This week’s virtual journey will take you to India’s cultural heart, Rajasthan, where you’ll get lost in the magic of this enchanting state’s diverse history, rich heritage, iconic architecture and striking landscapes. Discover the true majesty of the destination—from Old Delhi’s lively streets to the romantic palaces of the Pink City of Jaipur, Jodhpur’s charming blue houses to the rugged sand dunes of the Thar desert. Finally, spend your last nights floating on Udaipur’s glittering Lake Pichola: a real-life fairy-tale.
Find the full itinerary here.
What to eat and drink
After a stopover in Delhi, you’ll spend two nights at Alila Fort Bishangarh, a former 18th-century fort perched high in the Aravalli mountains on the edge of Jaipur. Transformed into a beautiful boutique hotel, it is the perfect base from which to explore nearby Amber Fort. Visit rural village Bishangarh to meet local artisans, go horseback riding in the dunes or cook with locals. Then, why not sip on a soul-warming chai tea as you enjoy blissful sunset views over the secluded hillside?
What to watch
LionBased on his autobiographical novel, Lion tells Saroo Brierley’s life story. After accompanying his older brother on a trip outside of his rural village—the only place he knows—five-year-old Indian boy Saroo accidentally finds himself hundreds of miles from home. Unable to find his way back, Saroo is forced to survive on the streets, frequently escaping danger before eventually being taken to an orphanage and adopted by a loving Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, Saroo sets out to search for the family he unwittingly left behind.
The Best Exotic Marigold HotelSeven British pensioners find themselves at the rundown Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, having seen it advertised as an exotic and luxurious retirement home. The glowing potential seems to be a mere fantasy created by the hotel’s young manager, so the group is forced to navigate their disappointment and the inadequacies of the hotel whilst learning to live in an unfamiliar culture. Soon though, they become enchanted by their unexpected surroundings and find that if you let go of the past, you can discover new life and new loves. A heart-warming and humorous story with a star-studded cast.
The Darjeeling LimitedThree brothers with a turbulent relationship take a train trip together across India, in an attempt to rebuilt their familial bond after the accidental death of their father. Their dramatic experiences together help them transition from being argumentative and resentful to wanting to work together to resolve their past issues. All of this is set against a backdrop of the beauty of India and its people. Wonderfully eccentric, and as quirky and colourful as you'd expect a Wes Anderson film to be.
A Passage To India by E.M. ForsterThis novel is based on Forster’s own experiences in India of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. When Adela Quested and her elderly travel companion Mrs Moore journey to the Indian town of Chandrapore, they are instantly aware of the narrow-minded Anglo-Indian influence within society and as a result, they are not experiencing ‘true’ India. They enlist a well-respected local physician, Dr Aziz, to help them discover the real country. However, this leads to a misunderstanding during a tour he organises to the Marabar Caves that ends up embroiling Dr Aziz in scandal. A tale that raises tensions between race, class and privilege in India’s colonial era.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton MistrySet in India in 1975, A Fine Balance is the story of four strangers who are unexpectedly thrown together when the government declares a ‘State of Emergency’ as a consequence of political unrest. Widowed Dina Dalal takes in a young student and two tailors who have been uprooted from their homes into her tiny, rundown apartment. Together they struggle through their new shared life, initially mistrusting each other but eventually becoming a family of sorts despite their differences in class, background and religion. A book that shows human heart and spirit amidst cruelty and corruption.
Shantaram by Gregory David RobertsThis epic novel tells the story of Australian ex-con and former heroin addict, Lin, who having escaped from prison in his home country, flees to India on a fake passport. Lin’s Indian reinvention involves living in one of Mumbai’s poorest slums where he starts a free health clinic, a stint in the Bollywood film industry, unrequited love, fighting in a war that is not his own and joining the Bombay mafia whose boss Khader Khan becomes his mentor and spiritual guru. Based on the author’s personal encounter with the underworld of Mumbai, Shantaram offers a fascinating portrayal of an India that’s simultaneously seductive and chaotic, and the mesmerising journey the protagonist takes within it.
What to listen to
A.R. Rahman – Score for Slumdog MillionaireOne of India’s most eminent contemporary musicians, A.R. Rahman has composed songs, jingles and scores for many Indian films and television programmes along with several personal albums. Though internationally famous before, he is best known for composing the score of Danny Boyle’s 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire for which he won two Academy Awards.
Pandit Ravi Shankar – Music of IndiaRavi Shankar is a prolific Bengali musician who popularised Indian music around the world with his hauntingly beautiful melodies. A master of the art of sitar playing, he taught The Beatles’ guitarist George Harrison how to play, and has influenced many other musicians of all genres from across the globe.
Panjabi MC – The RajAnglo-Indian music producer, artist and DJ, Rajinder Singh Rai, better known by stage name Panjabi MC, has made his name paying tribute to his Punjabi roots through his music, modernising traditional bhangra by mixing it with elements of garage, hip hop and electronic sounds. His 1998 hit song Mundian to Bach Ke was a global hit, endorsed by Jay-Z. His signature combination of authentic Indian beats with mainstream music is prevalent in his 10th studio album, The Raj.
Learn something new
Luxury destination spa and wellness retreat, Ananda, is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. For the time being, they are offering a selection of their lauded wellbeing sessions virtually—discover their approach to yoga, meditation and mindfulness on their Instagram. Follow them @anandainthehimalayas to experience a multi-award-winning wellness experience from your own home.
For more information about this journey or to plan other future adventures, please contact Quintessentially Travel.