Rajasthan, with a plethora of magnificent forts and palaces is the fabled land of the Maharajas of India. The Rajput’s highly evolved code of honor and chivalry rivaled that of the medieval European knights. As proud as the Rajputs are, they are friendly, warm and delight in welcoming visitors into their homes. Like the rest of India, festivals play a major role in the Rajasthani way of life where, against the backdrop of stark, desert sands, the gaiety of the festivals epitomizes the spirit and resilience of the Rajputs. None are as grand and vibrant as the gathering at Pushkar where close to a quarter of a million camels, horses and livestock – all elaborately decorated – are brought together for trading. There are camel races, musicians, entertainers and crowds of people from all over Rajasthan, decked out in their traditional finery.
Accompanying you on your ‘Royal’ sojourn of India, is our own Director of Operations Sanjay Saxena, who has been visiting the fair since the early 1980’s. Sanjay has designed this itinerary to explore the best that Rajasthan has to offer, including some hidden gems, exclusive experiences in the Thar desert and to be at Pushkar during the peak of the fair.
Staying in Palace Hotels and unique lodges; this tour is suitable for any adventurous traveler looking for a vacation that is out of the ordinary.
Nov 10-21, 2021
$8,400 Per Person
$6,400 Per Person
$95 Per Person
$1,900 Per Person
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS + span>
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS
LAND PRICE INCLUDES:
All accommodations as listed in the above itinerary, based on double or twin occupancy;
Meals as noted in the above itinerary;
Special ‘welcome’ & ‘farewell’ dinners;
Ground transportation in India as described in the itinerary;
All arrival/departure airport/hotel transfers;
Sunrise & sunset visits to Taj Mahal;
Bottled/filtered water throughout the trip and soft drinks during meals;
All excursions, entrance fees, and visits as described in itinerary;
Extensive pre-departure Travel Guide, reading list, important information about your trip, and luggage tags;
Services of Tour Leader Sanjay Saxena throughout the trip;
Bilingual Nomadic Expeditions local guides in each location.
LAND PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
International airfare; internal airfare is quoted separately and subject to change by airlines;
Passport and visa fees;
Excess baggage charges;
Gratuities to local staff (drivers, guides, etc.);
Items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone calls, photography and video fees;
Comprehensive medical and trip insurance;
Other items not specifically mentioned as included.
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.
FESTIVALS OF RAJASTHAN
Conrad F., GA
Our tour guides in all the cities were better than we ever expected. All very nice and knowledgeable. Whomever is responsible for their training should be highly commended.
I want to thank you for all the good work you did in making our trip to India so wonderful. It really was “the trip of a lifetime.
Stephen & Carol S., CT
Thanks again for making our Indian trip one of the best adventure vacations we ever had. We really had an extraordinary experience.
You will be met upon arrival and transferred to the hotel.
(Taj Palace - Superior 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.
You have a relaxed morning to help get over jet-lag, adapt to the local time zone before heading out to explore this historic city.
On our tour of “Old Delhi,” we 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, we end up at the Jama Masjid, the largest Muslim mosque in India.
Sunset will find us at the famous India Gate with its vast lawns, where tens of local families come to enjoy sunset and picnic. We will mingle with the local families, play on the lawns before heading off to an Indian restaurant for our sumptuous welcome dinner of delicious Indian cuisine.
(Taj Palace - Superior Room; B, D)
Day 3 - TO JAMBA
Fly to Jodhpur where we met up with our local drivers and head off into the hinterland of Rajasthan to a region known as 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.
Spend two nights at the private Dera 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, with stonework and carvings using local design and sustainable materials. Most importantly, the lodge utilized the skills of local craftsmen in its construction. It has individual deluxe cottages, a swimming pool, and a beautiful restaurant.
(Dera Dune Retreat - Stone Cottage; B, L, D)
Day 4 - EXPLORING JAMBA
We have the full day to explore the Jamba area. After breakfast, head out 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 the lodge, musicians and dancers from nearby villages usually come to dance away the evening.
(Dera Dune Retreat - Stone Cottage; B, L, D)
Day 5 - TO PUSHKAR
Like the rest of India, festivals play a major role in the Rajasthani way of life, and today you partake in one of the most important, definitely the most dramatic and colorful festivals of them all - the gathering at Pushkar. After breakfast, begin the five-hour drive to Pushkar, stopping en route at photogenic sites and local villages or for a camel crossing. All meals in Pushkar are vegetarian, due to the religious nature of the gathering, and no alcohol is served. You will be treated to a plethora of Indian vegetarian cuisine.
After checking into your hotel, head out for your first visit to the Camel Fair. The fair is reputed to have in excess of a hundred thousand animals including camels, cattle, goats and horses. The gathering takes place for farmers and nomads to trade or purchase livestock. The balance of the day is spent exploring and photographing the fair.
(Pratap Mahal - Superior Room; B, L, D)
Days 6–7 - PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR
All over India, temples abound dedicated to two of the Indian trinity of creation: Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. Here at Pushkar is the sole temple dedicated to the all-powerful Brahma the creator. To bathe in the ghats at Pushkar offers great sanctity. Around the eleventh full moon of every year (Hindu lunar calendar) is a week long festival when everyone in Rajasthan congregates at Pushkar, bringing with them camels to barter with, goats and cows to trade, pottery, jewelry, and other fine handicrafts to sell. It is indeed a time of festivity, of music and dance, of trade and barter, and of religious observance.
We have two full days to explore and photograph Pushkar, watch the local horse and cattle show, sunset on the camel camps, sunrise at the bathing ghats, the dance dramas – there is activity round the clock.
(Pratap Mahal - Superior Room; B, L, D )
Day 8 - TO JAIPUR
Enjoy the morning at your leisure. After lunch, depart for Jaipur. Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan, the home of the Rajputs, a group of warrior clans who ruled this part of India for a thousand years. Built in 1727 by the warrior-astronomer Maharaja Jai SinghII, Jaipur is laid out as described in the ancient Hindu treatise on architecture, the “Shilpa-Shastra.” Battlement walls with seven gates encircle the old city and broad avenues divide it into neat rectangles. Jaipur is popularly known as the “Pink City” due to the pink-colored sandstone of the buildings in the old walled city.
This afternoon we will venture into the heart of old Jaipur, within the old city walls, to wander and explore the vibrant bazaar – a great place to photograph, find a bargain or perhaps a wonderful treasure!
(Jai Mahal Palace - Luxury Room; B)
Day 9 - EXPLORING JAIPUR
You have the full day to explore Jaipur. You will wander among the colorful bazaars of the “old city” and tour the interior of Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and the City Palace, where the present Maharaja resides. There is a Mughal art museum housing a lovely collection of Rajasthani & Mughal miniature paintings. Part of the complex is an outdoor 18th century astronomical and astrological observatory (Jantar Mantar) with several incredible sundials (accurate to 0.2 seconds) and very modern looking astrological markers.
In the morning, you will tour the Amber Fort and Palace. This is a beautiful and very well-preserved 16th century structure, built on four levels and surrounded by ruins. This was the location backdrop for the Mira Nair movie “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.” Among the many splendors of the fort is a small room with a ceiling covered in tiny mirrors. When this place was inhabited, lighted candles created a pattern that looks like an incredible star-filled sky.
You will visit the Temple of Kali, the Hall of Victory, or Jai Mahal and Jagmandir. You will also have the unique experience of traveling on the back of an elephant as you ride to the top of the hill on which the fort is situated. One afternoon, you will have time to wander in the bazaar and to further explore this historic city.
(Jai Mahal Palace - Luxury Room; B)
Day 10 - TO AGRA VIA FATEPUR SIKRI
After breakfast, begin your five-hour drive to Agra, stopping on the way to explore Fatepur Sikri. The Mughal Emperor Akbar’s eerily abandoned city is full of elegant small palace structures carved from red sandstone.
Fatepur Sikri (an hour outside Agra) was the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1570 and 1586. Akbar built the city to celebrate the birth of an heir (the future Emperor Jehangir). After 16 years, there was not enough water to support the population, so the capital was moved back to the Red Fort in Agra. The dryness that plagued Akbar and forced him to abandon his dream city has perfectly preserved this moment of Mughal history and exquisite memorial to the genius of Akbar for our admiration today.
Arriving in Agra late afternoon, check into your hotel before heading off to view the Taj at sunset from Mehtab Bagh, across the river. Legend has it that this garden was the site chosen by the Emperor Shah Jahan to build a mirror image of the Taj in black marble as a mausoleum for himself.
(Taj Hotel - Deluxe Taj View Room; B)
Day 11 - EXPLORING AGRA
Rise early to watch the sunrise over the Taj Mahal—an unforgettable way to begin your day.
Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in 1631 to enshrine the mortal remains of his Queen Mumtaz Mahal. It took seventeen years, 20,000 workers and a King’s treasury to build this wonder. You will wander with your guide into the inner chambers of this monument to love, the planet’s most famous and most entrancing exercise in Muslim architecture. Experience the Taj up close, and watch the light play on its magnificent lines from other parts of the city; sometimes the reflection of the Taj in the Yamuna River seems as spectacular as the monument itself.
Later in the morning, drive over the Yamuna River to explore the forerunner of the Taj Mahal - the elaborately ornate Itmad ud Daula. In memory of her father, this mausoleum was built by Queen Nur Jahan in 1622, and is a perfect example of the fine inlaid stonework and translucent marble screens that Agra is so famous for. Many historians believe that this monument was the inspiration for Shah Jahan to build the Taj and it is often described as the “petite Taj.”
After lunch, visit Agra Fort, built by Akbar as his citadel over the years 1565-73 in the finest architectural style. It is an almost perfect fusion between military might and lavish beauty. The fort, approachable through its two lofty main portals on the west and south, was successively occupied by three great Mughals - Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan - each of whom made significant structural contributions to this complex. Shah Jahan died here, imprisoned by his son, gazing at the Taj Mahal he had built in memory of his wife.
(Taj Hotel - Deluxe Taj View Room; B)
Day 12 - TO DELHI AND OUTBOUND
You have the morning to further explore this Mughal capital before we drive to Delhi. After dinner, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your return flight home.