India in 2-3 days
Mumbai is a great destination for an extended stop-over. Among the megalopolis’ attractions are the maze of bazaars surrounding the Crawford Market and the CST Victoria Terminus, a remnant of Mumbai’s colonial past and one of the most OTT railway stations ever built. Also worth seeing is the sacred district of Banganga Tank which is just a stone’s throw away from Chowpatty Beach, another place of interest – just don’t go in the water. If you still have some time to kill catch a boat across Mumbai harbour to Elephanta Island to see the rock cut Shiva temples.
India in 7-9 days
With a limited amount of time to play with you really can’t beat the classic India experience of the Taj Mahal plus Rajasthan. After spending a day (or a moonlit evening) at the world’s most enduring monument to love, you could quite easily spend the rest of the week dodging camels and exploring the havelis (painted houses) in the semi desert area of Shekawhawati further west. It would be a shame to visit Rajasthan without taking in some of the region’s beautiful cities such as the pink city of Jaipur or the blue city of Jodphur. If time permits visit the wonderful old town of Jaisalmer with its legendary fort.
India in two weeks +
Spend a week or so doing the classic India trail (see above). Then choose another region of interest as a bolt-on (see highlights). This could involve flying down to Mumbai to pick up the Konkan railway to Goa for a week of rest and relaxation on the beach, or a flight further south to Kerala Backwaters, a network of intoxicatingly beautiful waterways, perfect for exploring on traditional boats. Another alternative is to fly to Darjeeling for a week of mountain views and sample some of India’s and Tibet’s finest teas.