Awe-inspiring India is a destination that will tickle the very base of your soul. Renowned for hosting one of the world’s oldest civilisations, dating back approximately 9 500 years (older than Egypt), and the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism – you can expect a mesmerising journey of cultural discovery, with literally hundreds of thousands of living temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras. Lose yourself in the majesty of the Himalaya, marvel at the ochre hued deserts of Rajasthan, stand in the mottled shade of the dense jungles of central India and unwind on one of the golden beaches of the south. And, just when you thought India couldn’t possibly be more enticing, the country boasts a collection of 733 protected areas. These havens shelter the majority of the world’s wild tigers, Asiatic lion, leopard, wild dogs, sloth bear, Asiatic rhino, elephants, the gaur and many deer and monkey species.
West India | Places to stay West India
The great port city of Mumbai is the gateway to the spectacular destinations of western India, as well as Goa in the south. Modern Mumbai is India’s commercial and banking capital, as well as the country’s largest port. However, Mumbai, or Bombay, as it was known until 1996, had its origins on a string of seven islands off the shores of the Arabian sea. More than 350 years ago the city was presented to the Portuguese as dowry when Catherine of Braganza married King Charles II in 1661. The city was then leased to the East India Company for £10 per annum and grew at a slow rate.
The commercial and industrial centre that stands today began to develop in the early 1800s. The city boomed during the Victorian era and continues to grow at an exponential rate 200 years later. The introduction of trains and the expansion of the port connected large areas of western India to the city and, today, it continues to be the gateway to areas such as the state of Gujarat and its great cities of Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Baroda. Mumbai lies at the edge of the northern Deccan Plateau and had for many years been cut off by the Northern Western Ghats, which served as a natural barrier. Today, many ancient Buddhist caves have been unearthed and excavated in the remote valleys of this region. Towns such as Aurangabad and Pune, which can be accessed from Mumbai, are in turn gateways to World Heritage Sites like Ajanta and Ellora or to the seasonal Hill Stations at Mahabelsehwar and Matheran.