Assistance on arrival and transfer to the Hotel. Check-in time is 12.00 Noon.
Day 02 : Delhi
India's capital is an exciting, busy, sometimes chaotic city and one of the most interesting. With historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars, there is more to see and do than we can possibly fit in during our short time here. So for those arriving early there is an opportunity to make more discoveries. The ruins of Qutab Minar and Purana Qila, the crafts museum and Birla House (the site of Gandhi's assassination) are all recommended. We start day 2 with a visit to Delhi's oldest mosque the Jama Masjid, built by Shah Jahan of the Taj Mahal fame. We step into old Delhi with a walk in the bazaars and spice markets, immersing ourselves in the noise and smells of the crowded narrow streets and alleys. The afternoon is free for you to visit Rajpath and Birla House.
Days 3-4 : Shekhawati region
We depart for the Shekhawati region and arriving there by early afternoon. We stop for a small break in the town of Nawalgarh and take time to look at our first havelis. In the days of the great camel caravans, Shekhawati merchants decorated the outside of their houses with life-size murals depicting everything from the events of the day to the exploits of the Gods. These havelis, along with decorated cenotaphs and wells, remain as a spectacular open air museum. We move on to Dundlod and then on to Mandawa. Staying in a beautifully restored haveli we have a full day to explore Mandawa, Jhunjhunu and the surrounding area.
Days 5-7 : Bikaner
Travelling further we head deeper into the Thar Desert to the fortified town of Bikaner (approx. 6 hours). Once an important staging post on the great caravan routes, the bazaars are still contained within impressive city walls, as are a superb fort and palace. We travel out to the Karni Mata temple, full of holy rats considered to be the incarnation of musicians. It is particularly auspicious if they run over your bare feet! Definitely not for the squeamish. To get a taste of nomadic life, we ride camels out into the desert and camp under the stars for a night. There are plenty of blankets to keep us warm and our drivers will cook us a typical Rajasthani meal as we relax around the camp fire.
Days 8-9 : Jaisalmer
Today's journey takes approximately seven hours as we travel a remote desert road to the yellow sandstone citadel of Jaisalmer. Looking like a scene from 'A Thousand and One Nights' as it rises from the flat desert surrounds, Jaisalmer is a centre for the nomadic tribal people who come to trade in the narrow twisting alleys full of markets and ornately carved houses.
Day 10 : Jodhpur
Elephant A full morning's drive (approx. 6 hours) takes us across the desert to Rajasthan's largest city, the busy and chaotic Jodhpur. Full of fascinating artifacts, the Meherangarh Fort dominates the skyline and there are great views from the ramparts. The town is known for its antique shops, for the best lassi (a creamy yoghurt drink) in India and yes, it is where those famous trousers come from.
Day 11 : Bhenswara
Leaving Jodhpur for our next destination, we spend time visiting the Bishnoi tribespeople before arriving at our Royal Retreat - Bhenswara.The local village is home to traditional craftsmen who make shoes, dhurries or rugs and simple jewellery. We drive out into the local area for some classic timeless Indian images. As the sun sets and the evening cooking fires start, women carrying pots of water return from the well and the men bring back the animals they have spent the day herding out in the scrublands.
Days 12-13 : Mount Abu
Heading south we leave the plains behind and climb to the cool air of Rajasthan's only hill station, Mt Abu (approx. 6 hours). A popular spot for Indian honeymooners, this is the perfect place to relax. There are plenty of walks from the lake out to various viewpoints as well as horse riding and boating. The Dilwara Jain temples are only a short ride away and well worth a visit as they are some of the most beautiful buildings to be found anywhere in India.
Days 14-16 : Udaipur
It's an interesting ride to Udaipur passing through some of the more remote tribal areas of southern Rajasthan (approx. 6 hours). Rolling hills, white marble palaces and lakes all combine to give Udaipur a very special appeal, living up to its reputation as India's most romantic city. It's a centre for artists, dancers and musicians and the shopping is superb. We take a boat out on to Picchola lake for a closer look at the Lake Palace. We also visit one of the largest royal palaces in India full of unbelievable treasures and there is plenty of time to just take in the views from the rooftop cafes. In the evening of day 16 an overnight train ride takes us on to the city of Jaipur.
Days 17-18 : Jaipur
Set around a sprawling palace and with a backdrop of fortified hills, Jaipur is known as the 'Pink City' because of the colour of the houses within its city walls. A traveller's favourite, there is plenty to do in Jaipur. The bazaars are famous for jewellery, semi-precious stones, blue glazed pottery and block printed cloth. We visit the Amber Fort, see the famous Palace of the Winds and you really shouldn't miss the opportunity to see a Hindi movie at the opulent Raj Mandir cinema.
Day 19 : Bharatpur
Once the domain for royal duck shooters, Keoladeo is now a major bird sanctuary with over 400 different species identified. Even for non-bird fanciers this area is a welcome respite from the noise and chaos of Indian cities with its forests and wetlands. We take cycle rickshaws ridden by local ornithologists to explore the sanctuary but you can also hire a boat and rower to take you out into the more remote areas or hire a cycle and take some quiet time for yourself.
Days 20-21 : Fatehpur Sikri / Agra
We head for the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri (approx. 1 hour), on our way to the Muslim city of Agra (approx. 1 hour). Fatehpur Sikri was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the many palaces and pavilions are perfectly preserved. In Agra, amidst a setting of beautiful formal gardens, the Taj Mahal is a masterpiece of shimmering white marble and quite possibly the world's most famous building. Cycle rickshaws take us to Agra's fort for a different view of the Taj and in the evening you have the opportunity to visit once more to see its colour changing with the setting sun, before we board our train back to Delhi (approx. 2.5 hours). We arrive late in the evening of day 21.
Day 22 : Delhi
After breakfast, Morning at leisure, After lunch in the hotel, drive back to Delhi (220 kms 4 hours). Upon arrival, transfer to the Indira Gandhi International Airport well schedule to check-in for your onward flight.