India 2023 What A Delight
We flew out to India and arrived on 9th January to a temperature of 3c in Delhi! We swiftly transferred to Jodhpur by plane where the sun shone, and we received a very warm welcome at Balsamand Lake Palace as guests of HH Maharaja of Marwar Jodhpur. We were his guests for his 75th birthday celebrations and had a most wonderful memorable time.
Jodhpur is a favourite destination of ours and HH’s hospitality included banquets, receptions, horse shows, Mehrangarh Fort extravaganza, a royal Durbar and then final leave taking. Fun and reunions with people we have known for years and meeting and making new friends and acquaintances. Bapji Jodhpur has done so much for Rajasthan and India through his pioneering heritage tourism, and attention to conservation and the welfare of the local people.
We then drove to Jaipur where we stayed briefly with the Loharus, at their comfortable mansion in Civil Lines. My goodness was Jaipur cold, it required two cashmere sweaters and heaters in the suite. I have known Douro and Fawzia for 25 years so it was good to meet up again.
We moved to the wonderful new Taj property The Sawai Man Mahal which is in the spacious and beautiful grounds of the legendary Rambagh Palace. We had a most wonderful time in this very new luxury hotel, and I most heartily recommend it as a romantic and special occasion destination.
We drove on to Sawai Madhopur, to visit the Ranthambhore Wildlife Park. This time we were not fortunate to see tigers, though others did. However, it is always good to once again return to India’s wild places. The road from Jaipur is now very good and diminishes the travel. We stayed at the Ranthambhore Regency which is a recommended haunt of ours.
We then went on to Samode and stayed for several days at Samode Bagh. Now this is another favourite of ours. The Samodes are well run, and we particularly wanted to live in the Bagh (garden) as in the tented cottages one is close to the birdlife. The service was superb, the food delicious and the Staff so sweet and friendly – it was a happy time of resting, reading, walking in the gardens, observing the jollity of an enormous Indian wedding and just chilling out.
The busy road to Delhi is not enjoyable. Maybe one day it will be just fine, but currently it is still being laid down in places and the traffic volume is enormous and stressful. However, we arrived safely in Delhi driven by the excellent Raju whom we have come to know over two years.
The welcome at The Taj Ambassador was so warm and enthusiastic. The Management went out of their way to make us welcome with thoughtful gifts of flowers, photos of the past, little presents and delicious little eats and chocolates. Taj Ambassador is in a good location in central New Delhi – a heritage hotel having started life as an Officers’ Residence at the end of WW2. It is a busy place being so close to Khan Market and Lodhi Gardens and other places of historic interest. We were guests of the Indian Government at The Republic Day Parade on 26th January 2023. It was a cold grey morning and sitting watching the parade was an act of endurance. This is the third such parade we have attended. Kindly given honorary ambassador status it was good to talk to the various representatives of foreign nations. The Parade itself was outstanding and filled me with pride about India – the Land of my birth. Her time has come.
We visited Unchagaon Fort for a few days as the guests of Rupendra Pal Singh. This is reached in a two-hour drive east of Delhi into Uttar Pradesh. We had visited 15 years ago, and it was interesting to return. Unchagaon is an old fort that had been reconfigured a century ago and is full of heritage and interest. Being quite close to the holy Ganga and located in a nice village in the middle of rural UP makes it a good destination for a long week-end. Thank you, Binny!
We flew down to Chennai to access a favourite destination, the Radisson GRT Temple Bay Resort at Mahabalipuram. We know this place well and it is beautifully maintained with manicured gardens of lawns and trees and shrubs, right on the beach; the service is good and the food excellent; indeed, it is famed as a destination wedding venue. The beach is clean, and the Shore Temple can be seen from the hotel. Mahabalipuram has a clutch of wonderful heritage, about which I have written previously. The famous Shore Temple, the Panch Rathas, the Bas-Reliefs. UNESCO has funded improvements in the village, and it is a very pleasant excursion to see these wonders.
We flew to Kochi. Kochi now has this most excellent international airport that is fully powered by solar energy. Kochi is looking so good with the metro completed, the roads to and from the airport finished. We drove to our favourite destination Kumarakom Lake Resort for a sixteen-day end to our wonderful seven weeks in India. I have often written about ‘KLR’ and all I can say is the welcome is so warm, the comfort exactly what we look for, the gardens and the lake outstanding. We loved the introduction of geese and ducks, they also have some rabbits. These have added charm to the grounds and in my mind’s eye as I write it is early morning and the gander is shouting his head off, the ducks are quacking busily investigating the canal near our cottage. Yoga is starting in the pavilion. The birdsong is intense. Then I will swim in my beloved courtyard pool, have the vigorous hot shower under the outside shower with the sun shining upon me and go to breakfast. Ever attentive the Dining Room Staff serve a stunning breakfast. I would go on to greet those in the Ayurmana. Sadly Dr Liji is leaving very soon as she is joining her husband in their own enterprise – we wish them good fortune. KLR ticks all our boxes and this time we had the good fortune to meet many friendly interesting people some of whom are now our friends.
Phir Milengi to beloved India yet again.! Until we meet again.
My fifth book India-ji is now published in a Limited Edition, hard copy. I had the honour of meeting HM King Charles III in October 2022, and he expressed a great interest in the book, thus I have had a beautiful hard copy published by my good publishers Sabre & Quill in Delhi. The print version is sold in India on Amazon, and Bahri Sons, and the Kindle version is sold on Amazon in India, UK, and Worldwide.