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Rail Journey Through India

Alternate Itinerary
November 09 - 21, 2013 (13 Days)

Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Delhi, India

Depart on an overnight flight to Delhi and check into our hotel upon arrival.
The Taj Mahal Hotel

Day 3 — Delhi

Set out on a tour of New Delhi, the capital established by the British in 1911, and see the India Gate and Parliament buildings. Then delve into Old Delhi, a patchwork of eight different cities built by a succession of rulers and a center of Muslim India between the 13th and 19th centuries. Explore Humayun's Tomb, a milestone in the history of Mughal architecture, and Gandi Smriti, a museum honoring Mahatma Gandhi. This evening gather for a special welcome reception and dinner.
The Taj Mahal Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Jaipur

Depart early this morning for a flight from Delhi to Jaipur in Rajasthan. Known as the "Pink City" for its rose-colored buildings, Jaipur is protected by high fortifications and multiple gates. This morning visit Amber Fort, a 16th- and 17th-century hilltop complex. Explore its exquisite and well-preserved palaces, temples, gardens, and pavilions. After lunch enjoy a guided tour of the City Palace, a vast complex with a museum housing rare manuscripts, paintings, and an armory. Visit the 18th-century royal observatory known as Jantar Mantar and examine a variety of precise astronomical tools.
Jai Mahal Palace (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Jaipur

Begin the day with a stop to photograph Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building where the delicate latticework and honeycombed windows were originally designed to allow ladies of the court to watch life on the streets below. Then drive to Pushkar to experience the renowned Pushkar Camel Fair. The annual fair draws around 200,000 people who bring some 50,000 camels and cattle for several days of theatrical bargaining and trade. Here, men with flamboyant mustaches and bright turbans organize camel races and competitions, as well as a whimsical beauty contest, in which lavishly adorned camels parade and preen before the crowds. Visit the Brahma temple and the scared Pushkar Lake before returning to Jaipur to board the Palace on Wheels.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Ranthambhore National Park/Chittaurgarh

Set out on a morning game drive in Ranthambhore National Park in search of the elusive tiger as well as hyenas, jackals, and foxes. After lunch back on the train, arrive in the city of Chittaurgarh. Trace a turbulent history of siege, valor, and sacrifice at Chittaurgarh Fort, one of the largest forts in India.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Udaipur

Known as the City of Lakes, Udaipur is most celebrated for the fairy-tale marble palaces that appear to rise from the waters of Lake Pichola. Venture into a spectacular labyrinth of courtyards within the City Palace, a soaring creation of marble and granite perched on the lake’s edge. This palace complex, the largest in Rajasthan, blends medieval, European, and Chinese architecture and is richly decorated with inlaid mirror-work, mosaics, and frescoes. Cruise by the Lake Palace Hotel on an afternoon boat ride on Lake Pichola.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Jaisalmer

Today the train carries us into the heart of the Thar Desert to magical Jaisalmer, founded by Rawal Jaisal in A.D. 1156. Rising above the city, the imposing turrets and bastions of the golden sandstone fort conceal a lively town within. Explore this magnificent fort and discover the havelis, once the mansions of wealthy merchants, decorated with elaborate facades. Later, ride a camel across the sand dunes of Sam and stop for a traditional tea in the desert.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Jodhpur

Jodhpur's blue-hued old city lies at the foot of massive Mehrangarh Fort, perched on a rocky outcrop some 120 meters high. Visit the 15th- century fort with stunning views of the city, elaborately mirrored rooms, and a museum with a spectacular collection of miniature paintings, ivory artifacts, and weapons. Take auto rickshaws into the narrow streets of the old city with its blue hued buildings, clock tower, and people shopping at the Sardar Bazaar. Enjoy lunch before returning to the Palace on Wheels for the final leg of our rail journey.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Keoladeo Ghana National Park/Agra

Disembark the train in Bharatpur and head into the wetlands of Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a renowned bird sanctuary. Search for egrets, flamingos, and many other bird species and wildlife. Then stop at a hotel near the park for a cooking demonstration and lunch. Take a guided walk around Bharatpur village before heading to Fatehpur Sikri, the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1569 to 1585, where elegant carved sandstone palaces remain incredibly well-preserved. Continue to Agra this evening.
ITC Mughal (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Agra

Rise early this morning to see the Taj Mahal's marble sparkle in the dawn's light. Constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is often described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. After lunch, explore Agra Fort's courtyards, mosques, and private chambers, which bring to life the story of the Mughal Empire. Pay a visit to a marble inlay workshop to see how the intricate stonework of the Taj Mahal was created. This evening, visit the iconic Taj Mahal at sunset before gathering for a festive farewell dinner.
ITC Mughal (B,L,D)

Days 12 & 13 — Agra/Delhi/U.S.

Rise early this morning to see the Taj Mahal’s marble sparkle in the dawn’s light. After breakfast, explore Agra Fort’s courtyards, mosques, and private chambers, which bring to life the story of the Mughal Empire. In the early afternoon, drive to Delhi and relax in day rooms at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Later, transfer to the airport for your overnight flight, arriving home the next day.
Day rooms at The Taj Mahal Hotel (B,L,D)