Old desert caravans carried goods eastward from the Himalayas through an historic Mughal empire landscape.
Where the Macedonians marched, the Guptas ruled, and the British raj fled to escape New Delhi’s oppressive summer heat. The Himalayan foothills of northeastern India have terraced hillsides carved out of dense forests; its upper regions are mighty and snowcapped.
Narendra Nagar, Tehri Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh, India
Turn of the century palace built by the Maharajah of Tehri Garhwal and used by the British viceroy as an escape from the summer heat, dust and noise of New Delhi. Now expanded into a spa retreat offering austere luxury and a place to meditate and practice Ayurveda and yoga in the land where it first began. Ananda overlooks the Ganges River, 3,280 feet below.
Shimla, the beautiful capital of Himachal Pradesh, was once the British Raj’s summer capital. It was Shimla where Rudyard Kipling wrote and Nehru and Gandhi plotted independence. Today the “Queen of the Hill Stations” still has remnants of this time. The Oberoi Group has several fine hotels here but to experience an authentic Raj experience, stay at Chapslee, former summer home of a Rajahand now operated by his grandson as a hotel.
Stay in luxury suites with four poster beds and teak club chairs. With breathtaking views of the Kanchenjunga Mountain Range, Glenburn stretches from an elevation of 3,700 feet down into a Himalayan river valley in the heart of Darjeeling tea country. Originally a 19th century British planter’s house and estate, Glenburn has been meticulously restored by one of India’s pioneering tea families, the Prakashes, who now own it.
17th and 18th century Mughal Emperors made Agra the capital of India. The area contains superb Mughal monuments, including the magnificent Agra Fort. It also the “most extravagant monument ever built for love”, India’s Taj Mahal, one of the most romantic places in the world. Located in central Northern India.
Grand palaces and majestic forts along northwest India’s ancient silk route and its Mughul-ruled lands. Stay in a thakur’s (a gentleman land-owner, the equivalent of an English lord) home, now open to paying guests.
Nr. Jodhpur, District Pali, Rajasthan, India
A palace fortress, immensely old and having seen grander days, today a fully staffed home of a thakur couple, descendants of the first thakur to own the palace. Old photographs of tiger shoots and bejeweled maharajas usher you into the fairy-tale world of pre-independence days.
Enormous suites in this newly built palatial fortress hotel located one hour south of Jodhpur. They stable Marwai horses and provide guide-led safaris through the desert to nearby tribal villages. Camel rides too.
Ranthambhore Rd., Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, India
India’s first jungle resort is located near the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve—formerly the private hunting grounds of the maharahajs of Jaipur—and now one of the best places on earth to view tigers in the wild. The luxury tents are decorated with breezy sari fabrics, Burmese teak furniture and tiger-striped carpets.
The land of surf, spices and coconuts, Kerala is located on a sliver of land between the blue Adriatic Sea and the dramatic Western Ghats mountains on India’s southernmost tip. Kerala is a popular destination with Europeans seeking Ayurvedic de-toxing treatments.
Kumarakom, Kottayam, Kerala, India
Guests stay in tharawads (traditional wooden cottages) and travel by kettu-vallam (rice boat) in this tropical region of inland waterways, rivers, and lakes.
India’s west coast has beaches, Portuguese history and architecture, and a decades-old reputation as an alluring anything-goes party destination. Avoid the overdeveloped southern beach areas filled with hotels and package tourists and go up river and north.
Near Asvem, Goa
Secret beachside setting on a private ten acre spit of land located between the Arabian Sea and a creek. Originally a 19th century family’s summertime retreat the current descendant – a well known fashion photographer – has opened it up to paying guests.
These 572 islands are located in the Bay of Bengal and form the western perimeter of the Andaman Sea. While the eastern fringes of the Andaman Sea are famous for the upscale beach resort islands of Phuket and Langkawi, the Andaman Islands still retain the original wild and untamed character of this pocket of South East Asia. Only a few Andaman Islands permit tourism.
Barefoot at Havelock
Beach No. 7, Havelock Island, Andaman Islands
Take a two hour flight from Mumbai, a one hour boat ride, and 30 minute drive on a primitive road to reach one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Asia. 15 nearby dive spots are filled with exotic fish but nothing beat a swim with Rajan, the hotel’s tusked male elephant.