If you are looking for an urban holiday then head for India’s clean and green cities. We give you a pick of best places you should be thinking about when you plan your escapade to a city! From Mysore in the South to Chandigarh in the north, from Bhubaneshwar in the east to Gandhinagar in the west. These quiet cities make for great getaways for a vacation. They have all the advantages of a city minus the traffic, bustling crowds and most importantly minus the pollution levels.
So lay your plans and set off to explore these cleanest cities of India. Here is all you need to know about them:
1. Mysuru / Mysore
Two years in a row, the city with its royal associations has been named India’s cleanest city in the Swachh rankings. Once the capital of Mysore state, the city reveals its rich legacy in its lavish palaces, temples and other monuments. Mysuru, which keeps its many traditions alive, is also instantly associated with fine silk and sandalwood. It is also now a destination for the practice of Ashtanga yoga. Plus, the prospect of eating masala dosa in its birthplace brings foodies here.
Mysore’s Clean mantra:
Mysuru’s clean city status has much to do with how it has managed its sanitation. The authorities can take credit for an efficient door-to-door garbage collection system, recycling practices and for building individual, community and public toilets. Besides putting in place infrastructure, they’ve also managed to bring about essential behavioural changes amongst the public with an excellent communication strategy. Also, several NGOs in the city are dedicated to keeping Mysore clean, and their initiatives enjoy public support and participation.
Getting there: Fly into Bengaluru. Mysuru is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away.
Stay: In the royal city, why not have regal digs? Check out the Lalitha Mahal Palace hotel.
Eat: You must eat the South Indian fare, especially the masala dosa when you’re in this town. Vinayaka mylari comes highly recommended.
Things to do in Mysore / Mysuru
- Peek into a palace. The Mysore Palace is an extravagant, even over-the-top-edifice built in the Indo-Saracenic style. It is the top attraction in Mysore.
- Ascend a hill. Take the drive up nearby Chamundi hills, and enjoy the views from there.
- Escape into the wild. Mysuru is the hopping-off point for the wildlife reserves of Mudumalai and Bandipur.
- Go shopping. The Cauvery Emporium is a good place to look for silk and sandalwood artefacts.
- Set aside yoga time. There are several yoga schools in Mysuru.
Le Corbusier’s city, sprawling at the foothills of the Shivalik range, is best known for being India’s most planned city. All that planning has paid off, for Chandigarh has also been named India’s second cleanest city after Mysore. An easy getaway from Delhi, it makes for an excellent city break. Tidy streets, graceful buildings, sprawling parks and gardens, and a lake. Plus vibrant eating out and nightlife scene all add to Chandigarh’s appeal.
Chandigarh’s Clean mantra:
Chandigarh has successfully tackled what was once a challenge—collecting the 370 tonnes of solid waste the city generates every day from the sectors. It also has an efficient and sufficiently large workforce cleaning the city’s streets. There’s a concerted effort by the authorities collaborating with The Energy and Resources Institute to make Chandigarh environment-friendly, which includes using natural construction material and lowering overall energy consumption.
Getting there: Drive from Delhi to Chandigarh, it’s an easy 250 km.
Stay: There is a wide range of accommodation options—from budget to five-star. The Altius is a boutique hotel and gets good ratings.
Travel Tip: From Chandigarh, you can get away to several summer destinations, including Shimla and Kasauli.
Things to do in Chandigarh
- Explore the city. Start at the Capitol Complex, the administrative quarters and the grand expression of the French architect’s work – the Open Hand monument.
- Walk in its Rock Garden. Chandigarh’s must-see attractions include the Rock Garden. It is scattered with figures and sculptures created by Nek Chand.
- Unwind by the lake. Visit Sukhna lake, and enjoy a round of boating or its peaceful environs. Also, take a walk in the surrounding forest land.
- Go on a museum tour. Chandigarh’s museums and galleries are as well-organised as the city itself. Take a tour of the Government Museum and Art Gallery.
- Rock the night. Spend an evening in Sector 17, which becomes one big outdoor club every night. There are drinking and dining options aplenty here.
Capital city Bhubaneswar is the gateway to Odisha’s many splendours, situated at one corner of the famed triangle that includes Puri and Konark. It’s on our list of clean getaways because it has been named the cleanest city in eastern India. Bhubaneswar has its many attractions, including the temples and shrines known for their grand architecture, its monuments and parks. After taking in Bhubaneswar, you can head out to explore the state, a rich tapestry of natural beauty, architecture, art, crafts, culture and cuisine.
Bhubaneswar’s Clean mantra:
Bhubaneswar’s coveted position as the cleanest city in eastern India can be attributed to sustained effort. Private agencies have been entrusted with collecting garbage in a majority of wards with solid waste management being closely monitored. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation sometime back developed an app, ‘My City My Pride,’. It receives complaints from citizens through the app and within minutes a ward officer swings into action.
Getting there: Bhubaneswar is connected by air to all major cities.
Stay: There are lots of reasonably-priced digs in Bhubaneswar, such as Hotel Grand Central and the Crown.
Eat: Never mind the debate about who invented the rosogolla, try Odisha’s sweet creations such as chhena Gaja and kheersagar.
Things to do in Bhubaneshwar
- Traverse the town. Bhubaneswar has plenty to see. There’s the Mukteshwar Temple and the Lingaraja temple.
- Explore Puri. The magnificent Jagannath temple witnesses the faith of thousands.
- Spend time at Puri Beach. Here sand artists show off their creativity.
- Visit the Sun Temple. See the fantastic Konark Temple, created to symbolise the cosmic chariot of Lord Surya.
- Chill by Chilika this vast brackish water lagoon is a must-see in Odisha. It’s excellent for bird-watching. In addition, there’s always a chance you might spot dolphins.
- Shop for craft. Pipli artists’ village lets you take a close look at Odisha’s famed embroidery.
The capital of Gujarat is not only a clean city, but it’s also one of India’s greenest on account of its 32 lakh trees. Situated on the banks of the Sabarmati, Gandhinagar is famous for its Akshardham temple, museums and the Sarita Udyan. It’s also the gateway to Bhuj, the capital of Kutch. A city which is rich in history and has a unique culture. It makes the perfect getaway for those who enjoy peeking into the past.
Gandhinagar’s Clean mantra:
Gandhinagar is a planned city, just like Chandigarh, and its massive tree cover is part of the plan. Both air and noise pollution is controlled, thanks to the trees. And that’s what makes Gandhinagar seem like a breath of fresh air. Government initiatives have also begun to emphasise the need to shift to solar power.
Getting there: Ahmedabad airport (26.5 km) serves Gandhinagar and is well- connected with major cities.
Stay: In Gandhinagar, the fortune Inn haveli is a good place to stay and comes well recommended. There are options aplenty for various budgets in Bhuj.
Eat: Tuck into the foods that Gujarat is famous for. In Bhuj, taste pakwan, dabeli and vada pav. The Gujarati thali here makes for a delightful meal as well.
Things to do in Gandhinagar
- Make the trip to Sabarmati Ashram. Here relive the moments of our freedom movement and also view Gandhi’s simple living style.
- Take off to Bhuj. Begin by visiting the Aina Mahal with its famous hall of mirrors.
- Visit the museums. The Kutch museum is among the oldest in Gujarat.
- Spend a day by the lake. Visit Hamirsar Lake, a sprawling water body in Bhuj.
- Go shopping. The local markets are worth exploring for their array of products. So are the stores selling local handicrafts such as bandhni textiles and leather work.
5. Gangtok & Pelling
Charming Gangtok is now the eighth cleanest city in India. But there are lots more reasons to go to the Sikkim capital. Cosmopolitan Gangtok has plenty for the traveller. From the natural splendours of Khangchedzonga, in whose shadow the city lies, to an array of exciting restaurants, plenty of shopping and a vibrant nightlife as well. In addition, every May, Gangtok becomes the venue for the Sikkim Summer Festival. It encompasses flower shows made vibrant by orchids, rhododendrons and primulas. Moreover, Sikkim is famous for cultural programmes, exhibitions and interesting competitions. Gangtok is also the hopping-off point for Pelling, which takes you within touching distance of Khangchendzonga.
Gangtok’s Clean mantra:
Gangtok manages a fine balance between its natural beauty and urban planning. The pollution control department is known for its efficiency. It runs many initiatives such as banning plastic and the move towards zero garbage. Gangtok’s main thoroughfare, MG Road, is free of traffic and also sees no littering
Getting there: Take a flight from Kolkata to Bagdogra, which is about 120 km from Gangtok. You can cover this distance by taxi.
Stay: Opt for a luxury experience, check in to the Welcom Heritage Denzong Regency or the Mayfair Spa Resort & Casino. At the latter you can also try your luck at the gambling tables.
Shop: Make a trip to the Directorate of Handicraft & Handloom. Here you can buy hand-crafted folding tables, carpets and shawls.
Things to do in Gangtok and Pelling
- One of the must do’s in Gangtok. Ride the ropeway from Deorali to Tailing Secretariat. From there, walk to the Ridge Park. In case you are visiting during summer don’t miss the flower festival here.
- Head to Pelling. With Gangtok as your base, drive to the pleasant little town of Pelling 120 km away. This is possibly as close as you can get to Khangchendzonga.
- Go trekking. Pelling offers plenty of opportunities for short, pleasant hikes through fields of rhododendron and forests.
- Take a lake trip. Go to see Kechopalri lake, considered sacred by Buddhists. Amazingly, its surface is always clean and free even of leaves.
- See ruins & monasteries. Take the trip to the Pemayangtse Monastery. Then go on to the Rabdantse ruins, from where you again get some excellent views.
So which of these cleanest cities in India are you planning for your next holiday? You can be sure it will be well worth it.