Goa: First to Welcome the Playboy Club

Hugh Hefner surrounded by Playboy Bunnies

Hugh Hefner surrounded by Playboy Bunnies

“The Playboy Club is coming to India, and it’s all going to be about ‘aspiration’. Playboy Enterprises, in collaboration with PB Lifestyle, wants to target high-profile Indian customers. The first club will come up in Candolim, Goa, and will have Playboy bunnies dressed in a specially designed bunny outfit for Indian sensibilities, along with flamboyant décor and some special cocktails. “The club will open in the first quarter of 2013,” says Amar Panghal, director of finance, PB Lifestyle. “We want people to just walk into the club. Hence it won’t be exorbitant but priced at a premium. This is just the first club. We have eight more that will follow.” Open Magazine. 31 December 2012. Pg 4: “Honey Bunnies of a Different Kind” by Aastha Atray Banan.

Sherlyn Chopra

Sherlyn Chopra

Playboy Bunnies

Playboy Bunnies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, please email at info@luxeindia.in

Where is the Treasure from Centuries Past?

It is said that when foreign explorers arrived in Mughal India, they were silenced by the abundance of treasure. What they found was an ocean of emeralds and rubies, gold and silver, and herbs and spices such as jasmine, opium, and salt. The entrance to the Amber Fort colored with precious stones and the inlay work on each marble plate of the Taj Mahal is but a miniscule example of the wealth in ancient India. It is therefore no wonder why the recent discovery of treasure in the princely state of Hyderabad sent warm butterflies flittering through my stomach.

Amber Fort

Amber Fort

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

“In October, Kandukuri Satish Gupta, who had inherited an over 50-year-old building in the Old City, issued a contract to demolish and rebuild it. The two contractors – Mohammad Rafeeq and Mohammed Abdul Bari – in turn hired three laborers for the work. While breaking the walls with sledgehammers, they discovered, hidden inside a wall, coins of gold and silver besides bracelets, rings and ornamental stones…The coins belong to the Mughal, Tipu Sultan and Nizam of Hyderabad eras.” Open Magazine. 31 December 2012. Pg. 3: “A Find Gone Awry” by Anil Budur Lulla.

Samode Palace, Hotel

Samode Palace, Hotel

Kama Sutra Temple, Khajuraho

Kama Sutra Temple, Khajuraho

 

 

While the laborers may have already sold much of it; 1.7 kg of gold coins and jewelry along with 4.2 kg of silver ornaments were relocated by the police. In total, the treasure restored is worth Rs. 5-7 crore (approximately 1.1 – 3 million USD).

It seems the treasures of India’s past cannot possibly be restricted to museums and monuments alone. The royal dining halls of Amber Fort, where Maharajas and Emperors once conducted extravagant affairs with the most powerful figures in all of India, is today the world famous Rajasthani fine dining restaurant – 1135AD.

Rajasthani Fine Dining Restaurant - 1135AD

Rajasthani Fine Dining Restaurant – 1135AD

Private Dining Hall

Private Dining Hall

Here you will find ancient chandeliers, authentic cuisine served in silver thali’s, and special access to the secret treasury above. The treasury – hiding ancient artifacts in pure silver – is attached to an exclusive balcony that overlooks the magnificent Nahargarh fort contouring the startling green hill side.

Upon special request, both, the treasury and the balcony, can be transformed into one of the most astonishing settings to savor a private dinner for two.

See Blog: Maharajas’ Rendezvous with Rolls-Royce by K.R.N. Swamy

A Recipe from Spice Route Chef-De-Cuisine, Veena Arora

Spice Route

Spice Route

The globetrotting Indians have acquired a taste for salads. They prefer a wholesome meal of healthy greens, according to Arora. With a sharp increase in obesity due to modern lifestyle, salads are fast become the preferred staple diet of the urban masses. Apart from the obvious nutritional value, the fact that salads have different textures, are low in calorie content and are crunchy, make them a wholesome meal that can replace the traditional high-caloric food.

Spice Route Restaurant

Spice Route Restaurant

Her latest salad menu revolves around the most widely found summer fruit in the subcontinent – the mango. Raw mangoes are not just found in abundance in Indian summers, but also have the qualities best suited for the season. They not only protect you from dehydrating but also keep your skin glowing. Having grown up in Pathalung, a small town in south Thailand, for Arora, Thai cuisine is the taste of home. It’s no wonder that her expertise lies in south Asian cuisine.

Veena Arora

Veena Arora

She married Vijay Arora, the largest supplier of Thai ingredients in the country, and came back to settle here, giving her the right amount of experience to experiment with the Indian palate. “Since Thai salads are spicy, tangy and sweet, they offer a perfect amalgamation of taste which is unique to this cuisine,” she says. Raw foods might be harder to digest but they are also a lighter, fibrous alternative, which makes them enjoyable to eat, especially in a tropical climate.

 Recipe: Yum Mamuang

Yum Mamuang

Yum Mamuang

Ingredients: Raw Mango 200gm, onion 3 gm, red chilli 5 gm, mint leaves 30 gm, lettuce 50 gm, crushed peanuts 50 gm, palm sugar 15 gm, fish sauce 10 ml

Method:

1. Peel the raw mangoes and grate them
2. Slice the onions
3. Toss all the ingredients together with the raw mangoes and inion
4. Add crushed peanuts and serve it on a bed of lettuce

(Reference: Kallury, Kruttika. “Dress It Up.” India Today July 2011: 40+. Web.)

For more information, please email info@luxeindia.in

Maharajas’ Rendezvous with Rolls-Royce by K.R.N. Swamy

Luxury Rolls Royce Automobile

Luxury Rolls Royce Automobile

In his famous book Freedom at Midnight, French author Lapierre states that on an average each maharaja in India had 3.5 Rolls-Royce automobiles. If we were to stick to the correct number of maharajas — 225 of them those who had gun salutes fired in their honour were entitled to the title, all others were merely rajas — that would mean that from 1908 to 1939 (when World War II started), the maharajas had bought at least 788 Rolls-Royce cars. If you include the rajas, it could be more. Automobile historian John M. Faisal states that in all, before 1947, a total of 900 Rolls-Royce cars were sold to Indian princes.

Maharaja Rolls Royce

Maharaja Rolls Royce

The craze the Indian princes had for exotic automobiles in the first four decades of the twentieth century is well known. After World War I, many of the Indian princes spent a lot of money on famous American automobile brands like Cadillac’s, Chryslers and Lincoln, but none of the non-British brands appealed to the maharajas as the Rolls-Royce. In fact, the very first Rolls-Royce that came off the assembly lines after World War II (1939-45) was bought by Maharaja Pratap Singh Gaekwar of Baroda.

1911 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Maharaja of Mysore 300000-400000

1911 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Maharaja of Mysore 300000-400000

The very first Rolls-Royce bought by a “native Indian prince” was the “Pearl of the East”. It was purchased by the Maharaja of Gwalior after its record breaking trans-India runs in 1908. Soon the Indian rulers began to order exotic versions. The handbook of the grand 40/50 h.p. Silver Ghost,  sent to His Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad in March 1913 by Rolls-Royce, stated that it was a “Semi-State Coach”.  Actually it was a sort of throne car, painted in a rich canary yellow with gold mountings, upholstered in gold silk brocade with matching curtains and brocade.  And this was only one of the Nizams 50 Rolls-Royces, many of which still have their original paint. They had barely done one thousand miles when he died in 1967.But it appears that despite his dozens of exotic automobiles (numbering more than 200),  the Nizam used only one of his old Buicks to do his circuits of Hyderabad city.

1919 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Maharaja

1919 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Maharaja

In 1920, a Silver Ghost limousine was sold to the Viceroy of India. Later this was bought by the Raja of Monghyr, who deputed a well-known Calcutta jeweler to decorate the car with silver plate as per Indian designs. This car was said to be the most ornate Rolls-Royce in India. Many maharajas preferred the Cabriolet version, which enabled them to sit on a raised seat in the rear of the automobile so that their subjects would be able to recognise the ruler and pay homage. Talking to the librarian in the Rolls-Royce archives in London, I found that although the firm sold their automobiles to quite a number of maharajas, they considered the Maharaja of Mysore special, for he always bought Rolls-Royces in batches of seven! So much so, that in Rolls-Royce parlance “doing a Mysore” meant selling seven cars at the same time. Another famous buyer was the Maharaja of Bharatpur (He always bought three automobiles at the same time). Once when the Rolls-Royce firm delayed sending mechanics to his capital to rectify small faults in the cars, the maharaja threatened to convert all his Rolls-Royces into garbage carriers. Lest the car lose its “aura” as the automobile for the super-rich, the car-makers sent a group of mechanics at the earliest to Bharatpur. Another enthusiastic buyer was the Maharaja of Patiala, whose Rolls-Royces (27 among his hundreds of vintage makes) were decorated with diamonds and precious stones — so much so that during the overhaul of his cars, elite security guards had to be positioned in the garage to prevent pilferage. The Maharaja of Nabha had one Rolls Royce —with its body built to resemble a swan. When the car made its slow progress on the streets, it had the gracious appearance of a swan taking to water. Jawaharlal Nehru, referring to this automobile in one of his books, wrote that the maharaja was known as “Bathak (Hindi for goose) Raja” as the onlookers could not differentiate between the goose and swan.

Maharajas Luxury Cars

Maharajas Luxury Cars

The Maharaja of Darbhanga had a number of Rolls-Royces and according to a recent newspaper report, six of them are rusting in the old family garage at Darbhanga. The Maharaja of Faridkot too was fond of Rolls-Royce. Late last year, one automobile enthusiast managed to get a peep into the padlocked palace garage and came back goggle-eyed after counting six Rolls-Royces, two Bentleys and four Jaguars rusting away.

Rolls Royce Car

Rolls Royce Car

The maharajas used the Rolls-Royce as a vehicle for tiger hunting as well. These special cars had extra footboards for the servants to stand while the car rushed through the forest in pursuit of the tiger and a special high power” far light screen mounted tiger shooting lamp” dazzled the tiger’s eyes and made it an easy victim. One of the books on Rolls-Royce states that a particular model bought by the H.H. Aga Khan II in the early 1930s was considered to be so unique that the manufacturers made an arrangement with him that the car would be sold back to them for its market value after his demise.

Maharaja Exhibition Royce

Maharaja Exhibition Royce

Independence found the maharajas with dozens of Rolls-Royces but no money to maintain them. In the early sixties, many cars were surreptitiously sold to the foreign vintage car connoisseurs under the plea that the car was being sent out of India for repair as the spare parts were not available in the country. By1971, when privy purses were abolished, the Government of India became wise to this kind of selling and decided that the cars could be sold outside India, provided the sale price money was brought back to India in foreign exchange. The Jodhpur “Ghost of India” was one such car sold in the 1970s. The “Swan” car was sold by the erstwhile Maharani of Nabha to an “Indian buyer” in the 1990s. The Indian buyer proved to be an agent for a foreign vintage car enthusiast and had the car sent out of India. By the time Indian vintage car experts came to know of the sale, it was too late. This car is now said to be in an Amsterdam museum.

However, not all the princes were happy with the smooth running engine of the Rolls-Royce, which barely made a noise. The Nawab of Arcot in South India suddenly stopped coming to Madras city in his antique Rolls-Royce. Instead he attended meetings and conferences in an old car of a different make. When queried as to why he chose the inferior car for his trips, his straight-faced answer was: “Well… the Rolls-Royce does not make any sound when I drive it, even in high speed. During my use of the car in estates, my tenants do not get a chance to look up and pay me homage…. As such I have to use this cheaper and more noisy model, which gives advance notice of my coming!”

Rare & Curious Museums of India

Ever wondered about a museum dedicated entirely to the history of toilets or to the origin of black magic? See below a range of unique Museums across India!

International Toilet Museum, Delhi

International Toilet Museum, Delhi

International Toilet Museum, Delhi

Located in Palam, New Delhi, the toilet museum is one of its kind in India and perhaps the only one of its kind in the world. It was conceptualized and started by Mr. Bindheshwar Pathak, an international expert on sanitation. This is one of the rare and curious museums of India that display the evolution of toilets and their various designs. The museum was established with the aim to educate students about the historical trends in the development of toilets, importance of sanitation as well as informing and providing cheap sanitation solutions. The museums display various types of toilets and photographs of designs around the world. The collection of toilets around the Sulabh International Toilet Museum Delhi is very large. This includes a large number of toilets from the 18th century, with all sorts of impressive designs and patterns. They could technically be seen as works of art of their own.

Calico Museum of Textiles, Gujarat

Calico Museum of Textiles, Gujarat

Calico Museum of Textiles, Gujarat

Located in the city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat in western India, Calico Museum is indeed one of the foremost textile museums of India housing a remarkable collection of fabrics spanning varied and remote of India, exemplifying handicraft textiles across five centuries. Over the years the collection has grown into an outstanding repository of fabrics based on colors, pattern, weave and embellishment and has become a recognized centre providing India and international scholars opportunity to study and draw knowledge on the evolution of Indian textiles. This museum is a tribute to the craftsmanship capabilities of the Indian textile artisans.

Calizz Museum, Goa

Calizz Museum, Goa

Calizz Museum, Goa

Calizz is a near-museum experience that shows you the life of Goa through the ages. Spread across several acres by the Candolim Beach, it is situated in the sprawling home owned by a local resident, Laxmikant Prabhakar Kudchadkar. The home is built in the style of typical Portuguese homes and is adorned with a vibrant and eclectic collection of objects from more than a hundred years to less than fifty years ago. Traditional craftsmanship is on display everywhere – exhibits include quaint to ingenious everyday objects like furniture, kitchen utensils, maps, icons and antiques, all giving you a wonderful insight into daily life in a typical Goanese home. At Calizz you can also have a taste of Goa by sampling the Goan, Portuguese and vegetarian Hindu cuisine at their restaurant. The recipes have been handed down the ages and the old ways of grinding spices by hand are still used to bring out the true flavours. Calizz is truly the place where you meet the past in the present.

Vintage Car Museum, Udaipur

Vintage Car Museum, Udaipur

Vintage Car Museum, Udaipur

The Vintage Car Museum offers you an opportunity to explore the princely passion of the mighty Maharajas of Udaipur extended beyond the palaces and attires. The prized collection of vintage cars of the House of Mewar, exhibiting their royal tastes, comprises a variety of classic and interestingly rare transportation vehicles; some stately and vintage like Cadillac, Chevrolet, Morris, while the others are sleek and fast. These regal splendors are housed in the original Palace Garage that itself was built at a time when the only cars in town belonged to the Royal Family.

Roerich Art Gallery Museum, Manali

Roerich Art Gallery Museum, Manali

Roerich Art Gallery Museum, Manali

Nicholas Roerich was a Russian painter who settled down in the beautiful hills of the Himalayas after the revolution of 1917. He dreamt of unifying the world through art. Roerich Art Gallery is set amidst well-tended gardens and beautiful views of Himalayas all around. The building that now houses the gallery once served as his residence and was turned into the Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery by his son, Svyetoslav Roerich. Himachal Pradesh Government and the Russian Government have formed a trust, headed by the Prime Minister of India, to run this art gallery as the Roerich Heritage Museum. The original work of Roerich on the Himalayas, along with his quotations and words of wisdom as well as those of the visitors and admirers of the gallery are displayed here.

Mayong Central Museum, Assam

Mayong Central Museum, Assam

Mayong Central Museum, Assam

The tiny Mayong Central Museum is located at Mayong, a place in the Marigaon district of Assam in India, 40km from Guwahati. The Mayong Village was once known as the Land of Black Magic. Dedicated to the rustic origins of dark magic and Tantra, the museum houses local artifacts like ancient witchcraft manuscripts and huge swords that were believed to be used for human sacrifices. Lucky visitors are treated to a magic show, where ancient rituals for casting healing spells show a side of magic.

Island Museum of Nagarjunakonda, Hyderabad

Island Museum of Nagarjunakonda, Hyderabad

Island Museum of Nagarjunakonda, Hyderabad

A 3.5hours journey from Hyderabad takes you to the Island Museum of Nagarjunakonda, located in the midst of Ngarjuna Sagar Lake. Built in the shape of a Buddhist Vihara, the museum houses a collection of relics of Buddhist art and culture. The main exhibits are a small tooth and an earring, believed to be of Buddha. The most important stupa of Nagarjunakonda, is known as Mahachaitya and is considered to include the sacred relics of the Buddha. The chief attraction at the museum is a partly ruined monolithic statue of Buddha. Statues, coins, jewelry and friezes found at the site are housed in the museum and provide an insight into the daily lives of the people of this ancient Buddhist centre. The site was discovered in 1926.

For more information, please email: info@luxeindia.in

The Largest Team Sport IN THE WORLD – Snake Boat Race

The Snake Boat Race of Kerala that boasts of being the largest team sport in the world is a magnificent fiesta that brings alive the tranquil backwaters. Held in August every year, it is an occasion of great excitement that is a reflection of the vibrant people.

Aranmula Boat Race

Aranmula Boat Race

Snake boats are long and slender in shape and are specially built for speed. They are controlled by 4 helmsmen, 25 singers and about 100-125 oarsmen who row in unison to the fast rhythm of the Vanchipattu (song of the boatman). Thousands of people gather alongside the waterways to cheer the huge black crafts.

Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race in Alleppey, Kerala

Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race in Alleppey, Kerala

Snake Boat Race in Kerala

Snake Boat Race in Kerala

Das Land, Das Leben und Die Leute

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” – Buddha

There are many subtle ways in which travelling to far and unfamiliar places makes us contemplate our identity. When you get lost in the middle of Delhi, and each passerby points to a different direction home, or when you want to buy a souvenir (though more often than not, when you want to tell the vendor you don’t want to buy anything!); you start to miss home, miles away, where you can guide yourself from destination to destination with shut eyes… where your native tongue has been an asset, not a barrier… where you know who to turn to, where to go, what to buy, the appropriate thing to say in the appropriate manner…

Holy Bathing

Holy Bathing

Varanasi Ghats

Varanasi Ghats

The first necessity becomes your personal safety. However, when you realize it’s not a physical but an emotional security that you value most – - home sickness and nostalgia are only few of the symptoms combined with a heart wrenching craving for the vaguely familiar. At this point, with no escape in sight, you begin to doubt. After a few hours of anger, clarity resurfaces. After all, you’re alive and free. You have yourself to trust and you’re putting yourself out there, as an explorer. Perhaps you never thought you could, but you find you can! It’s an incredible feeling of self-assurance, and this is only the beginning. It gets bad, sure, but only because that’s how it gets better! It’s a two-fold voyage – - as you move outwards, you move miles inwards as well.

There are of course ways around the struggle – especially in India as a 21st century economic catalyst with a spiritually advanced heritage; home to yogis & gurus, Badrinath & Haridwar, as well as, Ratan Tata & Laxmi Mittal. The idea is to follow age-old wisdom, a very tangible safety net, to the best of your ability. I am referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs composed of five categories from base to peak forming a neat triangle.

Rajasthan Herdsman

Rajasthan Herdsman

The base category of Psychology refers to the basic needs – air, food, water, sleep, etc. – followed by the next level of physical security, shelter, morality and health. For a comfortable journey, there is no question of undermining material and physical comforts – - luxury hotel rooms to return to, ayurvedic spa appointments and a glass (or two) of red wine along with your favourite cuisine to unwind. Without these fundamental needs fulfilled, how can we possibly strive further? Only then can the next three steps – love & belonging, esteem, and self-actualization – be focused upon and (hopefully) attained. This is where the essence of India, that which lies beyond our impeccable hospitality, comes into play. I’m talking about Vedic philosophy, a compilation of scriptures that have been consistently passed on, unchanged from generation to generation, since 1500BC in the Holy city of Varanasi to all over the world till this very day.

Hindu Holy Man (Sadhu) reading from the Sacred Book

Hindu Holy Man (Sadhu)

Certainly, I’m not suggesting this is the “path to enlightenment”; but to reassert our human potential, what better way than to ensure that we are,first and foremost, safe & warm under the blankets, and only then, exposed and vulnerable to a trusted guru who can assist us through our inner turmoil to serenity. A discovery of the self is a journey not many countries in the world have been offering for time immemorial. Spirituality here is no commercial jargon, and most definitely, not for everyone. Having attended workshops on the theory &practice of Tantra, participated in lectures by Sister Shivani of the Brahma-Kumari’s and Sri M (read: Autobiography of a Yogi). Then having been surrounded bythose who have always had a rational and reasonable approach to their traditions & cultural practices, a need to understand ‘where it is coming from’ and ‘what the point is’; as well as, having met Pundits who show you the flip-side of chaos…You gradually begin to realize the wonders of this 5000 year old heritage. Here-in-lies the secret to life’s most fundamental questions, the art of compassion and humanity; and that too, untapped by most citizens of India, let alone the rest of the world.

See Blog: Maha Kumbh Mela

A Case of Many Worlds in One Nation

Melissa Potter, the chief executive of Clarks (the largest privately owned shoe company in the world), recently stated that India, “Being the fastest growing market in the world…is a place no serious business can ignore”. This reality has led to a bizarre dual-society. On the one hand, traditions & values here date back to 3000BC with the first civilizations of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa followed by a series of empires from Greek, Portuguese, French, and Moghul to the British (to name only a few). While, on the other hand, as Potter and many MNC’s have observed, this old society is also one of the fastest developing. From a ground-level perspective however, what exactly does that mean?

Olives Bar & Kitchen in Mehrauli

Olives Bar & Kitchen in Mehrauli

As a citizen of India, in day-to-day life, the answer is really quite absurd. Only a 40minutes drive from a 15th century city, you will find a luxurious mall with Italian marble flooring housing the who’s who of International Fashion Designers; Chanel, Feragamo, LV and many more! Hence, it is normal – in fact most locals themselves hardly realize – that after visiting areas of Delhi in which life has barely changed in the past millennium, you may find yourself unwinding at say, the world renowned Mediterranean restaurant, Olives Bar & Kitchen – as recently was the case with a couple from Paris – which is in fact situated in the first city of Delhi, Mehrauli, dating back to the 12th century. It is therefore, no wonder that no topic is ever off topic. From Hindu-Muslim architecture to Spirituality and Yogis, to Mahatma Gandhi (the inspiration of great leaders such as Martin Luther King and Ho Chi Minh), to caste systems, child marriages and women’s rights…

Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

Gandhi Smriti

Gandhi Smriti

Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb

India, in other words, has become a place where modernity, globalization and a booming economy can be witnessed in the same breath as the first Muslim colonization. You can experience real Sufi music by those whose ancestors once performed for Moghul Emperor’s at a holy shrine; or for the architectural aficionados, visit the precedent of the Taj Mahal resting in the centre of Delhi itself, Emperor Humayun’s Tomb. Mother India is an exciting place, full of potential and the need for development. As it is growing, with so much history hidden in its chaos, there’s ample space for everyone to be part of this 21st century revolution.

Emporio Mall Complex

Emporio Mall Complex

DLF Emporio Mall

DLF Emporio Mall

 

 
 
 

See Blog: Inside the Rickshaw Ride