India Tours >> Forts & Palaces
Forts & Palaces
Forts & Palaces
Tourist Spots : Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, Humayun Tomb, Raj Ghat, Lotus Temple, Laxmi Narayan Temple, Lake Pichola, City Palace, Jag Mandir, Saheliyon-ki-Bari, Jain Temples in Ranakpur, Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana, Chamunda Temple, Sonar Kila, Palace of Winds (Hawa Mahal), Amber Fort, Chamber of Mirrors (Sheesh Mahal), Astronomical Observatory (Jantar Mantar), Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Skiri, Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula
Destinations Covered : Delhi, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Manvar, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Agra
Tour Days/ Nights : 16 Nights / 17 Days
Day 1 : Arrive New Delhi
Upon arrival in Delhi, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for a twonight stay. Delhi is a wondrous city with a rich history and culture. The “capital of seven empires” has many thousands of recognized monuments within its borders. Though Bombay has more residents, Delhi is widely considered the cultural heart of India. Set amidst the fast spiralling skyscrapers are remnants of a bygone time including forts, palaces and monuments - reminders of the region’s ancient legacy.
In the evening visit the Red Fort to witness the ‘Son-et-Lumiere’, a dramatic interplay of sound and light effects, recreating the history of Red Fort, a symbol of Mughal power. Watch three hundred years of history come alive!
Day 2 : New Delhi
After breakfast, enjoy a guided tour of the Capital designed by Sir Edward Lutyens for the British. Drive down the main avenue, the impressive Rajpath to the World War I memorial arch, the India Gate and past the Rashtrpati Bhavan, the president ’s residence and the Parliament Buildings.
Then see Imperial Delhi while visiting the Qutub Minar, the tallest stone tower in India at 72 meters high. Qutub-ud-din Aibak began construction of the tower in 1199, and by pulling down 27 Hindu and Jain temples and using their columns he also erected the Quwat-ul-Islam mosque which today lies in ruins nearby. Visit the tomb of the second Mughal emperor Humayun, built in 1565 by his widow Haji Begum. It is an outstanding monument in the Indo-Persian style, and is a precursor of the architectural style of the Taj Mahal.
In the afternoon, visit Old Delhi, the 300 year-old walled city built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in 1648 as his capital. Begin with a visit to Raj Ghat, the simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi who died in 1948, at the site of his cremation. Continue on to visit the magnificent Red Fort build of red sandstone (1638-48) overlooking the Yamuna River. Within its walls are marble palaces and a grand audience chamber, the Diwan-I-Khas, where Mughal emperors held court and the Peacock Throne once stood. Opposite the fort are the black and white onion dome and the minarets of the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, where people stream in and out continuously all day.
Enjoy a ride through the winding streets of the markets in the Chandni Chowk area by bicycle rickshaw.
Day 3 : New Delhi – Udaipur
Transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Udaipur. Set on the shores of Lake Pichola and surrounded by the green Aravalli hills, Udaipur grew in complete contrast to the harsh deserts of the rest of Rajasthan. As capital of the old Mewar State it was the only Rajput stronghold to uphold its Hindu allegiance in the face of Muslim invasion. From the late 16th century, peace brought about an era of renaissance in the arts and encouraged the building of beautiful palaces around the lake, culminating in the City Palace, one of the largest palace complexes in the world.
In the afternoon enjoy a walking tour of Udaipur venturing into the local bazaars.
Udaipur ’s market is teeming with miniature paintings in both the Pichwai and Phad styles. Just before sunset we take a cruise on the beautiful Lake Pichola. The lake itself is a romantic setting surrounding the gleaming white Lake Palace and the Jag Mandir, a refuge of the rebel Mughal prince, Shah Jahan, soon to be the creator of the incomparable Taj Mahal.
Day 4 : Udaipur
After breakfast, depart for a tour of the City Palace, now a museum, which overlooks Lake Pichola. The City Palace was built in 1725 of granite and marble with filigreed balconies, ornate windows with glass, showing the craftsmanship and expense involved. The royal palace walls stretch over a mile on the eastern side of the lake. Within the palace is a maze of courtyards, apartments and beautifully decorated halls. The rooms are covered with frescoes, displays of royal processions, stone and glass mosaics and ornamental doors and painted windows.
The marble throne in the coronation rooms was last used during the time of Maharana Sangram Singh II (1710-30). Nearby is the Sun Window installed by Maharaja Bhim Singh (1778-1828); this divine symbol of the house of Mewar, which traces its lineage to the Surya Vansha, descendants of the Sund. Visit individual palaces, the museums, the hall of public audiences, and Saheliyon-ki- Bari (private chambers of the royal ladies at the palace).
Day 5 : Udaipur – Rawla Narlai (via Ranakpur)
In the morning travel by road from Udaipur to Narlai (approx 4 hours). En route stop to visit the Jain Temples in Ranakpur. The drive to the Jain Temples follows an exceptionally beautiful route through the rugged, wooded hills of the Aravalli Valley in Rajasthan. This temples complex of the Jain religion, which is particularly noted for the grandiose scale of its architecture with highly decorated ceilings, walls and 1,444 different carved pillars.
Enjoy lunch at the Maharani Bagh Orchard Retreat, once the summer retreat of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Continue on to Rawla Narlai, a restored hunting lodge situated at the foot of a hill, dotted with caves and temples. This fortress which became an enchanting hunting lodge was gifted by Maharaja Umaid Singh ji of Jodhpur to his younger brother Maharaj Ajit Singhji.
The dinner in the evening takes you back to the mists of time. Made from secret recipes handed down for generations to the Royal family, the chef prepares you a palette of delicious meals, lovingly garnished with élan. Bathe in the moonlight under the starry sky, listening to hypnotic and enchanting rhythms by local musicians who will rekindle the spirit in you. The gentle whispering leaves, sunbathed courtyards and starlit nights add an air of romance and mystery.
Day 6 : Rawla Narlai – Jodhpur
Wake up to the sounds of this 17-century village, and take in the spiritual energy from the invigorating air descending from the Shiva Temple, lodged deep in a primal cave high on the hill. We encourage you to feed the harmless monkeys, if they come down the hill, as a token offering of prayers to Lord Hanuman.
Continue your journey through Rajasthan from Narlai to Jodhpur (approx 4 hours). In the afternoon have a city tour stopping first at the Jaswant Thada; a cluster of white marble royal cenotaphs was built in 1899AD in memory of Maharaja Jasawant Singh II. Continue on for a visit the Mehrangarh Fort, set on a high hill overlooking the rugged and rocky terrain nearby and standing guard over the city below. The enclosed palace is intricately adorned with long carved panels and latticed window exquisitely wrought from red sandstone. The palace apartments - the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana weave their own magic with a rich varied collection of palanquins, howdas, royal cradles, miniature paintings of various schools, folk music instruments, costumes, furniture and an impressive armoury. The display of cannons on the ramparts near Chamunda Temple is among the rarest in India.
In the evening, enjoy dinner with entertainment and dancing.
Day 7 : Jodhpur (Bishnoi excursion)
Take an early morning visit to the old part of the city and a brief walk to Rangrez Ka Mohla where you will see the art of “tiedying.” The technique of tie and dye or ‘knot printing’ involves tying a section of fabric in accordance with the overall design scheme, before the process of dyeing. Fabric is tied in small and big knots so that the color does not penetrate the tied areas. This process leads to the creation of colorful, concentric circles, and oblong rectangles in all shapes and sizes. According to tradition the washing is done before the sun rises. It is amazing to see the designs unfold as soon as the fabric is washed and the knots are untied. Return to your hotel in time for breakfast. Later travel by jeep on a cultural safari to visit some traditional villages - the Bishnoi’s, shepards, weavers, stone carvers, potters, hand weavers etc.
See men in their traditional attire and women clad with ancestral silver jewelry and have an opportunity to interact with various communities living in the area and share and understand their world. Note: The Bishnois, protectors of nature for five centuries, are 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 are known for their brilliant crimson and marigold colored clothing. During these visits you will see the traditional art of block printing that has been done for more than 500 years. Hand-held wood blocks are carefully cut to enable patterns in different colors to be printed. Much of the block printing is done with great manual dexterity. The colors used are traditionally based on vegetable dyes. Have lunch at Fort Chanwa at Luni before returning to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure to relax or explore on your own.
Day 8 : Jodhpur – Manvar
In the morning drive to Manvar Camp/ Resort (approx 3 hours), an oasis in the Thar desert just off the Jodhpur-Jaisalmer highway. Enjoy a jeep safari to explore the virgin sand dunes, the rural dwellings and the mustard and chilli fields in the middle of the desert.
The sunset views are breathtaking and the evenings are livened up by campfire, mashaals and local musicians and dancers.
Day 9 : Manvar – Jaislamer
After breakfast, continue your drive to Jaislamer (approx 4 hours). The Bhatti Rajput chieftain Rawal Jaisal founded Jaisalmer, an important desert trading center and the western sentinel of Rajasthan, in 1156. Located at the heart of the great Thar Desert, it offers an enchanting world of fable, color and history and outstanding architecture. Visit the Jaisalmer Fort, located on the top of the Trikuta Hill and is visible from a great distance across the golden tinged sand of the desert.
Day 10 : Jaisalmer
Today ’s tour of Jaisalmer includes – Sonar Kila, the golden fort which rises out of a rock of topaz, the yellow sandstone of the fort dazzling at sunrise and at sunset. The 12th century Fort built by Prince Jaisal & the Palace that stands at the highest point (100 metres) above the marketplace hilltop. The walls of the fort, which stretch for miles, are topped with ramparts and bastions. Also visit a Jain Temple; built from the 12th-15th c., it lies within the fort complex. Ornamented with quaint but impressive figures of Jain saints made of white marble and red and black stone some of the Jain temples have beautiful images of Hindu deities, which indicate the remarkable religious tolerance during that age.
After lunch enjoy a camel ride across the golden sands of the Rajasthan desert to the sand dunes at Khuri village. Stroll along the narrow mud streets of this village where you will see simple houses and stalls selling native crafts.
Day 14 : Jaipur
Following breakfast begin your excursions in Jaipur with a visit to the Palace of Winds (Hawa Mahal) with its pink sandstone fa çade intricately carved into honeycomb screens, windows and balconies behind which the ladies of the court could watch the daily goings on and royal processions in the street below without being seen. The windows and latticed screens also allowed the cooling winds to blow through the palace. Continue on to Amber, the ancient capital just outside present day Jaipur, to visit the fabulous Amber fort. Maharaja Man Singh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful general, began construction of the fort in the 17th century. Surrounded by fortified battlements, the fort overlooks the Moat Lake and is a complex of courtyards and royal apartments. Amber was the seat of power before the City Palace was built in Jaipur. Travel by elephant up the hill to reach the fortress and then tour the elaborately decorated halls, some with delightful fresco paintings, glass or inlaid precious stones. Two of the most outstanding are the Chamber of Mirrors (Sheesh Mahal) where the light from a single lamp, reflected in the many mirrors, illuminates the entire room and the Hall of Victory, sheathed with fine alabaster panels ornamented with inlaid flowers.
After lunch visit the City Palace, a large complex of palaces, gardens and courtyards which is now a museum which houses collections of Mughal and Rajput miniature paintings, rare manuscripts, traditional clothing and an armory. Next door stop in to see the amazing. Astronomical Observatory (Jantar Mantar) built by the Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Jai Singh, in 1726 to accurately predict movements of the moon and planets. Even today these instruments are precise. Following these visits you will have the opportunity to wander through the local markets.
Day 15 : Jaipur – Agra (via Fatehpur Sikri)
Morning is free for you to relax or to go shopping. In the afternoon drive to Agra, city of the Taj Mahal (approx 6 hours). Enroute visit Fatehpur Skiri - one of the finest examples of Mughal architectural splendour at its height. It is the best example of the culmination of Hindu and Muslim architecture.
Fatehpur Sikri Mosque is said to be a copy of the mosque in Mecca and has designs, derived from the Persian & Hindu architecture.
Agra is the home of marble inlay work, stonework, and rich Zardozi embroidery. You may wish to visit some factories where you can see the craftsmen at work and/or explore the bazaars.
Day 16 : Agra – New Delhi
Rise early this morning for a sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal arriving at the entrance gate by Tonga (horse carriage) to view this incredible and extravagant monument as the sun bathes it in an ethereal light. Build in the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan as an memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, it took 22 years and 20,000 men to build it; the white marble transported to the site by elephants from a quarry 200 miles away. The perfect proportions of the Taj Mahal and the delicate inlay marble work are amazing. Return to your hotel after the sunrise tour for breakfast.
Then visit Agra Fort, situated around the bend of the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal. Construction of the red sandstone walls and gates of the fort was begun by Akbar as the seat and stronghold of the Mughal Empire. Enlarged by successive generations including Shah Jehan, who had the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), Royal Pavilions, & Hall of Public Audience added and Aurangzeb who added outer ramparts. From the towers of the fort you can see the nearby Taj Mahal.
Before departing to Delhi (approx 4 hours), visit the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula, the jewel of Agra, the first Agra monument to be covered in white marble inlaid with contrasting stones.
Day 17 : New Delhi
Day at leisure. Today you have a driver and guide available for flexible touring and/or shopping at your request.