Hotels we loved in Ladakh and Bhutan. All had extraordinary staff:well trained, warm, welcoming and could not do enough to make us happy. Food was far beyond my expectations- especially at Chamba Camp, Amankora Thimpu and Uma Paro. The hotels were far more sophisticated than I expected. This region is a must visit on so many levels.
What an amazing experience! andBeyond India outdid themselves! Every detail was carefully thought out. The trip was completely seamless from the minute we stepped off the plane in Delhi and met with a big smile by Namgyal Wangchuk. Our shopping day in Delhi with Gagan was so interesting. We loved the restaurant Latitude, on top of Good Earth in Kahn Market. Great suggestion, Gagan.
The adventure in Ladakh was stellar, thanks to our resident expert guide, Dhammo. I found Ladakh to be an very spiritual experience. The art and monasteries were incredible. The tented camp is a must for any travelers to Ladakh, and the scenery is breathtaking.
Bhutan was glorious, culminating with our hike to Tigers Nest. Our experience was one of the most memorable we have ever had, and we will return. The people in each country were warm, welcoming and it came straight from their heart. I will not forget those big white welcoming smiles.
Destination: Changangkha Lhakhang
Built in 12th century, Changangkha Lhakhang is oldest temple in Thimphu. It is hovering over a ridge above Thimphu, Bhutan. Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo who came to Bhutan from Ralung in Tibet chose this site to build this lhakhang. The Lhakhang houses Chenrizig: an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation of Avolokitesawara as the central statue.
I am in Delhi with &Beyond India. Hard to beat &Beyond India’s accomplishments. A complete service, travel company with personal connections that enable you to experience your every travel wish.
Because the Oberoi is closed for renovation, they suggested the Lodhi. And what a spectacular suggestion it was!
Service is above any standard I have seen, sleek elegant rooms, amazing Spa, two restaurants- On the Waterfront, is one of the top in the city. A completely divine hotel.
Delhi is a beautiful vibrant city, full of countless historic sightseeing and shopping options but all I want to do is hang out at this beautiful hotel!
The Ultimate Travelling Camp introduced luxury camping in Ladakh through The Chamba Camp at Thiskey, near Leh. The camp creates a luxury experience such as visits to Ladakh’s famous monasteries, hiking the many trails in the Himalayan mountains, rafting down the River Indus, and simply enjoying the silence amidst the most picturesque and unforgettable views. Ladakh is still an unspoiled destination full of gentle, warm people. The welcome is heartfelt and everywhere you look the landscapes are breathtaking.
India is at the top of my list for high quality craftsmanship. For jewelry, textiles, pashminas, marble decorative accessories, lacquer painting, art, and rugs -India has the best.
One of the best ways to find the best in India’s arts and crafts are through their Markets.
I found a great resource on India markets from Marieke’s Art of living – India.
The place to start is the central cottage industries emporium. Set up by the government, it brings in vendors from all over the cluntry, so all types of crafts are represented. They have a fixed price rule and no one bothers you. You can see what India has to offer and base their prices on what you see in later markets.
Santushti was one of my favorites, chic, quiet, peaceful and decidedly upmarket. Developed by the Air Force Wives Association, it has a small select number of tented boutiques where apparel, furnishings, decorative accessories and fashion accessories are available in a elegant garden setting with cottages selling the most elegant wares from housewares,books , exquisite clothing, pashminas, tea etc.
Sunder Naga, not far from the Lodhi hotel -this genteel enclave specialises in jewellery, fine pashminas, gold, silver and “antiquey” things, Indian and Nepali handicrafts. There are two outstanding teashops here: Regalia Tea House and Mittal Tea House– see further notes below
Khan Market, much favoured by the expat community and wealthy Delhi citizens for the wonderful Neemrana shop that stocks lovely homewares, bath products and unguents, reproduction silver, well-designed clothing, as well as interesting sari and shoe shops.
Kahn has amarpuli, a fine Indian jewelry shop with both old and new designs. From sold gold and silver to gold plated copies.
Some shops with contemporary clothing such as Anokhi, their only store with a collection of “Special Edition” pieces upstairs, as well as a new salon of Shahnaz Husain ayurvedic beauty treatments. Two top shops worth exploring are FabIndia with India cottons designed into fresh fashion. And Good Earth another good shop for elegant Ibdian fashion, decorative accessories and on the top floor, housesthe charming restaurant, Latitude with organic, farm to table salads, and light Indian specialties. Also Biotique with its superb range of Ayurvedic-based natural beauty products, good tailors, exotic fruits, olive oil, imported wines.
Go early in the day, around 10, soon after the shops open rather than mid to late afternoon when it becomes very congested.
4000 talented travel consultants, suppliers and press converge in Las Vegas one week each year to connect, learn and enhance their clients’ travel experience. The energy and passion for this travel connection is immense. Classes are offered by the top travel experts in the business- highlighted by Helen Nodland, and the always delightful Ann Scully. An active network called VAST offers an all day exposition to better learn about the latest and greatest offerings in the active travel industry.
We meet hotel General Managers, heads of hotel marketing, destination management companies, tour operators, safari operators, airline representatives, destination wedding suppliers, and sales directors from all over the world – 396 meetings over a four day period. We meet before the general meetings, at specialized luncheons, cocktail parties and dinners, in addition to the 396 presentations. By the time the week is over, I can say I am thoroughly ensconced in travel information. I came home energized, inspired, armed with the best information and fabulous new connections to enable me to make my clients dreams come true.
From time to time I come across a particularly special food item and I ask for the recipe. We were In Southern India at Spice Village Resort. We were amazed at the quality of the food there, of course all organically grown,fresh from the garden, and totally wholesome. The menus were inventive and presentation was beautiful. This is a small out of the way resort, so we had not expected great dining and we were pleasantly surprised!!we were up for an early morning hike and these cookies were piled on a large platter for fortification. Divine! Thanks to chef PJ Aneesh
WHOLE MEAL CHOCOLATE & COFFEE COOKIES
BUTTER 175 GRAMS
BROWN SUGAR 200 GRAMS
EGG (OPTIONAL) 1 NUMBER
PLAIN FLOUR 70 GRAMS
BAKING SODA 1 TEASPOON
WHOLEMEAL FLOUR 70 GRAMS
BRAN 1 TEASPOON
CHOCO CHIP 200 GRAMS
ROLLED OATS 85 GRAMS
COFFEE POWDER 1 TEASPOON
MULTIGRAIN MIXES 100 GRAM
CREAM THE BUTTER & SUGAR .FOLD IN THE EGG TO IT.
MIX TOGETHER REMAINING ALL INGREDIENTS AND GENTLY MIX IT WITH THE BUTTER-SUGAR CREAM TO MAKE SMOOTH DOUGH.
TAKE AROUND 10 GRAMS OF MIX & PRESS IT BETWEEN THE PALMS TO GET A MEDALLION SHAPE.
PLACE IT ON A GREASED TRAY. REPEAT FOR THE ENTIRE DOUGH.
BAKE IT ON 160 C FOR 20-22 MINUTES.
REMOVE FROM OVEN & COOL IT ON WIRE RACK.
A few months ago I received an email from Lt. Marcus D’Silva who is serving our country in Kuwait. He had found a post I had made on my blog in February of 2010 about India and tiger tracking. He asked if I could help him have a similar adventure. Of course I immediately put him in touch with Toby Sinclair, and Suhail Gupta of India Safaris( Now & Beyon India- a Virtuoso company) and Salim Ali our illustrious guide at Ranthambore State Park. I told Toby and Suhail to please do everything they could to make Lt. D’Silva’s experience the best possible. As it turned out, Salim was on assignment with National Geographic, so they found Salim’s younger brother to do the guiding. Salim knows all the best sighting places. After lots of back and forth making arrangements, the trip was finally set. I was nervous because Tiger sightings are really rare, so I held my breath.
This is a portion of the thank you I received from Lt. D’Silva this week:
Catherine, Toby, Suhail, Farooq, Daljeet,
Captain Pritchard and I would like to express our sincerest thanks to all of you for organizing the game drives in Ranthambhore for the two of us. 6 drives and 5 tiger sightings up close and personal. I found myself a little sick the morning we bumped into each other Toby but we drove on with the mission (as we say in the army) and had two sightings that day. Farooq your guidance was truly exceptional. Suhail your services were most appreciated and Daljeet was extremely helpful in coordinating everything. Catherine none of this would have been possible if not for your blog and your initial assistance.
Princes and presidents could not have paid any amount to assure an experience akin to what we experienced on our trip. It was a memorable experience and one of the highlights of our journey through India.
This letter is the ultimate compliment and what we consultants are all about: making a memorable sometimes life changing experience for my client. Re posts of the blog entries and pictures are below.
We are now in Ranthambore Preserve- the biggest and best of all. It was the hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur.The park was nationalized b y the Brisitsh and turned into a park in 1974. We had the distinct pleasure of meeting the first park director Fateh Singh rathore, who photographed the tigers in that park for 30 years. His driver for those 30 years had a son Salim Ali, and Salim was our guide. I would send any client with Salim unless he is off filming with a crew from BBC, National Geographic or Toby Sinclair. Toby did the film Land of the Tiger- a must see on National Geographic channel and it was our privilege to have him with us guiding the trip the all the way until he had to leave in VarNASI. He is off working on a film about the black Tiger at the present.
We sighted 2 tigers the first days at Ranthambore, and on the 2nd afternoon had an unbelievable adventure!
To be continued….
For the last afternoon game drive at Ranthambore only Martha Gaughen, Suhail and I visited the park. The rest of the girls stayed at
Vanyavilas. Upon entering the second gate to the park, we had the privilege of meeting Salim’s father who was Fateh Singh Rathore’s driver( the 1st director of Ranthambore National park). Salim’s father drove Fateh Singh Rathore for 30 years, and they photographed tigers for 8 books. As I wrote in the last blog, Salim’s father looked at us and said “the tigress awaits”. Which of course threw us into a fit of excitement. True to his word and because Salim is such an instinctive guide, we saw a rare happening- a tiger charging a Shambar deer! THEN we followed the tiger (who missed the deer) 2 more times and that video is also amazing.
On May 16th, the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal will open at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). This state-of-the-art, LEED-certified terminal will accommodate more passengers and make international travel a breeze.
Most international flights will arrive at Concourses E or F, although some international flights from “pre-cleared” countries will arrive on Concourses T through D.
If Atlanta is your final destination:
You will proceed through Passport Control and claim your baggage at the new international terminal.
You will no longer need to recheck your baggage upon exiting Customs.
There is a passenger pickup area and ground transportation center at the new international terminal.
From the international terminal, complimentary shuttles are available to both the domestic terminal which includes MARTA, as well as to the rental car center.
Since you are departing Atlanta prior to the new terminal’s opening and returning after its opening, please note the following:
If you parked at the domestic terminal and your flight arrives at the international terminal, you may take the complimentary shuttle bus to the domestic terminal.
If someone is picking you up at the airport, please let him or her know you will arrive at the new international terminal, which is accessible from Interstate 75.
Please visit delta.com for more information about the international terminal.
I am assaulted with a riot of color in the the structures, cars, costumes and sari’s. The simplest worker on the road is colorful and elegant. There is a dignity and peacefulness with the people we meet. They are so happy to meet us- their smiles light up their faces.
Toby Sinclair, our illustrious leader, is a bottomless fount of information about Indian History. Toby tidbits: there is a connection with New England and Southern India. Ice was shipped from NE. It was packed in sawdust in the early 1700’s and was a huge industry. The ship took 6 months to get from new England to Madras. It was off loaded to an icehouse in Madras. There were icehouses in Calcutta and Bombay also. The ice came from “kettle ponds” in Massachusetts. Walden’s pond was one of the Kettle Ponds.
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of staying at the venerable Taj Bombay. I am delighted to say the renovation is perfect and it is ready for Primetime!! The colors are fresh and appealing everywhere I went, especially in the public rooms. The service was impeccable as only India can do it. I will place clients there with great confidence that they are in impeccable hands.
Catherine – your pictures are great! This one reminds me a lot of the reclining Vishnu we saw last year.
Yeardley S. Williams
205-414-7173 Brownell Office
Travel Beyond Your Expectations
A Virtuoso Member – Specialists in the Art of Travel
A member of the Tzell Travel Group
Said to be the original garden of Eden, Sri Lanka- formerly Ceylon- is lush and so green. I have seen many varieties of trees and flowers from coconut palms to rubber trees. I have never seen bigger and fuller Frangipani. Mangos are in season. Acres, and acres of rice fields. Our first stop was the hotel Vil Uyana, a Small Luxury Hotel, which means Lake garden. Only 4 years old, it was delightful. One can drive from Colombo- about 3 hours or one can take a helicopter- 30 minutes. They have a pad. We were there because nearby are the 8th wonder of the world, Sigiriya and the ancient city of Polonnaruwa – The ancient heart of Sri Lanka. An important royal capital with its well-preserved 12th century ruins & impressive stone culture recalls an inspired past. Although nearly 1000 years old, it is much younger than Anuradhapura and generally in better repair. The monuments are arranged in a reasonably compact garden setting and their development is easier to follow.
We spent the morning climbing the spectacular Sigiriya rock fortress with its rocky abode & water gardens. 1200 steps, yikes! Sigiriya is famous for its toadstool of golden-hued granite, protruding into the searing blue sky from a hot, flat wilderness of scrubland, which is transformed in the rainy season to a water garden. In the 5th century King Kashyapa domesticated the Lions Rock, by building a palace atop its summit. Sigiriya commemorates some of the turbulence of Sri Lanka’s history.
Evening was massage time- divine! Then gin and tonics by the invisible edge pool watching multitudes of birds including eagles, bee eaters, kingfishers, storks, egrets-and those are only the names I know. They were everywhere. In the early morning we participated in a blessing ceremony for the beginning of the rice harvest. The whole hotel staff and some of the villagers were there. It was a privilege to attend this very moving ceremony.
On the last night of our amazing adventure, we attended a Kathakali Dance performance in Cochi. It is an elaborate classical dance, and we were looking forward to the costumes and the color as much as the dance itself. The troup is heavily made up and the colors are very vivid. Julie, who has kept us cracked up on the whole trip with her fabulous wit, surprised us by having the makeup done at the dance center before we arrived. We thought she did not feel well, and had decided not to come out with us. Were we surprised!!! No disrespect to the Classical dancers the performance was wonderful.
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Catherine Whitworth CTA
Marari Beach, Kerala. Marhta Gaughen and I went to mass a few days ago, at Marari beach. It was described as a Latin mass, the ceremony was comfortably Catholic but the language and music were Indian. All the ladies were dressed in their best and most colorful saris. Men were on one side and ladies were on the other. All sat on the floor I sat in the back and was struck by the beauty of all those covered heads in glourious colors. It looked like a field of multicolored flowers. The music was enchanting. Christianity was brought to India by ST. Thomas in 52AD. We saw his tomb and the Basilica built above it. Mylapore’s Basilica of San Thome is said to be the final resting place of St. Thomas the Apostle. Legend relays that St. Thomas, one of Jesus Christ’s 12 disciples, was martyred at St. Thomas’s Mount after spending his final years preaching the gospel on the nearby beach. The Basilica’s stain glass windows depict the saint’s life and deeds, and superbly carved wooden panels describe Christ’s final days.
We departed Cochin and I so sadly separated from my traveling buddies, Meg North, Martha Gaughen, Vicki Upchurch, Yeardley Williams, and Julie Lemish. I had an even better traveling buddy arriving, my husband, Gerry. Our first stop was to the Backwaters of Kerala on a houseboat! It was a delightful experience! The whole houseboat was just for us. We had a crew of 3 men, Shadib, Jacob( a wonderful cook) and Shadeesh. They welcomed us with Jasmine leis and a delicious fruit drink. We just took off our shoes and relaxed. I ordered wine, and they had a great red wine brand, Grover. We stopped along our way at a very old vilage, Champakluam. We visited an amazing Basilica, St. Mary’s and a Mass was going on. Again it was the most amazing experience. All the ladies were on one side in their colorful Saris and the men were on the other. A very moving service. They were all singing when we got there so I’m enclosing a video. The church was built in the 5th century by the Portugese. We then reboarded our houseboat and were served a most delicious dinner of vegetables, fish fillets, fresh, pineapple, Nan, and wine.
One of the main attractions of Chettinad is the huge country homes of the Chettiars. These ancestral houses, that were built more than 100 years ago, have massive high walled structures and were decorated with the finest of wood and craftsmanship. They are packed with imported period furniture, chandeliers, curios and paintings. The Chettinad museum, which is housed in an old converted house. It showcases the traditional jewellery, textiles, household implements and utensils, and all other unique lifestyle products of the Chettiyars. We checked into a beautiful country house hotel called Visalam.