This week, India celebrated its Festival of Lights, Diwali. With this on our minds, and the approach of Kipling's 'Jungle Book' nearing our cinemas, it would be rude not to give India our devout attention. What better way to do that, than to fulfil your childhood Mowgli fantasies and dreams of living like a MahÄrÄja. So, without further ado, if geography and time were not barriers, this is how we would spend a day in India...
Wake up in Ladakh
Leave your charming Tibetan style village house atfirst light, the stars still burning in the sky. Feel the fresh breeze coming off the snow-capped Himalayan Mountains hit your cheeks, a contrast to the waiting heat of the day on the valley floor. Head to the 15th century Thiksey monastery, where you can listen to the monks calling out their early morning Buddhist prayers and get lost-in-time.
Act like James Bond
Enjoy a plate of Aloo Paratha, a traditional spiced potato breakfast, with a cup of Masala chai whilst sitting beside the shimmering Lake Pichola, which just happened to feature in Bond classic Octopussy. Take in the romantic setting of Udaipur as you gaze at the cool grey-blue mountains reflected in the Lake, and wander through the criss-cross draped bazaars straight out of Aladdin.
A morning meeting with Shere Khan
Witness these majestic animals in their natural habitat as you explore the forests of Central India. Shergarh's tiger safaris, situated at the southern edge of Kanha National Park, have recently become extremely popular due to the 'Travels to my Elephant' tuk tuk rally (as launched by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in honour of Mark Shand's charity 'Elephant Family'). This photo was taken by one of our resident India experts, Miranda, on her most recent trip. We're seriously impressed.
Fish Molly for Lunch
Hungry? Not surprising. The Keralan people are famed for their delicious hot fish curries. Try reeling in your own catch for lunch with the locals, using Chinese style-fishing nets. With your fish caught, head off to the market to collect the rest of the ingredients and learn how to cook Fish Molly. Fish pieces are marinated in a chilli mixture and deep fried in coconut milk, perfect with chappatis. Enjoy your dish sitting under an old mango tree with views across the tranquil backwaters.
Time for a Cup of Tea
A private tour of the emerald green Darjeeling tea estate, followed by a cup of the eponymous 'champagne of teas', sounds about right for theperfect afternoon. Work off your Fish Molly by taking a stroll or hike through the rolling tea plantations; soaking up the breath-taking views of the Himalayas.
Sundowners with Elephants
Explore the rambling Amber Fort before heading out to the newly opened camp, Dera Amer. Here, you have the chance to paint elephants trunks with natural colours (gentle to their skin, of course) and embark on a sunset elephant trek, cocktail in hand. You'll be led to an enormous Indian buffet, where you can dine beneath a canopy of stars before falling asleep in a luxury tent.