Day 1: Australia – – Delhi
Depart Australia today on your flight to Delhi (please note, some flight may depart 1 day before). You will arrive at New Delhi International Airport. Following customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection, a Webjet representative will meet you as you exit the arrivals hall.
India’s capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines in its folds – the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiraling skyscrapers, the remnants of a bygone time, in the form of its many monuments, stand as silent reminders to the region’s ancient legacy. Delhi is a food-lovers haven and has something to please every palate. There is an unlimited variety available across cuisines, across price-brackets and across experiences – from street food of North India to International cuisine and from road-side dhabas to finedining – Delhi has it all.
Day 2: Delhi (B,D)
Today we head out on a full day to explore Delhi. Begin your day with a guided tour of the Old City of ‘Shahjahanabad’. Your introduction to the city will start with a visit to Raj Ghat – the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, drive past the Red Fort—the magical monument in red sandstone built at the pinnacle of the Mughal Empire. From here proceed by bicycle rickshaws through the bustling streets to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan.
Continue on a guided tour of New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. You will visit Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India built to establish the might of Islam and onset of Muslim rule in India and Humayun’s tomb, the first great example of a new distinctive style, which developed to become the hallmark of the Mughal Dynasty. We also drive past the imposing India Gate (War Memorial Arch), the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President’s residence) before returning to the hotel.
Tonight, get to know your fellow travellers with a welcome dinner.
Day 3: Delhi – Mandawa (B)
After breakfast, we drive to Mandawa (approx. 7 hrs drive). In the heart of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan is the beautiful small town of Mandawa, known throughout the state for its forts and havelis. The structures of this place are a reminder of the cultural and social hotspot this place used to be in the bygone era. This afternoon we explore the magnificent Frescoes Havelis. The beautiful havelis, painted predominantly in vibrant colours, have beautiful wall paintings that adorn their walls in this semi-desert region.
Day 4: Mandawa – Bikaner – Gajner (B)
After breakfast, you will be driven to Bikaner (approx. 5hrs drive). On arrival we head out for a sightseeing tour of Bikaner. Lying in the north of the desert state of Rajasthan, the city of Bikaner is dotted with many sand dunes. More popularly called the camel country, the city is renowned for the best riding camels in the world. Bikaner’s forts, palaces and temples are magnificent creations in red and yellow sandstone and are living manifestations of its rich historical and architectural legacy. We visit one of the most interesting forts in Rajasthan, with its sumptuously decorated interiors. Junagarh Fort built in 1588 by Raja Rai Singh it is unusual in the sense that it was one of the few major forts of Rajasthan that was not built on a hilltop. Instead, it was built on the desert plains; its rugged sandstone bastions and graceful pavilions and balconies are silhouetted against the sky. Following Junagarh Fort, we go for a walk around the local bazaars of Bikaner. Before continuing our drive to Gajner for our overnight.
Day 5: Gajner – Jaisalmer (B)
After breakfast we begin our drive to Jaisalmer (approx. 6.5hrs drive).
Rising from the heart of the Thar Desert like a golden mirage is the city of Jaisalmer founded by Rao Jaisal. A commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone stands, with all its awesome splendour, dominating the amber-huedcity. The name Jaisalmer evokes a vivid picture of sheer magic and brilliance of the desert. Famous for the Jaisalmer Fort, sand dunes, and ideal for camel rides and safaris. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 6: Jaisalmer (B)
After breakfast, proceed on a tour of Jaisalmer including a visit to Jaisalmer Fort – built in 1156 the fort stands proudly amidst the golden stretches of the great Thar Desert. Located on the top of the Trikuta Hill, the ramparts, bastions and the long-stretching walls of the fort dazzle gloriously during early morning and at sunset. Continue on to Gadsisar Lake, a rain water lake, adorned with an arched gateway. Many small shrines and temples are festooned all around the lake.
Continue on a visit to some of the most exquisitely carved havelis of Jaisalmer. Built in the 19th Century by wealthy merchants, these havelis (or mansions) are intricately carved in yellow sandstone. The entrances of the havelis are raised high above the street to prevent sand from blowing into rooms; jharokhas (projecting balconies), jails (latticed stone screens) and the inner courtyards, which were protected places for the children to play and women to go about their chores, are some of the characteristic features of these mansions.
Later in the afternoon, drive to the outskirts to view the sunset on the picturesque sand dunes. The ripples on the wind-caressed dunes creating an enchanting mirage are surely a delight. An exciting camel ride on the sandy terrain will allow you to get the real feel of the desert.
Day 7: Jaislamer – Jodhpur (B)
In the morning, you will be driven to the blue city of Jodhpur (approx. 7hrs drive). Jodhpur, also called the ‘Blue City’ located on the edge of the Thar Desert was once the capital of the former princely state of Marwar state founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha and is now the second largest city of Rajasthan. Flanked on its western side by the Mehrangarh Fort, and on the eastern side by the stately sandstone Palace of Umaid Bhawan; the monuments temples and gardens of Jodhpur depict a multi-faceted grandeur.
On arrival, we’ll begin with an in depth tour of Jodhpur starting at the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, one of Rajasthan’s finest forts, looks down protectively over the city, from the hilltop. Still run by the Maharaja of Jodhpur, this 5 km long majestic fort on a 125 metre high hill is one of the most impressive and formidable structures. There are seven gates that lead into the fort. Inside the fort is a series of courtyards and palaces. The palace apartments with marvellously carved panels, latticed windows have evocative names such as Sukh Mahal (Pleasure Palace), Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) and the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). These palaces house a fabulous collection of trappings of Indian royalty including a superb collection of palanquins, elephant howdahs (used when the Maharajas rode their elephants in processions), miniature paintings, musical instruments, costumes and furniture.
Optional Tour: Zipping At Mehrangarh Fort [Not Operational from May to July] During your visit to the Mehrangarh Fort, which has been described by Rudyard Kipling as “the creation of angels, fairies and giants”, enjoy a thrilling experience of zipping on 6 separate zip lines. Catch the breath-taking views of the forbidding ramparts of this fort as you indulge in this aerial adventure of rolling away and hooting in excitement!
We continue to Jaswant Thada, located a short distance from the fort, just off the fort road, is a white marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The cenotaph built in 1899, was followed by the royal crematorium and three other cenotaphs that stand nearby. There are some beautiful marble jali (lattice) work and fine views from the terrace in front of the cenotaphs. The rest of the evening is at leisure.
Day 8: Jodhpur—Udaipur (B)
This morning after breakfast, you will be driven to the ‘City of Lake’ Udaipur (approx. 7hrs drive) en route visit to beautiful Ranakpur Jain Temples.
Deep in the forest, tucked away in a remote and quite valley of the Aravalli Range, some 90 km from Udaipur is Ranakpur. It boasts of some of the most exquisite Jain temples in the country famous for their intricate friezes and sculptures. The main shrine of Adinath, with its 1444 exquisitely carved columns is the largest and most complex Jain temple in the country. Two Jain temples dedicated to Neminath and Parsvanath and a Sun Temple a little distance away are also noteworthy.
Udaipur – the ‘City of Lakes’, is the capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar, one of the oldest surviving dynasties in the world and was established around 1567 A.D. The chequered history of Mewar is showcased in the city of Udaipur, which is akin to an oasis in the desert state of Rajasthan. It is a rich and beguiling tapestry of lakeside palaces, forts, temples, havelis and gardens, reflecting the varied influences of the centuries. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 9: Udaipur (B)
This morning we visit Nagda & Eklinji Temples Nagda, located 23 km from Udaipur has temples dating back to the 6th century, including the famous 11th century Sas-Bahu (mother-in-law-daughter-in-law) twin temples with intricate architecture and carvings and the Adbhutji temple. Both temples are at the edge of a lake and submerged within the lake are several later structures. Following visit, continue to Eklinji, a complex of 108 temples enclosed by high walls dedicated to Lord Shiva – the deity of the Maharanas of Mewar. Located about 22km north of Udaipur, the Shiva temple here was originally built in 734 AD. The walled complex includes an elaborately pillared hall under a large pyramidal roof and features a four-faced Shiva image of black marble. Later this afternoon, we delve further into the ‘city of lakes’ with a visit to the City Palace which stands on a hill on the banks of Lake Pichola, surrounded by crenulated walls. Built in 1567, it is composed of 4 major palaces and several minor palaces that form a single façade. Its main entrance is through a triple arched gate, the Tripolia, built in 1725. The gate leads to a series of courtyards, corridors and gardens.
Optional Tour: Folk Music & Dance at Bagore Ki Haveli This evening, proceed for an interesting dance performance at the 18th-century haveli museum, on the water’s edge near Gangaur Ghat. Built by a former prime minister and has been carefully restored, the upper courtyard here makes an atmospheric setting for fabulous Rajasthani dance performances.
Continue on to Saheliyon-ki-Bari (Garden of the maids of honour), a small ornamental garden which was a popular relaxing spot where royal ladies came for a stroll and hence the name. The garden has many fountains in its four delightful pools, chiselled kiosks and marble elephants.
No trip is complete without a tour of the colourful Spice Market of the Old city. India – the land of spices plays a significant role in the global spices market. No country in the world produces as many kinds of spices as India. The climate of the country is suitable for almost all spices.
Day 10: Udaipur – Jaipur (B)
In the morning, we drive to the pink city of Jaipur (approx. 7hrs drive). Jaipur, one of the most enticing places in India, is nestled between mighty forts and the rugged Aravalli Hills. It is known as ‘the pink city’ as its prominent buildings are washed in this colour. Founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1727, Jaipur is steeped in Rajput history and is characterised by sites such as the City Palace with its astronomical Observatory, Hawa Mahal and the beautiful Amber Fort. Jaipur is a bustling capital city and a business centre with all the trappings of a modern metropolis yet flavoured strongly with an age-old charm that never fails to surprise a traveller.
The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 11: Jaipur (B)
An exciting day awaits you as begin your sightseeing tour with a photo visit at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) – a five-storied wonder with a spectacular pyramidal facade and overhanging windows with latticed screens, domes and spires. Continue your tour as you drive to the ancient capital of Amer to see the fabulous Amber Fort, situated on a ridge just outside Jaipur city, surrounded by fortified battlements. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started the construction of Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenellated walls lattice the surrounding area.
At the foot of the hill you will be taken on the jeep up to the main gate. Tour the chambers and hallways of the palace, famous for the excellence of its design and decoration. Within the complex is Ganesh Pol, an imposing gateway painted with the images of the elephantheaded god, Ganesh. The merging of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles is captured in the Sukh Niwas and Jas Mandir apartments, and the Charbagh garden with its perfectly proportioned landscaping. Pierced screen windows offer views from different vantage points and shimmering mirrors encrust the walls of Sheesh Mahal.
Optional Tour: Elephant Trek followed by Lunch Experience a unique and interesting insight into rural Rajasthan as you drive through the countryside to the starting point of your trek. Beautifully decorated elephants await the arrival of the guests and the safari commences as the elephant and his well-dressed mahout salute the guests. You will be taken through a series of farms and fields and a few quiet villages tucked away in the countryside. Following which, a sumptuous lunch awaits amidst the rustic environs.
This afternoon, enjoy a tour of the Pink City, an “abode of rajahs”. The highlights of the tour include a visit to the City Palace Museum, which has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, and armory of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiseled handles. Many antiques and artifacts belonging to the ruling family are housed here, including a collection of weaponry. It also has an art gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit. Proceed to the aweinspiring Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century. Later, enjoy a rickshaw ride through the narrow bylanes of the colorful bazaars. The rest of the evening it at leisure.
Day 12: Jaipur—Agra (B)
After breakfast, we head to the Mughal city of Agra (approx. 7hrs drive) en-route visiting Akbar’s abandoned capital, Fatehpur Sikri. Located 40 km from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri was built by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1571 in honour of the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti. It was the Mughal capital for 14 years after which it was abandoned due to paucity of water. It is made of red sandstone and combines influences from both Hindu and Mughal architecture. Even to this day, the entrance to the fort is through the road that Akbar built which leads to the Buland Darwaza, a huge 54 metres gateway. Other inspiring monuments in Fatehpur Sikri are the Hiran Minar that Akbar built in memory of his favourite elephant, Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, Birbal’s House and the Diwan-i-Khas.
On arrival in to Agra, we check in to the hotel. This afternoon we explore the Agra (Red) Fort, an outstanding example of Mughal architecture and the seat and stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. Shah Jahan, the Taj’s creator, spent the last years of his life imprisoned at the fort by his son Aurangzeb. It was built in the late 1560`s by their predecessor, Akbar, with later embellishments by Jehangir, his son, and Shah Jahan, his grandson. Tonight, get ready, tomorrow we visit the Taj Mahal!
Day 13: Agra – Delhi (B)
This morning we head out for the big one! The Taj Mahal, for a spectacle not to be missed— a sunrise visit to the legendary Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a masterpiece in marble and one of the world’s most famous landmarks. As the sun rises, a chaste and secretive image of the Taj starts to emerge, casting a very soft light illuminating the contours of this enchanting monument in marble. Referred to as one of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal in Agra is the epitome of tourism in India and is celebrated for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty. There is plenty of time to explore the grounds of the Taj Mahal gardens before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Later you will be driven back to Delhi (approx. 4hrs drive). Upon arrival, proceed for check-in at your hotel.
Please note: For departures between the 1st September 2016—16th March 2017 the Taj Mahal will be a sunset visit on day 12 and the Agra Fort visited the morning of day 13. Both experiences will be identical apart from this change.
Day 14: Delhi – – Australia (B)
After breakfast, the rest of the morning is at leisure. You will be met at your hotel by a Webjet representative and assisted with your transfer to the international airport for your onward flight home.
Day 15: Australia
Arrive home in Australia today.