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Last updated : Nov 2009
West India
West India - TravelPuppy.com
Mumbai (Bombay)

The main metropolis of Western India is Mumbai, the capital of the state of Maharashtra, a busy port and commercial hub, with plate-glass high rise buildings and modern industry jostling beside bazaars and a bustling street life. Many of the country’s movies are filmed in the famous Mumbai studios.

The city also has one of the best race tracks in India, the Mahalaxmi course. There is a delightful seafront with a palm-lined promenade and appealing beaches such as Juhu, Marve, Versova, Madhe and Manori.

On the Seafront is Mumbai’s well-known landmark, the Gateway to India. Boats leave here on the 10 kilometres (6 miles) trip across the busy harbour to the Elephanta Island. The island is known for the eighth-century cave temples, with large rock carvings, the most impressive is the 3-faced Maheshmurti, the great Lord.

Maharashtra

Aurangabad lies to the east of Mumbai, the starting point for visits to 2 of the world’s most outstanding rock-cut temples.

The Buddhist cave temples at Ajanta are dated back at least 2,000 years. Carved into the steep face of a deep rock gorge, the 30 caves have beautiful paintings illustrating daily life at that time. The caves at Ellora depict religious tales and are Hindu, Buddhist and Jain in origin. The Temple of Kailasa is the largest hewn monolith temple in the world.

Southeast of Mumbai are many fine hill stations, particularly Matheran with its narrow gauge trains, and Mahabaleshwar. The bustling city of Pune with its serene Bund Gardens and its cultural sites is also in this area.

Gujarat

North of Mumbai sits the state of Gujarat, well known for its silks, as the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, and as the final refuge of the Asian lion, found deep in the Gir Forest.

Ahmedabad, in the east of the state, is the main textile city of India, producing silks, which are world famous.

Ahmadabad is also the site of Sabarmati Ashram, established by Mahatma Gandhi, His ideology of non-violence is still promoted here. Gandhi’s place of birth is some 320 kilometres (200 miles) to the west, in the fishing village of Porbandar.

Goa

South of Maharashtra lies Goa. The 100 kiloemtres - long (60 - miles) coastline has some of the best beaches in the subcontinent. Goa was Portuguese until 1961, and there is also an appealing mix of Latin and Indian cultures.

Panaji, the state capital, is among the most elegant and relaxed of India’s cities. The enormous Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception dominates the town, however; the shops, bars and delightful streets are the main attraction.

Old Goa’, only a bus ride away from Panaji, exhibit an amazing variety of architectural styles. Noteworthy Buildings include the Basilica and the Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi. In nearby Ponda is the 400 year old Temple of Shri Mangesh, which is reportedly the oldest Hindu shrine.

Backpackers, Indian visitors and package tourists are replacing Goa’s notorious hippies. Full moon parties are still held in Anjuna but are smaller and less genuine compared to the heady days of the 1960s. Anjuna is also well known throughout Goa for its Wednesday flea market.

If you are seeking beautiful and peaceful beaches, travel south between Benaulim and Palolem.

Accommodation includes the Taj holiday village, the luxury resort of Aguada, and the Aguada hermitage. Simple hotels and cottages for rent in villages along the coastline can also be found, outstandingly Calangute, Baga and Colva.

Goa also has many wildlife sanctuaries, including Bondla in the hills of Western Ghats, wild boar and sambar can be seen here, in their natural habitat.

The region is legendary for its cuisine– a variety of dishes, both Indian and Portuguese – as well as for its colorful festivals, particularly the spectacular Carnival which takes place on the three days preceding Ash Wednesday.
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