India: A First Introduction
Our World | On 16, Dec 2010
Can words describe 3.2 million sq.kms of the Indian subcontinent with its population of 1.1 billion? Can pictures capture a terrain as diverse as verdant forests, golden deserts and the majestic Himalayas? Can stories tell you all you want to know about the complex cultures of the Indian people, their languages and dialects, their rituals and traditions? To feel her magic, be touched by her spirituality, experience her intensity or join in her celebrations, you need to start at the heart of India – Delhi.
With a flight time of 8.5-9 hours, India is more accessible than most people think. Having said that, I experienced a morning flight and would highly recommend having immediate access to your rooms, as the 9 hours travel may take its toll. Either way it’s always good to be able to settle in fast and freshen up, wherever you are in the world.
Delhi is a city with a split personality. New Delhi is impressive with its wide boulevards, Government buildings, green parks and gardens. However there’s nothing particularly memorable about it. Old Delhi on the other hand (just across the flyover), is the culture shock everyone expects. With its small streets, and crowded bazaars it offers the side of India that any experienced traveller would enjoy. Truth be told, if that’s the side of India you want to see there are better places to do it. When in Delhi most people would encourage a visit to the Red Fort, reputed to be the most opulent Fort and Palace of the Mughal Empire. I’m sure that was originally the case, but in my opinion it’s now pretty disappointing and could be left out of a programme.
The Imperial Hotel, however, is as special as its reputation. A fusion of Victorian, old colonial and art deco design. The pillared verandas, dining rooms, tea lounges and Royal Ballroom have played host to celebrities and statesman alike. It definitely fits the bill as one of the world’s ‘Grand Dames’ of stately hotels, including the Peninsular in HKG and Raffles in SIN. High ceilings, impeccable décor, traditional and plush furnishings, with all the modern (yet discreet) conveniences you could wish for.
The hotel’s staff tend to be a little challenging. My advice would be that a site inspection is a must. I strongly believe that this hotel and its surroundings will grab the attention of some and be a complete turn-off for others. It is India’s Marmite!
How would I do it?
Well a massage on arrival would be an ideal welcome, followed by a couple of hours sightseeing in a bus and dinner in the hotel for the first day. Some of the hotels in-house restaurants (such as the ‘Spice Route’) are great, and I would take them over exclusively for a small incentive group. The honest truth is that Delhi ticks a box for some, delivering the culture shock they desire, however there are some beautiful places within touching distance of Delhi that offer so much more. Jodhpur and Mumbai rank among my favourites and can be a real wonder for an incentive.
More on these later…
Susan Sexton, Events Team