BE A ROYAL
Be a Royal! The Luxury tour of India
Be a Royal! The Luxury tour of India
Destinations covered: Delhi ● Varanasi ● Agra ● Ranthambore ● Jaipur ● Jodhpur ● Udaipur ● Mumbai
Introduction: 2 weeks’ in sheer luxury, you will feel like a king or queen as you will be staying in some of the finest hotels/palaces in the world. Apart from luxury stays, you will also experience the best class private sightseeing tours. The tour takes you through capital city of India to the world’s oldest living city, Varanasi. Feel the charm of a Palace converted into the hotel and chase the big cat in Ranthambore Jungle while staying at one of the best camps. It’s an overall from a luxury tour to a lifetime experience. Come let’s holiday!
Day 01: Arrive Delhi (By: International Flight)
- Welcome to India! Arrive in Delhi by International flight. After immigration, you will be met and transferred to the hotel for your stay (Hotel check in time is 1400 hrs).
- Delhi is India’s capital and a major gateway to the country. Perhaps there is no other capital city in the world so steeped in history and legend as the Indian capital Delhi. It was the magnet, which drew the Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Mughals and the British, all of whom contributed to its glorious but turbulent past. The fascination with Delhi was such that even though it was abandoned many times, its rulers returned to it again and again rebuilding it at least seven times. Today, the twin cities of Old and New Delhi still intrigue Indians and tourists alike as the cultural and political capital of the largest democracy in the world.
Hotel: The Imperial, chosen as India’s best ‘Luxury Historical Hotel’ by World Luxury Hotel Awards. The Imperial is an iconic property in Delhi’s 5-star hotel category and the most distinguished address situated in the heart of the capital, reminiscent of the halcyon days of the Raj. A luxury hotel with an iconic and awe-inspiring heritage interwoven in colonial elegance, it dwells in its modern delivery of old-style class, magnificence, and luxuries aplenty.
Day 02: In Delhi
- Take a Special Cycle Rickshaw tour in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi. You will be transported 400 years back and will ride on a cycle rickshaw through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk known as the Moonlit Square of India. Witness the architectural marvels, the multicolored facades, beautifully decorated shops, ethnically dressed men and women and be bombarded by the cries of hawkers and fragrances emanating from the potpourri of eateries that line these historical alleys. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) built the walled city of Delhi on the banks of the holy River Yamuna. It had a magnificent palace known as the Red Fort, impressive mansions, enchanting bazaars, elegant shrines, royal gardens and fountains at every corner to romance one’s senses. The Emperor’s beloved daughter, Jahanara, designed a major street called Chandni Chowk in front of the Red Fort with a canal running down the center and pools at major intersections reflecting the moonlight. During the British regime, the street underwent major changes and since then this area has witnessed some of the most important events in Indian history. Today these splendid ruins and tales of valor are a testimony of the evolution of the times. Chandni Chowk truly reflects the national unity, secularism and diversity of India. The total duration of the tour will be 3 hours – 3 hours 30 minutes. It is an extensive tour that covers 20 main sites, which includes palaces, mansions, elegant shrines and colorful bazaars. This is a detailed tour with several stops. The tour ends at an old Haveli (mansion) built in1860 that has a photo gallery depicting the lifestyle of Mughals and a small lounge to relax and to enjoy some local snacks.
- Also visit Crafts museum – the museum is divided into various galleries. The main galleries are Courtly Crafts, Tribal and Rural Craft Gallery, Textile Gallery, Gallery of Popular Culture, etc. Some of the rare articles are more than 300 years old. Several craftsmen can be seen in the village area of the crafts museum making crafts. Also, museum houses some rare arts, paintings and vintage crafts.
- Later drive through the city viewing the Diplomatic Enclave, government buildings, Central Secretariat, President’s House and Parliament.
- Lastly visit Qutub Minar, the five-storied tower, with a 14.4meter base that tapers up to two and a half meters at the top and is visible for a long distance around.
Day 03: Delhi – Varanasi (By: Domestic flight)
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Today we will provide assisted departure transfer to airport for your morning flight for Varanasi.
- On arrival, check-in for your stay.
- The ‘eternal city’, Varanasi or Benares, is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India, and the Ganges, which flows through the city, is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. For the Satpious Hindu, the city has always been a special place, and it is considered a particularly auspicious place to die, ensuring an instant routing to Heaven.
- Post lunch visit Sarnath – After attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya the Buddha went to Sarnath. It was here that he preached his first discourse in the deer park to set in motion the ‘Wheel of the Dharma’. The museum at Sarnath (Sarnath Museum Closed on Fridays) contains carvings representing a whole range of styles: archaic, the Mathura School, Gupta, past Gupta and Medieval covering work of sculptors from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D
- Late night visit Manikarnika Ghat to witness Death and Rebirth Night walk: “One can survive everything nowadays, except death.” In India dying is accepted as a part of life, and when one dies, there are a multitude of rituals and ceremonies that need to be performed. This experience takes you to the Manikarnika Ghat to take a look at the various death rituals passage that the Hindus perform. Hindus, who carry out a myriad of rituals in their lifetime, believe that humans are reborn according to their karma and hence, perform many death rituals to ensure that the soul rests in peace. You may wonder why Hindus burn or cremate the body instead of buying it. The answer lies in the belief. Here, your tour guide will introduce you to the history and mythology associated with this Ghat. You will get to understand the rites and see the inner workings of this unique place.
Hotel: Brijrama Palace is one of the oldest landmarks of Varanasi on the Banks of river Ganga and only second to Ramnagar fort, in heritage. The Palace was built in the year 1812 by ‘Shridhara Narayana Munshi’ who was the minister for the estate of Nagpur. Munshi Ghat, adjacent to the palace is named after him. The architecture and the design is directly influenced by the erstwhile ruling dynasty of the Marathas. It was post-1915 that the 2nd floor of the palace was constructed and around the time that the elevator was added, this made it one of the first elevator adopted by the country.
Day 04: In Varanasi
- Early morning take a boat ride on the river Ganges to view the sunrise. Varanasi’s unique culture is associated with the river Ganges, where life and death intermingle. The living flock the ghats to pray with the belief that bathing in the waters of the sacred river would result in the remission of their sins, while the ashes of the dead are scattered in the water to break the cycle of reincarnation and let the soul rise to enlighten.
- Return to hotel via narrow streets.
- Post breakfast visit some of the other important sites in the city with your guide. Stroll along the fascinating lanes and colorful bazaars full of shops selling, among many other things, the world-famous Benaras silks. Continue on to Benares Hindu University, one of the most revered institutions for higher learning in India.
- Stop off at a few of the many Hindu temples that line the Ganges River, each dedicated to a different deity.
- Late afternoon you will be met by an expert for the guided Bengali Tola walk where you will have an opportunity to get a glimpse of the symbiotic life of the riverside people of Varanasi. Eventually, as you tour through the city you will end up on Bengali Tola, the street of the Bengalis, where you will be visiting the hidden Mother Goddess Kali shrines, and the vistas of life along the riverside.
- The tour continues to the historic ritual bathing site called Dashaswamedh, or the ten-horse sacrifice Ghat, the perfect way to conclude this walking city tour.
- From here watch the illuminated aarti ceremony that is performed at Dasahwamedh Ghat. The presiding priests stand on a wooden Chauki in the water. To the chant of Sanskrit mantras, and the clash of cymbals and drums, the river is worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk and vermilion. First the blazing camphor lamp and then the many flamed aarti lamps are raised high and then arched back to the water, the dark river reflecting the golden flames as Ganges accepts the worship. It is the Ganges that gives Varanasi its spiritual resonance.
Day 05: Varanasi – Agra (By: Domestic flight)
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Later transfer to airport to board the afternoon flight for Agra (The flight operates only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Saturday).
- Assistance on arrival and depart for Agra by surface
- At the time of the Mughals, in the 16th & 17th centuries, Agra was the capital of the grand Mughal Empire. It came into prominence when a lavish patronage of Mughal rulers created forts, tombs and palaces in red sandstone and marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. During this period the city became a leading center of art, science, commerce and culture. The short golden age of Agra came to an end with the seventeenth century reign of Shah Jehan, mastermind of the Taj Mahal.
- After check-in, visit the massive Agra Fort that was originally started by Emperor Akbar in 1565, but his son, Jahangir, and grandson, Shah Jahan, later made valuable additions to it. It houses the Dewan-e-Khas and Dewan-e-Aam (Halls of Private and Public Audience). Its walls and palaces are a silent witness to the rise and fall of the Imperial Mughal Empire and feature a variety of ingenious Islamic inspired devices (some decorative, some more practical) within the fabric of the buildings. It’s a citadel with marble palaces, ornate alcoves, and terrace pavilions.
- Later visit Baby Taj – Itimad-ud-Daulah, the beautiful tomb of Mirza Ghiyath Beg. This is the first building to be constructed of pure marble in Mughal India. This two story mausoleum is small but perfectly executed with translucent stones etched into its walls and tracery work adding a delicate finishing touch.
Hotel: The Oberoi Amarvilas, located at just 600 meters from the iconic Taj Mahal, enjoys an unrivaled position amongst luxury hotels in Agra. Each of the rooms affords uninterrupted views of this ancient monument to love, while elements of the layout and design pay homage to its Mughal splendour.
Day 06: Agra – Ranthambore (By Surface: 06 hours’)
- Visit the Taj Mahal by sunrise. The Mughal Emperor Shahjahan built the Taj Mahal in 1630 AD to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal manifests the wealth and luxury of Mughal art as seen in architecture and garden designs, painting, and calligraphy. The 144 foot double dome of the Taj is capped with a finial and the four minarets each 131 ft high and crowned by an open octagonal pavilion highlight the perfect symmetry of the tomb. The filigree screen meant to veil the area around the royal tomb was carved out of single block of marble. The Mughals believed that flowers were the symbols of the divine realm. Thus in the Taj, pietra dura has been extensively used to translate naturalistic forms into decorative patterns that complement the majesty of its architecture. The monument changes with light and presents differently at different times of the day.
- Return to hotel for breakfast and check-out.
- Post breakfast, your will be driven to the Ranthambore enroute visiting Fatehpur Sikri
- Fatehpur Sikri, located 37 km southwest of Agra, is a magnificent fortified ghost city that was constructed by Akbar in the 16th century to honor the Chishti Saint, Sheikh Salim, who foretold the birth of Akbar’s son, Jahangir. The city is a combination of Hindu and Persian architecture and is in a remarkable state of preservation. The city was abandoned soon after it was built when the local wells went dry. It remains much in the same condition as it was over 300 years ago.
- Continue drive to Ranthambore and upon arrival check in at the hotel.
Hotel: The Oberoi Vanyavilas, situated less than ten minutes from Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore offers guests the opportunity to see Royal Bengal Tigers in the wild and enjoy the luxuries of an Oberoi experience. Spread across twenty acres of lush, landscaped gardens, The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore is rich with indigenous plants and birds. Guests can stroll around the torch-lit pathways in the evening and delight in the melodious chorus of frogs singing in the lily ponds.
Day 07: Ranthambore
- Today morning proceed for morning and afternoon game drive.
- Ranthambore is considered by many to be one of India’s most beautiful national parks. Encircled by a series of high escarpments, the forests, lakes and dry scrub that make up the park are dotted with old forts and temples, creating a wonderful atmosphere for both bird and mammal viewing amongst a landscape oozing with ancient Rajput history and Rajasthani culture. Ranthambore is perhaps most famous for being one of the original ‘Project Tiger’ reserves and it still affords one of the best opportunities anywhere in India of seeing a tiger. With the recent escalation in poaching right across the sub-continent, there has been a worrying decline in both numbers and sightings of this magnificent animal.
- Today tiger sightings in the park are on the increase and even though the animal itself is still under serious threat, you will have a good chance of finding one. Whether or not you see tiger on this holiday, you cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer variety and number of other mammals and birds that make the park their home. Common Langurs are abundant, as are both Spotted (Chital) and Sambar Deer; the latter often feed so far out into the lakes that only their heads show above the water. Nilgai (the largest of India’s antelopes) are also fairly common and Barking Deer do occur, although are somewhat harder to find.
- On each of your game drives you will be accompanied by local guides whose expert knowledge of the park is invaluable when tracking down some of the more elusive species.
- From the lodge you will be able to take morning and afternoon drives into the reserve in search of its many mammals and birds. In between these there is plenty of opportunity for walking and bird watching around the lodge. The surrounding deciduous woodland holds a variety of birds including Rufous Treepie and Yellow-fronted Pied Woodpecker.
- After morning safari, you have the option of visiting the Ranthambore Fort which is located at the top of a rocky outcrop in the middle of the forest, which almost literally marks the meeting of the Aravalli and Vindhya hills ranges. A marked difference can be noticed in the terrain in front of and that behind the fort. The fort is huge and covers an area of approximately 7 kilometers in circumference. It is one of the oldest forts in the country and is said to have been built in 944 AD a Chauhan warrior.
- A trip to the fort is a thrilling experience. The first thing that hits you is the breathtaking view in every direction. The interiors of the fort are also stunning. The quality of workmanship is difficult to match even today despite the advances that science has made in every field. The acoustics of the Hammir court, where a whisper can be heard at the other end of the building, is only one of the many marvels one witnesses here.
- For the religious minded, the fort is an absolute must visit. The entire fort is dotted with beautiful temples and also a mosque. The most famous of these being the temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. It is said that devotees actually send in letters to the God at this temple, which are brought up daily by the local postman.
Day 08: Ranthambore – Jaipur (By Surface: 3-4 hours’)
- Early morning enjoy another game drive to Ranthambore national park.
- Later post breakfast, depart by surface for Jaipur and on arrival proceed for check-in at your hotel.
- Jaipur – the capital of Rajasthan province is known for its arts and crafts, jewellery, hand-painted fabrics and stone sculptures; it is one of North India’s finest examples of a planned city embodying the best of Rajput and Mughal architecture. From its creation in 1727, the royal families and nobles of Jaipur patronized the craftsmen and artisans of the city. These traditions continue to this day and as a result many people consider modern day Jaipur as the craft capital of India.
- Traditional methods are still used to produce many valuable and highly prized items. Using skills passed down through generations, artisans and master craftsmen can be seen in the areas of Ghat Darwaza and Vishveshwar ji.
- On this fascinating late afternoon walk mingle and talk with the locals while learning about some of the regions culinary delights: pakoras, aloo tiki, samosa and sweets from some of the city’s most popular street food vendors. Observe local artisans in their workshops; jewelers and silversmiths, gold and silver foil makers.
- You also have the option of seeing and trying the art of Henna painting. This is a 2 ½ hour walk.
Hotel: Rambagh Palace, Be spirited off into a world of exquisite pomp and grandeur at the erstwhile home of Jaipur’s royalty, the inimitable Taj Rambagh Palace. The seemingly unending acres of marble glisten and the Mughal and Oriental gardens ring with melodious birdsong. Your luxurious room is only your first glimpse into the life of the Maharaja and Maharani; a Heritage Walk through the palace will help you uncover the centuries of history surrounding you. The serene Jiva Spa offers treatments drawn from ancient therapies preferred by royalty, and as you dine in the hotel, you will experience flavours crafted to suit the palate of the king and queen.
Day 09: In Jaipur
- After an early breakfast, take an excursion to Amber Fort. Jaipur’s Maharaja Man Singh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started constructing Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power. The Fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Once you are on top, stroll through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Many of the rooms have delightful wall paintings, with precious stones and mirrors inlaid in the walls. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) where a single lamplight is reflected in the many mirrors, lighting up the room.
- Later, visit Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh ll in the 18th century. The Maharajah, a scientist as well as an astronomer, had the principles of Euclid translated into Sanskrit. One of the most remarkable sites in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar has fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses and tracking stars and planets.
- Continue to the City Palace built within the fortified area of the original city, with one of the finest monumental entrances in India. The Palace is now principally a museum housing a collection of great treasures, including miniature paintings, carpets, royal garments and other interesting objects from Jaipur’s intriguing past. The former royal family retains a part of the palace for their personal use.
- Evening is reserved for special cooking demonstration/dinner with Thakur Durga Singh, the current custodian of Dera Mandawa, who is a keen observer of history, culture, religion, current affairs, and is a bank of knowledge so vast that he has a point of view on anything under the sun.
- He is what one could call a modern traditionalist, actively seeking the use of modern technology and methods to support the principles of traditional living.
- The inquisitive can have endless conversations with him on a number of his projects like rain – water harvesting, biogas plant, solar heating and even healthy cooking. He would be more than delighted to share his experiences with you.
Day 10: Jaipur – Jodhpur (By Surface: 6-7 hours)
- Breakfast is at the hotel.
- Today you will be driven to Jodhpur.
- Jodhpur looks out over the desert to the West and the massive fort, topping a sheer rocky hill, which rises right in the middle of the town, totally dominates the city.The old city of Jodhpur is surrounded by a wall 10km long, which was built about a century after the city was founded. From the fort you can clearly see where the old city ends and the new begins. The old city is fascinating jungle of winding streets of great interest to wander around. Eight gates lead out from the walled city. It’s one of the more interesting cities in India and those baggy-tight horse riding trousers, jodhpurs, took their name from this locale.
- In the evening visit and explore the clock tower market.
Hotel: Umaid Bhawan Palace, Built between 1928 and 1943, Umaid Bhawan Palace is a magnificent piece of Rajasthan’s heritage and a symbol of new Jodhpur. Home of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family and currently the world’s sixth-largest private residence, the palace has one thing in common with the iconic Taj Mahal at Agra—the palm court marble used in its construction. Perched on Chittar Hill, the highest point in Jodhpur, Umaid Bhawan Palace inspires with exotic views of the historical Blue City, vast sand dunes, and intimidating Mehrangarh Fort.
Day 11: Jodhpur
- Early morning (around 0630 hour) drive to Rohet Garh to start Bishnoi Village tour at 0730 hour.
- You will explore the Thar Desert driving through rugged scrub desert to the home to some of the Bishnoi tribal folk. Bishnoi tribes are believed to have been granted a divine right to protect the wildlife of the desert. The principles of their religion were set out by Jambhoji, a survivor of a great famine centuries ago, who observed that deforestation was the major cause of the famine and formulated 29 rules, which included: don’t kill animals, don’t cut down green trees, take from the fields only what you need etc. Vegetarians with great respect for living things, they keep buffaloes, sheep and goats for their milk, wool and manure and would rather die than harm the environment.
- Breakfast at Rohetgarh.
- Return to Jodhpur and morning will be at leisure.
- In the afternoon you will visit The Mehrangarh Fort is the most impressive fortress in Rajasthan. The 5 km long ramparts of the fort perched on a 125meter – high rocky cliff in the middle of the city has four gates that can be approached by a winding road. The fort offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. Inside the fort, one can see magnificent palaces adorned with intricately carved panels and latticed windows. These palaces house a fabulous collection of trappings of Indian royalty: palanquins, elephant howdahs, miniature paintings of various schools, music instruments, costumes and furniture.
- Also visit Jaswant Thada memorial. This cluster of royal cenotaphs in white marble built in 1899 A.D. in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II also houses the portraits of various kings who ruled Jodhpur in the past.
Day 12: Jodhpur – Udaipur (By Surface: 5-6 hours)
- Breakfast is at the hotel.
- Later you will be driven to Udaipur, en-route visiting Ranakpur Jain Temples, an exceptionally beautiful excursion through the rugged, wooded hills of Rajasthan to the Jain Temples of Ranakpur in the Aravalli Valley, to see one of the best complexes of Jain religion, which is particularly noted for the grandiose scale of its architecture and the highly decorated ceilings, walls and 1444 different pillars. The priests of the temples did all the temple designing and their generations are still continuing the work.
- The Lunch will be served at Mountbatten Lodge.
- Post lunch, continue with your drive to Udaipur and on arrival check-in at your hotel
- Dotted with marble palaces, hibiscus – laden gardens and fountain pavilions, Udaipur appeals to the imagination of poets and painters, travellers and writers like no other city in the country. The city’s inherent romance and beauty and its remarkable past redolent with episodes of heroism and splendor continue to enthrall the visitor even today. Udaipur, the City of Dawn, looms up like a vision in white. It is a truly enchanting city.
- In the evening visit the Bagore Ki Haveli. Every evening, the haveli lightens and stages enjoyable performance of traditional dance and music of Rajasthan. The haveli looks marvelous with glowing lights in the night. Bagore Ki Haveli is a perfect place to explore the ancient architecture and life style of the royal family. The upper courtyard makes an atmospheric setting for the fabulous nightly Dharohar performances of Rajasthani dance.
Hotel: The Oberoi Udaivilas, located on the bank of Lake Pichola, The Oberoi Udaivilas is unique amongst luxury hotels in Udaipur. It stands on the 200-year-old hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar and is spread over fifty acres, which includes a twenty-acre wildlife sanctuary with deer and wild boar. The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur also affords spectacular views across the hotel’s verdant gardens and sparkling Lake Pichola.
Day 13: Udaipur
- Breakfast is at the hotel.
- Post breakfast visit Udaipur city starting at Jagdish Temple built in 1651. Notice the many heritage mansions that line the city boulevards, the art shops and boutiques that lead to the old bathing ghats that fringe the banks of Lake Pichola.
- Visit the City Palace (part of which has been converted into a museum housing the largest collection of crystal in the world) and see the gorgeous peacock mosaics, striking blue and white ceramics and Dutch inlaid tile work, glass and porcelain figures and miniature paintings.
- Later enjoy a private boat ride on Lake Pichola.
- Proceed for a guided heritage walk where you will have the opportunity to visit the famous ghats and historic temples on the banks of Lake Pichola. Visit an ancient step well which was used for drinking water by the locals. Join a family at their private residence for a cup of tea and snacks in their 150 year old residence decorated with fascinating fresco paintings and mirror work. From the clock tower move towards the lane where the silversmiths and gold making workers are busy making and selling the ornaments. Observe the traditional way of making clay pottery and water pitchers etc. On this interesting walk you will see the bustling markets of Udaipur city where you will come across the vegetable, oil and bamboo markets.
- Discuss the contemporary art with an artist – Udaipur. Our one-to-one discussion with Contemporary Artist of Udaipur over a glass of beer/wine allows you to gain firsthand knowledge of the Contemporary Art scene of Udaipur. Visit the studio and get to know what elevates and inspires the artist.
- Listen to stories of the struggle whilst he searched for meaning and the awe-inspiring variety of materials, techniques, methods, style and theme in his quest for the universal that transcends all man made boundaries.
Day 14: Udaipur – Delhi (By: Domestic flight)
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Later assisted departure transfer to airport to connect the flight for Delhi.
- Arrive Delhi and transfer to hotel (near airport). The rooms will be available till departure transfer for late evening / early morning (Day 15) flight back home.
Hotel: JW Marriott Aerocity (Available for day use/till departure transfer), Located adjacent to Indira Gandhi International Airport, the hotel features exceptionally large accommodation with ultra-comfortable bedding and marble bathrooms, as well as 24-hour room service and modern technology. Conveniently located hotel for those who have late night or early morning international flights.
End of the tour