Soul of Rajasthan

Tour Route:
Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Shahpura - Udaipur - Delhi
Duration:
16 Nights / 17 Days

Day 01 : Arrival Delhi

Delhi Namaste! Welcome to India! Arrive at Delhi's International Airport late this evening. After you clear immigration and customs formalities, our representative will meet you in the arrival area of the airport. Depart for your hotel where you will check in for your stay. Delhi stands as the capital of Modern India. Here you can see the mingling of the Old and New India, the ancient and the modern. Delhi is made up of seven ancient cities, spanning the period from the 11th to 20th centuries. Delhi has seen the rise and fall of many emperors that have left behind a plethora of monuments that commemorate the grandeur and glory of bygone ages. Very few cities in the world can express such a profusion of architectural styles.

Day 02 : Delhi

Delhi After a hearty breakfast this morning, proceed for a full day tour of Old and New Delhi. Old Delhi had been the capital of Mughal India between the 12th and 19th centuries. See the 17th century Jama Masjid Mosque and walk through the narrow, winding lanes of the colorful and bustling Chandni Chowk. Take a rickshaw ride through these bazaars. Also visit the Mughal Empire's most opulent fort, the Red Fort, as well as Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. Further proceed to New Delhi. Drive past the Presidential Palace, the one time imperial residence of the British viceroys; the India Gate, a memorial raised in honor of the Indian soldiers martyred during the Afghan war and a drive along the Rajpath past the Parliament House and secretarial buildings. Visit Qutab Minar, the 12th century tower of victory built by a slave king and prototype of all minars (towers) in India. Also visit the 16th century Humayun's tomb, a precursor to the Taj Mahal.
Optional: In the evening walk through the Nizzamuddin basti (colony) and see the tomb of a famous 13th century Muslim Sufi saint, Nizzamuddin Auliya, surrounded by a medieval settlement. This walk will be led by an underprivileged young man who was trained by a local NGO. Hotel: Imperial Hotel - Heritage Room .

Day 03 : Delhi - Agra

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before you start for your drive to Agra. On arrival in Agra, you will be transferred to your hotel. Agra is best known as the city of the world's most famous monument of love. It is situated along the banks of the river Yamuna and attracts thousands of visitors every day from all over the world to visit the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is a seventh wonder of the world and was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. In the afternoon visit Agra Fort, a high red stone monument, overlooking the Taj Mahal. It is one of the finest and best kept Mughal forts in India. Many Mughal emperors lived and governed the country from here. At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in the fort by his son Aurangzeb. The fort was also the site of a battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857.
Optional : Evening depart with your guide for a visit to the Kacchpura Village (Mughal Heritage Trail). The Heritage Trail brings amazing behind the scenes of life and times throbbing in the shadows of the Taj Mahal. The trail is a community - based enterprise. All that is earned from this trail goes directly to the funding of welfare work. Walk ends in Mehtab Bagh from where you will have the opportunity to see the Taj Mahal during sunset.

Day 04 : Agra - Ramathra

Catch the magic of Taj Mahal (closed on Friday) at sunrise this morning. The sun comes up from the side of the Taj and the morning light that casts on the marble literally light it up. During this time, the Taj Mahal changes its colors from various hues of pink to light yellow to bright white. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Later you will be driven to Ramathra. On the way you will visit Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city that was built by Emperor Akbar as his capital. Ponder the mysterious desertion of this capital city that was dramatically abandoned a few years after it was built. It was a veritable fairy tale city and its 'ruins' are still in a pristine condition. Ramathra Fort lies in a beautifully unspoilt and pretty area of Eastern Rajasthan, south-east of Jaipur. The 350 year old Ramathra Fort was originally the 17th Century stronghold of the Jadoan Rajputs and today belongs to their descendants who are your highly affable, energetic and involved hosts. Brick by brick they have devotedly restored this unique fort and it now oozes charm and warmth, beguiling all who stay here. It sits on a mound, surrounded by farmland, wilderness, lakes, gorges, plateaus and hillocks. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel.
Optional : Later today enjoy the boat ride over the serene lake not very far away from the fort.

Day 05 : Ramathra - Jaipur

Ramathra - Jaipur (About a 4 hr drive) In the morning, take a walking tour of the Ramathra village. The village is a small hamlet of farmers and herders, the pure rural life devoid of any urban influence. Among its numerous shrines, the Ganesh Mandir and Shiva Mandir give the best flavor of local religious practices. Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the lovely wilderness before continuing the journey to Jaipur this afternoon. On arrival in Jaipur, check into your hotel. Rest of the day will be at leisure.

Day 06 : Jaipur

Jaipur Today in the morning visit Amber Fort. Enjoy an elephant ride ascending the fort with lovely views of the topography and monuments around along the way. Amber was originally built by the Meenas in the town that they consecrated to Amba, the Mother Goddess. The palace complex that stands today was commenced under the reign of Raja Man Singh, Commander in Chief of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Amber was modified by successive rulers over the next 150 years until the Kachwahas shifted their capital to Jaipur. On the way back from Amber Fort you will stop and see the 'Palace of Winds', otherwise known as Hawa Mahal. It is really an elaborate facade behind which the ladies of the court used to watch the daily goings on in the street below. It is extremely intricate in its pink sandstone carving. The cool wind blows through its facade of windows and latticed screens through which the queens of the court once viewed the streets of the city. Continue the tour of Jaipur city that includes City Palace of Jaipur and Jantar Mantar, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world. City Palace is an amazing complex of exquisite palaces, gardens and courtyards, decorative art and carved doorways. The palace museum houses collections of rare manuscripts, armory, costumes, carpets and miniature paintings. In the evening stroll around the colorful markets of Jaipur. In the evening visit a local family for an interactive cooking session where the host will share with you some secrets of the Rajasthani kitchen.

Day 07 : Jaipur - Chhatra Sagar

In the morning, have your breakfast and continue your journey to the onwards destination which is a fascinating tented camp, Chhatra Sagar, in the middle of exquisite farmlands and countryside. In the late nineteenth century, Thakur Chhatra Singh, a powerful noble of the kingdom of Marwar, decided to dam a seasonal stream flowing through his estate. His vision was to create a water reservoir that would harvest the monsoon rains. The dam was completed in 1890 and changed the dry scrub into prime agricultural land. Farmers struggling for sustenance on parched lands were invited to settle around the reservoir. The reservoir was named Chhatra Sagar in his memory. On arrival rest of the day will at leisure.
Optional : In the evening enjoy sundowners on the hillock near the camp.

Day 08 : Chhatra Sagar

Chhatra Sagar Today you will have an excellent opportunity to look into the rural life of Rajasthan or explore the bird and wildlife around the charming countryside. The descendants of the people invited here by Thakur Chhatra Singh still live in settlements around Chhatra Sagar. Predominantly farmers and shepherds, they live a self-contained and harmonious life which has changed little in the last century. Chhatra Sagar continues to recharge their wells and provide water for their livestock. The camp organizes farm & village visits and conducts bird watching tours. Hotel: Chhatra Sagar Tented Camp.

Day 09 : Chhatra Sagar - Jaisalmer

Have a lovely breakfast and continue your journey deeper into the Thar Desert to Jaisalmer. The medieval city of Jaisalmer stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort that contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. The city lies in the heart of The Great Thar desert.

Day 10 : Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer After breakfast you will drive to Jaisalmer city that is about 20 miles from the camp. While approaching the city, you are sure to be overwhelmed by the stunning beauty and grandeur of Jaisalmer Fort. The best way to explore the fort city is on foot. The Fort is approached through many gates such as Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol and Hawa Pol. The most fascinating structures inside the fort are a group of Jain temples dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries and Havelis, the 18th and the 19th centuries yellow sand stone mansions, built by the wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer remain unmatched for their exquisitely carved sandstone facades, jali screens and oriel windows. These are some of the most beautiful and elegant examples of medieval architecture in India created by silavats, a community of masons.
Optional : In the afternoon visit a local school (closed on Sunday & public holidays) and learn about the education in rural India.

Day 11 : Jaisalmer - Jodhpur

In the morning have your breakfast and continue your journey to the next destination, Jodhpur. Jodhpur was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459. He was a Rajput chief of the Rathore clan. Jodha succeeded in conquering the surrounding territory and thus founded a state that came to be known as Marwar. The city is referred to as the Blue City due to the blue painted houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. The forts and palaces, temples and havelis, culture and tradition, spices and fabrics, color and texture, a booming handicrafts industry, all add up to make this historic city worth a visit. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. In the evening enjoy the special curator tour of Mehrangarh Fort followed by dinner. As twilight descends on the historic fort of Jodhpur, the rugged impregnable walls and the delicate palaces come alive with the Champagne walk with the museum curator. Join the curator as he takes you on the tour of the collection and shares his expertise and insights. Listen to tales of sacrifice, of extraordinary events of adventure and sheer joy of discussing a painting or talking about the fort architecture.

Day 12 : Jodhpur

Johdpur This morning visit Mehrangarh Fort in the daylight followed by a walking tour of the markets around clock tower that is a prominent landmark of the old town. The main attraction is the Sadar Bazaar or Market. The market has kept alive the old 'haat bazaar' culture. The colorful but hectic bazaar consists of many narrow lanes, lined with tiny shops. Look for the tie & dye textiles, embroidered leather shoes, lacquer ware, antiques, carpets and puppets. Here one can buy exquisite Rajasthani textiles, clay figurines, miniature camels and elephants, marble inlay work and classic silver jewelry. Optional: In the afternoon enjoy a Bishnoi village safari in the outskirts of Jodhpur where you can see farmers, potters and the Bishnoi tribal shepherds. The Bishnoi believe in the sanctity of the environment and the need to protect trees and animals.

Day 13 : Jodhpur - Shahpura

In the morning, have your breakfast and drive to Shahpura. This wonderful garden estate is surrounded by glistening lakes that seasonally teem with birds. Formerly the summer home of the rulers of Shahpura, it comprises 2 residences. The style and decor of Shahpura Bagh is very much a mixture of Rajasthani meets colonial with a quiet, understated yet elegant air. With its idyllic and unspoilt rural setting in 45 acres of garden and pasture, this special little oasis provides the perfect peaceful break in an otherwise hectic itinerary. On arrival rest of the day is free to relax.

Day 14 : Shahpura

Shahpura After a sumptuous breakfast, you can explore the largest lake in this area called Nahar Sagar. You will visit quaint villages en route and relax in the shade of century old trees of the host's 140 acre orchard farm. Guests wanting a feel of authentic rural India with all its charming idiosyncrasies would do well not to miss this excursion. The charm lies in seeing Rajasthan the way it was decades ago. In the afternoon relax by the infinity pool surrounded by a dense cluster of trees. The pool has been positioned to ensure optimal sunlight and privacy.

Day 15 : Shahpura - Udaipur

After a leisurely breakfast this morning you will be driven to Udaipur. One of the most romantic cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur is set on the shores of Lake Pichola and surrounded by hills. Udaipur grew in complete contrast to the harsh deserts of the rest of Rajasthan. The founder of Udaipur, Maharana Udai Singh, was overcome by the misfortunes that his old capital of Chittaurgarh had to face due to repeated attacks by the Mughal armies. On the advice of a holy man, Udai Singh shifted his capital to the banks of Lake Pichola. The city was named Udaipur after him. In the evening set out for a wonderful boat ride on Lake Pichola and enjoy beautiful views of the city Palace and the old town that it offers.

Day 16 : Udaipur

Udaipur This morning enjoy the city tour of Udaipur, starting at Jagdish Temple built in 1651. Notice the many heritage mansions that line the city boulevards, the art shops and boutiques that lead to the old bathing ghats that fringe the banks of Lake Pichola. Visit City Palace, one of the largest palace complexes in the world and see the gorgeous peacock mosaics, striking blue and white ceramics and Dutch inlaid tile work, glass and porcelain figures and miniature paintings. Today visit the homes of traditional textile artisans, some of them the last remaining in the line, to witness, understand, and appreciate the subtle nuances of their art forms that are unique to Udaipur. It is a rare opportunity to experience the vibrant and diverse world of textiles up close and at your own pace. An expert will be on hand to answer your questions and help interact with the artists.

Day 17 : Udaipur - Delhi

Fly Home Today you will be transferred to airport to board your flight to Delhi. Upon arrival you will connect to your international flight back home.