Highland Park, Illinois Travel Agent
Indian Sub-Contient Specialist & Owner
I grew up in India and went to school in Mumbai. This gave me an opportunity to travel and explore, and doing so with school trips mean't everything was on a tight budget and a unique perspective. I have a passion for India and all it has to offer. From traveling by bullock cart, to bicycle, to rickshaw, to auto rickshaw, to cars, to busses, trains and even private jets. I have slept in the open air, in tents, in village homes to some of the best hotels in the world.
For me, India is truly the country that enables you to experience everything. Incredible colors, weather, culture, history, poverty and wealth. I love the mountains and with the Himalayas, you have mountains to the extreme!
Trekking in the Himalayas is unique and the sense of achievement found by walking or climbing into places you can only do so by foot, is pretty unique. Ladakh in the Himalayas, bordering with China, is very special. I was fortunate enough to experience the Nubra valley via the Kadungla pass (highest road in the world at 18,000 feet) before it was open to tourists. This is a land time forgot with incredible monasteries and landscape. It is now possible for anyone to visit. Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences was seeing the Thangka at Hemis being unveiled, something that only happens once every 12 years. I have also trekked in Nepal and Bhutan – totally unique and special. While Bhutan has changed enormously and you can now stay in incredible hotels, trekking and camping is still a unique experience.
My second passion is wildlife and having spent, in my childhood, two weeks on a survival course with the Indian Army Commandos, I have a very special respect for wildlife and living off the land. As a scout I was able to learn and experience village live in India at a very different level. The wildlife parks in central India are by far the best opportunity to see tiger in their natural habitat and in the wild. Doing so by elephant is extra special as you can get incredibly close to these magnificent animals. Leopard sightings as well as all the other wildlife you get to see is quite incredible.
For those who enjoy scuba diving at an advanced level, the Andaman Islands are for you. Very quaint accommodation (read not 5 star) but some of the best diving you can imagine. As a certified advanced diver, I have to say some of the dives can be challenging. Diving with strong currents and drift diving like I have not experienced anywhere else. Come fully prepared! I could write a book on diving in the Andaman Islands. For the more recreational diver, the Maldives are the destination of choice. Easy dives, crystal clear water and some of the most amazing experiences. Diving with giant manta ray while they feed is just one.
For me, India has it all, culture, religion, cuisine, mountains, beaches, deserts, forts, wildlife, adventure. You can stay in converted palaces and incredible palatial homes or some of the best hotels in the world. It is impossible to see India in one visit, but you can certainly get a great introduction and go back for more. Personally I prefer not to go during the winter months. Winters in India can be cold, especially in the north with Delhi going down to freezing at night. Winter also makes traveling to the Himalayas difficult if not impossible. The hotels are full and every monument and place of interest is overcrowded. Far better to go in March or April or September or October. I have been to the Taj Mahal and seen just a handful of people so you feel it is your own, or you can go and be part of the crush of thousands! I want to be hot in India – it fits! Travel in air-conditioned cars and limit your time out in the midday sun, and have a much better experience, at least for me.
I have travelled throughout Europe as well as Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, the Middle East, Egypt and enjoyed all they have to offer, each being very different and unique so travel is in my blood, but I keep going back to India finding new and different experiences.
Carole, my wife, enjoys India as much as I do and has been a Travel + Leisure A list specialist to India for the last four years. It would be my pleasure to share our knowledge and advice, along with those of our family and team, no matter where in the world you wish to go.