A journey in India is always unforgettable, but no other destination on earth can capture the romance, euphoria, rise and fall of human kind with such celebration as Rajasthan.
The first experience of India holds an undeniable allure similar to that of tasting your first glass of champagne. It’s an opinion of taste and everyone has to try it even if once is enough! Your first visit can range from a ‘Krug’ to ‘Prosecco’ moment. Just like Champagne, India was created under intense pressure, is associated with royalty and the uppermost echelons of society, holds huge mystique and intrigue, has depth and character to entrance and can leave you with a light and elegant finish. On the other hand it can leave you with a bad headache!
Arriving in Delhi is comparable to the cork popping and the bubbles fizzing and bursting out of the bottle. My first taste was a captivated fascination as I plummeting head-on into the swirling energy, intense colours and exuberance of India’s largest city of over 20 million people.
The ‘Krug’ moment for me was visiting Rajasthan, India’s ‘Land of the Kings’. The opulence of the Rajput Kings fuses with the Hindu love of exuberant décor, and today offers world-class heritage boutique hotels. Rajasthan is rich in history, with imposing forts, captivating Jain and Hindu temples and culture, creative art and flamboyant architecture. It is an intriguing region where India’s northern plains merge into the mighty Thar Desert. I would need to write a book to adequately describe my journey through Rajasthan so the following are the ‘Krug’ moments.
Above: Samode Palace has 43 individually decorated rooms and suites.
Rattling by train from Delhi my first taste was Jaipur, the beautiful Pink City of India. Jaipur is Rajasthan’s sprawling capital, with its ochre-washed palaces, fort and exquisite walled city at its heart and bustling bazaars to explore I spent days spell bound lost in its extravagance. The scene on the streets is insane with tuk-tuks, beggars, cars, buses, motorbikes, cows and the occasional ambling elephant, driven by a brightly coloured turban wearer, miraculously weaving in between each other in a medley of accepting chaos.
Above: Samode Palace is a gorgeous heritage palace situated 40 kilometers north of Jaipur. Activities include camel and jeep safaris, horse riding and cultural village visits.
Off-track rural Rajasthan has interesting villages to visit en route where there are little known fort-palaces with panoramic views over colourful countryside and women displaying embroidered mirror-work clothing adorned with silver jewelry.
Above: You can stay at one of the contemporary and cutting edge designed suites at Devi Garh – a beautiful and luxurious fort nestled in the Aravali Hills north-east of Udaipur.
It is the majestic lake city of Udaipur known as the most romantic city in Rajasthan that so enchanted me. Set on the shores of Lake Pichola, its streets are surrounded by beautiful palaces and framed with the backdrop of distant hills. I spent hours ambling and ogling at the sights, smells and sensations of the most picturesque city imaginable. The narrow streets are a riot of colour lined with shops, bazaars and markets ablaze with baskets of vibrant coloured produce with stay cows meandering freely and helping themselves to vegetables. One morning I found myself at the Ghats with the spectacle of women busy with their socialising and washing, wearing every brightly patterned sari in the paint box.
Above: Detail from part of the fabled 10th Century kingdom of Rajasthan.
In my approach to the remote desert Citadel of Jaisalmer I had time traveled to a 10th Century kingdom. A shimmering vision of golden turrets, towers and battlements glowed like a mirage rising from the Thar desert. Inside the walls I wandered through a labyrinth of intricately decorated temples, palaces, streets, alleyways and courtyards carved into the sandstone. Its idyllic medieval character now mixes with a vibrant community, shops, small hotels and restaurants and it is all the more enchanting. I can’t wait to re-explore the Citadels interior one day followed by a camel safari and a luxury tented camp experience perhaps at The Serai next time!
For me Rajasthan, is the ‘Krug’ of India and I can’t wait for another taste!