Best of the West – A foodie itinerary to West India

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Best of the West – Highlights of West India Foodie Itinerary Ideas

Mumbai

Why Go?

Workers from across India, seeking to make it ‘big’ in the bright lights, bring authentic regional food  to Mumbai including India’s best range of creative street food (like Vada Pav, Behl Puri and Pao Bhaji).

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Try Parsi cuisine, originally from Persia…most fun at Britannia and Co.

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Don’t miss the dabbawallah unwritten delivery system that takes thousands of home cooked lunches to workers every day.

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Visit local food markets and Sassoon Dock fish market.

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All set against stunning colonial architecture…and surprisingly innovative and creative high density living in Mumbai’s many ‘slums’.

Check out:

Reality Tours and Travel – Excellent, great value tours around Mumbai that include the famous Mumbai street food, the dabbawallah delivery system and a socially responsible, sensitive Dharavi slum tour.

Where to Stay?

Colaba is the best area to stay, and a night in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (while quite expensive) is a once in a life time experience.

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Another good spot in Colaba is the Ascot Hotel  – more budget friendly prices, but still an excellent location.

http://www.ascothotel.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Hotel_Review-g304554-d606365-Reviews-Ascot_Hotel-Mumbai_Bombay_Maharashtra.html

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How to get there?

Mumbai is a major airport in India and good airlines often have specials. Check out Singapore Airlines for regular specials.

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Jodhpur

Why Go?

Dine with fantastic rood top views of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort and beautiful ‘Blue City’.

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Head to the clock tower to try regional snack food favourites including the famous rich lassi, have lunch with a local village family and experience a delicious Rajasthani thali at Gypsy Dining Rooms.

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Where to Stay?

Raas

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But also consider Castle View Home Stay for an amazing view, very thoughtful and kind host and great prices.

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How to get there? 

Mumbai to Jodhpur return $186 Jet Airways (online booking).

Jaisalmer

Why Go?

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Dine roof top on the massive, sandcastle-like fort that rises out of the desert, above this ‘Golden City’ and enjoy regional Rajasthani dishes in between visiting gorgeous havelis and perhaps enjoying a camel safari.

 Where to Stay? 

Garh Jaisal

Gorgeous, well priced rooms with window seats, each a different colour and lovely roof top spot for drinks and breakfast.

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How to get there?

Hire a good sized car (e.g. Toyata Innova) from one of the many car and diver businesses.

(About 4.5 hours from Jodhpur. Stop for a snack or lunch at Manvar Resort and Desert Safari Camp or Samsara Resort long the way).

Goa

Why Go?

A distinct Portuguese influenced cuisine in a setting of post colonial architecture featuring whitewashed churches and colourful villas as well as beautiful beaches.

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Lunch at a spice plantation, visit local Mapusa market on a Friday and marvel at the lush greenery of rice paddies and coconut palms.

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Where to Stay?

Anjuna

(home to the famous Wednesday Flea Market)

Casa Anjuna

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or Marbella Guest House (Candolim)

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How to get there?

Mumbai to Goa return $152 Jet Airways (online booking).

Suryagarh Hotel – Jaisalmer

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There’s no substitute for staying in the fort wall in Jaislamer, but if you’re looking for something different, Suryagarh, 16 km out of town, looks amazing….and it is.

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Rooms start from about $AUS14o for a double (which is all you need) in low season, $AUS 200 for a suite.

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Suite

There are nice facilities and walk ways.

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And the property looks lovely as the light changes in the evening…..

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…when there is also some traditional music and dancing to watch before dinner.

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But it is really isolated. (It was good to know to take some drinks and snacks). Rooms have no view (which is why a double is enough, the extra space in the suite is not all that pleasant for sitting) and it’s easy to get ‘cabin fever’. Outside the room, there’s no air-conditioning, so when it’s hot, it’s really hot.  And the walkways are latticed after the ground floor, so it’s easy to feel a bit imprisoned.

Best to get to the hotel late afternoon. It’s not a place to spend the day at.

In fact the best parts are arriving, the evening and breakfast…in fact the food is absolutely delicious. But that deserves a whole story of it’s own…..

 

 

 

Lake View Restaurant – a handy spot for dinner in Jaisalmer

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If you stay at Hotel Garh Jaisal Haveli, in Jaisalmer, it’s handy to know about Lake View Restaurant, at Hotel Surja Guest House, almost next door.

Hotel Garh offers a great breakfast, but doesn’t normally serve dinner. So at the end of a long day, to just go next door and enjoy an inexpensive but delicious meal with a drop dead view, can be perfect.

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Catering especially for backpackers, the restaurant is great value and Raj’s hospitality and helpfulness invaluable.

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Indoor seating                                                                                                                                                 Outside seating                                                                                The ‘music wallah’

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           Great view                                                                                                                                                               Dal Tadka, Dessert beans, Roti, Jeera Rice, Marsala Paneer

 

Hotel Garh – a gorgeous, great value spot to stay in Jaislamer Fort

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Perhaps the best place to stay in Jaisalmer’s fort wall is Hotel Garh.

This tall narrow home has been converted into a hotel full of charm, located around a courtyard at the top of a lane.

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It’s roof top restaurant has spectacular views.

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It shoulders up against other hotels (in fact, the brave can walk between roof tops). Hotel Rajmandir is right next door and Hotel Surja Guest House (good for an easy meal) the next hotel along.

The staff are kind, thoughtful, honest and sincere. Requests are happily and readily accommodated.

There’s no room safe, but belongings are secure. There’s also no room fridge, but complimentary chai, coffee and water are always available (and lovely to enjoy in the gorgeous window seats.)

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Each of the seven rooms is beautifully decorated in a different colour. My favourite was the Sweet Purple room, that is huge, with a large bathroom and extra single bed.

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But the Opium Room is also lovely…

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And there’s the Green Room…

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The Blue Room and Red Room…

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…and the Scarlet Room

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Hotel Garh is great value, at less than $AUS60 per night in low season, including a sumptuous breakfast of fruit, juice, eggs, masala chai/coffee, banana pancakes and Indian breakfast choices like Poha (flattened rice cooked with spices and vegetables).

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Jaisalmer – a unique experience to stay in the fort wall

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Jaisalmer, in desert far west Rajasthan, is the ‘Golden City’ and perhaps my favourite place in India.

It is a unique experience to stay in the fort wall ….

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…and watch the sun rise and set….

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…and the rain roll in….

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…and life below….

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….from a roof top restaurant

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…or a lovely window seat.

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