An Intimate Grand Tour - Join Our Escorted Journeys to North India
At Ampersand we love nothing better than curating astonishing experiences for our travellers. A country as vast and packed with options as India can be overwhelming to approach and so we have launched our escorted tours to the subcontinent led by author and specialist, Cosmo Brockway. An intimate grand tour, the groups will be kept small, a maximum of twelve guests, to ensure a communal and like-minded atmosphere. The key to an enjoyable and memorable tour of this kind is to have a connection with fellow guests and we work to bring people together so that friendships are built in the adventures. We had some wonderful testimonials from past attendees to our very successful visit to the Punjab & Mumbai earlier this year:
"An amazing tour. It was utterly spoiling to never have to think ‘what next?’ or ‘how do we get there?’ It all just went so seamlessly and we got such an insight into the people, their way of life and some of the history of the Punjab and Mumbai." Leigh Thorne, Bath
"Such a brilliant trip through the Punjab. Imagine the heart swing from the horror and sadness of the Partition to the serenity of the Golden Temple. Special thanks for our lovely private day with the Maharaja of Kapurthala and Le Corbusier’s Utopian city of Chandigarh. I will never forget the border ceremony especially the one-leg-hopping Pakistan cheerleading soldier…" Carolina Schulze, New York City
"This was one magical experience... Normally, we like to be independent travellers but when, this year, we first saw the information about “A most unusual tour of India,” we were intrigued. We started this tour as individuals and couples, but we ended as a collective, a group, friends. The pathways of our lives crossed and may do so again. We travelled many, many miles from various starting points and ended up together. What got us together? Love of travelling? Fate? An Invitation? What bound us together? Love of meeting people? Good organisation? Willingness to share? General interest? Talking and listening? Each other? Cosmo? Perhaps it was simply India." Derek Lever, UK
The upcoming two tours take in the palaces of Rajasthan over the spectacular festival of Diwali, as well as Holi, the celebration of Spring in Punjab and the enchanting landscape of Kashmir, called by Joanna Lumley ‘Heaven on Earth’. Join us ...
The journey begins in India’s most romantic setting, the lake city of Udaipur. We will stay with Richard Hanlon at his supremely lovely Bujera Fort. Built by Hanlon, Bujera has been featured in House & Garden and the upcoming Glorious Hotels of India. The fort is a triumph of Rajput royal meets English country house style. Hanlon is a consummate host and we will enjoy meals and walks with him as he shares the joys of creating such a unique home. In Udaipur itself, we have privileged access to artisan’s collections at their homes and studios with long-time resident, Rosie Cornwallis before enjoying cocktails at the City Palace, home of the the Maharana of Udaipur. We will sail across Lake Pichola for a candlelit dinner on the 18th century Jag Mandir Island and discover regional cuisine from the ancient court of Mewar. The palace collection is renowned throughout the world with its suites of crystal furniture, mughal miniatures and persian carpets. We will explore the intricate carvings of the Jagdish temple and walk alongside pilgrims and priests.
In this magical city is where you will have front row seats for the celebrations of Diwali; the dazzling and seemingly endless firework displays light up the entire city, as wide-spread festivities of wealth, auspicious beginnings and the triumph of good over evil. We will have special food and feel part of this wonderful spectacle. Our last day will be spent driving up to the Monsoon Palace, high in the hills and overlooking the city like a miniature painting.
The journey will continue to the Blue City of Jodhpur, on the edge of the Thar desert. Founded in 1459, the desert kingdom is home to some of the finest architecture and crafts in India. We will stay at luxurious haveli, RAAS, with its courtyard swimming pool and unparalleled view of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, a favourite of writers and visiting celebrities. The piece de resistance of our visit will be a memorable dinner at the most famous palace in India, Umaid Bhawan Palace. Still the residence of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Gaj Singh II. and an astonishingly grand hotel, run by esteemed hotel group, Taj Hotels. We will move onto the famous ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, home to both colourful royal characters and a thriving arts scene. We will meet both local and expat Parisien jewellers, fashion designers, artists and curators. From the renowned Gem Palace, court jewellers, to the recently opened Gyan museum, with its Mughal and Rajput treasures to exploring the chambers of the Palace of The Winds, Jaipur will be an experience to never forget.
We finish the journey exploring the hidden gems of India’s bustling capital, Delhi between the colonial splendour of Lutyens’ New Delhi and intoxicating history of the Old City. Morning tour of the seat of government and former Viceroy’s House, shopping in stylish Khan Market, sampling street food in the winding alleys surrounding the Mughal sandstone Juma Mosque, convivial private dinners at a glorious residence with one of the city’s influential families. Truly an intimate Grand Tour!
Punjab & Kashmir
The northern states of Punjab and Kashmir are less visited but more than equal in enchantment. We are excited to launch our second escorted tour to Punjab, a fertile and colourful region and heart of much of India’s rich history. Hop on a magic carpet ride through India’s joyful festival of spring, Holi. The modernist city of Chandigarh, with its Le Corbusier-designed architecture and air of Continental gentility is perhaps the most serene metropolis in India. The vision of a gifted designer, this state capital is an intriguing glimpse into a vision of post-independence India. We will then enjoy the the flamboyant princely creation of the 19th century Maharaja of Kapurthala, Jagatjit Singh. A close friend of Queen Victoria and bon viveur, as well as talented designer, Singh created the ‘Paris of the East’ at his quiet northern principality. Much of his grand vision remains and we will have lunch with his grandson, the present Maharaja, at his beautiful 19th century palace. In Amritsar, the border city of Punjab we will be based at the tranquil Taj Hotel. Highlights will include the moving sights and sounds of the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhism, which we will visit at both day and night, even taking part in communal chapati making! No less moving is the ceremonial spectacle of the Pakistan border ceremony. The gates are closed with great fanfare, beating of drums and military posturing - we will have VIP access to this extraordinary scene. At Ranjit Svaasa, the elegant home of the Mehra family in Amritsar, the festival of Holi will be spent enveloped in a shroud of exuberant celebrations, with drums, flower petals and coloured powders galore!
A short flight will take us up to Srinagar, the historic summer capital of Kashmir, beloved by Mughal kings, Raj viceroys and Bollywood stars alike. Staying at the Dutch colonial Lalit Palace Hotel, a former home of the Maharaja of Kashmir, and surrounded by a beautiful rose garden, we will explore this most timeless of cultures. A proud and regal heritage with a long standing tradition of hospitality, no other people on earth can make one feel more welcome than Kashmiris. We will sail among the colourful array of houseboats on Dal Lake, visiting the floating flower and vegetable market and the beautifully preserved Mughal gardens around the lake’s eastern shore. We will drink kahwa, kashmiri almond tea with craftsman and discover the finest pashminas (at astonishingly low prices) in old city with its intriguing wooden mosques and untouched bazaars.
We do hope you will join us on these adventures of a lifetime and look forward to exploring the treasures of hidden India with you!
For more information or to join our Unusual Escorted Journey's to India, please get in touch with Jessica Andrews:
firstname.lastname@example.org // +44 (0) 207 819 9770