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Stuart Messham
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Air India is running new routes from Heathrow to Cochin, Amritsar and Goa and there's so many new discoveries to be had. Let's take a look…
A typical ocean coast landscape with Chinese fishing nets silhouette at Cochin (Kochi).

Cochin, now available via Heathrow

Cochin, mostly referred to as Kochi, is a wonderful agglomerate of irresistible islands and pretty peninsulas dotted along the verge of the Arabian Sea.

Chinese fishing nets were introduced to the region by Chinese explorer Zheng He is in the 14th century, and are a popular sight. For a token fee, local fishermen will demonstrate how to use them and enjoying the spoils as the sun gently sets is a really rewarding experience.

Art and building lovers should visit the Mattancherry Palace to marvel at its Kerala temple architecture and the murals it now houses presenting scenes from the well-known Hindu saga Ramayana, among others.

Another unforgettable experience in Kochi is getting up close and personal with elephants in Kodanad, a small riverside village in Ernakulam. Elephants are considered auspicious animals in Kerala and treated with the utmost care and respect. Stranded baby and adult elephants are rescued and brought here and guests who arrive early (pre-8am) can help wash and groom them. Which, as you can imagine, is beyond satisfying.

The most holiest of Sikh temples: the Sikh gurdwara Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Amritsar, now available via Heathrow

Considered the spiritual and cultural hub for Sikhism – and home to the Golden Temple – Amritsar sits on the border of Pakistan and India. At the Wagan border crossing, sometimes known as “the Berlin Wall of Asia”, a retreat ceremony takes place every evening 30 minutes before sunset and always draws a crowd. You can also learn more about the separation of the two countries in the Partition Museum.

Foodies flock to Bharawan da Dhaba in droves. The most famous eaterie in Amritsar, it’s been serving rich, buttery Punjabi dishes since 1912, with relatives of the original owners still running it today. It’s ten minutes from Sikhism’s holiest temple and only serves vegetarian grub as a reflection of traditional Sikh values and customs.

If you can’t get a reservation, try Brothers Dhaba next door. It’s run by the family’s eldest brother and has a slightly more Westernised, modern twist to its menu. Its curried potatoes and deep-fried flatbread breakfast is an incredible way to start the day.

The Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum and the Central Sikh Museum are both fascinating exhibits and there’s plenty more sacred locations steeped in religious storytelling to discover.

For sun and fun in equal exuberant measure, Goa simply cannot be beaten.

Goa, now available via Heathrow

Goa is India’s most popular beach destination and it’s not exaggerating to say that South Goa’s beaches are among the best in the world. They are less busy and commercial than those found in the north, making them the ideal spot to unwind, revamp and refocus. Agonda, Patnem, Colva, Benaulim and Majorda are well worth further investigation, there’s a silent party at Palolem every weekend and moonlight vibes can be secured nightly at Café Del Mar on Palolem Beach Road.

Should you be beached and bummed out at any point, try exploring the different side to Goa: the European-looking old Latin Quarter with galleries, curios and cultural distractions aplenty.

Elephant -spotting on jeep safaris are popular too, as are kayak tours along Goa’s serene, transportive rivers, dolphin-spotting on boat cruises and crocodile tours in the swampier mangroves.

If all you want to do is flop and frolic, Goa is undeniable Indian perfection. But it certainly has other inviting qualities, too.


Air India is running new routes from Heathrow to Cochin, Amritsar and Goa.
Check out the prices and book now.