Travellers, scholars, warlords, holy men, men of commerce and political ambitions — all have documented the allure of India–a vibrant and richly blessed cultural cauldron, spiced up with the diversity of its people and its geographic splendour.
The dazzling diversity of India’s natural and cultural landscape offers a lavish banquet to romancing couples amongst many exotic locales. An embarrassment of riches await the discerning couple who want to add that extra edge to their private time together by immersing themselves in the local rituals and customs, traditions of its music and dance and drama, its arts and crafts, its languages, its wellness traditions and so much else.
Romancing your beloved in the stunning verdures of ‘God’s own Country’ staying in a traditional houseboat (kettuvallams) on Kerala’s sun-dappled limpid backwaters is loaded with many significant experiences at Alleppey, Kollam or Kottayam. From splurging on a leisurely banquet of Keralite culinary delights and Ayurvedic spa treatments–to interfaces with the backwater communities, it’s not just the natural landscape which will remain forever memorable for both of you. You can marvel at the dexterity of the Kalari sword fighting traditions or the fantastic makeup and costumes of the Kathakali dancer reflecting an over 300-year-old classical dance-drama tradition.
Rajasthan Luxury Train Interlude
A striking introduction to Rajasthan’s royal lifestyles is served up in a novel fashion. There’s something infinitely romantic and thrilling about travelling by luxury train from one exotic destination to another in this legendary state. Step aboard the elegant and intimate confines of the Palace on Wheels and travel like royalty on this accoutered train with its fantastic array of facilities on board. It’s a lovely way to visit and explore the allurements of Rajasthan’s most iconic cities–Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park, Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Bharatpur. Indulge yourself with the many delights of the privacy of your state room (manned by your personal attendant) and the public spaces of this five-star luxury on wheels. Savour gourmet meals in luxury dining, excellent bar services and private spa treatments. The journey on its last leg takes you to the city of Agra, where you can drool over the luminous charms of that fabulous monument to eternal love and romance–the Taj Mahal.
Sun and sand and your beloved by your side–who can deny the charms of a romantic escape in historic Goa. Find your way to one of the quiet beachside retreats, which offer delightful bathing and sunning opportunities and good food and entertainment thrown in. A wide range of stay facilities abound — from private luxury beach villas, high-end resorts, home stays and inexpensive guesthouses to choose from. Looking for a change of pace? Join the crowds hanging out on the more lively beaches with their barbeques, night bazaars and bars to explore at leisure. Indulge in a spa session together in one of the excellent facilities readily available in hotels and standalone outfits. A wide range of stay facilities abound — from private luxury beach villas, high-end resorts, and inexpensive guesthouses to choose from. Anjuna, Calangute, Baga, Vagator and Miramar, along with many others, Goa’s lovely beaches nestling by the Arabian Sea offer watersports, marine explorations, spa treatments, shopping, backwater cruises…
The glorious vistas of the Eastern Himalayas, experienced from the old summer capital of the British–Darjeeling will steal your heart away. Awash with legendary tea estates, iconic Raj-era luxury hotels and a multi-ethnic culture, Darjeeling has long been a honeymooner’s paradise of delights. From cozy fireside evenings to thrilling hikes along forested trails under pristine blue skies with spectacular snowpack views of the Khanchendzonga Range, you can spin out your days topping up on romantic moments. The countryside is exquisite for trekking trips and picnics. Magnolias and rhododendrons startle you with their extravagant blossoms and scents, and the dense pine forests leech out the pollution. Wake up early to catch the sunrise over Tiger Hill while sipping a cup of fragrant tea. The 360 degree panoramic display has magnificent views of the Siliguri plains as well. Cosy up together on a joy ride on the legendary Darjeeling Toy Train, now a UNESCO- acclaimed heritage entity. In town, savour a basket full of ethnic culinary experiences in between shopping sprees. Wander amongst the splendid blooms at the superb Lloyd Botanic Gardens famed for its collection of plants and gorgeous orchids.
The uninhibited charms of Shimla’s natural beauty have long been a magnet for honeymooning couples and a romantic escape. Shimla has been a legend for tales of torrid romances, scandals and secret tryst of the English in the days of the Raj. There’s a lovely but unverified account about the maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh and his defiance of the British rules that Indians were prohibited entry to this exclusive preserve, which served as their capital through the blistering summer months. Not only did Bhupinder Singh turn up uninvited in this cool summer retreat, he even had the temerity to galloped off with the impressionable daughter of the English Viceroy from under the very aristocratic noses right here in the spot known as Scandal Point, now a major tourist attraction. Head for the gardens of Vice-Regal Lodge, a pleasant walk from the Cecil Oberoi, to dally amongst the roses for a gorgeous sunset. History was made here- India’s own history, and Shimla flaunts that legacy with ease. Shop for souvenirs and woolies in the bazaar while checking out the historic buildings that comprise the Raj-era Heritage Zone. Wander through these now familiar pretty hills while on a journey of discovery for those iconic moments in Shimla’s past, which now blend seamlessly with its lovely present-day hill station vibe.
Spend cosy moments together cycling through tranquil back lanes, admiring street art and enjoying a coffee and baguette in a café in this post-colonial beach side retreat, which still permeates with French influences. Back in the day the cultural lines were well drawn out even then, with the natives living in their part of the town (Black Town) and the colonists spinning out a life that evoked all that was home in White Town. While its Tamil roots are deeply embedded in Pondicherry, there’s a decidedly marked French ambience. The Serenity,Karaikal and Mahe beaches around Pondicherry are lively hubs which encourage you to swim, sunbathe or indulge in a spot of water sports. Must-visit landmark spaces are Aurobindo Ashram, the nerve centre for art and culture besides its yoga activities, and Auroville with its famous Matri Mandir, with its lotus bud shaped urn made up from the earth collected from many countries to signify the union of different cultures under the roof of this unusual meditation centre. In the inner sanctum, the radiance from the massive crystal is a major focal point for all meditation activities conducted here. If you are here in Spring, you soak in the rich nuances of the annual Masquerade, a mask ball, very French in tradition, when the streets become a riot of colour and festivity and gaily masked figures. In July you can attend the lively parade marking the Fall of the Bastille. Shop together for souvenirs and gifts like pottery, leather goods and handmade paper.
India offers an endless stream of rich and varied choice of destinations that are perfectly tailored for romancing couples all year round. There will always be plenty to fascinate and engage the romantic side of you amongst its exotic landscapes and regional offerings.