INDIA: Royal Rajasthan

Rajasthan, the Land of Kings, is India at its most colorful and exotic. Our remarkable journey through India takes in the wonders of Jaipur and Jodphur, explores the Thar Desert by camel back, and visits the Taj Mahal at sunrise.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Departure Dates 

October through March, on request

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1

Arrival in Delhi

Upon arrival in Delhi, meet your Boundless Journeys representative at the airport and drive to our hotel. The rest of the evening is free to relax or explore.
The Imperial, Delhi

DAY 2
Delhi City Tour

Easy walking, 2-4 hours.

This morning, gather with your fellow travelers at breakfast before heading out to explore India's bustling capital. Our local guide leads us through the cultural icons of India's Muslim history in Old Delhi, as well as New Delhi's commercial and financial districts. Discover Delhi's varied architectural styles, from the Pathan and Mughal periods. This evening, gather for a welcome dinner and orientation to the exciting journey ahead.
The Imperial, Delhi

DAY 3
Delhi to Agra; Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal

Easy walking, 2-4 hours.

Following breakfast, drive about five hours to the historic riverside city of Agra, former capital of the Mughal Empire. This afternoon, explore the imposing Agra Fort--a.k.a the Red Fort--a World Heritage site that took seven years to rebuild, beginning in 1565, on a site that had been occupied for centuries by an older fortress. The Mughal ruler Akbar commissioned the red sandstone Agra Fort, christening it the capital of his empire. Grandson Shah Jahan transformed the fort's militaristic style into a handsome palace with ornate gardens and white marble buildings. Stroll through the great halls, towers, ornate alcoves, and terraced pavilions. Be sure to see the Pearl Mosque--Jahan's personal place of worship--the spectacular mirrored palace of Sheesh Mahal, and the Khas Mahal, which displays one of the best examples of painting on marble in the world.

Later we visit India's stunning iconic landmark, the Taj Mahal, built in 1632 to remember Shah Jahan's favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. This equisite white marble mausoleum is the world's finest representation of Mughal architecture, combining Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic influences. We will have plenty of time to delve into the Taj's offerings, including its outlying buildings, the tomb itself, and the charbagh, a spectacular formal garden complex with sunken flowerbeds. Amble along the path by the reflecting pool and admire the finer details, such as the hand painted calligraphies, precious stone inlays, and superb carvings.
The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra

DAY 4
Sunrise at the Taj Mahal; Agra to Jaipur

This morning, rise early to take advantage of a tremendous photo opportunity: the Taj Mahal at sunrise, when striking images of light capture the ethereal quality of this stupendous masterpiece. Return to the hotel for breakfast then travel about five hours to the captivating "Pink City" of Jaipur, so called for its pink stucco buildings that mimick sandstone. The Mughal buildings were painted pink in the late nineteenth century for the visit of Prince Albert.

With the aid of a Hindu priest-turned-architect, Jaipur's founder, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, created the current city in 1727. While most of India's cities at that time had been a jumble of narrow, twisting streets, Jaipur was laid out according to Hindu architectural principles, which called for strict geometric planning. Thus, the city was built in the form of a nine-part Mandala, which signifies the nine planets of the ancient astrological zodiac. Sawai Jai Singh II was a great astronomer. In addition, the shops were designed in multiples of nine with one cross street representing each of the nine planets. Following dinner you will have the chance to explore this lovely city on your own.
Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur

DAY 5
Jaipur

Elephant safari; Easy walking, 2-4 hours.

Our day begins with a short drive to the Dera Amer camp, situated behind the hills of the famous Amber Fort. Our elephant safari is conducted in the original Aravali forests surrounding the camp and follow a route through villages, agricultural fields, hills and ancient monuments. The birdlife in the thick forests is thriving, and though panthers do inhabit the surrounding jungle it is very rare to see them. Occasionally hyena and wolves may be spotted, and antelope and jackals are in abundance.

Following our elephant safari and picnic breakfast we proceed to the 16th-century Amber Fort, a classic fusion of Hindu and Mughal styles set in the rugged Rajasthani hills outside of Jaipur. What today is known as the fort was initially a palace complex within the original fort for the city of Amber. You can choose to walk up the hill to the fort or go by elephant-back, a great way to see the surrounding area. Inside we view the impressive wall paintings, carvings, and mosaics. Notice how the use of tiny mirrors enhances the feel of interior spaces. Explore the palace's royal apartments, gardens, halls, gateways, temples, and pavilions. Ascend the regal flight of stairs to the Hall of Public Audience, with its lattice-work galleries and double-row columns each with an elephant for its capital.

Time and weather permitting, we might also journey to the Fort of Jaigarh, also called the "Victory Fort," and built to bolster the defenses of Amber. A complete departure from the regal palace complex of Amber Fort, Jaigarh's massive fortified walls tower over the scrubby cliffs. Explore the parade grounds, armory and museums, as well as what is purported to be the world's largest canon on wheels. Later this afternoon you will have time to browse through one of the city's many bazaars or take a ride through the streets aboard a rickshaw.
Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur

DAY 6
Jaipur

Easy walking, 2-4 hours.

Following breakfast, we visit the City Palace. Blending traditional Rajasthan and Mughal architecture, this vast palace complex occupies one-seventh of the walled city of Jaipur. Experience its impressive array of courtyards, gardens, gateways, and temples in which you'll find collections of textiles, artwork, enamalwear, manuscripts, and breathtaking wall and ceiling designs. Another Jaipur landmark, Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) adjoins the City Palace and is a truly remarkable complex built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. The building's unusual five-story, pyramidal design offers panoramic views of the main streets of Jaipur, where ladies of the court could peer through windows at the bustling life below without being observed themselves.

Across the road from the City Palace, we see one of five of Sawai Jai Singh II's Jantar Mantars, astronomical observatories built in a unique style between 1727 and 1734. At this, the largest of the five, we see the fourteen unique geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, and tracking the stars and planets. All are cut sandstone and fixed in place, like a garden of giant steps leading to the heavens. The largest instrument is 90 feet high, and its shadow carefully plots the time of day.

After lunch, you may continue your exploration of the city at your leisure, setting out on foot through the boulevards and markets. It's a great place to watch skilled world-class artisans at work, employing traditional techniques and skills to create old-world treasures. Jaipur is particularly known for its jewelry, incorporating precious and semi-precious stones into ancient designs. Kundan jewelry is the local specialty, and its creation requires sophisticated skill. You may want to visit a gem-cutting factory, watch Jaipur's blue pottery being made, or observe the process of enameling.
Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur

DAY 7
Jaipur to Shahpura

We continue our expedition with a four-hour drive to the rural walled town of Shahpura, founded in 1629. We check into our hotel, the former palace known as Shahpura Bagh, a 30-acre estate granted to the grandson of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1630 for his military successes. This estate served as the summer palace for many subsequent rulers, and to this day is the home of the local ruling family. The house includes fine examples of Shekhawati frescos and architecture. Legend has it that ruler Rajadhiraj mortgaged the palace and his private collection of precious jewels in the 1920's in an effort to bring water to the people of Shahpura. The three surrounding lakes were created in the process. In addition to the 250 smaller lakes in the area, the larger manmade lakes provide a lush and refreshing atmosphere for visitors and residents.

Upon arrival, have lunch on the terrace before gathering for our cooking class. A local chef will instruct us in preparing traditional cuisine, enhancing our lesson with their knowledge of local history and ingredients. Tonight, sit down to supper, a sampling of our day's cooking demonstration. Later, explore the lush grounds or take a twilight dip in the pool.
Shahpura Bagh, Shahpura

DAY 8
Shahpura

Easy walking, 2-4 hours.

We begin our day with a leisurely walk through Shahpura's historic quarter for a look into the town's rich and varied culture and fascinating artistic traditions. Observe a craftsman as he carefully details a phad, a colorfully illustrated cloth painting of mythology and history. Visit the local school to meet with children and teachers, then have lunch at a rustic family farm, where we're invited to share with village residents for a glimpse into everyday Rajasthani life. The rest of our day is equally relaxed and carefree, as we continue our explorations of town. Take in the view from Dhikola Fort, situated on a hilltop above the vibrant green and rolling landscape dotted with sparkling lakes. Stroll through the wetlands of Nahar Sagar or Umaid Sagar at Shahpura Bagh to look for some of the region's diverse birdlife, including herons, godwits, and kingfishers. At sunset, visit Ram Dwara, an 18th-century temple built by the Ram Snehi, a Hindu sect. Its cluster of painted domes and impressive carvings make for excellent photo opportunities.
Shahpura Bagh, Shahpura

DAY 9
Shahpura to Nimaj

Jeep tour of local villages.

This morning after a leisurely breakfast, we drive to Nimaj to continue our exploration of the Rajasthani countryside. Situated off the Jaipur-Jodhpur road, the retreat at Chhatra Sagar was built as a hunting lodge of the Nimaj Estate. This idyllic heaven comprises a cluster of hand-stitched luxurious tents pitched on a dam, overlooking a lake teeming with birds. Each tent has a private bathroom, elaborately painted floors in henna, comfortable beds, and a private veranda facing the lake. All meals are prepared with farm fresh vegetables, and dishes such as lotus seeds with cardamom or rosewater-and-rose-petal pudding are time-honored family specialties savored in the open-air dining tent with views across the lake.

Surrounded by lush green fields of wheat, mustard, cotton and chilies and vast grazing pastures, this hundred year old reservoir is an ideal destination for nature lovers especially bird watchers, as the place is famous for Bar-headed Geese and Demoiselle Cranes. The food served here is some of the finest Rajasthani home cooking, and the charming family ensures you are well looked after. Due to its location, surrounded by farmland and small villages, a stay here allows you to experience rural Rajasthan.

After lunch, you are taken on a guided jeep tour to explore the traditional lifestyle of rural Rajasthan. We visit farming communities that provide insight into the traditional ways of farming and the water harvesting system used to provide irrigation to the dry lands of Rajasthan. Our exploration also includes a settlement of shepherds, and visits to the houses of the potter, silversmith, carpenter and the local school. We finish the afternoon with a visit to the 9th century temple, Magar Mandi Mata that is dedicated to goddess Ma Durga.

From your private veranda, watch the sun set this evening, while pelicans bob gently on the water's surface.
Chhatra Sagar, Nimaj

DAY 10
Nimaj to Osian Camel Camp

Optional camel riding or jeep safari.

Leaving behind our oasis by the lake, we drive about three hours to the tented camp of Osian at the gateway to the Thar Desert. This ancient village is legendary for its mesmerizing 6th-8th century temples, sand-dunes, tradition, and diversity of Rajasthani culture. Osian was a major religious center of the Marwar kingdom during the Pratihara Dynasty. From here we discover the unique culture of the local Bishnois, Bhils, shepherds, potters, and weavers that call this harsh environment home. We look for some of India's elusive wildlife, including blue-bulls--a large antelope species--gazelles, foxes, hares, partridges, sand grouse, peacocks, and demoiselle cranes. Once at the camp, nestled in the dunes, you might enjoy a swim in the pool to refresh from your long journey. Your host Reggie Singh, grandson of Jodhpur royal Maharaj Ratan, will invite you for an evening of splendor with cocktails, folk entertainment, and a candle-lit dinner.
Osian Camel Camp, Thar Desert, Jodhpur

DAY 11
Osian to Jodhpur

Easy walking, 2-4 hours.

This morning, we depart Osian and drive to Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan and once the capital of Marwar State at the edge of the Thar desert. Founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha--chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs--the city is dominated by the massive Mehrangarh, a fort looming over the city atop a rocky hill. Jodhpur remains one of the leading producers of wool, cattle, camels, and salt. Upon arrival, we have lunch and then set out to explore the city, whose year-round sunny weather has made Jodhpur the "Sun City" of India. It's also known as the "Blue City" because of indigo tints visible in the oceans of whitewashed houses. The old section of the city is contained within a massive stone wall with six gates.

After checking into our hotel, we explore the 15th-century fortress of Mehrangarh, which took more than 200 years to build. Despite its stark exterior, inside the fort features colorful antiques, intricate carvings, courtyards, ancient instruments, miniature paintings, and elephant saddles. It also contains the palace of the reigning Maharaja of Jodhpur. The fort originally had seven gates, or pols, one of which had spikes to prevent attack from elephants. The Fatehpol (Victory Gate) was erected by Maharaja Ajit Singh in 1907 to commemorate his victory over the Mughals. Beside the Lohapol (Iron Gate) you will see 15 handprints, the sati marks of widows of Maharaja Man Singh, who threw themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843. Stroll through the period rooms, armory, museum, and galleries.

Later, visit the Umaid Bhawan Palace (our home for tonight), named for the current Maharajah's grandfather and truly one of the last remaining magnificent palaces in India. It sits upon Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur, with commanding views of the city. It is still home to the royal family of Jodhpur and has 347 rooms and 26 acres of gardens. You will have time to explore different sections of the palace, including the expansive lawns, dance hall, theater, underground hospital, swimming pool, central hall, and museum. Here you'll find a collection of antique clocks, pictures, swords, and other possessions of past royal families.
Umaid Bhawan Palace, Osian

DAY 12
Jodhpur to Delhi Flight

Easy walking, 2-3 hours.

After breakfast, head out on foot to discover more of the city, perhaps strolling through lively markets or stopping to watch the daily life of Rajasthanis. After lunch, drive to the airport for our flight to Delhi, arriving around mid-afternoon. We check into our hotel and the rest of the day is free for further exploration. This evening we gather one last time to celebrate your adventure. You may choose to depart late this evening or the following day based on your flight schedule.
The Imperial, Delhi

DAY 13
Departure from Delhi

We say our goodbyes and transfer to the airport for international flights.

Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary to take advantage of weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these should the need arise.

Also, please note that Flight schedules are subject to change, possibly affecting the order of events, but not the quality of experience, in the itinerary.

Price

Price 

1 Guest: $7,495 plus single supplement
2-3 Guests: $6,595 per person
4+ Guests: $6,295 per person
Single Supplement: $2495

Price Includes:
*Expert local guides
*All accommodations
*All breakfasts, 5 lunches, 2 dinners
*All transportation during the tour
*All activities as noted in the itinerary

This itinerary can be customized, depending on hotel and activity preferences. Please contact us for a custom quote.