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March 1, 2007

Travel: Curry In A Hurry

Only got a week to spare and want to get a taste of an incredible country that will send you into a sensory overload? Well get ready to rock it in Rajasthan and up the ante in Uttar Pradesh. Pack your bags and don’t forget to prepare for the inevitable “Delhi belly.” We’re going to India baby…

Start your India adventure with a direct flight to Delhi on Cathay Pacific. Arrange for a car and driver to pick you up at the airport and transport you straight through to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Ask for Rayesh Kumar at Krishna Rent A Car (+91 98 7384 0865, for a quiet and relatively smooth ride. If the Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the nearby Oberoi Amarvilas (+91 562 223 1515) might be the eighth. Book a suite with a balcony and enjoy unrivaled views of the Taj from the privacy of your very own room. For a perfect day, spend the morning at the palace, the afternoon by the Oberoi pool and the evening at Esphahan, the hotel’s sublime restaurant.

After a full day and night in Agra you’re ready to hit the road, literally. Have your driver take you from Agra straight through to Jaipur. The trip will take anywhere from four to six hours (depending on camel traffic) but it is sure to be a drive you will never forget. Sights and Sounds and Smells, Oh My!

Upon your arrival into Jaipur, check your bags at the Samode Haveli ( +91 141 263 2370) for a romantic rendezvous or The Taj Rambagh Palace (+91 141 221 1919) located in a former Maharaja’s mansion and excellent for working on your polo game. For the ultimate in rustic-chic, go just a bit further out of town and relax in the luxury of your own private tent at The Oberoi Rajvilas (+91 141 268 0101). When you’re ready to hit the sights, hop in an auto-rickshaw and head to the Old City (preferably with a knowledgeable guide). Within the shocking pink walls, lie the Hawa Mahal, the City Palace, and the Jantar Mantar observatory, which are within walking distance of the Bapu, Johari, and Tripola Bazaars. After all that touring, you’ll wish you had a magic carpet to transport you back to your hotel room. The handcrafted rugs at Channi Carpets and Textiles (Mount Road, opposite Ramgarh Road, +91 141 267 2231) should do the trick.

For the next leg of your journey, ditch the driver and fly Jet Airways to Udaipur. Once there, indulge in a semi-private pool room with a lake view at The Oberoi Udaivilas (+91 294 243 3300). Or, for you Bond buffs out there, score a room at The Lake Palace Hotel (+91 294 252 8800), and feel free to reenact the scenes from Octopussy. Spend the day leisurely exploring the many rooms of The City Palace or take in a romantic sunset at Monsoon Palace, surrounded by serene hills and picturesque Lake Pichola. In the evening, dine al fresco at the Udai Mahal in the Udaivilas or at one of the rooftop restaurants circling the lake. The views and fantastic Rajasthani food will help you savour your last few bites of a most incredible adventure.

Not ready to go home yet? Check out Dim Sum & Then Some’s Travel Section for more savvy ideas and suggestions on destinations around Asia.

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