Group Trip India: From Bollywood to Goa
It is New Year’s Eve. Almost midnight. Such pleasant weather it is, still over 20 degrees. You look at yourself sitting on a terrace. Wearing your t-shirt. Sipping a cocktail. How fantastic life can be. Your mind is breathing joy. Two more hours and it will be 2019. The parties will start and you can rest assured that Indians now how to throw a party. And on New Years’ day? A late breakfast next to the pool. Swim a bit, if you will not be too lazy. And then put yourself in the sun bathing position. Welcome 2019. How promising is your start. Beach, Party, Sun, Culture.
From 27 December 2019 to 10 January 2020 (15 days)
€ 1,750 per person
This price includes:
✓ Domestic flight from Goa to Mumbai
✓ Accommodation in hotels on double sharing basis
✓ Master class Bollywood Dance
✓ All transportation by comfortable (mini) bus
✓ Professional guidance by Eastward Travels, before and during the trip
✓ Services of an English speaking guide
This price does not include:
✓ Return flight from Europe to Mumbai (price is approximately € 700)
✓ Lunches / Dinners
✓ All personal expenses like phone bills, insurances, medical costs, extra luggage etcetera.
✓ Tips to drivers and hotel staff
✓ Entrance to museums
Maximum 16 persons
This trip will start in Mumbai on 28 December 2019. The ideal flights to book would be:
✓ 27 December 2019: Europe to Mumbai (arrival in Mumbai in the evening)
✓ 10 January 2019: Mumbai to Europe (departure from Mumbai in the very early morning, arrival in Europe in the morning)
There are a lot of flights, direct and with a stop over between Europe and Mumbai. A good website to compare flights is Skyscanner.
Group Trip India: From Bollywood to Goa – Day by Day
Day 01: Arrival in Mumbai Day 02: Mumbai, Slumdog Millionaire Day 03: Mumbai, Bollywood Day 04: Mumbai to Nashik Day 05: Nashik to Aurangabad, New Year Day 06: Aurangabad and Ajanta Day 07: Ellora, continue to Pune Day 08: Pune Day 09: Pune to Tarkarli Day 10: Tarkarli Day 11: Tarkarli to Goa Day 12: Goa Day 13: Goa Day 14: Goa to Mumbai, Back to Europe Dag 15: Arrival in Europe
Group Trip India: From Bollywood to Goa – In Detail
Day 01 – Arrival in Mumbai
After arrival in Mumbai you will be transferred from the airport to the hotel. As the plane will arrive rather late in the Mumbai evening, it might be advisable to start your India adventure with some sleep.
Day 02 – Mumbai
After breakfast you will step into Mumbai, the Indian version of New York. Mumbai is the economic powerhouse of India and works like a magnet for hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country. As a consequence it is crowded here, that is obvious. But the air is breathing activity, chances and opportunities. One of the best places to experience all this is the slum Dharavi, known from the movie Slumdog Millionaire, the area where the main character, Jamal, grew up. Whatever may be your first thoughts and impressions regarding slums, Dharavi is without doubt much more than that. Together with your guide you will explore Dharavi and find out about the many small enterprises that exist here: Recycling, pottery-making, embroideries, bakeries, soap factories and leather tanning to name a few. Due to the lack of space here these enterprises are organized in highly creative ways. When passing through the residential spaces, you will undoubtedly feel the sense of community and spirit that exists in the area. People from all over India live in Dharavi, and this diversity is apparent in the temples, mosques and churches that stand side by side. A tour through Dharavi’s narrow alleys is quite an adventure and you will leave Dharavi with a completely different view regarding slums.
After lunch you will see another Mumbai. Logically, because Mumbai has lots of faces. The tourist highlights like the Gateway of India, several buildings from colonial times like Victoria Terminus, the tomb of Haji Ali, the Dhobi Ghats, the peaceful environment around Banganga Tank and the spectacular view of Marine drive and Chowpatty Beach. There is so much to see in Mumbai, so much to do.
Day 03 – Bollywood
But Mumbai is not just the Indian answer to New York, it is also the Indian answer to Hollywood! So Mumbai is also proudly presenting you Bollywood. Today you will have the possibility to learn the basic steps used in modern Bollywood movies. During a one-day workshop you will learn two different dances. A more traditional one and the Mega-Hit-Of-The-Moment-Dance. The workshop is offered on the premises of the Bollywood Studios. The place where hundreds of thousands Indians would love to walk around. It is sacred ground that you will dance on. This is really a great day out. Full of fun, excitement, action and in the end you will know how to dance the Bollywood way. During the rest of your holiday you can practice your dance steps every time you hear the mega-hit-of-the-moment. For sure, the Indians will love seeing you dance.
In the evening you could head for a cinema somewhere in Mumbai and watch the movie with the mega-hit. And yes, you are allowed to dance while watching this movie. It is no problem at all, here in India.
Day 04 – Mumbai to Nashik
Nashik is one of the holiest cities in India and a major Hindu pilgrimage centre with a rich culture and tradition. Nashik is peppered with hundreds of temples and bathing ghats and is an absorbing, colourful town. At the same time Nashik is the centre of the Indian wine production. And perhaps, somewhat surprisingly, these wines are rather tasty and easy to drink. But there is no reason to simply believe this. Give it a try yourself today, as you will have the chance to taste several local wines during a wine tasting ceremony Indian style.
Day 05 – Nashik to Aurangabad
Before departure have one more look at the bathing ghats. They are especially colourful in the early mornings. To make this morning extra colourful you can participate in a yoga class on the shores of the river. You can be sure that the Indians will greatly appreciate the sight of a group of tourists practising yoga here. Afterwards you will depart for Aurangabad.
As you are in India you can as well use the moment to celebrate the last evening of 2019 and the first hours of 2020 in an Indian style: Enjoy a tasty Indian buffet followed by a party, where you surely will be able to show your newly acquired dance steps.
Day 06 – Aurangabad with Ajanta
Approximately 100 kilometres north of Aurangabad are the caves of Ajanta. Like the Ellora caves they are World-Heritage listed. Due to their isolated location they were forgotten until 1819. This contributed positively to the fine state of preservation in which some of the remarkable paintings remain to this day. And today you have the chance to discover them yourself.
Day 07 – Aurangabad & Ellora, drive to Pune
For over five centuries, generations of monks carved monasteries, chapels and temples in Ellora, many of them decorated with a profusion of remarkably detailed sculptures. The artwork is simply amazing and can be compared with the best that Europe has to offer. Stroll around here for a couple of hours and learn from the well-informed guides before departing for Pune.
Day 08 – Pune
Pune, a place where old and new India increasingly interweave, is a fascinating place. In the Osho Meditation Resort you can hunt for the spirit of the Bhagwan and, at the same time, try to put all your impressions, discoveries, thoughts and questions into place during a meditation session. Pune is the place where Gandhi was imprisoned by the British; this place houses an interesting museum now. At the same time Pune has great restaurants, shopping malls and a good university; all contributing to her modern image.
In the afternoon you will have the option to participate in the, by far, most extraordinary excursion of this trip. Be warned beforehand, this is not for the weak hearted. However, in order to get the maximum out of your India trip, this excursion offers a fascinating insight of a completely different facet of India. Of course, it is your holiday and you deserve beautiful monuments, peaceful beaches and great food. And all of this you will have, abundantly. Still, India is more than all this, much more.
Near Pune there are several stone quarries, where many Indian men and women work. Their working conditions are extremely difficult and poor, just like their housing and education. When Bastu, the president of the NGO Santulan, back in 1997 coincidentally ended up in these quarries, he spontaneously decided to spend all his time and energy to improve the conditions of the people living and working here. This afternoon, he will show you around the quarry. For sure, his motivation and his enthusiasm are inspiring. It is a great pleasure to listen to him and to learn about the other side of India. It might be true, on the surface this afternoon is not simply pleasure, but for sure you will be pleased with all the positive developments and the enthusiasm of the people here. And once back home, that is almost a certainty, this excursion will still be in your mind.
Day 09 – Pune to Tarkarli
A bit of a trip it might be today. But with an absolutely splendid reward: Tarkarli Beach! Undiscovered but yet superb and fantastic! The home stay of ‘mister Ravi’ will absolutely contribute positively to the atmosphere in this place. Put aside your city boots for a while and change them for your swimming suit. For sure your stay here will make that your leftovers of Europe will disappear into the ocean. We bet with you that you are going to come back to this beach later in your life!
Day 10 – Tarkarli
Tranquil and amazingly relaxed Tarkarli beach invites to simply spend the day in the sun, swim in the ocean, snorkel, drink a local beer, read a book or lay down in the hammock or on the beach. Alternatively, make an early morning cruise along the backwaters and look out for dolphins. Make an excursion to Sindhudurg Fort, in the middle of the sea. Or visit the beach fish market in Malvan, 5 kilometres away.
Day 11 – Tarkarli to Goa
To start the day you might want to walk along the splendid Tarkarli beach just one more time. Departure for Goa will be somewhere during the day, at a relaxed hour. Fully in line with your relaxed state of mind. Moreover, it is only a few hours of driving before you will reach green, glistening and gorgeous Goa.
Day 12 – Goa
Goa is more than just sun, sea and beach. Much more. And today you will have the chance to discover this. The cathedrals and churches of Old Goa tell a story that, some 500 years ago, this city was considered the ‘Rome of the East’. Those days the population of Old Goa exceeded that of London or Lisbon. The nearby state capital Panaji (Panjim) is a clean, friendly and manageable city, with a pretty and peaceful Portuguese area.
After these discoveries you will head for ‘Spicy Mama’ for a Masterclass Indian Cooking. Here you will learn how to prepare flavourful, authentic Indian dishes and understand that Indian cuisine is not as complicated as you might think. Once back home, you can show of your newly acquired skills, by inviting your friends for an Indian curry and other Indian delicacies. Naturally, you will finish the masterclass with consuming your own creations.
After lunch you could head for one of the beaches in Goa. Do not forget to take your swimming outfit, so you can take a refreshing swim into the ocean.
Day 13 – Goa
Do nothing day. Enjoy the beach, feel the warm water of the ocean, consider a Goan or Ayurveda massage, practice yoga, try the local food or simply dream under the magnificent palm trees about a life as a god(dess) in this wonderful part of the world.
Day 14 – Goa / Mumbai / Back home
Yes, all good things come to an end. So do use the opportunity to start the day jumping into the ocean. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport to board a flight to Mumbai and from there back home. Arrival in Europe will be on Day 15.
At the end of an Indian day you will surely be pleased to be able to relax in a nice hotel and a comfortable room. Therefore, we are spending a lot of time and making serious efforts to find these places. From our point of view, it is of the utmost importance that the hotels do contribute to your overall India experience. Below you can find an overview of the hotels that we are using during this trip. Please, note that in case one or more of these hotels will not be available, we will offer a similar hotel.
Mumbai: Hotel Sukh Nashik: Hotel Sarovar Aurangabad: The Lemon Tree Pune: Hotel Studio Estique Tarkarli: Homestay Goa: Spazio Leisure Resort
Before starting your journey to India you are required to possess:
✓ An original passport of your country (with a validity of minimum 6 months after leaving India)
✓ A valid Indian visa.
Generally the following documents are required for obtaining Indian Visa. However, the requirement may vary from country to country.
✓ Original passport valid for at least 6 months
✓ Visa fee
✓ Two passport size photographs
✓ Supporting documents, where necessary
✓ Duly completed visa application form
The procedure for obtaining visa depends on your nationality and your country of residence. In some countries you should apply for a visa in person or by post at the Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. In other countries the application has been outsourced and is dealt with by an external organization. Due to these differences it is highly advisable to contact the Indian Representation in your country.
For a complete overview of the Indian Representations in the world you can click here: Indian Embassies and Consulates worldwide.
Fortunately, most travellers’ illnesses can be prevented with some common-sense behavior or treated with a well-stocked traveller’s medical kit. However, environmental issues like heat, cold and altitude can cause health problems. Hygiene is poor in some regions so food and water-borne diseases are common. Insect-borne diseases are present, especially in the tropical parts. Therefore, it is essential to be well prepared before travelling to India.
Before you go
✓ Compose your personal medical kit
✓ Check your health insurance
✓ Consult your government’s travel-health website
✓ Visit a specialized travel-clinic to be informed about recommended vaccinations
Medical care is hugely variable, especially beyond the big cities. Some cities now have clinics catering specifically to travellers and expatriates. These clinics are usually more expensive, but are worth utilizing, as they should offer a higher standard of care.
Self-treatment may be appropriate if your problem is minor (traveller’s diarrhea), you are carrying the relevant meditation and you cannot attend a recommended clinic. However, if you suspect you may potentially have a serious disease, especially malaria, do not waste time. Just travel to the nearest quality clinic.
Some golden prevention rules:
✓ Never drink tap water
✓ Check the seal when buying bottled water
✓ Avoid ice unless you know it has been made safely
✓ Be careful with fresh juices, especially in street stalls
✓ Eat freshly cooked food
✓ Peel all fruits and cook vegetables
✓ Follow the crowd, go there where the locals eat
✓ Give yourself a few days to get used to the local cuisine
India is so vast that climatic conditions in the far north have little relation to those of the extreme south. Generally speaking, the country has a three-season year – the hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool. The most pleasant time to visit most of the country is during the cooler period of November to March. Though visiting the Himalayas during this period is normally too cold. This is more pleasant during the wet and the hot season (from April till October).
India is a wonderful place for children, however extra caution is needed in hot and crowded conditions. Pay particular attention to hygiene and be very cautious in traffic.
COSTS & MONEY
On the financial front, India pleases all pockets. Accommodation ranges from simple backpacker lodgings to luxurious palaces. Eating out in India is in any case great value for money. In some budget restaurants you can eat for less than a euro. While at the urban restaurants prices might start from around 4 euros.
ATMs are found in most urban centres across the country. Major currencies such as US dollars, British pounds and euros are easy to change throughout India. Credit cards are accepted at a growing number of shops, restaurants and hotels.
Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasonably fast. It is advisable to save your messages regularly as power cuts can be common. In an ever-increasing number of hotels, restaurants and coffee shops Wi-fi access is available.
To avoid expensive roaming costs get hooked up to a local mobile-phone network. It is inexpensive and relatively straightforward. In most Indian towns you simply buy a prepaid mobile-phone kit (SIM card and phone number) from a phone shop or a grocery store. Thereafter, you must purchase new credits on that network, sold as scratch cards in shops and call centres. Note that SIM cards are state specific. They can be used in other states, but you pay for calls at roaming rates and you will be charged for incoming calls as well.
FOOD & DRINK
Indian food is different. Not only in taste but also in cooking methods. It reflects a perfect blend of various cultures and ages. Just like Indian culture, food in India has also been influenced by various civilizations.
Foods of India are well known for being spicy. And it is true, throughout India, spices are used generously. This is not only done to make the food tasty. But also because spices carry, in one or the other way, nutritional and medicinal properties.
North Indian Food
Kashmiri cuisine is strongly influenced by the Central Asian cuisine. In Kashmir, mostly all the dishes are accompanied with rice. In other northern states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh dishes are accompanied with chapattis and other types of bread. In this part of India you will come across meat-dominated Mughlai cuisine, which includes curries, kebabs and koftas. Tandoori meat dishes are another North Indian favourite. The name is derived from the clay oven, or tandoor, in which the marinated meat is cooked.
West Indian Food
rajasthan and Gujarat are the states that represent the dessert flavor of Indian food. Here an immense variety of dals and achars (pickles/preserves) is used. Simply to substitute the relative lack of fresh vegetables in these areas. In Maharashtra, the food is usually a mix between north and south. Here people use both rice and wheat. Along the coastline of Mumbai a wide variety of fish is available. Some of the delicious preparations include dishes like Bombay Prawn and Pomfret. In Goa you can notice the Portuguese influence in the cooking style as well as in the dishes. One of the most well known dishes of this region is the extremely spicy Vindaloo.
East Indian Food
In eastern India, the Bengali and Assamese styles of cooking are noticeable. The staple food of Bengalis is the combination of rice and fish. Bengalis really love eating varieties of fish. A special way of preparing is by wrapping it in a pumpkin leaf and then to cook it (this is known as ‘Hilsa’). Another unusual ingredient that is commonly used in the Bengali cooking is the ‘Bamboo Shoot’.
South Indian Food
In the south of India, people use a lot of spices and coconuts. As most of them have coastal kitchens fish is also widely available. To impart sourness to the dishes tamarind is frequently used in Tamil Nadu. In Andhra Pradesh cuisine chilies are excessively used. In Kerala, some of the delicious dishes are lamb stew, Malabar fried prawns, Idlis and Dosas. Another famous item of this region is the sweetened coconut milk.
Tea is a staple beverage throughout India; the finest varieties are grown in Darjeeling and Assam. It is generally prepared as masala chai, wherein the tea leaves are boiled in a mix of water, spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, and large quantities of milk to create a thick, sweet, milky concoction. Different varieties and flavors of tea are prepared to suit different tastes all over the country.
Another popular beverage, coffee, is largely served in South India. One of the finest varieties of is grown around Mysore, Karnataka, and is marketed under the trade name ‘Mysore Nuggets’. Indian filter coffee, or kafee, is also especially popular in South India.
Lassi is a popular and traditional Punjabi yogurt-based drink. It is made by blending yogurt with water or milk and Indian spices.