India is all set to host the G20 Summit on its 75th Independence anniversary! Apart from serving as the meeting venue, Indian cities have a lot to offer, as a tourist destinations, to ensure an experience of a lifetime:

Official logo of the G20 poster
Image Credit: PMO

The Group of Twenty (G20) is the main setting for economic cooperation on a global scale. Annually, the G20 Summit is conducted with a rotating presidency in charge. On all significant international economic issues, it plays a significant role in forming and strengthening global architecture and governance.

As a forum for the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to debate international economic and financial concerns, the G20 was established in 1999 following the Asian financial crisis. Initially concentrating mostly on broad macroeconomic issues, the G20 has subsequently broadened its agenda to include topics like climate change, sustainable development and anti-corruption.

G20 is inclusive of 19 nations, which comprise nearly two-thirds of the world’s population, over 75% of global trade, and 85% of its GDP.

2020 saw the inaugural meeting of the G20 Culture Ministers, who emphasized the importance of cultures’ all-encompassing role in furthering G20 goals. The culture was incorporated into the G20 agenda as a Culture Working Group in 2021 in recognition of the overlaps between cultures and other policy areas and taking into account the effects of culture, cultural heritage, and the creative economy on the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of development. The group aims to enhance global collaboration and cooperation to promote the cultural and creative sectors.

From 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023, India will hold the G20 Presidency.

The first Sherpa Meeting of India’s G20 Presidency commenced in Udaipur on December 4, 2022. Against the backdrop of Udaipur’s renowned Lake Pichola, an informal press conference was held with representatives from print and broadcast media. Throughout the occasion, numerous cultural activities were arranged. The water’s surface serves as the canvas in the amazing 300-year-old Rajasthani peculiar art form known as Jal Sanjhi. All the guests were able to observe and appreciate a stunning work of art that Mr Rajesh Vaishnav, a Jal Sanjhi artist, created.

The Desert Music Symphony, which included masters of Rajasthan’s Langa and Manganiyar folk musical lineages, gave a remarkable performance for the audience under the direction of renowned Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Shri Gazi Khan Barna. The event featured a group of Rajasthani folks with musical instruments like the kamaicha, Sindhi sarangi, surinda, algoza, Matka, Murli, dholak, khartal, bhapang, tandura, morchang, and manjira in addition to folk music.

The Desert Music Symphony was specially chosen to provide eminent visitors with an immersive cultural experience that was rooted in Rajasthani folk heritage. The Sherpas and the delegates also tried Rajasthani bandhini bags and traditional millet snack boxes. The delegates visited the majestic Kumbhalgarh fort and Ranakpur temple on their final day in Udaipur.

The G20 summit will take place in several venues around India, giving attendees the chance to experience a variety of local cultural events. Let’s explore what each place’s culture has to offer:

Mumbai

Image Credit: Encyclopedia Brittanica


Mumbai is India’s financial, commercial, and entertainment hub. Despite its vibrant and bustling lifestyle, the city maintains a deep connection with its past and provides a wide range of culturally diverse activities. Start by going to the Gateway of India, then proceed to the renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site–Elephanta Island. Do not skip Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India.

This museum features exhibits that trace India’s history from ancient times to the present. The Dargah of Haji Ali, which houses the grave of a Muslim saint named Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, is also located nearby. Not to mention Marine Drive for a breathtaking sunset. A distinctive thing to do in the city is to go to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Building.

The BMC Building is more than just a historical landmark; it is a timeless icon that still stands tall and exudes a special charm. The Italian lions, the duck fountain, and the floating staircase are among the structure’s edifices. To guide you through the site’s historical development, several heritage walks have been prepared. Doubtlessly, the heritage tour of the BMC Building is a unique cultural event in the busy metropolis.

Bengaluru

Image Source: Lonely Planet

Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, has all the qualities of a perfect modern Indian city: vibrant markets, bustling technology centres, well-designed parks and lush green spaces, and many locations where art and culture may flourish. At Cubbon Park, get a head start on the day in the middle of nature. One of the city’s most well-liked green spaces features many jogging trails, as well as flora and animals. Inhale the clean air and allow the tranquil surroundings to embrace you. Drive to the Tipu Sultan Palace, a two-story building with ornate decorations built in 1791 to serve as the summer residence of the ruler of Mysore.

The National Gallery of Modern Art, often known as NGMA, is a sizable building that houses an excellent collection of Indian modern art, ranging from contemporary pieces by painters who attended the renowned Bengal art school to portraits that were commissioned by the East India Company. They frequently host exhibitions and seminars, as well as dance performances, live paintings by well-known artists, and discussions of various art schools. Additionally, the gallery provides guided tours.

Kolkata

Image Courtesy: Roads and Kingdoms


Kolkata is renowned for its opulent colonial buildings, art galleries, and cultural events. The city contrasts the past with the present in many ways, but when it comes to food, football and Durgapujo, everyone in the city seems to agree. Hop on the city’s staple – a yellow taxi and head towards the Kalighat temple – dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. Next stop – Jorashanko Thakurbari – the ancestral home of Bengal’s most adored Rabindranath Tagore. Aside from the city’s many museums, Kolkata’s peculiar boroughs continue to retain its distinct appeal most naturally.

The popular neighbourhood of Kumortuli is well-known for its historically significant pottery quarters. It is one of the interesting sites to visit in Kolkata where you can learn about the fundamentals of Indian culture starting with the artisanal creations. A must-visit is Chinatown or Tiretta Bazaar, as they call it – there used to be around 20,000 ethnic Chinese people living in the neighbourhood. The area is still well-known for its Chinese restaurants, where a large number of people come.

Pune

Image credit: Times of India


The ‘Oxford of the East’ and formerly the feudatory of the Maratha empire, Pune is India’s one of most important cultural and educational hubs. Visit the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, which houses Dr Dinkar G. Kelkar’s collection honouring his late son Raja, who was his only child. Several sculptures dating back to the fourteenth century are housed in the three-story structure. Do visit the Pu. La. Deshpande Garden, which was modelled after Okayama’s 300-year-old Kōraku-en Garden. There is a memorial to Kasturba Gandhi, who passed away at the Aga Khan Palace while Mahatma Gandhi was housed there during the Quit India movement.

The magnificent Vishrambaag Wada, located in the heart of Pune on Thorale Bajirao Road, which served as the opulent home of Peshwa Baji Rao II, the final Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy in the early 19th century, is where the city derives its genuine legacy. The Marathi culture heavily supports both experimental and professional theatre. One of India’s most well-known and highly looked-upon festivals of Indian classical music, the Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav, takes place in Pune every year in December. Pune is home to the Rashtrakuta period’s 8th-century rock-cut Hindu shrine known as Pataleshwar Caves.

Thiruvananthapuram

Image credit: Rough Guides


The capital of Kerala, an Indian state in the south, is Thiruvananthapuram (also known as Trivandrum). Thiruvananthapuram, which is known for the Kuthira Malika (or Puthen Malika) Palace, is distinguished by its numerous art galleries and British colonial architecture. The city serves as the state’s cultural centre and is well known for hosting venues specifically for Keralan dances like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, and Koodiyattam. From the delectable Malabar parotta to the 28-course Onam Sadya, the city’s culinary scene offers a memorable experience.

A must-do excursion to Vizhinjam is in addition to the “must-see” locations like Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Napier Museum, and Kovalam Beach. Located 2 kilometres south of Kovalam, Vizhinjam is one of the biggest and busiest maritime ports in the area. The Sagarika Vizhinjam Marine Aquarium, which uses the image pearl technology to manufacture personalised pearls from pearl cement, is without a doubt the top attraction in the Vizhinjam. Here, a variety of endangered fish species and coral reefs are also protected.

Chandigarh

Image Credit: Indian Express


The modernist architect Le Corbusier created Chandigarh, the capital of the northern Indian provinces of Punjab and Haryana. UNESCO designated Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex, a collection of Corbusier buildings, as a World Heritage Site. Chandigarh is one of the select few master-planned cities in the world to have combined monumental architecture, cultural advancement, and modernization successfully.

The city’s lush vegetation, in keeping with the Garden City idea, is its most distinguishing feature. The Leisure Valley includes the Bougainvillea Garden, Fitness Trail, Rose Garden, and Terrace Garden, which have all grown into crucial locations for cultural events like the Chandigarh Carnival and Rose Festival. Chandigarh’s true heartbeat lies in its local cuisine.

Authentic street food is a major part of the city’s culture. This culinary affair is not meant for those who are diet conscious. All the food preparations include some serious amount of ghee and butter. Once in Chandigarh, you are bound to step into the Punjabi dhabas while gorging on some lip-smacking Sarson ka Saag, Dal Makhni, and Butter Chicken with numerous Parathas to end the meal with Lassi without fail.

Chennai

Image Credit: wikimedia Commons


The classic Pallava temples, colourful art, and culture can all be found in Chennai, the state capital of Tamil Nadu. Chennai, home of the opulent Bharatnatyam classical dance, is home to numerous universities, a sizable IT industry, eccentric cafes, a variety of transportation options, and a busy seaport. Chennai, which houses the Tamil film industry, is a significant hub for filmmaking.

Begin at the Lord Shiva-dedicated Kapaleeshwarar temple from the 12th century before heading to Marina Beach, the second-longest beach in the world, for a promenade in the sunset. Every year in January, an arts festival called the Chennai Sangamam takes place, showcasing not only different forms of Tamil Nadu art but also art from neighbouring states like Kerala, which is a big draw. The event is held across the city, including on beaches, in parks, on corporation grounds, on college and school campuses, and in shopping malls.

Jodhpur

Image Credit: Trip Savvy


The city of Jodhpur is located in Rajasthan, a state in northwest India, near the Thar Desert. The fort, which is perched atop a rocky outcrop, looks down on the walled city and its numerous blue-painted structures. The city, which has a leisurely pace of life, is crisscrossed by a maze of mediaeval passageways that are punctuated by bustling markets.

The Mehrangarh Fort has a panoramic view of the city and the blue lanes of the ancient city, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada, and the Ghanta Ghar, or Clock Tower, are among Jodhpur’s top tourist destinations. Amidst the famous sites, Jodhpur is also home to the unique style of painting known as the Pichwai style of paintings.

The Nathdwara School’s Pichwai style is characterised by wide eyes, a broad nose, and a heavy physique, which is identical to the attributes of Shrinathji’s idol. Dance forms like Chari and Ghoomar are an inevitable part of the women’s lives in the region. It is performed at weddings, during the birth of a child, and on other celebratory occasions.

Guwahati

Image credit: Tripadvisor


The large metropolis of Guwahati is located in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, close to the Brahmaputra River. It is well-known for its sacred locations, including the hilltop Kamakhya Temple with its shrines to Shiva and Vishnu. Assam’s capital and the main metropolis in northeastern India, Guwahati is the state’s largest city.

The Japi hat or headpiece is one of the most popular souvenirs of Assam that visitors want to bring home with them, and also works well as a piece of wall decor. All dignitaries and notable individuals visiting the state are given the conical Japi hat, which is extremely important to Assamese culture. Several Japi hat workshops can be organized in the region to create a rare cultural experience for visitors.

Rann of Kutch

Image Credit: Trip Savvy


The Great Rann of Kutch, an enormous area of cracked soil inland from the sea that is said to be one of the largest salt deserts in the world, will surely blow your mind. Rann Utsav, an annual festival, gives tourists the chance to experience traditional dance and music performances, observe craftsmen at work, shop directly from NGO artisans and village cooperatives, view important historical sites in the state, and travel to destinations off the beaten path.

The Dance and Musical Carnival, which runs this year from October 26 to February 20, 2023, will feature participation from close to 32 cultural groups from various Gujarati regions. The guests would be taken on a tour of the popular handicraft hamlet “Ludia,” the environmentally friendly Hodko village, and Kala Dunger (Salty Hill), which is situated on the outskirts of Rann.

Indore


Indore, the home to the Holkar dynasty, features the ideal fusion of traditional and contemporary culture. The pride of the Holkars, Rajwada Palace, is one of Indore’s most significant landmarks. The Indore Gharana of Hindustani Classical Music also originated in the city. For the sixth year running, the city has been named “the cleanest city in India.” Gujarati, Malwi, Rajasthani, and Maharashtrian influences may all be found in the cuisine of Indore.

Particularly well-liked in the city is the street food. Chappan Dukan and Sarafa Bazaar are two of Indore’s most notable locations for street cuisine. The only night street food market in India, Sarafa Bazaar, pulls huge crowds from the city and tourists worldwide. A variety of culinary tours could be arranged in Sarafa Bazaar, including those that feature local specialities such as poha, kachori, samosa, jalebi, gulab jamun, rabdi, gajak, imarti, etc.

Lucknow

Image Courtesy: Uttar Pradesh Tourism


As the centre of North Indian culture and the arts and the seat of the Nawabs in the 18th and 19th centuries, Lucknow has always been a cosmopolitan metropolis. It has remarkable monuments that showcase an intriguing fusion of ancient, colonial, and oriental architecture. The Nawabi cuisine is unique to the Awadh region. Under the patronage of the kings, the Bawarchis (cooks) and Rakabdars (royal chefs) have perfected their culinary skills over the years.

The native language of Lucknow is Awadhi, a dialect of the Hindi dialect family. It has a significant historical significance and is still spoken in rural sections of the city and by the urban populace on the streets. An inevitable element of Lucknowi culture and tradition is the Urdu language. The second-largest literary event in India, Lucknow Literature Festival or Lucknow LitFest, draws some of the best authors and intellectuals from around the world.

Khajuraho

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons


Khajuraho Group of monuments is a group of intricately carved Hindu and Jain temples built by the Chandela rulers around 885 AD and 1000 AD. The famed UNESCO temples are well known for their erotic sculptures and Nagara-style architectural symbolism. One thing that makes it a sought-after tourist destination is the beauty of the ornate statues. The temples are unique due to their artistry, which includes magnificent displays of exquisite sculpture and remarkable architectural expertise.

Every year during the final week of February, the Khajuraho Dance Festival is held. The Chitragupta Temple, devoted to Surya (the Sun God), and the Vishvanatha Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, serve as the backdrop for the performance, which includes a variety of classical Indian dances. The first meeting of the cultural working group will be held in Khajuraho from February 23 to February 25, 2023, so the delegates can attend the dance festival from February 20 to February 26, 2023. With performances by some of the finest performers in the field, this festival celebrates the diversity of Indian classical dance genres like Kathak, Bharathanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, and Kathakali.

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