Things are changing fast in India. With a range of new hotel openings, recently launched flight routes and innovative traveling experiences, India is simply the place to travel to in 2015. Our India specialists have been busy beavering away on new itinerary suggestions, adding a range of fantastic new hotels and keeping their ear to the ground so that Scott Dunn guests always know of the latest developments first. It falls to me, Marcus (Product Manager), as your humble correspondent to tell you all about it! We’ve also created a quick video to show you our top tips on traveling to India…
We are finding that Scott Dunn guests are increasingly asking for longer itineraries around India, so that they fully immerse themselves in the destination and get a little bit further off the beaten track, away from the standard routes so that you can experience something even more remarkable. As such we have added two new suggested itineraries to help spur on your traveling ideas. Our Ultimate Indian Subcontinent itinerary combines Nepal, India and the Maldives. We have also created another itinerary, Epic North India that leaves no stone unturned in covering all the major bucket list highlights. It simply has it all: ten World Heritage Sites, a tiger safari, seeing rural villages and culture, train journeys and exploring bustling cities. India is all about blending a range of experiences into one journey, and we feel this has it all!
It’s all about Tamil Nadu for 2015
Tamil Nadu is one of India’s secret corners, packed with amazing landscapes, time old Chola era temples and colorful cities, relatively unvisited by tourists. The problem used to be that the hotels on offer were not exactly salubrious. Things began to change with the opening of the amazing Rajakkad Estate, located in the hills above Madurai. In September 2015, Svatma opens in Tanjore. Pondicherry, the old French enclave of India has seen some amazing new openings, restoring old French manor houses and turning them into boutique hotels. La Villa and Palais de Mahe are two examples that we absolutely adore. If you want to combine Tamil Nadu with some beach time, there are superb connections to Sri Lanka or an easy three hour flight to the Maldives from Madurai via Colombo.
Let’s move onto news about India’s wildlife. Did you know that the Asiatic lion can be found in Sasan Gir National Park in Gujarat and we have created the Ultimate Wildlife Safari to India where you can see lion, tiger, leopard, wild elephant and rhino on one amazing journey. We have added two amazing lodges in the remote Satpura National Park, the best place for walking safaris in India; Reni Pani and Forsysth Lodge. After its first year of operation, Jawai in Rajasthan has become the place to see leopard with wonderful sightings. Located between Jodhpur and Udaipur, it can easily be combined with some cultural activities and our Big Cats and Holy Ghats itinerary does just that.
Srinagar in Kashmir used to be the go-to destination for Brits escaping the heat of the plains during the summer. We are working closely with a luxury houseboat called Sukoon, ensuring a comfortable base to explore this magical corner of India. In Ladakh, we have added the Ultimate Traveling Camp which is located right beside Thiksey Monastery and offers luxury tented accommodation totally off the beaten track. In Kumaon, we have added Mary Budden Estate in Binsar, a former colonial bungalow and now a luxury boutique hotel. Combine this with the Shakti Village Walks and 360 Leti on our Hidden Himalayas itinerary. If you enjoyed watching ‘Indian Summers’ on Channel 4, we have created two new itineraries which capture the magic of the days of the Raj. Echoes of the Raj has two versions, one which takes in the Golden Triangle and Shimla, and another which covers Lucknow, Varanasi, Calcutta and finishes in a colonial tea estate in Darjeeling.
The Hornbill Festival takes places in the first week of December in a remote corner of north-east India in Nagaland. The festival is absolutely mesmerising and few tourists make it this far off the beaten track. The Ultimate Traveling Camp moves here for the festival so that you can stay somewhere exceptionally comfortable at night. Combine with Kazaranga National Park in Assam and Darjeeling on our new suggested itinerary.
New hotels on the horizon…
We love keeping our ear to the ground, and love to share our findings! We are hugely excited with the opening of the new Alila Bishangarh in Jaipur, set to open in 2016. The new Raj Mahal Hotel has recently opened to rave reviews. W Hotels are opening a new luxury beach hotel in Goa in 2016. Orange County Resorts (famous for their lodges in Kabini and Coorg) and opening the first luxury hotel beside the ancient site of Hampi in Karnataka. We also understand that the Ultimate Traveling Camp are considering moving there in the winter months.
The Indian Government has at last seen sense and are slowly implementing a new e-visa arrangement. As I write, the UK is not yet part of this, but we understand an announcement to be made imminently. This will mean you no longer need to send away your passport, or head to the one of the India Visa offices – you just need to apply online and head to the airport for your flight to India. We know how frustrating the old system was for many guests, and feel that for those who didn’t know about this, you are now smiling with added anticipation about your next Indian adventure.
For more information about our customized vacations to India, give one of our Consultants a call on 0203 603 3555 or visit scottdunn.com