Badami, Pattadakal and AiholeThe small village of Badami is typical of the region and its busy bazaar is the centre of dailylife. The village was formerly the capital of theChalukyas, whose empire stretched to Goa andGujarat. More than 150 temples, here at Aiholeand at Pattadakal, a UNESCO World HeritageSite, were constructed or carved out of cavesfrom the 6th century in a variety of structuraldesigns. Today, the area is regarded as the cradleof Hindu temple architecture. Many of thetemples are enclosed in parkland, but the villagesthemselves are worth further exploration toglimpse rural Indian life. BijapurAt one time an important regional capital, Bijapuris now a minor provincial town dotted with gemsof Islamic architecture dating back to the late 15thcentury. Rise early for a visit to the Gol Gumbazand climb one of the tower's narrow staircases to the amazing whispering gallery where thesmallest sound will be carried to the other side ofthe huge unsupported dome. Before you leave,we recommend a visit to the local market,frequented by gypsies clothed in brightly colouredhand-woven fabrics and the occasional sadhumeditating on a bed of nails. HampiDestroyed by an alliance of Deccani sultans,Hampi was once the capital of the VijayanagarEmpire, said to have been full of riches, withopulent festivals and huge markets sellingluxurious silks and precious gems. Today, amodern village serves the needs of pilgrims andvisitors who make the journey across the Deccan Plateau or from Goa. This is an unusualand majestic landscape, littered by giant graniteboulders and dominated by the RiverTungabhadra, banana plantations, temples and a rambling ghost city. Ideally we recommend atleast two days here to explore the ruins ofpalaces of Hindu kings, temples, elephant stablesand sculptures. 46Vittala Temple, HampiIbrahim Rauza Mosque, BijapurLadies carrying pots, PattadakalGol Gumbaz, Bijapur
GoaA small and beautiful state with almost 100kilometres of sandy shore washed by the ArabianSea, Goa is synonymous with beaches. Fordecades it has attracted visitors in search of sun,sand and a relaxed lifestyle and each beach hasdeveloped its own style. However, Goa has amuch longer relationship with the west. Colonisedby the Portuguese in 1510 to control the spicetrade and spread Christianity, Old Goa aboundsin handsome monuments and churches. Alongwith this diverse culture, Goa's cuisine, blendingfresh seafood with coconut and cashew nuts,produces sumptuous dishes. Northern Goa isrelatively lively, with more hotels, restaurants,beach shacks and markets, while southern Goa isquieter, with the hotels generally more spread out along the coast. SIOLIMHOUSE, SIOLIMThe former residence of the Governor of Macau,this 300-year-old colonial house has beencarefully restored and is now a striking boutiquehotel. The seven spacious rooms with their loftyceilings and four-poster beds are kept cool byfans. The villa has a small pool in the garden andan open kitchen where you can watch the chefsprepare local specialities. Located in a small villagea short rickshaw ride from the beach, this is anintimate hotel with a welcoming feel that offersgreat value for money. www.audleytravel.com/centralindia ?01993 838 330 ?Mumbai, Goa & the Deccan47Colourful beach houses, PanajiBeach at The Leela, MoborVivanta by Taj - Holiday Village, SinquerimMajorda Beach, GoaChurch of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, PanajiSiolim HouseVIVANTABYTAJ- HOLIDAYVILLAGE, SINQUERIMBEACHA collection of colour-washed cottages androoms comprise the accommodation at this well-established resort, surrounded by fragrantgardens and just minutes' walk away from shops and restaurants. Each room is comfortably furnished and equipped with modern facilities and has either a balcony orprivate garden. Meandering paths bring you to the swimming pool, with the Jiva spa close by. There is a choice of restaurants,including relaxed all-day dining on a shaded deck overlooking the sea. THELEELA, MOBORBEACHThis luxury hotel is a 45 minute drive south from the airport of Dabolim. The grand entrance,decorated with stone carvings, leads you tosprawling gardens and the 206 guest roomsoverlooking a lagoon. Each offers plenty of spaceand facilities while the Club Rooms also have anadditional swimming pool and lounge, shared byonly a few guests. These rooms also have theirown private butler. There are four dining options,including an Italian restaurant on the riverside.Whether you play a round of golf, enjoy arejuvenating spa treatment or relax by the pool, astay here will leave you rested and invigorated.