Venture off the highway linking one Indian megalopolis with another to discover peaceful villages benevolently presided over by beautifully-restored forts, palaces, hunting lodges and luxurious tented camps. Learn the rhythms of everyday rural life. Explore India, from the cultural and historic to the irresistibly quirky, and help support wider communities along the way.
Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, the Taj Mahal… India is a destination where it can be hard to see past the famous names and fight the compulsion to tick things off an ever-growing list. To do so might make for a memorable trip, but perhaps with the danger of returning home feeling like something is missing - that you’ve only skimmed the surface.
In order to delve a little deeper, head out along the highways between cities that you’ve heard of, then turn onto smaller byways and break the journey for a couple of nights in somewhere you haven’t. Dotted throughout Rajasthan and beyond are hundreds of possibilities, each very different, but all offering the chance to pause and enjoy something beyond the urban sprawl.
Your accommodation is likely to be as memorable as your surroundings. Stay in a heritage haveli, simple lodge, slightly-crumbling palace, impeccably renovated residence, or luxury tented camp. Many of these properties have a special relationship with the surrounding villages, and visitors are often seen as guests of the whole community, meaning you can expect a warm welcome whilst you stroll the local streets and browse the markets in the company of your guide - likely a local themselves. Venturing further afield, you might find yourself heading out on a tranquil boat ride, chugging along on a heritage train, or taking a jeep out into leopard country.
These properties often provide sustainable employment in areas that travellers might otherwise bypass. As well as purchasing food from neighbouring farms and being decorated by local artisans, many boast a long history of philanthropy, donating portions of their earnings to local charities, supporting schools and other education projects, and facilitating the restoration of temples and other monuments. So, at the risk of adding yet another must-see to your list, wherever in India you’re headed, we’d love to suggest a rural retreat to fit the bill.