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Here are our favourite smelly travel destinations. They may stink, but these are some holidays worth smelling.


1 Mumbai, India

India is an exercise in sensory overload wherever you might wind up on the subcontinent. The mad blur of colours, noises and tastes is dizzying – and, especially in its largest city, the stink is intoxicating, too.

Fittingly for Mumbai, India’s epicentre of jumbled mayhem – where the rich fill swanky bars and the poor pack into slums, where grand colonial buildings are the backdrop to frantic bazaars, and where the multi-coloured mysticism of Hinduism rubs up against the monochrome austerity of Islam – the smells range from the sublime 
to the sickening.

The air is thick with the scent of India’s spices – cinnamon, cardamom, clove. It’s also clouded by exhaust fumes from the capital’s traffic-jammed roads, the smell of stagnant water rising from the gutters, invigorating salty sea air, piles of rotting vegetables steaming mounds of cow shit (as the sacred animals can wander wherever they please), and the collective body odour of Mumbai’s 20.5m sweaty citizens dashing about their business in the tropical heat. Sure, Mumbai reeks, but what else would you expect from such an energetically manic metropolis? The only solution is to dive in.

Get swept away in the city’s labyrinthine bazaars, check out the incongruously litter-free Chowpatty Beach, escape to the serene cave temples of Elephanta Island in the middle of Mumbai harbour, then party among India’s most famous Bollywood stars until dawn.

Still standing? Good, because there’s plenty more to see. Promenade hand-in-hand as the sun sets at Marine Drive, gawp at the private palaces and exclusive apartments of Malabar Hill, and be sure to make time for the best of Mumbai’s exhilarating music, theatre and dance movements.

But whatever you do, it will be accompanied by the smell of the city – an unforgettable perfume mixed from an eclectic bundle of human life, at once thrilling and repellent.

Mumbai couldn’t, and shouldn’t, smell any other way.

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World's top five smelliest destinations
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