Today it is up early to tour the City Palace. Still home to the Maharajah of Udaipur, this is actually a series of interconnected palaces massed into an impressive whole. Multiple courtyards and gardens open to grand views of Lake Pichola and beyond. Floating in the center is the Lake Palace Hotel, a Taj Resort, and featured exotic location in the James Bond flick. It is beautiful, but a little dated now that the Oberoi has arrived. The rest of the town and surrounds was also utilized in the movie providing the perfect 007 visual experience.

The town is lush and tropical, a distinct departure from the previous weeks travels. A wide variety of palms and a profusion of flowers grace the streets; even the beggars seem more laid back and relaxed.

Shopping is again on the agenda with a whole series of fantastic little shops. Another great facet of shopping in India is the government sponsored Artisan and Craftworkers cooperatives. Usually little cottage mom and pop stops, these places focus on promoting continued historically accurate local handicrafts. What the artisans produce differs according to where you travel in India. We witnessed everything from jewelry and furniture design in Mumbai, mosaic work in Agra, rug making and textile printing in Jaipur, to painting in Udaipur. They function by funding apprenticeships but also serve as living, working museums displaying often mind boggling precision. Educationally phenomenal, they allow one to witness the work behind the art, and after meeting and speaking with the artists, one can then purchase works with the profits supporting this valuable resource.

Having added quite magnificently to our growing stash of goods, we stopped at the City Palace’s outdoor café for a late lunch. The plaza was bustling with activity. A large pile of wood arranged like a funeral pyre for an aged Viking king loomed in the center of the square surrounded by thousands, no tens of thousands of flowers, in a multitude of ever widening circles. Hundreds of attendants where scurrying about in a mad cleaning frenzy. Innocently inquiring as to what all the commotion was about, the waiter appeared dumbfounded by our ignorance. “The festival”, he stated, “The Festival of Holi”. There is was again. That word. Tonight was the night of the full moon. The Maharajah of Udaipur was having his annual party to celebrate the arrival of spring. Did we want tickets? Do dromedaries have one hump? – Of course we want tickets. For a price you can do almost anything in this country. And so it was. Tonight we are the guests of the Maharajah of Udaipur, tonight we experience the Festival of Holi



Finally, off those god-forsaken highways and byways and back onto the airplane. I don’t particularly like flying, but compared to road travel, flying is grand. A short 30-minute flight takes us to another city and another world. After days of dehydrated, desiccated lands thirsty for even a drop of cooling rain, Udaipur soothes the soul with wondrous water. Like an apparition appearing to a tortured desert traveler, Udaipur refreshes the spirits and reinvigorates the body.

If you do decide to travel to India, I highly recommend the itinerary I have previously mentioned. Trekking through Northern India in this fashion keeps the wonderment coming and coming, with each new destination and sight seemingly better than the previous one.

Stepping off the plane we are met by our driver who mysteriously, after just a short distance, drops us off at a small jetty on the edge of a beautiful lake. A cooling breeze awakens us from the drone-inducing fog of the jet ride. An stately boat captain, standing proudly on the bow of a antique wooden yacht, graciously waves us forward, and after a brief formal introduction proceeds to launch us across the waterway. To be on a lake after all those days in the desert is a fantastic feeling. Udaipur City slowly meanders by as finally in the distance several structures appear. To the right, the sprawling Castle, to the left a fortress in the hills, and dead ahead, our first destination, the Oberoi Udaivilas.

I promise this is the last time I will blog about a hotel on this trip. This is IT. This is the best hotel in which I have ever stayed, anywhere, in any country, ever. I have included some pictures, but these cannot do it justice. It is just dazzling.


Jodhpur: Day 2

Set on the fringes of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur just feels exotic. Cattle and camels roam the streets, locals in outlandish garb jostle for space and your attention, and dominating the skyline above the ruckus is the gigantic Mehrangarh Fort. Entering through a series of impressive gateways, one can wind up the path previously traversed by Maharajahs’ armies and entourages. From the top, one has a vast birds eye view of the surrounding territories and a picture perfect view of the Blue City below.

I’m not one for museum stores, but this one is rather elegant. Jodhpur is rich with the history of polo. Truly the sport of kings (or in this case Maharajahs), there is a fascinating array of memorabilia and polo paraphernalia. The Jodhpur Polo Club is one of history and legend, and now my husband is a proud new member (at least that is what his t-shirt says). The store also sells a wide variety of local arts and crafts, some quite exquisite.

Returning to the market in the later afternoon we became keenly aware of a new degree of frenzied activity. It seemed overnight the market had been transformed by a whole new set of merchandise. Instead of the usual pickings of essentials like grains, linens, household goods, and of course, your staple of small local “damn you caught me” wildlife, there was a sudden influx of vivid, vibrant colors. Nothing subtle here. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and beyond, the full spectrum was out for display. On every table multiple plastic bags full of colored powders of every imaginable color and size had appeared. It looked like a cocaine den from the Wizard of Oz. Everywhere a profusion of the most gorgeous flowers just erupting at the bud in a tantalizing taste of what was to come. Holi. We started to hear this word a day or two before, but it didn’t mean much. The Festival of Holi was coming. We were about to be initiated and, like a naive college freshman at a total party school, initiated big time. Our guide, smiling coyly, directed us to one of the tables assisting our purchase of several packets of powdered wonderful. Ah, we were young, stupid and had no idea what was coming. Piqued your interest? Now you, like us, have to wait. Holi is two days and an entire city away.


Shop Til You Drop

Okay, lets talk a little about shopping in India. Everything, I mean, everything is available for purchase. If you can’t find it, someone will make it. If it is just a thought in your head, someone can produce it, and produce it cheaply, and produce it yesterday. Cottage shops give way to full-fledged industrial complexes all producing, producing, producing for our consumption, consumption, consumption.

The breadth of antiques and architectural treasures is unfathomable. Treasures are collected from all peripheral states gradually finding their way to street side Jodhpur. It is almost impossible to define ages of antiques, as the Indian craftsmen are extremely gifted in recreating almost any period piece. Fine antiques are recreated out of age-old wood and sold as authentic. Buyer beware. There are many stories of highly reputable dealers being bilked out of large sums of money for phony goods. For even a keen trained eye, it is almost impossible to tell the difference. Good thing our purchasing is based on – “wow, that’s really cool”, or “wow, that’s really cheap”.

Jodhpur is the place where for about twenty thousand dollars you could get enough merchandise to open your own Bombay Company and stay in business for years. It is also the place to find exceptional architectural accents and the occasional fantastic antique India artifact. British colonial treasures abound, the left over remnants from a proud, but torrid past. The street markets are bustling, the hawkers are hawking, the beggars are begging, and we, the tourists, are shopping.

Jodhpur: The Blue City

It’s back on the road today. An incredibly long, but only 295 km (183 miles) drive from Jaipur, brings us to Jodhpur, the Blue City. The further you get from Jaipur the more arid and extreme the landscape becomes. Goats and oxen are replaced by camels, fields of crops by sand and dunes, only an occasional wind torn, sun baked tree remnant breaks the vast horizon. This is Rajasthan at its cruelest. This is also Rajasthan at is coolest. You can just imagine the Maharajah’s armies in full battle regalia, a regiment of camels’ hooves thundering across the parched land trailed by a billowing whirlwind of dust and sand. If you have an extra couple of days think about possible side trips to Ranthambore Tiger Preserve or Jaisalmer –the Gold City- extremely close the Pakistani border. We, however, deferred wildlife and adventure travel for more pressing concerns –shopping!

Jodhpur is known as the shopping Mecca of Rajasthan. Everyone who shops in India eventually finds himself or herself here. Importers, exporters, transporters, all other sorts of –orters call this place home. This is the reason we initially decided to come to India. This was the city that was the secret weapon of all the dealers, this was it, and IT didn’t disappoint.

Tomorrow I will start to describe some of the incredible finds, and the wild and wonderful shopping experiences we had. Tonight I will leave you with some pictures of probably the most visually impressive hotel I have ever seen. This is the place Elizabeth Hurley married Arun Nayar. Even if you don’t stay here, you need to have a coffee, cup of tea, or dinner on the terrace. The rooms are gigantic, the hotel is gigantic, even the view is gigantic. In the evening with a crystal clear sky, a hundred million glistening stars, an incredibly calming warm breeze against your face, peering up towards the lighted fort upon the cliffs in the distance, you can only think of one word – magical. This place is truly magical.


Slumdog Millionaire

Opulent wealth, oppressive poverty. There are few places in the world where opposite ends of the spectrum live in such close proximity. The promise of success and commodity drives millions of Indians to the urban centers every year. Despite a building boom, the crushing influx overwhelms all available housing and services, forcing millions of people into the streets. The lucky ones find shelter in makeshift slums. Constructed of sheet metal, discarded wood, bricks and other building materials, these can reach more than a few precarious stories. The unlucky ones live under increasingly poorly constructed lean-tos, tents, and the most unfortunate just lie prostrate on the street sometimes on a piece of cardboard, sometimes not.

The beggars are everywhere. They are all shapes and sizes, from beautiful bright-eyed children, to the leprosy-ridden disfigured, from the hobbled, to the humbled, to the just plain miserable. The occasional dead body can be seen carted away for rapid cremation. It is everywhere and it is gut-wrenchingly awful.

In Mumbai, brand-new skyscrapers are surrounded by fledgling shantytowns housing the workers and their families only to be displaced to the next locale when the building is finished. A Rolls Royce will roar past a hand drawn cart loaded down with an entire extended family. You can spend more in one night in a hotel than it costs to feed and house that family for a year. It is the dichotomy that amazes.

My husband remarked that things are not so much different in the United States. Spending an evening in the local emergency department will reveal a side of Savannah not often broadcast to the local tourists. Here everything is hushed and hidden from view; in India, everything is right in your face.

There is, however, a feeling of hope in all this hopelessness. Even the poorest and most destitute have some greater salvation. A glancing smile is returned with a head-bobble and an even wider grin. The poverty stricken hinterlands of Rajasthan are alive with an amazing Technicolor of saris. Change is coming, and coming fast and furious. Education is considered a gift not a chore, work is embraced with enthusiasm and gratefulness, nothing is expected, everything is appreciated, and slowly life continues to improve.

Jaipur: Day 2

Today we visit some of the other sites of the city. Well-planned wide boulevards lead to the City Palace still home to the Maharajah of Jaipur. Unless you are Elizabeth Hurley or Bollywood sensations you can only visit, not stay in the Palace. You can, however stay at the Rambagh Palace (A Taj Hotel), or even better, at the Oberoi Rajvilas. I know I keep coming back to these hotels, but they just keep getting better and better. Set on 32 lush acres, this property exudes peaceful luxury. One can wander the property in perfect solitude, marvel at every imaginable bird and plant, green of every possible hue, punctuated by vibrant profuse bursts of colorful flowers. And the sound, silence, save the rustle of leaves or the occasional chirp of a songbird. After the cacophony of street side Jaipur, the silence is palpable. The rooms are, of course, exquisite, the staff, perfect. Not only is the staff at the Taj and Oberoi hotels chosen because of their exceptional education, all are multi-lingual, attentive, humble, gracious, and look like they just walked off the Bollywood silver screen.

Anyway, the Palace is chock full of antiques, jewels, textiles, armaments and other memorabilia of Maharajah life.

Later in the day we continue on to Jantar Mantar, a medieval observatory. Interestingly, this, even today, continues to be quite accurate in astronomical measurements.

This evening we finish the night with some newfound best friends. Dining on the outdoor elevated terrace overlooking the gardens is magical. As dusk beckons, burning wood fires in stone and mortar columns outline the restaurant, local Indian dancers sway to the rhythm of live musicians, and the food and drink flows over the table like a wonderful symphony. Satiated, and completely happy, we finally retire to our room for a sleep even Ambien would be proud of.


Jaipur: The Pink City

I decided from the start of this travel blog not to bore you with historical details. I figure if you are really interested, you can glean further information from numerous books or multiple other websites. The vast breadth of historical information makes touring India like one big museum with endless wings and exhibits. There is something for everyone; from scholars to shoppers, from poets to prophets, this place has it all.

Jaipur, like all “small” cities in India, is far from small. More than 5 million people live here. Considered one of the best-planned cities by most urbanists, this place still can make you feel like a rat in a maze. The town was painted pink to honor the Prince of Wales in 1853 and the tradition still continues.

Today we travel through the Old City, stopping briefly to visit the Hawa Mahal “Palace of Winds”. Fantastical architecturally, this façade served the many Maharajah’s wives shielding them from view, while allowing them to gaze upon the streets below.

Perched upon a rocky promontory overlooking the city is the Amber Fort. A vast imposing, somewhat menacing structure from the outside, the interior is luxuriously ornate. Multiple rooms in the palace are covered in thousands of tiny mirrors forming a kaleidoscope of refracted light. One of the best features of this place is the ability to take an elephant ride up the steep slope, not only saving a few calories, but also giving one an experience not soon forgotten.

This may sound silly, but my husband and I have a thing for riding on local wildlife. If it can be saddled (and sometimes even if it can’t), we have tried to ride it. Horses, donkeys, ostriches, mules, oxen, bison, and camels, even the occasional dolphin, stingray, and other sea critters have been sampled. These elephants come with a driver and a large platform (saddle) that seems to be precariously held in place by festive straps. For you fellow animal lovers, the elephants are treated well and protected by a local animal rights agency. My husband rode elephants in Thailand at the Surin Elephant Festival and thus thought himself an old pro. What a goofball. I still have nightmares of pitching over the parapet while, lets just call him, "retardo', stands up to take a “wait, this will be cool” picture. With the gentle, turbaned elderly driver suddenly shouting obscenities (you didn’t need to understand the local dialect to know these words were not nice), the entire saddle slowly rotated, throwing us all headlong to certain death. Somehow, the driver was able to right the contraption, but by then we had an entire entourage of onlookers laughing, pointing and taking pictures. Always make you feel good when you are surrounded by stunning scenery, breathtaking architecture, and everyone is taking pictures of you.


Fatehpur Sikri

Oh God, its back into the car. The Taj Mahal takes just a couple of hours to peruse, and there is not too much to view in Agra itself other than the Red Fort. With much trepidation we prepare for the 7-hour ride to Jaipur. Its only 232 km (144 miles), but our guide states it will take us the better part of the day. Our salvation is that there is a deserted city about an hour out of Agra to serve as the day’s sight seeing. Built by Emperor Akbar as the capital of his empire, the city had to be abandoned due to lack of potable water.

This place is truly surreal. George Lucas certainly pilfered this as the set to his Star Wars. You can imagine all the strange and twisted characters moving through the passages and congregating on the promenades. Today, however, the hawkers replace them. I’ve got to mention these folks, as they are ubiquitous. They come in all shapes and sizes. The little ones seem to be everywhere. They are too cute to ignore, and feisty, man, with those adorable faces, these kids know their mark. And today their mark is me. Mum, please, mum, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeas. My husband ever the cool traveler, quickly discounted the lot by answering in German. Lo and behold, the entire crew switched to German. Bitte Fraulein, biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite. These guys are good. The whole trip to the entrance is like being a mother hen with your gaggle of chicks in tow. Thankfully we pass through the entrance. Inside peace, solitude, outlandish architecture, and wait, the next hierarchy of hawker – mum, please, mum, a carving? a statue? a wrap? Please mum, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeas. Anyway, it’s kind of annoying but you get used to it. Our guide always carried a large package of candies, which he passed out to the dutiful waiting hands dispersing the congregation with sweets and a smile. The whole process is more of gamesmanship, never threatening, never too much. After awhile, you become used to the onslaught, move on, and enjoy the sights.

There are many roadside stops. Most are indescribably horrible, some are quite good. I remember stopping at one in particular. I could barely make out my husband’s face through the swarm of flies. As I perused the tattered menu, he proceeded to the bathroom. I always make him go first. If he returns “relieved” then I would go. Bathrooms in India are a difficulty for most Westerners. Since there is a lack of plumbing throughout most of the urban centers, you can image the rural world is not much better. He returned from the bathroom pale, diaphoretic, with a look of horror stating, “don’t ask”. After purchasing a bag of chips and a coke we hopped back into the car. We did, however, stop at the Laxmi Vilas Palace. This one was probably the best we encountered on our journey. An old rest stop for the Maharajas and their guests during hunting season, this place is full of old photos and memorabilia of the great tiger hunts. We tried to barter for some of the good stuff, but nothing was to be sold. At least not at the prices we were offerering. After a great meal of various foods we didn’t at all recognize yet tasted great, we continued our journey to Jaipur.

Taj Mahal

There are few places in the world that live up to their legend. This is one that far exceeds its. You can stand directly in front of this monument and still think you are dreaming. There is nothing in the surrounds to detract or distract.. Shah Jehan’s tribute to his wife Mumtaz Mahal cannot be properly described; it is to be experienced.



All right, time to talk about driving in India. Sure there are the Germans with their autobahn, the Italians careening across the Riviera, the French around the Arc, the Egyptians along the Corniche, and the Asians with their motorbikes, scooters, and tuk-tuks; but the Indians, this is taken to a whole different level. This is like playing a real life version of speed-racer. Not only do you try to go as fast as you can, you are driving on a road under constant construction, built for some bygone era, surrounded by livestock, pedestrians, and every imaginable contraption with an engine. Lane markers, signs, and lights are merely decorative. Traffic police, with that deer in headlights please don’t run me over quality, frantically wave and gesture at major intersections. This is not for the faint at heart.

We initially started our journey to Agra clamoring for the front seat – best view, most comfortable position. This rapidly became know as the "most likely place to die in a wreck" seat. Our driver, bless his heart, had nerves of steel, and the inner peace of Buddha. Like sitting in the front row of an IMAX, India came at you, over and around you, faster than you can say "I’m about to throw up my curry chicken". Trucks brightly painted with every imaginable color swarming with passengers packed onto the sides, roof, and hood, lurch aggressively towards you (on the freaking highway, on all the freaking lanes – I mean ALL the lanes), only to swerve at the last moment, escaping sudden death by just the smallest mark of the yardstick. Does it count as a win in the game of chicken if you wet yourself? Each automobile has an elaborate dashboard alter for protection. I think we all secretly added a Ganesh to our driver’s display just to aid our own salvation.
A drive that would normally take 2 hours took almost 5. Exiting the car, we touched Ganesh’s head, kissed the ground, and headed for the bar.

I could write forever just about the hotels of this journey. Magnificent, spectacular, almost ridiculous in opulence, the Maharajas would be proud. I had read about the Taj and Oberoi hotels (I’m a bit of a hotel junkie) before the trip, but you really have to see these places to believe them. No expense is spared. No request too extravagant. And the staff …the staff …impeccable. The Oberoi Amarvilas overlooks the Taj Mahal. We arrived in the early evening with the glorious dome capturing the setting sun. The hotel is positioned so the rooms face this absurdly lavish pool beyond which is a stage with the Taj Mahal as the backdrop. At sunset it’s like one of those bad oil paintings – color too vivid, detail too real – but this actually is real, it’s absolutely breathtaking. Anyway, more on the Taj Mahal tomorrow.

Earlier in the day we stopped at Agra Fort, a huge red sandstone complex with exquisite marble palaces. This place has all sorts of nooks and crannies that are usually closed off to tourists. This is one place where a good guide and some well placed rupees turns wow into WOW!



By far, the best, easiest way to travel within India is by air (more on other modes of travel later). Its interesting, no matter where in the world you travel, however exotic the locale, the airports are all the same (there is definitely something to be said about structure and familiarity when is comes to flying). The flight to Delhi (about 90 minutes) is fast, efficient, and very safe.

After the frenetic chaos of Mumbai, the structure and order of New Delhi is like a breath of fresh British colonial air. Broad, leafy, tree-lined boulevards, massive parliament buildings, and awe-inspiring architecture, this city definitely has a European feel. Of course, even Sir Edwin Lutyens couldn’t begin to affect a change to ancient Old Delhi, still a labyrinth of passages that would make even Sherlock Holmes sweaty and confused.



After a seemingly endless flight from Atlanta (16 hours) we touch down in Mumbai. Nothing like watching three movies, having three meals, multiple drinks, and a couple of fitful naps to start your trip out in a cool semi-haze. As soon as you step off the aircraft, the change is palpable, Dorothy, we are not in Savannah anymore.

People, people, people, everywhere, throngs, masses of humanity; it is overwhelming. About 19 million people reside in the metropolitan area, and once the sun goes down, the masses emerge. We exit the airport into the semi-ordered chaos (somehow everything just seems to work), bombarded from every side with sounds, and especially smells (sort of a combination of perspiration, incense, and manure – horrible yet strangely pleasing!)

Thankfully, our driver with the keen eye, spots the obviously out of place tourists, snatches up our bags, and pushes his way, us in tow, towards the waiting car. What follows is a nearly endless drive through a warped weird wonderland. First decrepit and seedy, then increasingly upscale, minute passageways give way to larger roads and finally impressive boulevards.

We arrive at the Hotel exhilarated and exhausted. Greeted by impeccably dressed guards and hotel staff, we are ushered into an exquisite marble antechamber, the silent, calm especially perceptible after the whirlwind just outside. Escorted to our room we collapse in luxurious comfort.

Morning in Mumbai. First look out the window. Wow! The hotel sits directly overlooking the Bay and the fabulous Gateway to India. Boats of all shapes and sizes dot the water; the town is already abuzz with activity. After a leisurely breakfast, with much anticipation, we leave the quiet solitude of luxury and boldly begin our exploration.

Mumbai is huge. Let me say this again. Mumbai is massive, immense, or just plain big.
Again, our senses are pummeled with sights, sounds, even tastes? We begin our journey in the Chor bazaar (thieves market). I think I have died and gone to brick and brack heaven. Everything you could want and more is displayed in a multitude of shops, with street vendors piled one upon another, everything for sale, everything for any price. Let the onslaught begin. Salespeople clamor for your attention, beggars pleads for your spare change, and the cutest little children try to appeal to your inner parent, all really only interested in “what’s in your wallet?”.

Jet lag only adds to the experience. Battered old building, decaying Victoria mansions, the remains of the British Raj coalesce with the soaring new high-rises and the ubiquitous shantytowns. This city is like an unrepentant lover, aggressive, assaultive, unforgiving, and yet totally satisfying.

We return to the hotel, briefly glance at the uber-elegant pool, and collapse exhausted and contented in bed. Tomorrow we fly.


India: The Intinerary

The first thing you have to realize is that India is massive. I remember my travel agent looking at my initially proposed itinerary stating “I hope you have a few months, because even with that, you will be on the road every day”. He likened it to an Indian visitor to the United States landing in New York, then traveling to Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Aspen, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Seattle, ending with a quick jaunt to peer over at the Grand Canyon before heading home. As such, our initial foray to India included some of the most traveled sites highlighting, of course, the best shopping locations.

Day 1 Arrive Mumbai
On arrival at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, you clear Indian Immigration and after collecting your checked-in baggage, proceed through Customs and out into the meeting area outside the arrival terminal. In the meeting area you are met by your travel representative who will transfer you to the hotel where your room is booked for two nights.

(The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Palace Wing Luxury Grande Sea View Room)

Day 2 Mumbai

Day 3 Mumbai to Delhi (Jet Airways)
On arrival at Delhi airport a travel staff member will be there to meet and assist you. He will have a car ready to transfer you to the hotel where your room is booked for one night.
In the afternoon you tour the Humayun’s Tomb built in the 16th century by the wife of Humayun, the second Mughal Emperor – a squat building, lighted by high arched entrances, topped by an enormous dome and surrounded by formal gardens, this is architecturally one of the forerunners of the Taj Mahal.
You also visit the Qutab Minar, built in the 12th century and one of the tallest towers of that time, characterized by a combination of Hindu and Muslim designs.
Later towards the evening, drive past the government buildings designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker during the early 20th century – the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the erstwhile Viceroy’s Palace and now the official residence of the President of India; the circular Parliament House; down Rajpath, the broad avenue which is the main artery of Lutyen’s Delhi, past the Secretariat buildings, topped with chhatris (domes); on to the imposing India Gate, the 42 meter high stone arch of triumph that bears the names of 85,000 Indian soldiers who died in the campaigns of World War I, the North-West Frontier operations and the 1919 Afghan fiasco.

(The Taj Mahal Hotel Club Room)

Day 4 Delhi to Agra
Early this morning you check out and drive Delhi-Agra (210 km)

Entering Agra, visit the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, considered to be yet another one of the forerunners of the Taj Mahal
On arrival in Agra in the early afternoon you check in at the hotel and straight away proceed on a tour of Agra Fort, a huge complex constructed out of red sandstone, and view its exquisite marble palaces; testimony to the power and artistic sense of successive Mughal emperors, Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(Oberoi Amarvilas)

Day 5 Agra to Jaipur
Waking up early in the morning, you visit the Taj Mahal, the superlative expression of Emperor Shah Jehan’s undying love for his queen in order to see the monument in the soft light of sunrise.
Return to the hotel for breakfast and checkout, you drive Agra-Jaipur (232 km) later in the day, stopping by en route to visit the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri. Here you can discern interesting facets of everyday life at the Mughal court in the 16th century. Built by Emperor Akbar as the capital of his empire, the city had to be abandoned due to lack of potable water – some of its structure her still remain in a remarkable state of preservation.
You may wish to take a brief stop for lunch at either the Laxmi Vilas Palace, Bharatpur, or at one of the numerous other similar facilities along the highway.
Continue on to Jaipur, you arrive in the early evening where you room is reserved for three nights.

(Oberoi Rajvilas)

Day 6 Jaipur
Early in the morning, drive through the Old City, stopping briefly to photograph the Hawa Mahal or ‘palace of winds’, before preoceeding to tour the Amber Fort that dominates the rocky hills surrounding Jaipur and guards one of the many defiles that lead to the city. Once the capital of the Rajput rulers of this area, the fortress is riddled with narrow passages and alleyways; there are magnificent halls with mirror work embedded in the ceiling and colorful painting on the walls.
Elephant back rides to the top of the fort ramparts is still a popular way to travel, but this has recently become a subject of much debate, and a very early start to the day’s activities is recommended in case you wish to use this option.

(Oberoi Rajvilas)

Day 7 Jaipur
In the morning you visit the City Palace and wander through the vast courtyards around which are clusters of museums housing rare collections of textiles, carpets, paintings and antique weapons of war. Continue on to Jantar Mantar, a medieval observatory with curiously shaped and oversized instruments that even today, are astonishingly accurate in their astronomical measurements.

(Oberoi Rajvilas)

Day 8 Jaipur to Jodhpur
Early in the morning you check out at the hotel and drive Jaipur-Jodhpur (295km)

Arriving in Jodhpur in the early evening you stay is booked for two nights.

(Umaid Bhawan Palace)

Day 9 Jodhpur
In the morning you tour the 15th century town set on the fringe of the Thar Desert and dominated by the gigantic Mehrangarh Fort. Entering the fort through a series of impressive gateways, visit its museums which exhibit an outstanding collection of the Jodhpur royal family’s memorabilia – jewelry, miniature paintings, portraits, armaments, elephant saddles, royal cradles and festive tents – time permitting, return to the hotel after visiting Jaswant Thada, the royal cenotaph.

(Umaid Bhawan Palace)

Day 10 Jodhpur to Udaipur (Alliance Air)
Your travel representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel where your room is confirmed for three nights.
(Oberoi Udaivilas)

Day 11 Udaipur

In the morning visit the Udaipur City Palace, actually a series of interconnected palaces massed into an impressive whole, with ground level and rooftop courtyards and gardens, a stunning peacock mosaic on one of the upper floors and grand views overlooking the lake – time permitting also visit the Sahelion-ki-Bari, the private royal gardens.

(Oberoi Udaivilas)

Day 12 Udaipur
In the morning you set out on a full day excursion to Ranakpur (90 km) to visit some of the most important Jain temples in India. The extremely beautiful Ranakpur complex lies in a remote and peaceful valley of the Aravali Range. The main temple in the 15th century complex is the Chaumukha, or four-faced temple, dedicated to Adinath, the first tirthankara. This beautifully crafted marble temple has 29 halls supported by 1444 intricately carved pillars, no two alike.

(Oberoi Udaivilas)

Day 13 Depart Udaipur to Mumbai (Jet Airways)
Early this morning our local representative will be at the hotel to assist you with checkout, after which he will transfer you to Udaipur airport for the flight to Mumbai

(Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Palace Wing Luxury Grande Sea View Rooms)

Day 14 Mumbai

Day 15 Home



Nothing like forced bed rest to make one aware of the caducity of life. While recovering from a recent surgery, I finally had time to do all those things I have, for months, left on the back burner. I have also decided that I am not a “sitter”. I can’t sit still. I can only read, watch TV, troll the Internet for so long and then I go stir crazy. I’m a “do-er”. I would make the worst housewife. I’d be one of those who, midday, can be found strolling through the back garden in a rumpled robe, martini in one hand, upper in the other, of course with perfect hair and makeup, and a killer ass from having all the time in the world to work out.

Anyway, since I wasn’t supposed to lift heavy, move too much, or stay on my feet too long, I decided to help my poor newly designated “house-husband” with the chores by cleaning off my computer desktop. Whew, I’m exhausted. I did, however, come across some old picture files of past travels. I started this blog after our trip to India, so I never was able to share the experience. After the horrible recent events in Mumbai, this is probably more important that ever. Don’t let one isolated incident dissuade any intent to travel to this intoxicating destination. This is the perfect time to travel to India. Stay tuned. Over the next week I will give you a sampling of our trip. So put on your best Sari, pour yourself a warm cup of chai, and curl up to your camel. We are going on an adventure.


Let me call you Sweetheart

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleam'd upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.

I saw her upon nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly plann'd,
To warm, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of angelic light.

William Wordsworth's "Perfect Woman", for
my perfect wife. Happy Valentines Day.