It combines not only the palaces and imposing hilltop forts of the Mughals, but also exquisite ancient temples, the colonial heritage of British India, rich and varied wildlife, and the unspoiled peace and natural beauty of the countryside.
We begin our journey in Delhi exploring the contrast between bustling Old Delhi and Sir Edwin Lutyen’s New Delhi. After a visit to Agra and the impressive Agra Fort and the spectacular Taj Mahal, we continue to Bharatpur for a visit to the famous Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Next we explore the ‘Rose City’ of Jaipur, with its colourful markets and eclectic blend of architecture including the magnificent Amber Fort before enjoying a couple of days of unspoilt rural Rajasthan at the imposing hilltop fort at Deogarh. We reach the beautiful city of Udaipur, often referred to as the “Venice of the East”, to explore the treasures of the imposing City Palace complex, visit the Jagdish Temple and enjoy a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola. The tour finishes with a relaxing stay in the royal residence on the banks of Gaibsagar Lake before ending our journey back in Delhi.
LONDON / DELHI
Evening departure from London Heathrow on a British Airways flight to Delhi.
On arrival transfer to the Oberoi Maidens Hotel, an elegant colonial hotel located in the centre of New Delhi, where two nights are spent. Afternoon orientation tour of Delhi. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning tour of Sir Edwin Lutyens’ New Delhi, passing India Gate, the Parliament Building and Qutb Minar, the world’s tallest brick minaret.
Lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon rickshaw ride through Old Delhi’s bustling and vibrant Chandni Chowk market place and a visit to the Jama Masjid Mosque, the largest mosque in India. Evening visit to the local markets and bazaars. Dinner under own arrangements.
DELHI / AGRA
Transfer with luggage to Delhi Station to board the train to Agra. On arrival, visit the Taj Mahal, the world’s greatest monument to love and devotion, with its superb craftsmanship of semi-precious stones inlaid into the marble in beautiful patterns, a process known as pietra dura.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to the impressive 16th century Agra Fort, which was started in 1565 by Akbar with later additions made by his son, Jahangir, and grandson, Shah Jahan. End the afternoon with a visit to the white marble Tomb of Itimad ud Daulah, known as the Baby Taj, considered to be the forerunner of the Taj Mahal and profusely decorated with non-precious stone inlay work. Overnight at the Taj Gateway Hotel, set in extensive gardens and with views of the Taj Mahal. Dinner at the hotel.
AGRA / BHARATPUR
Drive to Bharatpur with a visit en route to the deserted red sandstone Moghul city of Fatephur Sikri, 40 kms from Agra. The city was built by Emperor Akbar as his splendid capital and palace in the late 16th century and in its heyday was the most important artistic centre in South Asia. One long bazaar connected the city to Agra and its wealth is reflected in the impressive buildings that remain today. Fatephur Sikri was abandoned after 15 years and stands in near perfect condition allowing the visitor an interesting glimpse into everyday life at the Moghul court.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Check in at the simple but comfortable Birder’s Inn Hotel in Bharatpur where one night is spent. The hotel is situated near Keoladeo Ghana National Park, one of the most famous bird sanctuaries in the world. Dinner at the hotel.
BHARATPUR / JAIPUR
Early morning visit to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Drive to Jaipur, known as the ‘Rose City’, having been painted pink in 1876. En route visit the Chand Baori stepwell at Abhaneri, one of the largest and most beautiful stepwells in India built during the 8th and 9th centuries.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Check-in to Dera Mandawa where two nights are spent. Dera Mandawa offers a lovely combination of staying in a beautiful heritage boutique hotel with a traditional home-stay experience in the heart of Jaipur. Built 125 years ago by Thakur Jait Singhji of Mandawa the hotel is now home to his great grandson Thakur Durga Singh who will be your charming and welcoming host. Remainder of the afternoon to relax. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning visit to the impressive Amber Fort which dates from the 16th / 17th centuries, where the majestic 18km ramparts rise steeply above its hilltop site and elephants carry visitors up to the entrance gate. Within, a series of courtyards lead to a rich interior of lavishly decorated pavilions, rooms and apartments – gold and silver, coloured and mirrored glass, carved marble, plaster and wood and exquisite wall paintings abound. Walk to Anokhi Museum, located in a magnificently restored haveli, containing a selection of block printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects – all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition.
Lunch at Samodi Haveli. Visit the Maharaja’s City Palace and the 18th century Royal Observatory (Jantar Mantar) with its monumental sundials and signs of the zodiac. See the magnificent Hawa Mahal, known as the Palace of the Winds, an elaborate five storey façade of windows and tracery from where the ladies of the court used to sit and observe the outside world and enjoy the cooling breezes (hence the name).
This evening drive to Dera Amer, an elephant camp run outside a local family’s ancestral home. Located at the foothills of the Aravali Range and surrounded by just a few hamlets housing the local villagers, the birdlife in the area is thriving and occasionally hyenas and wolves have been sighted in the surrounding hills. Feed and wash the elephants before dinner at the camp.
JAIPUR / DEOGARH
Depart (with luggage) for Deogarh and check-in to the Deogarh Mahal where one night is spent. Known as the ‘Abode of the Gods’, Deogarh Mahal is a magnificent, rambling hill top fort nestled in the Aravali Hills dotted with a number of old, majestic forts and over a hundred lakes. This unique hotel, with décor reflecting the Rajput era, is run by the local ruling family and every guest is treated with the traditional Mewari hospitality.
Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon spent relaxing or exploring the Rajasthani town. Dinner at the hotel.
DEOGARH / UDAIPUR
Depart for the World Heritage Sight of Kumbhalgarh Fort, one of the most impressive fortresses in the ancient Kingdom of Mewar. Built during the course of the 15th century by Rana Kumbha and enlarged throughout the 19th century, it sits on a hilltop 1100 meters above sea level and its perimeter walls extend over 36 km, making it the second longest wall in the world. Kumbhalgarh fort and its adjoining areas have been declared a wildlife sanctuary which protects one of the India’s few families of wolves as well as leopards and flying squirrels.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to Udaipur, the ‘city of dreams’, which is considered one of the most romantic cities in India. In contrast to some of its desert neighbours, it presents an enchanting image of white marble palaces, placid blue lakes and green hills that keep the wilderness at bay. It is an oasis of colour in a stark and arid region. On arrival, transfer to Kankarwa Haveli, situated in the heart of the old city at Lal Ghat on the shores of Lake Pichola, where two nights are spent. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning visit to the superb 17th century Jagdish Temple noted for its imposing 25-metre pagoda covered with bas-relief of horsemen, dancers, musicians and elephants, along with black stone images of Vishnu as Jagannath. Continue to the grand City Palace complex which towers over Lake Pichola, started in 1567 by Maharana Udai Singh with carefully integrated subsequent additions. Within are a series of courtyards, corridors and gardens, along with a fascinating collection of museums and beautiful traditional miniature paintings.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Evening cruise on Lake Pichola, followed by dinner at the hotel.
UDAIPUR / DUNGARPUR
Morning at leisure to walk around the shops and market.
Lunch at the hotel. Depart (with luggage) for Dungarpur and check-in to the Udai Bilas Palace where two nights are spent. Still the royal residence, the exquisitely detailed palace is nestled in idyllic splendour, with the blue waters of Gaibsagar Lake on one side and a cove of private reserve forest on the other. Udai Bilas Palace is the embodiment of the old-world charm of princely India. Dating back from the 19th century, the palace features intricate sculptured pillars and panels, ornate balconies, balustrades, bracketed windows, arches and frieze of marble carvings, it is a veritable marvel of Rajput architecture. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning visit to the Juna Mahal (old palace), constructed in the 13th century, protected by the natural defences of a rocky peak some 1500 ft. above sea level. This seven-storied structure resembles a fortress with crenelated walls, turrets and narrow entrances and passage ways to slow down the enemy. Inside, the palace is embellished with frescoes, miniature paintings, glass and mirror inlay work.
Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon bird watching on the lake. Dungarpur is perfect for nature lovers. You might be able to spot egrets, night and pond herons, white necked and painted storks, coots, winter or resident ducks as well as a selection of migratory birds. Dinner at the hotel.
DUNGARPUR / UDAIPUR / DELHI
Morning to relax at the pool or by the lake before transferring to Udaipur Airport for a domestic flight to Delhi Airport. Transfer to the Trident Gurgaon Hotel, where one night is spent. Conveniently located for the airport, the Trident hotel offers a tranquil setting with 7 acres of stunning landscaped gardens, walkways, courtyards, reflection pools and fountains.
Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner at the hotel.
UDAIPUR / LONDON
Early morning transfer to Delhi International Airport for a British Airways morning flight to London arriving in the early afternoon.