Audley launches new Indian Subcontinent brochure
Audley have launched a new Indian Subcontinent brochure with a focus on really getting under the skin of this fascinating region. Constantly searching for new experiences and places to stay, their specialists have explored the rarely-visited state of Gujarat, gone off the beaten track in the Deccan Plateau and travelled far north to both Ladakh in India and Jaffna in Sri Lanka in order to provide new ideas and inspiration for clients.
Suggestions of ways to really experience authentic India include:
Under the Skin of Mumbai
Many people only experience India’s largest city as a stopover between flights. However there is far more to this lively metropolis and some unusual excursions allow visitors to see ‘behind the scenes’ and experience the contrasts, which make this city so fascinating. One of these is a visit to a traditional open-air laundry ‘dhobi ghat’ where thousands of pieces of laundry are delivered each day from across the city.
Another is a visit to Dharavi slum. A place of extreme poverty and home to more than a million people. A half day tour here is an eye-opening and thought provoking experience. For a complete contrast there is also a tour of a Bollywood film studio to experience the lights, music and glamour of this fast moving industry. Get behind the scenes of what is currently in production, listen in at the sound studio and get involved at a Bollywood dance workshop. Other excursions include dawn walks, market tours and bike rides.
Araveli Cottages and Tented Camp
One of the best ways to experience India is to immerse yourself into the community and a stay at Araveli in rural Rajasthan allows you to do just that. The project is operated by the charity ME to WE, which Audley is a strong supporter of. Their aim is to break the cycle of poverty and help communities become self-sufficient by improving education, sanitation and providing access to basic healthcare. Guests can help with construction projects as well as assisting with daily chores such as collecting water, making chapatis, feeding the animals and teaching the children some basic English. Araveli can be combined with a journey through Rajasthan, an add-on to exploring the sights of the Golden Triangle or before a trip to the southern states. A 14 day tailor-made trip to Rajasthan including a three night stay at Araveli costs from £2,990 per person.
A river cruise allows you to visit some of northeast India’s most inaccessible sights. Drifting along the Brahmaputra or Hugli river also provides a far more leisurely experience than travelling on India’s roads and trains. Trips run up and downstream and vary in length to suit preferences and budgets, taking in Ahom ruins, rhino-filled Kaziranga National Park and the lush tea plantations for which the region is so famous. Audley suggest combining a three night river cruise with time in Calcutta and rural Assam with a 14 day tailor-made itinerary costing from £3,880 per person.
Textiles in Gujarat
This rarely visited state is on India’s northwestern coastline and is a diverse and captivating place to visit if you want to escape the crowds. It is often compared to its neighbour Rajasthan but is far less developed and has limited accommodation options. Rare wild ass and the world’s only Asiatic lions are found here as well as hundreds of birds, including flamingos and many migratory species. It is also known for its rich textile production and visitors can explore the Calico Museum of Textiles and tribal Banni villages where they can have a go at colourful block printing, intricate mirror work, ink art, wooden lacquer work and other techniques.
A Keralan Homestay
A great way to learn about the local life and culture of Kerala is to stay in one of the homestays. Audley particularly recommend Dewalokam – an organic farm with a strong emphasis on food. The hosts Jose and Sinta will walk you around the farm, show you the local village and temple and share great areas for bird spotting and also offer cookery lessons. For a coastal option Philip Kutty’s Farm is situated on an island in the middle of the backwaters, which you reach by traditional houseboat. Rooms are in beautiful villas dotted along the riverbank – the ideal spot from where to watch the world go by and see how people use the waters in every aspect of life in this area. An 11 day tailor-made trip to Kerala, including stays at a number of beautiful and welcoming homestays costs from £1,550 per person.