Last year I won the Post Office Travel and Food Blogger of the Year 2018 and my prize was £5000 to spend on my trip of a lifetime, as documented in my winning entry about my desire to retrace my ancestral roots.
This journey was to India, more specifically to Jodhpur in Rajasthan, to see the town where my community originated from before future generations eventually set up life in East Africa, where I was born.
To plan this trip I enlisted the help of Somak Holidays to create a bespoke itinerary for me within the budget of my prize money as much as possible. As there were some places I really wanted to visit and some specific hotels I wanted to stay at, I went slightly over this budget and covered the extra with my own money.
I knew the itinerary would be amazing as I had previously travelled to India with Somak Holidays 6 months prior and visited The Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, as well as Varanasi as an extension.
For this itinerary I flew into Delhi for one night, where I stayed at The Claridges, in New Delhi. During the day in Delhi, my friend Priyam and I went to Karim’s for their legendary kebabs, experienced the Delhi Metro, which was amazing, especially as they had a women’s only carriage, and spent the evening with Priyam’s friends checking out some bars.
The next day we travelled to Jaipur by car, where we stopped at Samode Palace for lunch, which I highly recommend as it is a stunning place to see, and the food was incredible.
In Jaipur, we stayed at Rambagh Palace which was really special, and one of the hotels I forked out extra for and it was worth every penny! Rambagh Palace is run by the Taj Hotels group and is a beautifully restored palace built in 1835 with a rich history of royal transitions from being the queen’s favourite maiden’s home, a hunting lodge to the residence of Maharaja Man Singh II and his stunning wife Gayatri Devi in 1925.
Whilst in Jaipur we visited Patrika Gate, Jantar Mantar, City Palace, observed the way in which block printing is carried out, wandered through Amer Fort and tried the famous Kachoris!
You can read my full Jaipur guide here: Jaipur Travel Guide – What to see and do in The Pink City of Rajasthan
From Jaipur we took the train to Jodhpur, which was an early start as we took the 7:00am train. It is a great experience however it takes 5 hours and so if you are squeamish about going to public toilets, perhaps this is not one for the faint hearted. We did survive though but if I had the choice I would go by car next time.
On our free afternoon in Jodhpur we travelled to Osian, where my community has its roots. Here we visited the Jain temples and spoke to the Priest, and wandered around the village observing the daily life of the residents.
You can read about it here: Retracing my Ancestral Roots in Osian – “The Gateway to the Thar Desert”
Whilst in Jodhpur we visited a stepwell, wandered in the lanes of the Blue City, walked around the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort and visited Jaswant Thada.
We also booked lunch at the incredible Umaid Bhawan, which was Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s wedding venue.
The food was wonderful and so if you are looking for somewhere special to have a gourmet lunch I recommend it. Please note that they have a minimum spend of 6000 rupees per person.
You can read all about my Jodhpur guide here: Jodhpur – Guide to the Blue City of Rajasthan
From Jodhpur we headed to Udaipur, and on the way we stopped by at The Ranakpur Jain Temple, which if you get a chance it is a must see as it is truly magnificent!
We also visited The City Palace which belongs to the royal Mewar family and has exquisite architecture. It is the largest palace in Rajasthan and has cleverly designed interiors designed to protect the king and his people from the enemy back in the day. It has a breathtaking panoramic view of Rajasthan.
Saheliyon Ki Bari, which means ‘The Garden of the Maidens,’ was constructed by Maharana Bhopal Singh for the maids who accompanied the Princess to Udaipur was one of my favourite places. It has striking features such as a lotus pool with elephants standing on corners spurting water from their trunks, as well as a central pool which showers water in a rain-like effect – a perfect respite from the scorching Rajasthani heat.
When in Udaipur I would recommend staying in a Haveli to experience it! We stayed at Amet Haveli and it had incredible views of the lake as well as a renowned in house restaurant with fantastic views and delicious food.
Our final stop on our trip was Mumbai, where we explored at leisure. One of my highlights was visiting the Dhobhi Ghat, the world’s largest open air laundromat. It was so fascinating to see!