I must confess I put off travelling to India for years. I always seemed to find an excuse not to commit to a visit, and in a complex, frenetic nation of almost one and half billion, there are plenty that can be found.
But then I went. And I went again, and again. I was there just last year and I can’t wait to go back which is precisely why I’ll be more than a little envious of those going on our new Traveller Tour to India.
The tour’s focus will be on ravishing Rajasthan - one of the subcontinent’s most fabled destinations - with an itinerary including famous sights, such as the Taj Mahal, and less well-known but equally impressive ones, like Fatehpur Sikri.
This tour, specially-designed by Traveller’s editors, offers the first-time visitor to India the reassurance of travelling with a trusted operator in the form of our partner, Luxury Gold. And for those returning to India, our tour presents a unique depth of insights.
Our special guest guide is John McCarthy, one of Australia’s most respected and accomplished diplomats having served as High Commissioner to India between 2004 and 2009. I can’t think of anyone better qualified than John to head up our tour of this compelling country.
The concept for Traveller Tours is predicated on the kind of expert insights not available on other such trips. Our other guest guides include Fiona Caulfield, founder of the Love Travel Guides; Arun Khanna, an expert on the alluring Taj Majhal; and Thakur Inder Vijai Singh, a member of Indian nobility.
But one of the most special aspects of this tour is that it falls within the Diwali Festival of Lights, and guests who book will be able to celebrate with a local family.
DAY 1 OCTOBER 20
On arrival at Delhi's international airport, be greeted with a traditional floral garland and transferred to your hotel. This evening, join your travelling concierge for a welcome drink followed by dinner at the hotel. John McCarthy, former High Commissioner to India (2004-2009), will welcome guests with a brief talk. John will join you on your journey through India. Meals D Le Meridien Delhi
DAY 2 OCTOBER 21
On a city tour of Old Delhi, enjoy a rickshaw ride through the bustling lanes of the Chandni Chowk market and see the Red Fort, and visit the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Raj Ghat and India's largest mosque, the Jama Masjid. Later, visit Bangla Sahib community kitchen, where food is prepared and in a pangat, a way of eating food while sitting in row, with no distinction based on caste or religion. This evening, after an introduction by a local chef, dine at the award-winning restaurant Indian Accent, which featured in the World's 50 Best Restaurants 2018 and is known for its traditional cuisine that offers an international flare. Meals B D
DAY 3 OCTOBER 22
Take a walk this morning with one of the children of the Salaam Baalak Trust, a NGO focused on the rehabilitation of runaway street children, down the narrow alleys of Paharganj and see life through their eyes. Later, on a sightseeing tour of New Delhi, observe the wide boulevards along the ceremonial Rajpath, drive past the India Gate and Parliament House, and visit the World Heritage-listed Qutub Minar and the Tomb of Emperor Humayun. Attend a panel discussion and Q&A on the Indian politics, society and culture hosted by John McCarthy, and in attendance, Suhasini Haidar, the diplomatic editor of The Hindu, one of India's highly respected newspapers, and K.S. Sachidananda Murthy, resident editor of Malayala Manorama (a Malayalam-language newspaper) and The Week magazine. Meals B
DAY 4 OCTOBER 23
DELHI – AGRA
This morning, travel to Agra, in the company of John. On arrival, check in at the hotel. This evening, dine on traditional cuisine cooked in the clay tandoor and accompanied by a range of Indian breads at Peshawari restaurant. Optional activity: watch Mohabbat-the-Taj, a show depicting the true and immortal love of Shajahan for Mumtaj Mahal – considered a cultural and historical legacy of India – at Kalakriti Theatre. Meals B D ITC Mughal Agra
DAY 5 OCTOBER 24
Start the day with an early morning visit to the Taj Mahal, a monument of love built by an emperor in memory of his beloved queen. Meet expert Arun Khanna, a former archaeologist and expert on Indian history and culture, and hear about the history of the Taj Mahal. After breakfast, sightseeing activities include a visit to Agra Fort, a powerful fortress of red sandstone and a Mughal heritage walk. Meals B D
DAY 6 OCTOBER 25
AGRA – FATEHPUR SIKRI – JAIPUR
Leave Agra; your journey continues west to the ancient Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sikri, a deserted city full of architectural wonder. Stop at Laxmi Vilas Palace, Bharatpur, for lunch before continuing to Rajasthan. Check in and enjoy dinner at the hotel. Meals B L D ITC Rajputana Jaipur
DAY 7 OCTOBER 26
Start the day with an excursion to the Amber Fort, an example of Rajput architecture, with its terraces and ramparts reflected in the Maota Lake below. On your return to Jaipur, see the Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of the Winds, and the Jantar Mantar, an observatory constructed by Maharajah Jai Singh II between 1727 and 1734. Enjoy a high tea at the City Palace, a museum housing a fabulous collection of Rajasthani and Mughal Art, and meet Inder Vijay Singh Rohet (also known as I.V. Singh) from the noble family of Rohet Thikana, who will give a talk on Rajhput culture. This evening, take a drive through Jaipur and see the preparations ahead of the Diwali Festival celebrations Meals B, high tea
DAY 8 OCTOBER 27
Go on a heritage walk of Jaipur before enjoying a Pink City Rickshaw ride and a demonstration on turban tying and kite flying. In the evening, visit a local market and see the Diwali celebrations before heading to the home of a local Indian family where you'll join the celebrations; the lighting of Diyas (oil lamps), candles and fire crackers, and a special prayer to the goddess Lakshmi before dinner. Meals B D
DAY 9 OCTOBER 28
JAIPUR TO UDAIPUR
Take a morning flight to Udaipur in the company of John. On arrival, transfer to your hotel and enjoy time at your leisure. This evening, cruise the waters of Lake Pichola and visit Jag Mandir, a palace built on an island in the lake. Enjoy tea and snacks before returning to the hotel. Meals B, The Leela Palace
DAY 10 OCTOBER 29
Take a tour of Udaipur. Explore the City Palace complex and wander through the markets and bazaars to visit the Jagdish Temple, as well as the Garden of the Maids of the Honour. The afternoon is at your leisure. Alternatively, you can visit the local market. Enjoy cocktails at the Sunset Terrace this evening with John. Meals B
DAY 11 OCTOBER 30
UDAIPUR – JODHPUR
Travel to Ranakpur to view the elaborate carvings and classic architecture of the Jain Temples. Continue to the blue city of Jodhpur, characterised by forts, palaces, temples and a thriving handicrafts industry. Dinner is at Hanwant Mahal. Situated beneath Umaid Bhawan Palace and part of the royal residence, the restaurant offers majestic views of Jodhpur city. Meals B D Ajit Bhawan Palace
DAY 12 OCTOBER 31
Explore Jodhpur city with a visit Mehrangarh Fort and the white marble Jaswant Thada with a local guide. Fiona Caulfield will join you for lunch at the Chokelao cafe at Mehrangarh Fort. Walk down from the fort, taking in Toorji's Step Well, built in the 1740s by Maharaja Abhay Singh's queen and submerged for nearly a century. Then make your way to the market where Fiona will share her knowledge on a walk around the market area. Meals B L
DAY 13 NOVEMBER 1
JODHPUR – JAISALMER
Travel by road to Jaisalmer, the final stop on your India adventure. Jaisalmer is a former medieval trading centre in the heart of the Thar Desert, crowned by its hilltop fortress. Meals B Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa
DAY 14 NOVEMBER 2
On a city tour of Jaisalmer, visit Gadisar Lake and Jaisalmer Fort in the company of John. Behind its massive walls stand the ornate Maharaja's Palace and intricately carved Jain temples. At sunset, visit the Kanoi Sand Dunes and enjoy farewell drinks with John. Dine under the stars, to melodies from a local folk singer, with a delicious menu of nomadic hunt style cuisine prepared on site. Meals B D
DAY 15 NOVEMBER 3
JAISALMER – DELHI
Transfer to the airport for your flight Delhi and connect with your onward flight. Meals B
WHERE, WHEN AND HOW MUCH
TOUR DETAILS AND INCLUSIONS
DEPARTURE October 20, 2019
DIRECTION Delhi return
PRICES $7995 per person twin share, single supplement at $2825 per person
- Internal flights in India: Jaipur to Udaipur, Jaisalmer to Delhi
- Accommodation (14 nights)
- 25 meals (14 breakfasts, two lunches and eight dinners, one high tea)
- Travelling Concierge throughout and special expert guides
- Sightseeing and entrance fees
- Porterage and tips at included hotels and restaurants
If you are taking a morning flight out of Delhi, overnight accommodation close to the airport is available as post-trip accommodation.
Booking conditions available at www.luxurygoldvacations.com
Phone 1800 001 783
Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm (AEST)