India has recently become a popular travel destination for celebrities. Over the years, some of Hollywood’s brightest stars, ranging from Oprah Winfrey to James Cameron, Angelina Jolie to the Beatles, have been drawn to hot spots throughout the country. If you’re traveling to India or simply an Indian wanting to get a taste of a celebrity’s life, get ready to explore how you can tour it and indulge in its rich and spiritual culture, just as the stars do.
The Taj Mahal
A trip through India would be remiss without visiting the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal. Constructed over twenty years in the 1600s, this magnificent example of Mughal architecture, located in Agra, India, was built by Emperor Shan Jahan in honor of his third wife. Famous faces like Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey have been snapped in front of the iconic, white marble mausoleum. Just be sure to research the hours of visitation before stopping by this world wonder. Upon arrival, action superstar and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was disappointed to find the Taj Mahal closed.
One of Scarlett Johansson’s most talked about stops during her trip to India was Chennai, where the actor reportedly went shopping for a few silk saris. A number of Hollywood’s sweethearts, including Ashley Judd, Paris Hilton and Elizabeth Hurley, have been spotted donning this popular Indian style of dress. In Chennai, shoppers will find much more than silk saris to shop for, however. This cosmopolitan city in South India is loaded with shopping malls and markets, where not only clothing and jewelry can be found, but also electronic, home and artisan goods, suited to fit every possible need.
During their visit to Dubai, reality star Kim Kardashian and mother Kris Jenner took time out to enjoy a camel ride. Wearing six-inch stilettos may not be the way to follow in these celebrities’ footsteps, but taking a sunset camel safari across Dubai’s desert is. The two stayed at none other than the Atlantis, the Palms hotel, where a slew of celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Usher and Lindsay Lohan have been spotted. Kim’s plans to play with the dolphins were swept away by the threat of a sandstorm, but you can book your own Kardashian-inspired dolphin encounter at Atlantis’ Dolphin Bay or by visiting the Dubai Dolphinarium.
Of course, when traveling like a celebrity in India, all roads lead to Bollywood. The Hindi film industry in Mumbai is unlike any other in the world. Several companies offer guided tours through Film City, where you might check out indoor and outdoor sets, visit the sites of famous Hindi movies or peek at the homes of famous Bollywood actors. Dining at Leopold’s Cafe on the Colaba Causeway, you might even score an invitation be a Bollywood extra. The famous cafe is a must-visit for tourists.
Stars surrounded by the chaos of constant media attention can appreciate opportunities to maintain their own mental well-being. For thousands of years, spiritual nourishment has been steady at the core of Indian culture. And in 1968, The Beatles stayed at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India to absorb themselves in Transcendental Meditation. Though The Beatle’s experience at the ashram was cut short, the practice of Transcendental Meditation continues to be embraced by the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, David Lynch and Oprah Winfrey. Maharishi has sites throughout India where visitors can learn and practice the program that is said to promote health as well as well-being.
Heralded as one of the world’s greatest yoga retreats, Shreyas in Bangalore, India also promotes the ashram lifestyle. The exclusive hotel boast luxurious accommodations, including one of India’s finest spas and promotes spiritual well-being through daily yoga practice, meditation sessions and chanting classes, among numerous other activities.
India seems to enchant the celebrities who have witnessed first-hand the country’s beauty, history and culture. Luckily, you don’t have to be a Hollywood A-lister to enjoy India’s most illustrious attractions. Home to one of the world’s eight wonders; a vibrant, thriving place to shop, eat and truly experience; a powerful place to lose one’s self and find inner peace. Yes, there’s something for everyone’s inner star in India.
This article was written by Erica Gustafson who writes for Expedia. Erica is a freelance media consultant for the Calangute Grande hotel. She enjoys traveling throughout India and writing about her experiences.