Travel Route: Old and New Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – Fatehpur Sikri – Mandawa – Bikaner – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Deogarh Palace Hotel – Ranakpur – Udaipur – New Delhi
After your arrival at the Delhi International Airport and on completing immigration, customs and baggage collection procedures, our friendly representative will meet and greet you at the exit of the arrival’s terminal. You will then be taken to your hotel safely and in comfort. A Traditional Welcome awaits you at the hotel and you will feel the warmth and hospitality of the Indian people, which is customary. Ladies in their traditional local costumes will welcome you with beautiful garlands of flowers and the “aarti” ceremony, where your forehead will be rubbed with the traditional red “tikka.” After which you can sit back and sip on a non-alcoholic welcome drink.
Both Delhi’s history and current existence are captivating and inspiring. Though she has been stripped and left desolate many a time she can still proudly wear the title “the Empress of Indian cities.” For centuries Delhi has been the influence of power of a number of dynasties, the Afghans, Rajputs, the Turks and the Mughals who continued their royal line until the British occupation. Relics of great edifices, ruins, tombs of mighty warriors and saints, are dispersed throughout and attest to the fact that Delhi is not just a city but a metropolis of many peoples and nations. Overnight in New Delhi!
Any division between New and Old Delhi actually reflects the separations between the capitals of the Mughals and the British. New Delhi mirrors the heritage that the British left behind and was designed and constructed by Edwin Lutyens a British architect and Sir Herbert Baker his friend in 1931 when the new capital was officially established.
Old Delhi’s walled city makes it easy for us to recognized several aspects of the lifestyles in the past, with its remaining traditions in all of its features, spells and colors. Conversely New Delhi is a city that is being developed into a more modern day 21st century model.
Our private guided tour begins with a look at the sights in Old Delhi the previous capital of Shahjahanbad that was founded by Moghul Emperor Shahjahan in the 17th century . Old Delhi is made up of a wealth of buildings which display fantastic combinations of architectural styles. It can also become quite hectic which is to be expected from a city in the middle of the busy Chandi Chowk Bazaar. One of the best ways to travel around is by cycle rickshaw. After navigating through the small alleys and the colorful bazaars, you will arrive at the magnificent Jami Masjid Mosque, which is the biggest mosque in India and Shahjahan’s impressive Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Housed in the fort are some of the greatest illustrations of Mughal architecture, in a collection of splendid audience halls and superb and unblemished mosaic marble pavilions, fixed in formal gardens with fountains and pools that are beautifully decorated.
We move on to Raj Ghat – a memorial that was constructed in honor of the site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
When we have finished our lunch our guided tour continues to New Delhi. The city center is divided by broad avenues that are lined with trees, a cemetery that is a noticeable reflection of the Raj heritage and the Presidential Palace which was once home to the previous Viceroy’s Palace. We drive along Rajpath (King’s Way) and in the process we pass by Parliament House, a globular building that represents Indian democracy.
Afterwards, we arrive at India Gate, a tall stone archway that was constructed in commemoration of the Indian soldiers who died in World War I. Further on, we will also pay visits to some of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Delhi which include the Qutub Minar Complex that was built in the 12th century and is dominated by India’s highest stone tower constructed to mark the victory of Muslims over Hindu Rajput Kingdoms in India. It was started in 1199 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak who demolished Hindu and Jain temples and built the Quwat-ul-Islam mosque which is attached with the columns of destroyed temples. This gave India its first mosque.
We will come to the end of our tour today after lunch at a local restaurant. We visit the Humayun’s Tomb (ca.1565) at a lovely complex designed by a Persian architect and ordered to be built by the widow of the Mughal Emperor. This tomb was created with a beautiful fusion of Indian and Persian features. You will find a collection of stately mausoleums that are surrounded by wonderful expansive gardens with entrances through monumental gates. It reached its pinnacle about100 years later in the in the Taj Mahal (1634). Worthy of mentioning is its configuration of a pavilion and base domes and that it was the forerunner to the Taj Mahal, with the only difference being that it was built of red sandstone instead of white marble.
In the evening we will take in the lively mood, the plethora of colors and a variety of smells as we venture through the bustling streets to Connaught Circus. There will be an orientation walk and after that you are free to plunge into the frenzy of the place, and sample the delightful world famous foods of India. Overnight in New Delhi!
After a filling breakfast, we head off to Agra, which was at one point the Mogul Empire’s capital. Agra offers some of the most spectacular sights and it is here that you will find some of the most luxurious and magnificent buildings and landmarks in India.
Transfer to the hotel for lunch after arriving.
With lunch finished we travel along the river banks of the Yamuna to explore the place whence the Moghul Empire ruled. Agra Fort is a world heritage site and is a wonder to explore. You can also get a view of the world famous and spectacular Taj Mahal from the top of the fort. Our next stop will be the place of your dreams, as later in the afternoon we visit one of the world’s wonders, none other than the Taj Mahal. This grand structure represents one of the greatest expressions of love heard of. It was built by artisans of both India and neighboring Islamic countries, as the mausoleum of Empress Mumtaz Mahal, the much loved wife of Shah Jahan, who died in 1630 AD I. It took over 22 years to complete (1631 AD – 1653 AD). The Taj Mahal is beautifully decorated with semi-precious stones forming flowers and groves and recreated verses from the Koran in Persian calligraphy. The mausoleum is a significant place to visit, a pilgrimage, an ‘Urs,’ as the Empress is considered a martyr after dying during childbirth, this is according to religious beliefs. In the words of the poet laureate Tagore it is a “ tear on the face of eternity”. Yet those words could never aptly describe this wonder of wonders. It’s a must see and a marvel.
After our visit to the Taj Mahal we will take some time to watch the craftsmen skillfully using 17th century methods to create what is known as the Pietra Dura and displaying their products with great pride. There are mosaic floral designs of semiprecious and precious stones in marble that are intricately carved and much like those of the Taj Mahal. This artistry has been kept alive in Agra by passing it on throughout the generations. Here you will see a medley of table tops with rich beautiful colors, coasters, trays and boxes inlaid with authentic semi-precious stones and created with marble. You will fall in love with the charming creations of these artists and for sure the eight- angled box with the 700 mosaic pieces quite like a miniature design of the famed Taj Mahal will be a sweet temptation.
Feast on a traditional home-cooked meal with a local family in the evening and enjoy fantastic flavors and smells of Mughal cuisine. Overnight in Agra!
After breakfast we exit Agra and drive to Jaipur, the opening to Rajasthan’s rough and jagged landscapes, picturesque cities and extravagant palaces and forts. En route, we make a stop at the desolate city of Fatephur Sikri. This city was constructed in 1659 by Emperor Akbar. A mere 14 years later all of its magnificent palaces and courtyards were abandoned but remain as testimony to a once inhabited city. Here you will find the tomb of Shaik Salim Chisti who foretold the birth of Jehangir Akbar’s son the imperial Jami Masjid. The Panch Mahal, an unusual looking building that bears some resemblance to a Buddhist Temple, the Pachchisi (board game), that is surfaced with white and black and the place where the Emperor used slave girls as figurines to play chess as well as a protected courtyard used as the Hall of Public Audience.
Further along the journey to Jaipur, we make a diversion off the road to Abhaneri village, where we behold the lovely landscape of an Indian village. It is here that we visit a 10th century Step well Chand Baori on 11 levels and with a depth of some 20 meters. There are a variety of temples, rooms and stone sculptures that are carved in detail. As you will discover on your Rajasthan trip, it is a very dry place and these step-wells played a significant role historically, by serving as a retreat in parched times, being a spot for socializing and of course an important source of water. The unique step-wells also known as the baori of Rajasthan were creatively designed to assist in the harvesting of rain water. In the village of Abhaneri there are also some small temples and palaces. Mud huts are home to the warm and friendly locals. Continue your drive to Jaipur!
Jaipur is a perfect mix of the charm and appeal of the former years, along with the lively and energetic present. It’s a textile lover’s paradise, replete with some of the best textile printers, artists, potters and dealers of antiques anywhere in the world. The foresight of Raja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur, was a significant factor in Jaipur’s success. Thought to be quite extraordinary in his thinking and one who mixed his power with wisdom, this astronomer and scholar had a sharp eye for beauty. As he built Jaipur, he looked way beyond the magnificence of architectural design and incorporated even the expansive desert lands, beneath the previous capital Amber and constructed the first planned city in India. Its uniqueness still continues even after 250 years. Jai Singh’s vision for Jaipur was actualized and it became a haven for religion and commerce. With the solid foundation set by this visionary, it is now a city where great potential and possibilities of growth and change, fueled by outstanding traditions exist and has expanded itself far beyond its borders and the pink cracked walls. Overnight in Jaipur!
This morning you will be collected by your guide and taken to Amber Fort which is about 11 km from Jaipur. It will be an exhilarating trip up to the fort and you are sure to enjoy the experience. What better way to ascend than on the back of a decorated elephant.
Ride up to the fort on the back of an Elephant and experience the royal ride like the royalty of Rajasthan did in the past. It’s a long and precipitous climb and a somewhat winding journey. But, you will enjoy the adventure! The environs are absolutely fantastic and the scenes are beautiful. Once you have been carried to the top of the hill you can start your exploration of the impressive complex made of marble and red stone and separated into four main sections. Your guide will lead you on the inside of Amber Fort to visit Jai Mandir, a compartment that contains Diwan-e-Aam, also called ‘Hall of Public Audience,’ a monument from the 18th-century and its corresponding Diwan-e-Khas also called, ‘Hall of Private Audience’ a monument with a combination of Mughal and Rajasthan styles, dazzling paintings and mirrors. Also see the Shila Devi Temple with its decorative murals and carvings. Get a pinnacle view of the amazing Jal Mahal palace which is plumb in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake.
When we are done, we will make our way back down the hill with our guide, this time by jeep and transfer to our private vehicle as we head to the city for a sightseeing tour. En route, we make a stop so that you can take those coveted pictures of the amazing spectacle the Jal Mahal, a display of architectural genius that stands upright in the center of the Sagar Lake. Gaze in amazement at how this beautiful palace made of red sandstone appears to float as it reflects in the waters of the lake. This speaks volumes about the brilliance of the early Indian architects.
We move on to the Hawa Mahal, which when translated is called the ‘Palace of Winds’ one of the most popular landmarks in Jaipur. It is a five story palace that was erected in 1799 and has 900 hundred small windows, intricate latticework and pink sandstone carvings and brandishes a magnificent exterior. From behind this structure, royal ladies were able to see the daily happenings on the streets below unnoticed.
One of the prized features of Jaipur and one that we will definitely visit on this tour is the City Palace, which is a very influential landmark after Amber Fort. This imposing complex is a showcase of courtyards, palaces and gardens as well as intricately carved doorways and decorative arts. You will find collections of unique manuscripts, costumes, armory, miniature paintings and carpets.
The section that contains the armory is of much significance and import. Displayed here are a variety of swords, daggers, double edged cutters, matchlock guns and the flintlock guns among others. The handles of the knives and swords are in most cases made of silver, crystal, ivory and sometimes jade. As you will see, many of the weapons are dressed with semi-precious and precious stones whilst others wear enamel. Other interesting features are the shields made of the hard hides of tortoises, rhinoceros and buffaloes, which have at times been engraved and painted with lacquer and the antique gunpowder flasks made of animal horn, leather, seashell and at times decorated with carved ivory.
Proceed to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jantar Mantar which was built in the 1700s by Maharaja Jai Singh II. It is one of the biggest and best-maintained solar observatories ever built. At this solar observatory, scientific displays of early Indian architecture are on show. Marvel at the fact that these ancient solar tools which were carved by stone, can to this day still predict eclipses, the positions of astrological locations, tell the time exactly, predict eclipses and a lot more.
It’s time for lunch and we eat at the Surabhi Restaurant. This traditional restaurant is in the past palace of Rao Kripa Ram, Prime Minister of Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. The building is 300 years old and also showcases the arts and crafts of Jaipur. Feast on some a-la-carte Indian Rajasthani food from the ancient style outdoor Tandoor, which is a mud oven. If you like, you can watch puppet shows and be serenaded by the songs of the Rajasthani Bhopa singers as you eat. For avid readers or even browsers you can flip through the pages of an extensive collection of books on Rajasthan and India. How about checking out the very interesting Turban Museum which has the largest collection of turbans on earth and where you can even get a demonstration. After a satiable and tasty lunch you will get perhaps a “turban lesson” from very skilled makers. Learn how to twist a turban if you are a man. Women are by no means left out as they learn how to make a beautiful sari from six yards of silk. At dinner tonight you may opt to wear your new outfits. Nearing sunset, we will take an easy stroll through Jaipur’s old city and the stalls in the market. We also get another glance of the fantastic Palace of Winds before going back to the hotel.
Overnight in Jaipur and wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to continue your exciting Rajasthan tour!
You will be collected at the hotel after breakfast and travel to Mandawa located in the heart of the partially dry desert region of Shekhawati. Compared to the other cities in India , Mandawa is considered to be rather young since it was only established in the 18th century. It was previously the residence of very rich merchant families who all erected monuments to their wealth in the form of Havelis that are extravagantly ornamented. The rich families who had moved away to Delhi and other big cities decided to come back to Shekhawati and there was a frantic race to outdo each other in splendor. The city is a great alternative for enthusiasts of architecture who venture on Rajasthan tours looking for something a little different to the grand forts and palaces of Rajasthan.
Check into your hotel after arrival. Begin a thrilling tour after lunch to Mandawa which is popularly known as the “Gallery of Art Under the Open Sky”. That name speaks for itself and is an apt description of the town, which is replete with beautiful mansions that dot its landscape, some abandoned but others very well maintained. The havelis showcase wall paintings of customary religious subjects and reflections of the daily lives of the people of Mandawa. The evolution of the décor in the homes came over a period of time. During the late 19th century, the murals that once showed images of people and told stories of Indian folklore were replaced with those of more modern days and reflect the influence that the British occupation had on this territory. Additionally, more contemporary décor of trains, cars, telephones, hot air balloons, and even gramophones, European style portraits, as well as English hunting scenes now decorate the walls of many Havelis. Experience the lifestyles of the Indian people and be a part of the real rural feel as you walk through Mandawa’s old town. The majority of Havelis of the Shekhawati region have since been transformed into comfy hotels. Castle Mandawa has been changed into a traditional hotel by the Mandawa’s royal family. Contemporary comforts and facilities, a pool and fine dining are available and fuse softly with the lovely art and antiques. Centuries-old murals and paintings conceal the walls and large ceiling- mounted chandeliers hang down sending a reflective light on the ancient furniture. Antique cannons, family portraits, and weaponry give this traditional family-run resort an additional lift. Towers with medieval steeples and balconies combine with more up-to-date luxuries.
Overnight in Castle Mandawa!
After breakfast, we travel to Bikaner which was founded in in 1488 by Rao Bikaji and whose sand dunes create an oasis in the center of the desert. Once a major trading center it is located exactly on the route of the ancient camel convoys that journeyed from West Asia and Africa. Hints of its past wealth remain in the form of the colorful bazaars and massive red-pink sandstone mansions.
Transfer to your heritage hotel and after your arrival Junagarh Fort is our next stop. Standing in a valley, which is in contrast quite in contrast to the other Rajasthan forts which are erected on hills, Junagarh fort is surrounded by a water trench. The places within are meticulously maintained and are admired for the intricacy of their stone carvings. The suite of Maharaja Gaj Singh and his two top wives called The Gaj Mandir, is a marvelous, work of art with its gold paint, sandalwood, ivory, mirrors, colorful murals, niches and stained glass. Anup Mahal, a hall of private audience displays walls painted in red and gold and the walls of Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace), painted in lovely blue cloud themes and gold and red lightning. Vikram Vilas Durbar Hall is the prized place given to General Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh a WWI De Havill and DH-9 biplane bomber, who headed the Bikaner Camel Corps during WWI and was the only colored member of Britain’s Imperial War Cabinet at the time of the battle.
We will then go to the largest Camel Breeding Research Farm in Asia . It’s uniqueness makes this farm easy for visitors to notice. After Morocco and Australia, India has the largest population of camels. The major purpose of the Camel Breeding Research Farm is to develop the breeding stock of camels. Here you will learn valuable and life-long lessons about the different types of camels found in India. Camels from the Bikaner District have long hair that protrudes from their ears and are known for their excessive strength. Camels from the Jaisalmer District have a light color and are known to be very fast on their feet with the ability to move as fast as 22 km/h; Camels from Gujarat are dark in color and the females are famous for their abundance of milk, which for each milking could be about 4.6L . In the afternoon around 3:00pm watch the amazing sight of herds of camels including the babies returning from the desert. Inside the complex there is a small but rather interesting museum which educates visitors about the camels, how they can be used and the importance of camel research that has helped several owners. Try the camel’s milk on its own, in chai (tea) or camel ice cream. It is said to be healthy and even whitens your teeth. Shop for camel products, which are created only from camels who have died naturally. Amazing rugs from the camel’s hair, camel leather purses, camel teeth or bones necklaces. Wow! Interesting to note is that the BSF (Border Security Force) purchases the finest camels, whilst the villagers buy the others.
Experience the old city of Bikaner, on the tuk tuk ride. This city has maintained an authentic ancient feeling even though they have progressed to motorbikes and auto-rickshaws. It is surrounded by an 18th-century wall that is 7km-long and has a web of bending narrow roads that keep some of the old havelis and Jain temples out of sight. Overnight in Bikaner!
We travel today, after a tasty breakfast, to Jaisalmer, the most western city in Rajasthan, which is totally concealed in the Thar desert. Also known as the “Golden City” the architectural styles of its buildings are somewhat fairy-tale looking. Although it is not as popular as the other cities, it is still worth the visit. It is a walled city that originated as a point for trading on the spice route and the environs are medieval with rickshaws and camel carts as a major source of transportation.
We will go further to a more unconventional attraction , which we forewarn is not for the faint-of- heart, the Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, 30km south of the city of Bikaner. Fittingly called the ” Rat Palace”, it was built in the 17th-century. Those devoted to this belief see rats as souls that have been reincarnated and that it is favorable to let these long-tailed dwellers of the palace crawl on your feet.
On our way we will visit the 7th century Mahavira Jain Temple and the 2000-year-old Jija Mata Temple at the Oscian village. Then we will move on to Jaisalmer. It will be a picturesque drive as on the way you cast your eyes on sheep meadows, desert landscape, Rabari herdsmen sitting in the temple wall’s shade, camels peeking through the branches of the acacia as we pass and women in their colorful saris skillfully balancing water pitchers on their heads. From a distance there is the sight of the city of Jaisalmer. You will be transferred to your hotel after you get to Jaisalmer. Before retreating for dinner we will cool down the momentum and go to Bada Bagh, the Royal Cenotaphs located in the city of Jaisalmer to watch the sun set.
Overnight in Jaisalmer!
With our breakfast eaten we will begin a guided tour to the desert city of Jaisalmer.
Breathtaking ! That’s the simple way to describe The Fort of Jaisalmer, Sonar Quila. It’s like a mammoth sandcastle springing up from the sandy plains. There are 99 giant citadels in the narrow streets inside of the fort complex. Houses built hundreds of years ago with yellow sand stone, shops that are wrapped in colorful embroidery, several businesses and a royal palace. The Jain temples within the fort are also very attractive. There are seven of them, all beautifully decorated. Built during the 12th to 16th centuries, these temples are the residences of thousands of carved gods and figures dancing in a setting that is mythical. Since the Jain temples, the havelis, the fort and the palaces are all carved in golden honey sandstone it was fittingly named the Golden City.
The golden fort at night has such mesmerizing beauty that it inspired the poem Sonar Kila, by the poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) It’s massive walls are covered with brilliant bright light that illuminates the skies, with a multitude of orange, yellow, red and white colors in all their shades, creating a spectacular display in the night.
Below these massive walls, havelis (mansions) are often hidden by the winding roads of the old city. These havelis which are exquisitely carved mansions with exteriors so detailed they look like lace, were built in the 19th century and are typical and traditional. It’s a fabulous view from the inside of these palaces that were used to brandish the wealth and status of rich traders in ancient times in Rajasthan. A good example of this are the Patwon-ki Havelis—which actually are “five mansions”— a series of joined magnificently carved homes that were constructed in the 1800s by the Patwa brothers. They were the wealthiest merchants in Jaisalmer and so everything about the haveli showed-off their status. These brothers insisted that no two mansions should have any of the same designs, in other words they were to be no repetitions or duplication of work and so, the themes on each mansion had to be exclusive.
We will visit Nathmal ji ki Haveli, for our next stop. This Haveli is built in yellow sandstone and is the home of the Jaisalmer’s previous Court Minister. Standing on both sides of the entrance are the sandstone elephants waiting to welcome you, these two also add to the magnificence of the place. As you look further, you will see an extensive collection of carvings, done amazingly not by a stone carver but a jeweler, who carved the cars and fan only from the descriptions of others, as he had never seen either of these in his lifetime. On the walls and pillars are well-preserved carvings of cars, fans, cattle, flora and horses,
Adventure awaits you as our next tour takes us on a camel safari to see the desert. Late in the afternoon we head to the sand dunes on the borders of the Great Thar Desert, 42km from Jaisalmer. The Great Thar Desert is somewhat like the Sahara desert, with expansive, rolling sand for as far as your eyes can see. Sandy plains, high and low sand dunes and low infertile hills, are characteristic of the desert’s landscape. The best time to be here is either at sunrise or sunset and so several of the camel safaris overnight here. A stay inside the fort provides a better atmosphere and more pleasant memories. On the outside of the golden walls is where you will find the majority of hotels and guesthouses. Overnight in Jaisalmer!
This morning we travel to Jodhpur, we have a fantastic view of the countryside during our journey. The drive takes about five hours. Like the other cities you will see splendidly built old buildings and temples. En route, we pass Rajasthani ladies in an array of brightly colored saris, bracelets and anklets circling their arms and feet. By the way, on the point of fashion, those trousers that reach to the ankle and fit tightly that we call Jhodpuris are named after the horsemen of the city of Jodphur.
We transfer to the hotel and after lunch we have a guided tour of the blue city of Jodhpur.
This city continues to be run by the offspring of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Mehrangarh Fort will catch your attention as its captivating walls mount overhead showcasing the brilliance and exceptional skills of its builders. On the inside the walls are colored and there is a palace complex and a link of courtyards that are a hallmark of buildings in Rajput. It is a fort with seven gates, of particular interest is Lohapol or the Iron Gate, which all have tiny hand-prints (sati marks) of the widows of Maharaja Man Singh, who plunged into the burning funeral pyre while he was cremated in 1843. These prints attract much attention and red powder is used to cover them. A number of buildings on the inside of the fort have been transformed into museums housing well- kept collections of royal palanquins, antique furniture, musical instruments and cannons on the walls of the fort.
In the old town almost every house is painted in blue and there’s a simple yet good reason for this. This keeps the mosquitos away and cools the homes from the heat of the desert. So yes, indeed it really is a blue city!
In the afternoon we go on the Bishnoi Village Jeep Safari, which will be an exciting and adventurous excursion through the deserts around Jodphur. We will also have a warm encounter with the rural lifestyles of the Bishnois. They are an ancient tribe from the authentic Aryan race from Rajasthan, who are lovers of animals and plants and are very Eco-friendly. The name Bishnoi is the combination of two words; Bish meaning 20 and Noi meaning 9, which serve as a reminder of the 29 principles they follow like being patient and modest , rising early in the morning and not hurting animals or cutting down trees. As we journey along we get a view of some of the animals living in the wild: Spotted Deers, Chinkaras Blackbucks, (Indian Gazelle) and Nilgai, the largest Asian Antelope. Visitors to the community of Bishnoi are invited to be a part of one of the most amazing tribal traditions in Rajasthan; the opium ceremony with the group’s elders. Experience the lifestyles of this community ! Learn about how they work and live and even play and how they also give back to the land. Our experienced and knowledgeable tour guide is a friend of this community and is able to escort you to the Bishnois and provide you with the genuine experience you desire.
In the evening we head to one of India’s oldest markets the Sadar Bazaar in Jodhpur. Sadar Bazaar is set around the clock tower in the midst of vegetable and spice markets, sari materials and juice sellers. You can get most anything from this market with vendors plying their trade selling from jewelry to Bollywood soundtracks. Overnight in Jodhpur!
Deogarh is a quiet place and one that is not a top visitors attraction but it is a pleasant reminder as to why we love Rajasthan. It’s a beautiful place in the Aravalis enveloped by rocks, several lakes and bushes. Deogarh Mahal was built during the times of the royal Mewar and is also called the Udaipur Kingdom. It is a huge traditional palace located some 2100 feet above sea level. Like many of the buildings we have seen, it is also magnificent and is a reflection of traditional Indian style architecture that tells a story of extravagance and luxury. It is a romantic place with beautiful courtyards, jharokha, walls, domes, huge gateways and turrets. The Chundawat family are the restorers of this palace, still live in some sections and are duly proud of their genuine traditional hotel.
This gorgeous honey-colored building has 50 lovely palace compartments located on the various wings. The stone work is decorated and carved with precision and wooden sculptures, marble and mirrors are also a part of its splendid interior. You will be served both delightful Mewari cuisine as well as oriental and continental dishes in the restaurants. Facilities such as Jacuzzi, swimming pool, a souvenir shop and gym are all available here. Deogargh Mahal is well known for its collection of vintage cars and miniature paintings and when journeying between Jodhpur and Udaipur it is a fantastic place to rest.
Following our check-in at the Deogarh Mahal Heritage Hotel, we head to the small railway not too far away and take a train from Phulad to Kamlighat. It’s a safari of sorts as we travel 17 km on a 19th century meter-gauge line on this rural train. Chugging along on the horseshoe shaped bridges you can see either side of you from wherever you sit and passing through the tunnels, hills and jungles will create scenes that you will never forget. Mainly a source of transportation for locals and not on the tourist route, the train stops occasionally at the distant one man stations and we really get to see what life is like in this far away region. Get a chance to feed the monkeys with the biscuits you carry on this trip when you get to the station at Goram Ghat. The evening’s activities are up to you. Perhaps you may want to walk through the courtyards or head up to the roof tops to enjoy the surrounding views. Maybe you would rather watch the sun as it sets in the horizon as you sit on the balcony or roof deck. It’s also your chance to have a chat with the friendly owner of this property and glean from his knowledge the history and heritage of this palace. Tonight you will enjoy a wonderful dinner on the terrace and you can dance and sing along with local folksingers.
Overnight in Deogarh Palace Heritage Hotel!
This morning we will put aside the vehicles and take a nature walk that will finish at Fort Seengh Sagar, a spectacular mansion built on a tiny island in the middle of a lake, which is owned by Deogarh Mahal. The perfect time to be up and about in the country taking in the fresh air, watching the farmers, the herds of goats and cattle as they make their way into the fields is in the morning time. That is what we will be doing this morning. Breakfast will be served at Fort Seeng Sagar before we go back to our hotel. We will take a walk in Deogarh Village later on and visit the grocery shops and markets as we get a feel of the way the people here live. You will see women moving around with clay pots of water on their heads, dyers, potters, cobblers and a variety of craftsmen and artist as they work.
In the afternoon we drive to Udaipur which is known mainly for its lovely palaces and lakes. Our luxurious hotel in Udaipur looks over Lake Pichola and we will walk around its grounds and enjoy the wonderful surroundings. You can even get a spa treatment here if you wish. As we travel, we will make a stop at Ranakpur where we find the Jain temples of Ranakpur. These temples, situated near to Udaipur are truly a spectacular and opulent sight and the interior reminds you of the Dilwara temples in Mount Abu which are more popular. But, the facade at Ranakpur shows off an exterior that is superior to the ones at Dilwara. At every point available in this 15th century Ranakpur Temple, you will see amazing carvings that will captivate you. Included are scenes of the daily life of the ancient householder, sculptures of Jain tirthankaras, jaw dropping carvings, and several other fantastic creations. The extremely detailed designs are evidence that the monks were committed and devoted to the cause. Imagine 1444 pillars that fortify 29 separate halls inside the temple, all having totally different themes and designs, no two of them being the same and what’s even more surreal is that they were all hand-carved.
After the transfer to your hotel in Udaipur, the rest of the time is yours! You can visit Sajjangarh Palace, on the Aravalli hillside of Udaipur. It is the perfect place to watch the sun rise as it gives an ideal view of the city and the two lakes that are close by. Built in 1884 and named after Maharana this palace was initially created to view the clouds passing during the monsoon season, to this end it was also called the Monsoon Palace. This nine story structure is built with white marble and has embedded, definitively carved plants and floral designs. Lake Pichola sits some 1,100 feet beneath it and in the night the many lights shimmers beautifully on its waters . It is also famously known as the place used in Octopussy a James Bond film and was once used by the Mewar royal family as a hunting lodge and summer retreat. Overnight in Udaipur!
We wind down our Rajasthan tour with a visit to the City Palace. Founded by Maharana Udai Singh II, the Udaipur City Palace sits on a hill that gives a fantastic view of Lake Pichola and the city and is by no doubt the biggest palace in Rajasthan. Work started on this building in the year 1559 and continued for another 450 years as Maharana after the Maharana added more and more to the initial structure. Now the whole complex is a make-up of 11 palaces each joined by a network of walkways. The City Palace Museum is in the main section of the complex and is home to collections of inlay glass, paintings, ceramics, miniatures, enamel works and antiques. Looking through the palace windows also give a fabulous view of the Lake Pichola. The Maharaja family occupies one section of the palace while the third section has been transformed into beautiful traditional hotels.
Our next visit is to the Crystal Gallery. The quality, variety and splendor of Udaipur Collection of crystals is unquestionable. It is one of most complete and biggest collections of Osler cut glass anywhere in the world and stands among the best in decorative arts. The majority of this collection was ordered in 1878 by Maharana Sajjan Singh and the bigger pieces of the furniture were given to Osler in 1881. In the gallery you will find fantastic pieces of crystal items; from sofa set, washing bowl, dining table, goblet, decanter, tray and crockery to perfume bottles, candle stands and beds. The prized possession of the gallery is a carpet that is actually jewel studded and is really a top-class creation.
In the Durbal Hall, you could also feast on a delightful lunch including international cuisine and enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the Royal Mewar. Udaipur is a great place to go on a shopping frenzy. Walk in the narrow streets with peculiar traffic jams that include the cows. Visit the charming shops where you can buy saris, flower necklaces, shoes, fabrics and island silk garments. Not forgetting the peacock themed shoes, vibrantly colored shawls and bangles that you will love.
For a little rest and rejuvenation take the sunset boat cruise on Lake Pichola, one of India’s most beautiful lakes, in the late afternoon. Watch the sunset with the majestic mountains in the background. Indulge in it all; the peace and serenity in the lake as the black and white aquatic birds dive in for fish and where ducks glide through the waters. Enjoy the view of the Taj Lake Palace and Oberoi Udaivilas; two famous hotels as you pass by. Wave at the people as they do their chores or bathe on the ghats of Lake Pichola. At the end of your cruise have a refreshing drink at the restaurant on Jag Mandir Island.
One of the hallmarks of your tour of Udaipur is taking in the Dharohar dance show, which starts every evening at 8 pm at the Bagore-ki-Haveli. At this show the women are attired in colorful traditional Rajasthani clothes and you will be entertained by some of the most astounding and energetic dances you have ever seen. Women with eight large clay pots sitting on their heads dancing without a spill. It’s amazing! Overnight in Udaipur!
Now we have come to the end of our amazing Rajasthan tours. We get on-board our plane to Delhi. When your journey is complete we will take you to an airport hotel where we have arranged rooms for you to use in the day. Take a rest before you take your next flight.
My sister and I recently came back from our 2 week holiday in India. Thanks to Vacation India (Classic Holidays India) we had a fantastic time. From our first communication until we were dropped off at the airport everything was perfect. We flew from Atlanta to Delhi via Amsterdam and visited Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur (our favorite) and Jaisalmer. Our driver, Jai, was with us through out the whole trip. He was fantastic. We had very knowledgeable local guides in every place we visited. Mr. Vikas, the manager at Vacation India was available over the phone 24/7 during our trip…More Feedback
– Maria and Laura, Atlanta (USA)
In 2014 I was working in Delhi and an Indian colleague fixed me up with a day at the Taj Mahal, organised by Vacation India. It all went smoothly from being met at the train station, taken round the Taj Mahal, the Mini Taj and the Red Fort, entertained to tea with Vikas followed by a stroll round the back streets of Agra.
I like to wander round different parts of India on my own each year but advice from Vacation India on where to go and how to get there is always sought and is invaluable. I include a photo of me with some local boys in a temple in wonderful Hampi in Karnataka…More Feedback
– Nicholas Goslett, UK
|Season||Hotel Category||Per person in double room|
|01/04/2016 – 30/09/2016||deluxe downtown hotels||price starts from $ 1275|
|01/10/2016 – 31/03/2017||deluxe downtown hotels||price starts from $ 1425|
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