In India we loved – Staying in Heritage hotels, the food, the musicians and dancers, the Taj Mahal, the cricket, Amber, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur forts, boating past the City and Lake Palaces at Udaipur, amazing temples, the overnight train trip between Udaipur and Delhi and of course shopping. Favourite meal – Mark rated butter chicken, tandoori chicken, Kashmiri mutton and Muglai chicken. Karen enjoyed all the vegetarian options especially spinach with paneer and vegetable korma. The different types and flavours of flat bread are excellent to accompany any meal. Favourite drink – When it’s hot you can’t go past a cold Kingfisher beer or cold bottled water. Karen loved the masala tea.
Great places to stay – Bhanwar Vilas Palace heritage hotel in Karauli. Alwar Burga Resort in Alwar. Bhairon Vilas heritage hotel in Bikaner. Devi Bhawan heritage hotel in Jodhpur. Dera Khairwa fort/palace in the village of Khairwa. A desert camp.
Great places to eat – Indique restaurant in Jodhpur. Make sure you are on the rooftop level. Saffron restaurant in Jaisalmer. The rooftop level is the place to be here too. Gallops restaurant in Bikaner, just near the massive palace/fort. In the desert under the moon and stars. In Udaipur it’s hard to go past Ambrai restaurant for excellent food and amazing views of both the Lake and City Palaces. At night the views are even better when they are floodlit.
Unexpected highlights – Being in a traffic jam caused by a festival procession. Visiting a primary school in the town of Karauli. Seeing international one day cricket in Jaipur between Australia and India. Going on safari at Sariska Tiger Reserve and actually getting to see a Bengal tiger. Being invited to a wedding procession for a groom in the village of Khairwa.
What you must do when you travel to India – Take a camera and a video camera and carry them everywhere. Take an overnight train. Make sure you don’t have a big day after it as you might not sleep as well as we did. Get out of the cities and into the towns and villages.
What you should avoid – Driving yourself –leave it to a local to dodge all the other crazy drivers! Stray dogs in the cities. Hawkers selling stuff you don’t want or need. What you won’t find at home – Cows (or sheep or goat herds) in the middle of a freeway road. Public clothes washing and bathing. Water pumps being used as the motor for a tractor. Public cremations. Tractors on a freeway.
What you need to be prepared for – Anything and everything – it isn’t called Incredible India without reason! 1.3 billion friendly people. Stomach bugs. We used Travelan, a probiotic tablet which we took before eating. Also only drink bottled or treated water. Stray dogs – have rabies shot before you go!