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Southern India

India

The destination

Formerly known as Bombay, Mumbai originally consisted of seven swampy islands when the Portuguese acquired it in 1554. In 1661 Bom Bahia (the Good Bay) came to the British Crown as part of the dowry of Catherine Braganza when she married Charles II. The British leased these “useless malarial islands” to the British East India Company who realised the potential as a natural harbour, and the city grew to its present stature. 

 The state capital of Maharashtra, Mumbai is India’s most dynamic, cosmopolitan and crowded city.  The country’s financial capital and its busiest port, this city is home to the world’s biggest cinema industry, popularly known as “Bollywood”. Some 18 million people, from billionaires’ tycoons to homeless pavement dwellers, live in this teeming metropolis

 The Gateway of India is one of India's most unique landmarks situated in the city of Mumbai. The colossal structure was constructed in 1924. Located at the tip of Apollo Bunder, the gateway overlooks the Mumbai harbour, bordered by the Arabian Sea in the Colaba district. Also make time to visit Kala Ghoda - a crescent-shaped art district in Downtown Mumbai. It has a large number of the city's heritage buildings, and is full of museums, art galleries and educational institutions like the Jehangir Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and The Arts Trust.

 The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The building, designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. The terminal was built over 10 years, starting in 1878, according to a High Victorian Gothic design based on late medieval Italian models.

Kerala, and especially Cochin, was one of the main ports on the spice route. The history of Kerala reflects the significant influences these foreign visitors left behind. Christianity first came to India through Kerala, and the Islamic influence in the state can be seen when traveling north. Even after they left, the cultural influence is still seen in the architectural inheritance of Fort Cochin and in the cuisine.

A visit to Kerala is incomplete without a tour of the backwaters. A maze of canals which wind their way through the state, they support a unique lifestyle, one which is dictated by the waters. Enjoy a leisurely journey through the Kuttanadu area of the backwaters which is one of the few areas where farming is done below sea level, and as you travel through the waters ways you will pass paddy fields, banana and coconut plantations, small villages and boats commuting between villages and ferrying children to school and farmers to the markets.

From the 16th to the 18th centuries, when Old Goa’s population exceeded that of Lisbon or London, Goa’s former capital was considered the ‘Rome of the East’. Its rise under the Portuguese, from 1510, was meteoric, but cholera and malaria outbreaks forced the abandonment of the city in the 1600s. In 1843 the capital was officially shifted to Panaji. Some of the most imposing churches and cathedrals are still in use and are remarkably well preserved, while other historical buildings have become museums or simply ruins.

It has been a holiday destination since colonial times, when British troops and officials used to travel here from across the country. The golden, palm-fringed beaches spread along the state’s 105km coastline making it the perfect place to relax after a busy itinerary exploring the country.

Location

Top tips

  • Go to a Kathakal show – this sacred dance has evolved over the last 400 years and requires lengthy and rigorous training to attain complete control of the body.

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