EXPERIENCE RAJASTHAN - 16 DAYS
Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - Udaipur - Ranakpur - Mount Abu - Jodhpur - Jaisalmer - Bikaner - Mandawa - Delhi
Flight to New Delhi
A DREAM STARTS
Touch down at Delhi . We are here , waiting for you to your hotel .
SEVEN TIMES CAPITAL
Delhi , with its strategic location , has been the entrance point to the Indian subcontinent for several powers and capital seven times . Every now and then one comes across ruins of a half forgotten city and wonders about its past . Today , as the capital of Bahrain , as India is traditionally known , new Delhi has a modern layout with huge villas surrounded by landscaped gardens , whereas in the old city life has not changed much since the middle ages . Here stands Asia's biggest mosque which can accommodate 25000 faithful and the red fort , built during the mughal dynasty . In new Delhi impressive government buildings , a gurdwara ( Sikh temple ) and the Qutb minar are just a few places of interest in a visitor's diary .
TAJ - MAHAL - A DREAM COMES TRUE
We leave Delhi at the crack of dawn by a comfortable train journey to agra . Surely nobody escapes the charm and perfect harmony of the taj mahal . This romantic dream of white marble with its beautiful inlaid works of precious and semiprecious stones and absolute symmetry in its architecture took 22000 workers 20 years to complete . Of a special charm is the tomb of emperor akbar's friend and adviser itmad - ud - daulah , and then here are the massive walls and palaces of the red fort to be seen too .
THE CITY OF TRIUMPH
The route of fatehpur sikri is flanked by monuments of red stone leading to emperor akbar's city , which was built as a sign of victory and out of joy at the birth of his first son . Fatehpur - sikri was capital of the great mughal dynasty for only 13 years , thereafter deserted for reasons not fully understood . At bharatpur we retreat into nature while riding cycle - rishaws within the keoladeo bird sanctuary , which is famous for a variety of rare , exotic birds . Our onward journey brings us to jaipur , the capital of Rajasthan , India's state of forts , palaces and maharajas .
HAWA MAHAL - PALACE OF THE WINDS
Built in 1799 the palace of the winds is one of jaipur's major landmarks , although it is actually little more than a façade . Like all other buildings within the city- walls , it is lined with red sandstone as a welcome for prince Edward in 1876 . After our stop here due to best light in the morning , we proceed to amber , the ancient capital of the jaipur maharajas , who originate from the sun dynasty . The stunning fort of amber is a superb example of rajput architecture , strategically situated on a hillside and overlooking a lake which reflects its terraces and ramparts . The city palace of jaipur sprawls over a large area divided into a series of courtyards , gardens and buildings . Adjacent is the passion of maharajah jai singh ii , the largest and best preserved of the five observatories built by him .
SURGE OF FIERCE PRIDE IN EVERY RAJPUT'S BREAST
A long drive takes us through rural Rajasthan with colourful , fascinating villages . The hilltop fortress of chittorgarh epitomises the whole romantic , doomed ideal of rajput chivalry . Three times in its long history jauhar was declared at the end of a lost war and women and children consigned themselves to flames after pressing their red painted hands against the palaces walls , while the men rode out to fight on against all odds . Honour was always more important than death .
VENICE OF THE EAST
In the midst of this romantic fate ridden land we are today at udaipur , a city of shimmering lakes , rugged hills and embattlements in the shape of palaces , temples and havelis from the modest to the extravagent . The city palace extends a considerable distance along the east bank of the beautiful lake pichola the silhouette of which is unforgettable . Out in the lake are two islands - jagniwas and jagmandir . The lake palace , today one of the most photogenic hotels in the world , covers the whole island of jagniwas and was built by maharana jagat singh ii in 1754 . The other island , jagmandir , is marked by a three storey tower topped by a dome . It was here that prince khurram , later emperor shah jehan , sought asylum from his father .
FANTASY IN WHITE MARBLE
Almost hidden in the green valley of the aravalli hills the jain temple of ranakpur is for many visitors the most beautifully carved and sculptured temple in india , an absolute highlight of our heritage rich rajasthan tour . A forest of 1444 pillars , no two exactly alike , many domes and shrines , all of pure white marble , are just breath- taking . In the evening we reach the holiest city of the jain religion , mount abu.
EXQUISITE TEMPLES SHELTERED BY SHADED WOODS
At the quaint hill station of mount abu , nearly 1300 mtrs above sea- level , we see a variety of 1000 year old jain temples , unique in their beauty of carved hymns in pure white marble . The complex comprises of three jain temples and a temple dedicated to the sun god - all of them equally reveal the skill and art of master stone carvers .
Mount Abu - Jodhpur
GUARDIAN OF THE THAR DESERT
The cool blueness and greenness of mount abu gives way to
the burning yellow sands of the thar desert , one of the largest deserts in
the world , untamed , sun scorched and inhospital . Yet , here lies one of the
three great kingdoms and premier houses of rajasthan , jodhpur . This is the
land of the valient rathore kings , the only people whose courage was a match
for the tyranny of the thar desert . The meherangarh fort perches high above
the city , massive and daunting , enclosing palaces with fine lattice work in
sand-stone and houses an excellent museum too .
Umaid bhavan palace , one of the largest and grandest private residences in the world , is a splendid example of the indo- colonial and the art deco style of the thirties. Besides fabulous halls and a museum section with valuable works of art the real piece de resistance is the magnifi cence of the 56 mtrs high centre dome hall .
Jodhpur - Jaisalmer
A MIRAGE IN THE SHIFTING SANDS
After a journey of 280 kms through desert land we reach the citadel of jaisalmer , an architectural dream in these lonely silent sands . The 99 double tiered bastions of the frontier fortress rise out of the heart of the barren desert like a liner in an ocean . All the romance of jaisalmer is true . The camels , shifting dunes , temples , havelies , bazaars , and palaces , the tinkles of anklets of rajput women returning from the well , timeless in their tradition the swirl of bright skirts , the proud turbans …….
GLORY OF A MERCHANT CITY
High up on camel - back we get the best view of jaissalmer, an once important fortification whose inportance and wealth emerged from the commerce with caravans enroute from Europe to China or viceversa since ancient times. The massice fort is decorated with finest filigree stone carving and the "havelis" or rich merchant houses exhibit lattice work of breath taking intricacy.
Jaisalmer - Bikaner
VERITABLE DESERT CITY IN A CAMEL COUNTRY
Always fascinating , never tiring impressions of the landscape , sand-dunes and bright , colourful villages and maybe a camel caravan or two are our company enroute to bikaner . The fortified town encircled by lofty battlements stands on a slight eminence . In the afternoon we visit the chhatris or cenotaphs rising sphinx- like from the hard baked earth , memorials to the dead of the ruling rathores of bikaner . A visit to the camel breeding farm , unique in asia , and watching the line of camels on their return during sunset is as picturesque as memorable .
Bikaner - Mandawa
AN OPEN - AIR ART GALLERY
The fort of bikaner , distinguished by its long range of 37 pavilions , is a graceful building with lines of balconies and oriel windows of varying designs . The maharajas of bikaner were feared all over the land for their camel corps , brave warriors on many a battlefield . In the afternoon we drive to mandawa . As recompense fortheir monochromatic , drab countryside , the inhabitants of this region patronised , since the middle of the 10th century, the art of frescoes . The bold sweeping paintings of the facades of the havelis bring alive the past prosperity of a soceity which once proudly displayed its vitality by decorating walls and courtyards with pictorial record of its customs , beliefs and mythology .
Mandawa - Delhi
Before our drive back to delhi we stroll through the narrow lanes of mandawa , better understanding the life and pride of an intresting race , the rajputs of rajasthan. Last colourful pictures of a semi-urban town of the land of the warriors with its clean houses decorated pain-stakingly with a lot of fantasy the fort crowing the city , cows in the midst of traffic , carefully avoided by everyone from pedestrians to lorry drivers , its dust , its heat , its smell , for always remembered , always cherished. Arrival at delhi in the evening .
GOOD BYE - GOOD BYE
Transfer to the airport for return flight or extension programme
in south india or goa .
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