March 2013 : incorporating the Festival of Holi on 27 March 2013
This is a delightful tour of Rajasthan encompassing awe inspiring forts, beautiful and tranquil lakes, delicate temples and the dry unyielding desert. “Shop `till you drop”, meet local farmers, watch skilful artisans at work, try your hand at Indian cookery, visit local Rajasthan homes and marvel at the immense wealth and majesty of the fabled Maharajas.
Such are the tastes and flavours of this tour of hidden Rajasthan. See the blaze of colours, take in the sights and sounds of real India and be amazed. The highlights are the Taj Mahal, the Elephant Festival at Jaipur, amazing Nimaj, an exciting safari to the village of the famous “Bishnoi” tribe and finally, magical Udaipur.
Day 1 : Arrive Delhi - Transfer to The Manor Hotel (or similar)
Day 2 : Delhi
Day 3 : Agra (Radisson Hotel, or similar)
Day 4 : Jaipur (Jai Mahal Palace, or similar)
Day 5 : Jaipur
Day 6 : Jaipur
Day 7 : Nimaj ( Chhatrasagar Tented)
Day 8 : Nimaj
Day 9 : Jodhpur ( Raas, or similar)
Day 10 : Jodhpur
Day 11 : Rohet ( Rohet Fort)
Day 12 : Udaipur ( The Trident)
Day 13 : Udaipur
Day 14 : Tour ends at Udaipur with a flight to either Delhi or Mumbai
Day 01 : Arrive DELHI
Arrive at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to The Manor Hotel.
A capital way to begin your discovery of India : “I asked my soul what is Delhi?
It replied the world is the body; Delhi is its soul….. This is how a 19th century poet described this city that has ever been so many things to so many different people. To the weary travelers on the ancient silk route it was the first plain after having crossed the Himalayan Mountains with the promise of shelter, food and business opportunities. To the Afghan, Turk, Greek, Arab and Roman kings it was a vast and inexhaustible source of treasures of all kinds. To the Chinese travelers it was the land of knowledge and wisdom. Its ageless face saw the advent of Islam. It saw empires being built and destroyed or even merely dismantled to make way for the new and Delhi lived on….
The British created their own Delhi with large well planned avenues and planted 10000 trees with a 112 kms of hedges that it would be green round the year abundant with flowers a botanical paradise. The seat of the British Empire Delhi of 1911 was planned to resemble ‘an Englishman dressed for the climate’. Its planners and main architects decided that it would be neither Hindu, nor Muslim, nor Buddhist, nor English nor Roman but IMPERIAL a house for the Viceroy that resembled ‘a giant Indian bungalow, embattled Rajput fortress and Mughal tomb with shades of Buckingham Palace with English country house comforts. Delhi is perhaps the only city in the world that fuses its past present and evokes its future without losing an iota of its identity.
Afternoon: Tour of New Delhi
The discovery of New Delhi continues with a visit to Qutab Minar which is Delhi's Eiffel Tower, its Statue of Liberty and Nelson's Column. Visit the mosques, mausoleums and ruins of forts that lie around it.
Later visit the Humayun’s tomb - the magnificent structure in red sandstone and white marble – one of the finest examples of the garden tomb and a precursor to the Taj Mahal.
We drive to one of the most colonial parts of New Delhi called Raisina Hill. Drive past the Viceroy's House (now known as Rashtrapati Bhawan, present residence of the President of India) Lutyen's magnum opus; the India Gate, a war memorial arch.
We then drive past a Sikh place of worship called a Gurdwara or Temple. This shrine is the scene of constant devotional music, whose ethereal tones are relayed throughout the entire complex. A Sikh temple without a Community Kitchen or “Langar” is inconceivable. Food is serviced in the kitchen of the Gurudwara 24 hours to all visitors without any distinction of caste, creed, color or religion. All people – high or low, rich or poor sit in the same queue. Approximately 40,000 visitors share meals every day.
Overnight: The Manor Hotel (Manor rooms) - Evening Welcome Dinner included
Day 02: DELHI
Leave by coach for Lodhi Gardens to indulge in an hour of Yoga. The session will be guided by an expert Yoga practitioner.
Return to the hotel for breakfast. We will indulge in a bit of sightseeing of Old Delhi today.
Old Delhi – Happily Chaotic!
We proceed for our unique yet fascinating experience of Old Delhi. Visit the mighty Red Fort followed by “cycle rickshaws” through the lanes of “Chandni Chowk” or Silver Street, experiencing the sights and sounds of this very busy Avenue heading west from the Fort. Chandni Chowk literally means “moonlit crossroads” and an area which best represents the “super-Oriental”- the glory and the guile; the grandeur and the grime, with its crowded bazaars, twisting lanes, maze of small streets strange aromas, the pungent odour of Oriental spices, the cries of shopkeepers, coolies and “rickshaw- walas” and the clatter and whirr of furious industry. The thrill of being driven through the narrow, winding lanes is a memorable experience. This is perhaps one of Delhi's most populated areas and the largest marketplace. Conclude the tour with Raj Ghat – Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial.
This afternoon, indulge in a bit of shopping or enjoy a wonderful spa treatment.
In the evening, you will a enjoy a special Indian Banquet at a unique restaurant!
Overnight: The Manor Hotel (Manor rooms) Breakfast and dinner included
Day 03 : DELHI –AGRA (200 kms / 4.5 hrs)
Another optional Yoga session in the morning. Return to the hotel and check-out after breakfast.
Depart by road for Agra and upon arrival check in at hotel The Radisson.
Agra – The city that created the most extravagant monument ever built for love.
Agra city is a virtual gateway to a world of discovery. It has witnessed the rise of the pomp and pageantry of three great Mughal monarchs - Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan, all of whom lavished on this fabled city, their love and riches to transform the land into one of the greatest centers of art, culture, learning and commerce. Much of the city's impressive past lives in evidence even today, in the haunting presence inside the monuments and in the majesty of the buildings.
Visit to the Agra Fort : The Agra Fort’s construction was started by Emperor Akbar in 1565 when he was just 23 years of age. Within the fort are several fascinating buildings – the Pearl Mosque built of marble, the Hall of Public Audiences, the Hall of Private Audiences where the famous "peacock throne" was kept, the Octagonal Tower, the Jehangir Palace built by Akbar for his son Jehangir and the Khas Mahal, a beautiful white marble structure used as a private palace.
This evening, enjoy a traditional Indian ladies indulgence! Beautiful henna application on your hands will leave you feeling like a queen. Watch and learn how to drape the most elegant outfit - the sari.
Overnight: Radisson Hotel (Superior rooms). Breakfast included
Day 04 : AGRA / FATEHPUR SIKRI / JAIPUR (235 kms/06 hrs)
Early this morning visit the Taj Mahal to see this monument by the light of the rising sun.
It is said that the world is divided into two parts; those who have seen the Taj Mahal and those who have not.
A flawless architectural creation.
For centuries, the Taj Mahal has inspired poets, painters and musicians to try and capture its elusive magic in word, colour and son. Since the 17th century, travellers have crossed continents to come and see this ultimate memorial to love, and few have been unmoved by its incomparable beauty. Taj Mahal stands in the city of Agra, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of the Yamuna River. It was built in the memory of the beautiful Arjumand Bano Begum, who won the heart of a Mughal prince. She was married at 21 to Emperor Jahangir's third son Prince Khurram and stayed loyally by his side through good times and bad: in the luxurious royal palaces of Agra as well as the transient tents of war camps. A labour of love ~ Work on the mausoleum began in 1633 and 20,000 workers laboured for 17 years to build it. The most skilled architects, inlay craftsmen, calligraphers, stone-carvers and masons came from all across India and lands as distant as Persia and Turkey. The master mason was from Baghdad, an expert in building the double dome from Persia, and an inlay specialist from Delhi. Intricacy in design ~ what is most amazing about the Taj Mahal is the fine detailing. The coloured inlay is never allowed to overwhelm the design, as carvings done in relief sensitively balance it. The ornate pietra dura and relief carvings are of floral, calligraphic and geometric designs. However, flowers remain the main decorative element as the tomb depicts a paradise garden. The skill of the inlay worker is so fine that it is impossible to find the joints, even when as many as 40 tiny pieces of semi-precious stones have been used in the petals of a single flower.
Some of the best calligraphy of Koranic verses can be seen around the entrance arches and on the two headstones. The colours of the Taj ~ Taj Mahal changes its moods with the seasons and the different times of the day. At dawn, the marble has a delicate bloom in shell pink, by noon it glitters majestically white, turning to a soft pearly grey at dusk. Monsoon clouds give it a moody blue tint and it appears and disappears like a mirage in the drifting mists of winter. It can be solid and earthbound, fragile and ethereal, white, amber, grey and gold. The many faces of Taj Mahal display the seductive power of architecture at its best.
Return to the hotel; check-out after breakfast and drive to Jaipur en-route visiting Fatehpur Sikri (40 Kms/01 Hour)
Fatehpur Sikri - this exquisite city built by Akbar the Great in 1569, in red sandstone, with its forts, palaces and mosques was abandoned 14 years after its creation due to political reasons. It is a visual experience of an ancient city abandoned by its ruler and yet well preserved to this day. One can visualize the splendour and glory of a bygone era. Fatehpur Sikri radiates a true sense of faith and belief in oneself and in God. Even today, people visit a shrine within the complex to pray for a better life.
After visit continue drive to Jaipur. Arrive Jaipur and check-into hotel Jai Mahal Palace.
Jaipur – The City of Royalty. Jaipur was one of the first examples in the world of city planning. The 250 year old city is a startling blend of forts and palaces, of teeming markets, shops and transport of every kind, from cars to camels!
Jaipur today, is the capital of Rajasthan with a population of over 1 ½ million people. Jaipur is called the “Pink City”, for by law all the buildings in the old city must be painted a deep saffron-pink.
It is especially known for its arts and crafts: jewellery, enamel work, hand-painted fabrics and stone sculptures. Above everything, Jaipur is an extraordinary colourful place. On its streets you see women in their brilliant read and orange head coverings and sweeping skirts, and men in their equally vivid turbans and upturned moustaches. Jaipur is also a city of polo which is played on horseback, elephants and at times on bicycles!
This evening, visit a local factory producing blue pottery ceramic, a popular product of the area.
The process of creation is as intriguing as the final product!
Overnight: Jai Mahal Palace (Deluxe rooms). Breakfast included.
Day 05: Visit to the Amber Fort, Jaipur.
Amber – The Medieval Rajput Citadel
“I have seen many royal palaces, but for varied and picturesque effect, for the richness of carving, for wild beauty of situation and the strangeness of finding such a building in such a place and country, I am able to compare nothing with Amber.” Bishop Heber, 1824.
Amber, the former capital of Jaipur state stunningly situated on a hillside and overlooking a lake which reflects its terraces and ramparts. To add the sprit of adventure and royalty, we ascend the hill on elephant back (subject to availability). Amber is a fortified complex of many splendid palaces evolved over a period of six centuries.
We proceed to visit the highly ornamented Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds built in 1799 which has no less than 953 little windows and balconies.
It is a stunning example of Rajput artistry and was originally built to enable ladies of the royal household to watch the everyday life in the streets below through delicately honeycombed sandstone windows.
Proceed to experience the Elephant Festival.
Jaipur comes alive with elephants during this festival. This visually awe inspiring experience has a procession, an elephant parade and each elephant more beautifully decorated than the other and vying for “best decorated” award!
An interesting bit of trivia is that traditionally all the elephants participating in this festival are females!
Special eve of Holi Dinner included.
Overnight: Jai Mahal Palace (Deluxe rooms) Breakfast and dinner included.
Day 06 : JAIPUR
Day at leisure; Enjoy the festival of colours “Holi”
We can organize a spot of shopping this afternoon.
Overnight: Jai Mahal Palace (Deluxe rooms) Breakfast included.
Day 07 : JAIPUR/NIMAJ (230 kms / 5-6 hrs)
Imagine flying above the city of Jaipur, watching the pink city from the blue sky. This morning, an optional hot air balloon flight has been organised ( extra cost) to show you the city of Jaipur from an angle few others have seen. Be prepared to attract attention of the simple local folk. Return to the hotel for breakfast and check out.
This morning we will begin our drive to Nimaj, which will take us approximately 5 to 6 hours.
Situated on the Jaipur-Jodhpur highway, Chhatra Sagar was built as a hunting lodge of the Nimaj Estate. Surrounded by lush green fields of wheat, mustard, cotton and chilies and vast grazing pastures, this hundred year old reservoir, with a periphery of about 10 kilometers, is an ideal destination for nature lovers and a perfect getaway from the chaotic city life.
Enjoy a guided bird watching walk this afternoon. Later, soak in the fresh air, sit around the bonfire and listen to old folk lore. Experience the warm hospitality, and enjoy some truly delicious Indian and traditional Rajasthani meals cooked with farm fresh vegetables in the family kitchen.
Lunch and dinner at the resort
Overnight: Chhatrasagar Tents - All meals included
Day 08 : NIMAJ
Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served at the resort.
This morning, you will be taken for a visit to the local village. This village is largely supported by the Chhatrasagar family and a number of the people are employed at the resort.
Rest of the day is at leisure. Watch the bird and animal life with the binoculars and telescope available in the lounge area or sink into a comfortable chair with a book.
Watch the sunset from your tent – a truly peaceful and moving experience.
Overnight: Chhatrasagar Tents - All meals included
Day 09: NIMAJ-JODHPUR (APPROX. 110 KMS / 2 ½ HRS DRIVE)
After a leisurely breakfast, by midday depart for Jodhpur.
Jodhpur – the imperial city echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert. The lifestyle in Jodhpur is unusually fascinating with people wearing lovely multi hued costumes, artistically designed. Shopping in the bazaars of Jodhpur is a heady experience with a colourful display of the rich collection of exquisite handicrafts, the tie-and-die fabric, embroidered jutis or slippers in suede, camel skin and an extensive range of useful and decorative items.
An exciting safari to the village of the famous “Bishnoi” tribe who are well known lovers of nature & staunch environmentalists. Also visit the local weaver family and see the most exquisite rugs weaved by them
Overnight: RAAS (Luxury rooms) Breakfast included
Day 10 : JODHPUR
Breakfast at the hotel
City tour of Jodhpur ‑ the largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur, Jodhpur stands at the edge of the Thar Desert. It was founded by Rao Jodha Chief of the Rajput clan known as Rathores and the Rathore kingdom was once known as Marwar ‑ the Land of Death.
The tour includes Meherangarh Fort the majestic fort ‑ one of the most impressive & formidable in all of fort studded Rajasthan and the Jaswant Thada – site of the Royal Cenotaphs.
Take a stroll in the busy market place around the hotel. With a location advantage of being right in the centre of the walled city, you will experience local life at very close quarters.
Overnight: RAAS (Luxury rooms) Breakfast included
Day 11 : JODHPUR - ROHET (APPROX. 40 KMS/ 1 HR DRIVE)
Breakfast at the hotel
12.00 hrs: Check-out at about midday and transfer by road to Rohet.
Situated on the banks of a lake and set in the midst of rural surroundings, Rohetgarh is a haven of peace and tranquility. Sprawling lawns and manicured gardens, which invite a multitude of birds and dancing peacocks, herald your entry into this oasis where the bird song is the only sound you will hear. A superb swimming pool with four charming pavilions entices you for a refreshing dip.
Rohet Garh is a leading Heritage Hotel, where the experience goes far beyond the high walls of the Garh (Fort). It is a home first and a hotel after. Check-in and explore the intriguing surroundings of the hotel.
This evening, enjoy an interactive cooking session in a quest to prepare some local delicacies. All the dishes are personal recipes of family. Enjoy the fruit of your labour at the end of this session..
Overnight: Rohetgarh. Breakfast included
Day 12: ROHET / RANAKPUR / UDAIPUR (APPROX. 260 KMS, 07 HRS DRIVE)
Breakfast at the hotel
Morning: Check-out and transfer by road to Ranakpur (160 Kms)
RANAKPUR ‑ these magnificent 15th century Jain temples are situated in a deep secluded valley of the Aravalli Hills. Although over 500 years old, the temples here are superbly preserved in a near-perfect condition. In the centre is the main “Chaumukha temple” dedicated to Adinath. The most distinctive features are the 29 halls supported by 1444 pillars, of which no two are exactly alike. Every conceivable surface is carved and every corner and angle is engraved with Jain images.
The quaint Maharani Bagh Orchard is the perfect option for a quick buffet lunch (on direct payment)
Evening: Arrive and check-in at Trident Hotel.
Overnight: Trident Hotel Udaipur (Deluxe Garden View) Breakfast included
Day 13: UDAIPUR
Breakfast at hotel
Sightseeing of Udaipur City
City Palace - overlooking the lake Pichola is the City Palace, a marvel of marble and granite. The largest palace in Rajasthan, its exquisite worksmanship makes it a must on every visitor's itinerary. The three mahals - Baari, Dilkush and Moti, the Suraj Gokhada of the Sun Balcony, the Mor Chowk Known for its beautiful peacock Mosaics ; the shrine of Dhuni Mata and the Museum of Rana Pratap are the highlights of this complex.
Enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Pichola at sunset visiting the Jagmandir Island - in the middle of the romantic Lake Pichola. It commands a magnificent view of the City Palace, Lake Palace and Sajjangarh Fort, on its own island, and it is where Prince Khurram was given refuge in the 17th century.
Overnight: Trident Hotel Udaipur (Deluxe Garden View)
Day 14: UDAIPUR / MUMBAI or UDAIPUR / DELHI)
Breakfast at the hotel.
Day is at leisure. You can indulge in some shopping or sit back in your hotel to reminisce about your days spent in India.
In-time transfer to the Udaipur Airport to board to your flight to Mumbai or Delhi.
Upon arrival at Mumbai/Delhi you will be received and transferred to the Mumbai/Delhi International Airport for your flight back home.