On her maiden trip with Travel + Leisure India & SA, Sara Ali Khan explores the streets of Istanbul and basks in the luxury of Çırağan Palace Kempinski. By Aindrila Mitra
Interviewed & produced by Aindrila Mitra
Photographed by Rohan Shrestha
Assisted by Homyar Patel
Styled by Tanya Ghavri
Hair & Make-up by Florian Hurel
Eyewear Partner Lenskart
Location Çırağan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul
Tourism Partner Go Turkiye
Airline Partner Turkish Airlines
In keeping with Travel + Leisure India & SA’s philosophy of going places with people, we check into the iconic Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul to shoot with Bollywood’s favourite A-List star, Sara Ali Khan. The former Ottoman palace is now a part of the Kempinski Hotels, and is located on the European side of the Bosphorus, between the Besiktas and Ortaköy districts in Istanbul. The hotel also boasts one of the most expensive suites in the world—the Sultan Suite—that spans close to 464 square metres. On a balmy afternoon, I sit in the suite with our cover star, Sara Ali Khan, as she talks about her penchant for Turkey, importance of conscious travel, and her exciting travel calendar for the year.
EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW WITH SARA ALI KHAN :
T+L India: What made you choose Turkey as a destination for your holiday and this photo shoot?
Sara Ali Khan: For me, any perfect holiday is a good amalgamation of travelling and relaxing—[it] is all about travel and leisure [smiles]. And I think Turkey, especially Istanbul, has so much to offer in terms of history, culture, art, and architecture. It can also be very relaxing. You can meditate by the Bosphorus, swim, chill. So, it was a perfect choice!
T+L India: What does travel mean to you?
Sara Ali Khan: Travel is as much about exploring the outside as it is about discovering yourself. Seeing new places and meeting new people make you understand a lot about yourself. Learning about different cultures, civilisations, history, the way people move, eat—travel for me is gathering myriad experiences.
T+L India: What has been your most memorable holiday so far?
Sara Ali Khan: It’s difficult to [choose] one. But last year, I went to Pahalgam [in Kashmir] with a couple of friends, and we trekked to Sheshnag. It was my first overnight trek and that trip was definitely one of the most memorable travel experiences I’ve had so far. Trekking for eight hours, pitching our own tents, staying there the whole night, waking up at 4 am, stargazing, seeing the moon, and watching the sunrise—it was magical.
T+L India: Has the pandemic changed the way you travel?
Sara Ali Khan: The pandemic has changed the way I travel in the most obvious way. I try to sanitise, mask, and maintain physical distance [as much as possible]. The second very important change is more internal. The lockdown had such a deep impact on everyone. [Now, I am grateful] for everything in life including the opportunity to be able to step out of the four walls of my house and explore [again]. And I don’t think we should ever take these things for granted.
T+L India: What is your take on conscious travel?
Sara Ali Khan: I have developed an inherent respect for native people—whether it’s in my country or outside, and it’s important that we travel without depleting their environment. Being conscious about things like using public transport, disposal of garbage, etc. are important. Like when I am in Istanbul, I use trams. Not offending and hurting other people’s sentiments, not harming the environment or resources, and being respectful constitute conscious travel for me.
T+L India: Which is the one place that has left an indelible impression on you?
Sara Ali Khan: Kedarnath [in Uttarakhand] has impacted me. It’s where I shot my first film, and the love for my job, the sun, moon, stars, nature, and everything that I truly live by today have come from there. Kedarnath—as a film, memory, and destination—has shaped me more than anything else.
T+L India: You travel a lot for work. Tell us about some of the hidden gems you’ve discovered during these trips.
Sara Ali Khan: For Imtiaz [Ali’s] film [Love Aaj Kal], we shot at this beautiful place called Sangla [in Himachal Pradesh], which is hours away from any airport, close to the Tibetan border. Anand [L. Rai] took us to a part of Madurai to shoot Chaka Chak [for Atrangi Re]. It was beautiful.
T+L India: What kind of traveller are you?
Sara Ali Khan: Adventurous. But my favourite travel buddy is my mother, so I have to make sure that it’s a little relaxed [as well].
T+L India: What exciting projects are in the pipeline for you?
Sara Ali Khan: I shot two films earlier this year, so I am travelling every other opportunity I get as I have some time off now [laughs]. One of the upcoming movies is with Laxman [Utekar] opposite Vicky Kaushal, and the other one hasn’t been announced yet.
T+L India: How is 2022 looking for you when it comes to travel?
Sara Ali Khan: There has been a lot of travel this year. After Istanbul where I shoot for T+L India, I go to Abu Dhabi. My friends are planning a trip to Leh-Ladakh towards the end of June. And by the end of the year, I’d love to go to Norway to see the Northern Lights!