West India - The Warm West

After the vibrant atmosphere of Bombay, allow the palm-fringed beaches of Goa to warm your spirit in the sun and relax your mind. Or meditate in cool and ancient Buddhist caves tunnelled out of solid rock on the craggy hillsides - a dramatic contrast from the colourful fairs and festivals in unspoiled Gujarat. The choice is once again tremendous in this land that offers everything.

Mumbai - Gateway of India

There is a powerful life force at work in this thriving, modern commercial city, with its plateglass skyscrapers and hectic colorful street life. The pace and confusion is vibrant, with businessmen hurrying to work, hooting traffic, fisherwomen in their bright sarees and 'tiffinwallahs' hurrying with their metal containers to deliver the businessman's lunch direct from his home to his office. After relaxing on Chowpatty beach under the cool evening sky, sipping refreshing milk from a large green coconut, you will start to love Bombay. You will feel ready to visit the elegant and world famous Taj Mahal hotel for a delicious snack or drink while watching the sunset over the many boats in the harbour. In the luxury and quiet of a hotel room, sightseeing can be planned. Consider a visit to the lofty Hanging Gardens next door to the intriguing Towers of Silence; or maybe win a million at the beautiful Mahalaxmi Racecourse, one of the finest in India. A glamorous day visiting the famous Bombay film studios can be arranged, and perhaps a chat with one of the many film stars. Relive the ancient stories of the Hindu gods sculpted on the walls of caves at Elephanta. This well known island, where monkeys scamper across your path, is a short and pleasant boat ride from the famous landmark in Mumbai - the Gateway of India. When ready to leave this city of tycoons, commerce, skyscrapers and film stars, prepare for adventures of a very different kind which await at its doorstep.

The Magic Around Mumbai

There is so much choice and so many wonders to see around Bombay. Northwest lies Gujarat, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. The region is famous for exclusive garments and hand made silk saris, and for being the last refuge of the Asian lions, found deep in the Gir Forest. Join in with the village people in their brightly coloured costume rejoicing in one of the many festivals and fairs that abound in this state.

Ahmedabad, the principal textile city of the country, is well known for the Sabarmati Ashram founded by Mahatma Gandhi, where his ideals of peace and non-violence are still promoted; visitors are welcome. As Jawaharlal Nehru observed, this great man of indomitable spirit was certainly 'not of the common clay that all of us are made of. Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace can be seen at the fishing village of Porbandar. A greater and even more ancient wonder awaits east of Bombay in Maharashtra, where the thirty Buddhist caves at Ajanta which are cut into the steep face of a deep rock gorge sit in silent contemplation. Feel the aura and power left behind by the Buddhist monks living 2000 years ago.

Compare them with the dynamism and energy radiating from the huge Hindu caves in nearby Ellora. Imagine the workers carving a way at solid rock on the hillside to form the thirty-four Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Caves with the stories of their religions and beliefs etched onto the walls. Stay at one of the cool and relaxing hill stations such as Matheran or Mahabaleshwar, popular with the inhabitants of Bombay. Take an evening stroll around the peaceful Bund Gardens in pleasant and airy Pune. All these adventures will entertain and fascinate in the magic and beauty around Mumbai.

Goa - Sun, Sand and Sea

Relax and experience the idyllic peace that only India can give in sunny Goa. If you have ever dreamt of a warm land of space and light, where the beaches stretch for silvery miles, where the glittering sea always beckons you, where the people are always smiling, where the succulent juice from a bite of ripe pineapples or papaya drips on your hot skin as you luxuriate lazily on the white sand, then Goa, a fascinating blend of Latin and Indian cultures, will be a place where the wish to linger will be overpowering.

Decide when to sit in the shade under the palm trees sipping the feni, or lemonade, or when to return to the hot sand to deepen your tan, or when to swim in the cool refreshing water. What a problem.

As well as being a place for relaxation, Goa is also lively and modern, with many westernstyle entertainments. there is a choice of luxurious hotels with plenty of night life, or simplicity and tranquillity in one of the inexpensive, clean and comfortable rooms with their own charm, right on the beach. The Portuguese influenced food is mouthwatering. Choose massive fish steaks fresh from the sea or a wide and delicious choice of both continental and Indian dishes. Panaji, the capital, is an easy-going town with Portuguese styled cafes, whitewashed churches and overhanging balconies; a delight after your journey. 0ld Goa, east of Panaji, was once the capital of the eastern Portuguese Empire. Now, it is little more than a fascinating small village surrounded by huge convents and churches dedicated to the zeal of Christianity, including the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus. The mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, who spread Christianity among the subjects of the Portuguese colonies, are entombed here. Which beach to choose from along the 100km long coastline of silvery sand. Possibly Colva with its warm turquoise sea and fishermen hauling in their nets by hand in the clear morning light as they chant an ancient sea song; or maybe sophisticated Aguada, with its jet-set beach and sixteenth century fort. Try the experience of a full-moon party at Anjuna, or mingle with the variety of people in Calangute selling handicrafts, jewellery and modern fabrics. Enjoy the old Portuguese fort in Chapora, surrounded by secluded and sandy beaches and dense green coconut palms. Visit all the beaches or just adopt one and make it your home. Wild boar and sambar in their natural habitat in the hills of the Western Ghats can be seen in Bondla, one of the Goan wildlife sanctuaries. In addition, the region is justly famous for its many colourful festivals, including Mardi Gras, celebrated with Christian fervour.

There are so many delights in Western India and so many glorious choices; from the vibrant life of commercial Bombay to the home of the indomitable Mahatma Gandhi then down to the peace and magic of sunny Goa - the choice is yours.

Suggested Itineraries

Program 1: Best of Gujarat

Program 2: Wild & Tamed Gujarat


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DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI

This quiet magical land of 70 villages, sandwiched between the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, near Daman is blessed by nature with Lush green forests, meandering rivers, large waterfronts, cascading waterfalls, the gentle gurgle of streams, the distant hills, a gorgeous kaleidoscope of flora and fauna....yes, it is the serene and sylvan land of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Nature at her best.

As a land it is not very large only 491sq kms, covered with forests &woods.The heaven for the simple ,colourful tribal folks.Silva in portugesse means "woods" and this can be seen when you visit silvassa the tiny sleepy township.

Only 5km from the capital town of Silvassa is one of the most beautiful lake gardens where songs of many Bollywood feature films have been picturised.Gujarati and Hindi are the main languages spoken by the 'adivasi' population.

The hospitable, kind, unselfish native tribals have their own customs, dances, and rituals which are quite fascinating. Be it the Tarpa dance, the Mask dance or the Bhavada, it is sheer magic!! Their vibrant lifestyle are simply bewitching.

The territory enjoys a very pleasant climate from November to March, which is actually the best time for a visit. The summer temperature does not go very high, due to its proximity to the sea, and the nights are really pleasant.

DAMAN & DIU

Daman boasts of a rich historical heritage spanning over more than 2000 years. The district of Daman of the erstwhile Union Territory of Goa, Daman & Diu is situated in the Surat District of Gujarat. Daman is just 160 km from Mumbai, 110 km from surat, 300 km from Baroda and about 400 kms from Ahmedabad. and in particular, the drive from Mumbai is a pleasant road journey. Daman can boast of a rich and multi - faced cultural heritage. Dance and Music are very much part of the daily life of Damanite. Here is a true fusion of cultures - tribal, urban, European and Indian.This ornate amalgam is reflected in the traditional dances of Daman.

Diu is an island of breeze and beauty. The island of Diu, an erstwhile Portuguese colony, is situated off the Saurashtra coast of Gujarat bordering Junagadh district. It is an exquisitely beautiful getaway with golden sand beaches, dense palm-groves and historical monuments sans commercial exploitation and environmental degradation. Diu stands out, in marked contrast to other places, as a tiny island, where people have an excellent civic sense. With the magnificent serenity of its ambience, it is perhaps one of India's last undiscovered jewels. Nagoa beach which is horse-shoe in shape, could well be one of the best beaches of the world. The other equally beautiful beaches are Ahmedpur, Mandvi,Chakratirath, Jallandhar, and Gomtimata all having their own charm and thrill. The administration has provided water-sports facilities. Diu can boast of several historical monuments which are imposing in architecture and design, like the Diu Fort built in 1535, St. Paul's Church built in 1610 and St, Thomas Church converted into a museum. The Church and the Museum have been floodlit by the administration and gardens, parks and fountains have been created around the monuments to beautify them. Diu is all about lazy days and hazy nights. With a pleasant climate throughout the year, it affords unprecedented peace and tranquility to tourists. The beautiful tiny island, is lying on the west coast of India, with a coastal length of 21 kms., is at a distance of about 930 kms. from Bombay. The word 'Diu' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Dweep'. During the period from the 14th to 16th century Diu was one of the best Sea Ports and a Naval base. Merchants of various lands carried on trade here

GUJARAT

The most convenient entry point into Gujarat is through the metropolis of Ahmedabad. The city contains some very fine museums, the Calico Museum of Textiles being considered among the world's finest. Ahmedabad's walled city is a living testimony to its heritage of crafts as women walk by in dazzling embroidered garments and flashing ethnic silver jewellery. Traditional Ahmedabad combines mosques of inspired workmanship, wooden Jain temples, unique stone stepwells and houses with ornately carved wooden balconies and window screens. Modern Ahmedabad, just across the River Sabarmati spanned by four bridges, is a showpiece of contemporary architecture with designs by Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn and the best known Indian architects. Ahmedabad is a convenient base for a number of excursions, Modhera being the best known. 106 km away, this is one of the very few sun temples in the country.

Palitana, 215 km away, is a hilltop place of pilgrimage for Jains. 863 temples of all sizes crowd the hilll which has to be approached on foot. Stone and marble spires with their rich detail of carving make for Palitana's very special appeal. Portuguese rule in India included the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu, the last two lying within the state of Gujarat.

Gujarat's loveliest beach – and the state is well endowed with them – is AhmedpurMandvi whose chief attraction is the ethnic beach resort. Cottages modelled on rural Gujarati architecture look out onto a secluded beach, one of the state's chief centres for water sports.

GOA

The most comprehensive beach resort in the country, Goa is approachable from Bombay by air. Goa's coastline provides endless sun drenched crescents of sand. Vagator, Anjuna, Baga, Calangute and Candolim stretch out in an unbroken palm fringed line. Other beaches are at Miramar and Colva. Parasailing, yachting, windsurfing, and deep sea diving are some of the more popular water sports, facilities for which are available. In addition, every sort of accommodation fringes the beaches, from deluxe resorts to budget lodgings Inland, 451 years of Portuguese rule has imbued Goa's towns and villages with a unique culture. Whitewashed chapels and churches that dot the landscape are surrounded by sleepy villages and rice fields.

Panjim, the capital city, and Margao, an important town, have private houses and government buildings that date back to Portuguese times. Old Goa, now deserted, has a collection of Goa's largest churches: Se Cathedral with its Iberian exterior, BomJesu which enshrines the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier and the starkly beautiful Convent of Saint Monica are a few of these. Mapusa, a market town, comes alive every Friday with a quaint pavement bazar.

MAHARASHTRA

India's western gateway is Mumbai, with a major international airport and harbour. The city's rise from the dowry of a Portuguese queen to the country's foremost sea port, commercial centre and producer of films has been nothing short of meteoric.Mumbai's Gothic architecture is embodied in the Gateway of India, Bombay High Court, Old Secretariat, University Buildings and Victoria Terminus. Open spaces in this crowded city include Chowpatty Beach, Juhu Beach and Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the latter a fine wildlife park at Borivili. Bombay is the country's premier cultural centre. Jehangir Art Gallery attracts regular art exhibitions; Prithvi Theatre is well known for its theatrical performances, and the National Centre for Performing Arts periodically hosts Indian and international concerts of music and dance. The city's shopping embraces informal fashion and accessories at Colaba Causeway, antiques – and clever reproductions of antiques – at Chor Bazar, gold and diamond jewellery at Jhaveri Bazar, high fashion at Kemps Corner, Bhulabhai Desai Road and the airconditioned shopping plaza at The Oberoi.