Discover the rich history and architecture of the impressive forts scattered across the province, from Jaipur’s Amber Fort and Royal City Palace to Agra’s Red Fort and iconic Taj Mahal.. The chance to get closer to India’s exotic wildlife, and perhaps catch more than a glimpse of its elusive animal king, the magnificent tiger, in Ranthambhore National Park. Experience the diversity of Indian cuisine during dinner with a Rajput family in Bundi and a Brahmin family in Jaipur, a street food tour in Agra and a spectacular meal in the sand dunes of Pushkar, accompanied by a traditional dance performance.. Your feature stay hotel in Jaipur has been delighting visitors since its opening in 1928, offering up elegant decor, traditional touches and world-class service.
From magnificent forts to wild forests and energetic cities, Rajasthan has plenty to entice those in search of an adventure. This 14-day Premium journey through the north of India reveals the region’s best culture, landscapes and cuisine with the guidance of an experienced local leader. The fabled cities of Agra, Udaipur and Jaipur will impress with their grandeur, while Mumbai and Delhi provide a true snapshot of modern life. Search for tigers in Ranthambhore National Park, dine beneath the stars among the sand dunes of Pushkar and learn about life in Rajasthan in the homes of local families.
Namaste! Welcome to India. Your adventure begins in Mumbai, where you will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel. Here you will meet your fellow travellers and local leader for a 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive with time to spare, India’s most populated city truly has it all. You may like to check out the Bollywood Walk of Fame, or perhaps head out to a Parsi cafe, a symbol of Mumbai’s cultural diversity. Mumbai’s culinary scene is also deliciously diverse, and after your welcome meeting you will head out with your leader and small group for your first taste. Dine at a wonderful restaurant specialising in Mangalorean seafood and celebrate the beginning of a new adventure.
Today you will get to know Mumbai on a guided city tour. Start out at Dhobi Ghat, the world’s largest outdoor laundry. Here you’ll enjoy a snapshot of life in the city that most visitors don't see, as locals work and children play beneath colourful rows of drying clothes. Continue to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to admire its stunning Victorian Gothic architecture, then visit the Prince of Wales Museum. With an exquisite exterior showcasing Indian, Mughal and British architectural styles, the museum is home to some 50,000 artefacts that tell the story of India. Stop by the sprawling Crawford market; built in 1869 and selling everything from fruit to jewellery, this is one of the city’s most popular shopping spots. After your tour, the rest of the afternoon is free for your own discoveries. Your leader will be happy to share some tips on great places to grab a local dinner.
Enjoy a morning at leisure then board a midday flight bound for Udaipur. Also known as the “City of Lakes”, Udaipur’s delightful historic buildings are contrasted with beautiful surroundings. On arrival, settle in to your hotel then join your leader for an orientation walk to get a feel for Rajasthan’s most romantic city. In the early evening, enjoy a boat ride on the peaceful Lake Pichola, offering a different perspective of Udaipur’s heritage buildings and rolling hills. Stop off at Jag Mandir – built by Maharana Karan Singh II in 1620, this ornately decorated palace sits in the middle of the lake. Finish the day with dinner at a lakeside restaurant, from where you can watch the surrounding landscape turn brilliant shades of gold as the sun goes down.
Start the day with a tour of the City Palace. Built by Maharana Udai Singh II, the founder of Udaipur, this marvellous building overlooks Lake Pichola and is Rajasthan’s largest palace. Explore its elegant interior as your local guide shares information on its history and architecture. Enjoy a free afternoon to discover more of Udaipur. You may like to explore the charming, narrow lanes of the old town, or sit back and relax on the shores of the lake. In the evening, see a different side of Indian culture as you head to a haveli (a traditional Indian mansion) for a dance performance. Sit in the haveli’s gorgeous courtyard and watch performers in typical Rajasthani folk costumes perform traditional Indian dances.
In the morning you will drive to Bundi, a small town founded in the 12th century. Famous as the place that inspired Rudyard Kipling to write his novel, ‘Kim’, Bundi today is known for its series of step wells (baoris), old houses, and the remarkable Taragarh Fort. The view from the highway as you enter the town is unforgettable. On arrival, head out on an orientation walk with your leader and wander narrow streets packed with blue Brahmin houses, bazaars, temples and shops, and mingle with locals in the downtown market. Visit the ancient and ornately carved baoris, which once provided water to the city, and learn about Rudyard Kipling's place in the town's history. This evening’s dinner will be one to remember as you will dine with a local Rajput family in Bundi. The family will welcome you into their home, prepare a traditional home cooked meal and share stories and photographs of their lives and their ancestors.
This morning, explore the expansive 17th-century Bundi Palace, built during the reign of Rao Raja Ratan Ji Heruled and which looms large over the town. The palace, described by Kipling as ‘the work of goblins rather than of men’, provides sweeping views across Bundi. Your leader will show you the stunning turquoise and gold murals inside the palace. Then it’s time to depart Bundi and make the drive to Pushkar, arriving in the late afternoon. Home to more than 500 temples, Pushkar is one of India’s holiest cities. Head out on an orientation walk with your leader to get acquainted with the city’s colourful streets, religious sites and centrepiece lake.
You may like to start the day with an optional visit to the Savitri Temple – set on a hill overlooking the city, this popular pilgrimage site is an incredible place to watch the sunrise. Later on, join your leader on a walking tour of Pushkar. Visit the ghats and religious temples that fringe Pushkar lake and observe the devout worshiping by the holy waters and at the Brahma Temple. The afternoon is free for your own discoveries, then you will regroup with your fellow travellers and leader in the evening for a special dinner experience. Head to Pushkar’s nearby sand dunes, first stopping off for tea or coffee while watching the sun set over the vast landscape. Continue to a different dune where you will enjoy a traditional Rajasthani dinner while watching dancers from the local community perform the traditional Kalbelia style of dance – an experience that will completely immerse you in the culture of the region.
Depart Pushkar this morning and drive to Jaipur. The capital of Rajasthan is known as the 'Pink City' due to the vibrant colour of its buildings. Arrive at your feature stay accommodation, the fabulous Hotel Narain Niwas Palace. This beautiful heritage hotel has been run by the same family since its opening in 1928 and retains the warm feel of a traditional family home, while opulent touches emanate from every corner – look out for delectable chandeliers, stained glass windows and peacocks roaming the grounds. Surrounded by a glittering swimming pool and lush gardens, you’ll enjoy a magical escape from the rush and racket of the outside world. Settle in to your hotel on arrival then join your leader on a walking tour of the city. Explore buzzing bazaars filled with handcrafted textiles, folk art, and the local speciality of semi-precious stones, and stroll streets teeming with camel carts, rickshaws, trucks and bicycles. If your walking tour works up an appetite, you’re in for a real treat this evening. Visit the home of a local Brahmin family for a wonderful meal and to learn about their culture and way of life. The use of onion and garlic is prohibited in Brahmin cooking, but your friendly hosts will be happy to explain how they make their food so delicious. After dinner, return to your feature stay accommodation.
Begin the day with a visit to the extravagant Amber Fort – the jewel of Jaipur. It is quite a sight, with its soft shades of red, sandstone and white marble with elaborate Hindu-style flourishes. Your local guide will share the stories of a fallen empire as you explore ornate rooms, lavish murals, frescoed arches and delicate jali work. Afterwards, stop at one of India's most photographed buildings, the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds', to capture your own photo. Then pay a visit to the striking City Palace, a marvellous blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. Tour the grounds and learn about its construction by the founder of Jaipur. Later in the afternoon, hop on a rickshaw and travel to a royal haveli. Haveli’s are old mansions which were ornately decorated as a display of wealth, many of which remain across the city today. Here you will meet the owner of the haveli who will give you a tour of the property and share fascinating photographs and stories of his ancestors who once ruled the nearby provinces. Head to the rooftop for drinks and take in sweeping views of Jaipur’s old walled city.
Ranthambhore National Park
This morning you will say goodbye to Jaipur and make the journey to Ranthambore. Ranthambhore’s treasured national park is one of the best places in the world to spot tigers, and also plays host to ancient temples, mosques and a vast array of wildlife. On arrival, you may like to take a stroll around town or put your feet up and relax beside the pool in anticipation of an exciting day of wildlife spotting tomorrow.
Ranthambhore National Park
Rise early for a morning safari. Ranthambore National Park is one of the original Project Tiger reserves – a place where nature has reclaimed ancient fortresses and temples and is teeming with wildlife. In four-wheel drive safari vehicles, take game drives to search for animals, including the majestic tiger which stalks through the jungle. Even if they are too stealthy to see, the park is filled with other animals like gazelle, hyenas, sloth bears, crocodiles, jackals, three types of antelope (nilgai, sambar and chital) and leopards to watch out for. Enjoy some downtime at the resort in the afternoon, then venture back out for an evening safari through the park – another chance to spot some of this region’s resident tiger population. You may also have the opportunity to explore the 1000-year-old Ranthambore Fort, where two pavilions that have survived the ravages of war and time, Badal Mahal and Hammirs Court, give an idea of its old grandeur.
Today, make the drive to the fabled city of Agra. Once arrived, take some time to settle in to your hotel then head out at sunset to visit India's most iconic structure – the spectacular Taj Mahal. Best known as a monument to love and loss, the 17th-century Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his second wife and is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture, surrounded by trimmed English gardens. Meet with an expert Taj Mahal guide who will illuminate the fascinating history of this world-famous building as you tour it at sunset. Beyond its most famous structure, Agra also boasts a marvellous food scene. This evening, a foodie expert will join you on a street food tour away from the main tourist trail and help you understand Agra’s cuisine and culture. Stop by a 19th-century shop serving up age-old recipes from the Braj region of India, and visit hyperlocal eateries most visitors to Agra never see.