A NEW TOUR: An enthralling, luxury journey through Rajasthan with Australia’s leading connoisseur of India – a small group tour like no other-
jewelled palaces, majestic forts, regal estates, opulent tents, desert landscapes.
There’s nary a corner of Rajasthan Marieke has not explored and toured these last three decades, but she recently took fresh eyes to the region’s magic possibilities, curating a new program that takes you on roads less travelled, preserves the icons, but takes you deeper into this ancient, mesmerising land and fascinating history.
- superb heritage properties and romantic palaces that make you feel like royalty
- sleeping in the sand dunes under desert stars – you might even ride a camel
- traditional music and authentic folk entertainment
- fabulous shopping for the beautifully hand-made
AT A GLANCE
LENGTH: 15 Days
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate
TYPE: Small Group Tour | AoL Escorted | Bespoke
STYLE: Culture | Crafts | History | Food | Adventure
START/FINISH: Delhi | Delhi
All meals, expert Indian guide, activities, tour manager, domestic flights
Deluxe + Heritage hotels, luxury Desert Camp + Palaces
Luxury A/C Mercedes minivan
9 – 23 March 2023
from USD 9,500 per person based on twin/double share
Minimum 6 travellers
Arrive into Delhi and transfer to one of the city’s most prestigious hotels that evokes the British Raj who made it their imperial capital. Meet your fellow adventurers and your exceptional guide, Marieke’s colleague for over two decades, Thakur Durga Singh.
There is a short flight to Jodhpur then a road trip through the Thar desert to arrive at your exclusive camp with beautifully decorated tents. Nightly entertainment includes dinner around a blazing fire as musicians and dancers perform under the stars.
Today’s activities include a jeep safari to traditional Bishnoi villages, and a sunset camel ride over the dramatic sand dunes. For keen early risers – the opportunity to visit Khichan, where thousands of demoiselle cranes come to feed, courtesy of the local Jain community.
This morning drive through stirring desert landscapes to the city of Bikaner, one of Rajasthan’s most northern outposts often bypassed by travellers- yet significant for the achievements of an enlightened Maharaja who modernised education, banking, agriculture, irrigation and the justice system. Your exquisite boutique hotel is the former home of the last reigning Maharaja where art deco meets contemporary European tastes.
A full day’s sightseeing includes the exceptional 16th-century Junagarh Fort, a huge complex of ornate buildings and halls, and Museum that displays traditional textiles and royal portraits; the ornate red sandstone Lalgarh Palace and Laxmi Niwas Palace both built in 1902; the exquisitely decorated Rampuria Havelis and various significant temples.
Explore one of Rajasthan’s most brilliantly restored forts at the heart of the ancient city of Nagaur, one of the first Muslim strongholds in northern India at the fort of Ahhichatragar that dates from the early 12th century and was repeatedly altered over subsequent centuries, especially from the 16th- 18th Century.
Later check into Jodhpur’s first boutique luxury hotel, a restored 18th Century haveli, housed within the walls of the old city with unparalleled views of the majestic Mehrangarh Fort where modernity meets the daily call to prayer from the local mosque.
Today vist the marvellous treasures and splendidly rich museum collections of the Mehrangarh Fort, the Royal Cenotaphs, the bazaars in the old city, as well as the astonishing Umaid Bhawan Palace’s Museum. There is now also a new elegant precinct for shopping at Chand Haveli (Moon House) near the Tunwar-ji ka Jhalara (Step well).
This morning visit the splendid living Jain temple at Ranakpur with over 1444 white marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail. This afternoon settle into your sumptuous palace suite at Devigarh – one of Art of Living’s all-time favourite boutique hotels. Surrounded by the majestic austerity of the Aravali mountains, this is a divine hotel (18thC fort on the outside and sleek contemporary Indian on the inside) with wonderful food, service, pool and spa and your sanctuary for two nights.
A full day’s excursion to the romantic city of Udaipur to visit the City Palace complex and have enough time to roam and explore the old city’s maze of narrow winding streets, home to merchants, artisans, Mewar folk art, jewellery, antiques. The human cacophony is a bustling contrast to the tranquillity of Lake Pichola where Jagminder palace and the glorious dusks can be contemplated from a boat on the lake to catch the sun setting over the Lake Palace.
This morning reach the charming, unspoiled village of Deogarh and settle into your elegant, stately home and meet dear friends and your hosts, one of Rajasthan’s most hospitable families. This evening, drinks are served in the courtyard, warmed by braziers before a splendid dinner of family recipes. If leopards have been sited, there may even be an opportunity at dusk to go and spot one.
Today enjoy a gentle trek through the beautiful Aravali hills that enjoy a vast and varied birdlife. Relax on bolsters under colourful tents as a lavish “bushtucker” lunch is prepared for you over open fires overlooking a vast temporary lake created by the past monsoon. This stately home is renowned for its cuisine and a cooking demonstration is available for culinary enthusiasts.
A longish travel day today halting for a delicious lunch with a gracious family who have opened their home to visitors near the holy city of Pushkar. This afternoon reach the “Pink City” of Jaipur – a marvellous synthesis of Hindu, Jain and Mughal influenced architecture. All around the magnificent palaces and buildings are bazaars teeming with people, camels and horses. Your last three nights are at an intimate hotel founded by our guide Durga Singh.
Today, visit the 16thC Amber Fort, the epitome of royal architecture that has enjoyed a sensitive restoration in recent years. Nearby is the wonderful Anohki Textile museum celebrating the history of block printing for which the city is famous. After lunch segue back to the heart of the Pink City visiting the City Palace and the UNESCO-listed Royal Observatory (Jantar Mantar), an enthralling 18thC observatory of still functional sculptural forms.
Jaipur is a shopper’s paradise and Marieke has a curated list of the best places. Alternatively textile enthusiast are encouraged to visit the splendid Nila House; for art and architecture buffs we recommend Jawahar Kala Kendra designed by architect and urban planner, Charles Correa and or the Sculpture park at Nahargarh Fort. We can also arrange a private visit to one of the most outstanding private art collections in Jaipur.
Farewell banquet at Jaipur’s most exclusive small palace.
Morning at leisure or time for last minute shopping.
Afternoon fly back to Delhi to meet international flights home.
Join us for a few extra days to enjoy the privileged participation in one of the region’s most significant celebrations –GANGAUR FESTIVAL | Mandawa 23 – 26 March 2023
Allow us to plan an extension to the Taj Mahal, a luxury wellness retreat, a visit to India’s holiest and oldest city Varanasi or perhaps a wildlife experience.
Join Marieke and her esteemed colleague, friend and guide as Durga Singh returns to his royal ancestral home in Mandawa to preside over the ceremonies of Gangaur – an outrageously colourful festival where women conduct with great pageantry the carrying of the deities of Goddess Parvati/Gauri and Lord Shiva, to pray for Her blessings for a good harvest, matrimonial harmony, health, long life and a good husband for unmarried girls.
The Shekhawati region is renowned for its mansions richly decorated in frescoes. Your stay will be at Desert Resort that captures the essence of the desert through its mud-wall architecture and local craftsmanship. Visit the ancestral Havelis (mansions) of Nawalgarh and Mandawa created by wealthy merchant families. Participate in the colourful celebrations of the Gangaur festival.
Return to Jaipur where we will curate a special range of activities according to your interest.
Overnight at Dera Mandawa, a small, private family-owned boutique hotel with quiet capacious suites and verandahs to the gardens.
After a leisurely breakfast take the lunchtime flight to Delhi to meet international departures.
GANGAUR FESTIVAL | Mandawa 23 – 26 March 2023
Ranthambhore National Park to spot tigers
Bharatpur and Keoladeo Ghana National Park for bird twitchers
Varanasi and the temples of Khujaraho
Amritsar and the Golden Temple
A spa in the Himalayas
Your Tour Leader, Marieke Brugman has designed, refined and escorted this unique tour for more than two decades as well as leading cultural and gastronomic Tours to other regions of the sub-continent and has developed a lifelong attraction to the exotic and compelling experience that ignites all the senses with the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, festivals, music, bazaars like no other on earth. Indeed, it makes you think about the meaning of life, in ways that you don't, living in the west. She brings to the tours meticulous planning, humour, passion and inspired conversation.
Your Tour Guide + Escort, Thakur Durga Singhji is an exceptional guide and host. A proud, aristocratic Rajput, Durga brings his culture and country vibrantly alive.
A rare Renaissance man healthordisease.com his interests are as diverse as philosophy, religion, contemporary politics, farming, tribal culture, music and poetry.
Durga sports not only a grand moustache but also a wonderful sense of humour. A marvellous and engaging raconteur, his insights will leave a lasting impression and cement new friendships. Durga is revered as one of India’s most in-demand guides and has been Marieke’s friend and professional colleague for over two decades, accompanying all her programmes in India.
BOOKINGS & ENQUIRIES
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