A Journey to the Center of the Whirlwind in India Uncategorized Fragrant seeds crackle in oil. Sputtering rickshaws squeeze through dense crowds. Bengal tigers stalk the Himalayan foothills, and ribbons of cloudy mist swirl over Darjeeling’s vast green terraced tea plantations. You’ve arrived in India, the world’s most populous democracy, a spiritual center ruled by the color, chaos, and connection of its people. Aromatics draw you into the maze-like bazaars of Mumbai, bursting with saree silk and mango leaves, coconuts and chaat. You trace a spidery network of lagoons in the backwaters of Kerala, past roaming wild elephants and woven houseboats. On the historic streets of Agra, home to both the Taj Mahal and one of the biggest Holi celebrations in the world, you’re dusted with powdery daubs of electric teal and marigold yellow. At the center of the whirlwind, you take your time. You laze in the sun on golden Goan beaches. And you end, for now, near the beginning, because in India there is no end. With the majestic Virupaksha Temple towering in the distance, the tumbling boulders of the rust-red ruins of Hampi spread out for miles all around you, relics of a 2,300 year old city slowly overgrown with dynamic new life. And now, 3 reasons to fall (even more) in love with India 1. Jaipur, “the Pink City” Pictured, the Palace of Winds in Jaipur. With a staggering 953 windows gracing its lace-like facade, this stunning example of Rajput architecture dates back to 1799 and was designed to allow royal ladies to watch the drama and color of the streets unobserved, thanks to the delicate latticework. Positioned in the desert landscape of northern India, Jaipur is famous for its native, naturally rosy sandstone, used liberally in buildings throughout the region. Unusual in its regularity, Jaipur was designed by city planner Vidyadhar Bhattacharya in 1727 with a neat grid of wide streets and 3 imposing gates, in the same pink sandstone, facing east, west, and north at its edges. 2. An ancient monument to tolerance Above, a striking portion of the massive religious complex known as the Ellora Caves, carved vertically out of volcanic basalt over multiple centuries in medieval India. With religious rock carvings dating back to 600 CE, the Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, situated in the famed volcanic region known as the Western Ghats, would deserve their UNESCO World Heritage Site status based on their artistry alone. But this remarkable network of buildings, temples, and idols carved out of basalt rock represent much more than artistic endeavor. Spanning over 2 kilometers, within sight of an ancient trade route, the Ellora Caves feature delicate carvings and sites of worship for Buddhist, Brahmanist, and Jainist worshippers. Evidence of coexistence and cooperation abounds, and historical records make clear that the three different sets of believers shared the space peacefully for centuries. 3. A snowy Himalayan escape A favorite getaway for Indians looking to escape the heat, Shimla is a stark contrast to the scenery at sea level. Famed as a resort town for locals, Shimla is all snow-dusted charm and picturesque hamlets in the winter, but summer offers its own attractions, especially if you journey by train. India’s “hill stations” are best accessed by way of a stunning, winding train ride through misty forests and striking, lime-green paddy fields. Once you’ve made the dramatic ascent, regardless of season, you’ll find staggeringly steep roads lined with a stimulating mix of overflowing bazaar stands and towering Neo-Gothic and Tudorbethan architecture, topped off with distant views of majestic snow-capped mountain peaks. Note, India has been populated for nearly 55,000 years, and today is home to 1.36 billion people. It’s a nation impossible to summarize, but that doesn’t stop us from appreciating the glimpses we catch of its beauty, complexity, and richness. We’re especially grateful to partner with the passionate coffee farmers of the Tamil Nadu region, who this year produced some of the best coffee we’ve ever tasted. Together, we were able to get their remarkable coffee to the United States for the first time ever. To get your taste of this month’s micro-lot coffee from India, you can click here.