Inspiring Travel Company’s exclusive and ever-growing portfolio includes glorious destinations from all over the globe. Recently, our Finance Manager Carol Fullwood enjoyed an unforgettable, bespoke escape to enchanting India, staying in four of our luxury properties there. This is what she had to say:
I must admit, I was apprehensive about going to India; my husband Dave had wanted to visit for almost 10 years and I was never sure. But with the passion, expertise and guidance from our very own Nikhil at Inspiring Travel Company, I was convinced it was time to go – and what an amazing experience we had! From the moment we arrived, we felt like family and not tourists, thanks to the glorious Inspiring Travel Company representatives that met us; their professionalism and attention to detail was extraordinary throughout our whole journey. I could write forever about our trip, but here are my highlights…
Delhi is a truly unique place that is hard to put into words, and even the drive to our hotel was something we will never forget. Seven lanes of car, lorry and rickshaw traffic on a three-lane road were joined by cows and wild boars, causing chaos that I found genuinely exciting and endearing.
Checking in to The Imperial New Delhi, it was as if we had just stepped back in time; the elegant property featuring a mixture of art deco and colonial-style charm. The following day, we were able to explore both Old and New Delhi, the highlight of which was visiting one of the largest Sikh temples there, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, that features a soup kitchen feeding over 10,000 local people each day; we even joined some of the volunteers and helped with the cooking.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a traditional rickshaw ride through the narrow streets of Old Delhi, in which you could buy anything from car tyres and chickens, to old newspapers and silk to make a sari - it was unbelievable. The sights and sounds of Delhi were simply unforgettable and it was mind-blowing to realise that we were standing in temples and mosques that were built hundreds of years ago!
The Magnificent Taj Mahal
The next day, we set on our way to the breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage site, the Taj Mahal, a fabulous way to celebrate my birthday! We boarded the Gatimaan Express, India’s fastest train, and before we knew it, we were being greeted by our new rep as we stepped off the train in Agra.
We were staying at the beautiful Oberoi Amarvilas and the welcome, as in Delhi, was amazing. The staff were so friendly and seemed so pleased to see us - particularly me as the team at Inspiring Travel Company had told them it was my birthday!
After a quick change, our guide arrived to take us up to the Taj. He lived locally and told us that every morning he has his breakfast on his tiny veranda looking at the spectacular building! Upon walking through the first arch of the mausoleum, you behold a sight that you’re unlikely to ever forget; the size and the beauty of the building is just mesmerising, and I could have wandered around all day just staring at it.
Returning to the hotel, we enjoyed the most fabulous local lamb biryani and a chocolate birthday cake for dinner, followed by a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ accompanied by a traditional Sitar! Then, we sat on our spacious balcony with a glass of champagne, gazing at the Taj in the distance - what a way to end a perfect day.
Ranthambore National Park
Our next destination was the renowned Ranthambore National Park, where we checked in to Sher Bagh, our home for next three nights. The camp consists of hand-stitched “tents”, which were nothing at all like tents, apart from the canvas. Instead, this was pure luxury. The resort aims to make you feel as if you have stepped back in time to the 1920s; lanterns light up the camp, while dinner is eaten around the roaring campfire.
After 10 years of waiting, Dave was desperate to see tigers, so the following morning we had a 6am wake up call. The Jeep was waiting for us, alongside the driver, guide and the biggest picnic basket containing our breakfast. They say patience is a virtue and that’s just what you need if you’re waiting for a tiger to make an appearance… However, after a couple of hours, he did! Sitting in an open Jeep, with a tiger just yards away and with my husband whose dream had just come true, was a moment that I will never forget.
Back at Sher Bagh, we all met up for a gin and tonic in the bar (there was only 16 of us staying at the camp), sharing stories of our adventures in Rathambore.
The following day, we had our second safari throughout the park, spotting eagles, peacocks, deer, wild boar, monkeys and the biggest crocodile you could imagine! We also had the pleasure of spotting another well-known tiger called Arrowhead, watching her as she calmly stopped and drank from a rock pool – it was simply magical.
The Colourful City of Jaipur
Heading towards Jaipur – also called the Pink City due to the sandstone used in the building - we were soon joined on the scenic road by camels, cows, pigs, buffalo and elephants. Arriving at The Taj Rambagh Palace, once the residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur, I was blown away by the opulence and gracious hospitality of this luxury resort.
We visited the Palace of the Winds, before heading to the 17th century Amber Fort onboard a spectacular elephant, exactly how the Mahajara travelled. The Fort was such a wonderful place, full of fascinating courtyards and great halls.
Back at the hotel, we enjoyed sitting on the veranda as peacocks strutted on the lawn, sipping drinks in the Polo Bar, and just wandering around the ornate palace.
We will never forget our first visit to India, made truly special by the enthusiastic experts and luxury properties from Inspiring Travel Company.
To enjoy your own luxury escape to any of these inspiring destinations, browse our entire India portfolio or call 01244 355 600 for a bespoke quote.