select - indian escapes
Written by Brian Johnston Illustration by Marion Vitus
Looking for a getaway to one of the world’s most fascinating countries? Whether you want a taste of ancient temples, modern high-tech savvy, or laid-back coastal lifestyles, India beckons with cities of such variety that there is something for everyone.
In the 1960s, Goa developed a reputation as a hippy hangout for New Age foreigners intent on tripping out and party-ing long into the night. A warm climate and long beaches (some run for 25km) still attract drop-outs and backpackers, and the local motto is ‘Sossegade’, or ‘take it easy’. But this tiny Indian state actually has much more to offer, from the layers of its Portuguese history to its Hindu temples, coconut-fringed coastline and distinctive Goan cuisine, which marries Indian influences and Mediterranean. These days, wealthy Indians and package tourists are also making their way to this idyllic little enclave. As a result, dining and accommodation are more sophisticated than ever before, and many visitors linger longer than they anticipate, lulled by coastal breezes, charming boutique hotels and a laid-back lifestyle.
Renowned as the ultimate Indian escape for decades, this is a place to wander beaches in the shade of coconut trees.
India’s smallest state lies on the Arabian Sea halfway down the country’s western coastline.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily non-stop flights to Goa from Doha.
Chennai (formerly Madras) was founded in 1639 as the first British settlement in India. Nowadays, the city is reinvent-ing itself as an industrial boomtown specialising in IT and manufacturing. Its distinctive neighbourhoods are delineated by the Bay of Bengal and two major rivers. Marina Beach district holds most of the city’s hotels and attractions. One of the world’s most expansive urban beaches unfolds here in a colourful parade of families, cricketers, and snack sellers. Santhome and Mylapore to the south have some fine monuments, from churches to Hindu temples where multi-coloured gopuram or gateways are replete with statues from Hindu mythology. For some respite, the gardens of the Theosophical Society are a cool haven of ancient trees, while the Government Museum has some of the best bronze sculptures in the land.
Colonial monuments, modern energy, and a relaxing sea- and river-side location – what’s not to like?
The capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai lies on India’s east coast overlooking the Bay of Bengal.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily non-stop flights to Chennai from Doha.
KozhikodeCoastal Kozhikode (Calicut) – which gave us the word calico – along the Malabar Coast of southwest India, has been a centre of trade in spices and textiles. The town is the perfect jumping-off point for the Wayanad Hills, with its coffee and pepper plantations and fascinating tribal popula-tions, the weaving town of Beypore, and nearby beaches where turtles come to lay eggs in November and December.
An ancient trading history, scenic surrounds, and a location in a state known for spa retreats and spices.
Kozhikode lies on India’s southwest coast 146km northwest of Kochi (Cochin), in the holiday state of Kerala.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily non-stop flights to Kozhikode from Doha.