I just loved the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and when a good friend said that she had seen a tour being offered by a company based in Melbourne, which visited this very hotel, we both decided it was a must. The first thing we had to decide was whether to have 3, 4 or 5 star accommodation and on looking at the price difference (which was small) we decided that we would go 5 star all the way. The whole tour took place in Rajasthan, which is also known, as the golden circle and it was for 12 days and 11 nights.
The tour started in Delhi where we stayed in great luxury and each hotel presented us with a marigold lei on arrival. The tour was in a private vehicle with a driver who picked us up each day. At each different city or stop a local guide who knew the history and area also accompanied us. In Delhi we visited the old and new quarters and had a rickshaw ride through one of the crowed markets, which was a fabulous experience for our senses, sight, sound and smell! We spent two days in Delhi then onto Agra, which is famous for the Taj Mahal. This was so spectacular that I think if you have a bucket list this is a must. We also visited the Agra Fort another beautiful piece of architecture from a bygone era. The next stop was Jaipur where we were treated to an elephant ride up to the Amber Fort. I felt sorry for the elephants but they are only allowed to do 5 trips up the hill each day and stop at 11.00 am as it then gets too hot.
The distance between cities doesn’t sound too far or look too far but it takes 4 times as long in India as the roads are filled with people animals and all kinds of transport. Our next stop was in Jaipur where we visited among other attractions the marigold markets. Flowers are very important in India as they are used in all the temples for worship and all ceremonies. The next stop was Pushkar where we visited a Brahma Temple and the famous Pushkar Lake, which has great religious significance.
The next stop was at the famous Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which was the only hotel on the tour which could not be described as 5 star by any stretch of the imagination. It is not located in a big city as depicted in the movie but in a charming tiny rural village Rawala Khempur. It used to be a place where Marwari Ponies were bred for polo and they still have stables with these beautiful animals. The manager is working hard to improve the rooms and facilities in the hotel but it is a long way from being ready. The staff and manager were very hospitable and friendly so what it lacked in luxury was certainly not a problem. We visited the local villagers homes and shops and the schools and had a very different experience to the first part of our tour. Altogether it was a very special place to visit.
The final city on the tour was the beautiful Udaipur where we stayed in real luxury at the Chunda Palace in the hills above a beautiful lake. This was a very special tour and well worth the cost, which was very reasonable. On the last day we flew back to Delhi for the flight back to Australia.
Tell us, would you like to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Have you been to India?