Central India, Mumbai and Goa
With vibrant cities, serene areas of natural beauty, and a rugged wilderness home to tigers and a myriad of other wildlife, Central India, Mumbai and Goa offers the perfect blend of what makes India so magical. Embrace the infectious energy of Mumbai, unwind on Goa’s sandy coast, explore National Parks and discover the historic riches of Khajuraho to fully experience this region in all its glory.
Mumbai is a cultural melting pot, an amalgamation of cultures and classes squeezed into a metropolis broken up by colonial architecture, museums and historical monuments. It can be a little overwhelming upon first arrival, however the vibrant energy soon sweeps you away, and Mumbai becomes a joy to explore.
Particular highlights of the city include the Prince of Wales Museum, one of the best museums in the whole of India; the Elephanta Caves, famous rock temples containing a number of beautifully carved sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses; the Gateway of India, a grand 20th Century archway; and the Dobi Ghats, traditional open air laundry areas creating a spectacular sea of fabric. The markets of Mumbai are also well worth a visit, and it is easy to get lost within the maze of bazaars with their incredibly varied displays of goods.
After a couple of days in Mumbai, Goa provides the perfect retreat away from the city. The beaches are what Goa is famous for, and although this fame does bring crowds, it is still relatively easy to find superb empty stretches of beaches and small beautiful bays that have a local feel. As well as beaches, there is a wealth of flora and fauna across Goa’s four protected wildlife areas, each home to a variety of animal and bird species including deer, monkeys, gaurs, pythons, cobras, Malayan giant squirrels, elephants and tigers. Other places of cultural interest are found in Old Goa and Panaji, including opulent churches, beautiful temples and colonial mansions.
The jungles of Central India inspired Rudyard Kipling to share his charming stories of ‘The Jungle Book’, and are best enjoyed on safari in one of the regions many National Parks. Bandhavgarh will encourage you to track tigers on elephant-back. At Kanha head to Sunset Point at dusk for breath-taking views and grazing silhouettes. Tadoba, perhaps the finest tiger habitat, has a stand-out volume of mammals and birdlife. Prepare to meet elephants, leopards, jackals, wolfs, sloth bears, crocodiles, wild dogs, sambars, antelope and deer. Escape the tourist crowds in Satpura, exploring its rugged landscape of sandstone peaks and spotting its diverse wildlife population.
The city of Hyderabad offers a change of pace from the National Parks. Once the global centre of the pearl and diamond trades and today a thriving IT hub, Hyderabad is a shining example of authentic India in a modern world. Get acquainted with Salar Jung Museum’s inspiring collection of paintings and intricate marble sculptures.
The towns of Khajuraho and Maheshwar are fantastic cultural and historical additions to any trip through central India. The former is home to the internationally acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage listed temples that showcase some of the finest temple art in the world, and the latter is a deeply spiritual town on the banks of the holy Narmada river, home to a grand heritage hotel with the walls of a magnificent 16th Century Fort complex.
Enjoy a sneak peek into daily life in India by staying at a haveli or in a homestay. If only for a few nights, you will be shoehorned into a family, enjoying traditional Indian hospitality, sampling home cooked food and exploring the path less travelled. Staying at one of these unique lodgings will give you an incredible insight into real India, and you will be welcomed with open arms by hosts whose wealth of local knowledge knows no bounds. Coming in all shapes and sizes, from plantation bungalows to historic houses, majestic forts and charming cottages, a short stay in one of these unique properties allows you to immerse yourself in India rather than simply visit it.
India is famed for its wildlife. Its national parks are home to some of the world’s most fragile eco-systems, a mosaic of mangrove swamps, alpine meadows, dense rainforest and arid desertscapes. Whilst India’s call of the wild is the famed Bengal tiger, keeping your eyes peeled for an array of endemic flora and fauna as you scale the country’s national parks is bound to delight. So whether it’s coming face to face with big cats, or simply soaking up the natural splendour of India that whets your appetite, we’ve handpicked a selection of India's best national parks to visit throughout the country.