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Expect a warm welcome, unique insights and a wealth of wonderfully authentic experiences during your two week tailor-made itinerary to northern India – from high tea in an ornate palace and culinary masterclasses, to itineraries of ancient temples with knowledgeable guides and meeting local school children as they learn.
In Amritsar, view the “Put to Bed” night ceremony of the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple
Head to Jaipur’s famed City Palace for high tea within the private quarters of the Maharaja of Jaipur
Give back to the communities you visit with a trip to the SOS Children’s Village in Jaipur and a local school in Deogarh
After discovering the delights of Udaipur on a guided itinerary, take a boat ride across lovely Lake Pichola in time for sunset
Learn more about and taste authentic Indian cuisine as you enjoy dinner at a local family’s home in Jodhpur, as well as a cookery lesson with a Rajasthani resident in Udaipur, using techniques and recipes passed through generations.
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Explore dazzling New Delhi, the “seat of the largest democracy in the world”, discovering the Diplomatic Enclave, India Gate, 16th-century Humayun's Tomb and Gandhi Smriti, the poignant memorial for Mahatma Gandhi. In the afternoon, experience the captivating contrast between New and Old Delhi, as you explore the alleyways of the latter by cycle rickshaw.
Take a private car transfer to Delhi Airport for your flight to Amritsar. From here, take a private car transfer to Taj Swarna, Amritsar.
Begin your time in Amritsar with a walking tour around the city, stopping for Punjabi cuisine at a local dhaba – roadside food stall. Participate in the enchanting night ceremony at the Golden Temple - the holiest religious complex of the Sikh religion – before viewing the building again by daylight the following morning. Watch the impressive changing of the guards at the Flag Down Ceremony on the India-Pakistan border.
Take a private car transfer to Amritsar Airport for your flight back to Delhi and onwards to Jaipur. From here, take a private car transfer to Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur.
Explore the historical highlights and markets of Jaipur – dubbed the “Pink City” – before returning to the famed City Palace for high tea in the private quarters of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Head to the awe-inspiring palace complex of Amber Fort, as well as visiting the incredible SOS Children’s Village, where over 100 orphaned or abandoned children are cared for and educated.
Take a private car transfer to Jaipur Airport for your flight to Bikaner. From here, take a private car transfer to Narenda Bhawan, Bikaner.
Kick off your time in Bikaner with sundowners in the dust-swirling desert, before a tour of the town by auto rickshaw. View the Royal Cenotaphs, fine examples of Rajasthani architecture, the earliest of which was built for the Rao Kalyanmal, the ruler of Bikaner from 1542-71 AD.
Take a private car transfer to Raas Jodhpur.
Explore the beautiful “Blue City” of Jodhpur, where highlights include the Stepwell Square and Mehrangarh Fort. Visit the village of Rohet, home to the Bishnois community, some of the world’s first environmentalists who have been preserving animal and plant life for over 350 years. Then, meet more of Jodhpur’s residents with an authentic cooking demonstration and dinner at the home of a lovely local family.
Take a private car transfer to Dev Shree, Deogarh.
While staying in this small, lakeside town, visit a local school, meeting the pupils and teachers, with the option to help provide uniforms, books and other important supplies. Then, traverse the lush Aravalli hills by traditional train, stopping in the surrounding forest to spot the resident monkeys.
Take a private car transfer to Raas Devigarh, Delwara.
Just outside of Udaipur, Delwara is dubbed the “Town of the Gods” due to its high density of temples. Visit the 1000-year old Eklingji temple complex dedicated to the god Shiva, as well as the abandoned temples of Nagda. From here, head to Udaipur for a tour of the captivating city, a cookery class with a local master chef, and a late afternoon boat ride across serene Lake Pichola.
Take a private car transfer to Udaipur Airport for your flight to Delhi. From here, fly to the UK.
Enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the serene and expansive Lake Pichola in Udaipiur. Measuring 4km long and 3km wide, the lake was enlarged by Maharana Udai Singh II back in the 16th century, the entire village of Picholi (after which the lake is named) being flooded in the process. Glide along the mirror-like water and enjoy the fantastic views of the imposing City Palace complex, the entirety of which extends nearly a kilometre along the lake's eastern shore. You can also stop at the magnificent Jagmandir Island, home to the glorious Lake Palace and the 17th-century Gol Mahal tower.
Head to Devra, an Udaipur homestay renowned for its culinary offerings. Here, enjoy a welcome drink with your local host Mrs. Jyoti Jasol, whose unmatched cooking experience has been passed onto her through her mother and grandmother. Then, enjoy an engaging cookery lesson in the family kitchen, using seasonal vegetables and secret spices to create healthy and delicious dishes. After looking around the traditional family home, sit down for an authentic lunch that you helped to create.
Discover enchanting Udaipur - dubbed the 'City of Lakes' - with a private guide. Highlights include the City Palace complex, home to the private residence of the Maharana of Mewar. The complex consists of four major and several minor palaces, forming a single breathtaking façade of almost 900 metres in length, overlooking the Pichola Lake. Built by successive Maharanas, every addition was so flawlessly integrated in style with the existing structures, to make the whole seem one. The central south eastern part of the complex houses the Shambhu Niwas, the private residence of the royal family, while the oldest part of the complex is the namesake City Palace, dating back to the 16th century. Inside, uncover several architectural and artistic highlights - including its famed peacock mosaics and a series of stunning wall paintings. Most of the palace has been converted into a museum, housing a huge collection of rare miniature paintings and beautiful decorative motifs made with mirrors and coloured glass. The Hall of Public Audience at Fatehprakesh Palace is the location for royal ceremonies even today, while the surrounding Crystal Gallery displays one of the world’s finest private collections of crystal furniture, tables and lamps.
While in Delwara, visit the 1000-year-old Eklingji temple complex, dedicated to the god Shiva. Serviced by the personnel of the Rajasthani Maharana himself, the upkeep of the temple is spectacular, comprising a striking main building and 107 other shrines for worship. Every marble surface is adorned with intricate carvings, while the walls in the main temple are covered with embossed silver plates depicting Hindu deities. It is also thought that if you whisper your wishes into the ear of the stone bull in front of Shiva’s statue, they will be fulfilled by the God. Then, proceed to visit Nagda, a national heritage monument and the abandoned lakeside capital of the Mewar region, dating from the 7th century. Though most of the city is ruined, the 10th century temples that have survived offer a fascinating glimpse into its colourful history.
Experience the everyday life of Deogarh as you leave the city and traverse the lush Aravelli Range by local train, crossing viaducts and admiring views of the vast valleys, before stopping at a station in the middle of a woodland, where monkeys are often waiting to be fed bananas by the locals.
Pay a visit to one of several local government schools in Deogarh, where you can meet the teachers and children, joining in with their lessons. You can also support the school and community by providing uniforms, sweaters, exercise books and dictionaries that can be bought from the village shops before you visit.
From Jodhpur, visit the village of Rohet, where the Bishnoi community live, some of the world’s first conservationists and environmentalists who believe strongly in the preservation of plant and animal life. About 350 years ago, hundreds of Bishnois sacrificed their lives in order to prevent the local king from cutting down trees in their area, taught by their spiritual leader Jambeshwarji. Your host is a relation of the royal family of Jodhpur and will take you by Jeep to the Bishnois villages, where you can visit the immaculate housing and experience a typical welcome opium ceremony.
Delve deep into the heart of Jodhpur – the “Blue City” – on this carefully designed walking tour alongside resident expert Mr. Pirtram Singh, learning about local legends, glimpsing city life and meeting the friendly residents. Highlights include visiting the striking Mehrangarh Fort and the Krishna Temple, as well as exploring the narrow residential lanes and ancient step wells. You can also visit bustling local markets and try mouth-watering Jodhpur cuisine.
While in Jodhpur, head to a local family’s house to learn how to create some of their favourite, authentic Indian dishes using local ingredients and time-old techniques. Then, enjoy a delicious dinner with the family, immersing yourself in their culture and learning more about how they live.
Considered as one of the finest examples of Rajasthani art and architecture, Devi Kund Saga is a cremation ground of the royal family of Bikaner, comprising several striking cenotaphs from across centuries. The earliest is in honour of Rao Kalyanmal, the ruler of Bikaner from 1542-71 A.D, while the most recent is of Maharaja Karni Singh (1950-88 A.D).
Visit the wonderfully well-preserved Junagarh Fort in Bikaner, built between 1588 and 1593 by Raja Rai Singh who was a general in the army of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar. Within the fort are several palaces, pavilions and temples with superb stone carvings, fabulous gilded rooms, rich wall paintings and exquisite lattice work. After exploring this fascinating fort, head to the Lalargh Palace, part of which is now a hotel and still houses the Bikaner royal family. Then, board auto rickshaws to explore Old Bikaner, witnessing daily life and passing fragrant markets and haveli houses as you weave through the narrow streets. Disembark at the Bhandasar Jain temple, admiring the gold leaf paintings here.
The incredible SOS Children's Village was opened in 1976 by an NGO that works to meet the needs and protect the rights of local children. Currently over 100 orphaned or abandoned children are cared for and educated here, with older children being given the opportunity for vocational training or higher education with the support of qualified youth workers. Take a look around the orphanage and learn more about the incredible work being done here, meeting both the wonderful staff and happy children.
Situated on a hillside just outside of Jaipur, the magnificent Amber Fort overlooks a lake that beautifully reflects its striking terraces and ramparts. Construction of the palace fortress began in 1592 by Raja Man Singh, a trusted general of Emperor Akbar. An imposing stairway leads to the ‘Hall of Public Audience’, which flaunts a double row of columns and latticed galleries. Next to the hall find Kali Temple, boasting impressive entrance doors made of glimmering silver, while the ‘Hall of Victory’ is noted for its inlaid panels and glittering mirror ceiling. The ‘Hall of Pleasure’ features an ivory-inlaid sandalwood door and the ‘Hall of Private Audience’ is decorated with delicate murals, though the arguable jewel of the fort is the ‘Hall of Mirrors’, whose breathtaking interior is adorned with tiny mirrors. The oldest part of the palace is the apartment of Raja Man Singh, where each of his dozen wives had their own suite. Learn more about the complex's history and marvel at its various buildings on a private guided tour.
On this exclusive VIP visit to Jaipur’s striking City Palace, you can enjoy high tea in the private quarters of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Entering through the private entrance usually reserved for family members, proceed to the Chandra Mahal veranda that overlooks the palace’s stunning lawns and fountains, before exploring the "Shobha Niwas" (Pleasure Room) of the Royal Residence. Finally, take a seat in the ‘Sukh Niwas’ (Grand Private Lounge) for an exquisite high tea.
Embark on an adventure to discover the markets of Jaipur by cycle rickshaw, traversing the charmingly narrow and winding lanes filled with jewellers, spice merchants, food vendors, shopping arcades and workshops, as well as elegant private residences. Colourful, noisy and happily chaotic, wandering through the bazaars of old Jaipur is an experience in itself, whether you wish to buy anything or not. The most bustling bazaars lie within the Pink City Quarter.
While based in Amritsar, visit the fascinating Wagah border where India and Pakistan meet. The border is famous for the marching retreat held at sunset every day. The Indian Border Security Force soldiers and the Pakistani soldiers have devised a spectacularly synchronised changing of guards performance that ends with the historic ‘Flag Down’ ceremony.
First up on your guided tour is the glorious Golden Temple, a tangibly spiritual building of gold and marble, where highlights include the Hari Mandir (Divine Temple), Darbar Sahib (Court of the Lord), and the Guru-ka-Langar, a dining hall where around 35,000 people are fed each day by temple volunteers. Spend a couple of hours exploring here, before heading on to Jalianwala Bagh, a historical monument that memorialises the martyrdom of innocent Indians and the brutality of British General Dwyer. Next up is the Partition Museum, a public museum located in the city’s Town Hall that showcases stories, materials and documents related to the post-partition riots that followed the division of British India into two independent countries: India and Pakistan.
Amritsar’s striking Golden Temple - a popular Sikh pilgrimage destination - is home to a sacred religious scripture called the Guru Granth Sahib. After being worshipped for the entire day, the book is closed and ceremoniously “put to bed”, making the journey from the main Sanctum to the Akal Takht, a building within the temple complex, where it is housed for the night. It is carried in a golden palanquin and carried on the shoulder of devotees, who sing and chant prayers as they lead the procession.
Board your chauffeur-driven rickshaw to discover the delights of Old Delhi. Highlights may include the famed Red Fort, a citadel built by Shah Jehan in 1648 as his residential palace and military fortress. The fort is a complex of marble buildings with balconies, filigreed windows, huge red sandstone walls, ramparts and gateways, the most elegant of which is the Diwan-I-Khas chamber. Chandni Chowk (Moonlit Square) is a medieval area in which you may recognise the architectural styles of Cairo, Istanbul, Chester and Heidelberg. This is one of Delhi's most populated areas and is home to its largest marketplace, bustling with jewellers, spice merchants, food vendors, shopping arcades, workshops and private residences. Also within this area is the British-built Town Hall, St. James Church, St. Stephen's College and the office of the State Department of Archaeology, boasting a colonnaded façade dating from the 19th century, when it was the British Residency.
New Delhi is one of the most beautiful, well-planned cities in India. For an authentic experience, explore by auto rickshaw, setting off on a unique sightseeing tour of Edward Lutyen’s Delhi, passing a splendid array of architecture and monuments. Possible highlights include a visit to Raisina Hill to see the former Viceroy's House, as well as the 250-acre Mughal Gardens, in the grounds of Rashtrapati Bhawan, which at one time required the care of 418 men. Here, Humayun's Tomb is, perhaps, the finest Mughal building in Delhi. Completed in 1565, it stands proudly on a raised platform and is built of red sandstone. At the foot of Raisina Hill is India Gate, a war memorial arch that Edward Lutyen built in honour of the 60,000 soldiers who died in World War I, while Parliament House is the place in which the constitution of independent India was drafted.
For clearer skies and less rainfall, October to March is the best time to visit northern India. From April to September, temperatures can soar to 40 C, joined by monsoon rains in July.
16 NIGHTS FROM £5,690 per person
Price based upon economy flights from London, transfers, UK airport lounge passes and meals and excursions as specified.
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