Seize the rare opportunity to travel India alongside Sanjay Saxena, the destination’s foremost expert and travel specialist for Condé Nast Traveler and WendyPerrin.com. On this seamless group tour, you will experience the wonders for which India is renowned—ancient temples, exotic wildlife, dynamic cuisine, inviting villages—all while avoiding the congestion of major commercial centers.
The Director of Operations for Nomadic Expeditions, Sanjay has utilized his intimate destination knowledge and industry contacts to craft once-in-a-lifetime journey that allows travelers to experience India on a deeper level.
This unfolding itinerary of unique “wow” moments includes the Jawai leopard sanctuary, meeting Bishnoi people who have lived for centuries by tenets of sustainability, a private tour of Mehrangarh Fort, exploring one of the original UNESCO sites in the monuments of Hampi, and the tranquil dunes of the Thar Desert.
Truly this is an insider’s India journey.
Jan 21 - Feb 4, 2024
$12,600 Per Person
$10,880 Per Person
$3,525 Per Person
INTERNAL INDIA AIRFARE:
$220 Per Person
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS +
Inclusions & Exclusions
INCLUDED IN LAND COST:
All accommodations in hotels & room categories as listed in the itinerary, based on double occupancy, inclusive of all taxes and service charges
All land transportation in private A/C vehicles, including all arrival/departure airport/hotel transfers with assistance at airport
All entry fees at all temples, museums and monuments on sight-seeing excursions
Services of Nomadic Expeditions Tour Leader Sanjay Saxena throughout the trip
Services of private local guides in cities during all sightseeing excursions
Breakfast every day, lunches and dinners as listed in the itinerary Soft drinks/bottled drinking water during meals and also during the day as needed
Nomadic Expeditions touch:
Bishnoi village dance performance in Jamba
Private dinner with music on Gangaur boat on lake Pichola, Udaipur
Home hosted dinner in Bangalore
All Govt. of India Taxes (Service & Luxury Value added Tax
NOT INCLUDED IN LAND COST
International airfare, passport and visa costs
Internal India Airfare (listed separately)
Lunch and dinners unless listed in the above itinerary
Gratuity to local guides, drivers, bell boys, etc.
Items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone calls, etc.
Movie, video and still camera fees in museums, monuments (fees vary from $1 - $25)
Sanjay Saxena was born in New Delhi, India. The son of a Brigadier General in the Indian Army, Sanjay has lived all over India and traveled extensively across Asia.
A professional guide since 1979, Sanjay has led numerous groups trekking, climbing, touring and on safaris to Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar/Burma, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Venezuela, Peru, Iran, and of course throughout his home country of India.
Sanjay’s deep, insider’s knowledge of his homeland together with his talent for creating unique itineraries to traditional and remote destinations, make him one of the travel world’s top-ranking India and Tibet specialists. Since 2003, he has received Conde Nast’s “Top Travel Specialist” award for his exemplary work in South Asia, specifically the Himalaya (India, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan region.) Sanjay is also the 2020 “Trusted Travel Expert” for India by WendyPerrin.com and has been on her “WOW” list since 2014.
INDIA - BETOND THE TAJ
Sanjay made our trip truly the trip of a lifetime. We could have never ever on our own crafted such an amazing itinerary and been connected to such wonderful local guides and great rooms at hotels without him.
As context, I started trying to plan this India trip by myself, but got a bit overwhelmed by how to do pull it all together—drivers, tours, what’s good, what’s not? That’s when I reached out to Sanjay and felt a weight drop off my shoulder. He intimately knew the area and was wonderful about talking us through each piece of the itinerary. There happened to be a large Buddhist festival happening in a more remote town in the region while we were visiting. There is ZERO chance we would have found out about it just through our own internet research—Sanjay was chatting with a friend on the ground there who knew about it—and it was incredible. Seriously, a few of our local guides are folks we’ve already stayed in touch with and feel like friends.
In addition to the perfect itinerary and people we were matched with, Sanjay was great at helping us adapt on the fly when my husband got sick (through no fault of the itinerary!). Sanjay was available and responsive as we made changes. He was always thinking a few steps ahead and had us feeling very calm during what could have been a stressful situation. Sanjay was the perfect match for us!
With very short notice– less than 2 weeks, Sanjay orchestrated a very detailed agenda and accommodations in one of a kind palaces, hotels and country retreat. To be sure, we had the trip of a lifetime in GoldenTriangle, he walked us through every step and also recommended activities to match our interests. He also recommended a travel guide who traveled with us 8 days. He was so personable, very knowledgeable about the culture and history of all the areas we visited, and he led us through each step with grace and helpfulness- tipping key people along the way to facilitate our travel and make us feel special. He even bought us insect repellent, supplied drinks and snacks, and made sure we stopped at clean and hygienic restrooms along the travel. We visited a country retreat where they taught us cricket, planned a dinner with cultural dances and we had time to visit with local children at their library. Sanjay orchestrated the agenda and the guide made sure we were treated like maha ( kings)! Dinner accommodations at top restaurants and even a book to read to enhance the trip about Jaipur’s royal family! Its was an amazing experience! A fabulous trip we will always remember! Thank you to Sanjay- WOW expert, Shaitan and Sandeep our guides, the drivers Umi and Ravi, and Anjali, Rajat and Pankaj, who oversaw our entire experience in country!
You will be met upon arrival and transferred to the hotel.
(The Imperial - Heritage Room)
DAY 2 EXPLORING DELHI
Even when Bombay and Madras were mere trading posts and Calcutta a village of mud huts, Delhi had been the seat of an empire for five hundred years. Through the centuries, eight cities have been built on this site by Hindus, Mughals and the British, each adding their own flavor. In a matter of minutes you can be transported from a sprawling, elegant garden city to the ancient twisting alleyways of Old Delhi.
On your tour of “Old Delhi,” you will head out to explore this exotic locale with its narrow dirt roads, its myriad people and inexpensive, colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous. Driving past the Red Fort, trade your motor vehicle for a bicycle rickshaw, which will take you into the heart of Chandni Chowk (the silver square, so named because of the silver merchants). Negotiating alleyways, which seemingly get narrower and narrower, you end up at the Jama Masjid, the largest Muslim mosque in India.
This afternoon, explore New Delhi. Your guide will point out the Raj-era architecture in the city center, including the renowned India Gate and Edwin Landseer Lutyens’ and Herbert Baker’s monumental governmental building on the Raisina Hill. From there, visit Humayun’s Tomb, where the 2nd Mughal Emperor is interred. This magnificent building was to serve as an inspiration for the Taj Mahal. The tomb is an exquisite example of early Mughal architecture.
This evening you are treated to a “home-cooked” Indian meal where you also have the opportunity of learning the nuances of various spices used in Northern Indian cuisine.
(The Imperial - Heritage Room; B, D)
DAY 3 TO UDAIPUR
After a leisurely morning, transfer to the airport for our flight to Udaipur.
On arrival in Udaipur, we are transferred to the shores of Lake Pichola, where we board a boat and cross the lake to our hotel – the fabled Lake Palace Hotel. The Lake Palace has a lengthy history as a royal residence and is now one of the world’s most renowned luxury hotels.
The Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is a dream of white marble and mosaic glistening in the moonlight, very reminiscent of the most beautiful tourist cliché in the world; the Taj Mahal. Conceived in romance, the palace was built in 1746 by Maharana Jagat Singh II, 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar – believed to be descendants of the Sun God. Set against the backdrop of the majestic Aravalli Mountains on one side of the lake, and lofty palaces on the other, the Taj Lake Palace spreads across a four-acre island – an almost surreal vision in marble. The Royal Butlers, descendants of the original palace retainers, look after all contemporary comforts and ensure that all guests are treated like Royalty.
This evening you will take a cruise on Lake Pichola, watching the sunset on the magical Lake Palace, the lovely City Palace complex and scenic Udaipur.
(Lake Palace Hotel - Palace Room; B)
DAY 4 EXPLORING UDAIPUR
Udaipur, described as the “City of Sunrise,” sits in a valley amid green hills on the banks of Lake Pichola. Udaipur is truly a royal city, founded as the capital of the Rajput kingdom of Mewar by the Maharana Udai Singh in the 16th century. Udai Singh and the Mewars were fiercely independent upholders of Rajput independence. The city abounds with spectacular palaces and is blessed with a beautiful natural setting.
Visit the Jagdish Temple, the largest and most venerated temple in Udaipur. Built in 1651 A.D. by Maharaja Jagat Singh, the temple is decorated with friezes and enshrines a black stone image of Vishnu. Walk about the Garden of Maidens (Sahelion Ki Bari), which consists of an ornamental lotus pool with delicately carved cenotaphs of black and white marble and soapstone. You can explore the rest of the Maharajah’s City Palace, an imposing edifice of granite and marble, standing atop a ridge overlooking the blue waters of Lake Pichola and the exquisite Lake Palace.
(Lake Palace Hotel - Palace Room; B, D)
DAY 5 TO JAWAI BANDH
After an early breakfast we start our overland journey into the heart of Rajasthan exploring small villages and ancient temples along the way. Tonight’s destination is the Jawai Bandh (dam) wilderness area where leopards and other mammals have found sanctuary.
The inhabitants around the water body belong to the ecologically minded Rabari tribe of Rajasthan. It is believed they originally migrated here over a millennium ago from Persia (today’s Iran).
In the afternoon we head out for our first encounter with leopards.
(Jawai Sagar - Deluxe Tent; B, L, D)
DAYS 6 JAWAI LEOPARDS & RABARI TRIBESMEN
Leopards across the world (including other parts of India) make the jungles and forests their habitat, but here the caves in the granite hills around the Jawai dam are home to 50-60 leopards (recent estimate from the Forestry department.) In addition to leopard the region is also home to hyenas, desert foxes, wild boars, antelopes and other smaller mammals. During the winter months the banks of the dam hosts thousands of migratory birds, including the Demoiselle Cranes from Mongolia and the Greater Flamingo from other regions of Asia.
But it’s not just the unique habitat of the leopard that brings us here, but the jewel of the story here is of local conservation and co-habitation of humans and nature.
Thanks to the booming economy and rampant growth of the last few decades, India has changed beyond recognition and the pressure of population growth has seen an increase of wildlife-human conflict. However, like the Bishnoi people that we will visit in the next few days, here in Jawai, the semi-nomadic Rabari tribe who inhabit the lands along the river have lived peacefully with nature.
We will spend the day exploring the region on the lookout for leopards, while we also meet with Rabari folks and get an understanding of their way of life.
(Jawai Sagar - Deluxe Tent; B, L, D
DAY 7 JAWAI TO JODHPUR
After breakfast we start on our 3-hour drive coming out of the Aravali hills to Jodhpur the “Blue City,” which derives its moniker from the lovely azure painted dwellings that make up the heart of the city.
Jodhour was the ancient Capital of the Marwar Kingdoms, and was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief belonging to the Rathore clan. The city is located on the strategic road linking Delhi to Gujarat. This enabled it to profit from a flourishing trade in opium, copper, silk, sandals, date palms and coffee. The old city is enclosed by a six-mile wall that separates it from the desert sands that stretch for miles on every side.
After lunch on the Verandah of our Palace Hotel, we head out to explore the old town.
Our first stop is Jaswant Thada. This site also offers impressive views of the ramparts of Mehrangarh Fort, which you visit next. The Crown Jewel of Jodhpur, Mehrangarh is truly a Palace Fortress. After exploring the many palatial rooms crowded with artifact of the Maharaja, twisting corridors steeped in history, you come out to the ramparts overlooking the “Blue City.”
You now embark on a six-section zip-line around the Fort. Fly high over the outer battlements of the fort, glide serenely over two desert lakes, trek through the Rao Jodha eco-park and enjoy the best view of Mehrangarh and the Blue City.
Later, in the evening visit the bustling Clock Tower bazaar to get a further flavor of this historic city.
Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel (B)
DAY 8 TO JAMBA
A 3-hour drive from the Jodhpur into the hinterland brings you to the “off-the-tourist-trail” region of Jamba, the stronghold of the fascinating Bishnoi tribes. All Bishnois follow the 29 (bis-noi) tenets laid down by the 15th-century guru Jambeshwar, affectionately known as “Jamba-ji.” They fervently believe in the sanctity of animal and plant life so wildlife finds a natural sanctuary around their villages.
We spend three nights at the private Dera Sand Dune Retreat. This is an exclusive property, set atop a 130’ high sand dune with panoramic views of the Thar Desert. The Retreat features exquisite examples of traditional Rajasthani architecture used throughout, with stonework and carvings using local design and sustainable materials and, most importantly, utilizing the skills of local craftsmen. It has individual deluxe cottages, a swimming pool, spa and beautiful restaurant.
(Dera Dune Retreat - Stone Cottage; B, L, D)
DAYS 9 & 10 EXPLORING JAMBA
We have two full days to explore the Jamba area. Using 4-wheel drive vehicles we travel cross-country on dirt and sand roads to continue your exploration of “Jamba-ji’s” land. These excursions introduce you to traditional Rajasthani hospitality, and give you a chance to witness rural Rajasthani life up close. The villages are built with painted adobe walls, and village life continues unaffected by the big cities nearby.
Bishnoi villages are immaculate, scrubbed daily by brightly clad women who are weighed down by silver jewelry and festooned with bangles stacked the length of their arms. By contrast, their tall men dress entirely in white, with their large turbans loosely swathed around dark skinned, weathered faces.
You will also have an opportunity, if you are so inclined, to go on a two- to three-hour camel safari or ride on a camel cart. Return to Dera Dune Retreat in time to watch the setting sun illuminate the desert. When guests are in camp, musicians and dancers from nearby villages usually come to dance away the evening.
(Dera Dune Retreat - Stone Cottage; B, L, D)
DAYS 11 DRIVE TO JODHPUR / FLY TO BANGALORE
Essentially a travel day as we wend our way from North to South India. After breakfast we drive to Jodhpur for the afternoon non-stop flight to Bangalore, the IT Capital of the country.
In Bangalore we stay in the heart of the city with the evening at your leisure to explore some of the fine dining options the city has to offer.
(Taj Westend - Deluxe Room; B)
DAY 12 TO HAMPI
Morning flight brings us to Vidyanagar and an hours drive from the airport to Hampi, one of the original UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India.
The grandiose site of Hampi was the capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Founded in 1336 CE, the rich southern princes built Dravidian temples and palaces and was a ‘must see’ city for travelers till the mid 16th century, when it was conquered by the Deccan Muslim empire in 1565. The city was completely plundered before being abandoned. Isolated and unconnected to main stream India, what was once the hub of travelers is now a road less traveled.
Hampi’s spectacular setting is dominated by river Tungabhadra with open plains leading to craggy hill ranges framing over 1600 surviving ruins that include forts, temples, pillared halls, Mandapas, memorial structures, gateways, defense check posts, stables, water structures.
Staying at the recently constructed Evolve Back whose core values align with Nomadic Expedition in providing unique experiences while preserving the purity of nature and culture of the land.
(Evolve Back - Nivasa Room; B)
DAYS 13 & 14 EXPLORING HAMPI
We have two full days to explore the temples and places of Hampi while also enjoying the nature setting of our hotel and the region.
Some of the sites that we visit:
Vithala Temple Complex - The most splendid monument of Hampi is undoubtedly the Vithala Temple Complex with its 56 musical pillars. The centerpiece is the famous Stone Chariot with stone wheels that revolve. In front of the shrine stands the great mantapa. Resting on a richly sculpted basement, its roof is supported by huge pillars of granite, each consisting of a central pillar surrounded by detached shafts, all cut from one single block of stone.
The Virupaksha Temple rises majestically at the western end of the famous Hampi Bazaar. The temple has a 120 feet tall tower on its eastern entrance. The temple contains the shrines of Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneswari. Parts of this temple are older than the Vijayanagar kingdom itself. The work of this style dates back to the 11th or 12th century.
Hazara Ramaswami temple is believed to have been the private place of worship of the royal family. The chief attraction of the temple is the series of scenes from the Ramayana carved on two of the inside walls of the mantapa. The genesis of the place known today as Hampi dates back to the age of the Hindu epic Ramayana when it was the site of Kishkinda, a monkey kingdom.
Also visit the Achyutaraya Temple and walk through the bazaars of Sule and Hampi.
(Evolve Back - Nivasa Room; B)
DAY 15 TO BANGALORE & OUTBOUND
Fly to Bangalore and connect outbound.
B=Breakfast L=Lunch D=Dinner
Nomadic Expeditions reserves the right to change the above itinerary if necessary.