Despite being the country’s most arid region, Rajasthan is one of the most colourful, vibrant and exciting parts of India. Along with the ‘pink and blue cities’ of Jaipur and Jodhpur, the people of Rajasthan are the most colourfully dressed and heavily jewelled in India. This tour takes you on a big loop of the state, covering the major areas of interest.
Rajasthan’s majestic forts and palaces are a testament to its turbulent history, one marked by internal wars and frequent invasions from east and west. Out of this conflict emerged an ‘honourable warrior’ characteristic, which today manifests as a regal, upstanding and charismatic demeanour in the people. Rajasthan’s palaces are surely the most sumptuous in India – the craftsmanship, detail and sheer extravagance will leave you speechless.
Group size: max 15, av. 10.
Tempo: on the go.
Included: accommodation, transport, local escort and local guides, two meals per day, entrance fees.
Accommodation: conventional and heritage hotels, 3 or 4/5 star depending on departure.
Transport: 18 seater air-conditioned mini-coach
Combines with: ends in time for start of North Kerala and Karnataka Fixed Departure Tour.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi On arrival in Delhi you will be met by your tour escort and transferred to the hotel and assisted with check in. Delhi, India's capital, is a colourful, busy, chaotic city packed with museums, art galleries, historic sites, shops and bazaars. It would take weeks to discover all that is Delhi.
Day 2: Delhi After breakfast we head to Old Delhi with an expert guide. The former centre of Mughal Power, Old Delhi is a mix of ancient monuments, narrow streets and bustling bazaars. We visit Jama Masjid, the greatest mosque in India; take a cycle-rickshaw ride through the crowded bazaars; visit Raj Ghat, the simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. In the afternoon we continue on to New Delhi, including the stately government buildings and Presidential Palace; ending the tour at the towering minaret of Qutab Minar.
Day 3: Delhi – Mandawa During the 5 hour drive to Mandawa we see the scenery gradually change to the desert landscape typical of Rajasthan. On reaching Mandawa, transfer to hotel. A small town in the Shekhawati region, Mandawa is well known for its havelis (stone-work homes). In the afternoon we take a walking tour of the painted havelis with a local guide. Though many are no longer inhabited, the local caretakers are happy to show visitors around. Evening optional dinner with a local family (included in the price).
Day 4: Mandawa – Bikaner After breakfast we have the opportunity to visit a nearby village and meet the village headman. We then continue on 4 hours to Bikaner, en route visiting Nawalgarh, where the regions famous frescoes can be seen. Lying in the north of Rajasthan, the area around Bikaner is dotted with many sand dunes, while Bikaner itself, having been once heavily fortified, has a medieval splendour. In the afternoon we take a short tour, including a visit to a camel-breeding farm, the only one in Asia.
Day 5: Bikaner – Jaisalmer Breakfast at the hotel before proceeding to 6 hours to Jaisalmer. Rising from the heart of the Thar Desert is the city of Jaisalmer. Constructed with luminous yellow sandstone, the fort stands with awesome splendour, dominating the amber-hued city. On reaching Jaisalmer transfer to hotel and remainder of the day free.
Day 6: Jaisalmer After a leisurely breakfast proceed for full day sightseeing tour of the city. Visit Jaisalmer fort, where people live and commerce takes place within the fort walls. Later in the afternoon drive 1 hour to Khuri, where you have the option (included in the price) of a short camel trek to reach the huge sand dunes, a beautiful spot from which to watch the sunset over the dunes. Later in the evening enjoy a dance performance, along with dinner at Khuri Village.
Day 7: Jaisalmer – Jodhpur This morning we continue our journey through the Thar desert with a 6 hour drive to Jodhpur. The massive 15th century Mehrangarh Fort looms over Jodhpur, soaring 125 meters above the plains. The city is encompassed by a high wall, 10 kms long, with 8 gates and innumerable bastions. Later in the afternoon we visit the fort with an expert local guide.
Day 8: Jodhpur – Rohet After a leisurely breakfast drive 1 hour to the small village of Rohet. Our accommodation in Rohet is in a heritage homestead. After check-in, we head out on a ‘Village Safari’, giving you the opportunity to see how life unfolds in a traditional Rajasthani village. Afternoon free by the pool.
Day 9: Rohet – Udaipur Breakfast at the hotel and then depart Rohet for a 5 hour drive to Udaipur, with a stop en route to visit the Ranakpur temple. Dating back to the 15th century, the temples 1444 marble pillars, none of which are alike, support 29 meticulously constructed halls. Continue on to Udaipur, a lovely city, situated on an azure lake, and hemmed in by the lush Aravalli hills. Afternoon free in Udaipur, a pleasant place for an evening sunset stroll and dinner at a restaurant by the lake.
Day 10: Udaipur After breakfast, start a sightseeing tour of Udaipur with a visit to the City Palace – endless rooms of mirrored walls and ivory doors, coloured glass windows and inlaid marble balconies. On the tour you will also visit the lovely Sahelion-ki-Bari gardens, the Jagdish Temple, and the local folk museum. Later in the day enjoy a boat cruise on the placid waters of Lake Pichola.
Day 11: Udaipur - Pushkar In the morning we begin the 6 hour drive to Pushkar; on arrival, check into your hotel. The main temple – one amongst 500 here – is the only Brahma temple in the world. On reaching Pushkar transfer to hotel and then head out with a local guide for a short walking tour of the town (optional activity included in the price). Rest of the evening at leisure or spend the time along the ghats (steps) of Pushkar.
Day 12: Pushkar – Jaipur After a 3 hour drive to Jaipur, arrive and check into a peaceful heritage hotel. Jaipur, the capital and 'pink city' of Rajasthan, is a friendly, busy town, with its palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts and handicrafts. Afternoon free for a walk in the bazaars or relax at the hotel. In the early evening drive to Chokhi Dhani, an ethnic village camp, complete with folk dancers, musicians, shops and a traditional Rajashtani meal.
Day 13: Jaipur A busy day exploring Jaipur lies ahead, with a visit to Amber Fort, the photogenic Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), still inhabited City Palace and Museum, and Maharaja Jai Singh's astronomy park. In the afternoon, there is the option to visit to the famous Raj Mandir cinema to catch a Bollywood film, or to go shopping in the local bazaars, where bargaining is as much a part of the fun as the purchase.
Day 14: Jaipur – Fatehpur Sikri – Agra Early departure for 5 hour drive to Fatehpur Sikri. This red sandstone city was abandoned promptly after completion, meaning it has survived in pristine condition. After a short tour, continue on for 1 hour to Jaipur and transfer to hotel. 400 year ago, two great Mughal monarchs transformed the village of Agra into a city befitting the glory of the mighty Mughal empire, one of them building a monument unrivalled for beauty.
Day 15: Agra – Delhi Wake up before dawn to reach the Taj Mahal in time to enjoy the sight of the sun rising over the dome of this magnificent monument. After seeing the Taj with an expert local guide, return to the hotel for breakfast, before heading out again with our guide to see Agra Fort and optional visit to see the Taj Mahal from the other side of the River Yamuna. After lunch, begin the 4 hour drive to Delhi; transfer to hotel for a wash, change and dinner, before transfer to airport to connect with a flight home or to onward Indian city for further travel.