Golden Age luxury
Throughout this very special small group tour of India you will encounter the extraordinary richness and opulence of the country's past. You'll visit the vast palaces, impregnable forts and dazzling, decorated havelis of Rajasthan, and along the way will stay in spectacular heritage hotels - many of which were once the seats of ruling maharajas, and some still home to their present-day descendants. From Delhi's Raj-era glories and Agra's monument to love, to the wooded Aravali Hills, Udaipur's lakes and the desert landscapes - and starlit skies - of Jodhpur and Bikaner, and finally to the jungle retreat of Vanaashyra, this is a holiday crammed with unforgettable highlights and unique experiences.
After your fascinating Indian tour, cross into timeless Nepal and see its populous capital Kathmandu and stay one night in scenic Nagarkot, with beautiful views of the Himalayas.
WHAT DOES THE PRICE INCLUDE?
Day One: Travel to India
Head to the airport and board your overnight flight to Delhi.
Day Two: Discover Delhi's Old City
Upon arrival in Delhi, meet your Tour Manager and transfer to elegant, historic Maidens Hotel, renowned for it's old-world splendour and a famously deep swimming pool.
After settling in, re-join the group and your Tour Manager for a guided tour of colourful Old Delhi, which reveals some of the city's most iconic sights: Red Fort, Jama Masjid Mosque and Raj Ghat - Gandhi's cremation site. After the tour, immerse yourself among the sights, sounds and smells of Indian street life on an exhilarating rickshaw ride through vibrant Chandni Chowk, one of the city's oldest markets, before heading back to the hotel for a delicious first dinner.
Day Three: Take the Gatimaan Express train to Agra
Rise early this morning to board the Gatimaan Express, India's fastest train, to Agra, the glorious 'City of Love'. Upon arrival, join your guide for a tour of majestic Agra Fort, exploring its royal pavillions, palaces and pretty courtyards, then continue to the site of the Taj Mahal, where you'll have a few hours to explore this dazzling monument to undying love, which has become India's most potent symbol.
Day Four: Cruise on the Chambal River
Enjoy a lazy morning at your opulent hotel in Dholpur. After lunch, board one of the Palace's boats for a one-hour cruise along the Chambal River (subject to the water level in the river). On this scenic journey you'll see an abundance of colourful birdlife, and you might also spot crocodiles and rare, endangered species such as long-snouted gharials.
Day Five: Travel to Jaipur
Today you'll travel across the Rajasthani plain to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, where a beautiful heritage hotel is your home for the next two nights. Set in a former harveli - an Indian mansion - this beautiful hotel is a peaceful retreat located close to the bustling old city. Enjoy a lazy evening settling into your surroundings, perhaps opting for a dip in the pool or a relaxing treatment at the spa, before dinner is served.
Day Six: Visit Amber Fort and the Palace of the Winds
Discover the historic sights of Jaipur, travelling firstly to the 16th-century Amber Fort, which perches on a hilltop and offers stupendous views from its red sandstone ramparts. After some time to explore the ornate Royal Halls, you'll travel to the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, to view its famous red facade featuring a jumble of windows and screened balconies.
This afternoon, enjoy a lavish lunch in the ornate surroundings of the Samode Haveli, a historic former home of the maharajas that has been converted into a luxurious hotel situated on the desert-fringed outskirts of the city. After lunch, you'll visit the City Palace complex to explore its temple, museums, courtyards and gardens, and then continue to Jantar Mantar to visit the ancient astronomical observatory.
Day Seven: Travel to Deogarh
After breakfast, leave Jaipur and travel south west to Deogarh, where you'll spend one night at the Deogarh Mahal heritage hotel, a former home to Mewar rulers. After checking in, set off on a thrilling jeep safari through the countryside, then enjoy a walk through a local village before returning to the hotel in time for dinner.
Day Eight: Travel to Udaipur
Today's short journey takes you to Udaipur, where the Trident Hotel welcomes you for a two-night stay. This magnificent hotel overlooks the Fateh Sagar lake and is surrounded by the rolling Aravali Hills. Settle in, and enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening.
Day Nine: Guided tour of Udaipur
See the sights of Udaipur this morning on a guided tour, which reveals the majestic City Palace and the stunning 'gardens of the royal ladies' at Sahelion-ki-Bari. This afternoon, explore under your own steam, then re-join your group for a leisurely evening cruise on Lake Pichola, and a dinner overlooking the stunning facade of City Palace.
Day 10: See the Jain temples at Ranakphur en route to Jodhpur
Journey north today through the beautiful scenery of the Aravali Hills, and call in Rankpur to visit the magnificent Jain temples - a quartet of intricate, marble edifices that nestle in a wooded valley. You'll then continue to the outskirts of Jodhpur for a two-night stay at Rohet Garh, a beautiful, lakeside heritage hotel boasting a spa and an outdoor pool.
Day 11: Discover Jodhpur
Enjoy a day of sightseeing in Jodhpur, the 'Blue City' - so called because of the blue colour-washed houses that decorate its old city. Explore monumental Mehrangarh Fort, which towers over the city from its sandstone butte and is comprised of lavish palaces and decorative courtyards. Your day then continues with visits to the marbled Jaswant Thanda memorial and the fascinating Umaid Bhawan palace museum, and a thrilling evening jeep safari, on which you'll visit a traditional village inhabited by the Bishnoi tribe, who are thought to be some of the world's first eco-warriors.
Day 12: Visit Junagarh Fort and enjoy dinner under the stars
On today's adventure you'll journey into the Great Indian Desert to the remote city of Bikaner, where ornate Junagarh Fort dominates the snaking streets of its old city. Step behind the Fort's high walls to explore the pavilions and palaces, then enjoy a fascinating visit to a camel-breeding farm. This evening, you'll travel further into the desert to a camp that sits among the towering sand dunes. Enjoy a roller-coaster tour down the dunes, marvel at the dazzling sunset and enjoy an unforgettable dinner under a starlit desert sky. You'll then return to the hotel at the end of this very special evening.
Day 13: Travel to the Shekhawati region
Continue your journey through the desert, as you travel along an ancient trading route past small market towns and resplendent havelis built by wealthy traders. You'll spend a night at the Alsisar Mahal heritage hotel, which boasts decorated arcades, frescoes and tranquil courtyards. Settle in, then enjoy a glass of champagne while listening to a talk from a local historian, who will shed light on the story behind the opulent Shekhawati havelis.
Day 14: Stay in a jungle resort
On the last leg of this wonderful journey you'll travel back towards the Aravali Hills, with an included lunch en route at the ornate Shahpura Haveli. You'll be spending two nights at Vanaashrya Resort, which sits immersed in beautiful jungle scenery. Upon arrival, rest and relax, and settle into your well-appointed, air-conditioned cottage.
Day 15: Visit Bhangarh Fort and enjoy a camel cart ride
Spend your day relaxing at Vanaashrya, perhaps opting for a spa treatment or a dip in the swimming pool. Explore the ruins of Bhangarh Fort, which dates back to the 17th Century and is thought to be haunted, then take a camel cart ride to a nearby village for a glimpse of local life. This evening, you'll be treated to a cookery demonstration, followed by a dinner with your group.
Day 16: Fly to Kathmandu
Fly to the beautiful Himalayan city of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and then transfer to Nagarkot for a one-night stay at Mystic Mountain Resort. Check-in, admire the scenery or take a dip in the hotel’s outdoor pool.
Day 17: Included visit to Nagarkot
Nagarkot offers some the best mountain views in the entire valley. Start your day with the unforgettable panoramic views of the majestic Himalayas from the comfort of your hotel. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the tranquil surroundings before leaving Nagarkot to head back to central Kathmandu for a three night stay.
Day 18: Included sightseeing tour of Kathmandu
Today’s sightseeing tours will give you the chance to marvel at Kathmandu’s exotic-feeling blending of palaces, temples, courtyards and shrines, and everyday bustle. Visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, the traditional heart of Kathmandu, discover Nepal’s ancient cultural centre in Bhaktapur, and take in the spiritual atmosphere at the Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath – one of the largest stupas in the world.
Day 19: Rest and relax
Today you’re free to relax or explore under your own steam. Enjoy your hotel’s historic surroundings, or head out to explore the bustling town of Thamel. Crammed with street vendors’ stalls and backpackers, Thamel is a haven for tourists (if not for the faint-hearted). Beneath the colourful web of bunting, banners, power cables and shop signs that festoon the narrow streets, you’ll find shops, cafes and restaurants filled with unexpected treasures.
Later, enjoy your final dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, or at your leisure in the city.
Day 20: Travel back to the UK
Bow your head and bid namaste to Nepal and its welcoming people as you transfer back to the airport to board your flight back to the UK.
Taj Mahal restoration work
The white marble of the Taj Mahal is being gradually cleaned in a process that will take up to four years. Parts of the monument's surface may be covered during this process though your visit and access to the main dome is not likely to be restricted.
Hotel transfer times
The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.
Passports and visas
British citizens require machine-readable passports when travelling overseas. Your passport must contain two blank pages and be valid for 180 days after your return date from India. A visa is also required for entry to India. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent out about eight weeks before departure. British CITIZENS and some other European nationals satisfying certain conditions may use the online e-Tourist Visa application process at a cost of $100 (US) per person. Other British passport holders, who are not British CITIZENS, must apply for a full visa which costs £112. You may also, at extra cost, use the services of CIBT, our recommended visa handling partner, who will handle the whole process for you. Note that all travellers of Pakistani descent, regardless of citizenship, will generally be subject to more detailed processing by the Indian authorities, which can take up to four months from application.
Foreign Office Travel Advice
Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.
On your flight
All outbound flights leave in the evening and land at your destination the next day. All return flights leave in the morning and land in the UK on the same day. On-board meals will usually include dinner and breakfast on outbound flights, and lunch and a snack on the flight home. Drinks are complimentary.
You are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.
If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.
The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made. In many developing countries access is sometimes not as easy as at home. Should you have walking difficulties, getting around monuments and attractions may be harder and, in some cases, impossible. Should you have any concerns whatsoever please do contact us prior to travel.
Requirements and advice can vary over time, and from person to person, so please contact your GP about eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or any other preventive measures.
In developing countries road networks are continually being improved and expanded, which can mean that, from time to time, roadworks and rough road surfaces can extend journey times. Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads.