Has India improved since 1983 -The answer!

 

Day 15

 

Decided we have had enough Culture so off shopping to Fab India, bought some Salwar Kameez, I bought three in their Cochin branch and have lived in them, so cool and you need to cover up here to avoid offending their culture, also they are gorgeous!

 

In the early evening we set off to the countryside for an Elephant ride and dinner.  The elephants are really well looked after by a rather dishy Rajput chap called Reggie who has about 10 elephants and Mahouts.  So much better than the Touristy elephant rides in Amber up to the Fort, where they now have better welfare and restricted working hours I am pleased to hear.  We went off into the warm scented dusk and it was like being on a boat, halfway round some chaps appeared by an old temple and offered us some delicious Indian Sauvignon blanc, shame to refuse!

 

Then drinks and dinner in an open air restaurant, all very Out of Africa and quite un-forgettable.

 

Back through the awful Jaipur traffic, today is Gandhi’s Birthday, so an official holiday.  Everyone is going out, saw a lot of ladies in glittering saris perched on the back of a motorbike with helmets on!

 

Day 16

 

Lazy morning by the pool and then had a bad idea to go to The Jowari Bazaar in the Old Town, maximum hassle and a load of old tat, fled to Anokhi, a good Indian/European shop with a cafe.  Lovely bedspreads and napkins, but the clothes make me look like an old hippy!

 

Last dinner at an Italian restaurant at another Maharaja’s Palace, The Narian Niwas, two a penny round here!  So good not to eat curry!

 

Day 17

 

Fly off to Delhi and then home!

 

 

BEST BITS

 

Imperial Hotel, Delhi

 

Nehru’s and Ghandi’s Houses in Delhi

 

Kerala

 

Elephant Safari at Dera Amer

 

Feeling of safety – probably due to the excellence of the drivers, Prakesh and Yasvinder.

 

Good manners of most Indians

 

WORST BITS

 

Jaipur traffic!

 

Hot spicy currys in Jaipur

 

Head waggling and shrugging at the same time by some reception staff in Rajasthan when you wanted an answer!

 

Pi. Dogs, very sad.

 

Heat, need to go in October to Feb when it cools down a bit (but costs more)

 

To answer my initial question, India has improved immensely and although there is still rubbish about the place, Mr Modi is wielding a broom to encourage everyone to tidy up and not just expect the untouchables to do it.  I loved my holiday and would like to go back to Southern India and visit Mysore and Pondicherry.

 

 

Drinking on an elephant is harder than it looks!

Drinking on an elephant is harder than it looks!

Share on Facebook

Has India improved since 1983 -continued

Day 11 continued

detailed decoration at Karauli Palace

detailed decoration at Karauli Palace

IMG_0302 IMG_0135We are staying at The Maraharaja of Karaui’s Palace, built in 1930, it is a time warp, full of furniture from that age and stuffed tigers.  We have a lovely suite of rooms surrounded by a verandah, so atmospheric!

There was a delicious vegetarian lunch served in the 20 seater dining room, huge Billiard room next door, only friendly staff for company.

We wandered the gardens to find a row of numbered garages all with classic cars including a 1940 Buick, a 1950’s Desoto car with fins and the Maraharaja’s crest, a Charabanc and a Willys jeep.  There is an Organic farm with dairy cows and Marwari Horses with funny pointy ears.  My sister was allowed to ride one in the morning and was in heaven!

 

Day 12

 

Up early to visit the old 14C Palace that the Royal family left in 1930’s when present Palace was built.

 

The only residents now are the monkeys, who our guide tells us have gone off for breakfast at the local market!

 

It is such a privilege to be totally alone, you can almost see the ghosts.  We were shown all the way up to the roof, the 16th Century Women’s Quarters were covered with intricate wall paintings and the Honeymoon suite was encrusted with breathtaking iridescent mosaics.  The women may have lived in Purdah but it was a beautiful gilded cage.

 

Heat stoking up so after lunch sat in the covered verandah on a hilarious suite of 1960’s chairs.  Anyone who is a fan of Retro furnishings would be going nuts here!

 

Had a swim in the very old fashioned pool in the walled garden, feeling a bit guilty about the water shortage here, but they filled it up for guests so we should use it.

 

Day 13

 

Walking the gardens, e-mailing (great to have WiFi!), then a great bustle as The Maharaja and  Maharani are arriving from Jaipur. All the staff have put on their smart uniforms and berets with a crest.  We were kindly invited to dine with them and their son who is in his 20’s.  We had a good talk about the organic farming methods they use and their efforts to educate the villagers to save water.  The Monsoon Rains have been inadequate for the last few years and it is becoming a problem. Their son is trying to market the property on the internet as he does not have the huge marketing budget of the larger hotels.

 

Day 14

 

3 hours to Jaipur, the traffic is a huge shock, they are building a new Metro in the centre which is causing huge congestion.  The old red walled city has tiny roads and everyone is cramming down them at once!  At least there is always something to look at when stuck in traffic and not many beggars to pester you.

 

Our hotel, The Alsisar Haveli is a little gem, an old town house of a Maharaja, it is a calm oasis with little courtyards and a very Arabic feel to it.

 

We went to an amazing Jewellery shop down a scruffy back street that my sister uses a lot. I had great fun choosing some beautiful Aquamarine earrings, pendant and ring to mark my 25th wedding anniversary! The staff are not at all pushy and let you look at loads of eye popping jewels!

Share on Facebook

India-has it improved since my last visit in 1983?

Day 9

 

Up at 06:00 to see The Taj Mahal which was worth the hassle, lots of queueing and already quite hot.  So simple yet intricate, a humbling thought that it was built 400 years ago as a tomb for a favourite wife who died in childbirth having her 14th child at 38 years old.

 

Off to Baratpur to stay in a Marharaja’s Palace, half way to Jaipur.

They have built a new palace right next door to the old one and it is very flash, all grand arches and beautiful painted walls.  We are staying in the old palace which has a bit more character, but feels a bit lifeless, maybe due to the 90 degree heat!  The pool is great so thankfully we stay by it and eat toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, bit sick of curry!

 

Day 10

 

Off to see the Kaledeo Bird Sanctuary, taken around by a bicycle Rickshaw as you are not allowed off on your own.  I felt like someone from Jewell in the Crown off to see Margery at the Club!

 

Day 11

 

Up early to see Bharatpur Fort, looks like a English castle from the outside, huge battlements.  Inside there are THREE palaces, but they have only been able to afford to restore the 16th Century one.  The Hammann is so pretty, the painted walls look like a Liberty print and the White marble is so delicate.

 

Four hour drive to Karauli, due to a diversion via a railway crossing where every bus, car, Tuk Tuk, Camel and tractor were trying to cross at once!  We are really heading off into deepest country, through some really shabby towns, goats, pigs and cows sifting through the rubbish, but the people look happy.

M

Share on Facebook

India-has it improved since my last visit in 1983?

Sixth day

 

Picked up by our driver, Prakash in his (thankfully) air conditioned vehicle to drive us up into the countryside in Kerala to stay at an organic farm.  This is a new concept to me called a ‘Homestay’, it is more personal than a hotel and you meet real people!  The farm is called Dewalokham. The place is run very well by Joss and Sinta who have built a vast beautiful house for guests, they live in the small one next door!  We were welcomed by a group of ladies who gave us garlands and bindi marks to bless us, as well as smoke to drive out bad spirits!

 

Joss showed us around the farm, everything from papayas to peppercorns grows here and they have Buffalo (grumpy), goats and dairy cows. I swam in their huge freshwater swimming pool overlooking a clear, fast flowing river, then G&T on the terrace before a perfect dinner. I could get used to this very quickly!

 

Seventh day

 

Off far too early to fly to Delhi with Indigo Air, very new aircraft and smiling staff, no stray cats and dogs at the airport, no slums or beggars on the journey into the city, where have they gone?!

 

A huge surprise is sweeping into the drive of The Imperial Hotel, which is one of the hotels you hear about and never think you can afford.

My sister said it was only about £80.00 more a night than the other hotels, so why not!  The hotel was built in 1911, when The Delhi Durbar was held and it has that ‘fin de siècle’ look and atmosphere.  Our room was exquisite, polished marble floor, silk rugs, antiques. I want to move in!  The whole place exudes opulence and good service and I am now officially ruined!

 

Sixth day

 

Picked up by our driver, Prakash in his (thankfully) air conditioned vehicle to drive us up into the countryside in Kerala to stay at an organic farm.  This is a new concept to me called a ‘Homestay’, it is more personal than a hotel and you meet real people!  The farm is called Dewalokham. The place is run very well by Joss and Sinta who have built a vast beautiful house for guests, they live in the small one next door!  We were welcomed by a group of ladies who gave us garlands and bindi marks to bless us, as well as smoke to drive out bad spirits!

 

Joss showed us around the farm, everything from papayas to peppercorns grows here and they have Buffalo (grumpy), goats and dairy cows. I swam in their huge freshwater swimming pool overlooking a clear, fast flowing river, then G&T on the terrace before a perfect dinner. I could get used to this very quickly!

 

Seventh day

 

Off far too early to fly to Delhi with Indigo Air, very new aircraft and smiling staff, no stray cats and dogs at the airport, no slums or beggars on the journey into the city, where have they gone?!

 

A huge surprise is sweeping into the drive of The Imperial Hotel, which is one of the hotels you hear about and never think you can afford.

My sister said it was only about £80.00 more a night than the other hotels, so why not!  The hotel was built in 1911, when The Delhi Durbar was held and it has that ‘fin de siècle’ look and atmosphere.  Our room was exquisite, polished marble floor, silk rugs, antiques. I want to move in!  The whole place exudes opulence and good service and I am now officially ruined!

 

The Imperial hotel

The Imperial hotel,Delhi

Being shown the gin menu at the Imperial!

Share on Facebook

India-has it improved since my last visit in 1983?

INDIA – Has it improved since my last visit in 1983?

 

I have avoided India since my last visit over thirty years ago due to the usual reasons you hear, poverty, Delhi belly, pests etc  But my Sister, who loves the place, persuaded me to give the place a chance on a trip accompanied by her. She said she would show me how much India had improved.  So here goes, armed with an iPad and an open mind!

 

Day one

 

Fort Cochin, Kerala

 

A very Dutch/Portuguese/English feel to the place, due to the historical links with the spice trade.

 

We are staying at The Eighth Bastion, a boutique hotel just back from The Arabian Sea.This very simple and elegant with huge rooms and lovely bathrooms, our room has a balcony from which we can see the sea..  The Southern Indians are very relaxed and polite, no in your face pestering,walking along the beach promenade on my own in the early morning is fine, no beggars! I love taking the Tuk Tuk’s around at about 20p a journey, visiting the Spice Markets and the stunning Portuguese church. The staff at the hotel are amazing or maybe I am just used to rubbish service in UK!

 

Third Day

 

Coconut Lagoon, somewhere on Lake Vembanad.

 

Bliss!  Sitting on the verandah of our private wooden bungalow, overlooking the backwater leading to a huge lake, total tranquility!  Went to a Yoga Session overlooking the Paddy Fields this am, then a swim in the lovely pool, followed by an Ayurvedic massage,now undoing it all with a large G & T.  But I have been eating Vegetarian food as it is so delicious.  I love the staff here, very kind and you don’t feel they are fake, I hate it when hotel staff suck up to you just for a large tip.

 

First breakfast, A masala dosa. Lady sorting the ginger at a spice warehouse.

First breakfast, A masala dosa. Below, lady sorting the ginger at a spice warehouse in Cochin

 

IMG_0043

Share on Facebook

Honeymoon in Sri Lanka

Thank you so much for putting together such an amazing honeymoon for us!
It was incredible from start to finish. What an amazing country.
Your itinerary was just perfect, all the activities were brilliant, Sigiriya was incredible arrived first at the summit, loved the village tour and elephant ride.
Adrian and Barbara Ramini August 2014
 10615615_10154669993990647_647314811055279352_n
Share on Facebook

Sri Lanka great holiday feedback

P1060926-2P1060846-2Our recent trip to Sri Lanka was fantastic. We stayed in beautiful hotels, colonial and boutique, ate amazing food and saw interesting sights. Our driver was very knowledgeable and took us to extra places not set out in the itinerary. At one point he suddenly stopped and to our delight waited until forty two elephants had crossed the road! The success of the holiday was all due to Jane who listened to our requirements and devised an interesting trip visiting Colombo, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Nuwara Eliya and Galle. Everything worked like clockwork making the experience relaxing and enjoyable. Jane removed all the stress of bookings etc and all we had to do was sort out our flights. Thank you Jane for a great holiday.   Lizzie Bowen May 2014

Share on Facebook

The team in India

P1020602P1020601These photos show the drivers in Southern India, they are all employed on contract,not freelance, the cars are all leased and renewed once they are three years old. They are an excellent team providing knowledgeable and safe tours for my customers, the picture shows Bennet, Sanal, Anil and Prakash beside a Toyota Innova.

Share on Facebook

Excellent feed back from client visiting India for fourth time.

Points-South organised a brilliant trip for us. As this was our fourth trip to India and a return trip to the South (albeit after 25 years)  we were keen to experience something different.  Jane Points listened  and understood our requirements and produced a very well balanced itinerary based around homestays each of which had its own character. The home stays met our wish to  enjoy authentic Keralan cuisine (and learn how to cook it), do some walking and bird watching and enjoy local culture at our own pace and without any obligatory sightseeing. We did not want beach but we did want relaxation – and we got that in spades despite some longish car journeys;  we stayed at least two and sometimes three nights in each place allowing us time to unwind and really benefit from all that a home stay has to offer – including time to wander round local villages and visit local temples as well as chat with (always interesting)  fellow guests at the communal meals. Our hosts were wonderfully kind, taking us to an amazing festival at a local Hindu temple with decorated temple elephants and amazing music; to bathe elephants in the local river; and on forest walks and birdwatching excursions. Our driver  was efficient (always on time)  as well as charming and informative and bent over backwards to look after us – even suggesting and organising an impromptu stop at a nature reserve and finding us a guide at very short notice.

We would highly recommend this very different experience of India to anyone. Jane’s insights and enthusiasm and ‘on the ground’ knowledge obtained   from her personal visits and assiduous debriefs from her clientele  are invaluable.  Her personal touch extends to knowing and trying to ensure you have the best room and the right driver  – that attention to detail is hard to match!

 

Mandy Warnford-Davis March 2014

Share on Facebook

Indian Visa system simplified from October 2014

Great news! The over complicated and expensive Indian visa system is to be changed to a simple online application to be issued at India airport of entry, the new tourist visa will be for valid for 30 days, and hopefully much cheaper. This is planned to start from October 2014.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-26062351

India tourist visa scheme extended
www.bbc.co.uk
India’s government is to extend the country’s limited visa-on-arrival scheme to tourists from 180 countries in an attempt to boost tourism and business.
Share on Facebook