Your holiday summary

Holiday type Escorted tours
Country India
Travel type Fly
Price range From £1599
Travel partner Riviera Travel
Duration 13 nights
Need help with your booking?
0330 333 6751

Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and Amritsar's golden temple

India is steeped in history. It’s a heady cocktail of contrasts: palaces, forts, countryside, deserts and vibrant cities. Our tour takes you to some of the most colourful places on the planet – from Amritsar’s golden temple to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, the gleaming white of the Taj Mahal, and the 'Blue City' of Jodhpur.


Included


  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room
  • Twelve nights accommodation in three, four and five star hotels
  • Daily breakfast
  • Scheduled flights to/from Delhi
  • Domestic flights to/ from Amritsar and from Udaipur
  • All transfers
  • Guided tours of Amritsar, Agra and the Taj Mahal, Jaipur city tour, visit to Amber Fort, city tour of Pushkar, Jodhpur and Mehrangarh Forts, visit to Nagaur Fort, Ranakpur temple, Udaipur city tour
  • All local transport as described
  • Porterage of one item of luggage per person
  • The services of a Riviera tour manager
Not included


  • India visa
Day one

Airport check-in for your overnight flight direct to Delhi.

Day two

On arrival we connect with the domestic flight (approximately one hour) to the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, arriving at approximately lunchtime. Our hotel for the next two nights is the new five star Radisson, where you can relax after the journey. During the early evening we enter Amritsar for our first glimpse of the golden temple, silhouetted against the dark sky with its rich golden glow shimmering in the surrounding waters. We’ll also witness the Palaki ceremony, when the Sikh holy scriptures are paraded on a flower-garlanded palanquin.

Day three

The golden temple is also fascinating by day, illustrated on our morning visit where we learn about the Sikh way of life with the building reflected in its huge sacred pool, surrounded by marble colonnaded arcades. Everything is scrupulously clean and well-ordered, with pilgrims and visitors mingling together. Once inside, the richly gilded inlay work is a revelation - wood panels decorated with gold and silver plus ivory carvings, all viewed whilst holy scriptures are continually recited under a dome containing 100kg of pure gold. In accordance with Sikh custom anyone who wishes is offered sustenance free of charge, with the resultant kitchens capable of feeding 6,000 people per hour, their huge vats of dhal and an ancient machine producing a constant stream of chapattis. Here in Amritsar, it would be remiss of us if we did not see the site of the Amritsar massacre – where in 1919 a nationalist demonstration of unarmed locals were fired upon by the British authorities without warning. This pivotal event had a profound effect on the Indian Independence Movement’s most influential leader, Gandhi, who then initiated his ultimately successful ‘civil disobedience’ campaign. After some relaxation time, we take the short drive to the nearby Bagh border post with Pakistan. Over the years this has developed into a light-hearted, rather bizarre competition as to who has the most flamboyant marching style and vociferous supporters. It’s a typically Indian concoction, a blend of open-air theatre, party and military parade. Some of the Army’s tallest soldiers act as border guards with popular Bollywood songs played beforehand - anyone can go and join in the singing and dancing.


Day four


We fly to Delhi, continuing by road to Agra and the Taj Mahal, arriving late afternoon, staying one night at the centrally located, four star Taj Gateway.

Day five

In the soft morning light, as the mist rises from the Yamuna river, the Taj Mahal seems to float, mirage-like, above the almost surreal surrounding landscape. A combination of symmetry and history makes this wonder of the world one of the planet’s most amazing monuments and you have plenty of time to see it from all angles. Then, in contrast, you visit the vast red sandstone 16th century Agra Fort, once the headquarters of the vast Moghul empire. This afternoon we drive to Jaipur, staying two nights at the new five star Marriott hotel, with its large pool and excellent dining options.

Day six

Jaipur is a fascinating place, its pink-coloured buildings contrasting with the reds, saffron’s and deep violets of hundreds of traditional saris whose sequins reflect the midday sun. Raised pavements are home to street stalls with fresh vegetables and vibrant, pungent spices. Our first stop the Amber Fort, located in a scenic location in the nearby hills. Our tour includes sections reserved for the Maharaja’s wives and concubines and an amazing hall completely covered with tiny convex mirrors embedded mosaic-like in walls and ceilings. Next is the pink sandstone Palace of the Winds, a honeycomb of windows from which the royal household’s ladies watched the street life and processions below. Next, we visit the City Palace, home to the present Maharaja of Jaipur, viewing the superb collection of formal robes, intricate carpets, fine paintings and an impressive armoury. Finally we see the outstanding 18th century Jantar Mantar open-air observatory, an accurate collection of early astronomical instruments, used for predicting eclipses, the impending arrival of monsoons and detailed observation of the heavens.

Day seven

Today we experience one of India's greatest institutions – the railway system. Jaipur station is a busy hub where you’ll enjoy watching the comings and goings before boarding the comfortable ‘chair class’ carriages of the Shatabdi Express. We soon arrive at Pushkar, the sacred Hindu town, set on the banks of a lake and home to the world’s largest camel fair. A gathering of as many as 160,000 dealers and coinciding with the full-moon in November, business often takes a back seat to musicians, snake-charmers and dancers on hot coals. After checking into the three star superior, family run, Pushkar resort, set in its own spacious gardens, it’s time to explore the town. We visit its rare Brahma temple, the only place in the world where it is permitted to worship the creator-God of the Hindu religion, continuing through the small market to visit the sacred lake and bathing ghats at the town’s heart.

Day eight

Leaving Pushkar, we continue towards Nagaur Fort, a little known fort-cum-palace complex displaying a merging of Rajput and Moghul architecture. With its 800 year history and restoration, it deserves its UNESCO recognition. Located on the edge of the vast Thar desert, one of its most intriguing aspects is Nagaur’s water conservation systems which resulted in huge ‘tanks’ used as swimming pools by its rulers – the ultimate luxury in this parched land.
Driving through country roads, an arid landscape of sand dunes, we are off the beaten track now surrounded by the rural India of ox carts and small villages before seeing the Khimsar Fort. Nothing prepares you for the sight of this grand, 16th century edifice of towers, domes and ramparts, owned by the same family for 21 generations, and now a heritage hotel. The rooms are all different and spread out within the walls. There’s a bar, restaurant tea room and spa, plus a pool.

Day nine

Today we have a free day enjoying our surroundings, with the option of a jeep drive into the local ‘bush’ hopefully spotting blackbuck and bluebuck, two of the local antelope species, then a walk experiencing village life watching potters, the activity of numerous small shops and the daily market. There’s plenty of time to relax or explore. This afternoon perhaps take a drive to the dunes and a short camel cart ride before halting at the desert’s edge to experience the moment when the sun sinks slowly. This evening, there’s a Kalbelia dance troupe, a typical Rajasthani puppet show and traditional musicians.

Day 10

This morning we take the short drive to Jodhpur, the ‘Blue City’, so named after the colour wash of its old city and totally dominated by the Mehrangarh Fort. A gigantic mass of stonework seemingly growing from the huge hill on which it stands, with an impressive hall of mirrors, secret balconies and intricate sandstone carvings. Its museum houses Emperor Akbar’s sword, plus antique belongings of the Maharajas. This afternoon we walk through Jodhpur’s open-air Clocktower market, crammed with a variety of orange and red turbaned vendors selling absolutely everything from exquisite sequin-studded fine silks, to a host of freshly cut vegetables and aromatic spices. Tonight we stay at the four star Taj Vivanta.

Day 11

Today we leave Jodhpur and the plains of Rajasthan behind us, driving east to the Aravali Hills, some of the planet’s oldest rocks. Here the landscape changes to smooth bare hilltops interspersed with lush green narrow valleys, in one of which lies Ranakpur and arguably India’s finest Jain temple. Constructed entirely from white marble and completely covered by some of the world’s finest intricate carvings, with no two of it’s preserved 1,444 columns identical. Continuing to Udaipur, we stay three nights at the Taj Fateh Prakash Palace overlooking Lake Pichola. Set within the vast palace complex, our rooms all have lake views, with the Lake Palace right in front. In fact, you may also upgrade your stay to the five star Taj Lake Palace, one of the world’s finest hotels.

Day 12

Udaipur, the City of Lakes with its backdrop of green-covered hills has been the stage for countless ‘Bollywood’ films and James Bond’s ‘Octopussy’. Udaipur’s most famous sight is the white marble Lake Palace, seemingly floating on the calm waters of Lake Pichola. Overlooking this is the vast complex of the City Palace, Rajasthan’s largest royal complex which we visit. We’ll see the Maharani’s decorated private apartments, courtyards, pleasure gardens, a host of miniature paintings and armaments. Also the seven arches commemorating the seven times each king was weighed, with the equivalent in gold distributed amongst the populace. We’ll also see the great Durbar Hall and the Crystal Gallery, lined with thousands of unique items of crystal, all produced in Birmingham in 1877. This afternoon you are free to explore as you wish.

Day 13

A day at leisure to enjoy Udaipur. Sometimes known as the ‘Venice of the East’, it’s one of the smaller of India’s great cities, famous for its lakes. Why not take a motor launch around the lake, providing some excellent photo opportunities. Udaipur also has a host of markets and bazaars and as the day closes, perhaps end your tour by having a drink on the open-air sunset terrace of the Fateh Prakash Palace as the sun goes down over the lake.

Day 14

Today you catch the morning flight to Delhi connecting to London, arriving later the same day.
Five star Radisson, Amritsar

Four star Taj Gateway, Agra

Five star Marriott hotel, Jaipur

Three star Pushkar resort, Pushkar

Four star Taj Vivanti, Jodhpur

Four star Taj Fateh Prakash hotel, Udiapur

Upgrade Five star Taj Lake Palace, Udiapur
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Departure date Departing point Departure UK Arrive at Destination Nights Price  
25-Feb-2015 Heathrow Airport 21:50 11:55 13 1959.00 book
01-Apr-2015 Heathrow Airport 22:00 10:40 13 1599.00 please call
01-Apr-2015 Heathrow Airport 22:00 10:40 13 1895.00 please call
07-Oct-2015 Heathrow Airport 22:00 10:40 13 1899.00 please call
07-Oct-2015 Heathrow Airport 22:00 10:40 13 2225.00 please call
21-Oct-2015 Heathrow Airport 22:00 10:40 13 1899.00 book
21-Oct-2015 Heathrow Airport 22:00 10:40 13 2225.00 book
18-Nov-2015 Heathrow Airport 22:00 11:00 13 1999.00 please call
25-Nov-2015 Heathrow Airport 22:00 11:00 13 1899.00 book
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