The Best of North India
November 1st – November 24th 2024
4750 USD Single
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.
There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
HOSTED BY: LOUISE ORPIN
On Her Own | But Not Alone
Join your fellow solo travellers as we explore amazing Rajasthan.
You'll stay in luxury desert resorts, historical palaces and beautiful havelis - Indian mansions still owned by royalty today. 23 days of incredible friendship, discovery, fabulous food and ..... fun!
During this tour you will marvel at the immense forts and palaces of Rajasthan, built with the incredible wealth of the Rajput rulers.
Wander through Old Delhi and immerse yourself in the scent of spices during a street food crawl. Experience the magic of India's open-air art gallery in Shekhawati as you walk through the ruins of the painted Havelis built a century ago. Feel the romance of the Taj Mahal as you discover the hidden secrets behind Shah Jahan’s tragic monument.
Be on hand during a block-printing demonstration in Jaipur and pick out your favourite cotton for a tailor-made Indian salwar. Cruise beautiful Lake Pichola in Udaipur and stop at the fabulous Jag Mandir Island for lunch on the scenic terrace. Take a walking tour through the alleyways in the blue city of Jodhpur. Sleep blissfully under the stars in a Swiss tent in the vast Thar desert, surrounded by endless dunes.
This comprehensive tour explores Rajasthan in depth and is incredible value for new or returning visitors to India.
DAY 1 Delhi
Pick up at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Rest or relax with an optional Ayurvedic massage/spa. Welcome refreshments with your guide and driver in the evening. Overnight Delhi.
DAY 2 Delhi
Breakfast and then start your city tour including Jama Masjid, Qtub Minar, Red Fort and Humayan's Tomb. Tea break and lunch at your leisure. Afternoon free time browsing the bazaars.
Dinner at your leisure. Overnight Delhi.
DAY 3 Agra
Leave Delhi after breakfast and travel to Agra - approx. 3.5 hours. On the outskirts of Agra, is Sikandra and the Tomb of Akbar the Great. Also called Akbar's Mausoleum, this masterpiece of architecture was constructed in the 1600's. It's noteworthy for the beautiful sandstone buildings inlaid with marble and slate and the surrounding grounds. One of the greatest Mughal rulers, Akbar's tomb is a fitting monument to his life and accomplishments. Covering over 119 acres, it hosts a wildlife park, expansive gardens and several tall minarets.
Break for lunch before we travel to the lesser known, but still impressive, tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, called the “Baby Taj”. The buildings are smaller but wonderfully decorated with inlaid, painted and raised plaster designs.
Dinner at Pinch of Spice. Overnight Agra.
DAY 4 Agra
In the early morning we'll watch the sunrise across the Jumana River illuminate the beautiful Taj Mahal. We'll take in the view from the Moon Garden or Mehtab Bagh at the riverfront. Then back to your hotel for breakfast before we see more of Agra. We return to Taj Mahal by midday - the stunning monument to Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s beloved wife. Designed and built over 22 years by Persian architect Ustad Isa, it stands forever as a testament to the heart-broken Shah’s undying love.
Afternoon at your leisure. Set dinner at a favourite restaurant. Overnight Agra.
DAY 5 Agra
BreakfastThe next famous monument we’ll see today is the Agra Fort. This was built as the summer palace of Shan Jahan and from the high terrace you can view the Taj Mahal in the distance. Built of intricately embellished red sandstone it provides a distinct contrast to the marble palaces within. Later have a walk through Shah Jahan Gardens.. Afternoon at your leisure.
DAY 6 Agra to Bharatpur
Today we leave early for Bharatpur - approx. 2 hours from Agra. On our way, we will stop at Fatehpur Sikri, the city Akbar built in 1570 and abandoned 10 years later. This Unesco site has been well preserved with the palaces, gates and sandstone exteriors lying undisturbed over the centuries. Check-in to your Bharatpur hotel and lunch. After lunch we'll visit the Deeg Palace and Fort before heading back for a rest before dinner. Overnight Bharatpur.
DAY 7 Jaipur
Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur is first today. The former duck hunting preserve of the Maharajas is an important overwintering area for thousands of migrating water birds as well as home to over 300 endemic species. Quiet trails surround man-made lakes and wetlands interrupted by grassy savannah and dry tropical forests.
This Unesco World Heritage site spreads over 29 square kms and we will enjoy a naturalist guided hike and rickshaw ride for approx. 1.5 hrs. Leave late morning to Jaipur - approx. 3 hours. We'll stop on the way for lunch and to visit Ahbnaheri Step Well - the deepest in the world at over 100 feet. Check-in Dera Rawatsar - free time.
DAY 8 Jaipur
The grand Amer or Amber Fort, built by Raja Man Singh in the 1600’s, awaits our morning arrival. Walk the scenic route to the Sun Gate overlooking Maota lake.
The huge enclosure holds the stunning Palace of Mirrors (Sheesh Mahal), Hall of Public Audience (Diwan-e-Aam), the Hall of Private Audience (Diwan-e-Khas) and the innovative Sukh Niwas. This enclosure created early air conditioning using the wind that blew over water soaked reeds within the palace!
Nearby is the Tiger, or Nahargarh Fort, standing on the edge of the
Aravalli Hills overlooking sprawling Jaipur below. Although smaller, the palace has wonderful views and impressive frescoes throughout.
We'll have a light lunch enroute to "The Pink City" where we will visit the iconic Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). On our way we can view the Jal Mahal - the lovely Water Palace set it Man Sagar Lake.
Now abandoned, it floats like a mirage surrounded by the lake and mountains. Our afternoon finishes with a walk through the beautiful palace and gardens of Sisodia Rani ka Bagh a romantic 18th-century palace with formal gardens, fountains, temples & pavilions.
Set rooftop dinner at the Peacock Restaurant.
Overnight Dera Rawatsar Heritage Hotel.
DAY 9 Jaipur
Today we explore the City Palace built by Raja Man Singh during 1729-1732. The complex includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces as well as a colourful bazaar. There is a wonderful museum and opulent palace rooms decorated with antique carpets and furniture. Parts are still inhabited by the royal family members today!
Free time to explore the bazaars and shops before we travel to the Textile museum mid-afternoon. Dinner at your leisure. Overnight Dera Rawatsar Heritage Hotel.
DAY 10 Alsisar
After breakfast we leave for Mandawa/Alsisar - in the Shekhawati region of India. Mandawa lies in North Rajasthan and is architecturally important for its wealth of beautifully painted Havelis.
Arrive mid-afternoon in time to walk through town and admire the beautiful frescoes decorating the walls and doorways of the mansions. Tonight we stay at a fabulous haveli located in Alsisar.
Set dinner at our hotel. Overnight Alsisar.
DAY 11 Mandawa/Churu
Spend the day starting with a walking tour of Mandawa. Later we'll visit Churu and stop for lunch. Afternoon at your leisure. Overnight Mandawa.
DAY 12 Bikaner
Leave after breakfast for our next stop - the desert town of Bikaner, lying amid the golden dunes of north-west Rajasthan. This vibrant city is home to camel centres, temples and the impressive Junagarh Fort. The fort, built by Raja Rai Singh in the 1590’s, is the centrepiece of this dust swept area. Later Maharajah’s added halls and private suites beautifully embellished with gold, sandalwood, ivory and murals.
The stunning Anup Mahal has wonderful lacquered walls while the Cloud Palace is painted with blue cloud images – illuminated with red and gold lighting. We'll tour the Lal Garh Palace as well before checking in to the Gajner Palace Hotel, former hunting lodge of the Maharaja of Bikaner. Dinner at your leisure at the hotel. Overnight Gajner Lake.
DAY 13 Bikaner
Free morning to do nature walking or boating on the lake at your leisure. Leave after lunch for Fort Pokaran. Dinner at your leisure. Overnight Fort Pokaran.
DAY 14 Jaisalmer
Leave early morning for Jaisalmer. The city is a former medieval trading center and a princely state in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, in the heart of the Thar Desert. Known as the "Golden City," it's distinguished by its yellow sandstone architecture.
Dominating the skyline is Jaisalmer Fort, a sprawling hilltop citadel buttressed by 99 bastions. Behind its massive walls stand the ornate Maharaja's Palace and intricately carved Jain temples. Free time to explore on your own. Dinner at your leisure. Overnight Jaisalmer.
DAY 15 Jaisalmer
Our first stop today will be Gadi Sagar Lake, an artificial waterbody built by Raja Rawal Jaisal, the first ruler of Jaisalmer. Next we explore the Unesco Jaisalmer Fort. Locally known as Sonar Qila, it is one of the largest forts in the world. Inside there are Jain temples, a maze of streets and the opulent palace.
It is still occupied by 4,000 descendants of the original peoples from 1156.
A stop for lunch and then we'll continue our walk on foot to the Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli, the previous residence of the Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, Diwan Mohata Nathmal. The most interesting fact about it is that all its artifacts are done by a jeweller and not a stone carver. Later we will visit Patwon-Ki-Haveli. The haveli consists of a complex of five different buildings and is also known as the "mansion of brocade merchants", for the fact that the haveli was built by a wealthy jewellery and brocade trader. Set dinner at your leisure. Overnight Jaisalmer.
DAY 16 Desert Camp
Free time in the morning after breakfast. We'll start late morning with a visit to Bada Bagh on the outskirts of Jaisalmer. Bada Bagh, literally meaning big garden, features a series of royal cenotaphs or chhatris of Jaisalmer Maharajas, including that of Jai Singh II (Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh).
We'll stop for lunch at the luxury desert resort Surygarh before heading to our camp for the evening. Dinner, local music and dance evening entertainment. Jeep/camel ride to see the sunset.
DAY 17 Jodhpur
Leave the camp after breakfast for our trip to Jodhpur - about 4 hours. “The Blue City” is the second largest in the Indian state of Rajasthan and just as well known for the magnificent Unesco Mehrangarh Fort as its lovely blue houses. Stop at Marwar Desert Resort enroute for lunch at your leisure.
Upon arrival in Jodhpur we will have a walking tour around the medieval old city and wander the pretty streets and bazaars – everything is for sale from incense to handicrafts. Nearby the Sardar Market is Ghanta Ghar – the old Clock Tower. Built a century ago, it still dominates the city centre. Dinner in the old city at Pal Haveli rooftop with a backdrop of the illuminated fort.
Overnight Pal Haveli.
DAY 18 Jodhpur
Our first stop today is the Mehrangarh Fort, an important historical landmark and a popular Jodhpur attraction. You will find numerous beautiful palaces, galleries, ancient temples, and a museum inside the complex.
Next we'll tour Jaswant Thada, a 19th-century royal cenotaph. In addition to the monument, it also features spectacular desert gardens on the edge of a small lake.
We'll break for lunch at our homestay in rural Jodhpur. Here we'll have a first hand look at the dhurri weaving that has been going on for generations in this village. In the afternoon, visit an important tribe - the Bishnois who have a fascinating history in this part of India. We'll return to our homestay for a home cooked dinner and relax around the bonfire. Overnight Chhotaram Pratap.
DAY 19 Khumbulgarh and Ranakpur
After breakfast we'll travel to Ranakpur, home of India’s biggest and most artistic Jain temple, sitting in the Pali district among the green, wooded valleys of the Aravalli Hills. Constructed over 50 years in the 15th century, the white marble temple is exquisitely carved and exudes a sense of calm within the 29 halls. 1,444 individually engraved pillars set under a complex of 80 domes make this Unesco temple a must see. After lunch we'll continue on to Khumbulgarh.
DAY 20 Udaipur
Udaipur. Romantic Udaipur, with it’s interconnected lakes, has a wealth of lavish palaces and scenic views. Dinner at your leisure. Overnight Udaipur.
Morning at your leisure and afternoon we'll tour the dazzling City Palace, overlooking Lake Pichola. The complex contains 11 palaces and museums filled with fabulous art – including the stunning restored Peacock Courtyard. Spend the balance of the afternoon at wandering the little streets and alleyways.
We'll make a visit to the Monsoon Palace to view the sunset before heading to dinner at a rooftop cafe overlooking the lake. Overnight Udaipur.
DAY 21 Udaipur
Start today late morning. We’ll have a panoramic view of the Palace and ghats from our tour boat as we visit another royal mansion – the smaller, but elegant palace on Jagmandir Island.- Stop for a cold drink on the beautiful terrace before heading back. Free time to shop or explore the city. We'll meet up for a farewell dinner and Rajasthani Dharohar Folk Dancing evening at Bagore Ki Haveli for 7:00 pm.
DAY 22 Udaipur to Delhi
After breakfast we will have free time in Udaipur. Transfer for our flight to Delhi early afternoon. Last minute shopping or free time.
Overnight Delhi. Dinner at your leisure.
Day 23 Delhi - Transfer to airport
Transfer after breakfast for onward travel
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22 nights accommodation in guest houses, deluxe hotels with single room and private bath
1 night in deluxe tented desert camp with dinner and entertainment
Daily breakfast, light lunches, 10 dinners
Daily bottled water
Comfortable air-conditioned mini van
English speaking escort, local city guides and professional driver
Flexible leisure time and choice of optional activities
Airport transfers for arrival and departure,
Top Rajasthan sites and off-the-track experiences
Entry fees to monuments in itinerary
Dinner and folk dance evening at Bagore Ki Haveli, Udaipur
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED:
Items of a personal nature
International air flights
Gratuities for driver/guides/hotel staff
* NOTE: MAX 8 GUESTS
What our guests say:
Had an amazing time in India thanks to both owners Louise and Ashfaq! Louise is a sweet Canadian lady who gave us a chance to
eat great homemade Indian food and her partner Ashfaq was very professional at guiding us throughout our trip. I would not
have been able to experience what I experienced in India if it weren’t for them. All in all a great tour and I'm looking forward to
my next trip to India! - Niyabae 2018