Deserts, Forts, & Palaces in Rajasthan: Where Magnificent History Unfolds
Rajasthan is a princely state that has a rich, glorious, and historic past. Not to miss, the many spectacular palaces in Rajasthan spread across its desert landscape overawe you with their rich history and humongous geography.
The innate culture, traditions, and heritage is so visible and the palaces are beautifully designed featuring spectacular works of art and architecture. And so, on your Forts, Palaces & Deserts trip, you will discover Rajasthan via the many beautiful forts and palaces and yes, the desert.
Deserts, Forts, & Palaces in Rajasthan Highlights
- Visit UNESCO Heritage Sites of Delhi (Humayun Tomb, Red Fort, and Qutab Minar)
- Spend time in awe of the Taj Mahal, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World
- Travel across Rajasthan to its popular heritage destinations, i.e., Jaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar
- Explore Amber Fort and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside
- Shop till you drop and indulge in the authentic cuisine of Jaipur
- Take a tour of the majestic Junagarh Fort in Bikaner
- Get a taste of the sands of the Thar Desert at Jaisalmer
- Explore imposing Mehrangarh Fort, the most visited monument of Jodhpur
- Marvel at the exquisitely carved Ranakpur Jain Temples
- Explore City Palace and enjoy stunning views of the Lake Pichola in Udaipur
- Hotel accommodation in a double / twin room with breakfast
- Transport from arrival till departure
- Local guides with monument entrance fees
- Misc services: Elephant ride at Jaipur / Camel ride at Jaisalmer / Boat ride in Udaipur and Train ticket from Pushkar to Delhi
- Applicable government service taxes
- Any meals other than those specified in ‘Cost Includes’
- Expenses of personal nature such as gratuities, telephone calls, laundry, liquor etc
- India visa charges
- Travel insurance
Expert Travel Opinion
There are many dining options at the Luxury Palaces that you stay during the trip that enhance your overall Rajasthan experience.
The sit down meal or the Thali at Raj Palace is an experience in Royal Cuisine. Here, you are served a wholesome Royal meal in a big silver or bronze plate. The dishes are prepared using age old recipes of the Khaansama (The Royal Chef). The meal is wholesome and therefore best consumed at a leisurely pace over an hour and a half. Royal Private Dining at Raj Palace is the special theme dinner where the guests are accorded with a Gala Welcome and the dining area set in a quiet corner away from other guests to offer complete exclusivity.
The Step Well Café (adjoining The Raas) is unique for being set on three steps of an ancient step well. Here, you can spend an afternoon watching how life flows through the step well and old city area around. Darikhana in Raas Haveli is another interesting dining option. It is perched on the first floor offering clear views of the Mehrangarh Fort. Evening meals at Darikhana overlooking the lit up Mehrangarh fort capture the romance and character of Jodhpur old city.
Fateh Prakash Palace
The Sunset Terrace at Fateh Prakash Palace offers spectacular views of Udaipur’s most famous palaces such as Lake Palace and Jagmandir Palace. Live musicians capture the very romance of Udaipur that has made it one of the most romantic destinations in the world. The Darikhana, Jagmandir Island Palace is a place for exclusive dining. Set on an island (accessible by a boat ride), it offers a varied a la carte menu for the evenings. Here the special four-course dinner is one to recommend.
Day 01 - Delhi
Arrive at Delhi & Sightseeing Tour
Arrive at Delhi, the capital of India, one of the main gateways to India. Here you will meet our representative and will transfer to the hotel.
Sightseeing of New Delhi starts from 12th century Qutab Minar, gracefully hand-carved for its entire height of 234ft, and the iron pillar, which has withstood the ravages of time and not rusted even after 1500 years. Visit the mausoleum of emperor Humayun, a forerunner of the Mughal style of architecture and the imposing modern Lakshminarayan temple. Drive past India Gate (war memorial dedicated to the lives laid down by Indian soldiers), the president's residence - formerly the Viceroy's Palace, parliament House and the Secretariat buildings - an interesting blend of the Victorian and 20th century architecture.
Next, sightseeing of Old Delhi starts at Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Drive past Chandni Chowk, once an imperial avenue of Mughal Royalty which is the busiest commercial area of the city. Walk through Chandni Chowk to savour the ambience of an oriental bazaar later drive past Red Fort. After Old Delhi sightseeing, visits various State Emporiums, representing various states of India near Connaught Place area. This complex is closed on Sundays.
Overnight stay at Delhi.
Day 02 - Agra
Delhi to Agra
After breakfast at the hotel, depart by road for Jaipur and on arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Later proceed for sightseeing of Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Taj Mahal stands on the bank of River Yamuna, which otherwise serves as a wide moat defending the Great Red Fort of Agra, the center of the Mughal emperors until they moved their capital to Delhi in 1637. It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, a Muslim Persian princess. Construction began in 1631 and was completed in 22 years. Twenty thousand people were deployed to work on it. The material was brought in from all over India and central Asia and it took a fleet of 1000 elephants to transport it to the site. It was designed by the Iranian architect Ustad Isa and it is best appreciated when the architecture and its adornments are linked to the passion that inspired it. It is a “symbol of eternal love”. (Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays)
Agra Fort was first major building project of Akbar, though remains of only a few buildings built by him now survive. Built on the site of an earlier castle in AD 1565-75, the fort, apart from other important units, contains Jahangiri Mahal, Khass Mahal, Diwan-i-Khass, Diwan-i-Am, Machchhi Bhawan and Moti Masjid. Many extant buildings were erected by Shah Jahan (AD 1630-55). Irregularly triangular on plan, it is enclosed by a double battlemented massive wall of red sandstone which is about 2km in perimeter and interrupted by graceful curves and lofty bastions of its four gates, the most impressive is the Delhi Gate on the west.
Overnight stay at Agra.
Day 03 - Jaipur
Agra to Jaipur
After breakfast at the hotel, leave for Jaipur by road (249km), en-route visiting Fatehpur Sikri. 37km west of Agra lays the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri - an epic poem in red sandstone, built by Akbar in 1569 and deserted 14 years later because its water supply failed. Its glorious courtyards and palaces conjure up dreams of the mysterious past.
Continue travelling by road to Jaipur and on arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Overnight stay at Jaipur.
Day 04 - Jaipur
In the morning, undertake an excursion to Amber Fort. Ascend on elephant back or with jeeps to the main entrance of the fort. Amber is a classic, romantic Rajasthani fort palace. The rugged, time-ravaged walls of the Fort may not look beautiful from the outside, but the interior is a virtual paradise. Miniatures painted on the walls depict hunting and war scenes, apart from festivals. Precious stones and mirrors are embedded into the plaster.
Inside the Fort, visit the Jag Mandir or the Hall of Victory. Inside the Jag Mandir is the famed Sheesh Mahal - a room with all the four walls and ceiling completely embedded with glittering mirror pieces, which were specially imported from Belgium during that period. Enroute to Amber Fort, you will have a brief photography stop at Hawa Mahal - the Palace of Winds.
The afternoon city tour begins with a visit to the Maharaja’s City Palace, the former royal residence, part of it converted into a museum. A small portion is still used by the royal family of Jaipur. Built in the style of a fortified campus, the palace covers almost one-seventh in area of the city. One of the major attractions in the museum is the portion known as Armory Museum housing an impressive array of weaponry-pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers. The royal families of Jaipur once used most of these weapons. Later visit the Jantar Mantar, which is the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world. Situated near the gate of the city palace, the observatory has 17 large instruments, many of them still in working condition.
Overnight stay at Jaipur.
- You may take the Elephant ride up the hill as part of an enhanced experience (Elephant rides are available till 11:00 AM only).
- You have an option to attend a Polo match at the Jaipur Riding and Polo Club (subject to Polo tournament schedules). Here you watch the highly skilled Polo players (including the players from the Royal family) compete zealously in a game of Polo, the traditional sport of the royal family of Jaipur.
- You may opt for a morning Hot Air Balloon ride which offers spectacular views of Jaipur and when you go this is when you understand why Jaipur has the famed nickname - "Pink city".
- Jaipur has many designated shopping areas specializing in handicrafts, textiles, and jewelry. You may spend a few hours exploring the traditional markets of Jaipur.
Day 05 - Bikaner
Jaipur to Bikaner
After breakfast at the hotel, depart by road for Bikaner (336km - 6 hours)and on arrival transfer to the hotel.
Bikaner is known to be established by Rao Bikaji, the son of Rao Jodhaji of Jodhpur. The story behind the establishment of Bikaner is that one day Rao Bikaji took offence at one of his father’s comments and left home to set up his own kingdom in the deserts of the north. Rao Bikaji was also encouraged by the prophecy of a mystic woman, Karni Mata. Karni Mata told that he would rule over a kingdom larger that his father. Bikaji then build a fortified city in 1488 named as Bikaner.
The royal family still lives in a suite in Lalgarh Palace, which they have converted into a heritage hotel. In the afternoon, visit Junagarh Fort. This is an inaccessible fort and was constructed by Raja Rai Singh in the year 1593. The fort is surrounded by a moat, and houses several beautiful palaces like Anup Mahal, Ganga Niwas, Rang Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Phool Mahal, Karan Mahal, and Sheesh Mahal. The Junagarh Fort is counted among the most popular tourist attractions of Bikaner and has a 986 meter long wall, 37 bastions and two entrances.
Overnight stay at Bikaner.
Day 06 - Jaisalmer
Bikaner to Jaisalmer
After breakfast at the hotel, depart by road for Jaisalmer (333km - 7 hours) and on arrival, transfer to the hotel.
The name Jaisalmer evokes utter magic and vibrancy of the desert. It’s straight out of an Arabian Nights fable. The hostile terrain notwithstanding the warmth and color of people is simply overwhelming. One of the main draws is the daunting 12th century Jaisalmer Fort. The beautiful havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another interesting aspect of the desert city.
Overnight stay at Jaisalmer.
Day 07 - Jaisalmer
After breakfast at the hotel, proceed for sightseeing of Jaisalmer visiting Jaisalmer Fort, Jain Temple and Old Havelis.
Jaisalmer Fort was built over the Trikuta hill and is the biggest and the most beautiful landmark of the city. Shops, stalls and a number of other business concerns, occupy the Jaisalmer Fort. This fort accommodates a quarter of the city’s population. Just outside the fort is the Manak Chowk, the famous marketplace of Jaisalmer. Havelis are the mansions built by the wealthy merchants, which are still in very good condition. The intricate craftsmanship is beyond comparison. The Havelis like the Patwon-ki-Haveli and Salim-Singh-ki-Haveli are remarkable for their exclusive cutwork, yellow and red stone treatment and the bracket-shaped decoration of peacocks.
In the late afternoon, go on an excursion to Sam desert for a famed camel ride.
Overnight stay at Jaisalmer.
Day 08 - Jodhpur
Jaisalmer to Jodhpur
After breakfast at the hotel, depart by road for Jodhpur (295km - 6 hours) and on arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Jodhpur is located at the edge of the Thar Desert and is the largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur. Among Rajasthan’s many princely settlements, Jodhpur is one of the most distinctive. This five-hundred-year old settlement was the headquarters of the Rathore Rajputs’ celebrations for their tales of daring. Jodhpur is known for its impressive fortified bastions, especially those of Mehrangarh, which have been witness to many battles and were associated closely with the history of the region. The years of peace that followed resulted in the building of palaces that were laid on open grounds and spread out in an elaborate European manner.
In the afternoon, visit the impressive Mehrangarh Fort on a 37m low sandstone hill built by Rao Jodha in 1459. From the top of the fort, one can get a bird’s eye view of the old city. You will notice the predominance of blue houses referred to as Brahmin houses - the colour being associated with the high caste. Afterwards, proceed to the Jaswant Thada, an imposing marble Cenotaph built in 1899 for Maharajah Jaswant Singh II and smaller memorials to other Maharajahs of Jodhpur. At the end of the tour enjoy a short walk through the local and vibrant bazaar of Jodhpur.
Overnight stay at Jodhpur.
Day 09 - Udaipur
Jodhpur to Ranakpur to Udaipur
After breakfast at the hotel, depart by road for Udaipur (280km - 6 hours) en-route visiting the Jain temples of Ranakpur. 165 km from Jodhpur and 95 km from Udaipur, Ranakpur is widely known for its marble Jain temple, said to be the most spectacular of the Jain temples. The renowned Jain temple at Ranakpur is dedicated to Tirthankara Adinatha. There is also a small Sun temple which is managed by the Udaipur royal family trust.
After the visit, continue the drive to Udaipur. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Udaipur nestles like a gem around the clear blue of Lake Pichola in a valley surrounded by the Aravalli hills. The marble palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, and clean lakes make Udaipur appear like a mirage in the desert. Visit the City Palace complex, once the home of Mewar’s rulers and today a museum. The palace consists of several flawlessly integrated smaller palaces overlooking the placid beauty of Lake Pichola.
Overnight stay at Udaipur.
Day 10 - Udaipur
After breakfast at the hotel, proceed on a morning city tour of Udaipur, visiting City Palace, Sahelion ki Bari and Jagdish Temple.
Built in a flamboyant style on a hill top that produces the panoramic view of the Udaipur city and its surroundings is this 400-year-old majestic architecture called the City Palace, which is considered as the largest royal complex in Rajasthan. The development of this palace started in 1559, parallel to the establishment of Udaipur city by Maharana Udai Singh and carried on for almost next 300 years. There is a triple arched gate to the palace, with 8 marble arches. It is said that the Maharanas used to be weighed here with gold and silver which was then distributed among the locals.
Jagdish Temple is one of the most famous temples in Udaipur dedicated to Lord Vishnu,
Saheliyon-ki-Bari (Courtyard of the Maidens) is a major garden and a popular tourist space in Udaipur. It lies in the northern part of the city and has fountains and kiosks, a lotus pool and marble elephants. It was built by Rana Sangram Singh. Saheliyon ki Bari means Garden of the Maidens.
In the afternoon, enjoy a boat ride on Lake Pichola (common boat).
Overnight stay at Udaipur.
Day 11 - Pushkar
Udaipur to Pushkar
After breakfast at the hotel, depart by road for Pushkar (280km - 6 hours) and on arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Later, proceed for sightseeing of Pushkar. Pushkar is one of the oldest cities in India, located to the northwest of Ajmer. The tranquil city of Pushkar is a favoured destination for thousands of tourists and devotees flocking to Rajasthan. Situated at a height of 510 meters, Pushkar is surrounded by hillocks of three sides. The ‘Nag Pahar’ literally meaning Snake Mountain forms a natural border between Ajmer and Pushkar. Known as ‘the rose garden of Rajathan’, the essence of the famous Pushkar rose is exported all over the world. Along with an interesting mythological history, a legacy of timeless architectural heritage makes Pushkar a fascinating city.
Overnight stay at Pushkar.
Day 12 - Delhi
Pushkar to Ajmer to Delhi
After breakfast at the hotel, depart by road for Ajmer to connect to the train for Delhi. On arrival, you will be meet our representative who will assist you to transfer to the hotel.
Overnight stay at Delhi.
Day 13 - Delhi
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