Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Rajasthan is Sheer Magic. It is  a vast open-air museum, rich heritage, colourful culture, exciting desert safaris, shining sand-dunes, lush forests and varied wildlife, folklore of heroism and romance resound from its  formidable Forts. It is an incredible destination for the outdoor-tourist – take a safari on horses, camels, elephants or even in jeeps, with the Aravalis – India”s oldest mountain range as the backdrop. Feast your eyes on spectacular sand-dunes, take the tiger trail, or just watch the birds in the wetlands. You can also choose to pamper yourself in the lavish heritage properties. Rajasthan has something for everyone.

 

Pushkar Fair is the world”s largest camel fair held in the holy town of Pushkar in Rajasthan. A spotlight of one”s holiday in India, the Camel festival hosts around 50,000 camels in this magnificent event which are sold, decorated, shaved and raced. Pushkar Camel Fair is an occasion for villagers from far and near to gather together and enjoys a welcome break from their harsh life of the arid desert. The village women dress in their best colorful clothes and finery for this five-day Camel festival. It is an occasion for Hindu pilgrims to converge for a holy dip in the sacred Pushkar Lake to “wash away the sins of a lifetime” and pay obeisance at the only Brahma temple in the world.

royal-rajasthan
camel-festival

Day 1: Arrival in Delhi.
Transfer to hotel The Lalit.

india-gate-delhi-india
hotel-lalit

Day 2:  Delhi /  The Lalit (B,L, D)

 

Breakfast, orientation & introductions by tour escort. Late morning start sightseeing of Old & New Delhi including the Jama Masjid Mosque,  a rickshaw ride through the market in Old Delhi and India Gate, Raj Ghat/Gandhi Memorial Museum, Lakshmi Narayan Temple (Birla Mandir)  and  Qutab Minar in New Delhi.

Start the tour with a visit to the great Jama Masjid- the principal mosque of Old Delhi. Built in the year 1656 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it is the largest & best known mosque in India. The courtyard of the mosque can hold up to twenty-five thousand worshippers. The mosque also houses several relics in a closet in the north gate, including an antique copy of the Qur’an written on deer skin. It lies at the origin of a very busy central street of Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk.

Next take an exciting rickshaw ride through Chandi Chowk, the old marketplace of Shah Jahanabad now a picturesque bazaar  to reach Red Fort, built in the year 1648 by Shah Jehan & we just drive past Red Fort and continue our tour, now driving to New Delhi. Raj Ghat, memorial to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. It is a simple black marble platform that marks the spot of his cremation on 31 January 1948. An eternal flame is lit.  Opposite Raj Ghat is the Ghandi Memorial Museum.

We will stop for lunch at Pindi – North Indian Restaurant.

Afterwards drive past India Gate, memorial built in the year 1931 to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died in the World War I & the Afghan Wars. President’s House built in the year 1931. Until 1950 it was known as Viceroy’s House & served as the residence of the Governor-General of British India..

The soaring spire of the Lakshmi Narayan Temple dominates the urbane skyline of Central Delhi. About 1.5 km west of Connaught Place, this garish, modern, Orissan styled temple was erected by industrialist B.D.Birla in 1938 and was inaugrated by Mahatma Gandhi on the condition that people of all castes especially untouchables would be allowed in. The temple enshrines almost all the deities of the Hindu Pantheon, the presiding deity being Narayan (Vishnu, the preserver in Hindu trinity) and his consort Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and good fortune. The revered shrine, nestling in the heart of the city, is as famous for its sanctity as for its architecture. Portraying an alluring blend of cream and red, the sacred shrine also affords a curious medley of Hindu mythology and ancient Indian architecture. The exterior is of white marble and red sandstone with tall curved towers. Visiting hours are from 7 am to 12 noon and 2 to 9 pm. Visit Geeta Bhawan – Hall where paintings pepicting scenes from Indian mythology are displayed. Aartis (puja ceremony) are performed every evening. Other attractions are the gardens and fountains inside the premises. Friday is best day to visit this Temple; it is the special day of the Goddess Vaibhav Laxmi.

Culminate the day at Qutub Minar, built in the year 1206 by Qutub-ud-din Aibek. It is the tallest (72m) brick minaret in the world, an important example of Indo-Islamic Architecture.

Dinner at Chore Bizarre Restaurant.

qutub-minar
Raj-Ghat-Delhi

Day 3:  Delhi – Agra  /  The Gateway (B)

 

Transfer to New Delhi railway station for Gatiman Express Train to Agra depart 0810 am / arrive 0950 am.  On arrival transfer to hotel. (early check in subject to availability).

 

After check in, we will visit Agra Fort, built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565. The red sandstone Agra Fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahan’s time. This massive Fort is 2.5 km long & is considered as predecessor of Delhi Red Fort. Next visit Itmad-Ud-Daulah, the first white marble inlaid grave in pure Indo-Persian style, built between 1622 and 1628. Afterwards visit Agra Fort.

 

Later we will stop in one of the artisan workshops to see a demonstration of the in-lay marble technique used on the Taj Mahal. These are descendants of the original artists who worked on the Taj Mahal.

 

In the late afternoon sunset visit to Taj Mahal (Friday Closed), a jewel of Muslim art and one of the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Agra-fort
taj-mahal-agra

Day 4:  Agra – Jaipur (260 km / 5hrs)  /  Samode Haveli  (B,L,D)

 

At sunrise, we take our Tonga (Horse Carriage) to the visit the world famous Taj Mahal (optional visit; $18 pp).  Return to hotel for breakfast.

 

Afterwards,  drive to Jaipur, enroute visit Fatephur Sikri, also called “the deserted city.”
Fatephur Sikri, built in 1571, one of the world’s most perfect ghost cities and a  marvel of design and construction.  It is a synthesis of the flourishing styles of the Persian courts and the prevailing Hindu-Islamic trends.  Fatehpur (town of victory) Sikri was built by Akbar, the third and greatest of the Great Moguls.  It is over 400 years old and today its pristine red sandstone buildings are as perfect as when they were first chiseled.

 

The town was erected after a holy man, Sheikh Salim Chisti, decreed the births of three sons to Akbar after all his children had died in infancy. There are three sections to the City:  The Royal Palace (notable for the Emperor’s throne), the outside of the Royal Palace and the Jami Masjid (the location of the Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, a masterpiece in brilliant white marble).  The centerpiece of this remarkable monument is the Jewel  House of the Diwan I Khas.  Architecturally extraordinary, the four doorways lead  into a single-story room where a huge central pillar supports a seat reached by mid-air walkways.

Lunch enroute at Laxmi Vilas Palace in Bharatpur.

On arrival in Jaipur, check in to hotel. Evening: attend puja at Ganesh Temple in Jaipur. Diner at Niros Restaurant.

fatehpur_sikri
Jama_Masjid_-_In_the_Noon

Day 5:  Jaipur (B)

 

This morning we enjoy a pleasant excursion to Amber Fort. Amber is the name of the ancient kingdom of Jaipur as well as the name of its ancient capital, before it was shifted to Jaipur, situated 7 miles away.  Its history can be traced backed to the 12th century.  Amber Fort is superbly located, protected by the wild Arrival Hills on all sides. Originally built in the 11th century, it was expanded by Raja Mannish in the late 16th century. The rugged exterior belies a beautiful and delicate interior.

Return to the hotel and lunch on your own (pay direct).
This afternoon, a city tour including the City Palace, Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) and the Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory. Browse the shops if you wish.

At the heart of Jaipur is its City Palace which houses an extensive collection of rare manuscripts, Mughal and Rajasthani miniatures, Mughal carpets, costumes and textiles, arms and weapons, royal buggies, chariots and palanquins and a remarkable carriage -the indiraviman – that was drawn by four elephants. At the center is Chandra Mahal, the seven-tiered moon palace where the present Maharaja still resides. The City Palace complex also contains the Govind Devji Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Just outside the gateway of the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, the Yantralaya of Sawai Jai Singh II, the last great classical astronomer in India. The modernistic structures known as Yantras are the unique creations of this astronomer-king, designed by him and built by experts to observe the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars. This is the largest of five observatories founded by him in various parts of the country.

Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is Jaipur’s most-photographed building, a honeycomb palace with 953 latticed windows overlooking the bazaar and busy streets of Jaipur. Built in 1799 by the poet-king Pratap Singh, this extraordinary building was used by purdah-bound women to watch the grand processions that were a regular feature of the city.

amber-fort
City_Palace

Day 6:  Jaipur – Pushkar (145 km / 3 hrs) / Pushkar Bagh Resort (B,L,D)     During Pushkar Fair

 

After breakfast, we drive 3 hrs to Pushkar.

 

Our accommodation is located 500 meters far from the fairgrounds and one can wander through the nomadic camel herders’ camp quarters to see their lifestyles close up and to interact with them. They are very friendly and enjoy the exchange as well. The town of Pushkar surrounds a holy lake below the fair site and one can relax by the lake, explore on foot and check out cafes and shops, as well as visit the Brahma Temple.

pushkar-resort
Pushkar-Brahma-Temple

Day 7: Pushkar (B,L,D)

 

Full day visit to the festival fairgrounds and the town.  After breakfast visit the fairgrounds. Return to our resort for lunch.

This afternoon we’ll have a tour of the town including a visit the Brahma Temple.

Afterwards you can have free time to relax by the lake, explore the town independently browsing shops and photographing.

The car will be parked at Pushkar Palace Hotel and we shall all meet back here before sunset to experience the evening ritual at the main ghat  (steps leading into the lake) with the locals.  There will be drumming from every ghat (52) around the lake as the sun sets.  A wonderful gesture and tradition.

Return to our resort for dinner and evening activities.

Pushkar
Hotel-Gulaab-Niwaas-Palace-Pushkar

Day 8: Pushkar – Jodhpur (190 km 3hrs) / Ajit Bhawan  (B,L,D)

 

Today is the first official day of the fair so you will see the camel decorations competitions and some camel races.

 

We depart at 11 am for the drive toJodphur. Check into hotel and we’ll have lunch at the hotel restaurant.

 

In the late afternoon browse the bazaars of the old city.  Jodhpur is well known for its glass bangles, puppets and other folk art.  Ornate mirror-embedded and lacquer-finished glass bangles can be found here.  The area around the bazaars is a wonderful example of 19th century town planning, blending Rajasthani concepts with more contemporary styles.

 

Dinner at Garden Restaurant. It is an open air restaurant where multi-cuisine and barbeque dinner is served in a lively ambiance. Enjoy your dinner under the clear sky with live dance and music performances.

jodhpur
ajit-bhawan-palace

Day 9: Jodhpur  / Ajit Bhawan  (B,D)

 

This morning, we tour the 15th century Mehrangarh Fort perched majestically on a high hill.  You enter through gates which bear the evocative handprints of the Sati queens, women of the royal harem who took their own lives when their men were defeated in battle. The fort has a series of spectacular palaces, each decorated with exquisite engravings, lattice and mirror work.  Of particular note is the museum that exhibits a magnificent collection of royal memorabilia. Afterwards a quick stop to admire the graceful cenotaph at JaswantThada.

 

Return to the hotel for lunch on your own, some time rest.

 

In the late afternoon take a cooking class followed by dinner with Indian novel family.

Thakur Jitendra Singh and his wife Thakurani Keerti Shri are the proud owners of this 5 bedroom bungalow along with their daughter in law Gitanjali and son Anant Vijai. We look forward to sharing our home, heritage and culture with the discerning traveller.

Jitendra Singh is a member of the Noble Family of Auwa a pre eminent Fiefdom of the erstwhile Jodhpur kingdom. Jitendra Singh is a wildlife enthusiast, bird watcher, history buff and can also recite poetry in the ancient bardic language of Dingal .

Keerti Shri belongs to the noble family of Khandela in Shekhawati famous for their Frescoes and havelis. She is an avid gardener, and collector of antique paintings and vintage textiles.

Gitanjali belongs to the noble family of Jhalamand who trace their ancestry to the famous warrior Rana Pratap of Chittorgarh . She is an excellent cook of traditional Rajathani cuisine. She restores, designs and manufactures traditional Indian royal dresses “poshaks” and saris using age old techniques of ‘zardozi’ and ‘salma sitara’ which is all done painstakingly by hand.

mehrangarh-fort-in-rajasthan
shekhawati-nawalgarh-rajasthan1

Day 10: Jodhpur – Jaisalmer (310 km / 6hrs) / Gorbandh Palace (B, L,D)

 

furniture and interior crafts. Thar Desert all the way to Pokharan, Pokran is renowned This drive will take us into the heart of the and for its Bikaner Road  The Fort has an assortment of weaponry, brocade clothes and various games of dice and dominoes on display.  The route is dotted by Bishnoi villages. Bishnoism, a religious movement, is devoted to eco-friendliness and wild life protection.  One of the most progressive religions in the world, they follow a reference guide to live in complete harmony with their environment and establish a symbiotic relationship with nature. Being mid-way, it is a nice place for a brief stop. We will have lunch here & continue drive to Jaisalmer.

 

Jaisalmer is straight out of an Arabian Nights fable.  The name Jaisalmer induces a dramatic picture of magic and the brilliance of the desert for many people. The hostile terrain notwithstanding, the warmth and color of the people is simply overwhelming.

 

One of the main draws is the daunting 12th century Jaisalmer Fort. The beautiful havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another fascinating aspect of the desert city.  The desert citadel is truly a golden fantasy in the Thar Desert. Bhatti Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, after whom the city is named, founded Jaisalmer in 1156.  On advice of a local hermit, Eesaal, he chose the Tricut Hills as his new abode, abandoning his vulnerable old fort at Luderwa just 16 kilometers northwest.  In Medieval times, its prosperity was due to its location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West.  The Bhatti Rajput rulers lined their coffers with gains from traditional taxes on passing caravans and sometimes through illicit gains by rustling cattle.

 

On arrival check into hotel.  In the late afternoon visit to Bada Bagh Cenotaphs. This is a complex with royal cenotaphs and carved images of past Maharawals (rulers) of Jaisalmer. Each chhatri commemorates a particular ruler and preserves an inscribed tablet recording his death.

 

Dinner at Trio Restaurant

Jaisalmer
Hotel Gorbandh Palace

Day 11: Jaisalmer / Gorbandh Palace (B,L)

 

Morning visit to the Hilltop fort and the ancient Jain Temples. The fort is the most lively that you’ll visit anywhere in India, with homes and shops tucked in hidden lanes. Stalls are swaddled in colorful Rajasthani embroidered and mirrored cloths. Built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Jaisala, the fort crowns the 80 meter (262 foot) high Trikuta Hill. About a quarter of the Old City’s population resides within the fort walls. Within the fort walls are a beautiful set of Jain temples built between the 12th and 15th centuries.

 

Known as Sonar Quila or the Golden Fort, this mega structure rises from the sands and merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and the setting sun in its most colorful shades,  giving it a fairytale look.  The Fort envelops the whole township, which consists of the palace complex, the havelis of rich merchants, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed strategically on the trade route from where the ancient caravans passed.  These merchants acquired a great deal of power and noble status in the royal courts of the Bhatti Rajputs who founded the state in the 12th century. The rich merchants, inspired by the classic style of the royals, constructed the huge havelis adjacent to each other in the nature of medieval culture and profusely decorated the walls and ceilings with intricately carved motifs.  The craftsmen were usually Muslims who were induced on their journey to exhibit their skills.  The results were architectural purity that cannot be seen elsewhere.

 

Guided walk about the city seeing several havelis. These impressive mansions, built by wealthy merchants, are fine sandstone buildings with elaborate wall murals and mirror work. They are still occupied by families, descendants of the original owners in most cases.

 

Enjoy lunch on the terrace overlooking the courtyard of the old city with view of the fort at Jaisel Treat, a multi-cuisine restaurant with simple good food. Afterwards, independent time to explore the winding narrow passages of the walled old city where shops are tucked into every nook and cranny and locals go about daily life.

jaisalmerfort1
jain-temple

Day 12: Drive to Manwar (180 km / 4hrs) / The Manvar Resort & Camp   (B,L,D)

 

Manvar is an ideal base to explore Indian desert life, culture, wildlife and landscape of breathtaking beauty. It offers a stark and contrasting desert experience.

 

Check into Camp. Afternoon village Safari by Jeep, It’s a drive of one and Half Hours to 2 hours through Desert Landscape. On the way option to visit a typical desert home to see how people live in the desert, see a craftsman home, during the safari see the wildlife and finally ending at Camp/ Resort. Sunset Camel Ride. Dinner with Musicians & Dancers, Camp-fire etc.

Manvar Resorts
Manvar Resort & Camp

Day 13: Manwar – Rohet (160 km / 3hrs) / Rohet Garh (B,L,D)

 

Drive to Rohet. Check into another a nice heritage property – Rohet Garh.

 

Afternoon take a jeep to explore the villages. Visit the Bishnoi settlements in the villages surrounding Rohet. The Bishnoi are a gentle people who follow the 29 (bish-noi) principles of a non violent Vishnaa sect.  Founded in the 15th century, their religion dictates protection of all animate beings.  Their careful environmental management has resulted in wildlife, including the rare black buck, taking sanctuary near their villages. They are a community of potters, weavers, leather embroiderers and camel herders.

Rohet-Garh-Charming-Hotel
Rohet-Garh-Hotel

Day 14: Rohet – Godwad Leopard Camp (140 km / 3 hrs)  B,L,D

 

After breakfast, depart 3 hours drive to Godwad Leopard Safari Camp. On arrival check in to Camp. After a chance to settle in, reconvene with your naturalist for a leopard safari at Jawai conservation zone. Godwad Leopard Safari camp welcomes you to the thriving hub of leopard i.e. The Jawai Leopard Conservation Zone around Bera area in Rajasthan. Its is here, that you can experience the close encounter with this beautiful animal from the cat family.

godwad-leopard-safari-camp
Godwad Leopard Safari Camp

Day 15: Drive to Udaipur en route visit  Ranakpur (125 km / 3.5hrs) / Fateh Prakash   (B,L,D)

After leisure morning around 930 am leave to Ranakpur enroute explore the Raika tribe – the maverick shepherd community village.

 

Continue drive to Ranakpur (1 hour), visiting Jain Temples with 1444 pillars.  Surrounded by tangled forests with monkeys abounding in the  courtyard, Ranakpur is one of five important pilgrim centers for the Jain community.  Noted for its grandiose scale and elaborate ornamentation, of the three temples, the Adinatha is the most outstanding.  Built by Daranshah in 1439,  the temple is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara saint. The whole, including  the extraordinary array of 1444 sculptured pillars, each distinct in design, carved  ceilings, and arches decorated with friezes depicting scenes from the lives of  the Jain saints, Jain mythology and cosmology,  is fascinating.

 

The tour inside the main temple will be by audio headset, guides are no longer allowed inside. This is to respect the silence, as it is a living temple where people are praying, meditating and performing devotional rituals.

 

Lunch at Maharani Bagh (Mango Orchard of the Maharaja of Jodhpur) near the temples.

 

Afterwards drive further to Udaipur (2.5hrs). Often called the Venice of India, this is a city of lakes, palaces and gardens. There is no place in India which appeals more to the imagination of poets and painters, travelers and writers, than Udaipur, the lovely lakeside capital of Mewar. The city’s inherent romance and beauty, along with its remarkable past, bristling with episodes of heroism and splendor, continue to enthrall visitors. Udaipur, sometimes called the City of Dawn, looms up like a vision in white. Surrounded by hills and mountains, and set on the edge of three lakes which give way to a fertile plain, it is bewitching in all its details – narrow streets lined by vivid colored stalls, gardens, temples and palaces – every feature mirrored in the placid blue waters of Lake Pichhola.

 

Udaipur retains the essence of a quaint town with cobble stone streets, plentiful local bazaars, marble palaces, lakeside gardens, temples and havelis.  It is a traditionally planned fortified city surrounded by walls and massive gates.  The rulers, beginning with Maharana Singh in the mid 16th century, prided themselves on being independent from other more powerful  regional  neighbors, particularly the Moghuls.

 

Check-in have some time to refresh and then dinner at 630 at The UPRE Restaurant.

udaipur
Ranakpur-Jain-Temple

Day 16: Udaipur  (B)

 

In the morning we will visit the City Palace, the largest Palace complex in the area, and the Museum of Rajasthan. The City Palace is a blend of stern Rajput military architecture on the outside and lavish Mughal-inspired decorative art on the inside. Set on a hill overlooking Lake Pichhola, it is quite large and made up of at least four separate inter-connecting palaces, built over a period of nearly 3 centuries. The palace museum contains a wonderful collection of old Rajput weaponry. Also visit the Crystal Gallery.

 

We suggest lunch at the excellent Fateh Prakhash restaurant (pay direct), adjacent to the City Palace.

 

In the afternoon, visit artists’ studios  of the miniature paintings and some time independent to stroll the quaint city and take a walk through the colorful Bapu Bazaar. It is easy to walk about independently just outside the city palace gates for a real experience of the local culture beyond the tourist shops.

 

Sunset boat ride on lake Pichola. Dinner at Jagmandir Island Palace (pay direct).

City_Palace
Bapu-Bazaar

Day 17: Udaipur/ Fateh Prakash   (B,D)

 

We depart at 9 am on an excursion to Eklingji & Nagda.

In the village of Kailashpuri– only 22km north of Udaipur – the fascinating Eklingji Temple Complex, with its 108 temples, attracts lots of pilgrims but few tourists. The main temple’s present form dates from the 15th-century rule of MaharanaRaimal, although it was originally built in the 8th century, according to legend, by the early Mewar king BappaRawal. Constructed from sandstone and marble, it has an elaborately pillared hall under a large pyramidal roof and features a four-faced, black-marble image of Eklingji, an incarnation of Shiva and the family deity of the Mewar royal family.

About 1km back towards Udaipur then 1km to the west, Nagda was an early Mewar capital, established in the 7th century. It was ruined by the invader Altamash in the 1220s but still has a few temples worth seeing. The 10th-century Saas Bahu Temples – the name meaning ‘mother-in-law daughter-in-law’ – are dedicated to Vishnu and feature fine, intricate carvings, including a number of erotic figures.

We’ll return to Udaipur city and enjoy some free time and lunch on your own.

At 4 pm we depart to Bagor Ki Haveli, overlooking Pichola lake in the old part of the city.  It is a gorgeous 18th century haveli that has been converted into a museum showcasing Mewar art and architecture.

First we’ll visit the art gallery, featuring fine examples of Mewar contemporary and folk art, and an eclectic selection of world-famous monuments lovingly carved out of polystyrene (closes at 5:30 pm). We’ll stay for dinner and the dance performance(starts at 7 pm but people begin to take seats by 6 pm).

The haveli puts on one of the best Rajasthani folk dance shows in Rajasthan – Dharohar Dance. For an hour, performers dance to Rajasthani folk music wearing bright coloured ethnic dresses. The dances are varied and demonstrate the tradition and culture of Rajasthani folklore.

fateh-prakash
bagore-ki-haveli-udaipur

Day 18: Udaipur – Delhi / (B)

 

Enjoy a leisure independent morning.

 

We depart at 11 am to transfer airport for flight 9W2630 dep. 1435 / arr. 1615 to Delhi.

 

On arrival, transfer to hotel near airport for wash/change until 2100hrs. Late evening transfer to International airport for flight to home

Jag-Mandir-Palace-Udaipur
Trivandrum_airport