Forts and Palaces of Rajasthan

This classic tour of Rajasthan will take you across the diverse land of Rajputs through deserts and hills. During your journey you will discover impregnable citadels, lavish palaces, profusely and intricately sculpted sanctuaries, colorful markets and villages. Treat yourself to the hospitality of Rajputs in forts, fairy-tale palaces or ancient havelis.

Day 1 : Paris – Delhi

Arrival in Delhi Arrive late evening at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. You will be met by our representative outside the customs gate and escorted to your hotel.

Day 2 : Delhi

Enjoy a full day guided tour of Delhi. The city consists of two parts – Old and New Delhi. Old Delhi was the capital of Muslim India between the 17th and 19th century and has many mosques, monuments and forts. Begin your day with an exploration starting in Old Delhi. Visit Jama Masjid, the Royal Mosque which was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1656. Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes followed by a short walk on the main street of Old Delhi – the colorful shopping bazaar known as Chandni Chowk. Drive past the Red Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Continue to Raj Ghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. In the afternoon visit New Delhi – the imperial city created by the British as the capital of India. In 1911, Edwin Lutyens, the most renowned English architect of the day, was chosen to design New Delhi. Drive through the majestic boulevards – the Rashtrapati Bhawan is where the Viceroy once lived and is now the official residence of the President of India. View India Gate, a war memorial arch built in honour of 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. Visit Humayun’s Tomb, the first great example of Mughal architecture in India. The day’s tour ends at Qutub Minar – a soaring tower of victory which is 72.5 meter high and has five distinct stories.

Jour 3 : Delhi – Mandawa

This morning drive to Mandawa. The town was founded and inhabited by Shekhawati Rajputs in the 18th century and is popularly known as the open art gallery of Rajasthan due to magnificent murals and frescoes from mythology. Arrive Mandawa and check-in at your hotel. Late afternoon explore the beautiful town of Mandawa. See the hand painted havelis that are some of the splendid examples depicting the regional folklore. Walk and maze through the streets, bazaars and observe colorfully dressed local people and their day to day activities.

Day 4 : Mandawa - Bikaner

This morning drive to Bikaner. Bikaner exists in magnificent isolation in the northern Rajasthan desert, a fortified town founded by Bika, son of the Rathore king Rao Jodha (who built Jodhpur), in the late 15th century as a stop on the trading route between the Punjab and the plains. On arrival, check-in at your hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a city orientation tour of Bikaner. Visit Junagarh Fort, one of the most interesting forts in Rajasthan. With its sumptuously decorated interiors, the fort was built in 1588 by Raja Rai Singh. Also visit the National Research Centre on Camels located about 10 kilometres from Bikaner.

Day 5 : Bikaner - Jaisalmer

This morning drive to Jaisalmer, a journey taking approximately seven hours. There is something magical about Jaisalmer, a city which rears out of the inhospitable. Once a staging post on the trading routes west, it is a walled citadel, formidably fortified, in a sandy colour that turns golden in the setting sun. It also contains a complex fort surrounded by palaces and temples. Arrive in Jaisalmer and check-in at your hotel. Remainder of the afternoon will be at leisure.

Day 6 : Jaisalmer

This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour of Jaisalmer. Visit Jaisalmer Fort, the main attraction of this picturesque desert city. Built in 1156, it is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan. Visit the intricately carved havelis or mansions Salim Singh ki Haveli and Patwon ki Haveli. Late afternoon, drive to the sand dunes. The ripples on the wind-caressed dunes creating an enchanting mirage are surely a delight. Enjoy a camel safari on the dunes. This second night in Jaisalmer may be replaced with a night in tented accommodation on the fringes on the mighty Thar desert (not available during the summer).

Day 7 : Jaisalmer – Jodhpur

This morning drive to Jodhpur – approximately five hours away. Jodhpur was once the capital of the former princely state of Marwar. It was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha and is now the second largest city of Rajasthan. The graceful palaces, forts and temples bring alive the historic grandeur, while the exquisite handicrafts, folk dances, music and the brightly attired people lend a romantic aura to the city. Arrive in Jodhpur and check-in at your hotel. Late afternoon, enjoy a short orientation tour. Visit magnificent Mehrangarh, one of Rajasthan’s finest forts. This 5,000 metre long fort is an impressive and formidable structure. There are seven gates that lead into the fort, inside a series of courtyards and palaces to be found. Make a brief stop at Jaswant Thada, located a short distance from the fort, which is a white marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. Later, enjoy a walking tour through the ancient blue town where there will be opportunity to explore the narrow winding lanes, ending at the Old Clock Tower vegetable and spice market.

Day 8 : Jodhpur – Ranakpur – Udaipur

This morning drive to Udaipur. En route visit Ranakpur. Ranakpur boasts some of the most exquisite Jain temples in the country, famous for their intricate friezes and sculptures, and is one of the holiest Jain sites in India. Arrive Udaipur late afternoon and check-in at your hotel.

Day 9 : Udaipur

This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour of Udaipur. Udaipur combines real beauty with a great and glorious past. It stands in a valley, amidst green hills on the banks of the wide, steel blue Lake Pichola. Udaipur rivals any of the famous creations of the Mughals with the Rajput love of the whimsical and its superbly crafted elegance. Visit City Palace, a conglomeration of buildings added by various Maharanas. Despite this the palace manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design. Also visit the Crystal Gallery located at the City Palace which has a rare collection of Osler’s crystal ordered from England by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1877. Return to hotel. Afternoon will be at leisure. In the evening enjoy a boat cruise on the placid waters of Lake Pichola. From the boat view the city of Udaipur rise majestically above the lake in the middle of the Rajasthan desert. Also visit the Jag Mandir Palace, an unforgettable sight on an island in Lake Pichola, built by Maharana Karan Singhji in 1622 as a pleasure palace for royal parties and functions.

Day 10 : Udaipur -Chittaurgarh - Bundi

After breakfast drive to Chittaurgarh. Explore the huge hilltop complex of Chittaurgarh which dominates its surroundings. Today much of the fort is still standing and includes so many ruins that it takes at least half a day to fully explore. In 1303 the Sultan of Delhi set out to conquer the fort and capture the queen of Chittaurgarh. Despite a heroic defence, Bhim Singh and his army were outnumbered and donned saffron robes of sacrifice before succumbing, while inside the walls the women and children committed mass suicide rather than live under Muslim rule. After the visit proceed to picturesque Bundi. En route stop to explore the Menal temples.

Day 11 : Bundi - Jaipur

In the morning explore Bundi, the capital of a princely state. Bundi is real hidden gem in Rajasthan’s crown jewels, Bundi is dominated by the imposing Taragarh Fort, dating back to 1354, and Bundi Palace, which is built into the hillside with the blue houses of the town spreading out below. Much of the Palace is locked away and to see the most beautifully persevered murals one of the Maharaja’s staff will unlock each of the shady rooms in turn for you to wander through the fort, bright with red and gold wall paintings, inlaid ivory doors and intricate carvings. The nearby royal cenotaphs at Sar Bagh, have wonderful carvings and Kipling wrote part of Kim when he stayed at Suhk Mahal on the edge of Jait Sagar.

In the afternoon leave for Jaipur.Jaipur was named after the boy prince who commissioned it – Maharaja Jai Singh II. Jaipur today epitomizes the spirit of Rajputana. In spite of growing into a bustling metropolis, it still retains its character and history, a beautiful fusion of yesteryears and modernity. The massive forts, magnificent palaces, exquisite temples and lush gardens remind us about the glorious past of Jaipur. Arrive Jaipur in the afternoon and check-in at your hotel. Remaining afternoon will be at leisure.

Day 12 : Jaipur

This morning enjoy an excursion to the magnificent Amber Fort. The beautiful, fortified palace was the capital of the state of Jaipur until 1728. The architecture is a blend of Mughal and Rajput styles. Tour the chambers and hallways of the palace, which are famous for the excellence of their design and decoration including the spectacular “Hall of Mirrors”. Afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of Jaipur city. Visit City Palace and its museum which has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, and armoury of Mughals and Rajputs including swords, antiques and artifacts. Proceed to Jantar Mantar, a stone astrological and astronomical observatory which was built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century. Enjoy a cycle-rickshaw ride in the colourful bazaar of the old city. Also visit Hawa Mahal or the “Palace of the Winds.” This beautiful façade is probably the most-photographed in Jaipur. Its ornately carved windows were designed so that the ladies of the palace could look out onto the streets unobserved. There is also time to shop for Jaipur blue pottery and block-printed cotton linens.

Day 13 : Jaipur – Agra

This morning drive to Agra. En route, stop at Fatehpur Sikri (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) – this deserted red sandstone city was built by Emperor Akbar as his capital and palace in the late 16th century. Arrive Agra late afternoon and check-in at your hotel. Two great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and Shah Jahan, transformed the little village of Agra into a befitting second capital of the Mughal Empire – giving it the name Dar-ul-Khilafat which means seat of the Emperor. Today, a visitor to Agra is caught up in a world of contrasting edifices whilst experiencing the irresistible charm that this favourite city of the Mughals still retains.

Day 14 : Agra - Delhi

Early morning enjoy a sunrise visit to the mesmerising Taj Mahal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The 17th century Taj Mahal is often called a poem in stone. If so, the mausoleum is a love poem – created by Shah Jahan for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal. Please note: Taj Mahal remains closed on Fridays. Return to hotel for breakfast. Later in the day visit Agra Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage site). The fort was built by the third Mughal Emperor, Akbar. Subsequent additions were made to the fort by his son Jahangir and grandson Shahjahan. Afternoon drive back to Delhi – a journey time of approximately five hours. Arrive Delhi and transfer to International Airport for your flight to your onward destination.

Day 15 : Delhi – Europe

Assistance with check-in procedures. Depart for your onward destination.

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