India is a land with a rich cultural heritage combined with abundant wildlife and, on this tour, we will encompass both aspects of this fascinating country. In culturally rich towns such as Delhi, Karauli and Jaipur, we will walk in the vibrant and bustling lanes and learn about the local culture and history. We will visit forts and palaces along with local markets and what trip to India would be complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal – one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
On our wildlife safari, we will first visit the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world with over 300 species of birds. We will then visit the Kaila Devi National Park and enjoy its huge variety of birds and mammals. We will then move on to Ramthanbore National Park where we will attempt to catch a glimpse of the majestic – and elusive – tiger at one of the best sanctuaries in India. We will take a jeep safari inside the park in the hope of spotting leopard, jackal, marsh crocodile and a large variety of birds.
Price includes: 9 nights’ accommodation in quality hotels/lodges; all breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners; all transport in air conditioned vehicles; a local guide throughout; rickshaw ride in Delhi; jeep safari; game drives; entrance fees. Single rooms available if you book early – £20 per night supplement.
Itinerary (subject to change)
Day 1: Set off on overnight flight to Delhi
Day 2: Arrive Delhi
We will be collected at the airport and driven to our hotel, where after time to settle into our rooms, we will take a tour of the city. Delhi with its Old and New parts — each with its specific charm and glory — makes a very interesting city where medieval and modern co-exist. While Old Delhi, built by Mughal Emperor Shahjehan in the 17th century, still retains its medieval character to a great extent and reminds one of the crowded old towns of the Middle East; New Delhi is like any other modern city with tall buildings and massive shopping complexes.
In the afternoon you will be taken to visit the medieval Jama Mosque followed by a Rickshaw Ride and Walking Tour of traditional businesses of Old Delhi – exploring centuries old arts and crafts. You will visit a marvellous old-fashioned shop where you can test Indian perfume (attar) from cut-glass bottles. You will saunter through the main bridal street of Old Delhi, Kinari Bazaar, with its dazzling display of embroidered silk wedding sarees, beautiful bangles and colourful turbans for the bridegroom. The Khari Baoli is all about spices – here, rice and dal, dry fruits, nuts and saffron dealers have traded for more than 150 years. The smell of the spices will remain with you even after you have left the market.
Accommodation: Rockland Hotel – Deluxe Room (http://www.rocklandinn.com/) Meals Included: None Walking: 2-3 Hours
Day 3: Delhi – Agra – Bharatpur
After breakfast drive to Agra (4 hours) and visit the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal has been described as a ‘tear on the face of eternity’ and is an enduring monument to love. The unique beauty of Taj Mahal is blended with grandeur and its massive over-all design is matched with immaculately intricate execution. Built by Mughal Emperor Shan Jehan in memory of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal took 22 years to be completed and is today counted among the Seven Wonders of the World. After visiting the Taj Mahal, you will be driven to Bharatpur (1.5 hour).
Accommodation: Laxmi Vilas Palace – Standard Room (http://laxmivilas.com/) Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4: Bharatpur – Karauli
Early this morning we will walk inside the Keoladeo Ghana bird sanctuary. This 29 sq. km. of marshland is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world with over 360 species of birds. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it used to be a part of the private shooting reserve of the Maharaja of Bharatpur. The Park is particularly spectacular at sunrise and sunset, and this is undoubtedly the best time for game viewing. Later in the day we will drive to Karauli. The old, holy city of Karauli was officially founded in 1348 AD, however, legend has it that it was established by Raja Bijal pal Jadon, the 88th descendent of Lord Krishna, as far back as 995 AD.
Accommodation: Bhanwar Vilas Palace – Standard Room (http://www.karauli.com/) Meals Included: Breakfast Walking: 3-4 Hours
Day 5: Karauli
After breakfast we will visit the Kaila Devi Temple located about an hour’s drive from the hotel. This temple is one of the most revered temples in northern India drawing almost 60 lakh pilgrims every year. It is a marble structure with a large courtyard. The temple is located on the banks of the Kalisil River.
In the evening we will walk to the 500-year-old Karauli city palace full of frescos, fine stone carvings and paintings. Within the city palace is a famous lord Krishna temple (Madan Mohan ji). The route to the palace is through the small local market where you will see shops selling utensils, bangles, vegetable and fruits – providing an authentic experience of India.
Accommodation: Bhanwar Vilas Palace – Standard Room Meals Included: Breakfast Walking: 2-3 Hours
Day 6: Karauli – Ranthambore
This morning we will drive through stunning countryside dotted with small villages to Ranthambore National Park (3 hours). Earlier the private hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Jaipur, Ranthambore was once the scene of royal hunting parties. Today, it is famous for its tigers and is one of the best places in the country to have a chance to spot these majestic, and elusive, predators in the wild. However, its royal heritage prevails and manifests itself in the picturesque ruins that dot the park. There are lake palaces, cenotaphs, old fortifications and a majestic thousand-year-old fort overlooking the park. In the afternoon, we will drive to the magnificent Ranthambore Fort for a picnic lunch and walking tour. It is perhaps the only fort which is not visible from a long distance. The Fort is a massive enclave and quite high. Total area of the fort is about 7 miles. There is no drive way up to the fort, just stairs, about 600 of them. There are three big artificial lakes up in the Fort as well as numerous ancient temples.
Accommodation: The Sher Garh Resort – Classic Room (http://www.theshergarh.com/) Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Walking: 2-3 Hours
Day 7: Ranthambore
Early this morning we go for a jeep safari inside the National Park to spot the varied wildlife within. Riding in open jeeps with a local guide, the safari lasts for 3-4 hours. Ranthambore is home to mammals such as leopard, hyena, jackal, jungle cats, sloth bear, reptiles such as marsh crocodile and a large variety of bird-life that includes Jacanas, painted stork, black stork and white necked stork. Peafowl are found in abundance and other birds include Bonelli’s eagle, crested serpent eagle, the great Indian horned owl, quail, partridge, spurfowl and paradise flycatcher. In the afternoon, we visit one of the tribal women’s craft co-ops to buy locally made products. Accommodation: The Sher Garh Resort Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Safari: 3-4 Hours
Day 8: Ranthambore – Jaipur
Today we start early and drive to Jaipur (3 hours). The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is known as the ‘pink city’ because of the pink paint applied to the buildings in its old walled city. Jaipur is steeped in history and culture and the past comes alive here in magnificent forts and palaces, where once lived the maharajas. In the afternoon, we visit City Palace, Jantar Mantar (medieval observatory) and drive past Hawa Mahal (palace of winds). The City Palace complex is wonderfully laid out with large courtyards, balconies, arched entrances and gardens, which are a mix of Rajput and Mughal architecture. The museum displays the rich heritage of the Jaipur family in miniature paintings, textiles, garments, books & manuscripts, carpets, palanquins and weapons dating back to the 15th century. Jantar Mantar has a curious collection of sculptures which enable the calculation of many astronomical and astrological events. Built in 1799 Hawa Mahal or the palace of winds is one of the landmarks of Jaipur city, although it is little more than a façade.
We then enjoy a heritage walk of the old town. The bazaars between the Badi (Large) and Chhoti (Small) Chaupar (Square) in the old city of Jaipur feature some of the best sights that the city has to offer. You will be taken through the labyrinth of colourful alleys where artisans make puppets, bangles, and other local handicrafts. You will visit the jewellery market or Johari Bazaar, explore architecturally interesting havelis (mansions), and stop by bangle shops in Maniharon ka Rasta and the flower sellers near Choti Chaupar.
Accommodation: Khandela Haveli – Deluxe Room (http://www.khandelahaveli.com/) Meals Included: Breakfast Walking: 2-3 Hours
Day 9: Jaipur
This morning we will visit Amber Fort – one of the most fascinating of Indian forts. It was the ancient capital of the erstwhile Jaipur state. Its construction began in the 16th century and was subsequently added on to by successive rulers. Inside the fort, the places worth visiting are the Palace of Mirrors, inlaid with millions of tiny glistening mirrors, the hall of Public Audience and the beautiful manicured gardens. After the visit, the rest of the day will be free to pursue your personal interests.
Accommodation: Khandela Haveli – Deluxe Room Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 10: Jaipur – Delhi
After breakfast this morning, we will drive back to Delhi (5 hours).
In the afternoon we will explore New Delhi – including Humayun’s Tomb, Qutab Minar and drive past Lutyens’ Delhi. Humayun’s Tomb is another magnificent Mughal building built in 1565-66 and set in a square enclosed garden. This finely proportioned structure in red sandstone and marble served later as a model for the Taj Mahal.
Dominating the ruins of the earliest existing settlement of Delhi is the city’s famous landmark – the Qutab Minar. This imposing victory tower (73m) has five storeys, each marked by intricately carved projections or balconies. Elaborately carved pillars embellish the courtyard of a nearby mosque. At the centre of the courtyard is the amazing Iron Pillar (4th-5th century A.D.), which has not rusted through the centuries. The interesting buildings of Lutyens’ Delhi are the India Gate, the Rashtrapati Bhawan (President’s House) and Parliament House. After sightseeing, enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: Justa – Superior Room Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11: Delhi – Return Flight
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight.
Meals Included: Breakfast
We will be staying in some amazing ‘heritage type’ hotels, several were originally palaces, and one a traditional haveli (mansion) house and all have the character, charm and quirkiness you would expect, with lovely authentic furnishings and beautiful grounds. In Ranthambore and Delhi the hotels are more modern, and less elaborate but with good size, clean and comfortable rooms and all the amenities you will need. Quite a few have pools, and a fast laundry service! Wi-Fi may be limited in some places. All are currently rated 4/5 or more on Trip Advisor!