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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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Rohit Ghai

New Openings: An Interview with Jamavar Chef Rohit Ghai

One of London’s hottest new openings isn’t actually new. Meet Jamavar: as the signature restaurant at The Leela’s lavish hotels in Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Mumbai, and New Delhi, Jamavar offers up all the world-class hospitality, culinary eclecticism, and impeccable style that The Leela brand suggests.To celebrate its new London location, we interviewed chef Rohit Ghai.

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One of London's hottest new openings isn't actually new.

Though Jamavar's London location is its first international outpost, it's been one of India's leading fine dining destinations since the late 1990s. As the signature restaurant at The Leela's lavish hotels in Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Mumbai, and New Delhi, Jamavar offers up all the world-class hospitality, culinary eclecticism, and impeccable style that The Leela brand suggests. 

Now, the Jamavar concept has at last made the leap overseas. And there's even better news for diners in the capital: the kitchen is being helmed by celebrated chef Rohit Ghai, who earned huge acclaim for his cooking at the Michelin-starred Gymkhana. 

Rohit Ghai

Formerly of Gymkhana, Rohit Ghai is now leading the kitchen at Jamavar © The Leela

We caught up with chef Rohit Ghai to learn about Jamavar's haute street food menu, its botanical cocktails, and what makes its approach to hospitality special.

Greaves: Jamavar has five other locations around India, but this is its first outside of the Subcontinent. What's in store for the London location?

Rohit Ghai: 'When it was first founded in the late 90s by The Leela's Managing Director, Jamavar's aim was to take two completely different cuisines and sets of flavours-from the north and south of India-and unite them with a singular menu and fine dining experience. Jamavar London takes the same holistic approach to Indian cuisine as its siblings. The menu showcases the varied flavours of the royal kitchens of the North, along with succulent options from the shores of the South.' 

Rohit Ghai | Jamavar Exterior

London is the first international outpost for the fine dining destination © The Leela

What do you think makes Jamavar's - and by extension, The Leela's - approach to hospitality special?

'The Leela's approach to hospitality reflects the centuries-old tradition of "atithi devo bhava," which literally translates to "the guest is God." We take pride in creating truly personal and authentic experiences and showing a special regard for every guest who crosses our threshold. At Jamavar, we look for every opportunity to convey the essence of India.'

Rohit Ghai | Tiger Prawns

Jamavar's menu blends North Indian and South Indian influences © The Leela

Tell us about the menu you've developed for Jamavar. What are some of the standout dishes?

'From the north, guests can savour hearty dishes like kid goat shami kebabs with chur chur parathas. From the south, they can sample seafood-leaning plates like scallops bhel and lobster nerulli. I've also created special tasting menus inspired by my travels throughout India.' 

You've worked in several Michelin-starred kitchens. In your experience, what sets a Michelin-starred dining experience apart? Is it your ambition to earn a Michelin star at Jamavar?

'Excellent techniques, top ingredients, and uncompromising quality help set apart Michelin-calibre dining experiences. Of course, I have my dreams for Jamavar London, and I hope that we'll take Indian cuisine to another level. Right now, we're working hard to deliver the best we can for our guests.'

You earned a great deal of acclaim for your cooking at Gymkhana. What did you take away from your time there? 

'I was looking after a two Michelin-starred kitchen with lots of pressure and learned a tremendous amount, ranging from guest preferences to operational and management strategies. My biggest takeaway was that it takes passion and motivation from everyone on the team to create a winning dining experience!'

Rohit Ghai | Jamavar Interior

Enjoy lavish hospitality typical of The Leela name © The Leela

Is it fair to say, in your view, that London is one of the world's top cities for food lovers?

'Yes, absolutely. London is a city of diverse cultures and palates. It offers such a huge variety of ingredients to experiment with. Above all, the people are simply lovely and really embrace and enjoy cuisines from all parts of the world.'

How has London's approach to Indian dining changed in recent years?

'In recent years, Indian cuisine in the capital has grown a lot. We've seen new focus on India's different regional cuisines, and we've also seen it evolve into an East-meets-West fusion space.'

Rohit Ghai | Jamavar

Jamavar is set to be one of London's top Indian eateries © The Leela

London is also a cocktail-loving city. Tell us a little bit about the cocktail menu at Jamavar - did you have a hand in creating drinks that would pair well with the food?

'I always work closely with our sommeliers and the bar team to create interesting cocktails and wine pairings for our dishes. We have some great botanical cocktails, infused with spices and herbs, that are bound to surprise and delight!'

What tip would you give to aspiring young chefs?

'A passion for cooking is the one essential. Success in the kitchen often comes from curiosity and experimentation, so having a passion lends itself to developing your skills. The best meals come from cooking with heart and soul.'

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Surbhi Sahni

Indian-Inspired Desserts: An Interview with Pastry Chef Surbhi Sahni

For someone who claims not to have a sweet tooth, Chef Surbhi Sahni certainly knows her way around a dessert menu. Her treats, from chai-spiced panna cottas to mithai truffles, use traditional Indian ingredients like curry leaves, coriander, ginger, and cardamom, blended with Western pastry techniques. The result is decadent and thoroughly unique — and well worth seeking out.

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For someone who claims not to have a sweet tooth, Chef Surbhi Sahni certainly knows her way around a dessert menu. The New Delhi-born chef relocated to New York after a string of jobs at high-end Indian hotels. It was in the Big Apple that she found herself working - and excelling - in pastry. After stints at restaurants like Tamarind, Amma, and Picholine, she joined forces with husband Hemant Mathur at the sensational Devi.

Surbhi Sahni

Surbhi Sahni is renowned for her inspiring and experimental desserts © Samira Bouaou

Now, Surbhi Sahni is best known for Bittersweet NYC, a dessert catering service and online shop where her inspired creations are sold. Her treats, from chai-spiced panna cottas to mithai truffles, use traditional Indian ingredients like curry leaves, coriander, ginger, and cardamom, blended with Western pastry techniques. The result is decadent and thoroughly unique - and well worth seeking out.

Greaves: How did you go from cooking in Delhi to becoming a leading pastry chef in New York?

Chef Surbhi Sahni: 'I'd been working for about five years in different hotels in Delhi before moving to New York in 1999. I felt a need to further investigate food on an academic level, so I did my masters at NYU in Food Studies and Food Management. Around the same time, I walked into a job where they were looking for someone to make cookies. In India, I was running a kitchen with 30 people under me, so making cookies was not that difficult! I took it because I needed it and that started my work in pastry. When the pastry chef left, the catering place promoted me.'

Surbhi Sahni | Pistachio Cardamom Cake

A delectable pistachio, cardamom, and caramel cake © 1000words studio

How challenging has it been to establish an Indian-inspired dessert concept in New York?

'Funnily, I'm not very fond of sweets, so desserts were challenging in the first place. But I did find that there was something missing in the New York dessert scene, in terms of flavour profile and texture - nothing tasted like the sweets I grew up eating. Bittersweet was also about memories. I was reconnecting with a part of me that was missing things I grew up with.

To give you an example, a lot of us grew up eating pineapple cake in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. I missed it so much that I created a pineapple upside-down cake - but the pineapple was cooked in black pepper and chilli.'

Surbhi Sahni | Cake

Sahni's desserts blend Eastern and Western influences © Melissa Hoom

Indian desserts tend to lean heavily on sugar. How do your desserts retain a traditional essence while employing more savoury flavours?

'As Indians, we're big fruit eaters. Adding a bit of spice to fruits is so common - think raw mango sprinkled with chilli powder. I like to use ingredients like rose, poppy seeds, green and black cardamom, garam masala, lemon, lime, and coconut. Some desserts are even made with curry leaves or black pepper.

I like to think of sugar as a supporting element. Even the kheer [rice pudding] we made at home while I was growing up was never cloyingly sweet. I've worked with Devi's sous chef for 14 years now, and we always struggle with this sweet conundrum. I'm constantly cutting sugar and he keeps saying, 'Surbhi, it needs more!''

Is there a signature creation that you're particularly proud of?

'Recently, for a wedding, I created a coconut rice pudding served with crunchy hot samosa, stuffed with coconut and khoya [milk solids], and chocolate mousse. I've done different versions, like a chilli chocolate samosa served with fresh mango and strawberries, and they've all been very popular.'

Surbhi Sahni | Mithai

Bittersweet NYC sells boxes of mithai "truffles" © Cris Vitola

You've designed the dessert menus at Hemant Mathur's restaurants. How does the husband-and-wife partnership work?

'We've collaborated on hundreds of recipes together. I've learnt so much from him about spicing and balancing flavours, and he has learnt a lot too. I'm a home cook and have a very different touch - when he cooks at home (like once in three years!), you can taste the difference. But I have a free hand in designing the menus, and he trusts me a lot.'

Has the profile of Indian food changed in New York since you started your career?

'When I started working, Indian cooking was looked down upon. Now, it's a different world. People are more conscious of regional differences, and that Indian food is about more than just heat and spice. They understand the difference between home-style vs. restaurant cooking, as they have Indian friends and dine with them at home. It also helps that people are travelling to India more.

As chefs, we are becoming more aware of using better ingredients and techniques. Next, I want to see a serious, James Beard-calibre Indian cookbook.'

Surbhi Sahni | Portrait

Chef Surbhi Sahni keeps family close © 1000 words Studio

Do you have any plans for further expansion?

'I'm trying to put my products in mainstream stores across the country. A lot of them are gluten-free, and they're artisanal products with no preservatives. Some of these recipes have been in existence in India for thousands of years. To bring further recognition to Indian desserts would be amazing.'

Can you recommend any restaurants or dishes in Delhi and beyond?

'I love panipuri [puri stuffed with chickpeas, potatoes, and onions], and go eat some the minute I land in Delhi. Kaleva in Gole Market makes the best Bengali sweets. I love Anupama Sweets in Kailash Colony. In Ajmer and Jaipur, you have to get chikkis [peanut and jaggery desserts] in the winter. Try the ghewar [syrup-soaked sweets] in Jaipur and the pedhas [semi-soft, milk-based sweets] at Brijwasi Sweets in Mathura.'

Could you share one baking tip for budding pastry chefs?

'I like my cakes to be soft but very light. This is a technique I learnt very young - you have to sieve your flour at least three times. I put my oven temperature at 175 Celsius, pop my cake flour in for a minute, pull it out, and sieve it. Do that three times.'

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Things to Do in Agra | Agra Fort

10 Things to Do in Agra

One of the points of India’s Golden Triangle circuit, Agra attracts millions of visitors every year — most of them to see the inimitable Taj Mahal. While discovering this grand monument to love certainly is one of the best things to do in the city, it’s also worth planning a long enough stay to take in Agra’s other charms. From bird sanctuaries and gardens to safari camps and opulent hotels, there’s no shortage of captivating things to do in Agra.

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One of the points of India's Golden Triangle circuit, Agra attracts millions of visitors every year - most of them to see the inimitable Taj Mahal. While discovering this grand monument to love certainly is one of the best things to do in the city, it's also worth planning a long enough stay to take in Agra's other charms. From bird sanctuaries and gardens to safari camps and opulent hotels, there's no shortage of captivating things to do in Agra.

Things to Do in Agra | Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is Agra's most visited site © narvikk/iStock

The Taj Mahal

"A teardrop on the cheek of eternity," one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site: there's no arguing that the Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic structures on Earth. If you're planning a trip to Agra, the landmark is simply unmissable. Visit during the day or, if you've timed your holiday with the full moon, do some after-dark discovering.

Mehtab Bagh

If you're planning a day of sightseeing at the Taj Mahal, don't forget to venture to the neighbouring Mehtab Bagh. Located just across the Yamuna River, the oasis-like garden complex dates all the way back to the 16th century (and offers another beautiful perspective on the Taj, too). 

Things to Do in Agra | Itmad Ud Daulah

The Itmad ud Daulah is often described as an architectural first-draft of the Taj Mahal © bravobravo/iStock

Itmad ud Daulah

The Taj Mahal isn't the only destination-worthy mausoleum in Agra. There's also the Itmad ud Daulah: nicknamed "the Baby Taj." A jewel of a landmark, the Itmad ud Daulah is the final resting place of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal (to whom the Taj Mahal was dedicated). Often considered as an architectural first-draft of the Taj Mahal, it's famous for its exquisitely carved marble surfaces. 

Oberoi Amarvilas

It wouldn't be a city break without a stay at a swoon-worthy hotel - and the Oberoi Amarvilas certainly qualifies. Offering views of the Taj Mahal from every room, the opulent hotel also lets guests indulge in private terrace dinners, dips in the hotel's huge pool, and nurturing spa treatments.

Things to Do in Agra | Agra Fort

The Agra Fort is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture © tunart/iStock

Agra Fort 

In Agra's pantheon of UNESCO-grade landmarks, the Agra Fort is another standout. Located along the banks of the Yamuna River, just a few miles from the Taj Mahal, the red sandstone structure is one of the country's best-preserved Mughal forts. While the Agra Fort may not share the Taj's global fame, a trip to the landmark is still one of the most extraordinary things to do in Agra. 

Chambal Safari Lodge

After a taste of the region's wild side? Leave the city behind and venture to the Chambal Safari Lodge, just an hour's drive from Agra. Hidden away in reclaimed woodlands filled with native wildlife, the luxurious lodge also hosts river, camel, and Jeep safaris of the Chambal Valley. 

Things to Do in Agra | Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site © Waupee/iStock

Fatehpur Sikri

Just west of Agra, the city of Fatehpur Sikri is one of the region's most scenic landmarks. Founded in the 16th century by a Mughal emperor, the fortified red sandstone city (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a must-see, whether for a day trip or a short break.

Jama Masjid

The primary highlight within the Fatehpur Sikri complex, the Jama Masjid mosque - one of the largest in all of India - is still in use today. It's among the country's finest Mughal landmarks and, in the words of UNESCO, "one of the most perfect architectural achievements in India."

Things to Do in Agra | Keoladeo National Park

More than 364 bird species call Keoladeo National Park home © SoumenNath/iStock

Keoladeo National Park

Craving some tranquillity after your sightseeing? One of the best things to do in Agra is a visit to Keoladeo National Park. Formerly known as the Bharatphur Bird Sanctuary, Keoladeo is home to an incredible 364 bird species. Formerly a hunting ground for Maharajahs, the protected area is a true urban oasis.

Taj Ganj

A prominent local bazaar for centuries, Taj Ganj is still a busy market area in Agra. Located adjacent to the Taj Mahal, it's also the perfect place for taking in the views. Head to a rooftop café, order a cup of tea, and soak up the mesmerising ambiance.

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Villa Hotels | Vivanta By Taj Bekal

The Best Private Villa Hotels in India

Looking to travel in style around the Subcontinent? There are few experiences more pampering and luxurious than staying in a private villa. At these five private villa hotels in India, you can enjoy everything from personal plunge pools and individual butler service to one-on-one yoga and meditation sessions and exquisitely appointed rooms. Privacy, tranquillity, and opulence: these venues have perfected the art of haute hospitality.

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Looking to travel in style around the Subcontinent? There are few experiences more pampering and luxurious than staying in a private villa. At these five private villa hotels in India, you can enjoy everything from personal plunge pools and individual butler service to one-on-one yoga and meditation sessions and exquisitely appointed rooms. Privacy, tranquillity, and opulence: these venues have perfected the art of haute hospitality.

Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort

Villa Hotels | Carnoustie

Carnoustie promises tranquility for wellness-seekers © Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort

Ayurveda pairs beautifully with private villa hotels. Just look to Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort in Kerala for evidence: by day, wellness-seekers are rewarded with a number of individually tailored treatment plans, from Panchakarma (a traditional five-part approach to healing) to a stress-management programme. By night, they slip away into their private villas. Carnoustie has five on-site, which feature an attractive blend of contemporary and traditional Keralan design, private plunge pools, and rain showers - all of which are designed to conjure the perfect aura of tranquillity. 

Vivanta by Taj Bekal

Villa Hotels | Vivanta By Taj Bekal

Vivanta by Taj in Bekal is among the most exquisite private villa hotels in India © Taj Hotels

Located along the Keralan backwaters - a region that's been dubbed "God's own country" for its incredible beauty - the five-star Vivanta by Taj in Bekal is a pleasure-seeker's paradise. One of the most exquisite private villa hotels in India, it's comprised of 66 different standalone villas. Individual courtyard spaces and private plunge pools cater to those after peace and quiet, as does the hotel's award-winning Jiva Grande Spa. The hotel also offers beach access, cruises in traditional Kettuvallam boats, and open-air dinners - all the better to soak up the paradisiacal ambiance.

Hilton Shillim

Villa Hotels | Hilton Shillim

Drink in views of the Maharashtra scenery at the Hilton Shillim © Hilton Hotels and Resorts

Not all private villa hotels in India are found along the coast. Take the Hilton Shillim. The destination-worthy retreat is located in a beautifully rural tract of Maharashtra, framed by the rugged Western Ghats. Across 320 wooded acres, the hotel's 18 spa villas offer valley, hill, or forest views; depending on the villa you select, you can enjoy amenities ranging from open-air showers and in-villa spa treatments to private pools, sun decks, and complimentary yoga and meditation sessions. Savour your quiet time away - and head to one of seven on-site restaurants and bars when you crave some social interaction. 

Ananda in the Himalayas

Villa Hotels | Ananda

Ananda's luxurious villas are accompanied by private infinity pools © Ananda in the Himalayas

Located in the Himalayan foothills of Uttarakhand, Ananda is one of the best-rated luxury spas in India. Its attention to detail and focus on high-end amenities extend to is three sprawling, private villas. Each comes appointed with a personal living room, a dressing room, a bathroom with private sauna and, best of all, access to private infinity pools, which look out onto the tree-lined hills of the spa grounds. All three villas afford a relaxing complement to the intensive wellness programming for which Ananda is renowned. 

Oberoi Rajvilas

Villa Hotels | Oberoi Rajvilas

The Oberoi Rajvilas is a luxury seeker's dream © Oberoi Hotels and Resorts

One of Rajasthan's true standout hotels, the Oberoi Rajvilas has much to recommend it. Built around an 18th century Shiva temple and located across 32 acres of elaborately landscaped gardens, the venue offers diverse pleasures, ranging from its opulent Oberoi Spa (hidden away in a historic, Rajasthani haveli) to its luxury restaurants. Guests also have their pick of private villas. The Kohinoor Villa looks onto a private enclosure and 20-metre pool, while the Luxury Villa also includes a personal pool, and is served by a private butler. The resort's Luxury Tents and Royal Tents promise additional comfort and privacy.

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South Indian Coffee | Munnar

A South Indian Coffee and Tea Tour

Love nothing more than your daily caffeine fix? If you’re planning a trip to India, set your sights on the south. Across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, you’ll find rolling hills of tea plants, luxurious retreats set in the middle of fragrant coffee plantations, and no shortage of cafes where you can get your fresh and frothy daily cuppa. Embark on a South Indian coffee and tea tour, and you’ll be treated to some incredible scenery and delicious local brews.

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Love nothing more than your daily caffeine fix? If you're planning a trip to India, set your sights on the south. Across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, you'll find rolling hills covered in tea plants, luxurious retreats set in the middle of fragrant coffee plantations, and cafes where you can get your fresh and frothy daily cuppa. Embark on a South Indian coffee and tea tour, and you'll be treated both to incredible scenery and delicious local brews. 

For Coffee Lovers 

South Indian Coffee | Verandah Restaurant

Verandah Restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a coffee-accompanied breakfast © Taj Hotels

Your South Indian coffee tour begins in Chennai, in Tamil Nadu. First, book in a stay at the 5-star Vivanta by Taj Connemara. The hotel doesn't just promise luxury comforts; its legendary Verandah Restaurant, which sits overlooking the hotel's pool, is also famous for its breakfasts - exceptional local coffee, naturally, included. Saravana Bhavan is another unmissable Chennai stop. Its filter coffee, made with strong-brewed beans and lots of rich, frothy milk, is worth travelling for.

South Indian Coffee | Vivanta By Taj Madikeri

The Vivanta by Taj at Madikeri sits ensconced amidst coffee plantations © Taj Hotels

Next on your South Indian coffee tour, venture to Coorg in Karnataka, around which many of India's coffee plantations are clustered. The Vivanta by Taj at Madikeri sits ensconced amidst misty, verdant hills. The hotel's interactive cooking experiences will show you first-hand how Karnatakan dishes are made - and how its coffee is brewed.

South Indian Coffee | The Serai

The Serai in Chikmagalur offers coffee plantation tours © The Serai

The Serai Resort in Chikmagalur, meanwhile, which sits in the heart of coffee country (Chikmagalur was home to India's first-ever coffee plantations), is another worthy nearby destination. The hotel hosts guided coffee walks of the grounds, and bean-to-cup tasting sessions, too.

South Indian Coffee | Coffee Beans

Learn all about the region's history of coffee production at The Pepper Trail © MVorobiev/iStock

Finally, it's on to Kerala. The Pepper Trail in Wayanad, located on a former colonial plantation, offers stunning views of its Western Ghats surroundings. And for those looking to learn more about the region's java history, it also hosts plantation tours that teach visitors about India's traditional coffee cultivation methods.

For Tea Lovers

But coffee isn't the only star of South India: the region is also justifiably renowned for its tea, which flourishes in its cool, rolling hills. 

South Indian Coffee | Munnar

The green and rolling hills of Munnar © Zzvet/iStock

Get an up-close look at the Windermere Hotel in Munnar, Kerala. Located in the Western Ghats, the hotel is surrounded by tea and spice plantations. If you book a stay, don't miss its jeep safari tours, which will whisk you away to the nearby Kolukkumalai Tea Estate. The estate, located at 8,000 feet above sea level, happens to be the highest in the world (and is known for its high-quality brews).

The Paradisa Retreat in Thekkady is another worthy stay for visiting tea lovers, located as it is on historic tea, coffee, and spice plantations. Go on a trek through the plantations and see cultivation and harvesting in action.

South Indian Coffee | Chai

Enjoy a classic chai © hadynyah/iStock

And no Kerala tea quest is complete without a visit to the Tata Tea Museum in Munnar, which houses tea production equipment (including tea leaf rolling machines), photographs of the region's historic plantations, and other fascinating mementos. The museum also sells deliciously fresh tea besides; you can't leave South India without bringing home some tasty souvenirs.

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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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