Engulfed in India
Our World Magazine - April 2000
a massive country, is not a region that most travelers would want to
visit alone or on a budget. Realizing this, I wanted to assure
my clients that they, would experience the splendors of the country:
an adventure revealing bustling Bombay, opulent palaces, the imposing
desert fortresses of Rajasthan, pristine bird and tiger sanctuaries,
and the magnificent Taj Mahal. Traveling by train, air and road
provides a chance to experience the ever-changing countryside, the
entire itinerary having been engineered to provide easy, short
transit times. DavidTours [DavidTravel] is about traveling on a "designed"
holiday, created to be refined and culturally enriching, yet casual
A word about travel in India. My
friends, Jon and Ed, tell tales of their independent travels
throughout the country. Much of their time was spent waiting on
endless lines, struggling with the masses of humanity at railway
stations, unsuccessfully fighting to get a hotel room they had
dreamed of staying in (and for which they had a written
confirmation), and dining in some low budget eateries and "wrong"
expensive restaurants resulting in the infamous "Delhi Belly."
Each property utilized knows that
DavidTours [DavidTravel] designs, luxury tours
for the gay and lesbian community, and has actively sought our
business. Our Indian colleagues are well known, respected and
send large volumes of business to each hotel, restaurant and tour
director used on our trips. Even written confirmations can be
worthless in India, who you are and who you know are vital. For
example, before we arrive at a hotel, our Indian agents are on sight
to ensure a smooth check in, go over every detail and are always
available on mobile phones, leaving nothing to chance.
Our Indian tours are scheduled for 14
nights; and scheduled when the weather is most likely to be perfect.
Participants stay in the finest, air-conditioned hotels and are
assisted by top-notch, English speaking Indian guides throughout the
tour. Whenever possible, we seek to introduce our clients to
local friends who will join us for dinners at excellent restaurants.
To us, meeting successful and interesting gay, bisexual and
straight locals greatly enriches any travel experience and helps to
make the world a friendlier place.
Highlights of the tour include: The Taj Mahal Hotels in New Delhi and
Mumbai, members of Leading Hotels of the World; sunset and sunrise at
the Taj Mahal, an awe-inspiring experience; lodging at a Maharajah's
former palace, providing guests with quality, historic accommodations
while exploring bird and tiger sanctuaries. You'll be pampered
with a 3-night ultra-luxurious stay at the new Rajvilas Hotel &
Spa in Jaipur, with an included spa treatment. Additionally,
participants will experience a 4-night stay at one of the most
magical properties in the world --- The Lake Place Hotel ---- former
summer palace of the Maharana of Udaipur. Our clients will
enjoy premium room, all facing the lake. And, modem Mumbai will
dazzle you as you are pampered at the renovated old colonial Taj
On arrival in New Delhi our English
speaking Indian colleagues meet each client and provide you with a
custom transfer to The Taj Mahal Hotel & Spa. Touring "Old"
Delhi, the itinerary will include the Jama Masjid, one of India's
largest and most magnificent mosques, and the Red Fort, a testimony
of Moghul grandeur and the largest of Old Delhi's monuments.
Soak up the atmosphere of the bazaars and contrast this with a
visit to the peaceful setting Raj Ghant, the cremation ground of
Mahatma Gandhi. After lunch, you'll tour South Delhi, including
the magnificent buildings designed by English architect, Edwin
Lutyens, and other historic sites. Dinner in the evening will
include meeting local friends.
Day four we journey by express train (first class) to Agra, home of
The Taj Mahal. We check into The Taj View Hotel, each person's
room including a view of the Taj Mahal. Sightseeing includes
the Red Fort, with its magnificent marble apartments, and the Baby
Taj, the mausoleum of a Mughal prime minister. The high point
will be the legendary Taj Mahal, one of the world's greatest
monuments. The white marble shimmers in the afternoon before
turning a golden yellow as the sun sets. And next morning our
group will savor the spiritual experience of arriving again at the
Taj Mahal, before sunrise, when it is particularly mystical and moon
lit. The change from moonlight to sunlight will take your
Leaving Agra, we'll visit a nearby
treasure, the deserted imperial capital of Fatephur Sikri, built
1569-1585 by the Emperor Akbar. Our adventure then leads to our
hotel, The Laxrni Vilas Palace, former home of the Bharatpur Royal
Family. At nearby Keoladeo National Bird Sanctuary you'll
explore with a naturalist by boat and jeep some of the world's most
magnificent bird life, landscapes and waterscapes.
Day six begins with a journey to Ranthambore National Park Tiger
Sanctuary, in the heart of Rajasthan. Checking into the
historic Sawai Madhopur, a former Maharajah's hunting lodge, complete
with private baths and air conditioning, we depart in open jeeps
(maximum 5 clients per jeep with driver and a naturalist) for the
wildlife sanctuary to view gazelle, sambar, jackals, panthers, jungle
cats, leopards, and, of course, tigers. Ranthambore is a center
of India's Tiger Project and our group will enjoy two game drives at
Ranthambore, unique with its tenth-century Chauhan fort, quaint
pavilions and palaces that provide movie-perfect backdrops to the
On the seventh day we travel to the
"Pink City" of Jaipur, a flamboyant showcase of Rajasthani
architecture and a wonderful place to shop for carpets, silks and
precious stones. We stay at the palatial Rajvilas Hotel and
Spa, set in 32 acres of orchids, gardens, and decorative pools, where
our group unwinds, luxuriating with a special 90-minute spa
Sightseeing includes the Amber Fort,
original capital of the Jaipur Royal Family, containing several
palaces, each designed for a different season of the year. We
ascend to the fort by gaily-caparisoned elephants. Other visits
take us to The City Palace, still home to the Maharajah of Jaipur, as
well as The Palace of The Winds and the 18th-century astrological
With three days to enjoy Jaipur, many
clients decide to spend one day relaxing at The Rajvilas, a fully
equipped holiday destination. Your tour director will be
available to coordinate visits to museums and shopping bazaars.
And you may wish to include a visit outside the city to the
Museum of Indology, which has the largest collection of erotic
tantric art in the world. In late afternoon, we depart for The
Rambagh Palace for pre-dinner drinks in the famous Polo Bar,
featuring a complete photo collection of the royal family.
Dining at The Rambagh Palace's Suvama Mahal Restaurant, sample
Continental or Rajasthan specialties under an ornate vaulted
On day 10 we fly to Udaipur, home to
the Maharanas of Mewar. Our hotel is the incomparable Lake
Palace. While some travelers struggle to get just one night at
this world class hotel, we have secured four days. The former
summer residence of the Maharana of Udaipur, His Highness still owns
The Lake Palace, while the exceptional Taj Mahal Hotel Group operates
the property with their signature service.
We arrive at the hotel by water-taxi, making the lodging appear to
float on the shimmering waters of Lake Pichola like a magnificent
ship. After check-in, you have time to relax and luxuriate in
the opulence of your island retreat. The marble pool area is a
perfect place to sun and enjoy the view of picturesque Udaipur.
In the afternoon, we'll tour the royal burial grounds and Jain
Temples at Nagda and Eklingji. On our return to Udaipur, we
visit a local craft market set up by the government to enable artists
to sell their work directly to the public without the commissions
added at the bazaar. We encourage our guests to explore this
calm, gracious city on their own.
Udaipur dates back to 568 AD and the
present Maharana is the 76th in an unbroken line. We take the
water-taxi to the City Palace, where our tour reveals the grand
lifestyle of the Maharanas of Mewar, who are reputed to be direct
descendants of the Sun God. Following our tour we lunch in the
inner courtyard of the nearby Shiv Niwas Palace. Our
sightseeing ends with a stroll through the medieval streets of the
old town where we explore the silver markets. Dinner is at The
Lake Palace Hotel.
An excursion on day 12 takes us
through the rural scenes of the Aravafli Hills to the magnificent
fort of Kumbhalgarh, built in the fifteenth century. The
crumbling temples among the reservoirs and gardens within are
believed to have been erected in the second century. Lunch will
be at the Aoudhi Retreat, now a Premier Heritage Hotel. Several
stops are made during our trip back to Udaipur to enjoy the
landscapes and photograph the colorful country life. Dinner
this evening is on our hotel's open air Mewar Terrace, overlooking
both the lake and the courtyard lily pond, enjoying a display of
traditional Rajasthani folk dancing.
Today is a day of leisure and Udaipur and The Lake Palace Hotel are
completely at your disposal. This is an excellent time for
additional shopping. Or you could have the hotel book you a
massage. Later, take yourself back to the days of the British
Raj with a traditional English cream tea and scones on the terrace of
The Fatah Pakash Palace.
On day 14 we fly to Mumbai. Our
hotel is the carefully restored Taj Mahal. Our rooms are, as
usual, premium location in the Old Colonial Wing. On our
afternoon city tour we view many styles of architecture: Victorian,
Gothic, Baroque and Oriental. We take in the Victoria Terminus,
Crawford Market, and, traveling along Marine Drive, we visit the Jain
Temple, Hanging Gardens Park, and the celebrated Prince of Wales
Museum of Western India (this distinctive Raj-era building houses a
superb collection of paintings and sculpture). Local friends
will join us for our farewell dinner, during which they will shed
light on Indian life and being gay in Bombay.
The next morning our group takes the one-hour boat ride to Elephanta
Island, famous for the impressive excavated 8th century caves with
its fine examples of Hindu architecture, including the massive
Trimurti (3 faced) Shiva sculpture. We recommend a relaxing
afternoon by the hotel pool or an exploration of the nearby Jehangir
Art Gallery, Bombay's best known venue for contemporary art (most
exhibits offer works for sale). Most departing flights leave at
midnight and escorted airport transfers to coordinate with your
flight, with check in assistance, is included.
DavidTours [DavidTravel] offers a 5-night extension
to the exciting beach resort of Goa. This tropical vacation
includes accommodations at the new Taj Exotica, the only area hotel
on the sea offering ocean views from every room. DavidTours [DavidTravel] has
arranged rooms for their clients where you may even enjoy ocean
vistas from your private bathroom jacuzzi.
Each India tour is for 14 days with
complete handling of every detail including 5-star hotels,
professional guides, fine restaurants, unique sightseeing, and all
those little extras that makes a trip particularly enjoyable.
Included are 13 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners.