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Delhi is your first port of call. At the airport, you’ll be met and taken to The Claridges, a landmark hotel in the heart of the city. You’ll have the rest of the day at your leisure to relax after your flight.
The following day you’ll set off with your guide and driver to explore what India’s capital city has to offer. In Old Delhi, you’ll discover iconic attractions like the Red Fort – the epitome of Moghul power – the huge Jama Masjid and the beautiful park of Raj Ghat where Gandhi was cremated. If time allows, you’ll also stop by the bustling Chandi Chowk which was once India’s most opulent perfume market.
You’ll then begin your tour of New Delhi, a vision of broad avenues, stately homes and landscaped gardens designed by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in the 1920s. Enjoy visits to some of the city’s most important monuments including Humayun’s Tomb and the imposing Qutab Minar with its 234-foot-high fluted minaret. A drive past the imposing India Gate, the Parliament building, Rashtrapati Bhavan and the President’s residence complete your Delhi experience.
Stay: Two nights in a Cabana Room at The Claridges – bed and breakfast
After breakfast, you’ll board a high-speed train to Agra where you’ll be met by your private guide. India’s capital during the 16th and 17th centuries, the city is home to an outstanding collection of Mughal architecture. Tour the mighty Agra Fort, wander through the white apartments of Emperor Shah Jahan and visit the Tomb of Itimadud-Daulah, otherwise known as the ‘Baby Taj’ with its white marble coating and inlaid stones.
Your tour of Agra ends with a sunset visit to the greatest Indian monument of all – the Taj Mahal. A long-standing symbol of love and devotion, the craftsmanship of the Taj is sublime. The structure is even more impressive up close when you can admire in close detail the semi-precious stones inlaid into the marble in intricate patterns.
Stay: One night in a Deluxe Garden View Room at The Trident – bed and breakfast
Today your journey continues to Jaipur, with a stop along the way at the deserted 16 century city of Fatehpur Sikri. The most important artistic centre in South Asia in its heyday, the city was abandoned soon after completion but its former wealth can still be seen in the exquisitely preserved remains.
You’ll then continue your drive to Jaipur where you’ll be staying at the beautiful Samode Haveli. Founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the city’s well-planned streets are lined with magnificent palaces, ancient mansions and marketplaces teeming with people, camels, horses and vehicles. It’s the abundance of rose-coloured terra cotta that has earned Jaipur its ‘Pink City’ nickname.
Take a drive past the beautiful Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal), behind which the ladies of the court used to observe life down in the streets below. Continue to Amber Fort with its towering gateways, majestic ramparts and splendid views over the city. Whilst here don’t miss out on the glittering Hall of Victory, the Jai Mahal and Temple of Kali. In the afternoon, you can visit the Maharaja’s City Palace, the Observatory, Albert Hall Museum and the tranquil Ram Niwas Gardens.
Stay: Two nights in a Deluxe Suite at Samode Haveli – bed and breakfast
This morning, following breakfast, you’ll drive deep into Rajasthan’s countryside to reach Chhatra Sagar which overlooks a 100-year-old reservoir. Immersed in verdant fields of mustard, wheat and cotton, Chhatra Sagar was originally a hunting lodge on the Nimaj Estate but is today an idyllic retreat from the bustle of India’s cities. You’ll spend two nights in a luxury, private tent and enjoy the warm hospitality of the Nimaj family. Surrounded by farmland and small villages, it’s a wonderful place to experience the charms of rural Rajasthan. Enjoy a jeep safari through the surrounding countryside followed by a late afternoon hike to watch the sunset from the top of a small hill.
Stay: Two nights in a Luxury Tent at Chhatra Sagar – full board
From Chhatra Sagar your Rajasthan adventure continues to the famed city of Jodhpur, seemingly rising from the sands of the Great Thar Desert. Founded in 1459 AD as the showpiece of the wealthy Kingdom of Marwar, Jodhpur’s staggering collection of fine palaces, forts and temples serve as a strong reminder of its illustrious past.
Dominating the city’s skyline is the imposing hilltop Mehrangarh Fort, a red sandstone masterpiece beautifully adorned with intricately carved panels and latticed windows. The museum is worth a visit where you can browse an impressive collection of palanquins, royal cradles, miniature paintings, instruments and armoury. Later you’ll stop by Jaswant Thada, a marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II dating back to 1899.
Stay: Two nights in a Luxury Fort View Room at Raas – bed and breakfast
A drive through the picturesque Aravalli Hills brings you to the traditional rural village of Narlai, a beautiful area of Rajasthan that few visitors get to see. You’ll be staying at the 17th century fortress and former royal hunting lodge of Rawa Narlai, giving you a wonderful insight into the Rajasthan of old.
During your stay, you’ll explore the large granite rock behind the hotel which is dotted with caves and temples, ride horseback through the scenic countryside and take jeep safaris out to nearby farms and villages to see the locals’ traditional way of life. Alternatively, spend some time relaxing by the pool and feed the harmless monkeys that occasionally come down the hill.
Stay: Two nights in a Grand Heritage Room at Rawla Narlai – bed and breakfast
On the morning of day 13 you’ll drive to the Jain Temples of Ranakpur in the Aravalli Valley. Stop a while to soak up the magnitude of the 15th century Chaumukha Temple, dedicated to Adinath and comprising 29 halls supported by 1,444 marble pillars, each one individually carved. Another hours’ drive brings you to the massive 15th-century fort at Kumbhalgarh. One of the most impressive in the ancient Kingdom of Mewar, this vast building has temples and palaces within its thick walls and a wildlife sanctuary home to wolves, leopards and flying squirrels.
After Kumbhalgarh, you finally come to Udaipur, otherwise known as India’s most romantic city. A symphony of white marble palaces, placid blue lakes and green hills, Udaipur’s is a magical contrast to its desert neighbours.
Based on the edge of Lake Pichola, you’ll be able to visit the Jagdish Temple – noted for its elephant motif carvings – and the 16th century City Palace. Housed within its crenulated walls and triple-arched gate are four major palaces and several smaller royal residences strung together by a series of courtyards, corridors and gardens. A must-see is the Crystal Gallery at the Fateh Prakash with its rare collection of Osler’s crystal – ordered from England by Maharana Sir Sajjan Singh in 1877. Finish off your Rajasthan experience in style with an afternoon boat ride across shimmering Lake Pichola.
Stay: Two nights in a Lake View Suite at the Amet Haveli – bed and breakfast
Today you’ll be transferred to the airport in time for your flight back to London via Mumbai.
Gina was unfailingly helpful and pleasant at every stage - an asset to your organisation.- MB, Australia, New Zealand & French Polynesia