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Amritsar, the Golden Temple

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Agra, The Taj Mahal

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Secrets of the Thar Desert - Mihir Garh

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Festivals

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Jawai Leopard Camp Breakfast

50 Most Luxurious Experiences -JAWAI

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50 Most Luxurious Experiences - Amanbagh

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Best Beaches Hotels in Kerala

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50 Most Luxurious Experiences - Amarvilas Agra

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Maharajas' Express Dinning

Luxury Train Journeys in Rajasthan

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Best Beach Hotels in Kerala - Leela Kovalam

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Glenburg Tea Estate

Glenburg Tea Estate

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Hemant Mathur

An Interview with Hemant Mathur: America’s First Michelin-Starred Indian Chef

If you love Indian food — and you’re at all familiar with the New York dining scene — then the name Hemant Mathur is sure to ring a bell. The Michelin-starred chef has overseen a number of the city’s most noteworthy Indian openings of the past 12 years. Thanks to his prolific approach and instinctive understanding of hospitality, he’s even been described as the Indian Danny Meyer. We sat down with Chef Hemant Mathur to learn the secrets of his phenomenal success, from his early days cooking in Jaipur to his starry, Big Apple triumphs.

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If you love Indian food - and you're at all familiar with the New York dining scene - then the name Hemant Mathur is sure to ring a bell. The much-acclaimed, Michelin-starred chef has overseen a number of the city's most noteworthy Indian openings of the past 12 years. Thanks to his prolific approach and instinctive understanding of hospitality, he's even been described as the Indian Danny Meyer.

Hemant Mathur

Hemant Mathur has been described as the Indian Danny Meyer, thanks to his instincts for good cooking and hospitality © Hemant Mathur

First of Mathur's restaurants was the exquisite, now-shuttered Devi: opened in 2004 in the Flatiron District, it quickly earned rave reviews - and was the first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in the US. Then along came the prestigious Tulsi, which made its debut in early 2011 and which earned a Michelin star before the year was out.

Today, Mathur oversees six different New York eateries, each of which focuses on a different Indian regional cuisine. There's Chote Nawab, which serves Awadhi and Hyderabadi food; Dhaba, which specialises in Punjabi fare; Kokum, which veers towards the Keralan coast; Malai Marke, whose culinary inspiration is drawn from across South India; Haldi, which takes its inspiration from the food of Kolkata; and Chola, which has the most wide-ranging menu of the six.

We sat down with Chef Hemant Mathur to learn the secrets of his phenomenal success, from his early days cooking in Jaipur to his starry, Big Apple triumphs.

Hemant Mathur | Kebab

Mathur got his start specialising in tandoori and meat dishes © Hemant Mathur

Greaves: Tell us about your journey from Jaipur to New York. How did you get your start in the restaurant industry, and what are your main culinary influences?

Chef Hemant Mathur: 'When I was first training to be a chef, I started off in bakery, and then I specialised in tandoor oven-prepared dishes. After that, I worked in Bukhara, a tandoori restaurant in New Delhi that's renowned for its meat dishes.

Beyond the meat, there are a lot of vegetarian influences in my cooking as well. I'm from Jaipur, where people eat a lot of spicy vegetarian dishes. Today, the plates we serve include everything from crispy okra to daal bhaati churma [spiced lentils served with ghee-fried bread].'

How have you seen the New York dining scene change since Devi first opened?

'The Indian food scene in New York is very different from what it was 10 or 15 years ago. Today, a lot of Americans travel to India, and know about Indian food. In previous years, they would only think of chicken tikka masala and rogan josh as Indian food. Now, they're interested in all kinds of regional cuisines.'

Hemant Mathur | Lamb Chops

Mathur's lamb chops have been hailed by the New York Times © Hemant Mathur

You're famous for your tandoor-grilled lamb chops. What's the secret behind this signature dish?

'It's true that the lamb chops are very famous in New York - even New York Times critic Sam Sifton wrote that they "taste of gamy perfection." The secret is in the marinade: I use yoghurt, mace, cardamom powder and black pepper.'

Which aspects of your approach have contributed to your Michelin stars?

'Presentation and consistency. Devi had an interesting menu and the presentation of the dishes was visually appealing. The cooking was also very consistent. Tulsi got a Michelin star in the first year, and consistently for five years after that.

At some point, you get recognised, which is good from a business point-of-view. We're also happy that Haldi, Malai Marke and Kokum are listed as Michelin recommended.'

What has been your biggest challenge as a chef in New York?

'There is a lot of competition in New York - the city has more than 20,000 eating establishments! People who eat out every day are knowledgeable, so we always have to keep up our quality and consistency. If one dinner is bad, it's trouble.'

Hemant Mathur | Bhuni Gobi Mater

Now, Mathur's focus has turned to regional Indian cooking © Hemant Mathur

What do you think about the trend for modern Indian cooking?

'I think it's very good. We want Indian food to become popular! As long as the authenticity is still there, it's very good for Indian cuisine.'

How has the food scene changed in India and New York?

'I last went to India in January, and the scene there has changed a great deal. Restaurants are offering dishes with ingredients like quinoa, and modern Indian cooking has become a big focus. In New York, we recently got Indian Accent, Junoon and Tulsi, but change is slower here.'

Your wife is pastry chef Surbhi Sahni, and her desserts feature on your menus. Which dessert is your favourite?

'Surbhi's desserts are not traditional, but the Indian flavours are there. My favourite is the shahi tukda [crispy Indian bread pudding with cardamom cream and candied almonds] - it's one of the best and most popular desserts in our restaurants.'

Hemant Mathur | Bhel Puri

A dish of bhel puri © Hemant Mathur

Where do you like to eat out in New York and India?

'I love Balthazar in New York and Masala Library in Bombay. When I go back home, I eat at home, as I'm always in restaurants!'

Finally, do you have a cooking tip for our readers?

'Follow at least 80% of the recipe, and make food with love.'

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Royal India | Amber Fort Interior

15 Inspiring Images of Royal India

India’s royal past is one of the things that makes it a truly special destination. All over the country — but particularly clustered in states like Rajasthan — are colossal forts, opulent palaces, and other testaments to its millennia-old regal legacy. Begin your explorations of royal India with these 15 inspiring images. A word of warning: it will be hard to resist booking your next trip when you know there are sights this beautiful awaiting you.

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India's royal past is one of the things that makes it a truly special destination. All over the country - but particularly clustered in states like Rajasthan - are colossal forts, opulent palaces, and other testaments to its millennia-old regal legacy. Begin your explorations of royal India with these 15 inspiring images. A word of warning: it will be hard to resist booking your next trip when you know there are sights this beautiful awaiting you.

1. Overlooking the whole of Jodhpur from its hilltop location, the Mehrangarh Fort proves that India's royals lived large.

Royal India | Mehrangarh Fort

© byheaven/iStock

2. Founded by a Maharana in 1559, Udaipur is famous for its lakes (and is one of India's most exquisite cities).

Royal India | Udaipur

© byheaven/iStock

3. Is there any more quintessential landmark of royal India than the Taj Mahal? We think not.

Royal India | Taj Mahal

© JulieanneBirch/iStock

4. The Mysore Palace is one of South India's most luxurious royal residences.

Royal India | Mysore Palace

© AvnerOferPhotography/iStock

5. Jaipur's Amber Fort is certainly magnificent from the outside…

Royal India | Amber Fort

© adamkaz/iStock

6. …and from the inside, it's possibly even more stunning.

Royal India | Amber Fort Interior

 © Nikada/iStock

7. Fancy visiting Udaipur's Lake Palace? You can even spend the night, thanks to the Taj Hotel that occupies the renovated landmark.

Royal India | Lake Palace

 © traveler1116/iStock

8. The Hawa Mahal in Jaipur has a distinctive façade for a reason: it was designed as an expansive screen, behind which royal women could observe the streets below.

Royal India | Hawa Mahal

© Byelikova_Oksana/iStock

9. The final resting place of a 16th century Mughal emperor, Humayun's Tomb in Delhi was an architectural trendsetter in its day.

Royal India | Humayuns Tomb

© sabirmallick/iStock

10. The beauty of royal India is often in the details.

Royal India | Lotus Gate

© cinoby/iStock

11. Step into the marble splendour of the Agra Fort.

Royal India | Agra Fort

© fmajor/iStock

12. Located in the middle of Jaipur's Man Sagar Lake, the Jal Mahal is one of India's most beautiful waterfront attractions. 

Royal India | Jal Mahal

© ivz/iStock

13. Jodhpur's Jaswant Thada Mausoleum is made from carved, polished marble that glows in direct sunlight.

Royal India | Jaswanth Thada Mausoleum

© f9photos/iStock

14. Next time you visit Jaipur's City Palace, don't forget to look up.

Royal India | Decoration

© saif6996/iStock

15. The 860-year-old Jaisalmer Fort is one of the world's largest - and most beautifully preserved - fortress cities.

Royal India | Jaisalmer Fort

© GorazdBertalanic/iStock

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Concierge Secrets | Room

Concierge Secrets: An Interview with Edwin Saldanha at The Oberoi, Mumbai

For many travellers, the concierge is the single most important person in a hotel. But what’s the view like from the other side of the desk? We spoke with Edwin Saldanha — concierge at the iconic Oberoi, Mumbai — for his perspective on the role. From Mumbai’s coolest nightclubs to what a day working in a super-luxury hotel is really like, he’s shared some tantalising concierge secrets.

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For many travellers, the concierge is the single most important person in a hotel. With their encyclopaedic knowledge, connections at hip addresses, and insight into hotel goings-on, the concierge proffers invaluable - even essential - insider tips.

But what's the view like from the other side of the desk? We spoke with Edwin Saldanha - concierge at the iconic Oberoi, Mumbai - for his perspective on the role. From Mumbai's coolest nightclubs to what a day working in a super-luxury hotel is really like, he's shared some tantalising concierge secrets.

Concierge Secrets | Edwin Saldanha

Edwin Saldanha is the concierge at the iconic Oberoi, Mumbai © Oberoi Hotels and Resorts

Greaves: Tell us about how you got started at The Oberoi, Mumbai.

Edwin Saldanha: 'Working for an iconic hotel like The Oberoi, Mumbai is inspiration enough to start my day every morning. I've completed three decades of service at The Oberoi Mumbai; actually, it's been my first and only employer!

It goes without saying that The Oberoi, Mumbai is a great place to work. We are empowered to do what we can to meet the expectations of our guests, and this makes my role in the hotel even more enriching.' 

Concierge Secrets | The Oberoi Mumbai

The Oberoi, Mumbai has an impressive waterfront view © Oberoi Hotels and Resorts

What are some of The Oberoi, Mumbai's special amenities or highlight attractions?

'We offer a range of unique 'Oberoi Experiences' that are designed to give our guests an authentic taste of the city, and of the hotel. In the city, guests can accompany our chef as they go spice shopping in Mumbai's Lal Bagh area, see the sights and sounds of Mumbai on a dawn tour, go for a heritage walk of the city's magnificent architecture, visit Mumbai's finest art galleries and museums, and go for a bespoke shopping experience.

In the hotel, we offer masterclasses with our chefs, candlelit dinners by the pool, live jazz performances at the Eau Bar, 24-hour personal butler service, breakfast in bed, and a two-hour relaxing spa ritual, among other amenities.'

Concierge Secrets | Room

A number of unique amenities are available to guests © Oberoi Hotels and Resorts

Walk us through what a typical day workday looks like for you.

'To begin with, I spend time browsing the next day's arrival list, to identify guests who will be staying with us. I also keep the in-house guest report handy to keep myself updated about my guests, and also to keep track of our repeat guests. After that, I do a round of the areas where I am directly responsible, and check if my team is ready to meet the requirements for the day. For the rest of the day, I am available to my guests to serve and look after their needs.' 

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of what's happening in Mumbai - especially given how large and dynamic the city is?

'I ensure that I read the newspaper every morning, and I also follow various travel and news apps and websites, which give me real-time alerts of the latest happenings in the city.'

What are some of the most common requests you hear from guests?

'The most common requests I receive are about arranging tours, asking for city information, suggestions for dining and shopping, and otherwise helping organise guests' days out in the city.'

Concierge Secrets | Vetro

Vetro is The Oberoi, Mumbai's stylish Italian restaurant © Oberoi Hotels and Resorts

Share some concierge secrets with us - what are the surprising parts of the job?

'The concierge position is very unique in a hotel. Over the years, one creates a lot of trust with guests - you become their most trusted, 'go-to' person in the hotel. The concierge also has direct access to some of the most important people in the world, by virtue of the role.' 

What are some of Mumbai's coolest addresses right now, whether restaurants, bars, nightlife destinations, or beyond?

'Of course, Ziya - our contemporary Indian restaurant - and Vetro, our Italian restaurant, are two of my all-time favourites. In the city, Khyber, The Table, The Bombay Canteen, Olive, and Masala Library are some of my top recommendations.

For bars, I would recommend Dome and Exo. And for nightclub enthusiasts, I'd suggest Asilo and Royalty.'

Concierge Secrets | The Bombay Canteen

The Bombay Canteen is one of Saldanha's top Mumbai recommendations © Sanjay Ramchandran

Can you recommend some of your personal favourite Mumbai experiences to us?

'Personally, I love the Oberoi's Mumbai at Dawn tour. And I love going for a walk on the iconic Marine Drive, both in the morning and the evening.'

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Romantic Rajasthan | Amanbagh

Romantic Rajasthan: Six Fairytale Retreats

Land of kings and palaces, full of glittering lakes, golden deserts, and vibrant villages: it’s no wonder that Rajasthan is considered one of India’s most romantic regions. Whether you’re planning a honeymoon, a Valentine’s Day trip, or simply want to treat yourself to a special time away, these lavish retreats – which range from historic palaces to luxury tented camps – capture romantic Rajasthan at its best.

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Land of kings and palaces, full of glittering lakes, golden deserts, and vibrant villages: it's no wonder that Rajasthan is considered one of India's most romantic regions. Whether you're planning a honeymoon, a Valentine's Day trip, or simply want to treat yourself to a special time away, these lavish retreats - which range from historic palaces to luxury tented camps - capture romantic Rajasthan at its best. 

Amanbagh

Romantic Rajasthan | Amanbagh

Amanbagh is an oasis in the Rajasthani desert © Aman Resorts

Though it's an accessible, 90-minute drive from Jaipur, the resplendent Amanbagh feels like a distant oasis in the Rajasthani desert, surrounded only by the ruins of a 17th century heritage village and adjacent to Sariska Tiger Reserve. All the better for travellers after a romantic retreat: book one of the private pool pavilions - complete with individual plunge pool, courtyard, and green marble bathtub - for an unforgettable stay.

JAWAI

Romantic Rajasthan | Jawai

JAWAI tented camp offers a lavishly romantic experience in rural Rajasthan © SUJÁN

Think camping can't be romantic? Think again. SUJÁN's luxurious JAWAI tented camp offers adventure, proximity to nature (this tract of rural Rajasthan is frequented by leopards), and some truly idyllic amenities. From dinners and glasses of wine next to the campfire to vintage jeep rides at sunset - and tents so lavish they could be hotel suites - JAWAI offers a passport to romantic Rajasthan.

Mihir Garh

Romantic Rajasthan | Mihir Garh

At Mihir Garh, privacy and tranquility are the order of the day © Mihir Garh

In the rolling hills of Rajasthan, near the Luni River and beyond the outskirts of Jodhpur, Mihir Garh appears like a vision. Although the resort was designed to resemble the state's many centuries-old forts and palaces, it was actually constructed in 2009. Now, it's the ideal destination for couples seeking romance; with only nine suites, quiet and privacy are guaranteed. Start the day with an al fresco breakfast, sign up for treatments at the Tulsi Spa, and in the evening, luxuriate in the open-air Jacuzzi.

The Taj Lake Palace

Romantic Rajasthan | Taj Lake Palace

Given its location in the middle of Lake Pichola, the Taj Lake Hotel is a wonderfully romantic retreat © Taj Hotels

Udaipur - known as the "City of Lakes" or "Venice of the East" - is one of India's most beautiful cities, and there's no more romantic perspective on it than the one afforded by the Taj Lake Palace. After all, the hotel is located on its own island in the middle of Lake Pichola, and occupies a white marble palace. From the moment you arrive via private boat - heralded by a shower of rose petals - you're in for an enchanting experience.

Chhatra Sagar

Romantic Rajasthan | Chhatra Sagar

With its location along a royal dam, Chhatra Sagar is an ideal romantic escape © Chhatra Sagar

A ravishing location overlooking a 100 year-old royal dam. Accommodation in private tents offering 360-degree views, so you can admire the sunrise and sunset. Cloud-soft super king beds. A bar stocked with local Indian wines. There's no question that, when it comes to romantic Rajasthan, Chhatra Sagar offers up all the ingredients for a once-in-a-lifetime escape.

Lakshman Sagar

Romantic Rajasthan | Lakshman Sagar

Stay in a private cottage at Lakshman Sagar and drink in the stunning surroundings © Lakshman Sagar

Located on 32 acres of land that were once used as private hunting grounds by the region's royal family, Lakshman Sagar hosts just 12 private cottages (each with its own plunge pool). When guests aren't enjoying the seclusion, they can go for a sunset tour around the peacock-filled grounds, bask in the retreat's spacious swimming pool, attend a star gazing session or otherwise drink in the languorous pace of life that makes this destination so special.

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Chef Vicky Ratnani

Indian Modernist Cuisine: An Interview with Celebrity Chef Vicky Ratnani

Chef Vicky Ratnani is an explorer at heart – and nowhere is that more apparent than in his cooking. The chef, cookbook author, and food television host was one of the first to bring molecular gastronomy to India. We sat down with the culinary maverick to learn more about his inspiring and globetrotting journey through food.

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Chef Vicky Ratnani is an explorer at heart - and nowhere is that more apparent than in his cooking.

Chef Vicky Ratnani

Chef Vicky Ratnani has had a long and exploratory culinary career © Chef Vicky Ratnani

The chef, cookbook author, and food television host was one of the first to bring molecular gastronomy to India. In Mumbai, his restaurant Aurus was a culinary beacon, as well as a white-hot watering hole for the rich and glamorous; at his second restaurant, Nido, he furthered his explorations with modernist cuisine. Outside of his restaurants, Ratnani also cultivated a growing fan base with his show, Vicky Goes Veg, and accompanying cookbook.

Today, Chef Vicky Ratnani is at the height of his influence, and runs the destination-worthy Korner House in Bandra. We sat down with the culinary maverick to learn more about his inspiring and globetrotting journey through food.

Chef Vicky Ratnani | Spices

Much of Ratnani's work in the kitchen has involved bringing new techniques to classic Indian flavours © JPhT/iStock

Greaves: You were one of the first to introduce molecular gastronomy to Indian diners. What were the challenges involved in the concept?

Chef Vicky Ratnani: 'People think molecular gastronomy is all about foam and caviar, but really it's about applying the scientific principles of physics and chemistry to food. The ingredients are not cheap, a certain skill-set is needed, and it has quite a niche appeal. It's also a high maintenance cuisine that needs high-tech equipment - rotary evaporators and other tools are often very expensive.

Today, my cooking is still progressive; it's technique and produce-driven. You will find elements of foam and liquids, and we use tools like dehydrators in our kit. It's modern food with ethical values towards seasons and produce.'

Chef Vicky Ratnani | Cookery Demonstration

Chef Ratnani leads a cookery demonstration on a farm in Pune © Chef Vicky Ratnani

Tell us about what you do at The Korner House. What guides your cooking these days?

'At The Korner House, we aim to avoid tampering with our ingredients too much. If we're cooking a nice breast of chicken, we brine it, marinate it and cook it on charcoal. At the end of the day, it's real food - the chicken does look like chicken!

If you look at our menu, you will find influences from the Mediterranean, Korea, the Middle East, and beyond. The cuisine is not strictly inspired by geography, but by ingredients. I use pak choi to add an East Asian element, for instance.'

Your show, Vicky Goes Veg, and its book adaptation both seem to promote yet another side of modern Indian cooking - would you say that's the case?

'Yes - in Mumbai, the paradigm is definitely shifting towards healthy food. But sometimes we have diners who can take it a bit far. Once, a customer said that she was avoiding gluten and eating healthfully, and then proceeded to pour three and a half tablespoons of olive oil over her sweet potato and showered it with Parmesan.

That upsets me. I don't think we should compromise on taste. Food needs to have oomph and taste, but it doesn't necessarily have to be rich in fat or grease. Instead of using butter or cream, I like to experiment with different spices, seasonings and flavourings.'

Chef Vicky Ratnani | Vada Pav

It's not a trip to Mumbai without vada pao, a recommended local dish © subodhsathe/iStock

What else is currently on-trend in the Mumbai dining scene?

'Modern Indian and quirky regional food. A lot of people are trying to bring forgotten Indian dishes back to the table. They're also getting a bit quirky and relaxed in the way food is served. I see the growth of casual chic dining.'

Do you have a signature dish that you're particularly proud of?

'My asafoetida-roasted pumpkin, my coconut water-poached lobster, and my masala chai-poached chicken.'

Chef Vicky Ratnani | Falooda

Falooda is one of Chef Vicky Ratnani's favourite Mumbai dishes © anshu18/iStock

Where does a chef eat out in Mumbai?

'I like Trishna and Mahesh Lunch Home for coastal seafood; like all Mumbaikars, I need a vada pao (a fried potato patty sandwich) fix once in a while. I love the faloodas (dessert flavoured with rose syrup) at Badshah, and I like to eat at Mohammed Ali Road during Ramadan.'

Can you offer a handy tip to our readers who love Indian food and cooking?

'Don't forget that Indian food is not just about curry - there's a whole range of flavours to experiment with.'

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Vikram Sunderam

Beyond the James Beard Award: An Interview with Rasika’s Vikram Sunderam

It was in Washington, DC that Chef Vikram Sunderam really found his purpose. Raised in Mumbai, Sunderam worked in the kitchen at the Taj Mahal Palace and at Bombay Brasserie in London before making his way to the stunning Rasika in Washington, DC. Opened more than a decade ago, today Rasika (whose name means “flavours” in Sanskrit) still ranks among the best restaurants in the city.

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It was in Washington, DC that Chef Vikram Sunderam really found his purpose. Raised in Mumbai, Sunderam worked in the kitchen at the Taj Mahal Palace and at Bombay Brasserie in London before making his way to the stunning Rasika in Washington, DC. Opened more than a decade ago, today Rasika (whose name means "flavours" in Sanskrit) still ranks among the best restaurants in the city. Across two locations, the restaurant's warm hospitality, expansive wine programme, and vibrant brand of Indian fine dining have made it a winner.

Vikram Sunderam

Chef Vikram Sunderam won a James Beard Award for his work at Rasika © Greg Powers

But Rasika isn't just a metaphorical winner. Chef Vikram Sunderam earned a coveted James Beard Award for Best Mid-Atlantic Chef in 2014; since then, he's done everything from cook for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work on the soon-to-be-released Rasika cookbook.

We caught up with Chef Sunderam to learn more about Rasika's behind-the-scenes creative flair.  Read on for the inside scoop (and for details about Bindaas - Sunderam's brand new restaurant). 

Vikram Sunderam | Goan Halibut Curry

Chef Sunderam's take on Goan halibut curry © Shimmon Tamara Photography

Greaves: What drives you as a chef? What culinary secrets did you learn growing up in Mumbai? 

Chef Vikram Sunderam: 'My philosophy is to work sincerely, honestly and to the best of my ability. The rest is up to God. It's the drive to excel and constantly improve that keeps me going. Complacency is a chef's downfall!

My culinary education began with my mother, who was a very good cook. I also learned a great deal during my days at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. India is a huge country and every region has its own culinary specialties; I learned a lot about the regional cuisines of India at that time.' 

Vikram Sunderam | Rasika

Rasika's colourful, modern West End location © Robert Miller

At Rasika, so-called 'modern Indian cuisine' is on the menu. How do you define that?

'For me, modern Indian cuisine means a simple fusion of traditional methods and contemporary techniques and ingredients. Food habits have evolved over the years, and continue to evolve - at Rasika, we work to achieve a delicate balance between retaining the essence of traditional dishes while presenting them in a modern way.'

You've worked in London and Washington, DC. What have been the challenges of working in both cities? 

'Actually, both cities are pretty similar - both are cosmopolitan and have very diverse and well-informed clienteles. The greatest challenge in both is procuring obscure ingredients.'

Vikram Sunderam | Calamari Balchao

A pickle-like blend of ingredients called  balchao is a staple in many Portuguese Goan dishes - like this calamari © Shimmon Tamara Photography

Is there a signature dish at Rasika that you're especially proud of?

'Yes! Our famous palak chaat (flash-fried spinach with yogurt and chutney) and our black cod with dill, honey, and star anise.' 

Has the perception of Indian food changed globally, as chefs continue to innovate?

'As people have become global travellers, the awareness and acceptance of Indian food has improved tremendously. People no longer just associate Indian food with curries. Small plates and Indian street food are both getting popular; our latest restaurant Bindaas experiments with both trends.'

Vikram Sunderam | Beetroot And Goat Cheese

Dishes like this beetroot and goat cheese plate show Sunderam's ability to combine Eastern and Western ingredients © Shimmon Tamara Photography

Where are your favourite places to eat when you're back in Mumbai? 

'On my last visit, I had some memorable meals at Bademiya (famous for its seekh kebabs), Golden Dragon at the Taj Mahal PalaceThe Konkan Café at the Vivanta by Taj, Mahesh Lunch Home (a great spot for fresh seafood), and Khane Khas in Bandra.'

Do you have any tips for readers who'd like to cook Indian recipes?

'As with any cuisine, one has to follow the recipe and method - Indian cuisine is no different. But for those looking for extra inspiration, we're excited to release the Rasika cookbook next year, where we'll be sharing some of our secrets.'

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Best Museums in India | City Palace Museum

Six of the Best Museums in India

Few countries can match India’s diversity, cultural breadth, and beauty. To learn more about its long history – and to gaze upon untold treasures – be sure to venture to the best museums in India. We’ve picked six of our favourites, where you can discover everything from centuries-old textiles to ancient jewellery, miniature paintings to crystal furniture. There’s no better way to further your cultural education while in the Subcontinent.

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Few countries can match India's diversity, cultural breadth, and beauty. To learn more about its long history - and to gaze upon untold treasures - be sure to venture to the best museums in India. We've picked six of our favourites, where you can discover everything from centuries-old textiles to ancient jewellery, miniature paintings to crystal furniture. There's no better way to further your cultural education while in the Subcontinent.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

Best Museums in India | Prince Of Wales Museum

Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, the CSMVS hosts a vast collection of Indian cultural treasures © AlbertoLoyo/iStock

Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (or CSMVS for short) is Mumbai's premier museum, and one of the finest cultural institutions in the country. Founded more than a century ago, it houses a vast collection of Indian sculptures, textiles, miniature paintings, decorative objects, and antiquities; Asian and European exhibits are also on display.

National Museum, Delhi 

Best Museums in India | National Museum

The National Museum in Delhi is host to priceless masterworks and artefacts © Yann Forget/Wikimedia Commons

Easily one of the best museums in India, Delhi's National Museum is full of priceless masterworks and fascinating artefacts. The collection here is vast and varied, and covers more than five millennia of Indian history. Discover more about India's past through mementos left behind by ancient kingdoms, historic musical instruments, jewellery, antique coins, arms and armour, and artworks. Given that the museum's collection contains more than 200,000 objects, be sure to dedicate at least half a day to exploring its galleries.

City Palace Museum, Udaipur

Best Museums in India | City Palace Museum

The City Palace Museum is as beautiful from the outside as it is from within © traveler1116/iStock

Even if you never venture indoors, the extraordinary City Palace Museum is worth seeking out. Not that you'll need to look hard: the sprawling icon, whose origins date to the 16thcentury, sits overlooking the waters of Lake Pichola and is one of Udaipur's quintessential landmarks. But if you do venture indoors the palatial complex, you'll discover lavishly decorated interiors and an impressive array of antiquities. 

Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad

Best Museums in India | Salar Jung Museum

The sprawling Salar Jung Museum's collection includes art and treasures from East and West © William-Adolphe Bouguereau/Wikimedia Commons

Hyderabad's Salar Jung Museum is extraordinary for a few reasons - the fact that it's officially one of the world's largest museums, and features more than a million objects in its collection, for instance - but most of all for the fact that its antiquities all originate from the same source: the Salar Jung family. The biggest one-man collection of artworks in the world, it's nothing short of a cultural colossus.

Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad

Best Museums in India | Calico Museum of Textiles

Explore the beauty and history of Indian textiles at the Calico Museum © sugar0607/iStock

India's textiles are world-famous for a reason: varyingly vibrant, skilfully embroidered, and printed with colourful patterns, they're one of the country's most exquisite cultural legacies. There are few better places to discover India's fabric-making past (and present) than at the Calico Museum in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. One of the foremost textile museums in the world, it houses a range of pieces that demonstrate five centuries' worth of techniques, and also includes exhibitions about block-printing, embroidery methods, and fabric-weaving.

Jai Vilas Mahal, Gwalior

Best Museums in India | Jai Vilas

The Jai Vilas Mahal is one of India's most splendid museums © saiko3p/iStock

One of the best museums in India - and also the most beautiful - is the lavish Jai Vilas Mahal, located in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Constructed by a local Maharaja in 1874, it offers a lavish and well-maintained glimpse into India's royal past. The highlight of the museum is the palace's Durbar Hall, which is decorated with gold, chandeliers, and one of the largest woven carpets in Asia. Beyond the hall, make sure to discover the extraordinary array of other exhibits, from crystal fountains to marble statues.

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Yoga Retreats in India | Lobby

Yoga Retreats in India: A Look Inside the Award-Winning Shreyas

When it comes to yoga retreats in India, few shine as brightly as Shreyas. Now, the Relais & Chateaux venue has just unveiled the newest addition to its retreat: the sprawling Anaha Spa. To learn more about Shreyas’s array of wellness options – and just what makes its spa so destination-worthy – we caught up with representative Nidhe Sood.

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When it comes to yoga retreats in India, few shine as brightly as Shreyas. Located in a gorgeously rural tract of southern Karnataka, just outside of Bangalore, Shreyas - which means "all-round excellence" - has earned acclaim for its stylish facilities, individualised yoga offerings, and healing Ayurvedic programme. 

Now, the Relais & Chateaux venue has just unveiled the newest addition to its retreat: the sprawling Anaha Spa. Designed as an oasis-like "retreat within a retreat," it was also named the Best Boutique Spa in India at this year's Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotel Awards. To learn more about Shreyas's array of wellness options - and just what makes its spa so destination-worthy - we caught up with representative Nidhe Sood.

Yoga Retreats in India | Anaha Spa

The new Anaha Spa has already been named the Best Boutique Spa in India © Shreyas

Greaves: Tell us about Shreyas's history. What inspired the owners to first establish the retreat?

Nidhe Sood: 'Shreyas was founded by an investment banker, Pawan Malik, who believed that success in the adrenaline-charged, stressful world of modern business could be complemented by yoga. As a qualified yoga teacher himself, his conviction that spirituality and self-discovery are essential in modern life helped lay the foundation for Shreyas.

The primary goal of Shreyas is to integrate the many facets and benefits of yoga into visitors' daily lives, but without the austerity and rigour usually associated with traditional ashrams. Shreyas was designed to fill the gap between ashrams and exclusive luxury resorts; here, guests from around the world can access authentic yoga and meditation practices, but can enjoy creature comforts as well.' 

Shreyas is located outside of Bangalore in southern Karnataka. What makes this part of India special?

'Shreyas is set in the countryside beyond the city, and away from the typical tourist circuit - it's an ideal location for guests looking to recharge their batteries and unwind in a secluded environment. We're surrounded by rural villages and brightly painted temples, and are also within reach of a number of places of historic importance and natural beauty: Hampi, Mysore, Halebidu, Coorg, Kerala, etc.

As it's situated high up on the Deccan Plateau, Bangalore enjoys cooler, less humid weather than most of the rest of the country. In April, just when the weather begins to get hot all over northern and central India, Bangalore has April showers which help to keep the weather cool. The monsoon itself is not heavy like in the coastal regions of India, and neither are the winters very cold. That means Shreyas is ideal as a year-round destination.'

Yoga Retreats in India | Lobby

The spa's clean, stylish design is the perfect backdrop for wellness treatments © Shreyas

What is Shreyas's wellness manifesto?

'Athithi devo bhava is the defining philosophy at Shreyas. It literally means: "A guest is to be served as God." We respect the philosophy that "all are essentially divine," and our relationships with each other should reflect this.

Shreyas is an exclusive retreat which looks to immerse guests in a spiritual way of life without sacrificing worldly comforts - yoga is the principal medium through which we communicate the message of "living life completely." We want to demonstrate that yoga can be learnt and practiced by all, irrespective of age, health and faith. Everything here, from the landscape, organic garden and guest accommodation to the yoga pavilion, meditation hut and food is created with the philosophy of yoga in mind.'

What is the yoga programme like at Shreyas? Which different styles of yoga do you offer?

'Yoga at Shreyas is much more than the traditional physical postures; it also has a highly spiritual component.

Both Hatha Yoga (which aims at harmonising the prana - life force - in the body) and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (which consists of carefully sequenced and flowing postures) are practiced at Shreyas. Guests have the option to participate in our complimentary, twice-daily yoga sessions, or enjoy personalised yoga experiences that are included in our packages. Our yoga offerings also feature pranyama (breathing related) and pratyahara (internalisation) processes drawn from the ancient Yoga Sutras.

Our yoga retreats range from 3 -14 nights, are available throughout the year, and are customised for each guest according to their level of experience. For those who would like to delve deeper into the ancient spiritual tradition of yoga, we also offer retreats that go beyond the physical aspects of yoga, and which include practices like karma yoga (selfless work), yoga nidra (deep relaxation), and trataka (candle meditation).'

Yoga Retreats in India | Shirodara

Panchakarma is an integral part of Shreyas's Ayurvedic treatments © Shreyas

Can you tell us more about Panchakarma and the other Ayurvedic treatments available at Shreyas?

'Originating some 5,000 years ago, Ayurveda is the oldest healthcare system in the world. But it is more than a system of healing - it is also a science and art of living that helps us to achieve health and longevity. It emphasises preventative and healing therapies along with various methods of purification and rejuvenation. At Shreyas, all treatments are authentic, traditional, and highly individualised.

Panchakarma is an integral part of Ayurveda, which helps achieve a balanced state of body, mind and consciousness through detoxification and rejuvenation.

Depending on each individual's needs, a range of five different traditional Ayurvedic therapies are utilised for Panchakarma. Specially trained therapists administer these procedures in a definite sequence for a specified period of time.'

Ayurvedic Ingredients

Ayurveda seeks to restore balance in mind, body, and spirit © Shreyas

For guests who've never tried Ayurveda before, what are some important things to know?

'The most important tenet of Ayurveda is achieving a state of balance between mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda believes diseases are caused when this balance is disturbed - therefore, this holistic healing system doesn't address the symptoms of a disease. Instead, it goes to the root causes and seeks to restore balance. As such, Ayurveda is highly personalised, as each person's imbalance is unique.

At Shreyas, we do a detailed, holistic health evaluation to determine and design individual treatment plans. Guests can plan to meet with doctors and discuss their treatment plan; as such, information about guests' medical history and health check-ups is helpful. We offer authentic Ayurvedic treatments and can also assist visitors with rare medical conditions.'

Alongside the wellness offerings, what are the most tantalising luxuries available at Shreyas?

'Shreyas accommodates just 25 guests at one time, which affords the rare luxury of being cared for in a secluded, private and serene environment. Belying the idea that a yoga retreat means roughing it, cottages at Shreyas are built for comfort; we have eight garden cottages with tented canopies, open-air shower rooms and private courtyards, as well as three poolside cottages and one three-bedroom cottage.

Facilities for our guests include an infinity pool, steam room, heated outdoor Jacuzzi, library, gymnasium, jogging trail, cricket nets with a professional bowling machine, and even a home theatre. All this is perfectly complemented by rejuvenating massages and our organic, vegetarian cuisine, which is designed to ensure that guests leave refreshed in body, mind and spirit.'

Yoga Retreats in India | Spa

In addition to yoga and Ayurveda, the Anaha Spa offers a wide range of spa treatments © Shreyas

You recently won an award for Best Boutique Spa in India. What is it that makes Shreyas's spa different from the rest?

'Our brand new spa, Anaha, is designed to be a "retreat within a retreat." From age-old Ayurvedic treatments to modern therapies, from naturopathy to a wide range of massages, Anaha provides a wealth of wellness experiences.

The first floor is dedicated to the practice of yoga, with one outdoor and two indoor yoga halls. We also offer two meditation and yoga pavilions, which are lit by natural sunlight. Within the large pavilion, guests will find a further series of private yoga and meditation areas, to complete the wellness experience.' 

Yoga Retreats in India | Treatment Rooms

The sprawling facility has become one of India's must-visit wellness destinations © Shreyas

Beyond Ayurveda, what other treatments and programmes are available at the Anaha Spa?

'In addition to Ayurveda and panchakarma, the spa also has four rooms dedicated to Western massages, two rooms for mud therapy and Thai massage, and a separate naturopathy section with three rooms for hydrotherapy, acupressure and acupuncture. Other treatments and offerings include a spinal spray, hipbath Jacuzzi with hydro jets, colon hydrotherapy, steam and sauna rooms and a Vichy shower. The spa also features a gymnasium and yoga and meditation pavilions.

Outside, the spa includes meditation areas, a salon and gymnasium connected with sunken courts and open lounge spaces. We will also be adding a reflexology path and herb garden, which allows guests to interact with nature.

For relaxation and leisure, the spa block additionally offers beautifully designed lounging spaces, an organic juice bar and a Shreyas boutique, where visitors can pick up souvenirs, books, organic herbs, fresh preserves, and more. There is also an on-site salon for our signature scrubs and facials, as well as manicures, pedicures, and hair care.'

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Diving in the Andaman Islands

Diving in the Andaman Islands: An Essential Guide

To get you started on your Andaman adventure, we’re spotlighting the very best places to go diving in the Andaman Islands. Strap on those flippers and prepare yourself for a breathtaking, back-to-nature getaway.

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Located more than a thousand kilometres from the Indian mainland in the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Islands are among the most beautiful places on Earth. This archipelago of more than 300 islands is the apotheosis of tropical paradise: think rainforests, world-class diving, white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and brilliant sun. Today, the Andamans are still an under-the-radar-destination for many travellers, which means they remain picture-perfect and unspoiled.

Diving in the Andaman Islands

The Andaman Islands offer up some of the best diving conditions on Earth © para827/iStock

To get you started on your Andaman adventure, we're spotlighting the very best places to go diving in the Andaman Islands. Strap on those flippers and prepare yourself for a breathtaking, back-to-nature getaway.

Barefoot Scuba at Havelock Island

Diving in the Andaman Islands | Barefoot Scuba

Havelock Island is the perfect place to begin a diving expedition © Barefoot Scuba

With its emerald waters, powdery beaches, and its reputation for being one of the finest diving sites in all of Asia, Havelock Island is an Andaman Islands favourite. If you're eager to immerse yourself in the surrounding waters, make Barefoot Scuba at Havelock Island your first port of call. First-timers are welcome to join guided dives of the island's brilliantly hued coral reefs, while those after a gentle snorkelling experience are also well catered to. Barefoot also hosts daily dives in the surrounding Ritchie's Archipelago for certified divers. Once you've had your aquatic day out, you can relax on Havelock's Beach No.3, where Barefoot Scuba is headquartered - or even stay over at the resort's accompanying, ocean-facing cottages.

DIVEIndia

Diving in the Andaman Islands | DiveIndia

Experienced divers can go on diving trips with DIVEIndia © DIVEIndia

An official PADI Dive Centre, and the very first dive centre in the Andamans, DIVEIndia caters to divers of all backgrounds and skill levels. With two facilities - one on Havelock Island, the other on Neil Island - DIVEIndia offers day trips to prime diving spots along Barren Island and Invisible Banks, as well as an array of certification courses for those who are serious about improving their underwater skills. Once you're confident in your gear, head out to the coral reefs and see if you can spot dolphins, rays, and hundreds of different species of fish. 

Burma Boating

Diving in the Andaman Islands | Burma Boating

Soak in the yachting life with Burma Boating's Andaman Island Expedition © Burma Boating

Can't get enough of the Andamans' turquoise waters? Simple: opt to float along merrily for days at a time. Burma Boating's Andaman Island Expedition, which charts its way among the archipelago's exquisite islands, offers up a luxurious approach to island living. Guests who choose to stay on the fully appointed yacht - where they can enjoy meals prepared by a private chef - can go swimming and snorkelling, stop on deserted beaches and explore the islands' rainforests and mangroves.

Silolona Sojourns

Diving in the Andaman Islands | Silolona Sojourns

Access to "secret" dive sites is one of many reasons to book with Silolona Sojourns © Martin Strmko/iStock

Ever wondered what it would be like to cross the Indian Ocean during the time of the spice trade? Relive the bygone experience with Silolona Sojourns, which operates majestic, handcrafted wooden sailing vessels that resemble those used centuries ago. With routes across Asian waters, and the possibility of a bespoke itinerary, it's one of the most immersive ways to experience the Andaman Islands. Best of all, Silolona also offers the chance go to diving in the Andaman Islands; as a fully licensed and equipped dive centre, Silolona has a number of pre-selected, "secret" dive sites at their disposal.

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Wildlife in Nepal | Chitwan National Park

Where to Discover Wildlife in Nepal

Lest you think Nepal’s scenic offerings begin and end with its Himalayan peaks, we’re shining a spotlight on another of the country’s natural treasures: its glorious nature parks. Comprising lush wetlands, thick jungles, and thriving grasslands, the country’s protected areas offer the promise of adventurous treks—as well as the chance to get up and close and personal with the wildlife in Nepal.

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Lest you think Nepal's scenic offerings begin and end with its Himalayan peaks, we're shining a spotlight on another of the country's natural treasures: its glorious nature parks. Comprising lush wetlands, thick jungles, and thriving grasslands, the country's protected areas offer the promise of adventurous treks-as well as the chance to get up and close and personal with the wildlife in Nepal. Whether that means tigers or elephants, rhinos or sloth bears, leopards or rare tropical birds, with a bit of luck you'll be in for some truly wild encounters. 

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife in Nepal | Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

Koshi Tappu is a wetland haven for hundreds of bird species © Utopia_88/iStock

Located in the lush Terai region of southern Nepal, the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve comprises a beautiful stretch of wetland habitats. The smallest national park in the region, Koshi Tappu is nevertheless rich in flora and fauna, and is a particular draw for birdwatchers looking to spot some of the 500-odd species that flock to the Koshi River. Though feathered creatures are the park's highlight, visitors can also observe other animals, from jackals and deer to civets and river dolphins.

Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife in Nepal | Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve

Spot majestic elephants at Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve © Natalia Moroz/iStock

Though it once served as hunting grounds for Nepal's royal family, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve - also located in the Terai - has been protected territory since 1973. Covering lake, river, and grassland habitats, the park is home to a diverse array of wildlife; explorers are as likely to encounter monitor lizards and crocodiles as they are elephants, leopards, and swamp deer. Beyond the animals, the jungles in Shuklaphanta hide one more treasure to discover: the ruins of an ancient Nepalese kingdom.

Chitwan National Park

Wildlife in Nepal | Chitwan National Park

The one-horned rhinoceros is one of Nepal's most treasured species © Carsten Brandt/iStock

In the shadow of the Himalayas lies the oldest - and one of the largest - of Nepal's national parks: the storied Chitwan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a nature lover's paradise. One of the best places to discover exotic wildlife in Nepal, the park is especially famous for its population of Bengal tigers and rare, one-horned rhinos, though it's also home to leopards, sloth bears, hundreds of bird species, and plenty of monkeys. It's no wonder that this park's name translates to "Heart of the Jungle." 

Royal Bardia National Park

Wildlife in Nepal | Royal Bardia National Park

Royal Bardia National Park is a wild and untamed paradise © Utopia_88/iStock

While beautiful, accessible Chitwan is a magnet for visitors, those after a taste of Nepal's wilder side would do well to visit Royal Bardia National Park, a vast and untamed stretch of wilderness within the Terai. The largest park in the region, its thick foliage is the ideal habitat for Bengal tigers; make sure you keep a camera on hand should the rare sighting occur. If the tigers prove elusive, there are many more creatures to get acquainted with, from dolphins and gharial crocodiles in the water to chital, swamp deer, and striped hyenas in the grasslands. Leopards, elephants, and rhinos also call Bardia home.

Parsa Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife in Nepal | Parsa Wildlife Reserve

Parsa is the biggest wildlife reserve in the country © DavorLovincic/iStock

The biggest wildlife reserve in the country, Parsa stretches from the Terai lowlands up to the Siwalik foothills. It's a strikingly beautiful part of the country, and, unsurprisingly, an excellent destination for those hoping to encounter exotic wildlife in Nepal. Rhesus macaques, jungle cats, kingfishers and langurs can be seen in Parsa's thick forests, in addition to the country's 'highlight' animals: the sharp-eyed may be rewarded with elephant, tiger, and leopard sightings.

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Golf Courses in India | Karnataka Golf Association

The Best Golf Courses in India

Is golf in India a recent phenomenon? Think again – the sport has in fact been played in the Subcontinent since the time of the British Raj. But while golf may have begun as a niche pursuit, these days its popularity is growing at a steady clip. If you’d like to practice your putt during your next getaway, the following four golf courses in India are utterly destination-worthy. From courses designed by legends of the sport to greens that feature Mughal ruins, they’re undoubtedly unlike anywhere else you’ve ever played.

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Is golf in India a recent phenomenon? Think again - the sport has in fact been played in the Subcontinent since the time of the British Raj. But while golf may have begun as a niche pursuit, these days its popularity is growing at a steady clip. If you'd like to practice your putt during your next getaway, the following four golf courses in India are utterly destination-worthy. From courses designed by legends of the sport to greens that feature Mughal ruins, they're undoubtedly unlike anywhere else you've ever played. 

ITC Grand Bharat

Golf Courses in India | ITC Grand Bharat

ITC Grand Bharat's sprawling course was designed by Jack Nicklaus © ITC Hotels

Located in Gurgaon, just outside of New Delhi, the ITC Grand Bharat isn't just one of India's premier luxury hotels - it's also a world-class golf destination. Spread across 300 acres of rolling green, its course was designed by "The Golden Bear" Jack Nicklaus, commonly regarded as the greatest golfer of all time. It's hard for any golf courses in India to boast more impressive accolades, and this one lives up to its name: on offer are an 18-hole Signature Championship Course and a 9-hole Signature Canyon Course, as well as a club house where guests can relax in the steam room and sauna, dine at the restaurant, and otherwise take in the scenery.

The Delhi Golf Club 

Golf Courses in India | Delhi Golf Club

Peacocks and Mughal ruins dot the Delhi Golf Club's majestic facilities © k02/iStock

One of the country's most prestigious golf clubs, the Delhi Golf Club - established in the 1930s and featuring a star-studded membership roster - occupies 180 acres of pristine, verdant turf in the heart of the city. Among the most prominent golf courses in India, the Delhi Golf Club's 18-hole Lodhi Course is also a stop along the Asia PGA Tour. Golfers who are lucky enough to visit will have access to the Lodhi Course as well as the 9-hole Peacock Course (which is aptly named, as peacocks frequently roam the grounds). Players should also be sure to look out for the resplendent Mughal ruins on-site, including the beautiful, 17th century Lal Bangla tombs.

Karnataka Golf Association

Golf Courses in India | Karnataka Golf Association

Karnataka Golf Association's challenging course is a thrill for amateurs and pros alike © vm/iStock

An important stop on the South Indian golfing scene, the Karnataka Golf Association - officially completed in 1989 - was designed with the input of British Open Winner Peter Thomson. The expertise shows: a 117-acre oasis, the sprawling course is comprised of beautiful fairways and greens, as well as numerous ponds. But don't let its prettiness distract you: it also features a slope rating of 135, so even the most experienced of golfers will find themselves challenged. After a rousing 18 holes, it's best to head to the Health Club for a restorative Ayurvedic massage.

Oxford Golf Resort

Golf Courses in India | Oxford Golf Resort

The beautiful Oxford Golf Resort is the ideal resort for golf lovers © Oxford Golf Resort

For an all-inclusive golfing getaway, it's hard to do better than Pune's Oxford Golf Resort. This resplendent, par 72 course ranks among the most beautiful and well maintained in India. Looking at its 136-acre terrain, it shows: flanked by the Western Ghats, it offers up impressive views as well as challenging play. Not yet a practiced golfer? The club also offers a training academy with a three-course driving range. After a busy day of practicing swings, guests can retire to one of the resort's chalets, or indulge in a tipple at the venue's Malt Bar.

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Indian Wine | Dawat

Where to Try Indian Wine in New York

Even for many of the most passionate and curious oenophiles, Indian wine remains something of a mystery. But while India’s wine industry is still in its infancy, the Subcontinent now offers up several very accomplished wineries…and their bottles are available at select restaurants in New York.

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Even to many of the most passionate and curious oenophiles, Indian wine remains something of a mystery. But while India's wine industry is still in its infancy, the Subcontinent now offers up several very accomplished wineries…and their bottles are available at select restaurants in New York. 

If you're eager to sample Chardonnay from Karnataka and can't wait to try Syrah from Maharashtra, venture to the following dining destinations. Not only will you be in for some of the city's best Indian cooking… you'll also be able to wash it all down with the fruit of India's top vineyards, too.

Junoon 

Indian Wine | Junoon

Michelin-starred Junoon also has a stellar wine list on offer © Junoon

One of just two Michelin-starred Indian restaurants in New York - and among our favourite addresses in the Big Apple - Junoon offers up an exquisite culinary experience; whether you choose to sample lobster curry or dry aged Tellicherry duck, the cooking here exemplifies Indian fine dining at its very best. But don't just venture to Junoon for the food. The restaurant's sprawling wine cellar, curated by director Michael Dolinski, is also destination-worthy - particularly if you're looking to sample Indian wine. On the list is a must-try 2014 Chardonnay hailing from Krsma Estates in Karnataka; it's described as being crisp, with pleasant notes of grapefruit, caramel, and green apples, and was awarded a silver medal in last year's International Wine Challenge. 

Indian Accent

Indian Wine | Indian Accent

Indian Accent appropriately features Indian bottles on its wine list © Christopher Villano

Indian Accent first made a name for itself in New Delhi, where it's housed within the luxurious Manor Hotel, and is ranked among the country's best eateries. Lucky New Yorkers can enjoy its first international outpost in the plush Le Parker Meridien, where the cuisine, helmed by Chef Manish Mehrotra, is no less inventive than in the original location. The vast wine list is particularly impressive, and for those seeking a delectable red to go with their meal, the 2010 Dindori Reserve, produced by Sula Vineyards, is a must-try. Based in Nashik in Maharashtra (India's largest grape-growing region) Sula was one of the first vineyards to revitalise the country's wine scene when it was established in 1997. 

Awadh

Indian Wine | Awadh

Head to Awadh for a taste of Lucknow - as well as a taste of Indian-inspired wines © Awadh

Situated in a stylish, Upper West Side dining room, Awadh is a celebration of the cuisine native to Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh in North India. Renowned as one of the country's richest culinary traditions, Awadhi cuisine is famous for its indulgent kebabs, fragrant biryani, and rich, slow-cooked nihari. It's a deliciously complex dining experience, and there's no better accompaniment for these dishes than Indian wine. Awadh carries three varietals within the Mirza Ghalib series by the Sufi Wine Company - a red, a white, and a rosé - all of which were specifically created to pair with complex and spicy dishes. Indian founded and designed but based in France, the winery is a globetrotter in its own right. 

Dawat

Indian Wine | Dawat

Madhur Jaffrey's Dawat is a destination for Indian wine lovers © Instants/iStock

Dawat is one of the city's oldest Indian fine dining institutions, with a reputation dating back to the 80s. The esteemed Madhur Jaffrey - one of the most influential voices in Indian cookery - is behind the menu here, which features classic dishes (think lamb rogan josh and chicken jalfrezi) alongside a menu of more adventurous specials (including everything from corn chaat to chicken chettinad). Whatever you order, be sure to spend a bit of time examining the wine list: among the extensive selection, Dawat offers connoisseurs a 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and a 2013 Shiraz, both produced by the esteemed Sula Vineyards.

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Bars in Mumbai | Aer

The Most Stylish Cocktail Bars in Mumbai

Few other Indian cities can rival Mumbai when it comes to nightlife. From glittering rooftop bars filled with Bollywood stars, to stylish hotel bars where the finest mixologists are behind the sticks, and lively drinking dens where the atmosphere is as delectable as the drinks, the cocktail landscape in this city is refreshingly varied.

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Few other Indian cities can rival Mumbai when it comes to nightlife. From glittering rooftop bars filled with Bollywood stars to stylish hotel bars where the finest mixologists are behind the stick - as well as lively drinking dens where the atmosphere is as delectable as the drinks - the cocktail landscape in this city is refreshingly varied. No matter the ambience you seek, these cocktail bars in Mumbai will ensure a memorable evening out on the town (not to mention standout tipples).

Aer

Bars in Mumbai | Aer

Aer is Mumbai's swankiest rooftop bar © The Four Seasons

Of all the destination cocktail bars in Mumbai, Aer may well be the most beautiful. Stretching across the entire length of the Four Seasons's roof, the swanky, open-air lounge features panoramic cityscape and sea views. The bar draws a see-and-be-seen crowd throughout the year (in monsoon season, its canopies and windscreens protect immaculately attired guests from the elements), with a cocktail menu worth travelling for. The bar staff are seasoned mixologists, and the drinks - among them the Mumbai Kiss, which features rum, maraschino, cardamom and pineapple - place emphasis on local flavours.

The Sahib Room and Kipling Bar

Bars in Mumbai | The Kipling Bar

The lavish Kipling Bar is the perfect setting for an exquisite cocktail (or several) © Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Nowhere does old-fashioned glamour quite as well as The Sahib Room and Kipling Bar, located within the St. Regis Mumbai. The décor is all glass candelabras, plush booths and ornately embroidered textiles, all of them designed to evoke a bygone India of the British Raj. Cocktails are baroque and boundary pushing, and feature ingredients ranging from curry leaves to coconut, passion fruit to saffron. They're also incredibly food-friendly (perfect for those looking to migrate from the Kipling Bar to the Sahib Room for dinner). As a side note, rooftop bar fans should be aware that the hotel's impressive Asilo is currently the loftiest bar in town, and is also well worth a visit.

The Bombay Canteen

Bars in Mumbai | Bombay Canteen

For a lively vibe and sharing punch bowls, venture to Bombay Canteen © The Bombay Canteen

Vibrant Bombay Canteen in Lower Parel attracts a fun and flirty crowd; this is definitely the bar to visit if it's a lively atmosphere you seek. In addition to its popular "India inspired" menu, which includes reinterpreted dishes ranging from palak paneer salad to pumpkin seekh kebabs, the venue's extensive cocktail menu has also earned it acclaim. Those after smaller serves can indulge in reimagined classic cocktails (think a G&T with jaggery and basil leaves, or a whiskey cocktail dosed with tamarind), while its crowd-pleasing punches are perfect for sharing. They also honour India's punch-making past: "punch," which comes from the Sanskrit word "paanch," has origins in the Subcontinent, after all.

Harbour Bar

Bars in Mumbai | Harbour Bar

The Harbour Bar at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was the city's first licensed lounge bar © Taj Hotels

No exploratory trip around cocktail bars in Mumbai is complete without visiting the exquisite Harbour Bar, located within the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. With a history dating back to 1933, the Harbour Bar was the very first licensed lounge bar in the city. Though the plush banquettes are tempting, a seat along the petite, solid marble bar offers the best view of the action. Namely, bartenders mixing up the classics. One must-order is "From the Harbour 1933", the bar's signature cocktail - it features a mix of gin and tropical fruit juices, which is then flambéed in front of the guest. Perfect for those who like their drinks served up with some theatre.

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Things to do in Hyderabad | Charminar

10 Things to Do in Hyderabad

Magnetic, chaotic, and teeming with life, Hyderabad – the capital of Telangana state in South India, and home to seven million people – remains a mystery to many foreign visitors. If you haven’t yet uncovered all that it has to offer, we’ve picked ten of our favourite things to do in Hyderabad. From its ancient tombs and historic fort to its luxurious hotels – and its signature biryani – here’s what you shouldn’t dare miss.

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Magnetic, chaotic, and teeming with life, Hyderabad - the capital of Telangana state in South India, and home to seven million people - remains a mystery to many foreign visitors. Often overshadowed by popular tourist destinations like Mumbai and Delhi, this thriving city takes many first-timers pleasantly by surprise. Between its stunning Old Town and its thoroughly 21st century Hi-Tech City, Hyderabad is a thrilling hub of diversity.

If you haven't yet uncovered all that it has to offer, we've picked ten of our favourite things to do in Hyderabad. From its ancient tombs and historic fort to its luxurious hotels - and its signature biryani - here's what you shouldn't dare miss. 

Charminar

Things to do in Hyderabad | Charminar

The Charminar is Hyderabad's most iconic landmark © Focal.Point/iStock

A reminder of the city's Qutb Shah legacy - one of two Muslim royal houses that once called Hyderabad home - the Charminar is one of the city's most recognised landmarks. Dating all the way back to 1591, the monument and mosque is distinctive for its four soaring minarets.

Chowmahalla Palace

The terrain surrounding Hyderabad has long been famous for its diamond mines - the Hope Diamond is one of the most famous specimens to have been found in the area - and as such the city has a certain jewelled opulence about it. One of the best places to connect with its gilded past is the Chowmahalla Palace, an 18th and 19th century destination known for its magnificent courtyards (and crystal chandeliers).

Golkonda Fort

Things to do in Hyderabad | Golkonda Fort

The sprawling Golkonda Fort is one of India's architectural treasures © Joe Ravi/iStock

One of the top things to do in Hyderabad? A daylong trip to the sprawling Golkonda Fort. Once the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty during the medieval era, and situated just west of the city centre, the fort complex is one of India's prevailing architectural treasures.

Qutb Shahi Tombs

Located close to the Golkonda Fort, the Qutb Shahi Tombs serve as the final resting places for rulers of the medieval dynasty. The distinctively domed tombs (21 in total) are something to admire, as are the pretty gardens they're housed in.

The Taj Falaknuma Palace

Things to do in Hyderabad | Taj Falaknuma Palace

The Taj Falaknuma Palace makes for a gorgeous Hyderabad stay © Taj Hotels

Given the city's royal pedigree, it's only fitting to stay in a hotel of palatial proportions. Enter the Taj Falaknuma Palace, a five-star stay that occupies the restored, 19th century residence of the Nizam (a local monarch). Today, it offers all kinds of temptations, from its luxurious Jiva Spa to its fine-dining restaurants.

Laad Bazaar

Hyderabad's bangle market is still one of its most famous shopping destinations (and has been since its founding during the Qutb Shahi era). Today, visitors pick up stacks of glittering bangles, as well as saris, fabrics, and other items of jewellery.

Paradise

Things to do in Hyderabad | Biryani

One Hyderabad must? Indulging in some fragrant biryani. © Manu_Bahuguna/iStock

Ask locals about the best things to do in Hyderabad, and they'll undoubtedly encourage you to sample biryani, one of the city's signatures. One of the top places to try it is the beloved Paradise, a Hyderbad institution dating back to 1953. They serve seven iterations of the dish here, all fragrant and beautifully prepared.

Lamakaan

Not all of Hyderabad's cultural destinations date from centuries ago. For an experience of the city's contemporary art scene, drop by Lamakaan, an open cultural centre that hosts music and theatrical performances, debates and literary talks, as well as other inclusive events. 

Buddha Statue of Hyderabad

Things to do in Hyderabad | Buddha

The Buddha State of Hyderabad is certainly hard to miss © Noppasin Wongchum/iStock

Though Hyderabad's population is largely split between Muslim and Hindu residents, the city's Buddhist community is well represented by this soaring statue, cast out in the middle of the heart-shaped Hussain Sagar Lake. The tallest monolith of Gautama Buddha in the world, it can be accessed via frequent boat tours. 

Salarjung Museum

One of the three National Museums of India, the Salarjung Museum also happens to be one of the largest art museums in the world. Sourced from the private collection of the eponymous family, its exhibitions feature sculptures, paintings, and other artefacts sourced from across the globe.

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Sujoy Ghosh

Exploring Kolkata with Bollywood Director Sujoy Ghosh

For Sujoy Ghosh, one of the top directors working in India today, there is no subject more inspiring than the city of Kolkata. Though he now lives in Mumbai, Ghosh can’t resist a nostalgic memory trip through the streets of his hometown. Read on to learn about how he got started in the film industry, for tips on his favourite Kolkata locations…and why a book fair might be the best introduction to the city.

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For Sujoy Ghosh, one of the top directors working in India today, there is no subject more inspiring than the city of Kolkata. In his 2012 film, Kahaani, he captured all the energy and exhilaration of West Bengal's capital during Durga Puja (one of the most important Bengali festivals). Reviews praised his vision of the city, and its old-meets-new beauty… and Kahaani had such a phenomenal run at the box-office that a sequel is planned for release in November.

Sujoy Ghosh

Sujoy Ghosh is an actor and screenwriter, in addition to being one of Bollywood's top directors © Daboo Ratnani

Though he now lives in Mumbai, Sujoy Ghosh - who also works as an actor and a screenwriter - can't resist a nostalgic memory trip through the streets of his hometown. Read on to learn about how he got started in the film industry, for tips on his favourite Kolkata locations…and why a book fair might be the best introduction to the city.

Greaves: What are your memories of growing up in Kolkata? How has the culture influenced you as a filmmaker?

Sujoy Ghosh: 'When I was growing up, we were into reading and watching films, and we had time to discuss them. Art and creativity is enhanced and evolves when you interact and engage, and for that you need time - and we had a lot of it back in those days! As a child, I did quaint things like go to the library to borrow books, which my kids find weird (laughs). By definition, Kolkata is hugely art and literature-oriented.

When I make films, I'm hugely inspired by art. A painter sees things differently - when I was shooting for Kahaani, I referenced paintings by various artists. I wanted to see Kolkata through their eyes - which offered me a different perspective on the city.

One thing I love about Kolkata is that a lot of characters and landmarks from the '70s and '80s still exist. I used to buy these spicy lozenges for five paisa as a child and I found them again. Big shops have been built around the little shop that sold them, but it still exists! Heritage architecture has survived - though for how much longer is another question.'

Sujoy Ghosh | Kolkata

Beautiful and dynamic Kolkata is Ghosh's subject and muse © Rajarshi Mitra/Flickr

Could you recommend authors and filmmakers who have captured the essence of West Bengal and its capital with nuance?

'With the classics, Bengali authors like Sunil Ganguly, Rabindranath Tagore and Sarat Chandra captured the world very well. In film, Tarun Majumdar, Satyajit Ray, and Tapan Sinha are brilliant directors who have influenced me.'

What's your favourite local cultural hotspot?

'The Kolkata Book Fair - for me, it begins and ends there. It's now visited by two million people over the course of two days, and there's a lot of nostalgia and childhood memories involved. For me, Bengali culture is Durga Puja, art discussions, and the book fair.'

Sujoy Ghosh | Durga Puja

Durga Puja is one of Kolkata's biggest celebrations © Prithwish Basu/Flickr

Could you describe Durga Puja for a first-time traveller to Kolkata?

'Durga Puja is a festival that is very close to a Bengali's heart. During the season (September or October), you can see the festivities everywhere - and pandal hopping [visiting the Goddess Durga displays, to whom the festival is dedicated] is quite the thing to do. For me, the festival is all about people, happiness and food. No one has problems during the festival - people are happy and stress-free. Maa Durga [the Goddess] is in town - let her solve the problems!

It's also junk food time, as it's a great source of income for people who put up food stalls. Dressing up, eating and going out is part of the culture.'

Sujoy Ghosh | Kalimpong

Kalimpong and the wild northeast of India are among Ghosh's favourite travel destinations © Abhijit Kar Gupta/Flickr

Which places in India are on your bucket list?

'I inevitably end up going to the same places, and am not a very planned traveller. But I'm addicted to the northeast of Bengal - I love the hill stations of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. I also love Goa. And I'd love to go to Kashmir - that's on my bucket list.'

Tell us about the street food culture of Kolkata.

'Street food culture in Kolkata is bigger and cheaper than in Mumbai. Mumbai's street food is a little more international, as it offers dishes like Middle Eastern shawarmas. In Kolkata, it's all about local treats like Mughlai parathas, puchkas and mutton rolls.

I also love Kolkata's pice hotels - the casual restaurants where you eat to your heart's content and pay a maximum of Rs 100. These establishments, which traditionally cater to working-class people, have been around for many years - and you can get a standard (and delicious) thali of fish, dal, mutton, and rice.'

Sujoy Ghosh | Kolkata Street Scene

Colourful Kolkata is a must-visit destination © Aotaro/Flickr

Finally, what does India offer that no other place does?

'Warmth - in terms of the people. A place is made not by the architecture, but by the people. They'll make you want to come back again and again.'

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Explore the Taj Mahal | Taj At Night

Four New Ways to Explore the Taj Mahal

For many, visiting the Taj Mahal is at the very top of a bucket list of life experiences. And there’s more than one way to admire this World Heritage site. For those travellers looking for a different perspective on the white marble beauty, here are a few suggestions of new ways to explore the Taj Mahal, from moonlit visits to luxury hotel vistas.

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For many, visiting the Taj Mahal is at the very top of a bucket list of life experiences. And we can attest that seeing this iconic landmark - which was famously described as "a teardrop on the cheek of eternity" by poet Rabindranath Tagore - in real life is every bit as extraordinary as you would expect.

And yet, there's more than one way to admire this World Heritage site. For travellers looking for a different perspective on the white marble beauty, we have a few suggestions for new ways to explore the Taj Mahal. From moonlit visits to luxury hotel vistas, no matter how you choose to discover it, you're certain to come away with lasting memories. 

Mehtab Bagh

Explore the Taj Mahal | Mehtab Bagh

The Mughal-era Mehtab Bagh offers perfect Taj Mahal views © powerofforever/iStock

Though the Mehtab Bagh - a beautiful garden complex located just across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal - was built well before Shah Jahan's mausoleum was constructed, it's now one of the finest places to drink in views of the landmark. The Shah himself was said to have singled out the 16th century, Mughal-era gardens as the perfect viewing location. Be sure to linger amidst the fountains and flowerbeds, which, after extensive restorations in the 1990s, have now been returned to their antique glory.

A Moonlit Visit

Explore the Taj Mahal | Taj At Night

Seeing the Taj Mahal by moonlight is a once-in-a-lifetime experience © AlexSava/iStock

The Taj Mahal is stunningly picturesque by day. And by night? Let's just say that its white marble façade is flattered by moonlight. Though the site is normally closed in the evenings, at times when the moon is full, visitors are granted rare access to explore the Taj Mahal between the hours of 8:30 pm and 12:30 am. It's only in recent years that travellers have been able to drop in after dark, so if your visit coincides with a full moon, don't miss this rare opportunity.

The Agra Fort

Explore the Taj Mahal | Agra Fort

Visitors to the Agra Fort can enjoy views of both landmarks at once © tunart/iStock

It's not uncommon for visitors to Agra to overlook the city's other landmarks in favour of the Taj Mahal - but in the case of the Agra Fort, that decision would be a mistake. The gorgeous fort, famous for its red sandstone exterior and ornate architecture, isn't only a well-preserved relic of the region's Mughal past - it's also a UNESCO World Heritage site, and an absolute must for visitors to the city. Additionally, it's worth knowing that the Agra Fort, built on the banks of the Yamuna River, is just adjacent to the Taj Mahal…and that lucky visitors can enjoy views of both at once. 

Oberoi Amarvilas

Explore the Taj Mahal | Oberoi Amarvilas

Guests at the Oberoi Amarvilas have views of the Taj wherever they go © Oberoi Hotels and Resorts

Looking for a place to stay while visiting Agra? You can't do much better than the splendid Oberoi Amarvilas, one of the city's most opulent hotels. The five-star stay features an open-air swimming pool, sprawling spa, and plush rooms that are ideal for post-touring relaxation. And given that the Oberoi Amarvilas is also located a mere 600 metres from the Taj Mahal, guests can also look forward to uninterrupted views of the landmark from each of the guestrooms, as well as from the private dining terrace.

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Hari Nayak

Chef Hari Nayak: Traditional Indian Cooking with a Modern Twist

Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, an apprentice under the legendary Alain Ducasse, and an author who’s worked alongside Daniel Boulud, Chef Hari Nayak has impressive fine dining credentials. The chef and restaurateur is also behind a number of culinary projects (Utsav in New York and Matt & Meera in Hoboken, to name but a couple), as well as six well-regarded cookbooks, including Modern Indian Cooking. Read on to learn more about Nayak’s foodie past, plus his tips on how best to introduce yourself to India’s incredible cuisine.

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With all of its spices, its diverse culinary traditions, and its intensity of flavour, Indian food can be daunting - even to the most dedicated of foodies. If you find yourself intimidated by its complexity, you're not alone: Chef Hari Nayak sympathises.

Hari Nayak

Hari Nayak is a top chef, cookbook author, and restaurateur © Chef Hari Nayak

Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, an apprentice under the legendary Alain Ducasse, and an author who's worked alongside Daniel Boulud, Chef Hari Nayak has impressive fine dining credentials. The chef and restaurateur is also behind a number of culinary projects (Utsav in New York and Matt & Meera in Hoboken, to name but a couple), as well as six well-regarded cookbooks, including Modern Indian Cooking. But fundamentally, he understands that Indian food traditions can be overwhelming for some - and he strives to support a message of epicurean simplicity. Read on to learn more about Nayak's foodie past, plus his tips on how best to introduce yourself to India's incredible cuisine.

Hari Nayak | Meen Pollichathu

Meen Pollichathu, a fish preparation, is a Keralan delicacy © Chef Hari Nayak

Greaves: What drives you as a chef? How has growing up in Karnataka influenced your cooking?

Chef Hari Nayak: 'Living in New York now, I am drawn towards market trends and the local produce available here. I am a very spontaneous cook - there could be an ingredient, something I tasted during my travels, or just my childhood memories that get me going.

Growing up, I was very inspired by the way my grandmother would cook for the family. She would wake up at 4am to grind fresh batter, make spice pastes or prep vegetables that would be cooked during the day. We took it for granted that there would be freshly cooked food ready for every meal. The happiness she felt when we sat together and savoured and enjoyed each bite was incredible - every meal was like a celebration. I draw a lot of inspiration from this feeling of cooking from your heart, of bringing people together and celebrating food.'

Hari Nayak | Paneer Chile Relleno

A poblano pepper stuffed with paneer cheese exemplifies Nayak's globetrotting approach © Chef Hari Nayak

You frequently say that Indian cooking doesn't need to be complex. Could you give us practical examples of how you've simplified it? 

'I have taken Indian recipes that are known for their long lists of spices and herbs, and simplified them using ingredients that can be found in most American grocery stores. Dishes like biryani can be made easily using minimum ingredients and prep steps, while recipes like Curry in a Hurry let you make a delicious-tasting chicken curry in less than 20 minutes. Home cooks can also make spice mixes and blends ahead of time to make the process faster and less intimidating.'

How do you adapt to appeal to a diverse audience without losing the essence of the original recipes? 

'My cookbook, Modern Indian Cooking, is a collection of easy-to-prepare recipes created for the adventurous home cook. The recipes are exciting and approachable, while exploring how Indian cuisine can be fused with other cuisines around the world. 

The cooking techniques have been adapted to the Western styles quite a bit, and the traditional flavours of Indian cooking are given an international twist. My dishes are Indian by nature, but their global flavours help make them appealing to a wide audience. I want to create a childlike sense of curiosity for the new and unfamiliar.'

Hari Nayak | Kerala Uni Moilee

Chef Nayak's food, like this Keralan uni moilee, is a balance of the modern and traditional © Chef Hari Nayak

Which dishes would you recommend a first-time traveller to India try? 

'I'd suggest ordering a thali meal in any region, as it gives you a variety of dishes to sample. Also, each region has its own specialty. Pav bhaji in Mumbai; masala dosa in South India; tandoori chicken, dal makhni and roti from a real Punjabi dhaba in North India; biryani in Lucknow. The list is never-ending!'

Do you have a signature dish that you are most proud of?

'I like experimenting with dishes I grew up with in Udupi, and giving them a contemporary reinvention. Some of my favourites are roasted beetroot rasam, ghee roast duck, chipotle chilli chicken, sea bass coconut rasa, coconut crab papdi and octopus varuval, to name a few.'

Hari Nayak | Coconut Papdi

Coconut crab papdi is one of Chef Nayak's signature dishes © Chef Hari Nayak

What challenges have you faced within the fine dining scene? 

'There is a gap in educating consumers about the diversity of our cuisine. It can also be challenging when customers are not willing to pay for top-quality ingredients and products. Indian cuisine has a long reputation of being cheap eats. Breaking that barrier to present an elevated experience and charge the right price is a challenge.' 

Has the perception of Indian food changed globally? Are there any trends you foresee? 

'It is changing rapidly. I believe we have a long way to go, but I am very positive that someday soon, Indian will be one of the top three popular cuisines in the world.

There are many young chefs who are part of this trend, of the elevated Indian dining experience. Some have taken it too far, and one questions the integrity of the dish - but I do feel it is necessary that as chefs we challenge ourselves, innovate, and make the cuisine progressive. Maintaining the right balance between traditions and innovation is the key. I foresee food going back to basics with simple ingredients, no-fuss presentation and a new focus on regional cooking.'

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Hotels in the Andaman Islands | Jalakara

Hotels in the Andaman Islands: An Interview with Jalakara Owner Mark Hill

Deep within the Andaman Islands – among the most remote places on Earth – you’ll find an oasis of luxury in the form of Jalakara. The newly opened boutique hotel, co-owned by London expats Mark Hill and Atalanta Weller, is located on the paradisiacal Havelock Island, where tropical jungles run almost straight up to the white sand beaches.

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Deep within the Andaman Islands - among the most remote places on Earth - you'll find an oasis of luxury in the form of Jalakara. The newly opened boutique hotel, co-owned by London expats Mark Hill and Atalanta Weller, is located on the paradisiacal Havelock Island, where tropical jungles run almost straight up to the white sand beaches.

Hotels in the Andaman Islands | Beach

The Andaman Islands are famous for their gorgeous beach and jungle scenery © Ed Reeve

One of the loveliest hotels in the Andaman Islands, the magical setting is only part of Jalakara's appeal: within the seven-room hotel, guests will discover contemporary design, an infinity pool, a delicious culinary programme, activities ranging from yoga classes to stargazing sessions, and a supreme air of relaxation. To learn more about this splendid venue, read on for our interview with Mark Hill. He gives us tips on his Andaman musts - and tells us why the best massages happen in the middle of the jungle. 

Greaves: First, tell us: how did you come to open a boutique hotel in the Andaman Islands? 

Mark Hill: 'Back in 2007, I had just sold my London restaurant business and was looking for the next step: ideally, somewhere that was the polar opposite to modern metropolitan living, and somewhere where I could build the hotel of my dreams. At that point, I only knew one person who had visited the Andaman Islands. He gave me the following advice: "Do yourself a favour - just go. It's paradise!" I went, he was right, and the rest is history.'

Hotels in the Andaman Islands | Jalakara

Jalakara is an oasis of comfort in the midst of Havelock Island © Ed Reeve

For many travellers, the Andaman Islands are still quite unknown. What would you say are the islands' top draws?

'The Andamans have a unique combination of clean, crystal-clear sea, gorgeous white sand beaches, and a stunningly lush rainforest interior that runs right down to the beach. The diving is amazing, and the local people - and other tourists - are friendly and welcoming.'

Your location is pretty paradisiacal - what are some of the natural highlights in the immediate vicinity of Jalakara? And what's worth venturing to slightly farther afield?

'Jalakara nestles into the side of a hill and backs onto rainforest. This beautifully tropical location gives us amazing, far-reaching views over the jungle, and our gardens are alive with rare tropical birds and butterflies. It is definitely worth chartering a boat and spending the day exploring the archipelago of uninhabited islands and virgin beaches in the region  - a true day in paradise!'

Hotels in the Andaman Islands | Pool

Jalakara's infinity pool overlooks the jungle foliage © Ed Reeve

How have hotels in the Andaman Islands - and the overall hospitality scene - evolved in the last few years?

'The hospitality scene has definitely changed in the nine years I've been coming to the Andamans. We are definitely better connected by air and sea than before. This has made more services and products available, and we can certainly offer significantly more comfort to guests - whilst retaining the magic of a frontier destination.'

Hotels in the Andaman Islands | Bar

The lounge bar is the perfect place for a lively evening drink © Ed Reeve

What are some of the exciting activities, both on the hotel grounds and beyond, that guests at Jalakara have to look forward to?

'The unpolluted Andaman sea is the main attraction of the islands. Whether you like fishing for tuna, snorkelling around the coral reefs, or scuba diving, the water teems with aquatic life. On land, a trek through the rainforest at sunrise for the dawn chorus is not to be missed. At Jalakara, life revolves around our Ozone infinity pool and lively lounge bar - think Bowers & Wilkins speakers, a groaning shelf of bar games, discreet staff and a great list of cocktails (I also run a gin company in London!). It's a perfect setting for sundowners and lively nights.'

Hotels in the Andaman Islands | Bedroom

Jalakara was built using traditional Indian techniques, materials and craftsmanship © Ed Reeve

Tell us more about the design ethos that underlies Jalakara.

'My objective was to create a contemporary, design-led, tropical hideaway that was true to its location and was at the same time friendly, welcoming and fun. We worked alongside the inspirational architect Ajith Andagere. Jalakara was built using very traditional Indian construction techniques, with the assistance of master craftsman from across the country, and natural materials ranging from wood, bamboo, stone, and clay to copper and pigmented, hand polished plaster. I am really pleased with how our vision has been realised.'

What is the cuisine of the Andaman Islands like, and how is it reflected in Jalakara's culinary programme?

'The Andaman Islands were mainly populated by Bengali settlers in the 1960s. As such, the prevalent cuisine on the islands is actually North Indian, but using the abundant seafood and tropical vegetables as substitutes for some of the more traditional ingredients. We make use of the ultra-fresh seafood and the bounty of tropical ingredients available to us, and our kitchen takes its cues from Thai and Vietnamese recipes as much as it does from South Indian cuisine.'

Hotels in the Andaman Islands | Sunset

Guests can watch the sunset from the comfort of their room © Ed Reeve

What are some of Jalakara's most luxurious creature comforts? What makes it a standout among the hotels in the Andaman Islands?

'Jalakara is all about the senses and relaxation. We believe luxury in the most remote of locations makes it all the more unexpected and spoiling. We have gorgeous cotton sheets, goose-feather toppers, down pillows, and giant, thick, pocket-sprung mattresses, all designed for the perfect night's sleep. Our toiletries are handmade in the Himalayas using 100% natural ingredients. And our spa is particularly memorable, as it's where you can receive an expert massage alongside the soothing soundtrack of the jungle.'

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Urban India | Rickshaws

Bright Lights, Big City: 15 Inspiring Images of Urban India

India is one of the world’s most vibrant and beautiful places, and nowhere is this more apparent than in its whirlwind cities. From colossal megalopolises to cities amidst Himalayan peaks, from ancient forts to modern skyscrapers, we’ve picked 15 photos of urban India that are pure inspiration. There’s only one question: where would you go first?

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"It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolour."

So said former National Geographic Traveler editor Keith Bellows about his time in India, and who are we to argue? India is one of the world's most vibrant and beautiful places, and nowhere is this more apparent than in its whirlwind cities. From colossal megalopolises to cities amidst Himalayan peaks, from ancient forts to modern skyscrapers, we've picked 15 photos of urban India that are pure inspiration. There's only one question: where would you go first?

1. Delhi's famous Connaught Place is at its most beautiful during the golden hour, right before sunset.

Urban India | Connaught Place

 © SoumenNath/iStock

2. The Varanasi Ghats - which lead directly to the sacred Ganges River - epitomise the colour and frenetic activity of urban India.

Urban India | Varanasi Ghats

© aluxum/iStock

3. Next time you visit the Taj Mahal, pay attention to the crowds around you: people-watching at the famous landmark can be almost as captivating as the architecture.

Urban India | Taj Mahal

© powerofforever/iStock

4. One of the most iconic images of urban India: the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, which dates to the 19th century.

Urban India | Mumbai Terminus

© Predrag Vuckovic/iStock

5. Bordering Lake Pichola and in view of the Aravalli Hills, Udaipur is one of India's most stunning cities.

Urban India | Udaipur

© byheaven/iStock

6. In Delhi, navigating a rickshaw through the crowded streets is no easy task.

Urban India | Rickshaws

© Mattia Latini/iStock

7. It's no mystery why Jodhpur is known as "the Blue City."

Urban India | Jodhpur

© f9photos/iStock

8. Amritsar's Golden Temple may be at its most beautiful after sundown.

Urban India | Golden Temple

© Pavliha/iStock

9. Visiting Hyderabad? No trip is complete without visiting the striking Charminar mosque.

Urban India | Charminar

© Anantheswar/iStock

10. India's cities may be busy, but they still leave room for quiet contemplation. Head to the Amber Fort in Jaipur for a moment of beautiful tranquillity.

Urban India | Amber Fort

© Elena-studio/iStock

11. A whirlwind of colour, movement, and light, Delhi by night is no less active than during the day.

Urban India | Delhi Night

© Bartosz Hadyniak/iStock

12. In the foreground: the city of Darjeeling. In the background: Kanchenjunga, the world's third tallest mountain. It's hard to believe that locals could get used to this incredible view. 

Urban India | Darjeeling

© Bartosz Hadyniak/iStock

13. Who wouldn't want to go for a shopping excursion at this market in Jodhpur?

Urban India | Jodhpur Market

© helenecanada/iStock

14. For a moment of calm in busy Bangalore, Lalbagh Botanical Gardens are a must-visit.

Urban India | Bangalore

© Noppasin Wongchum/iStock

15. Whether it's your first time or a repeat visit, exploring India's cities is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Urban India | Mumbai

© helenecanada/iStock

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Indian Gardens | Lodhi Gardens

Five of the Most Beautiful Indian Gardens

Ready to explore some of India’s most beautiful, relaxing corners? It’s time to go on a botanical tour of the Subcontinent. We’ve handpicked five of the most beautiful Indian gardens to guide your floral explorations. From sprawling botanical creations and parks with 15th century landmarks to rose gardens, cactus gardens – even sculpture gardens – here’s where to indulge in a beautifully tranquil spell in the fresh air.

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Ready to explore some of India's most beautiful, relaxing corners? It's time to go on a botanical tour of the Subcontinent. We've handpicked five of the most beautiful Indian gardens to guide your floral explorations. From sprawling botanical creations and parks with 15th century landmarks to rose gardens, cactus gardens - even sculpture gardens - here's where to indulge in a beautifully tranquil spell in the fresh air. 

The Government Botanical Gardens, Ooty

Indian Gardens | Ooty Botanical Gardens

Ooty is a haven of green - and its Government Botanical Gardens are some of the most beautiful in India © Adam Jones/Flickr

Set amidst gorgeously green tea plantations and scenic, rolling hills, Ooty in Tamil Nadu is already a perfect destination for those after a natural retreat. But for a true garden oasis, be sure to visit the city's Government Botanical Gardens. Set across 55 acres, the terraced garden was first established in 1848. Today, it offers visitors the chance to wander amidst rose gardens, discover the public conservatory, seek relaxation in the arboretum and otherwise admire the more than 1,000 plant species on display. 

Brindavan Gardens, Mysore

Indian Gardens | Brindavan Gardens

The Brindavan Gardens are famous for their illuminated fountain show © saiko3p/iStock

Located along the Kaveri River in southern Karnataka, Mysore's Brindavan Gardens are among the most beautiful Indian gardens of all. Designed in the Mughal style, the symmetric gardens are spread across three terraces, and feature colourful flowerbeds, gazebos, fountains, and other scenic elements. If you're after an extra dose of showmanship, be sure to visit the Brindavan Gardens in the evening as well, when the popular illuminated fountain performance is held. 

Lodhi Gardens, Delhi

Indian Gardens | Lodhi Gardens

Delhi's Lodhi Gardens are an oasis in the busy city © bonniecaton/iStock

Within the chaotic heart of Delhi, the Lodhi Gardens offer visitors a touch of paradise. Spread across 90 acres, the park is a popular oasis for locals seeking a peaceful pause, but the Lodhi Gardens are also home to some of the city's most treasured architectural landmarks. A number of tombs of Sayyid and Lodhi rulers, dating as early as the 15th century, are dotted across the greenery, of which the Bara Gumbad and Shisha Gumbad are two of the most celebrated. The garden's lake - crossed by the arcaded Athpula Bridge - is another must-see for park visitors.

The Gardens of Chandigarh

Indian Gardens | Chandigarh Gardens

Chandigarh is a city of many gardens © rakheeghelani/iStock

It's no wonder that Chandigarh is known as The Garden City of India - it hosts a number of famous green spaces. The Nek Chand Rock Garden is a one-of-a-kind landmark that blends open-air sites with sculptural art, while the city's Rose Garden contains a staggering 50,000 plants. Then there's the Botanical Garden, Cactus Garden, and the 100-acre Pinjore Gardens. And beyond the gardens, it's worth knowing that the city of Chandigarh, capital of both Haryana and Punjab states, was famously designed by Le Corbusier - it's certainly not short on visual splendour.

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur

Indian Gardens | Umaid Bhawan Palace

The Umaid Bhawan Palace isn't only famous for being one of the world's largest homes - its gardens are well-known, too © Taj Hotels

Completed in 1943, the colossal Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur has the distinction of being one of the world's largest residences. Home to the Jodhpur royal family, a heritage museum, as well as a Taj hotel property, it's a striking landmark in its own right. And for the green-fingered, it offers one further enchantment: one of the most beautiful Indian gardens. Comprising 15 acres, the manicured gardens are the perfect place to soak up the Rajasthani sun - while also admiring views of the famous Mehrangarh Fort in the distance.

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