There’s something inexplicable about walking into the colourful and beautiful streets of India. There is an element of surprise, a sense of wonder fuelled by curiosity and joy about seemingly walking into a rainbow. Art is ingrained into India’s culture but it’s only coming to the surface now. The last decade has seen an increased appreciation for all the colourful Indian streets. While some of them were influenced by different cultures pre-Independence, others were due to a need to be seen and heard. From the Latin Quarters of Goa to Delhi’s Art District, some colourful and beautiful streets in India have won everyone’s hearts. Let's take a look at some of the most colourful corners and streets of India.
1. Fontainhas, Goa
The story of Fontainhas goes back to the time when the state of Goa was under Portuguese administration. While initially their headquarters were located in the city of Old Goa, a plague in the region pushed them to shift base. That’s when they found the city of Panjim. The current capital city of the state of Goa sits lazily along the banks of the river Mandovi. Fontainhas is just a small slice of this grand and gorgeous place. Famously also known as the Latin Quarters of Goa, Fontainhas is a colourful slice that dates back to the Portuguese. It is filled with winding roads lined with gorgeous colonial two-storeyed houses in different colours. This place that used to be home to all the important officials of the Portuguese administration now hides quaint cafes and rustic bars in its corners. Lose yourself in these colourful streets but be mindful to not disturb the locals who live in these houses.
2. Lodhi Art District, Delhi
Lodhi Colony used to be a whitewashed government colony that one day became a canvas for street art. St+Art in collaboration with different organisations and Indian and international artists decided to use this space to tell some stories. The Lodhi Art District is a huge space with hundreds of artworks. Each creation has a story to tell, be it from a place of anger or a place of nostalgia. There are pieces favouring the LGBTQ+ movement, the rights of rural women and even celebrating India’s cuisine. Walking into one of the most magical streets of India is an overwhelming and unforgettable experience.
3. Varanasi Ghat, Varanasi
The Hindu town of Varanasi on the banks of the river Ganga is loved for many reasons. It’s a favourite not just amongst Hindu pilgrims but also international backpackers. The city’s quiet charm, chaotic streets and vibrancy attracts everyone to experience it. Today, it has become one of the many streets in India with mesmerising street art. Created by artists who visit this town, it’s not just the walls of Varanasi that got a makeover. The artists have repainted the water tanks too. Most of the art is an abstract rendition of religious effigies and symbols which makes it all the more fascinating.
4. Bandra, Mumbai
Bandra is India’s Bollywood town - influenced by the evolution of the art form over the past century. Needless to say, this has visibly influenced its streets, art and graffiti. The creations have made not just walls but entire buildings a canvas for themselves. There is artwork around LGBTQIA++ rights, mental health, women’s rights and other social issues. But what stands out are the paintings influenced by films such as the eyes from Great Gatsby and a large mural of Dadasaheb Phalke.
5. Malleshwaram, Bengaluru
The street art in Malleshwaram was a result of an initiative to encourage more tourists to the region. Titled ‘Malleshwaram Hogona” (let’s go to Malleshwaram), this project has inspired several artworks all around the area. A large wall also has the name of the place drawn in brilliant colours. Apart from that, most of the artwork has been inspired by the local culture with women in traditional outfits and South Indian actors. The rest is for you to discover.
6. Fort Kochi, Kerala
Sitting languidly along the Malabar coast, Kochi is one of Kerala’s largest cities. It’s a cultural hub for tourists serving a slice of history and heritage at every turn. What sets Fort Kochi apart are its colourful streets - lined houses and thought-provoking street art. Since Kerala was the first place in India where the Portuguese landed, their colourful homes have inspired the architecture in Kochi too. Mix this with the local art, and you have a vibrant city full of hope and life. What Kochi truly holds will only be discovered when you take a walk through these streets in India.
7. The White Town, Puducherry
The gorgeous White Town in Puducherry was once the home to the French administration. To this day it is replete with stunning colonial architecture - educational and administrative buildings that were used in the days bygone. Puducherry is also famous for being one of the few well-planned cities. The Heritage Town has sharp perpendicular roads and streets lined with colourful homes in bright reds and yellows. Some of these houses have elegant wooden doors in white or blue, and bougainvillea vines that create an aesthetic charm. You don’t want to miss walking through these lanes.
8. Bhubaneshwar, Odisha
Bhubaneswar is the vibrant capital city of the state of Odisha. Its art streets were born in 2017 when the city was gearing up for the hockey world cup. Bridges, buildings and whitewashed walls were all doused in gorgeous art replete with natural designs. Of all the Indian streets, these will charm you more than you know.
9. Kannaji Nagar (Kannagi Art District), Chennai
Kannaji Nagar’s art is another project that was born as an initiative of St+art in amping up India streets. The organisation brought together Chennai Corporation and Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board and in collaboration with Asian Paints, they breathed life into this small town. What makes the streets of Kannaji Nagar unique is the fact that even the tallest of its buildings have artwork on them. The best part is that these murals have brought in plenty of tourists into what was once just a town for rehabilitated people from the 2004 tsunami.
The streets of India have so many secrets hidden in plain sight. They hold so many stories representing our country’s culture, its struggles and its creativity. If you want to know more about art in India, head to the India Art Fair BMW for a glimpse into South Asia’s artistic heritage.