Maximise your time by flying overnight to Delhi.
Meet your A&K representative at Delhi Airport and transfer by private vehicle to Vivanta by Taj Ambassador. This is one of the best hotels in New Delhi. With two lively restaurants offering a range of cuisine, you can also enjoy the gym, spa, yoga and beauty salon. It’s a short ten-minute drive to Delhi’s main centre of Connaught Place.
Old and New Delhi are your destinations today. Visit the Red Fort with its massive sandstone ramparts and Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. See and barter in the teeming bazaars that surround it. You’ll explore the 16th-century tomb of Humayun, a World Heritage site, the great tower of Qutub Minar and the imposing imperial buildings designed by Sir Edwin Lutyen. Finish your tour at Raj Ghat and Shanti vana - the cremation sites of Gandhi and Nehru.
After a 90-minute flight, arrive at Bikaner and hotel Narendra Bhawan. This grand property was the residence of the late Narendra Bhawan, the last Maharaja here. Each room incorporates an Indian theme of elaborate ceilings, Bikaner terrazzo floors and traditional crafts. These sit in harmony with Portuguese tiles and a vivid colour palette. Take a dip in the infinity pool offering with impressive views over the city. Dine in the hotel’s elegant and timeless restaurant, P&C. Discover the gallery, paying homage to its original resident and showcases local artists and craftsmen.
Enjoy a half-day sightseeing tour of Bikaner, on the northern tip of the desert triangle. Previously a silk route trade centre, Bikaner exudes a medieval aura and traditional lifestyles. Sight-seeing here includes a visit to Junagarh Fort which protected 37 palaces, temples and pavilions. Lalgarh Palace is an imposing sandstone monument designed by Sir Swinton Jacob. Outside the town is Karni Mata Temple, noted for its amazing numbers of 'kabas' or rats. You will also then visit Gajner, a wooded area around a lake, and home to many rare migratory birds.
You will be met and transferred by private vehicle to Jaisalmer, almost a nine-hour drive away. Check in to Suryagarh Jaisalmer – your gateway to the Thar Desert. Suryagarh preserves past traditions in a modern setting. After your long drive, you can destress with a Rait or ‘sand’ ritual in the spa then submerge in the seclusion of the indoor pool. Savour a traditional dinner within the Lake Gardens and, fully revived, take an archery workshop which requires precision, patience and skill.
Join a guided sightseeing tour of Jaisalmer. Visit Jaisalmer Fort, the highlight of this desert city. The fort nestles Trikuta Hill and is guarded by havelis, beautifully carved Jain Temples of the 12th-15th century AD and five royal palaces. This unique ‘living fort’ is occupied by merchants and shop owners. Take time to visit the intricately carved havelis or mansions. Patwon-ki-Haveli is Jaisalmer’s grandest mansion in Jaisalmer, its ceiling supported by exquisitely carved pillars.
Today’s private transfer takes you to Jodhpur, nearly seven hours away. Raas Jodhpur is the area’s first boutique hotel with seven buildings that reflect the walled city itself. Like a microcosm of Jodhpur, it has sensational vistas, different styles and angles, a central water body, square and gardens. And, like virtually every home in Jodhpur, almost every room enjoys the most spectacular view of Mehrangarh, rated, by Time magazine in 2008, to be Asia's best fortress.
This morning, visit Jodhpur and see the Fort, set on a dramatic escarpment and built on the advice of a hermit. Inside you can explore several palaces added by successive rulers and then head to Jaswant Thada, a memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. After lunch, drive to a traditional Bishnoi village, built on 29 rules since 1485 to protect the community here. As a result, the residents are vegetarians and have great respect for all living things. They keep buffalo, sheep and goat for their milk, wool and manure.
After breakfast, leave Jodhpur and drive through marvellous scenery of desert, mountains and farmland to Udaipur, visiting the Jain temples at Ranakpur en route. The temple here is unmissable and was built in the 15th century. Your drive continues to Udaipur and your hotel, Jagat Niwas Palace. Nestled in the fertile valley on the breezy, eastern banks of the famous Lake Pichola, this is a heritage boutique hotel, highly acclaimed for its location and stunning views of the City Palace, Monsoon Palace and the ancient temples of Udaipur.
Take a half-day to see Udaipur, stopping at the City Palace with its mirrored walls and ivory doors, coloured glass windows and inlaid marble balconies. Visit the lovely Sahelion-ki-Bari Gardens, the Jagdish Temple and the local folk museum. This evening board a boat on Lake Pichola and view Udaipur rising majestically in the middle of the Rajasthan desert. Also visit the Jag Mandir Palace – the other island palace in the middle of the lake.
It’s all about Deogarh today and you will be transferred by private vehicle to the doors of Dev Shree. This luxury hotel in Deogarh, Rajasthan is situated on the edge of the Ragho Sagar Lake. At the lake’s far end, the Gokul Fort perches on a hill and provides perfect sunrise backdrops. The hotel is designed in traditional haveli style with deep verandas and pretty courtyards. Spend your evenings in the central courtyard either soaking up the sun or being warmed by the winter fire.
Today choose to go on a day or sundowner jeep safari, through the villages and rough country. If the season is right, pop into the Anjana cave temple, but the drive is planned at your whim – choose to understand the farming lifestyle, the temples and culture, or the flora and fauna. Finish your tour at the lakeside, with a drink and a snack revelling in the sunset and evening activity of the migratory birds.
You will be met and transferred the six hours from Deogarh to Jaipur. At the Royal Heritage Haveli, you step into history. Hidden courtyards and manicured lawns lead to the 14 suites and one apartment, decorated with frescoes and furnished with historical pieces. There is a marble and sandstone pool and a spa offering Ayurvedic and Swedish massages. For dinner, choose from sunny verandas or more intimate courtyards for evening dining with many of the ingredients sourced from the onsite vegetable garden.
This morning, visit Amber Fort, the former capital of Jaipur State. This fortress palace is perched high on a fortified hill and richly decorated inside. This reflects the glory and wealth of the city’s association with the Mughals. In the afternoon, enjoy a half-day tour of Jaipur, the 'The Pink City of Rajasthan'. Visit the unique Jantar Mantar Observatory, built in the 1700s yet even today looks futuristic and almost surrealistic; the City Palace and its Museum, the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of the Winds.
Today you will fly home to the UK, via Delhi.