Tailor-made Tour 10 days from £6195 per person
Places Visited: Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra & Delhi
With its opulent cabins and exceptionally well designed itineraries, the Maharajas’ Express is the gold-standard among India’s luxury trains, and this route is one of our all-time favourites. Starting in Mumbai and ending in Delhi, it crosses Rajasthan via the same ‘Golden Triangle’ itinerary as former newscaster, Trevor MacDonald, followed for his ITV travel documentary in 2019.
In addition to the Taj Mahal, highlights covered in this 10-day trip include the lakeside city of Udaipur, the ‘Blue City’ of Jodhpur and ‘Pink City’, Jaipur. You also get to visit the famous tiger reserve at Ranthambore and, of course, the great Mughal monuments of the Indian capital.
The train itself is truly the stuff of dreams. Nearly half-a-mile long with 23 glittering carriages and 40 spacious cabins and suites, it was designed to re-create the feel of the colonial era, when India’s princely rulers used to travel around the country in their own specially crafted locomotives, complete with retinues of liveried servants and gourmet dining cars.
We’ve been devising trips based on this Maharajas’ Express route since its launch just under a decade ago, and our clients have always returned thrilled by the variety of sights covered and fabulous experience of travelling on India’s most luxurious train. Watching the bucolic sights of rural Rajasthan glide past your window as you sip a gin and tonic really is an experience hard to top!
Fly overnight from the UK to Mumbai.
On arrival in Mumbai, you’ll be met by your TransIndus representative before being transferred by air-conditioned, chauffeur-driven car to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day recovering from your journey. In the evening, your guide will escort you to a welcome meal at a local restaurant, and lead you on a stroll around the Gateway of India in the harbour area should you wish.
Registration for the Maharajas’ Express takes place at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba, directly opposite the Gateway of India, from where you’ll be transferred to Chathrapti Shivaji Station (formerly ‘Victoria Terminus’) ahead of the 11.30 departure for Udaipur. Lunch and dinner will be on board.
Today is the only day of the trip spent entirely on the train (the rest of the journeys take place overnight), which provides a very relaxed introduction to India! As you proceed northwards, the densely populated heart of downtown Mumbai gives way to modern suburbs and, eventually, a patchwork of rice fields, market towns and slow-flowing rivers, framed by the shadowy profiles of the Western Ghat mountains inland. The nearby coast was where some of the very first Portuguese and British trading posts were located in the 16th century. After passing through the capital of Ahmedabad in the evening, you’ll travel onwards through the night to Udaipur.
Breakfast will be served on board ahead of a 10am arrival in Udaipur. You’ll begin your sightseeing with a boat tour on Lake Pichola followed by a tour of the resplendent City Palace. Spend the afternoon relaxing at a spa or exploring the city’s bazaars, before a gala supper at one of the lakeside palaces. Your train will depart on its overnight journey to Jodhpur at 10pm sharp.
The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, once spent a dreamy sojourn in one of the summer palaces in Udaipur and it is said he was so taken with the beauty of the architecture that he used it as a blueprint for the Taj Mahal. Spread around the shores of shimmering Lake Pichola, the city remains an undeniably romantic spectacle, its ghats (sacred steps), whitewashed havelis and temple towers overlooked by the pale-ochre walls and domes of the exquisite City Palace.
Aside from the views over the water, the highlight for most are the palace interiors, where treasures from the royal collection are displayed amid a backdrop of ornate Rajput murals, mirrorwork and mosaics.
The fifth day of your tour focusses on the city of Jodhpur, which is famous for its blue-painted old quarter and spectacular Mehrangarh Fort. You’ll have ample time to explore both before cocktails and dinner at a genuine Rajput palace.
Mehrangarh Fort rises from the top of a sheer-sided escarpment overlooking one of the greatest spectacles in Asia: the blue-painted patchwork of rooftops and courtyards comprising Jodhpur’s old city. After a guided tour of the fort’s royal apartments and museum, you’ll be led on foot (or by auto-rickshaw if you prefer!) around the fascinating main bazaar area. Supper will be either in the garden palace of Khaas Bagh or on the foot of Hanwant Mahal, a splendid sandstone mansion on the outskirts whose rooftop dining terrace affords spectacular views of Umaid Bhawan – the Maharaja of Jodhpur’s vast palace complex, built as a famine relief project in the 1930s.
The Great Indian Desert, or ‘Thar’, dominates day six of your tour as you travel from Jodhpur to Bikaner, in western Rajasthan. After lunch on board the Maharajas’ Express, explore beautiful Junagarh Fort in the company of your guides, followed by cocktails, supper and a performance of traditional Rajasthani folk music and dance in the dunes outside the city.
Filled with richly carved sandstone pavilions, palaces and assembly halls, Junagarh forms the nucleus of a fascinating old city dating from the heyday of the caravan trade across the Thar. In the evening you’ll have a short taste of life in the desert when the tour pitches up at a patch of picturesque sand dunes outside Bikaner for a lamp-lit Rajasthani supper, accompanied by traditional music and dance from the region.
Today the Maharajas’ Express arrives in the Rajasthani capital, Jaipur, for a whistlestop tour of the Pink City’s highlights, beginning with a visit to the greatest and most flamboyant of all the region’s fortress-palaces, Amber.
Perched on the rim of a dramatic cliff, Amber Fort retains some of the finest interiors surviving from the 16th and 17th centuries in India, notably a glittering ‘Hall of Mirrors’, or ‘Sheesh Mahal’, where the Maharaja and his consorts would enjoy music and poetry recitals. Jaipur itself is a swirl of life and colour, and its numerous monuments and markets provide the focus for the rest of the day. You’ll begin your afternoon’s tour at the famous City Palace complex, which includes the much photographed ‘Hawa Mahal’, or ‘Palace of Winds’, a five-storey façade of elaborately screened windows from where the women of the royal household used to watch processions in the streets below.
A varied day’s sightseeing awaits as you travel southeast from Jaipur into the hilly, forested border region around Ranthambore, a former royal hunting reserve turned national park and tiger sanctuary. From there, the train will continue towards Agra, pausing en route to visit the magnificent remains of the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s deserted city, Fatehpur Sikri.
Ranthambore nestles at the foot of a dramatic hill crowned by a ruined fortress, like a scene from Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’. Expanses of grassland, marsh, lakes and mixed deciduous forest enfold the rocky plateau – perfect terrain for tiger and the herds of sambar deer and other animals they prey on. Just over 60 big cats currently prowl the park and your chances of a sighting are very good. Apart from tigers, Ranthambore also supports thriving populations of leopard, sambar and chital deer, nilgai (black buck), bears, crocodiles, and two species of monkey. Safaris are conducted in open-topped Jeeps.
Fatehpur Sikri, which you’ll reach after lunch, was built at lavish expense at the end of the 16th century but only occupied for sixteen years. The finely carved, dark-red sandstone buildings vividly evoke the opulence of the Mughal era. Among many highlights are the Diwan-i-Khas audience hall, with its richly carved throne pillar, the beautiful Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti (a revered Sufi mystic) and Buland Darwaza gateway.
Fittingly, the final day of the tour features the greatest of all India’s monuments, the Taj Mahal, which you’ll visit on arrival in Agra in the morning. Having seen the tomb at first light, the group will be treated to a champagne breakfast in the grounds of a luxury hotel in the city. The onward journey to Delhi takes around four hours, arriving back in the capital around mid-afternoon for hotel check-in and your final night in India.
Although you will have seen countless photographs of it, nothing can fully prepare you for the jaw-dropping grandeur of the Taj Mahal, which looks at its most ethereal early in the morning. Savour the effect of the soft, saffron-coloured sunlight on the marble surfaces, which will be shining brightly by the time you depart to re-join the train for the final leg of your journey back to Delhi.
Return flight to the UK.
Tailor-made Tour 10 days from £6195 per person
✓ 6 nights’ luxury accommodation aboard the Maharajas’, one night at a five-star hotel in Mumbai and one night at a five-star hotel in Delhi
✓ All internal transportation and transfers
✓ Expert English-speaking guides throughout
✓ Entrance fees to sites and monuments featured
✓ Meal Plan: Full Board A La Carte service
✓ International flights
Places and Experiences in this tour
Delhi, India’s capital, is home to an estimated 20 million people. A compelling hotch-potch of ancient and modern, it holds the vestiges of at least seven great urban centres: Afg...
The city of Agra makes up one-third of India's 'golden triangle', along with Delhi and Jaipur, three of northern India's most popular destinations for tourists. Agra’s heart-stop...
The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, has a markedly different feel from the other two corners of the ‘Golden Triangle’. The traffic is no less intense, but the architecture of its wa...
Rajasthan’s fourth city, Bikaner, rises from the eastern fringes of the Thar Desert, its medieval core encircled by rich pink sandstone ramparts. A crop of ancient Jain shrines an...
Capital of the former Kingdom of Marwar, Jodhpur owes its prominence to the trade route that once passed its gates, connecting the ports of Gujarat with the cities of the northern...
Udaipur, India’s most romantic city, is spread around the shores of shimmering Lake Pichola. Tiers of ghats (sacred steps), whitewashed havelis and temple towers line the shore, o...
Mumbai has been India’s busiest port and industrial centre since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1969. As famous today for its traffic jams as its record-breaking movie industry,...
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