What makes India unique is its ability to carry forward the best part of its past into the present. A 'land beyond time', the subcontinent has managed to preserve its varied cultural heritage from magnificent forts, sprawling palaces and majestic tombs to vibrant art and dance forms accompanied with rich cuisine.
Arrival in Delhi
Land at the capital city of India. Known as the 'heart of India', Delhi exudes a sense of ancientness. Check in to your hotel and relax for the day. Deal with your jet-lag before you begin your journey in this mystical country.
Explore Mughal Architecture of Delhi
The City of Djinns has a lot of history embedded in its walls and structures that have stood the test of time. Though half a day isn't enough to do justice to this city, here's a quick tour of its most sought after gems that truly describe this city. Our local expert will accompany you and tell you stories behind these structures.
One of India's largest mosques, Jama Masjid is a huge complex with three great gates, four towers and two 40-m high minarets of red sandstone and white marble. The 408-square feet courtyard accommodates nearly 25,000 worshippers. Stop for some of that unique carrot halwa and hot milk here around Jama Masjid that you're probably never going to taste anywhere else. Enjoy a rickshaw ride here or just stroll through some of the alleys here.
We head to Rajghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated after his assassination in 1948. After a drive around the India Gate and a look at the Presidential palce, the Rashtrapati Bhawan, we move to the Humayun's Tomb. The precursor to the Taj Mahal, Humayun's Tomb is India's first garden tomb with perfectly manicured lawns surrounding this UNESCO World Heritage Site as well. Completed in 1572, the sandstone main structure has many other smaller buildings in the complex. The site was apparently chosen because of its proximity to the shrine of revered Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya.
Drive to Jaipur
In the afternoon you take the 295 kilometre drive to Jaipur from Delhi. The highway roads are a pleasure to drive on and it takes about 5-6 hours to reach Jaipur. Check-in to your hotel and relax for the night.
Tour of the royal forts and palaces of Jaipur
Packed with history and heritage, Jaipur is the epitome of cultural royalty. From the architecture and craftsmanship to the fantastic cuisine here, there's much to be done. Head over to Amer Fort, 11 kilometres away, through ancient cobbled pathways towards the fascinating serpentine stairs that lead up to the fort. Built on separate levels, step out onto each courtyard for amazing views of the Aravallis beyond. The main palace and public halls are well maintained and our local expert will let you in on the history and the significance of the architecture here. Drive back towards downtown Jaipur past the gorgeous Jal Mahal literally built on the man-made lake. Jaipur's Hawa Mahal, built specifically so women from the royal household could look out into the street has a lovely screen with a hundred windows that you can look out through before you go to Jantar Mantar. This astronomical complex, home to the world's largest stone sundial, dates back to the 18th century and measures time still accurate to 2 seconds. The other instruments here in Jantar Mantar are used to calculate and predict the movement of the sun, the moon and the planets, and are worth a quick reconnaissance as well.
Understanding the old trade route in Mandawa
The region of Mandawa is known for its sprawling havelis (mansions) and was an ancient trading outpost and a stopover for the caravans that were on the trade route from China to the Middle East. The lavish paintings on the walls of the havelis has led to Mandawa being called an open art gallery. Of Hindu Gods, Maharajas stroking their moustaches, A chugging train and some defaced erotic scenes - A true open art gallery on the walls of these havelis.
Drive to Mandawa
Morning breakfast in Jaipur, check out from the hotel and drive northwards to Mandawa. It takes about 4 hours to cover the distance of 170 kilometres from Jaipur.
Drive to Bikaner
Make a move for the desert town of Bikaner after your breakfast. The distance from Mandwa to Bikaner is about 194 kilometres and it takes around 4 hours to complete the journey.
Explore the desert town of Bikaner
Bikaner deserves a full day of attention-its palaces, its forts and the history that refuses to remain hidden. Begin early with a drive down to Laxmi Niwas Palace. Now converted into a heritage hotel, it was the former residence of the Maharaja of Bikaner. The palace has played host to a number of dignitaries including King George V. Move on to the Lalgargh palace to which Laxmi Niwas extends. Red sandstone quarried from the Thar Desert was used to construct this new wing, and one of these blocks is still used as a royal residence by the Royal descendants. Stop for a visit at the grandiose Laxmi Niwas Palace, now a luxury hotel, with its distinct Indo-Saracenic architecture and elegant interiors. The epitome of Rajasthani royalty, The Lalgarh Palace stands tall with pillars, fireplaces and intricate latticework.
Get a glimpse of the majestic Junagarh fort and its temples, palaces and their colourful marble flooring, unique in the fact that it's not on a hill.
All converted into museums, the palaces are maintained by the government with clear description of all the artefacts. Gallops restaurant, beside the fort, serves some amazing authentic Rajasthani lunch with a lovely view of the fort.Drive on to the National Research Centre on Camels, 8 kilometres away from town. Get closer to different breeds of camels and figure out their peculiar characteristics here. An integral part of the desert ecology, camels are used even by the Border Security Force of India to patrol the border with Pakistan. Enjoy a camel ride here before you walk over to the 'camel milk' parlour for ice creams as well.
Visit the Karni Mata temple en-route
Considered one of the most unusual temples in the world, Karni Mata in Deshnoke, 30 kilometres from Bikaner, deserves a visit. This Mughal-styled temple had a marble facade and solid silver doors were later added for a more regal facade. Not for the faint of heart, the temple is home to nearly 20,000 rats, each of them considered holy. Step lightly as you walk, killing one even by mistake would require a replicate in silver. Our guide will tell you more about folklore associated with the rats from deserting soldiers to mythological tales. Leftover from 'prasad' offerings, when nibbled by these rats is considered a blessing and is consumed by the devotees. Look out for the white rats, if you spot them, for they are considered reincarnations of Karni Mata goddess and her 4 sons.
Drive to Jaisalmer
From the desert town of Bikaner to the city inside a fort surrounded by golden sand dunes, the drive to Jaisalmer is a pretty exciting one. It takes around 6 hours to cover the distance of about 330 kilometres.
Take a tour of the living for of Jaisalmer
The golden city has its fair share of architectural marvels, and this all-day tour begins with the spectacular Jaisalmer Fort. The thriving township that occupies every nook and corner of this fort is a sight for sore eyes. Havelis, Jain temples, shops, hotels and restaurants can be found in abundance. Cobbled, narrow alleys give you glimpses into life inside this living fort. Our local guide will tell you more on the history of these temples and havelis. Visit the temples dedicated to Rikhab devji and Shambhav devji.
A tour of havelis of Jaisalmer
A mere kilometre away from the Jaisalmer Fort is Patwon ki Haveli, the oldest haveli in Jaisalmer, a cluster of 5 smaller havelis. Maintained by the government, this haveli has beautifully designed gateways and arches, paintings and mirror work on its walls. Move on to Nath mahal Ji ki Haveli, originally meant as the erstwhile Prime Minister's residence. Two life-size sandstone elephants stand guard at the entrance of the haveli. A little down the road is the 17th century Salim Ji ki Haveli, with a roof that resembles a peacock. Take a look out of one of the 38 balconies, each of which has been designed in a different way.
Visit the Vyas Chhatri and Bada Bagh
Chhatris are cenotaphs constructed in sandstone that form a nice assemblage. The Vyas Chhatris are Brahmin cenotaphs at the edge of the town of Jaisalmer. A mere 6 kilometres on is Bada Bagh. Three constituents - a garden, a dam and a tank have a history waiting to be told. Our local expert will tell you about legends of the site and how Maharwal Jait Singh built the dam. The cenotaphs nearby are also an alluring sight. These cenotaphs were raised up until the 20th century, and stopped right after 1947 when one of the princes died of a mysterious ailment. Building of cenotaphs then came to be considered a bad omen.
Experience the grandiose of Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur
This 'Sun city' stuns you with its architectural marvels. Founded by Rao Jodha, back in 1459, Jodhpur was ultimately capital of the Marwar region thanks to its elevation and rocky ridges. Visit the Mehrangarh Fort where our expert guide will tell you more about the history and architectural style of this fort that, legend has it, led to Jodhpur being plagued by drought after a hermit who lived here cursed it. Visit the museum inside for its historical artefacts. The beautiful white-marble Jaswant Thada is a cenotaph, burial ground for the rulers of this region. Walk to the tiered gardens and small lake before driving down to the historic Ghanta Ghar (clock tower). Sadar Bazar, the bustling local market near the tower, is filled with little shops of traditional jewellery, bright clothes and innumerable eateries.
Drive to Jodhpur
Time today to drive to the 'Sun City' of Rajasthan - Jodhpur. The drive from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, which is around 287 kilometres, takes around 6 hours.
Drive to Udaipur
The 'City of Lakes' is an unusual city in the semi-arid state of Rajasthan and it takes about 5 hours to drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur.
Visit Ranakpur temple en-route
En-route Udaipur, you'll make a pit-stop at Ranakpur. Here you'll visit the 15th century Jain temple with beautiful carved ceilings and marble pillars. Walk over to the Jain Sun temple 300 metres away from the main temple complex.
Visit the floating palaces in Udaipur
The city of lakes and palaces has much to see, so get started early for a day of the best Udaipur has to offer. Drive down to City Palace with its spectacular architecture buildings and towers that make a palace complex constructed over 400 years. Our local guide will take you around Fateh Prakash Palace and the renowned Crystal Gallery with collections dating back to 1877 from dinner sets and perfume bottles to decanters and washing bowls. City Palace also has a vintage car museum, Diwan-I-Aam (hall of public audience), Diwan-I-Khas (private audience hall) and Bhaggi Khana which is also worth a visit for palanquins and old carriages on display. Look out for lovely views of Lake Pichola and Lake Palace here as well. Head over to Jagdish temple in the vicinity with its double-storey Mandapa (hall). Move on to Sahelion ki Bari with lush green lawns and fountains, originally made for the 48 maidens who accompanied the princess of Udaipur as part of her dowry. In the evening, enjoy a lovely boating session at Lake Pichola
Flight to Mumbai
Take a short flight out of Udaipur and head to the home of Bollywood (the Indian equivalent of Hollywood).
Visit the iconic buildings and monuments of Mumbai
The city of dreams has stories around every corner. Spend a day visiting Mumbai's best. The first stop is the iconic Gateway of India. The construction was started in the year 1911 to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary in India. Right next to it is the Taj Mahal Hotel Palace, which first opened its doors to guests in 1903. Since then it has hosted many notable guests and country heads. One of the largest universities in the world, the Mumbai University's original fort campus was built in the year 1857. The campus is built in a Gothic style and the splendid Rajabai Clock Tower rests in its lawns.
Drive past the iconic Victoria Terminus Train Station which has since been renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. Stop for a while at the Chowpatty Beach and gulp down some vada pavs and then drive past the Marine Drive to and head towards the world's largest open air laundromat at Dhobi Ghat where many washers are involved in washing clothes in concrete pens, each having its own flogging stone. Enjoy a walk in the Hanging Gardens with bushes trimmed to resemble different animals and have a look at the Parsi Tower of Silence where they leave the bodies of the dead to be consumed by scavengers. A complete tour to understand the character of the city that is Mumbai.
Departure from Mumbai
This royal tour of India comes to an end and it's time to head back home with extra baggage of memorabilia and memories. There's so much more to see here and you'll forever be drawn to the magical land of India.