Luxury Hotels in India

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The luxury hotels of India are no secret to the world, swarm of indigenous and international chains offer many hotel options, all geared to provide the ultimate in service. Luxuriate, rejoice and rejuvenate in some of the most exquisite resorts at popular destinations of this vast country that rightfully enjoys the status of a subcontinent. The luxury hotel segment has seen a boom in the last decade leading to many new ones, up-gradation of old ones and restoration of the ancient palaces to bring on platter the finest properties where one can indulge in extravagant experiences forming a lifetime memory!!

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Each of the Vilas properties by the Oberoi Group is renowned for the correct combination of breathtaking beauty, luxury and excellent facilities. ‘Vilas’ translated in English means sheer bliss – true to the definition, Udaivilas in Udaipur, Rajvilas in Jaipur, Amarvilas in Agra and Vanyavilas in Ranthambore, are four of the most stunning options in India that have epitomized the concept of hospitality and luxury. These resorts have won several accolades for their world-famous hospitality, unmatched luxury and highest service standards. Complete with lavish rooms, well trained staff, pleasure-seeking swimming pools, indulgent SPAs, magnificent gardens, extravagant fountains, well appointed bars and opulent restaurants serving sumptuous cuisine, they are startling in appearance and unbeatable in their setting. A blissful experience!!

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Ananda in the Himalayas is situated in the serene foothills of the mighty Himalayas, surrounded by forests and overlooking the majestic Ganges. It used to be the Vice Regal Palace during the reign of the Maharaja, which has, in the past hosted some of the country’s renowned heads of the state. Now, one can redefine their lifestyle in this SPA resort with traditional wellness techniques and ancient alternative therapies like Ayurveda, Vedanta & Yoga – that heal the mind, soul and spirit. A rejuvenating experience!!

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Today’s hotel, The Imperial, New Delhi, is one of the most excellent monuments of Edwin Lutyens’ visualization of the city’s unique grand plan. It is a premium combination of several styles of architecture famous in the Colonial Era like Art Deco and Victorian architecture, making it stand out among the best luxury hotels of the capital and the country. It combines the unsurpassed elegant accommodation and great cuisine to provide an enriching experience!!

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There are many business and leisure hotels in and around the Delhi. ITC Maurya in New Delhi is a luxury hotel whose interiors are inspired by the Mauryan dynasty, their art & architecture. It makes available the level of expertise and service in hospitality, needed for an ultimate experience in the capital. Trident in Gurgaon with its opulent interiors, well maintained gardens, courtyards and swimming pool presents a resort-like atmosphere that impresses its patrons. The Oberoi in Gurgaon is the best recent addition, eminent for its customized architecture adding in the element of space, light and greens that provide an exclusive atmosphere to unwind appropriately.

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The Leela, Goa offers idyllic charm – Portuguese legacy of Southern Goa, pristine beaches, natural vistas, well-designed interiors and exuding luxury, making it a perfect getaway. The Leela Palace, Delhi, located in the most prominent Diplomatic Enclave of the city, is an illustrious palace-like hotel, breathtaking in terms of its grandeur, lavishly appointed rooms, hospitable staff and delectable cuisine. The Leela Palace, Udaipur is a beautiful property in the city of lakes with an opulent presence on Lake Pichola. Situated on a cliff and overlooking the immaculate beaches, The Leela, Kovalam provides breathtaking views of its natural surroundings and a popular choice for luxury travelers while in South India. The more recently added The Leela Palace, Chennai is a crown jewel of the South. A luxurious experience!!

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Tree of Life SPA and Resort nestled in the Aravalli hills in Jaipur, is perfect escape from the outside world. The resort is built with indigenous material using local techniques and ornamental styles, and yet it offers the best in modern comforts to date. It is an ideal spot for nature lovers who want to indulge in SPA therapies and want the very best in personal service that the flawless team at the resort is geared to offer. A multitude of activities are yours to pick as you get ready for a memorable experience at the Tree of Life!! The immaculate Villas with private pools, gardens and massage beds present a unique opportunity to rejuvenate or indulge in romance!!

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Kerala – often called the God’s own country – is a popular tourist destination housing some of the most unique hotels and resorts set around virgin beaches, heritage surroundings and abundant wildlife, allowing an opportunity to immerse in the essence of India with nature. Brunton Boatyard in Fort Cochin used to be a shipbuilding yard with Victorian architecture, which now verbalizes the old tales with modern amenities. Spice Village in Periyar introduces its visitors to an abode of green surroundings with elaborate flora and fauna to entice the patrons. Kumarakom Lake Resort on the banks of Lake Vembanad in Kottayam is gorgeously set around the backwaters offering luxury amenities in a fine heritage property. Yet another distinguished luxury resort & SPA on the same lake is The Zuri Kumarakom, with Indian-style rooms, private gardens & pools. A stirring experience!!

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Vivanta by Taj in Bekal, inspired by the nature, myths, traditions and culture of its land, is ideal to get respite from the world outside. Niraamaya – Surya Samudra, Kovalam is a luxury heritage resort with a difference, where the lush greens and the blues of the ocean blend effortlessly with the interiors. The conventional Kerala-styled cottages put forward the old world charm with modern comforts. Devonshire Greens is a colonial-styled property, celebrating the essence of Munnar with its background of tea gardens, waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries and mountain mist. House Boat Experience of Kerala is as exotic as the land itself – it is the talk of the luxury travel circuits across the world. The Kettuvallam (traditional name for the houseboat) is the best way to explore the emerald green backwaters and the many unique ways of life in the God’s own country! An unforgettable experience!!

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There are many more hotels to experience in India. The Taj Mahal Palace of Mumbai overlooks the legendary Gateway of India and speaks for its warm hospitality and rich history of the city. The Windflower, Pondicherry, is a beach resort with lavish French windows and majestic settings. ITC Gardenia is a luxury hotel in Bangalore, embodying the grandeur of nature. ITC Maratha in Mumbai is complete with Maharastrian hospitality, all the modern day amenities and rich history. ITC Kakatiya in Hyderabad signifies the opulence of the Telugu grandeur, overlooking the magnificent Hussain Sagar Lake. The Oberoi Grand at Kolkata is over a 100 year old luxury property with architecture inspired by the colonial Bengal. Raas in Jodhpur is a fine example of the Rajput architecture and their legendary hospitality. The Serai in Jaisalmer is one of the finest luxury desert camps which offer the perfect opportunity for guests to explore the golden surroundings as they chill out in the lap of luxury. Devi Garh by Lebua in Udaipur is a majestic heritage hotel, housed in an 18th century palace on a hill-top. Many experiences in one land!!

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The country boast of some of the finest wildlife resorts. Mahua Kothi, Banjara Tola and Bhagvan, of Taj Safaries, all in Madhya Pradesh in central India, are distinct jungle lodges with a balance of land’s rural architecture and modern day facilities merging to lure its guests. Orange County resort in Kabini in Karnataka, is where one can discover the ways of life of the local tribes, wildlife and nature. The Serai in Kabini is an awe-inspiring jungle lodge offering luxurious cottages abundant with greenery. A rustic experience!!

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Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur is the definite answer to the luxury travellers, seeking the Perfect Romantic Getaway. Set amidst Lake Pichola – a glimpse of its breathtaking sight is enough to make you desire it.  The Palace is accessible only by private boats and it trails of heritage, royal lifestyle and traditions hidden behind its majestic appearance. Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad is indescribable in its beauty and beyond imagination in its European décor. This luxury palace-hotel has won appreciation from the guests all over the world for its grandeur and the royal experience it presents in this former residence of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur is a great example of a mix of styles in architecture and is the essence of the royal palaces of Rajasthan. A lifetime experience!!

To book an experience, Contact Us

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Disclaimer: The photographs used in this blog post have been taken from different online sources. We do not take credit for any one of them.

Indian Cuisine – Best of All!!

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The cuisine of India is famous for its use of spices, herbs and other exotic ingredients. The style of cooking and flavors differ in every part of this country. India is well known globally for its diverse cuisines and a large assortment of dishes served with unbeatable hospitality, dishing bliss-on-a-platter to the food lovers.

The Indian cuisines most popular with the travelers are Mughlai and delicacies from the North-West Frontier epitomized by the ITC Bukhara in New Delhi. Mughlai cuisine is an ancient technique of cooking developed in the India in the royal kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. It has been influenced by the cooking styles of multiple lands developing a unique and rare blend – several delicacies with spicy to mild flavors, with a lingering rich aroma of whole and ground spices & herbs, assortment of meats cooked as kebabs or relished with gravies, and an assortment of mouth-watering breads. North Western Frontier brings to us the Peshawari cuisine, a rustic and delectable style of cooking. In this cuisine, large pieces of vegetables and meats are marinated and prepared at high temperatures in the tandoor (clay-oven), to keep the food tender and moist. The spices, herbs and flavors used will suit every palate – of course with adjustment of chilies to taste.

Apart from these, there are many regional cuisines famous among the tourists like Punjabi food, Rajasthani food, Bengali dishes, Gujarati wholesome thali, Malabar cuisine, Kashmiri food, Awadhi cuisine and delicacies of Chettinard and North Eastern cuisine.

The changing times and innovation has also led to localization of many international cuisines, still the original recipes stick out for their authentic taste. India Fusion food has made rave around the world. The cuisine that stands out is the Fusion food. Its origin can be traced back to the British rule in India, where the British and Indian cuisines were fused to create new delicacies. From that time onwards, people have gone ahead and combined foods from various countries together to create a whole new selection of dishes. This cuisine can be found in metropolitan parts of the country, with different preparations to suit different regions.

India’s celebrity, New Delhi born Chef Suvir Saran opened the DeviRestaurant in New York to great reviews. And it is the first Indian restaurant in the U.S. to have earned a Michelin star. The restaurant offers a unique blend of authentic Indian home cooking brought together with traditional and regional delicacies. Chef Manish Malhotra of the Indian Accent at the Manor showcases Indian food for the 21st century with a remarkable creation of fusion specialties. Awarded the best restaurant all India by Time Out, Indian accent, offers a range of tasting menus that are a must try – for one and all!!

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There are many Indian dishes, snacks and desserts that are popular world over, like:

7 Popular Indian Snacks

Samosas – fried pastries containing mixed fillings served hot with mint and tamarind chutneys (accompanying sauce). This snack has a lot of preparations and different types of fillings in different parts of the country – common ones being potatoes, peas, vegetables and chicken

Chaatone of the most famous savory snack available at almost every street / market of the country. Its popularity has off course resulted in its numerous variants using different ingredients in different regions

Bhelpuriis said to have came from cafes of Gujarat and local food stalls of Mumbai. It is nutritious and delicious, with its main ingredient being puffed rice mixed with tamarind chutney and chopped vegetables

Vada Pav – a famous Maharashtrian snack usually having fried patties of potato in a heated bun with different side ingredients and chutneys

Momos – are popular in the whole country but these did originate in the state of Sikkim as an appetizer. These steamed dumplings can be steamed or fried, filled with boiled and grated vegetables or any type of minced meat, often served with a soup

Paani Puri or Gol Gappa – round, thin and hollow bread, fried till crispy, which is filled with spicy mint water, diced potato and boiled chickpeas, with a hint of tamarind chutney and spices

Idli, Vada and Dosa with Sambar – are popular snacks from South India, also famous all over the country for their distinctive tastes. These are made from fermented lentils and rice batter in various proportions by steaming, deep frying and shallow frying respectively. All served with coconut chutney

 

7 Popular Indian Dishes

Biryani – a rice dish usually cooked using basmati (the best quality of rice), many spices, meat, eggs and vegetables. This world famous dish comes from the ancient and royal kitchens of the Mughal Emperors

Butter Chicken – the renowned chicken preparation, from the kitchens of Punjabi cuisine, which puts India on the Food Map of the world. For this dish, the chicken is marinated in yoghurt with spices and then cooked in a special sauce made with loads of butter, onion, tomato puree and a number of spices, giving it a unique flavor

Tandoori Chicken – a savory dish made with marinated chicken, cooked in a clay oven with several spices.

Kebabs – pieces of meat, vegetables or cottage cheese marinated in flavoring spices and cooked in a clay-oven before serving with a mint chutney

Palak paneer – a delicacy of Punjabi cuisine, usually served with Indian bread made from maize flour. Boiled spinach and cottage cheese are cooked with flavoring spices, onion and a vital hint of garlic

Dal makhani – a rich preparation of lentils and beans cooked with fresh cream, onions, tomato and spices, topped with butter

Naan and Parathas – popular Indian flatbreads prepared plain or with different stuffings. Naan is prepared in a clay oven and served hot, topped with butter. Parathas are usually stuffed with various fillings and cooked over a flat pan, also generously topped with butter

 

7 Popular Indian Desserts

Laddu – made from semolina, gram flour and other flours, mixed with oil, nuts and powdered sugar. Often prepared on festivals for offerings and on wedding occasions to distribute

Carrot halwa – a rich preparation of grated carrots, prepared in ghee (clarified butter) with khoya (thickened or reduced milk), milk and nuts. It is quite popular in North India in winters and is served hot – can leave many gasping for more

Rasgulla – a Bengali sweet made out of dough balls of cottage cheese that are steamed and then thoroughly dipped in sugar syrup

Jalebi – another famous sweet of India made with all purpose fermented flour batter, fried in circular shapes and then soaked in sugar syrup. Often served with Rabri – a delicacy made from condensed milk and served cold as an accompaniment to Jalebi or savored by itself

Gulab Jamun – the staple dessert in India, prepared out of fried khoya balls stuffed with chopped pistachio and other nuts. Dipped in rose flavored sugar syrup and are best enjoyed piping hot

Srikhanda dessert from the Western and South-Western region of India, made out of strained yogurt mixed with sugar, nuts and different spices for aroma, especially cardamom

Kheer – an Indian rice pudding, made by boiling rice with milk, sugar and an assortment of nuts. It is then served hot or chilled, sprinkled with saffron, silver leaf and raisins

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Visiting Sri Lanka

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Visit Sri Lanka, a pendant on the neck of India. For the first time in its recorded history, it is free from foreign invasion, colonial influence or tragic civil war. From the time of the Chola kings to the Portuguese who landed in 1505, the Dutch in 1648 and finally the British in 1815, foreigners have long sought this land of stunning beauty and fabled riches. The many names of this island throughout its history – Taprobane to the Greeks, Serendib to the Arabs, and Ceylon to the Europeans –evoke an exotic paradise amid the Indian Ocean. Today, Sri Lanka is safe and once again beckons travelers with its tremendous physical beauty, diversity of experiences, extremely kind people and excellent values. It has many cultural and natural World Heritage Sites, marvelous beaches, stunning mountains, fabulous hotels and more to offer.

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Your interactions with the many people you will meet will be stimulating, edifying and enlightening; you will have a well-rounded and profound learning experience that you will value forever.

We can design and execute a completely personalized and memorable Sri Lanka experience for you based on your interests and imaginations.

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Visiting Nepal

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Nepal is known for possessing eight of the world’s ten highest mountains, including the incomparable Mount Everest, the loftiest of them all. This small Himalayan country, surrounded by India and Bhutan, is stunningly beautiful, with some of the planet’s most picturesque mountain scenery – trekking and climbing are of course extremely popular.

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There are many different ethnic groups in Nepal, but broadly speaking, the culture is similar to those in neighboring Tibet and India. The religion of most Nepali people is a combination of Hinduism and Buddhism. The very subtle line between these two faiths in Nepal is unique among the world’s religious practices. Cricket and soccer are the most popular sports, most marriages are arranged and rice and dal are the main dietary staples. The dominant culture in Kathmandu, the capital city, is Newari, known for its masked folk dances and colorful festivals.

We bring alive the ancient heritage and some of the most beautiful sites as you luxuriate in the magnificence of a signature journey planned especially for you.

We can design and execute a completely personalized and memorable Nepal experience for you based on your interests and imaginations.

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Visiting North East India

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North-Eastern India encompasses Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, which are called the seven sisters. These states exemplify the joys of the simple life and the beauties of nature. Visit the tea estates in Assam, as well as the Kaziranga and Manas National Parks, where the Asian elephant lives in the wild. Learn about the work done in Assam to conserve the one-horned rhinoceros. Take a canoe down the rivers of Arunachal, which change their course and their moods in a moment. In Nagaland, visit the fourteen Naga tribes that coexist in harmony, some of whom have their own language. Meghalaya, literally means ‘The Abode of Clouds’ and is considered the ‘Scotland of the East’ because of its picturesque mountains and mesmerizing landscape.

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The North East has its own unique culture, as seen in the folk dances of Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal, as well as the classical dance of Manipur, based on lord Krishna’s worship. There are many unusual and delectable cuisines to try, several tribes to acquaint with and plenty of unspoiled scenery to explore. You could get intoxicated here on fresh air alone.

We can design and execute a completely personalized and memorable North East experience for you based on your interests and imaginations.

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Visiting East India

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East India is associated with the rise of Buddhism and Jainism, and the foundation of India’s first empire, that of the Mauryas, as well as its last, that of the British. Begin with Kolkata, which was the capital of British India till 1911 and is today a city of glaring contrasts—known as the birthplace of the Bengal Renaissance, Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray, it also has a vast population that lives in slums, despite being one of three states in India where the Communist Party formed a democratically elected government that ruled for over thirty years.

ImageKolkata is also known for the Durga Puja, celebrated joyously in September-October each year, as the Goddess comes on her annual visit to her parents’ home, accompanied by her children. The puja is a community affair—pandals are lavishly decorated, and music & dance surrounds the air. Follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, on visits to Bodhgaya, Gaya, Rajgir and Vaishali in Bihar; enjoy the beauties of Orissa’s unspoilt beaches; delight in the Konark Sun Temple, which is designed in the shape of a chariot and participate in the Jaganath Rath Yatra in Puri, and marvel at the arts and crafts associated with this region. In Sikkim, trek through the Kanchenjunga and visit monasteries, as you gasp at the wonderful landscape and the biodiversity.

We can design and execute a completely personalized and memorable East India experience for you based on your interests and imaginations.

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Visiting South India

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South India encompasses states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, as well as the union territory of Pondicherry. These southern states are known for their fairs and festivals; tea, spice and coffee plantations; wildlife; ancient temples; beautiful hill stations; beaches and backwaters. On your visit, you can also avail of various alternate therapies to heal the body and rejuvenate the spirit—everything from Ayurvedic massages, hydro-therapies, naturopathy, to yoga and meditation retreats. South India also offers a variety of cuisines, from the courtly Hyderabadi cuisine of the Nizams to the mild Udupi cuisine of Karnataka, the seafood of Malabar and the Chettinad from Tamil Nadu.

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Voted among the world’s best travel experiences, don’t miss a Kerala Houseboat Cruise. As the houseboat winds its way along spectacular waterways, witness a way of life that is beautiful, laid-back and where nature abounds – a tranquil blend. Experience the ancient temples, confluence of great oceans, pristine beaches, mesmerizing folklore and more, on a South India Sojourn.

We can design and execute a completely personalized and memorable South India experience for you based on your interests and imaginations.

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Visiting North India

Taj Mahal

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Northern India is a tourist’s delight. It has shaped the course of India’s historical and cultural evolution over the last 5000 years. It is the birthplace of many religions; several sacred rivers flow into the northern plains from the snow-capped Himalayas and India’s many conquerors, emperors and rulers have left behind the remains of forts, palaces and temples for us to marvel at.

Drown in the beauty of the Taj Mahal; visit Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India; explore ancient forts and remarkable palaces; appreciate the many and varied arts and crafts and meet the warmest people ever to welcome you.

City palace from Lake Pichola

Visit Rajasthan, home to legendary warriors and kings, where royalty is still held in reverence; travel through Kashmir and Himachal, where the cool climate provides much-needed relief to holidaymakers during India’s scorching summers; wander through the colorful bazaars of Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh, looking for just the right artifact to present to loved ones and friends back home; go on camel safaris in the Thar desert or elephant safaris in a national park; marvel at the beauties of medieval Indian architecture and the liveliness of modern India in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur; enjoy dining with royalty; relax with the best spa therapies available; achieve a spiritual breakthrough on the banks of the Ganges or discover the essence of religion in the Golden Temple at Amritsar.

We can design and execute a completely personalized and memorable North India experience for you based on your interests and imaginations.

To book an experience, Contact Us

Visiting Udaipur- Sightseeing, Shopping and Eating – Suggestions and Options

City palace from Lake Pichola

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Visiting Udaipur

Udaipur is one of the most famous historical places of Rajasthan in Western India. This city is also known as The City of Lakes. Udaipur was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the final capital of the erstwhile Mewar kingdom. Legend has it that Maharana Udai Singh II came upon a hermit while hunting in the foothills of the Aravali Range. The hermit blessed the king and asked him to build a palace on the spot, assuring him it would be well protected. Maharana Udai Singh II consequently established a residence on this site. In 1568, the Mughal emperor Akbar captured the fort of Chittor, and Udai Singh moved the Mewar capital to this very site of his residence which became the city of Udaipur.

Udaipur became a princely state of British India in the year of 1818. As the Mughal empire weakened, th Sisodia Ranas, and later Maharanas also called Suryavanshi (descendants of Sun God), who had always tried to oppose Mughal dominance, reasserted their independence and recaptured most of Mewar except for Chittor. Udaipur remained the capital of the state. Udaipur is also recognized for its palaces and vistas. These palaces are the symbols of romance, war, architecture, and the history of mankind.

Most Romantic City of India 

Udaipur, also known as the Venice of The East, is the most awe-inspiring destination in India, its rich history and heritage is befitting its picturesque setting. Founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559, it has many manmade lakes and palaces, and fondly referred to as Rajasthan’s most romantic city. Udaipur combines traditional beauty with scenic surroundings and association with a glorious past. It stands in a valley, amidst green hills, on the banks of the wide, steel-blue Lake Pichola. Marble palaces rise from little islands in the lake, merging in the blue skies. The Maharana’s palace crowns the ridge on which the city clusters. Udaipur is replete with fantastic hill top fortresses, exotic fairy tale palaces and gripping legends of medieval chivalry and heroism. Udaipur rivals any of the world’s famous creations of the Mughals with the Rajput love of the whimsical!!

Sightseeing, shopping and eating in Udaipur- Suggestions and Options:

Go sightseeing in Udaipur. Start your exciting journey at Lake Pichola. This is the famous lake in Udaipur, where Taj Lake Palace is situated. The Lake Palace covers an entire island in Lake Pichola. Many of the old palaces have been converted into plush arenas, providing ideal setting for travelers to luxuriate and enjoy hotel’s hospitality. You can witness the magnificent beauty of the lake, enjoy a boat ride and let the exotic warmth of the place seep into your senses.

Visit City Palace, which is a conglomeration of buildings added to by various Maharanas; despite this, the palace manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design. The entrance is through Hathi Pol along the main street of the old city, past the Jagdish Temple. The Mor-Chowk (Peacock courtyard), gets its name from the mosaics in glass decorating its walls.  The China chitrashala is noteworthy while a series of wall paintings of lord Krishna are on display in Bhim Vilas. There are numerous other places such as Dilkhush Mahal, Sheesh Mahal and Moti Mahal. The Krishna Vilas reminds of the Princess of striking beauty who poisoned herself to avert a bloody battle for her hand by rival Prince. The paintings, mosaics, intricately carved chhatris and the architecturally brilliant façade, all contribute to make a visit to the City Palace a truly memorable experience.

Visit the Crystal Gallery, located in the Fateh Prakash Palace—it contains a rare collection of Osler’s crystal ordered from England by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1877. Take a stroll through Sahelion Ki Bari (Garden of the Maids). You can also visit Swaroop Sagar, Udai Sagar and Fateh Sagar lakes in this ‘City of Lakes’.

Other Sights in Udaipur include:

  • Bagor ki haveli
  • Nehru park
  • Jain temple
  • Dudh Talai
  • Sajjangarh fort & wildlife sanctuary
  • Ahar Museum
  • Bhartiya Lok kala Mandir

Sahelion ki Bari

Shopping experience in Udaipur

Being an important city of Rajasthan and India as well, Udaipur has the tints of bright colors and you can certainly discover these gorgeous hues in every corner of its lively markets. Udaipur has myriad number of small shops, big showrooms and roadside stalls that would offer you an extensive variety to choose from.

Udaipur offers an exquisite range of handicrafts and souvenirs to the travelers. These items range from hand-made toys, colorful puppets, intricate wall hangings, wooden pen stands and quills, beautiful cloth lanterns, handmade papers, etc. There is also an assortment of pottery that can be availed in both metal and mud. Pottery covers all kinds of pots, plates, vessels and different kinds of containers. Apart from this, brassware and terracotta sculptures are also popular. Regarding clothes, you can grab traditional clothes in batik and hand prints. Dyed saris and textile are also famous among the tourists. Silver jewelry is the main attraction and there is much to choose from to complete your ensembles. Around the streets of City Palace, you will find ethnic miniature paintings that are made in the creative style of the Mewar School of Art.

Coming to the Bazaars, Hathi Pol, Bada Bazaar, Chetak Circle, Bada Bazaar and Palace Road are some of the popular shopping arcades of Udaipur. Also, emporiums like Rajasthali and Sadhna offer a variety of products under a single roof; you will get the quality products at a fixed price here. However, the real charm of shopping comes in exploring the streets of Udaipur bargaining with the local vendors. So, while touring Udaipur take out some time to shop in the vibrant markets of Udaipur.

Taj Lake Palace from Sunset Rooftop 

Eating Out in Udaipur

Udaipur offers exotic and mouth watering array of cuisines, for both vegetarian and non vegetarian gastronomes. Influenced by Vaishnavism, Udaipur cuisine is primarily debarred of non-vegetarian dishes. Udaipur is famous for its Dal-Baati-Churma, Gatte-Ki-Sabzi, Kachori and Mirchi Bada. Meals are usually comprised of lentils, vegetables and a fantastic variety of spices to pamper your taste buds. Lentil curries, yoghurt soups with deep fried breads and chilli fritters complete the feast. Okra, dried mango and Sangri (thin beans) go together with most of the dishes.

However, for people who love non-vegetarian food, there are many restaurants that can surprise the visitors with their offerings. There is a strong presence of restaurants that provide cuisine to suit every palette – ranging from Chinese and Thai to Continental and Italian food.

Submerge in the essence of India with the magnificent Udaivilas. Winner of several awards, Udaivilas, offers fine international cuisine, authentic flavors of Rajasthan or an option to enjoy a quiet drink, all presented with views of the City Palace and Lake Pichola. The atmosphere helps you unwind appropriately in the lap of luxury as you savor mouth watering delicacies.

Taj Lake Palace’s fantastic location complements sublime cuisine in exquisite restaurants. Asian, Indian, Contemporary Western, Italian dishes and cocktails are all taken to the highest level in the hands of their master chefs. Resident Guests can choose a restaurant by the lily pond, poolside or on the rooftop. Royal butlers are on hand to arrange a private table anywhere that suits guest preference.

The open air Sheesh Mahal Restaurant at The Leela Palace, Udaipur, provides a perfect setting for a romantic meal under the stars. Feast on the exquisite local flavors served with legendary hospitality reminiscent of the great and vibrant past of the Indian Royalty.

Among the various restaurants, Savage Garden is very atmospheric, with indigo walls and tables in alcoves or in a pleasant courtyard. The food served here consists of Mediterranean cuisine with Italian and Middle Eastern influences. There are many Rooftop Restaurants, housed in small heritage hotels around Lake Pichola that offer a panoramic view of the city and serve a range of cuisines, matched with pleasant service and great hospitality.

The restaurant at the Jagmandir Island Palace is beautifully decorated and the setting is exquisite. An enthralling boat trip is just the beginning to reach here. Once on the island, enjoy delicious array of cuisine in the indoor air-conditioned restaurant on the water edge, glimpsing the palaces shimmering in Lake Pichola. Superb curries accompanied by a collection of wines, lend a Royal Touch to this gourmet experience.

It is advisable to book you gourmet journey beforehand to ensure that the amazing experiences in Udaipur don’t elude you.

Visiting Agra – Sightseeing, Shopping and Eating – Suggestions and Options

World Wonder - Taj Mahal

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Visiting Agra

Agra is the former capital of Hindustan (India). It is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Though Agra’s history is largely recognized with Mughal Empire, the place was established much before that and has linkages since Mahabharata period and Maharishi Angira in 1000 BC. It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate founded Agra in the year 1504. After the Sultan’s death, the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Babar (who became the first Mughal Emperor) in the first battle of Panipat in 1526. The golden age of the city began with the Mughal rule. It was known then as Akbarabad (after the Mughal Emperor Akbar) and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under the Emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan later shifted his capital to Shahjahanabad (now old Delhi) in the year 1649.

The famous Mughal emperor Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Fort, besides making Agra a center for learning, arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabad called Fatehpur Sikri. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone. His son Jahangir had a love of gardens and flora and fauna, and laid many gardens inside the Agra Fort. Shah Jahan, known for his keen interest in architecture, gave Akbarabad its most prized monument, the Taj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in totality in 1653. Shah Jahan later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but his son Aurangzeb moved the capital back to Akbarabad, usurping his father and imprisoning him in the Fort there.

The sight of a white marble mausoleum, raised on a platform and graced by 4 minarets on each corner, reflected in the watercourse that runs through the ornamental gardens is an unrivaled tourist attraction in Agra. Taj Mahal, a symbol of undying love, has been summed up by Ghalib, the famous Urdu poet, as a rebuff of an ordinary man’s love for his beloved, in whose memory he cannot build a monument of such magnificence. Today, Taj Mahal is a major tourist attraction in Agra, and is open to all even on full moon nights, so that you can take your beloved by the hand and walk down the gardens as moon and its entourage of stars light your path on your tour to Agra. Besides Taj Mahal, there are plenty of tourist attractions in Agra that will keep your hands full while in Agra.

Sightseeing, Shopping and Eating in Agra — Suggestions and Options

Go sightseeing in Agra. Visit Fatehpur Sikri, which was the political capital of India’s Mughal Empire under Akbar’s reign from 1571 till 1585 and regarded as the crowning glory of his architectural legacy. Taj Mahal is a perfectly symmetrical monument that took 22 years (1631–1652) of labor and 20,000 workers, masons and jewelers to build, and is set amidst the landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, the Taj Mahal is on the south bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed from Agra Fort from where Emperor Shah Jahan gazed at it for the last eight years of his life, as a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is an acknowledged masterpiece of symmetry. Verses of the Koran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate are twenty-two small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. Enjoy the Saga of the Taj at Kalakriti Cultural and Convention Centre, a series of play depicting the immortal love of Shajahan for Mumtaj Mahal- his beautiful wife, the lavish lifestyle of Mughal era and emaculate hardship of the artisans for 22 years that created the most precious specimen of craftsmanship.

Submerge in the majestic views of Agra fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, India. The fort is also known as Lal Qila, or Red Fort of Agra. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its much more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city. The fort contains splendid palaces both in red sandstone and white marble built by two generations of prolific builders Akbar and later Jehangir and Shahjahan. Some of the exquisite structures that deserve a mention are:

  • Sheesh Mahal – Literally meaning ‘Glass Palace’, was the royal dressing room adorned by tiny mirror-like glass-mosaic decorations on the walls.
  • Diwan-i-Am – It was used as a communications ground between the public and the aristocracy and once housed the Peacock Throne.
  • Diwan-i-Khas – A hall of private audience, it was used to welcome kings and dignitaries.
  • The Anguri Bagh – It houses 85 square, geometrically arranged lush gardens.
  • Khas Mahal – An immaculate white marble palace.
  • Mina Masjid – Literally meaning ‘Heavenly Mosque’, it is a tiny mosque closed to the public.
  • Nagina Masjid – Literally meaning ‘Gem Mosque’, it was designed exclusively for the ladies of the court.
  • Musamman Burj – A large, octagonal tower with a balcony facing the Taj Mahal.

Sikandra

Proceed on a tour of Sikandra. Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra is an exquisite example of different styles of architecture. This tomb signifies the characteristic flavor of the styles and architecture used in Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Visit Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb, which is a highly ornate structure, which is looked upon as a precursor of the Taj Mahal as far as intricate carvings and inlay work are concerned. Itmad-ud daulah contains cenotaphs of Mirza Ghiyas and Asmat Begum, parents of the powerful Mughal Empress Noor Jehan, Queen of Jahangir, an exceptional beauty and an astute administrator.

Coming to exploring the deeper parts of the Agra city; one can feel the lingering presence of the bygone years and charm of the rulers, emperors & kings who once adorned the city, to their own desires. The Mehtab Bagh or Moonlight Garden is on the opposite bank of the River Yamuna from the Taj Mahal.

Other sights worth seeing in the Agra include:

  • Mariam’s Tomb
  • Ram Bagh
  • Dayal Bagh
  • Soami Bagh
  • Old Chungi, the library
  • Mankameshwar Temple
  • Jama Masjid
  • Johri Bazar
  • Kala Mahal (Mirza Ghalib’s birthplace)

Shopping experience in Agra is mostly remembered as visiting the lanes of different local bazaars filled with an array of handicraft & handloom articles, and spotting that mini Taj replica in various sizes at every corner of the bazaar. Leather items at Agra are famous for their quality. These include leather sandals, purses, bags and decorative items. There are lots of handicraft emporiums that offer a variety of sandalwood and rose wood items along with brass decorative pieces and stone carved images. The fine work done by the local artisans in the city is notable and the markets of Agra are the best place to explore exquisite pieces of fine Zari embroidery work, stone inlay work and precious gemstones. One can find most of the big emporiums concentrated in the area not far from Taj Mahal. Yet, those of you who can steer through the narrow lanes of the city markets of Kinari Bazaar, Raja Mandi, Fuhaara and Lohamandi can get their hands on the best bargains.

For an unforgettable shopping experience:

  • Kohinoor – jewels and embroidery emporium
  • Marble art palace – demonstration of marble inlay work
  • Shilpagram, a craft village on the eastern side of Taj Mahal in Agra, is a popular open-air emporium
  • Sadar Bazaar
  • Kinari Bazaar
  • Raja Mandi

Itmad-Ud-Daulah 1

Eating out in Agra is an unforgettable experience that can take you back to the bygone era of mughlai food and dining, where spices, essence and hospitality come together to create the magic, right in your plate! Several of India’s famous meat dishes come from the north where Mughal influence introduced considerable sophistication. The superb Mughlai cuisine with its luscious sauces of milk, curd, cream and crushed nuts is a hit in major restaurants of this city. There is rich, creamy kormas; tender steak like pasandas in an almond sauce; nargisi kofta; an array of kebabs; dalmoth; petha and more.

Esphahan, located in the plush Oberoi Amarvilas, will have you feeling like an emperor after eating one of their extraordinary meals. Inspiring Awadhi fare, traditionally from Lucknow, is recreated here with outstanding aplomb. Enjoy the live classical Indian music and exceptional service while you work your way around one of their Thali (plate) — it’s the best way to taste as many of Esphahan’s delectable dishes as possible.

Taj Khema is in the proximity of the Taj Mahal and offers a great view of the Taj Mahal. In Hotel Taj Khema, the guests can choose from a wide range of Indian and continental delicacies. Relax and enjoy the scrumptious food here, overlooking the Taj Mahal in all its pristine glory. Along with food you are also entertained with beautiful Indian folk music and cultural shows with a new theme every month.

At the Only Restaurant, bamboo-lined walls and red tablecloths set the scene and attentive staff serves up a big range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes in styles such as Mughlai, Afghan, Chinese and Continental. Do not miss the Maharaja Thali here, showcasing a traditional meal – good variety and taste.

Visit Pinch of Spice for a quick buffet or an Indian meal. Quick service accompanied by generous portions of good food with typical spices, kormas, and tikkas.

Some Boutique hotels in close proximity to the Taj Mahal provide amazing rooftop restaurants where you can enjoy a sundowner cocktail with scrumptious kebabs of Mughlai cuisine, with Taj as a backdrop.

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