Taj Mahal And A Taste Of Rajasthan
Princely palaces, camel trains, bustling markets, serene villages 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. 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
Further time in Delhi in the morning for either a heritage walking tour or a cycle-rickshaw tour in Old Delhi’s wonderfully evocative markets. While Delhi’s traffic is pretty awful, if you get into those parts where cars simply can’t go, there is still a semblance of an old-world where things are still pretty hectic and chaotic, but in a way which is somehow more charming. After your off-road (or out-of-car!) exploration, head back to the hotel and drive to Agra in the afternoon. Overnight in Agra
Day 4 - Agra
Most people skip over Agra way too quickly and miss a lot of this city’s history and less-visited places. Your time here won’t begin, as most people’s does, with joining the tourist crush at the Taj at dawn, but instead by means of a countryside tour to see a completely different aspect of the city: even though on this tour you’re never more than a couple of kilometres from the Taj, the feel is like stepping back in time as the understated charms of rural life unfold before you. After 2 or 3 hours in this environment, by which time the coach parties are on their way to Jaipur or back to Delhi, you can head back to your hotel, have breakfast and then tour the sights of Agra during the middle part of the day when crowds are less intense. Allowing plenty of time at the Taj is always recommended. Other worthwhile places include Agra Fort and the Baby Taj. In the evening, there is a really nice option to join the same guide who was with you on the countryside tour in the morning for a tour of Agra’s markets and a sampling of the city’s best street food. Overnight in Agra.
Day 5 - Agra - Jaipur
Depart Agra after breakfast and head to Jaipur with en route stops at Fatehpur Sikri and Abhaneri step-well. Fatehpur Sikri is a well-known and much-visited site about 30 minutes’ outside Agra- it was briefly the capital of the Mughal empire but due to chronic water shortages had to be abandoned; as a result it is preserved in remarkably good condition. Closer to Jaipur is one of India’s most impressive step-wells which is a less extensive site but still worth a stop and a look around. On arrival in Jaipur, settle in and relax. Overnight in Jaipur.
Day 6 - Jaipur
Like Agra, Jaipur is quite touristic and the crowds at the major places of sightseeing interest can be significant. The best way to avoid the worst of the crowds is to begin your sightseeing in the city, the Palace of the Winds, City Palace and Jantar Mantar, one of the most unusual astronomical observatories anywhere then heading out to Amber Fort in the afternoon when most of the crowds have headed into the city. As amazing as all these major sights are, for many people it’s the markets within the old, walled city which are the most memorable thing about Jaipur. 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 7 - Jaipur- Jodhpur
There are two options today, either take a train (early start required as it leaves at 6am!) or driving. You’ll keep the same vehicle either way, but the drive is a bit longer so many people take this as an opportunity to experience an intercity Indian train journey. You destination today is one of the most atmospheric cities in all of India. Jodhpur, the ‘Blue City’, is slowly modernising but apparently still, in a city of 800,000 plus, only has 2 supermarkets (as of 2018) so tradition lives on here and you’ll be able to experience this by way of one or more walking tours in the old city area. However you reach Jodhpur, you’ll be free this afternoon to settle in and relax, but be sure to head into the city in the evening to sample the markets clustered around the clocktower and surrounding area. Overnight in Jodhpur
Day 8 - Jodhpur
A full day here with a walking tour, sightseeing including the wonderful Mehrangarh Fort and nearby royal cenotaphs plus options for excursions into the desert as well. The fort is immensely impressive from the foot of the hill, and becomes even more imposing as you approach it Jodhpur is best experienced by staying at one of several fabulous heritage hotels near to the main market area- this way the most vibrant and interesting parts of the city are literally at your doorstep. Several excellent co-ops supporting local villagers and particularly working to empower local women operate boutiques in the old city of Jodhpur- these are well worth supporting. Overnight in Jodhpur
Day 9 - Jodhpur - Jaisalmer
Depart at your leisure and west into the furthest reaches of the Thar desert, to reach Jaisalmer in around 6 hours. 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 10 - 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 11 - 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 12 - 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 13 - Rohet Garh - Udaipur
Continue the journey south to Udaipur with stops en route at Ranakpur - the most sacred site in the Jain religion and Kumbhalgarh Fort. The temples at Ranakpur are the apex of Jain architecture and are quite staggeringly beautiful. Kumbhalgarh is arguably even more impressive than the previous forts you’ve encountered, and its remote location means relatively few tourists visit it. 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. Enjoy an evening meal overlooking the lake. Overnight in Udaipur.
Day 14 - 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). Overnight in Udaipur.
Day 15 - Udaipur - Delhi
Get transferred to the airport to board the flight to Delhi.
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.