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17 day tour from £2000
group (no more than 16 people) or private tour
Depart the UK in the evening on a direct overnight flight to Delhi.
Morning arrival and transfer to the period Oberoi Maidens Hotel. The afternoon is spent taking in the bustling city of Old Delhi. Visit the largest mosque in India known as the Jama Masjid and Rajghat, the resting place (Samadhi) of India's favourite son, Mahatma Gandhi.
The days' sightseeing ends with a rickshaw ride through the convergent bazaars of Chandni Chowk, the main trading centre of Old Delhi. Round off the day with your fellow travellers with a complimentary cocktail back at the hotel.
This morning, as we strike out westwards, Delhi's hurried streets slowly give way to Rajasthan's rustic charm. Entering the rural Shekhawati region we visit local Havelis (private mansions), noteworthy for their colourfully frescoed walls. The night is spent at either the Alsisar Mahal or Castle Mandawa, (both befitting of the local atmosphere and culture).
Alsisar, Gajner (Bikaner)
Morning drive towards the desert city of Bikaner where a foray into the impressive Junagarh Fort, with its intricately decorated interior, is arranged. Today's final destination, the small village settlement of Gajner, is located outside the busy city of Bikaner and is the home to the majestic Gajner Palace.
Perched on the banks of a lake this building was once a Maharaja's summer retreat but has now been converted to a heritage hotel and makes for a wonderful spot to unwind after an exciting day.
The day is free to relax by the lake or take an optional jeep safari into the surrounding desert wilderness.
Continuing on our Western course, the desert becomes ever more imposing and the next village more isolated than the last as we slowly approach the lone city of Jaisalmer. The old part of the city is built almost entirely of a yellowish sandstone lending to the settlement being affectionately termed "The Golden City".
We have time this afternoon to visit the Gadisar Tank, once the sole water supply of the city and now a repository of small temples and shrines. Stay at either the Taj Rawal Kot or Fort Rajwada hotels for the night.
Morning visit Jaisalmer Fort, which dominates the local landscape. This impressive structure comprises a maze of alleyways and narrow lanes that lead to various Havelis and Jain temples, all enclosed within the fort.
In the afternoon we head out across the sand dunes of the Great Thar desert and spend the night in a tented camp at Manvar, dining under the stars and unwinding as local folk musicians play out the night.
Jaisalmer, Narlai (Jodhpur)
Turning eastwards, the morning's drive brings us to 'The Blue City' of Jodhpur. Here we stop for a visit of the Meherangarh Fort which has commanding views of the city and is a treasure house of ancient weapons, jewels and traditional costume. Drive on to the village of Narlai for a two night stay at the aptly named Rawla Narlai.
Today is free to explore this authentic Rajasthani village which is dotted with curious temples. There is also the option of a jeep safari or an atmospheric dinner on the edge of the 1100 year old step-well.
Heading south we traverse the Aravalli Hills to Ranakpur, home of an intricately and painstakingly carved Jain Temple complex. With 1444 individually and uniquely carved pillars it makes for an interesting stop.
We continue on to Udaipur where we stay two nights at the former royal hunting lodge of Shikarbadi, set in 250 acres of tranquil countryside.
A full day is set aside to visit the city of Udaipur. Nestled aside various lakes and with an assortment of palaces throughout, Udaipur is arguably the most beautiful city in Rajasthan.
In the morning visit the City Palace, Rajasthan's largest, built entirely of granite and marble, and the ornamental gardens of Sahelion Ki Bari. The afternoon is spent taking in the old city, home to the Jagdish Temple.
A short drive this morning brings us to Deogarh where we stay at the Deogarh Mahal, a converted 17th century fort with excellent views over the village and surrounding landscape. This afternoon is free to relax or explore the area.
After a long drive we arrive at the 'Pink City' of Jaipur. Stay at the Alsisar Haveli, a former royal residence, for 2 nights.
A full days sightseeing tour of the colourful city of Jaipur is organised today. In the morning we enjoy an excursion to the hilltop fort at Amber, with the possibility of reaching on elephant back.
The afternoon is spent exploring the old city, home to the City Palace and its museums, the Hawa Mahal and the Jantar Mantar Observatory.
In the morning we drive to Agra, stopping en-route at the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. Once the capital of Emperor Akbar the city comprises of a complex of monuments and temples built from red sandstone. Arriving in Agra in the late afternoon we stay at the first class Trident Hotel.
The morning is spent admiring one of the world's great monuments, the Taj Mahal. We also have time to visit the Red Fort before driving back to Delhi in the afternoon. The night is spent at the luxurious Leela Kempinski hotel, located a short drive from the international airport.
Our direct return flight leaves around midday and arrives back in London in the early evening.