India

0-thelowdown-1When I look back at my two weeks in Rajasthan, India I can’t help but smile. The places were magnificent, magical, breathtaking…everything I expected it to be and more, but what I really remember is all the wonderful people I met along the way. Truly a life changing trip and I hope to return again someday soon. Namaste

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1-flight-1My Mom and I departed from FLL to JFK to pickup my sister for the Heathrow to New Delhi flight of the trip. Luckily, I had enough points on JetBlue to pay for both of these flights gratis. We flew Virgin Atlantic, which I highly recommend. We booked in January for a trip in October and it cost a little over $1000 to book roundtrip from JFK to DEL. Total flight cost was $1000+. We also took one inner-country flight from New Delhi to Udaipur because the drive would have been 8 hours+. The hotel arranged this for us and it cost around $150. Well worth the saved time.

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2-accomodations-1The major success of this trip was due to the Oberoi Hotels. Staff was so gracious prior to our stay and during our stay absolutely amazing. It is the only way to travel in India!

They arranged our inner-country travel (airport transfers, private car, flights and guides). Truly a 5 star experience and well worth the price tag. Normally, I don’t like to stay in hotels and prefer homestays or privately owned hotels to experience the culture, but this was a great combination of luxury and warmth.

I also bought a book about the founder of the hotel, M.S. Oberoi entitled “Dare to Dream” by Bachi J. Karkaria in one of the gift shops. A remarkable tale that is unbelievable at times. Recommended for anyone interested in the business of hotels and doing what you are passionate about in life.

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1-itinerary
Arrived in New Delhi. Private transportation greets us with a cold jasmine scented towels and a smile from the Oberoi New Delhi. Arrive at hotel for afternoon tea. Private tour guide shows us sites of New Delhi.

2-itinerary
Breakfast buffet at hotel. Relax at hotel spa and pool area. Depart New Delhi for flight afternoon to Udaipur.  Arrive in Udaipur one hour later. Picked up by private transfer to hotel. You arrive to the hotel by gondola. How cool is that?! Absolutely magical place and beautiful property.

3-itinerary
Relax at hotel and enjoy the property. Enjoyed the spa with one of the Bhutanese masseurs. Enjoyed the yoga session, pool and chi-chis. Local musical entertainment at dinner with sitar and belly dancers.

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Explore Udaipur with a private guide. Udaipur is one of the most beautiful places because it is a mountainous region surrounded by man-made lakes, in a desert region of India. Lush foliage with the water reflecting the summer palaces from the Rajput-era. Private guide shows us the architecture of these summer palaces.

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Private guide takes us to visit the craftsmen and artisans of Udaipur. They are famous for their miniature paintings, marble and silver handicrafts. It was truly amazing to watch them work in their studios.

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Early morning departure to Jaipur by private transfer. We meet our driver, Dwarka, who will remain with us the entire rest of the trip. Beautiful countryside as we head deeper into Rajasthan.

7-itinerary
Woken by peacocks and singing birds to arrive at breakfast early. Seeing the sites in Jaipur. Meet our tour guide and get a good feel for the city of Jaipur, also known as the “Pink City”. Rode an elephant at the Amber Fort, classic!

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Rest and shopping in Jaipur. They are famous for their arts and crafts, especially gem stones. My sister bought a beautiful emerald ring as a gift to herself.  We visited a block printing store where they do everything by hand and got to see the process up close. Also, an amazing carpet business that we bought some tapestries and bed linens at.

9-itinerary
Head to Rathambhore. Greeted by the lovely General Manager of the hotel. Layout and design of the hotel is magnificent. Rest by the pool and take a tour with the in-house horticulturalist of all the nature on the grounds. This is the home of the famous Bengal Tiger. This place is very special and unlike any other hotel I have ever been to. The highlight of the trip, for me.

10-itinerary
Tiger safari. Rathmbhore used to be the hunting grounds for the Maharajahs of Jaipur. Luckily today, we are just trying to find the Bengal Tiger in its natural habitat. Scenic park and we get lucky and see a Bengal Tiger just as we are leaving the park. I will never forget that experience and the thrill of it!

11-itinerary
Early drive to Agra. Amazing to see the small towns throughout Rajasthan. I would definitely like to come back one day and take more time in this area. The woman dress in these beautiful colored saris while doing fieldwork against the desert and mountainous backgrounds. Unlike anything I have ever seen before. Driving in India is an experience onto itself, so when we arrive we rest at our hotel. Not a bad view of the Taj Mahal directly from our room!

12-itinerary
Wake up just before dawn to meet our private guide. Walk over the Taj Mahal to get in line for the doors to open at sunrise. Unbelievable and so glad I arranged the tour for it to be the last stop of the trip. Undescribale the scale and beauty of this monolith. The beautiful story behind it just adds to the romance of the entire atmosphere. One day I will go back.

13-itinerary
Head back to New Delhi for our departure the next afternoon. Sad to leave, but  I know I will be back. Very modern hotel with amazing service (which I have gotten so used to at this point). Sad to say goodbye to our amazing driver, Dwarka. Hope to see him again also!

14-itinerary
DEL to LHR to JFK. I don’t want to go home yet!

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Oberoi Hotels has travel deals for vacations to multiple properties throughout the year. If you are flexible with your dates, check their website for the latest offerings. Many times you get free upgrades when available and complimentary breakfast.

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Over 1.1billion people live in India, from the deserts of Rajasthan and the blissful beaches of Goa, to the Keralan tea plantations and the metropolitan cities of Mumbai and Kolkata. With such a huge diversity of landscapes, religion and culture, India is a fascinating place to visit.

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India is the largest democracy in the world, the 7th largest Country in the world, and one of the most ancient civilizations. The name ‘India’ is derived from the River Indus, the valleys around which were the home of the early settlers. The Aryan worshippers referred to the river Indus as the Sindhu.

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India was one of the richest countries till the time of British rule in the early 17th Century. Christopher Columbus, attracted by India’s wealth, had come looking for a sea route to India when he discovered America by mistake.

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