Tag Archives: Darjeeling

Top 5 luxury locations in India
Top 5 luxury locations in India

India is known for its spirituality and diversity. For being on every backpackers trail because it’s just so, so cheap. Right?

Wrong.

India is also the land of royalty, of opulence, home to dozens of erstwhile rajahs and nawabs. Our thirst for over-the-top-luxury has since been honed to reflect the sleek, subtler undertones of the modern rich. So no matter how you choose to define luxury, India has it all.

I’ve had the good fortune of tasting some of this splendour myself, from glamping in the great outdoors to dining in the halls of palatial forts. Here are my five top recommendations from the most high-end hotels in the country.

Udaipur

A fairytale city set in a bygone era and populated by romantics. Squeeze through the tiny bylanes of the old city and you’ll suddenly find yourself in the shadow of the ancient royal palace, stark white walls delicately moulded into trellissed balconies and awnings overlooking the lake. The Taj Lake Palace was made iconic by James Bond in Octopussy decades ago, and it’s still just as thrilling, though it’s now been converted into one of India’s finest heritage properties. The Oberoi Udaivilas is a sprawling complex of uber-luxe buildings and grounds, the proud winner of the Best Indian Hotel for three years in a row.Each room here comes with it’s own private lagoon outside your door and gorgeous views of both the Lake and City Palaces. All said and done, though, they’re still not my final pick.

The Serai, Jaisalmer

Understated and restrained, yet oozing with lavishness. No expense is spared to provide the absolutely highest quality experience in these luxury tents spread on a hundred acres of shimmering desert. Gourmet food, the best wines, private, heated, candlelit pools, privately guided safaris, a world-class spa, private tours, the list is endless. All this, set in the lap of natures bounty among the shifting sands, glinting golden in the warm summer sun.

Kumaon

Originally a kingdom in it’s own right, these majestic mountains rise up above their misty shrouds in a world of complete and pristine isolation. It’s the perfect getaway if you’re looking to cosy up with someone you love in a world of your own. When you’re up for some adventure, you can explore the history of this regal martial race, their gorgeous architecture and culture. Shakti 360° Leti, Bageshwar

Contemporary design, traditional building methods and locally sourced materials  come together to create these luxurious one-of-a-kind cabin, the pinnacle of privacy. Floor to ceiling windows offer you an exclusive view of the mountains, verandahs with individual fireplaces make for romantic evenings, unless you want to spend them indoors wrapped in one of the many pashminas strewn around. While the cabin offers you acres of nature without another souk for miles around, liveried staff will still arrive daily with gourmet meals, select wines and any other service you can think of to ask of them. Win-win, isn’t it?

Bandhavgarh

Deep valleys, wide grasslands and dense bamboo thickets spread across 437 sq km. The Bandhavgarh National Park is the quintessential rustling Indian midland forest, packed full with the highest density of tigers in the country, and littered in between are the hunting lodges of erstwhile Maharajas of the region. A 2,000 year old fort is worh a trek through the sal forests to be explored.

Mahua Kothi by Taj, Bandhavgarh

A lovingly restored ‘kothi’ r homestead, surrounded by 12 private suites with individual shaded access, sheltered verandahs and traditional mud floors. You can bank on the famous Taj hospitality as you let the history soaked in the hand-finished walls and open rafters take you on a journey. Each morning, coal warmed kettles will be brought to your door for your daily tea, and gift baskets of yoga goodies and traditional Indian games will keep you busy between bicycle rides.

Darjeeling

A colonial paradise of quaint churches and orderly tea plantations, Darjeeling is a slice of heaven on a plate. Ride the adorable toy train to some of the most scenic valleys and cliffs in the country. Stop for a quick momo and thukpa break to fuel up for a lovely walk through the gardens. There is no stress is heaven.

Glenburn Tea Estates

The epitome of sophistication, Glenburn was inspired by the vineyard resorts of Europe, where guests can fully experience and participate in every stage of the wine-making process. But the real draw is the gorgeous accommodation, seven themed suites of delicate British good taste. Hand embroidered linen graces the antique furniture, fresh fruit baskets and flowers adorn the intricate lawn furniture. Mesmerisingly carved wooden panels line the spacious rooms overlooking the green slopes. Pastel shades and soft feathery duvets underline the cosy feel. Hiking trips, fishing, massage therapies, butterfly watching, camping and cooking classes help you unwind at this gorgeous estate.

 

Since every single one of these locations is at the top of the exclusivity list, you may have some trouble making a reservation. don’t hesitate to drop us a line, we’ll get the job done!


Travelling to North East India
Travelling to North East India

North East India is one of the most remote regions of India and relatively untouched by the overbearing tourism industry. It consists of the seven states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. The North East is a part of the second largest biodiversity hotspot in the world, with more than 60% of the area under forest cover. Although the cultures of this area are often banded dismissively together, they are in fact incredibly diverse and very well worth discovering.

How to get around in North East India?

Being a remote and hilly area, infrastructure is not well developed. With the exception of Assam where they have 4 lane cemented highways, the roads can be pretty bad. In Arunachal and Nagaland roads are continuously winding and poorly maintained restricting top speed to 30 kmph, making journeys between two places long and arduous. Having said this, the views are spectacular and will keep you spellbound almost all the way.

Accommodation in North East India

Accommodation is pretty basic in most places. Hotels often do not have geysers or showers so hot water for bathing is provided in buckets. Some places may not even have western style toilets so be prepared to squat. Assam, Sikkim and Gangtok do have some extremely comfortable places for travellers, and a growing interest in the area promises newer options.

Who is it for?

North East has a very raw and rugged beauty, bearing a closer affinity to South East Asia than to the general perception of India. If you like to travel rough and honestly experience the lives of other cultures then this is the place for you. Expect the unexpected when travelling in this region. Despite the idea most people have of the North East being incredibly primitive and and backward, they have the most widespread rock music scene in all of India. Look up college festivals and local concerts and competitions to get a chance to experience something terrific. They also play host to quite a few music festivals that draw in crowds and bands from across the country.

 

There are very few luxury hotels in the North East and those which exist are found only in selected places like Kaziranga, Shillong, Jorhat and Dibrugarh. So if you are a luxury seeker and like to be pampered on your vacation then you might want to look elsewhere.

Cost of travel in North East India

Being a remote area the cost of trips to North East works out nearly 20% higher than a similar trip in any other place in India. The main reason is the transportation cost which is quite high due to roads being steep and in poor condition. Hence it is most economical to travel in groups of 4 or above. Hotel charges are also higher than other places in India. A big bonus is that the cost of living is low, and you’re unlikely to come across touts whose only aim is to fleece foreigners.

Seasons in North East India

Generally speaking November to May is a good time to visit the North East, but depending the the kind of trip and places you would like to visit certain months might be more favourable than others.

Food in North East India

While sticky rice is the staple diet of almost all the tribes in the North East, they compliment it with a dazzling array of meats, pickles, vegetables and beans cooked in endless variety. They love meat; pork being the favourite but vying among several other contenders ranging from chicken and fish to snail and smaller game. The residents of the North-East are famous for cooking anything that moves, a topic you should probably not bring up directly if you don’t want to offend your host but definitely something to look forward to if you really want to dive into a new culture.

 

Alcohol goes well with all the meat they eat. Rice and millet make the base for delicious local brews.

Permits for North East India

Foreigners do not require permits to enter any of the North Eastern states besides Arunachal Pradesh. For visiting Arunachal foreigners need a PAP (Protected Area Permit) which costs US$100 for 2 people and is granted for a duration of 30 days. The permit has to be applied for through a tour operator recognised by the Government of Arunachal.

In conclusion we at India Someday would recommend that you keep at least 10 days for a trip to the North East since the region is pretty remote and has so much to discover, but with slow internal travel. Road journeys are long and tiresome so it is best to have more days at hand to see the region in a more relaxed manner. Most circuits in Nagaland and Arunachal would need around 15 to 20 days if you wish to properly experience the varied culture.