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A LEGENDARY LAND defined by the patchwork of kingdoms and principalities that were, till independence, ruled by Maharajas, Rajas, Ranas and Rawals. Bards that roam the countryside, picking out complex tunes n single-stringed instruments, still sing of heroic battles, chivalry and sacrifices. Silent, rocky outcrops transform themselves into proud forts and stand sentinel over the land. It is not difficult to imagine rank upon rank of loyal warriors streaming down the hillside ready for battle. If you listen carefully, the breath of the breeze brings you faint echoes of clashing armour, neighing of horses and above it all, the spine-chilling trumpet of a changing elephant.
Today, many of the forts and palaces have opened their doors to visitors as luxury hotels and resorts. Often run by members of the erstwhile ruling families, these have given a new lease of life not only to the building but also to the culture. Staying here is to almost travel back in time – to an era that was gracious, graceful and romantic.
Starting from Delhi, the capital of modern India, this itinerary takes you across the state, bringing alive the vibrant colours of the desert state. Visit Manvar or Osiyan on the sand dunes and the great kingdoms of Rajputana – Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur, Jaipur where even so many years after democracy handed power to the people, the old ways live on. In most places, erstwhile rulers are still addressed as ‘father’, ‘protector’, ‘provider of food’, and command both respect and loyality. And, though the pomp and ceremony may not compare with what it was in the old days, just a glimpse of the shadow of a royal lifestyle can be a fascinating and memorable experience.
DAY 01: ARRIVAL DELHI
Reception and welcome at Delhi airport followed by transfer to your hotel.
DAY 02: DELHI
Morning explore the Moghul capital of Shahjahanabad, better known today as Old Delhi. Opposite the Red Fort stretch the busting streets of Chandni Chowk which are visited on rickshaws. In the afternoon, a tour introduces you to the city of New Delhi. Drive through the colonial heritage of Lutyen’s Delhi and on to a closer look at the Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb. Drive past Parliament buildings and India Gate.
DAY 03: DELHI / MANDAWA BY SURFACE
The drive to Mandawa takes about five hours, which gives you the afternoon to explore the famous havelis of the region.
DAY 04: MANDAWA / BIKANER BY SURFACE
Morning five hours by road north west of Mandawa brings you to Bikaner. The Junagarh Fort and the camel breeding farm are on the not-to-be missed list here.
DAY 05: BIKANER / JAISALMER BY SURFACE
Sie you will be spending two nights in this beautiful desert town, the first day gives you a break from sightseeing.
DAY 06: JAISALMER
Devoted to exploring the town, its spectacular fort, havelis and temples followed by camel ride at the Sam-Sand dunes.
DAY 07: JAISALMER / MANVAR – OSIYAN BY SURFACE
Experience desert at Manvar or at Osiyan with camel safari, fiery sunset and nights cold enough to gather around a bonfire.
DAY 08: MANVAR / JODHPUR BY SURFACE
Travel to Jodhpur. Mehanrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, Mandore Gardens, Old Fort Museum ad Balsamand lake are just some f the sights you will visit post lunch.
DAY 09: JODHPUR / UDAIPUR BY SURFACE
Stop at the little village of Ranakpur that has some outstanding intricately carved temples. At Udaipur the evening is at leisure for you to enjoy as you will.
DAY 10: UDAIPUR
The day is devoted to exploring the lake city, famous for its palaces, lakes, museums, temples, and gardens.
DAY 11: UDAIPUR / DEOGARH BY SURFACE
The magnificent Deogarh Palace now functions as a heritage hotel. Visit the village for an intimate experience of rural life.
DAY 12: DEOGARH / SAMODE BY SURFACE
Located just outside Jaipur this lovely little village is the perfect place from where to explore that city.
DAY 13: SAMODE
A morning excursion to the ramparts of Amber Fort gives you the afternoon to visit sites and tour the bustling lanes of Jaipur’s bazaars.
DAY 14: SAMODE / AGRA BY SURFACE
On the drive to Agra a halt at the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri or Keoladeo Ghana National Pan can be arranged.
DAY 15: AGRA / DELHI BY SURFACE
Visit the magnificent Taj Mahal and other exquisite monuments that are part of Agra’s heritage. Drive back to Delhi in the afternoon.
DAY 16: DEPARTURE DELHI
Transfer to the airport in time for your flight out.
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