From cruises to craft gin tours: ideas for your next holiday in India | Condé Nast Traveller India | International

From cruises to craft gin tours: ideas for your next holiday in India | Condé Nast Traveller India | International

June 10, 2021 0 By admin


cruises-craft-gin-lead1

Gin and mint cocktail; Kalari cheesemaker in Pahalgam; the Antara Ganges Voyager. Photo: The Picture Pantry / Alamy Stock Photo; Athul Prasad

One of the many things the pandemic has taught us is to appreciate the destinations closer home. Avoid crowded airports and flights and explore these fascinating foods, festivals and more within the country.

OUT THERE: Sunset at White Desert National Park, Egypt
RIGHT HERE: Moonlit camel ride, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat

As the sun sets over the sprawling Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, the landscape slowly changes under the soft moonlight. The sky shifts into a pale pink and settles into a deep purple-blue, as the white of the sand and salt begin to shimmer. The best way to take in the beauty of these unique salt marshes is on a slow and moody camel ride across the land at night. Of course, you could travel to Egypt to camp among the chalk white rock formations in the Farafra depression. But since travel is tricky at the current moment, this pristine salt desert closer home will provide you with an equally spellbinding night under the stars.

OUT THERE: Parmesan farm visit, Parma, Italy
RIGHT HERE: Kalari cheese-makers, Pahalgam, Kashmir 

A woman at the Himalayan Cheese factory, Pahalgam. Photo: Athul Prasad

Nestled under the shade of towering pine trees in the Pahalgam Valley in Kashmir is the Himalayan Cheese Factory. This cheese factory run by the Gujjar community of Kashmir specialises in fresh kalari—a traditional Himalayan cheese. While Italy may have established its reputation as an old-world cheese-maker and visits to its idyllic countryside cheese farms are must-do, the Pahalgam cheese factory has its own charm and local context. Apart from a spectacular setting, this little factory is keeping a lesser-known Kashmiri food tradition alive, all while economically empowering local communities. The lovely WelcomHotel Pine n Peak in Pahalgam organises a tour to the factory and there is a selection of local cheese available on their restaurant menu. himalayancheese.com

OUT THERE: Breakthrough theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe
RIGHT HERE: Edgy art installations at the Kochi biennale

Kochi Biennale Photo: Facebook/KochiMuzirisBiennale

Every year in Edinburgh, artists take to the stage with theatre, music and exhibitions. The goal? To create a space for creative freedom. Get your fill of a similar artistic endeavour in Fort Kochi in Kerala at the Kochi Muziris Biennale. This is India’s largest exhibition of art held every two years for a period of three-four months.Previous editions have seen a cross section of works curated by the likes of Anita Dubey and Sudarshan Shetty, and presented by individuals and groups like Edible Archives, Sister Library, Anamika Haksar, Yoko Ono and a host of other artists from India and around the world. Fort Kochi’s lineage as a cultural melting pot finds its expression in this biennale making it the perfect time to visit.kochimuzirisbiennale.org

OUT THERE: The Bridgerton experience in London
RIGHT HERE: Rajasthan’s royal palaces

Vintage car experience at Rambagh Palace. Photo: Press

London’s Lanesborough Hotel is pulling out all the stops to make you feel like a royal from the popular Netflix series Bridgerton. However, you can try a different kind of royal experience in Rajasthan. Live like a maharaja at Rambagh Palace and Samode Palace in Jaipur or Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, all of which have been converted to luxurious heritage properties. Indulge in traditional Rajasthani feasts and take strolls along Mughal gardens, or walk through the rooms and galleries that showcase mementoes and treasures of the erstwhile royals.

OUT THERE: Best music acts at Coachella, California
RIGHT HERE: Indie sounds at Ziro Festival, Arunachal Pradesh

Ziro festival

Tired of the constant FOMO watching your favourite influencers at Coachella come summer and wondering when the skies will open? Explore the sounds closer home, in Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh. Spread over four days, the Ziro Festival of Music celebrates India’s independent music scene amid rolling meadows. Organised by members of the Apatani community, the festival has hosted India’s top acts including Indus Creed, Peter Cat Recording Co, Divine and more. There are a bunch of international indie artists that also headline the event and cover a range of musical styles. Getting to Ziro valley does involve a seven-hour long bumpy bus ride from Guwahati but once you’re there, grab some rice beer and lose yourself in the music and the unbelievable natural setting.
zirofestival.com

OUT THERE: A cruise on the Peruvian Amazon
RIGHT HERE: Down the river in the Sundarbans, West Bengal

The Antara Ganges Voyager

The biologically diverse Peruvian Amazon rainforest is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. But closer home, the Sundarbans delta extending across West Bengal and Bangladesh, is a close competitor with a unique ecosystem. Explore the world’s largest mangroves aboard the luxurious Antara Ganges Voyager and learn about community conservation efforts. From the Royal Bengal Tiger to the Gangetic dolphin as well as a range of smaller creatures—the local wildlife and spectacular river views offer enough reason to plan your trip.
antaracruises.com

OUT THERE: Irish whisky tour
RIGHT HERE: Homegrown gin tasting in Goa’s bars

Photo: Greater Than Gin

From the Jameson Bow ST in Dublin to the oldest surviving distiller in the world in Bushmills, a tour of Irish distilleries is an insight into the country’s rich tradition of whiskey-making and a must-do on any visit. Now, there is an Indian alternative which comes with the additional perk of a beach holiday in Goa. The gin movement in India is fast picking up and over the last few years, several homegrown distilleries have popped up in and around the sunshine state. From Samsara to Jin Jiji, Pumori and Tickle, these new brands are experimenting with local flavours and ingredients like cashew, hemp, cardamom, cloves and pepper. In a pre-lockdown world, many distilleries like Greater Than and Samsara had plans to start distillery tours and post the pandemic, this is likely to take off. Till then, you can try a selection of these gins in bars and restaurants around Goa with a side of seafood and a salty breeze.

OUT THERE: Local bakeries in Paris
RIGHT HERE: Traditional breads at kandurwans in Leh

What the boulangerie is to France, the kandurwan is to Leh. The delicious assortment of viennoiserie in Paris finds its counterpart in this hill town. Rise at dawn and take a walk around the Breadmakers’ Lane in Leh’s old town to enjoy a range of freshly baked goodies at the local kandurwans or baker’s shops. Breakfast on tschots (flatbreads made with rice or corn flour), sheermals, layered bakerkhanis or the sesame-flavoured tilvor. Dunk them in Tibetan butter tea or noon chai—the region’s traditional pink-coloured salty tea. While here, stay at the beautifully restored Stok Palace Heritage Hotel, set amidst decades-old apricot and walnut trees and immerse yourself in Leh’s magnificent sights, sounds and flavours.
stokpalaceheritage.com