Day 1 Delhi
You are greeted at the airport and escorted to your hotel. Today we take a sightseeing tour of New Delhi, the garden city built in 1911 by the British. We visit the Birla Mandir (Lakshminarayan Temple), the President’s House, Humayun’s Tomb (the forerunner of the Taj Mahal) and India Gate.
Day 2 Ahmedabad
We take the early morning flight to Ahmedabad. In Ahmedabad we visit the Calico Textile Museum, one of the finest in the world. It contains a stunning collection of tribal embroidery, block prints and textiles from all over India. We also visit local craft communities before traveling to Sabarmati Ashram, for many years the home of Mahatma Gandhi.
Days 3 - 4 Bhavnagar
Today we travel by private coach to the busy market town of Bhavnagar. Bhavnagar is a coastal port and important trading center whose principal export is cotton. Here we stay in Nilambagh Palace, an old palace set in lovely vast gardens. We visit the fascinating bazaar in the old city and use Bhavnagar as our base for an excursion to Shatrunjaya. Shatrunjaya is India’s principal Jain pilgrimage site. The site contains almost nine hundred temples, many of which are made in marble. The temples date from the sixteenth century and are approached by climbing up the steps of the holy hill of Shatrunjaya — for those unable or unwilling to make the long climb, dolis (seats on poles held by four bearers) are available. The view as we approach is wonderful and the temples need to be seen to be believed.
Days 5 - 6 Diu
Our explorations take us further into Gujarat as we continue on to Diu. Diu is a peaceful island of cobbled streets, palm trees and beaches. It was a Portuguese colony until 1961 and even today its main industry is fishing. As well as relaxing on the beach, we visit the massive Portuguese fort, completed in 1541, and explore the cobbled peaceful streets of the town.
Days 7 - 8 Sasan
Gir National Park Our journey continues northward to the Sasan Gir reserve. We stay at a Forest lodge on the park outskirts. The park is home to the Asiatic lion as well as panther, hyena, fox, wild boar, deer and antelope. You may also see parrots, peacocks and monkeys. On arrival we visit the Gir Interpretation Zone, which contains a cross section of the species. We take a jeep safari further in to the forest where there is a good chance of seeing wildlife.
Day 9 Vankaner
You say Vankaner, we say Wankaner. This is a tiny town with the fairytale Ranjit Vilas Palace at its heart. A curious blend of styles with a very extravagant appearance. The royal family no longer rules but still live in the palace. We stay on the palace grounds in separate buildings and take our meals with the royal family in the palace.
Days 10 - 12 Bhuj
Our journey continues on to Bhuj, a small and enchanting city deep in the Rann of Kutch. We take an orientation walk through the maze of winding streets that make up the old city. Here you will see camels plodding through the streets, vegetable markets and cloth stalls, all filled with the Kutchi people dressed in their heavily embroidered traditional clothes. Bhuj serves as a good base for visiting a number of the outlying villages and we do just that. We observe the traditional lifestyles of a number of tribes, exploring the villages and seeing the wide variety of crafts being made. We also take a day trip to the seaside town of Mandvi, home to thousands of migratory flamingos. The little market is filled with silver shops and the town is the last place in India where traditional ocean-going wooden dhows are hand built.
Days 13 - 14 Mt. Abu
A long journey by bus across Kutch to Rajasthan is worth the effort to stay at one of India’s most beautiful hill stations – the peaceful Mt. Abu. With it’s temperate climate, lakes, forests, temples, and views – it is a lovely place. We visit some of Mt. Abu’s famous Jain temples as well as just relaxing in the peaceful setting.
Days 15 - 16 Udaipur
Is Udaipur really the most romantic city in India? Today you get to decide as we continue deeper into Rajasthan. Udaipur was built by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 on the banks of the lake Pichola, and nestles in a valley surrounded by the green Aravalli hills. The old city is filled with narrow medieval roads and lanes, with a small temple at each turn, making the it one of the most charming in all Rajasthan. In Udaipur we visit the City Palace, which actually consists of a number of palaces forming a single beautiful facade over the Pichola Lake. We also stop at Jagdish Mandir, a hindu temple complex built in 1651. One evening we go by boat to the Lake Palace — the former summer palace that sits like a snowflake in the middle of Lake Pichola. It is now converted into a luxury hotel – where we enjoy a gourmet dinner.
Days 17 - 18 Delhi - Agra
Before our departure to Delhi by an evening flight we visit Nagda, the remains of the ancient capital of Mewar (dating back to 626 AD) and Eklingii, a Shiva temple. We take a day trip to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. We travel in the fast and comfortable Shatabdi train The Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world. It was built in 1652 by Emperor Shah Jahan. It took 22 years and 20,000 skilled artisans to complete. We also visit the Agra Fort which lies across the river Jamuna. It was here that Aurangzeb, the third son of Shah Jahan, kept his father under house arrest. One can get a fantastic view of the Taj from the little octagonal tower in the Fort.
Day 19 Delhi
The tour ends with breakfast and transfer to the airport for your international departure.