Porschist 74 - India

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PORSCHE CAYENNE 2023

PORSCHIST IN INDIA

Magazine for Porsche enthusiasts • year 19 • quarterly • May / June 2023 • 74
'DRIVEN BY DREAMS'
The Golden Temple in Amritsar.

INDIA

the magic of a diverse country

text: kathleen van bremdt - photos: sven hoyaux

PORSCHIST TRAVEL

India is an intriguing country. The largest democracy in the world has a long history and a unique cultural identity. It is impossible to discover the whole country in one trip. We make a well-considered choice from the rich offering. We head to the sacred centre of the Sikh believers in Amritsar, immerse ourselves in the tranquillity of the Amanbagh Resort in Rajasthan, hunt for the Bengal tiger in Ranthambore and end up in the buzzing megacity of Mumbai on the Arabian Sea. An arc from the north to the west of India. Both at the beginning and at the end of our journey, we meet fervent Porsche enthusiasts.

AMRITSAR: THE HOLY CITY

Our journey starts in the northwest of India in the state of Punjab, one of the most prosperous parts of the country. We turn our attention to Amritsar , the holy city of the Sikhs. We reserve three days to discover this mythical city and stay at the Taj Swarna , a fantastic five-star hotel that combines traditional elegance with contemporary flair. In our room we find a bowl full of local sweets, next to which is a frame with four images of the most recent Porschist covers. We really appreciate that someone has made the effort to do this. To top it all off, there are two clocks: one shows the local time and the other the Stuttgart time. Now that's what you call hospitality!

SIKHISM: THE TEACHINGS OF TEN GURUS

In the lobby, Jagroop Singh is waiting for us. He will guide us around the city in the coming days. With his dark green turban, long beard and tall figure, he presents a striking appearance. He makes a small bow and looks at us in a friendly way. We immediately feel that we will be able to get on with this man. The Punjab region is the home of the Sikhs. With 26 million adherents, Sikhism is the eigth largest religion in the world. The majority of the Sikhs - about twenty million - live in India, mainly in the state of Punjab, where they make up 60% of the population. Sikhism is a religion that we don't know much about, so we have a lot of questions. With Jagroop on our side, we're sure we’ll get the answers we're looking for. We learn right away that Sikhism was formed by a dynasty of ten gurus, religious teachers and preachers. Guru Nanak (1469 - 1539) was the founder. He believed that God is one and the same in all religions and founded a new, progressive religion based on one God, equality, justice and freedom for all. His followers were called sikh , which means pupil or disciple. “Sikhism is an attitude to life,” explains Jagroop. “We are expected to work hard, be humble and

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Sikhism is a religion formed by a dynasty of ten gurus.
Sikh with dastar , the turban by which one can recognise Sikhs all over the world.

treat everyone equally and with respect – regardless of creed, race, age, gender or social status. We don’t have priests, do not practice empty rituals such as worshiping saints or making sacrifices, and reject the caste system. We also do not have a holy day like Sunday for the Christians or the Sabbath for the Jewish people. We do go to one of our gurdwaras , our places of worship, as often as possible. Community is central to our faith. God reveals himself among people. So that's where you should be.”

THE MAGIC OF THE GOLDEN TEMPLE

The sanctuary of sanctuaries for the Sikhs is the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Millions of visitors flock to the temple every year. The serenity that reigns in the temple complex is in stark contrast to the rest of the city, which is loud and hectic. The construction of the temple was started in 1604 under the guidance of the fifth guru Arjan Sahib. It is situated in the middle of Lake Sarova and is connected to the shore by a white bridge. On that bridge, hundreds of worshipers patiently line up to take a look at the Granth Sahib – the Sikh scripture that contains a compilation of all the writings of all the gurus. Barefoot and with our hair covered - the only conditions for entry - we walk through the beautiful marble corridors and buildings of the temple. The round dome is covered with no less than 100 kilos of gold leaf and sparkles in the sunlight. We are impressed by the grandeur and dignity of the complex. When we first saw the Taj Mahal in Agra, we were very impressed. Here, we feel the same profound awe. There is something comforting and sacred about this place. The water of the lake is said to have special powers and we see many pilgrims immerse themselves in the holy water.

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The sanctuary of sanctuaries for the Sikhs is the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Sikh immerses himself in sacred water.

THERE IS SUFFICIENT FOR EVERYONE

One of side wings of the temple complex contains one of the largest dining halls in the world. Communal kitchens or langars have held a key significance in religion since the emergence of the Sikh faith, because according to the credo of the first guru, everyone – regardless of origin or religion – should have access to a full free meal. Here in the Golden Temple, this altruistic thinking takes on outsize proportions. As many as 100,000 meals are served here every day. The visitors sit next to each other on the floor in endless rows. Young and old, white and coloured, tourist and pilgrim… everyone waits for their plate to be filled with roti, lentil curry, vegetables and rice pudding. Meals are prepared on site with ingredients that have been donated or purchased with money from donations. We are amazed how quiet it is in the hall despite the large number of people present.

In the kitchens, things are very different. There it is very busy. Everywhere, people work, toil and sweat. Cooking fumes rise to meet us and the floor is slippery because of the amount of oil that is being used. Cooks are stirring oversized pots in which 250 kilograms of lentils are simmering, women are

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In long queues, temple visitors feast on a free meal.

rapidly oiling chapatis that roll freshly out of the flattening machine at a rate of 7,000 pieces per hour, and porters tirelessly scoop litres of rice pudding from cast-iron basins. Despite the fact that all the workers here are volunteers who often don’t know each other very well, everything runs wonderfully smoothly. You can't help but be impressed by what is happening here. The beautiful Golden Temple is clearly not only a spiritual place, but also a symbol of brotherhood and equality, of unity and hospitality. Jagroop puts it even better: “The Golden Temple is not a house of God, but a house of humanity.”

Communal kitchens or langars have held a key significance in religion since the emergence of the Sikh faith.
The langar's kitchens are buzzing with activity.
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A PORSCHE IN A MYSTICAL GLOW

Even before we left for India, we had one particular image in mind: a Porsche with the Golden Temple of Amritsar in the background, following the example of the photos we took on the Red Square in Moscow, in front of the Potala Palace in Tibet, in front of the Freedom Monument in Tehran and at the Opera House in Sydney. “You will never be allowed to do that,” the Porsche owner had told us, but asking doesn’t hurt, and after some chat back and forth with security, we are allowed to park the black Macan in front of the main entrance of the temple. We accept that the weather is not great and there happens to be a dense fog, because we have the picture we wanted.

VISITING JAGROOP

On our last day in Amritsar, Jagroop invites us to his home. He lives in a simple but spacious house in the countryside. He proudly introduces his family: his wife and two children, his brother and sister-in-law, his nephew and his parents. They all live under the same roof. “We like it that way,” says Jagroop, “all of us together. If the family expands, we simply build an extra floor.' Cohousing the Indian way. The women have gone out of their way to put a lot of delicious treats to the table. We immediately get chai (the typical black tea with milk, sugar and spices) and pakora (fried snacks). Sikhs eat vegetarian food and do not drink alcohol. Jagroop's brother is just fitting his dastar , the turban by which one can recognise Sikhs all over the world. It doesn't look like an easy task. “Yes, It takes some practice,” Jagroop laughs. The scarf is about six metres long and one metre wide. The man carefully wraps the cloth around his head with circular movements. We ask how important the turban is. “I can't imagine ever leaving the house without the dastar . The dastar determines our identity. It stands for discipline, integrity, humility and spirituality. The dastar also holds our long hair together. We never cut our hair because hair is sacred. That is a tradition that goes back to the first gurus. Is the colour of the turban important? we want to know. “No,” Jagroop replies. Any colour is allowed. We just choose the colour we like.”

As well as the turban, Jagroop shows us the four other attributes that a male Sikh wears: a kangha (wooden comb), a kachhera (shorts), a kara (steel bracelet) and a kirpan (small dagger). “Boys only get those things from the time they are baptised, which is around the age of thirteen or fourteen. They must first understand what it means to be a Sikh.” We have noticed how much respect Sikhs have for their wives and women in general. “For us, a woman is the source of humanity's physical existence. The first guru stated that men and women have the same soul and are equal in all respects.” This was an insight that was very advanced five hundred years ago in a country where the birth of a daughter was considered a misfortune and it was common for a woman to be burned alive along with the cremation of her late husband. When we consider that this insight has existed in this culture for so long while there are still so many places in the world where women are still widely discriminated against, we gain still more respect for the wisdom of this religion.

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“The Golden Temple is not a house of God, but a house of humanity.” Jagroop, guide Amritsar

THE BIZARRE BORDER CEREMONY BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN

There is only one real border crossing between India and neighbouring Pakistan, and it is only 30 kilometres from Amritsar. For decades – since 1959 to be precise – the Wagah border post has seen an almost surreal spectacle every night. Just before sunset, the flags of both countries are ceremonially lowered here, and the border gates are closed. This is accompanied by a military parade of the Indian Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers. Thousands of elated spectators on both sides follow the performance. We have already seen the spectacle several years ago, but then from the other side, in Pakistan. Then we shouted “Pakistan, Zindabad!” (Victory to Pakistan!). Now we chant 'Hindustan, Jai Hindi!' (Victory to India). After all, it is impossible not to get carried away by the enthusiasm of the crowd. We find that nothing has changed. The stands are packed on both sides, the music is still deafening and the performance of the soldiers theatrical and semi-acrobatic. The members of the Indian Border Security Force look fantastic in their richly decorated khaki uniforms and with a goldred fan on their headdress. After half an hour of unadulterated macho behaviour, the border guards are facing each other with only a vacuum separating them. After a brusque handshake, the flags are lowered and meticulously folded, after which the metal gate squeaks shut for the night. India and Pakistan are neighbours, but not friends. The border ceremony is therefore a good representation of reality. It is a performance where hate and love, celebration and intimidation, rivalry and brotherhood are intertwined.

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The border ceremony is a performance where hate and love, celebration and intimidation, rivalry and brotherhood are intertwined.

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The Indian Border Security Force's performance is theatrical and almost acrobatic.

In Alwar we find one of the most beautiful resorts in the world: the Amanbagh, an Indian Elysium far away from it all.

Main building of the Amanbagh Resort overlooking the large swimming pool.

AMANBAGH: A REAL PEACE GARDEN

We leave Amritsar and fly to Delhi to drive to our next destination. From India's capital we still have a long drive ahead of us. Fortunately, we do not have to drive ourselves and can count on the services of an experienced driver. The journey isn’t boring for a second because we soon come to the magical Rajasthanthe largest state of India - known for its fascinating culture and ancient history. Everywhere in India the street scene is colourful and bright, but here in Rajasthan people seem to go the extra mile. This is the land of the maharajas and rajputs with their beautiful historic cities, spectacular forts and fairy-tale palaces. Most people go to the major tourist attractions such as Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur, but we purposefully choose the countryside. There, in the village of Alwar, we find one of the most beautiful resorts in the world: the Amanbagh , an Indian Elysium far away from it all.

Amanbagh is one of thirty resorts in the acclaimed exclusive luxury Aman hotel group. The Aman group is known for its choice of exceptionally beautiful locations and architecture that is attuned to the local culture. Here it is no different. Amanbagh is set within a walled compound once used by the Maharaja of Alwar as an encampment for hunting parties looking for deer, leopards and tigers. We marvel at the splendour of the building complex, which is entirely built from pink-red sandstone and in authentic Mughal style. We see long corridors under portal arches, spherical domes on the roofs and hidden pavilions, all perfectly symmetrical, symbolic of divine order and harmony. The beautifully fretwork windows and shutters are delicate eyecatchers in an otherwise rather sober design. We experience a feeling of absolute tranquillity. The extensive gardens with their fruit trees and slender eucalyptus trees are a wonderful contrast to the arid beauty of the surrounding Aravali Mountains. The resort has only 24 suites – Aman always keeps things small – but those suites are the size of a house. We open the heavy wooden door of our Pool Pavilion and enter a sun-filled room with a king-size bed, sitting area and desk. The bathroom in deep green Udaipur marble is so big that we have to raise our voices to be able to hear each other. According to the piccolo, the water in the 'plunge pool' in our private garden has the perfect temperature all year round.

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A JOURNEY THROUGH THE INDIAN FIELDS

As tempting as it is to spend a whole day at the resort, the invitation we find in our room for a 'Sunset Cow Dust Tour' tempts us. In an open jeep we explore the area outside the walls of the domain. We drive through endless valleys with beautiful landscapes. The many fields of mustard flowers turn deep yellow. Here and there, well-preserved Hindu temples appear as an exotic feature. If the temple is still in use, a flag is flown. If there is no flag, the temple has been deconsecrated and can be used for a pleasant picnic with friends and family, an amorous rendezvous or a wedding. Around four o'clock, when the sun slowly sets, the cows go home on their own. We meet them along the road, in large herds, trudging at a leisurely pace. No one is accompanying them. The trip is named after this phenomenon. 'Dust' refers to the dust the animals throw up when they walk on the dirt roads.

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At a Hindu temple still in use, a flag flies.

BHANGARH IS HAUNTED

Everywhere in Rajasthan, you can find relics of a rich past, but while many forts and palaces are celebrated for their sublime beauty and grandeur, there is one that is known for something quite different. The Bhangarh Fort is known as The most Haunted Fort in India. So a creepy fortress. Bhangarh is only a half hour drive from the Amanbagh resort. In the 17th century it was a prosperous town with alleys, market squares, temples, houses and a beautiful palace high on the hill. A fortress, three thick fortress walls and five massive gates protected the city against invaders. The 10,000 residents prospered, and the city flourished. This came to an abrupt end in 1720 when all the residents disappeared into thin air. How and why, no one knows. That is of course perfect fodder for a whole series of legends and stories, each one more gruesome and terrifying than the last. One thing is very clear to the locals: the area is cursed. At night, frightening noises can apparently be heard, strange shadows are said to appear, and bizarre accidents would occur. The Archaeological Survey of India even went so far as to decide that the Bhangarh Fort is off limits between 6pm and 6am and no one is allowed to enter the site.

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Some parts of the Bhangarh Fort are still completely intact.

But now it is day, and therefore we are in no danger. The complex is much bigger than we expected. The buildings may have fallen into disrepair after 400 years of neglect, but the whole still looks majestic and, especially in the temples, we can still see the traces of former craftsmanship. The many ruins are now inhabited by large groups of rhesus macaques who seem to be having a great time. Especially if they can occasionally steal a nut or a piece of fruit from a visitor. Immense banyan trees stretch their roots over the cracked stones, reminding us of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Among the visitors are many women of the Meena, a local tribe. They are beautifully decked out in a rainbow of colours and adorned with an abundance of jewellery. They are only too happy to be photographed. Their generous smiles are supplied for free. It is quite a climb to the palace itself, but at the top we have a phenomenal view of the entire site. Only now can we see how lushly green and wooded the area is. We try to imagine what it must have been like to look out at dawn as a raja and know that you are lord and master of a territory that stretches to the horizon. Cursed or not? Who's to say? To us, Bhangarh Fort is a wonderful, mysterious remnant of an enigmatic past.

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Bhangarh Fort is a wonderful, mysterious remnant of an enigmatic past.
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A family of Bengal tigers.
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ON SAFARI IN RANTHAMBORE

Rajasthan can also boast of beautiful nature reserves with a varied animal population. You can even go on safari here, because elephants, wolves, rhinoceroses, panthers and tigers live here. Many of these animals are threatened with extinction, which prompted the Indian government to protect wildlife with a network of national parks and reserves. One of those reserves is the Ranthambore National Park where about 80 Bengal tigers live. Of the 40,000 specimens that lived in India at the beginning of the 20th century, only a mere 1,000 remain today. The park - once the hunting ground of the Maharaja of Jaipur - has been a game reserve since 1955 and is one of the best places in the world to see tigers in the wild. The park has a strict policy. You have to book a ticket in advance because the number of visitors per day is limited and you have to make use of a jeep, driver and ranger provided by the park.

We soon notice that it is not easy to spot animals. This is not a vast African savannah, but a hilly, densely wooded area with here and there an open plain or a water feature. We depend on the expertise of our guide. Fortunately, he knows the park and its inhabitants like the back of his hand and leads our gaze to the beauty that surrounds us. Sambhar deer, impalas, wild boars, macaques, meerkats and black bucks pass by. A crocodile is dozing on the water's edge. A large cormorant perches on the rock in front of it. His black feathers shine in the sun. A little further on lies a dead bull antelope with a large bite taken from the back of the body. “This is the work of a tiger”, our ranger declares with certainty. “Probably the tiger is now lying under a tree somewhere, digesting its meal.” Will it come back? we want to know. “Oh yes, it will definitely come back,” says the ranger, “the only question is when.” We decide to drive on in the hope of discovering the animal somewhere, but after two hours we still haven't seen a tiger. Just when we want to call it a day, the ranger raises his hand and calls us to silence. Could it be that time after all? And yes, as if entering a stage, the tiger walks towards us from the undergrowth. A streamlined silhouette with tan fur dotted with black rosettes, athletic and muscular, all grace and strength. Amber eyes gaze at us intently. The tiger is much bigger and more imposing than we imagined. Involuntarily, a primal fear grips us. One swipe would put a stop to us relating our encounter. We hope this predator remembers that the rest of his meal is waiting for him elsewhere in the park. After a few minutes, the animal disappears again. What an experience! The next day we drive straight back to the same place. A perfect idea, it turns out, because we arrive just as a group of five tigers are quenching their thirst. The ranger smiles at us: “You travel under a good star.”

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AMAN-I-KHAS: ULTIMATE LUXURY IN FULL NATURE

When you go on safari, you pretty much expect to be sleeping in a tent. It just so happens that the Aman group has a second property in India: Aman-i-Khas, a three-hour drive from Amanbagh and perfectly located on the doorstep of the Ranthambore reserve. The tent enclave of Aman-i-Khas was built after the example of the imperial Mughal tents that were real mobile palaces. That already gives you an idea of what this resort looks like. There are only ten guest tents, but what tents they are! With an area of 120 m2 and a height of 6 metres, there is plenty of space. The tents are divided into sitting, living and sleeping areas separated by creamy white curtains that descend from the awning of the tent. An elegant interior with colonial furniture and exotic details provides every luxury. This is glamping in a superlative way. Inside the camp, a small courtyard leads to a raised terrace. This is where the dining and wellness tents are located. They overlook a sunken patio with fire pit, the ideal place to relax or admire the clear starry sky after dinner. To top it all off, a personal butler is waiting for us who is called 'batman' here, a term from the British cavalry (not to be confused with the fictional superhero). We can count on the services of Kuldeep. In no time the young man knows all about our habits and preferences. Actually, with Kuldeep by our side, we don't have to think about anything anymore.

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The tent enclave of Aman-i-Khas was built after the example of the imperial Mughal tents.
The luxury of the Aman-i-Khas tented camp.

ANCIENT FORTRESS

India would not be India if there wasn’t some historical heritage in this area as well. Located in the national park, Ranthambore Fort is one of the oldest forts in India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A wide path with 250 steps leads to the vast site at the top of Mount Thambore. On the side of the road, an old man with an impressive moustache sells home-made colognes made from roses, frangipani flowers, lemongrass and hibiscus. The soft aromas float towards us. The panorama at the top is breathtaking. We see ancient walls, massive gates and remnants of palaces and temples spread over large grassy plains against a backdrop of rugged mountains. The complex dates from the tenth century. The remains contain a millennium of history: capital of a Hindu empire, residence of a sultan, prison fortress of a mogul and palace of a maharaja… Ranthambore has a checkered past, has seen peoples and rulers come and go and was the scene of many battles and sieges.

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A map shows the vastness of the Ranthambore Fort domain.

MUMBAI: AN OVERWHELMING MEGAPOLIS

From the lovely Indian countryside to hectic Mumbai is a transition to remember. With nearly 23 million inhabitants, Mumbai is a city of superlatives, paradoxes and contrasts. Mumbai is full of energy and an attack on all our senses. We give ourselves some time to get used to the relentless rhythm of this mega city. The large immigration over the centuries has resulted in Mumbai having a very diverse population. Mumbai is almost India in a - albeit large - nutshell where nearly all population groups, languages and religions of the country are represented. It is remarkable how easily all those different cultures manage to get along with each other. But differences are the standard in the city. A small upper class of the super-rich lives next to an impoverished proletariat. Among the buildings we see modern skyscrapers with lots of glass and steel as well as Victorian buildings from the colonial era, beautiful temples and historic buildings as well as endless slums and tenements. The informal economy on the streets in Mumbai is just as big and important as the formal one inside the buildings.

TAJ MAHAL PALACE: HISTORIC GRANDEUR

One of the city's most iconic buildings is the prestigious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The imposing, colonial-style hotel with the striking central red dome opened its doors in 1903. The construction of this legendary hotel was financed by the Tatas, a wealthy family that still holds a dominant position in the city and the country. It was one of the first so-called 'grand hotels' in the world and is an inseparable part of the city's history. In its early days, the Taj was probably the only place in the world where a British Viceroy and an Indian Maharaja could meet informally. As the decades passed and the hotel's good reputation spread, the list of eminent guests grew. Just about everyone who is anyone has slept (or sleeps) in this hotel when visiting India: all US presidents from the last fifty years, almost every royal family in the world, international movie stars, musicians, rock stars, you name it, have already put

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The Taj Mahal Palace was one of the first so-called 'grand hotels' in the world.
The façade of the Taj Mahal Palace in a golden glow, Mumbai.

their name in the guestbook. A stay here is therefore more than just an overnight stay. It is an experience, a dive into a rich historical past. The hotel is as impressive inside as it is outside with vaulted alabaster ceilings, onyx columns, hand-woven silk carpets, crystal chandeliers and an eclectic collection of furnishings. On the occasion of its 100th anniversary, the hotel was refurbished and renovated with great care to ensure that it is ready for the next hundred years.

“WE DO NOT BOW TO TERROR.”

On 26 November 2008, Mumbai was hit by a series of simultaneous terrorist attacks. One of the targets was the Taj Mahal Palace where the attack resulted in a three-day hostage situation. About 450 people were imprisoned in the hotel for 68 hours. During that siege, 31 people were killed. The fact that there were not more victims is due to the heroic action of the hotel staff who, despite the ruthless actions of the terrorists, continued to put the safety of the guests first. Several fires destroyed parts of the historic wing. Yet the luxury hotel reopened barely a month after the drama. It was an obvious statement: terror will not get us down. All the employees who were present at the hotel during the attack thought exactly the same. Many of them still work in 'their Taj' today.

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The grandeur of the interior of the Taj Mahal Palace.

GATEWAY OF INDIA AS A BEAUTIFUL BACKDROP

From our hotel room on the fourth floor of the Taj Mahal Palace we look straight out over the Arabian Sea and the Gateway of India . The 26-metre high majestic triumphal arch is one of the most famous landmarks in Mumbai, built in honour of the visit of King George V of England in 1911. On the spot where it stands, ships from all parts of the world arrived, making the Gateway literally the entrance to India. Together with the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, this was the first thing visitors saw. When the last British soldiers left India on 28 February 1948, they symbolically walked under the arch.

The large square in front of the gate seems to us to be the ideal place for some photos of the beautiful Taycan that Porsche Centre India has made available to us. One small problem: the square is only accessible to pedestrians. But we have already accomplished things like this before and turn to the Mumbai Police who guard the place. Before we realise it, we are hopelessly entangled in the web of slow Indian bureaucracy. We are sent from pillar to post and knock on the door of almost all port authorities, police stations and security services. After four hours of to-ing and fro-ing and a huge amount of patience, we finally get the green light. We are allowed to bring the Porsche onto the square for half an hour the next day. Hallelujah. At dawn we drive to the square. This early in the day it is still quiet. When the sun casts its first rays on the triumphal arch and bathes the façade of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in a golden glow, we let our cameras click.

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Taycan with the imposing Gateway of India as a backdrop.

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AND… ACTION!

Mumbai, among so many other things, is also the epicentre of the Indian film industry, popularly known as Bollywood . Bollywood produces more movies per year than its American counterpart. Popular Hindi films are made in Mumbai, spectacles with a lot of drama, romance and action interspersed with song and dance. The musical scenes are just as important as the storyline. Usually, they are pre-recorded so that the actors mime to them. Those actors are all chosen on the basis of their good looks. If you have won a beauty pageant, chances are you will become a much sought-after Bollywood actress. The movie stars are extremely popular with the population. A Bollywood movie always looks like a very colourful, exotic fairy-tale. The ideal formula to let yourself dream away. And that is precisely the reason why tens of thousands of visitors go to the cinema every day. For many, it is the only way to escape the harsh reality of everyday life. The fact that a Bollywood film lasts an average of three to four hours is fine by every cinemagoer.

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Mumbai is where the popular Hindi films are made. Rani's bright red saree goes perfectly with the Porsche Taycan.
JUNI

THE WASHERMEN OF DHOBI GHAT

On our return journey, we see what that reality looks like for an ordinary Indian person. We stop at Dhobi Ghat , the world's largest human washing machine. Here we see how hard the members of the lower castes have to work to put bread on the table. Every day, more than two thousand men wash huge mountains of clothes, sheets and towels here. They stand in concrete bins and beat the dirt out of the laundry by hand. The dhobis collect the laundry from hotels, hospitals, restaurants and clothing factories and deliver it back neatly washed and dried the next day. The laundry can also be ironed for a small additional charge. Ordinary Indian families also use their services. Having your laundry done in India is cheaper than buying a washing machine. You would think that among the millions of pieces of laundry, a piece of clothing would sometimes get lost, but strangely enough this has never happened in the more than 140 years that the washing place has existed. Precisely because the dhobis' system has worked so well for decades, they do not reveal their secrets.

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Dhobi Ghat is the world's largest human washing machine. Numerous clotheslines in Dhobi Ghat.

A JOURNEY FULL OF VARIETY

As expected, we return with an abundance of impressions. That's what India does to you. The trip was a perfect mix of history, culture and nature with the nice constant being the deep-rooted cordiality of the Indians that adds an extra dimension to everything you do or experience in this amazing country. ♦

Thanks go to:

- Cristina Clerici, PR director Aman resorts (Amanbagh & Aman-i-Khas)

- Nisha Dgage, Public Relations & Marketing Communications Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai.

- Inge Van Lysebeth, Manager Amazing Destinations

- Carmen Polfliet, Travel Designer Amazing Destinations

- Vikas Solanki, General Manager Sita Travel Company

- Harkirat Singh, Marketing and PR Porsche India

- Jagroop, guide Amritsar

- Pratibha, yoga teacher Amanbagh

- Kuldeep, our 'batman' in Aman-i-Khas

- Yed, guide Bollywood

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Ferries in front of the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai.

Manolito Vujicic, Brand Director of Porsche India: brimming with ideas and steeped in Porsche

his year sees the 75th anniversary of the creation of Porsche, and that will be celebrated extensively all over the world. Porsche launched the Festival of Dreams in January, a large-scale two-day event to which all Porsche enthusiasts were invited. The leading role was played by the 718 Cayman GT4 RS, which was presented to the Indian public for the first time with much fanfare. We were able to talk to Manolito Vujicic, Brand Director of Porsche India for the past two years. A sympathetic man in his early fifties who is brimming with energy and determined to take Porsche India to – as he calls it – the next level.

Your name suggests that you are not from India. No, I have German nationality. My parents are from the former Yugoslavia and emigrated to Germany. I grew up in Ravensburg, in the south of Germany. In India no one can pronounce my name. Everyone just calls me Mano. (laughs)

How did you come to be at Porsche?

I have been working for Porsche for 19 years now. I started as a Brand Manager in Belgrade (Serbia) and quickly progressed to Managing Director. It was very nice for me to live and work for a few years in the country where I have my roots. I met my wife there and we had our first son there. In 2017, I had the opportunity to become Porsche Brand President in Hangzhou (China). We moved to China where our family was expanded with two daughters. After Porsche China, Porsche India came my way. I have been the Brand Director here in Mumbai for 2 years now.

38 INTERVIEW PORSCHIST
text: kathleen van bremdt - photos: sven hoyaux
‘Keeping the dreamers dreaming: that's my job here.’ Manolito Vujicic
Kathleen Van Bremdt and Manolito Vujicic.

How are you enjoying life in Mumbai?

Mumbai is a very vibrant city in which there is something new to discover every day. What I love most, however, are the people. Indians have a very positive attitude. They always have a smile on their face. They are also open-minded and curious and always open to new ideas. I am very grateful for the fantastic team I get to work with. We all pull together, and I am convinced that together we will achieve a lot. I am very proud of them. It may also help that Indians are real car freaks. They can talk about cars from morning to night, especially sports cars. That is the big difference with the market in China. In China, people buy a Porsche for its image. In India they do it because they love Porsche and have always dreamed of owning one.

How are Porsche sales in India?

They are on the up! In the last two years, we increased our sales by 64%. Porsche has been the fastest growing luxury car brand in India in recent years. With sales of 779 cars, 2022 was our best sales year ever. Porsche in India currently has 8 showrooms and 1 Porsche Studio with plans for further expansion.. The headquarters of Porsche India is situated here in Mumbai.

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‘Daring is in Porsche's DNA.’ Manolito Vujicic

You are a passionate entrepreneur. What is most important to you as a Brand Manager?

We know that Porsche is succesful everywhere as long as the focus is on the customer. Selling a Porsche is easy and difficult at the same time. Easy because it's all about satisfying the customer, difficult because everyone is different. Everyone has their own relationship with their car. We have to sense what is important to the customer. Some are looking for excitement, pure driving pleasure, others find speed important, still others want a beautiful and comfortable family car... everyone has their own preferences. We are constantly looking for new ways to make a difference. I have worked very hard over the past two years to strengthen our contacts with dealers and customers. Last year we hosted one of the biggest track events in India, the ‘Porsche Experience’ which took place over 30 days, across 2 race tracks (one in North of India and one in South) where we engaged with over 450 participants. The participants got an opportunity to experience the entire range.. In this way, customers get to know the entire range in a direct way. It's all about the dream car experience. Keeping the dreamers dreaming: that's our job here.

Which model sells best in India?

That would be the SUVs – the Cayenne and the Macan. Together they account for 60% of our sales volume, with the Cayenne being our bestseller by far. In addition, there is a lot of interest in sports car models.

How is the Taycan, the electric Porsche, performing in India?

Surprisingly good. If you consider that the Taycan was only launched in India eighteen months ago and now already contributes to almost 10% of our sales numbers., I can safely call that a huge success. Especially when you consider that this is an electric car - a completely new concept. What is important now is how the country develops further in terms of infrastructure and responds to the changing transport culture. Private charging stations that are installed at home are part of the solution but are obviously not enough.

As far as the Taycan is concerned, you have also achieved an unlikely feat: a road trip of 4,500 kilometres across India. How did that trip come about?

Like everything in life, it started with an idea. The electric car is a relatively new means of transport and people's biggest concern is still the range. We wanted to prove that a Taycan is indeed suitable for a long journey. And that long journey got longer and longer until we finally decided to make it a K2K.

What exactly does the K2K entail?

The K2K is a ride from Kashmir in northern India to Kanyakumari in southern India over varied and challenging terrain in unpredictable conditions. The route belongs to the list of high-profile road trips that are on the bucket list of car enthusiasts, such as the North Coast 500 in Scotland, the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany or the Tail of the Dragon in the US. From the idea a concept was born, and that concept was turned into reality. A team of four journalists completed the journey in August 2022. It took them two weeks. The journey was documented in real time via social media.

You’d associate such a trip more with a Cayenne Turbo than with an electric Porsche. Especially given the state of the roads in India.

That's just the whole point. Driving 4,500 kilometres with a Cayenne is hardly an achievement, but asking the same from a standard Taycan is a completely different matter. The success of this proves that the Taycan can handle a lot and that with some planning and foresight you can also make long trips. Of course, we could have chosen an easier route to make the latter clear, but you have to dare to go for it. If you do nothing, you can't make mistakes. But if you don't do anything, you can't evolve either.

It's like the story of Porsche itself: a man who had a clear idea of the car he wanted but couldn't find it and then decided to create it himself. Daring is in Porsche's DNA. My team and I still have big plans for Porsche in India. I hope I can stay here for a long time to achieve as much as possible. ♦

We are confident that you will succeed, Manolito.

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INTERVIEW PORSCHIST

MANUFACTURE

Classic Tourbillon

BEYOND CONVENTIONS

Antwerpen : TenSen Juwelier - Geel : Huybrechts Juweliers Lanaken : Caenen Juwelier - Zoersel : Juwelier Christiaan Picard

Dr. Uma Shanker Singh: a man in balance.

s CEO of one of India's largest manufacturers of Ayurvedic medicines and related products, Dr. Uma Shanker Singh is a busy man. We were allowed to photograph his beautiful Macan Turbo in front of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Later in the day, we meet the Porsche enthusiast at the Taj Swarna Hotel in Amritsar for a chat about his work and his love for Porsche.

text: kathleen van bremdt - photos: sven hoyaux

Can you tell us something about your company?

Shree Dhanwantri Herbals – SDH for short – is one of the oldest companies in India producing Ayurvedic medicines and products. It is a family business, founded in 1952 by my grandfather Vaidya Din Dyal Singh Ji. My grandfather was a very wise man and possessed vast knowledge about Ayurvedic medicine. When it became too much for my grandfather to deal with the dayto-day management, my father took over. And now I'm at the helm as the third generation. My father still works in the company. He, my brother and I form the management. SDH started very modestly, but in the meantime we have become a company that is represented throughout India. We supply private individuals, pharmacists, hospitals and government institutions.

What exactly is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a science that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is considered the oldest health system in the world. The word Ayurveda comes from Sanskrit and consists of the words 'Ayus' for life and 'Veda' for science. Ayurveda actually means 'the science of life'. Ayurveda is a holistic health teaching based on the central premise of the so-called three doshas.

42 INTERVIEW PORSCHIST
Dr. Uma Shanker Singh.

What are Doshas?

According to Ayurvedic thinking, there are three basic forces in nature that also occur in every human being: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, where Vata stands for movement, Pitta for metabolism and Kapha for structure. Those are the doshas. Each person is an individual with a unique combination of those three doshas. Our Ayurveda type or dosha type is fixed from birth and determines our physical, mental and spiritual condition. When the three basic energies are in balance, it means that all bodily functions can run smoothly, that we are healthy and that we feel comfortable in our own skin. If the balance is disturbed – and that can be caused by an awful lot of factors – then problems can arise.

How does that insight translate into medicine?

Ayurvedic medicine does not focus on the disease, but on the person. Ayurvedic medicine gently restores balance to the out-of-balance doshas. We only use natural preparations made from plants, herbs, minerals and metals. Often these are age-old recipes. Because everyone is unique, everyone needs personalised treatment. However, Ayurveda is not only about curing or alleviating ailments, but even more about preventing them. Nutritional supplements, cleansing treatments and herbal compositions that strengthen the immune system are very suitable for this purpose. Our range also includes products for external use, including high-quality oils that are used for massages.

Shree Dhanwantri Herbals –

Is Ayurvedic medicine an alternative medicine?

Absolutely not. Ayurveda is an ancient science. The operation of all formulas is scientifically substantiated. The WHO completely accepts Ayurveda as an official medicine. In fact, it is the only non-mainstream medicine accepted by WHO. In India, practicing Ayurvedic medicine requires a university degree. I am a certified Ayurvedic doctor.

What is the main strength of your company?

We have always remained strongly focused on the basic principles of Ayurveda. At SDH, we are truly passionate about the possibilities this ancient medicine brings. Everything starts with the quality of the raw materials. We only use the purest ingredients. 80% of our raw materials are sourced from local producers. We have been around for seventy years now and have gained a lot of knowledge in those seven decades. In addition, we have always evolved with the times. Our factories are state-of-the-art, comply with all ISO standards and are equipped with the most modern machinery to ensure smooth production. Using advanced technologies, we meticulously exploit every aspect of the precious raw materials. Our R&D departments and labs are constantly looking for new compositions or possible optimisation of our products.

How many people work at SDH?

There are currently some 1200. We have two production sites – one in Amritsar and one in Chandigarh – and two R&D centres.

Does driving a Porsche also promote Ayurvedic well-being?

In my case yes. (laughs)

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SDH for short – is one of the oldest companies in India producing Ayurvedic medicines and products.
Dr.

INTERVIEW PORSCHIST

Where does your love for Porsche come from?

Porsche has always appealed to me, mainly because of the design. The beautiful line that you find in all Porsche models is very characteristic and I cannot find it in any other car brand. Status is still very important in India. I also chose a Porsche because I can identify with it. The Macan Turbo is the ideal car for me: comfortable and with a beautiful line. I bought it in 2022. I bought a black one and my brother bought a white one. Although Porsche is a manufacturer of sports cars, speed is not that important to me. There is a speed limit of 120 kilometres per hour on the motorways here, but you usually can’t drive faster than 90 kilometres per hour in India.

Why is that?

The traffic is chaotic and busy. The roads themselves are getting better and better, but it remains India. In the cities it is almost impossible to drive. There are too many people living there and too many vehicles on the road resulting in endless traffic jams. I rarely drive my Porsche here in Amritsar. Outside the city, yes. For a trip from Amritsar to Chandigarh, I like to take the Macan.

Where did you buy your Macan?

There is a dealer in Chandigarh. Since I also have a production site in Chandigarh, I am there regularly. It was most practical for me to buy the car there.

What is your idea about the electric car?

The idea itself is good, but the infrastructure in India is not yet ready for electric vehicles. In Amritsar, there are only two charging stations. There are more in Delhi and Mumbai, but you won't find any outside the big cities. A Taycan is therefore not an option for me for the time being. Maybe in the future. ♦

Thank you for this conversation.

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