Day 1: UK - Delhi
UK door to door travel service to airport; overnight flight to Delhi
Day 2: Delhi
After landing, transfer to spend the next two nights of your tour at the locally rated 5-star The Suryaa Hotel, New Delhi.
The Suryaa has a lounge bar, patisserie, main SSence restaurant serving national and international cuisine and the Sampan restaurant, serving Asian cuisine, an outdoor pool, gym and Spa (charges apply). Each of the 244 air-conditioned rooms has a telephone, television, safe, tea and coffee-making facilities and hairdryer.
After checking into your hotel look forward to a welcome briefing over a hot drink and biscuit.
Day 2 included meals: dinner
Day 3: Delhi
Despite Delhi’s haphazard first impressions, both its Old and New halves were built to order. The walled confines of Old Delhi were commissioned in the 17th century by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame, while Sir Edwin Lutyens is responsible for the imperial grandeur of New Delhi.
Discover both sides on an included full-day sightseeing tour. In Old Delhi you’ll see the Raj Ghat – Mahatmas Gandhi's memorial, the bulbous domes and slender towers of Jama Masjid mosque, the largest in India, and Chandni Chowk, the main shopping street where all walks of life collide amid the bustle of the markets.
Highlights in New Delhi include emperor Humayun’s 16th-century tomb and the golden-domed Sikh mosque of Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. You will also drive to see the Red Fort, the India Gate war memorial and the imposing Presidential Palace.
This evening perhaps take the chance to join an optional excursion which features an outdoor Indian barbecue dinner accompanied by displays of some traditional dancing.
Day 3 included meals: breakfast and dinner
Day 4: Delhi-Agra
After breakfast set out on the four-hour drive to Agra. This afternoon you will spend an hour at Mentab Bagh – Moonlight Gardens – which was built as the ultimate place from which to view the Taj Mahal.
You’ll spend the next two nights at the locally rated 4-star Jaypee Palace Hotel. This luxurious hotel is just two-and-a-half kilometres from the iconic Taj Mahal and is set within extensive landscaped gardens. All 350 rooms have a telephone, television, air conditioning, a safe, hairdryer, fridge and coffee-maker. The hotel has an excellent range of facilities, from a choice of restaurants and an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, bowling alley and a health club.
Ahead of your visit to the Taj Mahal early tomorrow, you might wish to discover the story behind its creation on an optional excursion this evening. Scores of singers and dancers will tell the love story of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal in the colourful 90-minute Mohabbat The Taj show at the Kalakriti Cultural and Convention Centre.
Day 4 included meals: breakfast and dinner
Day 5: Agra
This morning you can look forward to a once in a lifetime experience as your included excursion visits the Taj Mahal in time to watch the sun rise over its iconic form. Regarded as one of the seven new wonders of the world it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 17th-century structure was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his late wife. Constructed in white marble, it took around 22 years and over 20,000 workers and craftsmen brought together from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy, to complete it.
After your visit, return to the hotel for breakfast before another excursion takes you to Agra Fort, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Planned as an impregnable military structure, the fort acquired all the elegance and majesty of an imperial palace. Enclosed within walls two-and-a-half kilometres long, it was the city of the Mughal rulers, within which lay palaces, halls and mosques.
You have the afternoon at leisure, though you might opt to join an optional excursion to see the Itimad-ud-Daulah mausoleum, sometimes referred to as the ‘Baby Taj.’
Day 5 included meals: breakfast and dinner
Day 6: Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Jaipur
This morning continue your tour, setting off towards Jaipur. Along the way you will pay an included visit to historic Fatehpur Sikri, a small but beautiful city an hour to the west of Agra. The city was built between 1571-1573 but served as the capital of the Mughal empire for just 14 years. It features a host of striking red sandstone structures. The imposing 17th-century Buland Darwaza gate is the entrance to Jama Masjid mosque. Keep an eye out too for the marble Tomb of Salim Chishti and the ornate central pillar of Diwan-E-Khas hall. The unusual Panch Mahal is an open-plan pavilion of tiered colonnades and lies next to the Jodha Bais Palace which was developed in a variety of architectural styles.
Another stop along the way is at Chand Baori Stepwell, one of the most historic and iconic landmarks in Rajasthan. Built in the 9th century AD by King Chanda of the Nikumbh dynasty to conserve water and provide respite from the often intense and oppressive heat, the well was dedicated to Hashat Mata, Goddess of Joy and Happiness and has a private room where the royals once rested.
After arriving in Jaipur check in for a two-night stay at the locally rated 4-star Crowne Plaza Jaipur in the business district of Sitapura. There are three restaurants, serving both local and international dishes, or you can eat under the stars in the rooftop bar/grill, with a further bar and a lounge downstairs. There’s an open-air swimming pool, fitness centre and the Zivaya Spa where you enjoy a range of treatments (extra charge). All air-conditioned rooms are equipped with satellite television, telephone, minibar (extra charge), tea and coffee-making facilities, hairdryer and complimentary Wi-Fi.
On certain dates you will stay at the locally rated 4-star The LaLitJaipur, whose facilities include two restaurants, a bar, cafe, outdoor swimming pool, gym and spa (charges apply). Each of the 231 air-conditioned bedrooms feature a telephone, television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe, hairdryer and free Wi-Fi.
Day 6 included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 7: Jaipur
An included morning excursion will reveal the royal palace and temples behind the 16th-century walls of the Amber Fort. Inside this former Rajput capital, you’ll hop in a jeep to discover a fusion of Hindu and Mughal styles thanks to the union of a Mughal emperor and Rajput princess in the 1700s. In 1727, Rajput Maharaja Jai Singh II decided to create a new capital – Jaipur – which you will discover this afternoon. The king, a keen scientist, architect and astronomer, carefully planned every detail, hence the harmonious proportions and grid-like streets in its historic centre.
Visit the iconic City Palace, a complex built in the early 18th century but still holding a royal residence. It is found just across the street from Jantar Mantar, the largest stone and marble observatory in the world. Make the most of the photo opportunity outside the famous Palace of the Winds – the fabulous facade was built to allow the breeze in to cool the king’s harem as they observed what went on outside, without being seen themselves.
This evening perhaps join an optional excursion to the grand Birla Mandir Hindu temple where you can witness a traditional Aarti ceremony of worship.
Day 7 included meals: breakfast and dinner
Day 8: Jaipur - Khimsar
After bidding Jaipur farewell, drive around five-and-a-half hours west into the desert to arrive at Khimsar.
Check into the locally rated 5-star Khimsar Fort and Dunes Hotel, a historic gem where you can look forward to a welcome drink on arrival. The construction of the magnificent fort began in 1523 on the orders of Rao Karamsji – the 8th son of the founder of Jodhpur, just over 50 miles away. The unspoilt site spreads over 11 acres of sprawling lawns, orchards and open courtyards with its historic past reflected in the architecture of the castle. Ancient meets modern in the hotel’s luxurious outdoor swimming pool and fitness centre while the 67 air-conditioned guest rooms come with a balcony and are equipped with flat-screen TV, telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe, minibar and high-speed Wi-Fi (extra charge).
An optional excursion allows you to explore the desert around the village in a jeep and head to the nearby dunes, with hot drinks and biscuits included.
Day 8 included meals: breakfast and dinner
Day 9: Khimsar - Dechu
After breakfast drive west through the desert for around three hours to reach Dechu, where you can look forward to spending two nights at the locally rated 5-star Samsara Desert Camp & Resort.
Samsara is a luxurious oasis in the midst of the endless dunes of the Thar Desert.
After settling in you can look forward to hopping into a jeep for an included off-road drive in the desert this afternoon. In addition to the huge outdoor swimming pool, fringed by palm trees and set against a backdrop of imposing mountains of sand, you can indulge in Aroma, Ayurveda, Herbal and Natural therapies at the Serena Spa (treatments extra charge). Pillars restaurant serves a mix of international cuisine and authentic local favourites while you have the option to dine on the sand, by the pool or on the veranda. The Pavilion Bar is the place to relax with a drink. The air-conditioned rooms feature flat-screen TV, a direct dial telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities, a hairdryer and a safety deposit box. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in public areas.
Day 9 included meals: breakfast and dinner
Day 10: Dechu
This morning is at leisure, either relax in the hotel’s tranquil surroundings or perhaps choose to join an optional half-day excursion to go bird watching in the sleepy town of Khichan. The town is a haven for Demoiselle cranes migrating south east from Eastern Europe and south west from Mongolia.
You will get the chance to feed the stately birds during your excursion.
This evening back at the hotel you can look forward to an included camel safari through the sands.
Day 10 included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 11: Dechu - Jodhpur
The Thar Desert’s arid landscape of subtropical scrubland interspersed with sand dunes will whizz past your window on your journey to Jodhpur today. The Marwar kingdom’s capital for five centuries, Jodhpur sits at the base of a sandstone ridge on the edge of the Desert, enclosed by a nine-kilometre long wall. You’ll pass through eight gates to enter this small city, seven of which represent victories in battle while the eighth bears palm impressions of women who immolated themselves after their husbands were defeated.
Check-in for a two night stay at the locally rated 4-star Fairfield by Marriott Jodhpur. You can enjoy meals in the plush surroundings of the Kava restaurant, which serves gourmet dishes from around the world, and perhaps sample a cocktail at the hotel bar. There is a 24-hour fitness centre while the 136 air-conditioned rooms have satellite television, telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities, a mini-fridge, hairdryer and iron and ironing board. Wi-Fi is available for an extra charge.
You will be given a brief guided orientation walk around the local area after your arrival.
Day 11 included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 12: Jodhpur
Today you can look forward to making an included visit to the 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort – its formidable exterior conceals three beautiful palaces graced with delicate latticework, pierced sandstone screens and wall paintings.
Also visit Jaswant Thada, a cluster of royal cenotaphs dressed in white marble, which were built in 1899.
After returning to your hotel, you might wish to join an optional cooking demonstration before dinner.
Day 12 included meals: breakfast and dinner
Day 13: Jodhpur - Udaipur
Today you will drive south for around four-and-a-half hours to reach Udaipur. On the way you will visit the Kumbhalgarh hill-top fort, a 15th-century Mewar fortress, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site named Hill Forts of Rajasthan. With the walls of the fort – the second largest in India – extending over 38 kilometres, it is claimed to be the second-longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China.
After your visit and lunch at a local restaurant, continue on to Udaipur, once the capital of the Kingdom of Mewar, the city was founded in 1553 and is considered by many to be the jewel of Rajasthan’s crown. It is known as the 'City of Lakes' due to its picturesque bodies of water framed by the Aravalli Hills and you will spend the next two nights at the locally rated 5-star Trident Hotel Udaipur (or similar) set in 43 acres of grounds on the shore of scenic Lake Pichola.
You can savour authentic local dishes at Aravalli, the main restaurant which also serves a variety of dishes from western, Asian and regional Indian cuisine. For barbecues and grills, head to The Terrace to enjoy an al fresco dining experience. The Amrit Mahal bar is the place to unwind with a drink in the evenings.The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and the Trident Spa, which offers treatments blending ancient Indian traditions with contemporary techniques (extra charge). Within the grounds is Bada Mahal – a 150-year old wildlife conservatory. the 137 rooms are traditionally decorated but have a flat-screen television, safe, minibar (extra charge), tea and coffee-making facilities and a hairdryer. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in public areas.
Day 13 included meals: breakfast and dinner
Day 14: Udaipur
Discover Udaipur's restored palaces on an included city tour. This graceful city of palaces, ghats and temples was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 after the Mewar leader sought advice following repeated Mughal attacks on the then capital of Chittaur. Discover City Palace, a series of restored palaces resplendent with mosaic glass work and frescoes.
Also visit ornate Jagdish Temple, whose carved columns are a fine example of the Indo-Aryan style, and Sahelion Ki Bari gardens, an oasis of lotus pools and marble pavilions that were created for a princess’s handmaidens as part of her dowry!
Then enjoy a scenic drive around Fatehsagar Lake before taking an included cruise across Lake Pichola (subject to water levels). The lake, which was created in 1362, is home to the 18th-century Jag Niwas, an island palace (now a hotel) that seems to levitate on the lake’s surface.
Day 14 included meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 15: Udaipur - Delhi
After checking out of your hotel, fly to Delhi and stay overnight at the locally rated 5-star Novotel Aerocity which is conveniently located for your flight tomorrow. This 400-room hotel has a buffet restaurant and bar while rooms have a television, telephone, Wi-Fi, minibar, ironing facilities and tea and coffee-making facilities.
Day 15 included meals: breakfast
Day 16: Delhi to UK
After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight, arriving this evening for your included UK door-to-door travel service home.
Day 16 included meals: breakfast