A Compass India Holiday representative will receive you on arrival at the international airport and help transfer you to your hotel.
Delhi, India’s capital has seen great empires rise and fall around it for millennia, with each new batch of rulers building over the works of their predecessors. As a result, the city abounds in monuments and ruins of stunning diversity. The seat of the world’s largest democracy, it also boasts of magnificent symbols of government that pay architectural tribute to the ideals of self-rule and democracy. These co-exist side by side with wide multi-lane motorways, shopping malls, fast cars and ultramodern steel-glass office complexes that characterise any large 21st century metropolis.
Overnight will be at the Delhi.
Breakfast will be at the hotel.
Raj Ghat is the famous memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. The shrine bears testimony to the simplicity of the man who changed the world with the power of ideas. A simple black stone structure with an eternal flame burning at one end.
The majestic Red Fort was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1639, and remained seat of the empire for the next two centuries. Today, the Prime Minister of the India delivers his Independence Day speech to the nation from the ramparts of this red sandstone structure.
To truly experience the buzz of the old markets and narrow, winding medieval alleys of old Delhi, we recommend a rickshaw ride through the city. Your guide will be happy to arrange one for you.
Jama Masjid is one of Asia’s largest mosques. We shall view this magnificent structure from outside, its lofty and highly ornate domes and minarets reminiscent of a scene from the Arabian Nights.
Enjoy a tour of the beautiful Akshardham Temple.
Overnight will be at in Delhi.
After breakfast, proceed for the half-day city tour of New Delhi.
New Delhi was built by the British in the 1930s as their imperial capital. Majestic government and administrative buildings line the wide, tree-lined avenues of what is also known as Lutyen’s Delhi after Sir Edwin Lutyens who was commissioned to design the city in 1911.
Start at India Gate, the red sandstone arch erected in memory of Indian and British soldiers who laid down their lives in World War I. Close by are the majestic Parliament House, the seat of the world’s largest democracy and the Rastrapathi Bhawan, the Indian President’s official residence. Inside are the famed Mughal Gardens with its ornate fountains and manicured lawns. Mughal Gardens are open to the public during spring.
Further south lies the Qutub Minar. Built by Qutubuddin Aibak, a slave general in 1193, it is India’s tallest stone tower and marks the site of the country’s first Muslim kingdom. The iron tower in a square opposite is unique in that it never rusts, although it has been exposed to the elements for centuries.
The lotus-shaped Bahai temple south of Delhi is also of interest. An ideal place for meditation, this Bahai House of worship is open to people of all faiths.
Lunch will be at an Anglo-Indian restaurant.
Return to hotel.
Proceed to Delhi Safdarjung railway station to board the luxurious Palace on Wheels, your royal carriage for the rest of your holiday. All meals will be served on board in the luxurious dining car.
The first stop of the Palace-on-Wheels is Jaipur, Jaipur, also known as the ‘Pink City’ from the facelift it received in 1853 to celebrate a visit by Prince Albert, is dotted with havelis (traditional mansions), bazaars, opulent palaces and rugged majestic forts that showcase the glorious past of its rulers, the Rajputs.
The Rajput princes were fierce warriors some of whom declared loyalty to the invading Mughals and proved to be formidable allies of the empire. Among them was King Jai Singh II, whom the Mughals gave the title Sawai Maharaja, or “King and a quarter”. Jaipur gets its name from this valiant king.
The exquisite outer facade of Hawa Mahal, the "Palace of Winds," resembles a manmade honeycomb and is one of Jaipur’s most iconic and oft photographed sights. Designed to facilitate maximum air circulation and cross ventilation, the five-storied Hawa Mahal is made of lime and mortar, and decorated with impossible intricate trelliswork. From the privacy of its ornate jharokhas (traditional Rajasthani windows), the ladies of the court could gaze out at life in the streets below.
Situated on the top of a hill, the magnificent Amber Fort Palace offers a panoramic view of the old city. Established in 1592, its rugged exteriors believe the delicate architecture inside, a rare fusion of traditional Rajasthani and Islamic styles. Reach the fort the old fashioned way, atop a ceremonial elephant along a cobbled path up that opens into several havelis, step wells, courtyards and temples. Visit Sheesh Mahal or chamber of mirrors, Jas Mandir with its ornate ceilings and latticework and the stunning Shila Devi temple with its intricately carved silver door.
Proceed to station for departure.
Ranthambhore is the largest national park in North India and its dry deciduous forests are home to over 500 species of flowering plants and 270 species of birds in addition to leopards, nilgai, sloth bear and wild boar.
Ranthambhore of course is best known for its large tiger population. The chances of spotting a tiger is relatively high in Ranthambhore, with the elusive predator often seen basking in the sun or enjoying the shade of a tree.
Arrive at Chittorgarh
Chittorgarh (also spelt Chittaurgarh) was the nerve center of Rajasthani social and political life till it fell to the Mughals in the 16th century. It is said that the citadel fell hard, the women and children in the keep immolating themselves in ritual pyres as the men rode out to certain death in the hands of the gigantic Mughal army.
Chittorgarh epitomizes the indomitable spirit of the warrior Rajputs and is known for Rana Pratap, the defiant tragic hero who just would not relent in the face of Mughal might, repeatedly coming up against an army large enough to swallow his meager forces several times over in desperate bids to win back the kingdom of his ancestors,
You will live in the imposing Bijaipur Castle that commands a breathtaking view of the neighboring lake and villages. Visit the stunning Chhatris or cenotaphs, take jeep rides through traditional villages, or attend yoga and cookery classes at the hotel.
The stunning 7th century Chittorgarh Fort on its hilltop perch, the 15th century nine-storied Vijay Stambh or victory tower, the palaces of Rana Kumbha and Queen Padmini are among the must-visit sights of Chittorgarh.
Founded by Maharana Uday Singh, beautiful Udaipur on the banks of Lake Pichola is a fairyland with beautiful palaces in the middle of lakes, islands, opulent havelis and temples. Surrounded by the ancient Aravalli hills, Udaipur shimmers in dazzling white and is also called the City of Dawn.
The massive City Palace overlooking the Lake Pichola is a glittering example of Rajput architecture. A part of the city palace is now a museum. Behind the fortified walls of the palace, dark, steep and narrow staircases connect a maze of royal chambers and courtyards. Dazzling intricate miniatures, antiques and paintings are on display everywhere. Of note are gorgeous mosaics of peacocks in Mor Mahal and a courtyard full of shady trees on the terrace of Amar Vilas.
In the heart of the Thar desert, Jaisalmer stands amidst a shifting landscape of giant sand dunes, its yellow sandstone buildings blending seamlessly with the desert sands. Founded in the 12th century by Maharawal Jaisal Singh, Jaisalmer is the perhaps the most iconic of Rajasthan’s cities.
The magnificent Jaisalmer Fort is one of the oldest in the world and still in use, housing more than a quarter of the city’s population. Brooding, proud and tall, Jaisalmer Fort stands atop a hill, its dazzling yellow sandstone walls providing a natural camouflage against the yellow sands all around. Three layers of high yellow walls surround the fort, never breached in 800 years. Inside, narrow serpentine alleyways lead into and around magnificent old havelis, museums, markets and cafés. The sharp cry of peacocks occasionally break the majestic silence of the surrounds.
The 19th century Nathmal ki Haveli may be identified by the two life sized yellow sandstone elephants that stand guard at its gates and the murals that adorn its walls. According to legend, the building was built by two brothers one of whom concentrated on the left side of the structure and another on the right, leaving the final product a bit asymmetric.
The three hundred year old Salim Singh ki Haveli is an interesting experiment in building design. Narrow at the base, the structure grows wider with every level. Completely stable, the haveli is occupied to this day.
The magnificent six story high Patwonji ki Haveli is known for the highly intricate carvings on its walls and houses the local office of the Archeological Survey of India. The Tazia Tower was a gift to the rulers of Jaisalmer from the Muslim stone carvers who worked on the city. Shaped like a tazia, a wooden tower carried by Shia Muslims during Muharram, it is, in terms of building style, different from everything else in Jaisalmer.
The 15th century Gadi Sagar Lake once held the town’s entire water supply. Surrounded by temples, the lake is home to migratory birds in winter. Don’t miss Tilon ki Pol, the beautiful yellow sandstone gateway that leads one to the lake.
The Jaisalmer Fort also houses some intricately carved Jain Temples dating back to between the 12th and 15th centuries. An ancient library, Gyan Bhandar, in the temple complex houses very old and rare manuscripts from that era.
Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan, founded the city of Jodhpur in 1459. Situated on the edge of Thar Desert, Jodhpur embodies the romance and feudal splendor of Rajasthan. Jodhpur is also called the ‘Blue City’ from the blue houses that surround its most famous landmark, the majestic Mehrangarh Fort that sits on the top of a hill 125 meters above the city. The city itself is surrounded by high walls 10 kilometers long.
In the morning, the Palace on Wheels arrives in Bharatpur. It is a bird sanctuary and a paradise for nature lovers. Thousands of Egrets, Siberian Cranes, migratory Water Fowl and other species of birds nest here.
The Mughal capital of Agra on the banks of the Yamuna River is a bustling town teeming with narrow, winding alleyways that hark back to an era gone by. Dotted by magnificent monuments including UNESCO World Heritage SIte Taj Mahal, the city is a dazzling contrast of red sandstone and white marble structures.
Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his queen Mumtaz Mahal and designed by Persian architect Ustad, the magnificent Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. A massive white marble structure so delicate that it appears to float in the air, the Taj is otherworldly in its beauty and is best viewed in moonlight or at dawn and dusk. The close-up view reveals breathtakingly intricate inlay work carved into the marble, and bears eloquent testimony to the triumph of Mughal art, culture and architecture at its peak. No holiday in India is complete without the Taj.
Standing across the river from the Taj, the majestic red sandstone structure of Agra Fort was erected in 1565 by Mughal Emperor Akbar the great. Little did he know that the same fort would later serve as prison for his grandson Emperor Shah Jahan in the end of his days. From his prison perch of Musamman Burj, an exquisite octagonal marble tower atop the fort, Shah Jahan would spend his last days looking out longingly at the Taj.
A Compass India Holiday representative will pick you up at the station and transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Mumbai.
Arrive at Mumbai
A Compass India Holiday representative will receive you at the airport and start a tour of the city.
Originally an archipelago of seven islands on the Arabian Sea, Mumbai was named after Mumba Devi, patron goddess of the Koli fishermen indigenous to the area. In the 19th century, reclamation work joined up the islands in a long, narrow strip of land that is the Mumbai we know today. This bustling metropolis is India’s commercial capital and home of Bollywood, the world’s largest movie industry. A city of contrasts, Ferraris and Porsches stand shoulder to shoulder on Mumbai roads with strikingly retro Premier Padmini cabs, and glitzy malls stocking super luxury brands co-exist side by side with buzzing local markets.
The decidedly un-fortress-like business district to the North of Kolaba is popularly known as Fort and gets its name from a long-dismantled East India Company fort that, soon after the Maratha Wars, gave way to the grand colonial buildings which give this part of Mumbai its distinctive architectural flavour. Of note is St. John’s Church, dedicated to British soldiers who laid down their lives in Afghanistan and Sind in the 19th century.
To travellers flying into Mumbai, the city’s most recognizable feature is perhaps the Marine Drive, a long sea-facing promenade that runs from Nariman Point to Malabar Hill in a shallow arc, curving along the lapping waters of the Arabian Sea. In the evening, the Marine Drive glitters in a stunning crescent of light and is appropriately named “Queen’s Necklace.”
What the Queen’s Necklace is to air travellers today, the Gateway of India was to the seafaring visitors of the early 20th century. Built in 1911 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to the land of their subjects, this magnificent arch was ironically also the point from where the last British ship departed India after the latter gained independence in 1947. A flight of steps leads down to the sea where motor launches bob in the water, offering short cruises to tourists. After sundown, and weather permitting, the excursion is well worth the fare as the view from the sea towards the dramatically illuminated Gateway is nothing short of splendid. Towards the east lies Apollo Bunder, abuzz with street vendors, fortune-tellers, evening walkers and tourists.
Flora Fountain/ Hutama Chowk: This fountain situated in the heart of the city was erected in 1869 in honour of a British Governor of Bombay Sir Bartle Frere. Flora Fountain marks a junction of five streets and known as the 'Piccadilly Circus 'of Mumbai, which is decorated at its four corners with mythological figures, the Fountain is a structure in dull stone with a figure the Roman Goddess of flowers, at the top.
The Dhobi Ghat is Mumbai’s indigenous public laundromat service. Dhobis (laundrymen) go around the city collecting dirty laundry from neighbourhoods and return here to put them through some tough love. Hundreds of synchronized fishermen at their wash pens dip clothes in soapy water and dash them against flogging stones repeatedly, expelling dirt in violent soap bubble explosions. Later, the clothes, now clean, are ironed and home delivered, all for a pittance. The choreography of hundreds of dhobis at work is an iconic image of a city that evidently likes washing its dirty linen in public, and has appeared in countless TV commercials and movies, the latest in line being Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Terminus is one of India’s busiest railway stations and. a unique amalgamation of Indian and Gothic architectural styles. The centerpiece of the station is a 160 foot high dome and an ode to progress in the form of the statue of a woman carrying a torch. Movie buffs may be interested to know that Victoria Terminus featured prominently in the Academy Award winning “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The English Gothic Mumbai High Court Building was designed by Col. J. A. Fuller, a British engineer, and dates back to 1878. On the western face of this majestic structure stand the statues of Justice and Mercy.
Made of local Kurla stone, the 280 foot tall Rajabai Clock Tower is an amalgam of Venetian and Gothic styles of architecture, and boasts of absolutely stunning stained glass windows. Presently, the tower houses the University of Mumbai library.
End the tour by evening and board cruise. Overnight will be on the cruise ship.
Deboard from the train. A Compass India Holiday representative will pick you up from the Railway station.
Explore the Jewish communities of the city.
Later, the Compass India Inc. team will escort you to the airport for your flight home.