Visits to inconic places such as the Taj Mahal are part of the Sankara Imports adventure tours to India this fall. Urban Utopia Photography

Visits to inconic places such as the Taj Mahal are part of the Sankara Imports adventure tours to India this fall. Urban Utopia Photography

Experience India with an insider

Small group tours out of Seattle let you see the country like few tourists do

If travelling to India is on your bucket list, but you haven’t decided exactly how to approach it, a pair of upcoming opportunities might be just the ticket.

Katrina Cohn, founder of Sankara Imports in Bothell, regularly travels to this mystical country to source products for her store and routinely has friends ask to accompany her on those buying trips. Having organized everything from lodging and meals with home-stay families to transportation and tours, she is now set up to offer you the trip of a lifetime – one that the average tourist likely wouldn’t experience.

“This is a behind-the-scenes look at India, not the India that people think of when they consider the large tours,” she says. “It’s more on-the-ground, hands-on and I don’t take more than four people at a time with me.”

Make the Himalayan foothills, Taj Mahal part of your fall getaway

Cohn has two separate trips in the works, each having a different focus. Here’s a taste of what you’ll experience:

  1. Lakes and mountains abound On the 19-night Beauty of Kashmir tour Sept. 26 to Oct. 15, you’ll start by experiencing such wonders as the presidential palace, India Gate and spice market in Delhi; enjoy a boat tour and glacier excursion in Kashmir, explore temples and the City Palace in the desert city of Jaipur and experience the mysteries of Agra and the Taj Mahal.
  2. Camels, spa and shopping The Desert Dreams excursion, a 13-night trip scheduled for Oct. 31 to Nov. 13, includes the Taj Mahal, Delhi and Jaipur stops, but also takes visitors to the desert cities of Jodhpur and Pushkar, where activities include annual Camel Fair festivities, temple visits and an overnight spa trip to Rawla Narlai.

Taking the worry away for first-timers

If you had to find and do everything on your own as a new visitor to this country, where beauty and chaos can be experienced in the same day, it could leave you overwhelmed. With Cohn’s knowledge of the cities and key contacts within them – she or her assistant accompany you on every outing – you can rest assured you’ll be taken care of in virtually every situation.

“We meet with the people of India and you get to see all walks of life,” she says. “You’re not going to be in a situation where you’re super uncomfortable. You’ll have opportunities to see how the artisans make things and buy from them before the items come into the shop.”

A pre-trip meeting with Cohn in Seattle will get you familiar with the people you’ll be travelling with, and provide you with details about local customs and traditions, vaccinations and visa requirements.

*****

An early bird pricing special is in effect until Feb. 1. For details and to find out more about the India options, click here, email Cohn at sankara.imports@gmail.com or drop by the store on Main Street in Bothell. You can also follow them on Facebook.

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