21 days Colors of Rajasthan
The princely state of Rajasthan is packed with palaces, forts, temples and many other fascinating sites. Pushkar Taj Mahal Forts, palaces & temples

Destinations : Delhi-Udaipur-Ranakpur-Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Bikaner-Nawalgarh-Pushkar-Jaipur-Agra-Delhi

Duration : 21 days /20 nights

Day 1/2 : Delhi

On arrival in Delhi (usually in the early hours of the morning) you’ll transfer to a city hotel, where you can rest after your flight. The rest of today has been left free, either for you to relax around the hotel or to venture into the city. The present metropolis of Delhi is at least the eighth city to have been founded on this site; its predecessors have been largely razed to the ground. Today the city is famous for its two contrasting faces: the bustling and vibrant Old Delhi, with Mosques, temples shops and market stalls all squeezed into narrow streets and the wide boulevards and imposing buildings of New Delhi.. Here you’ll board the overnight express train for Udaipur. Berth on overnight train.

Day 3/4 : Udaipur

Udaipur  is known as the Venice of East with its beautiful lakes and grandiose palaces that line the shore, an oasis in this stark and arid state. You visit the City Palace, now a museum, where the views over the lake and the Jag Niwas ‘floating palace’ are spectacular. Udaipur is famed for its tie-and-dye fabrics and the fine miniature paintings of the Mewar School. Its bazaars and shops are fascinating to wander around or it’s possible to hire bicycles and explore the nearby hills and villages. Just north of Udaipur is a complex of 108 unprepossessing temples at Eklingi, the oldest of which is dedicated to Shiva and dates from the 8th century. At nearby Nagda there are decorative 10th century temples with wonderful carvings and elaborate friezes. In the evenings the sunsets are spectacular, as the changing colours of the sun wash over this most romantic of cities.

Day 5/6: Ranakapur

Your three hour drive to Ranakpur this morning goes through some typical villages and passes fields that are still irrigated using the Persian Wheel or koshavahaka. You’ll also stop at little-visited Kumbalgarh Fort en route, acknowledged as one of the greatest defensive forts in Rajasthan and with lovely views over the lands below.
Ranakpur nestles in a secluded, wooded valley and is home to peacocks, langur monkeys and numerous birds. It’s also home to one of the best-known temple complexes in India. You spend an afternoon looking around its exquisite marble temples. The 15th century Adinatha temple is the largest and most complex Jain temple in India. These remarkable temples are completely covered with carvings, some so intricate that they resemble lace-work rather than stone carving. After the heat and dust of the desert, you have time to enjoy the serenity of your surroundings. There are a number of day walks you can do in the area, which enable you to enjoy the natural vistas and trek through valleys, dense forest and by streams and mountains.

Day 7/8: Jodhpur

While travelling through this arid landscape you may be lucky enough to see some of its wildlife, such as black buck, chinkara, or nilgai, and at certain times of the year you may see the elegant and graceful demoiselle cranes. The scenery changes dramatically as you reach the tree-covered Aravalli hills - one of the oldest mountain systems in the world, which stretches almost the length of Rajasthan. The mighty Meherangarh Fort dominates the town of Jodhpur, perched on a rocky cliff. Once home to the Jodhpuri Maharajas, it now houses one of Rajasthan’s best museums, crammed with rich memorabilia from a bygone age. The views from the ramparts are spectacular, often as far as Kumbalgarh, almost 80 miles away. Below lie many pale indigo-coloured houses signifying that they are the home of Jodhpuri Brahmins, the high caste Hindus.
During your stay there may be time to visit nearby Osiyan, with its collection of Hindu and Jain temples which date from the 8th to the 12th centuries, or take a safari by jeep to the fascinating villages of the Bishnoi people, whose central philosophy is the protection of their environment (both optional). This evening you stay in Mandore, the former capital of the maharajas of Marwar. Hotel – 2 nights.

Day 9/11 :  Jaisalmer

Leaving Jodhpur, you drive for seven or eight hours to Jaisalmer.
This magnificent desert town, situated on a rocky outcrop, provides you with superb photo opportunities. Like the merchants of Shekhawati, those in Jaisalmer gained vast wealth from passing camel caravans and built themselves fine havelis using ornately carved sandstone to decorate the exterior. In the early evening there may be an opportunity to drive out of the ‘Golden City’ to the shifting dunes at Sam, at the edge of the Desert National Park to see sunset in the desert (optional).
On your second day in Jaisalmer you’ll take a morning tour of the city by bus, in the afternoon you’ll take a walking tour through the old town; here the streets are lined with buildings up to five storeys high, each displaying intricately carved sandstone facades. The following day you’re free to explore independently which gives plenty of time to take a trip to one of the picturesque villages that dot the desert (optional) or a camel safari. Hotel - 3 nights (Bx3)

Day 12: Bikaner

You have a long drive of seven hours through the Thar Desert to the remote town of Bikaner.  At Bikaner, founded in 1488 by Rao Bika, you take a rickshaw to look around the unvanquished Junagarh Fort, with its sumptuously decorated interiors, and there should also be time to explore the medieval walled city. Hotel - 1 night (B)

Day 13 : Nawalgarh

Your  journey to Shekhawati  will begin this morning, which takes approximately six hours. The Shekhawati region was home to many rich merchants and their wealth is evident from their finely built havelis (mansions). Surrounded by large walls with many internal courtyards, the havelis provided security, privacy and shade. They were painted with floral designs of Moghul influence, scenes from Hindu mythology and - since the arrival of Europeans - modern inventions such as trains, bicycles and cars. These paintings document the changes that took place in India during the 19th century. Nawalgarh, founded in 1737, is a typical Shekhawati town. The temples and town walls still survive today and the old fort has some fine examples of painted frescoes. Perhaps one of the best examples is the Poddar haveli, with paintings of trains, cars, processions, and a game of chequers. It has now been converted into a school and must surely be the most decorated and ornate one in India! You will make a visit to the painted havelis this afternoon. Hotel – 1 night (B)

Day 14/15 :Pushkar

This morning, you set off north for five hours to the peaceful lakeside town of Pushkar. Although renowned for its cattle and camel fair at the time of Kartik Purnima (November’s full moon) when thousands of people and animals arrive, for most of the year it remains a quiet and tranquil place. Pushkar’s lake is one of the most sacred in India and beside it is one of the very few Brahma temples in existence in the country. Its importance as a place of pilgrimage is illustrated by the fact that devout Hindus should visit it at least once in their lifetime and that consuming meat and alcohol is prohibited here. At the end of the monsoon season the lake is full and the reflections of the temples and ghats in the water are stunning. Throughout the day people come to the shore to make their pujas (prayers) to their gods. Hotel – 2 nights (Bx2)

Day 16/17 : Jaipur

You return to the hustle and bustle of city life at Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, which was planned according to an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture on a grid system. It thus remained one of the most organised cities in India for many years. Today however, this is the India that most people imagine; streets crammed with traffic, sacred cows dodging the cars and buses, camels waiting at traffic lights along with auto-rickshaws and bicycles. Jaipur has been called the ‘Pink City’ since it was painted pink (by law, buildings in the old city must still be painted a deep pink) when the Prince of Wales visited the city in 1876. You head to the City Palace, home to the Maharaja of Jaipur, and the city’s best museum as well as the façade of the Hawa Mahal, the ‘Palace of the Winds’.
At Amber, the former capital of Jaipur state and stronghold of the Kachhawaha Rajputs, you visit its magnificent palace. It is no wonder that it remained their capital for almost 700 years. You can walk to the gates of the palace, where you are greeted by the grandeur of Rajput architecture. There is much to occupy your time in Jaipur, perhaps a visit to the marble and sandstone chhattris of the rulers of Jaipur by the lake at Gaitore - the cenotaph of Sawai Jai Singh II stands out for its delicate carvings and beautiful shape.  Hotel – 2 nights (Bx2)

Day 18 : Fatehhpur Sikri To Agra

You take most of the day to drive to Agra (six hours) but stop at the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri on the way. Built by Akbar the Great as his new capital, it was deserted just 15 years later, probably because the water supply was inadequate. It is a perfectly preserved example of Moghul architecture and provides a unique insight into the lifestyle of the Moghuls. Continuing your journey you leave Rajasthan, and enter the state of Uttar Pradesh. On arrival in Agra you’ll check into your hotel. Hotel – 1 night (B)

Day 19 : Agra To Delhi

Like Delhi, Agra stands on the bank of the river Yamuna and was once the capital of the Moghul Empire. It flourished under Akbar, and Shah Jahan added many of the buildings in and around Agra Fort and, of course, the Taj Mahal.
Early this morning, just as the city begins to wake you’ll make the short journey by auto rickshaw to the gates of the Taj Mahal. The Taj was built as a mausoleum for Shah Jahan’s beloved wife, Mumtaz, after she died giving birth to their 14th child, and must surely be the world’s greatest monument to love. Architects from as far afield as Europe were commissioned to take part in its creation. Constructed of white marble inlaid with thousands of pieces of coloured and semi-precious stone, its staggering architecture makes the Taj Mahal one of the world’s most beautiful buildings.
At nearby Agra Fort, started by Akbar and finally completed four generations later by Aurangzeb, there is a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, leading to the emergence of a distinctive Indian style. The afternoon is free for you to wander around Agra at your own pace before you meet up with your Group Leader again and transfer to the rail station. Catching the evening train from Agra, you’ll arrive in Delhi during late evening and transfer to your hotel. Hotel – 1 night (B)

Day 20 : Delhi

You can enjoy a full day in Delhi today. This morning you may wish do some last minute souvenir shopping in the bazaars or more upmarket shops around Connaught Circus. This afternoon you’ll take a guided tour of the city. Amidst the network of narrow streets and alleys of Old Delhi you’ll visit the Jami Masjid (Friday Mosque), Delhi’s largest mosque. Not only is it a place of religious worship, but also a lively meeting place for the city’s Muslims and a fascinating insight into Delhi’s way of life. In Old Delhi you travel by local transport, the rickshaw (own expense), to ply your way through the crowds and down to the impressive Red Fort. A fascinating contrast awaits as you head into New Delhi. Its wide boulevards and imposing buildings conjure up images of the British Empire at its peak. You visit the main sights - Parliament House, President House and India Gate before returning to your hotel. Being the last evening of your holiday tonight your Group Leader will no doubt organise a traditional ‘last supper,’ a great way to celebrate an unforgettable holiday.  Hotel - 1 night (B)

Day 21 : Depart Delhi

The trip ends in Delhi for Land Only clients. Those on group flights transfer to the airport and fly home. (B)
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