Holidays for Couples Holidays for Couples Apr-Sep 2017 - Page 52

asia // india Clockwise from left: The Elephant Gate, found inside the walls of the majestic City Palace in Jaipur; The opulent Taj Palace in Udaipur seems to float on Lake Pichola; The grand City Palace towers over the banks of the lake; Darikhana Restaurant, also on Lake Pichola IN THE KNOW India Unbound specialises in creating unique, custom-made journeys to India and Sri Lanka. The private tours are entirely based on where you want to travel and what you want to see and do. hotel, RAAS Devigarh ( Built about the same time as Captain Cook sailed up the east coast of Australia, this amazing 18th-century, seven-storey, hilltop palace is hidden away in the lush Aravalli Range, with 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. Once again, the palace had been left to rot and ruin until it was purchased and renovated in the mid-1980s. It took 700 labourers almost 15 years to restore it to its original magnificence – three of which were needed just to clear out the bats and bees! Today, RAAS Devigarh is one of the premier five-star hotels in Rajasthan. The suites – huge in size, contemporary in design and featuring marble interiors enhanced with semi-precious stones and local handicrafts – are spectacular. Just a 40-minute drive from Devigarh was Udaipur, a city I’d longed to visit for years, since seeing an image of a white marble palace – now the Taj Palace hotel – sitting in the middle of a lake. The romance of that scene has stayed with me, so the 50 chance to actually see it in real life was the stuff of dreams. Founded in 1559, the city (often referred to as Venice of the East) is set around a series of artificial lakes and is an absolute highlight of any visit to Rajasthan. With only one day to experience this bucket-list destination we discovered the best way to see the city’s faded grandeur was from the shimmering Lake Pichola, winding past the City Palace (a jaw-dropping complex featuring 11 palaces), and the whitewashed havelis, marble palaces and myriad buildings that line the lake. I loved everything about it and wanted to delve into the old cobbled streets to discover their secrets, but our time in Udaipur was up, and our next destination beckoned. We boarded a flight to the southern state of Kerala on India’s tropical Malabar Coast and watched on as the landscape changed from dusty plains to palm-lined beaches en route, unaware of the myriad delights that would be in store for us when we touched down. But that’s another story. H