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Day 1 Arrive Delhi
Following a leisurely breakfast, we proceed on a guided tour of New Delhi, Visiting such sights as Bahai Temple, Humayuns Tomb (1586), the Qutab Minar 72 meters high and one of the most perfect towers in the Persian world. The Iron Pillar which has survived the vagaries of weather for over 1500 years. Continue with a drive through Embassy area, the Government buildings (1921-1930) and Connaught Place, the heart and main shopping district of the capital.
Afternoon we cross the city and into the walled gates of the Old city with visits to the Jamma Mosque (1650) and drive through the fabled area of Chandni Chowk (aptly translates to Moonlight Square) where the throngs of shoppers and vendors meet in the oldest area of Delhi. Visit the Red Fort (1639-1648 built by Shah Jehan the builder of the Taj Mahal in Agra) to view the inlaid and carved Royal Chambers, on to Raj Ghat and nearby ghats where the founder of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi and thereafter Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were cremated.
The highlight of this tour would be a ride on cycle rickshaws. Now these are 3-wheel cycles with a sofa seat at the back. The Rickshawalla (Rickshaw driver) sits on a small cushion in the front and two passengers on the sofa seat behind. This is a remarkable way to explore and picture the hustle and bustle as well as the colour of the narrow winding streets bursting with people and pavement shops selling wares of all description - including a laughing set of dentures. The ride would be accompanied by peals of laughter both from the passengers as well as the onlookers.
Day 03: Delhi - Agra (205 Kms)
After a leisurely breakfast we will drive to Agra along one of the Indias finest. We will have opportunities to stop on the way at well-appointed restaurants for refreshments as well as restroom services.
Upon arrival check into hotel Taj-View Hotel 5* hotel, which allows you to live in the lap of luxury and gaze at the Taj Mahal for as long as you wish - whenever you feel like.
After rest and relaxation we ride to the massive Agra Fort. The elegant buildings inside reflect an interesting synthesis of Hindu and Central Asian architectural styles. Built by Emperor Akbar, the maze of the courtyards, mosques & private chambers of the fort echo the story of the Mughal Empire. The Moti Masjid & other magnificent buildings reflect the skill of the ancient Indian architects.
Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, perhaps the most photographed monument in the world. However, there is a degree of enigma about the Taj. Once you hear about a building so much and once you see so many pictures of a building your expectations are real high; and this is the enigma about the Taj Mahal. No matter how many pictures you have seen or no matter how high your expectations are the Taj never lets you down - the unparalleled glory and beauty of the building surpasses beyond all human imaginations. At sun set we visit the Taj Mahal to witness this spectacular monument built for love. Besides perfect symmetry in every aspect of its construction, the inlay work of semi precious stones into marble in pietra dura style is absolutely remarkable.
Day 04 Agra Taj Mahal - Fatehpur Sikri - Jaipur (245 Kms)
Jaipur - Heritage On Wheels (Operates On Tuesday & Friday)
Following a leisurely breakfast we drive to Jaipur stopping at deserted Capital City of Fatehpur Sikri. This abandoned capital of the Mughals is a perfectly preserved city at the height of the empires splendour. The city divided into religious and secular parts has interesting well-sculpted buildings. From here we continue drive to Jaipur.
Upon arrival in Jaipur, check-in to board Heritage on Wheels at 1930 Hrs and Depart for Bikaner followed by Dinner and overnight on board.
Day 05: Heritage On Wheels - Bikaner
6 AM arrival in Bikaner. Following breakfast, proceed on a tour of Bikaner, the Royal fortified city with a timeless appeal. Lying in the north of the Desert State, City is dotted with many sand dunes. Bikaner stands on a Slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by a seven Km long embattled wall with five gates. The magnificent forts and palaces created with delicacy in reddish-pink, sandstone, bear testimony to its historical and architectural legacy.
Following the tour we visit the Bikaner Haat an open air bazaar. Continue on to Gajner where we enjoy a sumptuous lunch at the exquisite Gajner Palace, which is a summer resort of Bikaner Maharajas. The palace situated on the embankment of a lake, has often been described as ' an incomparable jewel in the Thar desert'.
Following lunch we enjoy a safari into the wildlife sanctuary. Wildlife is plentiful and the best time for the safari is the early morning or the early evenings when the wildlife flocks to the lake to drink water.
In the evening we reach Lalgarh Palace for tea. The magnificent fort in red sandstone represents a fascinating juxtaposition of the Oriental style and European luxury that leaves you truly mesmerised. Designed by Sir Swinton Jacob for Maharaja Ganga Singh almost -90 years ago, this is an extraordinary monument. The palace has a billiards room, a library, a cards room and a smoking room. Belgian chandeliers, cut - glass ornaments, oil paintings and lamps, all adding to its charm.
Return to the train for dinner & Overnight.
Day 6 Heritage on Wheels - Tal Chhapar & Shekhawati
Arrive this morning for a tour of Tal Chhapar Sactuary which is famous for black-bucks. This exotic park with beautiful environs has a unique ecosystem. The place is a bird lovers paradise and the bird life includes imperial eagle, tawny eagle, short toed eagle, sparrow hawk are common here. The other birds commonly seen here are skylark, crested lark, ring drove, brown dove, blue jay, green bee eaters, black ibis and demoiselle cranes which stay there till March.
From here we depart for a tour of Ramgarh a sleepy village which was founded by a dissatisfied group of the Poddar family in 1791. We visit the havelis (mansions) with their typical paintings. We also visit the well known Chhatri (Cenotaph) of Ram Gopal Poddar with magnificent paintings
We continue to Mandawa for a guided tour. In Mandawa we visit some of the ancient and beautifully preserved havelis (mansions). They would give us an idea of how families lived in those days. The havelis have beautiful paintings depicting mythological themes on the walls. Made from vegetable dyes these paintings have lasted centuries and still are quite sharp. Today, the world comes to this storybook town to see its colourful frescoes on every subject under the sun, that is, ranging from the religious to the erotic; from copies of popular English prints to witty social satire, rendered in the inimitable style of the local artist
Following the tour we enjoy a hot buffet lunch at Mandawa Resort. The mystery and romance of the desert are captured in the unusual architecture of the resort. Recreated in the style of a typical Rajasthani village, The Desert Resort is a verdant oasis in the midst of a stark desert landscape. Visitors to this haven can experience a whole new world - the aesthetic charm of the rural without compromising on luxury or comfort. The Desert Resort reflects the traditional harmony between man and nature in the region.
After lunch we ride out for a tour of Nawalgarh which was founded in 1737 by Nawal Singh. The village has a high school (with a very British clock) and hundreds of painted havelis. Most of the better known Rajasthani families of merchants came out of Nawalgarh. Many buildings from the first part of the 20th century still exist. This is the town where you can see the finest Shekhawati frescos. The havelis still testify of the rich and wealthy Marwari age of the 19th century. Worth visiting are: Aath (eight) haveli complex, Anandilal Poddar haveli, Jodhraj Patodia haveli, Bansidhar Bhagat haveli, Chokhani haveli, Hotel Roop Niwas Palace.
Following tea at the Nawalgarh Palace we board our train for dinner and overnight.
Day 7 Luxury Heritage On Wheels - Jaipur
Following breakfast on the train, we disembark at Jaipur train station.
Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to Hotel Alsisar Haveli - This is the flagship hotel in a bouquet of heritage hotels. The Haveli lies tucked away in the heart of Pink City, Jaipur. It brings back to life the grandeur of the old days and is a memorable regal Rajasthan experience for the guests. Refurbished in 1982, the Haveli incorporates the finesse of traditional Rajput architecture and a site to behold. The large elevated platform that dominates the central area of the ground floor and once used for get-togethers by the gents of the house is now open to guests who can witness puppet shows and folk dances while enjoying their snacks or drinks. The spacious lobby which opens into the chowk (inner courtyard), was a century ago used by the ladies of the house and is now open to guests. You will treasure this experience of staying in an authentic Rajput home.
After rest and relaxation we visit Amber Fort, the former capital of the royal Jaipurs. Few fail to be moved by the dramatic Rajput grandeur of this hilltop fortress-palace 11 km north of Jaipur. Set on the dry wrinkled Aravali Hills, and surrounded by fortified battlements, the palace straddles two sepia-hued tundra hills overlooking Maota Lake, and its sprawling crenellated walls lattice the surrounding hills.
We will ride up to this hilltop palace on a caparisoned, painted elephant, passing through the ancient main gate where Maharajas of Jaipur have entered for four hundred years. Our guide will elaborate on the history of this architectural masterpiece with its mirror-studded alcoves, dazzling mosaics and water-cooled swings that delight todays visitors as they did their former royal residents.
We shall also visit the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, a five-storied structure of pink sandstone with semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed windows overlooking the main street of the old city. It was built in 1799 so that veiled royal women could peer down unseen by the world through its 593 stone screens.
Following lunch, we preceded a tour Of City Palace & Observatory. The City Palace in the heart of the old city is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. The centre of the palace is a seven-storied building called Chandra Palace, with fine vies over the gardens and the city. The palace lies in the heart of the city and occupies the whole central grid. The fortified wall has seven gates and was built for protection from invading armies and animals that lived in jungles, which surrounded the wall that time. Next, we visit the Solar Observatory - an astronomical treasure house, with solar device that give accurate predictions till date.
Day 8 Jaipur - Delhi (270 Kms) - Departure
After breakfast, we explore the unending shopping options of Jaipur. An essential starting point for Rajasthan craft work is block making and block printing and we will be exploring the process from start to finish in some of the popular stores here. The opportunity also exists here to tailor make outfits to your design and size.
We also explore one of the chief attractions of Jaipur - its jewelry, which offers a variety that ranges from chunky tribal jewelry to enameled gold to modern diamond jewelry. Kundan (art of stone setting) and enamel jewelry has been a specialty of Rajasthan, particularly that of Jaipur. The stones are embossed into decorative shapes & patterns and embellished with delicate enamel ornamentation in the champeve (raised field) technique. Jaipur is well known for its gold and silver enameling. Colorful bangles made of lac and set with semiprecious stones make an inexpensive buy. The craftsmen take great pains to embed the hundreds of stones into the lac. The skilled gem-cutters of Jaipur carve enchanting little animals and birds from rock, crystal, jade, smoky topaz and amethyst. Intaglio beads & buttons and crystal scent bottles are also available.
Later we will drive to Delhi along one of the Indias finest freeways.
A Home Visit & a Farewell Dinner with an Indian Family : - Upon arrival, we would visit an Indian family for an Indian home experience. The evening is designed to give you a feel and insight into Indian family life as well as experience typical Indian hospitality and home made Indian food.
Following the dinner transfer to the international airport to board a flight back home.
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