Goa has notably been called The Pearl of the Orient and India's Paradise. Settled by the Portuguese in the 15th century, Goa intricately integrates European heritage and Indian traditions. Together with an introductory tour of Mumbai, experience an oasis on India's Western shores.
Welcome to India! Upon arrival, meet our representative and transfer to the hotel.
Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is often considered the commercial and entertainment capital of India. The city also houses India’s Hindi film and television industry, affectionately termed as Bollywood.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
An iconic sea-facing landmark of Mumbai, the Taj Mahal Palace opened its doors in 1903. This legendary luxury hotel has played host to kings, dignitaries, and eminent personalities from across the globe. Reserve a table at Sea Lounge for the exclusive afternoon tea featuring English delicacies and local Indian favorites.
In the morning, watch the city come to life on a three-hour tour that highlights the incredible work done by Mumbai’s dabbawalas and Dhobis. Your expert guide will share insight and information into how the lunch-pail men deliver freshly made food from people's homes to offices with 100 percent accuracy.
Then you'll see Dhobis--Mumbai's traditional laundrymen--washing customer's clothes in the massive open-air ghat. This unique tour showcases two of the city's most interesting professions and offers insight into the daily life of this thriving city.
After lunch, take a boat ride to Elephanta Caves. Dating back to the 7th century, the caves are located one hour from the harbor. Four rows of massive columns cut into solid rock from three magnificent avenues lead to the outstanding three-headed sculpture representing Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. Dedicated to Shiva, the beauty and power of these phenomenal sculptures depicting the various manifestations of Shiva is overpowering.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
Every year, millions of people come to Mumbai in search of a better future and leave a permanent imprint on its culture. The eclecticism and the industrious human spirit contribute to the culture of this city. Visit the Sassoon Docks, where you see the bustling city of Mumbai rise and shine. Get a glimpse into the underbelly of the city and gain insights into what makes this magnificent city tick.
From seeing hundreds of newspaper vendors sort out newspapers of seven different languages and experiencing a fish auction with 20 tons of fish to seeing an ‘only green’ herb market sprawled across a popular bridge, Mumbai by Dawn truly defines the mercurial character of Mumbai. The best time to walk the docks is between 5 – 8 am. Return to your hotel for breakfast.
Later, transfer to the airport for your flight to Goa. Famous for its beaches, Goa is a popular destination for both domestic and international travelers. Because Portuguese merchants settled in Goa in the 15th century, the city has a distinctive Western influence. Goa provides a unique cultural integration of Indian and European heritage.
Evening at leisure and overnight in Goa.
After breakfast, enjoy a tour of Panjim. Panjim is the capital of Goa and houses beautiful churches and cathedrals. Visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus: built in the sixteenth century, the basilica houses the body of Saint Francis Xavier. Enclosed in a glass casket, it remains a mystery how the body has resisted excessive decay.
In the afternoon, take a boat cruise on the Mandovi River.
Overnight in Goa.
After breakfast, polish your bargaining skills for the Mapusa Market in North Goa. Though operational every day of the week, the market is particularly lively on Fridays. Shoppers can peruse textiles, antiques, clothing, spices, handicrafts, pottery, carpets, jewelry, fruits, vegetables, and regional delicacies.
During peak season, merchants from other Indian states, particularly Gujarat and Rajasthan, also descend on Mapusa to sell handmade bags and shawls. The food stalls are always a favorite among both locals and tourists. Try the dried fish, seedless tamarind, and Goan chouriço, a spicy marinated pork sausage brought over by Portuguese settlers.
Continue to Sai Organic Farm and Herbarium. With its rich soil and tropical climate, Goa is an ideal setting for growing spices. Several plantations in the area offer guided tours, elephant rides, and lunches served on banana leaves but Sai Organic Farm and Herbarium goes beyond traditional spice tourism. Managed by an Ayurvedic doctor, the plantation also includes herbal gardens with aromatic and medicinal flora. Should you be suffering from a common cold, rash, asthma, or even kidney stones, the staff is quick to recommend Ayurvedic remedies. A
fter walking the grounds, visitors can enjoy a Goan lunch prepared with freshly cultivated herbs and spices. Here, organic-farming methods reign supreme to assure the purity and quality of the plants (and also to preserve the site's ecotourism designation). Sai Herbarium is welcoming and educational, and leaves a smaller footprint on the important spice zones of Goa.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
Today is at leisure for you to enjoy the beaches, red cliffs, and natural landscapes of Goa. Overnight.
Head north of Valpoi to reconnect with nature in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary. The 80-square-mile preserve, nestled in the Western Ghats, is considered an area of high biodiversity, with wildlife ranging from black panthers and leopards to sloth bears and Bengal tigers. In fact, it was recently proposed that Mhadei become a part of Project Tiger, a government initiative to conserve a viable tiger population.
The sanctuary is also an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (an official designation by BirdLife International and the Audubon Society), with 255 recorded species. Besides wildlife, the preserve is dotted with dozens of waterfalls, most notably the dual Vazra Sakla and Virdi Falls. There are no public tourist facilities; allow yourself three hours for a self-guided exploration of the sanctuary.
Catch the sunset at Vagator Beach. Vagator has long appealed to the trance-loving crowd of foreigners seeking overnight rave parties on Goa's shores, but the beach has also become known for its spectacular sunset views from the surrounding red cliffs. Vagator Beach is actually split in two sections, each flanked by the cliffs: North Vagator (Big Vagator) and Ozran Beach (Little Vagator). Before sunset, taste the local catch at one of the many seaside eateries and then take a dip at one of two natural freshwater springs adjacent to the shore.
Today, transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Bon Voyage!