Last week, we wrapped up our first Taylor Made Travels event and what a fabulous experience it was! I felt blessed to have such a wonderful group of six amazing ladies; five from the UK and one from South Africa to journey with me through Delhi, Jaipur and Rishikesh. Some of my guests had travelled to India before but many were venturing for the first time, and it was great to hear that coming in a small group like this gave them the confidence to be brave and do it! Travelling is inspirational but it can be daunting when you are a solo traveller, trying to plan and curate a safe experience. I have always felt that’s my job; to make the transitions during our travels as seamless as possible (although behind the scenes, there is a lot of logistical juggling to make sure everything goes to plan!).
Our first stop was Delhi for 2 days – we had lunch at Janpath, a quick dosa very close to Connaught Place, then we wandered around all the interesting shops and stalls selling their bright and colourful wares. It’s important in these initial days to spend as much time in the natural light to get acclimatised to the new time zone.
Day two, we took a rickshaw ride around Old Delhi and then visited the Spice Markets, which are really quite incredible. We had lunch at Café Lota at the Crafts Mueseum and then spent the afternoon soaking up and immersing ourselves in the amazing Indian crafts and textiles.
The next stop was Jaipur by train, an absolute essential experience to try in India – and this is the best train to travel on, if it’s your first time in India. Jaipur has so much to offer, it’s difficult to pick my highlights!
My vision for the trip was to blend a mix of palaces, sites, cultural insights with a shopping and design experience. We visited the Amber Fort in the jeeps (a real breathtaking moment) followed by the fascinating Anokhi Museum, the City Palace and Jantar Manar; all must-see sights if you’re visiting Jaipur. We had an amazing guide who shared lots of information and patiently answered all of our questions around the history of India and how things have changed and evolved over time.
For our creative hit, we visited Bagru village - the home of traditional woodblock carving, printing, and dying. Here, we experienced a wonderful back to basics tour following the entire process, then we had a go ourselves in the studio! This was a real hit and something I will definitely continue to offer for future groups joining Taylor Made Travels.
October was much hotter than I expected, so after juggling the itinerary, we spent the afternoon visiting my textile and jewellery suppliers. Each of my guests entered the showroom and chose a garment to have made to measure, choosing their own kanthas and watching the custom pieces made by hand in front of them. This experience was truly unique and is a real exclusive to my trips. It was also a great opportunity for my guests with small businesses to make unique connections and buy some wholesale pieces for back home.
I must also mention the Pink City Rickshaw ladies, who whisked us around all the sights and took us for amazing curb side chai. They have such a wonderful set up, check out their Instagram to hear more about their story - @pinkcityrickshaw.
Moving on to the beautiful Rishikesh - unfortunately we were unlucky with the weather so we missed the temple sunrise walk but we still had a fabulous time over at the Beatles Ashram. We held an impromptu meditation session there, as we were trapped when a downpour hit us!
On our final evening, we went to the popular Aarti at Parmarth Ashram, a beautiful ceremony that happens every night at 5.30pm. It’s all about worshiping the deities with light and thinking of those that have passed in our lives; lighting candles, and floating a basket of flowers and incense down the Ganges in memory of loved ones. This was such a powerful moment for people to let go, release, shed a tear and think about the people no longer with us.
Beyond the sites, shopping and suppers, ultimately the Taylor Made Travel events are about bringing like-minded souls together. They offer an opportunity to journey safely through what can be quite a chaotic country, and to create adventures and experiences you’ll always remember. My first group were simply amazing and wonderfully patient when things didn’t go quite as planned! I am ever grateful for their energy, love and support in helping me get our first trip off the ground so successfully.
If you’re interested in joining me on an Indian adventure, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest and be added to our waiting list.