We had been planning for a long while to go to India, so when the opportunity to visit both the east and west coast came up we couldn't say no!
We landed in Mumbai, where we stayed for a few days at the majestic Taj Mahal Palace. The Taj was the first of many built by Jasmetji Tata, whom decided to build it after he was refused entry to one of the city's grand hotels of the time, as it was restricted to "whites only". When it opened in 1903, the hotel was the first in India to have: electricity, American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers. Later it also had the city’s first licensed bar, India’s first all-day restaurant, and India’s first discotheque! We had wonderful weather so it was a pleasure to walk around the city and witness the hustle and bustle of such a metropolis.
We then flew over to Chennai, on the east coast, a maritime city built on the Bay of Bengal and capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. Here we ate some of the best food one could possibly imagine: the region has a rich range of vegetarian and vegan cuisine! Our favorite dishes were served on banana leaves and to be eaten with your fingers, so to savor all the textures. Chennai is known for its textiles so as expected, we went treasure hunting in the local markets and fabric shops, where women of all backgrounds go to make their own sarees.
Finally we arrived in Kochi, in the state of Kerala, in the south-western coast of India. The port of the city has been open to Arab, Chinese and European merchants since 1341. We stayed on Willingdon Island, at the Vivanta by Taj Malabar, a jewel property overlooking Kochi's harbour. To brows the streets of this colonial town is like being thrown back in time, Portuguese and Dutch architecture, open air markets, fishermen selling their morning catch.
What a dream to have experienced so much variety in so little time: the whole trip we kept hearing people say the touristy slogan "Incredible India!" ... now we know why!