Travel into the Thar Desert on camelback, spending a memorable evening eating Rajasthani food under the stars in a camp set among sand dunes.. Cut through the chaos of Jodhpur’s Sadar Bazaar with your knowledgeable local leader, haggling for handicrafts and sipping some of the best lassi in town.. Snap incredible photos of the immense Chand Baori, a grand ninth-century stepwell in rural Abhaneri that extends over 20 metres into the earth.. Explore the centre of India’s spiritual heart – Varanasi – on a guided walking tour through the alleyways of the Old Town right to the bank of the Ganges.
Embark on a 22-day odyssey through India’s intoxicating north with Lonely Planet, powered by Intrepid. Discover sights, smells and flavours that will blaze their way into your memory and stay there forever. See towering sandstone fortresses, pilgrims praying on riverbanks, Maharajah mementos in a ghostly palace and camels silhouetted on a desert landscape. India can be a daunting place at times, even for experienced travellers, but with the guidance of your local leader you’ll be navigating the crowds, dodging the cows and eating the best chaat from a cart in no time! From the beating heart of Delhi to the holy city of Varanasi – this is north India.
Breakfast Included: 1 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 1
Namaste and welcome to Delhi! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive in Delhi with time to spare before the meeting, consider finding your feet with an Urban Adventure. The Hidden Gems of Delhi tour offers something a little different from the standard itinerary, taking you to sights most tourists never see.
Delhi – Overnight Train
This morning set off by metro to Old Delhi to explore on a walking tour. Experience the chaos of an Indian traffic jam as you inch your way through the streets around Chandni Chowk marketplace in a traditional cycle rickshaw. Visit the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque, then stop by the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the religion. Tonight, transfer to the railway station and board a 19-hour overnight train to Jaisalmer. Local vendors will board the train at various stops to sell snacks, but it’s advised that you bring some of your own food for the journey too.
If there are no delays, you should arrive into Jaisalmer around midday. Pack a small overnight bag, leaving the rest of your luggage at a hotel, then drive by jeep to the Thar Desert. Meet your guides and climb on the back of a camel, then set off through the desert for the 3-hour ride to the camping ground. Your guides will get a campfire going and cook a traditional Rajasthani dinner while you relax and watch the sunset. Spend the night stargazing and sharing stories in this incredible setting.
Rise early to enjoy the sunrise over the sand dunes then eat a simple breakfast. Ride back to the edge of the desert by camel (approximately 90 minutes) and return to the city by private vehicle. On arrival, choose whether to relax or join the group on an optional trip to the Jaisalmer Folklore Museum. This small museum displays a private family collection of printing blocks, musical instruments, religious artefacts and decorations which offer insights into the cultural heritage of Jaisalmer.
Enjoy a free day to explore Jaisalmer. The city’s eponymous fort holds twisting alleys with markets where you can wander for hours. You can also find a series of Jain temples dating from the 15th and 16th centuries within the walls of the fort, and it’s easy to spend a few hours admiring their elaborate carvings. The opulent havelis (traditional Indian mansions) found throughout the city make another fine place to spend some time admiring the desert architecture.
This morning take a private bus to the railway station and then a 6-hour train ride across the desert to the blue city of Jodhpur. Enjoy a guided walk to explore the sights, including a visit to one of the oldest markets in India – the Sadar Bazaar. Here you can haggle over Bollywood soundtracks, bangles, leather shoes and colourful saris, or simply soak up the energy of a typical Indian market. Jodhpur is home to some of the best lassis in India, so make sure you try one while you’re here.
Today you have the option to visit the colossal Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest in India. The fort is still run by the Jodhpur royal family. If you choose to visit, you can explore the palaces, galleries and artillery inside the fortress walls and admire great views over the city. If you’d prefer to see a more down to earth kind of Rajasthani life, it is also possible to spend today touring nearby Bishnoi villages. Spending time in these villages offers a glimpse into rural Rajasthani life and the chance to learn about the rich cultural traditions of the people who live there.
This morning take an auto rickshaw to the bus station and board a local bus for an 8-hour journey to Udaipur. This romantic city is set amid the Aravalli Hills and curls around Lake Pichola, a man-made lake created in the 14th century. On arrival, take a guided walk to get your bearings. Explore twisting alleyways filled with shops and bazaars selling things like silver jewellery, shoes, bags, leather goods and miniature paintings.
Enjoy a free day to explore the sights of Udaipur. Perhaps take a short boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola (seasonal) and see the palaces of Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas rise out of the water and their own reflections. Otherwise, you could tour the lakeside City Palace complex, the largest palace in Rajasthan, where you can check out vivid murals and royal antiques. Alternatively, learn the secrets behind making the perfect Indian thali during a half-day cooking class.
Take another free day in this beautiful city. Maybe you’d like to visit Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace), a 19th-century palace perched on a hill overlooking Lake Pichola. Named after Maharana Sajjan Singh of the Mewar Dynasty, Sajjan Garh offers ridiculously great views of the city below. Or perhaps you’re more inclined to visit the nearby village of Shilpgram, an ethnographic museum and arts hubs where traditional crafts are sold, and artists perform. Your Lonely Planet app will definitely be of use today! This afternoon, meet the group back at your accommodation and head out to enjoy a concert that combines seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances.
Transfer to the station and travel by train for around 7 hours to the city of Ajmer. Hop in a private vehicle for a 45-minute drive to your hotel in Pushkar. One of the India's holiest towns and a market centre for the surrounding villages, Pushkar is a great place to immerse yourself in Hindu traditions. On arrival, head out to explore the town on a walking tour, wandering through the main bazaar along the way. Finish with a walk around Pushkar Lake and past the bustling ghats and temples, observing the devout as they worship at the holy waters.
Today in Pushkar is free for you to do as you please. Early morning risers can choose to hike up the hill to the Savitri Temple for sunrise views over the town. If the chai man is there, enjoy a steaming cup of tea at the top for breakfast. Later in the day, maybe pay a visit to the colourful Brahma Temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu god. If you’ve planned your tour to coincide with the Pushkar Camel Fair (which changes each year), today will mainly be set aside to experience one of India’s most famous festivals.