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A Dreamy Romantic Getaway: Eleven Minutes of Paradise in 7 Beautiful Cities

By Amogha Sharma, Undergraduate Batch of 2023

Of the countless cities which crowd our maps, some stand out in particular for their association with the most universally experienced human emotion: love. We often applaud cities like Rome and Paris for their romantic value, but I believe love exists where lovers do—each city has its own unique quality to serve as a romantic getaway. Since travel and romance have been facing limitations in the past year, I curated, with the help of seven Ashokans from seven different Indian cities, snippets that offer a little bit of both to you.

Patiala Silence, Sunsets and the Old Qila

Illustration by Tanisha Singh, Undergraduate Batch of 2022 If I had eleven minutes to take someone on a date in Patiala, I’d probably take them to Qila Mubarak. On weekends, Qila Mubarak is vibrant and alive. But on weekdays, it’s hauntingly serene. It’s the sort of silence that echoes your thoughts back to you, and although that doesn’t sound very appealing to do on a first date, I feel Qila Mubarak would communicate to you how much the absence of prior life that once inhabited the palace intrigues the most guarded parts of you. And probably as we near the eleventh minute, you will reflect the same gleam in your eyes as mine, and go on to seek out historical ruins that call to you to feel the spectres that dwell in those structures. — Mannat Asla (UG22)

Aizawl Calm, Chaos and Tlangzawl

Illustration by Medini Chopra. Undergraduate Batch of 2023

Aizawl’s hidden charms lie in the city’s disorder. The best we can do is soak in the city’s chaos from above. This is why I would like to take you to the Aizawl Theological College Campus and its Tlangzawl, or the hilltop, as we watch the sun set above the jumbled mess of houses, traffic, and hills that bustle in the city below. We’ll take a lovely walk along various parts of the campus, while the sun casts its golden rays on the trees, people, and roads around us. While this isn’t a place you would find on a travel website as a notable tourist spot, the view of the sunset from such a serene place is truly worth seeing with a friend, a loved one, or even alone on a date with yourself. — Chhani Bungsut (UG21)

Bhubaneswar Old Town, a Short Drive and Rasabali

Illustration by Medini Chopra, Undergraduate Batch of 2023

Bhubaneswar is a very well-planned city that makes a perfect setting for a good drive. I would take my date on a drive around the city, showing its buildings dating back to the pre-independence era. After spending a good five minutes exploring the streets of Bhubaneswar, we would end up in Old Town. The area is laden with architectural marvels spanning tens of generations. After treating our eyes, I would take you on a sweet ride for some delectable Rasabali, an authentic Odia dessert, thus ending it on a sweet note! (The contributor wishes to remain anonymous)

Agra Green lawns, Peacocks and the Taj

Illustration by Tanisha Singh, Undergraduate Batch of 2022

Agra is an innately romantic city with monuments that speak the language of love, the Taj itself being a loving tribute to Shah Jahan’s late wife. Eleven Minutes in Agra would be best spent at Taj Nature Walk, a walking trail with a fabulous view of the Taj Mahal while being not nearly as crowded. With its lush green lawns and the occasional presence of peacocks, a walk with my partner there will be the perfect date. Barring the occasional fear of the Bajrang Dal and discovery by relatives or other acquaintances, since Agra is a small city, this place has everything to offer as the perfect destination for a wonderful date. Oh, and I would definitely prefer early morning, it’s much more beautiful then. — Soumil Agarwal (UG23)

Candolim Aguada Fort, Blue Waves and the Sea

Illustration by Tanisha Singh, Undergraduate Batch of 2022

Goa is known for its beaches and its nightlife, but if I had to take someone on an eleven-minute date to the city, I would take them to the Aguada Fort. A little away from the fort is a narrow path that, when followed, discloses breath-taking views not known to many. A short trek along the path and you see a small beautiful canopy formed by the branches which provides respite from the sun. The view along the trek cannot be described, though I shall attempt to; a steep fall from the sort of hill leads to the sea, water splashing against the rocks in a white spray. The trek culminates in a wide grassy area where we can sit and eat some food or play some music while looking over the sea and enjoying the beauty of the landscape. — Karishni Puri (UG22)

Vizag Ice Cream, Sea Breeze and RK Beach Road

Illustration by Aniket Sharma, Undergraduate Batch of 2022

On Vizag’s RK Beach Road, the beach and the road run in parallel lines. Outlining one side of this road is a pavement, and we’ll start here. Seven in the evening. Look to your left, and you’ll find a low-standing ledge, on which people sit. You can taste the salt in the air. Your hair whips against your skin, because this breeze, wild and eager, can be a brat sometimes. We’ll stop at the little ​Havmor ​ice-cream cart; it is one out of the many scattered across the pavement. Let’s hold on to our ice creams and walk, a little faster now. Traffic clears, and we turn to the beach behind us, still holding on to our ice cream. Blinking at dots of light that cluster around ​Dolphin Hill. ​Where will our gazes fall next? Between ink blue waters and sparkling city lights—there’s no telling where this road will take us. — Oorja Engineer (UG23)

Kochi Sunrise, Hot Tea and Second Dates

Illustration by Aniket Sharma, Undergraduate Batch of 2022

Kochi might just be the perfect place for an eleven-minute date. The beaches, walkways, lakesides, and sunset make it an ideal city for outdoor dates. If I was looking to impress someone, I think the ideal place would be Kottapara View Point. It is a sunrise spot that is located on a hilltop where you stand above the clouds. The ten minutes that it takes for the sun to come above the clouds as they slowly disappear is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. As the sun rises above the clouds, we’ll likely be sipping away on a cup of thattukada tea. The added benefit of heading to Kottapara is that if both of us get interested in turning the date into a trip, Munnar is not too far away. — Raj Tempie (UG21)

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