Chris Ellis is Explore Tailormade's Regional Specialist for Asia. He is currently on the road in India checking out the country and what it has to offer for a Tailormade holiday.
"As I left the plane at New Delhi Airport, I was thinking about the preconceptions I’d formed about India – the vibrant colours, exotic smells, the hustle and bustle, and of course the friendly people. Once I’d passed through customs and stepped my first foot on Indian soil, I realised I wasn’t far off the mark! We drove from the outskirts of the city into the bustling centre, with my senses on overload already. Dodging cows in the middle of the road, I saw street vendors setting up with their morning offerings, monkeys eyeing up their food, children riding to school and lots of people everywhere.
After experiencing the hustle and bustle of Delhi, it was time to head for the calmer climes of Madhya Pradesh and Kanha National Park. Here I saw a totally different side of India - the rural village life where agriculture is still the main industry. I was treated to a game drive the next morning in the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ – Kanha. What a beautiful place! Green grasslands, beautiful lakes, tall trees and thick forests, all home to a whole host of animals – deer, mongoose, chipmunks, leopard and of course, the Bengal tiger.
After game drives in Kanha and Bandhavgarh it was time to catch the overnight train to Agra. WOW – what an experience! We had a reservation in a two-tier A/C sleeper and I was soon the subject of interest to nearby passengers. People came up and chatted to us freely; it was so refreshing to meet such genuinely friendly people. After some great interaction with locals, it was time to bed down for the evening, which was surprisingly comfortable.
We arrived in Agra with some time to freshen up before heading out to visit the Taj Mahal. Nothing quite prepared me for the beauty of this sight. It sits in lush gardens and its bright white marble was gleaming in the midday sun. Its beauty was complimented by the story of the Taj, delivered by an expert local guide who had been guiding here for nearly 40 years. He knew all the areas for the best shots and the unknown corners, allowing me to get some fantastic photos.
After Agra we headed out into rural Rajasthan and the town of Karauli. When we arrived at the accommodation for the night I learned I was in for a treat. We were staying in the palace of the Maharaja of Karauli. Built over 100 years ago, this beautiful building is littered with history, memorabilia, paintings and pictures of a bygone era of Maharajas. A further treat was in store; that evening we shared dinner with the Maharaja and his family, allowing us a rare insight into the Maharajas lifestyle, history and culture. Fantastic food and even better company!
Next, we snaked through rural village communities and onto the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur – the pink city. The whole city was painted pink by Maharaja Ram Singh to welcome the Prince of Wales on a visit back in 1876. An incredibly colourful place, the dusky pinks of the buildings contrast sharply with the brightly coloured turbans and saris weaving through the markets. This morning I paid a visit to the Amber Fort, a beautiful palace set high up on the hill top over looking the old town of Amber, before heading onto the city palace. This palace is currently the residence of Jaipur’s current king - at the grand age of 14 years old! Jaipur has so many sights, shops and surprises around every corner there is sure to be something here for everyone."
Chris will be back from India and in the office shortly so if you'd like to chat to him about a tailor-made holiday in India or elsewhere in Asia call him on 0844 875 1890.