Treasures of India, A Forward Journey
A special journey through the unique and vibrant beating heart of Asia.
Treasures of India
A Forward Journey
DELHI ∙ TAJ MAHAL ∙ JODHPUR ∙ JAIPUR ∙ UDAIPUR ∙ DESERT CAMP ∙ AMRITSAR
18 DAYS 5 - 22 March 2018

India can only be described as the unique and vibrant beating heart of Asia. With its bustling bazaars, rich heritage, natural wonders, awe-inspiring palaces, spectacular temples and ancient ruins, it can offer visitors everything and anything. From the moment you arrive you’ll be immersed in a whirlwind of unforgettable sights, sounds and smells, your senses ignited with intrigue. Let India’s exotic and chaotic hustle and bustle surround you, mesmerise and charm you – it’s the only way to experience this cultural hot pot of excitement!
Join David on this memorable trip visiting some of India’s most impressive cities and monuments. From non-stop Delhi to the tranquil Lake Maota, from the far-reaching Thar Desert to authentic local villages in the rural heartland, to majestic Unesco World Heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal, David has created this escorted tour to perfectly blend must-see hotspots with his favourite hidden gems.

Tour Highlights

♦ Relaxing and in depth exploration of Rajasthan
♦ Unique and exclusive 2 night stay in Amristar
♦ Excellent local guides to pass on first hand
knowledge and insghts
♦ 2 night inclusive stay at a Rajasthan desert
camp, with camel ride
♦ Tonga ride at Taj Mahal,
♦ Elephant ride at Amber Fort
♦ Boat ride in Lake Pichola, Udaipur
♦ Experience the excitement and chaos of both
old and new Delhi
♦ Visit the amazing frescos of Churu, an oasis
in the shifting dunes of the Thar Desert
♦ Sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal
♦ 2 nights each in Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur
♦ Excellent local guides and private touring
throughout
♦ Breakfast and dinner daily
♦ Led by David Smyth, Forward Travel Director
♦ Limited to just 15 travellers

Tour Information
  • Where
    :

    India

  • When
    :

    March

  • What
    :

    History and Culture, City stay, Escorted Journey

  • Start/end
    :

    Delhi/Amritsar

MEET YOUR JOURNEY LEADER

David Smyth, Forward Travel Director
I have been an avid traveller since I was 12 years old, and have never looked back. Born in Ireland, I travelled extensively around Europe, Asia, South America and the polar regions. I have a passion for life and adventure. I love experiencing the journey as well as each destination to its fullest and hope to lead you in the same direction. I hope you will join me.

David

Itinerary

Arrive at Delhi airport to a warm welcome and transfer to our city hotel. Balance of the day is yours to explore. Brimming with history, culture and impressive organised chaos this is a place where old and new co-exist, in stark contrast to one another. Perhaps take a walk through Old Delhi to experience true local tradition as you watch men fill sacks with colourful spices, or jump on the metro to take high tea with the locals in the more contemporary New Delhi. Hopefully a good rest awaits this evening before we start our fabulous exploration tomorrow.

Today we enjoy breakfast together then set out for a full day sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi. Beginning with Old Delhi we visit Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, before an unmissable photo opportunity as we drive by the imposing Red Fort – a beautiful red sandstone fort on the banks of the River Yamuna dating back to the 1600’s. We jump into a bicycle rickshaw for a short ride through the old city centre of Chandi Chowk then complete our Old Delhi tour with a visit to Raj Ghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.

Moving on to New Delhi the contrast between old and new is immediately evident with its hive of commercial activity, colonial-era buildings and contemporary shops lining its wide, bustling streets. Our first stop is a visit to the 12th century Qutab Minar, a remarkable hand-carved tower that stands 234 feet high and was built in the 1100’s in celebration of the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom. We continue to Emperor Humayun’s Tomb, a grand structure reflective of typical Mughal architecture. Our tour then takes us past India Gate – the famous war memorial dedicated to Indian soldiers, and finally on to the President’s residence – a large and impressive landmark that blends both Victorian and 20th century architecture. After our busy day, we enjoy a relaxing welcome dinner and return to our hotel for the night.

This morning we drive by coach to Churu, the gateway city to the Thar Desert of Rajasthan – also known as the Great Indian Desert – and its expanse of golden sand dunes that stretch for more than 77,000 square miles, touching the border with Pakistan. As soon as we arrive we’ll check in to our hotel before spending the afternoon visiting Kanhaiya lal Bagla ki Hawell and Surana Haweli, just some of the beautiful fresco painted Havelis of Churu. During our visit, we will also see some fine examples of Chhatris, traditional Indian dome-shaped pavilions. We will have time to freshen up, enjoy dinner and return to the hotel for the night.

Following a tasty breakfast, we set off for Khimsar. Our journey today will take us through countryside, towns and villages, giving us a glimpse into the lives of locals as they go about their daily routine. A small village between Bikaner and Jodhpur, Khimsar is perched on the edge of the Great Thar Desert in the very heart of rural India. Here, we’ll explore its unique fort and learn about its history, taking a spectacular evening walk around the fort before having dinner and staying overnight at our hotel.

After breakfast, we drive further West across the desert to the Manvar Desert Camp. Set to a backdrop of natural wilderness and fine golden sand dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see we check in to our safari tents which are more like mini-marquees with smart polished traditional camping-style teak furniture, rich jute rugs and lovely custom designed block-printed tent lining. We spend our afternoon enjoying a camel ride across the sand dunes, taking in the breathtaking beauty of our surroundings. Our evening is spent under the stars, admiring the myriad of colours, clear sky, and blanket of stars – watching the sunset and stargazing from isolated sand dunes is nothing short of spectacular. Here we eat, relax, and enjoy this truly unique experience.

After a great night sleep among the sand dunes, we eat breakfast and have the full day to ourselves to either relax, take a trip, or further explore the sand dunes and local area. If you fancy a trip, we recommend a visit to Jaisalmer, one of Rajasthan’s most fascinating cities. Set in the middle of the Thar Desert this is a city that boasts untold ancient palaces, temples and settlements. Spend your day taking a sightseeing tour of the city to take in the Jaisalmer fort, wander down cobbled stone lanes, and visit Havelis with their beautifully carved facades. Stay until sunset to see the city’s sandstone buildings glow under the light of the cooling sun – it’s a breathtaking sight and is how the city became known as the ‘Golden City’ of India. At the end of the day we meet for dinner and relax in the comfort of our desert tents.

Today we head south as we drive to Jodhpur, stopping at the Osian temples en route. Osian, a small village 65km north of Jodhpur, is home to a cluster of about 100 Jain and Brahmanical temple ruins that date from the 8th to the 11th centuries. We explore the Surya, Kali and Sachiya Mata temples and learn about their architecture and history. We then continue through the rural landscape to Jodhpur, a city nestled in the depths of the desert. Known for its marble palaces and vibrancy, this is a city to be enjoyed. We check in to our local hotel and set out for an afternoon walk through to the city’s popular main bazaar. A busy and vibrant bazaar, this is the place to see spice sellers, buy from local stalls selling milk and Indian cheese, local textiles and jewellery, and capture a keepsake photograph. We end our day with a delicious local meal and return to our hotel for the night.

Today we head south as we drive to Jodhpur, stopping at the Osian temples en route. Osian, a small village 65km north of Jodhpur, is home to a cluster of about 100 Jain and Brahmanical temple ruins that date from the 8th to the 11th centuries. We explore the Surya, Kali and Sachiya Mata temples and learn about their architecture and history. We then continue through the rural landscape to Jodhpur, a city nestled in the depths of the desert. Known for its marble palaces and vibrancy, this is a city to be enjoyed. We check in to our local hotel and set out for an afternoon walk through to the city’s popular main bazaar. A busy and vibrant bazaar, this is the place to see spice sellers, buy from local stalls selling milk and Indian cheese, local textiles and jewellery, and capture a keepsake photograph. We end our day with a delicious local meal and return to our hotel for the night.

We’re up early for breakfast before setting off on our coach journey to Udaipur, a city renowned for its romantic setting, awe-inspiring palaces, ancient temples, and charming atmosphere. En route we’ll stop at Ranakpur in the mountain ranges of the Pali district to visit the beautiful marble of Jain. Dating from the 14th century these temples are built entirely from marble, taking a staggering 65 years to complete. Jain is now one of five holy pilgrimage centres, offering one of the most notable temple complexes in the country. Arriving in Udaipur in the early evening, we’ll check in to our hotel and enjoy a local evening meal.

We spend today on a sightseeing tour of Udaipur, visiting the stunning City Palace that sits towering over the city’s lake, Jagdish Temple – an Indo-Aryan temple full of impressive sculpted images and widely thought of as the most beautiful temple in Udaipur, and Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandir to enjoy its collection of Indian folk art that includes dresses, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls, and paintings. Our day ends with an evening boat ride on the serene Lake Pichola. Surrounded by lush hills, bathing ghats and palaces this is a memorable way to view this wonderful city. We then return to our hotel for dinner and our overnight stay.

We’re up early today, have our breakfast then set off by coach for our next stop, Barli. Over 300 years old, Fort Barli has a fascinating royal heritage and all the grandeur to accompany its rich history. On arrival we’ll check into our hotel before we spend our afternoon enjoying a bullock cart ride through the village. Taking us at a leisurely pace through the village we can see rural village life first-hand, take in its colourful markets, visit ancient cenotaphs with their delicate fresco paintings, spend time at a local school, and explore a traditional rural home. This evening we enjoy a group meal and stay the night.

Today we leave Barli and head east to one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage centres, Pushkar before continuing our journey to Jaipur. Arriving in Pushkar mid-morning it’s impossible not to notice the tranquillity of this quaint desert town with its slow pace and peaceful atmosphere. Here, we visit the holy lake and explore the only Brahma temple in the world. After our time in Pushkar we continue our journey to Jaipur, the vibrant capital of Rajasthan, known as the ‘Pink city’ due to the array of colourful pink buildings that are dotted around the old city. We’ll notice the change in landscape, here it is drier and surrounded by barren hills – a contrast to the inner city where local men can be found sitting at restaurants in traditional dress, wearing bright turbans, setting the world to rights over an American ice-cream soda. We spend the afternoon visiting Birla, a modern Hindu temple, where we can see the evening Aarti and Puja to the sound of the chanting of religious hymens. Our evening is spent enjoying a meal together before spending the night at a local hotel.

 

We begin our day with a morning excursion to Amber Fort, a classically romantic Rajasthani Fort Palace. Standing in wooded hills near Lake Maota, the size of the fort becomes apparent. After exploring the beautiful architecture, we ascend the hills on elephant back and enjoy memorable views back down towards the sprawling fort.

Our afternoon is spent sightseeing, beginning with a tour of the City Palace – a building now split into an interesting museum and accommodation for the royal family of Jaipur. Covering an incredible one seventh of the entire city this is a palace of remarkable size and design. We visit the art gallery, textile and costume museum, Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Am to learn more about the palace, its city, and its history. We continue our sightseeing with a drive by Hawa Mahal-Strange, a famous collection of pink sandstone screens – known as the Palace of Winds, originally constructed to allow ladies of the palace to watch the royal processions without being seen. Our day ends with a visit to the largest stone observatory in the world followed by a relaxed evening meal and an overnight stay at our local hotel.

Today we’re travelling by coach to Agra, visiting Fatehpur Sikri en route. Built by Emperor Akbar between 1570 and 1585, Fatehpur Sikri is a magnificent fortified city that was once the capital of the Mughal Empire that was suddenly abandoned shortly after Akbar’s death due to water shortages. We’ll have time to tour grand buildings such as the Jama Masjid, the Tomb of the Salim Chishti, and the Panch Mahal before continuing our journey.

On arrival in Agra – home to the Taj Mahal and renowned for its medieval monuments – we’ll check in to our hotel then set off on an afternoon sightseeing tour to visit the beautiful Agra Fort. Littered with spectacularly beautiful palaces and gardens, the fort is the focus of the city centre. Our visit will also include a trip to the Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas as well as other impressive palaces within the complex. We’ll end our day with a tasty meal and a relaxing evening at the hotel.

The best time of day to visit the Taj Mahal is sunrise, so we’re up early today to view it in all its glory. Known worldwide as India’s most prominent monument, the Unesco World Heritage sits strikingly on the banks of the River Yamuna and is also known as an epitome of love thanks to a poem in marble by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan. We’ll explore this beautiful site, take plenty of photos and then return to the hotel for breakfast. Re-energised, we set off by coach for Delhi where, upon arrival, we transfer to the railway station for our connecting Shatabdi Express train to Amritsar. We’ll arrive at night so we check in to our hotel, perhaps have a light snack, and stay the night.

We’re waking up in the spectacular city of the Golden Temple so today we’ll sightsee and explore all its must-sees. We of course begin at Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the vast sanctuary that is the Golden Temple. Sitting against a large lake in which its sparkling gold-leafed roof reflects, this is a temple in which we can enjoy pure tranquility. We can see the community kitchen that offers 10,000 meals every day to pilgrims and visitors, explore the neighbouring bazaar that burst with sights, sounds, and smells, visit the Jallianwala Bagh to remember the hundreds killed by General Dyers, and explore the Ramtirth Temple. Our afternoon is spent at Wagah, a border point between India and Pakistan, to watch the sunset border closing ceremony, a custom carried out daily by both countries since 1959. After the sun has set we return to our hotel for dinner or, if you prefer, you can visit the Golden Temple in the late evening to watch the closing ceremony of the Sikh holy book, the Holy Granth Sahib.

Enjoy another day exploring Amritsar. Wander the streets to experience a final sensory overload of the sights, sounds and smells that have been such a constant companion during the last 16 days.

And then that’s it, we’ve completed our Indian adventure!  Check out of the hotel and we’ll be transferred to Amritsar airport for our onward flights.

Pricing and Inclusions
Prices

    Prices per person in AUD

    Twin Share  $2,990
    Single supplement $1,260

Hotels featured

    DELHI  –

    DELHI STAR GRAND VILLA
    CHURU MALIJ KA KAMARA *
    KHIMSAR KHIMSAR FORT*
    JODHPUR RANBANKA PALACE
    UDAIPUR KAROHI HAVELI
    BARLI FORT BARLI*
    JAIPUR TALAI BAGH
    AGRA SEVEN HILLS TOWER
    AMRITSAR RITZ PLAZA
    DELHI STAR GRAND VILLA

    * Heritage propeties

NOT INCLUDED

    • Flights
    • Beverages
    • Extra meals and activities
    • Tips (suggested tipping kitty of USD100pp)
    • Personal expenses
    • Camera permits, allow USD21 for cameras
    and USD49 for video cameras

FLIGHTS

    Our experience tells us everyone wants something different with flights and often visit other places as well, so we will talk with you individually about the best options.

    Airfares from Syd/Mel to fit this journey start at $889pp with Singapore or Thai Airways.

TRAVELLER’S TALES
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