Shopping Delhi Markets

imageIndia 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.

India Cottage Industries

India Cottage Industries


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.

Chef from Spice Village a holistic retreat in Southern India, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Tiger at Ranthambore Park India

Suhail Gupta, me, Salim Ali, Martha Gaughen

Best tiger experience on the last day, last drive

The elusive tiger

Toby Sinclair – greatest guide in India

Our illustrious guide for the last game drive- Salim Ali and his father

Brownell weekend- best bosses in the world.

Image

India …

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.

Taj Mahal Bombay

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.

View of Dome -Taj Mumbai

View of the dome Taj Mumbai

Taj Mumbai

View from the room

Tintagel Hotel, Colombo Sri Lanka

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.

Julie in full makeup

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Julie, Julie, Julie

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.

Views in the Backwaters of Kerala

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Backwaters views

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Video of Mass at ST.Mary’s Kerala Backwaters

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Mass at St. Mary’s in Champakulam

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Sunset in the Backwaters of Kerala as seen from our houseboat.

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Attending Mass Kerala

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.

Backwaters of Kerala

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.

10 March, 2011 10:44

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Sunset in Kerala over the Chinese fishing nets

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Sterling Brownell Travel
Atlanta Georgia

Meenakshi Temple Madurai

PHOTO BY TOBY SINCLAIR, OUR ILLUSTRIOUS GUIDE
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Working our way through Southern India

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.

Stairwell of the Taj Mumbai

Stairwell Taj Mumbai

Stairwell Taj Palace Bombay

Stairwell Taj Mumbai

Yeardley Williams “What I will miss about India!”

My friend, Yeardley Williams wrote this. She was on the trip to India with us. She said it better that I could, so I asked her if I could send it to you. I posted a group of favorite pics on my blog, which can be accessed below. I am home and ready to work!

“I have just returned from an incredible 3 weeks in India, touring the palaces and forts of Rajasthan, going on tiger, wild game and bird safaris in 5 different national parks, cruising the Ganges at sunrise and sunset, participating in a Hindu Puja or prayer ceremony, visiting ancient temples, and seeing the truly beautiful and amazing Taj Mahal, again at sunrise and sunset.  India is an overwhelming awakening of all one’s senses and an education in ancient history and how it survives today on the subcontinent.  It is a complex country and must be taken as a whole while pondering the individual parts.  We stayed in 5 star hotels and jungle lodges even while immersing ourselves in the life of the cities, national parks and countryside.  Below are some impressions that are still with me:

What I will miss about India:

Being bowed to every morning and bowing back – the respect for life and all living things; the graciousness, good will, curiosity and big smiles of the Indian people; contentment combined with energy; an amazing diversity of interesting faces. 

Beauty – of the countryside and the national parks; the elegance and beauty of women in colorful saris, vermillion parts, bindis, bangles and gold jewelry; colorful turbans of the men; the richness of textiles; the ornamentation and embellishment of temples and palaces with jewels, glass, mirrors, tiles; lusciousness of fruit and vegetable stands; marigolds, roses and dahlias; silk merchants in ancient alleyways marketing sumptuous fabrics; patterns, textures and color everywhere. 

The vibrant history, culture and art of the subcontinent – learning about ancient cultures like the Mauryan, Gupta, Chandela and Mughul empires and the British Raj. 

Diversity and intricacy of Hindu, Arab, and Indo-Asian architecture from palaces and forts of Rajasthan to the temples at Khajuraho to the Taj Mahal. 

Learning about the interesting beliefs, religious practice and mythology of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

 Marveling at the chaos of cows, dogs, camels, buffalo in the middle of the streets sharing space with cars, colorful decorated trucks, camel carts, auto rickshaws, people powered rickshaws, horse carriages and many, many busy pedestrians.

Natural world and wildlife – seeing 6 of the 1200 remaining tigers in the wild, a leopard, jackals, sloth bear, wild boar, langurs, deer and antelope like chital, sambar, nilgai, blackbuck, barking deer and swamp deer, crocodiles, and an amazing array of colorful and rare birds too numerous to name. Tracking a tiger on elephant back. Learning to identify alarm calls when a predator is approaching.  Driving through teak forests, sal forests, banyan and ghost trees. 

Our incredible guides and naturalists who were so knowledgeable and eager to share their love of their country – its wildlife, history and traditions.

 A strong sense of the spiritual which undergirds and grounds everything.  I don’t think it is possible not to be touched by the Indian desire and hope for truth, peace and enlightenment and a release from the chaos and cravings of the world.  The sacredness and connection of all living things are palpable.

In summary, this is a marvelous destination for the adventurous of mind and heart.  I highly recommend it!”

Toby Sinclair

India – as corrected by Toby Sinclair!

I asked Toby Sinclair my friend, guide and ultimate authority for all things India to correct a paragraph or two of my blog. It was so amusing, I am putting in the whole thing corrections and all. Corrections are in CAPS. Enclosed is a picture of him.
Let me start by saying that Tigers and Leopards are extremely elusive. Chances of seeing them are slim and none. The only consolation is that there are many many other fascinating animals to see in the parks. Chittle (CHITAL) deer and Samba (SAMBAR) Deer, Sloth Bears, White monkeys with black faces (HANUMAN LANGURS), Eagles, Kingfishers, Storks, cranes, and a large variety of predator birds.
At this time of the year game drives are very very cold in the morning. One needs glove, stocking caps, windbreakers, and fleece jackets. You can peel off layers, but it is really cold (WHEN YOU SET OUT IN THE HALF LIGHT BEFORE DAWN). The lodges supply hot water bottles and blankets, and you need al of it. You must have good binoculars and a long lens camera. Often the tigers and leopards are in brush and (BUT NOT NECESSARILY) far away. Afternoons get warm so you can take off layers. Drive can be very dusty, hot, and very very bumpy. There can be long periods of seeing nothing but beautiful jungle. Some jungles are teak, some are of a wood called Saab, and some are semitropical.
The parks we visited were Pench, Kahna (KANHA), Bangadavgarh (BANDHAVGARH), and Panna. We saw tigers and one leopard in the first three, and the last Panna was beautiful. There is an amazing temple complex called Khujahjo (AT KHAJURAHO)- I am slaying the spelling- that one should absolutely not miss when in Middle (CENTRAL) India. The Lodges were all different and each had it’s own personality: Baghvan, Banjar Toli (TOLA)- tented camp-Mahua Kohti (KOTHI), and Pasha Garh.
We are now in Ranthanbor (RANTHAMBHORE TIGER RESERVE) Preserve- the biggest (BY NO MEANS THE BIGGEST) and best of all. It was the hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Jaipur.The park was nationalized by the Brisitsh (NO…IT REMAINED WITH THE JAIPUR FAMILY TILL THE EARLY 1960S)  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 Nat Geo channel(6 HOURS FOR THE BBC/PBS) and it was our privilege to have him with us guiding the trip the all the way till he had to leave in Varanasi. 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….

Favorite Photos from India

I have downloaded some of my very favorite pictures from India to Picasa.  You may access them through this web address:

http://picasaweb.google.com/cwhit6/FavoritesOfIndia02?feat=email#

Enjoy!

Tiger sighting

/

The last day …

For the last afternoon game drive at Ranthambore only Martha Gaughan,
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.

Birds of India

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Getting ready to tiger track on elephants

/

Tiger Tracking

India … Highlights so far!

Let me start by saying that Tigers and Leopards are extremely elusive. Chances of seeing them are slim and none. The only consolation is that there are many many other fasinating amimals to see in the parks. Chittle deer and Samba Deer, Sloth Bears, White monkeys with black faces, Eagles, Kingfishers, Storks, cranes, and a large variety of predatory birds.
At this time of the year, game drives are very, very cold in the morning. One needs glove, stocking caps, windbreakers, and fleece jackets. You can peel off layers, but it is realy cold. The lodges supply hot water bottles and blankets, and you need all of it. You must have good binoculars and a long lense camera. Often the tigers and leopards are in brush and far away. Afternoons get warm so you can take off layers. The drive can be very dusty, hot, and very very bumpy. There can be long periods of seeing nothing but beautiful jungle. Some jungles are teak, some are of a wood called Saab, and some are semitropical.
The parks we visited were Pench, Kahna, Bangadavgarh, and Panna. We saw tigers and one leopard in the first three, and the last Panna was beautiful. There is an amazing temple complex called Khajurao that one should absolutely not miss when in Middle India. The Lodges were all different and each had it’s own personality: Baghvan, Banjar Toli- tented camp-Mahua Kohti, and Pasha Garh.
We are now in Ranthanbor 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….

Saddath/Ganges/Amber Fort

Yesterday we went to Varanasi. the oldest city in India, maybe in the world. Near there, Buddha made his first sermon- Saddath. We took a river cruise on the Ganges the most sacred river in India to see the evening ceremony. Quite a spectacle. Thousands of people (pilgrims) gather on the steps called Ghats( pronounced Gots) and celebrate a ceremony by the Brahmin priests. Lots of singing and chanting, incense and dancing. Toby, our amazing guide, continues to regale us with information about the history of religion, especially Hindism and Buddhism and how it fits into world history. I have some wonderful lectures of him talking on video. Yesterday we took another crruise on the Ganges for sunrise and it was amazing. The Hindus feel sunrise is the most sacred time because the sun’s reflection forms a Lingium on the Ganges. Today we are at the Rambagh Palace. We will go to Amber Fort today, one of my favorite forts. One used to ride elephants up to the fort, but conservationists like Toby are trying to get that stopped because of mistreatment of the elephants. Toby left us last night to go work on a fiming for the black tiger in Assam. We will miss him, but now have the head of the company Suhail with us. Looking forward to completing our tour with him!

Varanasi-World’s Oldest City

 

We have been thru the 4 camps. Each camp had wonderful accomodatons. I videoed the rooms. Of the 4 camps, Bangavdharh Had the most tigers and leopards. All camps had wondeful birds and other animals. Of course we were looking for Tigers. Seeing one is very exciting! We are in Varanasi now, the oldest city in the world and one of the most spiritual. We will be going to Saddarth where Buddha preached his first sermon this afternoon

Mahua Kothi and Tiger video

We are at the third camp Mahua Kothi. Very very good camp.

http://sharing.theflip.com/session/e316022c2a19e963a4903b0c8e1a4f8d/video/9889319

We have seen some amazing tigers, and one awesome leopard. Food has been outstanding. Each camp seems to be more luxurious than the last, and they are all luxurious. I am taking a lot of video and tons of pictures. 

Toby Sinclair – Our world renowned tour guide!

One of the most amazing parts of this journey is our tour guide, the world famous conservationist, filmmaker and photographer, Toby Sinclair.  He was responsible for the India volume of the Planet Earth Series

More information about his experience can be found http://www.indiasafaris.com/the_photographer

First Tiger Sighting

We saw our first tiger today and she was gorgeous!  HUGE and had two cubs.  What a thrill!! At Bagh Van today.  Pench National Park in the middle of India where Jungle Book was written.  Teak forest jungle.  Today was a wonderful birthday present for Meg Nolan, our leader.  We are driving through the countryside now to the next park – Kahana.