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Beginning and ending in Delhi, this tour will take you on a 15-day odyssey through the culture, history, magic and grandeur of the historic land of India’s rajas. Head west to Mandawa, on the ancient trading route of traders from China and Afghanistan and stay in a beautiful historic haveli. Then continue towards the far reaches of northwest India and visit markets brimming with fresh produce, bangles and textiles. Tour forts, once home to powerful rulers of days gone by in Bikaner. Ride a camel in the thar desert and learn Indian dancing moves under the wide-open sky. Stay in Jaisalmer, a fascinating city situated on a citadel, like a mirage in the desert. Visit Jodhpur, the “Blue City” and home of the Rathore rulers in Rajasthan, and tour the intricately adorned Mehrangarh Fort, built in 1459. Then depart for Udaipur, the “Lake City” of Rajasthan and certainly one of the most popular cities in India for Indian tourists, and take a sunset cruise on beautiful Lake Pichola. In Jaipur, you’ll see the Pink City at night and take an elephant ride up to the Amber Fort. Learn block printing at the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing and learn how the first astrologers took their measurements of the skies. Then you’ll get to view the Taj Mahal under the light of the full moon, a superbly memorable experience! We’ll stay at a wonderful mix of three- and four-star properties, and have true local experiences in each city we visit. Join us February 10-24, 2016 for this 15 day/14 night tour, or we can plan this as a private excursion on dates of your choosing.
|Day 1||Arrive in Delhi||Delhi|
|Day 2||Explore Delhi||Delhi|
|Day 3||Drive to Mandawa||Mandawa|
|Day 4||Drive to Gajner||Gajner|
|Day 5||Drive to Jaisalmer||Jaisalmer|
|Day 6||Explore Jaisalmer||Jaisalmer|
|Day 7||Drive to Jodhpur||Jodhpur|
|Day 8||Drive to Udaipur||Udaipur|
|Day 9||Explore Udaipur||Udaipur|
|Day 10||Drive to Devgarh||Devgarh|
|Day 11||Drive to Jaipur||Jaipur|
|Day 12||Explore Jaipur||Jaipur|
|Day 13||Drive to Agra||Agra|
|Day 14||Drive to Delhi||Delhi|
|Day 15||Final departure|
Welcome to Delhi, the capital city of India. Enjoy your free afternoon to explore. (No meals).
Today we will explore the history and culture of Delhi, one of India’s oldest cities that was founded nearly 1900 years ago. The city has been raised out of ashes and ruins seven times – beginning with the Tomars of the 7-8th century, the Khaljis, the Tughlaqs, the Saiyads, The Lodis, the Moghuls and finally the British, each has contributed to the colorful history of the city.
The city tour will begin in Old Delhi where we will get on bicycles and take a short, easy pedal to the largest mosque in India, Jama Masjid and then on to Raj Ghat, the historical monument where Gandhi was cremated. In New Delhi we’ll visit the architectural inspiration for the Taj Mahah Humayun’s Tomb and then the QutbMinar in Connaught Place, with its distinct Afghan architecture. The tour will take us to several other places of interest including the Government Buildings and the India Gate. (B, D)
We will depart early for our journey to Mandawa, an ancient trading town in the Shekhawati region. Located between Bikaner and Delhi, this area was a major stop for ancient rich merchants travelling from the Middle East to China. From the 17th century through the early 20thcentury, traders built imposing mansions called havelis. The town of Nawalgarh offers many well-preserved examples of these traditional houses, evoking the richness and elegance of Morocco’s most magnificent riads. We’ll have an opportunity to tour the Murarka and Podar Havelis, transporting us into the wonders of the past. (B, D)
After breakfast depart Mandawa towards Bikaner, a bustling walled city on the ancient caravan routes from Africa and West Asia. The fort, founded by Raja Rai Singh, is distinguished by its dark red sandstone havelis and exquisitely painted Jain temples. This area is famous for the intricate rich gold painting work by Muslim Usta artisans. On our way towards Gajner, we will stop at the government-run Camel Breeding Farm where they keep over 200 camels at all times for breeding and research, a very unique stop on the outskirts of Bikaner. (B, D)
Today we will make our way towards the most impressive desert city in India, Jaisalmer. This citadel city was built in the 12th century is an architectural dream in yellow sandstone of the Thar Desert. The dramatic site inspired Jaisal, a Bhatti Prince, to build a settlement right in the heart of a desolate desert. The forts and palaces and several superbly carved Jain temples in and around Jaisalmer are reminiscent of a glorious history. (B, D)
Following breakfast proceed for morning sightseeing tour of Jaisalmer city to include some of the most important monuments and temples in this desert town. In the afternoon, we will travel to Sam Dunes for a sunset camel ride across the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. Afterwards enjoy a festive dinner while listening to Rajasthani musicians play traditional music. Be captivated by the natural beauty and peace of the Indian desert! (B, D)
Depart early for a five-hour drive to Jodhpur, the historic home of the Rathore rulers of Rajasthan. In the afternoon, we will explore the beautiful Blue City of Jodhpur, so named for the trademark bright color on most of the buildings here. On the outside of town, a high stone wall protects the well fortified city, and on the inside stands Mehrangarh Fort, an imposing building on a sandstone hill approximately 400 feet above the city. We’ll tour the Mehrangarh Fort, founded in 1459 AD by Rao Jodha, the namesake of Jodhpur. The fort is intricately adorned with long carved panels and unique red sandstone latticed windows. Take time to explore the medieval city streets and allies, and taste some of the local favorites at the vibrant market. (B, D)
Following breakfast, head south towards Udaipur. On your way there, stop at the spectacular Jain Temples at Ranakpur which sport an impressive 80 domes and 400 pillars! This evening will be free to explore the bustling ancient bazaars and winding, colorful alleys of this “most romantic city in India”, so dubbed by travelers over the centuries. early for a five-hour drive to Jodhpur, the historic home of the Rathore rulers of Rajasthan. (B, D)
Udaipur’s centerpoint is Lake Pichola, surrounded on all sides by the wooded Aravalli Hills which stretch in every direction for miles. Udaipur is a cool oasis in the dry heart of Rajasthan. The huge city palace towering over the lake is the largest palace complex in all of Rajasthan. Though it is a conglomeration of buildings built by successive rulers, it manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design and affords very fine views of the lake and city from the upper terraces. The Jagadish temple is home to a sacred black stone image of Vishnu on a mighty garuda. The temple is one of the finest examples of Indo-Aryan Art. We’ll drive a short distance to Sri Eklingji, a holy Shiva temple built in the 16th century and located in the village of Kailashpuri. This evening, after a sunset boat ride on Lake Pichola, we’ll enjoy a spectacular dance performance called TehraTaal. (B, D)
Depart Udaipur for Deogarh, a wonderfully welcome small town in Rajasthan. In the afternoon, board a train for a unique ride around Deogarh. Passing through breathtaking scenery, this railway passes over dramatic bridges, through tunnels, brushes waterfalls and jungles of the Ravli Sanctuary and carries with it the ambience of a bygone era. A wonderfully unique experience to remember. Later we’ll tour the fort, and marvel at the lake filled with ancient temples and tombs. (B, D)
Following leisurely breakfast depart for Jaipur, approximately five hours drive away. Arrive Jaipur and check-in at hotel. En route visit Pushkar Lake and local temples. (B, D)
Today will be a full day! First we’ll make our way to the Amber Fort, the dramatic former home of the royal Jaipurs. Few fail to be moved by the Rajput grandeur of this hilltop fortress just north of Jaipur. Set on the dry wrinkled Aravali Hills and surrounded by fortified battlements, the palace straddles two sepia-toned hills overlooking Maota Lake, and its sprawling walls lattice the surrounding hills. We will ride up to this hilltop palace on an elephant (or on foot or by jeep if you prefer), passing through the ancient main gate where the Maharajas of Jaipur have entered for hundreds of years. We’ll learn about the history of this architectural masterpiece with its mirror-studded alcoves, dazzling mosaics and water-cooled swings that delight today’s visitors as they have for centuries. The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing will welcome us and have some of India’s finest block printed cloth on display. We’ll learn with a hands-on lesson the techniques and intricacies of this ancient art form.
This afternoon we’ll take a guided tour of Jaipur, “The Pink City” and see some of the finest sights here including the Hawa Mahal, also known as Palace of the Winds, a five-story structure of pink sandstone with semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed windows overlooking the main street of the old city. We proceed for a guided tour of the City Palace & Observatory. The City Palace in the heart of the old city is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Next stop is the Solar Observatory – an astronomical treasure house, with solar device that still gives accurate astrononical measurements.
In the evening, we’ll go to a local home and learn the secrets to fine Indian cooking, and then dine on our curried creations! (B, D)
On your way to Agra today, stop at the ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri, a World Heritage Site. Perfectly preserved, the 17th century city is divided into religious and secular sections, and there is a breathtaking array of sculptures. Also, the white marble mosque in the secular section is incredible. It is a very sacred mosque and pilgrims from far and near arrives here to pay their respects. After visit continue on to Agra and check in at your hotel. Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, perhaps the most photographed monument in the world. However, no matter how many pictures you have seen or no matter how high your expectations are, the Taj never lets you down – the unparalleled glory and beauty of the building surpasses beyond all human imaginations. Spectacular monument built for love. Besides perfect symmetry in every aspect of its construction, the inlay work of semi precious stones into marble in pietradura style is absolutely remarkable. This evening we will visit the Taj Mahal under the light of a spectacular full moon… a unique opportunity!
After a stop at the Taj Mahal to see it at sunrise, visit Agra’s “other” tourist site the Agra Fort. The Red Fort began its life in the 10th century as a simple mud and brick fortress along the banks of the Yamuna River. Originally intended as a fortress, the site was partially converted into a palace during the reign of Shah Jahan, who lived in the fortress and died there – a prisoner of his own son! Then continue on to Delhi for your final dinner as a group.
Transfer to the airport for final departure. (B)
Per person price for 208
US$3,795 per person
Single Supplement: US$1,100
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