Delhi to Udaipur - 10 Days / 9 Nights
Day 1 Arrive Delhi
Arrive to Delhi, India. After completing immigration and custom formalities you will be met by your guide who will escort you to a waiting vehicle for your transfer to the hotel.
Delhi is made up of about 15 cities, spanning the period from the 11th to 20th centuries. There is little left of the early cities. Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) and New Delhi, the two most recent cities and the heart of modern Delhi, are relatively intact. Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in 1650 switched the Mughal capital from Agra to Delhi. Shah Jehan possessing an exquisite talent, especially in architecture, created the seventh city and in the process brought about Delhi's glorious renaissance. The Red Fort (Lal Qila) is Shah Jehan's symbol of power and elegance, built behind red sandstone walls. Its main gate (Lahore Gate) faces Chandni Chowk, the perpetually congested avenue heading west from the Red Fort, is filled with twisting lanes, small streets and crowded bazaars. If you peer through a portico you may see a man getting shaved, silver being weighed, or any other conceivable form of intense commerce.
In 1911 King George V announced the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. The King's architects, Lutyens and Baker, set in motion the design and construction of Delhi's eight city - New Delhi. Lutyens designed an "Imperial City" having palatial-sized buildings set amid broad tree-lined avenues punctuated by Moghul style gardens, complete with fountains and shallow pools. It took 20 years to complete this immense undertaking only to have the British pack up and relinquish the subcontinent in 1947.
Accommodation: Jokhang Temple Cool Yak Hotel
Day 2 Delhi
This morning visit Old Delhi, which is a striking contrast to New Delhi. Here are very narrow streets with unregulated traffic of all kinds (where might is always right). The Red Fort, built when the Mughal (Muslim) architecture was at its peak, is surrounded by a 2 km red sandstone wall and houses several splendid buildings. The Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) opposite the Red Fort is the largest mosque in India and one of the greatest examples of the architectural extravaganza of the Mughal era, then a brief stop at Raj Ghat -- Mahatma Gandhi's memorial in black marble. The highlight is a walk through Chandni Chowk (Silver Square), the main shopping street, and a legacy of the Mughal era.
This afternoon visit New Delhi. Visit Qutub Minar - a tall tower, built to call the devout for prayer at an adjoining mosque. The India Gate (War Memorial) is a 42 meter high stone arch and has names of 90,000 Indian soldiers who died in the first world war. The President's house is a huge building with 340 rooms in the middle of sprawling well laid out gardens. The architecture here is purely British.
Included Meals: B
Day 3 Delhi-Agra
At approximately 9:30 AM be ready in the lobby of the hotel in preparation for your overland drive to Agra. The drive takes approximately 4 hours.
At the time of the Mughals, in the 16th & 17th centuries, Agra was the capital of the grand Mughal Empire. During this period the city became a leading centre of art, science, commerce and culture. Akbar the Great made Agra great. The city's origins are dim but Akbar's grandfather Babur is credited with Agra's founding. The short golden age of Agra came to an end with the seventeenth century reign of Shah Jehan, mastermind of the unforgettable Taj Mahal. (Breakfast)
The Taj Mahal is one of the most extravagant monuments in the world, built by an emperor in the found memory of his queen. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631, and is believed to have taken 18 years to complete, with over 20,000 craftsmen working around the clock.
The design and construction is said to be that of the legendary architect, Ustad Ahamad Lahori. Legend has it that once construction was completed, Shah Jehan had Lahori's hands cut off, and blinded, so he would never be able to duplicate the structure. What makes the Taj Mahal unique is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, medium of construction and ornamentation. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day. It is impossible to visualize the Taj Mahal in any surrounding other than in its paradoxical garden. Paradise, in Islam, is visualized as a lush garden where running streams flow. When the Mughals brought this concept to India they elevated it to heights of incomparable artistry.
Later travel by Tongas (horse carriage) to the massive Agra Fort. From the fort enjoy awesome views of the Taj Mahal. The elegant buildings inside reflect an interesting synthesis of Hindu and Central Asian architectural styles -- a contrast to the unique Mughal style that emerged during this period.
Explore the chambers of this royal residence. Shah Jahan was imprisoned here by his son Aurangzeb. The Shah spent his final years gazing at the tomb he had commissioned for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. You will also visit itmad ud Daulah, the tomb of Mirza Ghiyath Beg. It was designed by his daughter, Nur Jahan, the most powerful woman in Moghul history.
Included Meals: B
Day 4 Agra-Jaipur
At 9:00 AM be ready in the lobby of the hotel in preparation for your drive to Jaipur. The drive takes approximately 5 hours.
En route visit Fatehpur Sikri (a hilltop ghost fortress and site of the mausoleum of Salim Chistis, a medieval Muslim saint). Make a wish at his tomb as it is said that he still grants the prayers of the pure-hearted. This abandoned capital of the Mughala is a perfectly preserved city at the height of the empire's splendor. It is not hard to imagine what the court life must have been like in the days of its grandeur. Continue your journey to Jaipur , the land of the Rajahs.
Jaipur was the capital of Rajasthan province. Everywhere you will see the monuments of its Mughal rulers. Jaipur is one of the main centers for shopping in India -- especially with regard to textiles, jewelry, stones carpets, etc. Ambling camels and brightly dressed locals, reflect Jaipur’s desert heritage while the teeming markets display a profusion of handlooms and crafts.
Included Meals: B
Day 5 Jaipur
At 9:00 AM depart hotel and visit Amber Fort, a magnificent example of a Rajput Fort building at its best. Fortified by hills and a succession of gates, the fort was a perfect capital for the Kuchwaha Rajputs from the 11th to the 18th centuries. The fort contains a dramatic Hall of Public Audience opposite a beautifully painted Ganesh pole. Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Siva and Parvati, is commonly propitiated before beginning any new venture. Visit the gardens and the marble rooms, which are cooled by water pouring through fine perforations in the center of the wall. This low-tech air conditioning was highly effective and easy to use. As you move between the rooms of this magnificent structure feel the history and visualize the pomp and grandeur of a kingdom never conquered.
This afternoon visit the City Palace, home to an impressive collection of traditional Rajasthai and Mughal artwork, jewels, textiles and arms; Jantar Mantar; and the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, a tall facade of almost one
thousand windows, behind which royal ladies once took the air in privacy. The City Palace in the heart of the old city is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. The center of the palace is a seven-storied building called the Chandra Palace, with fine views of the garden and the city.
Next to the City Palace is the Solar Observatory -- an astronomical treasure house with solar devices that give accurate predictions till date.
Included Meals: B
Day 6 Jaipur-Jodhpur
At approximately 9:00 AM be ready in the lobby of the hotel in preparation for your overland journey to Jodhpur, the entrance to the Thar Desert. The drive takes approximately 5 ½ hours.
Jodhpur’s history revolves around the Rathore Clan. Rao Jodha, the chief of the Rathore clan, is credited with the origin of Jodhpur in India. He founded Jodhpur in 1459. The Rathores enjoyed good relations with all the Mughals, except Aurangzeb. Maharaja Jaswant Singh even supported Shahjahan in his struggle for succession. After Aurangzeb's death, Maharaja Ajit Singh drove out Mughals from Ajmer and added it to Marwar (now Jodhpur).
During the British Raj, the state of Jodhpur was the largest in Rajputana, by land area. Jodhpur prospered under the British Raj. Its merchants, the Marwaris, flourished endlessly. They came to occupy a dominant position in trade throughout India.
Included Meals: B
Day 7 Jodhpur
Today explore the streets of Jodhpur that reveals one of the most vibrant and colorful cities in Rajasthan. The bazaars sell all manner of goods, with locally made specialties including tie-dye fabrics, puppets and lacquered jewelry. The old city is still surrounded by 15th century town walls and the colorful lane of Jaisalmeriyon ki Gali feels like a step back in time.
Visit the adjoining villages where you will see weavers, potters and the tribal shepherds, the Bishnois. The Bhishnois were the protectors of nature for five centuries and arguably the world's first ecologists, responsible for the survival of species such as the black-buck antelope: the semi nomadic Raika shepherds of Marwar whose brilliant crimson and marigold costumes would put modern designers to shame; and the Paliwals and the Meghwals, the farmers and weavers.
This afternoon visit the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. 'Mehrangarh', meaning the Majestic Fort is one of the largest forts in India. Located at the center of the city the fort spreads over 3 miles. The magnificent fort was originally started by Rao Jodha in 1459.
Most of the fort which stands today dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (1638-78). The fort houses some of the most intricately adorned palaces with exquisitely carved panels, latticed windows and brilliant stained glass. There are three gates, (originally seven) each built to commemorate a particular victory. Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana are some of the important palaces and apartments. The fort museum, in a series of palaces has a collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The canons, placed strategically on the ramparts are well preserved and impressive.
Included Meals: B
Day 8 Jodhpur-Udaipur
At 9:00 AM be ready in the lobby of the hotel in preparation for your overland transfer to Udaipur. The drive takes approximately 7 hours.
En route visit the Ranakpur Jain Temples. Renowned for some marvelous carve temples in Amber stone, Ranakpur is one of the five holy places of the community. These temples were created in the 15th century A..D. during the reign of Rana Kumbha and are enclosed with a wall. The central ‘Chaumukh’ or four faced temple is dedicated to the venerated the Tirthankara Rishabhji. Open on all four sides, it enshrines the four faces image of Adinath. Sprawling over 48,000 sq. feet, the temple is an astounding creation with 29 halls and 1,444 pillars-all distinctly carved.
Images of 24 tirthankaras are carved on the ‘mandaps’ or porticoes in a corridor around the shrine with each mandap having a ‘shikhar’ or spire adorned with little bells on the top. The gentle breeze wafting through the corridors moves the bells creating celestial music all around the complex. Rising in three levels the temple has four small shrines with 80 spires supported by 420 columns. Two temples, dedicated to saints- Parasvanath and Neminath, face the main temple. The temples have beautiful carvings similar to that of Khajuraho. Another temple worth visiting is the nearby Sun Temple, an 8th century A.D. temple dedicated to the Sun god.
Udaipur is a cool oasis in the dry heart of Rajasthan. It is probably the most romantic city in a state where every city has some romantic or exotic tale to tell.
Included Meals: B
Day 9 Udaipur
This morning visit the City Palace, towering over Lake Pichola. The City Palace is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Though it is a conglomeration of buildings built by successive rulers, it manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design and affords fine views of the lake and the city from upper terraces.
Also visit Jagadish temple which enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu and his vehicle - a might bird called Garuda -- in a brass image. The temple is a very fine example of Indo-Aryan art. The temple is still in use and is visited by colorfully dressed pilgrims. Also visit Sahelion Ki Bari - the spectacular garden displaying the unique life style of the royal ladies who once lived in the palaces.
Spend some time in the bustling market that sprawls behind the City Palace Complex.
This afternoon set out on a boat ride on Lake Pichola (subject to water levels). There is no more delightful way to see this city. While boating in Lake Pichola, you will see the City Palace and its crenellated walls, draped gracefully along a high ridge. You will also see the Gangaur Ghat, where during the colorful Gangaur Festival, Rajasthani women offer prayers for a good husband. You will also see the beautiful island of Jagmandir, dedicated to the Lord of the Universe, and Jag Niwas (the Lake palace), mirrored in the waters of Lake Pichola.
Included Meals: B
Day 10: Udaipur to Delhi
After breakfast depart Udaipur.
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