This extraordinary Small Group Tour offers the highest levels of comfort and hospitality in some of Northern India's finest heritage hotels. First Delhi, then Agra, then Rajasthan's glorious past and rich traditions, stupendous palaces, great forts and decorated havelis, are all brought thrillingly to life. With included safaris by boat and jeep, fine dining in some astonishing settings, and a host of tours and excursions, this is India at its finest.
Fly overnight from the UK to Delhi.
Upon arrival, meet your Tour Manager and transfer to the first of your landmark homes-from-home, Delhi's iconic, historic Maidens Hotel, where you can look forward to enjoying old-world elegance, traditional service and every modern comfort, including a famously deep swimming pool. This afternoon, join your Tour Manager for a guided tour introducing the vibrant Old City, including the historic Red Fort, Jama Masjid Mosque and Raj Ghat, Gandhi's cremation site close to the Yamuna River. An exhilarating rickshaw ride through old Chandni Chowk brings a first opportunity to enjoy the scents and sounds of Indian street life, before a first delicious dinner is served in the hotel.
An early start this morning sees you board India's fastest train, the Gatimaan Express, for the one-hour, 40-minute journey south to the glorious 'City of Love', Agra. Upon arrival, in the company of your guide, you'll visit the royal pavilions, palaces and courtyards of majestic Agra Fort, before taking in the peerless sight of the immortal Taj Mahal, the monument to undying love that is India's most potent symbol.
After an unforgettable few hours' of exploration and discovery, and perhaps an opportunity for lunch, board your private vehicle for the short journey south to Dholpur and the former Royal retreat, the Ras Niwas Palace, a glorious, red sandstone, Raj-era building set in 13 acres of manicured gardens and boasting extravagant decor and attentive service. Accommodation is in beautifully appointed rooms within the grounds. Perhaps enjoy a sundown gin and tonic overlooking the lawns, while resplendent peacocks stroll by, then be served dinner in sumptuous surroundings.
Rest and relax in the hotel, taking in the opulence of the interior and the grounds. After lunch, perhaps served on the marbled terrace overlooking the formal gardens, board one of the palace's river cruise boats, and in the company of a boat escort enjoy a lazy hour's cruise on the adjacent Chambal River (subject to the water level in the river), enjoying the abundant birdlife and sightings of crocodiles and even rare, endangered, long-snouted gharials. At day's end, enjoy another splendid evening and dinner at the Dholpur Palace.
Bid farewell to your Dholpur hosts and re-board the coach early this morning for the journey across the Rajasthani plain to the famed 'Pink City' of Jaipur. Here you'll enjoy a two-night stay in a beautiful former private haveli, now converted into a warm and welcoming heritage hotel, close to bustle of the old city, but serving as a quiet oasis of calm. Rest and relax after the journey, and perhaps enjoy the hotel's facilities, which include a garden terrace, pool and spa, before dinner is served in stately surroundings.
After breakfast, journey by jeep to the towering 16th-century hilltop Amber Fort, with its richly decorated Royal Halls, gardens and courtyards, and stupendous views from its red sandstone ramparts. You'll also view the fabled 18th-century Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds', with its innumerable windows and screened balconies, behind which royal women might view the city and important processions while remaining hidden from the world in purdah.
Enjoy a sumptuous lunch in the gilded surroundings of the historic Samode Haveli, a 300-year-old former home of maharajas and now a desert-fringed luxury hotel on the outskirts of the city, before the day continues with visits to the City Palace complex, with its museum, gardens and temple, and to Jantar Mantar - the ancient astronomical observatory.
This evening, rest, relax and enjoy dinner in the hotel once again.
Today you'll make the journey south west across Rajasthan, the land dotted with historic palaces and havelis, to arrive this afternoon at the sumptuous Deogarh Mahal heritage hotel, former home to Mewar rulers. Upon arrival, join a local guide for a fascinating jeep safari through the surrounding countryside and walk through the local village. Dinner will be served at the hotel.
This morning you'll bid farewell to Deogarh and make the short journey to the sublime 'City of Lakes', Udaipur. Overlooking the Fateh Sagar lake, the Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace is set in 26 acres amongst the rolling Aravali Hills and is a perfect base for a two-night stay spent exploring the 'Venice of the East', where two exquisite marble palaces grace the waters of famed Lake Pichola. Rest and relax at the hotel, and explore your surroundings, before enjoying a first dinner.
Following breakfast back at the hotel, enjoy a guided tour of Udaipur in all its glory, including the majestic, turreted City Palace and the beautiful 'gardens of the Royal ladies' at Sahelion-ki-Bari. After the free afternoon, a wonderful day is completed with an evening cruise on the lake and a dinner overlooking the majestic City Palace.
Leave Udaipur to head north through the glorious scenery of the Aravali Hills, pausing at the astonishing Jain temples at Ranakphur, a quartet of improbably intricate marble edifices, half-hidden in a wooded valley. By late afternoon you'll arrive for a two-night stay in yet another beautifully appointed heritage hotel, the restored Rohet Garh on the outskirts of Jodhpur. Rest and relax on arrival, perhaps indulging in the hotel's spa or outdoor pool, then perhaps enjoy dinner under the stars.
A memorable day awaits you, as you explore the extraordinary, desert-fringed 'Blue City' of Jodhpur - so called because of its ancient colour-washed dwellings - and its monumental Meherangarh Fort, Kipling's 'work of angels' that towers over the city from its sandstone butte. Beautifully restored and preserved, the fort features ornate palaces, lattice-walled courtyards and a museum chronicling the opulence and power of Rajasthan's maharajas. The day will also include visits to the marbled Jaswant Thanda memorial, the vast Umaid Bhawan palace museum and, perhaps most memorably, an evening jeep safari to a village inhabited by the Bishnoi tribe, perhaps the world's first eco-warriors.
Today's journey takes you into the sands of the Great Indian Desert to the remote city of Bikaner, with its labyrinthine old city and ornate Junagarh Fort, its pavilions and palaces enclosed within high walls. Enjoy a tour of the fort and of the fascinating, government-owned camel-breeding farm, then, in one of the tour's most memorable moments, journey into the desert landscape for an evening amongst the vast dunes, enjoying dinner in a desert camp and the opportunity to climb aboard a 'ship of the desert' to witness the spectacle of the starlit sky. You'll return to the hotel at the end of the remarkable evening.
Continue east through the desert landscape, journeying along an ancient trading route into the Shekhawati region, where small market towns are dwarfed by glorious, richly decorated havelis built by wealthy traders. As well as a night in the stunning surroundings of the Alsisar Mahal heritage hotel, with its frescos, courtyards and richly decorated arcades, you'll enjoy a talk from a local historian who will bring to life the grandeur and opulence of the Shekhawati havelis, accompanied by a glass of champagne.
A last journey through Rajasthan's exotic landscape returns you to the Aravali Hills, for a two-night stay in the luxury 'tented resort' of Vanaashrya, where there's the opportunity to rest and relax, enjoying a host of amenities amongst the jungle surroundings, before retiring to spend the night in a well appointed, air-conditioned 'tent'.
A wonderful holiday is completed by a final relaxing day in Vanaashrya and its surroundings. Journey to explore the ruins of 17th-century Bhangarh Fort - said to be haunted - and enjoy a camel cart ride to the nearby village, before a last evening is spent enjoying a cookery demonstration and a final dinner in the company of new found friends, no doubt spent reliving the memories of the fascinating last two weeks.
Make an early start - a packed breakfast will be provided - and journey to Delhi Airport for the return flight to the UK, arriving this evening after a truly wonderful Indian holiday.
Stay in some truly spectacular, luxurious heritage hotels
Discover the sights of Old Delhi by rickshaw
Visit Agra's Fort and peerless Taj Mahal
Enjoy a boat safari on the Chambal River
Explore Jaipur's Amber Fort, famous Observatory and City Palace
Enjoy two jeep safaris and village walks
Discover Udaipur on a guided tour and enjoy a cruise on Lake Pichola
Visit Ranakpur's astonishing Jain temples
See Jodhpur's stupendous Meherengarh Fort
Experience an 'Arabian Nights' adventure under Bikaner's desert sky
Discover Bhangarh's extraordinary ruins
Breakfast each day, three lunches and dinner each evening
14 nights' accommodation staying in historic heritage and five-star hotels in Delhi (1 night), Dholpur (2), Jaipur (2), Deogarh (1), Udaipur (2), Jodhpur (2), Bikaner (1), Alsisar (1), and Vanaashyra luxury tented resort (2)
Return scheduled flights to Delhi
Gatimaan Express train Delhi-Agra
Air-conditioned vehicle transfers and travel
The services of a Tour Manager in India
Single rooms are available for a supplement
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
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