Tailor-made Tour 14 days from £2450 per person
Places Visited: Delhi, Jama Masjid, Agra, Jaipur, Deogarh, Udaipur
Experience the splendour of India’s Golden Triangle – including the Taj Mahal, ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur and Udaipur, location of the recent Best Marigold Hotel movies – on this carefully crafted 14-day tour. The balance between town and country has been designed to yield a broader sense of the region than you gain following standard circuits of Rajasthan.
The trip begins with the historic highlights of the Indian capital, Delhi, where the Jama Masjid mosque and Red Fort are just two of the astounding landmarks surviving from the era of the Mughals. From Delhi, we travel by train down to Agra and the Taj, then on Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, to visit chimeric Amber Fort, City Palace and famous bazaars.
After a week spent exploring cities, you’ll be glad of a break in the tranquil rural landscape of Deogarh, where we recently found a wonderful new boutique hotel. Set amid palms and lawns on the shores of a small lake, the property makes a perfect springboard for visit to villages, remote shrines, crafts workshop and temples, and is run with great warmth by its young, royal hosts. To finish the tour in high style, you’ll spend 4 nights in Udaipur, basing yourself at a suave hilltop hotel with a magnificent view.
Depart London Heathrow on a direct, overnight service to Delhi.
On arrival, you’ll be transferred by chauffeur-driven car to a homely, comfortable B&B in the southern suburbs of the capital. Two old favourites of ours are the Aashiyan Guest House and Shanti Home, both of which offer high standards of comfort and hospitality. The rooms are decorated with earthy, block-printed Indian cottons and are en-suite.
Spend your first full day in India experiencing the highlights of New and Old Delhi, from the majestic Red Fort and Jama Masjid mosque of the Mughals to the Imperial pomp of the British Raj around India Gate. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to shop for souvenirs and sample traditional Mughlai curries. In the evening, savour the transformative effect of the setting sun on the sandstone and marble of Humayun’s Tomb, before dining in the medieval enclave of Haus Khas.
Transfer to the railway station in the morning and board the Taj Express for the three-hour trip to Agra. You’ll be met on arrival and transferred to Sheraton Four Points, one of the city’s most luxurious five stars. Its rooms are spacious and beautifully furnished; those on the upper floors have uninterrupted views of the Taj. In the evening, get ready for your first close-up view of the ethereal tomb itself – an experience you’ll never forget. Live Hindustani Classical music accompanies supper back at the Sheraton.
Today you’ll travel by road to Jaipur, pausing en route to see the impressive sandstone palace complex erected in the 16th century by the Mughal Emperor Akbar at Fatehpur Sikri, outside Agra. Ranged around a series of interlocking courtyards, the buildings are embellished with sumptuous carving and pierced-stone screen windows, and include pillared audience halls and more intimate chambers where the emperor would have entertained his courtesans. Your hotel for three nights in Jaipur will be the delightful Royal Heritage Haveli, a 17th century palace now run as boutique hotel.
The crowning glory of Rajput fortress-palaces, Amber, crows a craggy hill on the outskirts of Jaipur. We recommend an early start to catch the ochre ramparts at their most exotic, while bathed in soft morning sunlight. Painted elephants are on hand for the short climb should you feel like approaching the monument in regal Rajput style. Afterwards, explore the incomparable architecture of Jai Singh’s City Palace, including the iconic ‘Palace of Winds’, before returning to the Royal Heritage Haveli for a candle-lit supper on your veranda.
Explore the bazaars of Jaipur, famed for their traditional Rajasthani textiles, gemstones, silver jewellery and camel-leather slippers. Alternatively, head to the outskirts to visit the Monkey Temple at Galta. A culinary highlight not to be missed afterwards is a cooling lassi from the famous Lassiwalla stall on MG Road.
After checking out in the morning, you’ll drive for 4 hours through idyllic Rajasthani countryside to Deogarh, whose royal owners recently inaugurated a splendid new boutique hotel on their estate. Join hosts Bhavna and Shatrunjai around the table of Dev Shree for a sumptuous supper and fascinating after-dinner conversation. The rooms are huge and opulently furnished.
Enjoy lakeside ambles, village visits and wildlife safaris around the estate, which is set amid some of the most bucolic scenery in northern India. A pretty patchwork of pastel-painted, cuboid houses and markets, Deogarh itself will give you a memorable insight into life in small-town India.
In the morning, you’ll drive for 2 or 3 hours to reach Udaipur, capital of the Sisodia Dynasty, whose palace rises in dramatic fashion from the eastern shore of Lake Pichola – a spectacle quite unlike any other in India. Your hotel for 3 nights will be Fatehgarh – a gorgeous boutique property perched on a hilltop to the south of the city. Fusing traditional and modern architecture, its white marble and stucco buildings form a dreamy backdrop for gazing at the views of the distant lake, city and surrounding hills. And the pool is out of this world!
After a relaxed al fresco breakfast, you’ll be driven into the city for a tour of Udaipur’s palace, followed by a stroll around the old quarter, with its alleyways lined by distinctive murals and pretty jarokha balconies. Pause for lunch at a rooftop restaurant with a view over the water, then head across town to the markets, winding up the afternoon with a sunset boat ride on Lake Pichola.
Your second day in Udaipur is free for leisurely sightseeing. You could venture out to the beautiful Monsoon Palace, crowning a hilltop in the nearby Aravalli Mountains, or stay in town to shop for souvenirs – miniature Rajput paintings are an Udaipur speciality.
Soak up the sunshine and views from the terrace of Fatehgarh before embarking on the journey home, which starts with a short transfer to the airport in the afternoon and your onward flight to Delhi. On arrival, you’ll be transferred to the Holiday Inn, a stone’s throw from the airport terminals.
Transfer to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport for your return flight to the UK.
Tailor-made Tour 14 days from £2450 per person
✓ International flights from London
✓ 12 nights accommodation
✓ All internal transportation and transfers
✓ English-speaking guides
✓ Breakfast daily
✓ Entrance fees to sites and monuments listed in tour itinerary
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