Vanessa visited India staying at The Leela Palace Hotels and Resorts in Chennai, Delhi and Udaipur. All of Leela’s award-winning luxury properties aim to deliver each guest a memorable stay that exceeds expectations and captures the type of hospitality detailed in ancient scriptures that state ‘Guest is God.’
She says that Udaipur − a romantic city with intertwining canals, spectacular lakes, majestic palaces and views of the Aravalli Hills − was where she truly fell in love with the country. For it was here that she was made to feel like royalty as she arrived at The Leela Palace Udaipur by boat to live music and a shower of rose petals. The hotel also offers cultural experiences including watching Rajasthani folk dancing shows and lamp lighting ceremonies, but one of Vanessa's highlights was dressing in a sari for a a divine alfresco dinner at fine dining Indian restaurant, Sheesh Mahal. The stars twinkled above, whilst the lights from the hotel reflected on the surface of Lake Pichola giving it a mesmerising shimmer. She also visited a local school, a trip made extra special by the delighted reactions of the children when they saw the photos she took of them. Vanessa says that beyond the hotel, there are lots of interesting things to see and do including visiting the fairytale-style City Palace complex and museum, where you could easily spend a few hours, or, Sajjah Garh (Monsoon Palace), set on the hilltop where there are breathtaking views over the city and the lake. A boat trip on the lake is a must and don't forget shopping in the city's little back streets, or at the Shilpgram crafts village. Other excursions include the village of Ranakpur, located between Jodhpur and Udaipur, that is known for its marble Jain temple and Nathdwada in the Aravalli Hills that is famous for its temple of Krishna.
Bustling Delhi offers ancient fortresses and historic ruins, as well as modern skyscrapers and shopping centres. Vanessa stayed at The Leela Palace, New Delhi that she says is situated in the Diplomatic Area where there are wide open roads and lots of greenery that makes a wonderful contrast. There are plenty of sightseeing opportunities; visit the magnificent Red Fort in Old Delhi, India’s largest mosque - Jama Masjid, Rashtrapati Bhavan − the residence of the President of India, India Gate − built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during WW1 and Humayun's Tomb − the first Mughal garden tomb. When it comes to shopping, head to the historic Chandni Chowk market for souvenirs such as silver jewellery, spices and silk. After sightseeing, Vanessa says Leela's rooftop swimming pool or Spa by ESPA are perfect places to unwind.
Vanessa also visited Chennai (formerly known as Madras) in southern India, staying at The Leela Palace Chennai which she says enjoys views of the Bay of Bengal. Chennai was once a mall fishing village and is a great example of how traditional Indian civilisation lived side by side with Colonialism. Here, you’ll find ancient monuments, temples, museums and beaches. If you want to explore, about sixty kilometres to the south of the city, at Mahablipuram, you’ll find the remains of Shore Temple that dates from the period 830 to 1100 AD, or visit Kanchipuram, famous for its hand-woven silk fabrics and saris.
On this trip to India, Vanessa didn't have time to visit the beach resort of Goa, however she says that it would make an excellent addition to this itinerary and offers the ever popular combination of sun, sea and sand, making it an excellent place to chill out after touring India. Relax on Goa’s famous long golden beaches, sample the night life that ranges from restaurants and pubs, to lively bars and nightclubs, as well as night markets or visit local traditional towns, churches, temples, spice plantations and botanical gardens. The Leela Goa offers a fantastic beach, Ayurvedic spa treatments and entertainment including a 24-hour Vegas-style casino.