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India Holidays Golden Triangle Rajasthan Taj Mahal Jaipur Delhi Tigers

Highlights of Rajasthan, including Taj Mahal & Tigers


IPE12D
14 NIGHTS
FROM £2,295
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Explore the Golden Triangle & highlights of historic Rajasthan in northern India. See that great symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, and enjoy jeep safaris in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Then head west to the pink city of Jaipur, Jodhpur in the Thar desert & the beautiful lake city of Udiapur. English speaking city guides, private driver, jeep safaris & specified excursions included.
Holiday India Rajasthan Jaipur Udiapur Taj Mahal Tiger Safari
• 
Delhi
• 
Agra
• 
Taj Mahal
• 
Fatehpur Sikri
• 
Ranthambore National Park
• 
Tigers
• 
Jaipur
• 
Jodhpur
• 
Thar Desert
• 
Udaipur
• 
Delhi
• 
Agra
• 
Taj Mahal
• 
Fatehpur Sikri
• 
Ranthambore National Park
• 
Tigers
• 
Jaipur
• 
Jodhpur
• 
Thar Desert
• 
Udaipur
Day 1
You will be met at Delhi Airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel in this ancient capital of kingdoms and empires that is now a sprawling metropolis.
 
Delhi's strategic location was one of the main reasons why successive dynasties chose it as their seat of power and today it is a conglomerate of seven cities. The division between the old walled city and New Delhi marks a division in lifestyles, with the old city retaining its past traditions whilst New Delhi strives to match the pace of the 21st century.
Day 2
Today enjoy a full day tour of modern New Delhi and the 17th century walled city of Old Delhi, which came to prominence when Shah Jahan moved his capital here from Agra.
 
In Old Delhi enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through 300-year old Chandni Chowk market, a maze of lanes crowded with noisy shops selling an extraordinary variety of items and foods, and past the Jamia Masjid (or Friday Mosque), the largest in India, and drive past the imposing walls & battlements of the Red Fort, once the most opulent palace in the Mughal Empire. We continue to the Raj Ghat - the simple but moving memorial on the site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
 
In the afternoon our tour of New Delhi starts with a visit the Qutub Minar, an ancient victory tower built of red sandstone and marble in 1199 and still the tallest minaret in India. With its imposing cylindrical towers and surrounding ruins, it is today a World Heritage site. Our next stop is Humayuns Tomb, the beautiful mausoleum of the Mughul emperor Akbar, that inspired the Taj Mahal.
 
We drive along the Rajpath - the capital's broadest avenue - where you will see the imposing arch of the India Gate war memorial, Parliament House, the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential residence built for the Viceroy of India, and the government buildings on Raisina Hill.
Day 3
This morning we drive 3.5-hours from Delhi to the ancient city of Agra, set along the banks of the Yamuna River and originally the capital of the Mughal Empire.
 
Agra is world renowned as the home of the Taj Mahal - that great symbol of love built by emperor Shah Jahan in the 16th century as a memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal.
 
On arrival enjoy a 2-hour visit to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, which provides sanctuary to over 200 orphaned and distressed sloth bears, including many rescued dancing bears (tours at 09.00, 11.00 & 15.00).
 
Afterwards we visit the magnificent white marble Taj Mahal mausoleum that took 22 years to build. Apart from its stunning design and perfect symmetry, it is noted for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and some of the best marble inlay work ever done. Sunrise and sunset are particularly good times to visit and see the dome subtly change its colour.
 
Note: Taj Mahal is closed every Friday. You cannot take anything in with you except your camera, water and medicine.
Day 4
This morning ask your guide to take you across the river to view the Taj Mahal at sunrise. Also visit the much quieter Itmad-ud-Daulah - fondly known as the "Baby Taj" as this mausoleum, built to honour the grandfather of Mumtaz, was the forerunner of the Taj Mahal.
 
Afterwards we visit Agra Fort, a massive structure with walls over 70-ft high and 1.5-miles long that encompasses an astounding collection of well preserved buildings, many of them completed during the reign of Shah Jahan. After he was deposed by his son, he was imprisoned in this fort where he remained until his death - spending the rest of his life looking out along the river to the final resting place of his beloved wife.
Day 5
This morning we leave Agra and travel 1-hour to the magnificent red sandstone royal city of Fatehpur Sikri, built by the emperor Mohammad Akbar as the capital of the Mughal Empire. The city was abandoned due to water shortage, when the capital was moved north to Delhi, and in more recent years the fort has provided a dramatic backdrop to several famous films.
 
We then drive 15-minutes to Bharatpur Station to board the express train (air-conditioned chair car) travelling for 2.15-hours to Sawai Madhopur in southeast Rajasthan.
 
You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel situated near Ranthambore National Park. This world famous tiger sanctuary was originally the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Today it is the largest wildlife reserve in northern India, covering an area of over 250 sq miles (400 sq km).
Day 6
This morning enjoy a private jeep safari in Ranthambore National Park.
 
Early morning is the best time to see tigers, but be aware that it is extremely difficult to find them in the jungle and sightings are never guaranteed. Best viewings are generally at the end of the dry season (March to May, although it is extremely hot from April onwards), when the tigers search out the waterholes - but you need to take at least 4 game drives for a good chance of a sighting.
 
Other animals you can hope to see include leopard, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, caracal, civet, desert cat, mongoose, ratel, sloth bear, langur & macaque monkeys, wild boar, palm squirrel, flying fox, porcupine, long-eared hedgehog, marsh crocodile, tortoise and soft shelled turtle. Also antelope such as sambar deer, chital, nilgai, chinkara and black buck.
 
In the afternoon return to the park for another game drive. In addition to the many mammals and reptiles, there are over 270 bird species - including eagles, falcons, owls, graylag geese, flamingos, parakeets, fly catchers, bee eaters, grebe, terns, woodpeckers, hornbills and kingfishers.
 
Note: Please note we always try to book private jeep safaris, but these can only be reserved 90 days in advance and cannot be guaranteed - in which case your game drive will be in a shared jeep or a 20-seater canter. You will have a different driver on each jeep safari, as drivers are allocated according to a roster over which we have no control. Whilst some drivers are very good, unfortunately there are some who drive too fast. Speak sternly to your driver if this happens. In the winter months, morning safaris require warm clothes including woolly hats and gloves to protect you from the wind chill in your open vehicle.
 
Zones 1 to 5 of this tiger reserve are closed during the monsoon season (July to early October), but Zones 6 to 10 remain open.
Day 7
After a final early morning jeep safari in Ranthambore National Park, return to your hotel for breakfast.
 
We then travel 4-hours to the chaotic and colourful "Pink City" of Jaipur - home to over 3 million people. On arrival check into your hotel in this capital city of Rajasthan.
Day 8
Today enjoy a full day tour of the city of Jaipur.
 
Our first stop is to view the magnificent Hawa Mahal (the "Palace of the Winds") designed in the form of the crown of the Hindu god Krishna. This five-storey frontage looks like a bee's honeycomb with 953 small windows, each decorated with intricate latticework so that the court ladies living in secluded purdah could watch royal processions, without being seen themselves. Built of red and pink sandstone, it is particularly striking early in the morning when lit by the sunrise.
 
We continue to the Amber Fort  This magnificent royal palace was built from pale yellow & pink sandstone and white marble and is divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard. You will enter via the main courtyard (Jaleb Chowk) where returning armies would display their war booty and women could view them from the veiled windows of the palace. Once inside explore the amazing Palace of Mirrors and Hall of Public Audience.
 
Afterwards enjoy an Elephant Interaction, spending 2-hours up close and personal with an Asian elephant cared for by a mahout family. You can touch and feed him, and learn about elephant decoration, medicines and treatment. During the summer you can also see him being bathed.
 
After lunch (own account) we visit the City Palace, the former Royal Residence, part of which is now a museum. One of the major attractions here is the armoury with its impressive array of pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers used by the Maharajas of Jaipur. The Textile and Costume museum on the first floor is another fine display, with items from all over India.
 
We also visit the Jantar Mantar Observatory, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world and a World Heritage site. It is the best preserved of five observatories built by Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. It has 17 large instruments, many of them still in working condition.
Day 9
Rise early this morning for a jeep safari in Jhalana Wildlife Sanctuary, a small 6.6 square mile (17 sq km) wildlife sanctuary situated in the Aravali foothills in the heart of the city. Home to over 20 leopards, sightings of these magnificent big cats are good in this protected forest. You can also hope to see jackal, sambar, spotted deer and gray langur monkeys. Birds you may see include the Spotted owlet, Bay backed shrike, White throated kingfisher, Red collared dove, sandpiper, dunlin and flamingo.
 
Afterwards we visit the town of Sanganer, a busy suburban hub of craft workshops where local artisans sell traditional Bagru textile prints and handmade paper. Here you can see textiles being produced using traditional 'Tie & Dye' techniques. You can also hear Rajasthani music and dance, with restaurants serving classic northern Indian cuisine.
 
In the evening enjoy the unique experience of dining with a local family, where you will taste spicy Rajasthan food and gain insight into their Hindu lifestyle, with different generations living under the same roof.
 
Note: You may wish to take a small token gift for your hosts, but this is not essential.
Day 10
A full day on the road today as we leave Jaipur and travel 7-hours to the historic city of Jodhpur, the second largest in Rajasthan and known as the 'Blue City' because of its many blue-painted houses.
 
This old walled and gated city encircles Mehrangarh Fort, with the modern city sprawling outside its walls.
Day 11
Today we drive 6-hours from Jodhpur through the mountains to beautiful Udaipur.
 
Along the way we view the vast and impregnable 15th century Mewar fortress at Kumbalgarh. Built by Rana Kumbha, this was the birthplace of Maharana Pratap, the great king and warrior of Mewar. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, these great walls extend over 24 miles (38 km) and are second only in length to the Great Wall of China. They are wide enough to take eight horsemen riding abreast and the fort offers a superb bird's eye view over the surrounding countryside.
 
We also stop at Ranakpur to visit its famous Jain Temple. Constructed of light coloured marble, this grand temple has very distinctive domes, shikhara, turrets and cupolas that rise majestically from the hill. Over 1,444 marble pillars support the temple, each one carved in exquisite detail and no two are the same. It is said that it is impossible to count the pillars. There is one beautiful carving made out of a single rock of marble, with 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails where you cannot find their end.
 
Continue to Udaipur and check into your hotel in this serene city of lakes.
Day 12
Today enjoy a half tour of the highlights of Udaipur, the former capital of the kingdom of Mewar that offers history and culture, as well as some lovely scenery. It is famous for its many Rajput palaces, such as the Lake Palace that covers an entire island and is now a luxury hotel.
 
We visit the City Palace, the focal point of the city with several areas of interest such as the Suraj Gokhada balcony, Badi Mahal garden palace, Sheesh Mahal palace, Mor Chowk (peacock courtyard) and Zenana Mahal (queen's palace). The Crystal Gallery at Fateh Prakash palace has possibly the largest collection of crystal in the world including objects d’art, furniture, washing bowls and even a crystal bed.
 
Next we visit the Jagdish Temple, with its imposing sculpted figures and heavily ornamented interiors and Sahelion-ki-Bari Gardens, constructed for 48 maids who accompanied the wife of Maharaja Sangram Singh II as dowry.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to relax at your hotel or enjoy some shopping. Alternatively you can visit the temples at Nagda, Eklingji and Nathdwara. Nagda has an ancient Mewar palace dating back to the 6th century and its Sas-Bahu temples are exquisitely carved. Eklingji was built of sandstone and marble and its 108 temples are enclosed by high walls, with a roof comprised of hundreds of knobs. Nathdwara is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre that is famous for nurturing intricate Pichwai paintings that portray Lord Krishna.
 
In the evening enjoy a boat ride on Lake Pichola (subject to water levels).
Day 13
At leisure to explore more of the beautiful city of Udaipur with your driver (pay any entrance fees locally).
Day 14
Transfer to Udaipur Airport for your flight to Mumbai, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel situated near the airport.
 
Formerly known as Bombay, this is the most populous city in India and its commercial capital, as well as the home of the Bollywood film industry.
Day 15
Transfer to Mumbai Airport for your flight home.
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