Enchanting India

Feb 12, 2012 Avatar Susanne Hamer Susanne Hamer

I have always been fascinated by India with its people, culture and traditions. The first time I went there was over 20 years ago and, as you can imagine, much has changed since then. For those of you who saw the recent film Slum Dog Millionaire – the India I saw this time around was nothing at all like that.

My journey started with a nonstop flight to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific which was just fantastic and thanks to their flat beds in business class, I was able to sleep the whole way. Hong Kong to Delhi is just a short flight and I arrived at the brand new state-of-the-art Delhi airport where I was met by an employee of Greaves Tours who handled all of our ground operations.

A brand new air conditioned motor coach was waiting for our group and after a 30min drive we arrive at the Trident hotel on Gurgaon which is in the commercial district and is a great starting point without dealing with the traffic of Delhi. The hotel is very contemporary with a resort like ambiance including landscaped grounds, fountains and reflection pools.

The next day we have a morning sightseeing tour of New Delhi, which was built by the British in the 1920s. On this trip we did not have time to see Old Delhi, but I would highly recommend that you stay an extra night and do that. I would suggest staying at the Oberoi in New Delhi where we had lunch – the “hottest” restaurant in town! This hotel is surrounded by gorgeous grounds and landscaping, yet you are in the center of town.

Now our journey truly starts – we drive to Agra and the Taj Mahal, constructed in 1565 by the Emperor Akbar in honor of his favorite wife.
We are staying at the Oberoi Amarvilas, which is the closest hotel to the Taj Mahal and every rooms faces the Taj. This is a stunning resort with terraced lawns and the outdoor pool is just amazing. In the evening you can enjoy a romantic dinner under the stars either by the pool or on your terrace.
A must do is to get up early and go to Taj Mahal at sunrise which is both incredibly romantic and amazingly spiritual at the same time.

The next day we have an early start as we are driving to Jaipur, with a stop to see the ancient city of Fethepur Sikri, which was build in 1659 by the Emperor Akbar. The city is a combination of Hindu and Persian architecture and is in a remarkable state of preservation. The drive to Jaipur really takes all day as we go by local villages and farm land. The colors of the women’s saris are stunning from bright yellows to pinks and blues – did you know that pink is the color of welcome? Our bus has to swerve and stop sometimes to avoid the Indian traffic jam of the sacred cow. You have to go to India to understand this cultural tradition.

We finally arrive in Jaipur known as the “pink city” and check into our hotel – Oberoi Rajvilas.

This resort is outside of the bustling town and set on 32 acres with pink rooms and suites clustered around private courtyards. There are also some tented suites if you would prefer to experience colonial India! The grounds are just gorgeous and peacocks are everywhere. There is even a real Hindu temple on the grounds and we had our own blessing by the priest.

Jaipur is the state capital and largest city of the Rajastan, known for its gems and fabrics. It is a designers paradise and Shopping is a must.

Of course you have to see the Amber Fort which was once the capital of the Rajput empire. Take an elephant ride up the steep hill and look at the view – amazing! In town walk past the “Palace of winds” which was built in a very unique design and was used by the ladies of the court to watch the daily activates on the street below.

Back at the resort we have a consultation with a Gemologist which has to be arranged ahead of time – a mix between a healer and a tarot card reader, amazing. He tells you what your ailments are and which stone you should wear to heal you – mine was a rainbow moonstone!

Today we are in for a very special treat – Greaves private plane to Udaipur city of lakes! If you want to feel special this is the way to go.

We are met at the airport as we land by the Greaves employees and drive to the lake where we take a boat to the Oberoi Udaivilas which overlooks the City Palace and the lake.

This resort it is very romantic and feels as if you are in Venice. It is grand, spacious and again beautifully landscaped. Inside the resort every attention to detail is obvious and you feel as if you are in a Maharajas Palace! As a special welcome I can arrange for a private greeting with elephants and dancers as you arrive at the resort.

In the evening enjoy a private sunset cruise on lake Pichola taking in the sights and sounds of the city by the water. Enjoy your last night with a private romantic dinner under the stars on the pontoon in the lake.

Our trip is nearly at the end as we fly to Mumbai and overnight at the Oberoi hotel with stunning views of the sea and “queens necklace”. This is a very contemporary style hotel with large beautifully appointed rooms, the Spa is open 24 hours to accommodate the late flight schedules.

We take a half day city tour visiting the Gateway of India which was built in 1911 in honor of the visit of King George V, a Jain temple, Hanging gardens and the Parsi towers of silence. What an amazing city and what an amazing trip.

India is a fascinating destination with so much diversity. At first one is shocked by the sheer numbers of people and animals living large, in your face, on the streets, the poverty, the garbage. Then you notice the bright flashes of color everywhere: The sari’s and gold bracelets worn by the women, the smiling faces of the children, and the way of life that has existed for centuries.

To learn more about an India vacation or India river cruise, contact our team of travel experts including Susanne Hamer.