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Your sojourn through Golden Triangle and Rajasthan leads you through many magnificent cities. Once the domain of India’s most powerful dynasties, today, New Delhi is a contemporary and bustling metropolis. And yet, its chequered past tells fascinating stories of the Mughal invasion, the British Raj, and India’s Partition with Pakistan. Likewise, Agra and Jaipur are large, vibrant cities, which also hark back to an era of grandeur. The state of Rajasthan too offers a glimpse into the world of erstwhile royalty. The majestic palaces and forts, the shrines and temples, showcase a cultural identity that’s truly unique.
Delhi never ceases to surprise! You’ll be amazed at the buzz and bustle of the old city. You can take a rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk, and savour the sights and smells. Equally riveting is Edwin Lutyen’s layout of modern New Delhi, with wide boulevards, low-rise government buildings, and formal gardens. A must on your itinerary are iconic monuments like the Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, and Humayun’s Tomb, all precious relics of a rich history. Stroll through Mehrauli Park and enjoy tales of The Fall And Rise of Delhi - a fascinating insight into its past glory.
But of course, it’s not about history alone. India’s clout as a modern-day republic is showcased in the imposing edifice of India Gate, the President House, and Rajghat, the spot where Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi is erected. Another delightful sojourn is the Artsy Heritage Walk around Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village, where ancient monuments sit cheek by jowl with trendy boutique stores.
The little town of Mandawa welcomes you with a burst of colour. The local homes – like the Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli, Murmuria Haveli, Goenka Double Haveli, Jhunjhunwala Haveli and Mohan Lal Saraf Haveli – are resplendent with brightly-painted floral motifs on every façade. So not without reason is the place called ‘the open art gallery’ of Rajasthan! Dominating the small town centre is the 18th century Mandawa Fort, where lavish embellishments adorn the palace interiors. Located between Bikaner and Jaipur, Mandawa was once an important trading outpost for goods from China and the Middle East. The many attractions and easy accessibility makes this pretty little town the perfect halt on your itinerary.
In the rugged and hostile terrain of the Thar Desert, Bikaner was seen as an oasis. The city was founded by Rao Bika, who built a fort to mark his newly-acquired territory. Although that fort fell to ruin, almost a century later, it was replaced by the Junagadh Fort, which survives to this day. As Bikaner welcomes tourists to experience its unique lifestyle, it celebrates its dessert heritage with pride. Bikaner’s most famous export - Bikaneri bhujia - is world famous. A great initiative here is animal husbandry, to protect local breeds like the elite Marwari horses of Rajasthan. An interesting stopover is the camel breeding farm, where you can enjoy a refreshing glass of camel milk and pick up souvenirs. Visit the unique Karni Mata Temple, where rats are worshipped.
Jaisalmer offers a dessert experience like no other. The city is built around the spectacular Jaisalmer Fort that dominates the city from an imposing height. In fact, this is one of the few ‘living forts’ in India and a sizeable chunk of the population continues to stay within its precincts. Patwon ki Haveli is one of the beautifully adorned mansions in the fort. Not far from the city centre is the Gadsisar Lake, lined with beautiful temples along the lakeside. In fact, Jaisalmer is the perfect city to explore on foot, so check out its unique attractions - the puppet show near Gadsisar Lake, the numerous kachori stalls to tempt your taste buds, and handcrafted antique silver jewellery that’s a special item here. To experience the dessert at its most magical, take a drive out to the famous Sam Sand Dunes. Take a dessert safari, or go dune-bashing - make it trip to remember.
Jodhpur is also known as the Blue City, because much of its architecture is washed in beautiful shades of indigo-blue. As the seat of the royal Marwar clan, Jodhpur is all you imagine a royal city to be. Here, mighty forts, magnificent palaces, and mesmerizing streets are filled with untold treasures. High above the main city, the Mehrangarh Fort towers over the valley below. Another architectural marvel is the Umaid Bhawan Palace, acknowledged to be among the finest palaces in India. This is also the principal residence of the Jodhpur royal family. Not far from here, is Jaswant Thada, a mausoleum for members of the royal lineage. Jodhpur has so much to explore, so much to enjoy, you’ll find that time flies. Do try to pack in as much as possible… and of course, visit again.
Once upon a time, when maharajas ruled, opulence was a way of life. They built great cities and palatial residences and patronized the arts. But rarely is grandeur on such a scale continued into the modern day. Udaipur’s City Palace manages to preserve its regal heritage and retain the grace of a bygone era. Its massive fortified structure is virtually a city within the city. Situated on its outer periphery, the famous Jagdish Temple too has a long heritage of welcoming devotees - for almost 400 years! No Udaipur trip is complete without a Boat Ride on Lake Pichola, so make sure you keep an evening free for the excursion.
Ajmer is large, bustling town, best known for its rich Sufi heritage. The dargah- or tomb - of the revered 13th century Sufi saint, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti is located here. It draws people of all faiths, and pilgrims come here in the belief that prayers offered with a pure heart will always be answered.
No other city exudes royal privilege quite the way Jaipur does. Rajasthan’s Kachwaha dynasty ruled the erstwhile Jaipur state and built the entire city of Jaipur as per the principles of vaastu. The grand City Palace takes pride of place in the city-centre and its opulent interiors are open for public viewing. The Jantar Mantar Observatory and Hawa Mahal, commissioned by the ruling maharajas, demonstrate a superior understanding of architectural engineering and design. These attractions are very popular on the tourist circuit and definitely worth a visit. Take a ride up to Amber Fort the old fashioned way - on elephant back - and experience the journey up the ramparts like the Maharajas did. If you’re feeling adventurous, Jaipur offers Ballooning and Paramotoring as a unique way to see the city.
Agra is the magical city that conjures up romantic images… like Princess Diana sitting against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal. The city’s strategic location on the banks of the Yamuna has allowed the city to expand into one of India’s largest tourist hubs. It’s very well connected by road, rail, and air. In Agra, you’ll find history popping out of every nook and cranny, so make sure you take the time to look around in a leisurely way. Check out the Agra Fort and the historical city of Fatehpur Sikri. Every click is so Instagrammable, you’ll want to instantly post all the great moments of a memorable trip! Also remember, your trip remains incomplete without the Agra Culture Walk – a golden opportunity to check out the markets, understand local customs, and truly appreciate the nuances of Agra’s unique identity.
Transit stay to board your flight back home.