Darjaeeling is a Himalayan hill station and a summer resort for the British Raj elite. The British introduced tea production in India in the 19th century using seeds imported from China. By 1870s there were 113 tea gardens (tea gardens and tea plantations are commonly used for tea growing estates). Darjeeling tea planters faced tough and isolated life in the remote tea gardens, their highlight was the weekly gathering at the planter’s club in town. Take a walk along Chowrasta (the main square) then down the Mall to see the Planters’ Club that was founded in 1868.
Tamil Nadu is a South Indian state. It is famed for its Dravidian-style Hindu temples. At the southern tip of the sub-continent is the city of Kanyakumari (formerly Cape Comorin) right on the intersection of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. These seas brought explorers and traders from Europe and Far East, enriching the rulers of the Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas for centuries.
Tamil culture originated from the Dravidian peoples with additions from subsequent Tamil rulers as well as external influences from both Eastern and Western explorers. In turn, Tamil culture has been exported to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and across the globe. Modern day explorers can savor a wide-range of Tamil culture encompassing music, dance, folk arts, martial arts, painting, sculpture, architecture and more!
Kerala is an Indian state on the tropical Malabar Coast, with nearly 375 miles of Arabian Sea shoreline. It’s well known for its palm-lined beaches and backwaters (a network of canals). Inland are the Western Ghats, mountains whose slopes support tea, coffee and spice plantations as well as much wildlife.
Udaipur retains the charm of old colonial times in India. Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’, the lake city of Udaipur is known as a centre for performing arts and crafts. Although its main palace is almost red in color, it is called the white city of Rajasthan (a large state in northwest India on the border with Pakistan). The blue waters of its four lakes – Pichola, Fateh Sagar, Rang Sagar and Swaroop Sagar – reflect the green of the surrounding hills and the white color of its temples.
Planning for a trip to India often begins months in advance. But once we are there in India regardless of being a returning expatriate or a tourist, it is a rushed and often haphazard affair shopping for gifts for family and friends in the USA.
India is famous for handicrafts and handloom goods, the varieties are dazzling. But there is only limited baggage allowance that your gifts which have to share space with your own personal belongings. If you happen to be like my husband who gets very confused while buying gifts, here are some ideas that are sure to please.
When the British chose Delhi as their capital in 1911 they appointed two architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, to plan and build a new city to rival the fabled cities of the Mughals. New Delhi was thus built in true colonial style with tree-lined avenues, colonial bungalows, the Parliament House, the War Memorial Arch and the Viceregal Palace, now the official residence of the President of India. Alongside these British architectural gems are several older monuments commemorating much earlier occupants of Delhi including the Emperor Humayun and the Muslim saint, Nizamuddin Auliya. Indigenous Indian monuments include Jantar Mantar, the observatory built by Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur, and the Birla Mandir, a modern marble Hindu temple.
Like Rome, Delhi is an eternal city. Not only is it the capital of modern India, it has been the capital of at least seven previous civilizations, and each have left behind a trail of monuments. It’s also a very green city, criss-crossed by wide, leafy boulevards; and it’s the country’s cultural heart and political centre. In addition, Delhi is known as a gastronome’s pleasure garden and a shopper’s paradise.