Northern India February 2005
(photos below) Fourteen of us travelled by air, bus,
boat, elephant and camel around the north of India. In Delhi we
had the privilege of dinner at the farm house of our partners, Zutshi
Travels. It was a warm family gathering that gave us an insight
into a different aspect of Indian life.
We flew to Varanasi to see the fabled Ghats and watch
the sun rise on the Ganges. Here, the lights of hundreds of candles
reflected in the water. These were tiny green leafed boats bearing
blessings down to the sea. Devout Hindu's come here to die and have
their ashes sprinkled in the holy river. It is a very spiritual
place, and the oldest city in all of India. We drove to Agra to
see the Taj because it truly is one of the seven wonders of the
world. Jaipur gave us the opportunity to ride elephants at the fabled
Amber fort and imagine a Maharaja's life in mirrored roomswith his
Next it was into the desert where we stayed at Khimsar
fort which is now a hotel. We had dinner under the domed ruin of
the original fort, romantically converted into a dining room with
hand blocked tablecloths and lanterns in the niches. Ayurvedic massages
were the order of the next day, and the opportunity to go to a nearby
camel fair or rest by the pool. Probably the highlight of the trip
was the Manvar Desert Resort where we stayed out on the desert in
the most exotic tents complete with full bathrooms and flush toilets.
We were entertained by dancers and musicians as we lounged on silk
cushions in the sand and were served drinks and samosas under a
star studded indigo sky. The flickering light of bonfires made us
feel as though we were
immersed in a fairy tale.
Jodhpur, the blue city, was fun because we went to
the market, bought bedspreads and shawls designed for Cardin and
Hermes at a fraction of the cost, and visited the imposing fort/palace
on the hill where the Maharajas ruled for 400 years. Luni is in
the country. The Maharajas would ride out on elephants from
Jodhpur, through the gate of this gem of a small palace and into
a garden. Chattering green parakeets swoop and spin, and we were
privileged to be guests in this heritage hotel. The route to Udaipur
passes a Jain temple complex where the marble buildings are so intricately
carved they feel like lace, and priests stroll about dispensing
blessings for small donations.
In Udaipur we stayed along the lake in the Jagat Niwas,
a small hotel with Mughal archways looking out towards the Lake
Palace. A fat full moon rose above the roof terrace as we toasted
each other and celebrated the success and fun of our Indian adventure.
This tour will be repeated in November of 2006 led
by Judy Moore of Oakville, Ontario.