Day 1: New Zealand – – Delhi, India
Today depart New Zealand for India! On arrival at Delhi airport meet & greet with our representative and transfer to your hotel.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, your tour starts today. Please make your own way to the hotel.
Day 2: Old Delhi City Tour (B)
After breakfast, we start a full day sightseeing tour of Old Delhi City and experience the Delhi Metro train system. Start by visiting Jama Masjid – the largest mosque in India taking 13 years to build and remains a marvellous treasure of the Old City. A steep climb to the top of its southern tower will reward you with a stunning view across the rooftops of Delhi. We then take a Rickshaw ride to explore the old part of town, which includes: ChandniChowk (Moonlight Square), one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi and then onto the Spice Market – one of Asia’s largest wholesale spice markets with hundreds of shops dealing in refined, local and exotic spices. This large market area is rich in colour and photo opportunities. We then visit the Red Fort – Delhi’s most famous monument and a powerful reminder of the Mughal emperors who ruled India. We then return to the hotel by the Delhi metro train.
Day 3: Delhi – Mandawa (B)
After breakfast proceed to Mandawa, a town in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan and also part of the Shekhawati region. Travel time approx. 6 hours.
Mandawa is famous for its various Havelies (traditional townhouse or mansion) and forts. Visit Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli and other famous Havelies as well as various houses with colorful fresco art & painting.
Day 4: Mandawa – Bikaner (B)
After breakfast proceed to Bikaner – famous for its various beautiful forts and temples. Travel time approx. 3 ½ hours. On arrival check in at hotel. After a short relax, you will visit various famous tourist attractions:
Deshnoke Temple or Karni Mata Temple – a Hindu temple dedicated to Karni Mata at Deshnoke, also known as the Temple of Rats. The temple is famous for the approximately 25,000 black rats that live, and are revered, in the temple.
Bhandasar Jain Temple or Banda Shah Jain temple – famous for wall painting and artwork and protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Junagarh Fort – originally called Chintamani and was renamed Junagarh or “Old Fort” in the early 20th century when the ruling family moved to Lalgarh Palace outside the fort limits.
Day 5: Bikaner – Jaisalmer (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Jaisalmer, which is also known as “The Golden City”. Travel time approx. 6 hours. Upon arrival check in and relax.
Day 6: Jaisalmer – overnight desert safari experience (B,D)
After breakfast, visit Jaisalmer Fort, Gadi Sagar Lake, and various beautiful decorated Havelies. It is such a wonderful experience for every traveller coming to The Golden City of India.
In the afternoon, embark upon a great journey to visit the famous sand dunes located in Sum called “Thar Desert”. Situated 50 km away from Jaisalmer, it provides a wonderful retreat to each and every traveller coming to Rajasthan.
You will also enjoy a sunset camel ride on the sand dunes, followed by evening snacks while watching a Rajasthani Folk Cultural Dance. For dinner, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous buffet of typical Rajasthani Cuisine before settling into your Swiss Luxury Tent for the night.
Day 7: Jaisalmer – Jodhpur (B)
Arise early and proceed to Jodhpur. Travel time approx. 5 hours. On arrival Jodhpur, check in at hotel. Jodhpur is famously called the Sun City, as the sun is visible here first every morning. Jodhpur was founded in the year 1459 by RaoJodha and the city earned its name after him. The second largest city in the state of Rajasthan is divided into old city and new city and famous for its magnificent forts and palaces. Tonight take the opportunity to visit the local markets.
Day 8: Jodhpur (B)
After breakfast, we start a full day sightseeing tour of Jodhpur. Visit Mehrangarh Fort – among the largest Indian forts standing magnificently 400 feet above the city. RaoJodha constructed the fort in 1459 AD. Though the attempt to construct the fort was started in 1459, the fort had seen many centuries before it was completed. Hence, you could find that the style of architecture represents various periods. The grandeur in architecture is awe-inspiring. It offers stunning views of the city.
Ummaid Bhawan Palace – construction started in the year 1929 and was completed in 1943. The palace is situated on the highest point in the city. The massive 347 room palace is one of the largest private residences in the world. The palace boasts a combination of Indian and European style of architecture. A part of the palace still serves as a residence to the former royal family, while other two parts of the palace are converted into Taj Palace Hotel and museum.
Jaswant Thada was built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, the Second in the year 1899. The tranquillity of the marble construction is enchanting. The carvings are intricate. Inside Jaswant Thada, you will find the portraits of the Rathore rulers. The grounds of Jaswant Thada consist of a stunning multilevel garden, intricately carved gazebos and a pond.
Mandore, belonging to the 6th century, was Marwar’s capital before Jodhpur was established. Mandore Gardens attracts tourists in great numbers and is home to a government museum, a ‘Hall of Heroes’ and a temple to 33 crore Gods. Various artefacts and statues found in the area are housed at the museum. The architectural splendour of the bygone era is clearly evident here.
Day 9:- Jodhpur – Udaipur (B)
After breakfast, drive to Udaipur. Travel time approx. 5 hours. Upon arrival check-in to the hotel and later transfer to Lake Pichola for a sunset boat ride to catch a view of the magnificent Lake Palace of Udaipur.
Day 10: Udaipur City Tour (B)
After breakfast take a full day sightseeing in Udaipur, one of India’s most romantic cities and famed for its lovely palaces and lakes.
City Palace – a palace complex built by Maharana Udai Singh, the City Palace is grandeur personified. Wander through its beautiful rooms and apartments. A conglomeration of several buildings with towers, balconies and cupolas built all over, the City Palace also houses a crystal gallery, which boasts royal artefacts and the world’s largest private collection of crystal. It is one of Rajasthan’s largest palaces and offers splendid views of Lake Pichola.
Fatehsagar Lake – built by Maharana Fateh Singh in 1754 A.D. Also visit the Jagdish Temple, the largest and most venerated temple of Udaipur.
Then continue on to the Garden of Maidens “Sahelion-ki-bari” and the Folk Art Museum, to view the interesting collection of puppets & paintings.
Day 11: Udaipur – Pushkar (B)
After breakfast, proceed to Pushkar. Travel time approx. 5 hours. On arrival check in to hotel. In the evening, we’ll visit Pushkar Market. The Bazaar offers a variety of items including Rajasthani costumes and puppets, embroidered fabrics, souvenirs, bangles and beads, decorative pieces and accessories, curios, embroidered shoes, brass utensils, glass lamps, bags, belts and many more handicraft items. The majority of the traditional items are brought to the Pushkar Bazaar from Barmer District and other tribal areas of Rajasthan.
Day 12: Pushkar sightseeing and cooking experience (B,D)
After breakfast, enjoy a camel ride around the Rajasthan desert before we make our way to Pushkar Lake – considered by Hindus all across India to be one of the most sacred lakes of India. The lake is surrounded by 52 palaces, 400 temples and 52 bathing ‘ghats’, which are a series of steps leading to the lake. Every year in November, pilgrims take a holy dip in this lake. It is believed that the water of the lake is capable of cleansing sins and curing skin diseases.
Brahma Temple is the lone Hindu temple in India where Lord Brahma, the Creator of the World is worshipped. This major attraction of Pushkar is situated on the banks of the Pushkar Lake and is considered to have a special position in the Hindu Pantheons. Built in the 14th century, the temple comprises a raised platform, red spire, stone slabs, marble floors and an image of ‘hans’ or swan, Lord Brahma’s vehicle. It is customary for pilgrims to stand on the steps and put coins to mark the deaths and births of their loved ones.
Savitri Temple – built in 1687 and situated on the peak of the Ratnagiri Hill it houses the statue of Goddess Savitri and offers good views of the surroundings, including the sand dunes of nearby villages and Pushkar Lake. Legend has it that the presence of Savitri was required in a ‘yagna’ that was done by Lord Brahma but she kept Him waiting. Lord Brahma irritated with her behaviour, married a milkmaid named Gayatri. Savitri became furious at this and cursed Him that he will only be worshipped once a year and only in Pushkar.
Tonight we enjoy a cooking class to learn how to cook local cuisine. Guided by a professional Indian chef we prepare, cook then eat the delicious dishes for dinner.
Day 13: Pushkar – Jaipur (B)
This morning we make our to Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan state. Travel time approx. 3 hours. Upon arrival, we drive past the beautiful red and pink sandstone palace of Hawa Mahal. In the evening, take the opportunity to visit the local markets.
Day 14: Jaipur (B)
Today is an early start for a full day sightseeing tour of Jaipur. Seeing the direct sunlight on the Hawa Mahal is a most amazing sights to see from outside and will stop there for photos.
Hawa Mahal – the most recognisable monument of Jaipur. The 5 storied stunning semi-octagonal monument having 152 windows with over hanging latticed balconies is a fine piece of Rajput architecture. Originally designed for the royal ladies to watch and enjoy the processions and other activities, on the street below. Now it houses a well laid out museum.
We then drive to Amer Fort to experience a Jeep Ride or Elephant ride from the old town to the Courtyard of Amer Fort. In earlier days, the King’s army used the same route. Amer Fort is the old capital of the Kachhwahas and stands atop a range of craggy hills. The fort is remarkable as much for the majestic grandeur of its surroundings as for its sturdy battlements and beautiful palaces. It is a fine blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. The solemn dignity of its red sandstone and white marble pavilions, when reflected in the lake at the foothill, is a remarkable sight.
On the way back from Amer, we stop at JalMahal, this small palace is set in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. Renovation around the lake is in progress.
We also visit the City Palace, situated in the heart of the old City, it occupies about one seventh of the old city area and is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. Jantar Mantar, built in 18th century and is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments. We also visit Albert Hall Museum – situated in the Ram Niwas Garden. This graceful building was founded in 1876 by Prince Albert (also known as Albert Hall).
Day 15: Jaipur – Agra (B)
After breakfast, proceed to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Travel time approx. 5 hours. On the way we visit either the the fortified ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri – built using red sandstone it’s a perfect blend of Indian, Islamic and Persian architecture or Abhaneri which is a village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan and popular for the Chand Baori step well and Harshat Mata Temple.
Day 16: Agra, Taj Mahal at Sunrise – Delhi (B)
You cannot think of India without thinking of Taj Mahal. You may not have known of Agra were it not for the monument of love. We have an early morning start as the sun comes up over the white marble beauty of the majestic Taj Mahal! Constructed by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The monument stands proof for the brilliance of Mughal architecture. Named as one of the wonders of the world, Taj Mahal stands the test of time. Declared a World Heritage Site it truly is a feast to your eyes and senses to watch the unmatched beauty. (*Taj Mahal Closed on every Friday). We then return to the hotel for breakfast and check out.
We then visit Agra Fort – the 16th century monument is yet another proof of the architectural brilliance of Mughals. Called the Red Fort of Agra, you will be awe inspired by the powerful fortress. The fortress comprises many palaces namely, Jahangir Palace and KhasMahal. The entire fortress is a symbol of Mughal’s grandeur. It was in Agra Fort Shah Jahan was held prisoner by Aurangazeb, his son. Shah Jahan, the emperor, spent his last days here viewing the monument of love he had built for his wife.
Visit Itmad-ud-Daulah – India’s first tomb made completely out of marble before the drive back to Delhi (approx. 5 hours).
Day 17: New Delhi City Tour (B,D)
After breakfast, we start a full day sightseeing tour of New Delhi.
QutabMinar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, is an incredible example of early Indo–Islamic architecture. Built in 1206, but the reason remains a mystery. Some believe that it was made to signify victory and the beginning of Muslim rule in India, while others say it was used to call the faithful to prayer.
Humayun’s Tomb – if you think it looks a bit like the Taj Mahal in Agra, that’s because it was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal’s creation. The tomb was built in 1570, and houses the body of the second Mughal emperor, Humayun. It was the first of this type of Mughal architecture to be built in India.
Bahai Temple – is commonly referred to as the Lotus Temple, as it’s shaped like a lotus flower. It’s particularly pretty at night, when it’s attractively lit up. Made out of white marble, the temple belongs to the Bahai Faith, which proclaims the unity of all people and religions. Everybody is welcome to worship there.
India Gate – the towering archway of India Gate at the centre of New Delhi is a war memorial, built in memory of the Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army in World War I. At night it glows warmly under floodlights, and the gardens that line its boulevard are a popular place to enjoy a warm summer’s evening.
Laxmi Narayan Temple – built in 1938 by the Industrialist G.D. Birla, it is one of the major temples in Delhi and is located near Connought Place. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Laxmi and her consort Narayana. The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on the stipulation that people of all castes shall be allowed to enter the temple.
Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner with your fellow travellers and receive a group photo as a memento of your trip to India.
Day 18: Delhi – – New Zealand (B)
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, at the appropriate time please make your own way from the hotel to your next travel arrangements.
Day 19: New Zealand
Arrive home today.