What AK products to have while in India?
I carried the Antelope bag in miller (a new color- the most divine new taupe!) matte alligator because of its secure front flap and its ability to be a crossbody and a handbag. I carried the Sadie clutch at night and wore my criss cross sandals everywhere ... and my flip flops took me to my spa treatments and the pool.
Best travel book to take with you?
The Love Travel books by Fiona Caulfield. "Handbooks for the luxury vagabond," there are five of them for India and each is wonderfully curated and laid out for you in a chic and updated way.
Where to shop?
Bombay Electric - their scarves and goodies are great for your or your loved ones back home. Bright colors and fabulous silk caftans and jewelry.
Bungalow 8 - for fashion and interiors. Wonderful children's clothes and 3 floors of fantastic finds.
Joy Shoes at the Taj Mahal Palace - stock up on of their fun and colorful sandals. I bought them in 6 colors and they make the best gifts for girlfriends!
Anokhi - fabulous block printed house. Stock up on blankets, napkins and placemats, robes scarves and more at one of their various India locations.
The Gem Palace - you can find all types of jewelry here; everything from rare antiques to modern designs. Vast selection where it is slightly overwhelming but well worth a stop!
Royal Gems and Arts - where you can watch gems being cut out from their original stones. The most precious jewels and stones all travel through Jaipur and are cut here - a must see! Fabulous collection of loose stones and gems as well as vast amount of jewelry.
Tholia's Kubur - beautiful modern jewelery and tribal pieces. One of the oldest shops in Jaipur with excellent service and taste.
Taara - a new lifestyle concept store of wonderful jewelry, home and fashion run by Vinesh (a fourth generation designer) and his beautiful wife. A must see and Vinesh is a MUST KNOW man about town.
Roop Rani Bangles - for amazing costume jewelry. If you want to get the ethnic feel without breaking the bank this is your place.
Ratan - for home and lifestyle. Wonderfully curated shop for all needs.
Fabindia - Lower end price point also for home and lifestyle.
Hot Pink - at this well curated and fabulous shop you will find all the fashions from local designers.
Andraab - the self-proclaimed "house of handwoven treasures" is ideal for shawls and cashmere as they really do have the most exquisite detail and quality around.
Hotel Rass is a fantastic place to shop in their curated hotel boutique and make sure you have lunch or dinner at this fabulous spot. Divine food and a beautiful oasis in the middle of town.
Maharani Art Exporters has more textiles than you need but make a visit to this vast shop and get the QVC India selling experience. I bought many treasures but the sales tactics are hilarious.
Lalji Handicrafts is a warehouse packed full of all items you could possibly imagine. This is where the ABC Carpet & Home Buyers and many other American stores come to get the antique accessories to sell overseas. Amazing selection of things but have patience in sifting through the warehouse - it is well worth it and will ship your items home for you as well.
What to see?
City Palace in Udaipur which was built in 1725, and is where the Maharana still lives. Here you can take a boat cruise on Lake Pichola and see Jaipur's true beauty at sunset.
If you're in town in December, know that Jodhpur hosts many polo tournaments that you should be sure to attend, and also you won't want to miss seeing the Mehrangarh Fort. Also check out their gift shop as well at the Fort - one of the best edits of Indian crafts and culture for sale.
Take a took took (or rickshaw) ride anywhere - they are colorfully decorated rickshaws that give you an up close and personal view of the community, chaos and traffic of India. Thrilling ride!
Visit the dabba wallahs in Mumbai and watch how this amazing lunch delivery system works. It has been studied by Harvard Business School for their flawless delivery system of home cooked meals to offices - think takeout taxi from your home to your office daily. They have 99.9% delivery rate too!
An obvious must is going to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, at least once!
Visit the Jain Temples at Ranakpur where you can see this marble marvel temple and be sure to have one of the high priests give you a tour of the temple and a blessing for the road.
Tented overnight camp at Chhatra Sagar - the most divine meal you will have in India. Tour the local community and farms in Nimaj and see up close and personal the farming communities of India with the owner of the camp. Glamping at its finest!
Amber Fort, the ancient capital that preceded Jaipur. Originally built in 11th century AD, it is fortress town of visual amazement ... and make sure you take the time to get in a game of Elephant Polo as well.
Where to stay?
Mumbai - City of Seven Islands
Taj Mahal Palace which was built in 1903 serves as a landmark and treasure trove for the city. "At the water's edge. In the city's heart" accurately describes this gorgeous site at which I was blessed with a breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea.
Udaipur - City of the Lakes
Oberoi Udaivilas is where to stay and stands as the most beautiful hotel that I have ever seen. The service is impeccable, the gift shop to die for and the food unbelievable. For the best experience be sure to book a pool suite; walk out your door and float right in to the magnificent pool that wraps around the rooms. And to top it all off there won't be anything better than a sunrise breakfast by your pool followed by an a.m. yoga class.
Jodhpur - The Blue City
Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace, also where the Maharana lives on the other side and is one of the largest private residences in the world. All of the grounds are unbelievably beautiful and there was even a newer palace constructed to ensure work for the people of Marwar during great droughts.
Jaipur - The Pink City
Rambagh Palace - beyond the also gorgeous construction, the spa here is out of this world! You must book a massage or treatment in one of their private spa tents where you can enjoy watching peacocks frolic outside in the gardens - so fine! The service and food is divine and some of the best shopping are all within the walls of the hotel.
Delhi - City of Cities
The Lodhi - an absolute modern marvel. It is centrally located in Delhi and an oasis hidden away from the hustle and bustle of this capital city. Located in New Delhi it has amazing service, food and the rooms with private plunge pools are to die for.
How to book it?
I booked my trip through Indagare and went with the owner and founder, Melissa Biggs Bradley.Indagare has sent numerous people (including celebrities and famous interior decorators) on this magical trip and I highly suggest enlisting them to help you book yours.
Keep in mind though, if you can't make it all the way to India but want the goodies offered there, don't worry - you can always shop the Souk at Indagare, where Melissa brings back her best edits from trips and offers them stateside.
Why do we love India so much?
If you can't tell by now, I just got back from a trip to India and it was the most magical experience I have ever been a part of. The people are so warm, inviting and friendly it is unreal. The colors are bright and bold and the culture so unique and fascinating. I cannot wait to go back and take my children to visit this emerging country and explore even more of the wonderful land of India!
As there are so many things to see and places to go there are also so many other options and destinations so please forgive my brevity as I could go on and on about what to do and go to but just wanted to give you a little taste.
While some might be concerned with the safety of traveling abroad these days, I feel the need to note that while India does border with Pakistan, there was ample hotel security and I always felt safe and never for an instance in danger. The cultural enlightenment and one of a kind experiences that you'll have if you go to India will be well worth the travel time and money spent.
My hope for you is to be able to either snatch up some great finds at the Souk or get to India one day yourself and fall in love with the country just as much as I did!