RAJASTHAN: SPECIAL EDITION JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF COLOUR
Rajasthan, literally translated to Land of Kings, home to the massive Thar desert and the ancient Aravalli mountain range, has a rich history, ecology and culture. There’s nowhere quite like Rajasthan so get ready for cities of pink, white and blue, for dazzling Indian festivals.
On the 40th anniversary of Ibex Expeditions, adventure travel journalist and photographer Himraj Soin, who has led several National Geographic Student expeditions will be leading this unique journey.
12 nights / 13 days 04 – 16 March 2019
04 March Arrival Delhi
On arrival into IGI Delhi airport, you will be transferred to your hotel. (On request at a charge). Since your arrival is late night, check-in to your hotel and catch up on jetlag.
05 March Delhi
After breakfast, proceed on a guided tour of Delhi at 0930 hours which includes all three of the city’s world heritage sites.
The tour begins with a visit to the magnificent Red fort followed by a cycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of the fascinating bazaar in Old Delhi.
Note – The Red Fort is closed on Mondays.
Drive through New Delhi roads & sights such as India Gate, The Presidential Palace and Parliament house to get a feel for the grand new city that Sir Lutyens built in the early 1900s.
06 March Delhi – Agra by road (200 Kms, 4-5 hours)
After breakfast, check out by 0930 hours and begin your drive to land of the Mughals – Agra.
Post lunch by 1400 hours, your guide will take you on a guided tour of the main attractions of the Mughal city.
Like Delhi, Agra stands on the Right Bank of the river Yamuna. The romance of the world’s most famous building still astonishes in its power. In addition to the Taj Mahal, Agra houses the great monuments of the Red Fort and the Itmad-ud-Daulah.
Agra Fort – with the Taj Mahal overshadowing it, one can easily forget that Agra has one of the finest Mughal forts in India. Construction of the massive red-sandstone fort, on the bank of the Yamuna River, was begun by Emperor Akbar in 1565. The builder of Taj Mahal Emperor Shah Jahan was kept there as a prisoner by his own son.
Mehtab Bagh – This park originally built by Emperor Babur is now one the best places from which to view the great mausoleum of Taj Mahal. The gardens in the Taj are perfectly aligned with the ones here, and the view of the Taj from the fountain directly in front of the entrance gate is a special one.
07 March Agra – Ramathra by road (200 Kms, 4-5 hours)
The same guide will report to the hotel around 0600 hours to take you for a guided sunrise tour of Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal, the pinnacle of Mughal architecture, was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658), grandson of Akbar the Great, in the memory of his queen Arjumand Bano Begum, called ‘Mumtaz Mahal’.
Return for breakfast.
After breakfast in the hotel, check out and later drive to your next destination the Ramathra Fort which lies between two of India’s famous wildlife reserves, the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur and the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur. The fort, the lake and the surrounding countryside are the three big attractions of Ramathra.
This evening enjoy a ride in a row boat in the Kalisil dam. It is peaceful & picturesque with breath-taking views of the sunset & the area is rich with birdlife. You are provided life jackets, a bird book & a pair of binoculars.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
At 0630 hours, proceed with a local guide for a 3-4 hours walking tour of Ramathra village, a small hamlet of farmers and cattle herders. You may see all kinds of work associated with tending crops and animals. This walk includes visit to a school and a farm owned by the family who runs the fort-hotel.
Ramathra was granted as a jagir (fiefdom) in 1645 AD to Thakur Bhoj Pal by his father the Maharaja of Karauli. The name Ramathra honours Lord Rama, who, it is believed, camped here while on his epic journey to Lanka. Today, Ramathra Fort belongs to Thakur Brijendra Raj Pal and his family who are descendants of the founder.
08 March Ramathra
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Return to the fort around 0930 hours for breakfast and rest.
Enjoy a hot picnic lunch on an island with great views, accessed by a rowing boat. You return to the fort between 1500 – 1600 hours.
Late afternoon enjoy a trek to the ruins of the old fort and back.
09 March Ramathra – Jaipur by road (180 Kms, 3-4 hours)
After breakfast, check out by 0930 hours and drive to the pink city of Jaipur.
In the evening, proceed to Dera Amer camp on the outskirts of the city, where you interact with the elephants feeding and accompanying them for a walk -all in the privacy of an exclusive wilderness venue. In the evenings there would be a private bon fire and barbecue dinner, the venue lit by lanterns and lamps. This is a memorable experience of a lifetime. Later you will return to the hotel in your vehicle.
│Breakfast and dinner
│ Royal Heritage Haveli
Jaipur is the first planned city of India, located in the desert lands of Rajasthan. The city that once had been the capital of the royalty, now serves as the capital city of Rajasthan. The very structure of Jaipur resembles the taste of the Rajputs and the Royal family.
10 March Jaipur
Happy Holi – Festival of colours!
Late morning visit a local home in your vehicle to join the family in the festive celebrations followed by lunch. You learn how to make Rangolis – art form in which patterns are made on the floor to welcome positive energy, get henna artwork on your hands, play with colour powder and enjoy traditional eats in a festive setting.
Return to your hotel for a bath and rest time, reliving moments of celebrating one of India’s biggest festivals.
11 March Jaipur
Today, you will get lost in the royal city as you discover its magic with a tour guide at 1000 hours.
Amber Fort: The old capital of the Kachhwaha stands atop a range of hills. The fort is remarkable as much for the majestic grandeur of its surroundings as for its sturdy battlements and palaces. It is a fine blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture.
Next visit the Anokhi museum of hand printing, to understand the on-going revival of traditional textile skills. Located in a magnificently restored mansion, the museum displays a varied selection of block printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects – all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition.
Jantar Mantar Observatory built in the 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the huge masonry instruments were used to study the movement of constellations and stars in the sky. The enormous sundial still provides accurate time.
Jawahar Kala Kendra – Designed by architect and urban planner, Charles Correa, this space serves as a cultural hub and a repository of Rajasthan’s myriad arts and crafts. The main building contains six exhibition galleries, open air theatre, auditoriums, dormitories, and coffee house.
12 March Jaipur – Deogarh by road (275 Kms, 5-6 hours)
After breakfast, check out at 0930 hours and drive to your next destination of Deogarh town in the countryside.
Devshree is a stately home at Deogarh which reflects a past of the heritage of Bhavna and Shatrunjai Singh, members of the local princely family that dates to the 6th century. Being traditionalists at heart, they involved as many local crafts people as possible to create a wonderful home away from home.
In the evening, enjoy a guided walk through Deogarh town passing through the potters’ street and farmers houses- Connecting to the high street – trading part of the town, reaching the central Square called Manak Chowk and coming Bagh Via the Ker Ghati residential street of the more affluent town folk (comparatively).
Distance covered – 2Kms / 1.5 hours duration.
│Devshree │Breakfast and dinner
13 March Deogarh
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
This morning, board a rural 1930’s train to ride through a wooded hill section. Rudyard Kipling wrote about it in his book` Man who would be King.” A unique feature of Deogarh Mahal is the rural rail, travelling from Kamblighat to Phulad (departs at 1030 hours and arrives Phulad Station at 1215 hours approximately- Timings subject to change) through wooded hills on a restored 1930s era train.
Return to the hotel.
Late in the afternoon enjoy a drive through a pastoral setting where one explores the natural surrounding with people tending to their fields and cattle and living in complete harmony with nature. The drive than leads to a lake side where light refreshments are served. These lakes attract a lot of the local migratory birds and small animals that are lovely to watch with the sun set as a back drop.
14 March Deogarh – Narlai by road (70 Kms, 2 hours)
Late morning check out and proceed on short drive to the nearby rural outpost of Narlai.
In the afternoon, proceed on a Jeep safari to spot endangered leopards.
The rugged Godwad countryside around Narlai suits the leopards and over a period the number has increased. Experience the thrill of customized ride on jeeps for a sighting of this beautiful and graceful cat. Not easy to spot as they blend very well into the background, these cats can sometimes be seen sunning themselves on the rocks or resting under the shade of a tree. Unlike the lions, leopards do not stay in a pride and are solitary by nature and have large territories that they roam in. But sometimes they can be spotted in pairs.
Taste the flavour of true Rajasthani Royal hospitality at the 16th Century old Baoli (Stepwell) of Rawla Narlai this evening over a special private dinner.
The 15th century old village of Narlai is a sleepy hamlet, delightfully tucked between Udaipur and Jodhpur cities, and is a great place to explore the local countryside. The village is popular for many temples, rocky landscapes and the community of Rabari tribe.
15 March Narlai – Jodhpur by road (140 Kms, 3-4 hours)
After breakfast, check out by 0930 hours and drive to the blue city of Jodhpur. In the afternoon at 1400 hours, visit one of India’s best Museums located in a fort.
Meherangarh Fort: 400 feet above the city of Jodhpur, enclosed in sturdy imposing walls, is the Meherangarh Fort. Inside, myriad palaces and courtyard still stand, famous for the intricate carvings on their walls and the prints of cannonballs from battles against Jaipur armies are tattooed on its facade. The museum within the fort walls is one of the better stocked in Rajasthan, displaying the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings, and decorated period rooms.
Later proceed on a guided walk with a naturalist in the Rao Jodha desert Park created in 2006 to restore the natural ecology of a large, rocky wasteland. Duration – 1 hour. The park is crisscrossed with walking trails that take you up to the city walls, spotting local and migratory birds, butterflies and reptiles.
Return to the hotel at the end of the walk in your vehicle.
This evening a farewell dinner is organised at the hotel restaurant as you reminisce over the past few days and swap stories.
16 March – Day 13 Jodhpur – Delhi by flight – Depart
Late morning check out and transfer to airport to board scheduled flight to Delhi.
On arrival at airport, transfer to Hotel Roseate House (near the airport) where rooms are reserved for day use only.
Later this evening / night, transfer to the International airport to board onwards flight. (On request)