Princely palaces, romantic lake side towns in the desert, camel trains and, of course, the Taj Mahal - this trip to North India takes in all these and more.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi. You’ll be met on arrival in Delhi and transferred to your hotel. Assuming a late afternoon/evening arrival, there is no scheduled programme for the day, you’re your hotel in Delhi will be close to some interesting markets and you can stroll around these as you wish. Overnight in Delhi.
Day 2: Delhi. A full day of sightseeing with a knowledgeable local guide to cover some of the many highlights of Old and New Delhi- places visited will include Jama Masjid - India’s grandest mosque - Humayun’s Tomb, Qutb Minar- the tallest minaret tower in Asia and Raj Ghat, the simple but evocative memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Overnight in Delhi.
Day 3: Delhi - Agra. Four hour morning drive to Agra- on arrival check into your hotel before meeting your guide for a tour of the Taj Mahal. Your time at the Taj will not be rushed, allowing you to spend as much as you want prior to the sunset closing time to absorb the atmosphere of this incredibly special place. Overnight in Agra.
Day 4: Agra- Jaipur. You’ll have the option to revisit the Taj at dawn, although in the winter months the air quality often means that the fabled sunrise colour-effects won’t be quite as remarkable as in the summer. Later depart Agra and drive to Jaipur (the ‘Pink City’) with a stop en route at Fatehpur Sikri. Overnight in Jaipur.
Day 5: Jaipur. Begin your full day of sightseeing in Jaipur with a short drive out of town to Amber Fort, where you can ascend the ramparts on elephant-back. Tour the fort and later return to Jaipur city to visit the Palace of the Winds, City Palace and Jantar Mantar, one of the most unusual astronomical observatories anywhere. Time later in the day to visit the markets and bazaars of the old, walled area of the city- these are some of the most compelling markets in India and whether you buy anything or not is almost irrelevant- this is an overload for all the senses and an experience not to be forgotten. Overnight in Jaipur.
Day 6: Jaipur - Pushkar. Drive for 3 hours through ‘classic’ Rajasthani countryside with small towns along the way amidst large stretches of seemingly empty desert, to Pushkar, a small town nestled around the shores of a sacred lake. Explore the town on foot and enjoy the slower pace of rural life after the hustle and bustle of the big cities experienced so far. Overnight in Pushkar.
Day 7: Pushkar - Jodhpur. Depart Pushkar and drive 4 hours to Jodhpur. In Rajasthan, many of the major cities are defined by a colour - Pink in Jaipur for the colour of the buildings in the old city (purely decorative), while Jodhpur is the Blue City, the colour being the best (supposedly) for repelling mosquitoes. In the afternoon, spend some time in the old city of Jodhpur with markets famous for spices, textiles and elaborate jewelry. Overnight in Jodhpur.
Day 8: Jodhpur - Jaisalmer. Morning tour of Meherangarh Fort and the nearby Royal Cenotaphs- Meherangarh dominates the skyline of Jodhpur from its position high on a ridge above the city. The fort is immensely impressive from the foot of the hill, and becomes even more imposing as you approach it. Tour this edifice with a local guide, and in later head west into the furthest reaches of the Tahr desert, to reach Jaisalmer by late afternoon. Any sunset in Jaisalmer is tinged with a little bit of mystique as the sun’s golden orb sinks below the vast desert horizon - you can take a short drive out of town to see this spectacle. Overnight in Jaisalmer.
Day 9: Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer- the Golden City- has a totally different feel to its bigger cousins to the east and south- there is a true frontier feel here and the fact that the Fort is ‘living’ (people still live and work inside its walls) gives the whole place a sense of romance and adventure. Take as long as you like today to explore the Fort and surrounding old city area. Jaisalmer is a great place to forgo a guide and find your own way around. Later in the day, drive out of town to the beginnings of the true sand dunes and take a short camel ride to view yet another spectacular desert sunset. Return to town, overnight in Jaisalmer.
Day 10: Jaisalmer - Rohet Garh. Leave Jaisalmer and head south towards the small town of Rohet and the delightful Rohet Garh, one of the finest heritage hotels in Rajasthan. Enjoy a relaxed afternoon in the company of your hosts, and enjoy a stroll in the grounds. Overnight at Rohet Garh.
Day 11: Rohet Garh. The Bishnoi people who inhabit much of the western desert of Rajasthan are a semi-nomadic people with a strong ethos of protecting the fragile environment which supports them. Today you can visit the Bishnoi in the company of your hosts at Rohet and gain an appreciation of their lifestyle and the natural beauty of this region. Overnight at Rohet Garh.
Day 12: Rohet Garh - Udaipur. Continue the journey south to Udaipur with a stop en route at Ranakpur - the most sacred site in the Jain religion. The temples here are the apex of Jain architecture and are quite staggeringly beautiful. Continue on to Udaipur - this time not defined by a colour but instead styled as ‘India’s most romantic city’ Regardless of the veracity of that claim, Udaipur certainly has one of the most picturesque settings in the country, with the charming buildings of the old city clustered around the shores of manmade Lake Pichola. You’ll have time to explore the markets of the old city in the late afternoon, and later enjoy an evening meal overlooking the lake. Overnight in Udaipur.
Day 13: Udaipur. Your last full day in Rajasthan begins with a tour of Udaipur- the City Palace dominates the skyline here, towering over Lake Pichola. Nearby is the small but intricate Jagannath temple. In the afternoon there are a number of options - take a boat ride on Lake Pichola, visit artisans at work (Udaipur is famous for miniature paintings and silver work in particular) or take a drive out of town for one more fort experience - Kumbhalgarh is arguably even more impressive than the previous forts you’ve encountered, and its remote location means few tourists visit it. It is possible that you may, depending on your ultimate departure time from Delhi, be able to include Kumbhalgarh on Day 14 prior to your flight. Overnight in Udaipur.
Day 14: Udaipur - Delhi - Depart. On arrival in Delhi you’ll be met and assisted with the transfer to the international terminal, or to an airport hotel depending on your schedule.