With the weekend rolling by and the mercury touching new highs, figuring out what do to over the weekend can be a chore. Although there are many malls that you can haunt, mall fatigue does set in, even for a retail junkie. Ahem! A visit to Culture Gully at the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon is a fun way to beat the heat.
Everything at Kingdom of Dreams is large and grand, and the entry to Culture Gully is no different. The grand entryway, set inside a 20ft high golden lotus flower studded with tiny mirrors evokes images of the grandeur that must have been enjoyed by the royals in times of yore. Step inside the boulevard, and you’ll be forgiven for thinking that you are still outside and wondering how the temperature is so cool. The air-conditioned boulevard is topped by an atmospheric blue sky. Some skilful wizardry (read lighting and decoration) ensures that you get a feel of being in an open-air marketplace – the sky and lighting change throughout the day to closely mimic the outdoors.
Spread across 90,000 sq. feet, Culture Gully is a visual treat of theme restaurants and architecture styles from 14 Indian states. Each kiosk is designed to showcase the best of the state. The Punjab stall, for example, has a woven cot and truck parked outside the dhaba; you enter the Mumbai stall through a local train compartment, which is topped by the façade of the Victoria Terminus and Bollywood movie posters. Towards the end of the boulevard are the Goa and Kerala stalls, complete with a faux beach and a beach shack serving up grilled sea food.
Each state also has a handicraft store where you can pick up some cool souvenirs, ranging from earrings to clothes, coffee mugs to home ware, and glass bangles to branded diamond jewelry (go figure!).
On the second level, you’ll also find a fortune telling center, with tarot card readers, palmists and astrologists.
Walk around the boulevard and poke around the stores, catch a street performance, get your fortune told, get a family portrait sketched – there’s a lot for you to do at Culture Gully.
Once you’ve explored it all, decide where you’d like to eat – warning: it might just be a tough decision to make! With restaurants from all 14 states offering up local cuisine, you can choose to experiment or stick to what you know. The mutton biryani at the Lucknow stall, filter coffee at the Kerala stall and kati kulfi opposite the Punjab stall are highly recommended.
It’s best to get in early, as the place starts getting very crowded towards early evening.
If you want to make an entire day out of the trip, catch a show at Nautanki Mahal, which is currently playing Zangoora. It’s worth every penny! (Click to read a review of Zangoora.)