- Take in a folk dance performance in the "Venice of the East" in Udaipur
- Discover India's culinary heritage in a cooking class in Jaipur
- Explore the golden sandcastle city of Jaisalmer
- Wander the blue streets of Jodhpur and fall in love with fairytale Mehrangarh Fort
- Be dazzled by the staggering beauty of Agra's Taj Mahal
|Day 1||Arrive in Delhi||Delhi|
|Day 2||Guided tour of Old & New Delhi||Delhi|
|Day 3||Drive to Mandawa||Mandawa|
|Day 4||Drive to Bikaner; Visit Fatehpur & Rat Temple||Bikaner|
|Day 5||Explore Junagarh Fort; Drive to Jaisalmer||Jaisalmer|
|Day 6||Guided tour of Jaisalmer; Sunset at Bada Bagh||Jaisalmer|
|Day 7||Drive to Jodhpur||Jodhpur|
|Day 8||Explore Jodhpur||Jodhpur|
|Day 9||Explore Ranakpur Jain Temple; Drive to Udaipur,||Udaipur|
|Day 10||Explore Udaipur||Udaipur|
|Day 11||Drive to Pushkar||Pushkar|
|Day 12||Explore the Pushkar Fair||Pushkar|
|Day 13||Drive to Jaipur||Jaipur|
|Day 14||Explore Jaipur||Jaipur|
|Day 15||Drive to Agra||Agra|
|Day 16||Sunrise visit of Taj Mahal; Return to Delhi; Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Delhi
Welcome to India! Greet your driver at the airport with a warm "Namaste" welcome and transfer to your hotel in Delhi. Check into your accommodation and either take the rest of the day to rest from your travels or venture out into the neighborhood to explore your surroundings.
Day 2: Guided tour of Old & New Delhi
Meet your guide today for an exciting city tour of Delhi. Start in Old Delhi (known as Shahjahanabad) and discover its history and connection to the Taj Mahal. Using a cycle-rickshaw, you'll make your way to Jama Masjid (the Great Mosque) and several bustling markets, like the Kinari Bazar and Kari Baoli in Chandni Chowk. You'll then proceed to New Delhi where you will stop to wander the Red Fort complex before carrying on to visit the Gandhi Memorial at Rajghat, the India Gate, and Rashtrapati Bhavan (the home of India's president).
From there, you'll stop to discover the UNESCO-protected Humayun's Tomb built at the request of Emperor Humayun's wife in 1565. Made of red sandstone and white marble, the tomb rests on a raised platform, surrounded by beautiful gardens and the 12th-century Qutab complex and elegant Qutab Minar. If you have the energy, join an Indian family for dinner—an excellent opportunity to discover traditions, cultural customs, and learn about daily life.
Day 3: Drive to Mandawa
After breakfast, you'll leave the fervor of Delhi behind to reach the small village of Mandawa (6 hours). Located in the heart of the Shekhawati region, Mandawa is known for its havelis (historic homes of wealthy Silk Road merchants). Trek the sandy terrain sharing the road with camel drivers shepherding their dromedaries. Stop in the small town of Alsisar, an hour outside of Mandawa, to admire the colorful frescoes of its havelis before carrying on to your accommodation in Mandawa. Venture out into the neighborhood to discover the many historic buildings.
Day 4: Drive to Bikaner - Visit Fatehpur & Rat Temple
Today you will head to Bikaner, a fortified city in the heart of the Thar desert (4.5 hours), stopping first to explore the Nadine Le Prince Haveli in Fatehpur, thirty minutes west of Mandawa. French artist, Nadine Le Prince spent ten years restoring this grand residence. Spend some time admiring the ornate frescos detailing animals, religious figures, and mythological themes. Next, you will stop in Deshnok to visit the 15th-century Karni Mata Temple, known as the "Temple of Rats." Consider yourself lucky if a white rat makes an appearance.
Day 5: Explore Junagarh Fort - Drive to Jaisalmer
Meet your guide this morning in your hotel lobby for a tour of the sprawling Junagarh Fort. Get lost in its labyrinth of corridors, stairways, terraces, and courtyards taking in the exquisite detail of Rajasthani craftsmanship at every turn. From there, you have the option of heading directly to Rajasthan's western edge and to the golden city of Jaisalmer (6 hours) or to go on a Thar Desert excursion.
If you take the latter option, you will head into the desert by Jeep to visit the Jain temple of Amarsagar, the cenotaphs of Barabagh, as well as the abandoned village of Kuldhara. Cap off the afternoon with a one-hour camel ride leaving from the village of Khuri and return to your hotel in Jaisalmer by the late afternoon.
Day 6: Guided tour of Jaisalmer - Sunset at Bada Bagh
Once a stop on the Silk Road, you can find traces of Jaisalmer's rich past throughout the city; in its havelis, like Nathmal Ki Haveli and Salim Singh Ki Haveli, as well as the 11th-century fort. Accompanied by a guide, you'll spend the morning exploring Jaisalmer, first stopping at the majestic Jaisalmer Fort—considered to be the only "living fort" in India. From there, in the heart of the town, you'll visit the magnificent Patwon Ki Haveli—the most elaborate of all the Jaisalmer havelis, showcasing Jaisalmer's legendary architectural wealth.
In the afternoon, proceed to Gadisar Lake—a 14th-century rainwater reservoir where you'll have time to explore the number of temples and shrines that surround the lake. After relaxing lakeside, it's time to visit the garden complex of Bada Bagh, an ideal spot to take in the sunset.
Day 7: Drive to Jodhpur
After breakfast, you'll make the four to five-hour trip southeast to Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan (after Jaipur). Check into your hotel in this ancient walled city before venturing out to explore your surroundings. Built in 1459, Jodhpur is sometimes referred to as the "Gateway to Thar" for its proximity to the desert or "Sun City" for the constant sunshine it receives.
Day 8: Explore Jodhpur
After breakfast, you'll meet your guide for today's walking tour of Jodhpur, beginning with Rajasthan's oldest and arguably most beautiful forts, Fort Mehrangarh. Marvel at its towering ramparts and intricate details of its inner palace. Enjoy breathtaking views over the blue painted residences sprawling below before descending into Jodhpur. Navigate the narrow and winding medieval streets taking in the colorful Indian culture until you reach the Clock Tower to find the Sardar Bazaar. Wander the stalls of traditional fabrics, spices, and tea—a great place to shop for gifts and souvenirs.
Day 9: Visit Ranakpur Jain Temple - Drive to Udaipur
This morning you'll head south to Udaipur stopping first in Ranakpur to visit the magnificent Jain temple dedicated to Tirthankara Rishabhanatha (3 hours). Made from marble, this temple complex is an essential place of pilgrimage for Jains.
After your visit, drive three to four hours to the beautiful lakeside town of Udaipur. Known as the "Venice of the East," Udaipur is a beautiful place regarded by many Indians and visitors as the most romantic city in India. Upon arrival, transfer to your accommodation before watching the Dharohar Folk Dance show, where you'll see traditional Rajasthani folk dancing and other cultural performances.
Day 10: Explore Udaipur
After breakfast, meet your guide in the hotel lobby and head out for a full day of exploring Udaipur. Start with a short boat ride on Lake Pichola and head to the Lake Palace. Here you can admire views of Udaipur and the surrounding hills, temples, palaces, and bathing ghats (used for religious rituals), like Gangour Ghats. Next, return to the mainland and wander the narrow laneways to reach the City Palace for a look at a collection of buildings built by a series of "warrior kings" or Maharanas.
In the late afternoon, enjoy a beautiful sunset on Lake Pichola.
Day 11: Drive to Pushkar
Leave early this morning and journey northeast to Pushkar in time to experience the exciting Pushkar Fair (commonly referred to as the "Pushkar Camel Fair" or "Camel Fair"). Held annually, this multi-day livestock fair puts on a series of unique events and competitions, like the favorite camel race and the colorful camel pageant where camels are groomed and ornamented in vibrant decorations.
Wander the stalls for dinner and stay overnight in a camp close to the fair.
Day 12: Explore the Pushkar Fair
Spend today experiencing all that Pushkar and the fair have to offer. Delight your senses as you wander the grounds taking in the sights and sounds of the organized chaos. Enjoy performances of folk music and dancing, carnival rides and attractions. Roam the handicraft stalls and rub elbows with foreign and local tourists alike.
Day 13: Visit Pushkar Lake - Drive to Jaipur
Spend a little time this morning alongside the sacred Pushkar Lake. Among the most famous pilgrimage sites in India, sit on the ghats of the lake and watch the pilgrims, priests, and spiritual travelers bathe and purify themselves. Then head to Brahma Temple, the world's only temple dedicated to the worship of God Brahma. Before you make your way to Jaipur climb one of the two hills outside of Pushkar for a panoramic view of the desert and an overview of the lake.
Upon arrival to the "Pink City" of Jaipur, check into your hotel, then spend the late afternoon attending a cooking class with a local Indian family. First, head to a local market with your hosts to experience the art of bargaining as you select the best vegetables. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with a deliciously spiced traditional meal together with your host family. If there's time or if you prefer, take in a Bollywood movie at the iconic 1976 Raj Mandir cinema—a meringue-shaped theater that hosts many Hindi film premieres.
Day 14: Explore Jaipur
Meet your guide this morning for a tour of Jaipur. Begin with a visit to the Amer Fort (often referred to as the "Amber" Fort)—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Roam the maze of ancient temples, palaces, and gardens built over a thousand years ago. The Amer Fort is considered a jewel of Jaipur for its attractive opulence of Indian-Muslim design and architecture. Enter the fort and admire the multi-mirrored ceilings of Jai Mandir (Hall of Glory) and Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace), walk through the silver doors of the Siva Devi Temple before exploring the exterior of the marble and sandstone fort.
Return to Jaipur proper, stopping for a photo op of the iconic Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind) where the women of royal families used to watch the activities happening in the bazaar below. Next, stop to visit Jantar Mantar, a solar observatory built in the 18th century and home to the early 18th century stone sundial, the largest of its kind in the world. Continue exploring Jaipur at your own pace, visiting any or all of the seven imposing gates of the walled city.
Day 15: Drive to Agra
Drive the five hours east to Agra, breaking up the drive with a visit to the ancient remains of Fatehpur Sikri. Discover the red sandstone buildings and structures that cluster at its core, like the Buland Darwaza (Gate of Victory), the Jama Masjid mosque, Salim Chishti Tomb, and the Jodha Bais and Panch Mahal palaces. From there, carry on to Agra. A small city in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state, Agra is home to the iconic Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built for the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Take the afternoon to visit "BabyTaj" a smaller white marble mausoleum before checking into your hotel to offload your belongings. Next, enjoy a bucolic stroll in the Persian gardens of Mehtab Bagh, taking in your first sighting of the iconic Taj Mahal.
Day 16: Sunrise visit to Taj Mahal - Return to Delhi - Depart
Rise before the sun and make your way to the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world, to catch the sunrise over this tomb that was was built in memory of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's deceased queen, an enduring monument to love. Return to your hotel for breakfast before setting out to visit the Agra Fort, a former military fortress and current home to the famous and finely carved Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque).
Return to Delhi in the early afternoon (4 hours) and transfer to the airport for your onward journey.