Experience the magic of Holi Festival with a royal family in Bundi – dance in clouds of coloured smoke and immerse yourself in the music and celebrations!. Explore northern India with the luxury of a local leader on hand to give you all the insider info and ensure that you have a memorable experience of this captivating, but sometimes challenging, country.. Watch the sunset from a rampart on Fort Madhogarh, one of our heritage hotels (and a former royal residence) that will be your accommodation while here.. Keep your adrenaline charged with an evening tiger-spotting safari among the lakes and jungles of one of India’s well-known national parks – Ranthambhore.
We’ve taken our most popular trip to Rajasthan and one of the top-selling trips in our entire range and added a royal celebration of one of the worlds most spectacular festivals. Celebrate the world-renowned Hindu ‘festival of colours’ on an enchanting adventure through the northern state of Rajasthan. Discover the fierce history of massive forts and the opulence and splendour of Maharajahs’ palaces, search for the elusive Bengal tiger in the stunning surrounds of Ranthambhore National Park, watch the blazing Indian sunset over the remote village of Madhogarh from your heritage hotel and get among the colourful festivities in the beautiful town of Bundi. This is truly the essence of Rajasthan – magnified by the magic of Holi.
Breakfast Included: 3 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 2
Namaste! Welcome to India. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, there's plenty to do in this wonderfully chaotic city. Wander the streets, sip on your first chai, or practice haggling in one of the many markets. If you prefer some structure, there's a variety of Urban Adventure day tours that offer a great first taste of Delhi. Find out more at urbandventures.com. After the meeting, head out for your first optional dinner together with your group.
In the morning, navigate the city’s metro system to discover Old Delhi on a walking tour. Hitch a ride on a traditional cycle rickshaw through a typical Indian traffic jam in the streets around the Chandni Chowk marketplace. Visit Delhi’s oldest mosque of Jama Masjid, which is also India’s largest. Escape from the frenetic pace of the city streets by ducking into a Sikh temple, Sheeshganj Gurudwara, to observe the spiritual side of this bustling metropolis. The communal kitchen welcomes all, and there's a chance to have a simple meal here together. The rest of the day is free for you to enjoy the sights of Delhi. Many past travellers have recommended the Delhi Food Walk or Home Cooked Delhi tours with Urban Adventures as a great way to safely (and deliciously!) explore the tastes of India.
Travel to Agra by one of India's express air-conditioned trains (approximately 3 hours). Steeped in Mughal heritage, Agra has a wealth of gardens, temples, and open rooftops. Visit the Taj Mahal and learn why Emperor Shah Jahan built it as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz. Buzz around Agra in a motorised rickshaw and explore inside the spectacular sandstone walls of the Red Fort, built to encompass the imperial city of the Mughal rulers in the 16th century. If you have time, move on to Akbar's Mausoleum to honour the great emperor. For a meal that makes a difference while in Agra, consider visiting Sheroes Hangout, a remarkable social enterprise that supports survivors of acid attacks.
Take a local bus to Bassi, a small town in the middle of rural Rajasthan (approximately 4 hours), then travel by private transport to your accommodation for the night (approximately 45 minutes) in Madhogarh. On a walk through the village, see craftspeople at work and meet some of our local friends. In the evening, stay in the beautiful heritage property of Fort Madhogarh, which has belonged to one of Rajasthan’s royal families for centuries. Dinner is included here tonight.
Travel on by private vehicle to Jaipur (approximately 90 minutes). On arrival, take a walk around the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. Get among the crowds of the city’s bazaars to shop for artisan goods and semi-precious stones. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, visit the Amber Fort, an excellent example of Rajput architecture. 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. After the tour, you'll have further free time to spend as you wish.
Today is a full free day that you can jam-pack with experiences of your choice. This morning, you could take an optional hot air balloon ride. Floating across the skyline of Jaipur in a hot air balloon is a highlight of the trip for many travellers. Jump on a rickshaw to Hawa Mahal, also known as the 'Palace of the Winds’. Alternatively, head to Jaipur's Royal City Palace or the observatory of Jantar Mantar to see a collection of intriguing astronomical instruments. After a long day of exploration, perhaps head to the Raj Mandir Cinema to experience a Bollywood film.
Ranthambhore National Park
Continuing on from Jaipur by private vehicle, head to Ranthambhore (approximately 5 hours). Ranthambhore National Park was once a famous hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur and was one of the original Project Tiger reserves. Explore the ruins of the park’s 10th-century fort, and in the evening take a 4WD safari in search of tigers and other wildlife, such as hyenas, jackals, deer, langurs, marsh crocodiles, wild boars and birds.
Ranthambhore National Park is closed between 1 July and 30 September each year. On trips departing during this time, you'll visit nearby Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary. Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary is located approx. 16km from Ranthambhore and due to its hilly terrain isn't as affected by the monsoon. Tigers also inhabit this area and spottings are more favorable at this time of year as they move here away from flooded areas of Ranthambhore.
Next, travel to Bundi by private vehicle (approximately 4 hours). Navigate Bundi's narrow streets on an insightful walking tour, including wandering through the downtown market where you’ll be given organic colours and sweets, then stop in at Bundi's intriguing and intricate step wells (baori), an architectural marvel and once the source of water for the town. Check out the 16th-century Bundi Palace with its famous murals before checking into your next heritage stay. After lunch, prepare to get messy as you join the heritage property owners – one of the royal families of Bundi – for an incredible celebration of Holi Festival! Immerse yourself in the music and festivities as you gather with your travel companions in the courtyard and paint the air with brightly coloured powders to celebrate the arrival of spring. Hand out sweets and dance in the clouds of coloured smoke as you watch spontaneous rainbow eruptions, burst through the air – creating a magical atmosphere and a truly unforgettable experience.
Take off from Bundi and catch a local train to Bassi. Cross the Chittorgarh countryside to Paangarh Lake. Enjoy the view out to the 15th-century fort and unwind with a cup of chai while watching the sunset over the lake. You'll spend tonight in a beautiful permanent tented camp, right on the lakeshore – a truly relaxing experience away from the chaos of India's cities.
This morning, drive in an open-top jeep out into the countryside past tranquil villages. You might be lucky enough to spot some native wildlife as we drive through the region. Meet some villagers and maybe even get a henna tattoo – a temporary but very traditional souvenir. Arrive at our next heritage stay and enjoy a meal of authentic local specialties.
Depart the heritage stay and begin your next journey by private vehicle which takes you to Udaipur (approximately 4 hours). Take in the city’s hills, lakes, and white marble palaces, or delve into its twisting alleys and bazaars filled with silver, leather goods, and miniature paintings. A popular centre for artists, dancers, and musicians, there’s plenty to entertain you here. After a city walk with your leader, the rest of your day is free.
Visit Udaipur's City Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in India. Some suggestions for your free time after the tour include an optional boat ride on the picturesque Lake Pichola (seasonal) to marvel at the island palaces off Jag Nivas and Jag Mandir and seeing a cultural performance that combines seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances in the evening.