NGT Rewind: Happy Places in Mumbai, Love Notes to Goa, and Where to go in December

The best of Nat Geo Traveller India from Dec 5-11. | By NGT Staff  
CST VT Mumbai
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus—then Victoria Terminus—was built over a 10-year period from 1878. Centuries later, the magnificent Gothic structure still makes locals stop in their tracks. Photo: Ajay Goyal/Dinodia Photo Library

What’s New

NETFLIX AND TRAVEL The new Netflix app update lets you download shows and watch them offline. That means no stress about low data speeds when you’re on the road. Or having to rely on in-flight movie options when you’d rather be watching The Crown. More here.

THE STORY BEHIND BUDDHIST PRAYER FLAGS Prayer flags flutter in almost every corner of the Himalayas. They’re wrapped around chortens, strung between treetops, even tied between the handlebars of bikers visiting the mountains. Ever wonder what they mean? More here.

MUMBAI’S OPERATIC COMEBACK When Mumbai’s Royal Opera House was inaugurated in 1911, lords and ladies drove up in horse-drawn carriages, and swept in wearing their finest threads and jewels. The stately building reopened recently, after the restoration work of a lifetime. With refitted royal boxes, period chandeliers, and beautiful Minton tiling, the Opera House has just made a comeback worthy of a star. More here.

THE AIRPORT THERAPY PIG You’ve heard of therapy dogs in airports, but what about a therapy pig? San Francisco International Airport hopes to calm frazzled fliers with LiLou, an adorable pig in a tutu. More here.

RANTHAMBORE FESTIVAL 2016 isn’t over yet, but we already have plans for the first long weekend of 2017. Tigers usually steal the spotlight in Ranthambore, but a new festival hopes visitors will look beyond the big cat. On the Republic Day weekend, the Ranthambore Festival will screen wildlife films by heavyweights like Mike Pandey, host panel discussions, and shows by local musicians and famed artists like classical dancer Mallika Sarabhai. More here.

Trip Ideas

WHERE TO GO IN DECEMBER December spells the best weather in several parts of the country. For a rich shot of culture, match appams and stew with top-notch contemporary art at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, tuck into Rajasthani cuisine and electronic music at the Magnetic Fields Festival, and get elevated on ghee roast and ragas at Chennai’s Carnatic Music Season. Plus migratory birds to see, snowy slopes to ski down, and dreamy ruins for time-travelling. More here.

HERITAGE GETAWAY: PUNE Pune’s the favoured getaway from Mumbai, and not just for the weather. Use our guide to go beyond the cool restaurants and quirky boutiques. Visit the home of the Ayurvedic doctor who sparked celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi as we know it today, as a way to unite Indians under the British Raj. Look up the house where Shivaji grew up and married his first wife, stop by the palace where Gandhi was imprisoned (and his wife Kasturba died) during the freedom struggle. And when you’ve had your fill of stories, wash it all down at one of Pune’s many breweries. More here.

HERITAGE STAY IN MADHYA PRADESH Want a comfortable and cultural holiday? Check in to Fort Ahilya, built in a beloved queen’s living quarters, beside the River Narmada. Watch priests perform centuries-old rituals, and come away with gorgeous Maheshwar saris. More here.

Travel Reads

LOVE NOTES TO GOA Everybody loves December—the weather is great and holidays are plenty—which is why this month’s issue is all about #HappyPlaces! Kicking off the theme is our love letter to the sunshine state. Goa’s got something for the beach bums, the adventure junkies, the hippies and the hipsters. And it’s always the best time of year to visit. Read our reasons why Goa is our happy place—and tell us if you agree (or not)! More here.

FOR THE LOVE OF MUSEUMS There are two types of people in the world, says the hilarious Sidin Vadukut. Those who not only like going to museums but also have the patience to walk around, ask questions, and mellow in the history. And then there is the type that makes you consider some gentle manslaughter, before running into a suitably liberal Scandinavian embassy for asylum. More travel humour here.

FINDING CHEER IN COPENHAGEN The summer sun acts like a giant disco ball in Copenhagen, drawing everyone outdoors to bask on boats, picnic in gardens, and party in the street. But the cheer isn’t skin-deep—Denmark has been ranked three times by the UN as the world’s happiest country. More here.

HAPPINESS IN HIMACHAL PRADESH Not all happy places come with a label. One traveller visited the tiny Himachali village of Vashisht, looking for lunch and a pair of earrings, and returned with one hell of a story to tell. More here.

MUMBAI MERI JAAN Mumbai can be chaotic, but it’s got its charms. The Nat Geo team shared the spots where they go to soothe broken hearts, remember forgotten dreams, and remind themselves that all is indeed well with the world. More here.

THE GUIDE TO HAPPINESS As the year draws to a close, Editor-In-Chief Niloufer Venkatraman urges everyone to take that well-deserved holiday, even if it’s a short one. Travel is more precious than gold, more fun than a party. More here.

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