Amritsar, India
Jawai Leopard Camp, India

...Just back from

The Punjab & Rajasthan

A spiritual awakening

Discover India's hidden secrets from golden temples to royal palaces, shimmering lakes to untamed jungle.

Among the Maharajas

“India, for me, is the most captivating, colourful, spiritual and life-affirming country in the world,” says our Asia specialist Stephanie. Here she recalls the highlights of her most recent visit to the subcontinent, travelling south from the Punjab, the heart of India’s Sikh community, to Rajasthan, the land of Maharajas and medieval forts.

Away from all the hustle and bustle of the larger cities, a journey from Punjab to Rajasthan offers a captivating insight into a gentler pace of life on the subcontinent.

Mehrangarh Fort, India

“I have been visiting India for 16 years and I still find myself wanting more. It’s culturally rich, visually explosive, and an assault on all senses.”

Stephanie Carthy

Golden Times in Punjab

Amritsar, in the state of Punjab, is home to the spectacular Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine. At the centre of the walled old town, the gilded Golden Temple seems to float on the sacred lake, Amrit Sarovar. Every evening, throngs of devotees come to witness the colourful sukhasan or ‘putting to bed’ ritual, in which the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s central religious text, is carried to its bedroom on a flower-decked palanquin accompanied by the chanting of sacred prayers. It’s a wonderful spectacle and one you definitely shouldn’t miss.


Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

As well as the Golden Temple, I’d recommend visiting the Guru Ka Langar, the largest community kitchen in the world. In keeping with the tenets of Sikhism, all barriers of religion, caste and social status are forgotten as diners share a meal as equals, sitting on the floor. On average 75,000 people eat a free meal here each day and dozens of volunteers work around the clock to make it all possible. The Sikh faith teaches the importance of community service and what an extraordinary feat the temple upholds by achieving this every day.

"Witnessing community spirit on this scale is humbling and really puts your faith back into humanity."
Mehrangarh Fort with Jaswant Thada, India

Sundowners Fit for a Prince

Mehrangarh Fort in Rajasthan is one of the most magnificent in India. It was built around 1460 and rises straight up above the magnificent blue city of Jodhpur. Still run by the Jodhpur royal family, it is a place packed with history and legend, and has been beautifully preserved. By prior arrangement it’s possible to enjoy a private walk with the museum curator as twilight descends. This experience gives an intimate insight into some of the period rooms as he shares tales of Indian courtly life… all enjoyed with a glass of bubbles in hand, of course.

Udaipur, India

Sailing like a Maharana

Enjoy the royal treatment in Udaipur and sail on Lake Pichola aboard the beautiful Gangaur, a replica of the 18th century barge that once carried Udaipur’s royal Singh family between their City Palace on the eastern shore and the famous Lake Palace in the centre of the lake.

Sailing aboard this elegant vessel with the Lake Palace, City Palace and Aravalli Mountains as our backdrop was a very special experience indeed. The Gangaur can be chartered by guests of the iconic Taj Lake Palace hotel for a sunset sail or, if you wish to linger longer, you can also enjoy dinner on board.

Jawai Leopard Camp, Rajasthan, India

Where wild things roam

Jawai, in the heart of the Aravalli Hills, lies halfway between Jodhpur and Udaipur, and is a special place for many reasons. In this area of rural Rajasthan, temple priests and red-turbaned Rabari herdsmen have shared their rocky surroundings with leopards for centuries.

In fact, leopards are regarded as the sacred guardians of the ancient temples that pepper the landscape. It is estimated that up to 50 of these elusive big cats reside here. Jawai Leopard Camp provides a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in rural Rajasthani life, go on safari, enjoy spectacular scenery and do it all in style.

Raas Devigarh, India

A Rural Retreat

There is no denying that the chaotic madness and constant cacophony of beeping horns in India can be exhausting. It’s essential that you allow some down time in more rural areas to slow the pace, take a breath and smell the roses, so to speak. The fairy tale fortress, Raas Devigarh, a revamped 18th century palace, an hour outside of Udaipur, was the most perfect escape for me.

This boutique hotel is housed in a lavishly restored heritage building and combines contemporary interiors, superb cuisine, a fabulous pool, indulgent spa and a rural escape all in one. In my short stay I explored the village by bicycle, drifted off into a divine state at the spa, took a yoga class, dined like royalty and slept like a princess. I only wish I could have stayed longer.

Raas Devigarh, India
Mehrangarh Fort, India
Jawai, India

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