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It’s Time

So, it’s going to be easier to visit India now, was my Kiwi friend, Derek’s excited response to the Government’s budget announcement yesterday that the Visa on arrival facility would be available at nine airports across India. Hey, but you guys are so lucky, you holiday in India every year and you don’t even need a visa for that! He added. That really made me wonder how well do we know our own country? Even if we visit one region at a time for one week in India, we could still be discovering our Motherland for the next twenty years.  So when was the last time you took a holiday in your own country? Some of my friends had taken a domestic holiday ten years back and some had never even travelled in India. After some introspection I was quite surprised to discover that I had myself visited Kashmir this year after a whopping twenty-five years.

It’s indeed unfortunate that we get caught up with our daily routine and miss out on a much-deserved Indian holiday, even when it’s so easy to do so. As my flight from Mumbai landed in Srinagar in two and a half hours, it seemed unbelievable that it took me so long to visit this wonderful state. A holiday in India could be as adventurous, exciting and as luxurious as anywhere in the world.  As I stood by the heated indoor swimming pool in the Khyber hotel, the inviting fragrance of the world-class spa nearby was hard to ignore. The pool area was built with huge double heighted floor to ceiling windows and watching the snowfall outside in the comfort and warmth of the pool area was indeed heaven on earth. I could have been in Switzerland, but Gulmarg was much more beautiful and had more snow than I could have ever imagined. I was amazed and proud at the same time that this was a five star hotel in the northernmost state of India living up to the best standards in the world.

The most popular destinations of Kerala, Rajasthan and Goa are a good starting point for any Indian Holiday. However, it won’t be surprising if you don’t recognize the once familiar destinations anymore. The smooth roads in Rajasthan and the newer luxury hotels in Kerala surely make travelling a pleasant experience in India. The frequent travellers may be well versed with the most popular states in India and may prefer the upcoming tourist destinations.  About three years back I was scouting for holiday destinations in Karnataka, when I received an email from a close friend in the US. She had moved to America about fifteen years back and was somewhat caught in a time warp of sorts as far as India was concerned. I hope your stay is comfortable, read her email among other things. I smiled to myself as I looked up at my bedroom with a Jacuzzi, a standalone outdoor shower and my very own pool in the villa I was staying at. I had just come back from a coffee bean inspired spa treatment and the Serai in Chikmagalur and couldn’t be more rejuvenated and refreshed anywhere else in the world. You need to take an Indian holiday on your next visit I wrote back to her as I sipped on fresh filter coffee from the plantation.

From the most luxurious experiences to the most pocket- friendly holidays India has it all. Where else can you enjoy a three-night holiday in as little as six thousand rupees other than Goa? And the luxury of doing nothing is best experienced in our own hotspots like Goa and all of Maharashtra, which wear a green blanket in the monsoons even if delayed a little. To be able to spend on a holiday without counting the dollars and converting the price of the smallest of the souvenirs into rupees is a real relief. While in Kashmir, I kept checking the time as travelling out of India has become a habit. As I looked at my watch for the umpteenth time in the day as I waited for my driver, the ease of travelling without a change in time and currency and the luxury of a private chauffeur driven car dawned on me. It was almost time to bid adieu to Srinagar and I decided to take one last shikara ride. My shikara glided gently towards the famous Char Chinar and just as I started to feel a little hungry a shikara slid up next to mine with the aroma of delicious chicken and paneer kebabs wafting in the air. India really has an answer for everything. It’s time for an Indian Holiday!

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