Chicago is positively freezing with below 0 temperatures and never ending snow storms. I am in need of a major thaw out, so here I come India.
Thank you Modern Luxury Interiors Magazine for Choosing AKD”s Tribeca Loft in your Best of Design 2019 issue. We are thrilled to be a part of it!
By the time you read this post, I will have just landed in the magnificent and colorful country of India, for my very first time. Sitting on layers and layers of history, I am excited to enjoy my days in the culturally rich cities of Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra, and Varanasi. I look forward to getting lost among the intricate architecture, shopping the bazaars (for the next AKD Pop Up Shop – hint, hint), feasting on their vegetarian fare, and pretending I am royalty in the palace hotels. We can all dream, can’t we?
Please, take a 2 minute break from the Chicago deep freeze and join me on my journey through India and my travels for the next 2 weeks. Here we go:
My very first city stop is in the Rajasthan city of Udaipur. Rajasthan is said to have more history than all of India combined. Laced with waterways, Udaipur is known as the “Venice of the East”. It is supposedly one of the most picturesque cities in India, set on three beautiful lakes and surrounded by hills. I am looking forward to shopping at the colorful bazaars I have heard so much about here. It sounds like it will be a dream destination.
Photo courtesy of: Taj Hotels and Palaces
In Udaipur, I will be staying at the world renowned Taj Lake Palace. It is, in fact, a converted white marble palace, that seems to float miraculously on the still waters of Lake Pichola. I am betting it is, perhaps, the world’s most romantic hotel as this 250 year old palace looks as if it blends serenity and opulence quite well. Just in time Valentine’s Day too 🙂
My second city stop is to the wonderful shopping mecca of Jaipur. Jaipur supposedly has one of the the finest city centers in the entire region for beautiful prints and is home to India’s largest center for semi-precious and precious gems. The Medieval back streets are filled with bazaars selling textiles, leather work, perfume, and Jaipur’s traditional blue pottery. I am already praying for self control.
Photo courtesy of: The Samode Haveli
The Samode Haveli was my choice of lodging in Jaipur due to its antique furniture, original works-or-art, and understated luxury. It only has 22 rooms that are furnished with with genuine antiques, original fixtures and old family portraits. Pinch. Me. Now.
Of course a stop to India would not be complete without a detour to the magnificent Taj Mahal. We will start our tour of “The Taj” at sunrise as the early morning sun turns the dome of the temple a soft, golden color. Taking 22 years and 20,000 laborers to construct, the white marble used in construction was quarried 200 miles away and transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. A pure demonstration of true love, as this was a gift from the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a gift to his wife. A Valentine’s Day idea for you lovers out there… Just sayin’…
Photo courtesy of: Life is Outside
The ITC Mughal is sprawled over 35 acres of luscious gardens and within walking distance to the Taj Mahal. This hotel is incredibly appealing as it is a tribute to the Mughal architecture of the mid-16th and late 17th Century, when the Mughal Empire was at its height. It is an architecture that combines Persian, Turkish and Indian styles of the times – with the most dominant characteristic being wide domes flanked by tall towers. How is that for an architecture lesson today?
Photo courtesy of: Goibibo
My final stop will be the city of Varanasi, also known as, kashi or “The City of Light”. Comprising of as many as 2000 temples, it is a major hub for pilgrims, particularly with the Ganges River flowing through it. The Ganges River is much more than a river to the one billion Hindus in India and beyond – It is their lifeblood. Not only does it provide sustenance in the form of fishing, industry and agriculture, it is also believed to transport the prayers of believers to heaven and a dip in the river is said to purify the soul. I think I might have to take a dip.
Photo courtesy of: Trip Advisor
Built in 1812 this hotel is the oldest landmark in Varanasi and, what looks like, the most enchanting structure along the Ganges River. The views from the terraces are supposed to be breathtaking as sunrise and sunset transpire over their cherished waterway.