15 days/14 nights
7 – 21 November 2019
AUD6870 per person twin share
AUD8825 solo traveller with own room
- all prices are in AUD
- maximum of eight travellers
- prices are based on eight travellers
- airfares not included
- Pushkar – 3 nights in a 4 star lakeside palace
- Jaipur – 3 nights in a 4 star haveli – grand home
- Jodhpur – 3 nights in a 4 star family run haveli
- Rohet Gahr – 2 nights in a 4 star family run heritage hotel
- Udaipur – 3 nights in a 4 star lakeside palace
- Private air-conditioned vehicles
- Auto rickshaws
- Bicycle rickshaws
- E rickshaws
- Breakfast daily
- 6 lunches
- 10 dinners
- Pushkar Camel Fair
- Staying in old havelis with the descendants of Rajasthani royalty
- Walking tours off the beaten track
- Meeting the elephants at Dera Amer
- Visit local villages
- Ancient temples and forts
Namaste. Welcome to India!
This traditional greeting literally means “I bow to the divine in you”. It is a gesture of love and respect and is the way that you will be greeted throughout your time in India. When spoken, it is with our hands in the prayer position, held at the level of our heart chakra and can be accompanied with a slight bow.
Thursday 7 November
Jaipur – Pushkar (L) (D)
Today your adventure begins! When you arrive in Jaipur, Catherine and Varis will be waiting to meet you to start our journey through Rajasthan together. First stop is Pushkar for the annual Camel Fair. During the three hour drive, you will get a fascinating first look at rural India as we pass through villages and fields. We might just see some camel herders along the road taking their camels to the fair!
Pushkar is a town bordering the Thar Desert set on a beautiful lake. The lake is a sacred Hindu site with 52 ghats (stone staircases) where pilgrims come to bathe. There are hundreds of temples dating all the way back to the 14th-century. Over the next two days, we will explore the fair and discover this beautiful town and its people.
When we arrive you can grab some lunch while we take care of the check-in formalities for you. After lunch, unpack and freshen up before we meet for a welcome drink and dinner on the roof-top in time to catch the beautiful sunset.
Friday 8 November (B) (L) (D)
Thousands of traders with their camels converge on this tiny desert town for the annual Pushkar Fair. It’s a fascinating and extraordinary sight, an opportunity to witness an old traditional-style Indian festival.
Today we will take joy in a wonderful walking tour hosted by a local guide from Vedic Walks, our valued partner.
Four Religions in a Mile
Enjoy a lovely walking tour around the lake, visiting temples, learning about Hindu rituals, marvelling at the beautiful architecture and learning about other prominent religions that have places of worship here. Along the way, we will wander through some local markets where we can see craftsmen at work making turbans and other local handicrafts.
You will have the opportunity to perform a ceremony as homage to your forefathers at the holy Pushkar Lake and share a chai with a local priest.
Along the way, we will visit some street food stalls to sample local specialities, and stop at a temple market that sells all manner of things the devotees purchase as offerings to the gods.
We will end up at the Pushkar Fair Ground where we will meet the traders who have come to sell their elaborately decorated camels and livestock at the fair. We have the option of taking a cable car ride up to Savitri Mandir, a temple that overlooks all of Pushkar. The view is magical.
On the day we can decide if we would like to return to our hotel for lunch and a bit of time to relax or whether to just grab some lunch somewhere local and stay on at the fair.
The rest of the day is ours to explore as we wish before we return to our hotel for dinner on that fabulous rooftop with a breathtaking view.
In spite of this being the beginning of winter in the desert, the days are still very warm hovering around the mid-30’s during the hottest part of the day.
We are staying in the heart of Pushkar, so at any time if you want to, you can go back to our hotel for a bit of a break.
We can stay at the fair or go back and visit the local markets. There are a wide range of things from handcrafts to jewellery, leather items, traditional clothing and rose products, (the area is famous for growing roses) the local markets and bazaars are as much the heart of a city as its temples are.
When we are ready we will return to our hotel for another delicious dinner.
Overnight: Pushkar Palace
Saturday 9 November (B) (L) (D)
Today we have kept as a totally free day. In India, we can always expect the unexpected, and we mean that in a very positive way!
The program for the fair hasn’t been released yet. Let’s wait and see what cultural events might be happening today and this evening and we’ll let you know when we find out ourselves.
We can attend the aarti (worship) just 500 meters from our hotel by walking along the ghats around sunset. After everything you learned yesterday, it will have a new meaning today.
We could go to the Gurudwara Sahib (Sikh Temple) and volunteer for an hour or two in the kitchen. You could just relax on the roof with a book and enjoy the view.
Markets, we can never get enough of markets. Some of you may feel the same.
Lunch and dinner are included at the hotel.
Overnight: Pushkar Palace
Sunday 10 November (B) (D)
After breakfast, it is time to bid farewell to Pushkar and hit the road for Jaipur. It is a three-hour journey, but along the way, we are stopping in a town called Bagru, famous for its tradition of block printing that goes back the past 300 years. If you have already experienced block printing with us in South India, this will give you a different insight again to this age-old craft as Bagru is dedicated to keeping this wonderful craft alive.
As we take a walk through the village, we will meet dozens of families who work on this unique type of printing using only natural colours made from the likes of indigo, turmeric and pomegranate juice. We will visit small workshops and see men carving these amazing blocks by hand. Some of the designs require up to six blocks, each block making a different part of the design so that they can be printed in multiple colours. The level of skill they possess is mindblowing.
We couldn’t take you to Bagru without giving you the chance to try your hand at this amazing craft so you will be able to try it for yourself with the guidance of the artisans. No experience necessary, just a little imagination. A chance to let your creativity run free!
We’ll grab some lunch in a local restaurant before we continue on to our hotel located just outside the city of Jaipur. You may wonder why we aren’t staying in the heart of the city, but when we arrive at Khas Bhag we are confident you will know why we chose it for you.
We will handle check-in while you relax and have a look around this divine property, then we will meet for a drink before we have dinner.
Overnight: Khas Bagh (Deluxe room)
Monday 11 November (B) (D)
After breakfast this morning we will drive into the city and visit the Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of the Winds. It is Jaipur’s most photographed building and has 953 small windows and balconies. It is a stunning example of Rajput architecture built for the women of the royal household so they could watch the everyday life on the streets below through the delicately honeycombed sandstone windows without being seen.
There is a cafe across the road with the most amazing view so we will stop there for a coffee or chai and capture some stunning photos before we cross the road and go inside to explore the palace. We are starting off earlier than usual today to get there in time for the morning light. If we have any serious photographers we can arrange to go earlier for the golden hour.
We have around three hours to spend as we wish. We have a list of fabulous places to shop for jewellery, textiles, shoes, homewares, antiques, clothing, the list goes on. There are also options to do more exploring instead such as visiting an ancient temple or the Albert Hall Museum.
We will get together again for lunch – we have a few suggestions so let’s decide on the day.
Here comes one of the most amazing opportunities to get a stunning photo at the Patrika Gate. We have to drive across the busy city but believe us it is worth it. It is breathtaking. Let’s all wear something gorgeous today!
Later this afternoon the City Palace fills us with wonder. It now houses a museum filled with an amazing collection of Rajasthani costumes and armoury of the Mughals and Rajputs. We have a special tour planned to see some of the rooms of the palace that are not generally open to the public. We will see the palace transition from day to night and be awed by the amazing lighting. Before heading back to our hotel for dinner let’s go to the Barabari Restaurant Bar for a drink and snacks. It is set in the courtyard and we think it is not to be missed.
Overnight: Khas Bagh
Tuesday, 12 November (B) (L) (D)
Have you ever imagined feeding or helping to bathe an elephant? Meet Laxmi and Rangmala, two female elephants that were rescued from hard labour and now enjoy a happy life here. They are cared for with real love and devotion. Elephants are considered Gods in India.
Dera Armer has the approval of SOS Wildlife who runs India’s biggest elephant rescue centre in Agra as they know they have educated themselves to take proper care of Laxmi and Rangmala. We can pitch in and help feed and bathe them before we enjoy a magnificent lunch prepared with care by the team in the Dera Amer kitchen from organic produce grown in their garden.
Khas Bagh is close by, so we will go back for a short rest and freshen up. We are having dinner at a spectacular restaurant this evening, so if you feel in the mood to wear something gorgeous please do, as this restaurant is another feast for your eyes.
Now we head back toward the city and stop the Anokhi Museum to learn more about the art of block printing that we experienced in Bagru. It is fascinating to see the many aspects of this craft from tools and blocks to samples of countless hand printed pieces of cloth. After we’ve explored the museum we head right into the centre of the city to meet our local guide for a heritage walk through the cities narrow laneways. You meet local artisans including bangle makers, gold and silversmiths, gemstone traders and metal beaters. We will wander through the bridal shop lane and spice markets where the local people shop to feel the pulse of the city.
When it is time to say goodbye to our guide, we will board our e-rickshaws to go to dinner. Tonight is the full moon and we will be dining at the fabulous Bar Palladio, a stunningly restored building in the grounds of Narain Niwas Palace Hotel.
Overnight: Khas Bagh
Wednesday 13 November (B) (D)
Today is our longest day on the road as we head to Jodhpur for the next part of our adventure through Rajasthan. Not far out of Jaipur we will make a stop at the historic stepwell, Panna Meena ka Kund known for its hundreds of criss-crossing stairs and amazing geometrical structure. Such wells are places for gathering water, meeting friends and swimming in the hot summer months. This one dates back to the 16th century.
We are stopping for lunch at a stunning 18th-century residence within the walls of Ahhichatragarh Fort. It has been meticulously restored to its former glory. Dining in the barbari (courtyard) is a wonderful way to break our trip today.
Once we arrive in Jodhpur you can relax while we take care of the check-in formalities for you. Your room will soon be ready. We’ll meet for a drink before going to a rooftop restaurant for dinner with a breath-taking view of the 15th Century Mehrangarh Fort and clock tower market.
Overnight: Ratan Vilas (Superior room)
Thursday 14 November (B) (D)
Jodhpur like all the cities of Rajasthan is steeped in history. It is a former princely state, the Kingdom of Marwar. The buzz on the streets, the colour, the noise, the smells and the tastes that make Jodhpur yet another jewel in the incredible state of Rajasthan.
This morning we will delight in a tour of some of Jodhpur’s historical highlights. We visit the Mehrangarh Fort that we saw splendidly lit up last night, but this time we go inside to learn the history, marvel at the architecture and be amazed by the displays in the museum.
“Mehrangarh Fort stands a hundred feet in splendour on a perpendicular cliff, four hundred feet above the skyline of Jodhpur. Burnished red sandstone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons. Much has been written about the Citadel of the Sun, for truly, it is one of the most impressive in all Rajasthan. So colossal are its proportions that Rudyard Kipling called it “ the work of giants”.
“Today, it is acknowledged as one of the best-preserved in India. The current head of the Rathore clan and custodian of the fort, Maharaja Gaj Singh II, has preserved the buildings and developed the museum as a record and tribute to the lives of his predecessors. His ancestors ruled the state of Marwar and over many generations built this architectural treasure, and it falls to him to ensure that their legacy is maintained and understood.”
Just nearby is the Jaswant Thada, the Royal Cenotaphs. We will take a wander through the garden surrounding them, also high on the hill above the city. Before leaving, we will visit the temple near the fort. The idol of the Goddess Devi Chamunda Mataji was placed here in 1460. Imagine the number of feet that have passed over the smooth flagstone floor of this temple in the past five centuries.
After a morning being swept away by the stories of maharajas, kingdoms and struggles for sovereignty we have the perfect place for lunch. Let’s eat at the Stepwell Cafe. You guessed it, it looks over a stepwell, such an amazing location to rest, relax and refuel.
Around 4pm we will meet our local guide and take a walk through the Brahmapuri neighbourhood where all the houses are painted blue. Meet and connect with local people sitting out the front of their colourful homes. The photographer in you will have a deep appreciation for the photo opportunities everywhere you turn.
When we have soaked up this beautiful part of the city we will jump in autorickshaws and head to Ghanta Ghar, the city’s clock tower which is surrounded by a bustling marketplace. You’ll find grains, spices, fruit and vegetables, grocery shops, bamboo items, jewellery, textiles, shoes and more as you amble around this lively market. People from the surrounding rural areas also come here to shop so you will see colourfully dressed women and men from different communities making up the Marwar region.
When we get back to Ratan Vilas our hosts will have a table waiting for us to have dinner back at our hotel. No rush, as we will all want to relax for a little before meeting for pre-dinner drinks.
Overnight: Ratan Vilas
Friday 15 November (B) (D)
Today we are keeping free until 4pm so that each of you can do something that really interests you. We’ll be around to give suggestions and accompany you. There are endless shopping opportunities, of course, but we can arrange other activities/sightseeing too. We are staying in a beautiful old haveli (home) so lying around the hotel is a definite option. Perhaps a swim, and read a book by the pool!
A small village only 22 kms from Jodhpur makes for a wonderful afternoon out of the city. In the village of Salawas, more than 48 families have formed a co-operative producing hand weaving the durries (rugs) that this area is famous for.
We will also do a safari to spot local wildlife, in particular the blackbuck which is akin to and Indian antelope. While on safari we will visit a small community of people called Bishnois. They have a philosophy of living in complete harmony with nature. The Bishnoi will not cut down a living tree. They use cow dung and dried, dead branches for fuel for cooking. They are pure vegetarian and live by a code of non-violence. Learning about their culture and history is fascinating. They are the original tree huggers, perhaps where we get that name from in the west.
This evening we will be having dinner on a farm with a local community. During this experience we will be inspired as we learn the simple methods of cooking, pitch in and help and then enjoy a delicious meal together. Smiles and gestures can say so much, and our guide will be able to translate for us if you have questions to ask or thoughts you wish to share with our hosts.
It is not far to drive back to Ratan Vilas where you can relax in the courtyard and enjoy a drink or two, or return to your room to take rest.
Overnight: Ratan Vilas
Saturday 16 November (B)
This morning after we have a leisurely breakfast we will be on our way to Rohet Garh, a heritage hotel one and a half hour drive from Jodhpur.
“Rohet Garh is a classified Heritage Hotel in Rajasthan. Over the course of fifteen years, it has been nurtured and developed with great love and care by the family into one of the finest heritage hotels in the country. Situated on the banks of a lake and set in amid rural surroundings, it is a haven of peace and tranquillity. Sprawling lawns and manicured gardens, which invite a multitude of birds and dancing peacocks, herald your entry into this oasis where the bird song is the only sound you will hear. A superb swimming pool with four charming pavilions entices you for a refreshing dip.”
The beauty of this place will entrance you. If you can bear to leave, we can take a walk to the local village. Meet the local folk who welcome you with a smile. This experience offers you a memorable insight into rural life here.
The rest of the day to relax and enjoy your surroundings and have lunch and dinner when you please. We can dine as a group, or arrangements can be made for private lunches and dinners.
Overnight: Rohet Garh (Suite)
Sunday 17 November (B) (D)
This morning there are no plans. Rohet Garh offers some lovely experiences including meeting their very special horses, the Marwaris. Local to Rajasthan, this Indian breed is protected and when you cast your eyes on them you will know why.
Enjoy your lunch when you please. Later today we have an optional safari to spot local wildlife and visit a local village.
This evening we will enjoy a culinary experience in Rohet Garh’s kitchen. The late Thakurani Sahiba Jayendra Kumari, the former lady of the house wrote a small cookbook of traditional Rajasthani cuisine. Her daughter in law Rashmi Singh carries on her legacy by continuing to cook her recipes for their guests. You will be given a demonstration and have fun participating in the preparation of a delicious array of recipes from this very special cookbook.
After dinner, there are lovely places to retire to with a drink and listen to the quiet of the desert night under the stars.
Overnight: Rohet Garh
Monday 18 November (B) (L) (D)
We leave this tranquil desert retreat to make our way to Udaipur, the last city on our itinerary and some would say the most beautiful of them all.
It is about four hours drive but we will break it up on the way. There are a group of 500-year-old Jain Temples in Ranakpur situated in a deep, secluded value of the Aravalli Hills.
We are working on a special experience nearby. We are keeping this one to ourselves until it is definite. Plan B is lunch at beautiful Maharani Bagh Orchid Retreat in a lovely courtyard filled with thatched roof huts.
After lunch, we will visit the temples. You will be awe-inspired when you enter Chaumukha temple. There are 1444 pillars spread throughout 29 halls. No two are exactly alike.
Filled with wonder we will continue on the road to Udaipur, often referred to as the “Venice of the East”. By far the most romantic city in Rajasthan, it is nestled in a valley surrounded by green hills and perched around beautiful Lake Pichola. The city is a labyrinth of narrow lanes flanked by stalls and shops selling all kinds of locally made goods. You will find jewellery, pashminas, clothing, leather goods, shoes, beautiful homewares and antiques. This beautiful lakeside city has gardens, palaces, old haveli temples and markets all just waiting to be explored.
When we arrive, we will take care of your check-in while you enjoy a wander around the courtyard. Before long you will be in your room unpacking for the final chapter in this adventure we have shared together.
Let’s meet upstairs for a sunset drink and then we will go for a walk to the other side of the lake to enjoy dinner at a wonderful restaurant almost directly opposite our hotel. Rather than being on a rooftop, Harigarh is on the ground floor so that you have this feeling of being right on the lake.
After a long day in the car, we thought it would be good to stretch our legs even though it is tempting to stay at Jagat Niwas Palace as it’s rooftop also boasts an exquisite view.
Overnight: Jagat Niwas Palace (Non-lake-facing haveli room)
Tuesday 19 November (B)
This morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast with a view over Lake Pichola before we set off to visit the City Palace. Its construction started in 1553 and was built over a span of 400 years, meaning numerous generations of the Mewar rulers contributed to this architectural marvel. Most of the palace is now converted into a museum and part of it is now a luxury hotel. A walk through this beautiful palace reveals stunning mosaics, frescoes and traditional art. It is a look into the way the rulers lived in the days when they ruled the kingdom.
We will wander through the markets and bazaars located just behind the palace and get a feel for the city. We have the rest of the day free to wander the narrow streets of Udaipur. There are some wonderful emporiums to explore, whether you wish to buy anything or not. One, in particular, is known for not only the quality of their goods but for the fact that many famous people have shopped there including Roger Moore during the filming of Octopussy and Dame Judy Dench during the filming of the Best Marigold Hotel. The list goes on and they proudly display photos of their famous customers as you enter. There are also countless small shops selling locally made items. If you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of the narrow city streets, our hotel is nearby, so it is very easy to return to Jagat Niwas for lunch and a break and then venture out again.
Late afternoon we will jump in autorickshaws to go back to the City Palace boat ramp where we will board our boat to take a cruise on this picturesque lake. It is a lovely vision to look back at the city from the lake, and admire the many beautiful palaces and havelis on the banks. We will go past the Lake Palace where many of the scenes in Octopussy were filmed, and that is now a luxury hotel. We stop at the Jag Mandir Palace located on an island with a stunning view looking back at the city. It is a lovely place to sit with a drink in hand and watch the sunset and as the light fades the lights of the city begin to twinkle across the water. When we are ready we will board a boat back to the City Palace boat ramp and then walk or grab an autorickshaw to the Jagdish Temple for the evening aarti (worship).
You witnessed this act of devotion on the ghats in Pushkar, and now we take you inside a temple to see a different type of aarti. The local people lift up their voices together in praise of Lord Shiva. You can both hear and feel the devotion as they come together singing kirtan (Sanskrit for narrating, describing). We have no doubt you leave with a sense of appreciation for this beautiful ceremony. Worship has been practised at this temple continuously since 1651.
This evening we didn’t make a plan for dinner, but we suggest returning to our hotel to enjoy the ambience on the rooftop.
Overnight: Jagat Niwas Palace
Wednesday 20 November (B) (L) (D)
Udaipur is known for its charming location, its royal heritage, rich history, palaces and old havelis. There is another side of Udaipur to be found in the villages on the edge of the city amongst the artisan communities. There are families working with bamboo, pottery, making leaf plates, metalsmiths working with gold and silver, miniature painting and traditional puppet making. Some of these crafts date from the age of the maharajas and all of them showcase the skills of these remarkable artisans, many who are descendants of the craftsmen from the royal age. We will take our time walking amongst these communities, stopping to try our hand at the potters’ wheel and greeted by smiles along the way. After a few hours, we will head back to the city and have lunch in an old haveli, which is now a family home. They invite us into their home to enjoy true Rajasthani hospitality and food.
Now that we have rested and had a delightful lunch, we will start the next part of our walking tour that will explore the “gullies” (back lanes) of the central part of the city. We will visit markets selling delicate handmade traditional clothing, colourful accessories, traditional puppets, jewellery, leatherwork, miniature paintings and more.
This evening we are attending a folk performance at the Bagore Ki Haveli, built in 1751. An easy walk from our hotel. After this entertaining show, we take our last stroll around the lake to reach Ambrai Ghat. The view from this point, looking back at the City and Lake Palaces and toward Hanuman and Gangaur Ghats near our hotel is nothing short of magical.
Now it is time for our last meal together and we think it will be a memorable one. We are dining at Ambrai in the grounds of Hotel Amet Haveli, situated right on the lake.
Arrive at Ambrai Ghat to watch the spectacular sunset followed by dinner at Ambrai, located on the grounds of the Hotel Amet Haveli. Good food, drinks and a sensational view. We’ve experienced so much together this past couple of weeks and enjoyed your company so much.
Happily, we don’t have an early start tomorrow, so we can sit and relax here as long as we like, or walk along to Harigahr for a nightcap on our way home.
Overnight: Jagat Niwas Palace
Thursday 21 November
UDAIPUR – DELHI (B)
Today we part ways as you make your way to Delhi for your onward journey or your flight home. We can have a leisurely morning before we check out.
For those returning home today, we have arranged 3 hours access for you at the Plaza Premium Lounge at Indira Gandhi International Airport where you can relax before your flight.
It has been our pleasure and privilege to share this wonderful journey with you and we thank you for choosing us for your Indian adventure. We hope it has been all you dreamed of and more.