Rajasthan: Faded Glory
Trip Code: AITRFG
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Designed for those who are already familiar with Rajasthan, this trip skips the main sightseeing attractions to delve into less travelled, but no less fascinating, places. It’s ideal for those who like to explore on their own and progresses at a pace that suits their inclinations.
A highlight of this trip is the opportunity it affords to experience Rajasthan as it was prior to the rise of its current immense popularity with tourists. The accommodation is in heritage hotels that have not been overly refurbished – properties that can be described as gracefully faded – and thus still retain their original charm and atmosphere. Family run establishments, they also provide an opportunity to interact and connect with Indians in a relaxed and natural environment.
Day 1 Delhi
On arrival you will be met and transferred to Maidens Hotel. Built in 1903, this charming hotel with its stately arches, long corridors and stained-glass windows, retains much of its original architectural ambience; its spacious, high-ceilinged rooms are classic and comfortable. Its restaurant displays a fascinating collection of photographs, giving an insight into the Raj in India. Edwin Lutyens stayed here while supervising the building of New Delhi.
Day 2 Delhi
Delhi is a vibrant and exciting city of historic sites, museums, galleries, shops and bazaars. Explore it according to your interests and at your own pace with a vehicle at your disposal. Some of its principal sights include the great mosque, Jama Masjid; the Mahatma Gandhi memorial, Raj Ghat; the Qutab Minar complex; the Ba’hai Lotus Temple; the crowded bazaars of Chandni Chowk; and the Presidential Palace and government buildings in the wide tree-lined streets of New Delhi.
Day 3 Alsisar
Depart Delhi for the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan Your accommodation here, the majestic Alsisar Mahal, the former residence of the Thakurs of Alsisar, has been converted into a heritage hotel. The regal magnificence of its architecture and the splendour of its beautifully decorated interiors, including antique furniture, intricately carved poster beds and medieval Rajasthani motifs on fabrics, as well as the expansive paved courtyards, lawns and trees, transport you to the romance and grand style of the royal era.
Day 4 Alsisar
The Shekhawati region of north Rajasthan, surrounded by semi arid desert, is famous for its marvellously painted havelis, striking architecture, and colourful frescoes. It is also home to various small fortresses, minor castles, mosques and wells (baodis). Spend some time today exploring these treasures – preferably by horse or camel safari – the ideal way in which to enjoy this semi desert environment and its wonderful sights.
Day 5 Alsisar
Day free to relax and enjoy your accommodation. After breakfast you may like to take a guided walk into the small, quiet village of Alsisar. Full of architectural marvels, this village of havelis, temples and cenotaphs is a photographer’s delight. This is also an opportunity for you to observe the rural lifestyle of the region as villagers engage in their daily chores of farming, cattle-rearing and various crafts.
Day 6 Samode
A splendid example of regal Indo-Saracenic architecture, the 475-year-old Palace combines the best of Indian and Mughal styles. Lose yourself in the maze of bougainvillea covered courtyards, connected by quaint narrow staircases and chance upon lounges adorned by charming arches, stunning mirror work and exquisitely painted walls and ceilings. Your stay here promises to be a memorable experience.
Day 7 Samode
Day free to explore your accommodation with its interesting history and architecture and / or to take a walk through the local village. End your day with an early evening camel ride into the sand dunes where high tea will be served.
Day 8 Samode
You may like to begin today with a trek to the fort (with a packed breakfast). Later take a jeep safari and visit an ancient stepwell, the ruins of Mahar and a beautiful old temple. If Indian cuisine is of interest, visit the local farm for a cooking class with the hotel’s chefs and enjoy lunch there. Afternoon free to relax and avail yourself of the hotel’s facilities – spa, pool, gym, etc.
Day 9 Kishangarh
Depart Samode today for Kishangarh, which lies almost in the center of Rajasthan. Your accommodation here, the 350 year old Roopangarh Fort, is located about 25 kms out of town, standing above the village of Roopangarh. It has been restored and renovated as a heritage hotel. Its large rooms contain four poster beds, colonial Indian furniture, and open log fires in winter. Its silent walls exude a sense of Rajput history. [Image: foam].
Day 10 Kishangarh
Day free to relax and enjoy your accommodation. If you would like to explore a little further afield, the hotel can arrange a number of activities according to what interests you. You may like to take an excursion to Sambhar Lake – one of the largest salt lakes in India – home to thousands of flamingos and other wild water birds, or to Salemabad with its lovely stepwell and Nimbarak Tirth temple which attract Hindu pilgrims.
Day 11 Kishangarh
The village of Roopangarh is a center for craft industries. Take a walk into the village today – leather embroidery, block printing, pottery and handloom weaving can all be observed here. Don’t leave Kishangarh without exploring the Fort itself, with its underground tank, secret passage, jail and other historic buildings – and don’t miss seeing a sunset, a spectacular sight when viewed from the highest point in the Fort.
Day 12 Bera
Depart Kishangarh today for Bera, a small hamlet situated in the Aravalli range of Rajasthan surrounded by lakes and dams. Your accommodation here, Castle Bera, is very special, as only four of its tastefully designed rooms have been opened to guests. Thus, you can literally have the place to yourselves and enjoy a homely atmosphere and the hospitality of the host himself.
Day 13 Bera
Take an early morning wild life safari, which may include sightings of leopards, bluebulls and crocodiles, in addition to a variety of migratory birds. Stop for morning tea at Jawai Dam. Afterwards return to Castle Bera for a leisurely breakfast. Remainder of the day free until late afternoon when you set out on a village tour, including visits to local temples in their natural surroundings. Return to Castle Bera early evening for dinner.
Day 14 Udaipur
Depart Bera for Rajasthan’s ‘white city’, Udaipur. Your accommodation here, Jagat Niwas Palace, is a charming early 17th century haveli. An example of typical Mewar architecture, it comprises individually decorated rooms, situated around a central courtyard. Some rooms face Lake Pichola and contain jharokhas, from which to relax and take in the lovely views of the palaces of Udaipur - City Palace, Lake Palace, and Monsoon Palace.
Day 15 Udaipur
Udaipur’s palaces, gardens, ghats, temples and painted houses match the beauty of its setting. Places of interest here include the City Palace – a majestic architectural marvel towering over Lake Pichola, and the 350 year old Jagdish temple. End your day with a sunset boat-cruise on lovely Lake Pichola.
Day 16 Dungapur
This morning drive to the picturesque town of Dungarpur, ‘City of Hills’, set amongst the rugged peaks of the Aravalli Mountains. Your accommodation here is the lovely Udai Bilas Palace. Nestled in idyllic splendour, with the blue waters of Gaibsagar Lake on one side and a cove of private reserve forest on the other, Udai Bilas – with its arches, vaulted windows, tiles and frescos – is the embodiment of the old world charm of princely India.
Day 17 Dungapur
Visit Dungarpur’s 13th century Juna Mahal (Old Palace) today. The seven-storied palace resembles a fortress with crenulated walls, turrets and narrow entrances and passageways – which were meant to slow down an attacking enemy. The interior is colourfully decorated with frescoes, miniature paintings, glass and mirror inlay work. It houses a brilliant collection of artworks; however, it is away from the main tourist circuit and has few visitors, making your visit here a very special experience.
Day 18 Dungapur
You may like to visit some of the unspoiled Bheel hamlets around the town today. (The Bheels are a tribe whose history of occupancy here is said to date back to 4000 BC). Alternatively, explore some of the temples in the town or further afield. Or, visit a wildlife sanctuary, spend time rowing on the lake or trekking in the forest, to get a close look at the abundant birdlife that is a feature of this location.
Day 19 Ahmedabad
After breakfast, drive to Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat. On arrival, check into your family owned heritage hotel, ‘The House of MG’. Built in 1924 as a home for a wealthy textile magnate, Mangaldas Girdhardas, this stately property with its ornamental Baroque influenced façade, Italian mosaic marble flooring, stained glass windows and numerous courtyards and passages has been tastefully restored to retain its old-world charm – whilst offering all modern amenities and comforts.
Day 20 Ahmedabad
Take a guided heritage walk in the old ‘walled city’ sector of Ahmedabad today. This tour begins at the ornately decorated Swaminayaran temple and offers an opportunity to see the old parts of the city lined with beautifully carved wooden facades of havelis, tiny local temples, hidden passageways and all the colour and vibrancy of local life. The walk concludes at Jama Masjid, the main mosque, with its huge central courtyard and spectacular worship hall.
Day 21 Ahmedabad
Transfer to the airport for your flight to another Indian destination or return international flight home.
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