- Navigate the bustling streets in Old Delhi by rickshaw
- Take in a sunset over the Thar Desert from atop a sand dune outside of Churu
- Overnight in a 16th-century palace-turned-hotel in Samode
- Experience an evening Hindu ceremony at the Birla Mandir Temple in Jaipur
- Peer into the depths of India's most significant stepwell in Abhaneri
|Day 1||Arrive in Delhi||Delhi|
|Day 2||Old Delhi Rickshaw Tour||Delhi|
|Day 3||Transfer to Shekhawati||Churu|
|Day 4||Explore Shekhawati: Havelis & art||Churu|
|Day 5||Transfer to Samode, Stay in the Samode Palace Heritage Hotel||Samode|
|Day 6||Transfer to the "Pink City" of Jaipur||Jaipur|
|Day 7||Explore Jaipur||Jaipur|
|Day 8||Day trip to Bagru||Jaipur|
|Day 9||Transfer to Agra, Visit Abhaneri Stepwell & Fatehpur Sikri||Agra|
|Day 10||Explore Agra||Agra|
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: Old Delhi Rickshaw Tour
Today you'll tour Old Delhi using a rickshaw. Built in 1639, Old Delhi is busy and chaotic, yet full of historical monuments. Visit the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, and the Sikh Temple before exploring several markets, including Khari Baoli, Asia's largest spice market. Your guide will lead you through the chaos, where you'll gain an authentic feel for Delhi's vivacity as well as understand why the "Walled City" of Old Delhi is its heart.
Day 3: Transfer to Shekhawati
Meet your driver this morning and head west to the semi-arid region of Shekhawati in northeastern Rajasthan—a region of soil, sand, and clay—halfway between the Ganges and the Thar Desert (6 hours). As you progress, you'll see the landscape change, becoming wilder and drier.
After checking into your hotel in Churu, the gateway to the Thar Desert, you'll take a short trip just outside of town to climb a sand dune for captivating views over the area. Enjoy a peaceful evening taking in the setting sun over the surrounding landscape and star gaze in the desert silence before returning to your hotel.
Day 4: Explore Shekhawati: Havelis & art
After breakfast, join your guide for a heritage walking tour of Churu's Old Quarter. Navigate the maze of streets and marvel at the detailed fresco paintings as you come across the many traditional townhouses and mansions known as havelis. Post lunch, join another walking tour, this time to discover Churu's art scene, where you'll meet with local artisans in their homes to gain a richer understanding of the region's culture. This hands-on tour covers bandhej or bandhani (a type of tie-dye textile), block printing, miniature wood carvings, lacquer bangles, pottery, and silver jewelry.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Transfer to Samode, Stay in the Samode Palace Heritage Hotel
Early this morning, you'll leave Churu behind and drive to the village of Samode in Jaipur and to the heritage hotel, Samode Palace (3-4 hours). The 16th-century palace-turned-hotel is still kept in the family and run by the hereditary owners. Settle into your accommodation, taking in the stunning artwork and ornate Mughal and Rajasthani architecture.
Day 6: Transfer to the "Pink City" of Jaipur
Take the morning to spend as you choose, perhaps relaxing in the manicured Samode Palace gardens or swimming in the historic pool. At noon, you'll make the hour drive to your hotel in Jaipur.
Known as the "Pink City" for its pink and red sandstone buildings, Jaipur also holds the distinction of being the first planned city in India. The capital city of Rajasthan combines the allure of its ancient history with all the advantages of a metropolis. Spend the evening relaxing, or if there's interest, join a cooking class put on by a family in their home in Jaipur—a perfect opportunity to indulge your senses as you learn to cook traditional fare.
Day 7: Explore Jaipur
Today you'll join a full-day tour of Jaipur, beginning with a visit to the UNESCO-protected Amer Fort (often referred to as the "Amber" Fort or Palace). Built over a thousand years ago, the Amer Fort is 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. In the afternoon, you'll continue your tour and visit the sprawling City Palace complex, the former seat of the Maharajah, as well as the Jantar Mantar monument, home to the early 18th century stone sundial, the largest of its kind in the world.
Your day of cultural immersion continues with an opportunity to experience the evening aarti ceremony (a ritual that uses fire as its offering) at the distinctive Birla Mandir Hindu temple.
Day 8: Day trip to Bagru
This morning you'll proceed the 40 minutes to Bagru, a textile village on the outskirts of Jaipur. For 400 years, Bagru has been home to the Chhipa—a clan whose name comes either from a Gujarati word meaning "to print" or from combining two Nepal Bhasa words, chhi (to dye) and pa (to leave something to bask in the sun). Here you'll meet with and learn from Vijendra (Viju) Chhipa, who continues the community tradition of block printing. A fifth-generation dyer and a Master Printer, Viju is the founder of Bagru Textiles, a company that builds upon the legacy of his family's cloth dying and printing business.
Return to Jaipur in the late afternoon and spend the rest of the day as you like.
Day 9: Transfer to Agra, Visit Abhaneri Stepwell & Fatehpur Sikri
Early this morning, you'll drive to Agra, four hours east of Jaipur. En route, stop in Abhaneri to visit the Harshat Mata Temple and India's deepest and largest stepwell, the impressive Chand Baori. Continue to the 16th-century small city 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, the Salim Chishti Tomb, and the Jodha Bais and Panch Mahal palaces. From there, carry on to Agra to check in to your accommodation.
Day 10: Explore Agra
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 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). Take respite in the Mehtab Bagh (gardens), cooling off by the Yamuna River with beautiful views of the Taj Mahal on the opposite bank.
Day 11: Depart
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before returning to Delhi and to the airport for your flight home (3.5-4.5 hours).