4 Starting Points for Planning That Dream Trip to India
Daniella Samper has been to India about 10 times, but it only took one visit—an eight-month jaunt with now-husband Sayam Kochar, who hails from New Delhi—for her to fall hard for the country. “It was a grounding experience—despite the poverty around you, you see so many smiles,” says Daniella, who now produces her sleekly cool clothing line Ajaie Alaie there. “India gives you perspective. My time there has helped me have become more caring.” Since we want some of what she’s having, we asked Daniella to clue us into some of her favorite regions for first-timers—and no, she doesn’t mention a single yoga retreat.
“When we go to Kullu in the Himalayas, we like to visit Manali, about an hour away, because of its greenery, great hikes, and young, indie vibe. There’s a beautiful waterfall there where Sayam proposed. We love walking around and finding new restaurants—French, Italian, Thai, or Indian—but all I want to eat when I go to the mountains are Tibetan momos (dumplings) and thukpa (noodle soup). I do have to recommend this little cafe called Dylan’s: They have amazing Israeli breakfast and chocolate cookies that melt in your mouth. It’s probably the only place in the mountains where I can get my French press coffee as strong as I like it.”
“I’ve traveled from Manali to Leh, an 18-hour drive with an overnight stay in a town midway to acclimate, because Leh is so high up. The trip was so breathtaking. The ecology changes as you go higher, so every two hours you see something different.”
“Everywhere you turn in Rajasthan, there is a centuries-old fort, a haveli (a big house with traditional architecture), a temple, and lots of beautiful scalloped arches. You see women wearing saris—I just love the vibrant colors. The contrast of this colorful attire with the muted, earthy shades of the buildings makes it picture-perfect. We got married here, in the city of Jaipur.”
ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS
“To get to this quiet and remote islands, Andaman and Nicobar, you have to take two flights within India, a speed boat, and then a smaller boat. It’s so worth it: The waters are crystal clear, and it’s very quiet and peaceful. It’s raw and untampered and feels like a deserted island. It’s so far away that you actually put your phone down and just stare into the ocean.”