17 Days from £2095
Seventeen days from £2095pp
Nowhere else in India is the romance of the Maharajahs as strong as in Rajasthan, the land of kings. Impressive forts and castles, opulent palaces, and the simpler havelis built around courtyards dot this desert state. On this very special tour we take you to some stunning examples of the royal past of India. As well as all the highlights, you will discover the real Rajasthan as guests of royal families.
India’s capital Delhi is both modern and ancient at the same time. A bustling metropolis which successfully blends contemporary architecture with impressive monuments that are reminders of Delhi’s important historical and religious legacy. An international gateway to Rajasthan and beyond the first impressions for any visitor travelling in from the airport are of a specious, garden city with a hustle and bustle of life happening before your eyes.
Day 1 – Delhi
On arrival at New Delhi’s international airport you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 – Delhi
After breakfast embark on a fully guided tour of Delhi. First Old Delhi and a visit to the Jama Masjid the largest mosque in India whose courtyard can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers. Take a cycle rickshaw ride around the narrow and busy back streets of the Chandni Chowk market. Noisy, chaotic and uniquely Indian, it is famous for it’s jewellers, colourful sari shops and confectioners. You then continue with your guide to Imperial Delhi including the Rashtrapati Bhavan and several other colonial government buildings designed by Edwin Lutyen’s followed by a photo stop at the imposing India Gate.
A highlight of the tour is a visit the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara – one of the most important Sikh temples in Delhi. The temple’s ‘Langar’ – a community kitchen serving free food to over 10,000 people every day, irrespective of caste, sex or religion. If you wish to you can lunch here and we are sure the experience of savouring delicious food at a holy place, with Kirtan (devotional music) in the background, is certainly a memory that you will cherish forever.
After lunch proceed for a sightseeing tour of New Delhi. You will visit the Mughal emperor Humayun’s tomb and the Qutub Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world.
Founded in the 18th Century the city (as it once was) of Mandawa found its fortune as a trading post for camel caravans passing through on their way to or from China and the Middle East. Now famous for it’s impressive havellis, the grand houses with painted walls, built by wealthy merchants. The merchants have now moved away leaving the havellis to stand still over time in this desert region and now the town is more open art gallery and museum than a bustling trading post.
Day 3 – Delhi > Mandawa
After breakfast you will be driven to the Rajasthan town of Mandawa. After checking in to a Maharajah’s castle that has been converted into a heritage hotel you will take a traditional camel cart for a guided tour of the surrounding rural farms and villages.
Day 4 – Mandawa > Bikaner
After breakfast you will be guided on a walking tour through the open air art gallery of Mandawa where you can enjoy the beautifully detailed wall paintings of Mandawa’s finest havellis including the magnificent Mandawa Haveli.
After the walking tour of Mandawa you will head to Bikaner with two guided visits en route. The first is to the famous Kani Mati or “Rat Temple”. The temple is home to 20,000 black rats that are revered by worshippers who travel from far and wide to pay their respects to these holy rodents.
The next stop is to the Junagarh Fort, one of the most interesting forts in Rajasthan with its sumptuously decorated interiors. Built in 1588 by Raja Rai Singh it is unusual in that it was one of the few major forts of Rajasthan that was not built on a hilltop.
The desert fortress of Jaisalmer is one of Rajasthan’s most exotic and unusual towns. An important ancient trading centre which found fortune due to it’s strategic location on the camel trade routes, Jaisalmer is often described as the golden city due to it’s haveli’s and fort being carved from golden yellow sandstone. The havelis, built by merchants of the 19th century, are exquisitely carved and are still in a beautiful condition including the most elaborate and magnificent of all the Patwaon Ki Haveli built by five between 1800 and 1860.
Day 5 – Bikaner > Pokharan > Jaisalmer
After breakfast it’s time to journey to the stunning desert city of Jaisalmer. We break up the drive with a stop en route in Pokharan to visit the fort there.
Pokharan stands on an ancient trade route that carried salt, silk and spices to Persia and beyond. The town is surrounded by five desert hills and the name means “the place of five mirages” and is now famous for its terracotta pottery which is sold all over India.
Day 6 – Jaisalmer
After breakfast, start your city Jaisalmer and visit the famous Havelis, known for their frescoes including the most impressive Patwaon Ki Haveli
From the city you move on to the 12th century Jaisalmer Fort built by Rawal Jaisal and stands 80 metres high on the Trikuta hil. This almost fully preserved golden sandstone fort city with it’s intricately carved Jain temples has to be one of the most beautiful you will visit on your Rajasthan adventure with. Jaisalmer is also famous for its artisans who produce amazing works of Rajasthani embroidery, mirror work and carpet weaving.
In the evening, we have laid on a safari in the Sam Sand dunes. Here, you will have the
unforgettable experience of a camel ride at sunset topped by dinner under the stars, before you
return to your hotel.
Rajasthan’s second largest city and an oasis in the arid Thar Desert, Jodhpur offers the traveller a sense of history and splendour of an era long gone. Called the Blue City due to the colour of the houses that circle the imposing Mehranghar Fort which is one of the largest forts in India and towers over the city at a height of 400 feet. Today Jodphur is famous too for it’s artisans and spice merchants selling their wares in bustling bazaars full of bright colours and aromatic smells.
Day 7 – Jaisalmer > Jodphur
After breakfast your journey continues across the desert to the ‘Blue’ city of Jodhpur
Upon arrival, check – in at the hotel and freshen up for an afternoon visit the Mehrangarh Fort, considered one of finest in all India. There is also visit Jaswant Thada – a white marble memorial built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant II in 1899.
Next is a walking tour of Jodhpur city including the neighbourhood where some the blue houses of the Brahmins are.
In the evening enjoy some traditional Rajasthan food as you dine on the rooftop of Pal Haveli with Majestic Mehrangarh in the background.
Day 8 – Jodhpur > Udaipur
After breakfast it’s time to wave goodbye to Jodhpur and hit the road to Udaipur. A long drive will be broken up with a visit to a Bishnoi village and the incredible Jain temples at Ranakpur.
First visit is to a Bishnoi village in the Thar desert. The Bishnoi are a rural tribal group and a Hindu sect that have a staunch belief in the protection and conservation of their natural environment. Here you will see a very traditional Rajasthani way of life and meet the local potters, weavers and other artisans and hear more about their history.
Closer to Udaipur are the famous marble Jain Temple in Ranakpur. Jainism is a religion where the central tenant is non violence and love towards all living things and some Jains will make the pilgrimage to Ranakpur on foot gently brushing their path ahead to avoid harming any living thing by accidentally stepping on it.
Udaipur is a town so beautiful that it is rightly a favourite location for movie produces from Hollywood to Bollywood who have used the romantic setting as a backdrop to some classic films including the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Udaipur was founded in the 16th Century and is set around a series of interconnecting lakes that includes the impossibly pretty Pichola lake whose waters lap against the walls of the City Palace that took almost 400 years to construct.
Day 9 – Udaipur
After breakfast, it’s time to explore Udaipur and the City Palace. Overlooking Lake Pichola the City Palace was built in 1725 of granite and marble with filigreed balconies, ornate windows and craftsmanship of the highest order. With walls stretch stretch over a mile on the eastern side of the lake the vast palace complex is a maze of courtyards, apartments and decorated halls whose rooms are covered with frescoes, displays of royal processions, stone and glass mosaics and ornamental doors and painted windows.
Then enjoy a relaxing boat ride on Lake Pichola before an evening walk through the old bazaar famous for it’s spice, jewellery and sweet shops.
Day 10 – Udaipur > Bundi
After breakfast drive from Udaipur to the city of Bundi. Away from the crowds and main tourist route, Bundi has managed to retain it’s charm and authentic Rajasthani culture. So much so that this little known destination is a firm favourite of all who visit. To add to the authenticity you will be staying at a heritage hotel in Bundi set in a Rajasthani fort.
Once the private hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park is now a prime example of Project Tiger’s conservation efforts in Rajasthan. There is a higher chance of seeing the elusive big cat in the wild here over any other park or sanctuary in India but sightings are never guaranteed. However surrounded by the Aravali and Vindhyas mountain ranges the scenery is stunning and other wildlife found in the park can include sloth bears, boa constrictors and monkeys. Only a Mogli is needed to complete the cast of Jungle Book!
Day 11 – Jaipur to Ranthambore NP
After breakfast your guide will drive your to Ranthambore National Park. Once checked in to your hotel you will take a short guided tour of the 10th century Ranthambore Fort, which commands a panoramic view of the Tiger Reserve.
Day 12 – Ranthambore NP
An early start this morning as you venture by open top safari vehicle into the national park in search of wildlife the secretive tiger. You will be escorted by an expert naturalist and experienced tracker who will be updated about the latest tiger sightings and impart lots of fascinating information about Ranthambore’s fauna and flora.
After the safari you will return to the resort where you can spend time relaxing using the hotel’s facilities or head into the near by town to join the locals going about their daily routine.
Jaipur which means the city of victory, presides as capital over the fascinating desert state of Rajasthan and its people. Surrounded by rugged hills Jaipur has an outstanding collection of formidable forts, beautiful palaces, mansions and gardens dotted throughout the city and it’s surrounds. The palaces and forts of yesteryear that were witness to royal processions and splendour are now living monuments, accepted quite naturally into the lifestyles of the people of the pink city. Except for the busy traffic of bicycles, cars rickshaws and buses, little seems to have changed.
Day 13 – Ranthambore NP > Jaipur
After breakfast you drive to the Pink city of Jaipur. A break from sightseeing today but your guide will be on hand to advise on optional activities and answer any questions you may have.
Day 14 – Jaipur
After breakfast, you will be driven by jeep to the ancient capital of Amber to see the fabulous 17th century Amber Fort. A jeep will take you up the steep hill to the formidable fort and once at the top you will be guided by foot through the sprawling complex of courtyards, halls, ramparts and the incredible Sheesh Mahal – mirrored bedroom.
From here you make your way to the Jaipur City palace and its complex of exquisite palaces, gardens, decorative art and carved doorways. The palace museum houses collections of rare armoury, clothing, carpets and miniature paintings owned by some of India’s wealthiest Maharaja’s. It’s a short walk to the adjacent Jantar Mantar or Astronomical Observatory comprising ancient devices designed to measure time, predict eclipses and determine celestial altitudes.
On the way back to the hotel you will stop at Hawa Mahal also known as `Palace of the Winds’. It is extremely intricate with its carved facade of windows which would hide the palace queens watching life on the streets below as the cool wind blew through.
Jaipur is also famous for shopping and is truly a shopper’s delight. In the evening you will have free time to stroll down the busy bazaar and try your bargaining skills, amongst the multitude of locally produced artisan arts and crafts.
Situated on the banks of the holy Yamuna river Agra is said to have been founded in 1475 during the reign of Raja Badal Singh. An ancient capital of India, the Mughal emperors transformed the city into one of the great centres of art, culture, learning and commerce. Agra is home to three UNESCO world heritage sites: Fathepur Sikri, Agra Fort and of course the iconic Taj Mahal.
Day 15 – Jaipur > Agra
After breakfast drive to Agra, en route you will visit the deserted red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri. Built in the 16th century by the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar as his capital and palace, it was abandoned soon after it was built when the local wells ran dry and it remains today in much the same condition that it was over 400 years ago.
Continue your drive to Agra and check in to your hotel. In the evening join a cooking class and learn how to prepare excellent Indian cuisine.
Day 16 – Agra > Delhi
An optional sunrise guided tour to the Taj Mahal. This symbol of devotion of Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved queen Mumtaz it is in fact a mausoleum that took 22 years to complete where only the two lovers are now interned. The Taj Mahal’s pure white marble structure is replete with decorative inlays of carvings and calligraphy made from semi precious stones that acquires different shades at different times of the day.
We suggest a visit to the Taj Mahal at sunrise as we believe your tour greatly enhanced with less crowds and seeing the changing shades of the white marble inlaid with semi precious stones as the sun appears is a real highlight of this once in a lifetime experience. Read more about a sunrise visit here Sunrise at the Taj Mahal If you would prefer to visit at a later time that is also an option.
After your visit return to the hotel to freshen up and check out. You will then visit Agra’s third UNESCO heritage site, Agra fort. The fort is formidable in appearance with its vast turreted walls which stand seventy feet in high and surround the fort for a mile and a half in circumference it is also surrounded by a moat. With the kind of beauty, precision detail and architectural nuances it can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city.
After your guided visit of Agra Fort you will be driven back to Delihi for your final night of the tour.
Day 10 – Delhi > Tour Ends
After breakfast you will be transferred to Delhi international airport in time to catch your onward flight.
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