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India Behind-the-Scenes

The Experience

No matter what your plans are in India, a stop at the Taj Mahal is essential. It was just as stunning and stoic on my fourth visit as my first. My preference is a sunrise visit before the crowds descend. India's ancient forts are some of the most photogenic structures on earth. Because of the summer heat, we had many places practically to ourselves including Jaipur's Amber Fort. Take time to see the Taj Mahal at sunset from across the river on the garden side. Few travelers go, so you'll have a peaceful moment to meditate on the monument and watch locals go about their routine with the Taj as a backdrop. Jaipur's block prints are world famous. Here, an artisan demonstrates how each dimension of a design must be individually stamped in layers. The speed and force at which the stamp is applied is startling. The brand-new Sujan Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur is a destination in its own right. With 42 custom-designed wallpapers this is a designer's dream. For everyone else, it's just plain fun! Another outtake from the Sujan Rajmahal Palace. When we pulled-up the pink granite drive we were greeted by a parade of perfectly appointed butlers and this Thunderbird--one of only three in the world! Jodhpur's narrow back lanes are filled with charming vignettes, colors, details and life around every corner. Southern India moves at an entirely different pace than the bustling cities of the North. Slow down in sleepy Cochin with visits to the Chinese Fishing Nets, backwaters and houseboats, and artistic performances including Kathakali dance. Most people don't think "beach" when they think of India (unless they're headed to Goa), but Kerala's quiet coastlines shine. We were the only people in sight that day. Discover the behind-the-scenes shopping journey inspired by this trip.

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