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NORTHERN INDIA & NEPAL 19 Nights / 20 Days

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Route :-19 Nights / 20 Days
Duration:-Delhi - Kathmandu - Varanasi - Khajuraho - Agra - Jaipur - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jaislamer - Bikaner - Mandawa - Delhi
Day 01 Arrive Delhi
You be met & welcomed on arrival and escorted to your hotel.
Afternoon: Half-day visit of New Delhi. Half-Day tour of New Delhi. The tour starts with a drive to Raisina Hill. Visit the Viceroy's House (Now the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the residence of Indian President) and Lutyen's magnum opus. It is larger than Versailles and architecturally is a fusion of Indian and Western design. Within the courtyard is the 145 feet high Jaipur Collumn, a symbol of victory designed by Luyten. He created another masterpiece - 250 acre Mughal Garden on the grounds of the Rastrapati Bhavan which at one time required the care of 418 men. The great Vice Regal Palace required a staff of 2000.

At the foot of Raisina Hill is the India Gate, a war memorial arch which Luyten built in honor of 60000 soldiers who died in World War -I. It is also inscribed with the name s of some 13000 Indian and British soldiers missing presumed dead. Next to it is Lutyen's last imperial monument he built, a stone canopy in which he placed the marble statue of the King George - V after his death in 1936. Proceed to the Parliament House, which Luyten built in a circular colossum design. It was here that the constitution of independent India was drafted. Drive to Humayuns Tomb which is perhaps the finest Mughal building in Delhi. The tomb stands on a raised platform and is built of red sandstone. The construction of the Tomb was completed in 1565. The tomb stands in well-laid out Mughal garden. Proceed to the Qutub Minar complex, which is Delhi's Eiffel Tower. Visit the mosques, mausoleums and ruins of the forts that lie around it including the Iron Pillar which is Delhi totem pole 24 feet high, made of 99% steel and which has stood for 1600 years without a speck of rust on it.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 02 In Delhi
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later half-day city tour of Old Delhi.
The tour of Old Delhi starts with the visit of Red Fort. This palace citadel was built Shah Jehan in 1648 and was a veritable city within a city. When Shah Jehan transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi he built the Red Fort as his residential palace as well as his military fortress. The fort is a complex of marble buildings with balconies, filigreed windows, massive red sandstone walls, ramparts and gateways. The most elegant building is the DIWAN I KHAS or the Hall of Private Audience. From the Red Fort you will take a cycle rickshaw to Chandni Chowk or the Moonlit Square. It is a medieval area in which you will recognize not just Cairo or Istanbul, but also Chester and Heidelberg.
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This is perhaps one of the Delhi's most populated areas and the largest marketplace - jewelers, spice merchants, food vendors, money lenders, shopping arcades, workshops as well as residences, are crammed here. Within this area is the British built Town Hall, the St. James Church built by colonel Skinner in the early 19th century, the old St. Stephen's college and the office of the state department of Archeology with a colonnaded facade going back to the 19th century when it was the British Residency.
Rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 03 Delhi / Kathmandu
Morning flight to Kathmandu. On arrival you are met and escorted to your hotel.
After lunch, half day sightseeing tour of Kathmandu Durbar Square. Kathmandu Durbar Square is the complex of the former royal palace, court yards and temples dated back to the medieval age (12th to 18th century). Visit the Kasthamandap, a medieval public assembly hall constructed on 16th century. This name was later deformed in Kathmandu. Another remarkable monument is Kumarighar, the residence of the living goddess Kumari.
Overnight at the hotel

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Day 04 In Kathmandu
Morning: Breakfast at the Hotel. Later full day sightseeing tour of Swayambhunath, Patan and Bungmati. The term Swayambhu refers to "one who is created by himself". And its history is linked with the formation of the Kathmandu valley, which is said to have been a lake once. The present Swayambhu hillock had a lotus on the surface of the lake. Buddhist mythological character Lokeshwar Manjushri came to pay homage to the lotus and by compassion to the habitants residing by the lakeside he drained the water out of the valley. The hillock became the pilgrimage site for the Buddhist. The present stupa was rebuilt on 14th century.

Patan Durbar Square is the former royal palace complex with many others temples of all style such pagoda and Shikhara (Indian architecture). The lord Krishna temple in Shikhara style is more remarkable, it has got 21 pinnacles and was constructed on 17th century. Monuments in the surroundings consist of Buddhist monastery and most remarkable among them are Kwa Bahal, Mahabauddha, Rudrabarna Mahavihar and Machhindranath temple. Lunch at Patan

Later visit Pashupatinath and Baudhanath. Pashupati Nath, a holy site for Hindus, is situated 5 km east of Kathmandu. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva as the master of animals (pashu and pati mean animal and master respectively, the term animal also refers to human being). Also the cremation site near by the Bagmati river attracts our attention. Baudhanath is the biggest Buddhist stupa of Nepal. After the Chinese invasion in Tibet, Baudhanath became the refugee center for the Tibetan. Consequently they have built many Tibetan Monastery around this ancient monument.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 05 Kathmandu / Varanasi
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later transfer to airport for flight to Varanasi.
Arrive Varanasi and be escorted to your hotel.
Visit Sarnath on the way to hotel. Sarnath - located about 10km from Varanasi, it is one of the important Buddhist centres. It is the site where Lord Buddha had preached his first sermon or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra-Pravartan) enshrining the principles of his teaching into laws. 200 years later, in 3rd century BC, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who spread the Buddha's message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, built massive stupas, viharas and monasteries making it the centre of the Buddhist world. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between 3rd century BC and 11th century AD and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.

There are two ancient stupas for ceremonial public worship and their present names are Dhamekh and Dharmarajika. Jagat Singh of Varanasi dismantled Dharmarajika in 18th century. Ashoka erected several monuments here. Chaukhandi Stupa comes first. Akbar repaired the same in order to commemorate his father's visit to Sarnath.

Sarnath Museum - has a rich collection of Buddhist sculptures and numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images that are considered amongst the finest specimens of Buddhist art. It also has the magnificent Lion capital, India's National Emblem
After the visit Check into your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight at the hotel.

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Day 06 In Varanasi
Early morning visit the Ghats - The grandeur of the sacred Ganges River here cannot be expressed in words. It is said that bathing here removes all ills and sins. A boat ride early in the morning on the holy river is an unforgettable experience. A chance to see the Burning Ghats where cremations are conducted and the Bathing Ghats where devotees take a dip in the holy water and offer prayers. Thousands of pilgrims flock here daily to take a dip in the sacred waters and to worship the sun. Near Manikarnika, the chief burning ghat of Varanasi is the Charanpaduka pedestal where Lord Vishnu's footprints are preserved in marble. The other important ghats are Asi Ghat, Lala Misi ghat, Tulsi Ghat, Dandi Ghat, Hanuman Ghat, Ahalya Bai Ghat, Munshi Ghat, Mir Ghat and many more.
After the visit of the ghats come back to hotel. Later visit the VARANASI city. Varanasi, the City of Lord Shiva, is situated on the bank of the sacred Ganges River and is one of the holiest cities of India. Hindu pilgrims come to bathe in the waters of the Ganges, a ritual that washes away all sins. The city also known as Banares is a magical city where the most intimate rituals of life and death take place in public on the city's famous ghats (riverbanks). It is this accessibility to the practices of ancient religious tradition that captivates many visitors.

In the past the city has been known as Kashi and Banares, but its present name is a restoration of an ancient name meaning the city between two rivers, the Varuna and Assi. It has been a centre of learning and civilization for over 2000 years and claims to be one of the oldest living cities in the world. The old city, situated on the western bank of the Ganges in a labyrinth of alleyways, does have an antique feel but few buildings are more than a couple of hundred years old due to the marauding Muslim invaders and the destructive tendencies of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
Lord Buddha further enhanced its eminence by preaching his first sermon after attaining the enlightenment at Sarnath located 10km away from Varanasi. The early history of the city as gleaned from Buddhist literatures speak of a constant struggle between the dynasties of the Kosalas and Mallas for its possession. In later times it suffered defacement as Muslim invaders destroyed many of its temples
Overnight at the hotel

Day 07 Varanasi / Khajuraho
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel.
Afternoon transfer to airport for your flight to Khajuraho.
On arrival in Khajuraho you be met and escorted to your hotel.
Later half-day visit to the world famous erotic Khajuraho Temples.

Khajuraho - The erstwhile capital of the Chandela Kings, Khajuraho is famous for its magnificent temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and the Jain tirthankars. These temples were built between 950 and 1050 AD and represent some of the most exquisite specimens in medieval India that has made Khajuraho one of the most beautiful religious centers of that time. Today Khajuraho is a little village in a lonely corner of the state of Madhya Pradesh. None of the palaces or dwellings of the former city remain and there is no sign of the golden date palms that once graced the entrance of the city and gave it the name "Khajurvahika" or bearer of the date palms. With the wane of the Chandela Empire, these magnificent temples lay neglected and vulnerable to the ravages of Nature. It was only in the last century that they were rediscovered, restored and granted the recognition that they justly deserve. Originally there were 85 temples, of which only 22 still exist. Despite the fact that they were dedicated to different Hindu gods Shiva, Vishnu and Jain saints, they followed the same architectural style. Each structure stands on a high masonry platform with a distinct upward direction to their build, further enhanced by several vertical projections to simulate the effect of an overall lightness. The temples are almost all aligned east to west, with the entrance facing east. Some of the earliest were made of granite, but all the ones from the classic period of Khajuraho's history are made of sandstone. The three main compartments of the temple are the entrance (ardhamandapa), assembly hall (mandapa), and the actual sanctum (garbha griha).

The decorations, the exquisitely carved sculptures, with which the temples are so liberally embellished have made Khajuraho famous. The divine sculptures in these temples are a tribute to Life itself, embodying everything that is sublime and spontaneous about it.

There is an astonishing profusion of individual figures of gods, goddesses, and voluptuous women, mythical beasts, couples in erotic poses and elaborate friezes carved in minute detail. The murals depict the life and times of the Chandelas and celebrate the erotic state of being. They not only testify to the mastery of the craftsman, but also to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandelas.

The Western Group - comprise of the following temples:
Kandariya Mahadeo - is not only the largest but also artistically and architecturally the most perfect of Khajuraho's temples. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it soars 31m high. The sanctum enshrines a lingam while the main shrine is ornately carved and depicts various gods, goddesses, apsaras (heavenly maidens) in elaborate detail. The entrance arch, the massive pillars and ceilings are adorned with exquisite carvings that leave the visitor spellbound.
Overnight at the hotel.
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Day 08 Khajuraho / Orchha / Jhansi / Agra
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Jhansi city enroute visiting Orchha. Orchha is located in the northern part of the State of Madhya Pradesh and lies besides the Malwa plateau along the Betwa River. The word Orchha literally means 'hidden place'. Once the capital of the Bundelas, it is now just a village set among a wonderful complex of well preserved palaces and temples. It was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap and it remained the capital till 1783, when nearby Tikamgarh became the new capital. Orchha's golden age was during the first half of the 17th century. Of the succeeding rulers, the most notable was Raja Bir Singh Deo who ruled for almost 22 years. Complementing the notable proportions of the exteriors are the interiors that represent the finest flowering of the Bundela school of painting. Today Orchha is just a village set amongst a complex of well preserved palaces and temples but nevertheless a wonderful relaxing place. Its impressive temples dating back to the 17th century are still in use today and are visited by thousands of devotees. The area is peppered with fascinating little shrines and memorials, all of which add to the overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, the city evokes in the visitor
Later drive to Jhansi railway station to board your train to Agra.
On arrival in Agra you are met and escorted to your hotel.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 09 In Agra
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel.
Later half-day tour of Agra City. The City of the Taj is an educational and business centre known for its craftsmen and handicrafts. In the great epic Mahabharata the region of Agra is described as 'Agraban' and it was an integral part of 'Braj Bhoomi' or the land of Lord Krishna. Concrete history outlines the origins of Agra to 1475 AD when it was under the reign of Raja Badal Singh. However, Agra came into limelight during the rule of the Afghan King Sikandar Lodhi, who had made it the capital of his empire.

Later in 1526 AD the Mughal Emperor Babar took upon himself the task for rendering Agra, a unique character and beauty of its own. The visionary that he was and a great patron of the arts, he brought in a change in the culture and lifestyle among the people of Agra, which then brought forth some of the finest craftsmen, artists, statesmen, warriors and nobility, this part of India had ever witnessed. The golden age of Agra's history thus began to set in. The next few hundred years witnessed the rise of the pomp and pageantry of three great Mughal monarchs, Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan, all of whom lavished on this city, their love and riches to transform the land into one of the great centers of art, culture, learning and commerce. Marble and soft-stone inlay work, carpet and leather goods are some important traditional crafts of the city.

Visit Taj Mahal - situated on the banks of the Yamuna River, this masterpiece in marble built on a sandstone base is a monument to love and beauty. Shahjahan built it in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Begum. There are tombs of Mumtaz and Shahjahan within the mausoleum. The construction started in 1631 a year after Mumtaz's death, it took 22 years in the making and an estimated 20,000 people worked to complete this enchanting mausoleum.

Agra Fort - is situated by the side of Yamuna River. The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 AD although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shahjahan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. There are a number of exquisite buildings like the Moti Masjid, a white marble mosque akin to a perfect pearl, Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), Musamman Burj, where Shahjahan died in 1666 AD, and Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). Jahangir's Palace within the fort complex contains evidence of Bengali and Gujarati architecture.

Tomb of Itmad-ud-daullah - was built by Empress Noor Jahan, the wife of Shahjahan in memory of her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg during 1622-28 AD. It is a small tomb but made of splendid marble construction that is considered to be the forerunner of the Taj Mahal. The craftsmanship foreshadows that of the Taj Mahal. It was here that 'pietra dura' the inlay work on marble, so characteristic of the Taj was first used.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 10 Agra / Jaipur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Jaipur en route visiting Fatehpur Sikri.
Fatehpur Sikri - perched atop a rocky ridge 37 km west of Agra, lies this abandoned capital of the Mughals. It was built by Akbar during 1564 AD and was the first planned city in Indo-Islamic style. A sonless Akbar visited the village of Sikri to seek the blessings of the Muslim saint Sheikh Salim Chishti. The saint prophesied the birth of three sons to him and soon thereafter was born Prince Salim, later to become Emperor Jahangir. In gratitude for the blessing Akbar decided to create imperial residences in Sikri, which would function as a joint capital with Agra. As a mark of his faith and his recent victories, he named his new city Fatehpur Sikri. However, the capital was abandoned after 14 years due to shortage of water.

Akbar was a keen builder and the plan of Fatehpur Sikri reveals an architectural mastermind at work. The city is built in red sandstone and is a beautiful blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural elements. Each important edifice here represents a type by itself. Notable among them are the Buland Darwaza (Great Gateway), Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), Panch Mahal (5-storeyed Palace) and Birbal's Bhawan (the home of one of Akbar's ministers). The homes of Akbar's wives, the Hindu Jodha Bai's palace, the Christian Mariyam's mansion and the Turkish Sultana's Mahal Ankh Micholi (Hide and Seek) are some of the other fascinating buildings to be seen. The beautiful marble tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti attracts thousands of devotees. Today it's a perfectly preserved Mughal city built at the height of the empire's splendor. Drive on and check into your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 11 In Jaipur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later visit the Amber Fort.
Amber - located 11km north of Jaipur, this was the ancient capital of the Jaipur State. Construction of the fort-palace was begun in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh, the Rajput commander of Akbar's army. It was later extended and completed by the Jai Singh before the move to the plains. The fort is a superb example of Rajput architecture, stunningly situated on a hillside and overlooking a lake, which reflects its terraces and ramparts. The Fort is a beautiful complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples. Centuries of disuse have not withered their pristine beauty. Notable structures include the Diwan-I-Am (Hall of Public Audience), a pillared hall with latticed galleries. The Jai Mandir or Hall of Victory is noted for its inlaid panels and glittering mirror ceiling. The Sukh Niwas or Hall of Pleasure has an ivory inlaid sandalwood doorway. The Shila Mata temple has the image of the patron deity Kali, a form of goddess Durga. The temple is still in use. The best way of experiencing the majesty of the Bygone era is by taking an elephant ride to the top of the fort.
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The city of Amber sprawled below the Fort, once a settlement of nobles, craftsmen and common folks, is now mostly is ruins. The remnants of its rich past are the beautifully carved and planned Jagat Shiromani Temple, a Krishna temple associated with Meerabai, an ancient temple of Narsinghji and a magnificent step well, Panna Mian-ka-kund.

Afternoon a half-day tour of Jaipur City. Hawa Mahal - or the Palace of Winds, built in 1799 is the major landmark of Jaipur. This 5-storey building that overlooks the main street of the old city, is a stunning example of Rajput artistry with its pink semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed sandstone windows. It was originally built to enable the ladies of the royal household to watch the everyday life and processions of the city. City Palace Complex - located in the heart of the old city, the City Palace occupies a large series of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The palace is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles. The sons of the last Maharaja and his family still reside in a part of the palace.

Before the palace proper is the Mubarak Mahal or Welcome Palace built in the late 19th century by Maharaja Madho Singh II as a Reception centre for visiting dignitaries. It now forms part of the Maharaja Sawai Mansingh II Museum, containing a collection of royal costumes and superb shawls including Kashmiri pashmina (goat's wool). Other exhibits include armory of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chased handles, some of them inlaid with enamel and embellished with jewels and encased in magnificent scabbards.

Other interesting features of the complex are the Diwan-I-Am or the Hall of Audience, with its intricate decorations and manuscripts in Persian and Sanskrit. The Diwan-I-Khas or Hall of Private Audience, with a marble-paved gallery and the exquisite Peacock Gate in the Chandra Mahal courtyard. Outside the buildings are kept enormous silver vessels in which the former Maharaja used to take the holy water of the Ganges on his trip to England. The complex also has an Art Gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit, acquired by Maharaja Jai Singh II to study astronomy in detail. Jantar Mantar - located next to the entrance to the City Palace is this Observatory, built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1728. Jai Singh's passion for astronomy was even more notable than his power as a warrior. This is the largest and best preserved of the five observatories that he built. The others are at Delhi, Varanasi and Ujjain. The fifth, the Muthura observatory is destroyed. The complex is a collection of curious instruments, each having a specific purpose such as measuring the positions of stars, altitudes and azimuths and calculating eclipses. The most striking instrument is the sundial with its 27m high gnomon.

Museums & Galleries - there are a couple of interesting museums and galleries in Jaipur. The Central Museum, housed in the architecturally impressive Albert Hall in the Ram Niwas Public Gardens has sections on natural history, tribal wares, dioramas depicting Rajasthani dances, decorative arts, costumes, and musical instruments. The Museum of Indology is an extraordinary private collection of folk art objects and other bits and pieces of interest. There is everything from a map of India painted in a rice grain to manuscripts (one written by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb), tribal ornaments, fossils, old currency notes, clocks and much more. Near the Ram Niwas Public Gardens, in an old theater is Jaipur's Modern Art Gallery. The Juneja Art Gallery has an excellent collection of contemporary paintings.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 12 Jaipur / Udaipur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Udaipur.
Often called the Venice of the East, Udaipur is no doubt the most enchanting and romantic city of Rajasthan. Founded in 1568 by Maharana Udai Singh II following the final sacking of Chittorgarh by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. This extraordinarily beautiful city has come to be celebrated for its association with Queen Padmini, and Meera Bai, royal princesses who are linked with the fortunes of the Sissodia family.

The old city was once surrounded by a wall with entry through eleven gates, of which only five remain. The Suraj Pol or Sun Gate on the eastern side is the main entrance to the city. Udaipur is a lovely land around the azure Pichola Lake, hemmed in by the lush hills of the Aravallis. It is a fascinating blend of sights, sound and experiences and inspiration for the imagination of poets, painters and writers. Its kaleidoscope of fairy-tale palaces, lakes, temples, gardens and narrow lanes strewn with stalls, carry the flavor of a heroic past, epitomizing valour and chivalry. It is full of palaces, temples and havelis ranging from the modest to the extravagant.

Evening enjoy an exclusive boat ride on Lake Pichola.
Overnight at the hotel

Day 13 In Udaipur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later visit this beautiful city.
City Palace - is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, with its scalloped arches, fretted balconies and cupolas. It is an imposing and majestic architectural marvel towering over the lake on a hill surrounded by crenellated walls. The building was started by Maharana Udai Singh II and there were subsequent additions by various maharanas down the years. It is a conglomeration of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens. Although added by various maharanas at various times, the complex still retains a surprising uniformity of design. The main entrance is through the triple arched gate, the 'Tripolia'. The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum. It includes the Mor Chowk with its beautiful mosaics of peacocks. The Manak Mahal or Ruby Palace has glass and mirror work while Krishna Vilas has a remarkable collection of miniatures. The Chini Mahal is noted for its blue and white ceramics and ornamental tiles. More paintings can be seen in the Zenana Mahal (Women's Palace) and in the Bari Mahal there is a pleasant central garden.
There is also a Government Museum within the palace complex. The exhibits on display include apart from sculptures and paintings, a stuffed kangaroo and a Siamese twin deer.
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The other part of the palace against the lake shore has been partly converted into two heritage hotels, the Shiv Niwas Palace and the Fateh Prakash Palace. There is a stunning Crystal Gallery in the Fateh Prakash Palace. The items on display include a rare collection of Osler's crystal ordered from England by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1877, crystal chairs, tables and even beds. The Crystal Gallery overlooks the grandiose Durbar (Assembly) Hall with its massive chandeliers, some of the largest in the country. This is one of India's most impressive Durbar Hall with a lavish interior. The walls display royal weapons and striking portraits of former maharanas of Mewar. Th top floor of this high ceiling hall is surrounded by viewing galleries, where ladies of the palace could watch in veiled seclusion what was happening below. The foundation stone of the Durbar Hall was laid by Lord Minto, the viceroy of India in 1909 during the reign of Maharana Fateh Singh and as a mark of honour to the viceroy, it was originally named Minto Hall.

Lake Pichola - this placid lake was enlarged by Maharana Udai Singh II after he founded the city. He built a masonry dam, known as the Badipol and the lake is now 4km in length and 3km wide. In the lake are two islands - Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir. Boat rides on the lake especially in the evenings are very popular.

Jag Niwas - is the island on which stands the famous Lake Palace. The palace was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1754 and covers the whole island. Formerly the royal summer palace, it is today a luxury hotel with shady courtyards, lotus ponds and even a small mango tree shaded swimming pool.

Jag Mandir - is the other island palace on Lake Pichola. It was commenced by Maharana Karan Singh, but takes its name after Maharana Jagat Singh who made a number of additions to it. It is said that the Mughal emperor Shahjahan derived some of his inspiration for the Taj Mahal from this palace after staying here in 1623-24 while lading a revolt against his father Jahangir. Flanked by a row of enormous stone elephants, the island has an impressive chhatri (cenotaph) carved from grey blue stone. The view across the lake to the city is a scene of rare beauty.

Jagdish Temple - located near the entrance of the City Palace, this temple was built in 1651by Maharana Jagat Singh. This fine Indo-Aryan temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, enshrines a black stone image of the Lord as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe.

Saheliyon-ki-Bari - or the Garden of the Maids of Honour, located in the north of the city, is a small ornamental garden with fountains, kiosks, marble elephants and delightful lotus pool. It was a popular relaxing spot where the royal ladies came for a stroll and hence the name.

Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandir - has an interesting exhibition of folk arts including dresses, dolls, masks, musical instruments, paintings and puppets. It is also a foundation for the preservation of local folk arts.
Overnight at hotel

Day 14 Udaipur / Jodhpur
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Jodhpur via Ranakpur. Ranakpur is one of the largest and most important Jain temple complex lying in a remote valley of the Aravalli ranges in Southern Rajasthan. These temples were created in the 15th century AD during the reign of Rana Kumbha and are enclosed within a wall. They are well preserved and in near perfect condition. The main 'Chaumukh Temple' or Four Faced Temple is dedicated to the first tirthankar (apostle) Adinath. Built in 1439, this huge superbly carved temple has 29 halls supported by 1444 pillars, all distinctly carved and no two alike and enshrines the four-faced image of Adinath. Rising in three storeys, the temple has four small shrines with 80 spires supported by 420 columns. Within the complex are two other temples dedicated to Neminath and Parsvanath. The temples have beautiful carvings similar to that of Khajuraho. There is also a Sun Temple, located a little distance away. The temple has polygonal walls richly embellished with carvings of warriors, horses and solar deities riding splendid chariots.

A kilometer away from the main complex is located the Amba Mata Temple, dedicated to a form of goddess Durga. Please note shoes and all leather articles must be left at the entrance before entering the temple. Arrive Jodhpur rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight at the hotel

Day 15 Jodhpur / Jaisalmer
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Half-day tour of Jodhpur City. Set at the edge of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur is the largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur. This imperial city that echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert, was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs who claimed to be descendants of Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana. The Rathores ruled not only Jodhpur but also other Rajput princely states. The Rathore Kingdom was then known as Marwar, the Land of Death. The city is dominated by the massive Mehrangarh Fort, topping a sheer rocky ridge right in the middle of the town. The old city is surrounded by a 10km long wall built around a century after the city was founded. From the fort one can clearly see where the old city ends and the new begins. As one of the closest major Indian cities to the border with Pakistan, Jodhpur has a large defence contingent.

Jodhpur is affectionately referred to as the 'Blue City' because of the indigo coloured houses in the old town. These can best be seen from the ramparts of the fort. Traditionally, blue signified the home of a Brahmin, but these days non-Brahmins have also taken on the practice. Apart from looking fresh and lively, it is believed that the colour works as an effective mosquito repellent. It is fascinating to wander around the jumble of winding streets in the old city.

While the graceful palaces , forts and temples strewn throughout the city bring alive the historic grandeur, exquisite handicrafts, folk dances music and the brightly attired people lend a romantic aura to the city. The lifestyle in Jodhpur is unusually fascinating with folks wearing lovely multihued costumes artistically designed. The colorful turbans worn by the men folk add more colour to the city. Part of the film Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book was shot in Jodhpur and it was from here that those baggy-tight , horse riding trousers, jodhpurs, took their name. Countless festivities celebrate the rich past and culture of the princely state. The Marwar Festival held annually is one such spectacular bonanza.

Mehrangarh Fort - still run by the Maharaja of Jodhpur, this Majestic Fort is sprawled across a 125m high hill. This is one of the most impressive and formidable fort in fort-studded Rajasthan. The fort is approached by a winding road from the city 5km below. There are seven gates that lead into the fort. The Second gate is still scarred by cannon ball hits; the Jayapol was built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806 following his victory over the armies of Jaipur and Bikaner; the Fatehpol or Victory Gate was erected by Maharaja Ajit Singh to commemorate his defeat of the Mughals. The Lohapol (Iron Gate) is the final gate beside which are 15 hand prints, the sati (self immolation) marks of Maharaja Man Singh's widows who threw themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843.

They still attract devotional attention. Inside the fort is a series of courtyards and palaces. The palace apartments with marvelously carved panels, latticed windows have evocative names such as Sukh Mahal (Pleasure Palace), Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) and the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). These palaces house a fabulous collection of trappings of Indian royalty including a superb collection of palanquins, elephant howdahs (used when the Maharajas rode their elephants in processions), miniature paintings, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. There is even a display of rocking cradles. The Chamunda Devi Temple, dedicated to goddess Durga, stands on the southern end of the fort. There are also old cannons on the ramparts at this end and the views from here are superb.
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Jaswant Thada - located a short distance from the fort, just off the fort road, is a white marble memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The cenotaph built in 1899, was followed by the royal crematorium and three other cenotaphs that stand nearby. There are some beautiful marble jali (lattice) work and fine views from the terrace in front of the cenotaphs.

Later drive to Jaisalmer. Arrive Jaislamer and check into your hotel.
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 16 In Jaisalmer
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later visit the city.
Jaisalmer Fort - the golden hued fort, built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal and reinforced by subsequent rulers, is a sentinel to the bleak desertscape from its 80m high perch on the Trikuta hill. The fort is entered through a forbidding series of massive gates leading to a large courtyard. The former Maharaja's 7-storey palace fronts onto this. The courtyard was used to review troops, hear petitions and present extravagant entertainment for important visitors. Part of the palace is open to the public. Within the fort walls are a group of beautifully sculptured Jain Temples of the 12th and 15th centuries AD. They are dedicated to the Jain apostles Rikhabdev and Sambhavnath. Its fascinating to wander through the winding labyrinth of streets within the fort as nothing has changed here for centuries. It has an enchanting

Havelis - or mansions are the impressive intricately carved sandstone buildings built by the wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer and several of these fine are in good condition. The noteworthy :

Patwon ki Haveli, the most elaborate and magnificent of all the Jaisalmer havelis. It has exquisitely carved pillars and extensive corridors and chambers. One of the apartments of this 5-storey high haveli is painted with beautiful murals. There are also remnants of paintings and mirror-work on f its inside walls.

Salim Singh ki Haveli, located just below the hill, was built about 300 years ago and part of it is still occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of a princely state. This mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of peacocks. This extraordinary mansion in yellow stone is covered with intricate carvings and has an elaborate projecting balcony on the top storey.

Nathmal ki Haveli, is a late 19th century haveli and was also a prime minister's house. which were carved by two brothers, are not identical but very similar and balanced in design. The interior walls are ornate with splendid miniature paintings. Yellow sandstone elephants guard the building and even its front door is a work of art.

Gadi Sagar - located south of the city walls, this tank was once the water supply of the city. there are numerous beautiful temples and shrines around it. A wide variety of water birds flock here in winter. An interesting legend associate with this tank recalls that the attractive gateway, which arches across the toad down to the tank was built by a famous prostitute. When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the Maharaja refused permission on the ground that he would have to pass under it to go to the tank and this would beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gateway anyway, adding a Krishna temple on top so the king could not tear it down.

Museums - there are some interesting museums in the city. The Desert Culture Centre & Museum has textiles, old coins, fossils and traditional Rajasthani instruments among other things. Its aim is to preserve Rajasthan's cultural heritage and conduct research on local history. There is a Jaisalmer Folklore Museum, located on the road leading down to the lake. The Government Museum has a well-captioned collection of fossils, some of which date back to the Jurassic era about 160 to 180 million years ago.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 17 Jaisalmer / Bikaner
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Bikaner.

Afternoon arrive & visit the Bikaner city. BIKANER - Bikaner is a true desert country and part of the ancient caravan route that came from west and entral Asia. Located in the north of the State of Rajasthan, it was founded in 1488 by a Rathore Prince Rao Bika, a descendent of Jodha, founder of Jodhpur. Rao Bika chose a barren wilderness called 'Jangladesh' and transformed it to an impressive city. The old city is surrounded by a crenellated wall and was once an important staging post on the great caravan trade routes. The Ganga Canal, built between 1925-27, irrigates a large area of previously arid land around Bikaner.

Sheer beauty in the desert is the royal fortified city of Bikaner. Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by long embattled wall having five gates. Bikaner's forts, palaces and temples - magnificent creations in red and yellow sandstone, are living manifestations of its rich historical and architectural legacy. One can feel the medieval aura prevailing in the city's lifestyle. Not only do the traditions come alive here in colourful bazaars and havelis, but Bikaner is also famous for the best riding camels in the world. Undulating lanes, colorful bazaars and bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner and interesting experience. These are built on high plinths with slender minarets on each of the four corners and can be noticed even from a distance. Visit - Junagarh Fort - built between 1588-93 by Raja Rai Singh, a general in the army of Mughal Emperor Akbar, this impressive fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat. The Suraj Pol or Sun Gate, is the main entrance to the fort.

Within the fort are thirty-seven palaces, pavilions and temples, which make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows. The palaces exquisitely built in red sandstone and marble are ornate with mirror work, carvings and paintings. Among the notable palaces are the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), which is decorated with paintings and carved marble panels, the Hawa Mahal, Badal Mahal and Anup Mahal. A major feature of the complex is the magnificent stone carving. The fort also has a fine collection of Rajput weapons and an old World War I biplane presented to Maharaja Ganga Singh by the British. This is one of the only two models of this plane in the world.

Lallgarh Palace - located 3km north of the city centre, this red sandstone palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh (1881-1942) in memory of his father Maharaja Lal Singh. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work. Part of the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel and a museum known as Shri Sadul Museum. The museum covers the entire first floor of the palace and houses old photographs of royal hunts, trophies of wildlife and an extraordinary collection of the former Maharaja's personal possessions.

Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum - has an interesting collection of sculptures, terra cottas, weapons, miniature paintings and musical instruments.

Jain Temples - the narrow streets of the old city have a couple of notable Jain temples. The Bhandasar and Sandeshwar temples date from around the 15th century. They have colourful wall paintings and some intricate carvings.
Overnight at the hotel

Day 18 Bikaner / Mandawa
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Mandawa.
Visit the famous havelis of Mandawa. Mandawa - founded in the 18th century, this is a compact and busy little market town. It was fortified by the dominant merchant families and its fort dominates the town with a painted arched gateway adorned with Lord Krishna and his cows. The Chokhani, Ladia and Saraf havelis are some of the splendid examples of this region's havelis. A Shiva temple with a rock crystal lingam is also worth a visit. The fort is now converted into a heritage hotel
Overnight at the hotel.

Day 19 Mandawa / Delhi
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Later drive to Delhi.
Arrive Delhi rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight at the hotel.
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