India is, without question, the most bonkers and most vibrant country in Asia. Everything about it is truly amazing. The sights, colours, smells, culture, people, wildlife… the list is endless. A luxury India holiday with Yonder truly is an assault on your senses of the best possible kind.
This is a country overflowing with culture, history, beautiful landscapes and senses tickling situations that will leave you feeling gloriously overwhelmed. Luxury India tours with Yonder provide a spectacular diversity that cannot easily be comprehended before you’ve visited. Some things in life have to be experienced to be believed.
If you do India properly, especially in carefully crafted, bite-sized chunks created for you in a luxury India holiday from Yonder, you’ll be left with memories sweeter than that omnipresent Indian dessert Gulab Jamun.
Chaos and confusion runs hand in hand with the sophistication of the world’s largest democracy. But don’t let this be a source of anxiety. Thanks to Yonder’s brilliant Escapologists, you’ll see the chaos on your luxury India tour but not experience it. You’ll revel in the highs and will also be pleased you’ve seen the lows. For it all comes together to form the rich tapestry that is India.
Despite what some people say… size really does matter. And India is huge. To claim to fully know it would be like claiming to remember every position in the the Karma Sutra, that well known Indian classic for contortionists. To our minds, well nigh impossible.
Therefore, we make a less audacious claim. We believe that for Yonder’s luxury India holidays we have selected the very best experiences in northern India, especially Rajasthan, and have particular inside knowledge in the little-known and rather mysterious Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
So let’s turn first to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The former seat of the British Raj in all of its elegance and finery and a perfect setting for a luxury holiday in India. Home of the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The great bastion of the Maharajas showcasing their dazzling palaces.
This is the India of your imagination made real, alive with noise, spice, heat and colour. But also blessed with profound tranquility. We have uncovered hotels so spectacular a shiver will run down your spine. From the shimmering Lake Palace in the city of love, Udaipur, where James Bond’s Octopussy was filmed, to secretive hilltop forts oozing privacy and excess. Throw in other fabulous palaces now operating as superlative hotels, luxury boutique hotels in rural retreats and exquisite tented camps deep in tiger reserves that are of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book made real … and one can’t help but wonder whether this is the most amazing place on earth.
If you only do three things in India…
- What visit would be complete without gawping at the Taj Mahal? It is more spectacular in real life than any photo. And catch it in the right light, usually early in the morning, and it really does glow.
- Udaipur is a city that will melt your heart. Not only is it the city of love, but it is so royal that the Maharana sits above the Maharajas of other cities. And he has a palace to match his status!
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the ultimate place to escape modern life. There is huge satisfaction in arriving at the island of idyllic Havelock knowing your phone won’t work and the outside world can’t get a look in to hassle you.
Now let’s switch landscapes. Jump on a three-hour flight and head east across the Bay of Bengal almost to the Thai-Myanmar border to the most stunning archipelago you’ve ever seen. In fact, here you’ll find the best beaches in Asia, according to Time Magazine. This is the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Governed by India, few have heard of them. Even fewer have visited them. But for the intrepid, and for those wanting the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience, the Andamans offer a superlative beach holiday off the beaten track.India is a constant journey of discovery.
No two visits are every the same; this is why we go time and time again. And on the road less travelled, there are jewels so brilliant that we can scarcely believe they still remain largely undiscovered. Seeing wild tigers and leopards, saying in the most ornate palaces which are largely deserted and finding beaches where you can walk for kilometres without seeing a soul. This is true Yonder country. This is true luxury travel in India. his is Yonder’s India…
Thoughts on a postcard
The colours, smells, culture and people are intoxicating. We are cocooned in luxury when in our hotels, when at the magnificent cultural sites, we are overawed, and when in the hustle and bustle, we haggle like the locals.
India Holidays : OUR FAVOURITE PLACESAndaman and Nicobar Islands / Ranthambore National Park / Jaipur / Jodhpur / Udaipur / Agra / Delhi / Chennai / Ajabgarh / Nagaur / Narlai /
India Holidays : The map
Our Escapologists only recommend hand-picked, delectable properties we have sampled and savoured ourselves. We judge all our hotels by their excellence, the sheer hedonistic pleasures they have to offer. And we reject a lot that don’t meet our exacting standards.
Some of our selections are classics, with reputations recognised the world over. Others are discoveries: boutique havens where hospitality, relaxation and fine cuisine have been distilled into a rare art form. You’ll find a few options for the budget conscious too, where Yonder’s principles are still to the fore. And for those who just need an airport stopover on their way to paradise, there’s one or two convenience choices, too.
We provide in-depth descriptions of every property, based upon our own experiences there, along with our unique Yonder rating and icons that will give you further insights into what’s on offer. We even tell you the types of clientele you might soon be rubbing shoulders with!
Now that’s choosing a hotel Yonder style!
In each of Yonder’s main destinations, we have selected a range of highlights you might like to include in your personalised Yonder trip.
Whether they are fabled regions, resorts or cities, single destinations or entire itineraries, these are the Yonder ingredients we know will help you begin to piece together the ideal trip…
A far-flung Andaman and Nicobar holiday is without doubt amongst Yonder’s greatest treasures. The islands are about as far down the road less travelled as you can get. In fact, from India, you’ll need a three-hour flight and then a two-hour boat ride to reach your Andaman island hotels beside a pristine Robinson Crusoe beach. But, boy, is it worth it.
- Visit the Cellular Jail in Port Blair. The small museum is fascinating and gives a very indian perspective of the horrors endured by many political prisoners during the British Raj.
- Walk the full length of the compacted white sand on Beach No 7. A selfie here will be an instagram like-magnet.
- Forget the outside world. Being disconnected is such a rare treat. Embrace it.
Step into Ranthambore national park on a safari holiday with Yonder and you will think you’ve stepped into Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. It’s that magical. In fact, Ranthambore national park has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.
- Tiger, tiger tiger. Fingers crossed you’ll have luck on your side when out on safari.
- Try to make time to get to the Women’s Cooperative, among the places to visit near Ranthambore national park. It’s a great local cause and the handicrafts are genuinely beautiful.
- Take a moment just to absorb the sheer beauty of the park. Tigers are exciting but the spectacular scenery is amazing in itself.
Enthralling and historical, Jaipur, the Pink City, occupies a special position in popular folklore. As the capital of flamboyant Rajasthan, it conjures up images of Maharaja’s palaces, hilltop forts and a noble people. And it does not disappoint.
- Kill two birds with one stone and amble round the City Palace, finishing up with a pose in front of the Hawa Mahal.
- Climb the steps up to the Sheesh Mahal, or the Palace of Mirrors, in the Amber Fort. It’s finely decorated with thousands of mosaic mirrors to create the most spectacular illusions.
- Go to Jantar Mantar to set your watch by one of the world’s largest sundial (its 27 metres tall!). You’ll actually see the shadow move 1mm every second.
Jodhpur, capital of the the kingdom of Marwar, encapsulates everything that is so brilliant about Rajasthan. Its has the beautifully preserved Mehrangarh Fort built in 1460, a magnificent sight and an architectural triumph.
- Explore the old city on foot. It’s compact, the people are friendly and you don’t need a guide. You’ll notice within a couple of streets how different trades are plied each within its own small area.
- If you get peckish, head to the samosa shop, just outside the main city gate which is famous across Rajasthan for its freshly prepared little parcels of heaven.
- Ensure you have enough time to really absorb the brilliant museum and rooms at Mehrangarh Fort. You won’t be disappointed.
Udaipur: the City of Love. In the minds of many, it is the most beautiful destination in Rajasthan if not in the whole of India. The city’s amazing palaces, temples, havelis and narrow, colourful streets are set beside Lake Pichola, a heart-achingly romantic, with the wooded Aravalli Hills on all sides.
- Get out onto Lake Pichola at sunset. The view of Udaipur from the water is spine-tingling.
- It’s the City of Love. Take time just to hold hands and wander through the old streets and absorb the mesmerising sounds and smells of this stunningly beautiful city.
- Find your way to the top of the City Palace and look out over the city through the highest windows, spectacularly framed with colour stained glass.
The Taj Mahal. It dominates everything that is ever said about a holiday in Agra. And as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, its reputation speaks for itself. But whilst the Taj Mahal is unquestionably magnificent, the greater Agra area is also home to two other gems: The Agra Fort and the ancient ruins of the sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri.
- Leap excitedly out of bed and go to the Taj Mahal at sunrise to see this magical building glow.
- Walk to the top of the Agra Fort and find the carved hanging window which provides the perfect view of the Taj Mahal and the Yamuna river.
- Sit cross legged on the sandstone floor at Fatehpur Sikri in front of the Fort’s Diwan-i-Khas, the Emperor’s private audience hall, and imagine the scene 500 years ago.
If India had to be symbolised by just one place, it would have to be the capital city of Delhi, City of Djinns, and 25 million people. Magical, mysterious, mayhemic, it is the embodiment of everything that is amazing about India. And Yonder is your ideal guide to the best hotels in Delhi.
- Take a deep breath and dive into Chandni Chowk in the shadows of the Red Fort. It’s one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi. This is the real India.
- Cram in an actioned packed day of Delhi’s must-see sights. They are a snapshot on an historic country.
- Take a train from one of Delhi’s main stations. There’s no better way to see Rajasthan unfold than by gazing out from a railway carriage, refreshed by the chai-wallah passing through with an urn of hot, sweet tea.
Chennai can easily be one of those place you just glimpse between flights on your Indian holiday adventure. But you will be rewarded if you take it in and experience the modern metropolis that was the first British settlement in India in 1640.
- Make time for the Government Museum. It is impressive from the outside and no less so from the inside, with wonderfully curated collections throughout the ages…
- Navigate through the traffic to Mylapore, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Chennai, to see Kapaleeshwarar Temple. It is a classic Hindu explosion of colour and stucco figures on a 120ft gateway tower.
- Fort St George, built in 1644, was first British fortress in India. Go for a stroll around the complex of buildings and discover Clive House, named after Clive of India.
The tiny rural village of Ajabgarh is approximately 100kms to the north-east of Jaipur and is nestled in the world's oldest mountain range, the Aravelli Hills. It's so small it's almost not on the map. You’ll find little information about it trawling through Google. So isn’t it all the more intriguing that one of the finest luxury hotels in India have chosen it for their base?
- Discover your inner yogi with an early morning session at the atmospheric Bhangarh fort, sister fort to Ajabgarh.
- Experience the great outdoors. This is a rural Rajasthani village in which time has stood still so go out and explore.
- Go on an early evening walk past the Hindu temple and listen to the tiny bells being rung in all of the shrines.
Nagur is a town of two halves: the old and the new. Like many Indian towns, the new part is teeming with daily life but doesn’t offer too much to the traveller thirsting for cultural adventure. It is the old part, the 12th Century Ahhichatragarh Fort, that gets the heart pumping and sets your mind imagining the extraordinary people and scenes that have gone before you. And to take away any stress, Yonder has selected the perfect Nagaur hotel for you.
- Marvel at the intricately detailed frescoes on the walls and ceilings of the old palace.
- Get up onto the ramparts to discover the secret irrigation system that kept the fountains flowing and brought drinking water into the fort.
- Visit the royal baths to see how the ancient emperors enjoyed a life of luxury with hot water.
The beautiful 15th Century village of Narlai is a long way down the road less travelled, situated almost equidistant from Jodhpur and Udaipur. It's not the kind of place that the mainstream visit; it's for those inquisitive – and discerning – travelers who really want to understand a country and get under its skin.
- Wander around the village to see the thousands of Hindu and Jain shrines first-hand.
- Set your alarm clock for 6am, grab a cup of coffee, and march up to the top of Elephant Rock for a spectacular sunrise.
- Take a jeep (with a driver of course) from the hotel and have a sumptuous tea by the lake watching the hundreds of birds come and go.
Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations.
Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are. But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore how any one of these ideas might be adapted to create your own perfect journey Yonder.
Chat to one of our Escapologists about the offers currently available
Notes In Our Journal
Here is the second part of our blog on Rajasthan’s spectacular hilltop palaces.
The splendours of Rajasthan are a legacy of its position at the heart of the great historic trades in gems, silk and spices.
Out with the old and in with the new. A Yonder Escapologist recasts a familiar phrase.
What's the dress code? Is it safari chic? Or perhaps safari practical?