January 8, 2016
Days 1, 2
- Travel to India!
- Delhi. Your first day is free for you to arrive in Delhi.
- Old And New Delhi.
- Delhi must be one of the most bustling capital cities in the world. New Delhi was built for the British Imperial Government of India and remains the administrative centre of the country. It also has a busy commercial sector and a new Parliament building as well as imposing government offices and embassies.
- We visit the Presidential Palace, which comes into view from its prime position on an artificial hill, called Raisana Hill, at one end of the Rajpath – a wide boulevard originally built for Imperial Processions. The great India Gate, made from Bharatpur Sandstone, spans the other end of the Rajpath. This was built to commemorate the Indian Army officers who died in World War One, and has the names of approximately 14,000 Indian and British soldiers who died in the First World War.
- Then we travel back in time to Old Delhi for an optional visit to Lal Quila the Red Fort, which dominates this ancient part of the city. It was built by Shajahan who also built the world famous Taj Mahal and it is believed that he employed the same Persian architect to design both buildings.
- Our trip into Old Delhi also takes in another of Shahjahan’s great buildings Jama Masjid that means Friday Mosque. It is built on an outcrop of rock near the Red Fort and is the largest Mosque in India with a 100 square metre courtyard surrounded by colonnades.
- On the way to our next destination we travel like the locals in rickshaws through the narrow lanes of the Chandani Chowk Bazaar, which are a hive of activity with lots of busy traders selling saris and dresses and many restaurants. From the liveliness of the streets we reach the calm of Raj Ghat, the memorial garden to Mahatma Ghandi who opposed British rule of India. A square of marble marks the spot where his body was cremated and the trees here were planted by visiting heads of state.
- There is also an optional visit to the Tomb of Humayun, considered by some to be the equivalent of the Taj Mahal. Humayun was a Moghul emperor who had a serious opium habit, and is supposed to have died by falling down the stairs when he was stoned. The area around the tomb is called the Nizammudin Bazaar, and is a very popular Muslim area bustling with many food stalls and markets.
- Delhi To Agra And Visit The Taj Mahal.
- Today we drive into the state of Uttar Pradesh and to the city of Agra . In the past Agra was a capital city but it is most famed and most visited for one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World – the Taj Mahal.
- We approach the Taj Mahal with an optional stop at the Agra Fort a World Heritage Monument . It’s red sandstone bulk dominates a bend in the Yamuna River and offers a spectacular view of the Taj.
- When we reach the Taj Mahal you are free to spend plenty of time looking round this amazing building. It is the tomb of Shajahan’s favorite wife Mumtaz-Mahal. The marble walls of the Taj Mahal change colour with the time of day – at dawn it is pale pink, at noon it is blindingly white and at sunset it is golden. The gardens, with their dark green cypresses and water channels are an integral part of the artistry of this romantic building.
- You can also visit the mosque at the west of the Taj and the guest pavilion at the east to get different views.
- And finally, walk to the rear of the Taj, which overlooks the Yamuna River and gives views back to the Agra Fort.
- Agra to Jaipur.
- After breakfast we take off for an optional visit to Fatephur Sikri – a deserted city of deep red sandstone, perfectly preserved and offering a detailed insight into the life of India ’s Moghul emperors. Built by Humayan’s son, the Emperor Akbar, Fatephur Sikri was a capital city for a very short time. Look out for the stone-tethering ring for the elephant that was used to crush criminals to death; the Turkish Sultana’s House with stone carvings of animals; the Astrologer’s Pavilion; the outdoor chess court; and the Harem.
- From Fatephur Sikri we travel onto the city of Jaipur .
- Jaipur is the capital city of the northern Indian state of Rajasthan. Known as the Pink City , it is one of the most vibrant and colourful cities of India. Famous for its colourful culture, forts and palaces.
- In the afternoon, we take a bicycle rickshaw ride through market in Jaipur, and tour of City Palace . The City Palace has seven courtyards and seven floors, and is a magnificent sight. This is the present home of the Maharajah of Jaipur and contains some fantastic museums. Next to the City Palace is the the Astronomical Observatory of Jantar Mantar, home to the biggest sundial in the world.
- After breakfast the next day we visit the Palace of Winds – the Hawa Mahal. This is a five-storey building for the Maharajah’s royal ladies to watch festive processions and other special events without being seen themselves. Now for a truly memorable part of your trip a ride on an elephant to the Amber Fort.
- Slowly and majestically we travel up the cobbled road to the fort, which is built overlooking a gorge in the dry hilly Rajput landscape. From here you have a magnificent view of Jaipur and the fort itself is a feast of interesting buildings. You will find the silver-door Temple of Kali ; the highly coloured Audience Chamber with its vaulted ceilings of mirrors; and the Hall of Pleasure.
- In the afternoon, you have some free time to explore at your leisure, or you can take an optional visit to a Non-Government organization helping the local children in Jaipur.
- One option for your free time in Jaipur is a visit to the Rajmandir, a famous Art-Deco theatre used for watching the latest Bollywood movies.
- In the evening we will have dinner with a local family.
- Jaipur to Kuchaman Fort.
- In the morning we say goodbye to Jaipur and continue our journey to Kuchaman.
- We are off the beaten track now to spend the night at Kuchaman Fort, which was once a Maharajah’s residence. The Fort is set so high we have to make the last part of our journey by jeep. In the town of Kuchaman you will find narrow streets and busy bazaars and very few foreign visitors.
- There is a chance to swim in the Maharajah’s original pool and you can also book horse riding if you want to see the local scenery and need some exercise.
- You will have free time in the afternoon to explore Kuchaman at your leisure.
- Kuchaman to Pushkar.
- After Breakfast, we transfer from Kuchaman to the town of Pushkar . The holylake of Pushkar is believed to have been created by Lord Brahma himself. Devout Hindus believe that it is essential to visit Pushkar at least once in their lifetime. No pilgrimage is considered complete without a dip in the holy Pushkar lake. Pushkar has as many as 400 temples and ghats and the only temple in the country that is dedicated to Brahama is to be found here. While Pushkar is a heaven for the religiously inclined, it is also the venue of one of the country’s most colourful fairs – the Pushkar Camel Fair, held annually in November.
- Upon arrival, we have an afternoon Guided walk through Pushkar, and some free time for exploring later on.
- One recommendation for your free time is go on a fairly easy hike through the city to the temple called Savitri. This temple is situated on a hill and provides excellent views of the town, and is very popular at sunset.
- After some free time in the morning, we continue our adventure into the desert.
- We take an afternoon ride into the desert surrounding Pushkar, and set up camp in the Sand dunes in the desert.
- Pushkar to Chandelao / Khejarla. After breakfast at Camp, we begin our return to Pushkar.
- Upon arrival back into Pushkar, we take a vehicle transfer onwards to Chandelao, a village which will be our base for the next 2 nights while we explore the area and the city of Jodhpur . We check into Chandelaogarh Fort, and have a late afternoon walk in the village before enjoying our evening meal on the terrace of the fort.
- Excursion to Jodphur.
- Set at the edge of the Thar desert, the imperial city of Jodhpur echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert. The city is encompassed by a high wall, 10 km long with 8 gates and innumerable bastions.
- We include a visit to the massive 15th century A.D. Meherangarh Fort. The 5 km long majestic fort on a 125 metre high hill is one of the most impressive and formidable structures. Although invincible from the outside, the fort has four gates approached by a winding road. Within the fort are some magnificent palaces with marvelously carved panels, latticed windows and evocative names. But one of the most exciting things about the fort is the view it gives you of Jodphur itself. Jodphur is known as the ‘ Blue City ’ and you will see why – the walls are colour washed in blue, which looks amazing in the desert light.
- Then we go into Jodphur and make a visit to the bustling market under the tall clock tower. Spices, flowers and beautiful textiles are on sale here and barbers work under the nearby banyan trees – so you can stop off for a quick haircut in the street. The market area is considered to be one of the most interesting and fascinating sights in Jodhpur.
- In the afternoon we return to Chandelao for some free time, or the offer of further optional excursions to make cultural visits and activities around Chandelao.
Days 13, 14
- Chandelao to Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh.
- Today we drive from the fringes of the Thar desert to the foothills of the Aravali mountain range. It is very interesting to see how gradually the desert landscape transforms into a hilly one, and so do the local people’s attires and their houses.
- During our stay at Ranakpur we visit the magnificent complex of Jain temples. This is one of the finest examples of Marble architecture in India . It has 1,444 pillars, and many intricately carved domes. This is one the region’s most important religious sites set in the Aravalli Hills – a terrain of deep ravines, lush cultivated terraces and mango groves. The Ranakpur temples are built in white marble and breathtakingly intricate carvings on walls and a forest of columns through the buildings.
- After a night in Ranakpur, we continue our journey to Kumbalgarh. On the way, we include a stop in the village of Saira . Here we are able to walk on roads that go through small tribal villages, and farms where we can still see age-old practices of agriculture, and also see some schools on the way, or make a “chai stop.
- On arrival in Kumbhalgarh, we make an afternoon visit to Kumbhalgarh Fort. This is a massive fortress built in the 15th Century, with walls 33 kilometres long, and 25 metres wide in some parts, and containing many beautiful temples.
Days 15, 16
- From Kumbhalgarh we drive south through the now rich green countryside to Udaipur, considered the most romantic city in India. Having spent time in the desert you are now in a place of complete contrast, a city of lakes, gardens and greenery.
- On arrival in Udaipur, we have an afternoon city tour, including City Palace complex, a majestic architectural marvel towering over the lake on a hill surrounded by walls, it is a conglomeration of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens. The main entrance is through the triple arched gate, the ‘Tripolia’, with eight marble porticos. The Maharana were weighed under the gate in the gold, the equivalent amount of which was distributed among the populace. Our city tour also includes a visit to the Jagdish Temples and a sunset boat ride on the magnificent Lake Pichola. One stop we make on the lake will be at Jag Mandir Island for a visit to the temples. The view from the lake at sunset is simply stunning – elegant marble palaces can be seen on the shoreline – an image of Rajput splendour. On the lake itself is the Summer Palace where you can go for a meal if you really feel like a treat. Finish the day with a meal in one of the many restaurants dotted among the city’s narrow streets.
- You have a few hours of free time the following morning to complete that last bit of souvenir shopping, see some more sights and take some more photographs. If you are still up for more sightseeing, we recommend a trip to Sahelion-ki-Bari, and 18th century garden for the entertainment of the ladies of the royal household.
- Then we board the overnight train for the trip back to Delhi.
- Depart from Delhi.