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SWEETNESS AND SPICE
Describing today’s India variety is an impossible mission. India cannot be understood with words, only an experience in the country will reveal part of its richness: various cuisines, arts, dances, heritages, religions, cultures, architectures, music, handicrafts, traditions.... A country of diversity.
In Rajasthan’s Ranthambhore National Park, tigers, leopards, hyenas, antelopes and caracals frolic among the mango, tamarind and banyan trees. With its varied geography, including mountains, desert, jungle and 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) of coastline, India is home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna: the Bengal tigers of the Bandhavgarh reserve, the Marwari horses of the Jodhpur region… At sunset, when nature awakens from its torpor, visitors can savor the sounds of the forest along with a glass of Asha, a liqueur distilled from almonds, pistachios, herbs, honey, Himalayan saffron and various spices. Or learn the secrets of yoga and meditation as a prelude to a meatless meal, in a land where vegetarian Hindus make up threefourths of the population.
India’s spices are not just for sophisticated beverages — they are a basic part of the country’s cuisine. In Rajasthan, the bazaars of cities like Jaisalmer on the ancient “Silk and Spice Road” teem with vendors selling cumin, curcuma, jeera seed, coriander, fenugreek, chilis and cardamom. All are indispensable for making different curries, the aromatic blends used to flavor meats, fish and even simple vegetable dishes. The overland way to the West lost its importance after the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco da Gama. In 1502, Portuguese merchants opened a spice trading station in Kochi on the Malabar Coast. A century later, the Dutch, followed by the English and the French, established their own outposts, perpetuating the fortunes of the Rajas of Cochin and the Zamorins of Calicut.
Hotel and restaurant in the desert. Unobstructed, spectacular views of the dramatic wilderness of Rajasthan and only ten tents in the red light of the setting sun. Jawai is the most sophisticated and ecological way to discover this lunar landscape, interrupted by amazing granite hills and inhabited by nomadic herdsmen. With canvas, stainless steel and leather accoutrements, both simple and sophisticated, the tents, which are surrounded by wide spaces, are like isolated from the rest of the world. Nonetheless all your wishes are satisfied: the dinner table is dressed under the stars wherever you want and unforgettable days are spent watching flamingos and above all leopards which live here in complete freedom. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the desert. This superb “Fortress of the Sun” overlooks the Thar desert, right in the heart of Rajasthan. Mihir Garh, designed throughout by Sidhart Singh and his wife Rashmi, was born out of their desire to share this heaven on earth. The fortress mirrors the architecture of the local villages, with its rounded edges, open fireplaces and alcoves, and the colour of the stone merges seamlessly with the surrounding sand. Mihir Garh stands as a tribute to this land swept by the desert winds and has been designed as an eco-friendly hotel. Each suite provides a unique place to relax, where luxurious appointments act as a foil to the mineral sand of the surrounding desert. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel on the seafront. Tucked away in the South Indian state of Kerala, Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra overlooks the Arabian Sea. Its cottages, nestled amongst the coconut trees and caressed by the sea breeze, offer the best in Keralian Heritage architecture. A path wends its way to the ‘Chandra’ beach – an idyllic beach with intensely private vibes. Ayurvedic massages and Thai relaxation therapies take you on exhilarating sensory journeys, while Yoga sessions on a platform at the cliff’s edge make for an absolutely enlivening experience. In the restaurants, bold flavours compete with stunning views – the chef’s Indian cuisine is a masterly blend of the most delicate of herbs with the warmth of spices. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on a big river. Overlooking Lake Vembanad with its palm-fringed shores, the Purity offers many authentic experiences including yoga and Ayurveda. The bright and spacious rooms with their handcrafted contemporary yet vernacular design stage a dialogue between the past and the present, showcased by a curated collection of regional art and antiques. Morning yoga sessions provide a gentle introduction to the day. Then you can go to the lake-side pool, indulge in an Ayurvedic massage treatment, discover the surroundings by boat, bicycle or tuk-tuk, attend a cooking class and enjoy the sunset over a canoe ride on the lake. The Purity kitchen serves creative cuisine with authentic Keralan flavours. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. The Royal Family of Jaipur welcomes you to the most iconic of its palaces. H. H. Rajmata Padmini Devi has been personally involved in the restoration of the Rajmahal, her first residence after her marriage. Both classical and contemporary, this opulent palace has been redesigned as a sumptuous hotel. The spacious, light-filled suites which are decorated by an unbelievable diversity of wallpapers, boast a rare quality of comfort. Surrounded by carefully attended gardens and basins, the Rajmahal is at the heart of Jaipur, the “Pink City”, the capital of Rajasthan and polo; as a guest of the palace, you can watch a match from the royal box. ... Learn moreless
Lodge and restaurant in a game reserve. Samode Safari Lodge is eco-designed, taking its inspiration from the architecture of the colourful neighbouring villages, and blends seamlessly into the country side. Separate, elegantly furnished and decorated lodges look out onto the wilderness. You are in the heart of India, on the edge of Bandhavgarh National Park, the territory with the highest density of tigers in the world. These splendid cats and the diverse flora and fauna of the region are explored in specially designed Safari vehicles with knowledgeable and articulate guides. The owners’ passion of food has led to the offering of an ever changing menu in different and exciting venues. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. When you visit India, leave the beaten track and enjoy an extraordinary experience at Shakti 360˚, Leti. This luxurious yet minimalist hideaway built of wood and stone and vast expanses of glass, nestled at an altitude of 8000 feet, overlooks the perennially snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The journey to the retreat is an adventure in itself; a simple trail through a wild, rugged landscape leads to this wonderfully isolated spot and the opportunity to warm up in front of the fire. Exceptional gourmet cooking makes great use of the local produce. Enjoy the tranquility while taking in the views; let the mountains weave their magic. It is an ideal spot for contemplation, meditation and non intrusive immersion into the culture of this region of India. ... Learn moreless
Lodge and restaurant in a game reserve. Sher Bagh is a pioneering camp of luxurious tents nestling by the world renowned Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. It is ideally situated for game drives and excursions into the finest habitat in the world to see tigers in the wild. Discover the 8th century fort of Ranthambhore, a Unesco World Heritage Site, Mughal ruins, palaces and cenotaphs. With a collective experience of over 40 years, we offer an unsurpassed game experience. When not out in the wild, relax by our swimming pool, offering vistas of the landscape. Our cuisine combines British-Raj style lunches and traditional Indian dinners cooked over clay ovens using nourishing home-grown ingredients, handpicked from our organic garden. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. Rated as one of the finest yoga retreats in the world, Shreyas is dedicated to self-discovery and rejuvenation. Shreyas is a seamless blend of the modern and the timeless, sumptuousness and simplicity, indulgence and enlightenment where guests can practice yoga in luxurious and elegant surroundings. The small number of rooms preserves the intimacy and serenity of this large refuge. Guests can delve into ancient Indian texts, meditation techniques and ayurveda. Also on offer are revitalising massages, organic farming, cultural tours and community service. The cuisine is vegetarian and there is a no alcohol policy. A haven of peace for the perfect balance of body, mind and soul. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. The Malabar House is more than a beautifully designed heritage hotel. It is an art hotel, home of a carefully curated collection, highlighting Kerala’s composite culture as a passage between East and West. The rooms are comfortable and the service is flawless. Malabar Junction, the hotel’s renowned restaurant and Divine, its wine lounge, combine the tradition of South India with exciting culinary innovation. Enjoy classical music or a dance performance on the patio’s stage, rejuvenate body and soul at the ayurvedic centre, step into the history and culture of Fort Cochin, and explore Kerala’s backwaters on the hotel’s own eco-friendly house boat. ... Learn moreless