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The views from your suite—of the Kanchenjunga Mountains, the hills of Sikkim, or the Rung Dung River—might make it hard to leave, but it’s worth it to learn about every stage of tea-making on a tour of the fields and factory. A tasting reveals the ways a tea’s flavor is affected by where and how it’s grown, harvested, and processed. From $285. 91/(0) 98-300-70213, glenburnteaestate.com. Photo courtesy of Glenburn Tea Estate. This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue. See more agritourism hotels: Hotel Chocolat in St. Lucia Dalabelos in CreteLos Poblanos in Albuquerque, New MexicoFinca Rosa Blanca in Costa RicaEstancia Nipebo Aike in El Calafate, ArgentinaVilla Campestri in Florence
Anokhi has sold clothes and linens with contemporary block-print designs since 1970. 32 Khan Market, New Delhi, 91/(0) 11-2460-3423; 2nd Floor KK Square, C-11, Prithviraj Rd., C-Scheme, Jaipur, 91/(0) 14- 1400-7244; plus 21 other locations across India. Admire block-printed cloth and watch carving and printing demonstrations at the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing. The store sells museum-inspired pieces. Anokhi Haveli, Kheri Gate, Amber, Jaipur, 91/(0) 14-1253-0226. anokhi.com/museum. Photo by Muffet/Flickr. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue.
“What better way to understand yoga than to travel to its birthplace?” says Katie Christ. Two years ago, the food stylist put her life in San Francisco on hold to spend two months studying at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India. “It was the biggest luxury I have ever allowed myself.” Katie had been practicing Iyengar yoga, a style of hatha yoga that focuses on alignment and uses props like blocks and belts, for more than 10 years when she decided she wanted to study in India. She applied to RIMYI, where the venerable B.K.S. Iyengar (above), the founder of Iyengar yoga, occasionally teaches with his son and daughter. “It’s not for the faint of heart,” says Katie. “There’s no music. No incense.” RIMYI requires each applicant to have eight years of Iyengar experience plus a letter of recommendation from his or her yoga teacher. Acceptance can take up to two years. The year before she attended, Katie traveled to Pune for two weeks to experience life in the city. That first visit happened to coincide with B.K.S. Iyengar’s 90th birthday. “I had no Indian garb appropriate for the festivities, so I went shopping, and in one afternoon I saw so much. A woman making a rangoli, a traditional folk art design, let me try to draw one with colored powder on the street. At the market I saw a man whose sole job was to peel garlic bulbs. I tasted the most amazing chai, made by a chai wallah who used pliers to crush fresh ginger into a pot of milk with tea leaves and ground spices. I knew I wanted to stay. [On my second trip] these experiences would become part of my everyday routine.” The institute doesn’t provide housing, so Katie used her first visit to find a flat to rent for her two-month stay. “I had the perfect commute: a 10-minute walk through a public garden where I would watch teens flirting on benches and women in saris and sneakers taking their morning power walks.” Classes were held six days a week: two-hour sessions led by a member of the Iyengar family and three hours of open practice each day, and an hour of pranayama (controlled breathing) once a week. “In open practice, I experienced incredible generosity from students who were advanced teachers,” says Katie. “If someone recognized that I was struggling, they would come over to help me achieve better alignment. Several times Geeta Iyengar [the daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar] called out to give me specific instruction. I felt incredibly fortunate, considering there were up to 120 students in a class.” When she wasn’t in class, Katie and her Australian neighbors, all senior Iyengar teachers attending the institute, would hit the markets and seek out the best chai, Indian sweets, and chappals (sandals). On Sundays they took trips to sights like the ancient sculptures and paintings in the Ellora and Ajanta caves. Katie felt her body becoming stronger and her head becoming clearer with each passing day. “The goal of yoga is to calm the chatter of the mind. When I arrived I had tons of chatter,” she says. “After practicing so intensely every day for two months, the chatter became a murmur.” A From $450 for a one-month program, not including meals and accommodations. 91/(0) 20-2565-6134, bksiyengar.com. Image by Jake Glennell. This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue. Find other yoga retreats:Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, MassachusettsAqua Wellness Resort, NicaraguaJicaro Island Ecolodge, NicaraguaGaia Retreat and Spa, AustraliaComo Shambhala Estate, BaliAnanda, IndiaDomaine de la Grausse, France
These are pots of powdered paint displayed in Mysore Market. This market is one of my favorite places in India because of the beautiful fruit and vegetable stalls, friendly vendors, and the air of vibrancy and decay that makes India feel both old and new all at once. It is also where I overcame my shyness as a foreigner by learning the age old art of haggling. I lived in Mysore for four months and worked as a volunteer at a free medical clinic on the outskirts of the city. I lived in a house with three other volunteers at the clinic and we would share shopping duties. We chose shopping at the market instead of the modern price fixed grocery stores. At the market food was fresher, the prices were better, and the atmosphere timeless. Scenes like this made the heat and hassle of living in India minor inconveniences.
The residence of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal (an Indian princely state) is now a 100-acre spa resort in the Himalayas devoted to hatha yoga and holistic and Ayurvedic wellness programs. Prior to arrival, guests fill out an Ayurveda and wellness consultation form so that their classes and treatments can be personalized. A typical day might include morning yoga, an afternoon spa treatment, and a sundown tiger safari. From $3,340 for a five-night yoga package, including meals and daily yoga. 91/(0) 13-7822-7500, anandaspa.com. Image courtesy of Ananda. This story appeared in the January/February 2011 issue. Find other yoga retreats:Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga InstituteKripalu Center for Yoga and Health, MassachusettsAqua Wellness Resort, NicaraguaJicaro Island Ecolodge, NicaraguaGaia Retreat and Spa, AustraliaComo Shambhala Estate, BaliDomaine de la Grausse, France
I happened upon this moment at a night market in Jaipur, India, which has some of the best shopping for beaded crafts, jewelry, ceramics, carpets and textiles. This jewelry stand in Johari Bazaar was crowded with women interested in the necklaces, bracelets, and trinkets on offer in abundance. Markets all over India are fascinating, colorful places and provide a great sense of nearly every aspect of the culture, whether it be the degree of religious devotion, the styles of dress and adornment, or the delicious gastronomy. Soak it all in, but give yourself plenty of time....
Drashta, the boutique of Mumbai-based fashion designer Drashta Sarvaiya, sells silk brocade skirts, brightly printed dresses, and beaded accessories, such as wrap belts made with semi-precious stones. Photo courtesy of Drashta. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
FabIndia offers handwoven printed linens and furnishings. N-Block Market, Greater Kailash-1, New Delhi, 91/(0) 11-4669-3725; plus more locations in India and in five other countries. fabindia.com. Find modern block-printed clothing and homewares at SOMA. A-5, Jamnalal Marg, C-Scheme, Jaipur, 91/(0) 14-1237-2246; 1st Floor, K-44, Radial Rd., opposite PVR Plaza, Connaught Pl., New Delhi, 91/(0) 11-2341-6003; plus six other locations in India. somashop.com. Photo by Prasad Kholkute/Flickr. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue.
by Maria Finn I have a butler, and it’s a little awkward. What do you ask for when you’re staying in a tent in India? I don’t need someone to build me a fire or beat back wild animals; my canvas-walled refuge at Oberoi Rajvilas has polished teak floors, cloth wall hangings, and an exquisite hand-embroidered canopy. There’s a bathroom with a claw-foot soaking tub, and outside, a wraparound terrace with chaise longues, where I enjoy my morning coffee. This type of “camping” dates back to Mughal rule (1500s to 1700s), when kings traveling for war, hunting, or commerce set up portable palaces adorned with gold- and silver-stitched cushions and sandalwood furniture. Today, I get a taste of that tradition, on grounds that house a modern restaurant, a swimming pool, and a spa, just five miles from Jaipur’s rose-hued city center. While Rajvilas may be the antithesis of roughing it, the property still provides sensory experiences reminiscent of camping. In the evening, as I walk the otherwise quiet grounds, I hear peacock shrieks along with gongs from the 270-year-old temple that stands at the resort’s center. Torch-lit stone walkways lead to gardens, fountains, and the Ayurvedic spa, which releases scents of sesame oil and roses. I enter the Surya Mahal restaurant for dinner, greeted by the spicy aromas of coriander and chili. The day ends back at my terrace, where I call my butler to request a glass of sauvignon blanc from the Indian winery Sula. I sip it as the sun dips behind desert walls, and I feel grateful that connecting with nature doesn’t have to mean sleeping on the ground. Oberoi Rajvilas Jaipur, (800) 562-3764, from $898. Photo courtesy of Oberoi Hotels and Resorts. This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue. See more tent hotels: Banyan Tree in Madivaru, MaldivesKasbah Tamadot in Marrakech, MoroccoDunton Hot Springs in Dolores, Colorado
Refuel with citrus salad, fennel risotto with cherry tomatoes and saffron, and chocolate bread pudding at the new outpost of Indigo Delicatessen. Photo courtesy of Indigo Deli. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
While traveling around India I learned to expect the unexpected. Every turn delivered a surprise. When I was in Calcutta, a traffic jam forced my guide and I to abandon our tax ride to the Marble Palace. As we stumbled out the cab door we found ourselves amidst a frenetic fruit auction. My guide, who grew up in Calcutta, told me she'd heard rumors of this fruit market but had never been able to find it. She thought it was just a myth. The fruit vendors—all men—seemed just as startled to see two women running past the piles of oranges and bunches of bananas. The market was so frenetic that became swept up in the hustle and eventually reached a dead end. Our only choice was to turn around and run the citrus gauntlet again. Vendors waved slices of oranges in our face and we finally stopped and agreed to have a taste, which brought about cheers from the fruit hawkers. I was so amazed that simply stepping down the wrong street could put me in this crazy moment.
If you manage to make it to the southwestern tip of India, where the backwaters of Kerala lay, you can commission a houseboat and spend a day or two floating peacefully along the vast waterways that weave through fishing villages and paddy fields. There isn't much to do in the late afternoon but to lean back and sip a fresh coconut or sweet, milky tea as you watch the horizon and the water melt into one, and the other houseboats make their way back to shore across the water's pearly surface.
The narrow alleys of Hauz Khas Village are ripe with modern goods. Young designer Gautam Sinha sells gorgeous leather bags and luggage (shown) at Nappa Dori (Ste. 4, 91/(0) 98-1040-0778). The über-hip hang out at Ultrastore, a furniture shop that stocks cheeky housewares (Ste. 50E, 91/(0) 99-7135- 8479). Yodakin is the spot for alternative books and music (Ste. 2, 91/(0) 11-2653-6283). —Jocelyn C. Zuckerman This appeared in the November/December 2011 issue. Photo courtesy of Nappa Dori.
Sikhs and non-Sikhs go to Amritsar for one reason – to see the Golden Temple (Hamandir Sahib) so, that is what I did on my most recent trip to India. Except, I went on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday which is a national holiday in India and because of that, I expected the place to be crowded with locals enjoying a day off. It was indeed crowded so much so I could barely walk. I returned the next day thinking it would be better and it was but it was still packed with people. I did manage to see the place but not quite in the way that I wanted to experience a holy site. So, I hopped in a taxi and went down the road to Tarn Taran Sahib. There, I found a place of religious tranquility and a golden temple that was just as beautiful albeit on a smaller scale. Sikh devotees were out and about but there was not a throng of people. It was just the place I was looking for!
Opened in 2007, Blue Frog is a theater, restaurant, club, and record label housed within an old textile mill. From a futuristic pod, you can watch live musical performances by artists such as composer and percussionist Talvin Singh. 91/(0) 22-6158-6158.
Right smack dab in the center of the chaos that is New Delhi, exists the quiet center of the universe: Jama Masjid. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, and completed in 1656, this is the largest and most popular mosque in all of India. It can hold up to 25,000 worshippers, yet be the quietest place on Earth at the same time. Within its walls is also held an antique copy of the Qur'an. The photo above is taken from atop one the of two 130-foot tall minarets. I made the trek up, only to find myself in the company of five teenagers just hanging out and enjoying the view. And what a view it is! You get a scope of the vast expanse of Delhi from this particular vantage point. I enjoyed my perch for a while, descended the steps, took in one last moment of solitude within the mosque, and waded back into the calamity outside its sacred walls.
I travel to immerse myself in other cultures and, as I work in food, that often happens at the table. While in India, I was eating everything from street food to refined white tablecloth dining, but my favorite experience was the home-cooked food from Shashi. Shashi is a woman with amazing fortitude (her life story includes an ex-husband who was murdered and embezzling in-laws) and she has taken her cooking skills and turned it into a job. We were invited into her home where she taught us her cooking tips and shared her recipes for everything from paneer cheese to paratha and chapati. After a multi-hour hands-on cooking class, we sat down with her sons and had a meal that was perhaps the most memorable moment of my whole trip.
Twelve villas ring a private lake on 25 acres located between the popular tourist spots Jodhpur and Udaipur. Explore the nearby Badlands of India on a horse safari, then enjoy an evening dance performance. From $330. 91/(0) 11-2649- 4531. Photo courtesy of sewara.com. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue.
As manufacturing moves out of the city, industrial spaces are being repurposed. In 2011, a boutique, café, and flower shop called Le Mill opened in a former rice mill near the naval dockyards. Roughly half the merchandise is made in India. Highlights include teakwood chairs by the Mumbai-based designer Rooshad Shroff. 91/(0) 22-2374-2415. Photo by Chiara Gioia. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
Camels spit, but they don't suck - at least not when they're thundering across the golden sand of the Thar Desert toward the Pakistan border. We organized a tour/camping trip through the Tokyo Hotel in Jaisalmer (yes, Tokyo Hotel. Awesome little joint if you ever get a chance to visit), and set out on our camels for 24 hours of fun. We asked our jockeys to stop at this watering hole for a few minutes so that we could photograph the locals and their animals - it's not every day that you come across a pond in the desert, you know? We watched this young man fill his camel's packs with gallons of water and marveled when local ladies came out of the sand in their beautiful saris and filled their own steel containers with water before hoisting them above their heads and carrying on. Then we were off - to spend a night rolling in the sand.
Varanasi is India's most holy city. It is not only the ultimate pilgrimage for devout Hindus, but seekers of peace also make it a point to visit Varanasi to de-stress, relax and recharge their souls. It is a city of temples, of age-old rituals and customs. I spent hours watching pilgrims arriving at the Ganga river to worship and bathe, cleansing their sins. A highlight was hiring a boat at both dawn and dusk to view the devotees perform various kinds of rituals including lighting offering candles that they propel into the water. The boat can also take you to the burning ghats, where you can see bodies being cremated at the shore and witness the ongoing circle of life and death.
In the funky Hauz Khas Village, try South Indian specialties at Gunpowder, a restaurant where the view of the reservoir is as pleasing as the pork curry. Ste. 22, third floor, 91/(0) 11-2653-5700 —Jocelyn C. Zuckerman This appeared in the November/December 2011 issue. Photo by Sephi Bergerson.
I saw these colorful sari's hung out to dry in a home in the Blue City in Jodhpur. The Blue City neighborhood is a must see when visiting Jodhpur.
Dilli Haat is an open-air market with over 60 stalls and features both permanent and transitional vendors. It also showcases regional cuisine of India. Each state has a food and beverage booth, and the Nagaland stall offers a refreshing fruit beer. Lightly carbonated, it is popularly paired with momos (dumplings). Photo by Meenakshi Madhavan/Flickr.
The family estate of one of India’s leading fashion photographers has become an under-the-radar beach escape for many of Mumbai’s Bollywood stars. The hotel’s location is kept a secret until your booking is made. The owner or a staff member meets you where the paved road ends and lead you down a dirt path to a rickety bridge that crosses to the little paradise. Guests stay in fashionable beach tents or in Portuguese-style villas named after the structures’ original roles on the estate. (I stayed in the Bakery.) Meals feature homemade Goan cuisine and can be served al fresco under the shade of trees. From $70 for a tent and $120 for a cottage. Photo courtesy of Denzil Sequeira.
Around the Ganges, the streets and alley-ways of Varanasi are packed with sellers of anything you can imagine. I passed this flower market on the way back to my hotel, and loved the bright red wall behind the man and his flowers. The text above him was regarding the temple inside the building.
The freshest blooms along muddiest streets - Kolkata's wholesale 'phoolbajaar' or flower market is right next to river Hooghly. In the beginning, the sellers sat on the Mallick Ghat. Nowadays, they have taken over several back-alleys and set up small shops. Mornings are the best and the craziest time to walk through the area. Most, vanish by noon, leaving behind a heady scent of seasonal specialties.
Facing the Arabian Sea and the Gateway of India monument, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel blends Moorish, Florentine, and Indian architecture. The historic palace wing reopened in 2010 with 243 new rooms and 42 suites, including one that houses the sitar on which legendary Indian musician Ravi Shankar composed his Concerto No. 1. George Harrison checked into the Taj in 1966 to take lessons from the maestro. From $457. 91/(0) 22-6665-3366. Photo by Dook. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
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