India is a swarm of colour and buzzing sound, earthy reds and bright blues that mimic the natural landscape. It is the ultimate sensory experience. Its sacredness is as natural and abundant as the baskets of magnolias that somehow appear freshly picked each morning and hung across doorways and placed in shrines amidst trinkets and coins. Women wander, sari-clad, down wide streets, carrying bunches of sweet fruit and vegetables for the many stalls packed with fresh food, fish and hanging meats, and all around the air
Pushkar, India’s sacred city of lakes. It is a world of tranquillity, where locals lie in late, dew coats the streets and in the heat of the day puffs of dirt rise with the stamp of feet. Legend has it that Brahma created the lakes by dropping a lotus flower to the ground, which spread to create the holy water that rises and invites pilgrims to wash away their sins and bathe in its purity, surrounded by the gentle pastel hues of nearby temples and building. The city itself is enchanting, with rooftop restaurants, colourful stalls and the opportunity for day hikes and visits to the countryside.
The Gulaab Niwaas Palace, where the rooms are simple but the grounds so stunning that we decided to use it as a location for one of our shoots. The palace is timeless and incredibly glamourous. Lounging by the pool made us feel like we’d stepped into a 70’s Slim Aarons portrait.
The Laughing Buddha in Pushkar caters for a variety of dietary requirements – always important when travelling in a group. The profits go towards educating children in need. From high on their terrace tableau you can sit and watch the streets flash by below. At night time pay a visit to the Raju Terrace Garden Restaurant, which has a beautiful palace feel and overlooks the Pushkar Lake.
You must experience the Morning Prayer at least once. It is a serene and unmatched spiritual experience. Perhaps follow this with a hot air balloon ride over the city of Pushkar. The sight of glowing pastel temples and blue lakes from up above is mesmerising. In the evening, we suggest a visit to the Aarti at Varah Ghat, where incense fills the air and the sound of chants float into the golden sunset. After the sun descends take a stroll through the night markets where locals sell their handmade crafts.
Jaipur, A.K.A ‘The Pink City’ is home to some special sights, including the most luxurious palaces, forts, patterns and doors you’ve laid your eyes on. Full of history, Rajasthan’s capital, is colourful and chaotic. This city is an old-world architectural beauty - in the evening, the Pink Palace glows as the sun sets, changing colour from red to a dusky rose. An experience worthy of any bucket list.
The Trident in Jaipur allowed us convenient access to the city’s key attractions, as well as sweeping views of the Aravali Hills and Man Sagar Lake. The buildings architecture featured a mix of minimal and artisanal finishes that made the hotel feel both new and old.
Steam in Jaipur is a unique bar extraordinarily located inside a restored steam engine (Shikhar Train carriage) from the Colonial Period. The décor is grandiose and distinctly Victorian. Food is served inside the train and on the adjoining platform. Inside the steam engine you can recline on low lounges like the kings and high officials did during the period before the independence of India. To experience more of India’s colours, visit Bar Palladio. Here you will find bright blue, white and peach walls, deep carvings and exotic naturalist prints which run onto a black and white mosaic floor. A note, while eating street food can be an exciting way to engage with the local cuisine, we always recommend erring on the side of caution with street food in India. However, as this is a strictly vegetarian (bordering on vegan) town, you are less likely to contract the dreaded Delhi Belly, but do avoid anything uncooked or that has been washed in water.
Hawa Mahal (the Pink Palace) in Jaipur is not to be missed. Its façade mirrors the silhouette of Lord Krishna’s crown and is covered in 953 jharokhas (small bay windows). These windows allowed the women of the royal household to view street festivities and processions without being seen. You can either wander alone or take a guided tour through the Palace’s majestic rooms featuring round ceilings and hanging gold ornaments. Your day should start with sunrise at the Jal Mahal floating palace and end with sunset at Nahargarah Fort. If you’re interested in shopping, the best way to skip tourist traps and find authentic Indian pieces is to book a shopping tour. Your guide will help negotiate prices and help you purchase silks, linens and other natural
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