AFAR Guide to India
Collected by Allison Murray, AFAR Contributor
Brimming with regional diversity, you can dodge florescent dye at Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, one day and practice yoga in the Himalayas the next. A blend of distinct historical influences, from regional Medieval kingdoms to 18th century European outposts, the cultural differences are as vast as its geographic diversity. Travelers in India find themselves on journey of the senses.
Kishanpole, Jawahar Nagar, Khanjipeer, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001, India
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...
Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
The Taj Mahal is referred to as "the jewel of Muslim art in India,” by UNESCO in its listing on the World Heritage Site registry. The Mughal ruler Shah Jahan had the truly magnificent white marble...
Payikad, Kanam P.O., Manimala, Kanam, Vazhoor, Kerala 686515, India
On the windy way up to the mountainous landscapes of Cardamom Hills, a stopover at Serenity at Kanam Estate is a must. This glorious redesigned 1920s bungalow is nestled deep in a belt of rubber plantations and fragrant spice gardens. Each of the...
Thar Desert, Rajasthan
So long as you don't mind a little bit of sand in your knickers, a night in the Thar Desert under a star lit sky is an experience unlike anything you've experienced in your entire life. We rode out into the desert on ill-tempered camels, bouncing...
Azad Nagar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400005, India
Every morning, the Sassoon docks in the Colaba district of Mumbai fill with locals, young and old, who load baskets, bowls, and crates with all manner of Arabian sea life. I stood mesmerized watching women in beautiful bright saris balance heavy...
Narlai, Rajasthan 306703, India
At the foot of a great mystical rock where gurus have meditated, in the heart of a colorful Rajasthan village, sits Rawla Narlai, the 17th century villa used as a hunting lodge by the Maharaja of Jodhpur. It's now a charming boutique hotel, with...
Pottachira, Kerala, India
A contemporary microhotel of three suites was created on the site where in 1740 the Dutch East India Company set up shop. It’s minimalist but with Indian exuberance: the odd jolting wall of electric blue, the judiciously chosen ornate antique....
Shop No.24, M.C Market, Opposite Jhamb Guest House, Old Railway Rd, Bhim Nagar, Sector 6, Gurugram, Haryana 122001, India
An overnight train from Delhi delivers travelers to the tranquil Kumaoni foothills of the Himalayas. With local guides, hikers explore rural Indian villages, terraced rice paddies, and Hindu temples. At night, travelers settle into authentic...
74/1, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road, Sharif Lane, Ripon Street, Taltala, Maula Ali, Taltala, Kolkata, West Bengal 700016, India
In 1950, Mother Teresa founded the order of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India, which is dedicated to serving the city’s poorest citizens. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Mother Teresa died in 1997, but her order has continued her work....
Sido Kanhu Dahar, Bara Bazar, Bow Barracks, Kolkata, West Bengal 700069, India
Sugarcane juice is a popular drink on the streets of India. It's the perfect thirst quencher on a hot day. When I was in Calcutta I was mesmerized as I watched vendors, like the one above, extract juice by pushing raw sugar cane through a...
Mananthavady, Kerala, India
Touring the Wayanad district of Kerala we came upon a temple where this folk dancer was performing Chakyarkoothu, a style of dance from in the area. This dancer is dressed as Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god. Five drummers thrummed a fast beat while...
Agonda Beach, Agonda, Goa 403702
In Goa, India, Agonda beach is a small but beautiful beach that attracts the laid back traveler who isn’t interested in the party scene. It is a restful place to take a vacation from your vacation, which might be necessary when traveling amidst...
Agra Fort, Rakabganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282003, India
The Agra Fort, built by rulers of the Mughal empire, is a sight to behold. It's sandstone walls and white marble interior will hold you in awe. But before you go, be sure to find your way to the back of the Fort and catch the view of it's sister...
B1/163, Nagwa Road, Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India
Varanasi is a city of beautiful chaos. Located on the banks of the Ganges River, it's one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and also one of the holiest. The river is the pulse of the city and it's worth setting your alarm...
P222/1, Strand Bank Rd, Fairley Place, BBD Bagh, Kolkata, West Bengal 700001, India
I attended the colorful Flower Market early one morning in Kolkata, India. The market is jam packed with people, vehicles and the ubiquitous flowers. The many species of flowers come in all colors and sizes. The scene is best described as colorful...
Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001, India
Summer in India (its monsoon season) with our three kids had too many highlights to count. But our first stop in Udaipur left such an impression, it deserves special recognition. Located in the state of Rajastan, Udaipur and its Lake Pichola are a...
Pushkar Lake, Pushkar, Rajasthan 305022
In Pushkar, drought and failed urban planning have devastated the town's sacred lake, leaving it bone dry save for the bathing ghats which lie on what was once the water's edge. Standing beside one of the few remaining reservoirs, I watch as five...
Babaji Ka Modh, Goner Rd, Jagdish Colony, Prem Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302031, India
Situated on 32 acres of land on the outskirts of Jaipur—but still a quick drive from the city’s historic forts and palaces—this massive hotel mixes traditional Rajasthani style with modern amenities. Although there are a number...
Tungsung Basti, Darjeeling, West Bengal 734101, India
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...
Amritsar, Punjab, India
Amritsar is a popular tourist destination in India and people from all over the world come here to see The Golden Temple. But once you're done admiring the beauty of the temple, walk around and observe. Look at how almost every individual is...
Rabindranath Tagore Rd, Pathani Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001, India
On the Ganges to witness the Aarti (prayer) ceremony. Before we boarded a row boat to watch masses come to the Ghats to offer prayers and float tiny oil lamps on the river. The moment that struck me aaas that a woman was sweeping the steps to the...
Sahastradhara Road,, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 249001, India
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...
Tarn Taran Sahib, Punjab 143401, India
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...
Jorasanko, Kolkata, West Bengal 700007, India
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...
Sayyaji Rao Rd, Devaraja Mohalla, Shivarampet, Mysuru, Karnataka 570001, India
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...
Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
This five-star hotel is one of the most iconic in Mumbai. Catch a glimpse of its grandeur with a seaside stroll along P.J. Ramchandani Marg, before wandering around the nearby Gateway of India for a “very India experience.”
261/63, Shamaldas Gandhi Marg, Marine lines, Navajeevan Wadi, Sonapur, Marine Lines, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400002, India
On Diwali (celebrated November 13 through 17 this year), relatives and friends give one another sweets to ring in the lunar New Year. Watch locals light diyas (clay lamps) and make rangoli (colored-powder designs) on the streets to invite the...
5, Ground Floor, Pheroze Building, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharashi Marg, Opp. Danraj Mahal, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Maharashtra 400039, India
Refuel with citrus salad, fennel risotto with cherry tomatoes and saffron, and chocolate bread pudding at the new outpost of Indigo Delicatessen. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
Shop No 8, Gokul Regency, Thakur Complex, Kandivali East, Mumbai - 400101, New Saibaba Nagar, Hemu Colony, Bhagat Colony, Kandivali West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400101, India
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. This appeared in the November/December 2012...
1st Floor, Pheroze Building, Above Indigo Deli, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Marg,, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400005, India
As manufacturing moves out of the city, industrial spaces are being repurposed. In 2011, a boutique, cafe, and flower shop called Le Mill opened in a former rice mill near the naval dockyards. Roughly half the merchandise is made in India....
91 A, Rani Baug, Veer Mata Jijbai Bhonsle Udyan, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Rd, Byculla East, Mazgaon, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400027, India
The 140-year-old Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum completed a four-year restoration in 2008 that preserved its Corinthian columns and tiled staircase. The building has long been a home for rare religious statues and 16th-century maps of the...
Zeba Centre, Mathuradas Mill Compound,, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013, India
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)...
New Shelter Premises CHS, Plot #119, 1st Road, Khar West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400052, India
Sanctum carries vintage-style home decor, including distressed-wood chests, floral cushion covers, and a bar table fashioned from a street vendor’s pushcart. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
Kaccha Bagh Area, Old Delhi, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Rickshaw rides are common in Chandni Chowk, the vast and crowded market in the Old Delhi quarter, but book a comprehensive rickshaw tour for an immersive experience that lasts longer than 15 minutes. Witness the architectural marvels,...
Meena Bazaar, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
With over 200 million Muslims in India, the country has no shortage of mosques. Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, was commissioned by Shah Jahan, the same emperor who built the iconic Taj Mahal for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal....
Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Red Fort, located in New Delhi, is a treasure trove of cultural history. You can spend hours wandering among the various buildings, learning much about the history of India. Tucked away within the walls...
Nizamuddin, K Block, Sector 18, Kavi Nagar, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh 110013, India
Don't leave India without taking an overnight trip on a train. The rail network is expansive, and can get you just about anywhere in the country for a few bucks. It seems like everyone we met was amazing, inviting, outgoing. We drank chai all...
INA Colony, New Delhi, Delhi 110023, India
Live crabs from Chennai? Fresh turmeric, bamboo shoot, bitter gourd? The Indian National Army Market, or INA, carries nearly every spice, meat, fruit, vegetable, and grain on the planet. Here are a few ingredients to stash in your suitcase....
Shop No. 22, Hauz Khas Village, 3rd Floor, Hauz Khas Village, Deer Park, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, Delhi 110016, India
In the funky Hauz Khas Village, try South Indian specialties at Gunpowder, a restaurant where the view of the reservoir is as pleasingas the pork curry.Ste. 22, third floor, 91/(0) 11-2653-5700 —Jocelyn C. Zuckerman This appeared in the...
Tilak Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi 110018, India
No longer a supporting actor to Mumbai, New Delhi is abuzz with new buildings, new energy, and new money. Well-heeled locals frequent art galleries and restaurants while iconic Ambassador taxis jostlewith motorized rickshaws on the broad...
Hauz Khas, New Delhi, Delhi, India
Yes, Hauz Khas Village is perhaps most known for its artsy vibe, boutique shops, and trendy restaurants. But before it became a lively commercial district, Hauz Kaus was (and remains) a 13th-century historical complex with a mosque,...
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