In the Rajasthani capital of Jaipur, in India, the colour pink is a part of life. Upon arrival, you’ll see it everywhere – predominantly splashed across the city’s regal architecture. The latest addition to the Pink City’s signature colour scheme are the custom-designed, eco-friendly rickshaws driven by local women for Pink City Rickshaw.
There’s no better way to discover the real India than by meeting those who know her best. And few know her like the renowned writer, scholar and local historian Rana Safvi.
Journey with us to India on a Founder’s Collection and you’ll enjoy an intimate dinner with Rana at Sana-Di-Ge, where she will teach you about her studies of Indian culture and how they relate to present day life in India. Dine on the finest seafood, share experiences and delve deep into the heart of this fascinating country.
We spoke to her to find out more about what Luxury Gold guests can expect when they dine at her side in Delhi.
Discover this on: Imperial Rajasthan
Read more: Exclusive travel encounters: Founder’s Collection
One of India’s most revered minds
Described as a ‘a schoolteacher-turned-veteran writer on premodern India,’ Rana Safvi is one of India’s most acclaimed writers and scholars.
Rana’s authored work focusses on documenting the many monuments, shrines and structures that shine a light on India’s fascinating and extensive past. Through these she tells the story of India’s heritage, with a particular focus on architecture relating to the sultanates that ruled parts of India from the 13th century onwards. “I love interacting with people and showcasing my work and my country,” Rana tells us. “So, I am very excited to be meeting with Luxury Gold guests, and to share my love for India’s monuments and the stories and history around them. This country has such a unique culture and heritage it will be a delight to share stories with guests, and to help them get to know the real India.”
Always inspired and intrigued by her country, Rana began her writing career later on in life. Inspired by her time as a teacher, of her work she has said “The idea was to write narrative history that everybody could relate to, and therefore help reduce misinformation.”
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Making her mark on literature
Rana first emerged as a writer in 2004 when she started her blog ranasafvi.com, which has grown into an archive of cultural, literary and historical heritage. In 2015 she published her first book ‘Where Stones Speak: Historical Trails in Mehrauli.’ The book takes you on a walk through the oldest of Delhi’s seven cities, Mehrauli,. describing the religious diversity of its monuments, each a living memory of an era dissolved in history.
Rana is also a regular contributor to various national newspapers and magazines and is a much-sought after speaker at conferences and seminars. A skilled translator, Rana has also translated original Urdu works for today’s audience.
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Unravelling India’s complex and diverse past
Through her work, Rana is always keen to communicate that India’s past was diverse and complex. She documents not only Islamic, but Hindu and Buddhist monuments, including the oldest architectural remains of the earliest rock-cut caves.
She has also documented dargahs (shrines built over the graves of revered religious figures), and Delhi’s Jain and Hindu temples. This runs against the narrative that India’s Mughal-era Muslim rulers destroyed such structures.
Rana explains that in recent years, changes to historical curriculum in schools is serving to erase premodern or medieval Indian history from the public domain. This includes the renaming of road, stations and even whole cities. She aims to counter revisionism with ‘accessible’ accounts, as she documents India’s often-overlooked Muslim, Jain and Buddhist monuments.
Culture through cuisine
Passionate about food and its links with culture, Rana is also researching the food history of her country. She’s contributed many articles on the subject, participated in conferences and is currently part of a University of Sheffield project called Forgotten Food. For this she has contributed a chapter on Qorma, Qaliya and Awadh cuisine, for a food anthology which became a bestseller.
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A deep message to take away
“If guests could take one learning home from their visit to India to share with friends and family back home it would be the country’s rich heritage and culture,” Rana says. “There are so many layers, deeper than what you can see on one visit or read in guidebooks. It is important to be open and inquisitive, and to seek out the lesser-known stories and monuments. From here you can start to uncover the true India and understand all her wonderful complexities.”
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For the opportunity to meet Rana Safvi for yourself, take a look at our Imperial Rajasthan luxury guided tour. To see more exclusive encounters that we have in store on our journeys, read about our Founder’s Collection. Spend time with the people who have shaped the history of the places you go. Meet European nobility, legendary locals and celebrated icons. Curated by our founder, the late Stanley Tollman, these are his friendships from across the globe brought to you through exclusive meet and greets.