Agra / Jaipur
Day 5: Dawn visit to the Taj Mahal before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Drive to Jaipur, known as the ‘Rose City’, having been painted pink in 1876. En route there will be a stop at the deserted Moghul city of Fatephur Sikri, 40 kms from Agra. The city was built 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 into the Trident Hotel, where two nights are spent. With breath-taking views of the serene Mansagar Lake and the striking Aravalli range, the hotel offers elegant rooms and lovely gardens and is conveniently located between the central city and Jaipur’s famous Amber Fort.
Afternoon tour of the city including the City Palace Complex, Jai Singh’s model palace, with its 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). Visit Govind Devi Temple, with its series of courtyards and gardens and also the 18th century Royal Observatory with its monumental sundials and signs of the zodiac. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 6: 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.
Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon city tour of Jaipur visiting the Maharaja's City Palace and the Observatory (Jantar Mantar), the Albert Hall Museum and Ram Niwas Gardens whilst driving through the pink residential and business areas of Jaipur.
Continue 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.
There is an optional elephant trek through the local villages, agricultural scrubland and ancient ruins. Dinner at the camp