- This tour ,although starting with the highlights of the busy metropolis of Mumbai , including Gandhi's house and India gate ,leads away from the well worn tourist trails via train and coach.
Hyderbad is a busy city with colourful market and interesting buildings. Conversely Badami is a rural town with simple houses and market.Goa is an echo of a Portugese heritage and feels European.
This tour does include some long journeys.
On the overnight train we travelled in reserved sleeper bunks ,not as crowded or primitive as imagined, and on the day trains in reserved seats alongside Indian businessmen and families also journeying.
We saw the changing landscape from subsistance farming ,to the richer mechanised farms.From villages,to small towns and industries.
The sites we visited on the itinerary were not crowded with overseas visitors,but dotted with family groups of Indian tourists enjoying their heritage and stopping to take photos of , or with members of our group !
We had space and time to explore caves ,forts and temples ,and at each site learnt more about the history , politics and the changing paths of religion that caused the construction and in some cases abandonment or destruction.Even the incredible temple complex of Hampi is far larger than expected and comes complete with a friendly temple elephant.
The intricately carved caves were all totally amazing. These have to be seen in reality as no amount of video footage or photographs could convey the sheer complexity of the carvings and the otherwordly atmosphere of the sites.The local guides at each site were very good ,explaining the significance of recurring carvings , the particular details relating to the various religions
The forts ruins were large and impressive
The dome of Gol Gumbaz a feat of engineering well worth the climb up the steep stairs.
The hotels were a complete cross section from upmarket with doormen and a free local newspaper delivered to the room,to the more simple, generally catering for the Indian businessman or tourist. In two of the hotels we had to advise our breakfast requirement the evening before as their menu is limited,understandable , due to the lack of foreign tourists.
Our Tour Leader,Jassa,was a fountain of knowledge on any subject and happily clearly explained anything we asked about. He took us to interesting restaurants favoured by locals ,and explained each local delicacy in detail,the ingredients,how it differed in that region and how to cook it! The food is inexpensive .
It is not necessary to change a lot of money at the start as there are no additional costs involved except food and drink and no expensive"tourist traps" on route.
Published on: 13 May 2016