India in The Lap of Luxury
Embark on a passage to India and discover the mystical beauty of one of the world’s great civilizations. India is a land of incredible and fascinating contrasts - chaos and tranquillity, antiquity and modernity, the old and the new. The birthplace of Hinduism and the Buddha, India’s spiritual beliefs are now spread throughout Southeast Asia.
We invite you to experience India and luxurious pursuits to sink into for every discerning traveller who wishes to explore this glorious land. Relaxing within the royal palace hotels, live and dine like royalty with a private dinner at a fort, spend your evenings gazing at the starry desert sky, distinguished hospitality and exemplary service, will take you through some rare and splendid experiences to create a lifetime of memories.
You can delve inside India’s rich history at many architectural sites from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur to the Taj Mahal in Agra. For those who love shopping, you can wander through the textile heritage of India that gifted us beautifully woven handicraft treasures. Food forms an important legacy and the assorted cuisine reflects the stories of conquests, migration and fusion of many cultures.
Indulge in the lap of luxury through the sensational terrain of India.
DAY 1Arrive Mumbai
Welcome to India! You will arrive in Mumbai which was named by the original inhabitants, the Kolis, after their goddess mother Mumba Devi. Mumbai was once a group of seven islands given to the British as a dowry when Charles II married Catherine of Braganza. The British leased the islands to the East India Company, who in turn began initial development of the city. Today this cosmopolitan city is one of India’s most important centres for commerce, foreign trade and the thriving film industry of Bollywood. Owing to its immense opportunities it attracts migrants all over India making the city a place of many communities and cultures.
Upon arrival into Mumbai, our representative will meet and greet you at the airport and transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure to allow you to settle into your new home away from home experience.
This morning, participate in a Heritage Walking Tour. Discover the soul of Mumbai! Soak in the sights and sounds of the maximum city during your half day walking tour with your guide, which starts at the Gateway of India. Photograph the grand Taj Mahal Hotel, which faces the monument and walk past the Royal Yacht Club, the Police Headquarters, several theaters and fountains. Head onwards to a Parsi Fire Temple and the National Gallery of Modern Art. Mumbai is teeming with heritage buildings and your guide will explain the history and legacy of each. Discover the daily rush at the vibrant Victoria Terminus, experience old world charm at Watson Hotel, visit bustling Bombay University and see fascinating works of art at Jehangir Art Gallery.
This afternoon, explore the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly named the Prince of Wales Museum). Then, you will drive through the Hanging Gardens and the famous Dhobi Ghats featured in the award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, before returning to your hotel.
DAY 3Fly Mumbai - Hyderabad
Today you will fly to Hyderabad, also known as the City of the Nawabs, is a city that exudes an old-world charm of its own while still coexisting with the rapidly growing onslaught of commercialization in perfect harmony. Steeped in history, Hyderabad is home to old mosques and bazaars lined parallelly alongside swanky new office buildings and malls, and it is these very contrasts - these glimpses into the city’s rich past with inherent promises of an even better future - this is what exactly makes Hyderabad a city worth visiting. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel and enjoy rest of the day is at leisure.
This morning, explore the city highlights. The 400-year-old city of Hyderabad was once governed by the legendary Nizams of India. You will explore the giant fortress, city of Golconda and the adjacent royal necropolis of its rulers, the Qutab Shahis. You will also visit the Charminar and Mecca Masjid. The Charminar is a mosque located in Hyderabad and has become a global icon, listed as one of the most recognised structures of the world. The popular local markets around the structure add vibrancy and a lively atmosphere.
DAY 5Fly Hyderabad - Udaipur
Today fly to Udaipur, the “city of sunrise,” India’s most romantic city, built around four lakes. The blue waters reflect the shimmering white palaces and temples and the whole city exudes a feeling of peace and space. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure and admire the stunning views.
We start the day with a visit to the City Palace, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Though it is a conglomeration of buildings built by successive rulers, it manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design and impressive views of the lake. We’ll then proceed on to the Jagdish temple which enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu and his vehicle - a mighty bird called Garuda in a brass image. The temple is a fine example of Indo-Aryan art.
This afternoon, enjoy exclusive boat ride in Lake Pichola, overlooking the magnificent Udaipur Palace. The leisurely ride gives you a panoramic view of this spectacular medieval city. The majestic structure of the Udaipur Palace comes alive as you watch it from the serene lake adjoining the palace. As you enjoy your boat ride, learn all about the enthralling history of the Maharanas of Mewar, including heroic tales of Udaipur’s brave kings and queens.
DAY 7Udaipur - Jodhpur
Today drive to Jodhpur also known as the Blue City for the blue-washed color of its houses. The city is set right at the edge of the Thar Desert and strewn with forts and palaces that date back to the 15th century. A high stone wall with seven gates rings the city, the second-largest in Rajasthan, founded by Rao Jodha in 1459 AD. Upon arrival we will assist with the check-in process and enjoy rest of the day is at leisure.
This morning's visit Jaswant Thada, a royal cenotaph close by and an ideal spot from which to photograph the Fort.
Later join your guide for a trail through the traditional bazaar of Jodhpur. You will get a wonderful view of the city’s vibrant bazaars. The brightly coloured traditional clothes of the people are eye-catching, representing the cultural consciousness of its inhabitants. The narrow streets of Jodhpur’s old town are situated at the bottom of the fort, and lined with ancient residences and market stalls. Jodhpur is renowned for its leatherwork, antiques and fabric merchants. Discover the bazaar’s history, culture, architectural nuances, and also see the street food enroute.
This evening a twilight tour of the Majestic Mehrangarh Fort with Dinner. As the sun descends on the historic fort of Mehrangarh in Jodhpur, the rugged impregnable walls and the delicate palace comes alive with an evening walk with the Museum Curator. Learn about the fort's opulent past, listen to tales of sacrifice, explore secret spaces and royal suites, marvel at the museum's artifacts, feel the sheer joy of discussing a painting or chat about a dynasty beautifully preserved in its full regal glory. Every corner of the fort has something to take your breath away. As you soak in your unique tour and bid farewell to the curator, head for an enchanting dinner with the view of the mighty fort. With a spread of local Rajasthani dishes on a terrace adorned with candles and light breeze for company, this is a perfect way to end your day.
DAY 9Jodhpur - Jaisalmer
Today drive to Jaisalmer. The medieval fortress and town of Jaisalmer rises out of the remote deserts of Rajasthan, like a city at the very end of the world. No other city in India exudes the fairytale aura of this exotic desert outpost on the ancient silk and spice route linking India to Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West. The glory of Jaisalmer faded when sea trade replaced the old land routes, but the town still embodies an “Arabian Nights” quality. Called the Golden City for the glow reflected on its sandstone ramparts by the setting sun, Jaisalmer epitomizes the awe-inspiring medieval desert city. On arrival check-in at your hotel and enjoy some leisure time.
This evening, enjoy cooking session with the chef at your hotel. The desert has a unique culinary tradition. The extraordinary inventiveness of local recipes and the use of ingredients in rural Jaisalmer can sometimes surprise the most imaginative chef. Using home-grown, hand-picked local produce such as the wild khoombi, or desert mushrooms which only sprout for a fleeting period over the monsoon, our chefs introduce you to our favourite recipes and the methods used to create them. Join us, over a drink, for an immersive session on learning how to cook Jaisalmer’s rarest recipes and carry a taste of the Thar, back home.
Journey back in time in Jaisalmer, where even the homes of ordinary people date to the 12th and 15th centuries. This morning, visit Jaisalmer Fort, a living medieval city within the fortifications, is one of the largest in the world. The city spills down the hillside below the ramparts. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1156 AD by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from whom it derives its name, Jaisalmer was an important caravan sarai, an oasis, on the trade route that connected India with Central Asia, Persia and beyond.
Later feast your eyes on the beautiful Gadi Sagar Lake. Head to the village of Lodurva, where a wonderfully crafted restored Jain temple resides, with typical torana architecture. You can also discover the intricately carved 19th century mansions of Patwon ki Haveli and Nathmal ki Haveli.
This evening, enjoy sundowner at the Thar Desert. The Thar Desert covers a staggering 10 per cent of India’s land-mass and its shifting sands have always been a gateway into India. There are few better ways to experience and feel the sense of this frontier than to head out on a rural wilderness drive, exchanging your seat on a 4x4 for a more natural ride on a camel. Your guide will interpret the landscape for you as you drive through acres of interesting spots on your way to a dune. Watch the sun go down over the outlying countryside from the vantage of any one of these scattered dunes around, and for a change, do absolutely nothing while serenity sings its songs of setting suns.
DAY 11Fly Jaisalmer - Jaipur
Today fly to Jaipur, known as the ‘Pink City’ due to its many pink sandstone monuments. Jaipur’s vibrant culture is on dazzling display in all the streets and bazaars. It is one of the great cities of the Rajput, with historic forts, palaces, and gardens. Jaipur is named after its founder, the warrior and astronomer sovereign Sawai Jai Singh II who planned his new capital to reflect the increasing wealth of the kingdom. On arrival at Jaipur airport, transfer to the hotel.
This morning, visit the Amber Fort, a spectacular complex of palaces, temples and apartments that offers a stunning view of the city. Amber Fort is a marvellous example of Rajput architecture with its terraces and ramparts reflected in the Maota Lake below. Go up the fort by jeeps. The interiors of the fort have various royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, mirror and glass work complemented by exquisite wall paintings. As you move between the rooms of this magnificent structure, feel the history and visualize the pomp and grandeur of a kingdom never conquered.
You will also see the City Palace, a former royal residence built in the centre of the old city in a blend of the Rajasthani and Mughal styles. Next highlight is Jantar Mantar, the largest of the five remarkable observatories built by Jaipur’s founder. Its complex instruments, with scientifically designed settings and shapes, represent the high points of medieval Indian astronomy.
Late this evening, explore Jaipur by night. We will drive pass the key highlights of the city to see the colourful lighting of Jaipur. This is best time to explore the city than day time to enjoy the views of palace and fort with jeep safari. You can first have a view of Albert Hall all lit up at night. On the way you will be amazed by the artistic Hawa Mahal to see the celebration of lights on the palace. Hawa Mahal or Wind Palace, is so named because it was essentially a high screen wall built so the women of the royal household could observe street festivals while remaining unseen from the outside world. Passing through Birla Mandir, next view of amazing Jal Mahal where you will see the beautiful reflection of lights in the crystal-clear lake that surrounds it. Further drive to the Amer Palace is surely going to amuse and excite you to see the breath-taking play of lights on this majestic building. This tour will leave a long-lasting memory of how truly beautiful Jaipur city is at night.
This morning is free (Car & chauffeur at disposal).
Experience the history of Jaipur on Heritage Walking tour. Begin with a heritage walk of the old markets, brimming with friendly locals as they go about their daily lives and an array of vibrant goods for sale. Jaipur boasts some of the finest jewelry and textile markets, particularly with its specialist semi-precious stone jewelry. For those wishing to find their own gems, a visit to Johari Bazaar, the principal jeweler’s market is a must. Visit the contemporary Birla Mandir (Lakshminarayan Temple), dedicated to the Hindu Goddess of wealth, and the 18th century Moti Dungri Ganesha Temple, dedicated to the elephant-headed Hindu God of auspiciousness. Venture to the classical 1960s movie theater, Raj Mandir Cinema to absorb the fanfare of Bollywood royalty!
Late this afternoon drive to nearby village called Dera Amer, a preserved wilderness of natural beauty creating a sanctuary for animals to live in. The elephants and camels are adopted from Amer Fort and rescued from a life of hard labour. On arrival, enjoy a friendly interaction with elephants. You’ll tour the nearby forest area and be greeted by elephants. You will take the elephants for their evening walk along the treks conducted in the original Aravalli forests surrounding the camp. Follow a route passing traditional homes, agricultural fields, hills and ancient monuments. Panthers do inhabit the jungles and it is a very rare sighting, however, occasionally the hyena and wolf have been seen by guests along with antelopes and jackals. End your day with an intimate jungle dinner at Dera Amer under the stars and later in the evening we will drive back to hotel.
DAY 14Jaipur - Agra
Early this morning, drive to Agra. This is a fascinating way to see the country as we wind our way down from the foothills back to the plains and onward to the city of love Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.
Optional - Local school visit
Enjoy a cultural meeting with local school kids. Explore new levels of service learning at a local school. Immerse in service work with local students and build long lasting relationship through educational and cultural exchange. Optional volunteer opportunities:
- Interact with students and observe their educational experience in rural India
- Assist in a variety of roles from Teaching English to helping with computer education
- Conducting hygiene classes such as washing hands, brushing teeth, personal hygiene
- Try your hand at cricket, learn some rules of the game and play a friendly match against students at the school
- Planting of trees
In the evening enjoy the grand live performance “Mohabbat-e-Taj”, based on the love story of Taj Mahal. This theatrical show portrays the lavish lifestyle of the Mughal era and the story of the emperor Shah Jahan and his beloved Mumtaz Mahal.
Rise early and enjoy a spectacular sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631, and is believed to have taken 18 years to complete, with over 20,000 craftsmen working around the clock. The design and construction are said to be that of the legendary architect, Ustad Ahamad Lahori. What makes the Taj Mahal unique is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, precise and detailed construction and decorative architecture. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day.
Late this morning, visit the Agra Fort, a great monument of red sandstone that dominates a bend in the Yamuna River and was constructed by the Mughals during 1565-1571. It was Emperor Akbar who laid the foundation of this majestic citadel. The Fort contains splendid mosques and palaces in red sandstone and white marble built by two generations of creative builders during the time of Akbar and later Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
This evening, enjoy private balcony dining. Enjoy breath-taking views of exquisitely landscaped gardens, cascading water bodies and the unmistakable silhouette of the Taj Mahal, while dining on the finest handcrafted cuisine, served by your personal butler.
DAY 16Agra - Delhi - Departure
Today drive to Delhi airport to connect your international flight back home.