Senior Executive Travel Expert
My journey to India began with anticipation and curiosity. I was excited to experience the country myself, to learn all that India offers, and to use my first-hand knowledge of this amazing destination to create custom itineraries that ensure #memoriesbeyond for travelers.
After arrival in Delhi and a 5-hour drive to Jaipur I was tired but exhilarated. Over two days, I met with many hotel people, suppliers, and tourist board representatives from Goa and Rajasthan. I also learned a great deal about wellness retreats—a hot growth area in the travel industry and a new focus for IWorld of Travel. Three hundred people attended this event from all over the world. I was able to chat with folks from Spain, France, Italy, Ukraine, Australia, Canada and Vietnam.
I was thrilled to experience Indian culture in Jaipur, and to have the chance to dress in a stunning Sari for dinner at the Amber Fort restaurant. Local musicians sang to us—women in Saris and men in traditional white tunics. Yatric arranged an evening I will never forget!
Another unforgettable experience was going to the home of a former Maharaja—the setting for the popular movie, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” I was able to see the family’s private museum, normally open only to hotel guests. It was such a treat, along with another fabulous dinner. Highlights in Jaipur also included an elephant ride and a visit to the Pink Palace, the Hawa Mahal, or ‘Palace of Winds’ built in 1799. I will wholeheartedly recommend these adventures to all tourists.
Next stop was Ranthambore National Park for a tiger safari! There are many safari options at India’s rich wildlife sanctuaries and national parks to see snow leopards, lions, elephants, rhinos, and other rare species. This could be an interesting add-on for animal lovers touring the country.
Of course, the Taj Mahal in Agra is a MUST-SEE. Its legendary opulence and epic magnificence did not disappoint…it is rightfully one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
In Delhi I rode a rickshaw and saw the incredibly crowded city choked with cars and people on foot and all modes of transport—a sight in itself and worth the visit to see bustling local life. The city tour was capped with a dose of retail therapy at a mall. Shopping is a major attraction in India!
The final stop was in Varanasi where I was immersed in Hindu culture, from the sacred cows lining the streets to the holy River Ganges which plays a major role in the life cycle of birth, marriage, and death. The water is considered holy—pilgrims and devotees flock from all over to worship the rising sun, to be blessed on the river’s banks, and to swim in its waters.
Regarding flights and hotels, I was very impressed with the local airline Vistara on the one-hour flight from Delhi to Varanasi. They even served a light meal and the service was excellent. The hotels I inspected were great, from Oberoi to Leela, to local hotels and historic palaces.