Whilst sojourn means temporary, memories like these certainly won't be. From the urban jungle to the real jungle, from hotels to grassland tents, from rickshaws to safari jeeps, from the Taj Mahal to local villages, from seeing monkeys to chasing tigers. With the local people as your guides, this trip through the incredibly beautiful, yet infectuously crazy India takes you on a journey through it all. Oh, and did we mention dinner with royalty?
(Note: if you do see a tiger, please don't actually chase one).
Highlights of the Trip
Delhi orientation including the less visited Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Crazy rickshaw ride through Old Delhi
Old Delhi bazaar tour and food walk
Visit to Hindu family home for cooking demonstration and tasting of traditional Indian vegetarian cooking
Beyond the Taj Mahal heritage walk through local village of Kachhpura.
Early morning visit to world famous and simply stunning Taj Mahal
Spot tigers in Ranthambore national park and go beyond with a visit to the local village
7 nights accommodation on double or twin sharing basis at the hotels mentioned above
Daily breakfast at the hotels mentioned above
All transfers, excursions and sightseeing tours as per the itinerary shall be provided by air-conditioned vehicles (Road taxes, parking fee, fuel charges, Interstate taxes).
Entrance fee of the various monuments mentioned in the itinerary (one time visit only)
Services of an accompanying English speaking tour escort for the whole tour.
Old Delhi Bazaar & Food Walk with Masterji Kee Haveli
Morning and afternoon game drive at Ranthambore National Park in jeep on sharing basis
Cooking session followed by dinner at a house of Rajput noble
Hi Tours representative for assistance during arrival & departure transfers.
What's Not Included
Meals other than those specified above.
Airfare or airport taxes
Orientation around Delhi
You’ll arrive in Delhi and be greeted by a Hi Tours rep and board your transfer over to you hotel. Which will be the wonderful 5* hotel, The Claridges, whose middle name is luxury and elegance (it’s not actually, but you get the idea). There’s no time to waste in kicking off your Indian adventure, you’ll be whisked away on an orientation tour of New Delhi. On the tour, you’ll see the magnificent India Gate. You’ll also have time to stop to take some very Instagrammable snaps at the gardens and buildings of Rashtrapati Bhawan, which is where the president of India calls होम, or as we’d say, home.
Later you’ll visit the most prominent Sikh house of worship in Delhi, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. This golden domed complex is truly spectacular and it holds a substantial place in Sikh heritage. The site has a expansive pool known as ‘Sarovar’, which is thought to have special mind, body and soul healing powers.
Then it’s back to the hotel to rest up for day 2.
Old Delhi - New Adventures
After breakfast, you’ll visit the Qutub Minar, an iconic New Delhi landmark, which is part of the Qutab complex, a UNESCO world heritage site. Best get your walking shoes on if you want to get to the top, the Minar has 379 steps up to the pinnacle, but it’s worth it, trust us, even if you do become a sweaty mess. Next you have the option to take part in a heritage walk at the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. The park borders the Qutab complex, but is often overlooked by most tourists, so its not uncommon to be pretty much alone. It’s time to channel your inner Lara Croft, here your local guide will take you through ancient ruins and medieval tombs, that’re actually some of the most beautifully preserved relics in Delhi.
Time to head over to Old Delhi. Your time in this city will begin with a trip to the UNESCO heritage site, the Red Fort. Although close to the hustle and bustle of the Delhi streets, the Red Fort offers an tranquil escape. Originally built by emperors to keep invaders out, the compound now hosts a treasure trove of buildings, museums and you can’t forget the majestic palace and gardens. WOW will definitely be the word of the day. A stones throw from the Red Fort, you’ll visit Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque where 25,000 people can kneel and pray at one time. Also, a shrine houses several relics of islamic historical importance including the footmarks, sandals, and red beard-hair of the Holy Prophet, Mohammad. You’ll then visit Raj Ghat on the banks of the river Yamuna, here lies a memorial to Mahatma Ghandi, where he was cremated following his assassination in 1948.
A Rickshaw ride through the city to get to your next activity. Yes we know what you’re thinking, ‘Rick who?!’ Basically a large bicycle with a cart attached to the back. Sounds ridiculous and downright crazy (it is), but it’s by far the most fun method of transport in India.
Your Rickshaw adventure will drop you off at the Old Delhi bazaar where you will take part in a food walk with Old Delhi aficionados Masterji Kee Haveli. These guys offer an experience that’s truly off the beaten track, here you’ll get a chance to see and taste the city through the eyes and mouths of locals born and raised in the area. Senses will come alive as you encounter many captivating sites, including temples, shrines, protected monuments and the odd camel roaming the streets. And your taste buds will thank you as you taste plenty world renowned delicacies along the way.
If this isn’t enough, after the walk, you’ll be taken to a Hindu home for a demonstration and tasting of traditional home-style Indian cooking.
Agra - Beyond the Taj Mahal
After breakfast, you’ll be making your way over to Agra, the second destination on your adventure. Your first stop will be the Agra Fort. The Agra Fort is considered one of the most significant Mughal buildings in India. Its fairytale-esque architecture and structures include decadent palaces, mosques and courtyards, all of which echo the splendour of the Mughal dynasty.
Continuing on to Kachhpura, an ancient village that’s perched on the edge of the Taj Mahal. Here, you’ll take part in a heritage tour, which is part of a community project to help boost and maintain the village community. Guided by a local, you’ll get a fascinating insight into the traditional village life, you’ll interact with the indigenous people that live there and learn about their lives, throbbing in the shade of the Taj Mahal
Its now time to head to your hotel, the stunning ITC Mughal.
The Taj Mahal
The early bird catches the worm. Or in this case, the early bird catches the Taj Mahal in all its glory. Day 4 kicks off with a super early visit to the world renowned, simply breath taking, Taj Mahal. The building is a UNESCO heritage site, is considered the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. It can’t be missed.
After your early morning trip, it’s time to head back to the hotel for some breakfast. Don’t get too comfy though, it’ll be soon time for a post breakfast drive over to Fatehpur Sikri. This marvellous, ancient, city, once served as the capital to emperor Akbar’s vast empire, but was abandoned for reasons that are still somewhat a mystery. Even though the city is now a ghost town, you don’t need to be worried about being chased by Mughal ghosts. There’s still plenty to see including an elegant mosque, which is considered a duplicate of the mosque at Mecca, three exquisite palaces and shrine to Sheikh Salim Chisti one of the greatest of Sufi saints of the Muslim world.
You’ll then drive over to Bharatpur to catch the train to Ranthambore.
You’ll arrive, check in and stay at your next hotel Khem Villas, within the Ranthambore tiger reserve. What once was derelict and uninhabited, the guys at Khem Villas have turned this into a natural habitat, with some swanky accommodation within. It’s not uncommon to see tons of wildlife and we’re not talking about pigeons and squirrels, you can see: jackals, jungle cats, hyenas, desert fox, and crocodiles, within the grasslands.
Tiger Spotting in Ranthambore National Park
Time to grab your your binoculars, your pith helmet (that you’ve been dying to wear ever since you arrived), and your best David Attenborough impression. Today you’ll enjoy both morning and afternoon game drives in the Ranthambore National Park! This famous wildlife sanctuary is one of the best places to spot wild, Bengal tigers in India. With over 1000 sqkm of wild jungle and rocky terrain, you can also spot: leopards, crocodiles, monkeys, pythons, wild boar, sloth bear and for you bird watchers out there, over 300 types of different bird. At the centre of the park is a 10thcentury Ranthambore Fort, with loads of ancient temples and mosques scattered in between.
Day 5’s morning activity is, a rural jeep safari to a nearby village in Ranthambore that’s sure to warm up your safari appetite. Here, accompanied by your local guide, you’ll interact with the locals from the village, experiencing first hand how the indigenous people live and work. Where a lot of them still live in a joint family system.
After your safari, you’ll head back to your hotel.
See More In Jaipur
After breakfast, there’s an option to visit the Ranthambore School of Art, or stay and relax at the hotel. If you do choose to visit, you won’t be disappointed. One of the school’s main aims is to promote wildlife conservation. You’ll find marvellous paintings on sale from the students, with proceeds going to supporting the project and to the artist themselves. So get a lovely painting for your mantle and help preserve wildlife at the same time. Win-Win. There’s also time to visit Dastakari Kendra, a non-profit organisation, working with village women to create alternative income sources from handcrafts, such as, clothes and jewellery.
Now it’s time to head to the ‘pink city’ Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan.
Once arrived, you’ll check in to the hotel (the Dera Mandawa) and start the tour, heading straight to the bustling bazaars of the city. Here’s an opportunity to pick up an all important souvenir (that’s not a key ring or mug), local artisans craft all sorts, from traditional Indian textiles, to puppets, to Indian bangles. One of the picks of the bazaars is the Johari bazaar, Johari, meaning jeweller in Hindi. The jewellery on offer is some of the most amazing you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Gold, silver, emerald, you name it, its sold here. So if you happen to be a jewellery trader, are considering an engagement ring, or just happen to like nice, shiny things, you’re in luck.
If you were to tell your friends that you’ve eaten at the house of Indian royalty, theyâ€™d think you’d lost the plot. Well this is exactly what you’d be doing. Okay, so we’re not talking about crown wearing, throne perching, caviar eating, royals. You’ll visit the house of a Rajput noble, now believe it or not, these people are descendants from previous Indian royalty. They’ll teach you ancient cooking secrets and you’ll taste some very different, yet delightful foods that you won’t find in any regular restaurant. Shove your tikka masala.
After you’ve spent all your rupees at the bazaars, its time to experience some traditional Indian cuisine. You’ll be welcomed into the home and spend your evening with a local family. After a tour of their house, you’ll get an understanding for how local people live day-to-day. You’ll then get the chance to channel your inner Jamie Oliver and take part in a cooking class, learning from the locals the ways of the ancient Rajasthani culinary tradition.
Overnight at the hotel.
See More In Jaipur
After breakfast, you’ll travel a short distance outside the city to Amber Fort and palace. Before you get there, you’ll stop to see the magnificent, ‘Palace of Winds”, Hawa Mahal. This is undoubtedly one of the most stunning monuments of India, its facade is likened to a honeycomb. Built in 1799, the Hawa Mahal was built as an extension to the women’s quarter of the palace. It has 953 windows, which were in place to allow royal women to sit behind them and watch the city without being seen.
After your visit to the ‘Palace of Winds’, you’ll blow over to the outskirts of town toÂ Amber Fort and Palace. Built in the 16th century by Man Singh, one of the war chiefs for emperor Akbar. The extremely well preserved site contains stunning buildings and courtyards, particularly the Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), the walls and ceilings of which are carved with flowers and paintings made completely of glass. It’s said, if two candles are lit in the palace, it would look like thousands of stars glittering on the ceiling.
Continuing to the City Palace Museum, which features a priceless collection of antiques, costumes, weapons and armoury of Mughals and Rajputs. As well as a gallery, displaying paintings, royal items and rare astronomical pieces.
You’ll then visit the Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological building built in the 18th century, from which you can see spectacular views of the Hawa Mahal.
In the evening, you’ll experience the traditional aarti ceremony, with locals at Birla Temple. The aarti is a fundamental part of Hindu Culture. The priest has a tray with a small, lighted oil diva lamp, burning incense, a small bell, offerings of food, a bowl of water and flowers. The four elements: fire, earth, water and air are all represented.
The ceremony ends with everyone sharing the food that has been offered to the deities.
See Jaipur from a different perspective
For your last morning in India, you have the choice between two optional activities, or you can take some time to simply relax ready for your journey home. But why not see a little more, ey? The first, is a chance to explore the city on two wheels, a guided bike tour of Jaipur City – you’ll head out and get the opportunity to experience the city as it wakes up, your guide will take you along some of roads that aren’t the traditional tourist magnets, where you’ll visit local markets and taste local delicacies.
The second activity gives you the chance to see Jaipur from a completely different perspective, a hot air balloon tour above the city. Here, you’ll fly over many of Jaipur’s top sites for a truly mesmerising experience. There’s nothing quite like seeing panoramic views of this wonderful city basked in the morning sunrise. You’ll definitely get the chance to take a few decent snaps to show off to your friends, as long as you don’t drop your phone, yeah?
After your activity you’ll head overland to Delhi airport and board your flight home. But, we’re sure you’ll be back for more soon.