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