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a land of smiles

Day 01. Upon arrival at Delhi airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Rest of the day sight-seeing around New Delhi – the British-built side of the city. Key monuments. Visit India Gate (a memorial arch honouring soldiers who were killed in WW1), Lakshmi Narayana Temple, Rashtrapati Bhawan (the president’s house), and Humayun’s Tomb –an exquisite example of Mughal architecture, set in a magnificent formal Persian garden. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Please note some monuments and museums in Delhi are closed on Mondays.

Day 02. Breakfast at the hotel and visit the Raj Ghat which is the cremation ground of the father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi and continue to the Humayun's Tomb which is believed to have been designed in 1565 AD by the widow of Mughal emperor Humayun. Its design and layout is based on the description of Islamic paradise gardens and is known to have inspired the Taj Mahal and many later Mughal tombs. The Qutab Minar has walls inscribed with intricately carved quotations from the Koran and is one of the most perfect towers of the Persian world. Post early snacky meal today afternoon journey by road to Agra. 200km (approximately 4 hours). Evenings are kept free for walks or you can enjoy your evening appreciating the live love saga of the Taj Mahal in Kalakriti Cultural Center. Mesmerizing dances, melodious music, and the heart-touching story of Queen Mumtaz and Emperor Shahjahan will make you speechless. The show performed live by the professional artist is as exciting as visiting the Taj Mahal. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.

Day 03. After early breakfast, you will be visiting the Taj Mahal -Built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal the beauty of the Taj Mahal is unmatched. On the death of his beloved wife, in wild extravagance, Shah Jahan built her this memorial. 20,000 men laboured for over 17 years to build this wealth of white marble and precious stone. The Agra Fort, with its grand courtyards, royal pavilions, and palaces, is a fitting testimony to the Great Moghuls – Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan – during the era when Agra was the capital of the Moghul Empire. The most impressive part of the Fort is the Dewan-e-Am, where the Emperor sat on his throne to dispense to his subjects and the Dewan-e-Khas where he received foreign dignitaries. Later visit Itimad-ud-Daulah, known as the ‘Baby Taj’; it was built before the Taj Mahal by Nur Jahan, queen of Jehangir, for her parents. The first Mughal building to be faced with white marble and where ‘Pietra dura’, (precious stones inlaid into marble) was first used. Agra is a great place to try barbecue meats (kebabs) mixed with Indian spices. Petha, pieces of white pumpkin dipped in sugar syrup, and Gajak, a crumbly sweet made with sesame and Jaggery, are delicious local sweets and sold everywhere – Do try them. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 04. Today after an early breakfast at the hotel and in the morning drive to Jaipur (238 km – 6 hours approximately) en-route visiting Fatehpur Sikri. The ghost city Fatehpur Sikri was built in red sandstone by Emperor Akbar the Great in 1569 and deserted 14 years later because its water supply failed. Its glorious courtyards and palaces conjure up dreams of the mysterious past. There’s the imperial Jami Masjid, the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti who predicted the birth of Akbar’s son Jehangir, the Panch Mahal, a strange building which resembles a Buddhist temple, a cloistered courtyard which was the Hall of Public Audience and the Pachchisi paved with black and white where the Emperor played chess using slave girls as figurines. En-route there may be time to make a small detour to see the impressive step well at Chand Baori. Arrive in Jaipur in the evening. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 05. Jaipur – the colourful, chaotic capital of Rajasthan – beckons! You have plenty of time here to explore several of the city’s medieval palaces and monumental forts. After a well-earned rest and a leisurely morning, you will spend the day visiting the attractions on the city fringes. First, visit Galta Ji Temple, a quiet temple complex nestles in a gorge in the hills on the outskirts of the city. Here the peace of the secluded location is only disturbed by the resident monkeys who are revered. After lunch continues to the marvellous Amber Fort for a guided tour of the complex. The afternoons may be warm so be sure to bring a hat and some water though they provide an excellent opportunity to truly appreciate the ingenious ancient design features. It is also a time when many local people like to visit the fort meaning there will be boundless opportunities for interaction with Indians as they too Savour this architectural wonder. A trip to the imposing Nahargarh Fort overlooking Jaipur is a highly recommended way to finish the hectic afternoon of sightseeing. Head to the restaurant to enjoy a sundowner on the fort will with Jaipur humming far below. Overnight at Hotel.

Day 06. The city of Jaipur is dedicated to the historic, architectural wonders of the city itself. Today you will visit the landmark, honey-combed pink facade of Hawa Mahal (The Palace of the Winds), the City Palace, and the World Heritage-listed Jantar Mantar Observatory. Here you’ll find a curious collection of huge stone “instruments” that were designed to observe and measure all manner of astronomical activity – from calculating eclipses to plotting the azimuth of various stars. This afternoon there will be enough time for your self-guided exploration of the city also and we use centrally located hotels to make such excursions as easy as possible. Overnight at Hotel

Day 07. Post breakfast drives to Pushkar today, via Kishangarh - a charming little town that rose to fame during the 18th Century. Its School of Miniature Painting at the time was said to be second to none. The old city of Kishangarh, with its enchanting Havelis, sits on the shore of an enormous lake and has a decidedly medieval feel. There are still many artists here painting in the traditional style, eager to impress purveyors of fine art with their incredible precision and eye for detail. Following Kishangarh, it's on to Pushkar - the oldest and possibly holiest Hindu pilgrimage site in India. Dinner and overnight at Pushkar.

Day 08. Post breakfast visit The Pushkar town which is a veritable maze of temples and hermitages set around a small, picturesque lake. There are 52 bathing ghats, or sets of “steps” surrounding the water, where “pujas’ are regularly performed by wandering ascetics and visiting devotees. The sound of pigeons cooing from the temple architraves… the distant beat of tabla drums and chanted prayers; these sounds merge to provide an evocative soundtrack to the intimate, spiritual rituals we are privileged to observe. It may also be possible to visit the only temple in all of India dedicated to Brahma – the Creator of the Universe. Overnight in Pushkar.

Day 09. After breakfast, you will be driving to Jodhpur visiting the holy Shrine of Muslims in Ajmer – A site of particular significance to the nation’s 140 million + Muslims. Here the great Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (1143 – 1235) is buried beneath Dargah Sharif – a shrine surrounded by many pavilions, gateways, and mosques, including Adhai-din-ka Jhopra, one of the finest monuments of medieval India, noted for its ornate calligraphic inscriptions. Your 200 km drive from Ajmer to Jodhpur may well take 5 to 6 hours. But as you have two nights here in this city, so plenty of time to savour its many riches. The evenings are free to wander and explore the local markets of Jodhpur City. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.

Day 10. Jodhpur Surrounded by the vast Thar Desert, it is fortressed by an immense wall, some 10 km in circumference. It is impressive but overshadowed by Mehrangarh, aka the Majestic Fort. This architectural wonder completely dominates the skyline, overlooking the jumble of blue-washed buildings that make up the labyrinthine Old City precinct. There are few sites more impressive than this in the world, enticing us to explore. The winding laneways and overflowing bazaars here are so picture-perfect at every turn, you could well need to purchase a spare memory card. Overnight: Pal Haveli or similar

Day 11. Breakfast at the hotel and travelling for many hours across the Thar desert, through oceans of sand and low scrub, you finally reach the desert citadel of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan’s Golden City. Check into your hotel pre-booked – Post Lunch you will be visiting Patwaon Ki Haveli - Noted as one of the most important Havelis of Jaisalmer, the Patwaon ki Haveli flaunts remarkable arches and gateways. Made up of yellow sandstone, the impressive mansion is nothing less than an architectural wonder. Evenings are free to explore Markets of Jaisalmer which are must-visit places for all the shopaholics. An outstanding market is Bhatia Bazaar. Housing a unique collection of souvenirs and traditional items of Rajasthan, the Bazaar is one of the oldest markets in Jaisalmer. Besides this, other markets are perfect for shopping for silk fabrics, cotton embroideries, antique jewellery, and leather goods. Carpets, oil lamps, mirrors, and designer wooden boxes are worth buying. Umpteen choices will urge you to visit the market frequently and shop till you drop. The best way to carry the memories of this amazing destination in India is by taking along with you some of the beautiful mementoes from here.

Day 12. Breakfast at the hotel later you will be visiting Jaisalmer Fort - Resembling a huge sandcastle emerging from the desert, the Jaisalmer Fort exudes sublime beauty. The yellow-sandstone fort is open to the public and exploring it is surely one of the best things to do in Jaisalmer. The ethereal sandstone fort is reckoned as the largest living fort in India. Named among the Hill Forts of Rajasthan, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. {Heritage walking tours and guided audio tours are the highlights of the magnificent edifice}. Later visit Salim Singh Ki Haveli - No other haveli can be as enchanting as the Salim Singh ki Haveli which features a roof, designed like a peacock. 38 balconies with distinctive carvings on each of them will leave you awestruck. The art and sculpture of the mansion are what makes it outstanding from the rest. Considered as one of the must-visit places in Jaisalmer, the haveli can make anyone envy its beauty. The architectural brilliance was way ahead of its times and has also earned haveli the title of ‘Jahazmahal’. History buffs can find the desired respite after visiting the haveli.

Evening Enjoy Camel or a Desert Safari at Sam Sand Dunes. Dinner and cultural evening at Sam dunes. Return to your hotel.

Day 13. After breakfast, you will be transferred to either Jaisalmer or Jodhpur Airport for a flight to Delhi.

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