The Real Marigold Hotel
Series two of the BBC’s popular documentary The Real Marigold Hotel sees a new group of showbiz veterans travelling to India to consider what it offers as a retirement destination. This time, the group is based in Cochin, Kerala, on India’s southwest coast. During their stay, they take a cruise on the Keralan backwaters; explore Indian wellness traditions including yoga, Ayurveda and massage; visit religious sites; discover the local wildlife and participate in the Puli Kali festival. Many of these same experiences can be found on Western & Oriental’s Journey through Kerala. This trip takes in the sights of Cochin, which has influences of Chinese, Portuguese and French culture, followed by two nights in the peaceful hill station of Munnar and then on to the Periyar National Park, where there might be the chance to find wild elephants. Bird-lovers like Bill Oddie can visit the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary before boarding a private houseboat for a day and night on the backwaters. The final three nights of this trip are spent at Marari Beach Resort, where they can experience the healing benefits of Ayurveda.
The Viceroy’s House
The partition of India in 1947 is the subject of The Viceroy’s House, a historical drama starring Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson which arrives in cinemas this weekend. The titular house, which was home to Lord and Lady Mountbatten along with 500 Indian servants, is now known as the Rashtrapati Bhavan and is the official home of the Indian President in New Delhi. As such, filming took place at the last great palace of India – the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodphur, Rajasthan – home to the Jodphur royal family. Much of this magnificent building is now a Taj hotel and guests will enjoy a taste of the privileged lifestyle by spending three nights there as part of Western & Oriental’s trip Viceroy House Special – Heritage Golden Triangle with Jodhpur. This 12-day trip begins and ends in Delhi, where guests will also take in the President’s House on a city tour. At certain times of year, and with prior permission, the trip can also incorporate a tour of the Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. These vast grounds, like the Viceroy’s House itself, were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, one of the most prominent architects of New Delhi.
Lion tells the true story of a young boy who is separated from his family after accidentally boarding a train to Calcutta – nearly 1,500km from his home. On Western & Oriental’s Journey through the Eastern Himalayas, travellers will also travel by overnight train to Calcutta, but quite deliberately, and on a journey that’s around a third of the distance from New Jalpaiguri Junction to the north. This 13-day trip starts and ends in Calcutta, where travellers will have a full day guided tour including the Botanical Gardens, Victoria Memorial, India Museum and Glenburn Experience. Travellers will also spend a week exploring further afield, with three nights in Darjeeling, the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ known internationally for its tea plantations; and regions of Sikkim where they will tour a number of monasteries.