It’s been admired, it’s been hated, it’s been subjected to its share of criticism – it is a city where the ruthless opportunism of contemporary India has tried to overturn a sedentary and self-sufficient rural way of life. Having completely turned on its head from being “Guru ka Gaon” {legend has it that it is the ancestral village of Guru Dronacharya – hence the metro station by the same name}, and from being a modest Haryana village about 20 years ago, Gurgaon has now metamorphosed into Delhi’s satellite city, teeming with a melee of corporate workspaces and commercial conclaves on one end, and urban as well as rural residences on the other. Our city is still young, but it has a distinctive culture – that of not really having an identifiable culture at all.

Having said that, it is not a dehumanized concrete jungle, but neither have all of its facets fleshed out yet. It is like an adolescent – slightly aloof, but not lacking compassion; trying to come into his own, but hasn’t really figured out who he wants to be. It is a city still struggling with the ideas of ‘us’ and ‘them’, and while it isn’t a melting pot of cultures yet, a unique charm exists about it, which stems from the constant interaction of people from all walks of life, who constitute the ever-widening Gurgaon spectrum.

In our quest to discover Gurgaon, we’ve sought to tame the organized chaos that this city is. Here’s our mini-guide for the Millennium City.

ART & CULTURE

kingdom-of-dreams

{Image Courtesy: www.gurgaonsite.com}

Epicentre | Quite literally the epicentre of everything cultural that goes on in G-town, this is your go-to place for everything ranging from theatre workshops, to plays, to gigs, to art exhibitions, to beer brunches, and melas. Rest assured, there will always be something of your interest going on at Gurgaon’s cultural hotbed.

Where : Apparel House, Sector 44 {Landmarks – HUDA City Centre Metro Station and Fortis Hospital}

Kingdom of Dreams | Home to the erstwhile Zangoora, and now Jhumroo, you can visit Kingdom of Dreams for fabulous live shows at the Nautanki Mahal, or take a day trip through the Culture Gully, a boulevard that acts as a kaleidoscope of India’s cultural diversity, spread over a 1,00,000 square feet; and for all the Bollywood buffs, the IIFA Buzz Café is a must visit!

Where : Sector 29

Gurgaon Cultural Center | It is a mélange of cultural activities; flair for the dramatic, ear for melody or twinkle in your toes, GCC is a one-stop destination. It is an institution for performing arts that has been providing a vast range of disciplines encompassing both Western and Indian styles and techniques. They offer long-term and short-term courses for theatre, music and dance.

Where : Sector 15, Part 2

DINE OUT

food in gurgao

Dine-Esty | Gurgaon’s classic, fail-proof Chinese family restaurant, Dine-Esty offers a light, delectable Chinese cuisine, and offers a fresh breath of air away from all the greasy and salty Indo-Chinese we gorge on. We recommend you make reservations, as Dine-Esty is overflowing with customers on weekdays as well.

Where : Times Square, Ground Floor, Block B, Sushant Lok 1; Price : INR 1,500 for two {approx.}

Sakley’s | For a long time, ‘Gurgaonites’ have been missing a breakfast place for hungover binges. Hungover or not, Sakley’s provides the perfect ambience, as it resembles a cozy Mountain Café, replete with wooden logs, pine cones and a Beatles décor, along with food that is to die for. Having said that, the massive portions might kill you, so order wisely!

Where : SF 93, 1st Floor, DLF Galleria, DLF Phase 4; Price : INR 1,200 for two {approx.}

Pasta Bowl | At this quaint little Italian restaurant, you will always be received with a warm smile. If it’s getting late and you’re dying to grab a bite somewhere, head straight here for their pastas and lasagnas, as they stay open pretty late.

Where : GL 201, 2nd Floor, Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase IV, Opposite Galleria Market; Price : INR 1,000 for two  {approx.}

Thai Pavilion | National Award winning chef Ananda Solomon’s reputation precedes him, and is probably enough by itself to attract hordes to the Taj Group’s signature Thai restaurant. They have an excellent wine collection to go with a menu that will definitely give you foodgasms.

Where : Vivanta by Taj, Sector 44; Price : INR 2,000 for two {approx.}

Cilantro | A great restaurant for both lunch and dinner, they also serve a Sunday Champagne brunch. Their mouthwatering biryani and desserts will leave you wanting more, and the impeccable service is the cherry on the cake – exactly what you’d expect out of a 5-star restaurant.

Where : The Trident, 443, Phase 5, Udyog Vihar;  Price : INR 4,000 for two {approx.}

Spectra | Famous for its extravagant buffets and opulent décor, Spectra has 7 live kitchen counters as a part of their daily service. You have a lot to choose from; their menu consists of international cuisines prepared by chefs from Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Austria, and you will definitely keep going back to fill your plate with more!

Where : The Leela Kempinski, Ambience Island, Ambience Mall; Price : INR 4,000 for two {approx.}

Threesixtyone | Gurgaon’s version of Delhi’s Threesixty, the ambience this restaurant provides is unprecedented. Dining on the deck is a fantastic experience, overlooking the beautiful water body right in the middle of the Oberoi hotel. You will feel as if you’re floating, while your tastebuds revel in the exotic flavors.

Where : The Oberoi, 443, Phase 5, Udyog Vihar; Price : INR 4,000 for two {approx.}

Punjab Grill | Located in the busy Ambience Mall food court and owned by Chef Jiggs Kalra, this stand-alone, unassuming restaurant offers what is probably the best authentic North Indian in Gurgaon. Their food is aromatic and full of flavor, but be warned – if you order the lamb chaap and Amritsari fish, it will definitely be gone in less than sixty seconds!

Where : 3rd Floor, Ambience Mall; Price : INR 1,600 for two {approx.}

Mainland China | This classic Chinese restaurant needs no introduction. They serve a daily lunch buffet and weekend dinner buffet, which is probably the most value for money you can get for a spread that has chicken, lamb, crab, and various other delicious seafood. Light on your pocket, and yummy in your tummy, Mainland China’s buffets come highly recommended!

Where : SCO 26, Opposite Reliance Mart, Sector 29; Price : INR 1,700 for two {approx.}

Barbeque Nation | Food you will devour, great service, friendly waiters, and a bustling ambience is enough to sum up what Barbeque Nation has to offer. Their right-off-the-skewer starters will probably not leave any space for an equally yummy main course. A favorite haunt of the thousands of office goers in G-town, reservations are recommended.

Where : Ground Floor, Ansal’s Sushant Plaza, Sushant Lok, Sector 28; Price : INR 1,400 for two {approx.}

Fat Lulu’s | Come here for paper-thin pizzas, crunchy garlic bread, and an overall Italian experience. It’s slightly expensive, but the elusive wood-fired pizzas they offer here make up for that.

Where : Ground Floor, DLF Galleria, DLF Phase 4; Price : INR 1,000 for two {approx.}

Hao Shi Nian Nian | Another authentic Chinese restaurant in Gurgaon, Hao Shi Nian Nian serves as a nice family restaurant. We recommend you try the Wok here and watch the chefs as they prepare masterpieces.

Where : Ground Floor, Central Plaza Mall, Sector 53, Golf Course Road; Price : INR 1,600 for two {approx.}

Spoonful of Soul | This beautifully done café with delectable food is hidden from plain sight. Don’t judge it by its location, because its bright white interiors, white furniture and colourful upholstery, and great food will instantly transport you out of Nathupur.

Where : 27, Nathupur Road, DLF Phase 3, Gurgaon; Price : INR 1,600 for two {approx.}

Gung, The Palace | What we like about Gung is their idea of providing the customer with a variety of small bowls of complimentary Korean dishes. In terms of food, we’d recommend the Duck Roast, Marinated Chicken with Glass Noodles and Marinated Beef. Interestingly, all the tables have sophisticated hot plates installed, so you can cook the meat the way you’d like!

Where : 28, City Centre, Near Crown Plaza Hotel, Sector 29, Gurgaon; Price : INR 2,500 for two {approx.}

The Monk | While it’s a cult favourite, over time it’s become incredibly crowded and noisy, and the quality of the food has deteriorated to some extent. But Monk’s noodle bowls and sticky rice bowls are nowhere else to be found, so if that’s the kind of oriental/Asian food you’re craving, give it a shot!

Where : The Galaxy Hotel, Sector 15, Gurgaon; Price : INR 1,500 for two {approx.}

Pintxo | Another destination in Gurgaon’s culinary tour is this Spanish restaurant that serves authentic, bona fide paella and tapas. Pintxo’s menu boasts of their scrumptious delights like fried calamari, ham and cheese croquettas, non-alcoholic sangrias, gazpacho soup and much, much more.

Where : SF 90, I floor, Galleria Market, DLF 4; Price : INR 1,000 for two {approx.}

The Joint | Picture a cafe that, in itself is about as nondescript as it gets, and yet has so much character and you’ve got The Joint. Serving all-occasion comfort food, like chicken soup, fish and chips, Greek salad and milkshakes, this is ideal place to go to for a quick, delicious bite while jingling your foot to  some good ol’ 60s music.

Where : SF 100, I floor, Galleria Market, DLF 4; Price : INR 1,500 for two {approx.}

CAFES

cafes in gurgaon

Di Ghent Café | This quaint café will only be found by those who are looking for it. The casual, contemporary European décor and efficient and courteous service, complemented by excellent food makes this a perfect place to catch-up, or have a relaxed meal.

Where : 208, Level 2, Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase 4; Price : INR 1,200 for two {approx.}

Goodricke Teapot | As the name suggests, this typical English style café will beg you to order their chai, which is served in the most beautiful rose crockery. You will be instantly transformed to the Scottish highlands, sipping on some delicious tea and scones.

Where : 205, 2nd Floor, South Point Mall, Golf Course Road; Price : INR 450 for two {approx.}

Sweet Obsession | If you dare to enter Sweet Obsession, you will definitely leave having put on a few {too many} pounds. Their sinful desserts and shakes are to die for, and their Mexican menu is definitely worth a try.

Where : D 142, Shopping Mall, Arjun Marg, DLF Phase 1; Price : INR 1300 for two {approx.}

Bubble Teas | For seasoned bubble tea drinkers who have acquired a taste, this place needs no introduction – we can already imagine you being super excited about them finally opening a chain close by. As for the rest of you, go give these shakes with tapioca pearls a try, and let us know if you liked them!

Where : SF 91, 1st Floor, DLF Galleria, DLF Phase 4; Price : INR 450 for two {approx.}

Café Delhi Heights | So far, we have only heard and read good things about this place, and that is not surprising, considering the rustic ambience and fantastic service they offer. The food is delicious, and if you’re visiting after a long, hot day at work, unwind with one of their yummy Mojitos.

Where : 121-123, 1st Floor, Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase 4; Price : INR 1,200 for two {approx.}

Starbucks | After their grand success in Connaught Place, Starbucks is opening outlets all over NCR, and has reached Gurgaon as well. Although you can get better coffees at cheaper rates, if you’re a brand lover, make sure you make a pit stop here.

Where : G 27, Ambience Mall; Price : INR 700 for two {approx.}

Roots Café | This rustic, old-timey bistro brings the all-time desi favorites – masala chai, filter coffee, masala omelet, cheese grilled sandwich and the like. With its wooden beams and soft lighting, it looks like a Goan shack sans the beach.

Where : Rajiv Gandhi Renewable Energy Park, Leisure Valley, Sector 29; Price : INR 450 for two {approx.}

BARS

barsgurgaon

Underdoggs | A much bigger, much better and a much more fun version of the Vasant Kunj outlet, the Underdoggs at Gurgaon has 2 bars and a lot more fun games to play. We recommend you down some LIIT and start playing Foot-Pool, which is essentially a massive pool table with mini football sized balls that you kick around with your foot, while following the rules of pool. Fun is guaranteed!

Where : 4th Floor, Ambience Mall; Price Range : Medium

Downtown | By far our favorite bar in both Delhi and Gurgaon, Downtown has the feel of an old-style English bar, with the mostly wooden interiors, and the music not too loud or too slow. Being a brewery, they serve freshly brewed beer- we recommend you head straight for the Corporate Ale, it is absolutely delicious. They also have an in-house Wii, and there’s nothing like doing some drunken virtual bowling.

Where : 34, Leisure Valley Road, Near Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sector 29; Price Range : Medium

Striker | The first brewery in Delhi, Striker’s must-try beers are Weiss Blues and Rock Bock. There’s a nice buzz about the place, but it tends to get really crowded as it isn’t very large, so we suggest you make reservations.

Where : 23, 1st Floor, Global Foyer Mall, Sector 43, Golf Course Road; Price Range : Medium

Manhattan | The latest to join the bandwagon of breweries in Gurgaon, Manhattan has all the necessary ingredients – lots of space, classic music, great food, and most important of all, delicious beer. They have a dance floor as well, for all the movers and shakers out there.

Where : 1st Floor, Global Foyer Mall, Sector 43, Golf Course Road; Price Range : Medium

Cocktails and Dreams | An unassuming speakeasy in a basement, Cocktails and Dreams is modeled after the Prohibition period in the United States, which rendered alcohol illegal in the early 90’s. The ambience will transport you right back to that era, but what takes the cake are the absolutely brilliant cocktails. Ask the bartender to make some recommendations, and you will not be disappointed – go easy on the Old Fashioned!

Where : SCO 23, Sector 15 Part 2, {Behind Galaxy Hotel}; Price Range : Medium

Piano Bar | If you’re looking for some classy, but really expensive drinking, head straight to this calm yet extravagant bar at the Oberio. This place picks up after 11:30 pm, but the view of the water body is absolutely stunning, and one drink down, you won’t remember that you are, in fact, in Gurgaon.

Where : The Oberoi, 443, Phase 5, Udyog Vihar; Price Range : Expensive

Tease | Constituting 3 interconnected spaces, here’s where the world renowned mixologist Atilla Iskifoglu weaves his magic. We hear the main attraction here is Bee’s Knees – a cocktail made with the rare Manuka honey, a little vodka, limencello, chambord, fresh lemon juice and gomme.

Where : Vivanta by Taj, Sector 44; Price Range : Expensive

Rubicon Bar | Overlooking the highway, this extremely plush and extremely luxurious bar lives up the opulence that the Leela always offers. They have a great wine collection, and their cocktails are pretty yummy as well.

Where : The Leela Kempinski, Ambience Island, Ambience Mall; Price Range : Expensive

The Godfather Lounge | Replete with leather chairs, dim lights, wooden upholstery and an extensive collection of cigars, this bar lives up to the Corleone name. The ambience will have you craving a bourbon, and it’s the perfect setting for cigar and scotch nights.

Where : Next to the Monk, The Galaxy Hotel, Sector 15; Price Range : Expensive

Route 04 | While we take no guarantees about the crowd that makes its way to Route 04, we can promise you what all Route 04’s deliver – cheap alcohol and loud rock music. We hear Thursday nights are especially fun because of Karaoke.

Where : Ground Floor, Tower E, Cyber Greens, DLF Cyber City; Price Range : Medium

Price Range Guide

Budget : INR 500 – 700 per head

Medium : INR 1000 – 1200 per head

Expensive : INR 1500 and above per head

GYMS & CLUBS

fitness

Fitness First | This 22,000 square foot club is on the 5th Floor of the Ambience Mall, Gurgaon. Facilities include a cardio theatre with more than 120 state-of-the-art exercise machines, an extensive free weights area, dedicated studios for yoga, aerobics and indoor cycling, steam and sauna, and personal training by world class trainers.

Where : 5th Floor, Ambience Mall

Celebrity Fitness | Celebrity Fitness is a unique lifestyle concept, with an ambience aimed at entertainment; ensuring workouts are high energy and motivational. They have imported state-of-the-art work out machines and facilities for personal training to make sure you’re fit and stay in shape.

Where : JMD Regent Arcade, M. G. Road

Lavanya Spa and Wellness | Possibly the most conveniently located Spa in town, Lavanya includes a Relaxation Area, Consultation Rooms, and Treatment Rooms including Spa Suites. They have massages and therapies including Swedish, Balanese, Thai, Deep tissue, Aromatherapy, Thalassotheraoy and Baleneotherapy.

Where : The Leela Kempinski, Ambience Island, Ambience Mall

Ozone | Located in the Palm’s Country Club, which by itself is a great club to visit in the evenings, Ozone integrates all the possible relaxation, exercises and group exercise techniques, that is, a gym, a spa, yoga and aerobics, all under a single roof.

Where : The Palm Country Club, Block B, Phase I, Sushant Lok

DLF Golf and Country Club | A 142 acre expanse, with the Aravali range in the backdrop, this is the club for the day and night 18-hole golf course. It’s complete with a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, tennis courts, a gym, squash courts as well as horse-riding facilities.

Where : DLF City, Phase 5

PARKS

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Biodiversity Park | Spread over 600 acres, the Aravali Biodiversity Park is a reclaimed mining site and is an endeavor to create a forest garden that celebrates forest flora native to the Aravali range. In the rapid urbanization that Gurgaon is seeing, this is a welcome breather.

Where : Phase 3

Leisure Valley Park | Spread over an area of 25 acres, the Leisure Valley Park was an erstwhile haven for people looking for some relaxation. Although it had been losing its sheen, HUDA is now putting in efforts to restore it to its previous glory by building an open air theatre, and restoring the fountains.

Where : Sector 29

Damdama Lake | If a picnic is on the books, the Damdama Lake makes the perfect setting, with the Aravali range giving a stunning backdrop to its placid waters. They also offer facilities like para-sailing, hot air ballooning, rock climbing, angling, etc.

Where : Faridabad Loop, Sohna

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary | The Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is home to a large range of birds. Migratory geese and Siberian cranes spend the winter in Sultanpur and there are also the demoiselle cranes, ruddy shelducks, pelicans, flamingoes, etc. Local species include plovers, red-wattled lapwings, herons, cormorants, white ibises, and spoonbills. The perfect time to visit is between November and March.

Where : Sultanpur

WEEKEND DESTINATIONS

weekendgurgaon

Manesar | Located at a convenient distance of about half an hour from the Gurgaon toll, Manesar makes for a perfect one night getaway. It has a host of resorts, the Heritage Village being one of the foremost ones. Ideal if you want to take a breather from the moribund of city-life, or a getaway with your loved one.

Where : NH-8, Manesar, Gurgaon {Opposite Manesar McDonald’s}

Neemrana Fort Palace | This absolutely gorgeous Neemrana heritage property, located about three hours from Gurgaon on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, is located in a quaint little village. They have done a brilliant job of restoring the fort, and while the rooms might not be extravagant, they’re beautiful. It has a massive swimming pool as well as a spa to cool off, and makes for a great weekend getaway.

Where : 15th C, Delhi-Jaipur highway, Rajasthan

Neemrana Hill Fort – Kesroli | About 4 hours from Gurgaon, this is another beautiful Neemrana heritage property. Located on a hillock, this resort isn’t as big as its Fort Palace counterpart, but is more classic and earthy. We suggest you book the Nirmal Mahal and Mangal Mahal, which have a dedicated rooftop that offers a panoramic view of fields, with the Aravali range in the backdrop.

Where : 14 C, Alwar, Rajasthan

Westin, Sohna | Set amidst 37 acres of lush greens and located only 45 minutes from Gurgaon and 60 minutes from the International Airport, Westin is a spa and luxury resort. Head to Westin for a weekend of spa treatments, massages and relaxation.

Where : Vatika Complex, Karanki Road, Off Sohna-Gurgaon Road, Dhaula Post