gorge on the yummy Indian delights, get a massage or even get your future read by their in-house astrologers. It’s an irresistible onslaught of entertainment that keeps even the locals coming back for more. While here, you could also check out the shows running at Nautanki Mahal — an Indian take on Hollywood’s Broadway. The shows here are incredibly grand and have been given a thumbs-up by most critics and visitors.
2. Ambience Mall
Gurgaon is famous for its malls, but away from the Mall Mile (MG Road) is a massive mall that stands alone, at the very entry of Gurgaon from NH8. A kilometre long, and several stories high, it houses about 2500 retail outlets, an ice-skating rink, a hypermarket, a seven-screen multiplex cinema, and about a dozen restaurants. You’ll also find coffee shops, a food court, a car showroom, an international fitness club, a fancy bowling alley and so much more. You could spend an entire day at Ambience Mall, and still not experience everything here.
3. Sultanpur National Park and Bird Sanctuary
About 15km from Gurgaon is the Sultanpur National Park and Bird Sanctuary. Once popular as a hunting ground, it is today a protected site and a beautiful destination for nature lovers. About 250 species of birds are found here, including the common hoopoe, the purple sunbird, the little cormorant, the white-throated kingfisher, the painted stork, the white ibis, the black-headed ibis, the little egret, the great egret, the cattle egret, the red-vented bulbul, the rose-ringed parakeet, the Eurasian-collared dove, the red-collared dove, the laughing dove, the spotted owlet, the magpie robin and many others. It is especially lovely to go here in winter when migratory birds from around the world flock to the lake in Sultanpur.
4. Sheetla Mata Temple
According to Hindu mythology, Gurgaon was the village of Guru Dronacharya, the martial-arts teacher of the Pandavas and Kaurava princes. Initially, it was called Guru Gram (meaning the ‘teacher’s village’), and eventually it came to be known as Gurgaon (gaon means village as well). Guru Dronacharya’s wife was Mata Sheetla Devi, who was believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga — a deity who protects children from small pox and blesses them with good health.
Every year lakhs of pilgrims visit her temple to seek blessings for their children. Many also perform the first mundan (tonsuring) of their babies at Sheetla Mata Mandir. Pilgrims come from around the country all through the year, but the months of March and April witness the maximum rush, while August and September are quieter.
5. Leisure Valley
If you’re in the mood for eating out, head toward Leisure Valley in Gurgaon and check out Sector 29 market, where you’ll find about 20 restaurants to choose from. From yummy Indian food at Bikanervala to some excellent Italian food at Spaghetti Kitchen, to fast-food outlets such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Yo!China, you will find it pretty difficult to decide where to eat. Also, later on if you’re in the mood to walk off some of the calories, head to the Leisure Valley Park about two minutes away from this market. The park has nice walking paths and plenty of swings for the kids too. There are also a number of swanky new hotels in this area, such as Westin, Optus Sarovar Premiere and Lemon Tree.
Other attractions in Gurgaon
1. Aravalli Biodiversity Park
The Aravallis are among the oldest mountain ranges in the world. Previously exploited by miners, the site is being rehabilitated and great pains are being taken to once again plant trees native to this region. Right now, there is a beautiful pathway which is frequented by walkers and joggers alike. You can spot peacocks and nilgai antelopes along this path too.
2. The Mall Mile
Head to the Mall Mile (aka MG Road) to find about a dozen malls lining both sides of this road. From bookstores to clothing stores to movie multiplexes to children’s play areas, they’re all here.
3. Galleria Market
A lovely open market, Galleria is full of some great stores and food outlets. A fountain at its centre makes it a nice place for an easy walk in the evenings. Also, across the road is the new Cross Point mall, which also has some remarkable cafés and restaurants.
So whether it’s a business meeting that brings you to Gurgaon’s glitzy Cyber City or the charms of the capital city that bring you within kissing distance of its suburb, do take out some time exclusively for Gurgaon. It will be well worth your time, we promise!