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Royal Rajasthan 

Would you like to be a guest in the household of an Indian prince? Then travel with us to experience the fascinating scenery, visit artistic temples. The folklore of heroism and romance resound from the formidable monuments that majestically stand to tell the tale of a bygone era. The magic of vibrant Rajasthan - its rich heritage, colorful culture, exciting desert safaris, shining sand-dunes, amazing variety lush forests and varied wildlife - makes it a destination nonpareil. Rajasthan is often portrayed as one vast open-air museum, with its relics so well preserved that it delights even the most skeptical traveler.

 

Day 1: Depart for Delhi

Day 2: Delhi
Arrive Delhi in the evening.

Day 3: Delhi (B, L, D)
This morning, you will begin your visit with a rickshaw ride down Chandni Chowk, the old market street of Delhi. As you drive, you should think of the street as a supermarket with different departments - hair ornaments, pots and pants, blankets and the like. You will also visit Red Fort, built by Shah Jehan. Following a late lunch, you can head over to the Bahai Temple, and then drive to a very important site along the Yamuna River - the Gandhi Memorial. Simple in design, the site is visited by constant streams of Indians.

Day 4: Delhi - Mandawa (B, L, D)
Leaving Delhi, you have a 5-hour drive to Mandawa and the homes of Shekhavati. The merchants of Shekhavati, a feudatory of Jaipur until 1491, built themselves palatial and fortified havelis, chhatris to the dead, serais and inns and temples surrounding lakes and reservoirs. They employed a bevy of craftspeople to decorate their domains. The region is also the home of the Marwari community, which for more than a century has been the backbone of commercial entrepreneurship in India. With the help of chiteras, the fresco painters, the Marwaris transformed their houses into a luxury of paintings. Thus, Shekhavati contains a veritable feast of wall paintings town after town, village after village, an abundance of art unmatched in the world.

Day 5: Mandawa (B, L, D)
You have a long day to explore some of famous towns of this area, starting at Fatehpur. Here, the Devra and Singhania Havelis are considered to be the finest artwork in the region. The two Bhartia Havelis are decorated with mirror, and, quite unexpectedly, have entrances decorated with Japanese tiles patterned with Mt Fuji. Churu has an l8th-century fort and large painted havelis, while the charm of Mukundgarh, apart from the fabulous Kanoria and Ganermwala Havelis, is in the white colonnaded local handicrafts market. Chiteras, the painters, initially used only vegetable dyes in their frescoes. Blended with limewater and mixed into plaster, the life of the colors lasted as long as the buildings themselves. The actual production of the frescoes mandated collaboration between builder and artist, with the artist painting his designs on the still damp plaster of the builder.

Day 6: Mandawa - Bikaner (B, L, D)
From Mandawa, you will drive to Bikaner. Bikaner owes its existence to a son’s ambition to strike out from his family and make his own kingdom. Beginning in 1468, Rao Bika used his military and political acumen to annex and consolidate what was later to become Bikaner. By 1587, the territory was secure, construction of the Junagarh Fort had begun, and Bikaner was thriving as a center of trade on the ancient silk route. Because of its remote location, even today Bikaner retains its traditional customs and lifestyle.

Day 7: Bikaner - Jaisalmer (B, L, D)
Leaving Bikaner, you head west through the desert to Jaisalmer the westernmost city in India. When you finally reach Jaisalmer, you will stay at the Gorbandh Palace.

Day 8: Jaisalmer (B, L, D)
Jaisalmer was founded in 1156 A.D. by Rawal Jaisul. Legend has it that Lord Krishna made a cleft in the triple peaked hill of Tricuta, brought forth a spring of water, and declared that one day his descendants would rule the area. Claiming descent from Lord Krishna, Rawal Jaisul consulted a local hermit named Eesul and established his new capital on Tricuta. Jaisalmer’s strategic location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West ensured it prosperity, while its remoteness ensured its cultural heritage. If you wish, you can rise for sunrise from the chhatris or burial monuments. Then, after breakfast, you will visit the spectacular Jain temple of Jaisalmer and tour the fort. You will also visit Khuri Village with its brilliant examples of folk design.

Day 9: Jaisalmer - Jodhpur (B, L, D)
Early departure to Jodhpur, the second largest city of Rajasthan, founded in 1485 by Rao Jodha, whose name the city bears. Visit the Mehrangarh Fort. Rising sharply on a perpendicular cliff, Mehrangarh Fort is by far the most imposing citadel in India. Spread over an area of 3 sq. miles, the stunning Jodhpur fort in red sandstone has seven gates and preserves one of the most beautiful structures in Rajasthan. The forbidding ramparts lend a very rugged appeal to the colossal fort while inside lie magnificent palaces and museums replete with palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture.

Day 10: Jodhpur - Rawla Jojawar (B, L, D)
Your path today takes you to Rawla Jojawar, a beautiful castle tucked away in the Aravali Hills that has retained the old world charm that was inherent in the princely fiefdoms of yesteryear. Constructed in the 18th century, the castle hosted some of the elite of the British Raj, and its hospitality has continued unabated into the present.

Day 11: Rawla Jojawar (B, L, D)
You start your exploration of the area today with a train ride. Travelling on a narrow gauge line, the experience is delightful. Arriving at the tiny station you will have the opportunity to see systems which have not changed since they were set up by the British. Modernity has still not come to this area, which is part of the charm. The train, which you share with tribal resplendent in their traditional outfits and silver jewelry, trundles its way through the hills. This afternoon’s safari takes you to visit the settlements of the Rebari tribals, Herders by profession; they live in simple thatched and mud houses, but wear exquisite silver jewelry.

Day 12: Rawla Jojawar - Udaipur (B, L, D)
After breakfast, you will head out to one of the stars of Rajasthan, the wonderful city of Udaipur, stopping on the way at the spectacular Jain Temple of Ranakpur. Ranakpur is one of the most important of the Jain pilgrimage sites in India. The central temple, Chaumukha, is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankara (revealer of truth), Adinath, and contains 1,444 exquisitely carved marble pillars.

Day 13: Udaipur (B, L, D)
In contrast to Jodhpur and Delhi, Udaipur is a city of shimmering lakes, marble palaces and verdant hills. Justifiably, it has been called the “Venice of the East”. Myth has it that the spirit of Udaipur gazes toward the fort of Chittor and owes its birth as a city of pleasure to the misfortunes of that battle-scarred fort. You will visit one of the marvels of Udaipur - the City Palace begun by Maharana Udai Singh. Of the many palaces of Rajasthan, the City Palace is one of the most beautiful in terms of artwork. The stained glass, inlay work, tiles, and miniatures - everything is exquisite. Leaving the palace, you walk along past fabric stores, jewelers, painters, and shop a bit. On the path is the Jagdish Temple, built in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh and dedicated to Vishnu.

Day 14: Udaipur - Delhi (B, L, D)
Fly to Delhi. Rest of the day is free.

Day 15: Delhi - USA (B)
Depart for homeward journey.

Tour date:
October 8 - 22, 2016

Tour Price
including flights $ 5,240 per person
excluding flights $ 3,790 per person

Included in tour price:
Flights, tour coordinator/guide, accommodation on full meal basis, Monument admission fee, ground transportation, internal flights

Excluded in tour price:
Insurance, visa fee for India, additional programs, gratuities

Flights:
Los Angeles/Delhi

Our Hotels (or similar):
Delhi: Vasant Continental *****
Mandawa: Castle Mandawa
Bikaner: Laxmi Niwas Palace
Jaisalmer: Gorbandh Palace
Jodhpur: Taj Harimahal *****
Rawla Jojawa:r Rawla Jojawar
Udaipur: Laxmi Vilas Palace