Got older kids and willing to travel outside the summer season? One of the best ways to explore Western India is by train. Board the Deccan Odyssey luxury train in Mumbai for a weeklong trip. The train stops in the beach towns of Goa, where you can wander the Old Town, see the ruins of St. Augustine Church, and then spend the night at a beach resort. At Ajanta and Ellora, explore the famous cave temples, complete with intricate carvings by Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist monks. Along the way you also will visit Maratha palaces and a cashew factory in Dhamapur village. Look for Bengal tigers, leopards, spotted deer, and exotic birds in the Tadoba Wildlife Sanctuary.
In Sevagram, see where Gandhi made his home later in life. His cottage and personal possessions are preserved there.
Mumbai is India’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, so you should allow yourself enough time to play. An evening harbor cruise in the Arabian Sea is a must. Sitting off the mainland, the Haji-Ali Dargah is only accessible during low tide. While there, stop in for a soothing drink at the ever-popular Haji Ali Juice Center. For budget-friendly, yet still well-kept, accommodations, check into Bentley's Hotel. Several buildings make up this hotel; opt for the one on Oliver Road.
Why not introduce your family’s budding movie critics to a Bollywood film? After all, Mumbai is home to the world’s largest film industry. Watching the movie in an Indian theater is an education in culture; don’t expect everyone to sit there silently like moviegoers in the U.S. For movie listings in Mumbai, check out www.bigcinemas.com/in.
The Deccan Odyssey runs from September through April. It has private showers and toilets in each cabin. For rates, schedules, and other information, visit www.deccan-odyssey-india.com.
Based on articles from National Geographic Traveler and compiled by Stephanie Robichaux