DAY 01 ARRIVE DELHI:
Arrive Delhi. You will be met and assisted on arrival in Delhi and transferred to hotel For overnight stay. Delhi is as modern or ancient as you want it to be. Today’s Delhi is cosmopolitan, modern and fun loving. With feasts for art and theatre lovers, concerts for the musically inclined and food that can make a gourmet cry with delight, Delhi is a place with something for everyone.
DAY 02 DELHI – MANDAWA:
Today in the morning proceed for the half day combined city tour of Old & New Delhi. In Old city, drive past Red Fort built by Emperor Shah Jahan; Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India; Raj Ghat- the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi and enjoy a walking tour in Chandni Chowk- the silver street of Delhi bustling with activity. In the afternoon, India Gate – A War Memorial Arch. Also drive past the President’s house, Parliament house, Government secretariat buildings and Connaught place – the heart of New Delhi and a busy shopping center.
In the afternoon, drive 280 kms to Mandawa, often referred to as Rajasthan’s open art gallery. Mandawa is a sleepy little typical Rajasthani town, which is deep rooted with culture. Stay here in your heritage hotel, Castle Mandawa. Later enjoy a walking tour of Mandawa, which includes the medieval fort that gradually rises on the horizon like a mirage. A painted arched gateway adorned with Lord Krishna and his cows leads to the bazaar. A breathtaking view of the town can be seen from the terrace of Castle Mandawa. The Mandawa family has a collection of traditional ceremonial costumes.
Evening : Free to explore the surroundings of this village.
DAY 03 MANDAWA – BIKANER :
Today, explore the surroundings of Mandawa and later leave for BIKANER, (190 km), which was once a major trading post between Africa, West Asia and the Far East. The arts prospered receiving the patronage of a wealthy merchant community. The city is renowned for the best riding camels in the world. This afternoon during your tour you will visit Camel Breeding Farms; Junagarh Fort, a formidable structure encircled by a moat and having some beautiful palaces within. Situated at a height of above seven hundred feet above sea level, it towers over the city and can be seen from a distance. The fort and its palaces are profusely decorated with magnificent stone carvings. 30 kms south of Bikaner is the village of Deshnoke, where the famous Mata Karni Temple is situated.
The 600-year-old temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The temple plays host to thousands of rats that form the major attraction here. The rats are considered sacred and worshipped accordingly. You have to be very careful while entering the inner sanctum, because it is believed that if you accidentally step on a rat, a gold replica has to be made to compensate for the lost life.
Return to hotel for overnight stay.
DAY 04 BIKANER – JAISALMER :
Today, drive 333 km to Jaisalmer – a fairy-tale town in the Thar Desert founded about 800 years ago by Jaisal. Unlike any other city, this desert fortress is one of Rajasthan’s most exotic and unusual towns. Jaisalmer, an important ancient trading centre because of its strategic location on the camel trade routes, is often described as the ‘golden city’. The havelis, built by merchants of the 19th century, are exquisitely carved from golden-yellow sandstone and are still in a beautiful condition.
The fort built by Rawal Jaisal in the 12th century, stands on the 80 meters high Trikuta hill, with beautifully carved Jain temples. The annual desert festival takes place in January and February each year and is a riot of colour and activity. Jaisalmer is also famous for its Siver Jypsy jewelry, embroidery, Rajasthani mirror work, rugs, blankets, antique, stonework and camel safaris.
In the evening, proceed for the excursion to Sam Sand dunes. Located at a distance of 42 kilometers from Jaisalmer, Sam Sand Dunes is the closest point to witness the total sandy desert. You can also see the patterns and motifs created by the shifting sands and air. Moreover, Sam Sand Dunes also provide you with an unforgettable experience of camel rides and the sunset.
Overnight stay at hotel.
DAY 05 JAISALMER – OVER NIGHT AT SODAKORE CAMP :
Today, leave for the city tour of Jaisalmer. Visit the famous Havelis (mansions) known for their frescoes. Jaisalmer’s strategic position on the camel terrain route bought it great wealth. The merchants grew prosperous and commissioned great havelis, or mansions, to flaunt their ever-growing status in society. Made of local golden-yellow sand stone and wood, some of the havelis are still in excellent condition.
The most elaborate and magnificent of all the Jaisalmer havelis is the Patwaon Ki Haveli. Five Jain brothers built the Haveli between 1800 and 1860. Salim Singh Ki Haveli and Nathmal Ki Haveli are the other two havelis that are opened to visitors. Built in 1156 by the Bhatti Rajput ruler, Jaisal, THE FORT here stands atop the 80 m high Trikuta hill. 3 walls and features 99 bastions surround the fort. Over the centuries, the golden sand stone fortress witnessed many battles between the Rajputs, the Mughals and the rathors of Jodhpur.
Within the fort complex lie the beautifully carved Jain Temples built between the 12th and 15th centuries. The Maharawals (rulers) of Jaisalmer were devout Hindus but were tolerant of Jainism, and encouraged art and religion.
There are 7 temples in the complex – Chandraprabhu, Parasnath, Shitalnath, Sambhavnath, Shantinath, Kunthunath and Rikhabdev Temple. The temples are all connected by a series of corridors and walkways. Closeby is the Gyan Bhandar, a library founded in 1500 A.D. This house is priceless ancient manuscripts and other exhibits like astrological charts, besides the Jain equivalent of the Christian Shroud of Turin.
EVENING DRIVE TO SODAKORE 55 KM OVER NIGHT AT CAMP RESORT.
DAY 06 SODAKORE – JODHPUR:
Today drive 230 kms to Jodhpur. Call it by its many names and they will not do Jodhpur justice. An oasis in the arid Thar Desert, Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan. Representing this colorful city with shades of blue, Jodhpur has a history that is rich and a present that beckons strongly to the discerning tourist. Forts and palaces, temples and havelis, culture and tradition, spices and fabrics, color and texture, Jodhpur has them all and in plenty. Situated in western Rajasthan, Jodhpur has long attracted both the domestic and outside tourist. It not only offers tangibles, in terms of what you can see and buy but also fills one with a sense of history and the splendors of an era gone forever.
The hospitality of the locals, the demure women, and the colorful turbans -all set against the beloved desert (Marwar) is something to feel, not just see. Every pore of Jodhpur tells its own tales of heroic tales that made legends out of kings and soldiers, romances that continue to warm the heart and a time when epics were lived out on the streets by everyday man. Visit the MEHRANGARH FORT in the afternoon. Considered one of India’s best forts, this invincible stronghold of the Rathore Rajputs sits on a steep hill lording over a wonderful view of its surroundings.
It is also a beautiful fort and undoubtedly, the jewel of Jodhpur. Intricate latticed windows, elaborately carved panels and elegantly curved porches speak of beauty and taste. No matter what part of the fort you are in, its ambience will leave you in awe and your senses reeling. Take in the sight high up on the rampart where the second largest cannon in Asia. Also visit Jaswant Thada – a white marble memorial built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant II in 1899.
Return to hotel for overnight stay.
DAY 07 JODHPUR – UDAIPUR :
This morning we’ll drive through valleys in the remote and peaceful Aravalli Range to RANAKPUR to visit one of the most important Jain temples in India. This marble complex is noted for the 29 halls supported by 1,444 pillars, each adorned with hundreds of carved figures, no two alike. We’ll continue driving south, arriving Udaipur, described as the “City of Sunrise” in the evening. In the evening you will enjoy a leisurely boat ride on LAKE PICHOLA. With its main attractions being the two palaces on the islands in the lake, Jagniwas and Jagmandir Lake Pichola is about 4 km in length and 3 km wide. Jagniwas was earlier the summer retreat of the prince of Mewar and now a five-star hotel. The city palace extends along the eastern shore of the lake and you can go for a boat ride from Bansi Ghat.
Overnight at hotel.
Udaipur is also a centre of historic arts and crafts of Mewar, like the Mewar School of Miniature Painting. There is of course the modern face of Udaipur that one can look at if interested, but given the other sights from a glorious past, modernity is no real distraction. This is a place that will hold you in its thrall no matter who you are or where you come from. During a guided tour you will visit the CITY PALACE built in 1725, the grand City Palace is actually a conglomerate of eleven palaces overlooking the sprawling Lake Pichola. One of the largest, most beautiful palaces in the state of Rajasthan, it is now a museum, royal residence and a luxury hotel.
This intricately designed monument is an architectural wonder in granite and marble; JAGDISH TEMPLE built in 1651 by Maharaja Jagat Singh, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located in the centre of the old city. The temple has a black marble image of Lord Vishnu, which is unusual for the northern part of the country, where statues of Gods are normally in marble. In the afternoon, enjoy the boat ride on lake Pichola (Subject to water level in the lake). Return to your hotel for overnight stay.
Today morning, drive for Jaipur. Jaipur – The capital of the state of Rajasthan is popularly known as the ‘pink city’ as the buildings in its old, walled city are all constructed in pink-colored sandstone. Jaipur owes its name, its foundation and its careful planning to the great warrior-astronomer Maharaja Jai Singh II (1699-1744). He laid out the city with its surrounding walls and six rectangular blocks by principles of town planning set out in an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. In 1728 he constructed the remarkable observatory, which is still one of Jaipur’s central attractions. It is worthwhile spending any leisure time wandering through the bazaars. Jaipur is well known for its beautiful carpets, enamelled ornaments, precious and semi-precious stones, brass ornaments and many other arts and crafts.Overnight at hotel.
DAY 10 JAIPUR :
This morning you will drive 11kms in the outskirts of the city to visit Amber Fort, the ancient capital of the State until 1728. Visit the Hall of Victory or Jai Mahal and Jagmandir. You can have the unique experience of travelling on elephant back to and from the top of the hill on which the fort is situated. Rest of the day is free to explore the colorful town independently. Afternoon, visit the Observatory, the Palace of Winds and the City Palace and Museum. The museum has an interesting textile section, which contains dresses and costumes of the former Maharajas and Maharanis of Jaipur. Return to the hotel.
Overnight at hotel.
DAY 11 JAIPUR-AGRA :
Today is a 5 hour drive to Jaipur en route after one hour stopping to visit Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city built by Emperor Akbar in 1571 in honour of the famous Sufi saint, Salim Chishti. The Mughal capital for only 11 years until abandoned reputedly due to lack of water, the buildings, blending Hindu and Islamic styles of architecture and reflecting Akbar’s secular vision remain in an excellent condition and it is a fascinating place to wander around.
Agra was the capital of the Mughal court during the 16th and 17th centuries and its sublime monuments date from that era. The emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jehan governed their vast empires from here and as prolific builders; artisans from Persia, Central Asia and other parts of India were attracted by their patronage. The resulting luxurious palaces, tombs, forts and gardens dot the picturesque riverine region along the Yamuna River; three of which, the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatepur Sikri have been declared World Heritage Sites.
Agra is renowned for its delicate Pietra Dura work; a Florentine technique imported by Jahangir of arranging minute pieces of precious and semi precious stones in complex, stylized floral and geometric designs into a marble base. Today artisans still recreate the old patterns. Visit the incomparable Taj Mahal, the world’s greatest monument to love and devotion.
Built by the emperor Shah Jehan for his favorite wife Mumtaz, its perfect proportions and exquisite craftsmanship took 20,000 workers almost 22 years to complete in 1653. It is undoubtedly a building as close to perfection as is achievable and its appearance changes magically with the light at different times of the day (closed on a Friday).
Situated on the west bank of the Yamuna River, the imposing red sandstone Agra Fort was started in 1565 by Akbar. The fort surrounded by a moat forms a crescent along the riverfront and encompasses a huge complex of courtly buildings reflecting the varied styles of the Emperors. Wander through the lavishly decorated halls, courtyards and galleries discovering hidden pavilions and alcoves glimpsing the Taj Mahal in the distance. Overnight at Agra.
Depart for Delhi by road and transfer to Airport or Railways station.