If you have a day or two to spare in Jaipur, Rajasthan this is my recommendation.
Jaipur,the fabled Pink city was built in 1727 by Maharajah Jai Singh who was an avid astrologer.He moved his city from the hilly amber to the flat Jaipur where he could set up an amazing observatory that still exists today. So any trip to Jaipur should begin with a visit to the stunningly beautiful Amber Palace.
The Amber Palace is majestic and exquisite, the Sheesh Mahal or mirrored palace must be seen to be believed. I always use my favourite guide who brings the place to life with his stories of the concubines and princes and leads us through secret passage ways. He is 84 years old and a cultural gem himself, Mr Battacharya. He personally showed JfK and Jackie through the palace years ago.
Following the palace, I like to see the Jantar Mantar, the royal observatory with its geometric measuring devices so accurate that you can set your watch by them.
While you are in the old city neighbourhood check out the Palace of the winds, the Hawa Mahal it is just around the corner and is a charming facade that the ladies of the court would watch the passing parades.
By now you will need a break, so I usually swing off to the best cafe in town. Anokhi.
Here you can eat the best salads safely topped with goats cheese and walnuts and much more. Everything is yummy. Once refreshed I head next door to their boutique,famous for hand block printed textiles in great styles and of silk or organic cotton.
Other great boutiques nearby include Jaipur Modern, Rasa, Fab India and Teatro dhora.
Once done here it is time to hit the famous bazaars of Jaipur, with whole lanes dedicated to bangles and shoes and much more. You can spend days in here and still need more time.
By now it is cocktail hour and one of the best spots is the Rambagh Palace at the Polo Bar , they make great Bloody Marys.
There are so many great things to do in Jaipur and two of my greatest experiences here are visiting the rescued elephants at Elefantastic and having my photo taken by Mr Chand witha 150 year old plus Zeiss camera. He then developed the photos right there on the street.
I will be spending three days in Jaipur on my next womens tour , the Boho Luxe tour.
In my experience of taking women only tours around India for the last 5 years I have noticed that women travel differently together.
They seek different experiences and form lasting connections and enjoy the group dynamics. It allows the women to experience India in a joyful and safe way.
On my upcoming womens only tour in November 2018 India Boho Luxe Tour we will be staying at a variety of heritage palaces and forts in beautiful Rajasthan. By day we will explore the best boutiques and bazaars and enjoy visiting incredible sites with time off to enjoy, spa treatments, yoga,astrology sessions and much more.
Stay tuned for dates and itinerary. It is going to be a fabulous trip.
Bespoke travel is a travel experience that is specifically curated for you, or your group, addressing your particular requirements,budget and the experiences you would like to have. It involves us working together to create a journey for you that is unique to your desires.
You can decide if you want to go it solo with all contingencies in place, including transport,the best hotels and local connections I act as a travel designer and advisor. Providing back up along the way.
Alternatively I can travel with you as an escort, and guide.
So whether you want to see festivals, travel remotely, harvest great local buys, create your own jewelry, learn dance, study yoga or simply find a great place to chill out in the Himalayas and write a book. I can help you make your travel dreams a reality.
Just drop me a line and we can begin the journey together.
It is always difficult to know what to put in your suitcase when visiting an unknown land. The thing about India is there is so much to take home with you that an empty suitcase is a good idea.
But here are some essentials that you should not leave home without-
You require a visa for India so will need to apply before you arrive, for most tours a 30 day e visa will be sufficient. For my tours comprehensive travel insurance is required.
Travellers should be aware that most internal flights have a 15 kilo luggage limit for checked baggage and a 7 kilo limit for hand luggage. You can pay for excess but the damage is steep. So if you can travel light initially.
A good pair or two of earplugs. India can be noisy at times, early morning calls to prayer, temple bells, weddings etc so a good pair of earplugs can be the difference between a sound nights sleep or a disturbed one. I also travel with an eye mask and a travel pillow. I love my sleep.
Bring your required medicines, of course, and I recommend a visit to a travel doctor before the journey.
India is an affordable place to get prescription glasses made,so why not bring your prescription and get some snazzy spectacles made at a fraction of the cost at home.
Bring a swimsuit, many hotels have swimming pools but tracking down a bathing suit in India is not always easy. The same goes for good quality bras.
Bring your favourite toiletries but there is no need to go overboard as most of the hotels we use provide decent and sometimes even lush toiletries, Most global brands are available in India and some super special organic products from India include Forest Essentials, Biotique and Kama. They are my favourites.
Bring a box of your hair dye, you can get loreal and garnier dyes here but not always in your preferred shade.
I also recommend bringing your own sunscreen and bug repellent.
Wet wipes are handy as is hand sanitiser both of which you can pick up in India at any chemist.
A small first aid kit is handy and can be easily restocked at any pharmacy in India.
TECH – As for technology bring your camera, an unlocked phone, Ipod for long journeys or an e reader. Power bank and adaptors and chargers. A torch is handy as some remote areas suffer power outages and stumbling around a new room in the dark is not fun.
Again you can find data cards, hard drives and most tech here.
SUGGESTED PACKING LIST FOR THE LADIES
Try to bring light weight clothing, silk tops and scarves are great.You can pick these up here at affordable rates. Cotton fabrics and layering can cover you day and night, half the fun is shopping for great textiles and if you are interested in Bazaars and Boutiques check out my upcoming Boho Luxe and Hippy Chic Tours.
2 bras, 5 underpants, 2 tank tops,1 swimsuit
1 sarong for shimmying to the pool side or relaxing in. It can double as a wrap too.
2 pairs of leggings comfy for travel and can be topped by tunics or long tops for modesty.
2 pairs of lightweight cotton trousers.
1 shawl or scarf, handy for temple visits, pollution , modesty and for desert queen moments. You are bound to pick up more along the way.
3 tunic tops or shirts.
1 fabulous dress or mid length skirt. minis are out except in Goa.
1 jacket, spray jacket or a mini umbrella great for sun or rain.
A pair of flip flops, crocs make some comfy and cool ones now. It is true.
A sturdy pair of walking shoes.
A pair of sandals.
But let me mention you will go crazy for hand stitched, embroidered and beaded sandals found all over India. So leave some space in the bag.
FOR THE LADS
My male friends say shopping for them is harder, so bring your own Tshirts
You can easily get cool shirts tailored for yourself in great fabrics or buy them in organic cottons from boutiques like anokhi.
But if your look is more mainstream adapt the list above minus dress, bras and maybe even leggings.
Have fun and contact me for further info at loveindiatravels.com
I grew up in Australia and took to the road in 1988, I came to India for the first time in 1989.
My love for travel took me to many amazing places throughout the world and when I returned to Australia I studied acupuncture at the University of Technology in Sydney and began my practise, mostly in the Blue mountains of Australia.
Later I returned to India and moved to the valley of the gods, kullu valley.
For the last five years I have been guiding people around my favourite places in India, sharing my insights and creating authentic travel experiences for my clients.