Light the roof on fire! And by that we mean light up the rooftops of Jaipur with fireworks for Diwali Festival. Saree not sorry. Look radiant for Diwali night in a colourful and dazzling saree to match your surroundings.. While in Karauli experience royal Rajasthani swagger in your very own palace crib. The Taj Mahal may be one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, but do you know its poetic history? A local expert will fill you in.
Celebrate the festival of lights like a local and earn bragging rights for life. Explore the old city of Delhi wondering how some places could be so ancient yet at the same time really modern. Ride the rails and watch the as country goes by. Maybe catch a Bollywood flick and gawk at the marvel that is the Taj Mahal. You have not seen India if you have not visited during Diwali.
Breakfast Included: 1 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 2
Namaste! Welcome to Delhi. There are no planned activities today except a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour guide and fellow travellers. After the meeting, why not continue the introductions over an optional group dinner.
Catch the modern metro to Old Delhi and visit the old city's market area by cycle rickshaw, taking in Chandni Chowk as well as Connaught Place. Check out the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion.
Diwali Festival in Jaipur
Today is the day! Travel by express train into Rajasthan and onto its capital, Jaipur (approximately five hours). After arriving in the ‘Pink City’ you will join your leader to shop for fireworks where they will help you choose the right ones for the celebrations later. Take a detour to visit local sweet shops as during Diwali sweets are a traditional gift. Some of these shops have been making amazing sweets for generations. Your leader will point out which sweets to choose and their significance. Since Diwali is a victory celebration of good over evil, Indians typically dress in their finest clothes. As a gesture of good will it is appropriate for you to dress nicely for this evenings celebration. There may even be a saree surprise in store for you later! Tonight, dark lanes and alleys will be brightly lit, the sound of fireworks and happiness floating through the wind. The evening we will be spent with a local family on their rooftop, celebrating Diwali in their traditional style with you. Your leader will help you through the intricate customs of Diwali rituals, prayer sessions, gift exchanging, lighting of candles and oil lamps, eating snacks, and drinking. Take in the rooftop views with fireworks all around while sharing a home-cooked meal with the family and being entertained by local musicians singing traditional Diwali songs.
For those willing to wake up early after a night of celebrations and would like to see the Pink City a bit differently this morning there’s the option to drift high over Jaipur in a hot air balloon, a highlight for many visitors. Here’s just a sprinkling of things to do in your free time today: drop by Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), the impressive five-storey facade with pink, honeycombed windows making it the most photographed building in the country after Taj Mahal. Then maybe head out to the old capital of Amber and an exploration of the hilltop fort complex known as the Amber Fort. The Sheesh Mahal inside the fort is a must-see. As the walls are completely covered in little mirrors, the hall illuminates with the light of a single match. Hit the streets for raj kachori chaat – a big fluffy chaat served with chutney, yoghurt, chilli and potato. Then cool off with a lassi from Lassiwala on MI road, Jaipur's oldest and most famous lassi shop. Tonight, you’ll experience the cinema like never before with an extravagant Bollywood blockbuster at the memorable Raj Mandir Cinema – there’s usually romance, drama, and music all rolled into one.
Leave the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur behind and drive to Karauli (approximately 5-6 hours). This delightful town was founded in 1348 and is packed with rural ambience and traditional temples. Take a guided walk around the Old Quarter, interacting with friendly locals and learning about rural Indian life off the tourist trail. Be sure to visit the eclectic market stalls along the way and sample some seasonal local sweets made from Indian ingredients, including petha (pumpkin), jiggery (organic sugar), peanut brittle and gazak (sesame seeds). Stay in a restored heritage property tonight where dinner is included.
Head east by public bus to Agra (approximately 6 hours). Agra might not be the prettiest city in the world, but the minute you check out its top-notch sites that won’t matter one bit. After arriving into the city you’ll head to the most iconic sight in India. It doesn’t matter who you are, the Taj Mahal will explode all your expectations with the morning light shimmering off its white marble surface. Maybe jump on a motorised rickshaw to pick out the rest of the city’s monuments – Akbar's Mausoleum is a beautiful sandstone and marble tomb built for the greatest of the Mughal emperors.
Maybe return to the Taj Mahal at sunrise, then explore the awesome Red Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River – stroll the palatial gardens of this red sandstone stronghold with cheeky monkeys in tow. We will drive back to Delhi and the rest of the day is free for you to do as you like. Practice your bargaining skills in Chandni Chowk in the maze of shops and kiosks that sell everything imaginable, buy local crafts straight from the hands of the artisan in Janpath market, or gobble down street chaats – snacks like deep fried fritters and flatbread. Then maybe find time for a quiet drink in this teeming metropolis tonight.
End things on a sweet note, with a taste of our favourite treats – sandesh, rosogolla and chanar payesh. There are no activities on the last full day, so take a look around and maybe even stay on a couple of nights to keep up the exploration. Swap Facebook deets with your new travel mates and then it’s over and out after breakfast. Don't forget to check out an Urban Adventure or two if you've got some extra time in Delhi.