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AFAR Guide to India

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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.
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Though cows roam everywhere imaginable in India, something about a calf licking his or her nose at sunrise on the Ganga seemed like a memory worth capturing.
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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...
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Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
Travel for me is exploration. I think at some level, I'm still pretending to be a little boy playing in the woods "discovering" everything there was to see down by the creek where I grew up. As an adult, I'm more interested in food, people and...
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Kanam - Kanjirappara Road, Marry Church, Payikad, Near St, 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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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....
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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...
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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....
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Agra Fort, Rakabganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282003, India
Dating back to 1080, the Agra Fort still holds much of its original splendor.
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B1/163, Nagwa Road, Assi ghat, Dumraon Colony, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India

A beautiful daily ceremony right on the banks of the Ganges River.  Brahmin perform several rituals that are mesmerizing with the combination of music, bells, and drums.  Hundreds of worshipers came to witness the ceremony,...

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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...
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Southern Asia
An ornate facade conceals a minimalist hideaway where sleek guest rooms feature marble tubs and shimmering walls inlaid with semiprecious stones. Survey your kingdom on a camel safari or indulge in a spa treatment at India’s only L’Occitane...
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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...
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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...
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Babaji Ka Modh, Goner Rd, Jagdish Colony, Prem Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302031, India
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...
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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...
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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...
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Rabindranath Tagore Rd, Pathani Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001, India
This was the eerie scenery as I took my early morning photo walk through Varanasi's "Old City" (just off the ghats).
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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...
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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,...
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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...
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Raja Katra, 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...
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Devaraja Mohalla, Mandi Mohalla, 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...
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Kerala, India
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....
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Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
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...
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New art spaces abound across South Mumbai, notably in the districts of Fort and Kala Ghoda, which hosts the Kala Ghoda arts festival in February. The Chemould Prescott Road gallery focuses on well-known contemporary Indian artists, including the...
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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...
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5, Ground Floor, Pheroze Building, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharashi Marg Opp. Danraj Mahal, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, 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.
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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...
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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....
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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...
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Zeba Centre, Mathuradas Mill Compound,, Tulsi Pipe Rd, 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)...
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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.
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India Gate, New Delhi, Delhi, India
India's Arc de Triomphe stands at the center of the historical and political area of New Delhi. It stands between Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Red Fort, and on India's Republic Day the parade passes right through the center.
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Bhaktapur, Nepal
The ancient capital of the Kathmandu Valley is an earthy composition of ornate brickwork and wood filigreed temples built by the Newar tribe. In Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square; the relief carvings on the golden Suun Dhoka Gate, and stone images of the...
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Narchyang, Nepal

In the mountain village of Koto, Nepal, there is a path that branches off the legendary 150-mile Annapurna Circuit and passes—ceremoniously, tantalizingly—through a large stone gate. This trail is off-limits, a nearby sign reads, unless you have a...

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Kaccha Bagh Area, Old Delhi, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest markets in Old Delhi. Like so many other old city bazaars, it is filled alleyways lined with hundreds of little shops that are clustered into areas according to the items they sell. There is the fabric section,...
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Meena Bazaar, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
About to ascend the steps of the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, I am forced to shelter when a sudden storm breaks over Old Delhi. An elderly Indian and I look out at the mosque from the safety of a nearby shop.
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Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Upon entering the mosque at Red Fort in Old Delhi, for just a few ruppee's one can fast track their way to a more spiritual life.
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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...
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Shop No. 245, INA Market, Sri Aurobindo Marg, INA Market, Aviation Colony, Laxmi Bai Nagar, 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....
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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...
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Hauz Khas, New Delhi, Delhi, India
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...