Princesses Explore India in Style
story and photos by Jean Wethmar
Jean Wethmar (red scarf) with some of her Glam Girls group
The magic of Rajasthan, still lingers freshly in my heart and my head. Rajasthan, is a large state in the north-west of India, with a population of around 75 million people. It’s undoubtedly the jewel in India’s crown with palaces, medieval forts, tigers and an endless kaleidoscope of festivals. Plus, millions of smiling people, who are able to soften the hardest of hearts.
But let me begin at the beginning of our Indian soiree…
Here I was, winging my way to Delhi, to meet nine new girlfriends. They had travelled from USA, South Africa, Houston, Maine, Texas, and Cape Town to discover India, with Glam Girls Lux Travels. I was their concierge, on tour with them for the next fourteen nights and the only Australian on this trip. All total strangers, until that first Masala Chai was shared around the breakfast table and from then on, we were totally connected by this country, that’s so different and impossible to forget.
Our group had all signed up as part of my Princess Diary Tour. Our first stop was the Imperial Hotel in Delhi, which provided the perfect starting block for our Indian holiday. Such sumptuousness!
Every year 2.5 million people visit the Ganges river in Varanasi
Next morning, bright and early, we flew to Varanasi, ‘the beginning and ending of life city’. It certainly leaves an unforgettable impression. I have never seen such religious commitment, you can’t help but be moved by it.
We returned to Delhi, and met our driver and pretty soon, we were craning our necks for that first view of the Taj Mahal, in the city of Agra. A huge, white marble building that is so spectacular, it can bring you to tears. Sitting on Lady Di’s bench, posing for that 100th perfect camera shot, is a lifetime bucket list item ticked off! But this trip wasn’t just about ticking off bucket lists.
India can speak to your heart, if you let it. I say India always delivers, though sometimes, it’s not what you want or expect, it’s what you need!
Heart stopping moments with the wild tigers of Ranthambhore
Our journey continues. Next stop, we had to find the wild tigers of Ranthambhore. That afternoon, the guide couldn’t believe our ‘luck’. Four sightings. What a heart stopping moment! And the last tigress was so close, we could hear her oomph, as she plopped into the dry river bed, right next to our open vehicle.
Then, it was on to the glorious Pink City, Jaipur. The jewels, the palaces and the bargaining, could finally begin. We had three unforgettable nights there, then it was time to move on. There was more of Rajasthan to discover.
The Suryagarh hotel rises up out of the desert like a mirage - (photo Suryagarh)
We drove to Bikaner, Narendra Bhawan for two nights, now we’re talking, girls!
We all admired the fabulous cobalt blue, velvet waistcoats the waiters were wearing at breakfast time. No problem. A quick phone call and the next moment we were being measured up and choosing the perfect silk lining. Our beautiful, perfectly fitting, new velvet waistcoats were sent to our next stop, Jaisalmer, within a day!
Jaisalmer is the Golden City. It’s also in the Thar Desert, close to the Pakistan border and our hotel there, Suryagarh, is my favourite of all in India. It reminds me of a child’s sand castle built at the beach. It rises up, out of the golden sands, like a mirage.
I meet some of the locals wearing their brightly coloured saris and bangles
Am I seeing India through rose coloured glasses?
Sure, I do see poverty, cows in the street and rubbish, tuk-tuks, camels and elephants and ladies with huge bundles of dried wood, wearing their brightest of saris, pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple, green, and bling bangles, but I choose to see children smiling and happy. And always playing cricket! And wanting to chat to me about our Aussie cricketers.
I see mothers caring for their babies, and I see friends sharing meals, in the market places I visit.
Two nights suited our group just perfectly, in beautiful Jaisalmer. We visited the silver heritage jewellers and we all had a trip to the Spa, for an unforgettable spa treatment. Aah, such is the life of true Princesses!
We had our new waistcoats, plus silver jewellery – and many new scarves and pashminas, but there was still more cotton to be found, still more places to visit.
That's a wrap! What a fun group of ladies
Our next stop was Jodhpur, the beautiful Blue city. It’s here that I always buy my Masala tea spice mixture, plus I’m tempted by the best salesman in India, who assures our group, that Richard Geer visited his wholesale store, (and he shows us a magazine clipping). Richard bought exactly the same Pashmina for 40 of his best friends, when he last was filming the Exotic Hotel in India, and “Madam, it will never ball or fluff!”
After Jodhpur, the last stop on this trip, we visit Udaipur, the romantic Lake City, where 007 Octopussy was filmed. The Aravalli Mountains surround the lake, its very romantic and I start longing for my man, back home. Time to get that suitcase in order!
I can’t wait to be back in India again on another Princess Diary tour…
LAST CALL: Who’s joining? 13 – 24 September, 2019. Only two places left! Princess Diary Tours Rajasthan. For more details of this and other Glam Girls tours to places like Namibia, Cape Town, Jaisalmer, Hanoi, Siem Reap, Paro, Jaipur and Marrakesh – see: www.thecapeclub.com
PS The Namibian flying safari is a mixed tour, strictly limited to 6 couples.