As India's capital, Delhi is a political and business hub, as well as one of the country's major travel gateways. The capital of India is a true reflection of the old and new of India. We start our morning tour with New Delhi and visit the famous India Gate followed by the Houses of Parliament, Connaught Place and the Qutub Minar - a perfect minaret towering 102 meters - 112 yards into the sky. New Delhi is a blend of Mughal India, Hindu India, British India and certainly of modern independent India. Our afternoon concentrates on Old Delhi, starting with the famous Red Fort. Built by Shah Jehan, this was once the most opulent fort of the Mughal Empire. Next we visit another Mughal majesty, the Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, followed by the Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. We end our tour with a bazaar experience at Chandni Chawlk, the street of silver and goldsmiths. Later in the evening we leave for a cultural evening with Indian Traditional dance shows followed by a welcome dinner where you get a chance to interact with the other group members and share your experiences of the day.
We leave our Hotel early in the morning today in time to board the fastest train of India The Shatabdi Express. The train has airlines style seating and breakfast is served on the train. Gwalior- a one time princely state in central India. On arrival in Gwalior we are met and are transferred to our luxury Palace hotel We start our experience of Gwalior with a visit to the Man Mandir built between 1486 and 1517 by the famous Raja Mansingh. Vast chambers with fine stone screens were once the music halls, and behind these screens, the royal ladies would learn music from the great masters of the day. Below, circular dungeons housed the state prisoners of the Mughal. Emperor Aurangzeb had his brother Murad imprisoned here. At Jauhar Pond, in the Rajput tradition, the Ranis (queens) committed mass sati (widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre). At Man Mandir Palace, a poignant ambience of those days of chivalry and heroism still lingers in the silent chambers.
This morning we pass interesting Indian scenery as we drive to Agra. Agra - the city that is home to the most well known wonders of the world - the Taj Mahal. On arrival in Agra, we check in our hotel. Later we visit world famous historic monument Taj Mahal, best described as 'poetry in marble.
A short drive gets us to Fatehpur Sikri, the beautiful capital built in 1640 by the Mughal King, Akbar the Great. The city was later abandoned for lack of water. A superb example of Mughal architecture, it stands perfectly preserved in the desert. We also visit the artistically designed mausoleum of Salim Chisty who is reputed to have prayed for a son for Akbar leading to the birth of Salim Jehangir, the builder of the Taj. From here we continue on a countryside drive to Jaipur, the rose pink capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur, filled with frenetic crowds, Rajasthan's chaotic, dusky - pink capital is a place of wild contrasts, bombarding the senses at every turn. The city owes its name, foundation and careful planning to the great warrior -astronomer Maharaja Jai Singh.
A royal experience awaits us as we take an elephant ride uphill to the intriguing Amber Palace, a distinguished example of 17th Century Rajput architecture. After the tour and enjoying a panoramic view, we check in our Palace hotel called the Rambagh Palace. Later we visit the old astronomical observatory built by the founder of the city, Jai Singh. We also visit the majestic Palace, which houses a rare collection of Indian art, and the colorful bazaar. Jaipur is noted for its craftsmen, skilled in brass inlay, lacquer work and stone setting. Most of the buildings in the old city are made of pink sandstone and one of the most beautiful is Hawa Mahal, Palace of Winds, where the ladies of the royal harem used to watch the city from behind the intricately carved facade. Evening is free to enjoy both shopping and a cultural experience in the bazaars of Jaipur.
After breakfast we leave for Samode. Samode is situated in the royal Indian state of Rajasthan around 60 kms from Jaipur, the capital city. Located on way to Shekhawati, this small village is famous for its haveli and fort. Samode is an ideal desert getaway. On arrival in Samode we check in our The Samode Palace, now a heritage hotel, is built in the characteristic pattern of an open courtyard with rooms leading off the arched corridor that runs along all the four sides of the building. The Sultan Mahal is on the first floor - an exquisite room with a marble pillared verandah. It has the famous Jaipur blue tile decorations. Every inch of the ceiling and the walls are covered with floral, paisley and geometric motifs painted in vegetable colors. It is called Sultan Mahal after the craftsman, who painstakingly created it. Old and heavy carved silver furniture brought from Nepal by the grandmother of the present Rawal gleam dully in sunlight even today. To the left of the main haveli is the Durbar Hall, which was built about a hundred years ago. Again it is painted with ornate floral motifs and colored delicately with vegetable pigments, which still have a special glow of their own. Later in the day we visit the Samode Fort and Samode Bagh as well as explore the near by surroundings.
Today we leave for Bikaner. Bikaner city is bolstered by imposing walls and has a 16th century fort housing old palaces, temples and a mosque. En-route we visit the Deshnok Temple or the Karni Mata Temple is about 40 Kms far from Bikaner. At the temple we pay visit to the Karni Mata, presiding Diety of the Royal House of Bikaner. An interesting feature Rats are the worshipers of Karni Mata in the form of Bards and are present in large numbers with in the precincts of the temple. Later we continue our countryside drive to Bikaner. On arrival in Bikaner, we check in our Palace Hotel The Gajner Palace. This sprawling desert town has a fort with some of the finest interiors in India, and a bustling old walled city encompassing darkred sandstone havelis and exquisitely painted Jain temples. The area is famous for the intricate rich gold painting work by Muslim Usta artisans. Later in the noon we tour Bikaner by visiting the Junagadh Fort, constructed between 1588 and 1593 by Raja Rai Singh-A general in the army of the Mughal emperor, Akbar. The fort is distinguished by its long range of 37 pavilions, a line of balconies and windows of varying designs. An enormous arched doorway leads to the Jaramal Temple. The royal chapel is Har Mandir where royal weddings and births were once celebrated.
After the Bikaner experience we get a different feel of Rajasthan as we drive to Jaisalmer, the ancient capital of the Yadav as in the heart of the Thar Desert. What could have induced Jaisal, a Bhatti prince, to settle right in the heart of a desolate desert, that too in the 12th century? In the narrow, cobbled alleys of Jaisalmer - no wider than a stretched arm - cluster the havelis or the mansions of the rich, with stone carving and latticed work of breathtaking intricacy. On arrival in Jaisalmer we check in our hotel. Later in the evening we take a small excursion to village Sam, which has a cluster of Sand Dunes. These Dunes are large extent of Shifting Sands, the wind heaps the sand into hills or deep hollow scopes vary from Size 3 to 15 Km. We enjoy a camel ride in the evening and enjoy the Sun Set with Changing Colors in the desert.
After breakfast we leave for city tour of Jaisalmer visiting the fort built by Maharawal (Maharaja) Jaisal in 1156 AD- One of the 2nd oldest in Rajasthan situated on triangular Mound 76 meters above ground level. Like a giant sandcastle, the golden fort thrusts skywards out of the surrounding barren landscape. Dubbed the Golden City because of its honey color, it is the place that should exist only in the imagination. For years Jaisalmer remained untouched by the outside influences.
Today we leave for Jodhpur. The blue city, a crazed mass of indigo angles, spreads, along the edge of the Great Thar Desert. Jodhpurs fort, Mehrangarh, towers over the city, perched on a sheer rocky ridge from where the view over the sea of blue buildings in mesmerizing. Traditionally, blue signified the home of a Brahmin, but these days, non-Brahmins have taken on the practice too. Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a chief of the Rajput clan known as the Rathores. On a vital trade route, the city was built on the profits of opium, sandalwood, dates and copper.
Our experience of Jodhpur starts with a visit to Mehrangarh fort, built in 1459 A.D by Rao Jodha, rises steeply from a rocky scrap winds Up to the massive gateway with immense portals and enter through the Gate of victory Jai Pole and Loha Pole Marked with palm prints of Sati (Rajput Ladies immolated themselves on funeral fire of their Husband). Inside the fort there is a series of courtyards and palaces, a deep terracotta latticed network.
Today we leave for lake city Udaipur. No city in Rajasthan is quite as romantic as Udaipur. The City of Dawn, surrounded by the ancient Aravali Mountains and set on the edge of three lakes, is a brilliant kaleidoscope of narrow lanes flanked by bright stalls, gardens, lakes, palaces and temples. Eight marble porticos mark the spot where the Mewar sovereigns were weighed in gold, the equivalent value of which was then distributed to the poor. The most memorable parts of Udaipur are its lake palaces, shimmering like jewels on Lake Pichola. Jag Mandir, the other island palace with a marble dome, is a marvel in red sandstone. It was a refuge for the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan when he was in exile following a quarrel with his father, Emperor Jehangir.
After breakfast we leave for Devigarh, Nestled in the Aravali hills of Rajasthan, the 18th century Devi Garh Fort Palace, in the village of Delwara commands one the three main passes into the valley of Udaipur. Sajja Singh, who hailed from the neighboring state of Gujarat, was awarded this strategically significant principality, in recognition of his bravery and loyalty to Maharana Pratap against the Mughal emperor Akbar, at the battle of Haldighati (1576). The actual construction of the fort palace started only in the 1760s, under Raghudev Singh II, with further additions being made to the structure by the rulers who followed. The palace was absorbed into the state of Rajasthan in the 1960s, and was subsequently abandoned.
After breakfast we leave for Pushkar. The Pulsating beats of vivid images of the Sacred Brahma land, Pushkar brings alive the rich tradition of Rajasthan enhancing the glory of the golden sand. On arrival in Pushkar we check in our hotel. Later we take city tour of Pushkar - Pushkar boasts temples, though few are as ancient as you might expect at such an important pilgrimage site, since many were deserted by Aurangzeb and subsequently rebuilt. The most famous is the Brahma Temple, said to be one of the few temples in the world dedicated to this deity. It's marked by red spire, and over the entrance gateway is the Hans, or goose symbol, of Brahma, who is said to have personally chosen Pushkar as its site. Later we tour Ajmer , situated in the green oasis wrapped in the barren hills has been a witness to an interesting past.
After breakfast we leave for Sariska, in Rajasthan, the erstwhile royal preserve of the rulers of Alwar, became a sanctuary in the year 1958. The sanctuary came under the Project Tiger in 1979 and became a national park in 1982. It is located at Kankwari Fort, near Alwar, on the Delhi - Jaipur Highway. The terrain is predominantly hilly, as it lies in the Aravalli range. It has total area of 788 sq km with a core area of approximately 474 sq km. The beautiful Siliserh Lake runs along the edge of the reserve, with a quaint hunting lodge overlooking it. On arrival in Sariska we check in our Palace hotel called the Sariska Palace. Later we visit the famous Wildlife Sanctuary home to exquisite Tigers. Other carnivores of the area are the panther, jungle cat, jackal and hyena.
After an amazing tour of the Palace of Rajasthan, we drive back to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi, we check in our hotel. Rest of the day is free to relax and to recollect all the memories which you have gathered on the tour.