Day 1: Arrival Delhi. Arrive Delhi airport or railway station by any convenient flight or train. You will be met and greeted upon arrival by our airport Manager and later transfer to hotel. Our representative will escort you to the hotel and handover all your travel documents to you. Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 2: Delhi. Morning after a relaxed breakfast, you will be picked up from the hotel at about 9 am and proceed for a guided tour of Old Delhi, the 17th century walled city of Shah Jehanabad, including a visit of Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Mosque was built in the year 1656 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Drive past through the Red Fort. In New Delhi, visit Raj Ghat, memorial to the father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Later drive past India Gate, memorial built in the year 1931 to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died in the World War I and the Afghan Wars.
The names of the soldiers who died in these wars are inscribed on the walls. Also visit the President's House, the official residence of the President of India, built in 1931. Until 1950 it was known as Viceroy's House. After lunch, proceed to visit the Humayun's Tomb, memorial of Mughal Emperor Humayun, built in the year 1562. Qutub Minar, built in the year 1206 by Qutub-ud-din Aybak. It is the tallest (72 m) brick minaret in the world, an important example of Indo-Islamic Architecture. Evening visit the Bahai temple (Lotus Temple). Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 3: Delhi - Ahmedabad. Morning after breakfast, proceed for a visit "Delhi Haat", a bustling crafts village where artisans and craftsmen from various parts of India arrive to display and sell their wares. You would have an excellent opportunity to shop for fabrics, paper mache, woodcraft, etc. This place is very popular with middle class Indian's as the quality and price here are both very good. Late evening, transfer to the train station to board the Rajdhani Express to Ahmedabad. Overnight on board the train.
Day 4: Arrival - Ahemedabad - Dungarpur (125 km). Meeting and assistance upon arrival and drive to Dungarpur. Upon arrival check into the Udai Bilas Palace. The history of Udai Bilas Palace, Dungarpur, Rajasthan dates from the mid-19th century, when Maharawal Udai Singhji-II, a great patron of art and architecture built a wing of bluish grey local stone "Pareva" overlooking the lake and the "Ek Thambia Mahal," featuring intricate sculptured pillars and panels, ornate balconies, balustrades, bracketed windows, arches and frieze of marble carvings, a veritable marvel of Rajput architecture. The Furnishings are mostly from the 20th century art-deco style, marble bathrooms with English fixtures and running hot and cold water. Overnight stay in Udai Bilas Palace. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Dungarpur. The district is the stronghold of Bheels, a tribe whose history of occupancy in the Aravalli range is said to date back to 4000 BC. They are one of the oldest and most primitive tribes of the world. This morning we will visit some of these unspoiled Bheel hamlets in and around the town. We will witness and photograph age-old tribal lifestyles and customs handed down over the centuries. You would have an opportunity to meet villagers who have never interacted with people from outside their village! Say hello to people, allow them to get used to you and then, you may go ahead with your pictures. You would soon end up as the pied piper followed by scores of noisy and happy children!
We return to our hotel by mid morning to enjoy the destination at leisure. Udai Bilas Palace is a round-the-year paradise for bird watchers. The cooler months from mid October to February are the best to see winter migratory birds when birds can be observed in attractive plumage. One can see from the Palace itself at remarkably close range egrets, night and pond herons, white necked and painted storks, coots and winter or resident ducks among others, depending on the season of your visit. Birds are also plentiful in the surrounding wood lands where one can hope to see the Grey Hornbill, Gray Partridge, Green Pigeon, Peafowl, Peacocks, Paradise fly-catcher and the Golden backed woodpecker, to name a few representative species.
You may proceed on a leisurely walk around the lake or heir boat for a special boat trip on the lake as well as a gentle trek through the forests so that the nature lover in you is able to enjoy the beauty of the place and are able to get a close look at the bird life. Late afternoon we visit the ancient fortified ruins of the Old Fort. Besides fine panoramic view of the ancient town of Dungarpur the fort has well preserved examples of natural colour paintings and incredible art and architecture. Overnight stay in Udai Bilas Palace.
Day 6: Dungarpur - Udaipur (100 km). Following breakfast, we drive to Udaipur. Royal capital of a divine dynasty. Languid Lake City, strewn with marble palaces, hibiscus - massed gardens, fountain pavilions, and cobbled medieval gardens. Welcome to Udaipur, the famed "City of sunrise". Founded in 1567 by Maharana Udai Singh, from the lineage of the legendary Sisodias of Mewar - the decedents of the sun God. A city where the sun truly never set, where tradition and a strict code of heroism were happily united with a love of fine living. A city that has come to be an oasis of romance in the warrior state of Rajasthan. Upon arrival check into the hotel Jagat Niwas (One Bed Room Suite). Afternoon is at leisure for nature walks, visits to the bustling bazaars or just to enjoy your charming heritage hotel overlooking the tranquil Lake Pichola. Overnight stay in Jagat Niwas Palace.
Day 7: Udaipur. Morning, we proceed on a tour of this "Lake City". Udaipur is a cool oasis in the dry heart of Rajasthan. It is probably the most romantic city in a state where every city has some romantic or exotic tale to tell. The huge city palace towering over the Lake Pichola is the largest palace complex in 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 view of the lake and the city from the upper terraces.
Day 8: Udaipur - Kumbhalgarh (90 km). Following breakfast a two-hour drive to Kumbhalgarh. We would have photo stop several times as we walk through the countryside as well as interact with primitive tribal. Upon arrival we check into the beautifully preserved Aodhi Lodge - a property of the Royal family of Udaipur. Afternoon, we explore the beautifully preserved and one of the most majestic forts of India. 13 mountain peaks surround the impregnable fortress of Kumbalgarh (54 km) at a height of 3281 ft.
Day 9: Kumbhalgarh - Ghanerao (35 km). Following breakfast, we would have an opportunity to explore the feudal village of Kumbhalgarh. The people here are extremely friendly and hospitable. We witness their ethnic tribal lifestyle. We continue our ride to the interiors of Rajasthan to witness tribal life untouched by modern times. Upon arrival at Ghanerao we check into the Royal Ghanerao Castle, a property of the Royal Family of Mewar. We stay at the Ghanerao Royal Castle to step back into the past and re-live it.
Day 10: Ghanerao - Narlai (60 km). Following breakfast we ride to Narlai, stopping several times for photos and walks through the countryside to interact with and witness the life styles of the natives. Upon arrival check into Rawla Narlai. Situated in the Narlai village, Rawla Narlai, is a 17th century fortress renovated over the years to have 15 exquisite double rooms. Rawla Narlai is full of surprises, it is situated in the heart of a typical Rajasthani village bustling with activity and bursting with colors. Afternoon, we would have an escorted stroll through the small town, bustling with activity and bursting with colour- perhaps pausing to see the rich handicrafts or even to design your own silver Tabiz, a ancient lucky charm, both for women and men- worn around the neck, at the silversmith. Overnight stay in Rawla Narlai.
Day 11: Narlai. Wake up to the sounds of this 17-century village, and take in the spiritual energy from descending from the Shiva Temple, deep in a primal cave, on the hill overlooking your room. You may hear whispers of the early morning chanting coming from the many temples and mosques. At breakfast you are encouraged to feed the harmless monkeys, if they come down from the hills, as a token of prayer to Lord Hanuman. After breakfast we have an escorted stroll through the small bazaar, bustling with activity and bursting with colour. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight stay in Rawla Narlai.
Day 12: Narlai - Sodawas (45 km). Following breakfast we travel to Sodawas. Upon arrival, check into Sodawas Kot. Sodawas was given in Jagir (Fief) to Late Thakur Bishan Singhji by His Late Highness Maharaja Shri Umaid Singhji of Jodhpur in the Year 1943 along with two other villages, before which it was a 'Khalsa' Village, meaning for Three Decades it was under the direct rule of Marwar State (Jodhpur). Upon arrival you enter through a grand gateway into the Sodawas Kot, which is still owned by the family of Thakur Bishan Singhji.
The Kot has ten bedrooms and every modern amenity. The family drawing and dining rooms have been opened to receive guests in true Rajput Hospitality. Traditional Rajasthani Cuisine for which the House is well known for, is served with a mild and delicate blend of spices adapted to your taste. The family will join you and will give you an opportunity to discuss their traditions, culture and the rich heritage of Marwar erstwhile State of Jodhpur. Folk Music and dance are performed in the evening specially for us. The beautifully designed stables will interest Horse lovers. Once the much loved stallion and mare of the Late Thakur Sahib were stabled here.
Day 13: Sodawas - Rohet (65 km). Following breakfast we ride out to Rohet. Upon arrival check into the Rohetgarh fort. At Rohet, one is transported in to a world of the past, a world of honor and of chivalry, of glory and of pride, a world of vibrant colors and spectacular magnificence. Past centuries come to life at the historic boundary walls of Rohet- the 16th century fortified deserted home of a Rajput clan. Within the precincts of these time weathered walls is our hotel, the impressive Rohetgarh Fort - a bastion of proud Rajput traditions bathed in the ambience of unmistakable Rajasthani culture where one can, even today experience the famed warm and courteous Rajput hospitality.
Frescoes on the tall gateway, brightly painted in the traditional style, using traditional motifs and color schemes herald your entry to this charmed world the bygone era. The gateway leads to a compound where a profusion of flowers frame the archways in welcome. The portico is a warm and informal place decorated with the artifacts and trophies of many years. Exquisitely carved furniture, delicate hand block prints, original paintings and photographs decorate your rooms, which though redolent with the romance of a bygone era, provide all the modern amenities. Antique hunting riffles, shields and spearheads, daggers and original paintings form the backdrop of the dinning room.
The swimming pool here is in beautiful settings and is an oasis in a dessert. The food at Rohetgarh is special, each recipe is both traditional and typical, handed down the generations and jealously guarded to retain its pristine flavors. You savior only the very best of Rajasthani cuisine's, food favored by the Royalty. The 16th century descendants of the Rathore ruling family still live here and host the guests. The members of the Royal family interact with the guests and interesting stories and anecdotes are narrated. This afternoon, we would explore Rohet, which is a fascinating small feudal town, which seems to be straight out of the Arabian Nights. There is no proper road here - only one main dust trail. On either side are typical thatched houses and shops of all kinds - colourful bangles, silver jewelery, potters, fruit vendors on carts, dress shops, tailors etc. Overnight stay in Rohetgarh.
Day 14: Rohet. Morning at leisure to enjoy the amazing palace hotel of whimsical charm and the surrounding fairy tale town of Rohet. Late afternoon we enjoy jeep safaris to visit the heart of Rajasthan villages where traditions centuries old still permeate life styles. One can witness the 'opium ceremony' - a ritual by which guests are welcomed. Gaily attired men and women carry on their chores and one can catch a glimpse of their norms and customs. The smoothed mud floors of the village huts remind one of the simple and traditional living here. Overnight stay in Rohetgarh.
Day 15: Rohet - Jodhpur (40 km). Following breakfast, we drive to Jodhpur. Upon arrival, check into the legendary Ajit Bhawan Palace Hotel, which is beautifully set amidst well appointed gardens. Afternoon, proceed on a guided tour of Jodhpur. Our tour includes the massive fort. In olden days this must have been impregnable since its rocky base is scraped straight down making it nearly impossible to ascend. Once inside, royal palaces abound with fascinating history and priceless jewels, on to the armory and Jaswant Tara - the Royal Crematorium. Tonight you have the option of participating in the New Years eve festivities hosted by your hotel. Overnight stay in Ajit Bhawan Palace. Includes: (B).
Day 16: Jodhpur - Jaipur (335 km). Following breakfast, we ride to Jaipur. In a land steeped with heritage, picturesque with exquisite architecture, in a state vibrant with heroic memories and romance, lies the Dream City of Jaipur. The people are dynamic, martial and, need we say it, colorful. Here every walk through the by lanes is a walk through history. Indeed, Jaipur could be compared to a vast open-air museum. Pink turbans jostle with saffron 'odhinis' (ladies scarves). Camel's buggies and elephants are as commonly found as motor cars and buses. Upon arrival, check into Hotel Samode Haveli.
Afternoon is designed for escorted walks with our guide in Jaipur's shady animated streets - or for independent discovery. The city is best-explored on foot and only the inquisitive visitor willing to go into the rastaas (streets) and galis (lanes) will feel the spirit of the city. Jaipur's colorful bazaars tantalize the eye with enameled blue pottery, exquisite gem-studded jewelry, engraved brass work, traditional block-printed fabrics and brightly patterned dhurrie rugs together with traditional crafts and miniature painting. Overnight stay in Alsisar Haveli. Includes: (B).
Day 17: Jaipur. This morning we visit Amber Fort, the former capital of the royal Jaipur. Few fail to be moved by the dramatic Rajput grandeur of this hilltop fortress-palace 11 km north of Jaipur. Set on the dry wrinkled Aravali Hills, and surrounded by fortified battlements, the palace straddles two sepia-hued tundra hills overlooking Maota Lake, and its sprawling crenellated walls lattice the surrounding hills. We will ride up to this hilltop palace on a caparisoned, painted elephant, passing through the ancient main gate where Maharajas of Jaipur have entered for four hundred years.
Our guide will elaborate on the history of this architectural masterpiece with its mirror-studded alcoves, dazzling mosaics and water-cooled swings that delight today's visitors as they did their former royal residents. We shall visit the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, a five-storied structure of pink sandstone with semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed windows overlooking the main street of the old city. It was built in 1799 so that veiled royal women could peer down unseen by the world through its 593 stone screens.
Following lunch, a tour Of City Palace and Observatory. The City Palace in the heart of the old city is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. The center of the palace is a seven storied building called Chandra Palace, with fine vies over the gardens and the city. The palace lies in the heart of the city and occupies the whole central grid. The fortified wall has seven gates and was built for protection from invading armies and animals that lived in jungles which surrounded the wall that time. Next, we visit the Solar Observatory - an astronomical treasure house, with solar device that give accurate predictions till date. The Palace Of Winds, a five-storied structure of pink sandstone has semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed windows overlooking the main street of the old city. Overnight stay in Alsisar Haveli. Includes: (B).
Day 18: Jaipur - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra. Following breakfast we drive to Fatehpur Sikri for a guided tour. This abandoned capital of the Mughals is a perfectly preserved city at the height of the empire's splendor. The city divided into religious and secular parts has interesting well-sculpted buildings. From here we continue riding to Agra. Upon arrival, check in to the hotel Howard Park Plaza. Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, perhaps the most photographed monument in the world. However, there is a degree of enigma about the Taj. Once you hear about a building so much and once you see so many pictures of a building your expectations are real high, and this is the enigma about the Taj Mahal.
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. At sun set we visit the Taj Mahal to witness this spectacular monument built for love. Besides perfect symmetry in every aspect of its construction, the inlay work of semi precious stones into marble in pietra dura style is absolutely remarkable. We would also have an opportunity to visit a marble showroom where we would be able to witness the inlay work done on marble just as at the Taj Mahal. Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 19: Agra - Delhi - Departure. Following breakfast, we ride to the massive Agra Fort. The elegant buildings inside reflect an interesting synthesis of Hindu and Central Asian architectural styles. Built by Emperor Akbar, the maze of the courtyards, mosques and private chambers of the fort echo the story of the Mughal Empire. The Moti Masjid and other magnificent buildings reflect the skill of the ancient Indian architects. Afternoon Drive to Delhi, stopping on the way at well appointed midway restaurants for washroom facilities and refreshments. On arrival in Delhi, transfer to Delhi International airport to take flight back home.
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Asia India Local Culture Cultural Journey