Desert cultures, festivals, and royal palaces in India’s “Land of the Kings”
The ancient palaces and fortifications of Rajasthan, India’s largest state, stand as proud symbols of prosperity, both past and present. The Maharajas used architecture to make a profound statement; each one adorned, carved, and engraved in its own unique fashion. As a center of trade and as a meeting point in the heart of the Thar Desert, the festivals that take place here every year are rich in tradition. Set against the contemporary Western model of e-commerce and shopping malls, there is something poignant, timeless, electric, and deeply personal in witnessing thousands of camels up for sale or being in the middle of a bustling street where artisans, vendors, and customers of all walks of life haggle over prices. Welcome to Royal Rajasthan, the “land of the kings.”
We deliver a 15-day adventure full of personal encounters. Designed for our guests who want strong exposure to the living cultures of India, this trip is full of non-stop activities and interactions with many different ethnic groups. That, coupled with 11 nights in beautiful hotels (some of them are even former palaces of the Maharajas!)and three nights in deluxe, desert tents (furnished with comfortable beds, electricity, and private bathing facilities), you’re sure to experience a broad spectrum of the land and its vibrant people.
The cities, palaces, temples, and fortifications of Delhi, Jodhpur, the “Golden City” of Jaisalmer, Udaipur, and the “Pink City” of Jaipur (the state capital) delight with elaborate architecture. We’ll see the hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Bikaner, the medieval market of Jodhpur, and12th century mansions in old-town Jaisalmer. In Jaipur, we’ll ride an elephant, and marvel over the intricate instruments used by the king’s astrologer. We’ll view the best marble carvings in Jain sect temples on our drive to Udaipur. In Delhi, we’ll see Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, and Jama Masjid, the largest Mosque in India. Best of all, we will take off our tourist badges long enough to become a part of the atmosphere for three days and nights at the desert festivals in Pushkar and Camp Aagman. We’ll join the excitement of the camel races, watch folk dances, let ourselves get drawn in by the traditional music, and take in the wildlife through a 4x4 safari along the windswept dunes.
Rajasthan is one of India’s most thrilling regions to visit, and you’ll have the benefit of our professional, expert guides to walk you back in time and give you a taste of the diversity and depth of the culture.
- Enjoy enriching and rare personal encounters with the diverse desert people of Rajasthan on this 15-day action-packed adventure—MTS at its best!
- Discover the magnificent forts of the Maharajas of Rajasthan as we visit the cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, and Udaipur!
- Participate in a rural, tribal festival (two on the November departure), stay in a deluxe desert tent
- Live like a king! Stay in palaces of the maharajas that have been converted into hotels
- Enjoy a 4x4 safari over the windswept dunes of the Thar Desert
Duration: 15 days Start Location: Delhi End Location: DelhiDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrival in Delhi (This entire trip is below 6,000')
Arrive in Delhi. You will be met upon arrival and transferred to the hotel. (Because of flight arrival times in Delhi, our rooms will be booked from 12:00 am onwards).
Day 2 : Delhi to Jaipur
After a leisurely breakfasti we drive to Jaipur (approximately 5 hours). On arrival, we check in to the hotel. In the afternoon, we visit the old markets of Jaipur where one an purchase anything from fine gems to wood carvings to trinkets to ornamental knives to beautiful Rajasthani textiles.
Day 3 : Jaipur
Jaipur is popularly known as the Pink City. With its rich and colorful past, resplendent with tales of valor and bravery, it is now one of the most important heritage cities in India. The city was founded in the year 1728 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber. After breakfast, we enjoy a half-day excursion to Amber Fort. En route, make a photo stop at the palace of winds, the Hawa Mahal. Proceed to Amber City Fort, situated 450 feet high, surrounded by the Aravalli Hills and 6 miles north of Jaipur. It was the ancient capital of the Kachhawaha Rajputs until 1037.We will take an elephant ride to reach the top of the palace fort.
Day 4 : Jaipur to Pushkar
After breakfast we drive to Pushkar (approximately 3 hours). Upon arrival, we will check into our Swiss walk in tents. Each of these tents has private attached toilets with running cold water. Hot water will be provided in the morning and evening. there will be proper beds as well as electricity in each tent.
Day 5 : Pushkar
We'll have the whole day to wander and photograph at Pushkar. We are timing our visit to arrive at the fair at the optimum time to see the plentitude of trading camels, sheep, horses and cows. Their owners, dressed in colorful attire, use all of their persuasive skills to sell them at the most competitive prices.
Day 6 : Pushkar to Jodhpur
After breakfast, we drive to Jodhpur (approximately 4 hours). After arrival and check in at the hotel, we will embark on an afternoon tour of Jodhpur, visiting the Mehrangarh Fort (Majestic Fort), one of the most impressive and formidable structures found anywhere in India. Built by Rao Jodha, this 3-mile long fort is on a 500 foot high hill and has some magnificent palaces with marvelously carved panels and latticed windows. The Fort Museum houses an exquisite collection of palanquins, howdahs (elephant saddles), royal cradles, miniature paintings, musical instruments, costumes and furniture.
Day 7 : Jodphur to Jaisalmer
After breakfast we drive for six hours to Jaisalmer, founded in the year 1156 by Bhatti Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal. Often described as the Golden City, the commanding fort rises spectacularly from the heart of the Thar Desert like a golden mirage. The fort, etched in yellow sandstone, dominates the amber-hued city with its entire awesome splendor. There is no place like Jaisalmer!
After checking into our hotel, we will enjoy a late afternoon drive out to Bada Bagh, where the royal family members were cremated. Afterwards we will watch the sun set on Jaisalmer Fort.
Day 8 : Jaisalmer
After breakfast, we visit the old town of Jaisalmer and Jaisalmer Fort, built in the year 1156 by Rawal Jaisal. Perched on a 250-foot high hill, the golden hued fort stands like a sentinel in the barren desert landscape. It is the only "living fort" in India and within its ramparts has an enchanting maze of narrow lanes dotted with some lovely havelis (mansions), palaces and beautifully sculptured Jain temples of the 12th - 15th centuries. Skilled artisans and camels abound.
Day 9 : Jaisalmer to Gajner
After breakfast drive to Gajner (approximately six hours), where we will check into a small, but amazing hunting lodge owned by the Maharaja of Bikaner. Situated next to a lake, this area attracts a lot of birds. On our way we will visit Keechan village, home to the migratory demoiselle cranes who feed on the grains donated by the villagers. In the afternoon, we will check out the fort of Bikaner which, unlike its counterparts in the region, does not sit on a hill.
Day 10 : Gajner to Camp Manwar
In the morning, we will visit a camel breeding farm as well as the Karni Mata Temple. Then we will drive to our camp in the middle of the Thar Desert (approximately 4 hours). En route we will visit the intricately-carved Jain Osian temples. Upon arrival, check in to our Swiss walk-in tents. Each of these tents have private attached toilets with running cold and hot water in the mornings and evenings. There will be proper beds as well as electricity in each tent.
Day 11 : Camp Manwar to Luni
Today we embark on a short morning jeep safari to explore another area of the desert. In the afternoon, drive to Luni (approximately 2 hours). On arrival, we will check in to the hotel.
Day 12 : Luni to Ranakpur to Udaipur
After breakfast, we take a full day's drive (approximately 6 hours) to Udaipur. En route we will visit Ranakpur. Today we leave behind arid western Rajasthan and enter the hilly regions of the south. Some of the best marble carvings can be found at Ranakpur Jain temples dating back to the 14th century. After we enjoy lunch in a shady glen, drive onward to arrive at the city of lakes, Udaipur. Check in to the hotel.
Day 13 : Udaipur
The city of Udaipur lies in the Girwa Valley amidst the Aravali Hills of south Rajasthan. It is a romantic city-- with its lakes, gardens, temples and palaces. The old city is a traditionally-planned, fortified walled city; a maze of narrow winding lanes flanked by houses with doorways decorated with Mewar folk art, windows with stained glass or jali screens and massive havelis with large inner courtyards and shops. The legendary Ranas who ruled traced their ancestry to the Sun Dynasty.
Day 14 : Udaipur to Delhi
In the morning we transfer to the airport to catch our flight to Delhi. In the afternoon, we will head out to explore Old Delhi with its narrow dirt roads, myriad people and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous. Visit Raj Ghat (the cremation grounds of Mahatma Gandhi). Driving past Red Fort we trade our motor vehicles for bicycle rickshaws, which will take us into the heart of Chandini Chowk (the silver square--so named because of the silver merchants). Negotiating alleyways, which seemingly get narrower and narrower, we end up at Jama Masjid, the largest Muslim mosque in India
Day 15 : Depart for home
In the early morning, transfer to the airport to board your international flight for your onward journey.
DATES: Best time to go: November Departures: Oct 28, 2014 - Nov 11, 2014 Nov 16 - 30, 2015
$6,295 (10-15 members)
$150 internal airfare Udaipur/Delhi - subject to change
$5,695 (10-15 members)
$160 internal airfare Udaipur/Delhi - subject to change
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.
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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