Legendary for its vibrant nightlife, fine cuisine and the glamorous, ever-booming Bollywood industry, Mumbai is India’s economic epicentre. A city where soaring skyscrapers sit amongst the filthy mazes of the slums, it truly is a staggering paradox of decadence and poverty. A majestic tribute to colonial victory, the Gateway of India sits on the city’s waterfront, overlooking the equally iconic and luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
The rest of Maharashtra a rugged tapestry of shrines and beaches, boasting the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites of any Indian state. Head north to explore the wealth of temples and caves that litter the land – the crowning jewel of which is undoubtedly the glorious Ellora and Ajanta caves, which dramatically showcase Buddhist, Hindu and Jain architectural feats. East of this is the Tandoba-Andhari Reserve, where nature-hungry travellers can spot the Indian leopard, striped hyenas and the endangered Bengal tiger. Things are comparatively tranquil in the south, so for a more relaxing experience, head down to the fishing towns and serene beaches along the rugged Konkan coastline.
Gujarat and Goa
The birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, Gujarat is a state well worth stepping off the beaten track for, and yet is frequently overlooked by travellers. The Gujarati people are a jigsaw of religions, a fact echoed in the hugely ranging architecture of the temples. If you’re after a more metropolitan encounter, Ahmedabad is your best bet – with its heady mix of ancient allure and modern charm, it offers a huge assortment of gastronomical delights and late night markets to keep your pockets light. Wildlife enthusiasts hoping to catch a glimpse of the endangered Asiatic lion should head to the Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary in the south – which is still home to the resilient maldhari tribal herdsmen.
With postcard perfect palm-fringed beaches and a tantalising fusion of cuisines, Goa’s distinctive blend of Indian and Portuguese culture makes it a deservedly popular holiday destination. The land of relaxation, spend your days exploring hidden treasures; swim beneath the milky-white stream of the Dudhsagar waterfalls and explore the cerulean coves of its secret beaches.