Rajasthan in Depth
Trip Code: AITRID
Price: from AU$8,555 per person twin share
Prices are valid until 30 September 2024, except for the Christmas / New Year period.
Please contact us for a detailed itinerary and current prices.
- Accommodation in a double or twin room with breakfast
- Air-conditioned Toyota Innova vehicle with English speaking driver for all transfers, touring and sightseeing as per the itinerary
- All expenses related to the vehicle and driver such as fuel, tolls, parking charges, inter-state tax, driver accommodation and meals, etc
- English speaking local guides in Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Mandawa
- Delhi: rickshaw ride
- Jaipur: elephant ride
- Deogarh: short train ride
- Ranakpur: audio guide
- Entry fees to monuments for sightseeing in each city
- Assistance on arrival and departure at airports
- 24 hour support through our local representative offices
- Complimentary mineral water in the vehicles
- Camera fees at sightseeing places
- Activities other than those specifically mentioned as included
- Meals other than those mentioned as included
- Tips, porterage and personal expenses
- Visa Fees
This leisurely-paced itinerary gives you ample time to explore Rajasthan’s famous cities and quiet villages, meet its charismatic people and enjoy its rugged natural beauty.
Rajasthan has for a long time drawn visitors, from traders passing through on trade routes to the Middle East many centuries ago, to the curious travellers of more recent times who come to experience its rugged natural beauty, to interact with its charismatic people and to stay in its restored forts and palaces.
This itinerary gives you ample time to enjoy all of these aspects of Rajasthan, and more. Three night stays in the larger cities – where there is more to do and see than can be fit in one or two days – and stops in the countryside to experience village and rural life – which appears to have changed very little since the time of the traders – gives you enough time in each location to relax, enjoy the wonderful accommodation and explore in more depth.
Rajasthan has India’s widest range of accommodation, both in terms of style, such as homestays, desert camps, heritage hotels and modern design hotels, and standard – from modest family-run havelis to luxury hotels and lavish palaces – allowing us to customise an itinerary to suit your preference for accommodation.
This itinerary is ideal for tailoring to a specific interest that you may have – art, architecture, history, walking tours, crafts and textiles, fairs and festivals. Please let us know when you make an inquiry.
Day 1 Delhi
On arrival in Delhi you’ll be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. With a history stretching back several centuries, Delhi today has two distinct and very different faces. To the south are the wide tree-lined boulevards and colonnaded mansions of British-built New Delhi, whilst to the north is Mughal Old Delhi (originally names Shahjahanabad after its founder, Shah Jahan) with its crowded, narrow winding streets and alleys. The next two days will give you an opportunity to see and experiences both aspects of this amazing city.
Delhi has excellent local guides and a general sightseeing tour of the city with one of the better guides with whom we work is most rewarding; however if you have particular interests or would like to see the city from a different perspective – a bicycle tour or a walking tour for example – then you might consider our Insight Activities.
Day 2 Delhi
Delhi offers a multitude of diverse sights and experiences to its visitors. Spend this morning exploring Old Delhi. Begin with a visit to the Jama Masjid, the largest and most splendid mosque in India. Built between 1650 and 1656 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, it was constructed from red sandstone, marble and black onyx. It has two minarets, three domes and three pulpits (so that three imams could pray simultaneously to the enormous congregation – the mosque can accommodate up to 25,000).
Following this visit, take a guided walk through Shahjahanabad, including a wander through Khari Baoli, one of Asia’s largest wholesale spice markets. The market grew around Fatehpuri Masjid (mosque) that was built in 1650 by Fatehpuri Begum, one of Shah Jahan’s wives. During his reign it came to be known as Khari Baoli (from ‘baoli’, meaning step well, and ‘khari’, meaning salty) from a saline water step well used for animals and for bathing. Today, however, there is no trace of the well, which lies buried under the main road of the market. Many of the shops here are still run by the ninth or tenth generations of the founders of these establishments.
Day 3 Delhi
Continue your exploration of the city today in New Delhi – including visits to Humayun’s Tomb, the Qutab Minar and a drive through Lutyens’ Delhi. Emperor Humayan died tragically in 1556 after falling down the stairs of his library on his way to prayer. His magnificent mausoleum, completed in 1573 by his senior widow, is the first of the great Mughal buildings in India. Set in walled gardens divided by water channels, it created the pattern followed by generations of classic Islamic garden tombs, culminating a century later in the creation of the Taj Mahal.
The soaring Qutab Minar (Tower of Victory) is possibly one of the tallest and most beautiful minarets ever built. Constructed in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom, it was subsequently added to by successive rulers and now stands 5 storeys (73 metres) high. The surrounding archaeological area contains a number of notable monuments and buildings including the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, a masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art (built in 1311), and the Quwwatu’l-Islam, the oldest mosque in northern India, constructed of materials reused from some twenty Hindu temples.
New Delhi was built between 1913 and 1931. Intended as the new capital of the British Empire in India, it was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. A planned city of gracious boulevards and elegant colonial architecture, one of its most outstanding buildings is the Rashtrapati Bhavan, built as the Viceroy’s house; a gigantic building – larger than the Palace of Versailles – with 340 rooms, it once had a staff of 2,000. It is now the official residence of the Indian president.
Day 4 Agra
Depart Delhi this morning for the 3.5 hour drive to Agra. It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikander Lodi, the Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, founded Agra in the year 1504. However, the city’s history – and fame – is largely linked with the Mughal Empire. Re-named Akbarabad, by the Emperor, Akbar, it was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals. As such, it contains some of the most splendid of Mughal era buildings, gardens and monuments.
This afternoon you will be taken on a tour of Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal. Like the Red Fort of Delhi, that of Agra is one of the most obvious symbols of the Moghul grandeur that asserted itself under the mighty emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Humayun, son of the founder of the Mughal Empire, was crowned here in 1530. However, the heyday of Agra came with the reign of his son, Akbar the Great and it was during his reign (1556-1605) that the main part of the Fort was built. Some 4,000 builders worked on it daily for eight years, completing it in 1573.
The Taj Mahal, the sublime mausoleum created by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture – a form that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic styles. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of labourers, artisans and craftsmen. To view the magnificent dome of this monument in the golden light of late afternoon is magical.
Day 5 Jaipur
This morning you will be collected from your hotel and driven to Jaipur (5 hours) stopping en route to visit the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri, built by the Mughal emperor, Akbar. Seeking to revive the splendours of Persian court ceremonial, he planned the complex on Persian principles. However, the influences of his adopted land came through in strong Hindu and Jain design elements – indicative of his embracing attitude to those he conquered and their faiths. The imperial Palace complex consists of a number of independent pavilions arranged in formal geometry on a piece of level ground, a pattern derived from Arab and central Asian tent encampments. In its entirety, the monuments at Fatehpur Sikri reflect the genius of Akbar in assimilating diverse regional architectural influences within a holistic style that was uniquely his own.
Continue on to Jaipur, founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II when he moved from Amer in 1727. He and his Bengali architect, Vidhya Chakravarty, laid out a city plan that followed the classic Hindu treatise of architecture, the Shilpa-Shastra. Based on the nine cosmic divisions of the universe, it had a grid of nine blocks and a planned hierarchy of roads. Local aristocracy and wealthy merchants built handsome havelis, temples and wells – all of which followed an overall grand design. Now the thriving capital of Rajasthan, with a population of 3 million, much of this historic city remains intact, making it one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations.
Day 6 Jaipur
Begin your exploration of Jaipur today with a visit to Amber Fort, followed by visits to the City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. Set in picturesque and rugged hills, Amber Fort is a fascinating blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture constructed in red sandstone and white marble. Built by Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh, one of the main sights within the fort is the magical Sheesh Mahal, (Hall of Mirrors) adorned with thousands on thousands of mirror tiles on the walls and ceiling.
The City Palace lies at the heart of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II’s planned city. The sprawling complex comprises a fascinating sequence of enclosures of increasing impenetrability from the public outer sphere of stables and administrative offices to the private royal apartments, culminating in the Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace), the seven-tiered pyramid-like inner sanctum complete with internal garden. The wealth of the former maharajas – and their patronage of the arts – is to be seen here in the outstanding collections housed in the palace’s museums, including the Textile and Costume Museum, the Armoury Museum and the Art Gallery.
The Jantar Mantar observatory constitutes the most significant and best preserved set of fixed monumental instruments built in India in the first half of the 18th century; some of them are the largest ever built in their categories. Constructed from local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining. Bronze tablets, all extraordinarily accurate, were also employed. Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948.
The ornate pink façade of the Hawa Mahal has become an icon for Jaipur. Its cultural and architectural heritage is a fusion of Hindu Rajput architecture and Islamic Mughal architecture; the Rajput style is seen in the form of domed canopies, fluted pillars, lotus and floral patterns, and the Islamic style is evident in its stone inlay filigree work and arches.
End your day with a walking tour of some of the bazaars of Old Jaipur; the best sensory guides to the city – the exotic smells, vibrant colours, cacophony of sounds and tasty street foods of these markets – make for an enthralling experience. Wander through Johari Bazaar, famous for its precious and semi-precious stones and traditionally designed jewellery and the tiny workshops producing beautiful bangles of all shapes, sizes, colours and materials in Maniharon Ka Rasta.
Day 7 Jaipur
Day at leisure to relax or explore the city on your own, or if you have particular interests or would like to see the city from a different perspective – a bicycle tour or a walking tour for example – then you might consider our Insight Activities.
Day 8 Deogarh
This morning you will be collected from your hotel and driven to Deogarh (5 hours). Your accommodation here, Deogarh Mahal, is a 300-year-old stunning fort-palace that has been beautifully restored by the Deogarh family. The family is closely associated with the hotel and personally supervises and monitors the running of the property, which has made it one of the most sought after heritage hotels in Rajasthan. Check in on arrival and remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 9 Deogarh
In the morning enjoy a short train ride in the surrounding hills – a great opportunity to experience rural life, with the opportunity to interact with the locals who use the train for commuting short distances – sometimes with their goats! The stunning scenery the train travels through enhances the experience.
The rest of the day may be spent in leisure or you could undertake one of the many activities and excursions Deogarh has to offer – trek in the hills, ride horses around the villages, go boating and bird-watching on one of the numerous lakes dotting the area. Or, visit the nearby Gokul Garh Fort and Anjana Fort.
Day 10 Udaipur
This morning you will be driven to Udaipur (a 3 hour drive) with a stop en route to visit the spectacular Ranakpur Temples. Located in a remote and peaceful valley of the Aravalli range, this is one of the largest and most important Jain temple complexes in India. Built in the 15th century, these beautiful temples are very well preserved and a holy place for Jain pilgrimage. The main temple was erected on the top of a hill on a raised platform and covers an area of about 4,460 metres; dating back to 1439, it is called the Chaumukha Temple or the “Four-faced temple” and is dedicated to Adinath — the first of the Jain teachers. It has 29 halls supported by 1,444 carved pillars, none of which are alike. The play of light and shade on the intricately carved figures is mesmerizing. Within the complex are two other Jain temples dedicated to Neminath and Parasnath.
Continue on to Udaipur. Once the capital of the Rajput kingdom of Mewar, it is often referred to as the “City of Sunrise”; the legendary Sisodias of Mewar were believed to be direct descendants of the Sun – an insignia you’ll see everywhere. Maharana Udai Singh who ruled from 1537 to 1572 founded the city in 1559. The 1,500 year old House of Mewar is one of the world’s oldest ruling dynasties and the present Maharana – the 76th in the line – still resides in the City Palace and is revered by his devoted and loyal subjects.
Day 11 Udaipur
Begin your exploration of Udaipur at the magnificent City Palace, which towers over the city’s raison d’être, Lake Pichola. The palace is actually a series of large and small palaces comprising numerous courtyards, towers, terraces, balconies, cupolas, corridors and gardens. Built entirely in granite and marble, their interiors exhibit delicate mirror-work, marble-work, silver-work, inlay-work, coloured glass, murals and wall paintings.
Just north of the City Palace’s main gate is the 17th century Jagdish Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Stone elephants flank its entrance, and a bronze image of Garuda (Vishnu’s mythical bird vehicle) stands at the front. End your morning tour with a stroll through the delightful 18th century Saheliyon-ki-Bari, a peaceful place with ornamental fountains, a lotus pool and a rose garden. It was created for a queen whose dowry included 48 maids, thus its name which means ‘Garden of the Maids of Honour’.
Day 12 Udaipur
Full day at leisure or enjoy one of the many Insight Activities that we offer.
Day 13 Narlai
Today you will be driven to Narlai (3.5 hours) and your accommodation here, Rawla Narlai, a charming heritage hotel in the countryside. This 17th century fortress that became a hunting lodge was gifted by Maharaja Umaid Singhji of Jodhpur to his younger brother Maharaja Ajit Singhji. Two decades later, Maharaja Swaroop Singh took on the project of restoring it and later converted it into a small heritage hotel. Rawla Narlai is located in the heart of a typical Rajasthan village bustling with activity and bursting with colour. The Rawla (Villa) is an oasis of serenity and offers a splendid view of a gigantic 107 metre high single rock of granite dotted with caves and temples and crowned by a statue of a white elephant, proud guardian to the open desert on one side and the Aravalli hills on the other.
Day 14 Narlai
Full day free to relax and enjoy this peaceful environment. You may like to take a stroll through the small village, or a more strenuous walk to the top of the hill that overlooks it. Other options include visits to local temples or to the beautiful 7th century step well – or bird-watching on the nearby lake.
Day 15 Jodhpur
After breakfast, begin the drive to Jodhpur (3 hours). Rajasthan’s second largest city, Jodhpur, is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Thar’, as it is located literally on the edge of the Thar Desert. Founded in 1459 by Rao Jodhaji, chief of the Rathore Rajputs who ruled over Marwar, it is most famous for its fort – Mehrangarh – one of the most impenetrable in India’s history. The old city encircles the fort and is bounded by a wall with several gates. Most houses here are vivid shades of blue – giving Jodhpur its popular name – the ‘blue city’. In this teeming maze of narrow medieval streets and bazaars, life appears much as it has for centuries. Check in to your hotel on arrival and remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 16 Jodhpur
Visit two of Jodhpur’s landmark sights this morning – the imposing Mehrangarh Fort and the exquisite Jaswant Thada. Mehrangarh Fort crowns a rocky hill that rises 122 metres above the surrounding plain, and appears both to command and to meld with the landscape. So colossal are its proportions that Rudyard Kipling called it “the work of giants”. The Fort and its palaces were built over a period of 500 years following its foundation in the mid-15th century. As a result, the varied building styles of many different periods are represented, including the 20th century. One of the largest and best preserved forts in Rajasthan, Mehrangarh contains some of the finest palaces and its museum houses many priceless relics of Indian courtly life.
Standing in complete contrast to the massive fort is the nearby Jaswant Thada, the 19th century royal cenotaph built in commemoration of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. A famous example of Jodhpur’s architectural brilliance, it was constructed entirely out of intricately carved sheets of marble; extremely thin and highly polished they emit a warm glow when the sun’s rays dance across their surface.
This afternoon visit the clock tower, a popular monument in the old city, and the colourful Sardar Market with its narrow alleys leading to numerous bazaars packed with textiles, silver and a variety of handicrafts.
Day 17 Osiyan
After a leisurely breakfast, you will be collected from your hotel and driven (1 hour) to the ancient town of Osiyan. An oasis in the Thar Desert, it is referred to as the “Khajuraho of Rajasthan” for its temples.
If you opt for the 17 day version of this itinerary, this morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for a flight to Mumbai or Delhi for international departure or onward flight to your next destination in India. (See our R&R page for great places and hotels at which to finish your trip).
Day 18 Osiyan
Full day at leisure or free to explore. Osiyan is famous for its group of sixteen small, intricately carved Hindu and Jain temples; constructed between the 8th and 12th centuries, using stone from local quarries, they have withstood the ravages of time and are well worth a visit. Built by prosperous Jain traders when Osiyan was an important stop on the caravan trade route to Central Asia, they represent the earliest phase of temple architecture in Rajasthan. They are an outstanding testament to the city’s former wealth. [Image: Lakhindr].
Day 19 Nagaur
Today you will be driven (2 hours) to Nagaur, a sleepy medieval town that appears to have been left unchanged by time. The massive protective walls of the Nagaur Fort encompass an ancient complex of richly painted palaces, mosques, temples, reservoirs and open terraces. The town is the centre of a busy Cattle Fair each year in the month of February. Check in to your hotel – one option is the fabulous Ranvas, located inside the fort itself – and remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 20 Mandawa
This morning you will be driven (3.5 hours) to Mandawa, situated in the heart of the Shekhawati region. This flat and barren landscape is dotted with towns that are renowned for their highly decorated and lavishly painted havelis (mansions). The prosperous Marwari merchant community that acquired its wealth from the caravan routes that crossed the area to reach the ports of Gujarat constructed most of these buildings. There are also a number of forts, mosques, step-wells (‘baoris’) and cenotaphs (chattris) to be seen here. Check into your hotel on arrival and remainder of the day at leisure. [Image: Doris Antony].
Day 21 Mandawa
Spend today exploring the treasures of Mandawa and the Shekhawati region. Dating from the 18th to the early 20th century, the havelis outer walls, jutting balconies, alcoves and overhanging upper storeys are replete with patterns and paintings. They depict a range of mythological and historical themes including images of gods, goddesses, animals, and the life of the lords Rama and Krishna; some of the later day frescoes reflect a British influence in their depictions of steam locomotives and Europeans wearing stylish hats and other Victorian finery. In addition to the havelis, various temples here have frescoes worth seeing and a step-well, still used today, features paintings inside its decorative corner domes. [Image: Dhirad].
Day 22 Delhi
You will be collected from your hotel this morning for the 4 hour drive to Delhi airport for your flight home or to onward destination in India for some well earned R&R.
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