Long stereotyped as the nation of snake charmers and naked fakirs, India has redefined itself as a sought after luxury destination for those who want to indulge in decadent splendour or soak up regal hospitality. From the palace hotels of Rajasthan to lazing by the beaches of Tamil Nadu, an indulgent seaside spa or a cup of coffee in an exclusive waterfall facing chalet, India has an answer to every luxurious holiday you have dreamt of. Plan your next holiday and make sure to take a trip to either of these states to truly experience the royal Indian culture.
Where does one begin to describe the beauty and magnificence of Rajasthan? Scorching deserts give way to tranquil lakes and erstwhile royal residences welcome you warmly in to the luxury and splendour of its rulers. Discover the rich heritage of forts, desert safaris, camel rides and some exquisite Kundan jewellery. Enjoy the magnificence of its many ultraluxurious palace hotels taking your pick from the Rajvilas and Rambagh Palace in Jaipur or Umaid Bhavan that overlooks the Mehrangarh fort and the town of Jodhpur. Alternatively indulge in a wildlife safari at Ranthambore, and soak away the stress at Oberoi Vanyavilas or Aman-I khas, both boutique hotels offering luxury tents, wildlife safaris by day and stargazing by campfires at night. If water soothes you, take a boat ride to Lake Palace Udaipur or Udaivillas, which offer spectacular views of the lake and uninterrupted Rajasthani hospitality.
Not a conventional choice for a lot of international travellers, Karnataka is bursting with luxurious and panoramic destinations. Rolling hills, beautiful beaches, ancient temples and aromatic coffee plantations are just of the temptations of this state. If you are looking to pamper someone special and get some much-needed quiet time look no farther than The Serai in Chikmagalur. There are 29 villas, and estate villas with private pools and whirlpool baths. Enjoy a romantic dinner for two, take long walks in the miles of rolling plantations, explore the temples nearby at Belur or rejuvenate yourself with a deep tissue coffee massage. Need we say more? Journey to Coorg, to Vivanta Madikeri and stretch your weary legs in a Coorg style house with an open terrace where you can taste raindrops and breathe the fragrance of 250 types of flowers on the property. This is an experience to awaken all your senses.
If something exclusive, indulgent yet wild is your cup of tea, look no farther than the little explored Madhya Pradesh. Home to three of India’s largest National Parks filled with the most exotic species of birds and animals and the crowning glory, the Tiger. Our top picks are the Baghvan Pench Lodge at the edge of Pench National Park that has just 12 suites so expect to never see more than 24 guests at a time. Banjaar Tola near Kanha National Park has two camps of nine tastefully appointed suites. Sit along the Banjaar river and sight one of the 300 bird species the park is famous for. Also worth checking out is the Pashan Garh Taj Safari Lodge, which has some gorgeously decorated stone cottages complete and an infinity pool to cool off after a busy day of safaris.
Tamil Nadu, unknown to most has some gorgeous beaches and hill stations offering options for every kind of agenda. If you are looking to laze by the beach choose between the Vivanta or Radisson Blue properties in Mamallapuram, or journey farther down to Pondicherry, to stay the French inspired Le Pondy and soak in the Old World beach town charm. If the hills are calling you, take an overnight journey from Chennai to Kodaikanal and check into one of the seven exclusive tent rooms at the Fern Creek - a luxury resort nestled deep in a forest. Get served by your private butler or just sit back and watch birds in their natural habitat. Either way, the versatility of Tamilnadu is sure to leave asking for one more visit.
Contributor: Saraswati Datar
Saraswati Datar studied film making, worked in mainstream television, and now freelances as a writer. She is passionate about cinema, gender, travel, literature and food. Though she lives in Singapore, her heart has been left behind in the madness of Mumbai.