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India is truly a captivating country to visit, there is possibly no other country on earth that challenges the senses and is so totally addictive; creating memories that truly stand the test of time.
Day 1: Join tour in Delhi; city tour of New Delhi
Arrive in New Delhi, India's bustling capital which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the tall and modern skyscrapers, there are still the remnants of a bygone time with numerous monuments and temples.
For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 12pm for the welcome meeting and to take us on our afternoon city tour which will visit Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India and Humayun's Tomb dating from the Mughal Dynasty. We also drive past the imposing India Gate (war memorial arch), the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President's residence.
Day 2: Old Delhi sightseeing; drive to Agra and visit the Fort
Compared to New Delhi the Old City is much closer to the image conjured up by Rudyard Kipling. Travel by cycle rickshaw to its hub at Chandni Chowk Bazaar, a jamboree of deafening barter and a wonderful introduction to the 'real' India. The major sights nearby are the Jami Masjid Mosque and we pass by the Red Fort on your way out of the city.
Mid morning, head south from New Delhi to Agra, a bus journey of approximately three hours. In the afternoon plan to visit Agra Fort, built by Akbar the Great, which contains the incomparable Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque).
Day 3: Taj Mahal tour, onto Keoladeo Ghana National Park and train to Ranthambore
This morning we aim to visit the Taj Mahal, the world's most perfect and poetic building, at sunrise. Over 300 years have elapsed since its construction, yet it stands today unscarred by age; its beauty and symmetry seemingly beyond man, time and space. Created by Shah Jahan as a funerary monument to his favourite wife, Mumtaz, it took 22 years to build (1630-52). The Great Moghul lies beside his beloved under the white marble dome. Inlaid with precious gems, the building cost a fortune. Later Shah Jahan moved his capital to Delhi before being overthrown by his son, Aurangzeb. After breakfast we will drive to the entrance of Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Formerly a royal duck-shooting reserve and now an ornithologist's paradise, the sanctuary is best visited either at dusk or dawn. Covering 12 square miles, some 7000 acres are under water: the lakes and marshlands offer a safe habitat for large numbers of breeding waterbirds and migrants. More than 300 species have been sighted, among them herons, storks, geese and the huge and rare Siberian crane. We will be taken on a birdwatching tour by cycle rickshaw and we hope to see some of these magnificent birds. This afternoon we will head to the train station to catch our train to Ranthambore (approximately 2 hours).
Day 4: Game drives in Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore is one of the best examples of the country's tiger conservation projects. The best chance of sightings is between September and May. During this period water is scarce and the animals must stay close to the lakes and river. It is little wonder that this was once one of the best hunting areas of the Maharajahs. We include a game drive this morning into the Reserve, in search of the wildlife which, as well as tiger, includes sloth bear, langur, jackal and fox as well as crested hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, jacana, parakeet and white-breasted kingfisher. The park itself is very picturesque with lakes, rivers and forests surrounded by steep cliffs and rocky outcrops. In the afternoon there is another opportunity to do a game drive to get a chance to see more wildlife and views. The vehicles used for game drives are open top jeeps, with 6 seats and ideal for spotting wildlife. Due to regulations aimed at keeping traffic to a minimum in the parks we cannot guarantee exclusive use of the jeeps so you may be sharing with non-Explore customers.
Day 5: Optional game drive before driving to Pachewar
This morning there is chance for an optional game drive before we drive to Pachewar (approximately 4 hours' drive). A small village, Pachewar is famous for cenotaphs, blue pottery kilns, metal toy makers and interesting surroundings. It is a lively place that was once ruled by Khangarot Rajputs. The caretaker of Khandar, Thakur Anoop Singh Khangarot, had captured the fort of Ranthambore from the captivity of Marathas and annexed the fort to the state of Jaipur.
The pace of the trip slows as we stay two nights at a family run heritage hotel, Pachewar Garh. This fort with its huge ramparts, turrets and gates, was built about 300 years ago and bears testimony to its rich heritage. After checking in, the rest of the afternoon is free to explore the village and sample first hand traditional rural life, you may even see villagers partaking in a game of cricket! This evening there is a puppet show at the hotel.
Day 6: Full day in Pachewar, rural Rajasthan. Village walk, cooking lesson and farm visit.
This morning head out exploring the village on foot, visiting the local temple and a village home where we have a cooking demonstration showcasing traditional Rajasthan cuisine.
Later in the afternoon head to a farm giving us a great opportunity to meet local families and see more of rural life in India, this is India's most colourful regions, it's not uncommon to witness sari-clad women carrying terracotta pots of water. There is ample time to relax at our heritage fort hotel, for an added bit of fun the hotel provides traditional Indian costumes to wear at dinner.
Day 7: Drive to Jaipur, afternoon tour of the Pink City.
After breakfast we drive to Jaipur taking about three hours, there is always something new or different to see along the roadside in rural India.
Sometimes called the Pink City, Jaipur was first painted terracotta pink by Maharajah Sawai Ram Singh to celebrate the visit of Prince Albert in 1853. This afternoon we will take a city tour with our Explore tour leader. We will visit the lavish and well preserved City Palace with its fine collection of textiles, costumes and armoury and the Palace of the Winds, a 5-storied façade (built about 1760) which has been the subject of countless Indian posters. Jai Singh, the great Maharaja astronomer, built his extraordinary (and very accurate) stargazing Observatory here. The Old City has several fine gates let into the pink walls, and there are many opportunities for photos and shopping.
Day 8: Full day in Jaipur. Visit the Amber Palace and Fortress.
Today, we drive the short distance to the foot of Amber Palace and drive up to the gateway. This impressive hilltop fortress possesses what must be the world's finest Chamber of Mirrors and also affords glorious views of the surrounding plains. We will visit the palace after which we will return to Jaipur. Sometimes called the Pink City, Jaipur's palaces and fortified walls were first painted terracotta pink by Maharajah Swai Ram Singh to celebrate the visit of Prince Albert in 1853.
This afternoon has been left free to explore more of Jaipur in your own time. You may choose to visit one of the famous bazaars which are bursting with delights, from marble statues to antique textiles; traditional print blocks to local musical instruments.
Day 9: Return to Delhi stopping at Samode Palace outside Jaipur for camel cart ride and tour
After a leisurely breakfast bid farewell to Jaipur, driving back to Delhi. An hour north east of Jaipur we make a stop at Samode Palace in the Aravalli hills. Blending elements of Mughal traditional architecture, this 475 year old former royal residence is a treasure trove awaiting to be explored with twisting narrow stone staircases, lavish mosaics, fountains and hidden courtyards.
We have a tour of the grounds on a camel cart and have lunch (included) at the palace before continuing our journey by bus to the modern Gurugram district of New Delhi, next to the airport; arriving early evening.
Day 10: Trip ends in New Delhi
Included meals: 9 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch and 3 Dinners
Award-winning Explore leaders
Local guides and drivers
- Ranthambore National Park - Take two game drives in search of tigers, monkeys and sloth bears (park closed in the summer months, visit an old Maharajah's house instead)
- Agra - Visit the incredible Taj Mahal at sunrise
- Bharatpur National Park - Spot birdlife from a cycle rickshaw
- Pachewar - Discovering a typical rural village
- Jaipur - Explore the Amber Fort and use the Observatory's giant sun dial to check the time
- Pushkar - Ride camels and climb up to Savitri Temple for sunset
- Delhi - Explore the wide streets of New Delhi and the winding market lanes of Old Delhi
Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don't include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment's notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.
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