Studying abroad in India is a leap of faith. It is a country far different than any other on this planet, a subcontinent which is home to nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. India is a land of great emperors and sultans, a tropical paradise of tremendous biodiversity, and an enlightened mother to many of the world’s religions.
It can be magical at times to study abroad in India, and at other times it can be earth shattering.
If you decide to take the leap and study abroad in India, you will likely be doing so in one of its many flourishing cities. India has nearly 50 cities with a population of over 1 million people, a testament to the sheer enormity of the country. Each city is unique as a node of economic activity, cultural complexity, and, often, significant urban poverty. Yet, there a few Indian cities that stand out among the rest as shining destinations for study abroad.
Without further ado, here are the top five cities for study abroad in India:
New Delhi is the bustling capital of the Indian state. The city has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years, witnessing many epochs of Indian history, and wearing its many scars with pride to tell the tale. From the ancient ruins of the Tughlaqabad to the colonial quarters of the British Raj to its continuing development of modern business complexes and mega malls, the history of New Delhi is truly written in its streets.
Located in the northern heart of the country, New Delhi is India’s second largest city, home to over 20 million inhabitants. With such a dense urban population and rickshaws zipping by everywhere through traffic, life in Delhi can sometimes feel quite chaotic. But more importantly, the city is an incredible educator on its own. Every time you leave the door of your apartment will be an adventure, and every day becomes its own life lesson.
Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai is the most populous city in India and also the country’s wealthiest city. A major center of commerce and finance, Mumbai is additionally known as the entertainment capital of India because it is home to the country’s infamous Bollywood industry. An important seaport of the Arabian Sea for centuries, Mumbai is undoubtedly one of the most impressive cities in all of Asia.
Mumbai’s high status and skyline, however, does not totally mask the immense amount of poverty that has been simultaneously created by the city’s success. Over half of the city’s residents live in slums, informal housing projects packed very densely together. Mumbai, perhaps more than any other city, embodies the paradox of modern India: tremendous prestige and promise on the global stage marred by the challenges of swelling poverty at home.
A major cultural center of the country, Hyderabad is the perfect place to study abroad in India for those interested who are interested in exploring southern India. Known as the “City of Pearls” for its historical centrality in the pearl and diamond trade, Hyderabad was for a long time the seat of the Nizam dynasty, which reigned for hundreds of years.
Today, Hyderabad is a colorful mixture of marketplaces, music, and dazzling architecture. It is a major center of biotech and pharmaceutical research in India, earning it the new-age label “Genome Valley.” A truly fascinating blend of new and old, Hyderabad is a great alternative destination for study abroad in India, and a great launch point to travel the southern regions of the country as well.
Jaipur is the largest city in India’s western state of Rajasthan and is a part of India’s famed Golden Triangle (along with Delhi and Agra). It is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations because of its unique architecture, the fading color of which has helped earn it the title of India’s “Pink City.” Some of the major attractions in Jaipur include the Jal Mahal floating palace, Jantar Matar observatory tower, and the Nahargarh Fort, a huge complex overlooking the city from atop the Aravalli Hills.
Jaipur might be known primarily as a tourist destination, but it is also a thriving city that offers endless cultural stimulation for students studying abroad in India. Markets, temples, elephant rides, you name it, Jaipur has it. It is also famous for being one of the best examples of urban planning in the whole world, with an infrastructural layout that makes transportation around town a breeze.
Last, but definitely not least, Pune is one of India’s fastest growing cities and ranks second in the country in terms of quality of life ratings, trailing only Hyderabad. Located on the eastern coast of the country only a few hours away from Mumbai, Pune is a major center of arts and culture in India, as well as an increasingly important economic contributor in areas such as information technology and automobile manufacturing.
Jawaharlal Nehru once referred to Pune as “the Oxford and Cambridge of India,” and it is considered by many to be the premier educational and research capital of the country. Home to India’s second largest college (University of Pune), there is a sizeable student population and an exciting feeling of change pervading the city. What better place could you find for an immersive study abroad experience in India?