India - Rajasthan Encompassed


India - Rajasthan Encompassed

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 16 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive Delhi

Arrive in Delhi, the capital of India, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Florence Inn Hotel, New Delhi, or similar.

Day 2 – Agra and the Taj Mahal

Take the early morning express train to Agra, home to arguably the most celebrated and beautiful building in the world: the Taj Mahal, built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb and memorial for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Along the river Yamuna is the impressive Red Fort with fantastic and photogenic views of the Taj. The Red Fort was the capital of the golden age of the Moghul Empire and thus of India during the 16th and 17th centuries. Overnight at the hotel Taj Resorts, or similar. (B)

Day 3 – Karauli

Drive to Karauli, midway between Agra and Ranthambore. The town boasts the magnificent Old City Palace, built in 1635, which is a treasure trove of architecture, stone carvings, gorgeous jali work and classic paintings. Karauli also has an captivating bazaar full of exclusive items of handicraft, stone carvings and colourful bangles. Just outside Karauli is the renowned Bhanwar Vilas Palace, the residence of the Maharaja, and is now a beautiful heritage hotel, where you stay for the night. (B)

Day 4 – Ranthambore

Continue to  Sawai Madhopur, your base for visiting the beautiful Ranthambore National Park, one of the best opportunities in India in which to see a tiger in the wild. You take an afternoon safari by purpose built vehicles for up to 20 people to explore the expanses of the famous park. The varied landscapes, flora and fauna within the park are compelling and the wildlife safari is an intriguing experience even if tigers prove elusive. Overnight Ranthambhore Bagh, or similar. (B)

Day 5 – Jaipur

Your drive to Jaipur is punctuated by stop-offs, typical of Rajasthan’s plethora of attractions: visit the abandoned former Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sikri; view some of the extraordinary array of colourful and rare birds at this former maharaja’s hunting lake sanctuary at Bharatpur; inspect the colossal 5th-century stepwell in the tiny village of Abhaneri. Jaipur is one of the most arresting cities in India with exuberant 18th and 19th century palaces and an exotic street life. It is worthwhile spending any leisure time wandering through the vivacious bazaars. Overnight at Madhuban Hotel, or similar. (B)

Day 6 – Jaipur

Today, after breakfast, you’ll enjoy a guided morning tour of Jaipur’s famous City Palace, the astonishing stone observatory of Jantar Mantar, and the Hawa Mahal (a pink sandstone facade of a palace with a profusion of windows and stone screens). In the afternoon your guided visit to the fabulous Amber Fort reveals a magnificent complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples. Overnight at Madhuban Hotel, or similar. (B)

Day 7 – Pushkar

Drive to Pushkar, a desert oasis on a holy lake. The afternoon is at leisure to explore the lakeside with its compelling holy men, pilgrims and temples. Hundreds of small temples are built on the periphery of the lake with wide stone steps or `ghats' leading down to the lake. A magical quality of light hovers over the lake, bouncing off the surrounding white-washed temples and bathing ghats. At sunset Pushkar turns into one of the most exotic places on earth. Overnight at Pushkar Palace, or similar. (B)

Day 8– Chandelao

Drive to the small and tranquil heritage hotel of Chandelao Garh. Here, with no other tourists around, you can interact with the community and learn about the rich art, culture and heritage of Rajasthan. On an afternoon village tour by jeep you will see the local craftsmen at work, and will visit a Bishnoi tribal family in their traditional home. You will see local women in traditional attire fetching water from the wells, and gain a fascinating and authentic insight into traditional Indian village life. Overnight at Chandelao Garh, or similar. (B) 

Day 9- Jodhpur

Continue to the `Blue City' of Jodhpur. Standing at the edge of the vast, arid Thar desert, Jodhpur is dominated by the massive Meherangarh Fort, which you can visit in the afternoon. The fort houses an excellent museum and affords captivating views of the blue Brahmin houses of the old city. The clock tower is a popular landmark in the old city. Narrow alleys lead from here to bazaars for textiles, silver and handicrafts. It's a fascinating jumble of winding streets of great interest to wander around. Overnight at Pal Haveli Hotel, or similar. (B) 

Day 10 – Jaisalmer

Cross the desert to the `Golden City' of Jaisalmer, looming magically out of the horizon. Within the fortress walls the cobbled streets are strewn with stunning palaces, beautiful mansions, and Jain temples that were built between the 12th and 15th centuries. Overnight at Nachana Haveli Hotel, or similar. (B) 

Day 11 – Thar Desert

The best way to experience the Thar Desert which surrounds Jaisalmer is on an overnight camel safari. Leaving Jaisalmer in the mid afternoon, you enjoy a half hour jeep ride, and, avoiding the more crowded area around Sam, you board camels for a ride lasting approximately 2 hours through a peaceful and unspoilt area of the Thar Desert, passing through a mix of scrub, bushes, and sand dunes as the light turns from gold to dusky pink. The camp is set up in a peaceful location close to sand dunes, where the camp staff tend to your needs. The tents are simple, but all bedding is supplied, and hot water is provided for washing. The camp staff prepare the dinner and breakfast, and the highlight is often spending the evening under a blanket of stars. Overnight Guru Kripa tented camp, or similar (BD)

Day 12 – Jaisalmer

In the morning, there is a second camel ride on a different route for around an hour before rejoining the jeep for the drive back to Jaisalmer, arriving in the mid morning. In the afternoon you will go on a guided walking tour of the Old City. Jaisalmer, with its narrow cobbled lanes, is a wonderful place to wander around on foot. The fort itself is not simply a monument, but is home to a community of several thousand people. Within it you can see some attractive Jain temples, fascinating architecture, and enjoy superb views over the city and the desert beyond from the many vantage points on its walls. Hidden amongst the narrow lanes leading off the main market street are several elaborate and opulent havelis. Stay in Nachana Haveli, or similar. (B)

Day 13 – Bhenswara

Today you drive to Bhenswara, a rarely visited part of Rajasthan. The region around Bhenswara is interesting as it is home to some of the more pastoral tribes of India. The rock-strewn region of Bhenswara is also the natural habitat for panthers and your host at Bhenswara is a keen panther-watcher. You have the option to join a thrilling, eerie evening safari to try and get a glimpse of this elusive animal. Stay at Ravla Bhenswara Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 14 – Udaipur

The last stop on the itinerary is the beautiful `White City' of Udaipur. Set around the vast Pichola Lake and dominated by dramatic palaces, Udaipur is surely Rajasthan's most picturesque city. High, whitewashed houses and narrow, winding alleys lend it an almost medieval charm. The huge City Palace, still the residence of the Maharana, is intricately carved out of yellow sandstone and stands on the banks of Lake Pichola, from where you have fabulous views over the balmy waters and the famous Lake Palace Hotel. Overnight at Poonam Haveli, or similar. (B) 

Day 15 – Udaipur

Enjoy a guided morning tour of the elaborate palaces and temples, followed by a boat trip on Lake Pichola to experience an entirely different angle on the elegance of the city. In the afternoon you have ample time at leisure to seek out a bargain in the markets, or to relax in a friendly cafe overlooking the lake, whilst enjoying Udaipor’s renowned teas, coffees and spicy pakodas. Overnight at Poonam Haveli or similar. (B)

Day 16 – Departure

Transfer to Udaipur where the tour ends with a transfer to the airport for your onward flight (B)

If you wish to have extra time in Udaipur or Delhi, please contact us for prices.


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