I'm in love! There! I said it!
Let me explain. I'm frequently asked what is my favorite place in the world to travel. This question always makes me wonder - "what is my one favorite place in the world?." But I always come back to the same response - "it depends on my mood!" Today, I'm in the mood for India. I'm feeling romantic and longing for the special experiences that only India can provide. Of course, Zoom offers an amazing all-around India experience each year as a set departure focusing on Northern India. http://www.zoomvacations.com/India.
But what many still haven't caught onto is that I spend half of my time designing bespoke private trips for our guests who want to experience India and other places around the world solo or in the company of a few select family and friends. For instance, currently, I'm working on a number of tailor made special access private trips around the world focusing on Tuscan culinary, Venetian glass art, Myanmar Ayeryawaddy River and Inle lake, Laos temples and family visit, South America natural wonders and tango culture, France River barge cruising, Himalaya tented camp, Borneo orangutans and Bali spas, just to name a few. But more on that in the next few months. For now I'd like to tell you about a special place in India that you should know about today …. Jodhpur.
Jodhpur is the Indian city that tops most travelers’ bucket lists. It has deserts to explore, ancient forts and opulent palaces and exotic hotels. Even better, for those who yearn for out-of-the-ordinary experiences, it still has a living, ruling Maharajah, descendants of ancient dynasties which have passed down rich cultural legacies, and a vibrant cultural scene alive with ancient music, dance and arts. It's also the place where you may experience the world's largest private palace residence turned luxury hotel - Umaid Bhawan - recently awarded as the World's best hotel at the Traveller's Choice Award, and named number 1 on Advisor’s Top 25 Hotels in the World of 2016.
I recommend a choice of three festivals in Jodhpur which have been tried and tested, as the centerpiece of a private trip to India, which would also include must-see places like the Taj Mahal in Agra.
World Sacred Spirit Festival: The prestigious and historic Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur opens its doors each year to an extraordinary and sacred musical experience. Lit by the sparkling incandescence of a thousand candles, magnificent, hereditary spiritual arts take you on a journey, showcasing the origins of inspiring and meaningful traditions from all around the world. In dance, music and song, treasures of the Indian culture from Rajasthan to Kerala, nomadic poetry of the Silk Route from Kazakhstan to Afghanistan and Sufi rituals from Turkey and Egypt reveal themselves. The World Sacred Spirit Festival is an unforgettable experience in a truly magical setting. Dates: February 17 to 19, 2017.
Holi, the festival of Colors: Holi is a spring festival, a celebration of love, frolic, and colours. The celebrations will start with a traditional Holika bonfire and other festivities whereby the Royal family of Jodhpur will preside over the event. The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colours, where guests play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water. This exuberant Hindu festival is celebrated in style at the grand Umaid Bhawan Palace along with the Royal family. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget, forgive and repair ruptured relationships. Date: March 13, 2017.
Rajasthan International Folk Festival: RIFF attracts a plethora of top-notch musicians from across India and all around the world coming together in a place as striking as Jodhpur's Mehrangarh Fort. The RIFF has been endorsed by UNESCO as a "People's Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development" with the Maharaja of Jodhpur as its chief patron and Sir Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones as the international patron. Classical buffs would be able to hear masters of the sitar; young things could enjoy cool Indian collaborations with world musicians; and clubbers could dance on fort rooftops to the sound of international DJs. By day, everyone could wander the fort and enjoy drumming sessions for children, pantomime, juggling, theatre and whirling dervishes. The RIFF takes place during the night of the brightest full moon of the year! Date: October 2017
So, as you can see, there is lots to fall in love with India, whether on a group tour to see the highlights of Northern India and Rajasthan or with a more focused approach to a special place like Jodhpur in the company of family and/or friends.