- Exploring one of the most historically important regions in India – forts & palaces
- Walking, biking, boating, ziplining, and doing yoga across Vibrant Rajasthan
- Sampling a wide variety of Indian cuisine and learning how to cook regional dishes
- Looking for wildlife – from birds to jaguars to crocodiles
- Meeting with warm locals and learning about their way of life
- Sending your camera into overdrive with its spectacularly colourful sites
Day 1: WELCOME TO INCREDIBLE INDIA
We welcome you in the capital city of India, for a journey across the fascinating history-markers of medieval North India. Wars were fought and rulers changed in Delhi but ordinary lives were lived in relative continuity. Glimpses of these can be seen even today as the character of the city underwent massive changes in the last decades. In the lands fabled to have seen seven cities, signs of the old are continuously jostling with the new, presenting an ever-fascinating panorama. We welcome you to its chaos and stability, into its steadfastness and its impatience and into a delightful rainbow of amalgamation, producing a world completely its own.
Accommodation: Delhi Hotel
Day 2: DELHI TOUR
We start the day early today on an excellent orientation tour of the Old City on a bicycle. Called, “The Shah Jahan Tour” it is a classic tour on rubber wheels for an exhilarating glimpse into the life and times of the great Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan and the 1500 acre expanse of his capital – Shahjahanabad. At the time of its construction in the 17th Century, it was arguably, the most prosperous and beautiful city in the world.
During the tour, when you pass through its four hundred year old web of alleys held together with great big meshes of electric cables and infused with the smell of brewing tea and simmering breakfast curry, you see a mind boggling co-existence of the past and the future, competing for your attention.
Emerging from this rainforest, thick with traditional architecture- typical of Shah Jahan’s time, you will find yourself in a Delhi of another time while you also see the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, the Spice Market and tranquil Civil Lines, the former British colonial area as a sharp contrast to hectic Old Delhi.
After enjoying a hearty breakfast at a local eatery, we visit old Delhi, the capital built by emperor Shahjahan. The narrow winding lanes best traversed by a cycle-rickshaw house some of the oldest inhabitants and also the oldest trading establishments of the city. Visit the historic Jama Masjid, drive past the Red Fort. On our way back contrast the swift architectural changes brought by the colonial rulers mirroring styles from across Europe and adapted to the Indian environment. We drive past the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace) and the secretariat buildings, the impressive Rajpath and the World War I memorial arch, the India Gate.
Post lunch, visit one of the oldest monuments of Delhi- standing tall with pride is the Qutub Minar, learn about Delhi’s most curious antique here, the un-corroded Iron Pillar, which dates back to the 4th century AD believed to be sitting on the head of a ferocious snake. But more interesting than the mythology is the metallurgical skills of the ironsmith who produced this puzzle cast in iron. You also visit Humayun Tomb.
Accommodation: Delhi Hotel
Day 3 & 4: VOLUNTEERING AT DEEPALAYA SCHOOLS (OPTIONAL)
Both days volunteering work at 2 schools run by Deepalaya.
Deepalaya School Kalkaji Extention was set up In 1999, with the backing of several investors and in response to an overwhelming demand by the parents for a formal school. DSKE was the first Deepalaya school that was designed from ground up to function as a fully fledged education centre. The campus was equipped with laboratories, playgrounds and an auditorium. It saw students enrolling from nearby slum areas like Okhla, Govindpuri, Transit Camp, Sangam Vihar, Tughlabad Extension, and Madanpur Khadar.
Deepalaya School, Sanjay Colony shifted to the community of Sanjay Colony in 1992, after functioning from the Chittaranjan Park, South Delhi for many years. The school runs classes from LKG to class VIII.
One of the evenings, you can enjoy Sufi Walk in Nizamuddin, followed by Quwalli.
EVENING SUFI WALK IN NIZAMUDDIN
The Nizamuddin area is a medieval settlement named after the highly venerated 14th century Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. The settlement contains medieval era tombs, shrines, mausoleums and step-wells. There is a vibrant community life centred around the dargah (tomb) of Hazrat Nizamuddin. The dargah keeps alive the cultural heritage of Sufi spirituality, through the poetry of Amir Khusrau and evening Qawwali performances.
The tour starts with a visit to Chaunsath Khamba (The 64-Pillars), a beautiful Mughal-era monument. From here, we will walk to Ghalib’s Academy, where a museum dedicated to the great Urdu poet Ghalib has been created (closed Sundays). After this, we walk through a busy local bazaar, to reach the dargah of a 20th century Sufi musician, Hazrat Inayat Khan. The dargah is now a social centre, teaching music and running community welfare programs. From the dargah, we will walk through Nizamuddin basti seeing daily life in this area, to arrive at Atgah Khan’s Tomb, a monument built during Akbar’s reign. And of course, the primary site we will visit is the Nizamuddin dargah complex with its mosque, historical tombs and its miraculous step-well. At the dargah, we will spend some time listening to the Qawwali performance.
Accommodation: Dehli Hotel
Day 5: DELHI TO AGRA
Early this morning departure to Agra (3hrs).
The Taj Mahal is everything that has been said about it and more. Taking 22 years and 20,000 men to build, the white marble was quarried 360 km away and was transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, in mid-17th century, the Taj Mahal is truly one of the wonders of the world. Though the Taj appears to be amazingly perfect from almost any angle, it is the close-up marble inlay work, which is really astounding.
Accommodation: Agra Hotel
Day 6: AGRA
YOGA FACING THE TAJ MAHAL IN AGRA
This unique experience with 1-hour yoga session at a location with amazing view of Taj Mahal. Yoga as a gem of Indian culture is not only a way to keep oneself healthy and fit, but also a way of life. This session will cover basic Asana, Dhyana and Pranayam at a lush green mound about 150 meters away, facing the Taj Mahal. Multiple start times for you to choose from and all levels are welcome! Imbibe yourself into the spiritual way of life, where your body and soul will get rejuvenated.
Derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, Yoga means union of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Yoga is a 5000 year old Indian body of knowledge. Though many think of yoga only as a physical exercise where people twist, turn, stretch, and breathe in the most complex ways, these are actually only the most superficial aspect of this profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul.
Visit the AGRA FORT – the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. This was the seat of Mughal rule and administration and the present structure owes its origins to Akbar who erected the walls and gates and the first buildings on the eastern banks of Yamuna River. Shah Jehan added the impressive quarters and the mosque while Aurangzeb added the outer ramparts. Visit its Hall of Public Audience and its Royal Pavilions.
In the afternoon take a AGRA CITY FOOD WALK with a local expert. Join us as our specialized guides take you through a 1 to 2 hour food tour that has been specially developed for you, the food lover. It covers all the famous eateries of Agra and is targeted at delivering maximum gastronomic satisfaction.
In the evening watch the show MOHABBAT-THE-TAJ, one of the most interesting and mesmerizing play that depicts the famous tale of Love. The Drama tells us the story of true and eternal love of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaj Mahal. It is an 80 minutes show which portray the famous love story and each and every moment of this immortal love. This show is organized every evening at the Kalakriti Cultural and Convention Centre which is popularly known as “The Sanaskritik Natyashala”.
Accommodation: Agra Hotel
Day 7: AGRA – BHARATPUR – JAIPUR
En-route to Bharatpur, we visit Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city, built by the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar as his capital and palace in the late 16th century. It was abandoned soon after it was built when the local wells went dry and it remains today in much the same condition that it was over 300 years ago. It is complete with palaces and mosques and used to be a town larger than London when it was originally constructed. Now it is an extraordinary place to wander around with its buildings in near perfect condition.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary. This is a world heritage site known for large congregation of the water birds. More than 400 species of birds has been recorded so far. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the winter season. Here enjoy bird watching while cycling with a trained nature guide.
Later drive to Jaipur – Jaipur’s past is never too far from hand. The city of victory, Jaipur presides over the fascinating desert state and its people: surrounded by rugged hills, each crowned by a formidable fort; and beautiful palaces, mansions and gardens dotted throughout its precincts. The palaces and forts of yesteryear that were witness to royal processions and splendour are now living monuments, accepted quite naturally into the lifestyles of the people of the “pink city”. Except for the busy traffic of bicycles, cars and buses, little seems to have changed.
Accommodation: Jaipur Hotel
Day 8: JAIPUR TOUR
Perched atop the hill looking down majestically is the Amber fort. We ride up into the palace astride elephants just like the Maharajas of yore. The plain and time worn exteriors belie the exquisite detail with which the interiors were crafted. Notice the gentle breeze which cools the interiors as it filters in through the jails, a special feature of building in Rajasthan. In the famed Sheesh Mahal look up and be prepared to feel a surge of colour as the optical effect makes you a part of this royal past.
Back in the city, we will drive past Hawa Mahal, where again notice the jails. The Maharaja’s City Palace, much of which has been converted into a museum covers almost one-seventh area of the city in a fortified unit. Here the Armoury Museum housing an impressive array of weaponry-pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers. Become one with the planetary bodies at Jantar Mantar, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world.
Option to volunteer at a local project this afternoon or free time for independent exploration.
Accommodation: Jaipur Hotel
Day 9: JAIPUR TO JODHPUR (6hrs)
Amongst the many princely settlements of Rajasthan, Jodhpur is one of the most distinctive. Countless tales of courage speak of a 500 year old history and a culture which take pride in its strength and valour.
In the afternoon visit Mehrangarh Fort which stands witness to many battles. Learn about the intensely captivating history as you wander through the city. In an area prone to droughts, the shades of blue give a sense of relief. Look down from the fort at the soothing colours in sight, shimmering like a lake, an oasis, stuff that make the dreams of a desert people.
OPTION TO ZIPLINE: Glide over the myriad landscapes of one of the largest forts in Rajasthan- the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. Over the course of our zip line tour in Jodhpur, what you get is a sensational new perspective on the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. Fly high over the outer battlements of Rajasthan’s most majestic fortress, glide serenely over two desert lakes, trek through the Rao Jodha eco-park and enjoy the best view of Mehrangarh and the Blue City of Jodhpur.
Accommodation: Jodhpur Hotel
Day 10: JODHPUR DESERT ADVENTURE
“The Desert Experience” will unravel before you rural Rajasthan in its full glory. Through the semi arid terrain you will witness the simple life of different communities that have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. The variety of wild life and avian life makes for a photographer’s paradise. Added to this rich cultural experience is the thrill, excitement and adrenaline rush of off-road driving as you tackle this terrain in our 4×4 vehicles through sandy river beds, and sharp twists and turns .
Drive into the wilderness with exciting dry riverbed 4×4 drive
Visits to the actual homes of members of different communities like the Bishnois, Rajputs, Brahmins, and Raikas, and a chance to interact with them first hand
A chance to witness artisans and craftsmen engaged in their occupation. Visit to the potter, the weaver,et
A delicious picnic lunch at a scenic spot with a chance to relax or take a short nap under a tree, taking in the clean, crisp air.
Viewing of the variety of wildlife that is abundant in this region like the Black Buck, Neel Gai (Blue Bull), Chinkara, desert fox, and the occasional wolf.
Accommodation: Jodhpur Hotel
Day 11: JODHPUR TO BERA (4hrs)
Post breakfast, we drive through the hills of Rajasthan, and arrive at Ranakpur, where we see majestic Jain temple. Built completely in marble, it took a whole 65 years to complete the carvings that adorn the temple walls and pillars and ceilings. Admire the fine craftsmanship which produced these dreamy creations bursting with life. For a long time a local legend has persisted that no one can count the real number of pillars that hold up the temple. So don’t be surprised if someone challenges you to do just that.
We continue to Bera, a beautiful hamlet situated in Rural Rajasthan where one can see the co-existence between wildlife and communities in true sense. Leopard is the top predator of this area and this place is gaining international fame due to its frequent leopard sighting. A beautiful lake is located just next to the village which is a heaven for the birdwatchers. Some of the biggest crocodiles also inhabit these waters. We will take an evening safari to spot Leopards in their natural environs.
Accommodation: Bera Tented Camp
Day 12: BERA TO UDAIPUR
Post breakfast, optional cycling to Pindwara (40 Kms / 2.5 – 03 Hrs).
On this route, we will go through a plethora of colourful villages & hamlets, tribal villages and pristine forest. This is incredibly picturesque terrain, though a little hilly with some uphill rides, it’s enjoyable.
Surrounded by the Aravalis in south Rajasthan, in the Girwa valley is Udaipur, a city most magical. Each year, parched earth is romanced by monsoon clouds, turning the dry caked lakes into a bubbling blue. Slowly the burnt browns of the hills are taken over by green forests and the skies are busy with a rush of birds, some of the most beautiful temples and palaces of the Mewar rulers. Built around Lake Pichola are the finest examples of Rajasthan’s architecture.
The Vintage & Classic Car Collection is a landmark in the city of Udaipur ever since it was inaugurated in February 2000. The grand limousines and cars showcased in the Collection belong to the House of Mewar and are still in perfect running condition. The Collection has been curated for the benefit of vintage car-lovers from India and all over the world. Awe-struck visitors to the Collection are narrated innumerable stories and anecdotes about the Maharanas of Mewar and their preferred Rolls-Royce or Mercedes customized at their request. – Enjoy a 60-90 minutes drive into such car and feel the real royalty.
Accommodation: Udaipur Hotel
Day 13: UDAIPUR EXPLORATION
Udaipur City Palace is one of the architectural marvels of Rajasthan, located peacefully on the banks of Lake Pichola. This majestic City Palace is the most-visited tourist attraction of Udaipur and often distinguished as the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Initially, Maharana Udai Singh built this superb wonder, but the present form of the Palace is the result of subsequent additions by his successors.
City Palace boasts of the wonderful blend of Medieval, European and Chinese Architecture. The Palace has various towers, domes and arches, which add to the flavor of heritage site. Towering on the banks of Pichola Lake, City Palace is truly a feast to the eyes. City Palace is a marvelous assortment of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens. Encircled by fortifications, this imposing Palace is wholly built in granite and marble.
City Palace has several gates that are known as “Pols”. ‘Bara Pol’ (Great Gate) is the main gate to the City Palace complex that will take you to the first courtyard. On passing ‘Bara Pol’, you will come across a triple arched gate, which is known as ‘Tripolia’. Between these two gates, you would see eight marble arches or Toranas, where Kings used to weigh themselves with gold and silver. Besides Tripolia, there is an arena where elephant fights were staged. Across ‘Tripolia’, you would enter the ‘Elephant Gate’ or the ‘Hathi Pol’.
This afternoon enjoy a walking tour of the back lanes of Udaipur. The City of lakes – as the world knows it, but as a matter of fact, it is not only a town where a tourist comes for monuments and serene lakes. Udaipur offers you a varied experience of indulging in its life like a Local. Walk through its city life and markets areas, walk through its medieval neighbourhood, interact with the craftsman and exchange your views with its residents.
BOAT RIDE LAKE PICHOLA – The picturesque boat ride on Lake Pichola not only provides the best scenic view of the lake and the mountains in the city, but also presents some of the most important historical monuments dotted along the lakeside or submerged within the lake.
Accommodation: Udaipur Hotel
Day 14: UDAIPUR to DELHI (Flight)
In the morning, visit Devra, which means “Where God Resides,” and get ready for a fun cultural lesson: Accompanied by Ms. Jyoti Jasol, founder of Devra, learn all about sari culture and how to tie them as well as the many variations on the turban based on religion, region and class status. The house Chef will then take you to prepare mouth watering delicacies. While cooking, she will teaches you about Indian food, spices, and the way the cuisine is planned around the year. Watch and help her cook and then you are invited to enjoy what you have helped prepare as lunch.
Flight to Delhi to connect to international departures.
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*Please note that itinerary and hotels can be adjusted to best fit your budget and interests.
PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change. Although we always do our best to stick to the itinerary, due to the ever changing nature of our world, activities, hotels, and sites are subject to change due to forces beyond our control.
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• 14 nights 4*-5* hotel/lodge accommodation
• Domestic flight
• Meals as per itinerary
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• Experienced bilingual guide services
• Entrance fees to all the sites mentioned in the program
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– Please note that this is a SAMPLE ITINERARY and can be tweaked to best suit your needs and interests.
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