Tailor-made Tour 10 days from £5495 per person
Places Visited: Delhi, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore National Park, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Keoladeo National Park, Agra
Journey through colourful Rajasthan on India’s original luxury train, the Palace on Wheels. Experience the land from a different perspective whilst travelling in style; be ensconced in gold embossed carriages, waited on by uniformed attendants, surrounded by ornate green and gold ceilings. Browse the library, wine and dine in the restaurant cars which serve Indian and Continental cuisine, rest in a luxury bed chamber…exclusively yours…an unforgettable experience.
Launched in 1982, the Palace on Wheels train has 14 air conditioned coaches, and accommodates up to 104 passengers. There are two dining cars on board, lavishly decorated, serving Rajasthani and Continental cuisine. There is also a bar, on board games, lounge, and shop stocked with local Rajasthani handicrafts.
Fly from the UK to Delhi.
Transfer to the station and board the train at 16:00. Palace on Wheels departs for Jaipur at 18:30.
This morning drive through the colourful bazaars to see the Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds, built for the royal ladies to catch a glimpse of the outside world through delicate screened windows and balconies. Afterwards you will continue on to Amber, 11km outside of the city, to explore the magnificent honey-coloured Fort Palace. After lunch, stop to see the Royal Observatory, or Jantar Mantar as it is known locally, which was built by Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur and a passionate astronomer and builder. Also visit the City Palace complex's collection of rare manuscripts, armoury and costumes as well as vintage cars.
Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore National Park, Chittorgarh
Near the town of Sawai Madhopur, in the state of Rajasthan, Ranthambore National Park is an outstanding example of Project Tiger’s efforts at conservation in the country. The forests around the Ranthambore Fort were once the private grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. As a result of the stringent efforts in conservation, tigers, the prime assets of the Park, have become more and more active during the day. More than in any other park or sanctuary in India, tigers are often spotted here in daylight. Return to the train and depart for Chittorgarh at 10:30. This afternoon you will have time to explore the grand Chittorgarh Fort, the largest in India. Return to the train and depart for Udaipur at 02:00.
Udaipur is the erstwhile capital of the Mewar region, which was once ruled by the Sisodia clan. The city is a fascinating blend of sights, sounds and experiences. Its medley of fairy-tale palaces, temples, gardens and lakes, which are hemmed in by the lush Aravalis hills, resonate its aristocratic past. On your tour of this royal city, visit the Sahelion-ki-bari (Garden of the Maids of Honour) and the Jagdish temple. Also visit the City Palace complex. This architectural marvel towers over the lake and is surrounded by crenellated walls which house a conglomeration of courtyards, pavilions, arched gateways and hanging gardens. The Mor Chowk with its exquisite peacock mosaics in glass is especially noteworthy. You will have lunch at a city hotel before returning to the train.
In the heart of the Thar desert lies the desert citadel of Jaisalmer, known locally as the 'Sonar Kila' or golden fort. This 12th century enclosure built on a ridge of yellow sandstone encompasses Jain and Hindu temples alike with beautiful images of deities in red and black stone as well as white marble. Your half day tour will include a walk through the fort to see the palace museum, the temples and a visit to desert havelis (mansions) which showcase the famous art of the stone carvers of this region. Of these the Patwon ki Haveli is the largest and most elaborate of the havelis of Jaisalmer. At the end, visit Gadisar Lake, which was once an important source of water for the town. Late afternoon drive out of Jaisalmer towards the edge of the sparse Desert National Park. Take a short camel ride to the sweeping sand dunes at Sam and join the many others who come daily to witness the spectacular sunset.
On this morning’s tour of Jodhpur you will drive through the old city's maze of streets and lanes through gates, bastions and towers towards the majestic hill top Mehrangarh Fort that contains one of Rajasthan's best museums. Browse through a fine collection of Rajput miniature paintings, armoury and costume and stop for a commanding view of this blue hued city from one of the ramparts of the fort. A quick stop at the Jaswant Thada, a white marble cenotaph of the royal family, and a walk through the Sardar Bazar, with its Clock Tower of 1912 completes your half day tour of this imperial city that echoes with tales of its glorious past. You will have lunch at a city hotel before returning to the train.
Bharatpur, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Agra
Early morning excursion to this delightful bird sanctuary which is home to over 230 bird species, including the rare Siberian Crane. Return to the train and depart for Agra at 08:45. Your sightseeing tour of Agra, a highlight of any tour to India, visits the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort & Itamud ud Daula. One of the world's great monuments, the Taj Mahal was built in memorial of Mumtaz Mahal, Mughal emperor Shah Jehan's beloved wife. This mausoleum, built entirely of white marble is decorated with elaborate geometric forms and inlay work that showcases plants, flower and fruit motifs. Visit the impressive Diwan-e-Am & Diwan-e-Khas inside the forbidding red sandstone battlements of Agra Fort and later the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, father of Queen Nur Jehan, a two-storied tomb bearing mosaics in inlaid semi-precious stones. Return to the train and depart for Delhi at 23:00.
Arrive Delhi Safderjung Railway Station at 05:30. Check-out starts at 7 a.m. after an early breakfast. Transfer to your hotel for a one night stay in Delhi.
Return flight to the UK.
Tailor-made Tour 10 days from £5495 per person
✓ International flights from London
✓ 14 nights accommodation
✓ All internal transportation and transfers
✓ English-speaking guides
✓ Full board on the train, breakfast in Delhi
✓ Entrance fees to sites and monuments listed in tour itinerary
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