Day 1 - Welcome to Delhi
On arrival at the airport, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the Taj Palace Delhi. Our luxury city-center hotel is situated on six acres of beautifully landscaped grounds in the heart of the prestigious Diplomatic Enclave.
Day 2 - Delhi... New + Old
After a lavish buffet breakfast, you’ll join our engaging native-born guide for a full-day tour of India’s vibrant and endlessly fascinating capital. Focusing this morning on the sights and sounds of Old Delhi, you’ll begin with Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. Then hop aboard a traditional pedicab - a delightful way to immerse in the colors and rhythms of the city. Hop off at the bustling and fragrant Spice Market and explore among the many vendors as our expert guide offers insight into India’s enduring cultural and culinary traditions. Visit the 19th-century home of the beloved Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib before learning about India’s cultural diversity at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the largest Sikh temple in the city.
After a refreshing break and lunch at Lodi, you’ll continue your exploration with the historic landmarks of New Delhi. Marvel at the India Gate – built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War – and continue along the elegant Rajpath past Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Viceroy’s residence and now the official home of the President of India. See the imposing House of Parliament, and then explore much earlier chapters of history at two UNESCO World Heritage Sites beginning with Humayun’s Tomb; built in the 16th century, its elegant design shows Persian influences and inspired several architectural innovations that culminated in the Taj Mahal. At Qutab Minar, you’ll discover the tallest brick minaret in the world – a graceful, fluted, tapering tower completed in the 14th century withbeautiful terra cotta embellishments and balconies.
This evening’s congenial welcome dinner features fine Indian cuisine accompanied by wine and beer. Meals B+L+D
Day 3 - Agra + The Taj Mahal
After breakfast, you’ll embark on a scenic southward journey to Agra, the venerated 16th-century capital of the Lodhi Dynasty. On arrival, check in to the 5-star Trident Hotel and refresh before setting out for some guided sightseeing. Behind the impressive 1.5-mile long fortress walls of the Red Fort of Agra, you’ll discover lovely grounds, mosques, audience halls and fairytale palaces. Dating back to the 16th century and reflecting elements of both Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, this fort is more aptly described as a magnificent, walled palatial city.
As the sun dips towards the horizon, we’ll take you across the Yamuna River to Mehtab Bagh. Most visitors don’t know to come here, but this lovely Mughal garden located on the river banks across from the Taj Mahal offers some of the most captivating views of the iconic monument – especially in the golden light of sunset. This evening, you’ll dine in a charming city restaurant that specializes in fine Mughlai cuisine. Meals B+D
Day 4 - Journey to Jaipur
Arise early this morning for a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal. You of course did already see this renowned ‘Monument to Love’ yesterday evening, but the strikingly iridescent and translucent façade of the Taj Mahal offers a different but equally enchanting experience in sharper light of early morning.
After a late mid-morning breakfast, back at the Trident Hotel, check out and embark on the scenic drive into Rajasthan, one of India’s most historic and culturally rich states. Stop in the village of Abhaneri and visit Chand Baori, a 1,000-year-old step well. With the earliest such wells dating back to the 6th century and once found throughout Rajasthan here on the edge of the foreboding Thar Desert, these ancient wells were crucial for storing water during the extremely dry months that follow the torrential seasonal monsoons. With 3,500 steps and 13 levels that descend nearly 65 feet, Chand Baori is one of India’s deepest and most beautifully carved step-wells.
Continue to Jaipur and check into the 5-star ITC Rajputana. Inspired by the fine gardens and regal architecture of India’s historic ‘Pink City,’ our 5-star resort offers modern comfort close to the historic center of town. This evening, your native-born guide will take you to Birla Temple, built in the shadow of an historic hilltop fort and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Here in this evocative setting, you’ll witness Aarti - an ancient Hindu ceremony of light and prayer. Meals B+D
Day 5 - In and around Jaipur
Founded in the 11th century and beautifully constructed from yellow and pink sandstone and gleaming white marble, the spectacular Amber Fort just outside of town stands in testament to the once-powerful and never-conquered Rajput Kingdom. Entering through the towering Sun Gate, your fascinating guided tour reveals lavish courtyards, beautifully decorated halls and the dazzling Chamber of Mirrors.
Back in the city, you’ll see Hawa Mahal, the oft-photographed Palace of Winds. Built at the end of the 18th century and comprised of delicately latticed windows, its ingenious design allowed women of royal families to remain concealed while they observed the hustle and bustle of the street below. At the City Palace Museum, our knowledgeable guide will enhance your tour of its extensive and carefully curated collection including miniature paintings, ancient weapons and traditional Rajasthani royal costumes. You’ll also visit Jantar Mantar, an observatory built in 1726. You’re sure to be astounded by these architectural stone instruments – skillfully designed and constructed to measure time, predict eclipses and track the movements of the stars and planets; the largest instrument stands 90 feet tall and all are amazing accurate.
As the afternoon wanes, you’ll have time to stroll through the vibrant and colorful bazaars of Old Jaipur as the come alive with the setting sun. The city is famed for its skilled artisans and you’ll find wonderful ateliers and shops specializing in textiles, metalwork, jewelry, wood carvings and the famous blue pottery of Jaipur. Tonight’s dinner with a resident family promises a delicious and traditional home-cooked meal enlivened by congenial conversation that is sure to deepen your understanding and appreciation of Indian culture. Meals B+D
Day 6 - Onward to Bikaner
This morning’s drive takes us deeper into historic Rajasthan to Bikaner, an ancient city surrounded by the vastness of the Thar Desert. The town’s many forts, palaces, temples and residences are built of red and yellow sandstone and reflect traditional Rajasthani architecture during the reign of famous Mughal Emperors like Akbar and Jahangir. This afternoon, our well-informed guide will take you to visit Junagarh Fort, regarded by many as the most interesting of Bikaner’s landmarks. Built in 1588, this monumental fortress was never successfully conquered though it was attacked many times. Behind its huge towers, formidable walls and encircling moat, you’ll explore a lovely complex of palaces, courtyards, temples and pavilions – many embellished with exquisite stone carvings, lattice-enclosed balconies and painted interiors.
Bikaner also lies in the heart of what is sometimes called ‘camel country’ and the city is renowned for its camel breeders. After touring Junagarh Fort, you’ll visit the National Camel Research Center. Situated just outside of the city, this unique institute offers a chance to observe and learn about these fascinating creatures. Enjoy dinner and an unforgettable stay at the Laxmi Niwas Palace, a landmark retreat situated in a lavishly decorated, century-old sandstone palace. Meals B+D
Day 7 - India's Golden City
After breakfast, your journey continues to Jaisalmer, India’s fabled ‘Golden City’ in the far western reaches of Rajasthan. Despite its remote setting on a sandstone ridge in the heart of the starkly beautiful Thar Desert, this captivating city was a thriving medieval trading center along ancient camel trade routes. Today, this architectural legacy makes Jaisalmer one of India’s most fascinating cities to explore.
On arrival, check in to the deluxe Suryagarh Hotel where you’ll have time to relax and refresh. Later this afternoon, you’ll embark on a thrilling adventure as you join our guide for a camel trek across the dunes. As the sun begins to set across the golden sands, you’ll arrive at our enchanting desert encampment for dinner and traditional Rajasthani entertainment under the stars. After this magical experience, you’ll be escorted back to your 5-star hotel in town. Meals B+D
Day 8 - Jaisalmer Fort
Set on a hill amidst the sweeping expanse of the Thar Desert, Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest and most impressive of Rajasthan’s many hill and desert fortresses. Built in the 12th century and witness to numerous fierce battles and attacks, the fort’s defensive bastions encircle numerous winding lanes, shops, homes and temples. Jaisalmer is one of the world’s very few ‘living forts’ and with thousands of residents still living within its ancient walls, your guided exploration offers a penetrating look into the former glory and enduring legacies of the princely Rajput states that flourished in Rajasthan centuries ago.
Like the sandstone walls that surround it, many of the fort’s interior buildings seem to glow with the same tawny lion-mane color as the surrounding fortress walls and towers. Expertly narrated, your guided tour promises not just visual delights but also a greater understanding and appreciation for India’s rich history and culture. You’ll also visit Salim Singh Haveli, one of Jaisalmer’s many enduring merchant homes. Built two centuries ago, this architectural masterpiece is impressively embellished with lattice-enclosed balconies, delicately carved arches and pale blue cupolas. Meals B
Day 9 - Travel to Jodhpur
This morning’s journey through the desert landscapes brings you to Arna-Jharna. Envisioned by one of India’s leading folklorists and oral historians, this unique desert museum celebrates ancient Rajasthani traditions – not as relics of a long-ago age, but as enduring traditions that continue to be integral facets of the region’s desert communities. In addition to its informative exhibits, the museum’s splendid setting offers a chance to observe and learn about desert flora and fauna.
Then continue onward to Jodhpur, an historic city settled more than 500 years ago. Dominated by the imposing silhouette of Mehrangarh Fort and home to broad streets lined with the town’s signature blue and white homes, Jodhpur captures the ambience and spirit of a bygone era. On arrival, check in to the deluxe and stylish ITC WelcomHotel where you’ll have time to refresh. Later this afternoon, you’ll tour the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, which stands atop a 400-foot hill overlooking the city. Behind these massive walls which soar up to 120 feet is an extraordinary complex of ornate places decorated with carved panels, delicate lattice windows and beautiful stained glass. First established in 1459, many of the fort’s current structures were built in the 17th century and today Mehrangarh is one of the largest forts in all of India. It is also home to a fabulous collection of memorabilia from Jodhpur’s royal families – ornate palanquins, elephant howdahs, miniature paintings, priceless antiques and glittering costumes.
End your touring with a guided stroll through the city’s bustling market – which comes to life as the sun sets and the desert air begins to cool. Tonight, you’ll dine on a rooftop terrace at a local restaurant situated in one of Jodhpur’s historic merchant homes. Meals B+D
Day 10 - Desert Safari
Despite its seemingly barren stretches of remote scenery and foreboding semi-arid terrain, the rural and desert landscapes outside of Jodhpur are home to thriving communities, unique flora, and a surprising diversity of wildlife - including nearly 200 species of birds like the Himalayan griffin, tawny eagle, and grey-headed cannery flycatcher.
Setting out with an experienced driver in a comfortable 4x4, you’ll venture across the rugged terrain, even going off road for a true desert adventure. More than just an adrenaline-rushing expedition however, today’s excursion offers a wonderful way to learn about the centuries-old history of Rajasthan as well as its culture, flora and fauna.
Indeed, with our specialist guide, born into an old noble Rajasthani family, you’ll also spend time with members of the Bishnoi community, an indigenous tribe known for their deep reverence for the sacredness of all life. Back in Jodhpur, this evening is yours to dine and relax as you wish. Meals B+L
Day 11 - Onward to Udaipur
Check out from your hotel after breakfast and journey southward to visit Ranakpur Temple, one of the largest and most important Jain temples in all of India. Established in the 15th century in a remote and tranquil valley of the Aravalli Hills, this immense and breathtaking complex covers more than 45,000 square feet. Within, there are four shrines and 24 pillared halls of exquisitely carved sandstone domes and columns. Each of the 1,444 columns is unique; with intricate designs and ornamentation, now two are exactly alike.
Continue your journey to Udaipur and check in to the Taj Lake Palace for an unforgettable 2-night stay. Originally built as the pleasure palace of a young prince, our fabulous luxury hotel is set on a private island surrounded by the tranquil waters of Lake Pichola. Late this afternoon, we’ll take you on a sightseeing cruise to experience the setting sun as it casts is golden rays across the hills and waters that cradle Udaipur, regarded by many as India’s most romantic city. Meals B+L
Day 12 - The City of Dreams
Udaipur has been called India’s ‘City of Dreams’ and you’ll understand why as you explore the immense City Palace - set magnificently on a ridge overlooking Lake Pichola. With its courtyards and grand halls, all wonderfully ornamented with pillars, balconies, towers and cupolas, this architectural masterpiece was built over several dynasties, but the harmony of its design makes it one of the finest palaces in all of Rajasthan. Now a museum, the richly decorated Palace is famed for its superb collection of cultural treasures including Mogul paintings and carvings.
Venturing into the heart of the city, you’ll enjoy a guided stroll through the bustling local market to Jagdish Temple. Built in 1651 and decorated with towering tiers of bas relief carvings, this Hindu temple enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu and his vehicle, a mighty bird called Garuda.
At the Rajasthan School of Art, you’ll meet students who are learning traditional arts like miniature painting. After lunch, the rest of your afternoon is at leisure so you can enjoy the idyllic setting of your private-island lake resort. This evening, you’ll gather with your fellow travelers for a congenial farewell dinner here at the hotel. Meals B+L+D
Day 13 - Return to Delhi
After breakfast and a leisurely morning, you’ll be escorted to the airport. We include your flight to Delhi where you will connect to your onward flight. Meals B
DAY 1 | Welcome to Delhi
On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the luxurious Taj Palace Delhi.
DAY 2 | Delhi ... New + Old
Behold the India Gate and Parliament before touring two World Heritage Sites, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutab Minar. Visit Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, and explore Old Delhi by pedicab. Meet merchants in the exotic spice market and learn about India’s cultural diversity at the city’s largest Sikh Temple. Tonight, savor fine Indian cuisine with wine and beer. meals b+d
DAY 3 | Agra + The Taj Mahal
Travel to Agra and check in to the 5-star Trident Hotel. Few know to go, but this evening we take you across the river to Mehtab Bagh, a Mughal garden that offers some of the best views of the Taj Mahal, especially in the golden light of sunset. Sample fine Mughlai cuisine this evening. meals b+d
DAY 4 | Journey to Jaipur
After sunrise at the Taj Mahal, we take you to Abhaneri to visit the 1,000-year-old Chand Baori. With 13 levels of stairs that descend 65 feet, this is one of India’s deepest and most beautifully carved step wells. Continue to Jaipur and check into the 5-star ITC Rajputana. This evening, head to Birla Temple for Aarti - an ancient Hindu ceremony of light and prayer. meals b+l+d
DAY 5 | In and around Jaipur
Enter through the Sun Gate to tour the mighty Amber Fort. Then visit the City Palace Museum and see the latticed facade of the Palace of Winds. At Jantar Mantar, you’ll see ancient astronomical instruments carved of stone. Stroll through the bazaars of Old Jaipur as they come alive with the setting sun. meals b+d
DAY 6 | Onward to Bikaner
Journey to Bikaner to visit Junagarh Fort. Reflecting ancient Mughal, Rajput and Gujarati styles, this mighty fortress palace is a true gem of Indian architecture. At the National Camel Research Center, you’ll see and learn about these amazing creatures. Overnight at the Laxmi Niwas Palace. meals b+d
DAY 7 | India’s Golden City
Travel deep into the starkly beautiful Thar Desert to the “Golden City” of Jaisalmer, set on a ridge and crowned with one of Rajasthan’s mightiest hill forts. Check in to the Suryagarh Hotel and enjoy a relaxing evening. meals b+l
DAY 8 | Jaisalmer Fort
Dating to the 12th century, this mighty fortress is still a living city with 3,000 residents within its ancient walls. Its winding lanes, shops, homes and temples offer a rich look into the life and glory of the princely Rajput states that flourished in Rajasthan long ago. Outside the fortress walls, visit Salim Singh Haveli, a 200-year-old merchant’s home crowned with gracefully carved balconies and pale blue cupolas. Late in the day, thrill to our camel safari across the dunes. After dinner and traditional entertainment at our desert camp, we’ll take you back to your 5-star hotel in town. meals b+d
DAY 9 | Travel to Jodhpur
Journey through the evocative desert landscapes of Rajasthan to the centuries-old city of Jodhpur. Check in to the Taj Hari Mahal Hotel where the rest of your day is free to enjoy as you wish. meals b+d
DAY 10 | Desert + Fort
Our exclusive excursion takes you off-road in 4x4 jeeps to observe and learn about the flora and fauna that thrive in the Thar Desert. With our specialist guide, born into a noble Rajasthani family, you’ll spend time with members of the Bishnoi tribe, known for their deep reverence for the sacredness of all life. This afternoon, tour Mehrangarh Fort - where lavish palace halls house rich exhibits of ancient royal costumes, palanquins, elephant howdahs and miniature paintings. Then browse in the local market and delight in an al fresco rooftop dinner in the heart of the Old City. meals b+l+d
DAY 11 | Onward to Udaipur
Travel into the scenic Aravalli Hills to visit Ranakpur. With four shrines and 24 pillared halls of exquisitely carved sandstone, this is India’s largest and most important Jain temple. Continue to Udaipur and check in to the fabulous Taj Lake Palace. This evening’s sunset cruise on Lake Pichola is an enchanting way to experience India’s most romantic city. meals b+l
DAY 12 | The City of Dreams
Explore the vast City Palace with its richly decorated courtyards, soaring cupolas, and lavish halls filled with fine Mughal art. Then tour Jagdish Temple, a Hindu landmark in the heart of the city. At the Rajasthan School of Art, you’ll meet students who are learning traditional arts like miniature painting. The afternoon is at leisure so you can enjoy the idyllic setting of your private-island lake resort. meals b+l+d
DAY 13 | Return to Delhi
Fly to Delhi and connect to your onward flight. meals b