Goa’s glorious beaches have attracted travellers for decades, but comparatively few explore the other two states along India’s western flank – Maharashtra and Gujarat – despite the fact they hold some of Asia’s most wonderful ancient monuments and a fascinating array of traditional cultures. Foremost among the former are the rock-cut cave complexes at Ellora and Ajanta, two UNESCO-listed treasures that reached from Mumbai, and served by a choice of top hotels.
Having toured the caves, you can press on further north to the chimeric hilltop temple complex of Shratrunjaya in Saurashtra, Gujarat, then see India’s last pride of wild lions at the Gir Sanctuary en route to Kutch, where dozens of minority communities retain their elaborate traditional dress and handicrafts traditions – a must for anyone interested in textiles and disappearing ways of life.
Thanks to the plentiful flights that these days zoom over the Konkan Coast of southern Maharashtra, the area between Mumbai and Goa, is virtually undiscovered by tourism. Yet its coastline holds a string of magnificent Maratha island forts and miles of empty, palm-fringed beaches – one of which recently acquired a particularly gorgeous boutique hotel.