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th INDIAN EDITION Anniversary Special

Sakshi Malik Manu Joseph Siddhartha Mukherjee melinda gates Suketu Mehta SANDIP ROY


PRIYANKA CHOPRA Building bridges, not walls PC on US politics & ямБlm


Oct-Nov 2016


Lakshadweep calling The islands are India’s secret jewels. The only way to make them more accessible yet preserve their pristine beauty is through responsible tourism. By Samanth Subramanian


Not without my daughter Bahar Dutt on why she spent a year travelling with her toddler to see all the great animal migrations of the world

228 Kolkata on a platter Chef Shaun Kenworthy lists his top 50 eats in the city

242 Walking on ice Dangerous, exhausting, emotionally draining—and stunning. Manu Joseph treks Ladakh’s frozen Zanskar River

256 Kochi gets a makeover There’s a lot going on in God’s Own Country—in design, art, music, food and more. Manju Sara Rajan reports

268 On the rails Annie Zaidi explores Maharashtra in


The Deccan Odyssey, a luxury train, and finds that sometimes, travel is about the journey

An aerial view of Minicoy island, Lakshadweep

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 5


Oct-Nov 2016



INFORMER Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee on his favourite holiday destination, cooking (he loves East Asian) and his top Delhi meals

What’s hot around the world—from the newest plays on Broadway to Asia’s best new seaside resorts. Plus: the top spots for stargazing in India and where in the world to eat Michelin-quality street food

126 GET AWAY A ride through Manipur Sandip Roy heads to the birthplace of polo and finds the state full of surprises


POWER TALK Priyanka Chopra talks to Suketu Mehta about how travel has influenced her as an actor, being back in New York and what it’s like to be a global superstar

153 WHERE TO STAY Sneak peeks at the Grand Dragon Ladakh, and the W Goa Plus: Bed-hopping with artist Shilpa Gupta and hotels with a conscience

176 WHY WE TRAVEL Nicola Moulton on how a healing holiday can change your life. Plus: the future of

286 CONTEST Win a two-night stay at the Grand Hyatt Goa


194 SHOP & STYLE Jasreen Mayal Khanna lists India’s best indie stores and five top designers tell us which city inspires them the most. Plus: watches and jewellery for the season

8 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


healthcare for travellers

New ideas every day on places to see, things to do and ways to make your next trip spectacular THE WORLD’S 15 BEST OVERWATER ADVENTURES


From Myanmar to Canada, these are trips worth splashing out on



FOLLOW US FOR MORE 12 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016












EDITOR Divia Thani Daswani


MANAGING EDITOR Jyoti Kumari ART DIRECTOR Himanshu Lakhwani FEATURES DIRECTOR Prasad Ramamurthy COPY EDITOR Samira Sood PHOTO EDITOR Yogeshwari Singh JUNIOR FEATURES EDITOR Raj Aditya Chaudhuri






SYNDICATION COORDINATORS Giselle D’Mello, Dalreen Furtado



HEAD - EVENTS Fritz Fernandes MANAGER - EVENTS Shivani Kale






Fatima Bhutto Janhavi Acharekar Richard Quest Suketu Mehta Samanth Subramanian William Dalrymple



David Crookes Farrokh Chothia Tom Parker Michel Figuet Steve McCurry



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16 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

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traveller TALK

Team CNT spills the beans on the stories that made this issue extra-special to them. Photograph by Pankaj Anand


The Kerala story (p256) gives me hope that one day, I can return there and feel at home, as an outsider-insider

Yogeshwari Singh

Himanshu Lakhwani


Salil Deshpande



Manu Joseph’s Zanskar tale (p242) is so vivid, we could’ve skipped the images (but they were so shockingly beautiful)

Raj Aditya-Chaudhuri Jyoti Kumari Rashmi Shankar

Sushant Kumar




Prasad Ramamurthy



Train journeys equal nostalgia and Annie Zaidi’s piece (p268) evoked it in full measure

Priyanka Agarwal DIGITAL WRITER

Divia Thani Daswani

Kolkata’s 50 best meals (p228). Because, well, food



The Lakshadweep story (p126) made me want to explore unseen India

Every once in a while, a writer files a story that gives you goosebumps. Manu’s piece on the Chadar Trek (p242) is one of the best things I’ve ever read on travelling


I love Leela Jacinto’s account (p38) of travelling to war zones, and how, in a random Armenian church in Turkey, she was able to confront her own cultural identity For more on these t-shirts, including the one worn by Priyanka Chopra on the cover

24 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

CONTRIBUTORS Shaun Kenworthy Who: Chef & writer; Kolkata’s 50 best meals, p228 A: “For at least 10 years, I’ve been planning to go to the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland. It brings together the traditions and flavours of all the tribes of Northeast India.” @chefshaunkenworthy

Olivier Föllmi Who: Photographer; A river of stories, p242 A: “Meeting my children and grandchildren in Ladakh, my friends around India, travelling as if it was my first time here. By having no planned photography projects, I want to let life offer me its gifts of spontaneity.”

Annie Zaidi Who: Writer; A Deccan Odyssey, p268 A: “Arunachal Pradesh for its hanging bamboo bridges.” @anniezaidi


from the northern coastal tip of Goa to the southern tip, staying in luxury tents along the way.” @manujosephSan Rymn Massand & AARYA ZIMMERMANN Who: Writer; Why I travel..., p186 A: “Next on our India must-do list are a tiger safari while staying at the SUJÁN property at Ranthambore, diving or snorkelling in the sea off the Andamans and a beautiful boat ride on the backwaters of India’s deep south.”

Jasper James Who: Photographer; Moved by Manipur, p142

A: “I’d like to visit the Malabar Coast and take a motorbike trip with LIVEINDIA. You can stay in a tree house in Kerala, in a coffee plantation 6,000ft above the sea level, and look out onto the Western Ghats.” @jasperjamesphotography

Manju Sara Rajan Who: Writer; Not my

grandfather’s Kerala, p256 A:“Nagaland. For the textiles, jewellery, history, and an authentic dish of pork with bamboo shoots!” @manjusarar

28 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


Who: Writer; A river of stories, p242 A: “Running

COMING Q4 2016

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CONTRIBUTORS Samanth Subramanian Who: Author; We

need to talk about Lakshadweep, p126 A: “Sikkim. I’ve never been to the Northeast, which gnaws away at me more and more with every passing year.”

Sandip Roy Who: Writer; Moved by Manipur, p142 A: “I want to


open my window and look out onto Kanchenjunga from a resort in the eastern Himalayas. I’ve made two attempts and am hoping the third time will be the charm. @sandipr



Who: Writer; Chasing the great migrations, p176 A: “Pangti, a small

Who: Writer; Beyond the war zone, p38 A:“The one place I really want to visit in India is the northeastern state of Manipur.”

village in Nagaland. Once notorious for hunting the Amur falcon, it has now taken to protecting the bird through a conservation movement. I hope to go this year in October to learn more about this community-based initiative and to witness hundreds of birds taking flight.” @bahardutt


Raymond Patrick Who: Photographer; Not my grandfather’s Kerala, p256 A: “I’ve got two locations in mind. One is Thikse Monastery in Ladakh: it’s in one of my favourite movies, The Razor’s Edge. The second is Jodhpur in Rajasthan—it’s like a movie set. I’d like to do a fashion/travel shoot there.” @raymondpatrickglobal

30 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Who: Writer; Room Service: Vienna p174 A: “After my yoga training in Rishikesh, followed by ayurveda at Ananda in the Himalayas, I would love to explore a similar experience in Kerala.”

Pankaj Anand Who: Photographer; A Deccan Odyssey, p268 A: “Great sages and saints travelled far and wide to spread knowledge and seek inner peace. My curiosity about their way of life attracts me to places like Gaya and Varanasi.” @pankaj_anand


Petra PercherKropf




Stylist A: “I would love to go to Varanasi to visit Lord Shiva’s abode, as well as Bodh Gaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment. I’ve also heard Pushkar is a very spiritual place, full of rich culture and beautiful warm colours.” @cristinaehrlich

Hairstylist A: “Varanasi. I want to ride a rickshaw to the river, sail in a boat before sunset to watch the service from the water, watch the ritual bathers at sunrise. I’d stay at the historic Nadesar Palace; the restaurant there is meant to be incredible.” @dennisdevoy


Photographer A: “Even though I’ve already been to Udaipur, taking my wife and sons there is a high priority. I want to show them the palaces and lakes that I fell in love with. I like to show my family the jewels I find in the world.” @andersovergaardphotography

YUMI MORI Make-up artist A: “I’ve wanted to go to India since I was little. My father introduced me to a book by Sathya Sai Baba, and I became fascinated by the culture and strong spiritual practices. Learning yoga from a guru and visiting the Taj Mahal are now on my bucket list!” @yumi_mori

32 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

SUKETU MEHTA Writer A: “Kerala. For some reason, I’ve never been; perhaps I’ve been saving it up for a long holiday. And besides, I’m a fanatic for ishtew.” @suketumehta


THE LOOK Priyanka Chopra on the terrace of the Central Park Terrace Suite at the JW Marriott Essex House, New York Photographed by Anders Overgaard/Sarah Laird & Good Company Styled by Cristina Ehrlich/ The Only.Agency Make-up: Yumi Mori/The Wall Group Hair: Dennis Devoy/Art Department Production: Jake Hakanson/Hakanson Productions; Yogeshwari Singh. On Priyanka: t-shirt design, V Sunil; jeans, Khaite; necklaces, Paige Novak, Jennifer Fisher; bracelet and watch, both stylist’s own



ravel is about going places, whatever the reason. One man’s pilgrimage to Tirupati is another woman’s luxury cruise down the Nile, or another’s dream trek over the frozen Zanskar in Kashmir. These are the stories you will find in Condé Nast Traveller—stories that inspire people to make journeys near and far. But sometimes, people travel for different reasons—to escape terror and atrocities, to find stability. They travel for freedom, for opportunity, for a chance at a new life. This raises some questions for us all. How do we speak only of the splendid boutique hotels dotting the Amalfi Coast and Santorini and ignore images of boatloads of refugees fleeing Somalia and Libya for Italy—or thousands of desperate Syrians risking their lives to make it to Greece or Germany—with little left but hope? When planes go down in Sharm elSheikh or bombs go off in Ataturk Airport, should

has given us a borderless universe. And on the other, more and more, it seems we are clinging to old ideas, prejudices and fears. We have access to more of the world than ever before, but we are losing the spirit of travel and all it stands for. Every day, people face humiliation at visa application centres, racism at airports, condescension at hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. It is an accident of birth that most of us who read Condé Nast Traveller are considered global jet-setters and not refugees or immigrants who are fleeing unimaginable terror and crossing oceans and borders out of necessity, not indulgence. We must remember that these terms—tourist, expat, refugee, immigrant—are labels that have been constructed based on a set of circumstances, or convenient narratives. They give people permission to treat others differently, to refrain from extending them basic humanity,


Unlike other magazines or newspapers, Condé Nast Traveller magazine does not accept complimentary travel press trips. This ‘no freebies’ policy means you can trust us to speak our mind.

we cross Egypt and Turkey off our travel lists, or should we make it a point to visit, unafraid and undeterred? What do we do when Paris, the city of love, is marked by acts of hate? And when will we be able to talk about Kashmir openly, without fear of backlash from Twitter trolls or political parties? How do we react when Waris Ahluwalia is stopped from boarding a flight in Mexico because he sports a turban and beard? And how do we rejoice in Priyanka Chopra’s success in Hollywood without wondering how long it might last under a President intent on building a wall to keep foreigners out of a nation built on immigrants? For six years now, since the launch of Condé Nast Traveller India, I have been consumed by travel, by the world’s best hotels and most inspiring destinations, by the people who know them inside out. It’s a job I take seriously, because I believe in the power of travel, in everything it can do for us, both personally and collectively. But there’s an irony I’m forced to concede: on one hand, globalisation is a reality and the Internet

All information and travel details are correct at the time of going to press, and may have altered after publication. Unless otherwise stated, hotel prices and airline fares are for the months of publication. Currency conversions are correct at the time of going to press, and may be rounded up.

decency and empathy. It’s time we demand better for people, and stand against the building of walls, literal and otherwise. We must demand a world free of racism and bigotry and prejudice, so that we—and generations after us—may enjoy all the abundance that travel offers, the beauty of a world that is rich and diverse in its people and cultures and geographies. This is why we travel. As we celebrate our 6th Anniversary, it’s important to remember that travel is not simply an escape from one’s everyday world—it is a world in itself. Whether you get your kicks from camping in the outdoors, staring at the horizon from your luxury villa, chasing wildlife across vast deserts or chatting with strangers during road trips, there is only one point to it all: to open yourself up to a world that is different from your own. We are all travellers, because we all dream of going somewhere. Somewhere better, somewhere beautiful, somewhere that makes our hearts sing, and hopefully, somewhere that makes us learn to love each other a little more.

Divia Thani Daswani Editor Twitter @diviathani

Now, you can read the magazine on your tablet and smartphone. Download it here: 34 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


“We have access to more of the world than ever before, but we are losing the spirit of travel and all it stands for”


In conversation with

SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE The New York-based oncologist and Pulitzer prize-winning author talks travel, cooking and his love for a good Old Delhi chaat. By Raj Aditya Chaudhuri How do you answer the question ‘Why I Travel’?

17th Street] around the corner from my house that serves Japanese barbecue, and Peking Duck House for the duck. For a New York slice, I go around the corner to Four Brothers Pizza. What I don’t like? I could do without the traffic.

To broaden yourself at every destination. I try to buy a book about every place I travel to—and hopefully read it before I arrive.

You’ve been very busy the past few years—research, teaching, physician’s duties and writing books. Where do you go on your time off?

What do you miss most about living in Boston? Lobster rolls. Burdick’s chocolate. Running along the Charles River every evening in autumn.

I love to travel with my family. It’s difficult, but we do our best to take a family holiday every year. Our most recent vacation was to Venice—a city that I have admired for a long time. We fell in love with Venice when my wife [artist Sarah Sze] was installing in the American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2013. We lived there for two months, in an apartment on Via Garibaldi. There are particular walks and boat rides that we take over and over again when we visit the city. The owners of most of the restaurants in that neighbourhood are our friends now, and every meal is like a family meal.

Let’s talk food. We know that you’re a serious home cook. Which world cuisine are you most inspired by these days? I love cooking regional Asian food, Thai in particular. I like making seafood laksa. I’ve also been experimenting with paella.

I love to eat tandoori chicken and kebabs at Rajinder Da Dhaba near my house in Delhi. And golgappas and chaat from Old Delhi. I almost always go to Nizam’s for kathi kebabs and Havemore on Pandara Road for hot, fresh naans.

A travel memory you hold dear… Years ago, I went to an island in Kenya. I can’t remember the name, but it was a volcanic island, with beautiful beaches. We sat on crates and ate the most delicious seafood. I still remember the simplicity and astonishing beauty of the place.

How do you pick your hotels when you travel? I love anything overlooking the water. My favourite hotel is the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat near Nice, which overlooks the ocean.

What is your favourite part of living in the Big Apple? And what aspect of the city could you do without?

What would we always find inside your travel case?

“I love flying because I can curl up with my books and read. I also carry a Jaipuri blanket on flights and drape it across the whole family.”

36 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

I am always impressed by the energy and vibe of New York. And of course, the food—the sheer diversity of cuisine available is unbelievable. Le Bernardin—a seafood place that has the most exceptional service and food. And on the other end of town (and price): a place called Excellent Dumpling House in Chinatown for dumplings. There’s Yakiniku Futago [37 W

At least five books. I love flying because I can curl up with my books. There’s nothing like a 10-hour flight to read two novels. I also like to carry a Jaipuri blanket on flights and drape it across the whole family.

What destination is next on your bucket list? We don’t know for sure where our next holiday will be—but it’ll be somewhere in Asia. Probably Thailand or Vietnam. Mukherjee’s new book The Gene: An Intimate History (Penguin Books; 349) is on stands now.


You’re originally from Delhi and continue to visit. What are your favourite spots?


BEYOND THE WAR ZONE International news correspondent Leela Jacinto travels the globe to tell the stories of places on the brink of disaster


to use vacation time to travel to places where I can see, firsthand, what’s going on, get under the skin of issues that residents face, talk to people and figure out where they’re coming from. Being a reporter gives you licence to poke your nose into people’s lives, ask them questions and get access to places most people don’t. I’m spoilt that way. But I’m also generous about sharing my experiences. If I have a friend who’s curious, not fussy and


ow did I land up at that remote church at that time of night? Churches have never been on my agenda, not when I’m home, not on the road, not if I can help it. And I was certainly not in the Turkish border city of Diyarbakir for church visits of all things. It was October 2014. Summer was battling autumn. The Kurds were battling Daesh (Islamic State or ISIS) across the TurkeySyria border for control of the strategic Syrian town of Kobane. As the unofficial capital of Turkey’s oppressed Kurdish community, Diyarbakir was the focal point of conflict—and that’s why I was in town. My family and friends joke that it takes an attack, war or coup to get me to visit. To be fair, it’s my job as an international news reporter. But it’s true that I don’t really do ‘leisure travelling’, for lack of a better word. Ticking off tourist sites or roasting on beaches bores me stiff. I prefer

38 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

able to handle sometimes dangerous situations, they’re welcome to tag along. Sometimes, it gives people access to parts of their own country or city they wouldn’t otherwise know. In Lebanon, for instance, some of my bar-hopping, elite Beirut art-world friends are thrilled to be able to enter Palestinian camps or Hezbollah strongholds with me. In France, I’ve taken Parisians into troubled suburbs where residents—mainly of North African or sub-Saharan descent— stare suspiciously at the white French person with me, but are most happy to talk to me, because I’m an outsider, because I’m not white (I guess) and because they sense I’ve been to similar places before and I get it. In Afghanistan, my favourite travel companion is a co-founder of Women for Afghan Women, a women’s rights group that runs shelters for battered women. With her, I get to see parts of a country I would not otherwise see. I cherish these trips, which are not official missions with tight deadlines and sleepless nights and not enough time to address broader or more nuanced issues. And I am attracted to places on the brink of falling off the map, before war and insecurity turn them into no-go zones. Diyarbakir was in that position in the autumn of 2014. This ancient, upper-Mesopotamian city on a bend in the Tigris River has seen conquerors, crusaders and caravans settle and storm through, leaving behind UNESCO World Heritage sites. The latest sultan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had started mucking around, using the Syrian conflict for his regional domination plans, and I sensed those sites would soon join the ranks of the world’s unviewed spots. Geopolitics was at the front and back of my mind that evening as I briskly walked through Sur, Diyarbakir’s historic district. With its armoured police trucks and its residents hunkering down 40 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Above from left: girls at a festival in Diyarbakir; the interiors of Surp Giragos Armenian Apostolic Church. Previous page: a man with his dog in wardamaged Sur

for another night of possible rioting, it was not the kind of place to hang around after dark. My translator had taken the bus home and I was heading for another night of filing stories from my hotel room overlooking the city’s ancient stone walls. But when I saw a sign with an arrow indicating the way to Surp Giragos Church, I stopped. Surp means ‘saint’ in Armenian, so it was obviously an Armenian church. But that community was virtually nonexistent in the Anatolian region, flushed out during and after what the world calls a genocide, but Turkey officially insists was an unplanned fallout of World War I. Many historic Armenian buildings were appropriated by the new Turkish state, abandoned residences taken over or allotted to poor Turks and fine cathedrals and monasteries turned into theatres or cultural centres. In any case, during my trips to southeastern Turkey, I never had time for the Armenian issue—that was for the historians or what I call the never-forget industry pack of people trapped in the claws of identity, nursing historic grievances and sometimes using

their victimhood to transmogrify from oppressed to oppressors. So, there was really no reason for me to check out this old Armenian church at night. But I was not in a reflective mood as I followed the sign, turning into narrower, darker by-lanes until I arrived at tall iron gates that were, amazingly, open, with a dim light shining from inside. I walked in to find an openair tea stall, where five young men sat on low wooden stools sipping çay, Turkish tea. To my left loomed the black basalt walls of the church, shrouded in darkness. The conversation stopped and five pairs of eyes followed me as I entered the compound and walked to the çay stall. Under such intense scrutiny, ordering tea seemed the nonchalant thing to do. It wasn’t long before a conversation of sorts started up, in a halting mix of basic Turkish and English. The men were all Muslims from the neighbourhood, and once the usual questions (Where was I from? Where was my husband?) were dispensed with, they asked if I wanted to see the church. “Isn’t it too late, isn’t it closed?” I asked. It was, but one of them had the key and they could let me in.



“ I shouldn’t have been there and I shouldn’t have done that, but I did and I don’t regret it” And so it was on that Anatolian autumn night, I followed a group of young men I didn’t know, in a city considered ‘not safe’, past dark stone courtyards to the main church door. I shouldn’t have been there and I shouldn’t have done that, but I did and I don’t regret it. Inside the church, I stopped by the door, squinting in the dark while the men used their mobile phone torches to find the light switches. And suddenly, there it was, this mystery church, bathed in an ethereal golden glow, so stunning that tears streamed down my cheeks. One look at me and the boys tactfully dispersed as I stared at a massive stone altar. The church had seven majestic altars, including two on an elevated floor. Each housed a gilt-and-glass encased mosaic— overlaid with gold pieces in the Eastern Church style—of various saints. The central one featured a magnificent mosaic of the Virgin and Child in the Byzantine iconoclasm style. The interior of the church, a cavernous affair that I later learned was one of the largest Armenian churches in the Middle East, was propped up by columns supporting nearly two dozen graceful stone arches. 42 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

There it was, Surp Giragos Armenian Apostolic Church, opened and lit up, just for me. Alone in that church, with all those Christian martyrs staring out balefully, I felt the weight not just of history, but of my own background, crushing me. Where were all the people who used to worship here? Where did the congregation go? By plane, Diyarbakir looks like a dark green smudge on the rolling brown Anatolian plain, which gives way, further south, to the Syrian desert. That image suddenly took a macabre twist: how many had died in that landscape a century ago? Then it all came together in a sort of epiphany. How much of my reporting, over two decades covering the world’s hotspots, focused on minority groups in these ancient lands: Assyrian Christians in northern Iraq, Kurds, Yazidis, Christians and Alawites of Syria, Afghanistan’s Hazaras, Shiites in some places, Sunnis in others. Often I’ve been ahead of the curve, warning of the impact of invasions and uprisings on minorities because, I realised in that church, of my own minority status as an Indian Christian.

Above: shops in Sur, damaged during the fighting

As far back as I can remember, I’d rejected the chains of identity. You are what you make of yourself, I believed, rejecting several proposals to write books or essays on my roots. The outsider status got easier as I floated around the globe collecting new nationalities, passports and residency permits. But in that distant church, restored in 2011 by a diaspora that was forced out, with all the familiar emblems of my childhood, I finally came home. I may be faithless, but I’m culturally an Indian Christian, and, I realised, it’s coloured how I view and cover the world. It took such a long journey, through so many ravaged lands, to embrace that identity—in an empty Armenian church in an ancient, upper Mesopotamian city on a bend in the Tigris River. Nearly two years later, the Turkish military is pounding Kurdish militants in Sur. UNESCO has been raising alarms about the condition of heritage sites in the district, journalists are denied access to the area, photographs show rubble-strewn lanes and historic buildings pockmarked by shelling. Diyarbakir’s residents believe Erdogan is using the counter-insurgency to level neighbourhoods and rebuild them—with a little help from his real estate magnate buddies— into soulless urban monstrosities. As for the church, five years after it was restored and reopened by an Armenian trust as part of a reconciliation process, it has been expropriated by the Turkish state. The government says it has seized the church and other properties for “restoration purposes”. Rights groups call it a blatant violation of international law. As that stunning 17th-century place of worship is entering yet another desolate phase, I cannot help but feel grateful to those young men for taking the time to show me a part of history I would otherwise not have seen.



on top OF THE world Priyanka Chopra speaks to Suketu Mehta about breaking barriers, crossing borders and why she picks a good travel agent over owning a home. Photographs by Anders Overgaard. Styling by Cristina Ehrlich Oct-Nov 2016 CondĂŠ Nast Traveller 45

Priyanka Chopra at the Grand Army Plaza, close to the JW Marriott Essex House, New York. On Priyanka: sweater, Khaite; leather overalls, Zadig & Voltaire; shoes, Christian Louboutin



riyanka Chopra comes into the restaurant— Riverpark, which has a gorgeous view of the East River—wearing a white top and sunglasses. It’s her day off. This is a rarity in the life of the actress who’s managing a career in two places simultaneously—in Mumbai and the US. So she’s relaxed, and happy to drink two glasses of wine at lunch, and order bread twice. She could be any Indian-American young woman in the country today: confident in her place in life, and in the country. Over a fine meal of oysters (for her) and pasta (for me), she talks about where she came from, and where she’s going.

SM: New York when you were

studying here in school to New York now—how has it changed? PC: Back then, I would take the subway from Queens, meet my best friend at the time and come to Fifth Avenue to hang out and look at pretty people go in and out of Saks. And last year, I was shooting outside the store. For me, that’s the difference between New York City as a child and as an adult—my perspective on it has changed.

SM: So there was a lot of travel… PC: My parents are nutty travellers. My dad just loved driving across the country. He would pack us into the car and drive to Shimla, Kashmir, Nainital. We would stop on the road, buy mangoes and guavas, cool them in the rivers, have a picnic, drink beer, listen to music, stay someplace at night. My dad used to make an experience out of it! But I will say that I don’t like it anymore.

SM: You mean you don’t like road

trips anymore? PC: I don’t understand them. When I was living here, we did a road trip from Indianapolis to both the Carolinas to Yellowstone Park. Nine people stuffed in one car, Indian-style.

SM: How about boat trips? PC: Love! For my 30th birthday, I did one in the south of France— Nice, Monaco, Porto Fino—over 10 days with six friends. It was amazing. And the Mediterranean in July was perfect, a beautiful, crisp indigo. I think I want to own an island one day.

SM: What would you do on an

island? You’d be bored. PC: I have these really weird,

SM: You moved around a bit in the

ostentatious dreams.

US, didn’t you?

SM: Such as? PC: I want to own a plane. SM: What about a house? Where

PC: From New York, I moved to Indianapolis. My stay in the US was divided between my uncle and my aunt—my mama and my masi. While she was switching jobs, I stayed with him, and vice versa.

SM: Doing that at a young age

gives you a certain confidence in being able to take on the world, doesn’t it? PC: Honestly, it does. Today, I can meet anyone, anywhere, and have a conversation with them on their level. In India, too, my dad was in the Army for the first 10 years of my life, so we moved base every two to three years. Every summer, we would go to Kashmir—Srinagar, Pahalgam. My dad was posted in Leh for about nine months, in fact.

do you see yourself living? PC: You don’t need a house. You just need a great travel agent who knows amazing hotels, or rental apartments, and you travel the world. In Bali, I rented this outstanding house that had a Jacuzzi in the living room,

which went into the pool, which went into the ocean. That’s the only way I spoil myself. I don’t really have vices, but I like the good life. That’s important to me.

so your movies reflect that.’ And [the thing I don’t get is] why can’t we focus on understanding each other? Educating ourselves about each other?

SM: Coming back to your time

SM: Moving to Quantico, your

in the US, did you ever get called names in high school? Like my sisters did—they’d get ‘geek’.

show on ABC. What’s your take on your character, Alex Parrish?

PC: I’d get called ‘curry’ in Boston. I left America because of that, because of being bullied by a girl. She used to say ‘Go back to your country on the elephant you came on’. At that time, I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. I just wanted to go home. But now, because I went through that, I tell young kids that they have to take matters into their own hands and stand up for their rights, not get bullied. Even now, while I am working in America, I get asked so many stupid questions.

SM: Like what? PC: For example: ‘Oh my god, Bollywood! So are you going to break into a dance?’ I want to respond with, ‘Oh my god, America! Does that mean a superhero is going to come rescue me?’ Every country has its own stereotypes. The stereotype about Indian films is that we constantly break into song and dance. The stereotype surrounding Hollywood films is that there is always a superhero. And neither is strictly true. I tell people, ‘When a baby is born or we win the [cricket] World Cup, we sing and dance, because that’s our nature, so our movies reflect that. Whereas in America, you’re always saving the world,

“Working [in the US] has been a very interesting experiment. I don’t see borders closing. I see a self-sufficient country. Americans have never felt the need to look outside. So when they meet you, you have to introduce them to where you come from”

PC: She’s a tough chick, she’s the kind of girl you want to be when you grow up. I want to be Alex when I grow up!

SM: What’s been the hardest part about playing Alex? PC: The hardest part for me was to convince America every Sunday that I’m an American. But then, last Halloween, I had so many young girls dressing like my character, writing to me or arriving on our set. It was so much fun, and so cool that my character had become so aspirational.

SM: Do you still think America is as open a country, even in the age of Trump? Are you a Hillary supporter? PC: I’ve always been apolitical. I’m Indian and I don’t have a dog in this fight. I do have opinions, though, definitely.

SM: What are they? PC: Well, it’s extremely cool that the US has a female Presidential candidate—and it’s extremely sad that in 2016, we find that progressive because we’ve had such few female leaders globally.

SM: So tell me this—whom would Alex Parrish vote for? PC: Smart question! I’ve decided I’m making Alex apolitical, too. But working here has been a very interesting experiment for me. I don’t see borders closing. I see a very self-sufficient country—which is good. Americans have never felt the need to look outside their borders. So when they meet you, you have to introduce them to where you come from. Like, I have a mandir that I take with me wherever I travel, and so I’ve given Alex a mandir as well. She has a little Nataraj statue, which goes wherever she does.

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 47


SM: Your decision to stay

apolitical—is this something you’ve written about in your columns [for The Hindustan Times and other publications]? PC: I have. You know, I often have people who watch the show come up to me and tell me they then watched their first Hindi film, or even specifically Bajirao Mastani or Mary Kom. And I love that. I feel like the politicians can take care of the politics while I want to take care of the real shit, which is having young people look up to me.

SM: Between shooting in India

and the US, do you spend a lot of time up in the air? time. I use it to sleep, especially on the 16-hour Mumbai–LA flight. You can sleep eight hours and still have eight hours when you wake up. I read scripts and decide what films I’m going to do. And I usually land and head straight to work. For example, when I was finishing work on Bajirao Mastani, I also was taping for Quantico. I used to finish shooting on Friday night, take a Saturday morning flight and land in Mumbai, drive or take a chopper to the shoot location on Sunday morning, shoot with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, fly back to Mumbai, take the 2am flight and land Monday morning to shoot in New York. Even Baywatch I shot on the weekends of Quantico.

SM: You must have a serious

amount of frequent flyer miles. PC: I’m sure I do. I never check. My travel agent keeps an account. My brother uses my miles, I think. I have nine passports! I’m on at least six flights a month.

Priyanka in the Central Park Terrace Suite at the JW Marriott Essex House, New York. On Priyanka: blouse and skirt, The Row; necklace, Jennifer Fisher

“You don’t need a house. You just need a great travel agent who knows amazing hotels or rental apartments” cook, for instance, has been with me for four years. She travels everywhere I go. I don’t sacrifice my entourage. I work very hard for them to help me support my life. My life is a schedule that she [indicating her assistant, who’s hovering nearby] sends me every day, that says you have to wake up at, say, tomorrow 5am. To get eight hours of sleep, you have to be in bed at 8.30pm. And tomorrow you are doing these scenes. After you wrap, you have this interview. I can tell you seven-and-a-half months in advance where exactly I’m going to be on some day at 2pm.

SM: Amazing! Okay, so you go

back and forth between New York and Mumbai. Do you enjoy these two cities?

SM: How do you cope? PC: Because I don’t have roots

PC: I don’t care about the

at all, I have created an island for myself. So that island—my team, my staff—is my support system, my constant. These are the people who prop me up so I can do the insanity that I do. My

cities, frankly; I like the job. I’m not someone who ever lives in a city. Even in Mumbai, I go from my home to my car to the studio. I’m someone who really doesn’t have much of a life. My

48 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

life is my work. And whatever personal life I have, I make it happen around my work. The thing is, my priority is what I create. I have, over time, come to the conclusion that I’m doing something that is bigger than me. I’m not trying to give myself importance by saying, ‘Oh I’m an actor and oh, it’s so important’, but when you create something— like you do with your books, Suketu—you’ll die one day, but your books won’t. It’s a legacy. It’s something you create for posterity. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m a creative person, so my journey is what I put out there—be it the characters I play, the films I act in or produce or the articles I write. And the thing is, the path that I’m on is one that has no precedence. No one’s done it before. I’m trying to figure it out on my own and it’s a bit like groping in the dark—maybe I’ll make a mistake and maybe I won’t, but this is my journey.

SM: Aren’t you the first Bollywood

actor to have crossed over into the US? PC: Well, to mainstream pop culture. You see, the thing is, I’m not crossing over. I’m trying to balance both. I want to be a part of global entertainment, which could be American, European, anything. I don’t want to be restricted to a country. Today, with the Internet, the world is such a small place. And I want to be a part of that phenomenon.

SM: If you had to pick one city

that’s home? New York? Mumbai? ? PC: I’m more of a West Coast kind of girl. I like the chill of LA. But I’m a nomad. And look at the world we live in today, we can literally get on a plane, go somewhere for five hours, have lunch, and come back. Why do you have to commit? I have commitment issues anyway.

SM: Now that’s a whole different

conversation. Let’s leave that for another day, shall we?


PC: Yes, and it’s my favourite








WHY I TRAVEL From artists and authors to political leaders and philanthropists, we got some of the finest minds around to tell us why travel matters to them, their favourite journeys and more Yoko Ono Activist and artist

“Travel circulates your brain.”

1990s, travelling to Bosnia, on what I call my most important early assignment, was lifechanging, both personally and professionally. That trip shaped my ethics, morals, and journalistic values. One place I’d like to visit properly is India. I’ve only ever travelled there for work, and I am really looking forward to having the time to travel there properly, for a holiday and a great adventure.”

Aatish Taseer Author and journalist “Travel matters when the person travelling is, in some way, compromised. There is a kind of travel in which one’s centre remains intact: one goes out and reports back. But travel must disturb one’s

centre; the person travelling must be remade by the experience. There should be a constant recalibration of the self in relation to one’s surroundings. That is the kind of travel that matters.The greatest lesson I’ve learnt through my travels is to listen. There is nothing more important. It is the equivalent of ‘spending time with one’s characters’ in the build-up to writing a novel.”

Sakshi Malik Professional wrestler, medal winner at the Rio Olympic Games 2016

Donna Karan Founder, Urban Zen Foundation

“In the past, when design students asked me for advice about getting into fashion, I would tell them to get a job in retail. Now I tell them to see the world.”

050 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

“When I started wrestling I had no idea what the Olympics are, what the Commonwealth Games are about, or even how to win a medal. I wanted to wrestle because I wanted to sit in an aircraft. I had heard from a lot of senior wrestlers that those players that win the most, get to travel the most. That’s what really drove me to become serious about wrestling.”

Melinda Gates Chair and trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“The most meaningful kind of travel doesn’t only close geographical distances between people, it brings them closer in other ways, as well.”


Christiane Amanpour Anchor and chief international correspondent, CNN “When I was a little girl, I was at boarding school in England and my parents lived in Iran, so from the age of eleven, I used to travel unaccompanied. Almost all the travel I’ve done has been life-changing. Of course, being a foreign correspondent has taken me all over the world. In the

TRAVEL TALK David Remnick Editor, The New Yorker “I have a secret Victorian vice: I love reading about other people’s horrific journeys—the polar explorers, their ship in splinters, forced to eat blubber and ashes and then each other; the Siberian adventurer tortured by cumulus clouds of mosquitoes and black flies; the food critic sidelined with gout. Someday, a hedge-fund titan possessed of a prose style will regale us with the tragic failure of his G5 to pick him up on time in Anguilla. Meanwhile, I satisfy my wanderlust, cool drink within reach, at once still and transported.”

Kelly Wearstler Founder, Kelly Wearstler Studio “As our world is getting so homogenised, it’s more important

than ever to seek out the authentic, the artisanal, the unique. On a recent trip to Istanbul, I found the Blue Mosque wildly inspiring, with its majestic tile work, vibrant colours and patterns that came together to create such beautiful stories.”

Deepika Mehta Yoga practitioner and professional fitness expert “When you travel and interact with people from different countries, continents and cultures, it connects you deeply and expands your global family. The greatest lesson I’ve learnt through travel is that there are no real barriers between people—as soon as you connect with the real person beyond nationality, you can live anywhere. I was at a shamanic ceremony in the Brazilian jungle, and the shaman said something in Portuguese. I felt a bit helpless because I couldn’t understand him, but then he said something again, looking deep into my eyes, and strangely, I sensed what he was saying—it was that ‘the spirit has no language’.”

Madeleine Albright Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group “The answer to the world’s

problems is not to turn inward. We simply have to seize every opportunity to promote understanding between countries and across cultures. And there’s no better way to do that than to explore the

world with an open mind, a sturdy carry-on and clothes that don’t wrinkle.”

Richard Branson Founder, Virgin Group

“We cannot let fear dictate how we live our lives” William Dalrymple Author and historian

Daksha Sheth Contemporary Indian dancer and choreographer

“I read Bruce Chatwin, who wrote of how our need to travel arises out of an innate restlessness and the ‘horror of home’—essentially, a man’s inability to sit alone in a room. But I’m not driven by a hatred of home. I am driven to travel by an interest in a place. It’s an attraction, not a repulsion. Because of my work, I read a lot of history. I research. The more I read about a place, the more I want to go there. And once I’ve been there, I want to learn more about it, so I read about it some more. It’s a vicious circle of sorts, a self-propelling force. Travel remains the great pleasure of my life. I’ve been traveling around India for 30 years. We are very lucky to have such a big world, that we can travel restlessly and relentlessly and still have so much of it left to see. It’s one of the greatest joys of life.”

“I love different cultures and constantly seek to know more about people. I am an explorer, performer, artist, dancer—I perform for an audience.

Unless I meet people, I don’t have an understanding of what I want to offer as a performer. When I visit

lesson my travels have taught me is that of inclusivity. The problem with the world is that we think that the other is separate from us—we separate our thoughts from another, and separate ourselves from another. Letting yourself experience different situations, exposing yourself to life that’s not always smooth sailing, leads one to lose one’s self-centredness.”

Marcus Samuelsson Chef and owner, Red Rooster Harlem and Streetbird Rotisserie

“Travel unlocks a world of flavour.” Phillip Lim Co – Founder, 3.1 Phillip Lim

“One of the most special moments of my 2015 trip to Bhutan was playing badminton at a monastery with a young monk who was full of peace and joy. The country’s spiritual approach to life was a gift of enlightenment and strength.”

052 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


a place, I see the architecture, colours, textures, fabrics, food, women, men, everything. I see what people there like, how they live, what they think about. I think it’s important to go beyond the life you’re living and learn of the world that’s out there. The greatest

TRAVEL TALK Aerin Lauder Founder and creative director, Aerin

Padma Lakshmi TV show host, actor and author

“To understand and know what’s going on in the world, you have to see the world.”

“My mother and I moved to California when I was a teenager, and it meant that my yearly trips to visit my grandma in Chennai, or Madras, as it was then called, grew longer. I would fly alone, to Tokyo, then to Singapore, where I’d spend a whole day and night, and finally to India. I hated how long it took, but over time, I came to love the layovers, discovering not just a new city but a new me, selfreliant and adventurous. It was on these trips—solo vacations which gave me a taste of adulthood and independence—that I first realised that I love to travel for travel’s sake.”

Barbara Bush Co-founder, Global Health Corps “We must reach beyond both our borders and our comfort zones to confront today’s greatest challenges—and to experience the refreshing joy that you can recognise yourself in others, regardless of where on the planet you live.”

Christian Louboutin Fashion designer

“It always surprises me that what you expect of a place that you want to visit is never even with reality. It is generally better. You have to live in some places to understand and experience them, which is something photography cannot always capture. Travelling also makes you understand that you are not the centre of the world.”

Gaggan Anand Chef and restaurateur

“I travel to seek inspiration from our cultural differences. To taste unknown food and experience language barriers. To experience the joy of exploring something that’s undiscovered by my mind. I can’t go to any destination where the food doesn’t excite me.”

“Curiosity is what drives my travels. Without it, I would stay at home. In my 20s, curiosity led me to books and I roamed the world through accounts of earlier travellers. I still read a lot, but curiosity now drives me out into the world. It also

helps me talk to people, breaking the ice and asking questions. And it leads me to write books, too.”

Deepak Chopra Alternative medicine advocate and author

“Travelling the world teaches you that as different as appearances, tastes, dresses, music and cultures may be across the globe, people are the same.”

John Kerry US Secretary of State “Travelling enables us to see the world through the eyes of someone else, and to understand their aspirations and assumptions. It’s about empathy, which is not only important to the work of our diplomats, but to all of us as we seek to understand different cultures as well as our own.”

Bill Drayton Founder, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public “When I was 19, several friends and I drove across India. We looked at the widely differing impacts of Nehru’s approach to village development. That’s where the idea for Ashoka: Innovators for the Public was born. There are now over 3,600 leading social entrepreneur Ashoka Fellows in 86 countries. Over half have changed national policy within five years of their launch, and three-quarters have changed the patterns in their fields nationally. So I believe travel opens the mind—and drives it.”

Amish Tripathi Author

“My wife, seven-year-old son and I went to Kenya last year and it was life-changing. We were in an open-top jeep, and a cheetah had climbed onto the back. I was within touching distance of a predator, with no protection, not even a glass windscreen, in between. Even now, it’s difficult to describe the fear, the awe, the fascination.” 054 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Bobbi Brown Founder, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics “Travelling is so important to my creativity. During my trips, I’ve gained a

lot of inspiration for my seasonal collections. It’s important for me to translate my inspirations—which I usually get from travelling and meeting women all over the world—into innovative and functional products.”


Anthony Sattin Journalist and author

Discover more while you travel. Get it on your iPad, iPhone and Android devices.






th INDIAN EDITION Anniversary Special

Sakshi Malik Manu Joseph Siddhartha Mukherjee melinda gates Suketu Mehta SANDIP ROY


PRIYANKA CHOPRA Building bridges, not walls PC on US politics & ďŹ lm



ON point W


Watch Fidai turn a pencil lead into the Qutub Minar

For Conde Nast Traveller’s 6th Anniversary Issue India Special, artist Salavat Fidai created a sculpture of the Qutub Minar on the tip of a pencil. He tells us more about his work

here most of us see just a pencil, Salavat Fidai sees potential. The artist, based in Ufa, Russia, is known for creating beautifully ornate works of art out of tiny pencil leads. His varied microsculpture collection includes everything from the Eiffel Tower and Taipei 101 to the characters of Town Musicians of Bremen, the famous fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. “I find inspiration in pop culture, art, in the photographs I take of buildings and monuments on my travels, and occasionally, even from my Instagram followers,” Fidai says. Once he’s decided on a subject, he chips, shaves and polishes, using a magnifying glass to make sure each piece is as lifelike as possible. RAJ ADITYA CHAUDHURI

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 57


DIAMOND DIARY With a new book on the Koh-i-Noor out soon, we trace the 800-year journey of the famous rock

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ANDHRA PRADESH Born in the 13th century in Kollur Mine (presentday Andhra Pradesh), it was originally 793ct, shaved down over the years to 108ct. It passed through several hands: the Kakatiya rulers, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals and the Shah of

DELHI Persia, to whom it owes its name, which means ‘mountain of light’. The rock eventually found its way back to Punjab, but when the British annexed the territory, they took the gem as well. It travelled by boat from (then) Bombay

This frenetic tour of Latin America will leave you spellbound

PERSIA to Portsmouth and on the 250th anniversary of the East India Company, it was gifted to Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace. Read more about this magnificent rock’s journey across the world in William Dalrymple and Anita Anand’s forthcoming book, Kohinoor (Juggernaut).

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America’s national parks are celebrated in this ode to nature

The title says it all. A must-buy for women who like adventure

Why: I’ve been playing the bagpipes since I was 14, and one day, it struck me that playing in different countries would be a great adventure. Also, I’ve realised it’s a fun way to get noticed and facilitate cultural interactions. How: Savings, for one. Plus, when I started out, I got in touch with a few companies to sponsor me. After developing an online presence, I contacted tourism boards and travel companies. On India: It was the most wonderful assault on my senses! I’d been a few times before, but this time [in October 2015], I wanted to focus on Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, and take some iconic shots against the monuments there. #Epicfail moment: Not going inside the Taj Mahal! I wasn’t allowed in with the pipes, so I skirted the outer wall and got to the riverbank, where a man took me out on the river so I could play on his boat under the shadow of the Taj. I’m a fool for not going in, but this was pretty cool as well.


Cool chef? Crazy scientist? Smart detective? There’s so much kids can be, with PodSquad’s learning boxes. Meant for kids between the ages of three and seven, the themed boxes are designed to cater to individual aptitudes and inculcate skills even before learning begins at school. Oh, and they’re perfectly sized to take on that next trip with the little ones. (from 1,200;


Ross Jennings on travelling around the world to play the bagpipes

Honeymoons are made of these Once the pheras are done, the cake is cut and the last hours of the reception are over, it’s time to look forward to your honeymoon. And making sure you enjoy this cherished time is Abercrombie & Kent, who plans the best romantic escapades The first vacation you take as husband and wife; a honeymoon isn’t just any holiday— it’s the one that you and your partner will always reminisce about. Understanding the significance of the first chapter of your new life is Abercrombie & Kent. It creates unique experiences based on your personal preferences, no matter the duration. For those of you who can only get away for a short while, Abercrombie & Kent’s minimoons are ideal. A popular destination for new couples, Venice is the perfect place to kick-start your Italian love affair. After spending the day sightseeing, unwind at the local baccaris (winebars) with a glass of ombra and tasty cicchetti (Venetian tapas). For some picture-perfect moments, head to Cinque Terre where the Italian Riviera serves as the ideal backdrop. Complete your Italian escapade in Tuscany, where you can discover the local art and architecture. And for a truly memorable experience, indulge in a meal on the grounds of a ruined Roman villa. Alternately, honeymoon in Morocco for an indulgent retreat. Make it unforgettable by taking your loved one on a hot air balloon ride for spectacular views of the Atlas Mountains and Marrakech at sunrise. Once you make it back to the ground, relieve all the tension of the wedding week with a traditional hammam. And if you like to camp out, why not spend a night under the stars at Erg Chebbi in the Sahara. We promise nothing will be dreamier.

However, if you can’t choose between a bustling city and some nature, then Abercrombie & Kent’s exclusive beach and twin centre itineraries make for the ideal choice. If Central America excites you, then spend some time in Guatemala and Belize. Get your new union blessed by a Mayan Shaman at Iximche in Guatemala, while you explore the ancient ruins here. History buffs can immerse themselves in Mayan culture at Tikal in Petén. Once you’re done delving into the past, make your way to Antigua and pamper yourself with a private meal at Hector Castro’s home. However, if you want to continue exploring the Mayan ruins, you can carry on to Belize. But if you’re looking for some fun in the sun, San Pedro offers a number of waterfront restaurants and tiki bars where you can relax after a day of water activities. But if Africa is more to your liking, Abercrombie & Kent’s South Africa and Mozambique, honeymoon is truly one-of-a-kind. Indulge in some of the best food that South Africa has to offer at Winelands, where you can opt for private food and wine tastings. Nature lovers can spend the night under the stars in their private tree house at the edge of Kruger National Park. What’s more, you could take a boat ride and view whales, dolphins and great white sharks. But if you want to get up close and personal with some gentle giants, then head to Mozambique, where

you can dive alongside whale sharks. And if you can get away for a longer time, Abercrombie & Kent’s epic sojourn in Australia and Fiji is perfect for you and your loved one. Starting off in Australia, celebrate your love by watching the sun set over the desert while sipping on champagne and munching on canapés at a table set for two in Uluru. Continue on to Sydney and get stunning views of the iconic Opera House from your private yacht. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for a trek in Tasmania and explore the rugged landscapes on foot. No trip to Australia can be complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. View it in all its glory by taking a helicopter ride for stunning aerial views. But to really indulge in some water sports, go snorkelling, jet skiing or shark diving in Fiji. Besides these experiences, Abercrombie & Kent also provides exclusive curated experiences in New Zealand, Seychelles, The Maldives, Thailand, Kenya, BotswanaZambia and Crete. For more information, email or call +91 8860605900


AFRICA ON THE RISE From art shows to design exhibitions, the continent is having a moment, says Peter Browne and preconceptions. Africa is influencing the world in ways we probably never anticipated, through art, design, photography, fashion and architecture. Last year, Nigeria-raised Okwui Enwezor became the first African curator of the Venice Biennale; Tanzania-born architect David Adjaye has designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture for the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. And a major touring exhibition is showcasing furniture designers alongside film-makers such as Ghana’s Frances Bodomo. Senegalese

photographer Omar Victor Diop, who created this image for his ALT+SHIFT+EGO project, once worked in corporate communications and describes himself as ‘a middle-class, well-travelled, professional black man.’ The cultural paradigm has shifted; Africa is in the driving seat. Next year the most ambitious art project on the continent—the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa—opens in a converted grain silo on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. As a statement on Africa’s role on the global stage, it vibrates with defiant positivity.


We all know about its endangered wildlife, open plains, towering mountains and pounding oceans. But we don’t hear much about Africa’s cities, other than complaints about potholes and corrupt politicians. Yet many of the continent’s most vibrant urban outposts, from Accra and Dakar to Nairobi, Johannesburg and Cape Town, have emerged as crazy-intense incubators for creative expression. Africa now has a larger middle class than India, and a whole generation of smart, innovative and prolific thinkers unshackled from out-of-date prejudices

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our new seaside resorts are giving water babies reason to cheer. In Seychelles, the Six Senses Zil Pasyon (www.sixsenses. com), on the 652-acre tropical island of Félicité (pictured), has 30 pool villas and 17 private residences. The Maldives has two new openings. The Soneva Jani ( offers 24 villas and one Island Villa—a four-bed pad with an island attached! It also features a silent open-air cinema, where guests can listen to films on Bluetooth headphones. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort ( is a 77-key piece of paradise, with floor-to-ceiling sea views from the rooms, a spa, a tennis court, butler service and a number of seaside activities. And in Myanmar, there’s the 94-room Sanctum Inle Resort ( by the Inle Lake in Nyaung Shwe. The in-house restaurant, Refectory, showcases local fare, while local beers and wines, and a few international names are on offer at Cloister Bar. The Sanctuary Spa offers a range of Asian therapies (try the signature Tamarind Scrub).


orget the clichéd bashes and head to these underground spots in five of the world’s coolest cities. La Esquina in New York masquerades as a takeout taco shop, but its underground den serves spicy Mexican street food and kickass Margaritas that will get you going for a long night of salsa. Over on the Lower East Side of the city, the nondescript back door of an art gallery leads to Fig. 19, a speakeasy-style bar. We all know Rio de Janeiro loves to party, but if you want to groove to some live indie music, head to Circo Voador or Rio Scenarium. And at Cahoots in SoHo, London, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve travelled back to post-war times (in a defunct Tube station). If you and your buddies are craving the intimacy of a house-party, head to Berlin’s 3Zimmerwohnung, a three-bedroom apartment-turned-bar. Jerusalem’s

(L)amp it up From top: Beer Bazaar in Jerusalem; the interiors of Cahoots in London.

Mahana Yehuda market is packed with spices, shopkeepers and tourists by day but very few know that at night, the market clears up to reveal a host of pubs and hidden nightlife spots. Make sure to stop by Beer Bazaar, Casino de Paris, The Shuka, Jimmy’s Parliament and

Freddy Lemon. YUVAN KUMAR

66 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Travel will always be on your mind with this beautiful handmade Lladró Lámpara Mihrab porcelain lamp occupying pride of place on your mantelpiece. It is inspired by traditional Middle Eastern and North African houses that featured a mihrab, or the part of the house that points towards the holy city of Mecca. ( 51,000;



Wouldn’t you rather be a kid? When your favourite luxury resort in Goa has a camp exclusively designed for kids, you may just want to be one. Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa transforms your ordinary family holiday into an unforgettable experience for one and all (even the littlest ones in your pack)


andcastles at the beach. Waffles with an extra scoop of whipped cream. Winding pool slides that pack in the splash. Campfires with toasty marshmallows. Football practice with dad. Indoor games with newfound friends. Origami lessons and pottery classes. Bedtime stories under the stars. And a super friendly mascot to make every moment even more

memorable. Sounds like the ultimate kid’s paradise, doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what it is. Fun is serious business at Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa’s Camp Hyatt, so parents can sit back, relax and indulge in the resort’s luxurious trimmings without a single worry. Camp Hyatt is an exclusive supervised children’s area designed for everyone from the full-of- life 4 year old

whose interests change by the second to the inquisitive 12 year old who’s asking all the right questions and looking for every unique thing under the sky that’ll pique their interest. There’s even a dedicated toddlers section for children below 4 years old equipped with the most adorable soft toys and other baby-friendly equipment, offering mothers a serene space to play and spend time with their little bundles of joy. Rest assured, your kids will be in good hands with an entourage of caretakers who not only keep them entertained throughout the day, but safe and secure as well. All the facilities are planned and executed with

keeping child safety and convenience in mind. Like washrooms specially tailormade for kids of all heights, high chairs, cribs, rollaway beds and strollers, kiddie menus, babysitting and nanny services (for toddlers). In many ways, camps like this are ideal grounds for your children to discover new interests, figure out their strengths, make new friends, hone their skills, confront their fears, build resilience and, impossible as it sounds, unplug from technology and connect with nature. Your kids will never run out of things to do with Camp Hyatt’s well-thought out #myluxlist. Think: mask making, musical

games, pot painting, card making, movie sessions, nature walks, board games, story reading, friendship band making, building sandcastles at the beach, colouring competitions, bingo games, crafting paper puppets, playing in the sand pits, mini Olympics, t-shirt painting, dance classes, treasure hunts, relay games, Frisbee, dodgeball, cookie decorating and so much more. The best part: Camp Hyatt features a friendly mascot named Gogo—the Goan gaur inspired by the state animal—your kid’s new best friend. Along with Gogo and

all the fun that comes along with him, there’s also a host of interactive experience for Camp Hyatt kids that’ll make their stay truly surreal. From kids play money, which they can spend to buy cookies and candies during their stay to a special check-in experience where the youngsters will be given a special activity passport to hold on to, as well as lots of fun merchandise to take back home—this is the perfect destination for your kids. All this while, you, the parents, can relax at the poolside, spend some metime at the beach, pamper yourselves at the resort’s Sereno spa, or savour a private romantic dinner. You can thank us later. For more information visit, or call +91 8322721234


Paris by meal

The city’s Canal Saint-Martin area has been a creative hub for years. Now, a new wave of cool openings has washed over once-sleepy rue des Vinaigriers. By Lindsey Tramuta Café Craft, No 24 Co-working is still a relatively new concept in the French capital, but this graphic, monochromatic space is where MacBook-toting freelancers start their day over espressos made with beans from Parisian roasters Lomi. Buy a cup or pay by the hour for access to wi-fi and a seat at the communal table. (

Liberté, No 39 Atop the marble counter of this brilliant bakery (pictured) from master pastry chef Benoît Castel are delicate tarts and jewel-like fancies. Their prettiness contrasts with the raw interiors. Opt for perfect madeleines or go for full-on indulgence with Castel’s famous tarte à la crème. (www.

The Sunken Chip, No 39 How do Parisians do fish and chips? In this trendy restaurant, with line-caught haddock or coley from Saint-Jean-de-Luz and thick, hand-cut, doublecooked frites. If you’re not married to tradition, swap the classic for a hake burger or monkfish nuggets coated in panko breadcrumbs, along with a local craft beer. (

Sol Semilla, No 23 Call them hippies or early adopters, but the owners of this vegan canteen and shop have been turning out antioxidant-rich superfoods such as acai, Klamath algae and maca powder since opening in 2007. Pop into the cheery turquoisefronted store for kale chips or raw cacao to munch on. (

Piccoli Cugini, No 34 The area’s go-to pizza joint doubles up as a pre-dinner spot for a turned-out crowd with bigger plans. Join them in sipping spritzes and Italian wines while tucking into plates of burrata and Parma ham. (

70 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


Gravity Bar, No 44 The curving wooden interiors of this new hangout take their inspiration from surfing and skateboarding, but it’s the serious cocktails and market-driven menu that give greater thrills. Unusual flavours are the draw here; try the Black Popeye, shaken with Chairman’s Reserve rum, amaro, bitters and absinthe. The food is no less imaginative, including dishes like fried whelk and duck tartare. (+33 6 98 54 92 49)

The heroes of hospitality At JW Marriott, treating guests exceptionally starts with the way they treat their staff. As a philosophy the brand swears by, JW Marriott nurtures its associates as it believes it results in an elevated guest experience, and this is the spirit of The JW Treatment. Here’s a peek behind the scenes of the ones who run the show and their inspiring stories


s a discerning traveller, you know the most memorable moments during your stay at a luxury hotel are borne out of the experiences you gain interacting with the people who intuitively cater to all your whims and fancies. From the bellman to the concierge, housekeeping to the valet, the master chefs to the spa therapists— every associate is important in delivering an unforgettable experience. Experts in their own right, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts puts them in the spotlight as the brand launches The JW Treatment, a newly conceptualised campaign that is inspired by the brand’s rich heritage and founder JW Marriott’s famous quote: “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers”. For example, while most hotels train their people with a manual, JW Marriott takes theirs to the ballet. The campaign captures the essence of the JW Marriott brand and echoes its ethos that true luxury is created by people who love and are passionate about what they do. It also showcases the dedication the brand puts into taking care of its employees so they in return can offer an exceptional guest experience. Told through the lens of the JW Marriott’s associates, Mahima Sharma and Chef Vivek – here’s a peek into their lives as the showrunners and how encouragement, appreciation, motivation, innovation and in-depth training allow them to better care for their guests, and further develop their potential.

MEET MAHIMA SHARMA, DIRECTOR OF SPA BY JW, JW MARRIOTT MUMBAI SAHAR A firm believer in customer satisfaction being directly related to the happiness of the associates, Mahima has been running a successful spa at JW Marriott Mumbai for years. She believes in the saying “perfect pampering from pampered pamperers”—another philosophy taken from the JW Treatment campaign. Offering spa treatments can be tiring as it reduces one’s energy. To keep employees energised throughout the day, the team provides energy boosting food and drinks. This provides them comfort and makes them feel cared for. Every 3-4 months, therapists get a chance to experience a spa treatment MEET CHEF VIVEK BHATT, EXECUTIVE CHEF, JW MARRIOTT NEW DELHI AEROCITY Chef Vivek along with his team are passionate about delivering the most extraordinary culinary and dining experience. He is resolute in his belief of authentic cuisine and looks forward to strengthening JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity as the ultimate food and beverage destination in the capital. A team with dedication and a nurturing work

“Every single day of work for me is a matter of pride. Being associated with a wonderful company like Marriott enables me to look after the guests and associates in an exceptional manner, exactly how I have been treated by the company. Seeing my team learn and grow in their respective fields makes me feel proud”

environment allows Chef Vivek to innovate and work towards his goal. The JW Treatment philosophy is one of the driving motivators for the chef and his team as the associates’ personal and career growth is a major priority. JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity has an extremely active associate recognition programme in place, which acknowledges outstanding employees through a hotel wide platform. Their achievements along with the impact each associate has had on the guest experience is shared internally with various teams. Apart from this, associates are groomed and trained to take on larger roles in the hotel operations, leadership on the floor is a motto of the hotel.

just like guests would, making them feel pampered and relaxed, and gives them a sense of what guests expect. Occasionally, Human Resources and Spa heads plan a team holiday or annual party to show appreciation for their associates. Additionally, a development plan is put in place, where based on the associates’ future plans and priorities, training sessions are provided to ensure they reach their future goals. All this combined creates a happy and satisfied employee who would go the extra mile in executing an exceptional experience for the customer. From the moment a guest enters, greeted by smiling staff who surprise by anticipating their needs, they feel welcomed. It is small gestures like these that make a guest’s stay exceptional.

“JW Marriott is a brand that invests in its associates through innovative and in-depth service training, resulting in an emotional and elevated guest experience ” This results in an enthusiastic entourage of helpers who transform every ordinary experience into an extraordinary one for the guest, distinguished by impeccable service, prompt responses and going the extra mile to create memorable moments at JW Marriott.


Amandira This twin-masted 170ft beauty was made using the traditional techniques of the Indonesian Konjo tribe. But it lacks in few modern comforts—as any Aman devotee will have come to expect. Learn to dive in Raja Ampat, swim with mantas and chill with butterfly fish. Bliss. (

74 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016



If you like the hotels, you will love their yachts, says Celia Thursfield

Soneva in Aqua

Blue Deer

Alila Purnama

Ubi Bene

This 63ft boat is conveniently anchored on the watery doorstep of the gorgeous Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. It has two suites, a library, a sunken glass-bottomed bath (you ogle the fish while they ogle your bottom) and a sun deck. Plus, there’s no plastic and the generators are cutting-edge efficient, so you can cruise guilt-free. (www.

The 74ft catamaran, from the San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge in the Dolomites, is like a little, floating slice of Italy. There’s even a 300-strong Italian wine cellar and a hunk of vintage Parmesan. Summer is spent around lesser-known Italian islands, then it’s off to the Caribbean for winter. (www.sanlorenzo

Having a lip-smacking

Supersized is the word

portfolio across Asia is

at the Turkish D-Hotel

Fans of the brand,

one thing, but how about

Maris mega-resort:

rejoice—you can have

Four Seasons Explorer

all those nooks that no

five beaches, several

a full brand experience

planes can reach? Enter

islands, 193 rooms and

while zipping about the

this decked-out, 150ft,

three yachts. The Ubi

waters of the Maldives

five-suite phinisi (a

Bene (seen above) is

on the 128ft, three-deck

traditional Bugis vessel),

the largest at 144ft, with

catamaran. Spend your

which sails around

en-suite cabins and sleek

days swanning around Baa

places like the Komodo

interiors, which come

Atoll, diving and feasting

National Park. (www.

with great service and wi-

on freshly caught fish.

fi. (


Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 75


STATE OF ART Smitha Menon spins the news on the latest museum openings and events this season


rom a 3D Bruce Lee to an epic exhibit of bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan, museums are upping their game this season. At India’s only trick art museum, Click Art Museum ( in Chennai, amuse yourself with optical illusions and 3D interactive displays that allow you to hose down a dragon, take a selfie with a chimpanzee and even shrink to a pint-sized version of yourself. Heading West? Make sure you add Belgium’s spanking new tourist attraction to your itinerary. La Boverie (, in Liège is a gorgeous new addition to the Palais des Beaux-Arts, set up in partnership with The Louvre. Browse through works of Picasso, participate in workshops and enjoy a picnic in the park. If a musical soirée is more your scene, you’ll love the Clockwise from top GRAMMY Museum Mississippi’s left: La Boverie ( exhibit Museum; Click Art of Blues star Stevie Ray Vaughan. Museum; a display Curated by his brother Jimmie, it at the Stevie Ray features original stage outfits, guitars Vaughan exhibit at and even handwritten lyrics by the GRAMMY the star. Museum Mississippi

WHAT’S PLAYING nominee Leona Lewis debuts on Broadway as Grizabella in the revival of the legendary musical, on till January 2017 at NYC’s Neil Simon Theatre.

The Humans This drama on Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre shines the spotlight on American middle-class angst.

Waitress With women in


the top creative spots—book, score, choreography and direction—the play made Broadway musical history. It kicks off its US tour at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square in October.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses Tony winners Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber star in this adaptation of the French novel, on at Broadway’s Booth Theatre.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child The new original story by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, running at West End’s Palace Theatre in London, tells the story of the next generation of wizards and witches.

76 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Tel Aviv-based design studio Producks ( has tied up with Jaipur Rugs (www. to create the ‘Scales Rug’. Inspired by traditional Oriental carpet patterns, it features overlapping natural felted wool scales that create a unique surface.


Cats Three-time Grammy

Explore the world with ease If holidaying is your passion, then log onto, the online travel destination that’s revolutionising the Indian travel industry

For those of you who have always wanted to travel the world, but don’t want to spend hours planning your trip, has the solution for you. With detailed itineraries for some of the most sought after destinations, both international and local, all you need to do is select one, sit back, relax and let the experts create your dream vacation. Based in Bengaluru, was incorporated in February 2007. It is now Asia’s leading omnichannel travel, retail and fintech company. is the most comprehensive and consistently profitable travel e-commerce

company with 10 years of experience and has a presence in seven countries—India, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, UAE and Oman. Through its global network of over 1,00,000 independent re-sellers in the travel, retail and fintech space, the company provides access to a broad array of products including air travel, train tickets, hotels, holiday packages, buses, car rentals, insurance, mobile recharges, money transfer, P2P loans and bill payments. In addition to this, has more than 5,000 corporate

customers and also engages directly with consumers through its B2C website and mobile app. And its efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Last year, won the ET Award for the Most Promising Brand of the Year and this year, it won the award for the Best Marketing Campaign by Inkspell. Take a look at some of’s most popular itineraries:

An Andaman Break Once you arrive at Port Blair, head to Corbyns Cove Beach. Then, after the sun sets, make your way to the Cellular Jail for a unique Light and Sound Show. Snorkel in the clear waters of North Bay, where the coral reefs and other marine life make for a remarkable experience. Next, let take you on a tour of the ruins at Ross Island, the former residential and administrative island of the British. Along with this, visit Marina Park, the Anthropological Museum and the Naval Marine Museum. At Chatham Saw Mill, one of the oldest and largest mills in Asia, you will find the Forest Museum. In the evening, Chidiya Tapu beach gives you brilliant views of the sunset.

A Northeast Getaway Kick-start your holiday with by driving from Guwahati to Kaziranga National Park, the home of the great one-horned rhinoceros. Explore the park on the back of an elephant at sunrise, along with a jeep safari in the evening. Here you will find tigers, deer and wild buffalos, along with pelicans, storks and darters. On route to Shillong, you will visit the majestic Umium Lake with its surrounding hills. Don’t miss the Nohkalikai waterfall at Cherrapunjee. On your way back to Shillong, takes you on a detour to Elephanta Falls and Shillong peak for some breath-taking views.

A Kerala Voyage Your gateway to God’s Own Country starts at Kochi. Here you can take in the architecture of a bygone era, thanks to Continue on to Munnar and visit the Eravikulam National Park and Mattupetty Dam. Don’t skip out on the Dairy Farm experience. Along with this, stop by Old Munnar Town and the town market for a taste of the local culture. At Thekkady, takes you on a boat cruise along the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Continue on to Alleppey where you can stay in a traditional houseboat.

A Hong Kong and Macau Escapade Delve into the bustling city of Hong Kong with Visit popular sites like Victoria Peak and Aberdeen Fishing Village where you can enjoy a ride on a Sampan (Chinese Boat). Along with this, the jewellery factory, Madam Tussauds, the Observatory Deck at Sky 100 and Tsim Sha Tsui area make for a memorable experience. Just a stone’s throw away, explore Macau and uncover the ruins of St Paul’s Church, A-Ma Temple, Kwan Yam Temple, Fisherman’s Wharf and Golden Lotus Square. Plus, visit the Galaxy Hotel’s casino through’s unique itinerary.

A New Zealand Adventure Start your journey in the Land of the Long White Cloud in Auckland. Through, you will visit Sky Tower, the tallest man made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Stroll around the bustling Viaduct Harbour that’s known for its restaurants and bars in the evening. At Waitomo, let help you explore the caves. You can even opt for a boat ride through the famous Glowworm caves. Up next is Rotorua, where you can see performing sheep and other attractions at Agrodome. But if you want to unwind, Te Puia, with its hot springs and mud pools is ideal. Visit the famous fjord of Milford Sound, indulge in a cruise or up the adrenaline with skydiving, bungee jumping and more. While at Christchurch, you can get a close up look at the island’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook.

A Jordanian Sojourn In Jordan, start your journey in Amman where helps you to explore the nearby Roman ruins in Jerash. Along with this, discover the wrecked Ajloun Castle in Ajloun. Next, head to Petra, where you can walk through Siq, explore the Roman Theatre and other monuments. Then visit the nearby village of Little Petra before camping out at Wadi Rum. Set off to Bethany, the site where Jesus was baptised, and soak in the goodness of the Dead Sea before heading back to Amman. Here takes you on a tour of some of the most historical sites. At Um Qais, get stunning views of the Jordan Valley, while taking in the local culture.

A Dubai Escape There’s something for everyone in Dubai. Here, lets you explore the local spice market at Bur Dubai Creek and the Burj al-Arab. Next, head to the Palm Jumeirah, a marvellous cluster of man-made islands, and Atlantis, The Palm hotel. For a complete understanding of Islamic culture, a visit to the spotless white Jumeirah Mosque is an absolute must. In the evening, enjoy a two-hour Dhow Cruise that offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline. Next, plans a Desert Safari where you can scale the sand dunes in a car or on camelback. Don’t leave before you dig into the famous barbeque dinner while belly dancers beguile you.

A Spanish Vacation Once you land in Madrid, make your way to Seville with Along the way, stop at La Mancha and pass through the gorge of Despeñaperros. Then, visit the La Mezquita mosque of Cordoba. In Seville, tour the city and visit the Maria Luisa Park, the Seville Cathedral and the Giralda Tower. Next, travel to Costa Del Sol through Cadiz, Jerez and La Linea. At Costa del Sol, sit back and enjoy the beaches, marina, seaside cafes and restaurants. Head to Granda the next day and tour the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the fortress complex of Alhambra. Next, takes you to Valencia, where you can see the masterpieces of architect Santiago Calatrava scattered throughout the city, before arriving at Barcelona. Here, visit the Plaça d’Espanya, Montjuïc and more for memories that will last a lifetime.


Celebrating heritage



This family-run homestay offers fantastic astronomy outings (with homecooked meals and hot tea). Book the Dobsonian

telescope in advance. (

Soulitude in the Himalayas, Uttarakhand The resort

Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir

keeps a range of equipment on site, and holds regular astronomy and astrophotography workshops. (www.

The high altitudes and clear skies make Ladakh a no-brainer. Camp near Pangong Lake or book a homestay in Hanle, home to the world’s highest observatory. (www.iiap. Green Valley Resort, Karnataka Nestled in

Coorg’s lush hills, it o���ers a telescope for guests to use. (www.

Siliserh Lake, Rajasthan

Close to Sariska Tiger Reserve, this is a great spot to see nature in all its nocturnal glory. Stay at the Hotel Lake Palace, right by the water. (www.rtdc. SAMIRA SOOD


Run by chefs with Michelin-starred resumés, these street food spots serve up great grub (and it doesn’t cost a kidney) Kuenko, Miami: Spanish chef Ricardo Sanz helms this Japanese-Spanish fusion food truck at Wynwood Yard. Street Kitchen, London: Asian food is made with fresh local ingredients at Jun Tanaka’s vintage Airstream at Broadgate. Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, Singapore: In Chinatown Clockwise from left: Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle; the Street Kitchen team; a salmon picante at Kuenko

Complex, this is the first street food to get a Michelin nod. Street Xo, Madrid: David Muñoz brings his modern cooking to this spot on Calle De Serrano. Sanguchon, San Francisco: Chef Carlos Altamirano’s food truck at Potrero Hill brings classic Peruvian flavours to a sandwich.

Inspired by the idea of solah sringar, London-born Alice Cicolini’s jewellery brand celebrates India’s craft and ritual traditions in a modern way. (



orget the hot sun, bright colours and chaos, and imagine India differently: silent, inky black, punctuated only by starlight. With astronomy becoming the next big thing in active holidays, we list five of our favourite places to go stargazing in India. Jilling Estate, Uttarakhand

ometimes you need to get away to appreciate what you have, as 29-year-old artist Ranganath Krishnamani will tell you. “When I came back to Bengaluru [after a few years in the US], I realised we really do not value our architecture the way cities like New York, London or Vienna do,” So he started sketching monuments across Bengaluru, and turned them into beautiful digital pieces. His unique aesthetic is on display in this Hawa Mahal piece he created especially for our 6th Anniversary Issue India Special. RAJ ADITYA CHAUDHURI

Paradise found Opening its doors this November, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is perhaps the finest expression of luxury, sophistication and heavenly surroundings The term ‘barefoot luxury’ conjures up visions of sandy beaches, cerulean seas and tropical weather. It is a feeling, a romantic notion—one that is being redefined with the launch of The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. The only St. Regis property on a private island, this eco-conscious retreat beckons you with its unspoiled setting and large house reef that’s thriving with marine life. Even before you leave for the Maldives, a designated e-butler will be provided. Once you’re at Malé International Airport, you will embark on a 45-minute seaplane journey to this 77 all-villa resort, which is probably the most luxurious one in the island country. While each villa has a private pool and a personal butler at your beck and call,

the John Jacob Astor Estate—the largest overwater villa in this tropical paradise— will take your breath away. Featuring a main villa and two connecting lagoon villas, it’s perfect for those travelling with friends and family. The resort also has Vommuli House—one of the country’s largest integrated recreational areas—with activities for all age groups. Think Children’s Club, Socialite Club for teenagers, outdoor tennis court and more. The translucent waters draw marine enthusiasts to enjoy this private island through endless ocean excursions available at Vommuli Dive and Water Sports Centre. For a holistic holiday, step into The Iridium Spa where you can immerse yourself in a Blue Hole Pool—the only heated seawater hydro jet pool in the

Maldives. The experience is further enriched with bespoke consultations with doctors and qualified therapists. The culinary offerings at this resort are just as exquisite. While Cargo dishes out global street food, The Whale Bar serves tapas and tipples. From pizzas at Crust and Italian cuisine at Alba to food and wine pairings at Decanter and delicious Asian cuisine at Orientale, here you’ll be spoilt for choice. So, whether you’re planning a family vacation or are looking a perfect honeymoon destination, consider The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort—it’s a dream come true. For more information, visit or call +960 676 6333

Ryan Seacrest’s AIRPORT GAME decoded

86 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

I like to wear clean white sneakers when I travel—they dress up a look. I can kick these Tom Ford ones off quickly at security. The jeans are Saint Laurent and, I’ll admit it, the holes are not legit. Totally contrived. The shirt and windbreaker are from the Ryan Seacrest Distinction Rio collection for Macy’s. But the perfect travel clothes are actually Ugg sweats. They’re literally the most comfortable thing you could ever put against your skin. This watch is a 1976 Rolex Paul Newman Daytona. It wasn’t a gift, it was an “earn”. The second I’m on a plane, I adjust it to the new time zone. I thought this will help me outsmart jet lag, but no. That first day, I’m wrecked and asleep by 8.30pm. I watch every Hugh Grant movie available on the flight. They just make me feel good. But when I [was preparing to host the Games for NBC], I studied sports. I had a three-ring binder of all the Olympic athletes and their backstories—no joke. My aim was to know half as much as Bob Costas. I actually love it when people want to take pictures with me at the airport. I encourage it! No one has ever upset me by asking for a photo. I usually walk the plane to see if there are any takers. “Anybody? Anybody in Row 32? No?” AS TOLD TO DAVID WALTERS



The master of events

The perfectly planned corporate event, or the extravagant wedding? If you’re looking for a space to serve as the backdrop for your event in Chandigarh then turn to Hyatt Regency Chandigarh where your vision comes to life

lanning an event is a herculean task. So why not make this easier by choosing to host it at Hyatt Regency Chandigarh. The first hotel in the tri-city by the iconic brand, it serves as the ideal destination for a celebration. Located in the heart of Chandigarh, the hotel is part of an exclusive development that includes a shopping mall and an office complex. What’s more, its close proximity to the airport makes it an ideal stop for travellers. The façade of the modern hotel is inspired by legendary Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier’s aesthetics. It boasts 211 spacious rooms, including 25 suites and seven cabana rooms. Furnished with contemporary furniture, inspired artwork and colourful carpets, it’s the one-stop venue for any function. And here’s why. Totalling to 36,000sq ft, its expansive events’ space is flexible and multifunctional, which can be set up according to your individual needs. For a big get-together, the 8,711-sq-ft Regency Ballroom is ideal. This is the largest pillar-free ballroom in the city with an expansive pre-function area which is connected to a terrace and manicured lawns. With a 25-ft-high ceiling, vibrant interiors, embellished with Punjabinspired contemporary art, it can accommodate a total of 1,500 guests


with ease, perfect for a gala wedding or an annual corporate party. Alternately, if you require a space for an intimate closed-door meeting, Hyatt Regency Chandigarh offers six well-equipped meeting rooms, including a boardroom to meet your every requirement. And since no event is complete without the right kind of food, the hotel provides you with the ultimate culinary experience thanks to its customised menus, which include a number of cuisines, created by expert chefs. In addition to this, the hotel also has a dedicated team of professionals to make your event planning and execution hassle-free. However, should your guests need to occupy themselves between functions, they can indulge in Hyatt Regency Chandigarh’s wide range of dining experiences. While the all-day Urban Café has multi-cuisine options, Piccante serves up authentic Italian preparations. Stop by for a tipple at Stage or pick up a quick snack at Browse. And if they need to unwind, they can head to the 10,000-sq-ft Amaira Spa & Wellness Club and pamper themselves with one of the signature therapies here. For more information, call 0172-4401234 or visit



Make in India is a major national initiative designed to facilitate investment, foster innovation, enhance skill development, protect intellectual property and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure.

As Make in India turns two, there has been an unprecedented increase in confidence, collaboration and investment. This comprehensive report card showcases: r5IFCFHJOOJOHPG.BLFJO*OEJBBOE its presence around the world r.BLFJO*OEJB8FFLJOOVNCFST r5IFJNQBDUPG&BTFPG%PJOH#VTJOFTT JO*OEJB r*OJUJBUJWFTMJLF.JUUFMTUBOE 4UBSUVQ *OEJB *131PMJDZ *OEVTUSJBM$PSSJEPST  *OWFTU*OEJB r'%*BDIJFWFNFOUTBOE*OEJBBTUIF world’s most open economy r.BLFJO*OEJBTCJHHFTUBDIJFWFNFOUT and milestones. The stage has been set. The world is watching.



From the first speech that marked the beginning to the events that built the foundation of the revolutionary campaign, here’s a snapshot of how it all began...



SEPTEMBER 25, 2014

The programme was launched at a high profile event staged at Vigyan #IBWBO /FX%FMIJ

DECEMBER 29, 2014

"XPSLTIPQUJUMFEA.BLFJO*OEJBm 4FDUPSJBMQFSTQFDUJWFJOJUJBUJWFT was conducted, under which an action plan for one year and three years was prepared to boost JOWFTUNFOUTJOTFDUPST


APRIL 13 – 17, 2015 GERMANY

*OEJBXBTBXBSEFEUIFDPWFUFETUBUVT PG1BSUOFS$PVOUSZBU)BOOPWFS.FTTF  the world’s largest industrial fair. The fair paved the way for new avenues of investment and greater economic engagement between the two nations. 5IF*OEJB1BWJMJPOTIPXDBTFE*OEJBT manufacturing capabilities across core sectors of the nation’s economy




.BLFJO*OEJBBUUIF'PSUVOF (MPCBM'PSVNFYQMPSFEUIF implications of disruptive changes and emerging technology trends GPSDPSQPSBUJPOTJOUIFTUDFOUVSZ The forum provided a focused and strategic programme with formats that stimulated an open exchange of new ideas and innovative concepts




ake in India Week in Mumbai propelled the Indian economy by forging enormous global engagement in the form of investments and partnerships. The world’s best and brightest converged during the week of 13 – 18 February, 2016—industry leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, government officials—to deliberate on reforms and policy and create a progressive shift to the current industrial environment. All eyes were on Mumbai as the sheer scale and presentation of the conclave evoked enormous excitement in national and international media. A number of landmark MoUs were signed across major manufacturing sectors and states. The numbers speak louder than words...












A major pillar of the Make in India initiative, Ease of Doing Business (EODB) is significant for a prospering industrial environment, especially for foreign investors. Emphasis has been on simplification and improvement of existing rules as well as introduction of IT to expedite processes for more effective governance. A series of 127 measures and reforms have elevated India’s ranking from 142 in 2014 to 130 in 2016, in a field of 189 nations, on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business List (Doing Business Report, June 2016). Key reforms areas include: starting a business, construction permits, getting electricity, trading across borders, resolving insolvency, enforcing contracts and taxation. Some of the major developments under these categories are: a new online regime, single-window systems, improved clearance facilities, simplified and reduced documentation, common forms, number of procedures reduced, time for obtaining permits reduced, special bills passed to facilitate ease, digitalisation of records, online payments and much more. The Government of India has decided to rank states on the basis of ease of doing business. The move is intended at promoting competition among states to improve ease of doing business. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has circulated action points to state governments on creating an enabling framework for stimulating investments in manufacturing with specific timelines for each action. DIPP has launched an online portal to track real-time rankings of states on the basis of number of reforms undertaken by them. Currently, the portal tracks real-time implementation of 340-Point Business Reforms Action Plan to be considered for the 2016 rankings. >>


Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2016, this flagship initiative is aimed at building a strong ecosystem to foster entrepreneurship, promote innovation and in turn, generate large scale employment opportunities.

ACHIEVEMENTS r4FMGDFSUJĂ DBUJPOGPSDFSUBJO compliances for Ministry of Labour and Employment and Ministry of Environment & Forests rA5XJUUFS4FWBIBTCFFOMBVODIFE to facilitate interaction between entrepreneurs r4UBSUVQ*OEJB1PSUBMBOE.PCJMF App are now operational to facilitate application for start-up recognition, verification of recognition certificate and also act as a source for regulatory information r"TDIFNFGPS4UBSUVQT*13 Protection for facilitating fast-track filing of Patents, Trademarks and Designs by start-ups has been launched r5BYJODFOUJWFTGPSTUBSUVQDPNQBOJFT for a period of three years have been introduced in The Finance Act 2016


2016 2014




It’s been made evident that a dynamic and balanced Intellectual Property Regime is imperative to encourage creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. The Government of India has unveiled a National IPR policy to achieve the same. The focus is on enhancing access to health care, food security and environmental protection among other sectors of vital social, economic and technological importance.


Mittelstand companies form the backbone of the German economy. Most of them BSFGBNJMZPXOFEBOEATNBMM ZFUXPSMENBSLFUMFBEFSTJOUIFJSEPNBJOXJUIXPSME beating technologies. Make in India Mittelstand (MIIM) serves as an innovative, integrated platform for market entry services that corresponds to the complex requirements of first-time investors. It is a one-stop source for companies requiring additional benefits of special workshops, networking and information exchange. >>


The Government of India is building a grid of industrial corridors across the country to provide developed land and quality infrastructure for industrial townships. Each industrial corridor stretches across major industrial regions and smart cities; aimed at expanding a manufacturing and services base to develop a global hub. >>


$447.8 MILLION (`30,000 MILLION) committed investments by German Mittelstand organisations 56 companies expressed interest in the programme 134 Mittelstand companies approached MIIM 55 personal meetings conducted by the MIIM team to evaluate their participation in the programme 43 individuals and firms enrolled as official members of the MIIM programme 26 MIIM firms have concrete investment plans for India



Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) Bengaluru-Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC) 7J[BH$IFOOBJ*OEVTUSJBM$PSSJEPS 7$*$

Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC)































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Policy changes and reforms have underpinned foreign investments, making India the world’s most attractive investment destination. Here are landmark moments in Make in India’s 18-month journey to date



























With a host of new shops, restaurants and bars, this Hong Kong neighbourhood is on the rise

STAY: The Shangri-La group’s Hotel Jen (; doubles from HK$1,600 or 10,480) offers a great location and Michelin-rated Malaysian food at Café Malacca. EAT: A crop of new restaurants has opened here in the past year. There’s multipurpose space Potato Head (www.ptthead. com), which offers authentic Indonesian at Kaum. Next door, Fish School ( serves up market-fresh seafood, while El Loco Gringo (www. has the area’s best tacos and Mexican corn on the cob. Noodies (00852 2559 0080) stands out for nofrills, delicious soup noodles, while local favourite Uncle Padak (www. serves big plates of Korean fried chicken—to the strains of K-pop. Save room for soufflé or shaved ice at Sweet Classroom (00852 2803 2933). DRINK: Back at Potato Head, I Love You So Coffee will delight coffee nerds, while High Street

Grill (www.casteloconcepts. com) sells locally roasted beans from Kim & Co. and a free doughnut hole with each takeaway brew. At organic eatery Locofama (, the Super Hydrator juice is the one to beat on a summer day. There’s Metropolitain (www., a Parisianstyle bistro, and industrial-chic Ping Pong Gintoneria (www., set in a former table tennis hall. And what’s a hip neighbourhood without craft hops? Make sure to try the Kung Fu hops or Liberty IPA at Craft Brew & Co (www. SHOP: Thorn and Burrow ( is where you should go for stylish, oneof-a-kind African homeware sourced from Mali, Morocco and Cameroon. And for top-notch leather products, look no further than Flying Zacchinis (www. SAMANTHA LEESE

Clockwise from far right: inside Ping Pong Gintoneria; a wall at Fish School; a view of Hong Kong; leather products at Flying Zacchinis; coffee being poured at I Love You So Coffee; dishes at Kaum


n , o t t i u g m n p i l beaver explores Donald Trump’s portfolir o of shiny real e state

Caity W


any of the properties that bear Trump’s name are not owned by him. Many that are owned by him were not erected by him. While he does sometimes conjure buildings out of the dirt, Don’s more of a collector, a tweaker, a stamper-uponer whose realm of expertise is brazenly outlined in his campaign slogan. He just wants to give America some nicer doorknobs and strengthen the retaining wall (along the Mexican border). You know, make this fabulous piece of property great again.

1 A gold-leaf ceiling patterned after the Venetian Gallerie dell’Accademia 2 A jumbo-size bas-relief of nude archers 3 Wallpaper designed to resemble gold curtains 4 The twist tie on a cellophane bag containing a single bedtime chocolate 5 The cap on a bottle of gratis TRUMP bath crystals 6 Flames shooting off a ball on a sculpture of a ball with flames shooting off it 7 Elk doorknobs 8 A tampon dispenser 9 A souvenir TRUMP piggy bank (retail price: US$10) 10 A lion faucet with a swirling mane. 11 A pond in the light of the rising sun 12 TRUMP printed on a white-chocolate diamond on a slice of chocolate cake 13 An unofficial heraldic crest printed on paper towels 14 A MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN embroidered-hat command 15 A trash can

[Note: some of these items are simply gold in colour, but are actually brass or plastic]

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More than your ordinary brunch We’ve all been there, done that— culinary spreads, bottomless sangria pitchers, day partying, friends and conversation— brunches are far from something new. Except for when you’re talking about the Wicked Liquid Brunch at Grand Hyatt Goa. Two words: epic redefined Was there ever such a good opportunity to indulge a love of comfort food and Bloody Marys? The Sunday brunch at Grand Hyatt Goa is more than that, and more than you can imagine. It’s a day spent in luxury and comfort. Guests can begin their day at the award winning Shamana Spa with a blanket 50 percent discount on all their bespoke treatments. Then they can blow off some steam in the sauna and steam room or freshen up by taking a dip in the whirlpool. While adults treat themselves to the detox health bar or get their nails done, kids can have their own fun at Shamana Spa’s lifestyle studio, which turns into a kid’s club every Sunday. This is just the beginning. At 1 pm, head over to The Dining Room, where the resort’s culinary craftsmen present an extravagant spread of more than 20 food and beverage bars. Think: a spectrum of prawn and seafood options, oriental cuisine, roasted meats, sushi stalls, live

pasta and barbeque counters and so much more. With items like grilled prawns, crispy crackling pork, eggs benedict, handcrafted thin crust pizzas, prawn balchao dosa, kebabs, speciality eggs, bacon wrapped prawns, chocolate fountain, crepes, cake pops, New York cheesecake and everything to awaken the glutton in you, the brunch urges you to over indulge. If this wasn’t enough, the brunch has a liquid menu to quench your thirst in more ways than one. From herb-infused spirits to detox drinks, health juices to inventive cocktails, sparkling wine to coffee concoctions and an exclusive pour-your-own-drink option— you will be left spoilt for choice. The cocktail bar is nothing short of extraordinary, with over 18 specially crafted cocktails, each with a unique story attached to it. We recommend the Banana Espresso Martini, Cucumber Basil Gin and Tonic, Aloe Vera Margarita, Watermelon Basil Mojito and the Goan Mint Juleb, if we had to choose. And making sure everybody is left happy, kids are well taken care of with fun, interactive and creative activities at Camp Hyatt—an exclusive kids-only club. The chefs have even curated a kid’s minibuffet along with a liquid bar that includes favourites like marshmallow milkshakes, chocolate smoothies and fruity drinks. With seven hours of brunching, Sundays are meant to be spent like this—with the ultimate in relaxation, over-indulging, great food, live music and #livinggrand.

Stay connected and share stories #WickedLiquidBrunch. For more information, visit Or Facebook @GrandHyattGoa | Twitter @GHGoa | Instagram @GrandHyattGoa

India-Trotting with Airbnb

A pulsating mix of people, traditions and landscapes, India is a large and compelling country that offers a multitude of experiences to choose from. And while you meander around the country, book yourself a stay at an Airbnb home to make your visit truly unique Whether it’s to travel to the top of a hill, lose yourself in the local culture, delve into the history of the city, connect with nature or seek exotic experiences in a different world, India is best explored when you live like a local. So instead of booking the best hotel around, browse through Airbnb—the online marketplace to discover and book unique accommodations around the world—and choose one of their unique places to call home during your trip. Co-founded in 2008 by Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk, this community-driven hospitality company is changing the way people experience the world around them. With over two million homes, spread across 191 countries and

more than 34,000 cities, it is the only choice when you are travelling. And now, it offers unique stay experiences around India. Let us tell you what properties should be on your wish list. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH NATURE IN KERALA Known for it’s palm-lined beaches and networks of canals, Kerala is also home to the famous backwaters. And if your travels find you in Wayanad district, stay in a house by the beach, or in a tree house by The Pepper Trail.

Surrounded by the Banasura backwaters on three sides and overlooking the Banasura mountain range, your house by the beach is spread over 10 acres. Accommodating two people in a private room, it offers you a perfect blend of luxury and nature. What’s more, when you stay here, you can indulge in nature walks, tribal fishing, tribal village visits and archery, along with the infinity pool, gym, game room and more to make your stay one-of-a-kind. Alternately, choose to stay amidst 200 acres of spice and coffee plantations at The Pepper Trail. Perched at a height of 40 feet, these one bedroom tree houses offer an exhilarating experience.

Take time out to explore the prehistoric Edakkal Caves and the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, along with guided plantation walks, jeep safaris, treks and boating on the estate’s reservoir. On the other hand, if you find yourself in Thekkady, the sevenacre Aanavilasam is the perfect place to enjoy the surrounding area. Think plantation tours, house of cows, authentic Keralan cooking classes and more. SUSSEGAD IN STYLE IN GOA Discover the serenity of Goa when you stay at Artisanale Loutolim—a stately Portuguese mansion in Loutolim. Known for its ancestral homes, Big Foot, Goan museum and more, explore the village while you stay at this modern, yet regal home. GET YOU CULTURE FIX IN JAIPUR A sea of palaces, Jaipur is one of the most enthralling historical cities in the country. And while you explore its art, music and

literature, we recommend you stay at a private studio in the heart of the city. With an art gallery below and hosts who live in the same building, here you will have everything you need nearby. GO OFF THE BEATEN TRACK IN LANDOUR The crisp mountain air, charming walks and hillsides freckled with bungalows and churches, Landour is the perfect location to get away from it all. And while you enjoy views of the valley and the distant Himalayan peaks, stay amidst nature at Redburn Lodge, Landour. Surrounded by tall trees, this beautiful cottage is a stone’s throw away from little cafes and comes with a caretaker who will help you throughout your stay. So no matter where you travel, there’s an Airbnb waiting to welcome you home. For more information, visit


A stupa at the site of Nalanda University. Below: A bridge in the Khangchendzonga National Park; the High Court in Chandigarh

India’s newest

UNESCO World Heritage sites How much do you know about India’s new entrants to The List? This cheat sheet by Sushant Kumar should sort you out LE CORBUSIER’S CAPITOL COMPLEX CHANDIGARH

What everyone knows: The complex houses three buildings—Secretariat, High Court and Legislative Assembly; and three monuments—Open Hand Monument, Geometric Hill and Tower of Shadows. What insiders know: The brief given by Nehru to architect Le Corbusier was to design a city that was “unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation’s faith in the future”.


What everyone knows: It was among India’s oldest universities, and it flourished in Bihar during the Gupta empire. What insiders know: The Nalanda library was so vast that it burned for three months after the Turks destroyed it. KHANGCHENDZONGA NATIONAL PARK SIKKIM

What everyone knows: India’s first mixed site on the list, the national park and biosphere reserve in Sikkim is named after the third highest peak in the world. What insiders know: A species of bird, called the Himalayan forest thrush, was first discovered in the region earlier this year.



WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A WORLD HERITAGE SITE? A site gains a spot on the World Heritage List if it is deemed to be of physical or cultural significance by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. Each UNESCO member state can nominate sites from their own country to the committee. If it gets selected, general awareness and prestige bring international attention to the site, which helps promote tourism. The government of that country receives only technical assistance from UNESCO; it can file for funds, but they’re first awarded to sites in immediate danger.

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CLASH THE CHECKS Challenging fashion’s rule of thumb that requires you to offset solid hues with only one printed element, Van Heusen’s Fashion Formals collection offers a wide and varied range of checkered separates that allow you to wear them in contrast. Pair a navy, single-breasted graph checks blazer with a light-blue pin checks dress shirt and accentuate your look with a tartan plaid tie and pocket square.

QUILTED SWAG Sometimes the most fuss-free, straightforward looks are the slickest. But that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. If you’re heading out of town for an offsite, try this grey structured blazer with quilted squares from Van Heusen’s Fashion Formals collection. Team it with black slim-fit trousers and accessorize with tan brogues and an off-beat tie with floral prints.



The Taiwanese capital has always thought with its stomach, but often, quantity triumphed over quality. Now, the island’s star chef, André Chiang—whose restaurants in Singapore and Paris have been known to induce wide-eyed wonder—has fashioned a new template for the city with Raw, a gallery-like space where the undulating timber hanging from the ceiling is as striking as his take on the nation’s food. The menu is an enchanting exercise in surprise: a grid of ingredients (kelp jus, Chinese olive) morphs into fanciful creations formed as much by what’s fresh in the market as Chiang’s Asian roots and classic French training. Above all, eating here is undiluted entertainment, from the cutlery that appears from its own little drawer underneath the table to the finale: a local delicacy of pineapple cake presented as three frozen cubes. ( ED PETERS

110 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


Taipei is often called the world’s top street-food spot, but now, a prodigal chef is gaining cred for a smarter set-up

An Intellectual Retreat Far away from the sights and sounds of a city, The Garden Bungalow in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, brings to life a period from India’s colonial history and celebrates a culture, a region and its people Shantiniketan. The abode of peace. For anyone who truly appreciates culture—and history—that place can evoke nostalgia of a storied past. A town in West Bengal established by Devendranath Tagore, it has since its inception, been a spiritual hub, a celebration of the ethos of the region. It was also the place that his son, Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, immortalised in his works. Today, Shantiniketan represents a unique confluence of history and culture— with nature laying the foundation to highlight a way of life. And The Garden Bungalow offers you a rare opportunity to delve into an unforgettable period of history, immerse yourself in Shantiniketan’s natural riches and

experience first-hand, the distinctive aesthetic and flavour of the region. Nature becomes an ever-evolving protagonist here. The concept of the property, set amidst lush greenery, has been inspired by the Bengali word ‘Bagan Bari’—literally meaning ‘pleasure gardens’—which were popular residential styles among aristocratic Bengalis. Accessed by a curving red-mud pathway, The Garden Bungalow is tucked away amid the exotic flora spread over three acres of lush greenery and surrounded by a garden with two lotus ponds. Supplementing nature and history with an unmistakable serenity, this place is meant as much for the flora and the fauna inhabiting the property as it is

for people; the bungalow plays host to several migratory birds throughout the year, lured here by the thick foliage and verdant greenery that embellishes the space. The spirit of that bygone era comes alive through the furnishings used in the space as well as the suites. It is evidenced in the furniture, the shutter windows, staircases, grills and the garden benches—antiques that combine European motifs with a local idiom. The understated rooms offer you a chance to leave the world behind and explore a past that is reflected in this space. Restricted to just four rooms, The Garden Bungalow seeks to give a personalised experience to visitors from across different cultures, offer opportunities for interaction and revive that lost art of conversation—evocative of old-world aristocracy. But it isn’t just history, culture and nature that are the mainstays of the property. It is also about celebrating— and empowering—the people of the region. The members of the Santhali

tribe, people of other local ethnicities and rural women work here and assume the role of hosts rather than ‘staff’. The goal is to create a respectable environment where they get to interactwith guests as equals, introduce them to their world and in turn, learn about other cultures. A stay at The Garden Bungalow is not like any other holiday you have ever experienced. It is a trip into a definitive culture and heritage, a slice of utopia that was nurtured by the ethnic inhabitants of Shantiniketan— and an engagement with the natural environment. The best way to truly immerse yourself in this one-ofa-kind haven is by disconnecting with everything else and living here, immersing yourself in every moment. At this ‘ultimate abode of peace’, you get to experience a retelling of history, a culture and a people at its authentic best. For more information, visit




Mark your calendars for Royal Fables, advises Sushant Kumar


rom the art on the walls of their palaces to the secret recipes of their kitchens, here’s your chance to peek into the world of India’s erstwhile kings and queens. The eighth edition of Royal Fables, a unique platform that promotes the arts, crafts and cultures of India’s regal dynasties, stirs up a conversation around sustaining heritage. At this forum, scions of 50 royal families of India speak about their journey and exhibit the masterpieces produced in their palaces. Some of the highlights to look forward to are miniature artworks from Kangra, Kishangarh and Jaipur; gold and silver weaves from Mansa, Gujarat; the Raja Ravi Varma Collection from Laxmi Vilas Palace, Vadodara; the recreation of the ombré dyed chiffon sari immortalised by HH Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur; Gond art from Jhabua and phulkari from Patiala. Associating with People for Animals (PFA) this year, Royal Fables explores India’s prized wildlife through paintings and photographs. A series of parallel events also celebrate the cuisine, costumes and music of these families. (www.



he iconic havelis and old marketplaces of Jodhpur’s walled city are all set to get a redo, thanks to the JDH Urban Regeneration Project. Historian Kanwar Dhananajaya Singh and Motherland JV’s Mohit Dhar Jayal and V Sunil (former creative directors of Make in India) have teamed up to restore the area and give it a brand new vibe. So an 18th-century stepwell, currently the only part open to the public, will be surrounded by cool boutiques, cafés and hotels. The Clock Tower and Sardar Market, Umaid Chowk and the original blue city of Brahmapuri are in various stages of restoration. (

114 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Umaid Chowk Toorji ka Jhalra & the Stepwell Square

The Clock Tower & Sardar Market Brahmapuri


Clockwise from top left: a vintage poshak; Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur; artefacts from Yuvrani Meenal Kumari Singh Deo; a painting and a hand-painted tray from Princess Vaishnavi Kumari of Kishangarh; Kunwarani Ritu Singh of Wakaner

Where love and luxury collide Famed as an idyllic honeymoon destination, the archipelago of shimmering atolls that comprises the Maldives will leave you speechless. Especially when you check in to the seductive luxury hideaway, JA Manafaru.

Imagine relaxing and taking in the spectacular views from your overwater villa, while your villa host brings you a glass of bubbly. Sharing those precious moments over candlelit dinners for two. For the most opulent yet unpretentious romantic experience, JA Manafaru is the perfect honeymoon destination. Think: pristine white soft sand beaches that caress your feet with every step you take, the bluest of blue scenery that make your eyes sparkle, lush tropical greenery, tempting dining experiences, unspoiled privacy, the warmest, attentive yet discreet service and luxe accommodation options. Situated on a 35-acre private island, a part of the northernmost Haa Alif Atoll, arrive at the majestic JA Manafaru via a gorgeous direct seaplane flight. Stay in one of the 84 well-appointed luxurious villas. We recommend the Sunset Water Villa, the piece de-resistance where you can toast to the stunning sunset on your private deck or infinity pool (also a part of the base category accommodation), watch the marine life through a glass panel in the floor, or unwind in your decadent i-Spa bathtub—you’ll find the charms of this beautiful resort impossible to resist. With an endless indulgence list, the seven world-class dining outlets will leave you thoroughly spoilt for choice. Especially the extensive selections of fine wines from across the world that have made their way to JA Manafaru’s underground wine vault, ‘The Cellar’.

Step into a tropical wellness sanctum and explore authentic Maldivian traditions infused with the therapeutic wonders of Ayurveda and Aromatherapy at the Calm Spa & Salon. For couples who want to venture beyond the resort, you can take a romantic cruise on the traditional Maldivian Dhoni to an uninhibited island to spend your day snorkelling, fishing, dolphin watching, or choose to go windsurfing, kayaking and to a sub-aqua close-up of the coral reef with their fivestar PADI and SSI certified dive centre. But for the most unforgettable experience yet, indulge in the exclusive “castaway island” experience (for two)—where you’re whisked away on JA’s luxury speed boat, and in just 7 minutes you’ve been transported from an island with 84 villas, to escape in the seclusion, deep in the heart of nature, to an intimate private island entirely to yourselves! When you stay at JA Manafaru, it’s nothing like the ordinary—it’s literally like discovering a gorgeous pure pearl in an oyster—a magical memory you’ll cherish for a lifetime! For bookings, please call +960 650 0456 or email For more information, visit

/manafuru @jamanafuru





In THE DETAILS The Leela Palace New Delhi houses over 1,400 pieces of art and craft, many specially commissioned for the property. Here are seven and where to sight each


7 118 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


6 1 Satish Gupta’s 11ft-tall bust, titled DEVI, made of five metals (panchadhatu)—gold, silver, copper, bronze and zinc 2 Harnessing by Satish Gujral hangs in the Royal Club Reception 3 A crystal Buddha under a 360kg handcast bronze temple bell, which is a replica of the one that hangs at the Todaiji temple in Nara, Japan 4 Intricately carved Makrana marble forms the walls of The Spa by ESPA 5 The Pilgrim from Subhash Awchat’s Parampara series at the entrance to the Royal Club Lounge 6 A bronze sculpture titled Devotees by Satish Gujral in The Lobby Promenade 7 A 10-piece lotus painting by Satish Gupta, which covers a wall in the hotel’s lobby


What’s for breakfast?

Priyanka Agarwal lists the most popular morning meals at hotels across India Cracked wheat cooked in buttermilk This wholesome

Eggs Benedict Combine a halved

Khandvi This light Gujarati

the side. This dish also comes

English muffin, bacon, a poached

snack is a hit in every season; in

with variations—cumin and

breakfast staple with a Rajasthani

egg and Hollandaise sauce, and

the summer, you can ask for a

ginger as well as mulagai podi

twist helps regulate body

what you get is an American

fantastic mango version. Order

(gunpowder) and ghee. The onion,

temperature and protect from heat

favourite. Order at: Frangipani,

chili, coriander and cumin version

stroke—great for your day out.

Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai

at: Food Exchange, Novotel New Delhi Aerocity (www.

Order at: Sirocco, Crowne Plaza Jaipur Tonk Road ( Broken wheat upma A healthy

( It’s not

The Dining Room, Park Hyatt

listed on the menu, but insiders

Bedmi aloo Potato chunks are

Hyderabad (www.hyderabad.

know it flies off the kitchen

marinated in a spice mixture and

South Indian dish that’s high on

counter like hot cakes.

then dunked in gravy, resulting in

Gathiya, fafda, bhakarwadi

fibre content. Order at: Terrazzo,

Crab cake Benedict If you like

a scrumptious North Indian curry

These Gujarati breakfast snacks

Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa ( Amritsari kulcha and chhole

your seafood, you will find it

that goes well with lentil-stuffed

are the most requested items at—

difficult to resist indulging in this

puris. Order at: Tamra, Shangri-

wait for it—an Italian restaurant!

twist on the classic—a

La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi (www.

Before you wonder, they are not

We know it’s difficult to resist the

fluffy crab-and-egg fusion with

listed on the menu, but those

Punjabi classic—so don’t. Order

a delicious touch of Goan flavours.

Pesarattu Green lentils and rice

who know find them irrestistible.

at: Urban Café, Hyatt Regency Chandigarh (www.chandigarh.

Order at: Food Exchange, Novotel Goa Resorts & Spa

are ground into a batter and turned into these light pancakes,

Order at: Tinello, Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad (www.ahmedabad.


with sambar and chutneys on


is the most popular. Order at:

120 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

W E N E E D TO TA L K Few people, even Indians, have made it this far. Samanth Subramanian reports on

126 CondĂŠ Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016






how responsible tourism can not just help conserve this paradise, but make it accessible to all

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 127



he first time Mitali Kakkar visited Lakshadweep, she boarded the Tipu Sultan, a ship out of Kochi, and spent nearly a full day sailing east. After pulling into a couple of the bigger islands, the vessel anchored off Kadmat, and a little boat, the Omana Poo, came to collect her family and take them ashore. The year was 1993, and although Rajiv Gandhi had famously spent a holiday in Lakshadweep a few years earlier, the islands still received only a trickle of visitors. “It was unexplored, totally pristine,” Kakkar said. “I couldn’t believe this was a part of India.” The next year, on Kadmat, Kakkar and her husband Prahlad, the ad filmmaker, set up a dive centre called Laccadives, in partnership with the government. For the next 16 years, the Kakkars escaped to Lakshadweep every chance they got. When they weren’t diving, they were snorkelling. Very often, she says, they felt like they were the first humans to set eyes on 128 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

sections of the marvellous coral reefs that lay just below the water. They watched the ocean’s many citizens go past: battalions of tuna, reef sharks, eels, turtles, rays, both manta and sting. At its southern tip, Kadmat is mere metres wide, so Kakkar could, from the same spot, watch the sun climb out of the sea in the morning and douse itself again at night. The beaches were theirs and theirs alone—gentle curves of glowing sand that melted into the water. Bliss.

Kakkar’s story is about her discovery of paradise and also about her expulsion from it. In 2010, the Lakshadweep government began to make it difficult for private enterprises to flourish in the islands’ tourism sector. Laccadives’ licence was not renewed, Kakkar said, with no explanation given. Another company, Kerala’s CGH Earth, had its agreement to run a government-owned resort on Bangaram island abruptly terminated, resulting in prolonged litigation. A government agency—oddly named SPORTS, Society for Promotion of Nature, Tourism and Sports, assumed a monopoly on the entire tourist trade. Indians still require permits to visit the Lakshadweep Islands, and they must book their trips to the islands solely through SPORTS. The frustrations surrounding the tourism industry in Lakshadweep are really the dilemmas of all tourism. How do we find a fine balance between satisfying visitors and


A coral reef at Bangaram. Below: divers jumping off a boat in Lakshadweep. Previous page: an aerial view of Minicoy island

GO NOW days, and for a while, there were no flights into Lakshadweep at all,” Jose Dominic, the managing director of CGH Earth, said. “We even chartered a five-seater plane to fly visitors from Cochin to Agatti airport.” When airlines such as Vayudoot and NEPC began regular runs from the mainland, CGH Earth would sometimes buy seats on them to fly in provisions. “One person weighs around 70kg, so for the price of an air ticket, we’d fly in 70kg of tomatoes and pineapples.” Boldly, CGH Earth priced its rooms high: around US$180, which in this day and age is about 12,000, equal to what you would expect to pay for a night’s stay at a five-star in a metro. It aimed for the cream of international tourists, and it was determined to offer few frills that come

“Tourism in the Lakshadweep islands has always been coral-like: small, fragile, vulnerable ”


maintaining the purity of a destination? How many tourists is too many? Who should determine the shape and form of the tourism industry in an isolated corner of the world? And given how warming waters are already bleaching the reefs around Lakshadweep, what should take precedence in the coming years: protecting the coral from further harm, or enabling tourists to holiday in the limpid waters of these nubbin-like atolls? Is there, perhaps, a way to do both? These are all questions that don’t have easy answers. Tourism in the Lakshadweep Islands has always been coral-like: small, fragile, vulnerable. When CGH Earth won its contract for the Bangaram Island Resort, way back in 1988, there were no tourists to speak of. “The ship ran once every 15

130 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


Divers exploring underwater caves in Lakshadweep

Oct-Nov 2016 CondĂŠ Nast Traveller 131


Local women in Minicoy

with such a price tag. “There were no phones or television or air conditioning. Also, no multicuisine restaurant or swimming pool,” Dominic said. “The idea was to offer the experience of nature without spoiling it with ostentatious embellishments. To learn from the ways of the island people, as you dived, swam or did nothing.” In the evenings, visitors desiring company ambled to the juice shop or the tea shop in the nearest village; those desiring solitude sought out the lighthouse. Time flowed gently, as if the rest of the world didn’t exist. This low-impact model of tourism was calibrated not just to the local ecology but also to human life upon the islands. Nearly every islander is Muslim, and social relations are still conservative. There are few avenues of employment, apart from working for the government or fishing, and these seem to suffice for the local population. Also, India guards this outpost fiercely. No mainlander may buy land, and the shipments of food and fuel that wend 132 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

their way to the islands are heavily subsidised. Air India is the only airline that connects Agatti airport to the mainland (AI operates a daily flight, Monday through Saturday). “From a conservation point of view, the pressure of tourism isn’t yet visible on the reef,” said Shreya Yadav, a marine biologist who has researched Lakshadweep’s reefs with Nature Conservation Foundation. Yadav has spent months on end probing for signs of bleaching, and swimming among schools of silvery skipjack tuna, orange-and-white butterfly fish and thuggish-looking barracuda. “In other island destinations, you see broken coral and the impact of pollution, but not so much in Lakshadweep. And that’s because tourism is so heavily regulated. In that sense, the regulation is a blessing.” Outside the water, there is little to do but laze. “There’s no great impetus to move out, because it’s a tougher life on the mainland. Here they have their own football clubs, there’s a strong sense of community.”

In such societies, it’s easy for tourists to feel like outsiders crashing a family reunion. A frequent visitor to the islands, who runs a dive centre elsewhere, stopped going a few years ago. Choosing to remain anonymous, he reveals that his experience of staying on the islands was as poor as his dives under them were magnificent. “You pay some 6,000 for a room—I hear it’s 12,000 now—and you get nothing to show for it,” he said. “The government maintains the resorts badly.” In the 1990s, the first decade he went there, “they didn’t even have a toaster for breakfast. The staff would make us dinner at 4pm and go home, so when we served ourselves at night, we’d be eating cold, congealed fried fish.” Tariq Thomas, an IAS officer who began his tenure as the managing director of SPORTS in May 2016, said that the government recognises the need to revitalise tourism. “One of the impediments for tourism development in Lakshadweep was the absence of a policy, which has now been addressed.”

Boutique hotels just got cooler Welcome to Ovolo Hotels—the quirky boutique hotel chain that’s changing the way you stay We’ve all been there before—we checkin at our hotel, go up to our room, order some room service and occupy ourselves until it’s time to go sightseeing or head out to your meeting. Changing this impersonal and unfriendly hotel experience is Ovolo Hotels. Designed for an effortless and connected stay, it offers all-inclusive services like breakfast, Wi-Fi, access to the mini bar and more when you book direct on the Ovolo website, along with communal spaces where you can meet other travellers. With properties in Hong Kong and Australia, its hotels feature on the must-stay list for millennial travellers. So if you find yourself in the land down under, choose from these three properties: THE LANEWAY LIFE When you think of Melbourne, images of hidden laneways, street art and the best culinary hotspots come to mind. And that’s what has inspired the 43-room Ovolo Laneways. This rock star-esque hotel—located in the popular CBD area—has a DIY cocktail bar and pinball machines and is just a stone’s throw away from popular bars and restaurants. THE HARBOUR VIEWS Stunning French windows, contemporary design elements and

splendid views of the Sydney Botanical Gardens—all this and more awaits you at Ovolo Woolloomooloo. Just minutes away from Circular Quay, this 100-room heritage-listed modern property has a host of dining options nearby. CALLING ALL SHUTTERBUGS Picture this: three-meter high ceilings. Exposed brick walls. Original ironbark beams. Artwork by the celebrated local artist, Jasper Knight. Providing you with those amazing photo ops is the tastefully restored Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour. Located in Sydney’s Pyrmont area, this 90-bedroom boutique hotel is in close proximity to the best boutique shopping, bars and restaurants. OVOLO WITH BENEFITS 15% Discount on any direct bookings from Indian travellers on To claim the promotional offer, readers of Condé Nast Traveller and Vogue must visit the site, and enter the special promo code: OVOLOXINDIA; The discount applies to all hotels both in Hong Kong and Australia; Booking is subject to availability at full discretion of Ovolo Group; Promotion offer is valid until 31 December 2016

DON’T MISS OUT ON: During your stay at Ovolo’s Sydney properties, make sure you indulge in: Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb: Summit one of the city’s most wellknown bridges for panoramic views of the harbour and the surrounding city. ( Catalina Restaurant in Rose Bay: Dine at an iconic three-hatted restaurant and take in the breathtaking waterfront views. ( Red Lantern Restaurant: Specialising in fresh food and sustainable practices, satiate your palette at one of the Most Awarded Vietnamese Restaurant in the world. ( Sydney Opera House: Watch a show or two at one of the world’s most iconic and distinctive buildings. (

Ovolo Laneways

Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour

Ovolo Woolloomooloo


Scuba diving boats at Kavaratti Island

134 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Thomas revealed a new, coherent tourism policy for the islands has been notified and that the government is formulating guidelines specific to individual spheres of tourist activity—hotels, dive centres, water sports—keeping in mind the sensitive ecology and the islands’ inability to handle large volumes of tourists. The government is also relaunching the resort on Bangaram under the aegis of SPORTS. This plays a role in the larger scheme of things. The government’s primary think tank, the NITI Aayog (the CEO of which, Amitabh Kant, is a former Tourism Secretary and the force behind the Incredible !ndia campaign) is preparing a blueprint to open as many as 20 islands to tourism. These include Smith and Ross in the Andamans, Mamlia in Kutch, Jambudweep, off the coast

of West Bengal and five islands in Lakshadweep. In addition to this, the new National Civil Aviation Policy requires Indian airlines to fly to lowtraffic destinations in the North East and to islands like Lakshadweep, easing access to such destinations. Thomas denied that the government wanted a monopoly on tourism in Lakshadweep. “We do think private entrepreneurs should be involved in the sector as well,” he insisted. “We want more high-end, low-volume tourism. We want our tourism tag line to be ‘The Coral Paradise of India’. Also, the government believes the islanders, themselves, should be the main stakeholders in any development here. “Given the fact that, there are ecological factors, systems have to be in place to ensure proper waste and sewage disposal by tourism


“How do we find a fine balance between satisfying visitors and maintaining the purity of a destination?”

The perfect urban escape This December, Jetwing—the home of Sri Lankan hospitality—opens its first property in the country’s commercial capital. Presenting, Jetwing Colombo Seven


nparalleled luxury. Worldclass service. And all the comfort you can think of. That’s what you can expect when you stay at Jetwing Colombo Seven. Located in the heart of Colombo at Ward Place, this high-rise hotel is close to a number of Colombo’s attractions, shopping malls, popular restaurants and bars and boasts stunning views of the surrounding area. While it has a contemporary aesthetic, it offers discerning travellers luxurious accommodations. With 70 spacious rooms with kingsized or twin beds, luxurious bathtubs in the super deluxe

rooms and apartments and more, it caters to both business and leisure guests. Those who are in the city for the long-haul or are travelling with family can opt for one of the 28 serviced apartments that are equipped with a kitchenette, fridge, washing machines and other facilities, set in minimalist contours of elegance and efficiency. If you need a spot to unwind, head to the spa or the infinity pool on the rooftop and admire the panoramic views of the city. From watching the sun set over the majestic Indian Ocean at one end to the distant lakes of Colombo at the other, here

you are bound to leave all your troubles behind. For those of you looking to stay in shape during your vacation, the stateof-the-art gymnasium on the rooftop is ideal. Besides this, the rooftop also has a bar attached to the restaurant, which introduces you to the world of fine wine and spirits in a stylish ambience. On the other hand, the restaurant will serve up a range of delectable international fare in addition the many dining options the hotel has to offer. And if you need a space to hold a business meeting,

Jetwing Colombo Seven has a main hall for larger conferences, along with a smaller breakout room for executive meetings. So no matter your need, Jetwing Colombo Seven is the ideal place in the city. For more information, call +94 114-709400, e-mail reservations@ or visit


A view of Minicoy Island Below: a fisherman holding a spotted shark near Bangaram Island

136 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

It’s certainly possible to respect this sentiment and simultaneously nourish tourism, Kakkar said, citing Egypt’s model of sustainable tourism for the Red Sea region. “Marine sanctuaries and protected areas require special permission and the number of boats and tourists entering is controlled,” she explained. Done right, such tourism can benefit both visitors and locals, without wrecking ecological havoc. If a similar model were to be created for the Lakshadweep islands, they could once again shimmer upon the horizon of Indian tourists.

GETTING THERE “Tourism done right can benefit both visitors and locals, without wrecking ecological havoc”

Air India ( flies daily from Kochi to Agatti. Alternately you can take a cruise ship from Kochi, which could take up to 18 hours. Indian nationals require a permit to visit the islands. Permits and bookings for stays at state-run hotels must be made through SPORTS (www.lakshadweeptourism. com) and its authorised travel agents.


operators, so that there is no destruction of the ecosystem,” Thomas added. Lakshadweep’s residents are ambivalent about the prospective surge in tourism that a new policy might bring with it. MI Taha, who was born on Kadmat island and is a dive instructor with SPORTS on Kavaratti, knows what a boon private operators could be. “So many islanders will get jobs, whereas now most of us need to depend on the government, and that makes it very competitive,” he said. But the population also exerts a significant pressure on its politicians to keep the islands relatively untouched. In Lakshadweep, C Rahamathullah, a newly minted chemistry graduate, said, “We look at what happened to the Andamans as a warning sign. Most of us don’t want that kind of exposure.” It’s as if the people of Lakshadweep, severed from the world by an accident of geography, have come to treasure their isolation. “We want to maintain our culture, and not have it influenced too much by outsiders,” Rahamathullah said. “Partly, that’s a religious thing.”

Down the crafted path of Gujarat One of India’s most unspoken stylish regions, Gujarat offers aesthetic experiences —in culture, festivity, arts and handicrafts—and stands unique from the rest of the country. Explore, experience and embrace the best of India’s most vibrant state


ar from the runways of the world’s fashion capitals and red carpets, here’s a window to a whole different world of art, colour, fashion and style. From traditional jewellery to vintage brass showpieces and deliciously tangy pickles. From the colourful festivities, unique landscape, gifted artisans and effervescent tribals—every nook is seeped in history, creativity and colour. And every part of Gujarat has something different to offer. From appliqué to bead work, exquisite embroidery to the signature block print, kalamkari to patola and so much more— there’s always something extraordinary to uncover. All you have to do is arrive. AN EMBROIDERED EPIPHANY As you dive into the depths of Gujarat, you will discover that embroidery is not just a fashion term, but very integral to the fabric of this state. Rich embroideries like ari and soof are from Banaskantha, while kathipa, mahajan, kanbi and rabari embroideries are from Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and the Junagarh regions of Saurashtra. But the all-famous ones that come out of Kutch are ahir, mutwa, soof, neran and kharek. Here, embroidery is not reserved solely for cholis and ghaghras, but is adopted to decorate the house as well—for example, pachhipatis (embroidered friezes) which adorn doorways of homes while bhityas make for excellent wall hangings. Although Gujarat is known for its exquisite embroidery, the lesser known art of kalamkari is equally appealing. Kalamkari refers to a method of hand painting natural dyes onto cotton or silk fabric with a bamboo pen or kalam. This form or art is practiced by the Vaghri community to celebrate mother goddess.

THE PATCH OF PASSION As you trail along, you will discover the beauty of appliqué or patchwork, one of the oldest and finest crafts of this state. Celebrating beautiful forms of floral and animal designs, patches of fabric are pieced together in a jigsaw-style to create gorgeous quilts, hangings and modern household products and clothing. A craft that has come to life in Saurashtra, Banaskantha, Patan and Kutch, here old-world marries avant-garde via art and design. Another gorgeous art form is tie and dye (bandhani). The method entails gathering up bunches of fabric with strings and immersing them in a dye tub. When done and unfolded, the entire swathe of fabric has magical patterns that appear in a spectrum of hues—the beauty of bandhani fabric is timeless—and Navratri is the perfect time to discover the most exquisite bandhani’s in the market. BEADED & THE BEAUTIFUL Perhaps one of the most memorable parts of your trip to Gujarat will be discovering beautiful beaded works of art. Gujarat is the centre for bead craft, vernacularly known as Moti Bharat, across India. It is the art of making household decorative items like chaklas, indhonis, mangal kalash and nariyal, torans and jewellery like necklaces, bangles and earrings. Motifs and patterns are dictated by the technique of beads symmetrically and meticulously being intertwined, an art that has originated from the Saurashtra region, Rajkot, Bhanagar, Amreli, Junagadh and Ahmedabad. As a visitor, you will soon get used to the indelible talent that exists here.

TANTALISING TEXTILES One of the most remarkable legacies of Gujarat’s crafting skills is its rich and varied weaves— a combination of neat stitches, exotic patterns and an assault of colours—each made with highprecision techniques passed down from generation to generation. Among Gujarat’s weaving traditions, the double Ikat technique is one of the finest hand woven textiles originating from Patan. The magic of this textile is created by the process of the wrap and weft that is at first tie-dyed and then woven together, a colourful and ostentatious weave along with a subtle merging of one shade into another. Another famous art of Gujarat is block printing, where motifs draw from the 17th century reign of the Mughal Empire, and are mostly floral, vegetal and animal figures like elephants and peacocks. The prints are captivating with bright colours printed on light backgrounds. The ajrakh prints of Kutch (resist block printing) and the sodagiri prints of Paithapur are just two examples of Gujarat’s excellently printed textiles. Other block prints include vegetable prints from Dessa, Ahmedabad and Kutch, batik prints from Bhujpur, Mundra and Mandvi villages of Kutch and saudagiri prints of Ahmedabad are famous as well.

MARQUETRY MARVELS Triangles, squares, rhombuses, and zigzags composed to form geometrical kaleidoscopic shapes on wood—marquetry design is a very poetic art form. The wooden mosaic worked around the panels created in Surat is well renowned and locally known by the name of sadeli. The splendour and complexity of design forms with an arithmetic precision will mesmerise one and all. Traditionally utilised for decorating structural elements like doors, windows and furniture, today it is being seen on display objects like photo frames, jewellery boxes and more. LOVE FOR LACQUERWORK For Gujarat’s famous lacquered woodcraft, you have to visit Sankheda town. The kharadi suthar community have been passing on their skills from one generation to the next. While the tools they use may be simple—lathes and handheld equipment— the mastery of their work is nothing less than extraordinary. Sankheda furniture features hand painted exteriors in greens, browns and reds with motifs drawn from nature, picked out in silver and gold. To protect the elaborate embellishments, a layer of lacquer is added to the product, giving it its distinctive sheen. TRYST WITH TERRACOTTA The Gundiyali crafts people hailing from Kutch are renowned for their beautiful terracotta clay work—matikam kalakari. Featuring clay platters which are then painted in black and white after the potters are done with their task of turning on the wheel and firing their pots in a simple kiln —this ancient artwork is intrinsic to

Gujarat. Terracotta figures may include horses, elephants, tigers, cows, bulls, buffalo, and replicas of insects or pests which damage the crops, as well as human figures. Dhabu is also a great form of terracotta work in Gujarat. They are domeshaped houses which are offered to house the spirit of the dead. Of all the clay figures, the horse is the most important and offered the most frequently. ROGAN REVELATIONS But as for the most ancient art, it would have to be the rogan art of painting. The traditional rogan flower designs speak of a Persian influence and the word itself

means oil-based in Persian. Today, Nirona in Kutch is the only place where this work is created. When castor oil is heated over fire for more than twelve hours and cast into cold water, it produces a thick residue called rogan, which is mixed with natural colours obtained from earth. With a six-inch wooden stick or pen, the craftsperson then draws out from this a fine thread which is then painted to the cloth. Rogan painting is delicately and precisely painted from one’s own creative imagination without using any outline. An extraordinary aspect about this technique is that during the entire process of the gummy paint being carefully twisted into motifs, the blunt needle never comes into contact with the cloth. The family of artists, the Khatris, living in the sleepy hamlet of Nirona who practice rogan painting have become quite famous, as their art today even adorns the walls of the White House. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, gifted exquisite rogan paintings to the US President, Barack Obama, during his visit to the US in 2014. What’s really amazing is how these artisans apply rhythm to their design and even use the latest colour trends —pastels, psychedelic, complementary— with a confidence that is astounding and completely instinctual. Gujarat has a world of beauty hidden within its realms—from the sky that changes colours every minute and to the moon that won’t wait until dark to make an appearance, from the ochre landscape dotted with camel, cattle, sheep and the occasion donkey to the beautiful weaves, artefacts and creations you will discover—you just have to keep moving, finding and seeking—all that Gujarat has to offer.

WHERE TO BUY Gujarat State Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation Limited (Garvi Gurjari) has stores all across India. Purchases can also be made at Craftroots (+91-79-27522248,, Banaskraft (, Ahmedabad Haat (in Vastrapur) and Bhuj Haat, Shrujan shops in Kutch, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru (, Khamir Craft Resource Centre in Kutch (, and Kala

Raksha ( Handicrafts and handlooms can also be bought at HANDICRAFTS/TEXTILE TOURS One can opt for handicraft/textile tours with these operators: Compass Tourism (+91 73747588;, Akshar Travels Pvt Ltd (9825707748;, Mystic Gujarat Tours (08469784668;, J N Rao Travel Consultancy Services

Pvt Ltd (9909011509;, 99 DESTINATIONS (9913137799;


MOVED BY Sandip Roy heads to the birthplace of polo and finds the northeastern state full of

142 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


MANIPUR surprises, sporting and otherwise. Photographs by Jasper James





Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 143



e was the dusty, forgotten god of polo, Somi Roy tells me, as we walk up steps carved into a hillside. I didn’t know that polo had a god, but we are on our way to find him and Roy, of Hun-tré!Adventures, is my guide. The shrine is modest, tucked into the hillside overlooking rolling paddy fields. Like most shrines, it smells of incense and offerings of rice and fruit. But unlike other shrines, the wall has calendar art-style photographs of horses, with cheery, inspirational messages like Each Day Be Happy. Manipuri polo is now internationally famous and Marjing, the god of polo, is all spruced up, no longer dusty or forgotten. He sits astride a winged pony surrounded by little white horse figurines. I’m told when his mount’s wings were clipped and it fell to earth, it became the Manipuri pony. In one corner hang red-and-white sticks. “Ceremonial polo sticks,” says Roy. It turns out there’s not just a god of polo, Manipur is also the birthplace of modern polo or, as they call it, sagol kangjei. No wonder that in Imphal, a city devoid of ritzy malls and Western brands, there’s a US Polo Association store, right next to BM Variety Store selling deodorants, razors and chips. Alas, its polo timeline does not even acknowledge Manipur’s historic claim to the game. But in the sprawling greens of the ruined royal fort of Kangla, from where Manipur’s kings once ruled, I come across the world’s oldest polo ground (the Army went and built a helipad in the middle of it). These days, matches happen in the world’s oldest “living” polo ground instead, the Mapal Kangjeibung, smack in the heart of Imphal, under the watchful eyes of the Kangla-sa, half lion, half dragon, perched on top of the Shahid Minar monument. Team USPA is in town, its women playing alongside local women in the 1st Manipur Statehood Day Women’s Polo Tournament. Fashionable young men, in spotless white turbans and dhotis, hand out sesame snacks to the audience as the tasselled little ponies trot out to the field. “They look like little wind-up horses,” says USPA’s Cristina Fernandez. “I was like, I am going to ride that poor little thing! But it’s really strong.” 144 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

In the sprawling greens of the ruined fort of Kangla, from where Manipur’s kings once ruled, lies the world’s oldest polo ground Clockwise from top: Tiamo Hudspeth of the USPA team at a match; General Slim’s bungalow in Imphal; a Kangla-sa statue in the city; Mayanglambam Gourchandra, the founder of the People’s Museum in Kakching; an old manuscript at the museum. Previous pages from left: Manipuri ponies at a polo match; a local polo player

GET AWAY A large sign near the scoreboard puts it bluntly: No Pony—No Polo. The Manipur pony is endangered, its grazing grounds disappearing. It’s a sacred pony, never used as a pack animal. But times are tough and many roam the dusty streets of Imphal, feeding on garbage. Roy’s real passion is to save the pony—the curly-haired Tukhoi, the palomino Morra, the Kabrang the colour of raw silk—and he’s even setting up a pony reserve, a sort of grazing commons, near the Marjing temple. But he knows Manipuri pride in polo is the key to the pony’s future. “Polo is from Manipur. That is why I like it,” says player Okram Ashalucky Chanu. “I would like to sacrifice my life for polo.” She’s the first polo player in her family. It was a palace sport, but there are plenty of polo-loving villages here and over 20 clubs. Ordinary people play it and go to watch it. “I’ve never been in a stadium this big, with

crowds chanting my name,” marvels the USPA’s Tiamo Hudspeth. Chanu says playing with the USPA women was a dream come true. “They are so perfect, so disciplined.” Hudspeth was nervous about the language barrier, but says they “bonded in a crazy way because we love horses and we love polo”. The Manipuri girls taught her a few things too: lingba (strong), nopa (weak). “So we’d chant lingba, no nopa before our game.” Until I landed in Imphal, the only things I knew about Manipur were its dancers with their gauzy veils and delicate, wavy movements, the dogged hunger strike of Irom Sharmila and the boxing gloves of Mary Kom. I did not know about polo, the endangered Manipuri pony, or that Manipur is the only place in India with a Japanese war memorial. It’s hard to look at the quiet undulations of the bluish green hills

that have no name, the villagers walking with baskets on their heads along the highway, and remember that one of the fiercest battles of World War II took place here, one that pitted Indian against Indian. On a cloudy day, the huge Loktak Lake is calm, dappled in shades of grey and blue. Sendra Resort’s little cottages overlook the water, an idyllic place to spend a couple of nights. A solitary boat glides by fishing nets. The lake is dotted with mossy green phumdis—floating masses of decomposing vegetation, some no bigger than a tabletop, some large enough to form Keibul Lamjao, the world’s only floating national park, home to the brow-antlered dancing deer. Sitting in the café, surrounded by panoramic views, munching pakoras with hot tea, it takes some effort to imagine dogfights over these waters. But right next door, in Moirang, the Indian National Army first raised

The lake is dotted with mossy green phumdis—floating masses of decomposing vegetation, some no bigger than a tabletop, some large enough to form Keibul Lamjao, the world’s only floating national park, home to the brow-antlered dancing deer

A fisherman on Loktak Lake

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 145

GET AWAY the Indian tricolour, in 1944. Japanese soldiers came across these hills to take Imphal Valley and faced off against General William Slim’s troops. Slim’s bungalow still stands in Imphal, its neat rose bushes and lacy curtains almost in prim denial of the bloody history of a war that produced five Victoria Crosses. Close to the bungalow stand two enormous Kangla-sa statues, gleaming white in the afternoon sun. The Manipuris once beheaded British soldiers between them and sprinkled their blood on the statues. Now, courting couples pose for pictures there. A different military aspect dogs Manipur’s present. Years of AFSPA or the Armed Forces Special Powers Act have left their scars. In the gathering dusk, as we speed down the highway, the headlights sometimes pick out the silent figures of patrolling soldiers, walking in single file in the darkness, guns slung across their shoulders. But there’s a Manipur beyond all this, a Manipur connected as much to Southeast Asia as it is to the rest of India, that’s well worth discovering. The People’s Museum in Kakching, about 55km outside Imphal, is a good place to begin that discovery. Founder Mayanglambam Gourchandra is a sprightly, weathered man, a 70-plus Indiana Jones figure in a kurta, sporting a fedora with a jaunty blue feather. The museum is a cluttered collection of Manipuri history—mortar shells and Japanese swords, a giant cowhide drum, an old wooden rice-grinding machine. Gourchandra brings out an old parchment with a drawing of a serpent. “15th century,” he says. It’s a puya, a holy text written in Manipuri script. After Vaishnavism came from Bengal in the 18th century, the kings switched to Bengali script; many signs in Manipur are still in this script. Puyas were burned or hidden away. When he was a boy, he found a few pages in his own house and became obsessed. “I travelled all over Manipur trying to find more. I was not even interested in girls. People thought I was crazy,” he says. He points to his collection of old coins. “Note the names of the Manipuri kings,” he says. Khagemba. Chakairongba. And then suddenly the names show the arrival of Hinduism— Kulchandra and Bhagyachandra. 146 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Shree Shree Govindajee Temple in Imphal

But the older Manipuri Sanamahi religion lives on, half-absorbed into the newer Hinduism. “My family is Hindu in the morning and Sanamahi at night,” jokes Yai Kangjam, the tour manager with Imphal Walks. “We have holy tulsi in the courtyard, but the southwest corner of the house is devoted to Sanamahi.” This divine cohabitation is clear in the Shree Shree Govindajee Temple. Dedicated to Radha Govinda, it’s Imphal’s most famous temple: a white wedding cake of a building with shiny golden domes. But in a corner, past the pool, there’s a grove of trees dedicated to the Sanamahi deity of Pakhangba. “Sometimes I have found crowds of Manipuri kids praying here before exams,” chuckles Roy.

Roy is a scion of Manipur royalty. Usually he’s bursting with ideas to promote the region—a car rally from Gangtok to Mandalay, a sports documentary festival in Imphal Valley, a US-Manipur baseball project. But today is different. It’s a temple ceremony honouring his late mother, a princess and a writer, and the whole clan has gathered. Close to 40 women sit in a circle, singing and chanting to the sound of cymbals and conch shells, flowers in their hair, the traditional gold jewellery around their necks gleaming discreetly through the diaphanous wraps around their bare shoulders. This is the epitome of Manipuri formality— local mekhla outfits, form-fitting, with red and black borders. I recognise the

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GET AWAY embroidery, the patterns of cucumber seeds and half-moons. Sculptor Banamali Sharma had taken me to see it done in a village not far from his sculpture garden in the Sharma Arts & Crafts House, a non-profit organisation focused on the preservation of this heritage. Ningombam Memcha Leima sits on a mat made of pond-weed, the intricate embroidery laid out in front of her on a brass stand. One pattern takes her 15—20 days, even a month. She is 55 years old and has been doing this work since she was a child. She passed these skills on to her daughter as well. “But it’s too much strain on the eyes,” she explains. “My daughter now works in a beauty parlour.” Change, it seems, is creeping into sleepy Imphal where hotel bands are stuck with a classic rock playlist (think The Eagles, Eric Clapton) and women drive scooters in traditional salmonpink sarongs with sandalwood tilaks on their foreheads. Modernisation arrived in Manipur with World War II, says Kangjam. Butter, cheese and tinned fish came to Imphal valley with the soldiers. Suddenly, a sleepy Vaishnavite kingdom added new words to its vocabulary. Tanks were “iron elephants”. Jeeps were “ditch-jumpers”. Non-vegetarian food became far more common. Traditional Manipuri food avoided even onions and garlic. People used herbs such as nakuppi leaves or garlic chives instead, says Biswabhanu Devi of the Ladies Home Science Association. “To cook chicken, you took your charcoal stove outside the house,” she says. Now, as we drive to the hotel from the airport, I see shops selling “Live and Dress chickens” along with slabs of beef and pork. Manipur is changing. From the window of my room at the Classic Hotel, a comfortable three-star facility, with bellboys in postbox-red uniforms, I can see the hills stretching into the distance, the higgledy-piggledy sprawl of houses, the dome of the legislative assembly. But it’s a skyline unlike most other Indian capitals. There are no malls, no multiplexes, no office towers. The most famous market is the sprawling all-women Ima Market, where women sit under umbrellas selling everything from imitation designer underwear to plastic bags 148 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Imphal’s skyline is unlike most Indian capitals: no malls, multiplexes or office towers. The most famous market is the all-women Ima Market Clockwise from top: a priest at Shree Shree Govindajee Temple; a ritual offering at the temple; the women’s market in Imphal; Kenny Ngairangbam of KOK Designs; a doll from KOK Designs

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GET AWAY of yellow bamboo shoots, strings of tree beans and cakes of Manipuri salt. There are tribal dances with spears and (plastic) hornbill feathers in front of the Lanthungching Baptist Church, but no hip art galleries or chic café lounges, not even Café Coffee Day outlets. This is the city that time (and CCD) forgot. “When I came back to Manipur from Ghaziabad after my father died, for a year, I didn’t do anything much. Just eat, sleep and go out with friends to drink and eat barbecue,” says Kenny Ngairangbam, one-time off-spin bowler for the under-13 cricket team, now a graphic designer. He’s set up KOK Designs, which makes rosy-cheeked, square-headed, 3-D, fold-it-yourself paper dolls of Manipur’s many tribes, some with weapons, some with hornbill feathers (kok means ‘head’ or ‘mind’, in Manipuri). “There are so many misunderstandings that occur between the more than 30 tribes here,” says Ngairangbam. “I hope this could bring some understanding.” He’s got about 15 models of these dolls down already and ideas for other merchandise— tote bags, t-shirts, postcards. “I have many ideas, not so much money,” he admits. Banamali Sharma, too, needs money. He is building Shanti Doot, a huge concrete sculpture shaped like a Manipuri cloth doll of his childhood. The doll, with outstretched arms, towers over his Daliesque sculpture garden studded with busts and statues. Sharma dreams of getting 400 folk artists from all over India to come and make ceramic tiles that will be pasted onto the doll’s hoop skirt. Both Sharma and Ngairangbam, it seems, need to pray to Emoinu, Manipur’s goddess of plenty. That night, a group of riders on horseback, garlands around their necks, canters through the darkness, going from village to village, flaming torches held high, the festival almost a home delivery service of Emoinu’s sacred fire. Villagers wait with candles and lamps which they light from the torches and then carry home. The horses whinny and snort, and gallop into the darkness, the clip-clop of their hooves dying until the torches become pinpricks of light in the velvety hush of the night. A polo tour similar to the writer’s can be arranged through Hun-tré!Adventures ( 150 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

NEED TO KNOW: MANIPUR GETTING THERE Fly to Imphal with IndiGo (, Jet Airways (www.jetairways. com) or Air India (www. from most Indian cities.

WHERE TO STAY Classic Grande The city’s newest hotel comes equipped with a multicuisine restaurant serving Asian and European fare, and an outdoor swimming pool. (www.; doubles from 3,600)

The Giving Tree Set in a pretty, manicured garden, each unit comes with a living room, bedroom and a kitchen. It started as a performance space for music, dance and art events, and continues to host local talent. (096120 01780; doubles from 2,500)

Sendra Park and Resort by The Classic Located 30km from Imphal, this resort offers cottages overlooking Loktak Lake. (http://classicgroupofhotels. com: doubles from 2,700)

WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK Luxmi Kitchen Try the authentic Manipuri thalis, which come in vegetarian and fish options. (Aryan Theatre Complex, Wahengbam Leikai)

Nambol Bazaar A half-hour drive from Imphal, this market sells fresh local produce. Don’t miss the stalls of bora (fritters made of everything from vegetables to river prawns, clam and snail).

WHAT TO DO Shree Shree Govindajee Temple Built by the former kings of Manipur, it offers a window

A women’s polo match at the Mapal Kangjeibung in Imphal

into the local Vaishnavite tradition. Book your vegetarian Manipuri lunch and make the most of your visit.

Kangla Fort This fort was the centre of power for Manipur’s rulers until 1891, when it was occupied by the British.

with a guided tour. (

People’s Museum It houses treasures like 15thcentury parchments, ancient rural tools and weighing machines. (www.facebook. com/Peoples-MuseumKakching-149154191931186)

World War II sites


The Battle of Imphal was one of the war’s turning points in Asia, which led to the Allied powers’ victories. A number of sites here mark this history—the Imphal War Cemetery, the Palel Airfield, the Japanese War Memorial on Red Hill and the INA Museum Complex at Moirang are among them. (

Ima Market

Loktak Lake


The Northeast’s largest freshwater lake is home to floating islands made of weed. The lake is part of the Keibul Lamjao National Park, the last natural habitat of the endangered brow-antlered deer or sangai.

NIFT-graduate Richana Khumanthem works with local artisans to create fashionable womenswear. (

Lord Marjing Pony Shrine and Pony Preserve In the hillside around Heingang village are the Seven Shrines to Lord Marjing, the god of polo. East of Imphal, Heingang is the site of the preserve for the endangered Manipuri pony.

Imphal Walks Explore the natural and other wonders of Manipur

This historic, massive women-run market, in the heart of Imphal, has over 3,000 stalls selling everything from handloom to groceries.

Ningthibee Collections Run by a non-profit organisation, the store offers traditional apparel for women. (098621 38432)

KOK Designs Kenny Ngairangbam creates a variety of paper dolls to reflect Manipur’s varied tribes. (Horizon store, Lamphel, opposite the Officers Club)

WHEN TO GO October—March has the best weather. Between November and Febraury, six polo tournaments are hosted, including two international ones.

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From wildlife conservation to sustainable farming, a number of Indian hotels are trying to make a difference, one tourist rupee at a time. Pri Shewakramani reports

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 153

WHERE TO STAY “All of SwaSwara’s water needs are met by rainwater harvesting—nearly 18million litres of it. This, in turn, has increased the area’s water table” SwaSwara, Gokarna

Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa

STAY: Each of the 115 rooms here has spectacular mountain views. The Uttarakhand resort features a 12,000sq ft entertainment area with a bowling alley, the Cedar Spa by L’OCCITANE, an indoor heated pool and biking trails through the resort. CAUSE: The property has adopted a nearby village called Bhatoli. Guests are encouraged to visit the villagers and try the local cuisine, thereby giving the villagers a steady stream of income. They also support another neighbouring village, Kempty, with free medical check-ups and sanitation drives. (; doubles from 15,000)

STAY: Sprawled across 27 acres of forest in a picturesque Maharashtra hill station, the property’s 122 rooms and 16 suites all come with private outdoor spaces and stunning views of the countryside. CAUSE: Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa is a partner in the Swachh Mahabaleshwar movement. Its employees join citizen groups in monthly forest clean-ups and promote sustainable waste practices in nearby villages, all in an effort to keep the hills clean and plastic-free. (; doubles from 12,000)

The Leela Goa The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg STAY: Gulmarg’s only luxury hotel is seamlessly integrated with its surroundings of Kashmir’s snowcapped mountains. Spend your evenings in the heated indoor pool, followed by a massage at The Khyber Spa by L’OCCITANE. CAUSE: The hotel has initiated a fiveyear tree plantation project. It has set a goal of planting 3,000 trees in order to preserve the current ecosystem and reduce the property’s carbon footprint. (; doubles from 15,000)

STAY: The 75-acre property is a tropical haven with its own gorgeous beach, lagoons and colourful gardens. Pro tip: book one of the Club Suites, which come with charming views of the sea and the 12-hole golf course. CAUSE: The hotel has committed its support to the United Nations Environment Program’s Billion Tree Campaign, and ensures nearly a third of its space is green. Additionally, new saplings are planted every year. The hotel also conducts week-long cleaning drives at Mobor Beach every quarter. (; doubles from 14,000)

154 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Above from left: a Bhatoli resident cooking; JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa. Previous page, clockwise from top left: the pool at The Serai Kabini; a Bhatoli local; a room in SUJÁN’s JAWAI leopard camp; Rabari hersmen in Jawai; forest in Gulmarg; the lobby at The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa; Kunta Bai, the caretaker at Ahilya Fort

Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, Pawana STAY: Nestled in the lush green embrace of Maharashtra’s Sahyadri hills, the 320-acre all-villa property features two pools, a state-of-the-art spa and three restaurants. Also on offer is a private hiking trail that takes you through verdant forests and past gushing waterfalls. CAUSE: Prior to building the Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, the owners planted 5,00,000 trees and reforested 30 acres of barren land with native plant species. Today, besides maintaining the forested land, they also work very closely with the local adivasi community in order to support sustainable agricultural practices.(; doubles from 18,000)


JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa

STAY: Everything at this property, located in northern Karnataka, is designed towards wellness and healing, from the Meditation Dome to meals, which exclude meats, coffee and hard liquor. CAUSE: SwaSwara set up the Om Beach Drive in 2011, carrying along the local community (including the restaurants and shacks set up on the beach), with the objective of keeping the coast clean. The hotel’s employees have also been cleaning the beach every week for the last 10 years. In addition to this, the hotel’s water needs, all through the year, are met by rainwater harvesting—nearly 18 million litres of it. This, in turn, has led to an increase in the water table of the region. (; doubles from 1,29,000; minimum five-night stay)

WHERE TO STAY Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar STAY: A stay at this palace hotel,


owned by the former royal family of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, feels like a glimpse into the India that once was. Don’t miss the evening aarti at one of the many temples around or a cruise through the Narmada River in a traditional wooden boat. CAUSE: The weaving of gossamer Maheshwari textiles has been revived over the years through the Rehwa Society, which was founded

by the Holkar family. Guests are encouraged to visit the weaving looms, which are located within the fort complex, and watch the craftspeople in action. You can buy a souvenir, whether a sari or fabric, to take home, too. The Ahilya School, also founded by the Holkars, provides free education to the children of weavers, and visitors can also contribute to this effort. (; doubles from 17,000)

“At Ahilya Fort, you can buy a souvenir to take home—a Maheshwari sari or fabric—directly from the weavers”

A weaver at Rehwa Society in Maheshwar

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 155

WHERE TO STAY Lakshman Sagar, Raipur STAY: This boutique Rajasthan hotel features 12 cottages (each one comes with its own splash pool) that are dotted across 32 acres. The main swimming pool, which has been hollowed out from rock, effortlessly blends desert and design. CAUSE: While small quantities of vegetables and herbs are grown on the hotel’s organic farm, everything else is sourced from farms in the surrounding region. Owner Inderpal Singh Kochhar also works with farmers in the region to strengthen their infrastructure. (www.sewara. com; doubles from 10,000)

Vana Malsi Estate, Dehradun STAY: A stay at this plush 98-key wellness retreat in Uttarakhand begins with an ayurvedic consultation to formulate a personalised detox programme for the duration of your stay. What’s more, the staff will be aware of your programme and will not hesitate to remind you of it in case you’re tempted to cheat. CAUSE: The retreat takes its sustainable living philosophy seriously, with an on-site organic farm, a petite stone-mill for grinding grains and a bottling plant to recycle plastic. The property also has a tie-up with a local farmers’ cooperative to source and grow produce locally. (; doubles from 3,29,000 for seven nights; minimum seven-night stay)

Above from left: a cottage at Lakshman Sagar; a worker at the hotel’s organic farm

Shakti 360° Leti, Kumaon

ITC Maurya, New Delhi

STAY: Located on a small plateau in

STAY: One of the capital’s grandest hotels, it has 438 luxurious rooms— the décor of which is inspired by the Mauryan dynasty. Must-dos include a meal at the landmark restaurant Bukhara and a treatment at the 99,000sq ft Kaya Kalp spa. CAUSE: The WelcomJawan initiative, founded by ITC Hotels in association with the Ministry of Defence’s Directorate of Resettlement, enables former armed forces personnel to earn a sustainable living in the hospitality industry. Participants in the programme are trained and then absorbed into ITC properties across the country. (; doubles from 10,000)

Uttarakhand, 8,000ft above sea level, the four cottages here have dramatic panoramic views. Daytime activities, including village walks, trekking and river picnics, can be capped off with a cosy evening by the fireplace. CAUSE: The property uses electricity generated from sustainable sources including solar panels. It also has a grey water reuse system to reduce water consumption. (www.; from 2,00,000 per head; minimum three-night stay)

The Serai Kabini

Atmantan Wellness Resort, Mulshi

STAY: The resort is extremely well located, on the banks of the Kabini River and close to both the Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks in Karnataka, and it takes full advantage of its surroundings. All cottages come with river views, and activities include jungle safaris and kayaking. CAUSE: Besides what’s grown on the property’s organic farm, over half of the cooking ingredients are sourced from local markets. The property also works closely with the forest department by providing vehicles and labour to undertake initiatives such as fire line checks and wildlife surveys. (; doubles from 17,000)

STAY: The 40-acre property in Maharashtra overlooks the scenic Mulshi Lake in the Sahyadris. Its focus on wellness is apparent, beginning with the meditation pavilions that dot the landscape. Yoga areas, a juice bar and spa that includes a hammam and a UV treatment chamber are the other offerings that complete the package. CAUSE: For the past two years, Atmantan has been focusing on increasing the water table in the area through rainwater harvesting. The innovative techniques used have resulted in a steady water supply for the nearby villages. (www.atmantan. com; doubles from 1,12,500; minimum three-night stay)

156 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Norbulingka, Dharamsala STAY: Chonor House, Norling House and Serkong House are three properties run by the Norbulingka Institute, a Himachal Pradesh-based NGO set up to preserve Tibetan crafts. All three are decorated according to traditional Tibetan themes, with murals featuring Kham, Amdo and Central Tibet regions, and suites with names like Tiger, Ibex and Dragon. CAUSE: The Norbulingka Institute provides training and employment opportunities to nearly 470 Tibetans in exile. (; doubles from 6,000)

Assorted festivities This Diwali, choose to gift only the best, with Hyatt Regency Delhi’s beautifully packaged luxury hampers

Now that the festival of lights is looming on the horizon, you are probably wondering about the best gifts that you can give your friends and family. Hyatt Regency Delhi has come up with the perfect answer for your gifting requirements—a range of high-end bespoke hampers specially created by the luxury hotel. If you’re inclined to go traditional, you have your pick of Indian sweets, or you can surprise your loved ones with an exquisitely packaged hamper of cakes, chocolates and macaroons. Hyatt Regency Delhi’s customised gift boxes come in four different varieties. For those looking for a compact gift, the Gourmet Traditional box is just the thing for you. It comes with four different, innovatively flavoured sweets—the

pistachio friand, anjeer ki burfis, lemon sables and black-pepper cashew nuts. In need of a larger hamper? Try the Luxury Traditional, which comes with a box of six varieties. Comprising the pistachio friand, black-pepper cashew nuts, orange macaroons, a chocolate crankly, badam ki longe nuts and lemon sables, the box offers a mix of traditional and western sweets. If it’s someone special you have in mind, go all out with the Premium Traditional box, with eight one-of-a-kind offerings. These include a Diwali fruit cake, badam ki longe nuts, dry mangoes, anjeer ki burfis, lemon sables, orange macaroons, black-pepper cashew nuts and dark chocolate truffles. The fourth and the biggest gift hamper is the Executive Traditional, with a box

of 12 treats— a Diwali fruit cake, badam ki longe nuts, a chocolate crankly, dry oranges, anjeer ki burfis, chocolate almond cookies, chocolate truffles, lemon sables, pistachio friand, blackpepper cashew nuts, orange macaroons and florentine. Alternatively, you can create your own bouquet of delicious assortments. Just choose from the array of items available at the hotel’s bakery, Sidewalk, which includes chocolate marble cakes, a range of cookies such as the giant chocolate chip, oats raisin, chocolate almond and much more. For prices and orders, call 09711062784 or visit


STAY: Infiniti takes divers to remote and otherwise inaccessible parts of the Andaman Islands, including Barren Island, South Asia’s only active volcano. The live-aboard, which carries 12 guests per trip, features spacious rooms and multiple areas in which to lounge. CAUSE: The live-aboard provides conservation-focused NGOs with photographic and video material of coral reefs and the sea creatures around them. It also collects water samples containing microorganisms from islands within the Andaman chain. All of this information is useful in gauging the health of the water and aiding research on the unique ecosystem of the islands. (www.; from 1,00,000 per head; minimum five-day stay)

state by offering free certification programmes at the Ananda Spa Institute in Hyderabad. Guests can also contribute to this cause, with the resort matching their donation rupee for rupee.(; doubles from 25,000)

The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore STAY: Located in the heart of Bengaluru, the hotel is a short drive from UB City, the metro’s premier shopping mall. The property’s 277 plush rooms come with 400-threadcount Frette linen, bath products by Asprey of London, Nespresso coffee machines and complimentary wi-fi. CAUSE: Through Succeed Through Service, the hotel chain’s signature programme, the property’s employees mentor students from lowincome households. (www.ritzcarlton. com; doubles from 13,500)

Ananda In the Himalayas, Rishikesh

Samode Safari Lodge, Bandhavgarh

STAY: One of the top spa destinations in the world, Ananda is spread across 100 acres of rolling hills of Uttarakhand. You’ll leave feeling rejuvenated by the views, the massages and other therapies, the yoga and outdoor activities and the healthy, delicious food. CAUSE: Ananda supports underprivileged women in the

STAY: The Madhya Pradesh lodge has 12 luxury villas, each with its own open-air bathtub. Other facilities include an infinity pool, a solar-heated Jacuzzi, a jogging trail and a spa. CAUSE: Of the lodge’s staff, 80 percent comes from nearby villages, giving local communities a slice of the tourist revenue pie. Furthermore, guests are encouraged to go on village

158 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Above from left: An Infiniti live-aboard near Barren Island; divers and a school of yellow snappers off the Andamans

walks to get a glimpse of rural life. (; doubles from 35,000)

SUJÁN’s JAWAI, Bisalpur STAY: This understated, sophisticated eight-tent property is located near Rajasthan’s Jawai Dam, where Rabari tribesmen live in peaceful coexistence with the 40 leopards that inhabit the area. The property also has a pool, and activities on offer include safaris, yoga classes and nature treks. CAUSE: The field team at JAWAI has been researching the leopard population as well as working with the forest department and local tribes to aid anti-poaching and conservation efforts. (; doubles from 59,000)

Bandipur Safari Lodge STAY: At this Karnataka stay, guests can meet some of the best naturalists in the area. Accommodation at the lodge consists of rustic cottages that are free of TV or air-conditioning, so you can make the most of being out in the wild and one with nature. CAUSE: The lodge actively works to reform poachers and provide employment opportunities. It also works closely with the forest department to train its staff in ecotourism practices. (www.junglelodges. com; doubles from 9,500)


The Infiniti Live-aboard, Andaman Islands








Founded with the vision to orchestrate distinguished events, for the past 21 years, we have been specialising in creating memorable destination weddings, offering personalised services to our global clients. From identifying a location to decor options complete with production, sound and lights to special effects, artist management to hospitality, we take care of it all. Some of the destinations include: Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Lisbon, Portugal Istanbul, Turkey Dubai & Abu Dhabi, UAE New York, USA Hua Hin, Krabi & Phuket, Thailand Malaysia Goa, Udaipur & Jaipur, India

WHERE TO STAY CONSERVATORIUM, AMSTERDAM “On Museum Square, in a landmark heritage building, this hotel is a favourite for its elegant look and feel.” (www.; doubles from €370 or 28,000)

LE BRISTOL, PARIS “Luxury and indulgence are just two keywords by which to describe this hotel. And it’s in a city I often travel to—Paris. I meet old friends and there are always great art and culture shows to take in.” (www.; doubles from €850 or 63,500)

RAAS DEVIGARH, UDAIPUR “I love this hotel because by design, it’s such a charming and beautiful mix of the old and the contemporary.” (http://raasdevigarh. com; doubles from 21,500)

a t p u g a p il h s h it w g ay Bed-hoppin why she travels and what her favourite st s are

SILKEN PUERTA AMÉRICA MADRID “I’ve stayed on different floors, where rooms have been designed by different legendary architects, like the late Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel. It’s a unique experience.” (; doubles from €115 or 8,700)

160 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

WHY I TRAVEL “A lot of my travel is to install shows and attend art openings—in places like Paris, New York and Echigo Tsumari in Japan. If I’m taking my five-year-old along, I plan a trip with enough time for sightseeing. And I never leave home without chargers (especially since my son drains batteries with his gaming) and Indian comfort food — a must with a little one.”

TORRE SALVUCCI MAGGIORE SAN GIMIGNANO “It's housed in a restored 12th-century tower, one of the tallest in the heritage city, and in its historic centre. It was really memorable for the whole family.” (www.; €225 or 16,800 for the entire apartment)


d Ramamurthy The artist tells Prasa

EXPERIENCE A NEW LEVEL OF LUXURY Centara Grand is the five-star brand from Centara Hotels & Resorts, the pre-eminent Thai hotel group offering the ultimate in luxurious escapes across Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and beyond. All boasting prime locations in the finest city or tropical beach destinations, the iconic Centara Grand hotels and resorts combine outstanding features and facilities with intuitive and personalised Thai service, to create extraordinary experiences and indelible memories for guests. From two sophisticated city choices in Bangkok, a sumptuous retreat in breathtaking Krabi complete with private beach and a stunning Samui establishment on the island’s finest beach, to classic, colonial elegance in Hua Hin, sun-drenched villas set over azure waters in the Maldives and other enticing resorts in Phuket and Pattaya, Centara Grand is the natural choice for a picture-perfect holiday.



In the party capital of India, Salil Deshpande finds a hotel that promises to live up to the tag

162 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

ne isn’t quite sure how and when Goa was crowned the party capital of India, but the story begins with ‘Eight Finger’ Eddie or Yertward Mazamania, which was his real name. An American expat, Eddie is considered the first hippy to settle on the shores of Goa. With Anjuna as home, Eddie—may his soul rest in peace—soon drew more hedonistic folk, giving the sunshine state its first taste of flower power. With the hippies came their music: first the guitars and tapes, then the synths and samplers, and by the ’90s, the state was exporting its own brand of music—Goa Trance. In 1994, when Paul Oakenfold’s Goa Mix played on BBC Radio 1 for two hours, its spot on the global calendar was sealed.


“The W is a hotel wrapped around a club, in spirit if not form. With music jockeys from Istanbul, Mexico and elsewhere, there’s no reason to leave” Twenty years later, while Goa’s party scene has grown, it’s yet to mature. The field is held together by a bunch of clubs—some that have seen better days—and a string of seasonal gigs. It’s here that W Goa—India’s first and the world’s 50th—could rock the boat. Sitting on the shores of Big Vagator (not far from where Eddie once walked), the W is a hotel wrapped around a club, in spirit if not form. You can tell as soon as you walk into the Living Room—the lobby that leads to the WOOBAR, which has its own DJ console. And you can certainly tell when you see the Rock Pool, a stunning amphitheatre-style beach club carved into the hill, with Chapora Fort towering above and a crescent sea lapping below. Add to this the W’s roster of music jockeys from Istanbul, Mexico and elsewhere, and you’ve nixed every reason to take expensive cabs to dodgy clubs along the Baga-Calangute-Anjuna strip.

Across the world, the W does sexy well, so why would the Goa property be any different? The rooms, chalets and villas, all 160 of them, come with glitzy wall décor, chandeliers that flip colours at dusk, beds too comfortable to get out of and large bathrooms complete with his-and-hers sinks—the true secret of a romantic holiday. The villas take things several notches higher. Outside: a soothing, pastel-coloured door, a cute patio and a private plunge pool. Inside: slated roofs, swirling shapes and pop art. Some villas come with a detached living room, which is where we see the party shifting in the early hours of the morning. Fuelling all this are the hotel’s restaurants and bars, including The Kitchen Table, an all-day diner that comes with a pool and a sun deck. (And we’re told bagel lovers are in for a treat.) At the water’s edge is Spice Traders, the pan-Asian restaurant; the menu,

which was still being tweaked when we went, will feature Sri Lankan and Goan cuisine prominently. In the evening, find a spot on the rooftop bar and lounge for an incredible Goan sunset. #nofilter From the beach to the food to the music, all that’s good about Goa is right here. With W The Store, even shopping is covered. And the Spa by CLARINS, a cavernous 10-bed facility, including two couples’ rooms and a vitality pool, takes care of all those knotty issues. For issues of the other kind, there’s WEE KIDS, the kids’ club. It’s a first for any W property in the world. And while some may say it’s a departure from the hotel’s otherwise sassy persona, what’s a W that doesn’t break some rules? W GOA Vagator Beach Road, Bardez, Vagator, Goa (; doubles from 15,890)

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 163

Goa is always a good idea Goa has developed quite a reputation for its beaches, nightlife, culinary prowess, luxuries, shops and so much more. But what if you got the best of Goa all in one place—Presenting Novotel Resort in Goa Whether it’s a family getaway, a birthday celebration, a big fat bachelorette or a spur of the moment trip—Goa is always a good idea. Perfect for the shopaholic, gastronome, spa junkie and nature lover alike, you really can’t go wrong. Especially when you book a stay at the Novotel Hotels & Resorts, Goa—a destination within a destination. Nestled amidst the serene countryside of lush paddy plantations, this breathtaking property features 121 luxe rooms and suites, award winning restaurants and an endless list of things to do that’ll keep one and all

entertained. Plus, it is located just a stone’s throw away from North Goa’s bustling nightlife and beaches, and is designed to be a magical hideaway where time will stand still. There are more reasons than one to come to Novotel Goa Resort & Spa. If it’s for the food, you will be left spoilt for choice. Relish global cuisine with a local touch, and don’t miss the resort’s signature breakfast experience— complete with a continental spread and even a South Indian counter. The resort also features a very interesting concept of the interactive kitchen at the all-day diner called

Food Exchange. A multi-cuisine menu cooked in unique styles in individual show kitchens allows guests to have direct interaction with the chefs. Don’t miss the exciting Burger Menu with six delectable, gourmet burgers, prepared from scratch with the freshest ingredients. While all burgers are worth the binge, ask for The Contradiction Burger—a delicious house made veggie patty in a Brioche bun stuffed with Buffalo Mozzarella with baby spinach, over roasted tomatoes, smoked bacon and topped with a sunny side up egg and garlic aioli. You can thank us later.

Kids Club

For those looking to indulge in some metime, take advantage of the unique Balinesestyle designed Warren Tricomi Spa, famous from its Plaza hotel outpost in New York, offering 10 treatment rooms, traditional and modern treatments, and Goa’s only Turkish Hammam Bath. But if you’d rather enjoy a drink by the pool, go to Sunken Bar, attached to the pool, or sit back and relax in one of the luxe poolside cabanas. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, you can choose from the resort’s rejuvenation stay packages specifically designed for couples and newlyweds. It includes a spa therapy, a couples dance class, a cooking session, a movie night with a selection of old classics and a day out exploring Goa with an array of guided sightseeing options. For the sport lovers, spend time in the sports corner complete with table tennis, badminton and basketball facilities, including a gym, pool area and Jacuzzi. What’s more, as a part of the Family @ Novotel programme, the supervised kids activity corner (which happens to be one of the largest in North Goa) is an ideal space for kids to enhance their innate talents via fun, educational activities. Check out the lobby’s newest gismo—the Novotel Play Table—which offers a menu of game options for everyone from toddlers to adults. The touchscreen table features selective games for every age group and can be played by 4 members. Families visiting the resort during Diwali can enjoy in the cool eco-friendly

“Our aim at Novotel in Goa is to create a fun and memorable experience for all our guests. The properties have been designed as an upscale escape for families and couples offering solitude, comfort and a well-deserved holiday slumber. Guests will love coming back here for its range of kid’s activities, the pool, its breakfast and the warm and genuinely caring staff” – Rohan Sable, General Manager, Novotel Goa Resorts & Spa celebrations and entertainment with folk dance and music, magicians, hi-tea and so much more. There’s also an exclusive array of local offerings which include Kajahbeedi, Kings Beer and Chai pe Charcha interactive guest evenings, an outstanding selection of single malts and even an all-day welcome drink station and signature ‘N’ cookie on departure—from the moment you enter to when you leave Novotel keeps you engaged. For young explorers staying here, there’s a monthly calendar packed with activities like: baking with chefs, storytelling sessions, movie time and more. The resort can also arrange for tours to Basilica of Bom Jesus, St Augustin Tower, Dolphin Cruises and Goa’s spice farms or arrange for experiences like trekking to Valpoi, overnight camping

at Prajosh Adventures, the Snow Park experience at Tito’s Lane Baga and Candolim water sports like parasailing, banana boat rides and more. Couples can look forward to the party scene with top party spots, restaurants and night markets just 10 minutes from the resort. And if you’re not looking at staying at the resort, but rather just want to spend a day or the weekend at Novotel, the gates are open for you to come and indulge. Enjoy lovely food and drinks at ladies night on Saturdays or come for the picnic brunch on Sunday at La Brise—the superb beachside shack offering amazing global cuisine, cocktails and drinks that you just can’t miss. The Novotel focus has always been to speak the guest’s language. Family and Novotel is the focus this season where guests are ensured the stay is special with an array of experiences and options such as kids club access and customised gourmet offers, menu for young guests, tailor made spa treatments and a pick and drop off to the beach. When in Goa, the only question is: why go anywhere else than the amazing Novotel Resort. For more information, visit, call 08322494848 or email



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OUTDOOR BATHROOMS They say few things are more liberating than showering under the open sky. Fiona Kerr lists where you can test that theory Top row from left: water flows everywhere at Maalifushi by COMO in the Maldives; Cape Town’s The Greenhouse takes its name and colour scheme—including a sea-green mosaic wall in the outdoor shower—from its Green Point neighbourhood; an egg-shaped soaker at The Trident Hotel, Jamaica; at Graine & Ficelle, a farmhouse-turned-B&B near Vence, a galvanised-steel bath overlooks the countryside; the colourful interiors of Le Bose in Alibag Middle row from left: a courtyard bath at Alila Ubud, Bali; to keep it simple, a bucket has been strung up for soap and shampoo at Hotel Azúcar in Mexico; immerse yourself in the lunar-like landscapes that surround Hotel Aire de Bardenas in northern Spain; after snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, freshen up at this villa on Bedarra Island; a sunken tub at Soneva Kiri’s Bayview Pool Villa Suite in Thailand Bottom row from left: with their otherworldly setting, the pod-like rooms at Hotel Aire de Bardenas look like a moon colony from a science-fiction film; spy the claw-foot tub outside the Ian Fleming Villa at Jamaica’s GoldenEye; soak up the savannah views at andBeyond Phinda Homestead in South Africa; Belmond Khwai River Lodge in Botswana has a copper bath for wallowing while wildlife-spotting; Verana, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, has rustic houses that are wedged into the jungle-covered hillside

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 167



The Grand Dragon Ladakh This Leh hotel has a slick new side to show. Padmaparna Ghosh took a look inside


ibbling on kiwi while trying to acclimatise at nearly 11,500ft, I heard a thundering sound in the distance. In front of me towered the Stok Kangri massif, rugged and rough, flexing its muscle over the city of Leh. Within seconds, a military jet shot out and zoomed across the sky. Breakfast on the dining terrace of The Grand Dragon Ladakh can be quite a thrilling start to the day. On certain days, it's like an air show, as Air Force pilots fly practice runs above. The hotel, which provides a front row seat to this aerial drama, has launched a new, modern Ladakhi wing of 30 additional rooms, including three suites. These offer views of Stok Kangri. Whereas rooms in the old wing open onto the Leh Palace and Khardung La Pass. Ghulam Mustafa, whose father started the family’s first hotel in Leh town, with three rooms in 1974, is the soul behind the hotel’s art and décor. Mustafa, who has been working on Ladakhi heritage and conservation for more than 20 years, has ensured that traditional architectural elements, such as the extended verandahs

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with pine wood carvings, hand-painted dragon faces and ancient design motifs (as seen in the Leh Palace), are visible across the new wing. His paintings of Ladakhi people and their heritage adorn the lobby and most corridors. The rooms, which are brightened with jewel-toned accents, provide just the right contrast to the barren, striking beauty that's just outside. A family-run business, the hotel is open all-year round, even in the sub-zero temperatures of winter, making it a rarity in this region. Its ample nooks, private balconies

and blooming gardens are the perfect spots in which to soak up the summer sun. And in the freezing winter, its warmed floors, central heating and double-glazed windows might mean you never want to leave. Leh has to be one of the toughest terrains in which to run a hotel. “It's incredibly hard to maintain water in the pipes and have fresh food in the kitchen in winter,” says Mustafa. And there are few other places where the hotel staff has to help guests deal with highaltitude sickness. The remedy? Garlic soup. And spending time in the sauna. Whatever you do, the special Ladakhi meals at the in-house restaurant Tusrabs are essential— timstuk (meat and noodle broth), yak cheese, yoghurt and walnut dip, nang (meat sausage) momos and fresh apricot dusted with cinnamon. You will come away truly having tasted a bit of Ladakh. The Grand Dragon Ladakh Old Road, Sheynam, Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir (www.thegranddragonladakh. com; doubles from 15,500 for a room in the new wing)

:+(5(&8/785(0((76/8;85< %<7+(%$<2)%(1*$/






Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa


aisalmer’s newest resort clearly draws inspiration from the city it is set in. Located a kilometre from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Jaisalmer Fort, the property’s façade, including the grand central courtyard, is laced with jharokhas of the kind seen in the region’s havelis. Of the 137 rooms, 33 offer fort views. The menu at the multicuisine restaurant features local favourites such as dal bati churma and laal maas, besides other Indian, Italian, Chinese and Thai food. The rooftop restaurant, open only for dinner, specialises in grills, which you can tuck into while enjoying a stellar view of the fort. Apart from an outdoor pool that is heated so guests can take a dip even in winter, the property also has an entertainment area and a children’s lounge so your little ones are kept busy and taken care of. Use the quiet time to get the royal treatment at Quan Spa, which offers relaxing therapies such as the aroma fusion

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massage, a Swedish-style treatment using a blend of oils with lotus, parijat and other Himalayan floral extracts. When you’re rejuvenated and energised, ask the hotel’s concierge to help you plan day trips in the city as well as camping trips in the desert. Jaisalmer has long been a favourite with romantics, and with a number of event spaces, including the 10,000sq ft banquet space, the hotel is the perfect place to say “I do”. You could choose to have the wedding in the grand central courtyard, mehendi by the pool and the afterparty on a sand dune a half hour’s drive from the hotel. The great Indian wedding just got greater. JAISALMER MARRIOTT RESORT & SPA

Sam-Dhanana Road, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan (; doubles from 12,000)


The city’s first luxury chain hotel opens just in time for the Indian wedding season. By Raj Aditya Chaudhuri

Curated for a perfect getaway If you’re looking for a place where there’s something for the whole family to indulge in, then head to Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa. Here you will find exciting activities, which are sure to make your stay truly unique


ocated in the midst of the verdant forests of the Western Ghats, at an elevation of 1,430 metres, Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa is an idyllic getaway for the family. More than just a resort, it provides you with exclusive experiences that make for picture-perfect moments. With four food and beverage venues, along with a host of recreational facilities, we promise that you will never be bored at this 122-room hotel. Offering curated itineraries, here you have a plethora of activities to choose from, which are scheduled as per your convenience. You could start your day exploring the flora and fauna that surrounds you at the resort. Sit by two natural water streams, while the hotel’s professional horticulturists show you the various medicinal trees scattered around the property. You can even request the staff to organise a private movie screening at the auditorium for two or participate in a range of

indoor and outdoor experiences. From volleyball, football and cricket to treasure hunts, foosball, cooking session with the chef and much more, here boredom doesn’t stand a chance. What’s more, your young ones can ignite their imagination and fuel their creativity with the help of Le Méridien Family Kids Club. Dedicated to children from three to 12 years, this large central room provides endless entertainment, educational activities, games, sports, craft and much more, all monitored by qualified staff. However, should you choose to venture out, Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa organises treks to the nearby Helen’s Point. And while the kids are spending some time at the Kids Club, unwind and indulge in some TLC at Explore Spa at Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa. Inspired by traditional European spas, it takes rejuvenation to an all-new level. With signature therapies and body treatments like Hammam and Vichy, it

offers a unique sensory experience. Alternately, spend some time in the heated Infinity Pool at sunset. While you sip on coffee or bubbly, take in the stunning views of the surrounding valley. Once the kids have gone to sleep, surprise your loved one with a private table at the Jungle Restaurant. Set amidst the forest, with dim lighting creating a romantic ambiance, here you can indulge in a specially curated menu by the chefs that will be served by a personal butler, who will make sure that you have everything you need. So the next time you visit this hill station, stay at Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa for memories that will last a lifetime. 211 / 212, Mahabaleswar-Medha Road, Mahabaleshwar. For more information, call 0216826222, email cateringsales.mahabaleshwar or visit


vienna Petra Percher-Kropf picks the coolest places to stay in this European city





Eating & drinking

Best thing

On Ringstrasse, near Schwarzenbergplatz,

Overlooking Am Hof, one of the oldest squares in the

middle of the city

Belvedere Palace and Vienna State Opera house

UNESCO World Heritage city centre

Baroque opulence meets modern design, thanks to

You’ll see a stuffed horse in the lobby, stand-alone art nouveau bathtubs and live parrots in some suites

This former palace is covered in silk, velvet and brocade, with liveried concierges wearing hats

Once the headquarters of a bank, it has a plush but severe look about it. The pool is in the former vault

Europe’s swish set and

Presidents, actors and pop stars like Brangelina,

Visiting CEOs and people

Artists, photographers, actors, fashionistas, designers: this is a hub

those looking for a unique experience

54 rooms and 17 suites with original artworks (look out for the Warhols and Leibovitzes)

183 rooms and five suites. The

The restaurant uses regional, organic ingredients. Drinks are served by the fireplace in the bar

Traditional Viennese cuisine at the

Top shopping and dining spots are a



138 rooms and

suites have grand city views suites with handcrafted stucco including of Vienna’s giant work and antiques Ferris wheel

signature restaurant

A city tour in a Maserati that

looking for a certain je ne sais quoi

The 143 rooms and suites are among the largest in the city and have free wi-fi

Classic brasserie fare at The Michelin-starred The Bank Brasserie & Bar. A OPUS has a great vegetarian menu and don’t signature drink, Tresor (vault), miss the Imperial Cake

is served in a miniature safe.

The super-relaxing two-hour treatments at

unpacked, shirts ironed and shoes polished for you

the Arany Spa

The dormitory with mahogany bunk beds may

Unfortunately, this once princely residence has

not be everyone’s thing

neither a spa nor a pool

Only the Royal Penthouse Suite has a view of old Vienna, up to the vineyards

Doubles from €149 ( 11,090)

Doubles from €170 ( 12,650)

Doubles from €340 ( 25,300) Doubles from €387 ( 28,790)

Kirchengasse 41 (www.

Schubertring 10—12 (www.

Kaerntner Ring 16 (www.

Public transport is a bit of a walk away


Lady Gaga and the Rolling Stones

Suites include free butler service. Have your luggage

stone’s throw away

Worst thing


Next to Stadtpark, an oasis of green in the

for artsy souls




Off the arterial Burggasse, in the middle of the 7th district, home to Vienna’s bourgeois bohemian crowd

names like Matteo Thun and Lena Hoschek



belonged to Niki Lauda’s grandfather

Am Hof 2 (http://vienna.

Ulrichsplatz is an upcoming neighbourhood. Check out restaurants like Erich ( and Ulrich ( and a hot fashion store called Eigensinnig (

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Chasing the great migrations


Environmental journalist Bahar Dutt on why she decided to take her two-yearold daughter on a year-long journey across the animal planet

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 177


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Clockwise from top left: writer Bahar Dutt with her daughter at San Simeons Beach; an Olive Ridley turtle in Odisha; monarch butterflies in Mexico. Previous pages: wildebeest in the Masai Mara

are facing. For instance, till not too long ago, nearly two million flamingos would arrive every year at Kenya’s Lake Nakuru, turning it into a bed of pink. Today, the birds have dispersed to other regions up north, like Lake Bogoria. Commercial flower farming close to Lake Nakuru, as well as deforestation, have pushed the birds away from this once famous habitat. Closer home, in Odisha, are the beaches on which the Olive Ridley turtle comes to nest every year. Its numbers have declined drastically, owing to development projects along the beach and illegal fishing by trawlers. This year, only a trickle of turtles made it to shore. At its peak, in 1965, Bharatpur in Rajasthan hosted over 200 Siberian cranes, as they journeyed over 2,500km to come to India. But due to loss of habitat over Afghanistan and Pakistan, these migrations happen no more; Bharatpur has not seen even one crane since 2001. One hot summer afternoon in Delhi, I came up with an idea that would send us on a year packed with travels. We would take our two-year-old daughter, Tiya, to witness all the major animal

“We would take our two-year-old daughter to see all the major animal migrations of the world”

migrations of the world. We’d follow the wildebeest across the African savannah, watch the monarch butterflies flutter in California, journey across the Central Asian steppes in hot pursuit of the Mongolian gazelle and finally end our trip on Christmas Island in Australia, to see millions of red crabs scuttle to their seaside breeding grounds. These were spectacles we wanted our daughter to experience, and we planned our own migration through rose-tinted glasses, glossing over all the complex details of travelling with a toddler as a minor technicality. Instead, we focused on the wonderful sights we would share with Tiya. On every trip, we carried along picture cards of the animals she would see, and did a show-and-tell ahead of each sighting. Thankfully, the imagery stuck in her memory, so when she sighted the sea lions, her joy took flight. We also timed every trip to get the best possible experience of each migration. And where we could, we picked places where we’d be able to see more than one species. So in California, we witnessed three: monarch butterflies, elephant seals and sea lions. We arrived in San Francisco just in time to catch the sea lions before they headed



iya was transfixed. As I held her up, she flapped her arms vigorously like a gangly little bird about to take flight and shouted “C-LION! C-LIONS!” (that’s sea lions, for those uninitiated in toddler talk). Turning to my husband, I smiled. Standing there, on Pier 39 in San Francisco, watching the sea lions cavort, swim, grunt and growl, with our little wide-eyed wonder, it hit me: this is why we travel. To revel in the joy and thrill of being so close to wildlife and to get to know our natural world—be it reporting on the Olive Ridley turtles nesting in Odisha or the plight of the Gangetic dolphins, or working on a cheetah conservation project in Africa. And now I was getting to experience it all over again through the innocent eyes of my daughter. Never mind the fact that my husband and I had just endured a 17-hour, non-stop flight with an energetic toddler, our nerves on edge, jet-lagged and ready to kill each other. My daughter was beaming at me, grinning from ear to ear as she pointed at the sea lions stretched out on the sand. This moment made the trip worth it. And we were just getting started. As an environmental journalist, I’ve reported extensively on the miracles of nature and the challenges facing the planet. As a wildlife photographer and film-maker, my husband, Vijay, has documented it all. And together, we wanted to introduce our daughter to the natural world we love so much, and simultaneously, document the threats that animal, bird and insect migrations


Flamingos at Lake Nakuru in Kenya

south to mate in the Channel Islands. Almost halfway to Los Angeles, at San Simeons Beach, 17,000 elephant seals had landed on the Piedras Blancas coast to make this secluded, sandy spot their rookery, having travelled thousands of kilometres from their frigid foraging zones in the North Atlantic. And between San Francisco and Piedras Blancas, near the charming little town of Pacific Grove, monarch butterflies had arrived by the thousands. The annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is a phenomenon that is truly magical. Unlike other butterflies that can live through winter as larvae, pupae or even as adults in some species, monarch butterflies cannot survive the extreme cold temperatures of northern climates. Taking their cue from changes in their surroundings, they know when winter’s coming and it is time to travel south. Some fly as far as 4,800km to reach their winter home. En route, they may cover up to 160km a day, flying as high as 10,000ft using warm air currents. Not surprisingly, theirs is the longest insect migration on the planet. A mighty achievement for such a seemingly fragile insect (and here I was complaining about that never-ending flight from India).

In the woods at Pacific Grove, hundreds and hundreds of butterflies rested just above us on the branches of eucalyptus trees. They seemed tired, and clung to the trees, resembling leaves in autumn. Once in a while, a breeze would wake them up sending them into a flutter, like a ribbon of yellow into the bright blue sky. At first Tiya couldn’t quite understand what was happening, but when she saw them fluttering their wings she squealed in delight: “BUTTART-FLY!” trying to reach out and touch them. Sharing with my daughter an interest I’m so passionate about, and seeing her bright eyes mirror my enthusiasm—I shall hold those moments dear for the rest of my life. Over the next year, we were to go on many such journeys, financially depleting, but emotionally satisfying (and exhausting). But then, madness has no logic. As famous biologist David Quammen once said, “The Arctic tern [that flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic in search of summer] resists distraction because it is driven at that moment by an instinctive sense of something we humans find admirable: larger purpose.” And it was in search of that larger purpose that we chose to disrupt our ordinary lives and travel the world with our baby.

To those who ask why the migrations are so important to us, we say this: For humans, travel is mostly a matter of recreation. For the animal world, it’s one of procreation and survival. It’s how the wheels of life on this planet turn. Through the history of evolution, animals, insects, birds and reptiles have migrated, in small and large numbers, for thousands of kilometres, sometimes more than once a year. From the wildebeest that thunder across the mighty plains of East Africa to the caribou that march across the Tundra, these ancient migrations are part of nature’s cycle. But today, largely thanks to humans, these routes are under threat, making these journeys for thousands of species nothing short of perilous. And understanding these problems and learning how to resolve them is key to helping us all survive. Our friends have asked us why we didn’t wait another few years, until our toddler could fully appreciate her travels. Our answer is that there may well be fewer migrations left in the natural world by then (think of the Siberian cranes of Bharatpur). The natural world and its processes hang in a perilous balance, and we want our little one to see as much as she can, before it’s too late. Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 179








THE STRATEGIC RETREAT For some women, booking a reflective spa holiday can turn out to be a life-changing manoeuvre. Nicola Moulton shares their stories

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Left: Vana Malsi Estate in Uttarakhand, India


arely a day goes by now without someone telling you to buy this/ watch that/use an amazing new miracle cream, and adding for dramatic emphasis: “It will change your life.” And more often than not, barring slight improvements, life goes on very much as usual. Because honestly, how often do we experience real, radical shifts in our lives? When was the last time you really shook things up? And as life gets faster, the moments for reflection become fewer—meaning whole years can slip by with you barely even noticing. Holidays have traditionally been a chance to press the pause button and return home with renewed good intentions, but now some of the more serious destination spas are taking this idea to a whole new level. Wellness retreats are the new holiday choice for overworked, overachieving urbanites. Distinct from spas, they aim to take a more reflective, longer-term approach to your physical and mental well-being. Instead of you just coming back glowing and a few pounds lighter, their programmes often allow you to embrace change not just with your body, but in the rest of your life, too. Two years ago, Sarah Davies, 41, went to Kamalaya (; doubles from THB8,500 or 16,080), a beautiful spa and wellness retreat surrounded by the beaches and coconut trees of Koh Samui in Thailand. She runs a successful marketing firm, but work was stressful and her six-year marriage was unhappy. “I booked it after a bad day at

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“When I boarded the plane to come home, I was not the same person. I had resolve” work. I’d got home so stressed, I’d been sick,” she says. “Two weeks later, I was on the plane.” A friend who had recently visited for a detox had recommended Kamalaya, and raved about the quality of the practitioners and the beauty of the surroundings. Davies describes herself as an unlikely candidate for the cymbalclanging and panpipe-playing of traditional spa retreats. “When I got there, I thought, ‘This is so not me.’ There were Buddhas everywhere, and it seemed very touchy-feely. I’m much more results-driven. I signed up for the weight-loss programme because it seemed the most goal-oriented. But the first thing they asked me was, ‘Why do you want to lose weight?’, and my whole story just came tumbling out.” What happens next is a programme of treatments set for you by a naturopath. You have at least one “therapy” a day—be it nutrition, acupuncture or reiki—and then some more traditional “well-being” treatments, such as massages. Most guests have two or three treatments planned per day. It’s a fairly big operation: there are 320 staff members, of whom 100 are dedicated to wellness. And not everyone comes for the healing; some people are just there to enjoy the beach. But there’s

certainly an emphasis on stepping off the train: mobile-phone use is limited to rooms, and free wi-fi is rationed to 20 minutes a day, aiming to make guests question its necessity before they log on. Oh, and it’s definitely not child-friendly. But everyone who’s been says the place has a certain something that makes it unique. “The Thai people are very special,” offers Karina Stewart, the Princeton-educated doctor of Chinese medicine who founded the retreat with her husband in 2005. “Their EQ is very high, and the enthusiasm we have for change here is infectious.” During her nutritional consultation, Davies explained that she’d been on medication for colitis for 10 years. “‘Your gut is rotten,’ they told me. ‘And because of that, you’ve lost the ability to have a gut instinct. When you heal it, you’ll be better able to take control of other things, too.’ It really struck a chord with me because I’m famous for dithering, constantly changing my mind about things. By the time I went home, it was just like the saying goes—I knew in my gut what I had to do.” And 10 days after she’d left, she went home and told her husband their marriage was over. “When I boarded the plane to come home, I was not the same person. I looked better. I felt better. I had resolve. I suddenly just knew what I had to do when I got home. I ordered a glass of Champagne, and it was like toasting my new life.” Katie Percival believes her visit to the resort paved the way for her to have a baby. “When I went there, I had recently suffered a miscarriage and was still quite fragile. I was

Where work meets play Whether you’re headed to Ahmedabad for a business trip or for a weekend visit, the Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad is the perfect abode in the city


bustling metropolis with a celebrated history, Ahmedabad is scattered with remarkable buildings, museums and restaurants that are reminiscent of bygone eras. And in the midst of it all, you will find Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad. Strategically located in the city centre, it is close to the Sabarmati riverfront, airport, business districts and boutique shops, making it the perfect place to check into when you visit the city. The hotel boasts 210 spacious rooms—including 19 suites—each decorated with traditional elements and equipped with modern amenities. If you are staying at the club level, you have access to personalised VIP services and facilities at the Regency Club. Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad

also has one of the largest event and meeting spaces in the city. Totalling to 14,00sq ft, the ballroom with a pre-function area, two boardrooms, four meeting rooms and two flexible break away rooms, make for the ideal place to host corporate and social dos. It also offers a host of culinary options to satiate your appetite. Serving a range of premium coffees, teas, baked goods and more, the 24-hour Chai Shop is where you can grab a quick bite, while the Juniper Lounge is the place to network, enjoy informal meals and hold quiet business meetings. Besides

this, Tinello is an awardwinning restaurant that gives you an authentic Italian meal while China House serves up traditional Sichuan cuisine. After a hectic day of meetings or sightseeing plunge into the 65-foot lap pool or the whirlpool that’s nestled into a landscaped garden terrace. Or let off some steam at the Fitness Centre. Alternately, if you need some TLC, the Aadi

Spa, which overlooks the Sabarmati River, offers holistic healing through a blend of unique therapies. So the next time you find yourself in Ahmedabad for business or leisure, stay at the Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad. 17/A, Ashram Road, Ahmedabad – 380014. For reservations, call 079 4017 1234 or visit


From left: the pool at Kamalaya in Thailand; yoga at the retreat

looking for something to help me through, to give me both optimism and coping mechanisms, and I found everything there. Not in a cultish way—it’s just very peaceful. I did a tailor-made Emotional Balance programme and especially loved my mentoring sessions and reiki. At the time, I saw all that holistic stuff as secondary to what, in my mind, was just a relaxing holiday with my husband. We spent our days on the beach and our evenings having quiet dinners, not really getting involved with the wellness talks on offer. But looking back, it was the combination of total relaxation with the time and space to gently explore what I wanted from life that set it apart from a normal holiday. I really do think it shifted my mindset, and that’s what changed everything within my body.” There are many such retreats, which combine time away from home with a gentle nudge towards new life decisions. Vana Malsi Estate (; from 2,24,000; minimum seven-night stay) in India is an ashram and wellness retreat. You start every day with yoga in a hut at the edge of a forest, and return there at the end of the day to reflect on the changes within yourself. At Golden Door in California (; from US$8,850 or 5,91,350; minimum seven-day stay), mindfulness and improvement sessions are offered alongside the personal training and daily massages.

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Sophie Barrett, 34, went to Kamalaya as a guest and ended up staying for two years. She had been working in London as a PR for a big jewellery company, and was “feeling the effects of stress”. Having moved to Thailand, she ended up working as Kamalaya’s in-house PR. Now, since moving back

“There’s so much power in being away from home. You don’t have your baggage” to London, she is retraining as a herbal practitioner. “Moving there taught me that you can’t expect the retreat to do all the work,” she says. “If you really want to change your life, you have to put some effort in, too.” As well as changing her career path, the experience also made Barrett realise she was much happier in the countryside. Although still based in London, she has moved flats to ensure she is overlooking green space. “Nature is very much part of the experience at Kamalaya. They have trees growing right into your villa and there are snakes slithering around.” Detractors of these kinds of places worry that without proper qualifications, the therapists you encounter are in danger of delving into psychological issues without equipping people with the necessary tools

to manage their re-entry into their regular life. Stewart is emphatic that that’s not what the place is about. “I firmly believe in psychoanalysis,” she says, “but we are not trained, nor do we have the time to do that. Ours is not therapy in a traditional sense.” But with these kinds of retreats becoming more popular, the line between physical and mental therapies is becoming blurred, and it’s something that the founder of ESPA (a British beauty products brand) and spaindustry leader Susan Harmsworth believes the industry needs to consider. “Increasingly, there will be spas for escapism and spas where you go for something more serious, and I think you can’t mix the two. But it is difficult to separate the physical from the emotional. In a good spa, with holistic therapists, something like 25 percent of clients cry or have an emotional release of some kind, even just having a massage.” Lynne Franks, a PR-turned-wellness-guru who has been developing transformational retreats for the past 16 years, says removing yourself from the everyday is the only way to get this kind of real perspective. “There’s so much power in being away from home,” she says. “You don’t have your baggage—you don’t have to worry about anything. Food is on the table, you can completely relax in a healthy way. I think more women will spend their holidays like this. People don’t want to lie on a beach any more.” Some names have been changed.

What’s new in Goa?

Adding to the already effervescent vibe of North Goa, AccorHotels launches India’s first-ever ibis Styles—a vibrant, premium economy hotel—in the heart of the coastal state’s most popular party district


ome October and the world heads to Goa to soak up the sun and party the nights away. In such a scenario, finding accommodation that doesn’t kill your bank account isn’t an easy feat. Thankfully, India’s first-ever ibis Styles— a stylish, premium economy hotel by AccorHotels—has now opened its doors in the state’s most popular area. Bang in the middle of Tivai, Calangute and Candolim, this hotel is designed to emulate Goa’s upbeat, lively

mood. Portugueseinspired elements, vivid hues, a majestic shell art installation, taking the form of sea waves, and a canoe in the foyer are some of the many things that will catch your eye when you enter the hotel. It offers 197 beautiful pool-facing rooms to choose from, each designed with wall art in pop colours, a private deck, ibis Styles’ signature Sweet Beds, Wi-Fi and complimentary gifts for kids. The hotel also has a souvenir shop, a luxurious outdoor

swimming pool, a fullyequipped gym and an entertainment area for children, complete with table tennis, foosball, a selfie centre and visualised cricket. For those who want to hit the beach, ibis Styles offers complimentary transfers to the seashore. Should you want to explore the area on a bicycle or feel like taking underwater pictures of yourself in the pool on a GoPro camera, the hotel will organise that as well. Spice It—an all-day dining restaurant— offers a delicious Goan,

South Indian and North Indian menu, while its buffet spreads with live cooking stations will make you want to savour more. However, if you want to sip on delicious cocktails or your favourite wine, head to The Hub—a lively bar with fun-filled Karaoke sessions to keep you entertained while you enjoy your tipple. Even if you’re on a business trip, have an off-site conference or a destination wedding planned, the banquet amenities do not disappoint.

With meeting rooms, conference and event spaces that can accommodate up to 180 people, you can rest assured that everything will be taken care of. For reservations, visit or, call 0832-3016011 or email INTRODUCTORY OFFER Get 50% off on booking the second room for kids* *Offer valid till December 15th 2016.


WHAT IT’S LIKE TO TRAVEL... ... WITH MY SON ... WITH MY MOM Rymn Massand tells us how her journeys have changed after the birth of her son, Aarya


rowing up in India in the ’70s, one didn’t just jump on an airplane on a monthly basis, and travel abroad was a special occasion. I took my first solo journey at the age of seven, from Delhi to London—my parents dropped me to the airport and my grandmother picked me up at the other end. To this day, I remember every bit of that first journey, that feeling of independence, that excitement. As I grew older, travelling for work, for family, for pleasure, I realised I loved the peace that comes with travelling—especially alone. I loved those 14 hours on the plane when nobody could reach me and I’d promise myself I’d do the right thing and watch a good documentary, but ultimately end up watching the latest rubbish. I loved having hours to read the things that I may not have had time for 35,000ft below, writing page after page in a brand new blank book bought just for that journey, drinking too

much bad wine, eating too many biscuits so that I could avoid airline food—and still having this feeling of contentment and peace at the end of it all. After I had my son, Aarya, one of my big concerns was whether I would still be able to have what I had before, whether I’d still be able to enjoy my journeys as much as I used to. I was afraid I would become one of those parents who travelled with five million things, always hassled, always looking a bit bedraggled. When Aarya was 5 months old, we ventured from NYC to visit my in-laws in Germany. Except for the fact that we were exhausted and sleepy, the flight was quite successful, I thought. Once we crossed that first hurdle, we never stopped. We planned short holidays and long ones, weekends away, family visits, trips to attend weddings and birthdays... Of course, we ended up carrying too much food, too many clothes, unnecessary emergency supplies in case this

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Aarya Zimmermann, 12, on his ‘funnest’ trip and why he likes to travel

From right: Rymn and Aarya at their favourite café, Le Fleurus, in Paris; Aarya reading during his favourite vacation, at the JAWAI leopard camp in Rajasthan


hat does travel mean to me? Well, it’s experiencing new things, trying different kinds of food and having fun wherever I am. Whether it’s swimming in the ocean in Greece, skiing down the Alps, taking a rickshaw ride through New Delhi or leopard-spotting on a safari in Rajasthan, I always make the most of it and have the best time that I can possibly have. My absolute most favourite vacation was the one when we went leopard spotting in India. I mean, what could be better than sitting on a cliff, looking out at the huge desert in front of you and watching the sunset? When my mother announced that we were going to a luxury desert camp in Rajasthan, I was very excited. When I say ‘camp’, I mean gigantic, air-conditioned tents that had running water, electricity and a TV with cable. Our first safari was at 5 in the morning. When I got dressed and got out of my tent, it was still dark. Driving in the Land Rover along the bumpy road, we saw the first rays of the sun


5 Reasons to Sail Away If you’re among those who are considering your first cruise but haven’t taken the leap yet, MSC Cruises—a leading international cruise company—tells you why you should hop on one for your next getaway

MSC Aurea Spa, and even take off on a retail therapy spree at one of the many duty-fee boutiques. If you like the idea of just putting your feet up, borrow a book from the library and read it on the sundeck as you sip on your favourite cocktail. But should you feel the need to get active, visit the fully-equipped gym, blow off some steam on the jogging track or enjoy high-octane games on the cruise liner’s mini golf course, bowling alley and badminton court.

1. MULTI-DESTINATION TRIPS, SIMPLIFIED If your travel itinerary includes several locations, then a cruise is perhaps the easiest way to travel. Meaning, once you unpack and settle into your luxurious cabin, which is specially designed for your comfort with Egyptian cotton sheets, memory foam mattresses, mini bars and more, all you have to do is plunge into the on-board luxuries. Better still, MSC Cruises offers great value with their all-inclusive packages.

3. EXPERIENCE A FLOATING CITY The entertainment and culinary offerings aboard MSC Cruises are truly enthralling. From Mediterranean cuisine and Asian delights to French gastronomy and TexMex favourites, choices are aplenty. Post dinner, enjoy your evening with Broadwaystyle theatrical performances at the Royal Theatre or party the night away at one of the glamorous on-board lounges.

2. RELAX. REJUVENATE. ENERGISE With tailor-made experiences to suit your travel needs, MSC Cruises makes sure that your voyage is a journey through luxury. You can enjoy a swim, indulge in ‘me time’ at

4. FUN WITH THE FAMILY If you’re travelling with kids in tow, MSC Cruises ensures that they’re pleasantly occupied. Think Aqua Park with a pool and slide, Game Arcade with a 4D Cinema and virtual games, Fun Time Dinners and

more. In fact, on boarding, all children are given security bands to keep tabs on their whereabouts. 5. UNFORGETTABLE EXCURSION MSC Cruises takes you across the globe, sometimes to far-flung destinations that are difficult to access via land and air. From a Mediterranean cruise that tracks the route of ancient mariners across Italy to the Greek Islands, Portuguese coasts, Spain, Morocco and Tunisia. From the Northern Lights and Norwegian fjords to the British Isles, Baltic States and Scandinavian ports. From the cerulean waters of the Caribbean to Cuba and The Antilles—each excursion promises to be etched in your mind forever. Your journey will not be just any journey, it will be an experience of a lifetime with MSC Cruises—the world’s most soughtafter cruises. For more information, visit

WITH KIDS “If I’m going to a new place, I try to imagine what it will be like when I get there. Sometimes I am way off, and sometimes I get it right”

happened or that happened, too many heavy books and toys—just in case, always just in case. But we fine-tuned the packing and other practicalities over the first few years, and even as we were absorbed by the technicalities, I discovered another reason I love to travel, a realisation brought on entirely by travelling with this adorable, chatty little boy—people. He loved people, and they loved him. On his very first flight, at the age of five months, he caught the eye of the flight attendant, who, I could see, was coming up to us to chat. Left to myself, I would have smiled politely and exchanged a few words at most, but Aarya was having none of that. He gave

interactions and dialogue and smiling. We teach our children to be citizens of the world by taking them out into it. We teach them grace, a respect for different laws, for people and their customs, and idiosyncrasies, curiosity and good manners. For instance, there are few situations more stressful than an airport check-in, and if you can find humour and politeness within yourself there, there’s a lot to be happy about. In the last 12 years, I’ve come to realise that my son understands travel the same way I do. A significant aspect of my relationships with people—be it a friend, lover, spouse, parent—is how well we travel together. Most of my greatest friendships have

“We teach our kids to be citizens of the world by taking them out into it. We teach them grace, curiosity and a respect for people” her one toothless grin and from that moment on, we had our own in-flight entertainment, in the form of silly faces, animal sounds, anecdotes, advice (she was a mother of three), many jokes and some extra glasses of wine for me and my husband. While I’d always relished the solitude of flying, there was my little one, having charmed his first friend up in the air. Suddenly, my days of solitary calm were a thing of the past, replaced by constant

been solidified by the completion of a good journey, short or long, and it’s heartening to know that I have passed on some of this love, this enthusiasm, to my son. It’s important to me that he feels this love for life, for the wider world out there, for people. I also believe that the more you observe the world around you, the deeper your own realisation of how lucky you are to be able to be there. I’m grateful that he enjoys being in a new city or

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Rymn and Aarya in Bregenz, Austria

break over the mountaintops. We passed a small village, and then we went up to the cliffs, because that’s where you see the most leopards. Sadly, we didn’t see any that day. We went back to the main camp at about 1pm. We stayed in our tents then because in the desert heat at high noon, trust me, you want to stay in your tent or in the pool. At about 5pm, our guide took us on another safari. We didn’t spot leopards, but we did see the desert at night and it was beautiful. We drove for about three hours, and then we rested on a cliff looking down at the valley, which even had a lake. It got dark soon, and then the mosquitoes arrived. We wanted to make a fire to roast marshmallows, but we couldn’t manage that, so we settled for non-roasted marshmallows instead. The next few days were pretty much like that, except for the one where our guide decided to bring an entire packed lunch and we had an awesome picnic on a mountain. On the fifth and last day, my father declined to go on another early morning excursion. Too bad for him, because that was the only one on which we saw leopards! The first ones we saw were babies. The first glimpse of them and our guide immediately urged us to not make a sound and to whip out the binoculars. We ended up watching the leopards for two hours, it was so amazing to see them up close. We then came back to the main camp, had a final lunch, a final dip in the pool and said goodbye to all the guides who had been so helpful and nice to us for the duration of our trip. We took our faithful car back to a desert outpost, managed to see an elephant and then, finally, hopped into a car that took us back to the airport in Jodhpur. As the plane took off, I looked down at the desert, hoping I would come back.


countryside, looking at a new ocean or mountain, and still feels at home in the world. This is very important to me— that my son has the confidence to feel that he can belong anywhere, that he can respect the culture of wherever he goes and enjoy the differences, and that, with a smile and a few words in the local language, or even miming his way through some encounters, somehow, he can communicate with anyone and make his way through the world. I have never feared newness, never hesitated for a moment to be somewhere alien to me, somewhere strange, even sometimes uncomfortable. And I love that my son has developed the same openness and the same need to experience something new, because it means that we can do even more things together. Some of the best trips we have taken have had no real itinerary. In fact, as long as I know where we are eating, and that it will be a fun delicious meal, I embark on any journey knowing it will be a good one. Travelling with Aarya at any age has broadened our horizons as a family. I never knew, for instance, that Paris had such an incredible Museum of Natural History, and the catacombs of Rome were a mystery to me before I visited with him. In

Greece, we snorkelled in hidden coves that we discovered only because a restless seven-yearold needed to be out and about and not just lounge by the pool. We’ve spent hours browsing the collections at comic-book stores all over the world, as his supply of reading material was exhausted after four days of a four-week holiday; we’ve ridden carousels and trampolines in too many cities to count, negotiated endlessly about time spent in museums versus time spent in parks, realised that we can, indeed, eat steak and fries for seven meals straight (as long as there was fine red wine for me), spent many pleasurable hours in local food stores, learning the correct words for bananas, apples and chewing gum. I barely shop anymore for clothes, or shoes, or spend hours browsing the big department stores. Instead, I have persuaded my son to sit with me (and a good book) for hours in a café, or bribed him into a museum with the promise of a bookstore visit after. In this way, we have managed to sit peacefully, sometimes the three of us as a family and sometimes just Aarya and I, in solitary calm but together, each happy and more so that the other person is as well. Both of us enjoying the thrill of being somewhere new together.

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From top: Rymn and Aarya near the ruins of Chateau Gaillard in France; four-year-old Aarya in Normandy

The reason I travel is to see new places and meet new people. For example, before my first trip to India from NYC, I had this idea that it would be crowded, noisy and smelly. I was right, but it was also colourful, beautiful and full of culture and different kinds of people and food. I get this sort of feeling when I am about to travel to somewhere I’ve not been before. I try to imagine what the place will be like when I get there. Sometimes I am way off, and sometimes I get it right. If I’ve been there before, I try to guess if it has changed. You can never really know what a place will be like exactly until you get there. There are parts I don’t like about the travelling process. First, I hate the plane journey. I think planes smell horrible and I find it very hard to sleep in them. Secondly, the whole airport situation. Baggage claim, security check—and if they find an oversized bottle or whatever, watch out! So yeah, travelling has its ups and downs, but to me it’s still the funnest thing in the world.

“There are parts I don’t like about the travelling process, like the plane journey. But to me, it’s still the funnest thing in the world”


Art Report 2016 A definitive guide to knowing, buying and collecting modern and contemporary art What’s on the canvas? The Art Report is Vogue India’s first handbook, complete with a report on some of the top Indian artists, a study across the global art market and exciting picks from upcoming auctions. Now, Vogue takes you inside undiscovered ateliers with in-depth stories and stunning photographs. Make a mark with the Art Report 2016






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INDIA’S 50 BEST BOUTIQUES From accessories to furniture, Jasreen Mayal Khanna lists the best independent stores from around the country

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 195


JAIPUR Jaipur Modern: This sleek Italy-inspired space showcases Indian artisanal techniques through a mix of apparel, accessories and art created both by its in-house label and brands such as Rashmi Varma and 11:11/eleven eleven. Next door, an all-day café uses local produce in its offerings. (www.; from 200) Teatro Dhora: At this multibrand clothing and accessories shop, it can be confusing to know what to focus on. Do check out the block-printed crop tops from Vraj:Bhoomi, beauty products from Ma Earth Botanicals and the in-house jewellery line. ( teatrodhora; from 700) Anantaya: Master artisans create home products and personal objects that have a modern Indian look. Think mirrored jewellery boxes, block-printed t-shirts, papier mâché elephants, marble floating ducks and more. (www.anantayadecor. com; from 250)

Clockwise from top left: Jaipur Modern; lights at Indi Store; Punit Jasuja of Second Floor Studio; an ottoman at Serendipity; Previous pages: inside Room Therapy


Thierry Journo created this lifestyle store, ensconced in the Narain Niwas Palace hotel. The anti-fit dresses and funky cabinets reflect the colours that Rajasthan is known for. (; from 3,000)

91 Degree: Israeli designer Alon Molay’s store stocks modern home furnishings and accents, like handblown glass vases, wire bowls and rugs with geometric patterns. (; from 150)

Second Floor Studio:

KĀLEE: This one-stop shop for women’s clothing and accessories stocks dresses in bright colours from the in-house CRAZYHEART label, fusion ethnic wear as well as beautifully crafted handbags and jewellery by local designers such as O’Frida and Kannbaar. You’ll want to buy everything you see here. (099297 70271; from 2,000)

196 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Crazy portraits and bright walls create the setting for the variety of linen, cushions, candles, accessories and elegant menswear available here. Next door, you’ll find women’s clothing and accessories from brands such as péro. (011 4350 9857; from 500)

En Inde: This jewellery label has a cult following for its cool, sculptural neckpieces crafted out of jute, metal and colourful thread. The store, located in a

studio in Lajpat Nagar, also sells curated home products like wicker baskets. (www.eninde. com; by appointment only; from 800)

The Grey Garden: Created by the owners of fashion label 11.11/eleven eleven, this concept store has a varied collection of clothing and accessories that champions Indian craft, including its in-house apparel. There’s also a room for rent in case you never want to leave. (; from 5,000)


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boutiques are the hottest new retail format and Nimai was the first of its kind in India. It showcases the country’s most avant-garde costume jewellery brands like Chicory Chai, Fooljhadi and Zariin and is a fantastic one-stop-shop for those with a penchant for baubles and trinkets. (011 6430 0113; from 600)

Serendipity: Located in a serene white haveli in Chhattarpur, this destination boutique is inspired by owner Kuldeep Kaur’s travels and has seven rooms on the ground floor where you can browse the collections of block-printed apparel, sepia photo frames, lamps, soft toys and baby clothes, beautiful furniture and lots more. There’s a

wraparound room on the first floor that houses more goodies. (; from 900)

Iqrup+Ritz: This Gurgaon home store works with artisans and family-run businesses to produce furniture and home accessories. It has also collaborated with Jaipur linen brand Safomasi to create a special line of upholstery for its own collections. (www.; from 1,645)

Indi Store: Known for its ‘Agra’ tables and bookshelves that were inspired by Mughal architecture, this is a great stop for homeowners looking for classic wooden pieces of furniture, as well as printed cushions (098990 06658; from 500)

A mannequin at The Grey Garden

198 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


Nimai: Multibrand jewellery


Filter: Located in the historic

Bungalow 8: It’s been over a year since this luxury, lifestyle store moved to its new home under the bleachers of Wankhede Stadium and the fans are cheering on. Check out the latest collection, inspired by Africa. (www.bungaloweight. com; from 2,500)

PUNE Atelier, Pune: The home store is curated by Roheena Nagpal, who travels all over the world to source her products. From African candles and English wallpaper to Chinese vases, you’ll find many delightful treasures for your home here. (; from 1,000)

Clockwise from top left: inside Bungalow 8; shelves at Sidewalks of the World; Cecilia and Julie, the founders of Le Mill; cushions and vases at Atelier

Sanskriti Lifestyle: Products such as local art, statement earrings and copper utensils are displayed in colonial bungalows set amid frangipani trees and gleaming ponds. (www.; from 50) 200 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Le Mill: This is where Mumbai’s high fliers go when they want to get their hands on covetable international labels. You’ll find Christopher Kane’s colourful dresses hung next to Alexander Wang’s edgy pieces and accessories by the likes of Stella McCartney and Chloé. (; price on request) Sanctum: This vintage furniture store offers gorgeous pieces sourced from old wooden art depots all over the country and restored in a way that their original character is retained. You’ll also find an assortment

of home accessories, including vintage crockery and kitchen products. (www.sanctumstore. com; from 500)

Sidewalks of the World: The 10,000sq ft space, spread across three levels, is a treasure trove of cool armchairs, handcrafted bar accessories, quirky artefacts, lamps, clocks, refrigerator magnets and more. Owner Rajiv Biyani sources his wares from the flea markets and weekly bazaars he visits during his extensive travels across Europe. ( sidealksoftheworld; from 590)

Creo: Since it opened in 2009, Creo has championed many emerging Indian designers, who have gone on to become globally renowned; think Hemant & Nandita, Pankaj & Nidhi and many others. The collections at the store are updated regularly and it has also hosted “runway to rack” events for those who want immediate access to the hottest fashion trends. (www.creostore. in; from 1,500)


Kala Ghoda district, this design collective stocks photography prints, stationery, home accessories and other treats from all over the country. Don’t miss the unique range of chocolate bars that come in flavours such as aamras and nimbu pani. (; from 100)


CHANDIGARH Adaah Couture: Fashion mavens in the city flock to this store for occasion wear and bridal collections. But the showroom also stocks apparel for daily wear, such as Bhu:Sattva’s organic clothing, and accessories like Fluke Design Company’s quirky clutches. (; from 19,000)


Maithili Ahluwalia, the founder of Bungalow 8. Clockwise from right: inside ViaKerala; books at Filter

202 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Contemporary Arts & Crafts: Established in 1962 with the aim of educating the Indian consumer about local crafts, the store sells a range of items, including home decor, bed linen, ikat-printed cushion covers, table mats and runners, bags and stoles. Check out the Gondh artworks and colourful furniture, too. (; from 800)

uses a letterform pattern that looks like the Malayali alphabet and traditional Kerala motifs to create objects like bags, t-shirts, toys and stationery. (; from 300)

Ethnic Passage: The quiet space houses a variety of souvenirs, spices, jewellery, brass artefacts, cotton garments and leather products. There’s also a bookstore and lovely café (; from 50)


Atosa: This is a sweet spot to pick up occasion wear, be it a brunch or your best friend’s wedding. Keep it easy-breezy in a Myoho cowl dress or blaze your guns in an Anand Kabra ensemble. Atosa also stocks a range of great Pakistani designer labels. (022 2605 2509; from 4,000)

ViaKerala: The design house


PUDUCHERRY Domus: At this home décor store on Suffren Street, you’ll find lovely restored colonial armchairs and printed dhurries, among other artefacts. If you’re lucky, owner Claude Dalmais might surprise you with seasonal specialities like mango jam. (0413 4210 807; from 100)

La Boutique d’Auroville: This is a onestop shop for products made in the neighbouring commune. Check out the collections of quirky jewellery, relaxed-fit clothing, handmade paper, ceramics and wellpriced genuine leather items. (0413 2337 264; from 80)

Suffering Moses: The papier-mâché artefacts available here are unparalleled works of art, but you’ll also find carved walnut wood furniture, needlepoint tapestry cushion covers and other lovely pieces. The owner, Mohammad Sadiq Wani, traces his ancestry back to Persia, where these crafts originated. (097967 44744; from 150)

The interiors of Domus, formerly located at La Maison Rose

204 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


Janaki: The showroom champions sustainable fashion, beauty and furniture brands, many of which are produced locally in Auroville. Look out for Arthena’s purses and beanbags, Jullaaha’s ayurvedic skincare line and Upasana’s cotton apparel. ( in; from 800)



HYDERABAD BENGALURU Clockwise from left: Sona Reddy of Room Therapy; Amrapali earrings at Raintree; the interiors of Maal Gaadi; a display at Grasshopper

Grasshopper: The industrial looking showroom features apparel labels like Savio Jon, Joe Ikareth and its own in-house line, Hidden Harmony. Plus, the café is excellent. (www.grasshopper. in from 1,500) Indelust: This very cool store offers ethically handcrafted fashion, accessories and homeware, all produced in the Indian subcontinent. Think En Inde neckpieces, Dhruv Kapoor’s androgynous clothing and graphic dhurries from Kalavilasa. (; from 300)

Cinnamon: Set inside a

Room Therapy: This worldclass home store embodies modern Indian style with offerings like restored antique cupboards, bone inlay tables and blue pottery. Owner Sona Reddy travels across India and the world to source these stunning pieces. (www.roomtherapyhome. com; from 200)

Anonym: With an in-house ikat label called Translate and a beautifully curated collection of artisan-produced apparel, Anonym is heaven for anyone who’s keen on textiles. Keep an eye out for the ikat capes and block-printed maxis. (www.; from 2,000)

Almari: This multibrand store stocks popular Indian fashion names like Payal Khandwala and Anupama Dayal as well as emerging designers like CRAZYHEART from Jaipur and Rutbaa from Ahmedabad. (040 2330 1919; from 1,000)

CHENNAI Souk: This is the place to buy a signature piece for your home— be it statement furniture or a unique collectible. The brand sources from India, Asia and Africa and its collection boasts traditional as well as modern pieces. (; from 10,000) Sarangi: Gorgeous Kanjivaram saris, ranging from simple, classic checks to shimmering golden wedding masterpieces, are showcased at this store. (; from 6,500)

Maal Gaadi: Fashionistas will be impressed by the shop’s roster of emerging designers, from Ka-Sha to Mayank & Shraddha, and its on-trend clothing, accessories and home goods.There’s also a selection of skincare and design products,

so everyone is bound to find something they’ll love. (www.; from 400)

Evoluzione: This is a great place to spot new finds in fashion, such as Artisau’s chic dresses, Divyam Mehta’s embroidered tunics and Lovebirds’ cool separates. (; from 1,500) Amethyst: At this old haunt for the city’s fashionista crowd, curator Kiran Rao keeps the collections relevant by sourcing local brands like Small Shop alongside national sensations like Abraham & Thakore. The shop resides in a restored haveli, which also has an art gallery, cosy café and flower studio. (; from 2,500)

colonial-era house, Cinnamon sells personal and home accessories like silver jewellery, pretty crockery and vintage candle stands, and has a beautiful clothing line to boot. (; from 100)

Raintree: Housed in a heritage bungalow, Raintree sells clothing from Anavila, Injiri and Kishmish, beauty products from Areev by Ally Mathan, Amrapali jewellery and more. Plus, the café’s sandwiches and coffee hit the spot when you need a break. (; from 350)




Byloom: This is Kolkata’s top destination for handloom saris in a variety of natural fabrics like cotton, silk and linen. It champions traditional weaves, but uses modern motifs to appeal to the evolving Indian woman. (; from 750) 85 Lansdowne: The city’s premium shopping destination has a great mix of nationally acclaimed designers, emerging talent and local labels all sitting pretty in a 75-year-old colonial mansion. (www.85lansdowne. com; from 5,000)

AHMEDABAD Paper Boat Collective: One of Goa’s premier shopping destinations, this store offers men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, a kids’ line, home accents and design products. It stocks the country’s most popular indie brands and you’ll be hard-pressed to walk out without splurging a little—or a lot. (; from 250)

Sacha’s: The owner, Sacha Mendes, used to be a writer and stylist with GQ in India before she moved back home to Goa and started this delightful, eclectic boutique in Panjim. It’s full of treasures like Savio Jon’s resort wear and Naushad Ali’s jewel-toned dresses. (www.; from 500).

Saudades: Come here to get your fill of antique furniture and colonial artefacts that are characteristic of Goan heritage homes. Saudades will even ship your purchases home should they be too large to fit into a suitcase. (; from 1,000)

206 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Clockwise from top left: a display at Sacha’s; ceramic bowls and a cinnamon-scented soy wax candle at Paper Boat Collective; shoes and bags at Avakasa; Sacha Mendes of Sacha’s

Deval The Multi Designer Store: Ahmedabad’s premier shopping address offers up a mix of labels. You’ll find ethnic clothing by Payal Singhal and Rohit Bal, resort wear from Hemant & Nandita and western apparel by Myoho and Kiran Uttam Ghosh. Deval also organises regular previews and trunk shows for various designers. (079 2684 3036; price on request)

The Avakasa Multidesigner Fashion House: This store features collections by experimental names like Marg Soumitra Mondal, Outhouse Jewellery and Manish Arora. (075673 70155; from 3,500)


Sosa’s: Situated on the banks of the Mandovi River, Sosa’s was started in 1998 by Abelio de Sousa. You’ll find clothing and accessories for men and women from labels such as Anuj Sharma and Joe Ikareth. The collections here tend to be versatile, which works with the anything-goes vibe of the beach state. (0832 2228 063; from 2,000) @archdigestindia @archdigestindia

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Dazzling danglers With these stunning chandelier earrings, this festive season is your time to shine


210 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016



1 Waterfall-inspired earrings crafted with Forevermark diamonds, white gold and rose gold, Forevermark by BR Designs 2 Chandelier earrings with round-cut diamonds and emeralds crafted in 18ct gold, Jaipur Jewels 3 ‘Colours of Life’ earrings with diamonds, emerald beads and faceted rubies set in 18ct white gold, The House of Rose 4 Diamond-studded chandelier earrings crafted in 18ct gold, TBZ – The Original. All prices on request. See Directory, p300

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DISCOVER THE NEW MEANING OF LUXURIOUS LIVING An exclusive look inside India’s most beautiful homes, featuring the most renowned architects, celebrated interior decorators and discerning experts to create the GQ man’s dream home. Plus, a handpicked listing of the country’s top stores and retailers to make your home a space of envy. All this and so much more For more information, write to Complimentary Supplement with the GQ December Issue

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THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE With wedding season upon us, choose from these watches to jazz up your outfit. They make great gifts, too Reine de Naples, Breguet

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214 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Heritage Diphylleia, Corum Speedmaster Moonwatch Co-axial Chronograph Meteorite, OMEGA, 8,60,600

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Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmaster, Rolex, 78,39,900


5 designers, 5 cities Rashmi Shankar talks to some of India’s top couturiers about the places that inspire them and how they unwind there Anita Dongre

Payal Singhal

Raghavendra Rathore


Ritu Kumar

Sonam & Paras Modi






“If a state could play muse for my brand, it would have to be Rajasthan. And Jaipur is a city that has always been an inspiration—ever since I was a child. I visited every year, during my holidays, taking in the architecture, colours and energy. My bridal brand reflects my love for the city.” WORK: “My bridal couture collection of 2016, ‘Epic Love’, is inspired by Mughal gardens, like the one in Jaipur’s Amer Fort. Exquisite brocades and gotapatti hand embroidery take from the city’s rich heritage, and the motifs and designs draw from the indulgent architecture, and the flowers and birds in the gardens.” PLAY: “If I’m around for a weekend, a trip to Ranthambore—about three hours away by road—is a great way to unwind. Samode Haveli ( is a beautiful place to stay, and the small stores around Hawa Mahal sell some lovely jewellery and handicraft pieces. For foodies, Anokhi Café (0141 400 7245) and lassi from the famous lassi vendor on Mirza Ismail Road are unmissable.”

Clockwise from top left: Hawa Mahal; a piece from the ‘Epic Love’ collection; a suite at Samode Haveli; Anita Dongre





“Historic Paris has always ruled the high seas of fashion. At SVA, designs are created using traditional craftsmanship, yet cater to a global audience. This combination of old and new is why we seek out the city: because of how well our designs fit there.” WORK: “The inspiration behind our A/W ’16 collection, ‘Mon Passé’, is the old area of Montparnasse: its centuries-old architecture, and the rue de Rennes, where elegant women enjoy a cup of coffee outdoors, wearing long black jackets to stay warm. Our range is bold yet effortless, inspired by the laissez-faire approach that Paris has towards fashion.” PLAY: “Business travellers should stay at the well-situated Mercure Paris Vaugirard Porte de Versailles Hotel (www., which has Parisian interiors and great service. Cruise down the Seine River to see the city’s famous landmarks from a different perspective, and walk around Galeries Lafayette ( to browse the inspiring window displays and art installations. Indulge yourself with crêpes at Crêperie Mad eo (19, rue de Picardie) or desserts at Angelina (” Clockwise from top: the Alexandre III bridge; Sonam and Paras Modi; a table at a café; a sidewalk café; clothes from ‘Mon Passé’

“I’ve been associated with the city for almost 20 years now, and it’s very special to me. It is unlike any other: hundreds of temples that go back centuries, men carrying bales of fabric wherever you see and unique weaving techniques kept alive by weavers in small handloom units—like the ‘Ganga Jamuna’ technique, in which gold and silver threads are used to create gossamer designs on jewel-like silks.” WORK: “My collection ‘Varanasi Weaves’ is an attempt to revive the city’s weaves. While the raw material comes from Bhagalpur (Bihar) and Murshidabad (West Bengal), known for their handspun yarn, the designs have been inspired by old saris in museums, and we work directly with weavers who live in and around Varanasi.” PLAY: “One can pick up the most beautiful silks from dealers who sit on gaddis in tiny sari shops—the Peeli Kothi area is filled with quaint stores that source saris directly from weavers. Apart from the surreal evening aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat, a recital of the Banaras gharana of music is a magical experience.” Clockwise from top: Ritu Kumar with weavers in Varanasi; a sadhu; the ghats; saris from ‘Varanasi Weaves’







“My grandfather and his elder brother, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, were born in Mehrangarh Fort. As a child, I spent hours reading into its walls and crevices, looking for messages from my ancestors. It was only fitting that I launch my brand here—my first collection, an ode to the bandhgala and achkan, was showcased in the fort some 25 years ago.” WORK: “Each time I visit, I find enough material to take back to my studio for my mood boards: old photographs, silver trims and vintage outfits. I send my design team to explore embroidery workshops and dyers’ colonies in the old city. What’s amazing, though, is working in the midst of Jodhpur’s beauty—one could be on a call with a client in Mumbai while sitting on the rooftop of the RAAS (, or the lawns of the luxurious Umaid Bhawan Palace (www.tajhotels. com).” PLAY: “The food stalls of Nai Sarak are always experimenting (you can’t go wrong with their legendary onion and potato kachoris). Zip lining at Mehrangarh Fort is thrilling, and polo, a way of life in Jodhpur.” Clockwise from top: the Jaswant Thada memorial in Jodhpur; Raghavendra Rathore; his showcase at Mehrangarh Fort; fabric laid out to dry

“New York has inspired my love for fashion, since even before I moved there in 2004. My debut collection for Lakmé Fashion Week, ‘New York, New York’, was a take on the city’s cosmopolitan street style. It was here that I developed my brand to be what it is today—ethnic wear that is global in its appeal.” WORK: “I moved back to India six years ago, but regularly source trims and buttons from New York. I love the wholesale shops on 28th Street, between Broadway and 7th, and the markets between 34th and 6th and 38th and 6th, like M&J Trimming (www. We also regularly do events and trunk shows in the city.” PLAY: “My son and I enjoy visiting Penny Park, a beautiful garden by the Hudson River, and brunch at Central Park is a Sunday ritual. I love the Jaiya Thai outlets ( for long, elaborate dinners, and Shake Shack (www.shakeshack. com) at Madison Square Park. And the fashion exhibits at The Metropolitan Museum of Art ( are outstanding. I recently saw Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology; the 3D printed tweed Chanel suits blew my mind.” Clockwise from top: Payal Singhal; an outfit from ‘New York, New York’; Manhattan Bridge; a Shake Shack burger











RANVEER SINGH ACTOR OF THE YEAR GO HERE BEFORE YOU GO ANYWHERE New ideas every day on places to see, things to do and ways to make your next trip spectacular CNTIndia






Journey on the frozen Zanskar River. Photograph by Olivier Fรถllmi for A River of Stories (p242)



KOLKATAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S 50 BEST MEALS Chef Shaun Kenworthy picks the restaurants and the dishes that, for him, put the joy in the City of Joy. Photographs by Raymond Patrick



city filled with history and romance, Kolkata has long been viewed as the home of some of the best food in India. Much of this is to do with its past. Bengal was once ruled by the Mughals, who gave to Bengali food the sweet spices, nuts and dried fruit that are characteristic of Persian rice and meat dishes. Later, Calcutta was the seat of British colonial power in India for almost 200 years. Over time, Calcutta became Kolkata and a melting pot of cultures and cuisines from around the world—Chinese, Portuguese, Armenian. They came and settled here— as I did 16 years ago—and made the most of local ingredients to build a library of dishes, across street foods, family diners, bakeries, mishti shops and ethnic eateries. Here, from this embarrassment of riches, is my list of the top 50 dining experiences in the city.



This iconic bakery, confectionery and café has been pulling in the crowds since it opened in 1927. Locals love coming here for a chat over cream cakes, sandwiches and other light meals, all washed down with pot after pot of Darjeeling tea. Favourites include the rum balls, chocolate boats, strawberry cubes and chicken patties. (



The menu hasn’t changed, they say, since 1953, and that’s part of the charm of this beautiful restaurant, where second- and third-generation waitstaff in turbans and tails dodder around taking orders. This epicentre of the infamous Calcutta Continental food is renowned for its oversauced prawn cocktail and devilled crabs, Chateaubriand steaks, rich buttery chicken tetrazzini and splendid Baked Alaska. (25B Park Street)


6 ballygunge Place

Housed in a beautiful threestoreyed home that has recently undergone a complete refurbishment, this restaurant is filled with character. There’s an all-day Bengali buffet on the ground floor and à la carte service on the first. Get the prawn cutlet to start, followed by bhapa ilish (steamed hilsa), a dish Bengalis pride themselves on, and its rendition of baked mihidana pearl pudding. (6 Ballygunge Place)



café mezzuna

A great place for a family reunion or a catch-up with friends, this place has a fun atmosphere and serves a mix of Mediterranean, Italian, Spanish and French along with a good selection of drinks. And it’s all with the most minimal pinch on your pocket. Order a pitcher of sangria, a thin-crust pizza and the dessert platter; you won’t regret it. (


fire and ice pizzeria

The city’s oldest pizzeria can still be counted on to serve up its best handtossed pizzas and pastas, which isn’t really all that surprising considering that the owner, Annamaria Forgione, is a true Neapolitan and a stickler for quality. A glass of wine, pepperoni pizza and an insalata mista would be my picks for a great lunch with friends. (www.


mrs. magpie

Mrs. Magpie, or Sohini Basu to her friends, has done a great job with this little place tucked down a side road off Southern Avenue. Cupcakes and more cupcakes is the mantra here, and they come in regular and tiny sizes. You should also try the sandwiches and a pot of Darjeeling. Actually, order the afternoon tea: cupcakes, scones, petit sandwiches and petit fours—the whole shebang! I can never get enough of the lemony white chocolate cupcakes. (www.


balaram mullick & radharaman mullick sweets

When it comes to mishti (Bengali for sweets), this chain led by Sudip, the scion of the 150-year-old Mullick dynasty, has, over the past few years, almost single-handedly changed the face of Bengali sweets. It has not only updated age-old recipes, but also innovated some new treats. Try the baked rasgulla, nolengurer soufflĂŠ, mango mishti doi and the amazing selection of sandesh. (http://balarammullick. com)

Butterscotch sandesh at Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick Sweets. Opposite page from top: prawns cooked in coconut at 6 Ballygunge Place; writer Shaun Kenworthy sipping tea in Gariahat. Previous pages from left: the English breakfast at Flurys; Victoria Memorial, an iconic monument in Kolkata



oh! calcutta

Here’s the flagship of the Bengali restaurant that’s brought good traditional cooking to tables across the country. In my opinion, the fish fry here is the best you’ll find anywhere and the mochar (banana flower) chop is one of the most interesting items available on any Bengali menu. (www.speciality.


kewpie’s kitchen

Owner Rakhi Purnima Dasgupta is something of a culinary royal. Her mother Minakshie Dasgupta (who was fondly called Kewpie) wrote the Bengali cookbook that’s become a staple of every trousseau and is now in its 20th reprint. Bengalis (my in-laws in the US included) swear by it. However much as they revere their meat dishes, I think that the vegetarian food served here is fabulous. Try the doi potol (pointed gourd in a spicy masala), dhokar dalna (a lentil preparation), chorchori (a mix of vegetables in gravy) and jackfruit paturi, which comes wrapped in leaves. And if you, too, fall in love with their food, well, there’s a recipe book that you can bring home. (2 Elgin Lane)



indian coffee house

This Kolkata landmark is where intellectuals, literati, poets, students of Presidency College and other institutions on College Street used to and continue to hang out. At one point, it was a hotbed for Marxist revolutionaries, made even more famous by Bengali cinema directors such as Satyajit Ray and writers like Sunil Gangopadhyay. This atmospheric café has an old-world charm and makes for a great spot to watch Kolkata over many cups of tea and coffee. (15 Bankim Chatterjee Street)


Run by the All Bengal Women’s Union, a self-help group, this lunch canteen has been serving some of the best homestyle Bengali food around since 1969. And because of its no-frills nature, the prices here are easy on the pocket, ensuring a steady stream of repeat customers. The one thing that’s absolutely unmissable is the thali, a whole Bengali lunchtime journey, which starts with a vegetarian shukto, through to mutton, chicken or fish with a delicious mishti to end on the sweetest possible note. (89 Elliot Road)

8th day café & bakery

This casual spot is a haunt for anyone craving bagels, brownies, banana bread and cinnamon rolls, healthy salads and good sandwiches, too. Try a cream cheese bagel or a quiche with caramelised onion, mushroom and Gruyère for lunch. Finish with an ice cream sandwich and wash it all down with a signature pour-over coffee or tea sourced from the Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling. And if you’re a music buff, keep an eye out for the monthly Arcadia Sessions that provide a platform to local indie musicians and visiting artists. ( eighthdaycafebakery)





If you’re looking for evolved local food, look no further. Owner-chef Joy Banerjee has taken Bengali flavours to a whole new level with his lentil risotto with hilsa croutons, wax gourd and garlic mousse with papri chips and malpua cheesecake for dessert. (32/4 First Lane, Old Ballygunge)


koshe kosha

The kosha mangsho (mutton curry) here has made this place a firm favourite among the locals and visiting Bengalis. I would also recommend the fish kabiraji, a deep-fried, egg batter-coated fillet, and the mangsher shingara, a mutton-filled samosa. (


Clockwise from top left: a waiter at Indian Coffee House; a vegetarian pizza at Café Mezzuna; a table at Paris Café; coffee and mutton sandwiches at Indian Coffee House

banana leaf

If vegetarian South Indian is what you’re looking for then look no further. From the idli-dosa staples to appams and bisibelebhat, there’s plenty fodder for food coma at this 110-seater restaurant on Rash Behari Avenue. I particularly love the fluffy kuzhi panayaram balls with spicy chutney. My advice would be to go on a Sunday so you can try the 15-plus item special thali. You won’t be disappointed. (www.


paris cafĂ&#x2030;

Cordon Bleu graduate Sneha Singhi is the macaron queen of the city. She serves a simple egg-etarian menu of omelettes, sandwiches and pastas. Try one of the signature crĂŞpes: chicken and mushroom or creamy spinach and corn, but make sure you leave space for the red velvet pancake, best had with a generous serving of white chocolate sauce. (www.facebook. com/pariscafekolkata)




kusum rolls

A Park Street icon for years, it’s a favourite hangout for late-night party animals who’ve just stepped out of the bars surrounding it. And as the name suggests, it’s kathi rolls all the way. The double-egg double-chicken was once almost a daily meal for me when heading home from work. (21 Karnani Mansion)

A roll being made at Kusum Rolls. Opposite page: one of the ubiquitous yellow cabs of Kolkata




This tiny place is known for its deliciously simple traditional food from Kerala. Owner Ramani Menon serves up homestyle appams and stew, mutton curry with Malabar parotta and a selection of chutneys on the side—great on the palate, light on the pocket. ( Amminikolkata)


peter cat

You’ll find queues every day for lunch and dinner at this iconic spot renowned for its North Indian food, especially the famous chelo kebabs (chicken and mutton kebabs served with buttered rice and a fried egg on top). Add some of what we’ve come to call Calcutta Continental and choose from the small list of classic cocktails, and you’re good to go. (18A Park Street)


bombay brasserie

It offers North Indian fine dining in a contemporary, airy setting. Great kebabs— the galoute particularly melts in the mouth— but my personal favourite is the sigdi gosht: tender chunks of spiced lamb cooked in an open-topped stove. Both go well with the crisp tandoori parathas served here. (


russel punjabi dhaba

Early morning walkers come here after their daily exercise to consume vast quantities of kachoris and chai. It continues to keep busy all day, serving up, as the name suggests, Punjabi dhaba fare. I’ll happily vouch for the piping-hot stuffed parathas and chicken bharta served here. (Russel Street)


azad hind

The food here is almost as famous as the original MF Husain artwork hanging behind the cash counter. The Ballygunge branch of this restaurant chain serves great Punjabi fare: the anda bhurji and butter chicken are popular dishes, and for very good reason. (12/1 Ballygunge Circular Road)





mirch masala

I was delighted to find the guchhi signature menu at this Hyatt Regency restaurant, with the Kashmiri morel in almost every dish, from appetiser to dessert. Try the tandoori guchhi topped off with truffle oil, and the signature rich, buttery guchhi dal for a superb fine dining experience. But worry not, there’s more than enough for those who aren’t as excited at the thought of the mushroom, as well as a great wine list. (http://kolkata.regency.

This restaurant’s designed to resemble a Punjabi dhaba, and was one of the city’s first thematic restaurants. There’s half a yellow cab sticking out of the wall, adding that touch of local décor, and the walls feature beautifully hand-painted images of everyone’s favourite celebrities (all the Khans, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha, to name a few) driving trucks and drinking chai. There’s a great kebab platter that’s filling enough for two, and a sumptuous Hyderabadi chicken biryani. (


flame & grill

It’s the perfect place after a day spent shopping at South City Mall, the city’s largest; just make sure you come here with an empty stomach. The servers will keep filling up your plates with kebabs until you tell them to stop, and then, just in case you weren’t already full, will invite you to the buffet, which is stocked with salads, vegetarian and nonvegetarian North Indian fare and an array of desserts. A great place for the entire family. (





This is another gem from the Park Street-centred restaurant empire of the Kothari family (which includes Mocambo and Peter Cat). It serves generous portions of value-for-money mainstream Indian and Calcutta Chinese food, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that its 500-plus seats are fully occupied every night. Order the Szechuan chilli pork, green pea and mushroom masala and a bowl of hakka if you really want to mix it up. (43-47-55 Park Street)

I’ve always loved the food at Kwality, which is slap bang in the hustle and bustle of Park Street. It’s no fine-dining hotspot, but the food more than makes up for the experience with its succulent kebabs, crisp breads and delicious black dal. The dry pindi chana is legendary. (17 Park Street)


gariahat market

Gariahat is where many of the locals do their shopping, especially during Durga Puja. Campari (155B Gariahat Road; ) and Bedwin (15 & 46/2/1A Gariahat Road; ) do brisk business, selling traditional evening snacks like rolls, ďŹ sh fry, mutton chops and samosa stuffed with meat. The jhal muri vendor outside Standard Chartered Bank is famous (someone pin the location on Google Maps already), and there is always a crowd waiting for his puffed rice snack. And, of course, the phuchka walas are aplenty.

A phuchka vendor at Gariahat. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: the owner of Russel Punjabi Dhaba; street food at Gariahat; rotis being made at Russel Punjabi Dhaba




royal indian hotel

kim fa

In the heart of Bara Bazaar, one of the most congested areas of Kolkata, Royal is synonymous with chaap, a meat dish of Awadhi origin, and biryani, which many locals swear is the best in the city. But you won’t find any potatoes in the biryani here (whole potatoes and an egg are staples of Kolkata biryani)—it’s a meat fest all the way. (147 Rabindra Sarani Street)


Speak to Chinese locals and all of them will tell you this is the best place for chilli chicken not made with the usual excess of green chillies and ketchup. Here, the chicken is crispy, deep-fried in a spicy flour-based coating, and tossed with just a few chopped green chillies. If you’re lucky, you might get to taste an excellent beef tripe soup, too. It’s an off-the-menu dish that’s only offered occasionally. (8 Matheswartala Road)


You can’t help but feel hungry as you pass by Zeeshan, what with the intense aromas of cardamom and smoking coal wafting out of the restaurant. Located at one of the busiest junctions in the city, just next to Park Circus, this is where you’ll find some of the best tandoori chicken and mutton around. The haleem, made during Ramzan, is unmissable. (17 Syed Amir Ali Avenue)



With age taking its toll, Denzil Saldanha thought he would have to shut the more than 80-year-old family business. Thankfully, his daughter Debra decided to take it over. The bakery witnesses chaotic scenes over the Christmas season, with workers feverishly slicing loaves of fruit cake to meet orders. The cakes are unique because they’re covered in a thick layer of almond icing on three sides. This ‘Christmas cake’ is actually served all year round, and is popular at weddings and first Holy Communions. The bakery also makes chicken patties, sandwiches and savoury items. (19 Nawab Abdul Rahman Street)


This is the home of the Kolkata kathi roll, dating back to the 1920s. Try the aloo-anda roll; the potato is fished out of biryani after it’s been slow-cooked in ghee. A good spritz of lemon and the usual accompaniment of onion and green chilli makes it a perfect meal. You’ll also get a decent plate of biryani here. (23/24 Hogg Street)



buddha bites

Chef Michael Ho’s take on Calcutta Chinese keeps customers coming back for more. So much so, that within a year and a half of opening the first restaurant on Panditia Road, he now has branches across the city. Make sure to order the spicy seafood casserole, duck in hoisin sauce and whole steamed pepper crab with a side of clay pot rice. (http://



jimmy’s kitchen

These guys serve the finest Chinese food in the city and the best fried rice anywhere in the country, which is topped off with a crisp fried egg and slices of char siu pork. The Hunan fish, a goodsized slab of pan-fried Kolkata bhekti (barramundi) topped with a sweet and sour chilli sauce, comes with an epic crab claw dish in black bean sauce. (7/A1 AJC Bose Road)

saldanha bakery


eau chew

Perched on the first floor, beside an abandoned petrol pump in central Kolkata, the family-run restaurant has been serving up delicious food for four generations. Josephine, her son Joel and daughter Jennifer do everything, from taking orders to cooking the meals and serving them, so it’s not surprising that the place has a home-y feel. To get the best experience, call Josephine the day before and place orders for the sui mai, crab claws, Chimney Soup, Josephine Noodles, fried roast pork chilli and whole steamed bhekti. (Plot No 12, 1st Floor, Ganesh Chandra Avenue) Clockwise from top: the interiors of Jimmy's Kitchen; a chef holding freshly made noodles at Golden Joy; a dish of pok ham choy rice at Eau Chew

the fairlawn hotel

It seems like a flashback to the 1970s comedy Fawlty Towers, in look and feel. The outdoor drinking and eating space is almost an oasis in the hustle and bustle of the New Market-Sudder Street area. Cheap booze and generous portions of snacks like fish fingers, pakodas and kebabs make this a great place to hang out in the evenings. Many of Kolkata’s music and movie performers frequent this spot regularly. (


hamro momo

This hole-in-the-wall Tibetan eatery, in a lane full of momo joints, is where college students come to spend their pocket money. For a meagre sum, you can get your fill of the juiciest chicken, vegetarian and pork momos to be found in these parts. It’s comforting to see that neither the menu nor the servers ever change. (3 Suburban Hospital Road)


golden joy


This is one of the bigger restaurants in Tangra, which is Chinatown’s official name. Spread over three floors, with a seating capacity of around 300, the place is popular with locals, and that can only be a good sign for your meal ahead. Go for the stuffed tofu and prawn fuyong. If you order a day in advance, you can feast on a delicious, slow-cooked suckling pig. (50/1 Matheswartala Road)



West View Bar and Grill

This restaurant at the ITC Sonar is arguably the best international grill room in the city, serving the best cuts of meat, poultry and seafood. Vegetarians can pick from fresh, seasonal produce. All of this is prepared using organic herbs from the kitchen garden and can be paired with excellent wine from the extensive library. (www.

CNT LOVES The Oberoi Grand Step out of busy Chowringhee and into the timeless charm of the Grand, where you shoud try the delicious satays and curries at Baan Thai. Thailand has never been this easy to get to. (www.

Novotel Kolkata Hotel and Residences In the heart of Kolkata’s IT hub, the hotel’s bar, Sante, is the perfect place to unwind after a hard day of writing code. It offers some interesting cocktails, like Sunderban Delight—white rum, cointreau, lime juice and tangy tomato chutney—which goes well with the panko-crusted fish fingers. (

The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata

Vedic Village Spa Resort This is Bengal at its romantic best. Right from the arch welcoming you into the ‘village’ to the straw-roofed villas, you’ll feel like you’re in another era. The mishti pulao, a sweet rice dessert, at the rustic Bengali restaurant Bhoomi, is not be missed. (www.


Chef Sunayan Pramanik at West View - Bar and Grill. Clockwise from top right: crispy garlic pepper prawn at Zen; a mishti doi at Café Swiss; the interiors of the restaurant at The Corner Courtyard


This beautiful property, when it opened as The Great Eastern hotel in 1840, was Asia’s first luxury hotel. Today, the refurbished hotel in the heart of the city offers a nod to the past, while embracing modern luxuries. Don’t forget to try the pies, savoury and sweet, at The Bakery. (


chanda’s khaukswey

As the name suggests, the star of proprietor Chanda Dutt’s Burmese menu is the khow suey. But the small menu lists other delights as well, like deep fried shrimp cakes and tofu salad. Don’t fill up on them, though, because you’ll need space for that coconut milk-soaked greatness. (23/31 Gariahat Road)


dolly’s - the tea shop

Dolly Roy spent most of her life as a tea taster before she opened this little place in Dakuria, in the Gariahat area. And who can resist a really good cup of Darjeeling, especially after a busy day of shopping. First Flush, Second Flush and Monsoon are just three of the more than 40 varieties on the menu. Pair your choice with a well-made sandwich or a slice of cake. (G62 Dakshinapan Market, 2 Gariahat Road South)


nahoum & sons

For over 100 years, this little familyrun Jewish bakery in New Market has made the most delicious lemon tarts, plum cake (loads of it during Christmas) and probably the best savoury crackers and biscuits in India. It’s also managed to keep up the tradition of making Jewish Passover bread, challah, every Friday. (F20 Bertram Street)


The Corner Courtyard

After a career in marketing and learning the ropes of hospitality in Mumbai and Bengaluru, Megha Agarwal decided to return home to Kolkata. She took a crumbling colonial-era property and turned it into The Corner Courtyard, a boutique hotel with a dining room that serves delicious European and Mexican food all day. Try the variety of pizzas, pastas and salads. (www.



Head here for some delicious Thai and Japanese food made with only the best imported ingredients. And the incredibly innovative vegetarian dishes will gladden every green-loving heart. Try the avocado and smoked cheese sushi and yasai okonomiyaki, a Japanesese vegetarian pizza. Wash this all down with the excellent wines or sake that are on offer. (www.


jai hind dhaba

This is a favourite pit stop with all the party people heading back south of the city, after the clubs close. Calcutta Chinese is served upstairs, and great plates of anda bhurji, tadka dal and kebabs on the lower floor. It’s the only late-night place in the city for fresh, hot-off-the-tava phulkas. (41/1A Sarat Bose Road)


momos, thukpas, baos and more. One of the owners, Rebu, is a graffiti artist, whose work, on the walls of the eatery, gives the place a cool, edgy vibe. (195 C Lake Gardens, near Bandhan Bank)


vardaan market

It was the first shopping complex in Kolkata with an escalator. You’ll see small shops selling everything from phone covers to Kashmiri shawls, as well as street food stalls. Try the chilla served with two delicious chutneys, served on eco-friendly saal leaf plates. You will also find vendors selling daal pakora, chana garam and ghugni. During the season, look out for hawkers selling mango kulfis. (Camac Street)


cafE swiss

Although it’s a bit off the beaten track, being close to the airport at the Swissotel Kolkata, Cafe Swiss is a lovely, bright, airy coffee shop, one of the nicest in the city. It comes alive during the bubbly Sunday brunches (12.30pm to 4pm), which you can follow up with a refreshing dip in the pool. Another reason it makes the list is because it is the only place in the city where you can get a proper Swiss beef burger and bratwurst. ( PRICE KEY: : < 1,000 : 1,000—2,000 : 2,000—3,000 : > 3,000


Located just a stone’s throw from Tapan Theatre, which hosts a variety of performances, here’s a whiff of old-world North Calcutta in South Kolkata. The menu is a big board written in Bengali. But fear not, there is a glass case filled with dishes on offer—fish fry, devilled eggs, mutton cutlets and other sinful snacks. Just point at what you want to order. (50 Sadananda Road)


momo i am

In the vicinity of the bustling Lords More bus station, with numerous stalls selling dosas, biryanis and Mughlai fare, is this air-conditioned Tibetan joint serving







a river of s t o r i e s Manu Joseph treks the frozen Zanskar River in Kashmir and ďŹ nds there is magic, beauty and humour even in the most arduous journey. Photographs by Olivier FĂśllmi


Frozen river, brown cliďŹ&#x20AC;s and other trekkers: this is a world that is 244

quiet. In places, a ďŹ&#x201A;uid strand of the river roars and vanishes below the ice 245

e says magic is a lazy way of telling a story. It is reasonable, then, that he would have quarrels with supernatural tales, like The Famished Road by Ben Okri, which opens with these words: “In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.” How can a river become a global road, and how can it be hungry? As in sports, he says, doping should be condemned in literature, too. But there are times when even a person like him accepts that magic poetry may describe an irrefutable reality. A truth that can be framed by a poet’s hallucination has to be exquisite—or terrifying. At the moment, what he feels is terror. He is about to walk on a road; the road was once a river. In the winter, the rivers of the Himalayas freeze. There is one that becomes a narrow, serpentine road of ice. Beneath the ice, the river trickles, flows, gushes, but the surface is hard and the mountain people who live near its banks have learnt how to walk on it. And they walk great distances for mundane reasons. Sometimes they burst into a run even though they have time for everything. They carry enormous things on their backs or in a sleigh on which, among the utensils and vegetables, sit their children, who have blood-red cheeks as though they’ve been slapped. The snow leopards and foxes, too, know how to walk on the ice road. He has, after not much thought, decided to walk on the frozen river for eight days. Much can go wrong. Because the road was once a river, it would be always hungry. When he told his wife about the walk, she took him to see an ancient astrologer. Is there a fault in his stars, Masterji, that indicates death by drowning? Or by falling hard on ice, perhaps? Such mishaps have occurred on the river. The old sage, wearing a shirt too large and billowing trousers, made some rough charts and said, as though stating an obvious fact, “He is half-man-half-horse”. Across the table, the half-man-half-horse imagined



himself as a creature with the upper half of an ass and the lower half of a Tamil software engineer. But a moment later, a more aesthetic, classical image came to him—of the upper half of a muscular man and the lower quadruped body of a horse. That was how he learnt he was Centaur. Centaur was passing through a period of strife, the astrologer said. “Is it then an inauspicious time for him to be walking on a river?” “There is no such thing as inauspicious,” the astrologer said. “There is only time.” The walk is known as the Chadar Trek. ‘Chadar’ means blanket in Hindi. A trail on a blanket of ice over the moving waters of the Zanskar River in the Ladakh region. That is what it is. If the ice is not well formed on the river, the blanket is deceptively thin in places and one may fall into the cold waters. If the ice is obviously thin, the trekkers have to walk on the walls of steep cliffs to reach the firmer parts of the river. On some stretches of the river, the cliffs are too steep for humans to walk on, so they have to wait for days before hard ice forms. According to a legend, if a couple makes love on the Zanskar, the ice on the river would not be thick. Centaur has faith in the ability of women to abstain from sex in almost extraterrestrial conditions, but he does not trust men to be wise. A week after Centaur realised he was Centaur, one cold night in Delhi, as he shuddered beneath four layers of clothing, he checked the temperature. It was 4ºC. In the Zanskar region, the temperature can dip to -30 at night. The freezer of his refrigerator is at -18. What tropical Centaur had agreed to was a walk inside a gigantic freezer for several days and nights. He wondered if he should abort the walk. He needed an honourable reason to cancel the trip, like a fracture or a relative’s death. But there were no misfortunes, and this morning he sits in a packed flight to Leh, a town in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir. This is his first trek. As the plane soars over Delhi, he can see a small ridge below. The Delhi Ridge, just a few metres high, is the final, tame end of the oldest mountain range in India, the Aravallis, which are

believed to have formed close to 1.5 billion years ago. In their youth, those mountains may have stood thousands of metres high, but now they are mere mounds or city pebbles. Is this the fate of all great mountains? Centaur is going from the tip of India’s oldest mountain range to its youngest, the Himalayas, which are believed to have formed about 50 million years ago. Leh is a tiny human settlement in the Himalayas, about 11,480ft above sea level. The air is clear, the sun harsh, the day lit like afterlife. Centaur feels as though his eyesight has improved. The eye sees great distances in Leh and what it sees are vast flatlands and desert mountains and many hues of brown. A notice in the tiny airport dissuades new arrivals from any exerting activity. It reminds him of an unfamiliar fatigue in his chest, as though he is in the embrace of a large, invisible woman. The fatigue grows as he reaches the hotel in the heart of Leh, a tourist district that is filled with cafés and shops on narrow lanes, most of them shut for the winter. Somewhere an ice hockey game is underway; two girls with long, flailing hair glide with the boys. In the modest hotel, a small team of trekkers is assembled on the lawns, drinking hot tea. Among them are two men who suspect they are alphas. They are an uncle-nephew pair separated by less than 20 years, who possess the absolute Punjabi confidence in their assumption that everyone is interested in their anecdotes. All conversations are about their previous and future treks. After Chadar, they say, they are flying from Leh to Srinagar to snowboard on the slopes of Gulmarg. The uncle is in his mid-forties and has a large paunch, which should reassure everyone that adventure need not be the privilege of the fit alone. Everyone calls him Mamu because that’s what his nephew calls him. Mamu manufactures crankshafts in Aurangabad, where he lives. His nephew is Bhanja, who imports chemicals. Bhanja, who is bearded, stylish and lean, with a mop of silky hair, is in his late twenties. He is asthmatic, but the condition does not dissuade him from long arduous treks. He once walked to Stok Kangri, one of the few summits in the Himalayas


that can be reached without rockclimbing even though the peak is over 16,400ft above sea level. He realises that his achievement is diminished by the fact that he could get a mobile signal on the summit. “Very faint signal and only in one spot,” he says. After over 10 days of trekking, when he finally reached the summit, he took out his phone and called his girlfriend, who said, “Can I call you back? I am in a meeting.” After he got off the mountain, he broke up with her. He is on Tinder, and observes that there are some women in Leh who are on the dating app. “But they are girls from Delhi who are probably here for the Chadar Trek.” Among the trekkers are two farmers. One grows rice and genetically modified cotton in Haryana. The other was once an insurance executive. (“Housewives are not insured for high sums because they

The trekkers would carry only a daypack and their boots. They are in the care of one of the finer adventure companies in India, Aquaterra Adventures, which is expensive. The company charges about 84,000 to take a person on the trek. Most outfits do the job in under 20,000, but as would be evident in the days to come, their trekkers would get what they paid for. Aquaterra’s trekkers would stay in Leh for two nights to acclimatise in high altitude before setting out. They would take two or three hours from Leh to reach the part of the river where the trek begins. Long before that, they would lose mobile signal. From there, for eight days and eight nights, as they walk about 80km on the river, they will be completely cut off from the outside world. If they suffer a serious injury, they will have to be carried in the arms of villagers for hours, or even days, to a vehicle. If anything bad happens back home, they

ashamed, because he has read that the sickness can strike even Olympic athletes. In a few hours, Laughing Buddha, too, is struck. The next day, Cleo falls. But on the third morning, everybody appears to be in good health. They are on the phone, saying goodbye to their families. After this moment, they would not be speaking into a phone for over a week. They leave Leh in cars. On the way, they see a group of men burning something on the back of a pick-up truck to warm the frozen fuel below. It is that cold, but it is day, the sun strong. It is many degrees warmer than a normal winter night on the river. The road built by the Army runs dead straight for many miles through wasteland towards barren mountains. In about two hours, they are driving beside the winding Zanskar River, on a road carved out of cliffs.The river is frozen, but they still have some way to go before the trek begins.The

Their world is now simple. Bare, conical mountains, sheer cliffs, frozen river, ravens in the clear blue sky. And them would get murdered.”) All through his working life he saved, never bought a car (“I never buy anything that depreciates in value.”) and accumulated over 100 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh where, in a portion, he grows eucalyptus trees. And there is one middle-aged Gentleman from Delhi. (“It is politically incorrect to use the term ‘Eskimo’. ‘Inuit’ is better.”) He procures organic produce from villagers and sells it to the urban consumer. A young woman, an ad film-maker from Mumbai who was once a state-level rower, is missing at the table. She enters the scene a few minutes later, without disturbing the air around her. She exhibits the amused acceptance of a woman who has always been regarded as ‘one of the boys’. And she plays the part. (“I never use sunscreen.”) In a few days, an old Dutch trekker on the frozen river, struck by her face, would call her Cleopatra. Cleo, Mamu, Bhanja, Bt Cotton Farmer, Eucalyptus Farmer, Gentleman and Centaur would be led by two guides, one of whom is stout and jovial, and closely resembles a Laughing Buddha. There would be three cooks, and 19 porters to carry the luggage and provisions that would include over two hundred eggs and meat. As required by law and common sense, the porters would be locals of the Ladakh region. 248

may not know for about a week. The handlers do not have the licence yet to use satellite phones, banned in India for civilian use. As night falls in Leh and the temperature dips, a mountain gloom fills the air. And there is the miasma of fear. On WhatsApp, the news coming from the frozen river, through trekkers who have just returned to other hotels in Leh, is grim. The ice is not well formed. (People have been fornicating on the river, surely, Centaur mutters.) The ice is so slippery, many trekkers have fallen. A triumphant middle-aged woman reveals that she had fallen badly thrice. It appears that a fall is inevitable. What happens after that is a matter of luck. You may rise and pat your buttocks, or you may not rise. There is a white woman stranded in a village on the frozen river, who has dislocated her shoulder and is awaiting a helicopter rescue. Sooner or later, everyone realises a simple fact about the Chadar Trek—the smallest misfortune would escalate into a serious condition. After dinner, Centaur throws up. He has acquired altitude sickness, which is an impact of low air pressure on the body. The other trekkers are a bit worried because they wonder if Centaur is one of those fragile people who would be a burden on the rest. But he is not

road turns into a broken road, which leads to a dirt track, which begins to narrow.Their world is now simple. Bare, conical mountains, sheer cliffs, frozen river, ravens in the clear blue sky. And them. That’s it. At least as far as the eye can see. The trek will begin where the motorable dirt track ends. The government plans to build a road that would stretch all along the river. It would transform the region, enrich children and bring jobs—but it would end the Chadar Trek. “Who would want to walk on a frozen river watching trucks go by?” Laughing Buddha says. But he has faith in the incompetence of the government. “They may take more than 10 years to build that road. They may even take forever.” Down a bend, all of a sudden, the seeming isolation of the trekkers ends. There is a long line of vehicles carrying other trekkers and there appears to be a traffic jam on the narrow track. The trekkers get off the vehicles and begin to walk. To their left, many metres below, is the frozen river. Scores of trekkers are already on the ice, shuffling along. Centaur sees a boy fall on his back. “There must be a thousand trekkers on Chadar right now,” someone says. Someone else says, “I hate to say this, but the government should make this trek expensive; that is the only way to save Chadar.”



The seven trekkers reach a point on the bank where, if they wish to proceed, they have no choice but to walk on the frozen river. And just like that their Chadar Trek begins. The river is solid. It is, without doubt, firm ground. But the ice is wet and the slightest loss in concentration would result in a fall. They walk slowly, trekking poles stabbing hard ice, boots scraping the ground in a slow penguin shuffle, as though the penguin is searching for its lost house key. So this is what it is. It has begun, they accept. They walk upstream. They would be walking upstream for another three or four days, covering over 40km and

have just begun their trek wonder if this is their fate, too. Night falls and, the temperature dips so low that when Centaur spits on his sunglasses to clean them, he only scrapes saline icicles on the glasses. The gadgets that the trekkers have brought to measure the temperature are not working as they should because of the cold. The guides guess that the figure is probably -20ºC. In a high canvas tent, the trekkers sit in a huddle around a steaming kettle. Mamu and Bhanja talk about their favourite topic: Mamu and Bhanja. Gentleman has assumed the role of their fan. Eucalyptus Farmer, whom

suffering. Camping is abject poverty. There are two people in every synthetic tent, which is about 4ft high. One has to crawl in, leaving one’s feet outside to remove one’s shoes, crawl further in, try to unzip the sleeping bag with numb lifeless fingers, remove some layers of clothes, wear a thin sleeping bag liner, and entomb oneself inside the bag, parts of which may feel damp. To urinate, men may aim at a pee-bottle unless they wish to crawl out into the extreme cold and head towards the toilet-tent, which is a hole in the ground with a toilet seat on top. Women, too, can use a pee-bottle, but they have to then urinate into a funnel.

The Chadar Trek is as much about fellow trekkers as it is about the frozen river. Much can go wrong climbing a few hundred metres in the process; then they would begin walking back downstream. Often, they are overtaken by a current of porters, carrying huge backpacks or pushing sleighs, yelling to each other in a goodnatured way or singing to themselves. It is as though the porters are walking on a very different terrain. On occasion female porters would glide past as fast carrying objects as massive. The first day is going to be light. A few hundred metres after they begin the trek, they reach their campsite. They would walk no more for the day. The porters and cooks, who had reached ahead, have set up tents. The rocky bank is littered with dozens of tents. As evening grows, there is a steady stream of trekkers who are going downstream, which means they are returning to the finishing line. Their trek is over, but there is no euphoria on their faces. They look as though they are walking to a lecture on ‘Does the Subaltern Speak?’ After over a week of walking, falling, sleeping in tents, defecating in extreme cold, as their ordeal ends, nothing shows on their faces. Centaur wonders if most known human expressions are, in fact, inventions of melodramatic actors. What if the truth is that humans, in their deepest moments, do not make faces at all? Among those who are returning is one young man whose hand is in a sling. He is in pain. As he walks slowly on the frozen river, a hundred pairs of eyes observe him from the bank. Those who

Mamu and Bhanja have pronounced team jester, gets deeper into the part as he narrates stories of his global travels, which includes his stay in a luxury tent that had a “swimming pool inside”. Bt Cotton Farmer is a quiet listener whose opinions are not known. Cleo thinks it is polite to laugh at the jokes of the men. Centaur watches everyone with hawkish eyes and a face that never smiles, probably to masquerade hysterical laughter deep inside his being. He hopes that they don’t start singing, or worse, playing antakshari. He dreads the sight of men drinking, licking pickles, nibbling junk and singing badly. He particularly loathes the moment when a quiet social underdog unleashes his soaring voice for his imagined moment of fame. The Chadar Trek is as much about fellow trekkers as it is about the frozen river. Much can go wrong, not only on the river in the daytime, but also in the tents in the night. In stressful conditions, people tend to gang up and find someone to bully. Or drunken fights can break out. There is news from another campsite that a few Kashmiris have begun to annoy their teammates by raising slogans against India. Centaur shakes with laughter. The trekkers step out to see the night sky, which always startles city people. For several minutes, they are unable to take their eyes off the stars. Someone sees a falling star. Another claims to have spotted the International Space Station. This is joy, everything else is

Centaur is distraught at having to share a tent. He says you go into a tent as trekkers and come out as spouses. As the night grows, everyone sleeps listening to discreet farts, triumphant farts, animal snores and fully formed sentences about deep wishes. But they are in the lap of luxury compared to most of the other trekkers on the bank. The cheap operators have stuffed three or more per tent. At least the sardines have a tent. An hour ago, Gentleman had met a group of young men and women who were lost because they could not find their guides and porters. They were wandering on the bank of the frozen river with no food or shelter or any idea what they were going to do in the night. Hundreds like them, who had paid low-budget operators, would spend the next few days falling on ice because of poor guidance, and subsisting on Maggi and eggs. Team Aquaterra, on the other hand, would be served chicken biryani, cheese omelette, pasta, pizza, dal-rice and even desserts, including rasgulla. In the morning, the trekkers set out wearing cheap gumboots that they had bought in Leh for 400 a pair. The fancier trekking boots they had brought along are tied to their backpacks, adding to the weight they carry. The news is that the river is slushy in parts, hence the cheap gumboots. What they do not know right now is that they will be walking in gumboots all through the trek, except for a short stretch on the


final day. That would mean, according to Centaur’s calculation, he would have carried the trekking boots more than the boots carried him. Before they start the walk, they sit on the rocks and wear crampons, which is probably the ugliest word in the English language. Spikes that are fitted to the shoes, these vastly improve one’s grip on ice, and most people who fell may not have fallen if they had been wearing crampons. The arch-guide on the trek is a local named Dorjee, who is now introduced to the team. He is about 40, beautiful and has red teeth. He is in several layers of tattered clothes and is carrying a huge backpack that may weigh about 20kg. He walks ahead carrying a stick, with which he strikes the river to deduce from the sound if the ice is as hard as it appears. He does not wear a crampon, none of the locals seem to respect it. They begin to walk in a file behind Dorjee. They are now accustomed to the fact that their world is just the frozen river, brown cliffs and other trekkers. And this is a world that is quiet. In places, a fluid strand of the river roars and vanishes below the ice. Their peace is shaken when they reach a bend in the river. There are scores of trekkers on the wall of the cliff. The ice on the river is too thin and everyone has to scale the foot of the cliff and walk across the slope until they reach firm river again. The cliff wall is steep and the trekkers move along a narrow path with great care. A slip can send them tumbling 50ft below, into the river. There are trekkers in both directions. The path is so narrow and there are so many people that someone screams, “Odd-Even please!” That is the only moment of mirth. Otherwise, the situation is tense. A young man screams, “Let us pass, my cousin is bleeding, my cousin has fallen, he is bleeding!” Beyond the narrow pass, the river is solid, but the ice is very slippery. A young woman falls hard and sits on the ice in shock or pain. Cleo slips into a puddle of cold water. Mamu, too. Laughing Buddha, too. Centaur walks with great care behind Dorjee watching people fall every now and then. A porter, who is running, overtakes him and says something to Dorjee, gesticulating that someone behind us has fractured his hand. After a few minutes, Dorjee careens and falls. But he rises. Several hundred metres later, Centaur finds a cluster of red spots on the ice. Laughing Buddha appears behind him and says, “It’s nothing, just tomato juice.” “Would someone be walking on the river drinking tomato juice? Wouldn’t it be frozen?” “It’s tomato juice. Keep walking.” There are two choppers in the sky. Centaur wonders if they are on a rescue operation. “Just sorties,” Laughing Buddha says. “Keep walking.”



A file of young men overtakes them. They are in smart gear and walking fast on crampons. They are a gang of winter studs in dark glasses. One of them is a short, bearded man who takes a long look at Cleo. The stud gang races ahead. Later, as they are resting by the rocks, Bearded Stud would approach the men of Team Aquaterra. Just a friendly chat in the hope that they would introduce him to Cleo. But Indian men don’t easily introduce a feral stud to a woman in their caravan. Over the next few days, the Bearded Stud would surface a few times; he would approach the men and throw long glances at Cleo, but she would not come to know of his existence. She is often preoccoupied with adjusting her inner gloves, outer gloves or cap, or studying the display of her serious camera.

Everybody on the banks thinks, or hopes, they are going to fall. They don’t. The trek has the quality of family life; your opinion on whether it is beautiful or miserable can keep changing in the course of a single day. The trekkers have figured out how things are going to be. In the day, the trek would be nervous, thrilling and beautiful. The trek would be the easy part. The nights would be tough. They slowly make their way into the hypnotic visual monotony of the gorge, watching cliff faces, stunning waterfalls, gushing waters that appear to dive into the ice, and strange ice formations as though Superman has hidden Kryptonite here. On the days when the ice is dry and easy to walk on, they chat as they go. Cleo is telling someone that the toughest part of shooting a hair-gel

survey him. Still, nobody introduces them. Centaur cannot take it anymore. He is about to introduce them when Eucalyptus Farmer walks into the tent. When he sees Stud in their midst, he lets out a laugh, looks at Cleo and smiles at Stud. Stud is shamed. He leaves without a word. But in the days that follow, he finds the courage to return, he finds ways to greet the trekkers and he throws glances at Cleo, who would be fighting with her gloves or cap, or shooting pictures. On the final day, 10 days after they landed in Leh, they walk the final stretch towards the end of the trek. Centaur tries to imagine his own face. He accepts that there is no expression on his face, nothing that shows his happiness at having witnessed extraordinary beauty, walked on a

When night falls, the temperature dips so low that when Centaur spits on his sunglasses to clean them, he only scrapes saline icicles on the glasses In the night, Team Aquaterra seeks refuge in the high tent. They sit in a huddle around the steaming kettle. And they talk, chiefly, of course, about Mamu and Bhanja. “I am done with one-night stands,” Bhanja proclaims. “I want a steady relationship.” “Why do you want to bring home a cow when you can get milk in the shop?” Mamu asks. Centaur finds it amusing that the boy’s uncle must make this statement, which is an old Hindi saying. Bt Farmer, in one of his rare utterances, says, “But a time comes in the life of a man when he needs his own cow.” “Guys,” says Cleo, who has had enough of the masquerade of ‘one of the boys’. “What’s going on?” The topics change through the night. They try to keep talking as long as possible to delay the misery of sleeping in these conditions. But the mornings are exquisite. A golden light falls on the cliffs. The river glows. A tall Dutchman walks by, whistling, hands in his pockets. A girl walks downstream with a porter—she’s had enough of the trek and is going back home. A newly married couple on the river is taking a selfie. The man, in pink trousers, carries the woman in his arms. She yelps, more than she needs to. Look, she is so happy. 254

ad is anticipating hairstyles months in advance, because the ads are shot that much before they are released. Often, the styles of actors and Indian cricketers who endorse gels are decided by their contracts with corporations. If they ever shave off their hair, as one actor did, when their ads are released, they lose a lot of money. Finally, after four days of walking, they reach a village called Nyerak. Here, on the slope of a mountain, there is a huge campsite where scores of trekkers have pitched their tents. Team Aquaterra will stay in a small house, which smells of jaggery. It seems like an exceptional luxury to sleep under a concrete roof. When day breaks, they begin their retreat. By a frozen waterfall, Centaur is struck by the face of a young man. There is something wrong with that face, but Centaur cannot figure out what it is. Finally, it occurs to him. He goes up to the young man and says, “You shaved? You shaved in this cold? How?” The man, a bit wounded, walks away mumbling, “I used hot water.” Bearded Stud stalks the gang, but he still does not manage to alert Cleo to his existence. One evening, as Team Aquaterra is huddled around the steaming kettle, Stud walks in on the pretext of chatting with the men. Cleo is in the huddle and finally, her eyes

treacherous, frozen river for eight days and completed the expedition without becoming crippled. He wonders, once again, if most human expressions are farces invented by actors. In a few minutes, they step away from the frozen river onto a dirt track. And just like that, the Chadar Trek is over. When they reach Leh, they will be reacquainted with their faces, and naked bodies that they have not seen in full length for over a week. And they will bathe and bathe and bathe. They will check their mail and realise that their lives have not been transformed in the days they were away. At the Leh airport, Bearded Stud, now clean-shaven, finds Cleo. This time, he does not waste time with the unreliable medium of men. He goes up to her and talks. At some point, it appears he is taking down her number. He grins wide. Not every face is the invention of actors.

GETTING THERE Fly to Leh with GoAir ( or Jet Airways ( from New Delhi. The 11-day trip with Aquaterra costs 84,000 per person, and includes airport transfers to the hotel, three nights in Leh, all meals, guided sightseeing and porter fees for up to 15kg of baggage.





NOT MY Manju Sara Rajan moved back to the land of her childhood to rediscover her roots. Instead, she


KERALA found a whole new breed of Malayalis shaking things up. Photographs by Raymond Patrick


he sound of falling rain was the background score of all my childhood vacations. Every July for years, my family abandoned the heat of the Arabian desert for the wet gush of Kerala’s perumazhakkalam or ‘downpour season’. Sometimes we spent a month here, sometimes two. If I had to pick emoticons to represent the memories of those years I’d choose an umbrella, a Walkman, an Ambassador, a fish, a book, jackfruit, bangles and a pair of dentures to represent my grandfathers (though only one of them used it). The playlist of my recollections: the rain, of course; Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Roxette and whatever was popular on Top of the Pops in the late ’80s and early ’90s. My grandparents lived in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital. At our busiest, we had ‘house-visiting’ appointments back to back; the rest of the time, my brother, cousin and I were luxuriously bored. We went to the beach on occasion, the zoo maybe, but mostly, we just bummed around, listening and reading, imagining ourselves elsewhere engaged in vastly more entertaining activities. In Kerala, it felt like we were voluntarily marooned in pop-culture wilderness. Malayali monsoons were endured with imported Quality Street candy, Brit-pop music, books,

naadan (home) food and adoring grandparents. A gooey cultural mashup, like a bowl of ramen carbonara. Fast forward to 2015, when I moved from Mumbai to Kottayam. If my childish mind once imagined my home state as a wasteland for contemporary culture, a little over a year since becoming its resident, I stand corrected. In the past few years, a determined bunch, mostly Malayalis, have been instigating changes in the lifestyle of this luscious state. Many, like me, are comeback kids; folks who’ve retired from other places for one reason or another, and live here as outsiderinsiders. That means there are new realms of engagement— in music, contemporary art, design, fashion, food and sport. Much of it is rooted in our Mallu-ness, in this contrarian culture that is both cosmopolitan and tenaciously conservative. In the 2007 movie Big B, Malayali superstar Mammootty renders a line that’s become something of a slogan: “Kochi pazhaya Kochi alla” (“Kochi isn’t the same old Kochi anymore”). I’d go a bit further, to say, “Ee naadu pazhaya naadu alla” (“This land isn’t the same anymore”). It certainly isn’t the same place I ignored during all those childhood staycations. There’s no greater proof of this than the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) (, the third edition of which begins this December, in Fort

Maneesha Panicker of Kayal Island Retreat. Opposite page: mango French toast, mushroon French toast and a beetroot salad at French Toast. Previous pages, clockwise from top left: inside Joe Ikareth’s store; Ikareth at his store; jewellery by Annah Chakola; the backwaters around Kayal; Theresa Joseph George of ViaKerala; clothing by Sreejith Jeevan; the backwaters near Kayal; food at Kayal



The interiors and products of ViaKerala. Left: Ayaz Salim of French Toast. Opposite page: a sculpture in the courtyard at the Kashi Art Café

Kochi. Malayalis don’t consider themselves contemporary art connoisseurs. Nevertheless many successful Indian contemporary artists have risen from Kerala and its art colleges. Six years ago, a minister of the state government goaded Mumbai-based artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari to use their success to do something for their home state. It is a common and effective refrain; most Malayalis would heed a call for the homeland. Begun in December 2012, the Kerala government-supported event has grown into the region’s largest art exhibition, drawing almost a million in audience and some of the world’s best artists. The nearly four-month-long 2016 edition, curated by Sudarshan Shetty, will feature more than 90 international names working with all sorts of media, from modern art to dance and poetry. But perhaps the most important takeaway from the Biennale is simply that it can be done. In Kerala. *













It is 8.30pm in Kochi. I’ve just walked up a two-storey suburban bungalow, to an unmarked door and an inquiring female face. “Yes?” “Music…,” I mumble. “Muse Room?” asks the gatekeeper. “Yes!” She opens the door to another world, albeit a tiny one. Some 20-odd people are milling around an acoustically kitted performance space. Outdoor camping chairs are lined up in front of a small stage all set for a show. An hour later, I’m nodding along with 30 other people enjoying the spontaneity and brash vocals of Mumbai band Daira. The ebullient frontman, Piyush Kapoor, goes through a set of classic rock—mostly Pink Floyd—and 260

original music while continuously charming his Mallu audience in pidgin Malayalam. “Hello chetta [brother],” he says, and all of us giggle in collective adoration. Sumesh Lal, founder of The Muse Room or TMR (www. began as an engineer at a TV network. But he rerouted his career through his musical interests to propose and, eventually, launch two channels here. Dubbed the godfather of Kerala’s indie music scene, Lal is the chieftain of Aum-i Artistes, a company that, besides being a production and design house, also specialises in artist management, with a clientele of TV personalities and new, cultish bands like Thaikkudam Bridge. Music Mojo, the programme he produces for the Mathrubhumi group’s Kappa TV, is a hugely popular avenue for indie bands like Daira. Lal decided to create TMR as an alternative concert space after the state government banned live performances on college campuses, previously the main arena for political and artistic theatrics. Since its opening, TMR’s line-up has included everything from rock to traditional performance arts like Chakyar Koothu. If TMR is the latest in the new wave of cultural spaces, the Kashi Art Café ( in Kochi is more contemporary trivia. Kerala’s first modern art gallery-café was opened by Anoop Skaria and Dorrie Younger in 1997, in an effort to introduce visual arts to a larger audience. “I remember the man who sold us eggs looking at paintings. One day, he told me, ‘I really liked the black drawings in the last show.’ I was thrilled,” remembers Younger. Kashi is now run by businessman Edgar Pinto, who’s expanded its size and role by making Kashi an active participant in the Biennale.

As a child,I imagined

as a wasteland for . I stand corrected 261

There are

of engagementâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;in music, A ferry to one of the islands near Kayal. Clockwise from left: Annah Chakola wearing her designs; Riyas Komu at Pepper House; a tuna and papaya salad at Kashi Art CafĂŠ; Tinky Mathew and Isaac Alexander of Pepper House; inside Studio Kokaachi; t-shirts at ViaKerala; a room at Kayal Island Retreat


modern art,

, fashion,

and sport


Sumesh Lal at his studio. Right: match boxes with comic strips inside, at Studio Kokaachi

The pair’s pioneering patronage of art included a residency on Kakkathuruthu, or the ‘island of crows’. Years as a muse have left the property with a mosaic of eccentricities, including a cow sculpture by Kochi-based Reghunadhan K. A few years ago, Maneesha Panicker quit her job with Estée Lauder in New York and returned to be an entrepreneur in Kerala. She took over the almost-16,000sq ft plot on the island and converted it into the charming two-cottage Kayal Island Retreat ( That’s after she started an experiential travel company, Silk Route Escapes ( This is not an easy place to do business, and certainly more complicated for women. “They’re always looking for ‘saar’ [‘Sir’], so I tell them I am saar,” says Panicker. *













When it comes to art or culture, the rule is, or should be, ‘those who can, must’. Tinky Mathew and Isaac Alexander can, and they do. The couple, who settled in Kochi after stints in Mumbai and Bengaluru, owns Pepper House (, a former warehouse in the Dutch style. In 2012, they began to collaborate with the Kochi Biennale Foundation, offering Pepper House as a venue for exhibitions, an art residency and a library. Now it hosts events through the year. There’s even a café and a design store with an eclectic selection of objects and design publications. It was at Pepper House that I discovered graphic novels by Kochi-based Studio Kokaachi (


This high-quality graphic novel publisher is run by the husband-and-wife team of Tina and Pratheek Thomas. An NID-trained designer, he is the co-founder of erstwhile Manta Ray, which enthusiasts of the genre will remember as one of the earliest graphic novel publishers in India. She was an engineer working for Wipro when she met Pratheek on a train. They stayed in touch, eventually getting married, and she became the writer she’d always wanted to be. When Manta Ray closed, the couple moved back home from Bengaluru for reasons that ranged from professional to otherwise: “We’ve adopted three dogs and in Kerala, we could have a house for them to run around,” says Tina. Their Kokaachi—the name is taken from that of a monster in popular Malayalam storytelling—is an animation hub that works with film-makers like Mani Ratnam, a venue for drawing camps called Vara and the maker of graphic anthologies like Mixtape#1 and #2. My sons, who are growing up in Kerala, often wear t-shirts that read ‘Kerala Kutti’. The second word—meaning child—is spelt out in the Malayalam script. A slice of cultural branding, “wearing their Mallu-ness”, a friend calls it, which has made it so easy to indulge in Mallu-isms. The t-shirts are from ViaKerala (, a design collective and chain of stores owned by typographer Theresa Joseph George. Like many of the Malayalis in this story, she’s a bit of here and a bit of elsewhere. We don’t think in Malayalam, but our sense of the language comes from the written word and its buxom script. “There was very little that reflected the way I thought and spoke,” George says. So she decided to fix that

Designer Annah Chakola of Boho Gypsy


A room at Malabar House in Kochi. Left: Pratheek and Tina Thomas. Opposite page: fishermen by the nets in Kochi

problem. ViaKerala’s products—toys, alphabetic letter cut-outs, t-shirts, bags and loads more—feature graphic designs that are quintessentially Mallu. *












Beyond the backwaters: Food A super-cute, fun food blog, The Malabar Tea Room (www. *

When I moved to Kerala, weather and norm rendered most of my clothes useless. Black, that corporate wardrobe staple, is claustrophobic in this humidity. Jeans, jersey, polyester, any ensemble that requires layering, heels—all out. But then I found Joe Ikareth ( He studied fashion at NIFT and worked with couturier Suneet Varma, before returning to the lake-dense district of Kottayam to produce thoughtful clothing using traditional Kerala cotton fabrics. My favourites from his eponymous label are the structured designs in local cotton. Then there’s Annah Chakola of Boho Gypsy (, who interprets the laid-back Malayali attitude as a sense of bohemia. Chakola’s jewellery, kaftans, bags and textiles retail in the US, where she lived until recently, and at Pepper House in Kochi, now once again her home. ROUKA (www., another Kochi label, is more idiomatic. NID graduate Sreejith Jeevan’s designs place ROUKA’s offerings perfectly in this milieu; they are all about the romance of Kerala communicated as a contemporary love story. The perfect gear for those of us who’ve come back to roost like restive homing pigeons. Has Kerala become cool? I don’t know. But it’s beautiful. And it’s home. That’s enough. 266 chronicles the kitchen tales of a motherdaughter duo from Kannur, in northern Kerala. The text and pictures are by Aysha Tanya, the daughter, while the recipes come from her mum, Khatija Hashim. I especially love that it reflects Kerala homestyle cooking at its ‘multi-culti’ best. Hummus with miso, anyone? Meanwhile, Ayaz Salim’s Kochi chain, French Toast (, is everyone’s favourite breakfast place—all through the day. What I love most is the coffee—espressos as they’re meant to be.


That image of a wooden boat floating down the backwaters? Forget that for a moment. Kerala’s forest cover, mountain paths and coastal beaches make it a great place for adventure sports. Sam Kurian Kalarickal, of KTM Jeepers (www., is considered one of the best off-roaders in India. British transplant Mike Mclean runs Mountain Bike Kerala (www.,) which offers world-class mountain biking in the hills of central Kerala. Water babies, check out Ed and Sofie Templeton’s Soul & Surf in Varkala (

Stay Anand Jayan’s Pepper Trail ( consists of tree houses that sprout out of spice and coffee plantation in the hills of Wayanad. Up in the Chinnakanal hills, former Oberoi group executive Noby Abraham’s The Wind Munnar (www. is a collection of cliffside cottages that offer unending views of the Western Ghats.

Has become cool? I don’t know. But it’s beautiful. And . That’s enough



A DECCAN y e ss y d W





Sometimes, travel is about the journey. And a luxury train wending its way through Maharashtraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wonders just makes it that much more pleasurable. By Annie Zaidi. Photographs by Pankaj Anand



couple of weeks before, my mother had found one of my slippers flipped over, lying across the other of its pair. Righting it, she had asked, “So now where are you off to?” I had rolled my eyes at the old superstition and grumbled. The last year had been a blur of pack, ride, embark, fly, disembark, check in, work, talk, small talk, check out, unpack, rinse repeat. I intended to just stay put. But two weeks later, there I was, one eye trained on the porters who were handling a colourful mountain of baggage, the other eye on an energetic dance performance unfolding on platform 18 at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji station. I had been seduced by the prospect of a long, leisurely train trip with a cabin to myself. They say that some of us have circles on the soles of our feet; we’re always on the move. If you asked me to picture those circles, I’d draw train wheels. I was the bored kid who’d lap up the novel bought at AH Wheeler’s and then fill time by staring at each passing food vendor until someone got the hint. I was the kid who clambered up to the top berth just for fun. Holidays meant train journeys and train journeys marked holidays. Then I grew up. I discovered cost-benefit analysis. Did a languid train trip make sense, even if I’m in no rush? I avoided talking to strangers and complained about having to choose between oily omelettes and potato cutlets. I worried about someone stealing my bags as I slept. Besides, there were toilets to contend with. Is there anything as suspicious as humanity’s motivations in a public toilet? I dreamt of a different sort of train—privacy, clean bathrooms, fresh linen, a dining car with real cutlery and glasses gently tinkling on a tray as a train thunders down a beauteous landscape. Naturally, the first chance I 270

got to be on this dream train, I jumped at it. The new eight-day Deccan Odyssey itinerary in Maharashtra includes Aurangabad, the Ellora caves, the Pench and Tadoba tiger reserves, the Ajanta caves and Nashik, a city of temples, ghats and, well, vineyards. These were all places I wanted to visit, which made the trip sound even better but, honestly, I would have been game even if the train just went around Mumbai in circles. Assuming, of course, we’d ever get started. There’d been a delay of a few hours. The high-octane welcome— drumbeats, bright marigold garlands and a lezim performance by dancers in traditional Maharashtrian costumes— was over, all the selfies that had to be taken were taken, and now some of the passengers were getting cranky. I wondered if I should tell them there’s joy in waiting too. It’s part of the great Indian experience. The wheels in your head must start turning long before the train rolls in. But I held my tongue. Better that I enjoy my own waiting: a book in my bag, a cup of tea within calling distance, hurrying footsteps, the contours of other people’s luggage, announcers’ voices, vendors’ cries giving way to a piercing whistle, a clunk-clunk, a chug-chug. I cast a last, anxious look at my bag on the baggage mountain and told myself to relax. No hurrying after porters. No peering at a printed page stuck outside the train door to make sure my name was on the list of passengers. There were no passengers here; there were only ‘guests’. And lo! Here came a graceful black bandhgala and a warm towel. And there was my bag, securely deposited in my cabin. Walking down the corridor, I caught a tiny glimpse of a fancier suite: carpets of Kashmiri design in a living room. My cabin was simpler, just twin beds and an attached bathroom. But the sheets were crisp white, the lighting soft yellow. There was hot and cold water in the shower, and a large window beside my bed so I could roll up the blinds and gaze at the stars in the middle of the night if I wanted to. I decided I was going to be happy as a kitten in a bowl of cream.

An arch at Daulatabad Fort. Opposite page from top: a view from the Gateway Bar on the train; writer Annie Zaidi at one of the restaurants on board; carvings at an Ellora cave. Previous pages, clockwise from top left: a tourist at Bibi ka Maqbara; the faรงade of the Grover Zampa vineyard; a traditional welcome for Deccan Odyssey guests; a prayer hall at Ellora; Warli art on a wall of the staff accommodation at Pench


There is, however, an old jungle saying: one kitten’s bowl of cream is another’s litter box. What is entertainment to one group of travellers is an extended eye-roll in the head of a writer who feels like she’s walked into a stranger’s wedding. The second day, en route from Aurangabad railway station, where we had been welcomed by another traditional lezim performance, to Ellora, I found myself on a bus filled with families determined to entertain themselves with playing (what is India if not filmy?) antakshari. The guide did try to talk to us about the marvels that awaited in Ellora, a set of caves sculpted from black basalt rock between the 5th and 9th centuries. But to speak of Ellora without lapsing into clichés is not easy. It is best to let the place speak for itself. Commissioned by Buddhist, Jain and Shaivite rulers, the caves lead to intricately designed temples and statues, most religious and some secular figures. The most incredible thing about them is that the artists did not work with separate pieces of rock to build these structures. Instead, they chipped away until a magnificent structure, of 34 monasteries and temples, emerged out of rock, as if it had been hiding inside the Deccan Plateau, waiting to be revealed as a glorious vision. Three days later, at Ajanta, I was again astounded at the majesty of the artists’ imagination, their patience, the humility that must be worn like a second skin in order to create such work. Ajanta dates from the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD, and the art here is primarily Buddhist. While there is some incredible sculpture in evidence, what it is really known for are the narratives painted on the walls and ceilings of the caves. How many years did it take to just prepare the mud plaster surface?

The pleasures of the jungle are many: the flash of a blue jay’s wing, mud the colour of deerskin, the shimmer of a spider’s web 272

A sambar at Pench


Each cabin had its own valet. Mine knew, by the second day, that if I called, it was only because I wanted tea From how far away were the paints sourced? How does one go on painting, knowing the work may not be completed in one’s own lifetime? Walking through the monks’ bare cells—nothing here except a flat slab of rock to sleep on—felt like walking through a place of surrendered ego. Thinking of their calm acceptance of mortality, and the need to create beauty under all circumstances, filled me with a sort of hush. As much of a hush, anyway, as is possible at a popular site of tourism in India. At both places, I split from the group in search of silence and was struck, not so much by what the centuries left unchanged, but by the inevitability of change. Buddhist philosophy changed, drawing from both Tibetan and Hindu mythologies. Kings and nobles changed religious affiliation—Jain, Buddhist, Shaivite— and that decided what temples would be built. The hills themselves have been worn down to their present squat solidity. No destiny, not even one cast in stone, is set in stone. Near Ellora sits Daulatabad, a fort that was rumoured to be unconquerable—until it was conquered. Over the hills came armies led by kings who brought new faiths, new ideas, new fabrics. A mosque was built, combining the temple architecture of the south with northern domes. The cannons sit quiet now. In the distance, I could see a bare field being ploughed by a bullock—the one thing on this scene that hasn’t changed in a thousand years. (The farmer probably has a cell phone in his pocket, though.) And he might grow chillies or tomatoes now, neither of which existed in this land when the monks were up there, chiselling Gautam Buddha into black basalt as if time did not exist. Or if it did, it was of no consequence. 274

For train travellers, though, time is of consequence. Sticking to a schedule is part of the deal. After Ellora, there was entertainment for us. Over dinner at a city hotel, we were treated to—no prizes for guessing— a lezim performance, more traditional costumes, followed by live singing of Bollywood film songs. I gave up my internal eye-rolling and devoted myself to the mirchi ka saalan, a Daccani speciality. Thankfully, the evening was saved by a full-bodied laavni dancer who executed a couple of somersaults on stage. By the third day, I started to feel mildly uneasy. Perhaps it was the blazing May sun, not drinking enough water or not sleeping enough. The medic on board was summoned. He took my blood pressure, gave me a pill, then said softly to one of the staff: perhaps the guests could be advised not to eat too much? Apparently, others were feeling sick, too, and the good doctor was wondering if our complaints were not linked to our thoughtless appetites. Chef Simarpal Singh and his kitchen staff were outdoing themselves and, although the menu was slender, each dish was delectable. Even a light eater like me was loath to skip a course. My own theory, of course, is that my unease was linked to sleeping badly. First, there was the rocking cradle effect, which seemed to be turning me into a colicky baby. Then, my mind which would just not stop turning somersaults and grow still. The third night, I hadn’t slept at all in anticipation of dawn at Pench Tiger Reserve. It was much after dawn, though, when we reached the forest and there wasn’t a tiger in sight. Still, I returned to my cabin relieved rather than disappointed. I wanted to nap and then to wake up to that greatest of luxuries—bed tea.

Waavar, a multicuisine restaurant on the train. Opposite page from top: the staff uniform at Pench Tiger Reserve; a shot of the train tracks; a langur at Pench


Stone carvings inside Cave No 2 at Ajanta

At Ajanta, I was astounded at the majesty of the artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; imagination, patience and humility 277

I like trains. What I like most about them is the delicious feeling of being off-kilter Each cabin had its own valet. Mine knew, by the second day, that if I was calling, it was only because I wanted tea. I was also moved to note that the dining car staff remembered I prefer Assam over Darjeeling. The remembering of a guest’s tea preference is, in my books, a moment of purity. The other great moment of purity, of course, is seeing a tiger in the wild. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve turned out to be a magical place of subterfuge and camouflage. A soft web of green mist hung on either side of the road turned out to be a bamboo thicket. A sudden sprinkling of white dots on a dry riverbank, which, from a distance, looked like unlikely daisies, turned out to be shells. A black drongo, that fork-tailed voice actor, sounded like a hawk when it chose to. The forest was teeming with hordes of tourists with cameras and phones at the ready, and the chatter of the guides: “A tiger alarm! Shh. Hear that? No, that’s just a mating call.” Frankly, no self-respecting big cat would show itself if it weren’t for the fact that the watering holes happen to be in a clearing, with a clear view from a motorable road. I was content listening to jungle gossip—which tigress crosses over to her mate’s territory when she feels crowded in, what cub was fathered by whom, anecdotes about how the last few cheetahs were shot. As it turned out, I did catch a glimpse of the tail of a tigress who had just been gawked at by about a hundred tourists before she turned around and disappeared. Tadoba is not just about the big cats, though. It offers many other pleasures as well: cicadas singing under a too-hot sun, the flash of a blue jay’s wing, mud the colour of deerskin, the stillness of teak, the reddening leaves of tendu, a ghost tree, a crocodile bark tree, a spider’s web shimmering in a faint breeze, langurs lounging like local toughs at a village panchayat, arms resting on each other’s shoulders, 278

staring back at us. Clearly, we were no tigers. I had packed four novels for this trip, thinking I’d need them. Oddly enough, I didn’t want to read. I found myself spending hours in the common lounge when none of the other passengers was around. Or just lying in my bed with the blinds pulled up, staring, letting my mind drift. The windows invited me to look out. Look! Neem and aloe vera have given way to hewn fields, the mud black as the caves at Ellora, and now look! The mud has turned brick-red and now again it is the colour of deerskin. The sun that so brutally scorches the hills around Ajanta has also painted the gulmohurs a fierce red. At sundown, waxy new banana leaves turn to green-gold mirrors. Everything travels as we do. Light. Stone. Paint. Weaves. The earth itself is on the move, look! Night has come swooping down over the land. I like trains. Watching people and platforms and fields and rivers approach and pull away, getting a cautious glimpse into the lives of strangers—I like it all. But what I like most is the delicious feeling of being off-kilter. Perhaps this is how children feel when they first learn to walk. On this trip, for the first time, I also discovered the additional delight of getting a massage in a moving spa. It is hard to describe the effect of being kneaded while being shaken and rocked at the same time, soothing music mingling with the soft thunder of the rails filtering up from beneath the floor. Suffice to say that the experience is unique. There was another unlikely experience on the last evening. It had been a long day of walking around the ghats in Nashik and the charmingly named Goraram and Kalaram temples, followed by a long bus ride to a Grover Zampa vineyard, one of the few in this region that is placed on a slope. Naturally, a little wine sampling followed. I had (naively) assumed everyone would just turn in early.

The ancient temples at Ellora. Opposite page from top: a street in Nashik; the Grover Zampa vineyard; the view from a restaurant on the train


Come evening, the bar turned into a makeshift disco, the staff turned DJ and my antakshari-playing compatriots began stomping heartily to the sounds of the 1980s. The dancers shook to the strains of ‘...rakh di nishane pe jaan, lalalalalalala...’ and were shaken in turn by the movement of the train. I didn’t roll my eyes. I went to dine alone and in silence. The last dinner on board was perfect—a Maharashtrian thali, complete with bhakri, mutton, sol kadi and aamras for dessert—I relished the feeling of eating with my hands. Then I escaped to my cabin, turned the lights off and pulled up the blinds. The stars did not disappoint. Snapshots of the last few days came weaving into my head. A goat walking across a terrace. Kids, arms stretched out, running full tilt on the green grass at Bibi ka Maqbara. Two little girls in Nashik, whispering their innocent wishes into the ears of the Nandi statue. Adolescent girls wearing their Sunday best to the fort. Lovers eyeing

each other over kulfi sticks, careful of langur mothers with babies hanging onto their black nipples. Gravel crunching under the feet of young men and women coming down the fort’s steps, sharing confidences about a broken home, an unforgiving parent, an increasingly forgetful grandmom who never stopped wanting to come back to India. Romance unfolding via comparisons of manual and digital SLR cameras. And at a forest lodge, under the blazing sun, a blazing tawa upon which an elderly man roasts palak parathas with good cheer. To a guest who insists she wants only a ‘small-small paratha’, he says, “Whatever in this world can be done big can be done small, and whatever can be done small, can also be done big.” Indeed, it can. This train trip can be booked online (; 3,71,900 per head, which includes private cabins with en-suite bathrooms, all meals, ground transportation as well as safaris).

NEED TO KNOW: Maharashtra Wild Trail DAYS 1 & 2: MUMBAI— AURANGABAD Board the train and spend the night on board. Early next morning, the train draws into the historic city of Aurangabad, named after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Spend some time exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ellora and the Daulatabad Fort. DAY 3: AURANGABAD Take in the sights of the city, including Bibi ka Maqbara, the tomb of one of Aurangzeb’s wives, built by her son Azam Shah. The monument is famous for it was built to resemble the grandeur of the Taj Mahal. Also, visit a Himroo weaving centre. The fabric, traditional to this region, was patronised by Mughal


royalty. After this, head back to the train and continue onwards to Pench Tiger Reserve. DAY 4: PENCH TIGER RESERVE The train stops at Ramtek. Head off on two safaris to the park, which has a healthy population of tigers as well as other animals and birds, including sambar, chital, neelgai, dhol, Indian pitta, osprey and four species of endangered vulture. DAY 5: TADOBA—ANDHARI TIGER RESERVE The Deccan Odyssey now heads to this reserve (stops at Chandrapur station), which is home to 80 big cats. On safari this morning, you may see not just tigers, but leopards, wild dogs and their prey.

DAY 6: AJANTA In the morning, the train halts at Jalgaon, which is the closest station to the UNESCO World Heritage site. The magnificent Buddhist caves here date as far back as the 2nd century BC. DAY 7: NASHIK Experience two very contrasting sides to this city. First head to the ghats on the Godavari River, where people congregate to perform religious rituals. Then go to the Grover Zampa vineyard to sample other heady offerings: Chenin, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. DAY 8: NASHIK—MUMBAI After having spent seven days on the tracks, snaking across the Deccan, you return to Mumbai.

Two young girls at Bibi ka Maqbara. Opposite page from top: the view from the train door; a wine-tasting session at the Grover Zampa vineyard; Warli art on the faรงade of the train


WHAT TO PACK GG 2880/S sunglasses, Gucci Plaid cosy scarf, GAP, 1,999

Marc 9/S sunglasses, Marc Jacobs, 13,900

William Polo shirt, Wills Lifestyle, 1,999

Egyptian hoop earrings, Tribe by Amrapali, 4,400

Four Seasons Hotel CAIRO

Lite-Dlx duffle bag, Samsonite Black Label, 17,000

Criss-cross strapped sandals, Tresmode, 3,900

Think of Egypt and the colour gold comes to mind—of crumbling old pyramids and glistening sand grains during the day, and the majestic Nile glowing under the moon by night. And at the 20-storeyed Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence, you’re in the heart of it all. The 269 rooms and suites come with views of the city and a deep soaking tub each; meals are accompanied by sights of the Nile and the plush bar offers a selection of cigars to go with the cognacs and whiskies. Plus, the historic pyramids of Giza are less than an hour’s drive away. After a day of exploring some of the world’s oldest existing structures, unwind like royalty, with ancient Egyptian-style treatments at the spa. (www.fourseasons. com; doubles from about EGP2,125 or 16,000) All prices on request, unless stated. See Directory on p300 Gold Leather perfume (200 ml), Atelier Cologne, 19,825

282 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Burnished leather suit belt, Paul Smith, 14,900

Light day lotion, Forest Essentials, 1,750

Gold slip dress, Marks & Spencer, 3,999

Mixed materials backpack, Tommy Hilfiger, 4,999


get the look


Massimo Alba shorts, for MR PORTER, 16,640



OCTOBER 2016 `150

16 20












286 CondĂŠ Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016


WHERE ARE YOU? Perched on a plateau in a country that shares borders with Belgium, France and Germany, this financial institution is an architectural gem. Celebrated Pritzkerwinning architect Professor Gottfried Bohm was commissioned to create this space in 1989, and two years later, the finance giant moved into this iconic landmark made of steel, glass and concrete. The building also houses an impressive collection of art, including painting, sculpture and photography, and hosts exhibitions and concerts as well. Where are you?

SHIREEN KHANDELWAL Email your answers to whereareyou@ and you could win a twonight stay at the Grand Hyatt Goa. See


overleaf for details—and look out for the answer in our next issue, out in December.

Oct-Nov 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 287


WIN a two-NIGHT STAY AT THE grand hyatt goa


f there’s one place in India that spells holiday, it’s the sunshine state, and the Grand Hyatt Goa is an ideal place from which to enjoy it. Located in the buzzing North, the hotel is well located for party animals, and provides an oasis to return to after a hard night. Its 313 rooms and suites all come with balconies and complimentary wi-fi, and some offer stunning views of the sea. With seven in-house restaurants and bars to pick from, guests will be spoilt for choice. There’s modern Australian at The Verandah, Indian homestyle cuisine at Chulha and the all-day The Dining Room, with five interactive kitchens and themed dinners.


The resort also offers over 100 activities, such as zip lining, aquazorbing, heritage tours and much more. Or you could just chill by the pool (there’s an indoor one, too), leaving only for your appointment at the Shamana Spa. You could experience it all! Just rush in your entry with the correct answer to this issue’s Where Are You? competition before 1 November 2016. The prize includes a two-night stay for a couple in a Club Room, with complimentary breakfast and up to five activities. The offer is valid for six months from 1 April—30 September 2017, subject to availability. For information on prize details, call the hotel at 0832 3011 234.


WHERE ARE YOU? This structure is part of a massive temple complex that was built in the 12th century by the king of the region. The name of the most famous temple in the complex, in fact, translates into “City of Temples”. The UNESCO-protected site was built largely out of sandstone, and its design refl ects elements of local art and architecture from the 9th to the 14th centuries. Inside, the carvings and bas-reliefs depict episodes from ancient epics. The temple was also used in the fi lming of a major Hollywood action movie in 2001. Where are you?

ANMOL KUMAR Email your answers to whereareyou@ and you could win a three-night stay at the Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Dubai. See overleaf for details—and look out for the answer in our next issue, out in October.

222 Condé Nast Traveller Aug-Sept 2016

Aug-Sept 2016 Condé Nast Traveller 223

WINNER: AUG-SEPT 2016 The winner of the Aug-Sept issue’s Where Are You? competition is Neha Shah, who correctly identified the above picture as that of the Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia. She wins a three-night stay for two at the Jumeirah Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.

COMPETITION RULES 1. Entries for Condé Nast Traveller’s Where Are You? competition can be sent on a postcard, by email or online (all stating the entrant’s full name, address and telephone number) and must correctly identify the place described according to the instructions given. 2. Entries by post should be sent to: Where Are You? competition, Condé Nast Traveller, 3rd Floor, Dubash House, 15 JN Heredia Marg, Ballard Estate, Mumbai 400001. 3. Email entries should be sent to; entries can also be made online at 4. Winners will be judged at the discretion of Condé Nast Traveller. The decision of the judges will be final and binding. No correspondence will be entertained. Only one correct answer will be registered per entrant per issue. 5. Each entry must arrive no later than the first day of the second month on that issue’s cover. The last day of receiving entries is 1 November 2016. Winners will be intimated by post or over the telephone wherever possible. 6. The entries must be in English and complete in all respects. Incomplete entries will not be considered for a prize. 7. Condé Nast India Pvt Ltd is not responsible for late, lost or damaged mail or email. Illegible or mechanically-produced entries are not eligible. Entries by text message are not eligible. 8. Prizes will not be transferred or exchanged for cash or any other item. No refunds or credits for changes or cancellations are allowed. All other expenses and costs, which are not specified as being included in the prize, are the sole responsibility of the winner. 9. All prizes must be redeemed prior to the expiry date.

288 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

10. Taxes if any on the prize are the sole responsibility of the winner. 11. The Where Are You? competition is open to readers of Condé Nast Traveller who are 18 or older on the date of entry and are ordinarily residents of India. 12. Employees of Condé Nast India Pvt Ltd, participating promotional agencies, contributors to Condé Nast Traveller, and the families of any of those above are not eligible to contest. 13. All entries to the Where Are You? competition become the sole property of Condé Nast Traveller and will neither be acknowledged nor returned. 14. Entries become the property of Condé Nast India Pvt Ltd and may be used for such purpose and in such media as the company deems fit, without requiring the participant’s prior permission. 15. Acceptance of the prize constitutes consent for the use of the winner’s name and likeness and those of his/her travelling companion for editorial, advertising and publicity purposes. 16. Condé Nast India Pvt Ltd will not be liable for any loss, damage or expense incurred by a prizewinner or by his/her travelling companion (for example, costs of repatriation) as a consequence of any party participating in providing the prize becoming insolvent or entering into liquidation or bankruptcy. 17. Condé Nast India Pvt Ltd reserves the right to amend any or all of the terms of this contest, or the prizes on offer, at any time without prior notice. All disputes will be subject to the jurisdiction of Mumbai courts only. 18. Contestants, by entering the competition, agree to be bound by the above rules, terms and conditions. Please indicate if you do not want to be added to our mailing list, which is sometimes made available to carefully screened companies.


INDIA `150



Starring Irrfan Khan + Alia Bhatt + Karan Johar + Rahul Khanna + Naomi watts

This month, Architectural Digest gives you a glimpse inside the world of cinema. Step into the personal spaces of your favorite stars and discover the stylish lifestyles of Alia Bhatt, Irrfan Khan, Karan Johar and Rahul Khanna.


INDIA `150



Starring Alia Bhatt + Irrfan Khan + Karan Johar + Rahul Khanna + Naomi watts


ON THE GO Our pick of the most stylish finds and travel-related news

ORIENTAL FLAVOURS By the Mekong at The St. Regis Mumbai is a hot favourite with patrons of Asian cuisine. The fine dining restaurant’s new Chinese Chef De Cuisine, Shi Xilin, promises to raise the bar higher. An illustrious career spanning 27 years, Xilin is known for redefining oriental food. He has a special interest in Sichuan cuisine, and his preparations capture the nuances, freshness and complexity of flavours of Asian fare. He has created a new set of dishes that stay true to his unique approach to the dim sum tradition. (

INTO THE WILD Looking for the ultimate wildlife resort in western India? Your search ends with The Blackbuck Lodge, which allows you to experience the Velavadar National Park in Gujarat amidst dollops of luxury. The Indian antelope, called blackbuck, ventures close to the lodge’s cottages, while various species of birds can also be sighted. From safaris in customized jeeps to romantic dinners, bonfires and barbecues under the star-lit skies, there is a lot to keep you occupied. (

DISCOVERING ANTARCTICA Is your idea of an ideal vacation one that is devoid of bustling tourists, traffic sirens or busy streets? Then place your bets on Antarctica this December. Cloaked in glacial ice, surrounded by blue seas, and bursting with natural beauty, the white continent is truly heaven on earth. Unearth the marvels of this destination with Abercrombie and Kent, pioneers in experiential luxury holidays. Luckily there are several discounts to be availed on their various packages. Enjoy $6,000 off per couple on the Antarctica Expedition Cruise, with the second child sailing free. On the itinerary are exhilarating shore excursions and once-in-a-lifetime encounters, an exploration of the wildlife-rich South Georgia, the unspoiled Falklands, and the vast wild shores of Antarctica. Take your pick from the two available packages—the ‘Family Holiday Departure’ from 13 December to 29 December 2016 starts from $16,995 per person for adults and from $9,995 for children with the second child sailing free. The ‘Family New Year Departure’ from 19 December 2016 to 4 January 2017 starts from $15,995 per person for adults and from $9,495 for children. Hop aboard! ( +91 88606 05900


CELEBRATING THE GODDESS There is no denying that one of the most vibrant times to visit West Bengal is when it is at the peak of its festivities, namely during the Durga Puja celebrations. Also known as Durgotsava, this 10-day festival celebrates goddess Durga and her victory over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. The entire state resembles a carnival—the roads are lit up, pandals with idols of the goddess populate every street corner, and there is an overall vibe of pomp and fervour in the air. There is no better time to witness the state in its grandest glory! This festive season also serves as a glorious example of how the state comes together to honour culture and pay respect to centuries-old traditions. (

The wait finally ends as W Goa is all set to open its doors to patrons of this luxury hotel chain this November. Surrounded by spectacular scenery, the hotel exemplifies Goa’s merits as a tropical paradise. Sensational art and music unfurl throughout the hotel—whether you’re enjoying sumptuous meals, getting pampered at the spa or indulging in poolside socializing. Take a dip in the WET® or Rock Pool followed by a lazy drink at the bars on the outdoor WET® decks. Switch off, sit back, and relax at this epitome of luxe resort living. (


HEAVEN ON EARTH The search for an exquisite honeymoon destination ends with the picture-perfect island nation of Maldives. Choose the award-winning, all-inclusive Lily Beach Resort & Spa for your stay. The plush villas, sumptuous cuisine, and signature experiences against the backdrop of paradise promise a romantic getaway. The Tamara Spa is a haven for pampering your body and soul. The serene resort is ideal for an intimate destination wedding as well. (

DESIGN DIRECTORY Spazio by Panchshil Realty, India’s largest multi-brand luxury furniture store, will spoil interior design connoisseurs for choice. The 20,000 sq. ft. store in Trump Towers Pune is home to some of the most decadent Italian labels like Poltrona Frau, B&B Italia, Medea and Lema, alongside art by stalwarts like S H Raza, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Ram Kumar, and Manu Parekh among others. (

WELCOME TO PARADISE Tucked away in the northernmost atoll of the Maldives, JA Manafaru is the crown jewel of the tropical island nation. Sprawled across a 35-acre private island, the luxury resort promises experiences like no other. Be the only two people on an exclusive castaway island and enjoy a picnic lunch or champagne sunset, or opt for a tranquil wine tasting session at their underground robust cellar. Add to that the overwater villas, infinity pools in every category, soft white sand, and 50 shades of unending blue, and you have the perfect getaway for honeymooners and families alike. (

LUXE LIVING Scouting for a haven in Mumbai’s western suburbs that offers luxury and connectivity in equal measures? White City by Rajesh LifeSpaces is it. Spread across 11.25 acres in Kandivali, the complex offers onefour BHK apartments; Wi-Fi enabled lobbies, jogging tracks, a spa and other state-of-the-art amenities, topped off with verdant views of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. (

INCREDIBLE INDIA As the world’s largest independent hotel brand, Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ versatile portfolio boasts 650 distinctive properties across 85 countries. Enjoy an inimitable taste of India with their Preferred Plus offer — a minimum two-night stay at the participating hotels from their Legend collection will allow guests to enjoy additional amenities, apart from their signature warm hospitality and exquisite accommodations. If a wellness retreat in the country’s capital city is on your mind, then book a stay at The Imperial New Delhi and enjoy 20% discount on spa treatments. Alternatively, you can experience 1,000 years of Indian history at The Leela Palace Bangalore. The grand hotel in the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ combines modernity with regal splendour. Gourmands will revel in The Leela Palace Udaipur’s ‘Culinary Sojourn’ program that includes two days of experiential Rajasthani dining, interactive sessions with hotel chefs, a city tour of insider street food pit-stops, and a sunset cruise followed by a dinner for two by Lake Pichola. Other participating hotels include Dusit Devarana New Delhi, the Leela Palaces in Chennai, New Delhi and The Leela Goa. (

BEACH, PLEASE! After undergoing a swanky makeover, Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius, has reopened its doors to offer patrons an inimitable experience. On offer are a 2km stretch of a white sand beach that opens onto a crystalline lagoon ideal for water sports, as well as two 18-hole golf courses and a lip-smacking culinary experience. (

DUBAI DIARIES Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, on the Palm Jumeirah, is a serene sanctuary in the bustling metropolis. The 353 luxurious rooms and villas, private beach, and array of activities promise a memorable time. Make sure you stay in one of their picturesque overwater villas that are perched on the Arabian Gulf. The first of its kind in the Middle East, these 106 sq. mt. villas are the last word in indulgent luxury. (

THE JET SETTERS CLUB The newly revamped Club Vistara allows patrons to reap multiple benefits of their fastest rewarding frequent flyer program. Not only does it offer multiple opportunities to earn points, but also allows faster redemption. Upgradation to elite tiers is also a more seamless process. With a slew of other benefits and complimentary vouchers, this one is a win-win. (

CALL OF THE OCEAN Leaders in the world of haute horology, Swiss watch brand Omega, is also known for playing a significant role in ocean exploration. To celebrate their long-lasting association with the seas, the brand has launched its ‘Planet Ocean’ collection. Driven by the acute needs of professional divers, each innovative timepiece has been crafted only after thorough research. (

PICTURE PERFECT Let’s face it — attaining that picture-perfect selfie is no mean feat. But making the art easier is OPPO’s latest selfie expert camera phone, F1s. The leading global technology brand’s TVC for this new offering features Bollywood heartthrobs and OPPO brand ambassadors, Sonam Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan, and highlights the phone’s ability to give you 10/10 selfies. (

THE SECRET GARDEN The Garden Bungalow in West Bengal is a charming boutique property allowing guests to experience the inspiring flavours and aesthetic magic of Shantiniketan. Though designed in a British colonial architectural style, it doesn’t leave out its Bengali roots either. The very idea stems from the Bengali ‘Bagan Bari’, meaning pleasure gardens—a residential concept that was popular among the Bengali aristocrats during the colonial era. There is a special focus on highlighting the wonder of the surrounding flora and fauna, with the inviting and serene garden fittingly serving as the property’s centerpiece. +91 98997 60538

CITY OF JOY The skyline of Kolkata is changing, and Urbana, a futuristic luxury township, is leading the way. Nestled in South Kolkata, with easy accessibility to the rest of the city, Urbana marries modernity with extravagance. The 40 to 45 floor residential towers are among the tallest in the city. The spacious ecoluxury apartments ranging from 1,833 sq. ft. to 9,000 sq. ft. are also high on plush amenities. (

BRING OUT THE PLASTIC The merits of a credit card are many and Yes Bank’s premium offerings pack in multiple benefits like reward points, exclusive memberships, lifestyle benefits and more. The YES FIRST Exclusive Credit Card gives users annual benefits of over 1,00,000 on spending over 1,00,000 per month! You also gain Taj InnerCircle Epicure Plus and Priority Pass memberships as well as 50,000 welcome reward points. (

Sagar Chordia, Ruchi & Anshul Goel

courtesy A delicious spread

of Alto Vino

Rohit Rathi Almona Bhatia & Ajinkya Firodia

Niraj Khinvasara, Shikha & Dhiraj Kochhar with Dave Besseling

The Gentlemen’s Club – an editorial initiative to bring together India’s finest gentlemen who share a common passion – was hosted at The JW Marriott, Pune on the 29th of July with partners Ermenegildo Zegna and Audi. The evening saw some of the city’s most discerning gather for a session of engaging discussions over drinks and a gourmet Italian meal.

Deepika Rathi, Aparna Firodia & Shribala Chordia The Ermenegildo Zegna display

Aditya Bhartia

Dushyant Thakkar & Surabhi Negi Manish & Manisha Jaitha

Govind Thakkar

Sanjana Patwardhan

Umeed Kothavala & Khodu Irani Sanjog & Sonika Shah

Krishna Mohan Jaideep Patwardhan

Mallika Chatterjee, Indraneel Benadikar & Ramandeep Marwah

Tasneem & Gaurav Gadhoke

The Audi TT


SHOP ONLINE, THE VOGUE WAY Get set for two nights of a shopping extravaganza this October, as Vogue, in collaboration with Myntra, brings you the best from the world of fashion right at your fingertips, with Fashion’s!

Tote bags, Monisha Jaising

VOGUE MERCHANDISE: Buy exclusive merchandise created by two of India’s leading fashion designers. VOGUE EDIT: Vogue and Le Mill offer you a pick of some of the most eclectic brands. VOGUE CURATES: Vogue stylists handpick select wardrobe essentials. VOGUE LOVES: Up for grabs–designer wear, jewellery, bags and lots more.



T-shirt, Tarun Tahiliani
















Kaftan crop top, Payal Khandwala


Georgette anarkali, SVA by Sonam and Paras Modi

Stone-embellished cuff, Amrapali

Paperboat earrings, Eina Ahluwalia


Stone-embellished clutch, Pankaj & Nidhi

DIRECTORY The prices and availability of products and services by the following brands were checked at the time of going to press, but we cannot guarantee that the prices will not change or that specific items will be in stock when the magazine is published.

Saris out to dry in Jodhpur. Left: Anita Dongre’s ‘Epic Love’ collection

Anita Dongre: Mumbai 022 6741 1504, New Delhi 011 4103 5862 C Chanel: New Delhi 011 4111 6840 Corneliani: Mumbai 022 6631 1303, New Delhi 011 4604 0711, Bengaluru 080 4173 8170 E Ermenegildo Zegna: Mumbai 022 4347 5261, New Delhi 011 4686 9999 F Fendi: New Delhi 011 4604 0777 G GAP: New Delhi 011 4087 0560, Bengaluru 080 2268 2282 Gucci: Mumbai 022 6749 9491, New Delhi 011 4647 1111, Kolkata 033 2287 0888 H Hermès: Mumbai 022 2271 7400, New Delhi 011 4360 7780 L Louis Vuitton: Mumbai 022 6664 4134, New Delhi 011 4669 0000, Bengaluru 080 4246 0000 A

M Marc Jacobs: New Delhi 011 2469 8588 Marks & Spencer: Mumbai 022 6666 9807 New Delhi 011 4670 6550 MR PORTER: P Paul Smith: Mumbai 022 4006 5089, New Delhi 011 4604 0734, Kolkata 033 4000 4644, Bengaluru 080 4173 8882 Payal Singhal: Mumbai 022 2351 9139 R Raghavendra Rathore: Mumbai 022 6671 3638, New Delhi 093111 12843 Ritu Kumar: Mumbai 022 6692 5346, New Delhi 011 4104 7550, Kolkata 033 4064 1004, Chennai 044 2833 0833 S SVA: Mumbai 022 6609 9360 T Tod’s: Mumbai 022 4242 1818, New Delhi 011 4666 2700 TOM FORD: New Delhi 011 2461 8587

300 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Tresmode: Mumbai 022 6639 9265, New Delhi 011 4103 4239, Bengaluru 080 2802 9545 Tommy Hilfiger: Mumbai 022 6534 5034 W Wills Lifestyle: New Delhi 011 4164 8523

WATCHES & JEWELLERY B Breguet: New Delhi 011 4151 3121, Kolkata 033 2282 0626, Chennai 044 2846 4096 C Chopard: Mumbai 022 2288 4757, New Delhi 011 4151 3121 Corum: Mumbai 022 2640 2511 F Forevermark: www. J Jaipur Jewels: Mumbai 022 6139 9999, New Delhi 098739 83228 L Longines: Mumbai 022 2640 2511, New Delhi 011 4359 2848, Bengaluru 080 4113 0611 O OMEGA: Mumbai 022 6655

0351, New Delhi 011 4151 3121, Bengaluru 080 2206 7784 R Rolex: Mumbai 022 2651 5757, New Delhi 011 4676 7777 T TBZ – The Original: Mumbai 022 2363 3061, Kolkata 033 4006 4905, Hyderabad 040 3024 5001 The House of Rose: Mumbai 022 2369 7685 Tribe by Amrapali: Mumbai 022 2612 5001

BEAUTY A Atelier Cologne: www. F Forest Essentials: Mumbai 022 6639 1402, Bengaluru 080 4211 0481

MISCELLANEOUS S Samsonite Black Label: Mumbai 022 4005 2387, New Delhi 011 4611 3977



AND YOUR FASHION FINALISTS ARE… The judges have made their selection. So are you ready to meet the new faces of fashion? Here’s what the top five fashion designers at Vogue India Fashion Fund 2016 have to say about their brands

“LOVEBIRDS is all about striking a balance between efficiency and expression, by combining structure with fluidity.”

“HUEMN is unafraid, effortless, relevant, exciting and functional.”



“RARA AVIS has an intrinsic design philosophy that redefines immortal design.”

“KANIKA GOYAL LABEL is provocatively minimal, ever-evolving, practically tailored, democratically designed and intrinsically independent.”

“EKA has thoughtful designs in easy silhouettes that transcend the boundaries of shape, seasons and cultures.”






aharashtra’s Sahyadri mountains (also known as the Western Ghats) are a 1,600km-long, UNESCO-recognised biodiversity hotspot. But curiously, few good hotels or resorts have existed in the area and given the people of Mumbai and Pune the opportunity to take in the fantastically lush, green views and fresh air. The newly opened Atmantan Wellness Resort is situated to provide both in large measure, along with a slew of health and wellness therapies (yoga, Pilates, acupressure, ayurveda, colonics, pranic healing) and state-of-the-art facilities (including hi-tech gym equipment and Vichy showers). The Mango Tree Villa is Atmantan’s most luxurious spot: a 1,500sq ft, one-bedroom suite with its own infinity pool overlooking Mulshi Lake, as well as a personal gym, spa room, sauna, steam and outdoor shower. In the monsoon, you’ll lose track of the number of gushing waterfalls you can count from your private verandah. On a sunny day, enjoy breakfast or a cocktail (if your weight-loss package allows it) under the shade of your lovely little gazebo. And during winter, take in the crisp mountain air and—finally—stop complaining that Delhi has all the best getaways. DIVIA THANI DASWANI CONTACT Atmantan Wellness Resort, Mulshi, Pune (; packages from 75,000 for a three-night stay; 1,65,000 for the Mango Tree Villa)

302 Condé Nast Traveller Oct-Nov 2016

Reine de Naples Day / Night

in every woman is a queen

C h e n n a i : T h e H e l v e t i c a 0 4 4 2 8 4 6 4 0 9 5 / 9 6 K o l k a t a : E x c l u s i v e L i n e s 0 3 3 2 2 8 2 0 6 2 6 M u m b a i : E t h o s S u m m i t 0 2 2 6 6 1 5 1 3 0 8 / 0 9 – Ti m e Av e n u e 0 2 2 2 6 5 1 5 7 5 7 / 5 8 5 8 N e w D e l h i : J o h n s o n W a t c h C o , C o n n a u g h t P l a c e 011 41513 110 / 41513121 – J o h n s o n W a t c h C o , S o u t h E x t n 011 2 4 6 4 2 2 9 9 / 416 4 6 7 6 6 B R E G U E T I N D I A N E W D E L H I + 9 1 11 4 6 0 9 2 9 0 7 – W W W . B R E G U E T . C O M






EDITOR Divia Thani Daswani


MANAGING EDITOR Jyoti Kumari ART DIRECTOR Himanshu Lakhwani FEATURES DIRECTOR Prasad Ramamurthy COPY EDITOR Samira Sood PHOTO EDITOR Yogeshwari Singh JUNIOR FEATURES EDITOR Raj Aditya Chaudhuri






SYNDICATION COORDINATORS Giselle D’Mello, Dalreen Furtado



HEAD - EVENTS Fritz Fernandes MANAGER - EVENTS Shivani Kale






Fatima Bhutto Janhavi Acharekar Richard Quest Suketu Mehta Samanth Subramanian William Dalrymple



David Crookes Farrokh Chothia Tom Parker Michel Figuet Steve McCurry GOA GUIDE 2016 COPY EDITOR Anushka Patodia, Aatish Nath



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ike all good South Bombay girls, I visited Goa annually as a child. We’d stay at the Taj - Holiday Village, the first place I had ever seen a swimup pool bar. I didn’t think anything in the world could be cooler than a bar with stools submerged in the water. I would wear my mother’s sunglasses, twirl tiny umbrellas in virgin Piña Coladas, play pool volleyball and eat Thai food. In the ’80s, this was Goa: a nice family resort by the beach. As a tourist, you knew little outside of it, except perhaps the markets in Baga and Calangute. Today, Goa feels alive and buzzing in an all-new way. There are certainly dozens more family resorts, but there are also boutique

hotels, charming villas to rent, comfortable homestays and authentic yoga retreats. It’s been voted by readers of this magazine as their Favourite Leisure Destination in India every year for the past five years. But it’s also become one of India’s most international destinations, swelling with tourists from England and Germany in winter, many of whom stay on as long-term expats. Goa’s food scene has gone way beyond Thai curry, boasting cuisine from exotic lands such as Myanmar and Israel. In fact, its culinary landscape is arguably the most exciting in the country, with a massive range of local and foreign foods, as well as cool, young chefs happy to set up shop here.

All information and travel details are correct at the time of going to press, and may have altered after publication. Unless otherwise stated, hotel prices and airline fares are for the months of publication. Currency conversions are correct at the time of going to press, and may be rounded up.

Most importantly, Goa has thrived because of its openness. It welcomes newcomers into its fold. It refrains from judging you, whether you’re a girl sunbathing in a bikini or an avid partygoer looking for a big night out. It keeps taxes on liquor and food low. It has culture and art in plenty; it has a rich, textured history that is not forcibly rammed down visitors’ throats, but is easily accessible to those who are interested. It has sports and music. It has festivals and events for bikers and artists, musicians and authors. It has a local community invested in keeping tourists safe and happy. It has, for the most part, managed to balance sophisticated hospitality with its sussegad air and charm, sexy sleekness with lazy sea breeze and moonlit nights unmarred by haze. This is why Goa is special. It is that unique place by the beach in India that has truly allowed beach culture to thrive. Cities by the sea are always considered the most liberal and progressive because of their interaction with the outside world, but in India, this openness has, in many places, dissipated. In Goa, it continues. We have an oasis. A respite. The rules of the rest of the country do not apply. And while Goa is not perfect (what place is?) we must acknowledge it for these strengths, and for the beauty and opportunities it gives us. Imagine an India without Goa. Where would we dance barefoot in the sand, eat fresh lobster with our fingers, kayak in the moonlight? Where would we watch cucumber festivals and visit 150-year-old churches on the same holiday? Where would we run off to at a moment’s notice to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary, or take children on an extended weekend? Even those who are privileged enough to spend summers in St Tropez or Miami or Koh Samui do not turn our backs on Goa. It is home. It is vacation. It is everything we want so much of our normal lives to be.

Divia Thani Daswani Editor Twitter @diviathani

Now, you can read the magazine on your tablet and smartphone. Download it here: 6



CONTENTS 8 Festival Calendar All that you need to see and experience through the year

12 Getting Around An illustrated map of Goa dividing it into North, South and Panaji, as well as the best ways to get around the state


50 Panajiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cultural Gems & Hidden Jewels The Goan capital has plenty to keep you occupied for days. Pratiti Basu takes us on a cultural tour

66 The Ultimate Panaji Guide Our comprehensive list of Panajiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most popular hotels, restaurants, markets and experiences


14 Adventure in South Goa The southern part of Goa is not just to laze and relax. Preeti Verma Lal lists some exciting activities you can sign up for

32 The Ultimate South Goa Guide

Not just a party destination, this part of Goa has developed a reputation for its food. Fahad Samar has the inside scoop

96 The Ultimate North Goa Guide Our pick of the best hotels, restaurants and markets so you can experience the north like a local


The little black book of our favourite hotels, restaurants, spas and experiences in South Goa


80 Where To Eat in North Goa


FESTIVAL During this festival, demon effigies (narkasurs) are paraded through the streets and burned on the eve of Diwali (which falls on 30 October this year). People spend months designing and decorating the effigies to win competitions before they turn to ash. You can watch this spectacle at Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, Ponda and Vasco. (

opportunity to go beyond the beaches and get to know some of the stunning avifauna that calls Goa home. The Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Chorao will both be playing host to the festival – where visitors have a chance to see some of the 432 species of birds that can be found in the different parts of the state. (

European International Book Art Biennale This free exhibition was started to encourage the popularity of book design. Participants submit their work weeks in advance and only a select few are chosen to showcase their book-inspired art. If you’re the kind to appreciate single edition hand-done detailed illustrations and elegant calligraphy, it is a must-visit. This year, the biennale will take place on 20 November at the Kala Academy. (http://eibab.

NOVEMBER 2016 The One Fest Goa This youth festival showcases short films and contemporary photography between 21 November and 3 December in Panaji. Participants can attend film shows, thought-provoking workshops, performances, and art exhibitions. (https://; 1,000)

Bird Festival As a biodiversity hotspot, Goa is taking the lead and will be hosting the inaugural Bird Festival from 11 to 13 November. With bird watching trails and visits to birding sites being organised this is an


International Film Festival of India The 47th edition of IFFI aims at providing a platform for world cinema, where upcoming filmmakers can meet with established ones to share, discuss, and learn from them. Attend this festival in Panaji’s INOX and Kala Academy between 20 and 28 November. (; 1,000)

Goa International Jazz Live Festival Back for its fourth year between 25 and 27 November, this jazz festival offers a range of performances by young virtuosos and established

musicians from 10 countries. It is held at the Stone Water Eco Resort, in Vasco da Gama. Music lovers can see film screenings as well on the sidelines. (www.; daily passes from 1,200 and threeday passes from 3,000)

Tripurari Poornima It celebrates the mythological story of how Krishna defeated and killed the demon Tripur on a full moon night and marks the end of Diwali in Goa. People used to commemorate this win by setting lanterns into the river. Nowadays, the people of Sanquelim compete in a miniature shipbuilding contest, which has quickly emerged as the highlight of the festival. (

DECEMBER 2016 Goa Arts and Literature Festival (GALF) GALF is a prestigious platform to introduce upcoming artists and authors, and to promote the vibrant literature, music, theatre and film culture of India and the world. The festival will be held from 8 to 11 December at The International Centre Goa, Dona Paula. Writers Mridula Garg and Amitav Ghosh have attended this festival in the past. Entry is free. (

Christmas Where do we begin with Christmas? With its large Christian population, Goa truly outdoes the rest of the country when it comes to this festival. The excitement starts on 1 December, when families decorate their houses with tinsel, baubles and fake snow and villages create their own mangers. If you’re an early bird, wander through the villages at 6am when the crowds are minimal and you can see the decorations in peace. Join a local crib trail, that sees young and old alike walk through the neighbourhood to look at cribs that are built by the community. Dress up in your finest garments to attend Midnight Mass and wish the locals a “Merry Christmas” with the classic double cheek-to-cheek kiss. If you are invited to a Christmas lunch on the 25th, you’re really lucky—this will probably be the tastiest meal you’ll eat on your holiday. Don’t fret if you have no plans, though—most hotels also serve a Christmas feast in the evening. For something special, head to beaches like Baga or Calangute in the North, or Colva and Bogmalo in the South to see the fireworks over the water. (

New Year’s Eve St Francis Xavier’s Feast This annual feast takes place in Old Goa at the Basilica of Bom Jesus on 3 December in commemoration of Goa’s patron saint Francis Xavier. The basilica is also the resting place of his mortal remains. Every year, there is a grand fair on it grounds, with stalls selling food, toys and homeware. (

The crowd descends upon Goa to welcome the new year with infectious energy. And the state pulls out all the stops when it comes to the party of the year— right from firework displays to gigs and parties at clubs and hotels, there’s something for everyone. The revelry spills out on to the streets and beaches. (


OCTOBER 2016 Narkasur Parades



Interiors of St Francisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Basilica. Opposite page: A narkasur effigy


FESTIVAL CALENDAR JANUARY 2017 Feast of the Three Kings

extravagant parades run through the month of March across Goa. (

The Our Lady of Remedies chapel at Cuelim re-enacts the story of the Magi (three kings) on 6 January. Three young boys are chosen from Cuelim, Cansaulim and Arossim to dress up as the three kings bearing the same gifts they gave the infant Jesus. A marching band leading the way for the trio that arrive on horseback. (

APRIL 2017 Goafest

International Kite Festival

Goa Food and Cultural Festival

Watch 20-40ft kites take to the skies in this magnificent display on Colva and Miramar beaches. The festival is organised by Belgaum Kite Festival, in association with Goa Tourism. Last year saw participants from 15 countries and 20 national teams. (

Food lovers, gear up to descend on Goa for the annual food and cultural festival, to be held between April 6 and 10. Showcasing the state’s rich tradition of seafood and regional cuisine, the festival is also a great place to mingle and sample some of the lesser known dishes that Goa is known for. (https://

The Grape Escapade Held every year since 2005, the Grape Escapade is a festival that brings together music, wine and food. With hotels, restaurants and chefs presenting their culinary delights and performances by local favourites the festival culminates in the selection of the Grape Escapade Queen.For those that want to try their hand, or rather feet, at grape stomping— the festival allows you to do so. With cultural performances and more, there’s something for everyone. (http://goa-tourism. com/GTDC-holidays/festivalfebruary-grape-escapade.htm)

FEBRUARY 2017 World Mouth Harp Festival of India The fifth edition of this music festival (from 3 to 5 February, taking place at Jungle Dance Café, Arambol) will offer a unique twist—instead of featuring established bands


The Goa Carnival. Opposite: A man at the São João festival

and musicians, it will encourage music collaborations by creating fresh musical projects right at the festival. There will also be guided music workshops and the chance to create your own band. Entry is free. (http:// mouthharpfestindia.worldharps. com)

Monte Music Festival Jointly organised by Fundação Oriente and Cidade de Goa, this is a three-day classical Indian and international music and dance programme taking place at the Capela da Nossa Senhora do Monte in Old Goa. This year, the dates are 3 to 5 February. (www.

The Goa Carnival The celebration will start on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday

(25 February this year) and continue to the 28th, where people will flock to the streets to dance. The parade opens in Panaji and the party continues downwards to Margao, with energy levels to match the Brazilian Mardi Gras. It’s an animated blend of tradition and culture that honours Goan life. (

MARCH 2017 Shigmotsav Shigmo honours the return of local warriors who had left the land at the end of Dusshera to fight invaders. People dress up in bright colours, fly multicoloured flags, perform traditional dances and re-enact mythological scenes. The raucous spirit is infectious once the drums and flutes brighten up the parades. The

Konkan Fruit Fest If you love fruit, this festival that takes place in late April-early May in Panaji is right up your alley. The Konkan Fruit Fest sets a theme for the year and offers food lovers the chance to learn and rediscover fruits through unique workshops, fruit-carving competitions and fruit-related sales. Kokum, jambun, starfruit, bimbli… is your mouth salivating yet? ( konkanfruitfest)

MAY 2017 Igitun Chalne Held in May at the Sirigao temple in Bicholim Taluka, devotees of the goddess Lairaya walk across a pit of coal to prove their devotion to the goddess. The festival literally translates to “fire walking”, which makes it a sight


This advertising festival is usually held in April, where media and marketing agencies share their expertise through knowledge seminars, talks and award ceremonies. (

worth travelling for. (

JUNE 2017 Holy Spirit Festival The Christian feast of Pentecost will be celebrated on 4 June, 50 days after Easter, to celebrate Jesus’ ascension into heaven. The Holy Spirit Church in Margao hosts a procession of priests and laity wearing red ceremonial robes. A large number of worshippers gather in the church square offering provisions to stock up their kitchens for the rainy season. (

river that connects Siolim to the sea, where a concert is held each year. GTDC organises a São João cruise from the Santa Monica jetty in Panaji from 10am to 3pm. Tickets can be bought in the days preceding São João. (www.

Chikhal Kalo Ponsachem Festival This is a jackfruit festival, celebrated in some villages on São João. The villagers from Socorro celebrate by preparing delicious sweet and savoury dishes such as sattam and jacada, all made with jackfruit. (

Sangodd (Feast of St Peter and St Paul)

São João By far the family favourite— one visit and you will be hooked—is this bacchanalian water carnival that begins on the Feast of St John the Baptist, on 24 June. Associated with pre-Christian and pagan practices in Europe, villages erupt into revelry on this day. The celebrants crown themselves with spectacular kopels (tiaras made from flowers), and parade around their neighbourhood, accepting sweets and downing shots of feni at each house. By late afternoon, the revellers gather by the tiny

Goa’s rainy months, and often proudly toting baby boys. The statue at the church is famous all over Goa for miraculously bestowing male children to those who present her with cucumbers. (www.

The feast is celebrated on the backwaters of Candolim on 29 June. Like much Konkani Catholic practice, the fishermen’s custom of building a floating chapel on a platform made out of several of their boats actually has Hindu roots—the flight of the deities via river into the hinterland in the face of Portuguese iconoclasm. Locals gather on the riverbank to make merry, while the floating chapel hosts a rollicking concert by Goa’s favourite folk theatre (tiatr) performers. (

JULY 2017 Touxeachem Fest It’s rare to see tourists at the Cucumber Feast (Touxeachem Fest), which takes place in Santana de Talaulim church. On feast day, 31 July, the church is filled with unending streams of pilgrims, all of them brandishing bright-green local cucumbers that proliferate in

On this day, people rush to the streets to play in one giant mud bath, mimicking how Lord Krishna would play with his friends in the fields during the monsoons. The streets are filled with people singing riotous songs and throwing food at the players. The festival takes place on the 11th day of the Aashadh month, as per the Hindu calendar. (

AUGUST 2017 Patolleanchem Feast Taking place on 15 August, this feast is organised by the Socorro Socio-Art and Cultural Association to celebrate traditional Goan culture. On this day, a local dessert called patolleo (made out of jaggery and rice and covered with a turmeric leaf) is blessed by the local parish priest and distributed. (

Bonderam Festival Divar, the quiet island off the coast of Panaji, buzzes with excitement on the fourth Saturday of August for this festival. The day is in memory of the Portugueseera clan clashes on the island. Celebrations include a multicoloured flag parade, which represents the numerous historic clans, live music, and playful enactments of fights. (

SEPTEMBER 2017 Ganesh Chaturthi The festival is celebrated with much fervour in Goa, where clay idols of the elephant god are worshipped for up to 21 days. Ganesha idols come in various sizes and designs, and special effort has been made to keep these idols eco-friendly in recent years. On the last day, devotees throng to the beaches to immerse the idols in the sea. (

OCTOBER 2017 Poderanche Festival Only in Goa, can a festival to pao and bread seem not just logical but overdue. The Poderanche or Baker’s Festival is hosted in the northern village of Succoro. Bringing together stalls selling bread as well as foods that utilise the famous pao (like choriz-pao, bhaji pao and omelette pao) the festival is an excuse to eat and learn more about where local varieties come from. The festival also highlights the fast disappearing small bakers, who often work in congested conditions to ensure that Goa gets its daily bread. (http://www.

Vintage Bike and Car Festival The inaugural festival was held in 2016 and saw over 100 vintage vehicles participate. As the festival expands, the number of visitors will only increase, as they take in the colourful cars and bikes on display. What most people don’t know is that Goa has two privately run vintage car museums that enthusiasts can visit when on vacation. With Austin, Morris, Cadillac and Ford models on display, petrolheads and design lovers alike will have something to look forward to. (



HIRE A BIKE You can rent a bike between 200- 350 per day and be master of your own schedule while in Goa. Geared bicycles are available on rent as well, at a slightly higher cost of 400 to 1,000 per day, but is still one of the most cost efficient ways to get around the length and breadth of the state. USE THE PILOT SERVICE (MOTORCYCLE RICKSHAWS) Unique to the state are

its affordable motorcycle rickshaws that come with ‘pilots.’ The motorcycle rickshaw can only accommodate one person at a time, and can be used for long or short distances. The government has sanctioned the price at 5 for the first kilometre and 2.50 thereafter. Ideal for solo travellers, this is an option that doesn’t break the bank. AUTO RICKSHAWS OR CABS If you are willing to haggle, and want to travel in a group, auto rickshaws and cabs will take you where you want to go. But be warned, there’s no meter system and the government approved prices are rarely what you get charged. A pre-paid taxi service is also available from the airport, and some railway stations. There’s no worries about being overcharged here, the rate is a standard amount based on number of kilometres. http://www.goa-tourism.

com/GTDC-holidays/ download-tourist-taxirates.htm WOMEN TAXI SERVICES Solo women travellers or even those travelling in a group needn’t worry about their safety, the government has recently introduced metered taxis that are operated by women. New cars, GPS monitored routing and a printed bill ensure that you know just how much you are being charged and why. A centralised call centre takes bookings, and each car is equipped with a panic button for any emergencies. Call 0832 2437 437 to book. http://www.goa-tourism. com/GTDC-holidays/tariffwomen-taxi.htm FERRY A convenient and cost effective way to travel in Goa, the ferry however serves only a few locations. Some of the routes are Betim to Panaji, Old Goa to Divar Island, Querim to Tiracolor, or

Cavelossim to Assolna. See Goa from its waterways while sharing the catamaran with two-wheelers and cars that are also making the most of the many rivers that crisscross the state. It’s free for pedestrians and two-wheelers and minimal charges are applicable to cars. LOG ON THE THE GTDC WEBSITE FOR DETAILS: For a full list of government approved vendors visit the Goa Tourism website www.

Download the Goa Tourism mobile app



here are multiple options for those who want to travel around Goa. You can rent a bike or car, take a bus, ride a ferry or opt for a motorcycle taxi—a unique mode of transport. Rental agencies can be found all over the state, and your hotel can help you with recommending the best way to see the sites. For a leg up on how to get around, here are some GTDC-recommended tips and tricks.







ities, I thought, could never be prettier than glossy postcards that make you swoon over faraway, unseen lands. Still in pinafore and pigtails, I had stuck Goa postcards in my scrapbook: turquoise water, silken sand, emerald landscapes dotted with palms, thatched shacks, white churches. Images of a faraway, unseen land. Then, one day, I flew over the country’s tiniest state. One look at Goa and I realised cities can indeed beat postcard-induced fantasies. On my very first visit, Goa got under my skin: the green of paddy lending contrast to the orange and red of cashew apples, the air heavy with the whiff of urak and feni. In the taverns, the stories of cartoonist Mario Miranda still fresh. The bustle of the carnival and the clang of the church bells. People happy and content. The Goans love their siesta and the slow pace is infectious. Plus, as a woman, I felt safe. As someone who enjoys solitude, I was bewitched by its quiet. Then, one day, it happened. I became a local. Saw a home, signed the cheque, packed my bags and moved. To live in Goa. Today, as I sit by the window of my study and look out, I see an enlarged version of the postcard from my childhood scrapbook. From my rooftop, I watch the Mandovi River meander gracefully. And when the adrenaline kicks in, I head to South Goa for adventure. Yes, the scenery is gorgeous in Goa, but go beyond, as I finally did, and explore the many activities available. Postcards are pretty, but the salty sea wind in your hair is a rush of a totally different kind.


IN SOUTH GOA Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more to do than just laze and relax. Preeti Verma Lal lists some exciting things you can sign up for


TREKKING If you do not own a pair of duff lungs and have a spring in your gait, check out Wild Trek Adventures for trekking. There are countless options—the Savri Waterfall trail (2.5km one way), on the outskirts of the Netravali, is an easy trek with butterflies along the way; Pali Waterfall trail (5km one way) is a tad uphill; Kuskem Waterfall trail (less than a kilometre) is easy and doable even by the lazy; Mynapi Waterfall trek (6km one way) is a moderate trek, but the steep descent is not for the faint at heart. The king of all treks in South Goa is the Sonal Waterfall trail (12km one way), which is only for the physically fit. ( trekking.htm; from 700 per person, including a snack, water bottle, lunch, forest entry fees, guide and transport charges)


CASHEW APPLE HARVESTING SEASON & CASHEW TRAIL The cashew apple harvesting season takes place between March and May. During this time, you can visit Madame Rosa Distillery’s farm (098230 29032) in Valpoi to pick cashew apples, wear rubber boots and stomp the fruit, watch fresh juice simmer in copper pots sealed with anthill clay and drink fresh feni. Packaged to coincide with this season, the Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa ( organises a 10-day Cashew Trail event, where you can learn food and feni pairing, and get slathered with cashew oil and wrapped in cashew paste at Sereno Spa. You’ll also visit a cashew farm in Goa, and learn how to make cashew-based dishes. Contact the concierge desk to sign up.

The Cashew Trail at the Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa. Opposite: Trekking in Goa. Previous page: Aerial view of a beach


A sailboat in the Arabian Sea


SAILING TRIP There’s nothing quite like wearing the linen, donning a hat and sailing on the blue waters. No traffic snarls. No honking. Only the calm of the sea and the trill of the gulls. Gather a group of four friends and hire a boat from Adventure Breaks (www.; boat hires from 11,990, four people is max). The skipper and the guide will start from Dona Paula and navigate to Hollant Beach, a tiny cove round the corner from Bogmallo beach. Reach Hollant by mid-afternoon. Simply splash in the freshwater pool and have lunch at Copa Cabana bar (099234 61944). ( & parasailing.htm)

ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES & SPICE PLANTATION TOURS If you have one day and that adrenaline rush is kicking in, head to NV Eco Farm ( It is a one-stop shop for adventure activities and spice plantation tours. Another option is the Tropical Spice Plantation ( that offers guided tours of its herbs and spices followed by a Goan lunch. There’s also avifauna to spot and a boat ride on the lake to choose from. Those seeking adventure can opt for NV Eco Farm’s seven activities (wall climbing, rappelling, ziplining, Burma bridge, commando bridge, monkey bridge and tyre crossing) and spend the day in the farm. (



FENI APPRECIATION CLASS Age does matter. You need to be 21 years to know all about feni, Goa’s heritage brew. Set aside the Merlot and the tequila. Let the sommelier sit this one out. Tinkle your glass with urak and Lembronça, a charcoal-filtered and oak cask-matured cashew feni made by Madame Rosa Distillery. Listen to Jeffrey Manuel, the fennelier, when he coaxes you to ‘nose’ the feni or roll it around your tongue. Learn to shake and stir heady cocktails with feni. Get serenaded by traditional Goan dancers and musicians. Lend an ear when Mac Vaz of Madame Rosa narrates the story of feni and tap your foot when Manuel strums the ukulele. (098230 29032; takes place at various hotels and resorts in Goa and costs 4,200)

TRADITIONAL GOAN FOOD & DESSERT-MAKING CLASS This one might be the perfect antidote to a jet lag. Barely 1.5km from Dabolim airport, tie an apron, step into the kitchen of Rita Mukund Shinde and rustle a hearty traditional Goan meal for yourself. Of course, Rita will teach you the tricks; she has been doing this for five years. Sign up for a five-hour Goan Cuisine class, which includes a market tour and cooking five traditional Goan dishes. Try what you learnt and eat it for lunch. (And take the apron home.) The Goan Dessert-Making class is also an option—here, you learn to make doce (a fudge-like, diamondshaped sweet), serradura (a creamy Portuguese dessert made from vanilla-whipped cream), caramel pudding and nachni dodol (a sticky pudding made with jaggery). (www.ritasgourmetgoa. com; Goan Cuisine class takes place from 9.30am to 2.30pm and costs 2,850; Goan Dessert Making class takes place from 9.30am to 2.30pm and costs 2,500)



Jeffrey Manuel, noted voice-over artist and fennelier. Opposite: glasses set for a feni appreciation class


ELEPHANT ADVENTURES It is not easy to bathe a 7ft tall, 3,000kg elephant in a river (especially if there’s slush on its back). But it’ll be an incredible experience for certain. Sign up for this and other adventures of the elephantine kind with Jungle Book in Collem. You can also accompany them on long walks of varying duration. Pick from short (five-minute; 700), medium (10-minute; 1,000) and long (15-minute; 1,500) rides. Or, watch them frolic about in the water and help bathe them ( 700). Jungle Book also offers jeep and bike safaris through rivulets and dense forest to Dudhsagar Falls. ( &

Bathing an elephant




Aerial view of a beach


HELICOPTER RIDES Carry earmuffs and a photo ID. Wait for the orange Bell 206 chopper to land. Buckle up, listen to the instructions of the Pawan Hans pilot and get ready for a 10-minute joy ride over the southern coastline of Goa, covering the beaches of Arossim, Majorda, Betalbatim, Colva, Benaulim and Varca. The rides are available between 1pm and 4pm, with a refuelling break around noon. Pick from the 10- and 15-minute rides, both with two route options. (; 3,500 per person for a 10-minute ride)

HOT-AIR BALLOONING Get there before sunrise. Watch the Tiger Balloon Safaris crew fire up the gigantic balloon. Hop in. Soon, you’ll be 2,000ft up in the sky, winging through ribbons of mist. You are flying, standing in an open wicker basket, at a leisurely 9km per hour. There is no seat. No seat belt. No straps. There is a pilot, but no steering wheel. You know the flight took off from Assolda Ground, Chandor, but the landing point is uncertain. Float around for 45-90 minutes and see the sun come up from behind the mountains. Get a bird’s-eye view of old churches and emerald landscapes and breathe in the crisp morning air. It is a ride you’ll never forget. ( Log on to for more on all activities


ALL over goa

GOA’S BEST BEACHES Because if it’s beaches in Goa, you’re spoilt for choice


hether you prefer your beach vibrant, buzzing with beach shacks and tourists from all over, or quiet, secluded and peaceful. Goa has a perfect beach for you. Go parasailing, meet the locals, chill at a shack, or watch the waves and contemplate the meaning of life—the beach never judges. So we put together our favourite Goa beaches.


Anjuna The rocky Anjuna is filled with palm trees swaying in the wind and small coves where the sea hugs the cliffs—great for the kind of sunset photographs that become desktop wallpapers. And it comes alive every Wednesday with the flea market, where you can pick up chunky jewellery, footwear and curios. Arambol A favourite of locals and tourists alike, Arambol is surrounded by small tattoo stalls, and yoga and meditation centres. Word is that a short walk away, there lies a pool with yellow clay, which is said to have healing properties.

Baga Clichés are clichés for a reason. At Baga, you’d be among the thousands that visit everyday, so join the crowds making the most of their time. Sunbathe on one of the many beach chairs, embarrass yourself on a banana boat ride on the sea and throw a spontaneous party in one of the tiny shacks.


Calangute Known as the ‘Queen of Beaches’, the bustling Calangute is where you go if you want all of it. Watch the waves; sample some seafood at one of the many eateries or just people-watch—we could be here all day. Candolim Nestled between the Sinquerim and Calangute beaches, Candolim is where you go for a romantic evening on the beach. Walk barefoot on the golden sand, or pack a basket for a private picnic by the sea.

Mandrem North Goa’s beautiful Mandrem Beach is as untouched as it gets. It’s visited by very few people, so take a dip in the blue waters, or go crazy Instagramming the gleaming white sand and colourful huts. Miramar Often described as the “Chowpatty of Goa”, Miramar is located just 3km away from Panjim and boasts great views of Fort Aguada. It’s a great place to visit with the family, so plan an afternoon of football on the beach with the #famjam

Morjim If you see some Russian signages in shacks and shops around Morjim, don’t be surprised. It’s because the beach is a favourite with Russian tourists and expats. Vagator If the old Chapora fort towering over Vagator seems familiar, it’s because it was a part of the cult film Dil Chahta

Hai. Go ahead, recreate that iconic picture of Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna looking out at the blue sea—we won’t judge.


Agonda One of the few beaches still relatively untouched by stores and restaurants (and people), Agonda is ideal for a lazy afternoon spent reading under coconut trees. If you visit during September, watch out for the nesting Olive Ridley sea turtles.

Utorda Adventure junkies should head here for water sports. Start with a morning lesson in windsurfing and try your hand at jetskiing. For a perfect end to the evening, hire a catamaran and watch the sky turn every shade of pink.

Varca Home to some exclusive resorts and hotels, Varca Beach is one of Goa’s cleanest and quietest. Get cozy in one of the many beachside shacks for some chilled cocktails and spicy Goan seafood. #MealWithAView Bogmalo Because it’s cut away

Benaulim Located 2km away from Colva village, Benaulim is a fishing beach, but is surprisingly serene. If you do spot a local, ask them where you can see the traditional rosewood furniture and handicrafts that the area is known for.

from beaches in the North and South Goa, it’s very hard to visit Bogmalo and not feel like the beach isn’t for you alone. Get a taste of the good life, and go for a swim in the blue waters or take a dolphin-spotting cruise to one of the nearby islands.

Colva Its proximity to popular

Cola If there were a paradise

resorts and tourist attractions means that Colva Beach is one of Goa’s busiest. Thankfully, it’s also one of Goa’s largest— stretching on for almost 20km— so you can get away for long walks on the beach. #DND

somewhere, it would probably look like Cola beach. Located in Canacona, the beach brings together swaying palms and a river. The soft waves crashing on golden sand, an endless Arabian Sea and a clear, coconut treelined freshwater lagoon that’s the icing on the cake.

Palolem If you’re looking for a party on the beach, it’s probably here. The pristine beach comes alive with locals and tourists who dance till late into the night. If you’re worried about the noise, add to your list the silent parties that happen every Saturday (www.

Cavelossim Located 15km from Margao, Cavelossim will have you thinking of the Maldives—pristine white sand, swaying palms and daybeds shaded by thatch. Pick a spot, hang a hammock and watch the world go by. RASHMI SHANKAR

Morjim Beach



ALL over goa

FOLK DANCES OF GOA The best way to know a Goan is to dance with him. Kanchan Wadhwa tells you about some of Goa’s most loved folk dances. Read carefully, and you may just hear the music Dekhni It means bewitching beauty in Konkani. A famous Dekhni song, ‘Hanv Saiba Poltodi Vetam’ was adapted by the legendary filmmaker Raj Kapoor into ‘Na mangoon Sona Chandi’ for his movie Bobby. Dashavatara The dance form derives its name from the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Originating in Kerala, this dance was introduced to the Konkan region in the 16th century. The red and white makeup of Dashavatara actors distinguishes them from the spectators. Fugdi (Foogdi) This folk dance brightens up the months of August and September. The exuberant ‘Foo’—the sound made when the dancers match the rhythm by blowing air through their mouths give the dance its name. Dhalo Dhalo is one of Goa’s most popular rural dances, that is performed by women


on a moonlit December night. A dozen women assemble after dinner in the courtyard of a house and dance to folk songs woven with religious and social themes. Dhangar dance The Dhangars are a shepherd community who migrated long ago from Gujarat and have now settled in the hilly parts of northern Goa. They too observe the festival of Navaratra with exuberance. Performed on the tenth day by men, the dance is like poetry—rhythmic, lyrical and devotional. Goff A celebration of a bountiful harvest, each dancer holds a colourful cord hanging at the centre of the ‘mand’— the place of performance— forming an intricate braid along with the rest of the artists. In the second phase of the performance, the dancers reverse so that the braid unravel and all the cords are single once again, a masterful feat of coordination.

Musalam Khel A war dance celebrating the victory of King Harihara II, of the Vijaynagar empire, over the Cholas. The performers are led by a senior Kshatriya gaunkar (villager) as the captor of a bear (symbolic of the Cholas) dressed in a wellworn black blanket and holding a fig branch. Kunbi (pictured below) The earliest settlers of Goa, they are a sturdy tribal community that mostly reside in Salcete taluka. Their songs and dance belonging to the pre-Portuguese era are social and not religious Divlyan Nach Could you balance a lit brass lamp on your head and dance gracefully to lilting music? This folk dance performed during the Shigmo festival does just that. Veerbhadra This folk dance is a tribute to Veerbhadra, an attendant of the Hindu God Shiva but widely regarded as the latter’s son. To the beats

of the dhol (drum) and kasale (cymbals), an artist dressed in a royal ensemble flashes two swords in his hand as if he is preparing for a battle. Romta Mel Romta Mel is a way for Goans to express their thanks to their Gods, accompanied with a serpentine procession of people marching their way to a temple. Corredinho Another example of the Portuguese influence on Goan culture this dance—originating from the Algarve region of Portugal—involves six couples and some exquisite footwork. Ghodemodni Ghode (horse) Modni’ (dance-like movements) is a spectacular warrior-dance so don’t forget to put on your party armour. Some say it commemorates the victory of the Ranes, the Maratha rulers of the Sattari taluka in Goa over the Portuguese. Vive la Goa. For more on Goan culture log on to

all over goa

GOA ON A PLATTER 10 iconic Goan dishes every visitor must try, decoded by Samira Sood


largely to vinegar. Pungent and hot, it’s best savoured in the warm embrace of a pao. Sorak A simple vegetarian curry, this is usually made during the monsoon, when fish and other seafood aren’t available. The flavourful red curry’s main ingredients are ground coconut, kokam and Kashmiri chillies. Sorpotel This pork dish includes offal like liver, tongue and even blood. Its roots can be traced back to Portugal, via Brazil and Africa, but Goans have made it their own. Vindalho Another spicy dish, this curry can be made with other meats, but traditionally uses pork. Vinegar and garlic up the pungency of this favourite. Prawn balchao The seafoodtomato pickle is somewhat of an acquired taste, but those who like it can’t get enough of it. Crab xacuti Although xacuti can be used for other meats, and even vegetables, few things are as deeply satisfying as luscious morsels of crab in this delicious thick curry, flavoured with coconut, white poppy seeds and dried red chillies.

rom the Mauryans to the Portuguese, from Hindus, Buddhists and Jains to Muslims and Catholics, Goa was ruled by such a variety of clans and communities that their influence was bound to be seen in its cuisine. We list our favourites from a food that is distinct and varied.


Beef chilli fry Leftover roast beef is enhanced with a generous amount of ginger, peppercorn, garlic and other spices. Mop it up with pao or just polish off a bowl by itself. Chicken cafreal Spicy and pungent, this dish traces its origins to Portuguese colonies in Africa. Made by frying chicken marinated in coriander, lime, peppercorn, cloves and a host of other spices. Some recipes call for rum as well. Ambotik curry Sour and spicy, this curry is heavy on the red or Kashmiri chilli, vinegar and tamarind, along with turmeric and sometimes, curry leaves. Best made with kingfish and mackerel, it goes really well with pao sannas (toddy-soaked rice cakes) or brown rice. Choris pao Few things are as instantly recognisable as the aroma of Goan sausage, thanks

Bebinca Round off your meal Ambotik curry Clockwise from left: beef chilli fry; choris pao; bebinca, a Goan delicacy

with this piece of heaven, a rich, layered cake made with coconut milk, ghee, sugar and nutmeg. Visit food.htm for more information.



S T AY Want to experience South Goa like a local?

e at Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a selection of hotels, restaurants,

& do and other experiences PLUS INSIDER TIPS Sonia Shirsat Prithvi Amonkar




WHERE TO STAY The Goa Tourism Development Corporation-recommended list of hotels Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Goa

property also has three eateries on-site. ( anchorage.htm)

This sprawling property on Uttorda beach boasts 115 rooms and 15 luxury tents. Rooms include swanky sound systems and LCD televisions. The hotel also has an in-house restaurant, bar and fitness centre. (www.

Nanu Resort A functional property with 92 rooms and 16 executive suites, Nanu Resorts is geared for large groups that can use its two conference halls, lush lawns and adjoining pool. On the relatively undiscovered Betalbatim beach, there’s enough to do on your downtime as well. An ayurvedic spa, poolside bar and seafood speciality restaurant allow you to choose your own adventure when it comes to kicking back. ( htm)

Bogmallo Beach Resort This hotel, just a 10-minute drive from Dabolim airport, has 126 rooms and 15 sea-facing cottages. Enjoy barbecues on the beach, indulge yourself at the spa, and work out at the fitness centre, which has both indoor and outdoor spaces. (

Baywatch Resort

Highland Heritage This boutique hotel in Alto Porvorim balances antiquity and modernity. Their 11 rooms feature large French windows and antique wooden Portuguese and Victorian furniture. Take a dip in the pool or walk around the garden that surrounds the property when you’re in the mood to relax. ( htm)

Heritage Village Club Goa This is an ‘all-inclusive’ hotel in Arossim, where the price includes stay, food, snacks and entertainment for the entire family. The 97 rooms come with contemporary décor and face either a garden or the pool. There are also four dining options. (www.goa-tourism. com/heritage-club.htm)

Bellanzo Hotel Apartments Ideal for those staying in Goa with a large family or for a longer period, stay options here range from single rooms to 6BHK


apartments, with individual bathrooms and a furnished living room, dining room and kitchen. Its location, close to the airport, is convenient for business travellers. (www.goa-tourism. com/bellanzo.htm)

Mayfair Hideaway Spa Resort Literally hidden from Goa, Mayfair is a secluded spot for travellers yearning for a serene holiday. The rooms and suites fuse Indian prints and contemporary amenities to give guests a comfortable stay. If the fitness centre and swimming pool don’t appeal to you, curl up with a book from their wellstocked “Light House” Library. Your food requests are looked after at Nautica, Aquarium Bar and Bar & Grill. There’s also a Varca conference room, where you can organise events and conferences. (www.goa-tourism. com)

Holiday Inn Resort Goa Direct beach access, the option of garden, pool or sea views and four food and drink outlets typify your stay at the Holiday Inn on Mobor beach. With 203 rooms the property has lush lawns and a spa for those looking to unwind. Grab a meal at the Beach Grill, or sample an Oriental dinner at Whispers of the Orient. For watersports make your way to the beach or just catch up on some reading on one of the hotel’s many sundecks. (www.goa-tourism. com/holiday-inn.htm)

Aguada Anchorage 25 independent homes make up Aguada Anchorage, where you get a chance to live like a local. The distinctly Goan architecture, with terracotta roofs and wood balconies transports you. The property has a pool, and the beach is within walking distance. Ideal for large groups, this

Those looking to make the most of the outdoors will love Baywatch Resort’s volleyball court, which in addition to the pool, allows you to maximise your time in the sun. The comfortable rooms each have a terrace, and the beach is secluded enough that it feels like a private retreat. A multi-cuisine restaurant, bar, coffee shop, live lounge and spa round out the offerings at the resort. ( baywatch.htm)

Coconut Grove Beach Resort If you’re hankering to stay at a resort that is concealed from the beach, and yet self-sufficient, Coconut Grove is the right place. With garden-facing rooms, a large pool and two restaurants, there’s a lot to explore. When you’ve had your fill, the beach is in walking distance, or arrange a trip to the nearby handicrafts emporium, where you can take home a keepsake of your holiday. ( coconut.htm)


Drinks being served at Bogmallo Beach Resort. Opposite: A room at Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Previous page: Palm groves near Kakolem Beach





+EDITOR’S PICK+ Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa This sprawling hotel in Cansaulim has 45 acres of gardens, 250 charming pousada-style rooms and villas and is a favourite for weddings. The CNT awardwinning Sereno Spa has a menu of unique experiences for their guests. And while you’re off indulging yourself, be safe in the knowledge that the kids will be well taken care of at Camp Hyatt—an adult-supervised play space, featuring a movie room, a children’s library and PlayStation games. (





Visit Palácio do Deão The Palácio do Deão is a palatial mansion in Quepem that was built in the 1780s by a Portuguese nobleman. Visitors can explore the rooms and gardens of this heritage home and learn more about the Portuguese history in Goa. The architecture is HinduPortuguese with adaptations to Indian customs. The veranda was originally designed as a space for leisure, which now serves as a restaurant for visitors. Browse through the small collection of rare books in the library and admire the garden landscape. The loggia (a three-walled room with the fourth side opening into a garden) and amphitheatre make this house a lovely spot for cultural events. (

Admire Mario Miranda’s art Mario Miranda and Goa are synonymous with each other. His depictions of Goan and Indian life through cartoons are prized possessions of the state. Miranda’s art is sold at galleries all over Goa, including those in Margao and Porvorim. Walk around Loutolim, Miranda’s ancestral village, to see the scenes that inspired his art. (

Go on road trips Rent a car or bike and drive along the breathtakingly beautiful coastal road, from the Sal River to Agonda. Then, explore the idyllic villages of Salcette and Quepem (with their pretty, Portuguese-style houses and narrow, winding roads) and the stretch from Raia to Chandor. Stop by for a picnic lunch at Quepem Dam.

Attend a silent party In an effort to reduce noise

pollution, Palolem now hosts silent parties that rage late into the night with the same intensity as a thumping nightclub. On arrival, guests are given headphones through which they can listen to music played by the live DJ. Essentially, you are looking at a field of 200 people dancing in ‘silence’. It’s a unique experience that shows Goa’s perseverance to never stop partying. (

Trek through Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary Situated in the Western Ghats, its forests are home to rare primates, including the slender loris, and endangered amphibians such as the Malabar gliding frog, as well as panthers, tigers, king cobras and giant squirrels. Trek through vast expanses of moist deciduous forests, lush with semi-evergreen and evergreen trees, or rent a 4x4 and go on a long drive. With its team of trained guides, Wildernest (, in the Chorla Ghats, makes for a great base. (www.

Visit Dudhsagar Falls Dudhsagar is a milky-white torrent that races down the Western Ghats for more than 1,000ft. Nearby, Devil’s Canyon is a fascinating rock formation carved by the Mandovi River. ( dudhsagar.htm)

Go on a jeep safari in Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary This sanctuary is home to a variety of animals, such as deer, hyenas, tigers and otters, and more than 120 species of birds. Also within the sanctuary is the gorgeous 10th-century


WHAT TO DO Tambdi Surla Shiva temple. A jeep safari right into the heart of the sanctuary gives you an audience with leopards, deer, hyena and bison. You can contact the range forest officer to obtain permission for vehicle access through the Main Gate. The best time to visit is in the early morning or late evening when the temperature drops and the animals come out. (www.

perfect for those who want to brush up on their history. (

Visit the Big Foot Museum For a glimpse into Goa’s cultural past, take a trip to the Ancestral Goa which is a miniature Goan village, frozen in time. Also home to the largest laterite sculpture of Mirabai, the village is home to a functioning post office (as it would be from the days of Portuguese rule), a stunning church and an old cemetery. It aims to educate guests about a fast disappearing way of life. (083227 77034)

Look for rare plants in Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary This sanctuary in Canacona is a forest of multi storey flora and a treasure trove of rare plants. Deciduous trees fill the forest with a few patches of semievergreen and evergreen trees. You can spot gaurs if you visit during the lean season. The best time to visit is October to March. The adventurous can even camp in the sanctuary. (

Pray at a temple or three

Dudhsagar Falls. Opposite: the Mallikarjun temple

Ride in a hot-air balloon This exhilarating ride will make you float over the lush green hills and golden sands of Goa. Indulge in panoramic views of the topography, the shoreline and birds flying below you. Enjoy the weightlessness at 2,500ft with Tiger Balloon Safaris at Asolda, Chandor. (; from 8,500 per person)

Attend a Full Moon party

Thrill yourself with watersports

The Full Moon party is another excuse for backpackers and travellers to have a wild night on Colva beach with psytrance music and neon paint. It’s an all-night party best experienced during the winter months when the cool breeze is a blessing. (

Where else to get your blood pumping than underwater? Earn your PADI Open Water certification (four-day course) or enrol for a half-day Discover Scuba Dive novice course at Goa Diving, Bogmalo beach. This dive shop organises dive trips to Grand Island to swim through an English shipwreck and over coral reefs. Jet-skiing and para-gliding are two other options to consider. The former lets you satisfy your need for speed on the water while the latter allows you to soar above the shoreline. (www.goa-tourism. com/watersports.htm)

Go on walks and trails

Admire the architecture of heritage mansions

Walk on shaded promenades past Portuguese homes in Margao to get to the majestic Holy Spirit Church that was built in 1675. Colva is another charming seaside village that gives you a taste of Goan life. Another option is to go on a walk that shows you South Goa’s famous rock carving trail. (

The Figueiredo and Salvador Costa houses in Loutolim and the Menezes Braganza and Fernandes mansions in Chandor feature Portuguese architecture with balcaos (balconies), gardens and ornamental windows. Also check out the Vivian Coutinho mansion, in Margao, which has an incredibly well-kept garden.


Relive history at Goa Chitra In Benaulim, with thousands of Goan objects on display, this ethnography museum is

Perhaps unknown to visitors, Goa boasts a variety of structures, with the oldest dating to the 12th century. Tamdi Surla Temple, also known as Mahadev Temple is built in the Jain style and is carved out of basalt stone. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the shrine features bas-relief figures of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. In Margao, the Chandranath Temple, also dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located on the top of a hillock and is designed so that the linga is bathed in moonlight on every full moon. Also worth visiting is the Mallikarjun Temple, that is in a valley surrounded by hills and greenery. Constructed in the 16th century, there’s much to admire —like the hand-carved pillars. (

Lake escape The Netravali bubbling lake is actually a square, man-made laterite tank that has natural, gurgling bubbles rising to its surface. An unexplained phenomenon, they follow a peculiar rhythm that has to be seen to be believed. (




The restored interiors and a delicious lunch at the Palácio do Deão

Owners Ruben and Celia Vasco da Gama serve traditional Indo-Portuguese cuisine at their exquisitely restored heritage mansion in Quepem, that was built in the 1780s. Explore the estate and then dig into a stellar five-course lunch, including fish fofos, prawn rissois, prawn caldine and chicken vindaloo. There’s also a super pumpkin pie to sweeten the deal. (

Jila Bakery This Loutolim bakery makes the finest old-school éclairs you’ll eat in India. The beef patties and “melting moments” are great, too. (083227 77224)

Sheela Restaurant & Bar Luize Marie’s superlative cooking competes with stunning views


of the Zuari River. For 30 years, regulars have been flocking here for the fish thali, stuffed crabs, chonak rechado, fried Bombay duck and house specialities like the chicken Luizmarie, which involves a triumvirate of secret masalas. (083225 55675)

Hayward, to dine at their homely heritage inn in Salcette. The menu is eclectic, but some of the standard dishes are the beef steaks with dauphinoise potatoes, and chilli sorbet for dessert. (

an established restaurant in Salcette, which serves classic Goan beach food like butter garlic crab and traditional Goan xacuti and vindaloo. Come here for a relaxed ambience with quality live entertainment. (

Leda Lounge and Restaurant The BOOMSHANKAR Bar, Restaurant & Resort On Colombo beach, and open only during the high season (OctApril), this resort’s restaurant is a great spot for sundowners. It serves Goan fare and excellent rose-flavoured chai. (http://

Located off Colva beach at the Skylark Resort, the restaurant offers an excellent buffet with a mix of local and international specialities. The beef steaks here are as popular as the prawn curry. There’s also a great live band, which makes for the perfect ambience. (083227 81458)

Vivenda dos Palhaços Those who aren’t staying here can make reservations a day prior with the owners, British siblings Simon and Charlotte

Pentagon Restaurant & Garden Pub Over the past 10 years, Pentagon has upgraded from a shack to

Anantashram This Vasco da Gama institution has grown from a shack into its current digs—with two dining rooms that are inevitably packed at meal times. Known for their Golden Goan fish thali that comes with five classical delights, there’s a lot more on the menu as well. Seafood lovers can satisfy their cravings with the prawn balchao, while their North Indian food will pass muster for those that want to stick with the tried and tested. (083225 13247)


Palácio do Deão




PRITHVI AMONKAR Nature trail organiser

“I’d recommend taking nature walks and expeditions within Goa. A particular one that comes to mind is to the Savari Village, within the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, which is named after the Savari tree (a cotton tree that is common in the village). This lazy village is stuck in time, with cow dung-plastered houses, vegetable farms and grazing cattle. The shy people of Savari love to catch fish the local way, by using a koble (a small net with a ring similar to a butterfly net). If you walk 2.5km outside the village, you’ll come to the Savari waterfall. This is a simple trail through gurgling rivulets and fallen trees. Feast your eyes upon butterflies, red snakes and crustaceans. Watch where you go, because you could walk into the red or yellow five-inch giant wood spider’s web. The tour is organised by Goa Tourism (”


“Fado has been present in the Goan music spectrum since the late 1800s. This melancholic music saw a decline post 1961. Today however there is a revival happening with projects like Fado in the City, contests like Vem Cantar and Fado Competition and the upcoming project Fado de Goa .” Catch Shirsat live in performance on your visit to Goa.



+EDITOR’S PICK+ The Utorda beach spot offers casual all-day dining and some of the finest seafood in Goa. Order the spicy mackerel rechado, fish curry and a large feni and enjoy the tropical milieu, replete with silver sands, swaying palms and spectacular sunsets. (



Zeebop by the Sea


The Fisherman’s Wharf Every day feels like a Sunday when you eat at The Fisherman’s Wharf in Salcette. Sip a martini and skip the diet at this riverside restaurant. You will be licking the butter garlic prawns and prawn curry rice off your fingers after your meal. Specialities also include the prawn peri-peri and blue cheese mussels. The restaurant is designed as a boat house with a little garden and play area to let the children run around. Although the menu includes non-vegetarian dishes, the chef loves it when people order the vegetarian options. (http://

food and some delicious chaat. The paani puri and dal makhani are the highlights of the menu. Vegetarians love eating here and with their make-your-own-thali option you can put together your own meal. (083264 80848)

Shree Kashi Dairy This is a one-stop shop for chaat, samosas, pakoras and all tangy delights. The parathas here are drizzled in ghee and served in all its classic variations, from onion, to gobi and paneer. People love eating at this Vasco restaurant for the authentic Punjabi food at reasonable prices. Try their super-rich lassi, which will give you the feeling of being in Amritsar. (083225 14715)

orders at Fish Ka. Tender pork ribs, fresh seafood and cold beers are what customers look forward to at the rustic shack. The homely vibe, with rock and roll music, repurposed decorations and efficient service has made it a favourite for locals and vistors alike. (083328 81097)

Kentuckee Seafood Restaurant Plastic chairs, toes buried in the sand and a cold beer—isn’t this the Goa that everyone dreams off? Kentuckee Seafood Restaurant on Colva beach is a 24-hour eatery that has an exhaustive menu, though as its name suggests—stick to the seafood and you should be fine. (083227 88107)

Bombay Spice This Margao restaurant, located next to the Margao Municipal Council building, serves Punjabi


Fish Ka


On most days you can catch Cyril the owner overseeing the

Martin’s Corner This Salcette institution calls

itself ‘The Paradise of Goan Delicacy’. You’ll excuse this immodesty after you’ve tried the sorpotel, pork vindaloo, pomfret caldin and chicken cafreal. Pescatarians will relish Martin’s Exotic Seafood Platter, the lobster piri piri and the king crab, which—the management proudly informs you—is a favourite with Sachin Tendulkar. (

Nostalgia Chef Fernando’s widow Margarida takes pride in serving traditional Goan food: seafood delicacies such as caldeirada, beef panados, rolado and feijoada. The balcao and garden of the bungalow in Raia provide the perfect setting to savour these and the bolo sans rival, an almost forgotten, but delicious kind of cake, that was once popular but now unavailable anywhere. (www.




Sambals, atchar, sausage and green mango preserves at Nostalgia. Opposite: a wall full of photographs and the interiors of Martinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Corner


all over goa

BIRD WATCHING IN GOA Home to an array of avifauna, Kanchan Wadhwa tells you how to maximise your Goan birding experience Goa is home to an abundance of lush vegetation and hence, to more than 420 species of birds, many that are endangered. If you still need another leg-up, Goa is slated to host its first bird festival from 11 to 13 November, 2016. The following are prime spots to see a variety of birds— especially in the cooler months.

Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary Named after the legendary Indian ornithologist, this sanctuary is home to a number of species that flock here to nest in the swampy mangroves. Some of the water birds found here are the terek sandpipers, temminck’s stint and the purple heron. And when you’ve had your fill of the beautiful life, a leisurely canoe ride through this fragile terrain will be just what you need. Haven to a number of aquatic and herbivorous birds, the lake and its surrounding forest have been declared a protected habitat by the state. Birders in the know keep a look out for the purple swamphen, the northern pintail and the oriental darter amongst others.

Saligao The birds around Saligao’s perennial spring include the Indian peafowl, the orangeheaded thrush, the greenish warbler and the purple sunbird. An avian wonderland that needs to be moved up on your itinerary.

Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary When it comes to watching the rarest of bird species, you don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth. Southern Goa should do quite nicely. Some of these exotic migrants include


the Ceylon frogmouth, Malabar trogon and the white-bellied woodpecker.

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary Bird-watching is really all about watching a species more interesting to the watcher than man. And the birds over here are interesting, at the very least. Although this is one of the smallest sanctuaries in Goa, it’s home to an astonishing variety of birds like the Malabar grey hornbull, the hair-crested drongo and blue-faced malkoha.

Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary Visitors to this region should know that it’s designated as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot, as well as an area of high endemism by Conservation International. The camp has been declared an International Bird Area as well because of the presence of globally-threatened species like Nilgiri wood-pigeon, Malabar

parakeet, Malabar grey hornbill, grey-headed bulbul, rufous babbler, white-bellied blueflycatcher and crimson-backed sunbird (as a bonus, you could spot the Bengal Tiger as well.)

Cotigao This sanctuary is known for its tall trees, some of which reach 100ft in height. Wildlife enthusiasts can make their way to the watchtower positioned 80ft above a watering hole. Here they can spot the celebrities of the bird world: the white-bellied woodpecker, velvet-fronted nuthatch, heart-spotted woodpecker, white-eyed eagle, rufous woodpecker and the Malabar crested eagle. June to October is the best season to see the Malayan night heron in Cotigao; the flycatcher, a forest bird is mostly seen between September and March.

Curtorim If you love waterfowl and waders, head to Curtorim between November and March. Located on the banks of the Zuari River, Sonbem lake in Maina-Curtorim, has emerged as a major bird watching spot. The best thing is you don’t have to play statue for hours to spot rare wetland birds like the red wattled lapwing, white throated kingfisher, the whitebreasted waterhen and river tern.

Morjim Beach Swoop down to this sparselyinhabited beach in Northern Goa to spot the slender-billed gulls, the Caspian terns, lesser and the white-bellied Sea-eagle. Birding and photography tours start at 11,500 per person and include visits to multiple sanctuaries. Visit for more details on its 4-day trips.


Carambolim Lake

Top row: An osprey with its meal; a stork-billed kingďŹ sher Lower row: Malabar trogon; Malabar pied hornbill Opposite: grey-fronted green pigeon







The Goan capital has plenty of history, heritage, art and music to keep you occupied for days. Pratiti Basu and Nikhil Shankar take us on a tour



itting majestically on the Mandovi River estuary, Panaji is arguably one of India’s most cheerful state capitals. From its grand colonial architecture to floating casinos, an annual carnival of its own to a myriad local festivals, beachfront cafés and a charming old city dotted with bistros and art galleries, Panaji presents an enchanting mix of the classic and the contemporary. Endowed with a vibrant cosmopolitan demography, this smart-city-in-the-making offers its visitors innumerable memorable experiences that appeal to everyone. Goa has been at the crossroads of the East and West and a thriving port of trade long before the European colonisers, its culture distilled by the influences of the visiting ancient Arab, Egyptian and Persian maritime traders. The arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century saw a dramatic impact on the cultural landscape of coastal Goa, particularly the capital city of Panaji. Today, the city is a vibrant kaleidoscope of Indian and Portuguese influences. Often overlooked in favour of the wild north and sleepy south, Panaji has plenty to offer visitors, from its dynamic theatre and music scene to its historical buildings, galleries and statues. Here are our top picks of the area’s most interesting art and culture experiences.

PANAJI NDMARKS Presiding over the prominent Praça da Igreja square in the city centre stands one of Panaji’s most striking landmarks, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, originally built in the 16th century. A grand zigzag stairway, a later addition to the structure, leads up to the bright white baroque façade of this colonial church—one of the many exquisite architectural marvels that are spread across the city. The church still conducts daily mass in Konkani, English

and Portuguese. Every year, on 8 December, this church is beautifully illuminated to celebrate one of Goa’s key Christian festivals, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church Feast, with masses throughout the day, a colourful fair, and a procession with a brass band, culminating with stunning fireworks. A couple of blocks away, en route to the riverfront, is the ornate Adil Shah’s Palace, that now hosts state administrative offices. Standing in front of the building is the imposing bronze statue of Abbé José Custódio de Faria, the controversial pioneer of modern hypnotism, featuring Faria hypnotising a lady. Another bronze statue worthy of attention a few kilometres away at the Miramar beach circle is Unity Statue, commemorating the liberation of Goa from Portuguese rule and representing Hindu-Muslim unity. A few steps away from Faria’s Statue, and overlooking the ferry wharf, stands Institute Menezes Braganza (, formerly known as Instituto Vasco da Gama, a building bedecked in pastel yellow and white. An installation at the entrance features an epic poetic tale called Os Lusiadas by Luís Vaz de Camões, illustrating scenes of bygone Portuguese voyages. The décor inside is even more alluring, with grand azulejos in blue and white adorning the corridors. As one of Goa’s prominent institutions, it regularly hosts art and cultural activities in collaboration with Goa Konkani Akademi, Sahitya Akademi and others.

SIGHTSEEING: AROUND PANAJI Old Goa A large number of protected historical monuments are scattered across the region. However, the most venerated sites are clustered together in Old Goa, located around 10km east of Panaji. r



A statue at the Convent of Santa Monica. Clockwise from right: A local house in Panaji; Casa da Moeda; a flower arrangement in Panjim Inn. Previous page, from left: A local artist playing the French horn; a balcony at Adil Shah’s Palace




Interiors at Casa da Moeda

“THE VERDANT ISLANDS OF DIVAR AND ST ESTEVAM DRAW VISITORS FOR THEIR FORTS, CHURCHES AND STATELY HOUSES” The resplendent capital of the Portuguese colony is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with magnificent churches, basilicas and other monuments flanking wide, tree-lined avenues. Walking down these historic streets, visitors are transported to an imperial era, the heyday of the Portuguese reign. Browse through antiquities and portraits at the Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery (, located at the Convent of St Francis of Assisi. Their permanent collections include masterpieces that are exhibited across eight galleries spread over three floors. At the entrance to this complex, remains of architectural columns and other segments collected from ruins across the area are displayed in the open air. Nearby, The Museum of Christian Art (www.museumofchristianart. com), set inside the Convent of Santa Monica, showcases vintage artefacts of religious significance, including sculptures, paintings, textiles and furniture, carefully curated by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). One of the largest Catholic churches of its era in Asia, Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina is also located in this area, and features a ‘Golden Bell’, said to chime the world’s most flawless sound. Also visit the Dona Paula beach, which is beloved by locals. Named for a charitable Portugese woman, the beach comes alive during the summer.

Divar & St Estevam Islands These verdant islands on the Mandovi, best explored on bicycles, draw visitors for their forts, churches and stately Portuguese houses. The wooded hillock of the Church of Our Lady of Compassion in Piedade village offers magnificent views of the picturesque Divar

island, the sinuous Mandovi River and Old Goa in the horizon. The Piedade church sits next to a small cluster of temple ruins on one side and to the other side, a cemetery where once stood an ancient Ganesha temple. Another site worth a visit in the area is the Fort of St Estevam.

MUSEUMS, GALLERIES & WALKING TOURS Walking tours of old towns Goa Heritage Action Group (http://, in conjunction with Make It Happen (, conducts regular guided tours and heritage walks through Panaji’s charming historic precincts of Fontainhas, São Tomé and Divar Island. The group has also been instrumental in the restoration of various monuments and historic sites across Goa.

Rembrandt of the East Notably also, the Portuguese society Fundação Oriente (083222 30728), headquartered in Lisbon and responsible for promoting Goacentric artistic and cultural activities, has contributed significantly to the restoration and maintenance of Indo-Portuguese heritage. Drop in at the art gallery by Fundação Oriente India Delegation, set in a charming heritage villa in Fontainhas, to appreciate the works of Goan painter Antonio Xavier Trindade, referred to as the ‘Rembrandt of the East’, whose portraits and landscapes are sought after across the world for their European naturalism and Orientalism.

An art gallery in a heritage hotel complex Another must-visit in the Fontainhas area, also known as the Latin Quarter, is the heritage complex, comprising Panjim Inn, Panjim Pousada, and Panjim Peoples hotels ( The corridors and public spaces of this heritage complex exhibit classic and contemporary works by eminent artists. Located here is Gallery Gitanjali (www., a prominent art and cultural centre hosting workshops, talks, movie screenings, discussions and courses all yearround at its art studio.


Art and culture centre in a Portuguese home Also immensely popular in Goa’s art circles is Sunaparanta – Goa Centre for the Arts



The entrance to Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts. Opposite: A room in Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts


“WORKSHOPS, MOVIE SCREENINGS AND INTERACTIVE TALKS ARE REGULARLY HELD AT SUNAPARANTA - GOA CENTRE FOR THE ARTS” ( that occupies a charming Portuguese-styled home in the elite hillside neighbourhood of Altinho. A not-for-profit arts education initiative and gallery, founded by Dattaraj V Salgaocar, it showcases some of the most artistic talents across genres. Photography, mixed media, workshops, movie screenings, and interactive talks are regularly held here, while their popular courtyard Sunaparanta Café Al Fresco (managed by Café Bodega) serves up delectable deli-style food.

Browse through historical archives Situated along the creek, the Directorate of Archives and Archaeology ( in) encourages guests to browse through some of the oldest records in the country, dating back to 1498.

Central Excise Museum As a museum devoted to the evolution of Indian Customs and Central Excise, there’s a lot to learn during a visit. Illegal trade, revenue generation and more is covered via dioramas and exhibits.

Houses of Goa Museum Established by architect Gerard da Cunha as a way to spotlight Goa’s unique architecture, the Houses of Goa Museum ( situates the regions homes in a historical and cultural context.

HERITAGE HOUSES The streets of Panaji themselves offer a visual treat, replete with heritage buildings that have been lovingly preserved by owners as well as local historical societies. Many of these houses, which date back to the 1700s, are in immaculate condition and are still inhabited by generations of families of the original owners.

Afternoon tea at the mid-19th-century Mint Numismatics will appreciate the Casa da Moeda (, a building that served as the Mint during the mid-19th century, and the host of the Casa da Moeda Festival, which includes talks on heritage, literature, architecture, music and art. With a prior notice of 48 hours, guests may now enjoy an afternoon tea here with hosts who regale them with colourful anecdotes of Goan history.

+EDITOR’S PICK+ A private lunch at a

riverfront heritage mansion Set on the riverbank in Ribandar, Solar dos Colaços (098224 88653) is a 270-year-old heritage mansion of the Colaço family, boasting its own private jetty and spectacular views of the river and its numerous islands. Inside, exquisite antique artefacts grace this Portuguese-style property. The house is also available for small private events at the discretion of the owners.

Shop and snack at a 16th-century palatial home Solar Souto Maior, in San Pedro, a 16th-century house of the Maior family, is one of the last vestiges of palatial splendour in Old Goa. The property, which has passed a few hands and is currently managed by the Cottage Industries Emporium, has a boutique and garden café.

CULTURAL MUSIC Concert in the park Adjoining the Praça da Igreja church square is the beautifully laid out gardens of Jardim Garcia da Orta, a popular rendezvous spot—dedicated to the ethnobotanist from whom it derives its name. On Sunday evenings (7pm to 10pm), during the season (October to May), the park transforms into an outdoor concert arena, where residents and visitors gather for live entertainment. Seasoned as well as amateur artists take over the park’s bandstand, performing everything from Western to Goan, folk, fusion and contemporary genres of music. Known as The Original Band Stand, and organised by Panaji Connect (091580 37547), this project is an initiative to open up the city’s outdoor spaces and promote the vibrant local culture.

Reviving Goa’s fado music Fado, a musical genre that can be traced back to the Portugal of the 1820s, has been kept alive in Goa by generations of ardent followers. Cidade


A Fontainhas street. Clockwise from right: Goan jazz guitar player Colin Dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Cruz; Gallery Gitanjali; Azulejo artwork at Velha Goa Galeria


de Goa ( in nearby Dona Paula hosts a monthly evening of dinner and fado, known as Noite de Fado, with some of Goa’s famous fadistas on the first Tuesday of every month.

Fado themed walk +EDITOR’S PICK+Take the Fontainhas Walking Tour ( with Make It Happen, which includes a visit to Chico Fonseca, one of the living legends of fado who has been singing for decades across the world to high-profile dignitaries. The tour takes you through pastel painted Fontainhas, with stops at varied buildings of historical and cultural significance—including access to private homes.

Jazz in Goa Over the last few years, Goa has seen a fresh resurgence of jazz music across the state, with dedicated event nights as well as venues promoting this genre. In Panaji, Jazz Goa (http://, a group of Goan jazz musicians, host a weekly live music evening every Sunday at Deltin Royale casino (www.deltin. com), docked on the Mandovi River. Another group, Art Escape (093235 90051), hosts regular events in and around the area. Goa ForGiving (, a non-profit organisation that works toward preserving and enhancing the urban architectural landscape, organises jazz nights to raise money for their many projects.

Classical music festival in Old Goa For classical music lovers, Capela da Nossa Senhora do Monte in Old Goa hosts the annual Monte Music Festival ( on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of February. Jointly organised by Fundação Oriente and Cidade de Goa, it brings together a unique blend of Western and Indian classical music.

ON STAGE Local Musical “Tiatr” Musical theatre was the Goan traditional entertainment of choice and is revived today by proponents like the Tiatr Academy of Goa (www. Tiatr is largely performed by Roman Catholic Konkani actors, and is themed on social, cultural and political satires, and offers a charming insight into Goan culture.

Contemporary Theatre A local theatre collective, the Mustard Seed

Art Company, has been staging traditional plays with a contemporary appeal since 1987, with collaborative creative endeavours that further their philosophy of “creativity to community”. A recent addition to the Panaji stage is The Peas and Carrots Theatre Co (http:// peasandcarrots by Kyla D’souza. Upcoming projects include a production with artists Tavish Bhattacharyya and Kanchan Bhattacharyya from Bengaluru, featuring four short plays, all comedies themed on the workplace. Their regular workshops and classes for amateur and emerging artists, and learning through experimental theatre, will continue later this year with the addition of theatre director Glenn Hayden and Tavish Bhattacharyya. Four full-length productions are also in the pipeline, in association with Australian playwrights and theatre companies from across India. The group hosts regular workshops at Sunaparanta – Goa Centre for the Arts, Museum of Goa (, Goa Institute of Management (, The International Centre Goa ( and Casa dos Gamas ( CasaDosGamas) and performances at Museum of Goa, The International Centre Goa, Carpe Diem ( and other venues across Goa.

SHOPPING: CURIOS & SOUVENIRS Buy Goan ceramic Azulejo tiles Ubiquitous in Goan architecture, Azulejos are handpainted tiles of Portuguese origin, traditionally in a striking blue colour. Several artists have rendered their designs on these tiles, most famously in Goa. Renditions of this art form are available for purchase at Azulejos de Goa (www.azulejosdegoa. com), De Goa Ceramics (www.degoaceramics. com), Velha Goa Galeria ( and Marcou Artifacts (

Own art by Goa’s legendary cartoonist Mario Miranda’s legacy lives on in witty caricatures and his hilarious take on traditional Goan lifestyle. His works and licensed merchandise are available in select boutiques and galleries in Panaji, including Gallery Gitanjali and Marcou Artifacts. Basu co-founded and now runs What’s Up Goa! (, an online guide to hip hotels, restaurants and what’s happening in Goa. Shankar manages its operations in Goa.


Dona Paula at night


all over goa

Get creative with your wedding photo shoot Left: The grassy lawns of Destination One are perfect for an outdoor wedding.



rom popping the question to tying the knot, there are few destinations in India more romantic than Goa to seal the deal. Just in the year 201415, Goa saw more than 700 weddings happen, and it’s not difficult to see why. The diversity that the sunshine state offers means that you can get married exactly the way you want— whether in a traditional temple wedding or an ornate church. Whatever your style, Goa has something for you: extravagant and glam, intimate and rustic or somewhere in between. With the many five-star hotels, boutique resorts, and open spaces,


there’s room to get creative. Create a mini Punjab in Goa, or go back in time with a Victorian theme. Add a local touch with live musicians and performers— the possibilities are endless. Or maybe do nothing at all. Make use of that stunning coastline and say “I Do” on the beach—as the sun sets across the ocean and a light breeze cools the golden sand. Lovers of nature can opt for a ceremony in the lush Western Ghats—which are home to some spectacular waterfalls during monsoons. Feel like Portuguese royalty as you say your vows in historic forts overlooking endless blue oceans. Or if you’d like, in a

fort-turned-hotel, like the Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel (www. The carefully restored former Portuguese fort has seven charming rooms and suites, stands on a clifftop overlooking the Arabian Sea and is located next to secluded beaches ideal for a quiet ceremony. And of late, Goa Tourism has been taking destination weddings more seriously, recommending venues that offer special services for to-be-wed couples. Like Calangute’s Destination One (, which offers a variety of spaces that are completely

unlike each other; great for the different ceremonies that come with a big fat Indian wedding (#sorrynotsorry). After a blissful beach wedding at Sea Lawns, relax with a meal at the casual dining venues, and throw a party your guests will never forget, at the edgy lounge bar Panacea. But after everything, the best part is that it’s still Goa: laid back, uninhibited and accepting. So after a long ceremony, the two of you can put your feet up and share a beer by the beach, beneath a silent starlit sky! Because only in Goa, you could be getting married and on holiday at the same time. #win


Big fat Indian wedding or not, Goa has something for you says Rashmi Shankar

all over goa

WATER SPORTS From thrill seekers to the curious, there’s something for everyone. Aatish Nath tells you what to try your hand at while in Goa



oa, with its long coastline is known for its beaches. Lesser known, is that the kilometres of beaches can be used as springboard to satisfy your thrill-seeking impulses—whether skimming the surface on a banana boat, or going deeper—there’s snorkelling, scuba diving and more to look forward to. For those seeking to maintain a distinctly Goan pace of life on your holiday, dinghy sailing or angling are great options. Set sail on a 15-foot craft from the Zuari estuary, near Dona Paula (beer and sandwiches optional), with instructors and friends or family members. On the other hand, fishing lets you catch your dinner, giving new meaning to the term ‘fresh catch’. Surmai, Indian salmon and mullet are usually found in the waters around the state, and once you’ve caught some, take it back to your hotel, to be cleaned and grilled. This October also sees the introduction of amphibious vessels which will help you spot local wildlife and seaplane trips—that allow you to soar above the verdant coast and experience Goa from the sky There’s a lot on offer for those that want to test themselves against the sea and surf. Water scooters are an option for those looking to speed across the water and get a new vantage on Goa’s often-crowded beaches. Two people can glide along the sea at speeds that can’t be matched,

with only the roar of the engine and the sound of waves breaking behind. Test your balance with water skiing—and experience the thrills of being guided along the coastline by a high-speed boat. Take an aerial trip, and see the state’s stunning coastline from above. Using the power of the wind, float above the shacks, while parasailing—at first above the beach, before heading out above the blue sea. Family fun can be had on a banana boat ride—just ensure everyone is comfortable in the water—as that’s where the lot of you will end up. If you’ve come to Goa to learn a new sport, or test yourself against the elements—try your hand at wind surfing, which requires the surfer to constantly adjust their strength and balance against the changing patterns of wind and water. The monsoon season, when the Mahdei River is swollen with rain water, is the ideal time get away from the coast, and instead experience white water rafting ( Diving is another option in Goa, which has a variety of sea life and shipwrecks that are home to unique marine eco-systems. While visibility doesn’t match some of the worlds more remote dive sites, for those that want to get to know the underwater world, Goa offers a great introduction. watersports.htm



S T AY Want to experience Panaji like a local?

SHOp Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a selection of hotels, restaurants,

SEE & do and other experiences PLUS INSIDER TIPS Wendell Rodricks Prajal Sakhardande




WHERE TO STAY The Goa Tourism Development Corporation-recommended list of hotels Hotel Fidalgo The Fidalgo group is known for their business hotels located in the city centre—and this one is no different. The 101room business hotel fulfils all your conferencing needs— rooms come with high-speed wi-fi and the hotel has six banquet halls, so you can plan everything from an intimate meeting to large conferences. After a long day in the meeting room, a treatment at the Tantrah Spa is can help release all that stress. (

Varanda do Mar

WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn This is one of the oldest colonial mansions of Fontainhas, with 23 individually furnished rooms featuring antique four-poster beds, carved rosewood almirahs and period furniture to give guests a palatial experience. (

Panaji Residency This 45-room hotel is within walking distance from the jetty, offices and shopping centres in Panaji and offers regular transport services to take you to North and South Goa. The hotel can also organise sightseeing tours and daily river cruises. ( htm)


The Fern Kadamba

Treehouse Neptune

Sandalwood Hotel and Resort

An eco-sensitive offering in Old Goa, the Fern Kadamba has 48 rooms, a pool, spa and an all-day coffee shop. The Fern is a hotel chain known for taking environmental responsibilty seriously and here that translates to toiletries that are eco-friendly, and rooms that come outfitted with an energy saver panel. Aimed at business travellers, the property’s central location is convenient for those that need to hop within Panaji while visiting. (

A contemporary hotel with local design flourishes, Treehouse Neptune has 47 rooms that make it ideal from which to explore Panaji’s attractions. Churches and casinos are both in the vicinity, and the hotel itself has a café that serves local fare. The beach is closeby. Ask the property to arrange a trip so that you try your hand at activities ranging from water sports to yoga. (

Large families or groups of friends are best suited to make the most that Sandalwood has to offer. Rooms are spacious and the hotel is a great jump off point from which to arrange day-trips to the churches and Portuguese Quarter. If you truly want to unwind—head to the nearby beach to feel the sand between your toes. ( sandalwood.htm)

Grande Delmon A rooftop meeting space, great location and comfortably appointed rooms are to be found at the Grand Delmon. The hotel has 55 rooms across two categories, and Goa’s only branch of Pune’s famed Asian eatery —Malaka Spice. Geared towards business travellers, after work you can walk down to the Mandovi River and set off on a cruise to cap the day, or retire to your room for some R&R. (www.goa-tourism. com/delmon.htm)

Miramar Residency Prainha Resort by the Sea An old-world hotel with modern touches, Prainha is steps away from the Dona Paula jetty—a local favourite that usually gets crowded in the evenings. With a mix of cottages and rooms, the resort also has an al fresco restaurant, Beachcomber, that serves a variety of cuisines. Travelling with a pet? They’re allowed on the property and will enjoy running around the lush gardens though just make sure they stay away from the nearby pool—thats for you to enjoy. (www.goa-tourism. com/prainha.htm)

With 60 rooms and just steps away from Miramar beach, Miramar Residency features a cluster of cottages and a building that houses single rooms as well. For those looking to expose the kids to new things, the hotel is in walking distance of the Goa Science Centre, while Panaji, with its rich history and varying architecture styles is easily accessible and a great place to spend the day. ( For more GTDC-owned residencies log on to


Overlooking the Arabian Sea in the heart of Panaji, this hotel offers panoramic views of Miramar beach and is just a five-minute drive from the city’s casinos, promenades, churches and restaurants. Amenities include 35 wellappointed rooms, a 24-hour restaurant and a rooftop conference hall. (


A staff member at the Panjim Residency Opposite: servers and a guest room at Panjim Inn. Previous page: a view of the Mandovi River as it enters Panaji



THE INSIDER “I’d definitely recommend visiting the Mahadev Temple of Tambdi Surla, dating to the Kadamb dynasty, which is a thousand years old. Other must-visits are the rock art heritage of Pansaimoll on the Kushavati riverbank, which also dates back thousands of years, and Chandor, the first historical capital of Goa. If you have the time, do check out the heritage house of Sara Fernandes, Voddlem Ghor in Chandor, which has secret underground passages and gun loops going back 500 years, and the ancient Chandreshwar Bhutnath hill temple in Paroda village.”



WHERE TO SHOP Wendell Rodricks Design Space

18th June Road This road’s name commemorates the historic “Goa Revolution Day”, when Goans launched a civil disobedience movement against the dictator of Portugal for restricting their rights in 1946. Today, it is a popular shopping destination for tourists. The Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception Church and The College of Pharmacy bookend this tree-lined shopping strip. Stop for a South Indian thali at one of the many restaurants dotting the street for lunch, then continue shopping for locally made clothes and accessories.

Goa’s best-known designer’s store features eco-friendly resort wear. Set amongst the quaint cottages in Campal, the store hosts a number of personalised rooms that highlight Rodricks’ designs. The Linen Room is dedicated to the Portico New York Wendell Rodricks bedlinen collection and a selection of stylish resortwear for women. (

Sacha’s Shop Sacha Mendes characterises her line as resortwear with clothing that you can throw on to completely transform an outfit from day to evening wear. She also stocks other labels like Savio Jon, 11:11, Akaaro and Naushad Ali, but offers a platform for new designers every season to retail at her store. The cosy space is like a cabinet of curiosities with stories attached to each item. (083222 22035)


The Linen Shoppe


While this shop is popular for its kalamkari and ikat prints for home linen, it’s their Christmas collection that stands out. Deck your home with their festive bath and bed linen adorned with motifs like reindeer and Christmas pudding. Their cheerful table runners and napkins will instantly dress up your dining table. ( thelinenshoppe)

Velha Goa Galeria After travelling all over Portugal, Ivo da Costa Azaredo was enamoured by the handcrafted azulejos tiles that adorned houses, walls and churches. Inspired, he got Portuguese artists and raw materials to hand-paint azulejos tiles and

Inside Sacha’s Shop

ceramics, and sold them at Velha Goa Galeria. Make bold statements with these richly coloured ceramic tiles in your house. (

Marcou Artifacts Opened in 2012, this store offers travellers a symbolic memento of Goa. Local artists create the ceramic kitchenware in quirky colours. Their four stores—two in Panaji, one in Calangute and one in Margao—sell their terracotta and clay products, azulejos tiles and miniature figurines of beloved cartoonist Mario Miranda. (http://

This shop sells a vast collection of handmade paper products that make ideal gifts for friends and family. The product comes from Jaipur and is made out of recycled paper and waste from garment industries. The production is mostly manual and eco-friendly. Fill your basket with notebooks, bookmarks, gift boxes and desk accessories. (083224 25841)

Gallery Gitanjali

Barefoot The Home Store

Over the years, artists have flooded the corridors and public spaces of Panjim Inn with their paintings, drawing thousands of visitors every year to admire their work—Mario Miranda and Francis D’Souza among them. Today, the hotel has its own gallery, called Gitanjali, to showcase not just local artists but also 1950s Scandinavian art, including lithographs, linocuts and etchings. The gallery has transformed recently into a cultural place with an alternative art studio, a theatre and art workshop venue and a space for book launches. The artwork is also available online. (

This contemporary home store stocks exquisite linen woven with banana product and natural fibre. There’s also some beautiful pottery and wooden trinket boxes with Indian motifs on display. (

SYNE A vintage store located in the Latin Quarter of Fontainhas, this store stocks affordably priced accessories and designerwear crafted from a wide range of colours and textiles. The store can also custom-make outfits according to your requirements. (



mothers who return each year, with their sons, to thank St Anne. ( in/destinations/churches/133church-of-st-anne)

Sunaparanta - Goa Centre For The Arts

Adil Shah’s Palace Originally the summer residence of Shia king Adil Shah, it later became the seat of the Portuguese Viceroy who replaced him. Today, it houses the state’s administrative offices. Look out for the palace’s Gateway—made of basalt and intricately decorated with designs and patterns, it is a treat for history aficionados. (http://www. other-attractions/183-adilshahas-palace)

Institute Menezes Braganza Learn more about Goa’s history at its galleries, museum and library. Inaugurated on 24 November 1871, and rechristened the “Institute Menezes Braganza” from Instituto Vasco da Gama after


Party cruises

liberation in 1963, this institute was established to promote the literature, language, culture and art of Goa. It hosts a number of symposiums, debates, talks and exhibitions. Peek into their library to browse through their book collection on the culture and history of the region. (http://

Kala Academy Goa’s premier centre for the performing arts is housed in an iconic building designed by Charles Correa. The centre houses three venues: Dinanath Mangeshkar Kala Mandir, the Open Amphitheatre and the Exhibition Hall used for performing and visual arts purposes. A spectrum of concerts, competitions, recitations and exhibitions are staged here all year round. (

Casa da Moeda Literally meaning “House of Coins”, this building functioned as the Mint of Goa from 1834 to 1841 and now stands in the Post Office Square. Dr Victor Manuel Dias, a physician and inventor, lived here during the 1940s and was in charge of St Francis Xavier’s body for almost 15 years. Visit in the afternoon for tea served with history and stories of the area— but book at least 48 hours in advance. (www.casadamoedagoa.

Party cruises have recently grown in popularity in Goa. Paradise Cruises (http://paradisecruises. in/) hosts weekly entertainment cruises along the Arabian Sea with funky themes. If you would like to rent a boat, contact Goa Boat Party (, rental prices begin from 40,000). They have three vessels that can seat between 200 and 600 passengers and facilities ranging from a sun deck and a dance floor to changing rooms too. The Santa Monica (http:// gtdc-cruises-sunset-cruise.htm), is a cruise ship that takes you down the Mandovi River for a special inland experience.

Yacht rentals Take a yacht out for a classy corporate event or for a lazy day out on the waters with one of the many rental companies in Panaji. Choose from Marine Asia (, Champions Yacht Club (www. and the O Yacht Goa. (www.; rentals start from 12,000)

Go o eat Church of St Anne Come 29 July and all roads lead to this magnificent 17th-century baroque church of St Anne. In a fascinating ritual, hundreds of Christians and Hindus flock here to offer whole cucumbers at the annual Touxeamchem Fest and pray for sons. The belief that St Anne will bless women with boys is furthered by the many

Visit Dona Paula and learn about the legend of Dona Paula de Menezes, who had a love affair that ran afoul. (http://www.goatourism. Another option is to take a cycling tour that goes through Old Goa and ends at the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Monte (


Sunaparanta preserves Goa’s artistic legacies by promoting work in the visual arts. The nonprofit arts education institute is a space for collaboration, exchange, support and appreciation. Multi-functional facilities include halls for workshops and lectures, art studios, accommodation for visiting faculty and guests, and an amphitheatre. The institute hosts a variety of events in the creative arts. Guests have included everyone from Anne Enright and William Dalrymple to Jaya Bachchan. Two years ago, writer Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi and Sunaparanta founder Raj Salgaocar introduced an arts festival called Sensorium, where conversations between artists revolve around a particular theme. (


Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception Church. Opposite: Kala Academy



This quirky restaurant serves delicious Goan and Portuguese seafood dishes. Specialities include the stuffed crabs with parsley and butter, and the beef and pork steaks. The day’s special depends upon the catch of the day. Quench your thirst with their tangy watermelon mojito and fresh fruit punch. (083224 25537)


Horseshoe Bar & Restaurant Frequented by locals and visitors alike since 1980, this place is famous for its Goan Portuguese cooking by ownerchef Vasco Silveira. Everything here tastes great, particularly the gambas fritas com tempero de malaguetas e especiarias (prawns fried in Goan masala). And it’s certainly a fine place to try bebinca, made of coconut milk,


egg, ghee and other things (it’s reputed to be the world’s richest dessert; the traditional variety has 16 layers). (083224 31788)

and sandwiches, while the terrific desserts quickly sell out. (


Ritz Classic

Mum’s Kitchen

Don’t be fooled by its modest appearance; this marvellous place is a staple with locals who crave their daily fix of xacuti or rice and fish curry. The generous Ritz Fish Thali abounds with the goodness of four types of seafood prepared in varied forms, besides a tangy kokum sol kadi and kismur (dried shrimp salad). (083224 26417)

This is the best restaurant to savour both Hindu Saraswat and Goan-Portuguese cuisines under one roof. The eclectic menu incorporates tribal recipes such as the kombdechem sukhem (spicy boneless chicken) and classics such as ambotik, lobster reichado and pork sorpotel with steaming sannas (rice cakes with toddy). There’s not much you can’t order at Mum’s Kitchen. (www.

Sunaparanta Café Al Fresco This atmospheric daytime café is located in the courtyard of Goa’s premier cultural venue, Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts and is managed by Café Bodega. The menu changes daily, with a selection of soups, salads

Baba’s Wood Café Maria Grazia’s popular Italian restaurant in Miramar serves excellent pizzas and homemade pastas with a well-priced wine selection. Also on offer is a variety

of cocktails: go for the tart bimblee vodka cocktail, and pair it with the pear, pecorino and pomegranate salad or salami piccante pizza. ( Babaswoodcafe)


The Black Sheep Bistro Passionate about adhering to a farm-to-table ethic, owners Prahlad and Sabreen Sukthankar put out a seasonal, globally inspired menu using local ingredients. Don’t miss the bistro-style pork poutine with fried egg, fries, homemade gravy, slow-braised pulled pork and mozzarella. The old Latin Quarter bungalow façade disguises the chic, urban interiors where a swish clientele delicately sips handcrafted cocktails such as the Pecore Negroni made with local feni. (


Hospedaria Venite

Clams at Mumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen. Opposite (left to right): Interiors at Ritz Classic and Hospedaria Venite



Sorak at O Coqueiro Left: The interiors at O Coqueiro. Opposite: Designer Wendell Rodricks in his store

This is where you’ll get arguably the most flavourful Thai cuisine in Goa. Owners Warren and Dew Vaz grow their own vegetables in keeping with their farm-to-table philosophy. The house sepciality —pad pak bueng fai dang, made of sautéed morning glory, needs to be ordered a day in advance, and lives up to expectations. (

Viva Panjim This tiny establishment offers tasty Goan staples, including fish and prawn curry and vindaloo. The warm colours, yellow lights and intimate interiors add to the cosy comfort of the Portuguese villa. (083224 22405)

Down The Road Fashioned out of an ancient Portuguese house, this bar has oodles of old-world charm. Overlooking the river, it organises


different live entertainment every night. Their inventive cocktail menu includes a fresh blueberry champagne with Cointreau. (www.facebook. com/downtheroadgoa)

Black Vanilla This homely, self-service café, boulangerie, and patisserie serves a tasty menu of milkshakes, sandwiches, and coffees. Try the Caesar salad with prawn and calamari for a Goan twist on a classic, and a kiwi mojito to wake you up. (

Café Bhonsle Known for its array of snacks, Café Bhonsle in Panaji, near the National Theater is a local institution. Established in 1920, the family run café is know for its bhajis—like the patal bhaji or mix bhaji. They also make a mean cup of tea.

For the adventurous there’s a smattering of Chindian food on the menu. (083223 18725)

hotel for siesta, like the locals do. (083224 37294)

Barrels & Bones Malaka Spice Malaka Spice serves up the panAsian fare that its Pune flagship is known for. The weekday lunch buffet is a great way to sample a range of dishes at a nominal rate, while for those looking to order—we’d recommend the nasi goreng and chicken satay. (075070 83009)

Head to this rustic Panaji restaurant that’s known for its steaks and barbecue. The pork steak is drizzled with tangy sauces and exquisite spices, while the chicken leg stuffed with mushroom and fresh mozzarella is a meat lover’s delight. (www.

O Coqueiro Tato’s A crowded eatery, that’s tucked away close to Panaji Church, Tato’s is an all-vegetarian eatery that is known for its bhaji pao. Scan the menu and then get what the locals eat, a bhaji that is usually eaten with a side of pakoras or cutlets and mopped up with a bread or puri. Immersion in local culture complete, head back to the

Its supposed to be the restaurant at which Charles Sobhraj was caught, but the food has made it infamous as welll. Serving Portuguese influenced seafood, the O Coqueiro serves a great chicken samosa, the perfect snack to pair with a cold beer. If you’re staying for a meal, nosh on the seafood (the prawn curry is a favourite), and thank us later. (083224 17806)


Thai n Wok




WENDELL RODRICKS Fashion designer

“When I take family and friends around Goa, I like to take them to these two spots: the first is the Goa State Central Library (http://, across the Ourem creek in Panaji. Designed by Gerard DaCunha and made lively with Mario Miranda’s beyond life-sized caricatures, this must be one of the best libraries in the country. The structure is as much a marvel as its contents. From old Portuguese books to the children’s book space with stuffed toys to snuggle up with, this library is a joy for families and bibliophiles. The second is the Museum of Christian Art ( in Old Goa. The newly restored Chapel Of The Weeping Cross in the Convent of Santa Monica is a spectacular addition to the museum. Among the museum’s jewels are rare manuscripts and 18th-century church clothing, the only ones in the world where ivory is used as part of the embroidery.”


all over goa

GOAN HANDICRAFTS No trip to Goa is complete without bringing back something special for your house. Aatish Nath gives you options that go further than feni

Seashell craft From lampshades to mirrors to coasters—the humble seashell is used to make myriad household objects. Depending on what you’re looking for, there’s something for most sizes and budgets. If you’re looking to bring something small home, we’d suggest coasters, or key chains to remind you of your time in the sunshine state.


Hand-painted tiles Chef Floyd Cardoz has taken these tiles all the way to New York, for his Paowalla restaurant in Soho. The hand-painted tiles, known as azueljos, can be found at the Velha Goa Galeria, in the Fontainhas neighbourhood. (Velha Goa Galleria, Fontainhas, Altinho, Panjim)

Pottery and terracota Bowls, flower pots, figurines and more are all fashioned by the skilled hands of Goan potters. Each piece is a labour of love, and reflects the religious and stylistic diversity of India. From vases to souveniers to murals, you can bring home a part of the state.

Brassware This traditional profession uses ancient techniques to create stunning metal items. Oil lamps,

candle holders, church bells and more are sculpted into designs that meld the traditional with the modern.

Wooden lacquerware Using an ancient technique, wood turning, as its known in Goa, is labour intensive and unforgiving. A rough block of wood is converted into anything from bed posts to wooden bowls. As each piece is hand made, no two designs are identical— each reflects the natural imperfections of the wood and the skill of the craftsman.

Bamboo craft An old Goan technique— this sees bamboo converted into objects of daily use. From pots to baskets to candle stands, this durable wood is fashioned into numerous different objects using traditional know-how.

Crochet and embroidery Yarn is made into intricately detailed crochet designs, which you can purchase from Crochetgoa. The company makes knit dresses, and religious artefacts as well as table linen and more. (Crochetgoa, Mapusa)

Papier Mache Waste paper is transformed into everyday objects, reducing the state’s environmental footprint, while also creating useful objects. Jewellery boxes, wall hangings, pen stands and flower vases are some of the objects you can find made using this technique. Visit Goa government’s network of Aparant stores to buy local handicrafts. For more information log on to



walk along the lanes of Fontainhas, Goa’s Portugese quarter is revelation. The houses are brightly painted, terracota planters line the streets, and residents are anounced with hand-painted tiles. To take a little bit of Goa home with you, we’ve put together a handy list of places to shop at, while pointing you towards the artisanal products that are made in Goa.

The interiors of an Aparant store Opposite page: Handicrafts for sale at Aparant








Not just a party destination, this part of Goa has developed a reputation for its food. Fahad Samar has the inside story


ANJUNA-ARPORA-ASSAGAO Goa’s Italian residents call this their cantina, so you know that owner and chef Susanna Carvalho’s Italian rustica cuisine is the real deal. In the candlelit garden of her Anjuna home, a wood-fired oven produces perfectly crisped thin-crust pizzas that can be customised to your taste. And Susanna’s limoncello is the perfect digestivo after you’ve feasted on her house specials: gnocchi, lasagna and a decadent torta di ricotta. (098221 04817)

SAKANA Dine on contemporary Japanese fare in a chic, multi-level setting, just a brisk walk from Anjuna beach, on the road to Chapora. Besides the excellent sushi, sashimi and salads, try the tuna teriyaki and the beef yoshinoya. A major plus point is the number of options for vegetarians, including the udon noodles and miso soup. Apart from the flavourful, well-prepared food, generous pours of liquor (50ml is the minimum) ensure that this value-formoney establishment is packed even on weeknights. You’d do well to reserve a table. (098901 35502)

BABA AU RHUM This café and pâtisserie was a hit with hipsters, musicians, artists and others creatively inclined, even before it moved


from Arpora to its present location in Anjuna, where it borders a lush bamboo grove. You’ll get superb burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and desserts, and, because all the baking is done in-house, you can smell the aroma of fresh bread as soon as you walk in. (096572 10468)

STAR LIGHT FAMILY RESTAURANT AND BAR Seldom does a no-frills eatery garner such a formidable reputation as Star Light, which is located on the Calangute-Anjuna Road, in Arpora. Compete for table space with locals who cannot get enough of the fresh rawa fried chonak, prawns, squid and mussels. The piece de resistance is the fiery crab xec xec (prepared with chillies, whole spices, coconut and tamarind). This kind of food is, of course, best eaten fresh, but this place also has a takeaway service. (077410 69965)

OM MADE CAFE Local celebrity chef Gregory Bazire (of Le Poisson Rouge fame) expands his culinary oeuvre with this serene, sea-facing Anjuna café that offers mostly organic fare, with a focus on fresh produce. You’ll get a range of juices, smoothies, sandwiches, desserts and more. Try the fresh fruit smoothies and the all-day breakfast. The Croque Monsieur, char cheese risotto and

smoky lamb burger are all great. Fortunately, there’s also a Sangolda branch at Paper Boat Collective and another one in Siolim. But the one in Anjuna is the best. (www.

VIL BNCHE BISTRO At this cosy, colourful garden bistro, you’ll be able to dig into favourites such as bagels with cream cheese and German pork sausages. There’s also a popular vegan and gluten-free menu and handmade ice cream on offer. But the real reason to go is the Sunday brunch— a massive spread of cheeses, meats, salads, quiches and much more, which is ideal for guests to slowly, lazily work their way through. Owner Yogini’s delicious cakes and desserts make a perfect takeaway. (www.

+EDITOR’S PICK+ GUNPOWDER The cuisines of the South Indian states find representation on a menu that’s as varied as it is delicious. Take a seat in the rustic back garden of an old Portuguese-era home in Saunto Vaddo, and order the crisped Syrian Christian beef fry and the chilli pork ribs. Pair the flaky, super-soft Malabar parottas and egg appams with Kerala beef curry, Coorg pandi curry or vegetable istew. Skip the desserts and opt for filter coffee instead. (083222 68083)



Baba Au Rhum. Opposite, from left: lemon meringue pie and espresso at Baba Au Rhum; a woman at Star Light Family Restaurant And Bar; the special Goan ďŹ sh thali at Fat Fish. Previous page, from left: Morjim beach; rechado crab at Amigoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s


Diners at Gunpowder. Opposite, from left: a wall at La Plage; a dish at La Plage







This laid-back, affordable eatery in the village of Arambol serves up some truly excellent Korean cuisine as well as sushi rolls and Goan-style shellfish dishes. The languorous, somewhat generic ambience and décor belie the high quality of food served here. It’s well worth a visit even if all you eat are the superb Jurassic crab and kimchi. (098221 04920)

Travel to Junos Vaddo, on the fringes of Mandrem, to relish the organic, holistic cooking served by barefoot, lungi-clad waiters at this funky bistro (which, incidentally, is also run by Sublime’s Agha Bee). Herbivores rejoice, as you have options aplenty: go for the nutritious, mega-organic salad and the somewhat less healthy, but equally delicious, blue cheese vegetable bake. Carnivores, you’ll love the sesame yellowfin tuna and the Malabar prawn curry. And everyone should try the lemon grass and lychee martini and at least a spoonful of the sinful chocolate ganache. (098506 58568)

Overlooking the paddy fields beside the Calangute-Arpora Road, Fat Fish is frequented by tourists and locals pretty much all year round. Pescatarians will be spoilt for choice between clams, oysters, shrimp, squid, lobster, pomfret and other seafood that find place on the extensive, multi-cuisine menu. If it’s all too befuddling, order the Goan fish thali that’s as delicious as it is well-priced. (

+EDITOR’S PICK+  PGE You’ll find equal portions of savoir-faire and French fusion fare at this trendy allday bistro that’s beautifully located right on Ashvem beach. The menu’s heavy on terrines and gratins, but give the beef carpaccio and the sesame-crusted tuna fillet your undivided attention. Laze and read a book over breakfast or spot celebrities as you sip a refreshing G&T and nibble at your salad niçoise. La Plage’s famed chocolate thali is as delicious as it is decadent. During high season, it’s advisable to reserve a table in advance. (098221 21712)

CAFÉ DELICIEUX This bakery, café and dessert lounge is co-owned by Parisian Lucie Masson, who uses traditional French baking methods to produce quality breads, pastries and homemade ice creams in 40 flavours. With options for eating in and takeaway, this premium pâtisserie also has a branch located in Tito’s lane at Baga. Stop by for breakast or a choux pastry; no one needs to know. (

PINK ORANGE This earthy beach café in Morjim offers mostly organic, European vegetarian fare to a clientele that is bohemian and hipster. The pancakes and rich desserts seem at odds with the otherwise sattvic ambience featuring droopy hammocks and grass floor mats topped by a thatched palm roof. Unsurprisingly, the interiors are done up in shades of pink and orange, with splashes of other colours finding their way into the mix as well. Lunch on the wholesome spinach lasagna and fresh homemade pastas, and try the healthy juices and aromatic coffee that packs a nice wallop. Also, check for the daily specials, such as the excellent seasonal fruit parfaits, then wait for your next meal and do it all over again. (www.

LE POISSON ROUGE French owner-chef Gregory Bazire takes pride in using only fresh catch and locally sourced produce to create a seasonal IndoFrench menu at this spot. The romantic garden makes for the perfect setting in which to uncork a bottle from the wine list. Order a la carte or indulge in the set five-course meal that includes king prawn and vegetable ravioli, roasted black pomfret fillet, poached kingfish and a decadent moelleux au chocolat. A vegetarian version of the set meal is also offered. (

GO WITH THE FLOW With an enviable location, this multi-level Brazilian and Mediterranean restaurant could get by on its good looks alone. But South African chef Stefan Matias maintains high culinary standards at this hotspot. Don’t forget to ask for the roasted pork belly, the Mozambique-style prawns nacional, Brazilian pao de queijo and the crispy saltand-pepper squid. (075077 71557)


+EDITOR’S PICK+ SUBLIME Celebrity chef Christopher Saleem Agha Bee’s much-loved fusion cuisine restaurant has reopened late last year in yet another new avatar, this time in a breezy, quirkily decorated shack on Morjim (between Bora Bora and Hakuna Matata). The all-day dining avatar works well with lighter fare served at lunch, while old dinner favourites like the blue cheesestuffed beef, ginger-battered calamari and clams with Goan chorizo still find place on the inventive menu. Vegetarians should definitely try the vertical pear salad with blue cheese, walnuts, organic forest honey and field greens. (098224 84051)





Baby calamari stuffed with tendli pickle and prawns at Le Poisson Rouge. Opposite: a ďŹ sherman at Nerul beach








From Japanese teppanyaki to Malaysian beef rendang to Korean bulgogi, a meal at Koi is a veritable feast; go for either of their Thai curries—they’re freshly made in-house and utterly delicious. (

Culinary wizard Bawmra Jap conjures up modern Burmese fare at his eponymous outdoor restaurant. Kick off with a pomegranate margarita and tuck into crispy pork belly salad, lime and chilli red snapper or seared beef with basil and coriander. Don’t be surprised if you spot author Amitav Ghosh dining here, as he rates it as one of his favourite restaurants. (

A sprawling lifestyle destination spread across five levels, in Vagator, it commands stunning sea views, a superb cocktail bar, an al fresco dance floor and an Italian restaurant where the wood-fired oven produces incredible pizzas. Try the flavourful, thinly sliced beef carpaccio with rocket salad and Parmesan shavings, the bruschetta with grilled vegetables and the smoked scamorza cheese in salamander. And whatever you do, make sure you check out the list of delicious homemade pastas. Lunch here, lounge for a bit and then dance the night away—this is that kind of place, with something for everyone. (091672 39345)

HOTEL PNTAIN LEAF Serving South Indian cuisine all through the day since 1997, this bustling, no-frills joint used to be a haven for herbivores. Recently, the management introduced meat and seafood on the menu, much to the annoyance of its largely vegetarian clientele. But it remains a safe bet for a tasty thali lunch with a chilled beer. (083222 79860)

+EDITOR’S PICK+ FIESTA The elegant contemporary spot manages to pull crowds every season, thanks to its enchanting locale (in the garden of a 1932 Portuguese villa) and evolving menu. Owner and chef Yellow Contractor dishes out signature mains like lobster au gratin and Asiatic seared tuna. (

A REVERIE Fine dining meets fun dining as owner-chef Aakritee Bhandari Sinh whips up a playful international menu using freshly sourced ingredients and a modicum of molecular gastronomy. Open for dinner only. (www.




HOUSE OF LLOYDS Nestled in the village of Saipem is the ancestral Indo-Portuguese home of Lloyd Braganza, who plies customers with hugely popular cocktails while his mother cooks up a storm. Serving the juiciest, most luscious pork chops and barbecue platters in town, this place is, understandably, a sizzling success. (098230 32273)

WOK & ROLL Reasonably priced Southeast Asian cuisine is served in friendly al fresco environs near Fort Aguada. Try the honey-glazed pork chops and fiery softshell crab, best accompanied by a chilled pint of Kings beer. Enjoy a long Sunday brunch, complete with views of the Candolim River and a lively band belting out Goan ditties. (

TESO WATERFRONT The chic all-day diner has a panoramic riverfront setting, which is best enjoyed in a shaded cabana at lunch or, as the day fades, sipping a drink on the deck. The Mediterranean-inspired menu includes crunchy pork schnitzel and fusion-style ischia prawns. Order a bottle of wine and let it accompany your meal, or start the night early, since in the evenings, the place throbs to techno beats by favourite DJs. (

A cocktail at House Of Lloyds From left: Lloyd Braganza at House Of Lloyds; food at Bomra’s Opposite page: the Sublime chef at work


NERUL One of north Goa’s worst-kept secrets, this mom-and-pop eatery, in the recesses of Nerul village, is as authentically Goan as it gets. Chonak gabodi (fish roe), pork amsol (with vinegar, kokum and tamarind juice) and rawafried red snapper are only some of the stellar dishes on offer. (098221 84103)

AMIGOS Not to be confused with its namesake in Arambol that serves Korean cuisine, this spartan eatery in Nerul boasts a tranquil river view and some of the finest homestyle local fare in Goa. Sabita and Josefat Fernandes use traditional family recipes to serve up mussels, crabs, prawns, red snapper and other fresh catch. (098221 04920)

SANGOLDA MUSTARD This restaurant’s claim to fame is that it introduced Bengali cuisine to Goa. But there’s a competent French selection as well, and most dishes incorporate mustard either as a main ingredient or a garnish. Start with a tangy aam porar sherbet and move on to the rui maacher shorshe jhaal (rohu in mustard gravy) and the kosha mangsho (slow-cooked mutton curry). (


NORTH GOA’S PARTY SPOTS SINQ With four entertainment zones—a nightclub, poolside cabanas, a poolside deck and a brewery—this Candolim hotspot is the ultimate party venue. If you’re there with friends, rent out a cabana and enjoy your evening. (

LOVE PASSION KARMA (LPK) A fiery blend of a lively dance floor and a relaxing open-air deck, this club lights up the Nerul waterfront as people dance the night away to the latest hits, surrouded by towering statues. (093267 33292)

CLUB CUBANA Fondly referred to as “Nightclub of the Sky”, it sits atop a hill in Arpora. Music pumps through the various levels of the club, offering party-goers the option to

groove on the dance floors, dip in the Jacuzzi or lounge in the tented cabanas. (

COHIBA Located in Candolim, and part restaurant and part lounge bar, it has fantastic live music, delicious cocktails, and fusion cuisine. (077220 31222)

place to let loose—with the thumping music, a pool and some tasty bites. With views of Anjuna, get there in time to find a spot from which to watch the sun set into the Arabian Sea. Then move indoors where you can party the night away. For those looking for a slightly laidback pace, settle in the lounge— which offers great cocktails and food. (09545 550571)

TITO’S This Calangute club has expanded so far that the entire lane of nine bars and restaurants has been renamed as “Tito’s Lane”. Wear your heels away while dancing at Café Mambo’s, sip cocktails at Cocktails and Dreams, and let your hips do the talking at Tito’s Bollywood Club. (

NYEX BEACH CLUB Spread over three levels, Nyex Beach Club is a great

CAPE TOWN CAFÉ This Calangute café transforms into a funky nightclub as the sun sets where you can dance and drink with fellow travellers. (

CAVA This is a Portuguese villa that has been restored into a hotel and restaurant. On weekends by 11pm, the dance floor is packed and and throbbing with energy. (088050 21124)




Guests at Bomraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Opposite from left: The chef and kosha mangsho with dal, saag and a chutney at Mustard; boats at Nerul beach


all over goa

Scene from Finding Fanny Clockwise from left: Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone in Finding Fanny; Arjun Kapoor and Padukone on location at Divar Island



sk someone what they want to see in Goa and chances are they’ll say the Dil Chahta Hai fort, the Chennai Express waterfall, the Singham bridge, the Ek Duuje Ke Liye beach and the Aashiqui 2 church. Wait, what? It’s true. For decades, India’s sunshine state has played a starring role in a number of Hindi movies, and for good reason. First, the obvious: it’s beautiful. Sunny, palm-fringed beaches, idyllic villages like Canacona and Majorda, heritage monuments like the churches in Panjim, dense, lush forest, gushing waterfalls like Dudhsagar—you name it, Goa has it. Divar Island, which is easily accessible via ferry rides from Old Goa, Naroa


and Ribandar is also a popular location for shooting films and television soaps alike. Many directors and set designers also appreciate the vast, open spaces and the freedom they provide to create sets. Ashutosh Gowariker’s Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se is a case in point, given that it recreated Chittagong (Bangladesh) in Sawantwadi and others parts of Goa. Then, of course, cinematographers love the mellow light that makes every frame look like a dream sequence. Plus, the region offers a variety of landscapes, people, vibes, settings and architecture, so while Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s directorial debut, Khamoshi, shows Goa’s simple life, the same film-maker’s Guzaarish

turns the state into a lavish spectacle. The other aspect of the state that makes it such a hit is its unique people. Goans are full of an instantly recognisable character, which always adds a sense of atmosphere to a film. Think of the supporting cast (and the crazy situations) in movies like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Josh or Finding Fanny. These movies have almost treated Goa like a character. But it’s not just mainstream Bollywood. Indie flicks like Angry Indian Goddesses and My Brother… Nikhil, and Hollywood’s The Bourne Supremacy also feature Goa in all its glory. Bourne producer Frank Marshall admits to having had an outdated view

of the state before his writer did a bit of research. Eventually, Marshall said, the two weeks of shooting in Goa were worth the six months of prep. And the love story looks unlikely to end any time soon, with even the small screen turning its attention to the state. According to the Entertainment Society of Goa, a state government body that deals with permissions for film shootings, TV crews are all set to shoot teleserials and reality shows in Goa’s gorgeous environs. Will the soap stars trade their saris for swimsuits? We don’t know, but it doesn’t matter, because the beauty of Goa is that no one cares. SAMIRA SOOD


From Bobby to Finding Fanny, from Saat Hindustani to Bourne, film-makers just can’t get enough of Goa






S T AY Want to experience North Goa like a local?

SHOP Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a selection of the hotels, restaurants, markets

SEE & do and other experiences


PLUS INSIDER TIPS Jivi Sethi Odette Mascarenhas



WHERE TO STAY The Goa Tourism Development Corporation-recommended list of hotels DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Goa - Arpora - Baga

the village of Zorin. The hotel touts its eco-friendly credentials and features a restaurant, pool and multiple terraces. The property has rooms in a range of categories including seven that feature their own terrace gardens. History buffs can check out Chapora Fort, which is a short distance away. Situated close enough to the beach to get there regularly, it’s also a great location from which to explore the hills and greenery that surround it. (www.goa-tourism. com/orritel-village.htm)

Conveniently perched just minutes from Anjuna and Baga beaches, the DoubleTree offers 104 contemporary, Mediterranean-style rooms and suites. This is the perfect place to book yourself in if you intend to go for a party vacation— nearby nightspots include Club Cubana and Tito’s. The hotel has three restaurants on-site as well as a spacious sun terrace. (


Grand Hyatt Goa

Sonesta Inns

This luxury hotel features whitewashed walls, stuccowork details and modern amenities. All rooms have iPod docks, LCD TVs, beds that suck you right in, huge bathtubs and incredibly soft bathrobes. The Royal Villas have their own cinemas and 24hour butler service. An inviting pool and lush gardens round out the hotel’s offerings. (

Arrayed around the free-form pool are the hotel’s rooms and suites. Situated in walking distance of Calangute beach, Sonesta Inns is centrally located for those people that want to explore Candolim. The hotel opens out onto a beach – so your days can be spent hopping between the pool and the sand. ( htm)

Sol de Goa This restored Portuguese villa in Bardez is a mere five-minute walk from the Nerul waterfront. The luxury lifestyle hotel, designed by Tarun Tahiliani, is a wonderful fusion of Goan charm and Portuguese history. The hotel holds 15 rooms and six suites. The Sol Bar+Bistro serves Goan specialities and international favourites. They can customise your menu to fulfil your cravings. (

Nagoa Grande Resort If you want a relaxing vacation in the midst of happening North Goa, book yourself into this sprawling, 65-room resort. The outdoor swimming pool is just the place to get a peaceful nap,


and the Omega Spa, with its ayurvedic and aromatherapy treatments, will cure you of any city-inflicted aches and pains. ( htm)

Casa Colvale Located on the banks of the Chapora, this hotel offers a slice of the river life. Rustic yet airy, enjoy boat rides, soothing massages and yoga classes on the deck, and riverside walks at this serene setting. Casa Colvale’s 12 rooms fuse the contemporary and antique to create a restful aesthetic. Each room has a balcony or porch to engage with nature. You’ll relish the sights of buffaloes waddling across the river in the morning or egrets fishing for their fresh catch. ( casa-colvale.htm)

White Pearl Suites Spread across two floors, the 12 luxury suites at White Pearl Suites beckon. Situated between Baga Lake and Baga Hillock, the resort, which includes a spa and two restaurants, makes for a great escape from city life. Spacious rooms, an expansive swimming pool and private balconies allow you to experience a quieter side of North Goa. Those looking to explore can walk the 3km to Baga beach and stop for a meal along the way. Other options include making a trip to the Saturday market or visiting the temple that is opposite the property. (www.goa-tourism. com/white-pearl.htm)

Hard Rock Hotel The international brand’s first and only Indian property brings its signature rock and roll vibe to Goa. Its 135 rooms are catered to by three eateries including a pool side bar. For those looking to relax, book yourself into the Rock Spa, which will be opening by the end of 2016, while those looking to raise hell can rock out in their room with a Fender guitar, or customise a playlist for your trip. The hotel will also give you Traktor Z1 DJ controller, to DJ the party in your room, for a trip to Goa unlike most. (

Orritel Village Square

Fahrenheit Hotel

Located a short walk away from the beache Orritel Village Square is a 28-room resort in

A boutique hotel consisting of only five individually designed suites, Fahrenheit offers

The pool at Grand Hyatt Goa. Opposite: Sol de Goa offers quiet moments


WHERE TO STAY The Goa Tourism Development Corporation-recommended list of hotels

The lobby area at Nilaya Hermitage

PlayStations on demand and a host of other amenities. But you’ve come to Goa to get away from it all—do that in the hotel’s pool or head over to the beach for some R&R. Visit one of the many shacks that dot the beach for a hearty meal, or make use of the hotel’s in-house restaurant for something cooked up specially for you. (

Grandpa’s Inn - Hotel Bougainvillea For a stay with a personal touch, check yourself into Grandpa’s Inn - Hotel Bougainvillea. If you’re planning to head to the beach—both Anjuna and Baga are about 10 minutes away


by bike, while those looking to unwind in the water can do so in the property’s large pool, which (we’ve heard) is where the expats come to unwind as well. ( bougainvillea.htm)

Nilaya Hermitage Nestled in the midst of nature and wildlife in Arpora-Bardez, guests can choose from the 11 guest rooms named after natural elements and two Arabian tents that are furnished with exquisite handpicked furniture. Indulge in yoga and ayurvedic spa treatments, walk through the green parklands and swim in the freshwater pool. The chefs prepare a new menu daily

with ingredients sourced from their home garden. (

Resorte Marinha Dourado

Barely half a kilometre away from Vagator beach, the Living Room by Seasons Hotels makes the most of its small footprint by cramming in a pool, a spa, guest rooms (each with a private balcony) and two restaurants into the property. The popular flea market is cloe enough to visit, and the hotel is happy to arrange excursions to see Goa’s Portuguese history and natural wonders. The beach is so close by, there’s plenty to do, no matter how long your stay. (

205 rooms make up the Resorte Marinha Dourado. The functional hotel is designed to mimic the Portuguese houses that Goa is known for, while the large pool is sure to cool you down The resort borders a lake on which you can go boating or even fishing. And for kids that can’t stay away from their PlayStations— there’s a play area that features video games and more. With something for everyone, no one will leave disappointed. (www.goa-

Living Room by Seasons Hotels


THE INSIDER ODETTE MASCARENHAS Food critic, author and TV host

“Goa has a unique relationship with food that dates to the 6th century. According to myths passed down generations, the Saraswati River dried up and God sent a message to families in North India to go down to Goa, a land of rivers and seas. These families enjoyed their new land, but continuous invasions influenced their lives and food. Here I’m sharing the origins of two Goan dishes. Shagoti (Xacuti): ‘Shag’ means preparation and ‘goti’ is chunks of meat. The Hindus would celebrate by preparing dishes with chunks of meat, thus creating Shagoti. When the Portuguese arrived in Goa, they changed the ‘Sh’ to ‘X’, thus calling it ‘Xacuti’ as we know today. Bebinca: This dessert was apparently named after a nun, Bibiana, who was missing her hometown, Lisbon. At that time, nuns would use egg whites to starch their clothes. Bibian used the leftover egg yolk to make layers of a dessert that the villagers fell in love with. They named it ‘Bebinca’ after her.”


JIVI SETHI Designer and hotelier “When you’re in North Goa, don’t miss a visit to the following places: Pousada Beach Sea Front Restaurant: This is an oasis run by father-son Neville & Joshua Proença in the midst of the madness of the Calangute-Candolim beach stretch. Pousada offers a great blend of authentic home-cooked Goan food and simple Continental fare; cocktails and drinks; peaceful beach beds; and clean showers. ( Literati: Exhausted from being on the beaches and partying? Head to Literati, a very well-stocked bookstore with an airy, relaxed space to encourage browsing. There’s also a garden café on the premises, which serves Italian food, coffee and alcoholic drinks. ( Rare Republic Goa: Run by a trio: two Spanish ladies, Natali and Mariebel, and an Indian, Sonu, this concept store offers excellent retail therapy in Siolim as well as some divine Spanish tapas, breads, croissants and salads. (095455 20591)”


WHERE TO STAY The Goa Tourism Development Corporation-recommended list of hotels The Pride Sun Village Resort The hotel is made up of 136 rooms, each of which features a separate living area. You can choose to cool off in two pools, or eat at one of the three restaurants that are on the hotel property. Baga, Arambol and Calangute are all close by and that is where you can try your hand at watersports or just kick back with a book while watching the world go by. For those that want to learn about the state’s history—you can visit the Spice Gardens or the Basilica of Bom Jesus—which the hotel can facilitate for you. (

Resort Rio

Designed to mimic a Goan Portuguese village, Aldeia Santa Rita offers quaint rooms and a distinct vibe. Bright pastel shades announce the resort, which is within walking distance of Candolim beach, where you can try your hand at a range of watersports. A poolside bar, creperie and the option to dine al fresco allow you to indulge during your vacation. The partying that Baga is famous for is a little further away, but for those that want to explore, there’s more than enough to check out in the area. (www.

Pinto Rosario Square Resorts 18 high end villas, two pools and one spa—are all available at Pinto Rosario Square Resorts. The resort is part of a development scheme focussed on luxury cottages and is nestled amongst green hills. Guests can enjoy round-the-clock room service, while making use of the


villas expansive floor plans and gated community feel. Located away from the hubub in Socorro, this is a great family getaway to recharge your batteries. (

Resort De Alturas For a functional yet comfortable stay, consider the Resort De Alturas. Spend the day in the swimming pool, Jacuzzi or spa, or then walk over to Candolim beach to get your fill of the sun and sand. The beach is also where you can indulge your love for adventure and try your hand at the many watersports that are available. (www.goa-tourism. com/de-alturas.htm)

La Sunila Suites Close to Baga and Calangute beaches, yet away from the noise and the crowds, La Sunila Suites is well located. With four categories of rooms, a swimming pool, spa and gym there’s more than enough to

keep you occupied in the hotel, and those looking to wander can visit the nearby shacks. Each room is equipped with a kitchen, allowing you to make your own meal, though the in-house eatery Judy’s Café will satiate those that don’t want to put in the work. (www.goa-tourism. com/la-sunila.htm)

Casa Severina Heritage Resort Perhaps what endears this property most to adults, is its ‘no child policy’ for kids below 12. As a result, this grown-up resort that is minutes away from Calangute offers 17 wellappointed rooms across three categories (each of which has an outdoor balcony). The resort, which includes a small pool, two distinct dining areas and lots of local flavour is a good getaway for those that want to slow down and enjoy all that Goa has to offer without the family drama. ( severina.htm)

Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel The fort was built in the 17th century which was later occupied by the Portuguese. The newly renovated hotel has seven rooms—each named after a day of the week—that display classic Portuguese lighting design to create a dramatic setting. Relax with a drink at The Tavern, or ask the hotel staff to organise trips and picnics to neighbouring beaches. (www.goa-tourism. com/tiracol.htm)


Aldeia Santa Rita

Spread across 10 acres, Resort Rio is the kind of place that manages to create its own world. After a day spent relaxing, look forward to a meal at Pickled Mango, the all-day eatery. The resort also has a vegetarian eatery, Jalsa. The rooms are tastefully done up with dark wood and each features a private balcony. If you’re travelling as a family, consider the three- and four-bedroom villas, which look out onto lush gardens. The Zaara Spa offers Ayurvedic treatments and Indian massages so that you can truly relax on your getaway. (

The dining room at Tavern, the restaurant and bar at Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel Opposite: the view from Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel


WHERE TO SHOP Mapusa Market

vibe. Stroll through the shops selling everything—from food and clothing to home décor and jewellery. The market is separated into three sections: the Lower Field features Indian merchants who sell anything from embroidered cushions to pashminas, and spices; the Central Field holds the main stage with wine and food stalls to linger at; the Upper Field is on a small hillock that hosts international and local designers. (

Do you want a mosquito net that floats sensually over your bed? Or metal vessels that resemble Subodh Gupta installations? Do you want to lose your mind in the heady chaos of the Friday market, when baskets of fresh produce arrive from all over Goa—strange vegetables and fish that appear daringly exotic even to native eyes? Mapusa, one of Goa’s last authentic bazaar outposts, is the best place to kill an idle morning. It’s worth coming here on Friday morning to experience the bustling weekend grocery shopping. Watch Goans travel from all over the state to buy their fresh fish and other ingredients and utensils that make up a traditional kitchen. The market is open everyday from 8am to 6pm. (

Mackie’s Night Bazaar If you like a place that combines live music, delicious eats and shopping, Mackie’s is for you. Set on the Baga Creek, this delightful night market throws you into a whirl of shopping every Saturday. It is divided into three sections: the first is commandeered by Indian vendors, a giant bandstand with live music splits the market in half, and beyond that are western attire and food stalls. (

Located in an old house in Anjuna, Lotus Eaters has a selection of books that’s exceptional. Interestingly, the bookstore only sells used copies and there is a buy-back option—you can sell your books here as well, including ones you’ve bought from here in the past. (

Bebel This boutique sells a great selection of fashion accessories as well as brightly coloured Indian-inspired resortwear. ( bebelboutique)

Jade Jagger Beach Boutique Just beside 1971 Bar on Ashwem beach is the Jade Jagger Beach Boutique. A burst of colour emanates from the British designer’s Goan outpost, which has a decidedly bohemian look. Browse through her diaphanous


dresses and chunky statement jewellery to create your own Goa beach-bum look. (www.

deals. The market closes just after sunset. (

Calangute Market Square Anjuna Flea Market When hippies in the 1960s ran out of money, they would trek to the sleepy Anjuna beach to barter their possessions. This hippie locale grew into the lively Anjuna Flea Market, where stall vendors and shoppers throng to the beach every Wednesday during the peak season to spend the day gazing at trinkets from Tibet, sniffing spices from Kerala, and stocking up on souvenirs. The maze of shops crawls all the way to the parking lot at the entrance with juice and ice cream stalls at intervals. The best time to arrive is at 8am when it opens or early evening at 4pm to score cool

Although Calangute has been established as a commercial town, the market still holds some vintage charm. Wander through the square to bargain for metal crafts, leather goods, clothes, and groceries. The Tibetan market next door sells lovely jewellery to fulfil your souvenir needs. (www.goa-tourism. com)

Arpora Night Market This night market starts at 6pm on Saturdays and goes on well into the night. Shops are separated by huge drapes, which give the market a whimsical Moroccan

Le Souk Le Souk by Amarya is Goa’s first luxury market. Open every day at Ashwem beach, this exclusive open-air bazaar mirrors the tented stores and exotic articles from Moroccan bazaars. Le Souk invites shoppers to browse through clothes by some of the top national and international designers in Goa, lunch on crepes at the Crepe & Creperi, and browse the internet under the cool canopy of coconut palms. Shop at Jonas G for men’s smart casual apparel; The Shop by Nana-Ki works with natural fibres and traditional embroideries for women; and Shades of India combines contemporary art and Indian textiles to highlight traditional handicraft. (www.


Lotus Eaters


Clockwise: Jewellery on display at Jade Jagger Beach Boutique; trinkets at Mapusa market; Morjim beach; baskets of clams at Mapusa market. Opposite: Arpora Night Market


From left: Designers Sophie Paget Steavenson of beach candy; Alice Von Baum; Susana Gago of Miss Monkey; Martino Caramia of Flame photographed at The Park hotel pool


WHERE TO SHOP Malini Ramani

beach candy

Ramani’s store in Calangute houses stylish luxury resort wear, party gowns, shoes and accessories that will complete your beach vacation. (www.

Sophie Paget Steavenson’s label works with NGOs in Mumbai, so anything you buy from her Morjim beach store—whether it’s a handprinted shift maxi dress or an ikat clutch—will directly benefit the artisans who made it. (

Artjuna Set in a Portuguese villa in Anjuna, Artjuna began as a workshop for owners Moshe and Anastasia Inbar to exhibit and sell their leather products while also interacting with their customers. Now, it has expanded into a charming Mediterranean café and boutique that sells designer carpets, furniture, and other home décor items. (www.

Alice Von Baum Von Baum uses traditional block-printed fabrics to create classic Tibetan coats, Bavarian dirndl skirts and reversible fitted jackets. She also makes exquisite accessories and furnishings, and shows by appointment only at her atelier in Sangolda. (


Miss Monkey

If you feel a little daring, try the jewellery by CocoRoots that is inspired by nature: everything is made with bone, coconuts and horn (ethically approved: they use these parts from already dead animals). Look out for their stalls at various flea markets in Goa. (www.

“I design for a woman who can handle being noticed,” says Miss Monkey’s owner Susana Gago. So expect edgy clothing in bold colours (blood reds and electric pinks) as well as rich textures at her Agonda beach store. (

The Flame Store Shivan & Narresh Located at the Marbela Beach Resort, Shivan & Narresh are known for their resort and cruise collections. Keep it light and breezy with their bold, coloured swimsuits, kaftans, and evening wear. (083264 50599)

Martino Caramia’s structured katha-work jackets for men and handloom skirts for women are aimed to please the ‘bohemian jet-setter’. Check out his designs at The Flame Store, in the Thalassa Greek Taverna restaurant, on Little Vagator Beach. (099804 02466)


FARA This designer boutique sells a range of luxury apparel made with 100 percent raw silk, silk Haboti, and silk chiffon. Buy their gorgeous silk scarves with traditional Japanese watercolour techniques. (

Miriam Strehlau Her style ethic is casual, and at her store you’ll find chic khadi dresses paired with colourful bolero jackets. Look out for her new organic cotton line. (


WHAT TO DO Take a tour of Divar Island

served as the belfry. Once the largest building the state, its worth visiting to see how the passage of time has taken its toll on the once-grand structure. (www.goa-tourism. com)

Take the ferry from Old Goa (you can also get there from Narwe) to the picturesque island of Divar in the Mandovi river. A pristine retreat which seems to be unchanged for centuries, Divar is best explored on foot or by cycling through the countryside. Take a stroll along the water and spot mangroves and lush greenery. Those looking for a trek, and the chance to learn about the local history should make it a point to visit the church on the top of the hill. (

Visit Reis Magos fort Cartoonist Mario Miranda’s favourite structure pays tribute to his works. The fort has recently been restored and is now managed by the Government of Goa. It regularly hosts events, exhibitions, fashion shows, music gigs and weddings. (www.

Donate to charity at Wag, Siolim

Visit Chapora Fort A crumbling laterite structure, the Chapora fort was built by the Portuguese in the 17th century. The fort has views of the ocean and due to its proximity to Vagator beach is popular with tourists as well. The boundary wall may be all that remains, but get here in the evening for the chance to watch the sunset or visit in the early morning, when its not as crowded. (

Exert yourself on the Arambol Ocean Trek Starting on a deserted plateau, the Arambol Ocean Trek slowly makes its way to sea level, following the path of a perennial stream until it culminates on


Go to mass at Siolim

Mural at Arambol beach. Opposite: Driving past a Goan church

Arambol beach. The sandy shore, which is famous for its freshwater lake is perfect to relax on, or for the bold—you can take a dip in the waters of the lake. Though in this case, the journey might be as important as the destination. (www.goa-tourism. com/trek-arambol.htm)

Visit local temples Close to Morjim, those looking for a little bit of history should visit the Sapteshwar Bhagvati temple at Mandrem. Celebrating four festivals through the year, consider it a quick immersion into the unque rituals of Goan Hindus. The Shantas Durga temple effortlessly combines Portuguese architecture with Indian elements and is a must visit for those interested in learning more about the local culture. Also worth visiting is the

Saptakoteshwar temple, located in Narve which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lastly, the Shri Manguesh Temple, perhaps the most famous in all of Goa, is one of the largest in the state. (www.

Make a pit-stop at a church Goa’s many churches are well known, with one of its most famous being the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known for being home to the remains of St Francis Xavier, the church is frequented by tourists and locals alike. Also worth visiting is the Church Mae De Deus, a prisitine white structure in Saligao— an example of Neo-Gothic architecture that stands out against the Goan countryside. All that’s left of the Church of St Augustine is a tower that once

This picturesque village in North Goa’s Bardez area is at the epicentre of the colourful Sao Joao festival. Head to the Chapel of Sao Joao in Pereira Vaddo, Siolim, in the afternoon. The nearby riverbank is the venue of an annual rock concert. (www.

Visit Destination One This multi-purpose venue is an ideal place to hang out with your family when each of you have your own agendas. You can choose to eat at the fine dining restaurant Escapade or unwind at Cafe Hangout; lounge at Panacea for sundowners. There’s also an expansive park for kids to expend their energy in. Destination One has also been designed as a wedding venue (www.destinationone.

Go scuba-diving Go below sea level and experience the serenity of the open ocean. Goa Aquatics (www.goaaquatics. com), a PADI Scuba Diving


Looking to get some good karma? Support Atul Sarin’s hard working organisation, WAG (Welfare for Animals in Goa). Aiming to provide shelter and health care to stray animals, the charity focuses on dogs and cats, but has in the past also rescued parrots, cattle and a python. (; 098235 41603)




(; Resort in Calangute and West Coast Adventures (www. 5,000 per person) in Candolim offers introductory Learn to make tiles at scuba lessons, PADI courses and Tropical Woods Villa, Britona fun dives. (www.goa-tourism. Sometimes, buying a souvenir com/scuba-diver.htm) doesn’t have the same value as making it yourself. Shalu Sharma, an artist from Learn to bake bread at the New Delhi, conducts twoYellow Submarine Artisan day Portuguese mosaic tile Bread The real treat at Sujit’s artisanal workshops from her Tropical Woods home in Britona. Take bread class is his sourdough the opportunity to bring home a bread baking class every few weeks. Located in Britona, Sujit personal memento to remember and his fellow culinary enthusiast your trip by. (095038 61454; from 3,000 per workshop) wife Sudha hold courses for which you can sign up online or in person. Look out for the Do yoga at Yoga Dog yellow Post-it notes left behind Rifiq Sarao opened her studio, by his previous students on his Yoga Dog, when she returned from windows. We suggest you book a year of travelling across India at least six weeks in advance. and learning at yoga schools in


Kerala. Her studio in Arpora offers classes in fluid Ashtanga and static Hatha styles while paying special attention to each student. If you’re lucky, you will see monkeys from the jungle clamber into her garden to practise with her. (www.yogadog. in; drop-in classes from 600 and one-month for 12 classes is 5,000)

and tidal theory. Once Phillipe sees that you are comfortable with the kite, he will take you in the water and spend the remaining four hours applying the theory you learned on land in the water. Phillipe only takes two students at a time to keep a close eye on their training, so you know you’re in good hands. (098604 52162; 15,000 for a 10-day course)

Learn to kitesurf Phillipe, the sole instructor, of Yogi Kiting on Morjim, teaches Discover Kite Surfing and Level 1, 2 and 3 certified courses. The basic 10-hour programme— Discover Kite Surfing—is a challenging week where you spend six hours on land learning how to control a kite and familiarising yourself with wind

Have a private meal Treat yourself to a fine-dining experience at the hands of French couple Melissa and Romaine. They’ll whip up a private meal, to your specifications at their beautiful cottage. Melissa also runs a superb boutique in the house. A li’l shopping is always welcome!


An aerial view of Chapora Fort. Opposite: kitesurfing at Morjim beach



PHOTOGRAPH: JULIEN CAPMEIL GO HERE BEFORE YOU GO ANYWHERE New ideas every day on places to see, things to do and ways to make your next trip spectacular cntravellerindia







fter a tiring ďŹ&#x201A;ight, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nice to kick back at a hotel that is close to the airport, yet removed from noise and activity. Portuguese tiles in the grand lobby welcome you to the Bogmallo Beach Resort, where you know your stay will combine the best of Goan hospitality with modern comfort. Your choice of accommodation ranges from rooms to chalets, with the latter featuring rustic wooden interiors and modern amenities. With a private balcony in each room, most overlooking the ocean, you will wake up to the sound of the waves. Sunsets too are a worth staying in for. Watch the sun go down with a beer or cocktail in hand. The sea facing Coconut Grove the multicuisine restaurant dishes out Goan, Continental and other fare in addition to its drinks. What more do you want from a Goan escape? ( AATISH NATH



INTRODUCTION Ibn Battuta once said, “Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” One of the greatest travellers of all times, you’d trust him to know. But how does one find themselves these adventurous tales when travelling far and wide, or even closer to home? The key is to immerse yourself in the local flavour of the city you’re in, and experience it as the locals would. Where you stay has a lot to do with this. If you’re in for a one-of-kindtime that shuns the cookie-cutter mould, choose to stay at a boutique hotel. These charming abodes are all about delving into the true essence of your destination. High on personalised service, intimate setups, ample character, and almost always, an interesting story behind its inception, there is just no going wrong with them. Turn to our handbook—to find the hidden gems in India and Sri Lanka. Packed with the best-kept secrets in both countries, an inimitable getaway is guaranteed. Go ahead and book. Thank us later.



INDIA Call it Bharat, Hindustan or India, there is no denying that the country is a vibrant melting pot of traditions, people, and places. And the charm, decidedly, lies in its diversity. Whether youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a luxury-loving traveller seeking a royal rendezvous, are looking to rediscover yourself in the mountains, or want an enriching taste of culture, India oďŹ&#x20AC;ers it all, and then some. From spellbinding natural beauty to majestic architectural marvels, from centuries-old traditions to modern outlooks, from ďŹ ne dining destinations to a smorgasbord of street food, India is a delightful (and often unpredictable) juxtaposition of contrasts. A privileged glimpse into its otherwise hidden side is guaranteed. Let the exploration begin.

AYANA FORT KOCHI WHY US Experience an unforgettable blend of history, culture and sophistication at the 200-year-old courthouse in Fort Kochi, Kerala. Ayana Fort Kochi is a modern sanctuary that effortlessly merges its illustrious history with a contemporary update. The charming boutique hotel borrows from Fort Kochi’s dynamic past and spruces it with bold Art Deco touches and striking colour combinations in its design. The hotel’s 16 rooms feature authentic Indian Athangudi tile floors combined with classic Art Deco interiors. The result is accommodation that is high on history and luxurious comfort. Once you’re settled in, sample the varied fare at your disposal. Colonial-style eatery, The Melting Pot, offers a selection of coastal, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisines while The Tea Lounge boasts a fine selection of craft teas, specialty coffees and freshly baked goods to start your day with. For authentic Mediterranean fare, a meal at Le Souk, on their open-air terrace, is a must. The sisha bar and views of the ocean are added bonus.

The hotel strives to ensure that your time there is soulful yet power packed. Exploring the bustling spice markets of Kochi and guided tours of Fort Kochi are highly encouraged. Top this off with some downtime at the hotel. Rooftop yoga classes, in-room massages, a dip in the rooftop pool, or shopping at their in-house curio store promise that your stay will be one that is rich in tailored luxury and abundant magic. For more information, log on to, call +91 996 7045098, or email

ESCAPE HOTEL & SPA WHY US A sanctuary tucked away in the heart of Bangalore, this boutique hotel promises some peace and quiet amidst the bustle. Looking to take a break from all the flurry of activity in Bangalore? Escape Hotel & Spa will do your bidding. Offering the best of both worlds, it is located right in the heart of the city—at the junction of 100 Feet Road and 12th Main in Indiranagar—but also provides easy access to its business quarters. Even though in the centre of the action, the hotel continues to function as an oasis for those seeking a moment of peace and quiet in the IT city. The 30 rooms have been designed on the pillars of serenity, modern comfort and ample natural light. Furthermore, they have been inspired by the world’s most fashionable cities like London, New York and Tokyo. If you’re in the mood to just stay in without getting out, you won’t be disappointed. Spending endless hours lazing in the rooftop pool is always a good idea. The spa is a haven if you’re looking to calm your senses. The hotel offers various dining options as well. The Black Rabbit balances an easy ambience with a pulsating vibe. It’s not Hogwarts or Alice in Wonderland but the experience is certainly magical. In its third year and the place already has turned most of

Bangalore into its die-hard fans. The Dark Room affords great views of the Bangalore skyline and Bricklane, spread over three floors, offers a delectable mix of Indian, Asian and Italian cuisine. For more information, log on to, call +91 804 2415555 or email

MALABAR ESCAPES WHY US Discover the finest circuit of boutique art hotels and wellness retreats in Kerala. Welcome to a world of personalized care and experiences. A coastal state in South India populated with backwaters, luscious landscapes, and hills covered with spices and teas, Kerala is dubbed as ‘God’s own country’ with good reason. Exemplifying the magic of this tropical beauty is the exclusive and privately owned group of boutique and villa hotels, Malabar Escapes. All the hotels under the brand balance contemporary and traditional South Indian art, culture, and heritage, to give guests an experience that is the right mix of hospitality, wellness and fine dining. Take a tour of the road less travelled in Kerala with Malabar Escapes. The Malabar House at Fort Kochi, with its 17 individualistic rooms and suites, is high on charm and sophistication. A part of Relais & Chateaux, their carefully curated art collection, a view of the Parade Ground in the heart of historical Fort Kochi, and a smattering of dining options makes it a winner. Just 200 metres across Malabar House is Trinity at Fort Kochi that reinterprets the region’s history in a modern manner with its chic interiors and fuss-free ambience. The eight rooms and suites have been stylishly designed with private outdoor sitting areas.

Perched on the shores of Lake Vembanad, Purity, part of Relais & Chateaux, is an old-world colonial style villa with exceptional lake views and modish interiors. The 14 rooms encourage utter relaxation, as do the Ayurveda treatments and therapies as well as unique yoga retreats and daily classes. A two-hour drive from Cochin towards Periyar will lead you to Serenity, a restored 1920’s plantation estate mansion. Keeping its historic rooms intact, the entire property boasts a patina of old-world elegance. The six cosy rooms promise a private and intimate experience. Discovery, the houseboat offers the ultimate cruise on the fabled backwaters of Kerala. This eco-friendly floating suite with a sundeck that becomes your grandstand, as the fascinating life along the waterfront passes by. For more information, log on to, call +91 484 2216666, or email

NARENDRA BHAWAN WHY US A design residence, that reflects the eclectic life of His Highness Narendra Singhji, offering experiences of Bikaner which bring alive the vignettes of his lifestyle and the history of Bikaner Narendra Bhawan Bikaner is a retelling of the story of the last reigning Maharaja of Bikaner, His Highness Narendra Singhji (1948 -2003). Designed as a grand residence; patrician in its characteristic, the hotel’s interiors are a landscape of memories where wisdom and wonder interweave. Salutary, not just picturesque, Narendra Bhawan Bikaner incites one to perceive connections that are rich and diverse. The Gaushala and Verandah are outdoor spaces serving specially designed small eats and drinks. The Mad Hatters Bake house and P&C serve up nostalgia along with elegant meals. Upstairs, what is perhaps Bikaner’s best rooftop terrace offers amazing views of the city: that is, if guests can take their eyes off the inviting azure infinity pool that runs along its edge. Our sui generis Clinic Spa is an entirely novel concept based on the holistic and gently persuasive power of flowers and plants to gently help to instill harmony and bring balance to all aspects of our being.

With 82 spacious and well-appointed rooms, Narendra Bhawan offers refined sophistication and quiet elegance. The hotel has 53 Residence rooms, 18 Prince’s rooms, three Regimental rooms, four India rooms and four Republic suites. Set in an urban landscape, this historic residence is an independent design hotel that possesses a one-of-a-kind legacy and a set of unique, curated experiences that should be preserved, maintained, and allowed to flourish. For more information, log on to, call +91 782 7151151, or email


NIRAAMAYA RETREATS WHY US This selection of bespoke private retreats focuses on transformational experiences for a sensory journey. There often comes a time when you crave vacations that shine the spotlight on wellness combined with luxury and tailor-made experiences. Every property at Niraamaya Retreats is an embodiment of just that. High on craftsmanship, each retreat in Kerala is about discovering peace and tranquility in a spectacular location. Each property is designed like a private sanctuary that helps one escape the banalities of everyday life, and re-emerge replenished. That’s not all. Standing tall on the pillars of contemporary hospitality and wellness, guests will find a nurturing environment to disengage from the world and reconnect with their real self to experience a new dimension of well-being. This has been juxtaposed with a touch of regional heritage and culture to make it a truly wholesome time. A combination of their award-winning wellness spas, beautiful locations, and fresh cuisine makes this an unparalleled time. A member of Relais & Châteaux, The Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, Kovalam is easily one of the best Ayurveda resorts in the country. Its secluded beachside setting is an added bonus. Their 31 cottages mirror traditional Keralite heritage homes.

The Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club, Thekkady is perched on a heavenly location— amidst acres of cardamom plantations and surrounded by mist-laden mountains. It serves as the ideal gateway to the exotic wildlife of Thekkady. The 28 luxurious villas of the upcoming Niraamaya Retreats Backwaters & Beyond in Kumarakom will enjoy a place of pride within the lush tropical gardens on the banks of Lake Vembanad. This selection of bespoke private retreats in Kerala is adding newer properties across the country. Immediate introductions include properties in Kumarakom and Goa, amongst others. For more information, log on to, call +91 804 5104510, or email

SAMODE HOTELS WHY US Samode Hotels’ two properties in Jaipur—Samode Haveli and Samode Palace—promise to give you an unparalleled taste of the Pink City’s grandeur. Samode Haveli The foundation of Samode Haveli, a quintessential Indo-Saracenic regal residence, was laid 225 years ago. Over the years, the luxurious heritage hotel in old Jaipur has still managed to retain its regal grandeur. Halls that ring with fascinating historic tales combined with impeccable hospitality make the property an urban oasis. The erstwhile royal residences have now been converted into deluxe rooms and suites that capture the essence of their glorious past while still being equipped with modern amenities. Their private balconies and courtyards that look out to the fountain courts and lush gardens promise to take you back in time to give you a taste of royal life.

Samode Palace This 475-year-old palace marries Mughal architecture with Indian sensibilities, making it a stately structure of majestic beauty. The palace, which has hosted celebrities, royalty and discerning travellers alike, is the epitome of Samode’s signature touch of rare hospitality. The elegant rooms marry comfort with flair while the royal suites boast private courtyards that look out to the Aravali range. Whether you choose to lounge in their rooftop infinity pool,

indulge in a spa session or simply stroll through the beautiful property, beauty will greet you at every step. No wonder that the palace hotel is also an ideal choice for a grand wedding celebration high on regal charm. For more information, log on to, call +91 141 2632370, or email


RAAS WHY US This chain of hotels pays a glorious tribute to the grandeur of Indian culture with its three properties across the country. RAAS Jodhpur As Jodhpur’s first boutique hotel, RAAS Jodhpur, an 18th century haveli hotel stays true to its Rajasthani roots in its architecture. Three contemporary buildings have been added to the original structure without compromising its ode to Jodhpur’s cultural past. Located in the prominent northeastern quarter of the famous Walled City, every nook of the imposing complex overlooks the 15th century Mehrangarh fort. Each of the 40 rooms and suites has a distinctive flavour. The signature style of combining the historic charm of the original Rajput residence with modern-day luxury has been retained throughout. Dip into their curated experiences like lounging in the heated swimming pool, rejuvenating at the Ila spa and shopping at the Gem Palace store.


The dining options promise to leave you spoilt for choice as well. Baradari offers local and international cuisine with serene views. Al fresco restaurant Darikhana is famous for meals prepared with hand ground spices sourced from a 200-year-old shop in Old Delhi. The adjacent Stepwell Cafe has a magnificent view of the early 18th century Stepwell and is the centre point of the Stepwell Square; now vibrant with bars, restaurants and stores opened by some of India’s best loved brands.

RAAS Devigarh Imagine an 18th century palace in the Aravalli Hills close to Udaipur, strategically towering over one of the three main passes into its valley. Now imagine spending a couple of days here. The heritage property of RAAS Devigarh makes this possible.

Exemplifying the old-world Rajputana charm, the palace was restored to its former glory in 1999 and then converted into an all-suite luxury hotel. The 40 rooms and suites—Garden, Palace, Aravalli and Palace—borrow from Devigarh’s aristocratic roots and spruce it with traditional motifs, spacious interiors, utmost luxury and a relaxing ambience. The seasonal menu of local and international delicacies will satiate the gourmand in you and can be savoured in a host of locations in the property such as the Durbar Courtyard, Hawa Gokra, Lounge Balcony, Phool Bagh, Sheesh Mahal, the pool deck or the rooftop. Devigarh’s superlative spa is run by authentic British brand Ila. Apart from their therapies, they also offer Devi Blessings, a bouquet of nine special twohour treatments designed to calm adrenals and recalibrate the central nervous system.

RAAS Kangra Feel the mountains are calling? Make your way to RAAS Kangra in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. Slated to open in 2017, the hotel in the Lower Himalayas capitalizes on its beautiful mountain destination.

The hotel building—a 250 metre long crescent shaped two-storey form mimicking the neighbouring village houses is comfortably snuggled in a single contour of a hill. All the 41 800 sq. ft. junior suites offer uninterrupted views of the Dhauladhar range of the lower Himalayas and the rolling slopes of tea gardens that surround the hotel. Of these 15 suites are family-friendly with attics for young kid to sleep in. Their restaurant provides al fresco and indoor sitting with an exciting selection of local and International cuisines. Add to that an outdoor heated pool, the chain’s signature Ila spa and activities like yoga, meditation, trekking, and mountain biking, and you have an unforgettable stay. For more information, log on to, call +91 291 2636455, +91 958 7022952 or email,

THE MACHAN WHY US Disconnect from city life and connect with Mother Nature at this eco-resort snuggled between Mumbai and Pune. Desperately craving a convenient weekend escape to switch off and go off the grid? Luxury eco resort, The Machan, is for you. Located in Jambulne, one of the top 25 biological hotspots in the world, this ‘green at heart’ property is a mere 2.5-hour drive from Mumbai and 1.5-hour drive from Pune. Setting the 25-acre resort apart are the distinctive tree house-style rooms that rise 30-45 feet above the forest, giving guests a front row seat to nature’s splendour. Ranging from canopy, jungle, sunset, forest and heritage machans to cosy couples-only cabins on the ground, choose from a wide array of options to best suit your needs. Designed to minimize any adverse impact on its natural surroundings and run only on sustainable resources, The Machan is eco-friendly without a doubt. But it doesn’t compromise on luxurious comfort either. All the machans are devoid of any televisions, and guests are encouraged to indulge in activities like stargazing, trekking, birdwatching, yoga, or visiting nearby historical sights like Koraigad Fort and Karla and Bhaja Caves. Those looking for a heady dose of pampering can opt for a spa treatment administered in a cosy, tucked-away

cabin in the woods. The Machan’s easy accessibility in terms of location but aloofness with regard to connectivity gives patrons the ideal getaway to cut-off from their fast-paced lives and rediscover their energies surrounded by lush environs and peaceful solitude. For more information, log on to, call +91 766 6622426, or email

THE WINDERMERE ESTATE WHY US This plantation and retreat in Munnar will take you back in time to experience the simple joys of life like never before. There are getaways, and then there are getaways with a difference. The Windermere Estate definitely falls in the latter. This 60-acre coffee and cardamom plantation nestled on the slopes of the Western Ghats promises verdant views of manicured tea garden and majestic sights of towering mountains as far as your eyes can see. The family-owned and managed property lays a special focus on a private and intimate experience that is devoid of the cookie-cutter hotel atmosphere. Every aspect of your stay will be peppered with a personalized touch. Kochi-based Dr. Simon, who fell in love with these surroundings during his family trips to the mountains, owns the estate. 25 years later, he continues to spend half his time residing in his private villa on the estate. The 18 rooms (divided into the garden, estate, and planter’s categories) have been individualistically designed to make you feel at home instantly. Spread across the estate bungalows, they are high on cosiness, warmth, and old-world charm. The main dining area, The Barn, serves a mix of Indian, continental and oriental cuisines. The Tea Hut, best for

an afternoon cuppa, has been modelled on a village chai shop. Both boast the rustic quality characteristic of the property. For a more intimate experience, choose to dine at the bonfire and barbecue corner. There are several activities to keep you occupied throughout your stay. Enjoy the twohour walk through their cardamom plantation in the evening, marvel at the panoramic sights from The View—the highest point on the estate, laze on the hammocks or catch up on your reading at the library. Birding tours, picnic lunches and mountain trails can also be arranged. Cherish every moment of your stay here that will bring you closer to nature and nourish your body, mind and soul in equal measures. For more information, log on to, call +914842425237, or email

THE WINDFLOWER RESORTS & SPA WHY US Discover south India through this hospitality chain that aims to bring patrons close to nature. The southern part of the Indian continent is a heady concoction of soul-stirring heritage, ancient relics, and abundant greenery. Explore a side of the region you’ve probably never seen before through the seven Windflower Resorts & Spa properties scattered throughout south India. The tastefully designed resorts collectively strive to unite guests with nature, but ensure varied experiences via their differing settings—ranging from forest reserves, tea and coffee estates, and bustling cities. All the properties are designed in a manner to allow guests to kick back and relax with carefree abandon. Comfort, luxury, and awe-inspiring views go hand in hand here. The brand’s signature Emerge-The Wellness Spa furthers this agenda. With over 25 Ayurvedic therapies administered by wellness experts, replenishing your body, mind, and soul is guaranteed. The Windflower takes its food very seriously as well. Hence, each property


boasts a superlative culinary experience designed to bring out the robust flavours of local as well as international cuisines. The brand does not believe in cookie-cutter experiences. Providing patrons a unique time and countless memories is at the heart of their hospitable team’s intentions. So be it a romantic getaway, family holiday, or business conference, unearth some untold stories with The Windflower. The Windflower Resorts & Spa Mysore captures the spirit of this royal city in every corner. The palatial rooms, private sit-outs, bathrooms with rain showers and villas with plunge pools promise a blue-blooded experience. Dine at the Olive Garden, an open-air multi-cuisine restaurant or laze at the modern hangout, The Vineyard Bistro. 25 acres of a lush green coffee estate, surrounded by one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots, is the idyllic location of The Windflower Coorg. A picturesque plantation trail, a fishing-

friendly lake and an outdoor infinity pool are incentives enough for nature lovers. Situated in one of India’s best-kept secrets, The Windflower TuskerTrails Bandipur is all about an unsurpassed jungle experience. Disconnected from the outside world, going off the radar just got easier. The Windflower Resorts & Spa Vythiri is set atop a striking hill in Kerala, within a tea and coffee estate. Its signature Buddha statue, water bodies and mesmerizing views of the Chembra peak make the property a picture of tranquility. The Windflower Pondicherry’s location couldn’t be more inviting. Set in picturesque Little Veerampattinam, it is set between a placid backwater and the roaring ocean. Book your stay at this merging point of restfulness and sumptuousness. The Windflower Prakruthi on the outskirts of

Bangalore is ideal for a quick getaway from a hectic urban life. The 7-acre manicured property is as fitting for a couple’s weekend holiday as it is for a family celebration or wedding. Seeking inner peace and physical and mental harmony? Head to Sattva, a wellness centrecum-resort in Kasargod in the northernmost tip of Kerala. Rejuvenate with life consultation packages, personalized yoga sessions or Ayurveda therapies. For more information, log on to, call +91 99014 46666, or email


SRILANKA “And though she be little, she is fierce.” Shakespeare’s famous words lend themselves beautifully to the island nation of Sri Lanka as well. Popularly dubbed as the ‘pearl of the Indian Ocean’, this tropical destination packs in so much in so little. Variety is the spice of life here—you will find timeless ruins alongside bustling cities, unspoilt beaches co-existing with verdant rainforests, and an abundance of flora and fauna, complemented by warm and welcoming people. The country has beautifully retained its 2,000-plus-year history and supplemented it with a contemporary update and outlook. In doing so, it has made its way to the top of the seasoned traveller’s must-visit list. For a true taste of Sri Lanka, stay at one of its many boutique hotels, and return with a suitcase full of singular and irreplaceable experiences.

CANTALOUPE LEVELS UNAWATUNA HOTEL WHY US This boutique property near Galle offers a delightful mix of spelbinding views and a one-of-a-kind experience. Looking to skip the crowds and same ol’ places on your next trip to Sri Lanka? Head straight to the Cantaloupe Levels Unawatuna Hotel. Prettily perched on the lush green Rumassala headland, this luxurious and trendy boutique hotel near Galle offers views that will make you stop and stare. Imagine waking up to a wide turquoise bay that stretches from Jungle Beach all the way to the Dutch Fort of Galle! Cantaloupe Hotels’ second property, its location on Sri Lanka’s low-lying southern coastline, midway between Galle and Unawatuna, gives it an edge. Its individualistic approach towards providing a rare experience, on the other hand, gives it a defining character. The rooms and suites are equal parts spacious and romantic, and are decked in a contemporary baroque aesthetic interspersed with pop art touches. A dip in the tricolour infinity plunge pool promises to be the perfect start to your leisurely day. The Clique Bed Lounge, which heralds the concept of ‘bed dining’ to the country’s southern coast, is oh-so-inviting with its tapas and cocktail menu. You can also dine on their alfresco terrace, while looking out at the magical view. Be sure to sample their Asian-fusion fare, as well as pick out some rare wines from The Cellar. If you’re still in the mood for some pampering, book an appointment at the hotel’s Bliss Spa, which

tailor-makes its treatments to suit the guest’s preferences. The hotel staff will also readily arrange some interesting activities like rainforest treks, leopard spotting, tea tasting, and local culinary classes to make your holiday memorable. Rest assured, you’re in for an infallible combination of consideration, authenticity, warmth, and personalized service in a unique and luxurious setting. For more information, log on to, call +94 773 393399, or email

HERITANCE TEA FACTORY WHY US This classic tea factory converted into a British-style hotel is a must-visit, and not just for tea-lovers. As far as uncommon holiday experiences go, Heritance Tea Factory features high up on the list. This classic tea factory converted into a charming British-style hotel has a lot going for it. Situated two km above sea level, it is the highest elevated hotel in Sri Lanka. Ever since it opened doors in 1996, it has carved a reputation of giving patrons a taste of living on a tea plantation during the colonial era. Authenticity is the order of the day at Heritance Tea Factory. The luxuriously appointed hotel in Nuwara Eliya, a five-hour drive from Colombo, dates back to the 1870s and was a factory during the British era. The 50 cosy rooms that are spread over four floors, it turns out, are former withering lofts. Tea connoisseurs are guaranteed a time unlike any other here. The dedicated tea bar serves locally grown and flavoured teas along with complementing snacks. Guests are also invited to partake in tea plucking on the estate, as well as observe its processing in the hotel’s micro tea factory. This is then presented to them the next morning. Enjoying a six-course dinner at the TCK 6685 railway carriage fine dining saloon is another signature experience that should not be missed here. So put on the kettle and let the good times brew.

For more information, log on to www., call +94 525 555000, or email

JETWING KADURUKETHA WHY US Sri Lanka and the Jetwing family’s first agro-luxury resort blends nature’s splendour with inimitable charm Unobtrusively nestled amidst the rural landscape of paddy farmlands and natural forests with a bird’s eye view of the Poonagala mountain range, Jetwing Kaduruketha, is quite literally, located in the lap of nature. Four hours from Colombo and in the village surroundings of Wellawaya, the property is a unique agro-tourism inspired venture. In fact, it is the 43-year-old family-owned hospitality chain and the country’s first ever agro-luxury resort. Moreover, the resort is in close proximity to Ella, Sri Lanka’s hilly village paradise High on rustic charm and simplicity, the hotel is just the peaceful retreat you need to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. The 25 dwellings are spread out over 60 acres, with each home surrounded by forests and paddy fields. A major portion of the land has been given out for the cultivation and harvesting of paddy. Environmental architect Sunela Jayawardene has made use of traditional Kandyan design


to craft dwellings from bamboo and wood that also maximize natural ventilation and cooling. And while the setup is designed to bring you close to the traditional farming community, you will not find it lacking in privacy or luxury either. Kingsized beds, open-air bathrooms, and your very own personalized butler service make this the last word in luxe living. Nature lovers won’t be able to get enough of the verdant views, topped off with chirping birds and dancing peacocks. Conversations with local farmers are thrown in for good measure. Moreover, the two bicycles in every dwelling encourage guests to experience the beauty of the region from close quarters. Those looking for some downtime ought to make a beeline for the therapeutic waters of the pool that has been inspired by the traditional bath made for queens. Grab a drink and watch the sun set from this serene setting. The Ayurveda Spa’s expansive menu of signature treatments using

traditional herbal oils and fresh local ingredients promises to heal, relax, detoxify, and rejuvenate your tired body and soul. Adventurous travellers will revel in excursions like hikes to historical sites and walks exploring Wellawaya’s rich religious and cultural landmarks. A hike to the upper part of Diyaluma Falls, the second tallest waterfall in the country, is a highly recommended experience as are visits to the ancient Buddhist temple of Buduruwagala and nature trails in the nearby national parks. The hotel’s accommodating staff, which is well versed with the local history, will readily make all the necessary arrangements for the activity of your choice. Once you have fed your appetite for adventure, turn the attention to your taste buds with the hotel’s varied dining options. The focus is on using fresh natural ingredients, be it for the traditional Sri Lankan rice and curries, the contemporary

Asian meals or the international preparations. You can dig into an alfresco meal on the terrace, opt for an outdoor meal by the paddy fields or enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner in your chalet. A stay at Jetwing Kaduruketha is designed for travel connoisseurs looking to go off the beaten path. Surrender yourself to the power of nature, and let unmatched peace and tranquility take over. For more information, log on to, call +94 114 709400, or email


THE FORTRESS RESORT & SPA WHY US This charming boutique hotel on the southern shore of Sri Lanka will replenish your spirit and purify your soul. If a trip to Sri Lanka is on the itinerary this season, skip the usual suspects in favour of a stay at the serene sanctum that is The Fortress Resort & Spa. Located 13km from the historic city of Galle, and two km away from the Koggala airstrip, this boutique property is a modern-day haven. True to its name, it allows guests to escape the bustle of urban life, while still being engulfed in unsurpassed luxuries. The nation’s famed silky white beaches serve as the idyllic backdrop for the hotel that is inspired by Galle Fort, and blends Dutch, Portuguese and Sri Lankan influences with adept ease. The 53 plush rooms, which are designed in six distinct styles, offer modern residential-style decor married with indigenous furnishings and Old Ceylon references with the French windows affording tranquil views of the garden or ocean. The resort’s Ayurveda centre, Spa Naturel, offers an exhaustive range of Ayurveda treatments, classic spa rituals, beauty treatments, and body scrubs among other therapies. The focus is on Ayurvedic rituals with locally sourced natural ingredients. Emerging in a blissful state of inner peace is a given. The array of activities and dining options ensures that there will never be a dull moment

here. Witness a breathtaking sunset as you lounge in the infinity-edge pool, book an excursion to the nearby sights or indulge in whale watching, indoor games and water sports. Top off the day by digging into authentic Sri Lankan cuisine and wood-fired pizzas at Pepper & Heat or enjoy a fine dining experience at Duo (Surf & Turf). For more information, log on to, call +94 914 389400, or email