Meeting, assistance on arrival and transfer to HOTEL TAJ PALACE
The morning is free to relax at our hotel. Continue by road to the Neemrana Fort Palace atop a rocky outcrop just inside the borders of Rajasthan. Built in 1464 by a Rajput maharajah, the fort and palace has been beautifully converted into a luxury hotel, furnished with collector’s pieces and exuding charm and atmosphere. It is difficult to imagine a more perfect introduction to India. The remainder of the day is at leisure (B)
In the morning we wander through the unspoilt village beneath the palace and visit the traditional step well, a design unchanged in centuries. The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the surroundings and the beauty of our palace hotel (B)
Drive to Samode for a one night stay. In the afternoon we explore the local village with its old painted havelis, or merchant houses, and its traditional workshops producing printed cloth and glass bangles. We enjoy afternoon tea among the pavilions and fountains of the Samode Bagh, a formal Mughal garden. Our hotel is the Samode Palace, whose magnificent rooms are decorated with intricate mirrored panels and three hundred year old frescoes. (B)
Continuing south by road, we stop at Amber where we are conveyed to the old fort above the town by elephant. In the afternoon we arrive at the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur, one of the most flamboyant showcases of Rajasthani architecture. Our afternoon tour includes the City Palae whose interior reflects all the pomp and splendour of its royal residents, and the Palace of Winds, the royal harem, with its extraordinary façade of almost 600 ornate windows and balconies. Overnight at the Trident Hotel (B)
Morning drive westward to Roopangarh where we stay at the Roopangarh Fort. The afternoon is spent exploring the palace which houses an excellent collection of 18th century miniature paintings. (B)
Drive to Ajmer where thousands of Muslim pilgrims converge once a year on the tomb of Mu’inuddin Chishti, a Sufi saint. In the heart of the old town the domed tomb of white marble is considered second only to Mecca as a holy shrine. After lunch we continue our journey on to Jodhpur where we stay in the quiet village of Luni at Fort Chanwa, a red sandstone fort of courtyards, domes, turrets and intricately carved facades, now converted into a splendid hotel.
Our morning tour of Jodhpur takes in the Meherangarh Fort, a huge complex of extravagant Rajput palaces which occupies a steep escarpment above the town. Lunch is in the impressive Umaid Bhawan Palace, home of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. In the afternoon we tour the markets which specialize in colourful textiles, silverwork and a range of local handicrafts before returning in the evening to the peaceful surroundings of Fort Chanwa in Luni (BL)
By road to Ranakpur to see the famous Jain temples set in a remote valley of the Aravalli range. The craftsmanship here is astonishing; of the 1444 coloumns in the marble Chaumukha temple, no two are alike. After lunch in the former royal retreat of Maharani Bagh, set in a shady mango orchard, we continue to Narlai for an overnight stay at the Rawla Narlai for an overnight stay at the Rawla Narlai, a former royal hunting lodge. (BL)
The imposing Kumbhalgarh Fort is the first stop on our morning itinerary, so remote and inaccessible it was only taken once in five centuries. Lunch is in the tranquil setting of the Aoudhi Retreat. In the afternoon we drive to the princely city of Udaipur where we stay at the Trident Hotel near the lakeside. (BL)
Though it has a host of rivals, Udaipur is the most picturesque and atmospheric city in Rajasthan. The tall whitewashed houses and the winding lanes give it a medieval air, whilst the tranquility of the lake pervades every corner of the city. We spend the morning exploring the City Palae, the largest and most spectacular complex of palaces in Rajasthan. In the afternoon we visit the temples at Nagda and Eklingji, redolent of an even more ancient past. (B)
South from Udaipur brings us to the little town of Dungarpur, where we stay at the Udai Bilas Palace. Home to the former maharaja, it belongs to an age before Independence swept away the princely states. The afternoon is spent exploring the palace hotel which has some of the best fresco work in Rajasthan, as well as fine miniature and glass work (B)
Morning at leisure before an aftrnoon drive to Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujurat, whose fame as a mercantile and textile center has earned it the epithet ‘the Manchester of the East’. We stay at the Holiday Inn. (B).
Visit to the famous Calicao Museum with its superb collection of royal costumes, embroidery, rate tapestries and heavy brocades, as well as the principal mosques and the Shaking Minarets. Afternoon flight from Ahmedabad to Bombay where there is a farewell dinner at the Orchid Hotel before boarding the flight home. (BD)