Elegantly India

We all need someone to interpret India, most intoxicating, most beautiful, most shocking, exciting destination on earth.  We therefore suggest you travel with an energetic, highly experienced expert.

Louise Nicholson, an art historian, TV producer, journalist, and author of 26 books (!) including National Geographic Traveler guides to India and London, is a stellar guide.  She has been visiting and studying India for over 30 years.

Her infectious enthusiasm and empathy will help you gain perspective on the impossible cultural mulligatawny that is India today.

You’ve got one shot: February 1-15, 2014, to join her in-depth classical tour “North India Uncovered”. Under the aegis of the venerable Steppes Travel, pioneers of expert-led, custom-designed, in-depth itineraries for small groups. Perfect for solo travelers eager to absorb.

Plunge into the huge, jam-packed Nagaur Cattle Fair (far less commercial than Pushkar) and get up close to painted and festooned camels, bullocks, cattle, horses and the farmers themselves. Step into the magical lake city of Udaipur.  Explore Mumbai, frenetic embodiment of all India’s contemporary extremes. Visit the 2nd-6th c. BC rock-cut Buddhist caves and ancient sculptures of Ajanta and Ellora where the 34 “caves” were ancient monasteries carved into the vertical face of rock. Explore too the Rajasthani fairytale palaces built by insanely lavish maharajas.  And visit, of course, the iconic Taj Mahal, dazzling white marble mausoleum.

Stay in historic hotels, stroll in dizzily colorful markets. Meet lots of locals including master craftsmen and master chefs.  Ms. Nicholson’s trip is “a sensual feast, intellectually thrilling, and soul enriching.”  And not p.s., she founded “Save a Child” in1985, an NGO established in the UK and US, to help underprivileged Indian children.

The rate is $6905 for this 13-night tour (double occ basis.)  For an itinerary and all info, please write to:  enquiry@steppestravel.com.

Camel Lot

Pushkar Camel Fair, the annual Rajasthani outdoor festival, draws people from all over India and the world. And to call this festival “wild” would be an understatement. A tented city is set up near the sacred Pushkar Lake during the days of the full moon every November for this madly exotic, colorful and thrillingly intense ingathering of thousands of snortin’ camels accompanied by their herders, handlers, traders, buyers, sellers, riders, raiders and farmers. And for photographers … paradise.

Dust! Noise! Turbans! Tents! Tassels and Tattoos! Sand!
Saris and Sitars! Heat! Dancing! Music!

This year the Fair is Nov. 2-10, 2011 and there are as many opportunities to sleep (if you can) in a variety of tent types at various levels of luxury as there are tour operators to India. One rule: you must have a guide from a good tour operator to navigate the chaotic scene.

Check out the basics on wikitravel.org/en/Pushkar. Check out Cox and Kings, renowned British outfitters with a great deal of experience and a Florida office. Click: www.coxandkingsusa.com. Or look at: www.exoticjourneys.com/PushkarAndRjasthan.html

News Flash! Jonny Bealby’s London-based Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel advises The Chandrabhaga Cattle & Camel Fair near Jhalawar and also in Rajasthan shares the same full moon as the Pushkar festival and attracts as many Rabari tribespeople, but is far less touristico. Click: www.wildfrontiers.co.uk, Call 44-20-7736-3968 or email: jonny@wildfrontiers.co.uk