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Sixteen Places in India Known for Something
chillibreeze writer — Poornima Narayanan
Detroit and cars. Toledo and steel. Venice and gondolas. Many places in the world are known for something – in fact, they’re virtually defined by it. Try this zigzag tour across India to sixteen places and what they’re best known for.
# 1 Hyderabad – Biryani
Hyderabad is a city with rich, princely traditions, among which one reigns supreme – its signature dish, biryani! Pity those royals of old didn’t patent it, since canny restaurateurs and street vendors nationwide mine the title “Hyderabadi Biryani” for hefty profits.
# 2 Mumbai - Vada- pao
Up west, Mumbai for the world may be the Gateway of India (OK, Bollywood too), but scores of visitors take back a more visceral connection – the humble vada-pao, eaten hot off the street, is Mumbai’s pungent riposte to the famously bland Big Mac.
# 3 Kotah – Tutorials
With the passage of time, old associations may change – and not necessarily for the better. Kotah (Rajasthan) was once famously known as a type of limestone and the gossamer pretty kotah-doria, the Indian woman’s favorite summer sari. To a post-liberalization generation (and their ambitious parents), Kotah means coaching institutes that specialize in tutoring thousands of hopefuls to crack university entrance examinations for medicine, engineering and those gateways to the good life, the IITs. How mundane.
# 4 Bangalore – IT
Once, Bangalore was a cool paradise famous for flower-filled gardens. Now, the city’s international sobriquet is “IT capital of India”, whose very mention strikes fear of layoffs in techies abroad.
# 5 Pushkar - Camels
Pushkar and its annual camel fair existed for centuries in obscurity. Until Hollywood celebrities – Goldie Hawn being the best known – “discovered” this dusty backwater where every year, livestock is traded in the thousands. The camel of course, smiles loftily, having unwittingly placed Pushkar on the map.
#6 Darjeeling – Tea
At the opposite corner of the country, Darjeeling, ever since British times, has come to mean just one thing – a steaming, hot cup of delicately flavored tea. Close your eyes, inhale its aroma and you are instantly transported to a place of cool, bracing air and mountains carpeted with bushes of Camellia sinensis.
# 7 Kolkata - Rosogolla
The Communists and literati may choose to disagree, but for most common folk, Kolkata conjures up visions of that heavenly delectation, the rosogolla. This white, deceptively innocuous wonder now has a pan-Indian presence, but aficionados will swear that nothing equals the rosogolla made in its place of origin.
# 8 Srinagar – Shikara
High up north, Srinagar, to generations of sub-continental moviegoers, was epitomized by the graceful shikara, thanks to countless romantic songs picturized on the placid Dal Lake. Militancy has since muddied that close association. And the shikara has a rival for mindshare – houseboats plying the backwaters of Kerala!
# 9 Goa – Fun
Southwest, there’s Goa. Throw any amount of mud at it – illegal mining, drug havens and other murky stuff – but nothing changes the fact that Goa is primarily about fun, feni and fish curry.
# 10 Maheshwar – Sari
Several historic textiles take their name from their place of origin. Say “Maheshwar” and invariably, the first thing that comes to mind are the translucent, feather light Maheshwari saris, inspired by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore.
# 11 Lucknow – Needlecraft
Lucknow and chikan are often mentioned in the same breath – the ancient art of needlecraft has survived modernity and rapidly changing notions of fashion to hold its own as a timeless classic.
# 12 Varanasi – Spirituality
Quick, which town is the embodiment of spirituality? Varanasi, of course – a city that sits on the cusp of life and death, perhaps the only place in the world where people come to die.
#13 Tirupati – Temple
Famed as southern India is for its magnificent temples, there’s still only one Temple with a capital T. Tirupati is both the name of the town as well as the moniker given to the vast Venkateswara temple complex, known worldwide for its fabulous wealth.
# 14 Sivakasi – Firecrackers
Not every place and what it’s known for have pleasant or awe-inspiring connections. You wouldn’t flaunt an address like Sivakasi, whose name instantly evokes the acrid smell of firecrackers and wrenching images of frail child laborers.
#15 Alang – Ship-breaking
Alang in Gujarat isn’t exactly a salubrious destination either, with its once pristine beaches being known for just one thing – the difficult, dangerous business of ship-breaking.
#16 Shillong – PowerPoint
We could not helping adding one more up and coming location. Chillibreeze is putting Shillong (Meghalaya) on the map for creating PowerPoint professionals. Besides the many experts within the company, there is now a local training institute focused on PowerPoint training. We expect that someday the mention of Shillong will bring the response, “Oh that’s the place in India known for PowerPoint!”
And so it goes on. Firozabad and glass bangles. Surat and diamonds. Jamshedpur and steel. Want to add some more?
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Chillibreeze's disclaimer: This is a contributed article and was published on Chillibreeze in December, 2011. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of Chillibreeze as a company. Chillibreeze has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. Please contact us to report any copyright issues related to this article. The relevance of the facts and figures cited (if any) could change after a period of time.
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