Because it is the city I’ve lived in for the past 15 years. Mumbai is extremely crowded with people, but people who are most of the time in a good mood and with generous and contagious smiles on their faces. And then there is the fact that Mumbai is the place where a new restaurant is opened almost every day, some by top international chefs. Yummy! Yummy!
SATPURA NATIONAL PARK
My favourite national park which I have visited many times. Warning: I have never seen tigers there because the area is very hilly offering the king of the jungle a thousand hiding places. But the nature in this park, which can only be reached by boat, is simply spectacular. Satpura national park is not yet overcrowded with tourists, but it already offers a few very nice safari lodges.
This quiet place on the Narmanda River has particularly impressed me because Prince Richard Holkar, son of the last Maharaja of Indore, has turned his fort into a dreamlike boutique hotel and really knows how to make fairy tales like the 1001 nights come true!
Because in Ujjain my Guru, Swamiji Nardanand has his ashram, the Sidda Ashram.
I like to retreat there when I need to have a break from the world.
It is not only the place that brings me back to my true self, it is also one of the 4 venues of the Khumb Mela, the largest gathering of Sadhus and Yatris. (holy men from the Himalayas, pilgrims from all over).
Rajasthan is the picture-perfect India and Jodhpur, the desert city with the imposing fortress particularly impresses me. Rudyard Kipling already described the fort as “a palace that looks like it was built by the titans and kissed by the morning sun”. Of course, I also love the indigo blue houses of the old town and, moreover, my absolute favourite fabric shop is in Jodhpur, which weaves for Hermes, Kenzo and the other big names.
LEH / LADHAK
I have to admit that I have never managed to travel to Leh / Ladhak in all the 15 years I lived in India, but this is on the top of my bucket list. Since I learned to drive a Royal Enfield three years ago, my biggest wish is to bike on my bullet through the breath taking area in the cold desert high up in the Himalayas.
The world’s largest river island is located in the second longest river of India, the Brahmaputra in Assam and can only be reached by ferry. Perhaps this is why the old traditions are still so alive on Majuli. The Satras (monasteries) accommodate schools for arts such as dance, music, pottery and mask making. There are always colorful festivals on the island, but be careful: the accommodations there are very, very basic.
After reading Amitav Gosh’s “The Hungry Tide”, the Sunderbans take on a new meaning. This unique mangrove region on the border with Bangladesh mainly lives from the timber industry and collecting wild honey, which is dangerous, as the tiger can hit at any moment. The locals mastering mostly only the local language, share their stories to interested guests by playing theater performances in the evening around the campfire.
France in India! I always like to spend time there, mostly when I miss a bit of European culture in India. Pondy has this unique mixture of bohemian chic, new age and old charm. Auroville is also nearby; a place that tries to be ahead of the times.
And GOA, again and again
There is no denying it, Goa still gives me the feeling of freedom and the illusion of being a temporary hippie. Meanwhile, I prefer the quieter beaches and the innovative restaurants of South Goa and no longer have to have the techno-beats and esoteric dances from Arambol. The versatility of this sunny state is remarkable. Whether with a backpack, in a beach hut or with a luxury bag in a stylish 5-star hotel – everything is possible here.