I was very fortunate to participate in a magical India vacation to Dubai and Central India, which consisted of an overnight in Dubai, followed by an intense discovery of Central India, starting with Mumbai, followed by the Pench National Park with most particularly the Baghvan lodge, and ending with Hyderabad to experience the new & buzzing Taj Falaknuma Palace property.
Immediately upon going through customs in Mumbai, the Feel for India stroked me right away. India is a country that imposed itself to its visitors immediately upon arrival. There are people everywhere!! There is not one acre of land free of humans from the airport gate to…. The horizon! It’s hot, humid, colorful, flavorful, everything you’re hoping for.
Then, poverty jumps at you and asks you to learn how to deal with it.
The majority of the population works, lives, plays and loves in poverty. The wealthier minority either lives in the high-rise downtown buildings or outside of town, braving 2 to 4 hours of traffic each morning and night. Dust, dirt, people sleeping in the streets, wild cows, dogs, cats, and boars running around, more people eating, talking, dancing; these were the scenes I witnessed on my ride to the hotel around 10pm at night. Indians barely sleeps! They work through the hot hours of the day, and enjoy family, friends and neighbors all through the night.
Mumbai is the Los Angeles of India. Bollywood (Mumbai used to be Bombay, therefore Bollywood), the India movie industry lies here, amongst a total population of 18-million people ++, they kind of stopped counting. The city is located along the Arabian Sea and its most famous piece of coastline is also called the “queen’s necklace”. The Taj Mahal Palace***** Mumbai is located directly on the sea front, facing the monumental Gateway of India (sunrise and sunset times offer incredible occasions for great photo shots).
Built in 1903 and once called the Maharajas second home, or the Princes playground, this historical property is definitely a destination in itself. You feel in a peaceful heaven spending a few nights there, while experiencing a property were history has been made more than once. All rooms in the main building are quite spacious and very romantically decorated. Many suites are unique in taste, colors and lay-out. The pool is so large that it is surprising to find it in the middle of the city! There are lots of different restaurants to choose from. The full JIVA Spa is not finished and mostly offers spa treatments. The service on property is impeccable.
Like all hotel properties in India, security takes all its importance. Screening is mandatory for everyone entering into any hotels and public buildings.
While in Mumbai, we also visited the Taj Land’s End, another great Taj property with an interesting location for one wanting to be close to the airport. Rooms are more regular hotel rooms, but very spacious and offering great views of the city and the sea.
Did I forget to mention that Mumbai is a city where 50,000 weddings can take place on a same day? While in Mumbai, we probably passed 20 to 30 weddings in a couple of days. How cool would it be to renew your vows while on your honeymoon in India?? Their ceremonies are so colorful, lively, with great music, a type of event only available to experience there.
While in Mumbai, Our land operator BANYAN TOURS had us visiting the city including but not limited to a religious temple, admiring the city-wide laundry and lunch delivery services: you must see these 2 phenomenons with your own eyes to believe them, as the whole city has their laundry and lunches picked up and delivered throughout the day without one lunch or one piece of clothes getting lost! These are memories that’d stick to anyone’s mind more than a museum visit. Also, we had a cooking class in an Indian private home. Did I mention Indian food is amazing, and taste like nothing like what we have here in the US?