Culture and Colors of Rajasthan - Palaces, Fortresses and the Taj Mahal
Rajasthan is still the dream India of your imagination-where you feel transported back in time to a romantic, turbulent era of turbaned warrior-princes, martial valor, and cloistered harems. Before India's independence, it consisted of 18 princely states and some of the oldest monarchies in India (and perhaps the world). The turbaned rajas and maharajas of this land had a long tradition of martial valor, and Rajasthan is still dotted with palaces and fortresses that are reminders of that romantic, turbulent era. On our exploration of northern India we'll visit the key Rajasthani sites: Udaipur, a city of lakes and known as the "Venice of the East"; the traditional pink- and golden-hued desert stronghold Jaipur, including its famous Amber Palace; the bazaars, temples, and palaces of Jodhpur; the exquisite "ghost town" of Fatehpur Sikri; and Agra, known the world over as the city of the Taj Mahal. And in princely style, we'll stay in maharajas' palaces now converted into amazing hotels!
Our Private Adventures in India
This adventure in North India is designed to be taken as a stand-alone journey, or as part of an exploration of the entire country, combined with one of our Central and South India itineraries. We're more than happy to help you combine this with any of our other itineraries, assist with internal flights between destinations, to help make your dream of India become a reality!
Easy to moderate touring, moderate road travel
- Visit the best known cities and sites of northern India-Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Agra-all in one week!
- Tour the enchanting palaces and forts of the maharajahs
- Explore the one-and-only Taj Mahal, including a spectacular visit at sunrise!
Duration: 8 days Start Location: Delhi End Location: DelhiDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Delhi
You will be met at the airport and transfered to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free to rest and relax. Meals on your own. Note-It takes two to three days (depending on your airline schedule) to travel to Delhi. The date and time of arrival vary greatly from carrier to carrier. Most flights arrive in Delhi either very late in the evening (between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.) or early in the morning (between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.). We are holding reservations for you at the hotel in Delhi starting the afternoon of Day 1. We will make arrangements to meet your flight at the airport and transfer you to the hotel. We encourage you to arrive a day early to have time to rest before the adventure begins. Extra hotel nights are at additional cost.
Day 2 : Agra
Morning five-hour drive to Agra, arriving in time for lunch. Upon arrival in Agra, we'll check into the hotel and then spend the afternoon sightseeing. Agra was the capital of Mogul India and is, of course, the site of the Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the Taj is always thronged with visitors, that in no way seems to diminish the unearthly beauty of this monument to love. The Taj Mahal is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of Shah Jahan, who died after the birth of her 14th child. Shah Jahan was devastated by her death, and he was determined to create an enduring monument to her memory. The Taj Mahal was completed in 1653, having been worked on for more than 20 years by a work force of 20,000, including artisans from all around the globe. Besides visiting the Taj, we'll also visit some of Agra's other sights, including the magnificent Agra Fort, an enormous citadel of red sandstone, also recognized by UNESCO.
Days 3 - 4 : Jaipur
Sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal, one of the best times of the day to appreciate its wondrous beauty. After breakfast, drive (5 hours) to the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory). Built by the Moghul Emperor Akbar in the second half of the 16th century, Fatehpur Sikri is a walled Indian "ghost town" of elaborate royal audience halls, palaces, and mosques that are perfectly preserved and faithfully record the ambiance of its time. "The complex of monuments and temples, all in a uniform architectural style, includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid." (whc.unesco.org)
We continue to Jaipur, a rather young city by Rajasthan's standards, founded in 1727 when Maharaja Jai Singh II moved his capital here from Amber. We'll transfer to the hotel, then enjoy a couple of days of sightseeing. Jaipur is the ultimate showcase for Rajasthan's distinctive architecture. Jai Singh II planned this city with great symmetry and wide spacious streets intersecting at right angles (unlike the narrow twisting streets of other cities). In the old walled quarter of town, called the "Pink City" because of the soft suffusion of light that gives it a pink glow, there are glorious temples and palaces built in styles that span centuries. Jaipur's most famous building is the Hawa Mahal, or "palace of the winds."
Built in 1799, the palace has a five-story-high pink and white facade decorated with hundreds of windows, each covered by an ornately carved screen that allowed the women of Jai Singh II's court to be able to look out onto the street scene without being observed (they were in strict purdah, not allowed to be seen by men). Other attractions include the City Palace, a magnificent building full of ornate marble gateways, delicate paintings, halls of public audience, courtyards, and gardens and still occupied in part by the royal family. Jai Singh II was a keen astronomer and he built a very unusual astronomical observatory called the Febtar Mantar. The instruments in this observatory are still used to calculate the Hindu lunar calendar, and the 90-foot-high sundial is accurate to within two minutes.
Day 5 : Jodhpur
Afternoon flight to Jodhpur. Jodhpur was the center of Marwar, one of Rajasthan’s largest princely states and a fierce rival of the feudal states of Jaipur and Udaipur. The city is dominated by Meherangarh Fort, an ancient fortress with crenellated walls that once gave protection during the rounds of battles fought by the warring Rajput states. Upon our arrival in Jodhpur, we’ll drive to visit The Clock Tower. The clock tower is a popular landmark in the old city. The colorful Sardar Market is close to the tower, and narrow alleys lead from here to bazaars for textiles, silver and handicrafts.
Day 6 : Udaipur
We’ll spend the morning touring Jodhpur, including a fascinating walk up to the uninhabited Meherangarh Fort through the narrow, winding streets of Jodhpur’s medieval bazaars. As we walk through the Loha Pole, one of the entrance gates to the fort, we’ll pass by a wall where we can see the handprints of the widows of the Maharaja Man Singh. His wives committed sati, burning themselves alive on their husband’s funeral pyre following his death in 1843, a part of the tradition of the Rajput code of honor. The British outlawed sati but it still occurred throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. We’ll also visit Jodhpur’s Meherangarh Museum, a group of former palaces. One of these palaces, the Moti Mahal (the “pearl palace”), still houses the throne on which all the former rulers were crowned; other palaces contain fascinating artifacts such as a solid silver elephant saddle and ornate cradles built for the infant princes.
We’ll then drive to visit the traditional Bishnoi villages to see their traditional lifestyle and visit the potters and weavers still using the ancient skills of the past. The Bishnoi women are one of the most colorful with their traditional costumes and jewelry. They also protect wildlife as part of their religious belief; as such, blackbuck antelopes, Indian gazelle, and other desert animals can sometimes be seen near their homes.
Afternoon drive (about 6 hours) to Udaipur. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
Day 7 : Udaipur
In Udaipur you’ll find your dream of India come true, for the city combines real beauty with picturesque associations of a great and glorious past. It stands in a valley amid green hills on the banks of the wide, steel-blue Lake Pichola. Pure white marble palaces rise from the water’s edge and glisten like fairytale castles. While in Udaipur, our visit will include the City Palace and Museum. The huge City Palace, towering over the lake, is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. The palace is actually a conglomeration of buildings added by various maharanas, yet it still manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design. It was originally commenced by Maharana Udai Singh, the city's founder. The palace is surrounded by balconies, towers and cupolas, and there are fine views over the lake and the city from the upper terraces.
The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum with large and varied collections. The museum includes the Mor Chowk with its beautiful mosaics of peacocks, the favorite Rajasthani bird. The Manak or Ruby Mahal has glass and porcelain figures. Krishna Vilas has a remarkable collection of miniatures. In the Bari Mahal, there is a fine central garden. More paintings can be seen in the Zanna Mahal. The Moti Mahal has beautiful mirror work; the Chini Mahal is covered in ornamented tiles. Other exhibits even include the princely Rolls-Royces.
We’ll also visit Bhartiya Lok Kala Museum. This small museum and foundation for the preservation of folk arts has an interesting collection, including dresses, dolls, masks, musical instruments, and paintings. The high point of the exhibits is the puppet show.
Day 8 : Delhi-depart
Morning flight to Delhi. The afternoon is free to relax before catching your flight home (you'll have day room at the hotel until 9:00pm.). Late evening transfer to the airport for departure on homeward-bound flight departing after midnight. Or, combine this trip with one of our other adventures in India!
DATES: Best time to go: January - March, October - December Departures: Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.
Taj Palace HotelNew Delhi
Nestled in six acres of lush greens in the exclusive Diplomatic Enclave of the city, the Taj Palace Hotel stands apart in service and facilities. Classical decor, refined ambience, 6 restaurants and numerous amenities make this hotel synonymous with quality.
Taj Hari Mahal
Spread over six acres of lush, landscaped gardens, this palace of the 21st century offers luxurious refinement. With its Marwar style architecture and Moghul-inspired domes, enameled murals, slender columns, and grand interiors, this is design that lives up to the fantasy. Located close to the city markets, nearby guests can find much to see and experience.
Lake Palace HotelUdaipur
Located in the middle of Lake Pichola and set against the backdrop of the majestic Aravalli Mountains, the Lake Palace Hotel spreads across a four-acre island. Reminiscent of the Taj Mahal with its white marble and mosaic exterior, the opulent silks, richly colored murals and ornately carved furniture inside will make guests feel like royalty.
ITC Mugal AgraAgra
ITC Mughal is a premier resort and spa spread over 35 acres offering a truly royal Mughal experience with its exquisite interiors, impeccable service and extraordinary cuisine.
Rambagh Palace JaipurJaipur
In the finest tradition of Rajput hospitality, the Rambagh Palace offers its guests a taste of royal living – a luxury and extravagance that was once the sole preserve of kings. Its elegantly appointed rooms, marbled corridors and majestic gardens echo with history, and every corner has a story to tell.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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