Leicester is well-known for being home to the vibrant area of the Golden Mile, which refers to the Belgrave Road area. This area offers the best that Indian culture has to offer and it’s where you can find everything you’re looking for; from delicious sweet treats to colourful sarees.
The area has been likened to visiting an Indian bazaar. There is so much to see and do. You could, and people often do, spend hours browsing the many shops or eating at the local restaurants.
The Golden Mile has been the heart of the Asian community for over 40 years and the area has grown in size and popularity.
The name ‘Golden Mile’ comes from the vast array of traditional Indian jewellery shops which can be found there. It is said that the Golden Mile hosts the largest concentration of jewellery shops outside of India.
The bustling area is only 10 minutes away from the city centre and can be easily accessed via buses from the Haymarket Station.
Designer, Arinder Bhullar, creates Indian bridal wear and Asian couture. She chose Belgrave Road as the place to open her flagship boutique in 2005. Her brand was established in January 1999 and in 2010, she won Best Wedding Designer at the International Asian Fashion Awards. When customers do visit her boutique, they are met with elegant gowns which can be custom made to meet their needs.
“A lot of people come from out of town [to visit the boutique] especially since there are other Asian shops here too,” she told us. When asked about her reasons for choosing to open her store on Belgrave Road, she said, “There is a buzz around here. It is a busy area and there is lots happening.”
Sheetal is another Indian clothes boutique which can be found in the Golden Mile area. They sell ‘ready to wear’ dresses and sarees. They have colourful pieces of clothing adorning their walls which look fabulous. Behind the counter, there are shelves full of sarees, which customers can ask to see. When we visited them they were holding a sale in preparation for Eid celebrations (that their Muslim customers observed).
Other clothes stores include First Lady and Ladlee, which also have a wide range of occasion wear to choose from. There are dresses of different styles hung on the walls and displayed on the mannequins around the shop.
However, when you are all shopped out and could use a break, Chaiiwala seems to be the perfect answer. Located on Loughborough Road, the café serves Indian chai and their popular ‘desi breakfast’. Ahmed, manager of the branch, said: “We opened this branch in November 2017. Business has been good. A little quiet due to Ramadan but we are busier in the evenings and weekends.” The story of the Chaiiwala brand dates back 90 years with a woman whose tea was known to be the best in the neighbourhood and her husband decided to sell it on the streets of Delhi. Years later, their great-grandchildren decided to open stores in Leicester.
The Golden Mile is a haven for foodies too, especially if you like a good vegetarian meal.
Sharmilee opened in 1973. It is a restaurant which also sells sweet treats. The authentic Indian sweets on sale, such as mithai and jalebi, looked delicious. When you walk into the store, your eyes are met with an abundance of delicacies on display. Ashish, whose family own the store, told us that he loves the “diverse area” and also that the “ladoos” are their most popular sweets. Ladoos are spherical Indian sweets, made with flour and sugar. The bright orange jalebi are also popular. Basically deep-fried maida flour drenched in sugar syrup, they may not be very good for you, but they are definitely tasty!
There are also savoury options like “kachoris”, which is a spicy snack and upstairs is a restaurant with an “all you can eat” buffet.
There are many other restaurants to choose from too; some are award-winning for their dishes. If authentic Indian cuisine is what you are after, you will be spoilt for choice. One of these restaurants is Bobby’s, which specialises in vegetarian dishes. There is also Feast India, which is a buffet restaurant with an actual rickshaw inside! It’s a great option for a night out.
There is also the Milky Lane dessert parlour if you have a sweet tooth and would like a milkshake or ice cream sundae to accompany your meal.
If you prefer to cook your meals from scratch, there are fragrant spices available to purchase in the Golden Mile area.
Over the years, some of the world’s most famous Bollywood actors have also paid a visit to the Golden Mile in Leicester. Bollywood legend, Amitabh Bachan, was greeted by thousands of fans when he received his honorary degree from De Montfort University in 2006. Shah Rukh Khan has also been to the area and actors, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, have even filmed parts of their movies in Leicester.
The Golden Mile’s Diwali celebrations see the area totally transformed. Over 35,000 people gather to celebrate every year. There are firework displays and over 6,000 lights which brighten the streets. Music is also played during this huge street party. It is spectacular.
The Golden Mile is a colourful, busy area that is unique to Leicester. The area is interspersed with clothes stores, eateries and jewellers and is definitely worth a visit!