Immersion and integration are key components to understanding and appreciating the heart of a culture. Luckily, travelers don’t often have to venture far from popular destinations to comfortably merge the foreign and familiar. Last year I spotlighted Talabgaon Castle in Rajasthan, India. The 200-year-old fort is nestled in Dausa, only two hours from the "Pink City" of Jaipur. The car horns, bustling markets, and crowds are replaced by stunning sunsets, poolside cocktails, and village life. It is a rare opportunity for travelers to experience the rural lifestyle and authentically engage with the locals.
I just returned home from an epic two-week journey with our Heritage of North India tour. It was an absolute pleasure to lead such an engaging and enthusiastic group of travelers. One of the highlights was our stay at Talabgaon Castle, a 200-year-old fort nestled in nature. Located near Dausa, an easy two-hour drive from Jaipur, the heritage resort offers a comfortable and enchanting stay off the tourist circuit. The car horns, bustling markets, and crowds are replaced by stunning sunsets, poolside cocktails, and village life. It is a rare opportunity for tourists to experience the rural lifestyle and authentically engage with the locals.
Welcome to Shahpura Bagh, an oasis in unexplored Rajasthan. With only nine suites set in 45 acres of gardens and pastures surrounded by two lakes, the working farm is a serene oasis. The descendants of the rulers of Shapura still live in one of the houses on this lush estate:
Travelers, welcome aboard the Palace on Wheels. Considered one of the top ten luxurious train journeys in the world, no detail is overlooked on this breathtaking ride in North India. Spend a week as royalty and discover the vibrant colors and majestic palaces of Rajasthan.
This week I am highlighting one of my favorite accommodations in Jaipur. The Dera Mandawa is an all-suite heritage property with traditional Rajasthani charm. Located outside the Chandpole gate, the haveli preserves the traditional and environmentally conscious living of its ancestors. Dera Mandawa was built by Thakur Jait Singhji of Mandawa for when he visited Jaipur to attend the court of the Maharaja. Over the years it was further developed by his sons and grandsons. The current custodian of the property, Thakur Durga Singh, is a keen observer of history, culture, religion, and current affairs. He is what one could call a modern traditionalist, actively seeking the use of modern technology and methods to support the principles of traditional living. The inquisitive can have endless conversations with him on a number of his projects like rainwater harvesting, solar heating and healthy cooking. He is more than delighted to share his experiences with you.
The winners of our Golden Experience Giveaway, Cheryl and Sean Bemiss, recently returned from India and graciously provided us with vivid and candid feedback. Read on to learn about their most memorable experiences...
Last week, we spotlighted the tradition of mehndi in India. The ancient art form is generally applied during festivals and special occasions, particularly weddings. Did you know that Sodha Travel coordinates India Destination Weddings? Over the years, we have been delighted to plan the details for wedding celebrations throughout India. Often, the bride and groom wish to incorporate a tour for their friends and family before or after the wedding festivities. This is a great way for the guests to experience the highlights of India and also witness a traditional Indian marriage.
Sodha Travel is excited to announce our newest tour - Rajasthan: A Family Experience. Created exclusively for families, the private India tour caters to children and the junior travelers. Highlights include a bicycle tour in Delhi, sunset visit to the Taj Mahal, a wildlife safari in Ranthambore National Park, and ziplining near Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.
Mark your calendars! Join Sodha Travel at India Day in Pioneer Square on August 18th. India Day is one of the largest South Asian festivals on the west coast and a wonderful and colorful celebration of Indian culture. Enjoy music, entertainment, dancing, cuisine, and other treasures with free admission!
A warm welcome to Amit Thakur, a new addition to our Sodha Travel team in Delhi! Amit specializes in custom tour programs and has over 12 years of experience in the travel industry. He is an avid explorer who has extensively traveled throughout India, including many national parks and wildlife reserves. Amit also has a passion for photography and has contributed many snapshots of festivals, wildlife, and local treasures.
Our Sodha Travel team has been busy preparing new custom India tour programs that will be launched this summer! Based on your feedback and recommendations, we have crafted four itineraries that serve the diverse interests of our clients. The themes include family-travel, vineyards, Ayurveda, and more! Read on for an exclusive preview of our *new* private India packages.
Imagine a space where prominent writers come together from across India, Europe, Africa, South Asia, and America to celebrate literature. The internationally renowned DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, now in its sixth year, will be held at Diggi Palace in Jaipur from January 24-28, 2013. The festival includes readings, debates, musical performances, children's activities, and interactive workshops. It is the largest literary festival in Asia-Pacific and considered one of the most prestigious events in India.
From October 31 - November 18, the Sodha Travel team will be traveling in North India. In addition to negotiating contracts and meeting with vendors, we will be conducting property tours, visiting the most recent sites and restaurants, and researching all the latest and greatest activities for our clients. This year, our destinations will include Delhi, Jaipur, Rajsamand, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Rishikesh. During our travels, we will be posting photos and journals on our blog and Sodha Travel social networks. We invite you to follow us on our journey as we celebrate Diwali and other regional festivals with the magnificent people of India.
Did you know that Sodha Travel has a department that caters to female travelers? Gender specific services include women guides and escorts (when available) and specialized activities, including mehndi sessions, culinary classes and spa services. Some of our female travelers have also selected a personalized shopping excursion and tailor-made traditional clothing, while others have requested visits to special needs organizations. As a woman who has traveled to India many times in various capacities – professionally, leisurely, alone, with friends and with family – I found my experiences very rewarding. For more information and recommendations, check out my recent article on Travelhoppers - Tips for Female Travelers to India.
Our Colors of India tour is now open! Join us on a women-only, 10 day/9 night itinerary in Northern India: Delhi, India’s capital; Agra, home of the majestic Taj Mahal; Jaipur, the Pink City of Rajasthan; Rajsamand, a Mewar town; and Udaipur, the City of Lakes. Travel with a group of women who share in the excitement of India, and make new friends in a supportive, safe, and enriching environment!