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Ampersand's Bespoke Cultural Tours: The Pearls of Punjab & Mumbai

Ampersand's Bespoke Cultural Tours: The Pearls of Punjab & Mumbai

Ampersand’s bespoke cultural tours with Cosmo Brockway was launched recently with a trip to India to visit the magical destinations of Punjab and Mumbai. An intimate group of ‘Ampersand-ites’, led by Cosmo and Ampersand’s owner James Jayasundera, embarked on a magic carpet ride through some of the lesser-known gems and cultural sights of the subcontinent.

Our first evening saw us arrive in the sacred city of Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple and the recently-opened Taj Swarna. The visionary Partition Museum, co-founded by Lady Kishwar Desai, invited us for a private tour of its moving exhibitions, which highlight the separation of India and Pakistan in 1947. We were joined by best-selling author and historian Peter Bance, who entertainingly shared anecdotes of the Sikh culture over a traditional Punjabi dinner.

The unforgettable sight of the gilded domes and holy pool of the Golden Temple greeted us the following morning. We experienced the pilgrims bathing on the marble banks, the flashing colours of the turbans and robes, and even tried our hand at rolling chapattis in the communal kitchens! India's frontier was our next destination. We travelled the short distance to witness the theatrics and music of the border closing between India and Pakistan at Wagah – this daily ritual is accompanied by exhilarating dances, marches and bravado on both sides – with Indian ladies in the crowds surging onto the gates for impromptu Bollywood dancing. Great fun all round, and a fascinating glimpse into the relationship between the countries.

The drums, flower petals and coloured powders of the joyful Hindu festival of spring, Holi, enveloped us the next day as we joined in with the celebrations of the Mehra family of boutique haveli, Ranjit's SVAASA. All presented with white cotton outfits, we were showered in petals and colours of every hue before being treated to a superb banquet lunch on the lawn.

The Maharaja of Kapurthala was our host the following day for lunch at his usually private country house. A tour of family treasures, including gifts from Haile Selassie and the Chrysanthemum court of Japan, was followed by a lavish lunch of his ancestral cuisine, and an honoured visit to the nearby astonishing Jagatjit palace built by the Maharaja's grandfather and modelled on Versailles.

Mumbai embraced us with its intoxicating landscape of colonial buildings, bustling markets and temples. Guests of the iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel, we had privileged guided visits to museums, the 6th century rock-cut temples of Elephanta Island, 18th century synagogues and the recently restored Royal Opera House. Unique experiences came in the form of private lunches at a glorious beach villa (reached by speedboat and serenaded by dolphins), as well as convivial evenings at the beautiful homes of the MD of Sotheby’s India and royal author The Nawab of Surat.

A truly memorable and layered journey with a group of like-minded people, who began as fellow travellers and parted as firm friends. Pearls of Punjab & Mumbai gave us all a thousand memories to cherish and much excitement about planning the next cultural tour!

For more information, please get in touch: // +44 (0) 207 819 9770

Client Testimonials

I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka

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