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A spectacular experience. Not for everybody. But for some, it's the ultimate.

rishikesh

 

From my India Blog | April - May 2013

Part One. Delhi | I arrived in Delhi in the wee hours this Sunday morning and have had 2 days of good exploration. Including layover time it was 26 hours from San Francisco – nonstop to Shanghai and onto Delhi. China Eastern was respectable and both aircraft were new Airbus 330s. Did not like their terminal in Shanghai (I’ve seen a lot better at almost any American airport) – a transfer anywhere else would likely have been better.

The interior of Delhi’s 2 year old airport, from what I saw, is an artistic stunner including an entire wall sculpture most definitely Indian.

I’m on an organized tour for luxury travel advisors sponsored by Peirce & Leslie and the six of us have 12 days to visit Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and Varanasi.  I just learned yesterday that a city ending with “pur” designates a Hindu city versus ‘bad” i.e. Hyderabad, as Muslim.

Our hotel in Delhi is The Lodhi, until earlier this year part of Aman. To continue reading click here.

Part Two. Agra and Taj Mahal | It was about a 3 hour drive to Agra on a major highway, first passing by the construction of a major city. I’ve never seen an entire city under construction.   The topography was dry and rural with scattered villages, mud huts and concrete settlements. The arrival in Agra was more “organized chaos” as often describes India.  I’d say it was an awful place except for maybe the top hotels, Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal – but hate to sound too negative.

Despite being an awful city, the Taj as locals call it, is probably the most awe inspiring building I’ve ever seen. Hate to admit it probably trumps my beloved Duomo in Florence or the Golden Gate Bridge. Take a look at my pictures which I hope present a different view of it than you might be used to seeing. But photos won’t it justice so you’ll have to go there. I won’t even attempt to describe my reaction either to the play of light on the building at various times.  Remember, Delhi is a nonstop flight away from New York or Chicago.  Oh, we did see scavenging cows and playful monkeys on the street as we approached for our morning visit.  To continue reading click here.





Varanasi on the Ganges

For more photos of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Varanasi and Rishikesh, click here

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Part 3. Rajasthan and Jaipur | The drive from Agra took a few hours and headed south into the Rajasthan desert. The highway was a mix of busy 2 lane roads and 4 lane highway, each of which went through towns and villages — there are no exits (or entrances) in India. You just kind of pull over when you need to. Or are forced to because a cow happens to be walking in the fast lane. No joke.

By now (at the end of my 2nd day here, I’ve been here 24 hours) cows milling about, dogs scavenging and camels pulling carts is not a big surprise — although the camels are much rarer than the others, and are way cooler. Saw my first two pigs today, too. They were in front of a slum on the edge of Jaipur. I expect to see elephants tonight as part of an effort to help them from abuse.

Yesterday and today I was very lucky to have had a private guide (today two) to walk me through the local markets. Peirce and Leslie, our partner in India, is amazing. They have gone so much above and beyond what I’ve ever experienced while traveling – and as you all know that’s a lot. Overall the hospitality we’ve been shown by them and by the hotels has been nothing short of perfection. To continue reading click here.


For Part 4 | Rishikesh Ananda Spa and the Himalaya, click here.