Rajasthan – the Land of Kings – is where the Mughal emperors of centuries past ruled over much of India from their fort cities. In fact, this tour will see you stay in many of their palaces – including one that floats in marbled beauty in the centre of a lake. In between, you’ll go in search of tigers on jungle safaris, visit traditional desert villages, surround yourself in Delhi’s bustle with a rickshaw ride and witness sunrise over a true world wonder – the Taj Mahal. And, in contrast to the imposing forts of Jaipur and Jodhpur, you’ll end with Udaipur’s tranquil repose, a city of palace-ringed lakes.
Begin with a private chauffeur transfer to the airport where you’ll enjoy some premium-lounge relaxation before your overnight flight to Delhi.
A private transfer will bring you into India’s capital – a whirlwind of rich heritage and colourful bazaars interspersed with colonial charm. Indeed, the latter is exemplified by your luxurious accommodation where Victorian colonnades hide crystal chandeliers and historic art collections. It’s a considered contrast to your city tour, which will start with Old Delhi’s twistingly narrow streets. You’ll explore it all on that quintessentially Indian transport – the rickshaw – to watch such giant icons as the Red Fort backdrop crowded bazaars and local temples. Then, after visiting the great curves of India’s largest mosque – the 17th-century Jama Masjid – swap over into New Delhi. As the city’s colonial centre, palatial buildings line leafy boulevards, home to such landmarks as the world’s tallest brick minaret, the grand Mughal architecture of Humayun's Tomb and the country’s Arc de Triomphe – India Gate.
Your next private transfer is to Agra, where you’ll be welcomed to the 17th century capital of the all-powerful Mughal dynasty with a sunset visit to its icon – the Taj Mahal. Watch as its pearly marble glows pink in the sun’s fading rays before returning to witness its giant dome form a majestic silhouette over its tropical gardens at sunrise. You’ll also tour the UNESCO-listed Agra Fort whose stern sandstone walls belie a royal interior, matched by that of your accommodation – the Oberoi Amarvilas. It’s the only hotel where every room and suite offers uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal, while its unique layout and design also pay homage to the monument's grand Mughal splendour.
Continuing west, your private chauffeur will bring you to Ranthambore National Park. Once the hunting grounds of the Mughal emperors, its old-growth jungle – hidden between two mountain ranges – hides a diverse collection of wildlife. Climbing rocky ridges and hills to reach open valleys dotted with waterhole lakes and pools, you'll head out on naturalist-led safaris – one in the early morning and another in late afternoon – to give you the best chance of spotting hyenas, jackals and Bengal tigers. In between, you’ll stay in a luxury tented suite complete with pillow menu, claw foot bath and four poster beds.
Meet your private driver as you head to the Rajasthani capital and your luxury resort – the stunning Oberoi Rajvilas. Built around an 18th-century Shiva temple, its opulent suites, shaded courtyards and sprawling landscaped gardens are an oasis of indulgent relaxation on the outskirts of the city. Once you've settled in, a private city tour will introduce you first to the famed Amber Fort, hidden among the green hills that surround Jaipur. Enter through great sandstone gates to a princely world of fading royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, marble and glass work. The courtliness continues with a visit to the City Palace’s collection of royal arms and its neighbour – Hwa Mahal. A pyramidal maze of latticed screens and windows that dates to the 18th century, it’s one of the finest examples of Rajasthan’s temple architecture.
A private transfer will bring you to your boutique hotel in Jodhpur, set in the shadow of the city's Mehrangarh Fort. The 500-year-old granddaddy of Rajasthani castles, at 125 metres in height it looks out over a sea of flat-roofed buildings painted shocking blue. Your tour will bring you behind its great sandstone walls to explore a hidden, marble-clad interior that’s home to multiple royal residences with such evocative names as Pearl and Mirror Palace. Then, after visiting the skyward domes of the Jaswant Thada Cenotaph, you’ll discover the more human side to Jodhpur. Drive out into its desert surrounds to arrive at a remote village where 500-year-old traditions live on with artisan weavers and colourfully clothed shepherds.
Stay: RAAS Jodhpur
In a state defined by its arid, fort-punctuated deserts, Udaipur is a true oasis where lakes are ringed by sweeping curves of marble. And, after a scenic private chauffeur drive, you’ll arrive at your luxury hotel where fine dining and spa indulgence gives way to sweeping views across Lake Pichola's shimmering expanse. Your private touring here will bring you to its City Palace complex where successive rulers have each left their mark in increasingly extravagant architecture. No less impressive is Jagdish Temple whose vibrant tiers are matched only by the colourful dress of its devotees. To take it all in you’ll also enjoy a leisurely cruise on Lake Pichola to appreciate the city’s palatial skyline and busy waterside scenes.
Stay: The Leela Palace
Following a sumptuous breakfast, a final private transfer will whisk you to the airport for your flight back to the UK. On arrival, you'll be met by your chauffeur who will see you safely home.
"India's rich beauty and architectural splendour is at its most prominent in Rajasthan. Nearby Agra is home to the finest of them all – the Taj Mahal. I've designed this itinerary to take in the very best of north India at a pace that will suit most people. If you've got more time, I'd recommend a flight to the south to experience the verdant hill stations and famed backwaters of Kerala."
Low Season from: £4,345 pp
High Season from: £6,675 pp