It is a bit of a challenge getting around Delhi. There are some areas now served by the metro. But apart from that, autos (three-wheeled tuk tuks) are an absolute no-no, you end up paying more than what you would pay to a cab (black car with yellow roofs).
There is also a a radio cab service, which is also air-conditoned and reasonably clean. Available on call at 1920, 1929, 123.
Just behind Qutub Minar and off the beaten track. A bit filthy but an absolute treasure house with old tombstones, forts, water bodies.
If you are hungry, look for the 'Royal Dakshin Restaurant' at one of the edges of the park.
If you decide to brave it until night falls then the djinns come out.
Excellent place to spend time in Delhi. The place offers designer stores for Indian handicrafts, restaurants, cafes in the outer and middle lane, some of Delhi's oldest bookshops and Lodhi Gardens are right next door!
This lovely restaurant is an oasis of calm and quiet (Khajuraho's main street can get hectic!) where you can chill out after temple-gazing in a pretty courtyard with yummy food or watch the setting sun over a lake from the roof terrace.
At dusk thousands of chirruping green parrots fill the sky, pull up a chair and be amazed. Lovely owners Charlie and Sanjay also have a very good guesthouse, and are sweet and helpful hosts. I can't recommend this place enough!
Next to the Archaeological museum (cross the little square on the corner) corner of main road and jain temples road
When aeroplanes are delayed during the warm, rainy season that causes smog, accept it and take it in your stride. This will help you to enjoy your trip, especially your arrival and departure.
Plan for a 2-part departure, flying the first leg from Bangalore to Mumbai in the evening, with an 11 am flight from Mumbai to Heathrow the next morning. Therefore, any delays will not have you queueing for hours having been up since the crack of dawn with a short fuse for an international departure. Also warn your hotel if there is a chance that you may need accommodation, in the event that you cannot depart.
An older version of the Taj Mahal, on the other side of the Yamuna river. It's made of brown stone and marble, and is about 100 years older.
When we went, there were only three other visitors - all Indian. Not in such perfect condition, but lovely gardens and very peaceful with beautiful views over the river. Properly, it is the tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, but every taxi driver will know it as Baby Taj.
Situated close to the centre of McCleod Ganj, yet far enough away from the backpacker ghetto for you to feel a sense of solitude, this is a very friendly family-run place.
Ghulam will bend over backwards to help you out, and also has a line in Kashmir tours too.
Food isn't so great, though when it's quiet you may be able to negotiate a discount on your immaculate room.
I came across this lovely completely rebuilt heritage Portuguese house, not too far from Vagator and Anjuna beach, in a superb setting in a coconut grove overlooking rice paddies.
Huge garden, expat owner. I'll give his web address so you can check it out.
A voluntary charity in the centre of town. If you're here for a while, teach a bit of English, or help with their ever-precarious IT situation, shorter term there is a nightly drop-in English conversation class, just come along and chat, that's it.
As well as all this, they also have yoga classes, some of the cheapest rooms in town and it's a good place to meet other travellers who aren't in India for the cheap weed.
Lots of good work here with many newly arrived refugees and monks, even if you cannot volunteer, donate something.
Temple Road, opposite Thomas Cook
Don't miss. Set up by famous Indian designer Rohit Bal with chef Suvir Savan of the Michelin-starred Devi in New York, and chef Hemant Mathur from India.
Stylish, glam decor, great service, but most important, fabulous food specialising in North Indian Tandoor items.
I wanted to post something about volunteering because it is a concept which interests me, and many others too! And people too often focus on the negative aspects of it. So I wanted to add my thoughts on the benefits it can have.
My personal experience of volunteering was when I spent three months in India after school. I worked in a junior school, and since it turned out I wasn’t a great teacher I spent my time teaching the two weakest kids basic English and maths. This placement was arranged by a gap year company (Projects Abroad) and I decided to go away with a company because both me and my parents wanted the secure ‘safety net’ these companies provide.
Most gapyear companies do not claim to make a huge difference to people’s lives, it would be arrogant to assume that youngsters with no transferable skills could be of much practical use just because the country they are going to has a lower GDP than the one they are coming from. However, the benefits of these projects – I think – come more from simply being there and staying there for a fairly long period of time. Volunteers go to developing countries in high numbers throughout the year and stay for an average of three months. They therefore constitute a significant part of the income of the communities they live in, especially as they are easily persuaded to buy locally made souvenirs. The company I travelled with paid a host family to look after me and feed me (on locally bought produce) after which they still made a profit for themselves and their family. Tourism is a a very important part of the income of the majority of countries, and no more so than in the developing world. The fact that this form of tourism is ‘dressed up’ as being more ethical than regular tourism is the reason why so many people are keen to criticise it, but I think that this is a waste of energy in the end.
My other point is to do with cross-cultural learning. If you live in Britain as I do, you come into contact with people from almost every country in the world, but the cultural exchange is predominently one way. They learn about England and our culture whereas we do not learn about theirs. A great benefit of travelling and living in other countries is that you gain an awareness of how other cultures differ from your own, an awareness that you cannot attain to the same level unless you travel. Through travelling you can therefore learn more about the people who live in your own country, especially in such a racially diverse country as England. When people learn about each other it often leads to a greater level of tolerance, which is without doubt a positive thing!
Even if the volunteers intentions are selfish, I don’t think it matters too much provided they are respectful to their host country. If a young person can go abroad, learn a bit more about the world and its people, and return home a more rounded, and knowledgable person, that can only be a good thing. Talking about ethics is a tough one these days anyway. It is very difficult to do anything which is truly ethical (from driving your car, to buying a pair of trainers), and equally very few people manage to act with true altruism. So I think that it is better to focus on the good aspects of volunteering and realise that in a world where everything has become a commodity, you are never going to be satisfied with the ethical side of things.
I would like to recommend established companies such as Projects Abroad, as they offer young people, especially girls, a good safe introduction to the developing world, and allow them to become emersed in cultures very different from their own. They offer a very vaulable experience and in many cases the volunteer is able to make a worthwhile contribution to at the very least one other person’s life.
House of Kapaali, is the most exquisite B&B. Quite apparently, being a first time visitor to Delhi or India as a matter of fact, I was nervous. But, my doubts were dispelled here, meeting the family that runs this place. They have not only done it up so tastefully, but the food is FANTASTIC. They are so very helpful with sight seeing suggestions, basically it's a one stop for all you would need in Delhi. I recommend it highly!!!
A bit on the expensive side but well worth waiting for this treat. The restaurant serves Konkan food, which is cuisine from the west coast of India. They do really good fish and spicy creamy curries.
We had fish wrapped in banana leaf and prawn curry. The dosas are great too. We backpacked around the whole of India and spent our last night here. Fantastic!
Taj President, Colaba (near World Trade Centre, Mumbai).
This hotel has lovely rooms that include antique furniture and balconies, as well a huge bathroom that was completely black marble. We actually originally booked into the Umaid Bhawan, run by the same family but due to a problem with our room, we were relocated to the Umaid Mahal. However, we were allowed to use the pool at the Umaid Bhawan which was one of our main requirements as we knew the weather would be warm.
The staff were a bit indifferent (apart from the very friendly room cleaning man) but if asked, would organise what you wanted. Being left alone by the staff in some ways was a welcome break from constantly being asked where you were going and whether you wanted a lift (at a price of course !).
The location was in a quiet residential part of town which was about a 15 min drive into Jaipur but there were always autorickshaw drivers outside to take you where you wanted.
Umaid Mahal - A classic heritage castle
C-20 / B-2 Bihari Marg, Jai Singh Highway, Opp. Lane of K.P. Automotives,
Bani Park, Jaipur - 302016, Rajasthan (India)
Telephones : +91-141-2201952 / 2201954 Fax : +91-141-2204470
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
website : www.umaidmahal.com
I stayed over a week with this wonderful family in the Umaid Bhawan in Jaipur, India. I absolutely fell in love with it, as well as its sibling, the Umaid Mahal. The family is extraordinarily kind and giving, the facilities are wonderful, and do I even need to start on the food?
When you are in this hotel, you feel as if you are royalty. Everyone seems to know and be close with everyone, and servants are willing to wait on your every need.
I plan on coming back to India simply to visit this wonderful family and their luxurious hotel once again. Ranvijay, the hotel manager, will go to any length to see that you are satisfied with your stay in his hotel.
Visit the hotel, or at the very least, stop by simply to eat a meal on the rooftop of this castle.
Hotel Umaid Bhawan
D1-2A,Behind Collectorate, (Via) Bank Road, Bani Park,
Jaipur-302016, Rajasthan, INDIA
24-Hour Direct Line to Ranvijay: +91 9314503423
Hotel Lines: +91 (141) 2316184 / 2206426 / 2201276 Fax us: +91 (141) 2207445
Email us: info@UmaidBhawan.com
website : www.umaidbhawan.com
A two-hour flight from Madras (Chennai) to Port Blair followed by a 3 hour boat trip followed by a further 30 mins in a car over bumpy roads and you arrive at India's best kept secret!!
Radhnagar beach on Havelock Island in the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar islands is clean, relatively deserted and untouched by the tourist trade.
The nearby Barefoot resort is a group of 10-15 bungalows set in the wood with good access to the beach. Good seafood, plenty of relaxation and one of the best beaches in India. For those who find lying on the beach tiresome, nearby Port Blair on South Andaman island offers plenty of relics from the days when the Territory was a British penal colony.
Daily flights from Madras (Chennai) and Kolkata to Port Blair. Regular daily ferry services from Port Blair to Havelock island. A bungalow at Barefoot resort can be booked via their website www.barefootindia.com
Excellent reasonably priced Indian homestay. Colonel Lamba is a nice old Sikh fella who along with his family runs the hotel/home. Pick ups from the train station are on the house and the rooms are really clean, ensuite, air-con and have cable TV. Rs550 for a double room and excellent homecooked meals available for Rs250/night and well worth it!
Gulhomar Enclave, off Shamshabad Road, Agra
The best Italian restaurant in the town. Way better than the more established Nick's Italian Kitchen attached to Kungas Guesthouse. The only problem is that this place doesn't benefit from the panoramic views of the former, but the food more than compensates. Run by a friendly Tibetan - try the chilli chicken pasta, it is awesome!
Joglbara Road, towards the main square if walking from Post Office on the right hand side.
Go to the Gate of India and buy a return ticket (Rs120).
Spend a good hour relaxing on the ferry (an extra rs 10 to sit on top deck).
At Elephanta Island, take the train (rs 10 return) along the jetty, pay a couple of rs to get in and face the walk - a sheer cliff face with steps cut into it and wall-to-wall stalls.
The first cafe (on the left) going up the hill is realy good.
Great fun, it was my first full day in India.
Watch out for the (thieving) monkeys - they jump out and grab whatever takes their fancy, bags, crisps and water bottles,
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