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FORTS & PALACES OF RAJASTHAN



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Route :-13 Nights / 14 Days
Duration:-Delhi - Mandawa - Bikaner - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Udaipur - Jaipur - Agra - Delhi
Day 01 Arrive Delhi
You be met & welcomed on arrival and escorted to your hotel. Morning at leisure. Afternoon have a combined tour of Old & New Delhi.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 02 Delhi / Mandawa
Morning: Breakfast at the Hotel. Later drive to Mandawa. Visit the famous havelis of Mandawa.
The semi-desert region of Shekhawati, lying in the triangular region between Delhi, Jaipur and Bikaner, is famous for its plethora of painted havelis (mansions), all commendable pieces of the rich artistic traditions of this region. Starting around the 14th century, a number of Muslim clans' move into the area and the towns, which developed in the region, became important trading posts on the caravan routes emanating from the posts of Gujarat. The 'Open Air Gallery of Rajasthan', as it is popularly called 'Shekhawati', the Land of Shekhs, derives its name from Rao Shekha (1433-88), one of the descendents of the Kachhwaha family of Jaipur, who was one of the first to establish his clan here. Although the towns have long since lost any importance, they may once have had, what they have not lost is the beautifully painted havelis (mansions) constructed by the merchants of the area. Most of the havelis ate from the 18th century. The region also has forts, a couple of castles, baolis (step wells), chhatris (cenotaphs) and mosques.

Havelis & Frescoes - Shekhawati's magnificent havelis or mansions, display a unique architectural style that evolved around the courtyards to ensure safety and privacy of the women folk and protection from the heat of the long and harsh summers. The havelis, painted predominantly in the blue, maroon, yellows, green and indigo have beautiful wall paintings that adorn their walls. The earlier wall paintings were largely based on the mythological themes, depicting local legends, animals, portraits, hunting and wrestling scenes and a glimpse of everyday life. The turn of the 19th century saw the appearance of new motifs, an outcome of the Raj's influence upon the Indian culture. Now cars, replaced elephants and traditional Indian miniatures mingled with naturalism of western paintings to produce interesting hybrid results. Trains, cars, balloons, telephones, gramophones, English men in hunting attires and portraits of the haveli owners primly dressed were painted all over the walls.

The major towns of interest in the region are Mandawa, Dundlod, Fatehpur, Ramgarh, Nawalgarh and Jhunjhunu, although virtually every town has at least a few surviving havelis.
Mandawa - founded in the 18th century, this is a compact and busy little market town. It was fortified by the dominant merchant families and its fort dominates the town with a painted arched gateway adorned with Lord Krishna and his cows. The Chokhani, Ladia and Saraf havelis are some of the splendid examples of this region's havelis. A Shiva temple with a rock crystal lingam is also worth a visit. The fort is now converted into a heritage hotel.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 03 Mandawa / Bikaner
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Bikaner.
Afternoon visit of the Bikaner city. Bikaner is a true desert country and part of the ancient caravan route that came from west and central Asia. Located in the north of the State of Rajasthan, it was founded in 1488 by a Rathore Prince Rao Bika, a descendent of Jodha, founder of Jodhpur. Rao Bika chose a barren wilderness called 'Jangladesh' and transformed it to an impressive city. The old city is surrounded by a crenellated wall and was once an important staging post on the great caravan trade routes. The Ganga Canal, built between 1925-27, irrigates a large area of previously arid land around Bikaner.

Sheer beauty in the desert is the royal fortified city of Bikaner. Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by long embattled wall having five gates. Bikaner's forts, palaces and temples - magnificent creations in red and yellow sandstone, are living manifestations of its rich historical and architectural legacy. One can feel the medieval aura prevailing in the city's lifestyle. Not only do the traditions come alive here in colourful bazaars and havelis, but Bikaner is also famous for the best riding camels in the world. Undulating lanes, colorful bazaars and bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner and interesting experience.

Junagarh Fort - built between 1588-93 by Raja Rai Singh, a general in the army of Mughal Emperor Akbar, this impressive fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat. The Suraj Pol or Sun Gate, is the main entrance to the fort. Within the fort are thirty-seven palaces, pavilions and temples, which make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows. The palaces exquisitely built in red sandstone and marble are ornate with mirror work, carvings and paintings. Among the notable palaces are the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), which is decorated with paintings and carved marble panels, the Hawa Mahal, Badal Mahal and Anup Mahal. A major feature of the complex is the magnificent stone carving. The fort also has a fine collection of Rajput weapons and an old World War I biplane presented to Maharaja Ganga Singh by the British. This is one of the only two models of this plane in the world.

Lallgarh Palace - located 3km north of the city centre, this red sandstone palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh (1881-1942) in memory of his father Maharaja Lal Singh. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work. Part of the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel and a museum known as Shri Sadul Museum. The museum covers the entire first floor of the palace and houses old photographs of royal hunts, trophies of wildlife and an extraordinary collection of the former Maharaja's personal possessions.


Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum - has an interesting collection of sculptures, terra cottas, weapons, miniature paintings and musical instruments.

Camel Research & Breeding Farm - located about 8km away, this centre is probably unique in Asia. The British army had a camel corps drawn from Bikaner during World War I. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land. The Camel Corps of Bikaner are still an important part of the desert warfare and defence through the Border Security Force(BSF).

Devi Kund - located about 8km east of Bikaner, this is the royal crematorium with several ornamented 'chhatris' (cenotaphs) built in the memory of the Bika dynasty rulers. Maharaja Suraj Singh's cenotaph is the most impressive of all, created entirely in white marble with spectacular Rajput painting on the ceiling.

Deshnok Temple (Rat Temple) - It is a village located about 30km south of Bikaner. It is the site of the famous Karni Mata Temple. The famous 600 years old temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, a form of Goddess Durga. The temple has huge intricately carved silver gates, which were donated by Maharaja Ganga Singh. But the most unusual feature of the temple is the rats that scamper freely within the sanctum sanctorum. They are regarded as sacred and are fed by priests and devotees. Spotting a white rat is considered to bring good fortune.

Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary - located about 32km from Bikaner on the Jaisalmer road, the lake and forested hills of this reserve are home to a number of wildfowl, deer and antelopes. Imperial sand grouse migrate here in winter. On the bank of the lake stand the Gajner Palace, the former winter palace. It is an impressive building made of red sandstone and is set in serene surroundings. It has now been converted into a heritage hotel
Overnight at the hotel.


Day 04 Bikaner / Jaisalmer
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Jaisalmer.
Jaisalmer - Rising from the heart of the Thar Desert like a golden mirage is the city of Jaisalmer. This captivating sandy outpost has been called the Golden City because of the honey colour imparted to its stone ramparts. Its desert fort, which resembles a gigantic sand castle, is straight out of The Arabian Nights. Centuries ago, Jaisalmer's strategic position on the camel train routes between India and Central Asia brought it great wealth. The merchants and townspeople built magnificent houses and havelis (mansions), all exquisitely carved from wood and golden sandstone.

The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, Lord Krishna, the head of the Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata that a remote descendent of the Yadav Clan would build his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156 AD when Rawal Jaisal, a descendent of the Yadav Clan and a Bhatti Rajput, abandoned his fort at Lodurva and founded a new capital Jaisalmer, perched on the Trikuta Hill.

Bhatti Rajputs of Jaisalmer were feudal chiefs who lived off the forced levy on the caravans laden with precious silks and spices that crossed the territory en route to Delhi or Sindh. These caravans earned the town great wealth. Chivalric rivalry and ferocity between various Rajput clans was the order of the day and the Bhatti Rajputs of Jaisalmer were regarded as a formidable force throughout the region. While Jaisalmer largely escaped direct conquest by the Muslim rulers of Delhi, it did experience its share of sieges and sacking with the inevitable jauhar (collective sacrifice) being declared in the face of certain defeat. For years Jaisalmer remained untouched by outside influences and there is perhaps no other city in which one can conjure up the spirit of those times.

The rise of shipping trade and the port of Mumbai saw the decline of Jaisalmer. At Independence, Partition and the cutting of the trade routes through to Pakistan seemingly sealed the City's fate and water shortages could have pronounced the death sentence. However, the 1965 and 1971 India-Pakistan wars revealed Jaisalmer's strategic importance and the Indira Gandhi Canal was constructed, which began to restore life to the desert. Jaisalmer is a great place to simply wander. The Old City was once completely surrounded by an extensive wall, some of it however remains including the city gates and inside them the massive fort that rises above the city and is the essence of Jaisalmer. About a quarter of the old city's population still resides within the fort walls. The life within the citadel conjures up images of medieval majesty visible in its narrow lanes strewn with magnificent palace, havelis, temples and of course skilled artisans and ubiquitous camels. The setting sun turning Jaisalmer into a beautiful golden brown is a spectacular sight.
Overnight at the hotel.


Day 05 In Jaisalmer
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later visit the Jaisalmer City.
Jaisalmer Fort - the golden hued fort, built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal and reinforced by subsequent rulers, is a sentinel to the bleak desertscape from its 80m high perch on the Trikuta hill. The fort is entered through a forbidding series of massive gates leading to a large courtyard. The former Maharaja's 7-storey palace fronts onto this. The courtyard was used to review troops, hear petitions and present extravagant

entertainment for important visitors. Part of the palace is open to the public. Within the fort walls are a group of beautifully sculptured Jain Temples of the 12th and 15th centuries AD. They are dedicated to the Jain apostles Rikhabdev and Sambhavnath. Its fascinating to wander through the winding labyrinth of streets within the fort as nothing has changed here for centuries. It has an enchanting Havelis - or mansions are the impressive intricately carved sandstone buildings built by the wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer and several of these havelis are in good condition. The main noteworthy among them are : Patwon ki Haveli, the most elaborate and magnificent of all the Jaisalmer havelis. It has exquisitely carved pillars and extensive corridors and chambers. One of the apartments of this 5-storey high haveli is painted with beautiful murals. There are also remnants of paintings and mirror-work on f its inside walls. Salim Singh ki Haveli, located just below the hill, was built about 300 years ago and part of it is still occupied. Salim Singh was the Prime Minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of a princely state. This mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of peacocks. This extraordinary mansion in yellow stone is covered with intricate carvings and has an elaborate projecting balcony on the top storey. Nathamal ki Haveli is a late 19th century haveli and was also a Prime Minister's house. Which were carved by two brothers, are not identical but very similar and balanced in design. The interior walls are ornate with splendid miniature paintings. Yellow sandstone elephants guard the building and even its front door is a work of art.

Gadi Sagar - located south of the city walls, this tank was once the water supply of the city. there are
numerous beautiful temples and shrines around it. A wide variety of water birds flock here in winter. An interesting legend associate with this tank recalls that the attractive gateway, which arches across the toad down to the tank was built by a famous prostitute. When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the Maharaja refused permission on the ground that he would have to pass under it to go to the tank and this would beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gateway anyway, adding a Krishna temple on top so the king could not tear it down.

Museums - there are some interesting museums in the city. The Desert Culture Centre & Museum has textiles, old coins, fossils and traditional Rajasthani instruments among other things. Its aim is to preserve Rajasthan's cultural heritage and conduct research on local history. There is a Jaisalmer Folklore Museum, located on the road leading down to the lake. The Government Museum has a well-captioned collection of fossils, some of which date back to the Jurassic era about 160 to 180 million years ago.

Evening: visit Khuri - it is a village located 40km southwest of Jaisalmer, out among the sand dunes. It is a peaceful place with houses of mud and straw decorated like the patterns of Persian carpets.
Overnight at the hotel

Day 06 Jaisalmer / Jodhpur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Jodhpur.
Set at the edge of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur is the largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur. This imperial city that echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert, was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs who claimed to be descendants of Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana. The Rathores ruled not only Jodhpur but also other Rajput princely states. The Rathore Kingdom was then known as Marwar, the Land of Death. The city is dominated by the massive Mehrangarh Fort, topping a sheer rocky ridge right in the middle of the town. The old city is surrounded by a 10km long wall built around a century after the city was founded. From the fort one can clearly see where the old city ends and the new begins. As one of the closest major Indian cities to the border with Pakistan, Jodhpur has a large defence contingent. Jodhpur is affectionately referred to as the 'Blue City' because of the indigo coloured houses in the old town.

These can best be seen from the ramparts of the fort. Traditionally, blue signified the home of a Brahmin, but these days non-Brahmins have also taken on the practice. Apart from looking fresh and lively, it is believed that the colour works as an effective mosquito repellent. It is fascinating to wander around the jumble of winding streets in the old city. While the graceful palaces , forts and temples strewn throughout the city bring alive the historic grandeur, exquisite handicrafts, folk dances music and the brightly attired people lend a romantic aura to the city. The lifestyle in Jodhpur is unusually fascinating with folks wearing lovely multihued costumes artistically designed. The colorful turbans worn by the men folk add more colour to the city. Part of the film Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book was shot in Jodhpur and it was from here that those baggy-tight , horse riding trousers, jodhpurs, took their name. Countless festivities celebrate the rich past and culture of the princely state. The Marwar Festival held annually is one such spectacular bonanza.
Arrive Jodhpur & do an half day visit the Jodhpur city.
Mehrangarh Fort - still run by the Maharaja of Jodhpur, this Majestic Fort is sprawled across a 125m high hill. This is one of the most impressive and formidable fort in fort-studded Rajasthan. The fort is approached by a winding road from the city 5km below. There are seven gates that lead into the fort. The Second gate is still scarred by cannon ball hits; the Jayapol was built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806 following his victory over the armies of Jaipur and Bikaner; the Fatehpol or Victory Gate was erected by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate his defeat of the Mughals. The Lohapol (Iron Gate) is the final gate beside which are 15 hand prints, the sati (self immolation) marks of Maharaja Man Singh's widows who threw themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843. They still attract devotional attention.

Inside the fort is a series of courtyards and palaces. The palace apartments with marvelously carved panels, latticed windows have evocative names such as Sukh Mahal (Pleasure Palace), Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) and the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). These palaces house a fabulous collection of trappings of Indian royalty including a superb collection of palanquins, elephant howdahs (used when the Maharajas rode their elephants in processions), miniature paintings, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. There is even a display of rocking cradles. The Chamunda Devi Temple, dedicated to goddess Durga, stands on the southern end of the fort. There are also old cannons on the ramparts at this end and the views from here are superb.

Jaswant Thada - located a short distance from the fort, just off the fort road, is a white marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The cenotaph built in 1899, was followed by the royal crematorium and three other cenotaphs that stand nearby. There are some beautiful marble jali (lattice) work and fine views from the terrace in front of the cenotaphs.

Umaid Bhawan Palace & Museum - built of marble and pink sandstone , this immense palace is also known as the Chhittar Palace because of the local Chhittar sandstone used. Begun in 1929, it was designed by the president of the British Royal Institute of Architects for Maharaja Umaid Singh. It is said that the palace was built under the famine relief project to provide employment for thousands of local people during a time of severe drought. This opulent edifice in sandstone is still the residence of the former rulers with a part of it running as luxury hotel and remaining part as a museum. The museum has an amazing array of items belonging to the Maharaja such as weapons, antique clocks, and dainty crockery and hunting trophies.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 07 Jodhpur / Udaipur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Udaipur en route visit the famous Jain Temple at Ranakpur.
Ranakpur is one of the largest and most important Jain temple complex lying in a remote valley of the Aravalli ranges in Southern Rajasthan. These temples were created in the 15th century AD during the reign of Rana Kumbha and are enclosed within a wall. They are well preserved and in near perfect condition. The main 'Chaumukh Temple' or Four Faced Temple is dedicated to the first tirthankar (apostle) Adinath. Built in 1439, this huge superbly carved temple has 29 halls supported by 1444 pillars, all distinctly carved and no two alike and enshrines the four-faced image of Adinath. Rising in three storeys, the temple has four small shrines with 80 spires supported by 420 columns. Within the complex are two other temples dedicated to Neminath and Parsvanath. The temples have beautiful carvings similar to that of Khajuraho. There is also a Sun Temple, located a little distance away. The temple has polygonal walls richly embellished with carvings of warriors, horses and solar deities riding splendid chariots. A kilometer away from the main complex is located the Amba Mata Temple, dedicated to a form of goddess Durga. Please note shoes and all leather articles must be left at the entrance before entering the temple.
Continue your drive to Udaipur.
Overnight at the hotel

Day 08 In Udaipur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel . Later visit of Udaipur city.
Often called the Venice of the East, Udaipur is no doubt the most enchanting and romantic city of Rajasthan. Founded in 1568 by Maharana Udai Singh II following the final sacking of Chittorgarh by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. This extraordinarily beautiful city has come to be celebrated for its association with Queen Padmini, and Meera Bai, royal princesses who are linked with the fortunes of the Sissodia family. The old city was once surrounded by a wall with entry through eleven gates, of which only five remain. The Suraj Pol or Sun Gate on the eastern side is the main entrance to the city. Udaipur is a lovely land around the azure Pichola Lake, hemmed in by the lush hills of the Aravallis. It is a fascinating blend of sights, sound and experiences and inspiration for the imagination of poets, painters and writers. Its kaleidoscope of fairy-tale palaces, lakes, temples, gardens and narrow lanes strewn with stalls, carry the flavor of a heroic past, epitomizing valour and chivalry. It is full of palaces, temples and havelis ranging from the modest to the extravagant.


Visit City Palace - is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, with its scalloped arches, fretted balconies and cupolas. It is an imposing and majestic architectural marvel towering over the lake on a hill surrounded by crenellated walls. The building was started by Maharana Udai Singh II and there were subsequent additions by various maharanas down the years. It is a conglomeration of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens. Although added by various maharanas at various times, the complex still retains a surprising uniformity of design. The main entrance is through the triple arched gate, the 'Tripolia'. The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum. It includes the Mor Chowk with its beautiful mosaics of peacocks. The Manak Mahal or Ruby Palace has glass and mirror work while Krishna Vilas has a remarkable collection of miniatures. The Chini Mahal is noted for its blue and white ceramics and ornamental tiles. More paintings can be seen in the Zenana Mahal (Women's Palace) and in the Bari Mahal there is a pleasant central garden.

There is also a Government Museum within the palace complex. The exhibits on display include apart from sculptures and paintings, a stuffed kangaroo and a Siamese twin deer.

The other part of the palace against the lakeshore has been partly converted into two heritage hotels, the Shiv Niwas Palace and the Fateh Prakash Palace.

There is a stunning Crystal Gallery in the Fateh Prakash Palace. The items on display include a rare collection of Osler's crystal ordered from England by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1877, crystal chairs, tables and even beds. The Crystal Gallery overlooks the grandiose Durbar (Assembly) Hall with its massive chandeliers, some of the largest in the country. This is one of India's most impressive Durbar Hall with a lavish interior. The walls display royal weapons and striking portraits of former maharanas of Mewar. Th top floor of this high ceiling hall is surrounded by viewing galleries, where ladies of the palace could watch in veiled seclusion what was happening below. The foundation stone of the Durbar Hall was laid by Lord Minto, the viceroy of India in 1909 during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh and as a mark of honour to the viceroy, it was originally named Minto Hall.

Lake Pichola - this placid lake was enlarged by Maharana Udai Singh II after he founded the city. He built a masonry dam, known as the Badipol and the lake is now 4km in length and 3km wide. In the lake are two islands - Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir. Boat rides on the lake especially in the evenings are very popular.

Jag Niwas - is the island on which stands the famous Lake Palace. The palace was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1754 and covers the whole island. Formerly the royal summer palace, it is today a luxury hotel with shady courtyards, lotus ponds and even a small mango tree shaded swimming pool.

Jag Mandir - is the other island palace on Lake Pichola. It was commenced by Maharana Karan Singh, but takes its name after Maharana Jagat Singh who made a number of additions to it. It is said that the Mughal emperor Shahjahan derived some of his inspiration for the Taj Mahal from this palace after staying here in 1623-24 while lading a revolt against his father Jahangir. Flanked by a row of enormous stone elephants, the island has an impressive chhatri (cenotaph) carved from grey blue stone. The view across the lake to the city is a scene of rare beauty.

Jagdish Temple - located near the entrance of the City Palace, this temple was built in 1651by Maharana Jagat Singh. This fine Indo-Aryan temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, enshrines a black stone image of the Lord as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe. Saheliyon-ki-Bari - or the Garden of the Maids of Honour, located in the north of the city, is a small ornamental garden with fountains, kiosks, marble elephants and delightful lotus pool. It was a popular relaxing spot where the royal ladies came for a stroll and hence the name.

Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandir - has an interesting exhibition of folk arts including dresses, dolls, masks, musical instruments, paintings and puppets. It is also a foundation for the preservation of local folk arts.

In the evening enjoy exclusive boat ride at Lake Pichola.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9 Udaipur / Jaipur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Jaipur via Ajmer. Ajmer is a burgeoning town on the shore of the Ana Sagar Lake flanked by barren hills. Ajmer derives its name from 'Ajaya Meru' or the invincible hill, at the foot of which the present city stands. Ajmer is a major centre for Muslim pilgrims during the month long fast of Ramzan and has some impressive Muslim architecture. Especially famous is the Dargah Sharif, the tomb of a Sufi saint, which is equally revered by the Hindus and Muslims. For most travellers, Ajmer is however, a stepping stone to nearby Pushkar.

Historically, the region had considerable strategic importance. The city was founded by Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan in the 7th Century AD and continued to be a major center of the Chauhan power till 1193 AD when it was sacked by Mohammed Ghouri on one of his periodic forays from Afghanistan. Since then Ajmer became home to many dynasties, which came and left leaving behind indelible marks of their culture and traditions on the city's history, converting it to an amalgam of various cultures and blend of Hinduism and Islam. It became the favourite residence of the Mughals. One of the first contacts between the Mughals and the British occurred in Ajmer, when Sir Thomas Roe met Jahangir here in 1616. The city was subsequently taken over by the Scindias and in 1818 it was handed over to the British, becoming one of the few places in Rajasthan controlled directly by the British rather than being part of a princely state. The British chose Ajmer as the site for Mayo College, a prestigious school for the Indian princes, but today open to all those who can afford the fees.

Visit The Dargah - located at the foot of a barren hill in the old part of the town, this is India's most important pilgrimage center for people from all faiths. Popularly known as Dargah Sharif, it is the tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti who came to Ajmer from Persia in 1192. Construction of the shrine was completed by Mughal Emperor Humayun and its massive gate was added by the Nizam of Hyderabad. Akbar used to make a pilgrimage to the Dargah from Agra once a year. The two massive iron cauldrons in the courtyard are for offerings, which are customarily shared by the family involved in the shrine's upkeep. There are two mosques in courtyard one built by Akbar and the other by Shahjahan. The saint's tomb with a marble dome is in the centre of the second courtyard and is surrounded by a silver platform. Please note you have to cover your head in certain areas of the Dargah, hence kindly keep a scarf or cap.
Arrive Jaipur rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 10 In Jaipur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later visit the Amber Fort, ascend the fort on elephant back. Amber is located 11km north of Jaipur, this was the ancient capital of the Jaipur State. Construction of the ort-palace was begun in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh, the Rajput commander of Akbar's army. It was later extended and completed by the Jai Singh before the move to the plains. The fort is a superb example of Rajput architecture, stunningly situated on a hillside and overlooking a lake, which reflects its terraces and ramparts. The Fort is a beautiful complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples. Centuries of disuse have not withered their pristine beauty. Notable structures include the Diwan-I-Am (Hall of Public Audience), a pillared hall with latticed galleries. The Jai Mandir or Hall of Victory is noted for its inlaid panels and glittering mirror ceiling. The Sukh Niwas or Hall of Pleasure has an ivory inlaid sandalwood doorway. The Shila Mata temple has the image of the patron deity Kali, a form of goddess Durga. The temple is still in use. The best way of experiencing the majesty of the Bygone era is by taking an elephant ride to the top of the fort.

The city of Amber sprawled below the Fort, once a settlement of nobles, craftsmen and common folks, is now mostly is ruins. The remnants of its rich past are the beautifully carved and planned Jagat Shiromani Temple, a Krishna temple associated with Meerabai, an ancient temple of Narsinghji and a magnificent step well, Panna Mian-ka-kund.

Jaigarh - located near Amber, this imposing fort built in 1726 by Jai Singh was opened to the public in mid 1983. The fort was never captured and hence has survived virtually intact through the centuries. Its splendour can be seen in its palaces, water reservoirs, gardens, puppet theatre, several temples, a granary, an armoury, a well planned cannon foundry, the Diwa Burj watch tower and Jaya Vana, the giant canon. It offers great views over the plains from the tower.

Afternoon: Half-day tour of Jaipur City. The colourful and vibrant capital of the State of Rajasthan is popularly known as the 'Pink City' because of the pink-coloured buildings in its old city. it sits on a dry lakebed in a somewhat arid landscape, surrounded by barren hills surmounted by forts and crenellated walls. The city owes its name, foundation and careful planning to the great warrior-astronomer Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693-1743). In 1727, with Mughal power on the wane, Jai Singh moved down from his hillside fort at nearby Amber to a new site on the plains. He laid out the city, with its surrounding walls and rectangular blocks, according to principles set down in the Shilpa Shastra, an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. It is one of India most well planned cities with wide straight avenues, roads, streets and lanes in a grid system.

The walled old city is in the northeast of Jaipur, while the new parts are spread to the south and west. The main tourist attractions are in the old city. the principle shopping centre in the old city is the Johari Bazaar (Jewellers Market). There is a timeless appeal to Jaipur's colourful bazaars where one can shop for Rajasthani handlooms and trinkets. Beautifully laid out gardens and parks, attractive monuments and marvelous heritage hotels are worth admiration. Not to mention the ambling camels and cheerful people in multi-hued costumes who make a trip to the pink city a memorable one.
The Jaipur Vintage Car Rally held annually in the month of January has become a big draw for car lovers, sports lovers, vintage beauty lovers and tourists alike. A keenly contested event, this rally is an inimitable display of well-maintained cars of yesteryears. Hawa Mahal - or the Palace of Winds, built in 1799 is the major landmark of Jaipur. This 5-storey building that overlooks the main street of the old city, is a stunning example of Rajput artistry with its pink semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed sandstone windows. It was originally built to enable the ladies of the royal household to watch the everyday life and processions of the city.

City Palace Complex - located in the heart of the old city, the City Palace occupies a large series of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The palace is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles. The sons of the last Maharaja and his family still reside in a part of the palace. Before the palace proper is the Mubarak Mahal or Welcome Palace built in the late 19th century by Maharaja Madho Singh II as a Reception centre for visiting dignitaries. It now forms part of the Maharaja Sawai Mansingh II Museum, containing a collection of royal costumes and superb shawls including Kashmiri pashmina (goat's wool). Other exhibits include armory of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chased handles, some of them inlaid with enamel and embellished with jewels and encased in magnificent scabbards.

Other interesting features of the complex are the Diwan-I-Am or the Hall of Audience, with its intricate decorations and manuscripts in Persian and Sanskrit. The Diwan-I-Khas or Hall of Private Audience, with a marble-paved gallery and the exquisite Peacock Gate in the Chandra Mahal courtyard. Outside the buildings are kept enormous silver vessels in which the former Maharaja used to take the holy water of the Ganges on his trip to England. The complex also has an Art Gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit, acquired by Maharaja Jai Singh II to study astronomy in detail.

Jantar Mantar - located next to the entrance to the City Palace is this Observatory, built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1728. Jai Singh's passion for astronomy was even more notable than his power as a warrior. This is the largest and best preserved of the five observatories that he built. The others are at Delhi,Varanasi and Ujjain. The fifth, the Muthura observatory is destroyed. The complex is a collection of curious instruments, each having a specific purpose such as measuring the positions of stars, altitudes and azimuths and calculating eclipses. The most striking instrument is the sundial with its 27m high gnomon.

Museums & Galleries - there are a couple of interesting museums and galleries in Jaipur. The Central Museum, housed in the architecturally impressive Albert Hall in the Ram Niwas Public Gardens has sections on natural history, tribal wares, dioramas depicting Rajasthani dances, decorative arts, costumes, and musical instruments. The Museum of Indology is an extraordinary private collection of folk art objects and other bits and pieces of interest.

There is everything from a map of India painted in a rice grain to manuscripts (one written by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb), tribal ornaments, fossils, old currency notes, clocks and much more. Near the Ram Niwas Public Gardens, in an old theater is Jaipur's Modern Art Gallery. The Juneja Art Gallery has an excellent collection of contemporary paintings.
Overnight at the hotel.


Day 11 Jaipur / Agra
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Agra en route visiting Bharatpur bird sanctuary.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park - Bharatpur is now renowned for its World Heritage listed Bird Sanctuary, the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. The sanctuary was formerly a vast semi-arid region filling with water during the monsoon only to dry up afterwards. To prevent this the Maharaja of Bharatpur diverted water from a nearby irrigation canal and within a few years birds began to settle in vast numbers. It is now one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world inundated with over 400 species of water birds. Exotic migratory birds from Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet as well as Siberian cranes, and bareheaded geese from China, come here in July/August to spend the winters in warmer climate and they breed till October/November. Other common bird life to be seen are cormorants, spoonbills, storks, egrets, herons, pelicans, ibis and herons can be spotted all over the park. The raised paths camouflaged by babul trees make their viewing easier. The best time to visit the park is from October to late February when many migratory birds can be spotted. Later continue your drive to Fatehpur Sikri.

Fatehpur Sikri - perched atop a rocky ridge 37 km west of Agra, lies this abandoned capital of the Mughals. It was built by Akbar during 1564 AD and was the first planned city in Indo-Islamic style. A sonless Akbar visited the village of Sikri to seek the blessings of the Muslim saint Sheikh Salim Chishti. The saint prophesied the birth of three sons to him and soon thereafter was born Prince Salim, later to become Emperor Jahangir. In gratitude for the blessing Akbar decided to create imperial residences in Sikri, which would function as a joint capital with Agra. As a mark of his faith and his recent victories, he named his new city Fatehpur Sikri. However, the capital was abandoned after 14 years due to shortage of water.

Akbar was a keen builder and the plan of Fatehpur Sikri reveals an architectural mastermind at work. The city is built in red sandstone and is a beautiful blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural elements. Each important edifice here represents a type by itself.
Notable among them are the Buland Darwaza (Great Gateway), Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), Panch Mahal (5-storeyed Palace) and Birbal's Bhawan (the home of one of Akbar's ministers).
The homes of Akbar's wives, the Hindu Jodha Bai's palace, the Christian Mariyam's mansion and the Turkish Sultana's Mahal Ankh Micholi (Hide and Seek) are some of the other fascinating buildings to be seen.
The beautiful marble tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti attracts thousands of devotees. Today it's a perfectly preserved Mughal city built at the height of the empire's splendor. Arrive Agra and rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 12 In Agra
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel.
Later full day visit of Agra city and the world famous Taj Mahal. The City of the Taj is an educational and business centre known for its craftsmen and handicrafts. In the great epic Mahabharata the region of Agra is described as 'Agraban' and it was an integral part of 'Braj Bhoomi' or the land of Lord Krishna. Concrete history outlines the origins of Agra to 1475 AD when it was under the reign of Raja Badal Singh. However, Agra came into limelight during the rule of the Afghan King Sikandar Lodhi, who had made it the capital of his empire. Later in 1526 AD the Mughal Emperor Babar took upon himself the task for rendering Agra, a unique character and beauty of its own. The visionary that he was and a great patron of the arts, he brought in a change in the culture and lifestyle among the people of Agra, which then brought forth some of the finest craftsmen, artists, statesmen, warriors and nobility, this part of India had ever witnessed. The golden age of Agra's history thus began to set in. The next few hundred years witnessed the rise of the pomp and pageantry of three great Mughal monarchs, Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan, all of whom lavished on this city, their love and riches to transform the land into one of the great centers of art, culture, learning and commerce. Marble and soft-stone inlay work, carpet and leather goods are some important traditional crafts of the city.

Taj Mahal - situated on the banks of the Yamuna River, this masterpiece in marble built on a sandstone base is a monument to love and beauty. Shahjahan built it in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Begum. There are tombs of Mumtaz and Shahjahan within the mausoleum. The construction started in 1631 a year after Mumtaz's death, it took 22 years in the making and an estimated 20,000 people worked to complete this enchanting mausoleum.
Agra Fort - is situated by the side of Yamuna River. The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 AD although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shahjahan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise.

There are a number of exquisite buildings like the Moti Masjid, a white marble mosque akin to a perfect pearl, Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), Musamman Burj, where Shahjahan died in 1666 AD, and Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). Jahangir's Palace within the fort complex contains evidence of Bengali and Gujarati architecture.

Tomb of Itmad-ud-daullah - was built by Empress Noor Jahan, the wife of Shahjahan in memory of her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg during 1622-28 AD. It is a small tomb but made of splendid marble construction that is considered to be the forerunner of the Taj Mahal. The craftsmanship foreshadows that of the Taj Mahal. It was here that 'pietra dura' the inlay work on marble, so characteristic of the Taj was first used.

Chini Ka Rauza - was constructed by Afzal Khan, a high official in the court of Shahjahan. Decorated by glazed tiles on the façade, the structure clearly depicts the Persian influence in architecture.

Dayal Bagh - is the headquarters of the Radhaswami sect of Hinduism that founded in 1861. On the sprawling lawns here, is a beautiful marble temple under construction for almost 100 years now. It is also known as Swami Bagh.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 13 Agra / Delhi
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel . Later drive to Delhi en route visiting Sikandra. Sikandra - located 10km from Agra on the Agra-Delhi road, is the mausoleum of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Construction started by Akbar and was completed by his son Jahangir in 1613 AD. The tomb is a splendid example of the combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture and represents Akbar's philosophy and secular outlook
Continue your drive to Delhi. Arrive Delhi and check into your hotel.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 14 Depart Delhi
Today you be transferred to the IGI airport for your international flight back home.

 

 

 

 



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