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Holi India

Tours
Holi India
DATES

06 Mar 2020 - 18 Mar 2020



RATES
from NZD$8310 per person
Single rate from NZD$11435

Hover over rates for other currencies.

*Rates are per person based on Twin Share or Single Room.
*Prices are subject to change due to currency fluctuation until paid in full.
*A 'Willing to Share' may be possible on this tour. Please enquire. 
*This Tour departs with a minimum of 8 guests.
*Domestic airfares & taxes are subject to change at anytime prior to ticketing. We suggest you book & pay for these air tickets as soon as possible to secure the best available fare.
*International airfares are not included in the land rate. PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE.


Holi India Holi India Holi India Holi India
Holi India

HOLI! 2020 - A JOURNEY THROUGH INDIA  

 

HOLI - Celebrating India’s Festival of Colour. This 13 day itinerary will take you on an amazing journey through the beautiful cities of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Narlai and Udaipur - offering a feast for the senses.

For the culturally inquisitive, India is a treasure trove of stunning forts, sprawling palaces, diverse landscapes, splendid cuisine, incredibly hospitable people and simply amazing shopping.

Immerse yourself in the magic of India, waking to the sound of the muezzin’s call, dining by candlelight in an ancient Stepwell, riding rickshaws and bullock carts like locals. Rise at dawn to experience the life blood of India - witnessing the ‘dhobi wallahs’ commence their day in the open air laundries, wandering through the flower markets & following the Chai Wallahs in the alleyways.

We will ride rickshaws like locals, visit ancient forts and palaces, take a boat ride on Lake Pichola and spot leopards in the hills surrounding rural Narlai, meeting friendly and inspiring people along the way. You will visit the iconic Taj Mahal, which is every bit as enthralling as one imagines, especially at the quieter times of sunrise and sunset. And there will be plenty of opportunity for retail therapy in colourful bazaars. 

The climax of our journey will be the Hindu Spring Festival of Holi, when the streets will explode with colour in a dazzling celebration of life, love and joy. We will be swept up in the mesmerising displays of dance & music on this hugely significant, joyous day—an unmissable spectacle! 

Tour Overview
Duration
13 DAYS - MARCH 2020
Start Point
Delhi
Finish Point
Mumbai
Tour Style
Escorted Tour
Accommodation
Boutique Hotels, Heritage Resorts
Meals
As per itinerary
Transport
Private Van, Domestic Flights
Max Group Size
Min 8 Guests, Max 12 Guests
Tour Inclusions
  • x2 nights Claridge's Hotel, Delhi
  • x1 night ITC Mughal hotel, Agra
  • x3 nights Samode Haveli, Jaipur
  • x2 nights Raas hotel, Jodhpur
  • x2 nights Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge, Narlai
  • x2 nights Fateh Garh Palace Hotel, Udaipur
  • Breakfast daily
  • Welcome Dinner at Claridge's Hotel, Delhi
  • Farewell Dinner at Fateh Garh, Udaipur
  • Stepwell Dinner at Rawla Narlai
  • Cooking Class + Dinner at Udaipur
  • x2 additional dinners: Agra & Jaipur
  • Lunch on day of HOLI
  • Driving tour of New Delhi
  • Visit to Humayun’s Tomb (New Delhi)
  • Walking tour of Old Delhi
  • Rickshaw ride in Old Delhi
  • Amber Fort & Mehtab Bagh (garden) to view Taj at Sunset & morning/sunrise (weather / fog dependent)
  • Visit to Taj Mahal
  • ‘Restorers of the Taj’ visit
  • Amber Fort, Jaipur
  • Stepwell, Anokhi Museum & shop, Jaipur
  • Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
  • Jaipur Jewels (store)
  • HOLI celebrations including turban, party & lunch 
  • Walking tour of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
  • Cenotaph, Jodhpur
  • Textile Emporium, Jodhpur
  • Stepwell, Jodhpur
  • Leopard safari, Narlai
  • Guided walking tour of Narlai village
  • Boat trip on Lake Pichola, Udaipur
  • Walking tour of City Palace and surrounds, Udaipur
  • Bottled water whilst touring
  • Arrival and departure transfers if on specified *flights
  • Land transportation in air-conditioned vehicles throughout the itinerary
  • Sightseeing tours as specified, hosted by English speaking escort
  • All entrance fees to monuments detailed
Tour Highlights
  • Holi Celebration in Jaipur 
  • Spectacular Forts & Monuments
  • Dhobi ghats & tiffin wallahs
  • Walking tour of Mumbai 
  • Boat cruise in Udaipur 
  • Stepwell Dinner in Narlai 
  • Chandni Chowk rickshaw ride 
  • Sunrise at the Taj Mahal
  • Jeep Safari in Narlai
  • Rikshaw ride through Old Delhi
  • Visiting Forts and Palaces
  • Cooking Class in Udaipur

Tour Itinerary

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Day 1 - Arrive Delhi
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On arrival in Delhi, present your e-visa letter before being met and privately transferred to The Claridges Hotel - your home for two nights - on a Bed & Breakfast basis.

Most flights arrive into Delhi either late in the evening, or first thing in the morning. If you arrive first thing this morning, early check in has been confirmed allowing you to freshen up before heading out to explore New Delhi. If you arrive the night before, your room will be held for you. 

After a rest and refresh, we drive through New Delhi - notable for its wide avenues, manicured gardens and fine Lutyen's architecture, all testament to the extensive British and European influence on the face of contemporary India.

After visiting Qutub Minar, the highest minaret in Delhi, we will visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, one of the most prominent Sikh gurdwaras in Delhi, and here you’ll begin to understand the warmth of Sikh values and traditions. From this exquisite building of golden domes and breathtaking marble prayer rooms over 10,000 people are fed every day irrespective of caste, creed and religion. To witness this great feast being prepared and served is a fascinating and humbling insight. You are welcome to join in!

Later in the afternoon we will stop at Khan Market - an enclave of stores oering everything from recycled paper & cards to high end Indian designer fashion. Wander at leisure before returning to Claridges.

We meet for our Welcome Dinner this evening. 

Overnight: The Claridges Hotel (Welcome Dinner)

Day 2 - Delhi
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This morning you will explore more of the old city, starting with a visit to Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, built between 1644 & 1658 as the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan.

We follow this with a rickshaw ride through the pulsating old city, a 17th century walled zone protected by imposing city gates. At the east end stands the imposing Red Fort, constructed between 1638 & 1648 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the man perhaps best known for building the world’s greatest monument to love, the Taj Mahal.

This afternoon we will wander the markets, providing the perfect opportunity to buy a sari for ‘dressing up’ to visit the Taj Mahal (optional) and a white Kurta (top & pants) for celebrating Holi (highly recommended!).

This evening will be at leisure

Overnight: The Claridges Hotel (B)

Day 3 - Delhi to Agra
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Driving out of New Delhi, we will travel by road to Agra - approximately 4 hours / 220 kilometres. On arrival in Agra we will settle into the ITC Mughal Hotel before departing for an afternoon tour of Agra.

Agra Fort is one of the finest Mughal forts in India. Construction of the massive red-sandstone fort, on the west bank of the Yamuna River, was begun by Emperor Akbar in 1565. Further additions were made, particularly by his grandson, Shah Jahn, using his favourite building material, white marble. The fort was built primarily as a military structure, but Shah Jahan transformed it into a palace, and later it became his gilded prison for 8 years after his son Aurangzeb seized power in 1658.

We will continue to the exquisite tomb of Mizra Ghiyas Beg, nicknamed the Baby Taj, built by Nur Jahan, between 1622 and 1628 before watching the sun set over the Taj Mahal from the Mehtab Bagh Gardens, the crescent-shaped, grass covered floodplain across the Yamuna River, identified by Emperor Shah Jahan as the ideal location for viewing the Taj.

This evening we will return to the ITC Mughal to shower and change before dining in a local restaurant (TBC).

Overnight ITC Mughal hotel. (B / D)

Day 4 - Agra to Jaipur
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An early morning start today to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise where you will witness the changing face of this majestic memorial, as the sun rises above the horizon, lighting up the early morning sky and casting myriad colours across the constantly changing edifice. Enjoy the sense of quiet before the rush of the day.

For those who wish to embrace some full immersion, we can make good use of our sari purchase in Delhi by dressing up and enjoying the fun of a 'Bollywood Photo Shoot' in front of this most romantic of monuments. We will then be escorted by our expert guide through the gardens and tomb itself, before returning to the hotel for breakfast.

Commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the remains of his cherished wife, the Taj Mahal is one of the most outstanding examples of Mughal architecture. Combining Indian, Persian and Islamic influences it is built of shimmering white marble that seems to change colour depending on the sunlight or moonlight hitting its surface. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, it remains one of the world’s most celebrated structures and a stunning symbol of India’s rich history. 

After breakfast, we will check out of the hotel, departing on our road journey to Jaipur - approximately 250kms / 6 hrs - and taking in fascinating sights of rural Rajasthan along the way.

We will stop at the Chand Bawri Step Well enroute in the village of Abhaneri, approx. 95km from Jaipur. Chand Baori is one of the oldest landmarks in Rajasthan, built between AD 800 and AD 900 to conserve as much water as possible in Rajasthan’s extremely arid environment. The temperature at the bottom is consistently 5-6 degrees cooler than at the surface so it has been used throughout the ages as a welcome gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat.

On arrival in Jaipur, the 'Pink City', we settle into the divine Samode Haveli, an urban oasis in the historic walled city of Jaipur.

Built 175 years ago as a residence of the rulers of Samode, this gorgeous hotel is a traditional Indian mansion still occupied by their descendants, who have converted their home into a luxury hotel. Today it retains every inch of its eccentric grandeur and heritage with intricate tiling, rich furnishings and extraordinary styling while established gardens, an elegant swimming pool and internal courtyards provide soothing spaces for those looking to relax. 

Dinner is included this evening

Overnight Samode Haveli. (B / D) 

Day 5 - Jaipur - HOLI!
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A relaxed start to the morning with the opportunity to enjoy a sleep in or relaxed breakfast. If you are keen to stretch your legs you may wish to head out for a walk - just beware of kids with holi powder and  water pistols!

Late morning we will don our Kurtas and depart for Narain Niwas Palace where we will participate in the highlight of the journey - the Celebration of Holi. The festival of Holi is a hugely important date on the Hindu calendar, marking the advent of spring and renewal, and people celebrate joyously right across the country. It is the most boisterous of all Hindu festivals, symbolising the victory of good over evil, heralding the end of winter and the beginning of spring, rebirth and new life. Celebrated by young and old, crowds of people gather together to sing and dance and throw coloured powder (and often water) at each other in a huge, infectious outpouring of joy. The occasion is enormous fun and your level of participation is completely up to you - you can stay on the periphery and watch the merry makers, or thoroughly immerse yourself in the festivities.
 
We will be ‘playing Holi’ in Narain Niwas Palace grounds. We have vouchers for a welcome drink or two and then all drinks and snacks are to your own account (it is advisable that you take NOTHING with you to Holi so we will run an honesty tab with individual accounts to be settled post the party). You can play for as long as you wish and when you are done a transfer vehicle is on standby to return you to Samode Haveli.
 
The remainder of your afternoon / evening is at leisure, so depending on the time you return to the haveli you may wish to indulge in a massage, relax by the pool, dine in the restaurant, or in your room or hit the hay! 
 
Happy HOLI!

Overnight Samode Haveli. (B / L)
Day 6 - Jaipur
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Just outside of Jaipur is the magnificent Amber Fort where your touring will commence after breakfast today. The fort was built by Raja Man Singh I and sits high on a hill overlooking Maota Lake and the tiny town of Amer. The Fort is a stunning example of Rajput architecture and in true Rajput style it is filled with wonderful temples, halls and palaces. 

From the fort you will travel to see Hawa Mahal, one of Jaipur’s best known landmarks. This “Palace of Winds” was erected in 1798 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Akin to the honeycomb in a beehive, its original intention was to allow the veiled ladies of the harem to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen. The building is five storeys high, but only one room deep with 953 small windows & balconies, decorated with intricate laticework. There are some excellent shops surrounding Hawa Mahal so you will have an opportunity to browse at leisure.

You will visit Anokhi, known for colourful prints and quality designs, before stopping at Gem Palace on your return to Samode Haveli. 

Your evening is at leisure.

Overnight Samode Haveli. (B)

Day 7 - Jaipur to Jodhpur
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After breakfast, you depart the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur by road for the ‘Blue City’ of Jodphur - approx. 330kms / 6 hours, stopping regularly and taking in fascinating sights of rural Rajasthan along the way. 

Arriving in the afternoon you will have time to settle into your room at the delightful Raas, your luxury boutique accommodation at the base of the majestic 15th century Mehrangarh Fort. Relax and enjoy this stunning design-led hotel and its elegant swimming pool before joining a hosted dinner beneath the floodlit edifice this evening, taking in the view of the fort soaring above. 

Dinner is included this evening. 

Overnight Raas (B / Dinner)

Day 8 - Jodhpur
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Start the day the with a privately guided tour to visit the Cenotaph and Meherangarh Fort, perched on a rocky cliff 125m above the plain, with commanding views across the surrounding landscape. 

The fort itself is divided into three areas: the outer court, with its old stables and kitchens; the durbar hall, reception rooms and maharajas’ palaces; and, finally, the zenana, or queens’ palaces. This palace complex is one of the most impressive in Rajasthan and you will quickly come to appreciate the vantage point on which this fort was constructed. 

This afternoon we will walk to the nearby Art  Emporium for a presentation on traditional Indian fabrics, accompanied by a serving of some the best samosas you will eat in India!

Enjoy an evening at leisure. 

Overnight Raas (B)

Day 9 - Jodhpur to Narlai
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Today, you will delve deeper into rural Rajasthan, as you depart Jodhpur after breakfast, bound for the rural retreat of Narlai - approx. approx 4 hours by road. 

On arrival, you will have time to settle into your accommodation at the charming Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge and freshen up. 

Rawla Narlai is a former hunting lodge located in the sleepy village of Narlai in the heart of the Aravalli Hills. Still owned by members of the Jodhpur Royal family, the lodge has been transformed into a stylish, luxurious boutique hotel, retaining all the original features of its former life as a Royal residence. 

Late afternoon venture out on a jeep safari to visit a nearby village, temple and to explore the rugged Godwad countryside around Narlai on the lookout for leopards! Being elusive by nature a sighting is not guaranteed but we will try our hardest. 

NARLAI  - The sleepy village of Narlai lies on a back country road of Ranakpur and is the perfect base to explore the countryside between Udaipur and Jodphur. Hidden away in the heart of Aravalli Hills, at the foot of a mammoth granite rock, surrounded by forested hills & rocky outcrops, Narlai was once the realm of Jodhpur’s Royal family where they would come to hunt in the surrounding countryside. Now it is a peaceful village that retains its original character and showcases the traditional lifestyle.

This evening is at leisure.

Overnight Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge. (B)

Day 10 - Narlai
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If you are feeling energetic, rise early to join a guided walk up Narlai Hill (700+ steps) to ‘Elephant Rock’ to watch the sunrise this morning. The White Elephant Statue at the summit is magnificent and the view is breathtaking. 

Return to the hotel for breakfast then later, join an escorted meander through the village, venturing into houses, meeting local blacksmiths, shoemakers and bakers. This is a delightful insight into the lifestyle and culture of the close knit Narlai community who still lead a traditional way of life. 

Return to the hotel for lunch. The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the spa, swimming pool or simply have a siesta before dinner.

This evening we embark on an incredible culinary experience in an utterly unique location - the Stepwell Dinner. Dining within the remarkable setting of a former 16th Century Baori (or step-well) we will be treated to not only a culinary sensation, but a sensory one too. We will feast on delicious Rajasthani fare, while indulging in a regal evening in a truly epic setting. An encounter not to be missed.

Overnight Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge. (B / Stepwell Dinner)

Day 11 - Narlai to Udaipur
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After breakfast, a drive of approx. 3 hours takes us from Narlai to the famed Lake City of Udaipur. On arrival, check in to the beautiful Fateh Garh Palace Hotel, set a top a hill with stunning views across the city and the glittering Lake Pichola. The pool here is definitely worth a visit having been listed as one of the ‘Six Sexiest Pools in the World’ by Conde Nast Traveller. 

We undertake a cooking class later this afternoon and this evening we dine on our culinary creation!

Overnight Fateh Garh Palace Hotel. (B / Cooking Class food)

Day 12 - Udaipur
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Udaipur is a fairytale city of lakes, palaces and marble, surrounded by a majestic ring of craggy green hills. Intricate and ornately turreted palaces, white washed havelis and bathing ghats cluster around the lakes edge creating a romantic feel.

Enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Pichola this morning to view the famous Lake Palace, formerly known as Jag Niwas it is now one of the world’s great luxury hotels, before visiting the City Palace, on the east shore of Lake Pichola, which boasts a wonderful blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture & a number of shops.

Return to Fateh Garh Palace Hotel for an afternoon at leisure in the Aravali Hills or book one of the optional activities such as a walk, a jeep safari or horse ride, or indulge in a treatment in the enjoy the spa.

Alongside the Palace is a local market and a number of fabulous boutiques, so you could also spend time browsing the treasures on offer this afternoon.

A final farewell dinner is included this evening.

Overnight Fateh Garh Palace Hotel. (B / Farewell Dinner)

Day 13 - To Mumbai / Departure
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Morning at leisure.

We are then transferred to the airort and we fly to Mumbai to connect with our flights back home.

Namaste and thank you for joining us on this extraordinary adventure!

About this tour

Holi: In Hinduism, Holi (also called Holaka or Phagwa) is an annual festival celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March). It celebrates spring, commemorates various events in Hindu mythology and is time of disregarding social norms and indulging in general merry-making. Holi is probably the least religious of Hindu holidays. During Holi, Hindus attend a public bonfire, spray friends and family with colored powders and water, and generally go a bit wild in the streets. The central ritual of Holi is the throwing and applying of colored water and powders on friends and family, which gives the holiday its common name "Festival of Colors." This ritual is said to be based on the story of Krishna and Radha as well as on Krishna's playful splashing of the maids with water, but most of all it celebrates the coming of spring with all its beautiful colors and vibrant life.

Tips for Holi: Holi is an enormous amount of fun, but it is best to be prepared. We highly recommend you purchase a Salwar Kameez (loose pants with a tunic top) if you intend to participate in the festivities, as your clothes are unlikely to return to their former glory. (Salwar Kameez can be purchased for approx $25/$30 in India). Bring a pair of spare, inexpensive sunglasses to wear on the day, and if you have light coloured hair an old hat is a very good idea. Both items may recover from being doused in colour, but if not then you have not sacrifced an expensive or favourite accessory.

Claridges Hotel, Delhi - The graceful and elegant Claridges Hotel in New Delhi is perfectly located in the heart of the city, close to cultural and historical landmarks. The hotel is set on three acres of landscaped gardens offering a tranquil oasis from the hustle and bustle of Delhi. The spacious guest rooms offer a luxurious blend of classic and contemporary style with modern facili􏰀es. There are a wide variety of dining options to suite all palates. When you are not exploring Delhi enjoy a wander around the landscaped gardens or relax by the hotel swimming pool. Guests can also enjoy the health club, hair and beauty salon and shopping arcade. The Claridges Hotel recreates the magic of old‐world charm coupled with gracious Indian hospitality and a great location.

ITC Mughal Hotel, AgraITC Mughal is sprawled over 35 acres of luxurious gardens, and in close proximity to the Taj Mahal, this luxury hotel in Agra is a fitting tribute to the great Mughal builders of the past. The only Indian hotel to have won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for its excellent representation of Mughal architecture, it now boasts of a brand new Royal Mughal Suites. True to its stately inspiration, ITC Mughal expresses the unparalleled luxury of a royal refuge, with its gorgeous accommodation, acres of gardens, fruit and flower bearing trees and shaded walkways.

Samode Haveli, Jaipur - The Samode Haveli is an urban oasis in the historic walled city of Jaipur. It is a traditional Indian mansion set in a verdant garden with apartments arranged around a series of intimate courtyards. Built 175 years ago as a residence of the rulers of Samode, it is still occupied by their descendants, who have converted their home into a luxury hotel. The foundation of the Samode Haveli was laid over 225 years ago by the Rawals of Samode. Since its construction the Haveli has been the city home of the rulers of Samode. Over the generations many additions and changes were made to the original structure  and these alterations give the Haveli a unique and distinctive old world charm. Built across many levels around a series of traditional chowks or courtyards, the Haveli is a quintessential Indo-Saracenic regal residence.

RAAS, Jodphur RAAS is situated in the prestigious north-eastern quarter of the Walled City, in the shadow of Mehrangarh's Victory Palace and Gate, and a stone's throw from the Clock Tower; the RAAS is comprised of four charismatic buildings in Jodhpur's very own 'rose-red' sandstone. The oldest - the Haveli proper -  was built towards the end of the 18th Century and served as the exclusive and intimate residence of the family. The newest, the Baradari, a multi-pillared, multi-purpose open Pavilion built in the 1850s, was really the centre of activity; it was where the Thakur spent his time entertaining and being entertained. It has sensational vistas, different styles and angles, a central water body, square and garden; and an all-pervasive warm ‘organic feel’. And almost every room in the hotel enjoys the most spectacular view of Mehrangarh.

Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge, Narlai - At the foot of a huge granite rock, in the heart of the Aravalli Hills and one of the most beautiful parts of Rajasthan, lies the charming little 17th century Rawla Narlai. Set in a small village surrounded by forested hills, this lovely family-run hotel is a perfect stopover between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The hotel offers 12 spacious and contemporary rooms with soft earthy colours, parquet flooring and excellent bathrooms with separate bath and large rain shower and a great selection of toiletries. After a long day exploring the beautiful countryside enjoy an unforgettable sundowner on top of the granite rock and dinner in either the dining room, poolside, or a beautiful stepwell dinner under the stars. When you are not out on walks, birdwatching, jeep safaris, horse riding, bullock cart ride or visiting the temples at Ranakpur then put your feet up in the lounge or relax by the pool. The hotel also has a massage centre, Jacuzzi, library, yoga and bicycles. 

Fateh Garh Palace Hotel, Udaipur - Hotel Fateh Garh is a luxury heritage hotel with views of the lake and palace complex, perfectly located to explore the famed sites of the Udaipur city, such as the City Palace, the Monsoon Palace or the beautiful Jagmandir.. Nestled within the heart of the city of lakes Hotel Fateh Garh is a pioneer in sustainable, ethical and responsible tourism. Built on a hilltop facing the city, the design of the hotel draws heavily from the rich Rajasthani heritage and culture, & appears no less than a palace. Hotel Fateh Garh is built on principles of ‘Vastu’ which is a vedic architectural style for balance and harmony of natures forces. The Heritage Palace and has been conceptualised, designed, and executed to revitalise the environmental, cultural & spiritual heritage of the past.

Practicalities

Weather: The weather in India varies dramatically. While the southern tip of the India is being lashed by tropical monsoon rain, the north will be blanketed in thick snow. Therefore, the best time to travel to India depends greatly on the destinations to be visited and the climate experienced there. Indian weather itself is divided into three distinct seasons - winter, summer, and the monsoon. India starts heating up from around the end of February, first in the northern plains and then the rest of the country. By April, many places are experience daily temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit).

Food: Indian food is world-renowned for its tantalising flavours, spiciness and enormous variety. Many of the spices we now take for granted – pepper, cardamom and turmeric hail from India’s plains and jungles. The flavour of each Indian dish is a carefully judged balance of herbs, seasonings and spices, and each cook carefully maintains their own recipe for garum masala – literally ‘hot mix’. Rice is the foundation stone of Indian cooking, but you’ll also find many kinds of bread, from light, flat chapattis to fat, roasted naan. As often as not, Indian meals are served as thalis, with rice, sabzi (vegetables), soups, and side orders, all served on a single plate. The north of India specialises in meaty stews and kebabs, while the south favours highly spiced vegetarian curries and dosas (rice-flour pancakes).

Specialities:
*Dhal: Lentils; there are dozens of varieties and they come stewed, fried or ground up into flour as an essential ingredient for pastries and fritters.
*Pakora: Deep-fried vegetables in lentil-flour batter, a favourite portable snack.
*Samosa: Triangular pastry parcels, stuffed with potato and pea curry.
*Thali: A platter of rice, chapattis, vegetable curries, meat dishes and more; in many parts of India, this is a just described a ‘meal’.
*Naan: India’s favourite bread, cooked in the tandoor (clay oven).
*Tandoori chicken: A Punjabi speciality, spiced chicken marinated in yoghurt, cooked in the tandoor.
*Paneer: Soft Indian curd cheese cooked in sauces or spiced and grilled.
*Jalebi: Deep-fried batter in sweet syrup, poured out in a nest of orange squiggles.
*Dosa: A pancake made from fermented rice-flour batter, serve with curry dips or stuffed with vegetables curry, originally from the south.
*Chai: Sweet, strong Indian tea, best sampled from roadside chai-wallahs.
*Kingfisher: India’s most popular lager.

Currency & Tipping: Rupee (INR; symbol Rs) = 100 paise. Notes are in denominations of Rs1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Rs5, 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 20, 10 and 5 paise. Note: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Sometimes smaller vendors will not take bills larger than Rs 500. It is best to carry a range of rupee notes if you are shopping at bazaars and local markets. Tipping is part of the culture in many countries in the world including India, but it is often tricky for particularly New Zealanders to get our heads around. You should tip the person who meets you and assists you at the airport and porters who take your bags to your room. 10 to 15% is usual in restaurants that impose no service fee; optional where service fee is added to bill. Sarah wil be on hand to guide you.

Credit Cards: Credit Cards are widely used and accepted by local establishments (even in small towns). The most widely used card types are Visa and MasterCard, with Amex to a lesser extent. It would be a convenient option to use your Credit Card (valid for international use) whenever possible.

ATM's: ATM's are available in most main cities. You can take cash against Visa / Mastercard in most ATM'S. However, as different banks accept different cards, we advice you ensure that your card is valid for use in Italy by contacting your bank. Watch out for the Maestro or Cirrus logo.

The facts

Visas: Most nationalisties require a passport for India. Details on how to apply for an Indian Visa will be provided. 

Safe Travel: Dress appropriately for the places you are visiting on any given day and on the whole a conservative approach is best – and decent covered in shoes when we are visiting areas like Old Delhi. While not strictly the oldest part of Delhi, it was founded in 1639 and has every infrastructure issue imaginable of a densely populated old city.

Respect Cultural Differences: Things are done differently in Asia, and India is no exception. Please make sure in your dealings with local people you accept these differences. As a traveller you should keep as calm, cheerful and friendly as humanly possible. Patience and courtesy are virtues that open many doors in India!  Demanding tourists do not get smiles, service or respect.

Environmental Responsibility: Pollution and waste management is a huge problem throughout the world. Unfortunately in many parts of India, disposal systems are inadequate and recycling of plastics is limited. We suggest avoiding plastic packaging where possible and take along your own bag when shopping. Plastic bags will be offered for everything. Collect and dispose in the next town. The law protects certain endangered species of flora & fauna. Export & in even possession of these species as well as of wild animals, birds, reptiles etc., is illegal. The production and sale of items made from wild animals and reptiles, e.g.: Leopard skins, crocodile skins, elephant tusks etc., is also illegal. 

Not Included:

  • International Airfares - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Domestic flight Udaipur to Delhi (can be bought in conjunction with International flight) - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Arrival and departure transfers unless those specified. Transfers on alternative flights can be arranged for a minimal fee.
  • Additional meals and snacks.
  • All drinks.
  • Optional touring
  • Photography fees at some sites. (minimal)
  • Tips for Drivers & Guides - we recommend approx NZD$270 / AUD$250 per person be paid into a Kitty on arrival.
  • Items of a personal nature & phone calls
  • Indian Tourist Visa
  • Laundry & Personal Tips
  • Travel insurance - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Kurta Pyjamas for HOLI (+/- $20 a set – highly recommended)
Travel advice / FCO

We constantly monitor the advice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the places visited on this tour. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns. Furthermore, you should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.

DATES

06 Mar 2020 - 18 Mar 2020



RATES
from NZD$8310 per person
Single rate from NZD$11435

Hover over rates for other currencies.

*Rates are per person based on Twin Share or Single Room.
*Prices are subject to change due to currency fluctuation until paid in full.
*A 'Willing to Share' may be possible on this tour. Please enquire. 
*This Tour departs with a minimum of 8 guests.
*Domestic airfares & taxes are subject to change at anytime prior to ticketing. We suggest you book & pay for these air tickets as soon as possible to secure the best available fare.
*International airfares are not included in the land rate. PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE.


Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive Delhi

On arrival in Delhi, present your e-visa letter before being met and privately transferred to The Claridges Hotel - your home for two nights - on a Bed & Breakfast basis.

Most flights arrive into Delhi either late in the evening, or first thing in the morning. If you arrive first thing this morning, early check in has been confirmed allowing you to freshen up before heading out to explore New Delhi. If you arrive the night before, your room will be held for you. 

After a rest and refresh, we drive through New Delhi - notable for its wide avenues, manicured gardens and fine Lutyen's architecture, all testament to the extensive British and European influence on the face of contemporary India.

After visiting Qutub Minar, the highest minaret in Delhi, we will visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, one of the most prominent Sikh gurdwaras in Delhi, and here you’ll begin to understand the warmth of Sikh values and traditions. From this exquisite building of golden domes and breathtaking marble prayer rooms over 10,000 people are fed every day irrespective of caste, creed and religion. To witness this great feast being prepared and served is a fascinating and humbling insight. You are welcome to join in!

Later in the afternoon we will stop at Khan Market - an enclave of stores oering everything from recycled paper & cards to high end Indian designer fashion. Wander at leisure before returning to Claridges.

We meet for our Welcome Dinner this evening. 

Overnight: The Claridges Hotel (Welcome Dinner)

Day 2 - Delhi

This morning you will explore more of the old city, starting with a visit to Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, built between 1644 & 1658 as the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan.

We follow this with a rickshaw ride through the pulsating old city, a 17th century walled zone protected by imposing city gates. At the east end stands the imposing Red Fort, constructed between 1638 & 1648 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the man perhaps best known for building the world’s greatest monument to love, the Taj Mahal.

This afternoon we will wander the markets, providing the perfect opportunity to buy a sari for ‘dressing up’ to visit the Taj Mahal (optional) and a white Kurta (top & pants) for celebrating Holi (highly recommended!).

This evening will be at leisure

Overnight: The Claridges Hotel (B)

Day 3 - Delhi to Agra

Driving out of New Delhi, we will travel by road to Agra - approximately 4 hours / 220 kilometres. On arrival in Agra we will settle into the ITC Mughal Hotel before departing for an afternoon tour of Agra.

Agra Fort is one of the finest Mughal forts in India. Construction of the massive red-sandstone fort, on the west bank of the Yamuna River, was begun by Emperor Akbar in 1565. Further additions were made, particularly by his grandson, Shah Jahn, using his favourite building material, white marble. The fort was built primarily as a military structure, but Shah Jahan transformed it into a palace, and later it became his gilded prison for 8 years after his son Aurangzeb seized power in 1658.

We will continue to the exquisite tomb of Mizra Ghiyas Beg, nicknamed the Baby Taj, built by Nur Jahan, between 1622 and 1628 before watching the sun set over the Taj Mahal from the Mehtab Bagh Gardens, the crescent-shaped, grass covered floodplain across the Yamuna River, identified by Emperor Shah Jahan as the ideal location for viewing the Taj.

This evening we will return to the ITC Mughal to shower and change before dining in a local restaurant (TBC).

Overnight ITC Mughal hotel. (B / D)

Day 4 - Agra to Jaipur

An early morning start today to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise where you will witness the changing face of this majestic memorial, as the sun rises above the horizon, lighting up the early morning sky and casting myriad colours across the constantly changing edifice. Enjoy the sense of quiet before the rush of the day.

For those who wish to embrace some full immersion, we can make good use of our sari purchase in Delhi by dressing up and enjoying the fun of a 'Bollywood Photo Shoot' in front of this most romantic of monuments. We will then be escorted by our expert guide through the gardens and tomb itself, before returning to the hotel for breakfast.

Commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the remains of his cherished wife, the Taj Mahal is one of the most outstanding examples of Mughal architecture. Combining Indian, Persian and Islamic influences it is built of shimmering white marble that seems to change colour depending on the sunlight or moonlight hitting its surface. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, it remains one of the world’s most celebrated structures and a stunning symbol of India’s rich history. 

After breakfast, we will check out of the hotel, departing on our road journey to Jaipur - approximately 250kms / 6 hrs - and taking in fascinating sights of rural Rajasthan along the way.

We will stop at the Chand Bawri Step Well enroute in the village of Abhaneri, approx. 95km from Jaipur. Chand Baori is one of the oldest landmarks in Rajasthan, built between AD 800 and AD 900 to conserve as much water as possible in Rajasthan’s extremely arid environment. The temperature at the bottom is consistently 5-6 degrees cooler than at the surface so it has been used throughout the ages as a welcome gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat.

On arrival in Jaipur, the 'Pink City', we settle into the divine Samode Haveli, an urban oasis in the historic walled city of Jaipur.

Built 175 years ago as a residence of the rulers of Samode, this gorgeous hotel is a traditional Indian mansion still occupied by their descendants, who have converted their home into a luxury hotel. Today it retains every inch of its eccentric grandeur and heritage with intricate tiling, rich furnishings and extraordinary styling while established gardens, an elegant swimming pool and internal courtyards provide soothing spaces for those looking to relax. 

Dinner is included this evening

Overnight Samode Haveli. (B / D) 

Day 5 - Jaipur - HOLI!

A relaxed start to the morning with the opportunity to enjoy a sleep in or relaxed breakfast. If you are keen to stretch your legs you may wish to head out for a walk - just beware of kids with holi powder and  water pistols!

Late morning we will don our Kurtas and depart for Narain Niwas Palace where we will participate in the highlight of the journey - the Celebration of Holi. The festival of Holi is a hugely important date on the Hindu calendar, marking the advent of spring and renewal, and people celebrate joyously right across the country. It is the most boisterous of all Hindu festivals, symbolising the victory of good over evil, heralding the end of winter and the beginning of spring, rebirth and new life. Celebrated by young and old, crowds of people gather together to sing and dance and throw coloured powder (and often water) at each other in a huge, infectious outpouring of joy. The occasion is enormous fun and your level of participation is completely up to you - you can stay on the periphery and watch the merry makers, or thoroughly immerse yourself in the festivities.
 
We will be ‘playing Holi’ in Narain Niwas Palace grounds. We have vouchers for a welcome drink or two and then all drinks and snacks are to your own account (it is advisable that you take NOTHING with you to Holi so we will run an honesty tab with individual accounts to be settled post the party). You can play for as long as you wish and when you are done a transfer vehicle is on standby to return you to Samode Haveli.
 
The remainder of your afternoon / evening is at leisure, so depending on the time you return to the haveli you may wish to indulge in a massage, relax by the pool, dine in the restaurant, or in your room or hit the hay! 
 
Happy HOLI!

Overnight Samode Haveli. (B / L)
Day 6 - Jaipur

Just outside of Jaipur is the magnificent Amber Fort where your touring will commence after breakfast today. The fort was built by Raja Man Singh I and sits high on a hill overlooking Maota Lake and the tiny town of Amer. The Fort is a stunning example of Rajput architecture and in true Rajput style it is filled with wonderful temples, halls and palaces. 

From the fort you will travel to see Hawa Mahal, one of Jaipur’s best known landmarks. This “Palace of Winds” was erected in 1798 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Akin to the honeycomb in a beehive, its original intention was to allow the veiled ladies of the harem to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen. The building is five storeys high, but only one room deep with 953 small windows & balconies, decorated with intricate laticework. There are some excellent shops surrounding Hawa Mahal so you will have an opportunity to browse at leisure.

You will visit Anokhi, known for colourful prints and quality designs, before stopping at Gem Palace on your return to Samode Haveli. 

Your evening is at leisure.

Overnight Samode Haveli. (B)

Day 7 - Jaipur to Jodhpur

After breakfast, you depart the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur by road for the ‘Blue City’ of Jodphur - approx. 330kms / 6 hours, stopping regularly and taking in fascinating sights of rural Rajasthan along the way. 

Arriving in the afternoon you will have time to settle into your room at the delightful Raas, your luxury boutique accommodation at the base of the majestic 15th century Mehrangarh Fort. Relax and enjoy this stunning design-led hotel and its elegant swimming pool before joining a hosted dinner beneath the floodlit edifice this evening, taking in the view of the fort soaring above. 

Dinner is included this evening. 

Overnight Raas (B / Dinner)

Day 8 - Jodhpur

Start the day the with a privately guided tour to visit the Cenotaph and Meherangarh Fort, perched on a rocky cliff 125m above the plain, with commanding views across the surrounding landscape. 

The fort itself is divided into three areas: the outer court, with its old stables and kitchens; the durbar hall, reception rooms and maharajas’ palaces; and, finally, the zenana, or queens’ palaces. This palace complex is one of the most impressive in Rajasthan and you will quickly come to appreciate the vantage point on which this fort was constructed. 

This afternoon we will walk to the nearby Art  Emporium for a presentation on traditional Indian fabrics, accompanied by a serving of some the best samosas you will eat in India!

Enjoy an evening at leisure. 

Overnight Raas (B)

Day 9 - Jodhpur to Narlai

Today, you will delve deeper into rural Rajasthan, as you depart Jodhpur after breakfast, bound for the rural retreat of Narlai - approx. approx 4 hours by road. 

On arrival, you will have time to settle into your accommodation at the charming Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge and freshen up. 

Rawla Narlai is a former hunting lodge located in the sleepy village of Narlai in the heart of the Aravalli Hills. Still owned by members of the Jodhpur Royal family, the lodge has been transformed into a stylish, luxurious boutique hotel, retaining all the original features of its former life as a Royal residence. 

Late afternoon venture out on a jeep safari to visit a nearby village, temple and to explore the rugged Godwad countryside around Narlai on the lookout for leopards! Being elusive by nature a sighting is not guaranteed but we will try our hardest. 

NARLAI  - The sleepy village of Narlai lies on a back country road of Ranakpur and is the perfect base to explore the countryside between Udaipur and Jodphur. Hidden away in the heart of Aravalli Hills, at the foot of a mammoth granite rock, surrounded by forested hills & rocky outcrops, Narlai was once the realm of Jodhpur’s Royal family where they would come to hunt in the surrounding countryside. Now it is a peaceful village that retains its original character and showcases the traditional lifestyle.

This evening is at leisure.

Overnight Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge. (B)

Day 10 - Narlai

If you are feeling energetic, rise early to join a guided walk up Narlai Hill (700+ steps) to ‘Elephant Rock’ to watch the sunrise this morning. The White Elephant Statue at the summit is magnificent and the view is breathtaking. 

Return to the hotel for breakfast then later, join an escorted meander through the village, venturing into houses, meeting local blacksmiths, shoemakers and bakers. This is a delightful insight into the lifestyle and culture of the close knit Narlai community who still lead a traditional way of life. 

Return to the hotel for lunch. The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the spa, swimming pool or simply have a siesta before dinner.

This evening we embark on an incredible culinary experience in an utterly unique location - the Stepwell Dinner. Dining within the remarkable setting of a former 16th Century Baori (or step-well) we will be treated to not only a culinary sensation, but a sensory one too. We will feast on delicious Rajasthani fare, while indulging in a regal evening in a truly epic setting. An encounter not to be missed.

Overnight Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge. (B / Stepwell Dinner)

Day 11 - Narlai to Udaipur

After breakfast, a drive of approx. 3 hours takes us from Narlai to the famed Lake City of Udaipur. On arrival, check in to the beautiful Fateh Garh Palace Hotel, set a top a hill with stunning views across the city and the glittering Lake Pichola. The pool here is definitely worth a visit having been listed as one of the ‘Six Sexiest Pools in the World’ by Conde Nast Traveller. 

We undertake a cooking class later this afternoon and this evening we dine on our culinary creation!

Overnight Fateh Garh Palace Hotel. (B / Cooking Class food)

Day 12 - Udaipur

Udaipur is a fairytale city of lakes, palaces and marble, surrounded by a majestic ring of craggy green hills. Intricate and ornately turreted palaces, white washed havelis and bathing ghats cluster around the lakes edge creating a romantic feel.

Enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Pichola this morning to view the famous Lake Palace, formerly known as Jag Niwas it is now one of the world’s great luxury hotels, before visiting the City Palace, on the east shore of Lake Pichola, which boasts a wonderful blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture & a number of shops.

Return to Fateh Garh Palace Hotel for an afternoon at leisure in the Aravali Hills or book one of the optional activities such as a walk, a jeep safari or horse ride, or indulge in a treatment in the enjoy the spa.

Alongside the Palace is a local market and a number of fabulous boutiques, so you could also spend time browsing the treasures on offer this afternoon.

A final farewell dinner is included this evening.

Overnight Fateh Garh Palace Hotel. (B / Farewell Dinner)

Day 13 - To Mumbai / Departure

Morning at leisure.

We are then transferred to the airort and we fly to Mumbai to connect with our flights back home.

Namaste and thank you for joining us on this extraordinary adventure!

About this tour

Holi: In Hinduism, Holi (also called Holaka or Phagwa) is an annual festival celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March). It celebrates spring, commemorates various events in Hindu mythology and is time of disregarding social norms and indulging in general merry-making. Holi is probably the least religious of Hindu holidays. During Holi, Hindus attend a public bonfire, spray friends and family with colored powders and water, and generally go a bit wild in the streets. The central ritual of Holi is the throwing and applying of colored water and powders on friends and family, which gives the holiday its common name "Festival of Colors." This ritual is said to be based on the story of Krishna and Radha as well as on Krishna's playful splashing of the maids with water, but most of all it celebrates the coming of spring with all its beautiful colors and vibrant life.

Tips for Holi: Holi is an enormous amount of fun, but it is best to be prepared. We highly recommend you purchase a Salwar Kameez (loose pants with a tunic top) if you intend to participate in the festivities, as your clothes are unlikely to return to their former glory. (Salwar Kameez can be purchased for approx $25/$30 in India). Bring a pair of spare, inexpensive sunglasses to wear on the day, and if you have light coloured hair an old hat is a very good idea. Both items may recover from being doused in colour, but if not then you have not sacrifced an expensive or favourite accessory.

Claridges Hotel, Delhi - The graceful and elegant Claridges Hotel in New Delhi is perfectly located in the heart of the city, close to cultural and historical landmarks. The hotel is set on three acres of landscaped gardens offering a tranquil oasis from the hustle and bustle of Delhi. The spacious guest rooms offer a luxurious blend of classic and contemporary style with modern facili􏰀es. There are a wide variety of dining options to suite all palates. When you are not exploring Delhi enjoy a wander around the landscaped gardens or relax by the hotel swimming pool. Guests can also enjoy the health club, hair and beauty salon and shopping arcade. The Claridges Hotel recreates the magic of old‐world charm coupled with gracious Indian hospitality and a great location.

ITC Mughal Hotel, AgraITC Mughal is sprawled over 35 acres of luxurious gardens, and in close proximity to the Taj Mahal, this luxury hotel in Agra is a fitting tribute to the great Mughal builders of the past. The only Indian hotel to have won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for its excellent representation of Mughal architecture, it now boasts of a brand new Royal Mughal Suites. True to its stately inspiration, ITC Mughal expresses the unparalleled luxury of a royal refuge, with its gorgeous accommodation, acres of gardens, fruit and flower bearing trees and shaded walkways.

Samode Haveli, Jaipur - The Samode Haveli is an urban oasis in the historic walled city of Jaipur. It is a traditional Indian mansion set in a verdant garden with apartments arranged around a series of intimate courtyards. Built 175 years ago as a residence of the rulers of Samode, it is still occupied by their descendants, who have converted their home into a luxury hotel. The foundation of the Samode Haveli was laid over 225 years ago by the Rawals of Samode. Since its construction the Haveli has been the city home of the rulers of Samode. Over the generations many additions and changes were made to the original structure  and these alterations give the Haveli a unique and distinctive old world charm. Built across many levels around a series of traditional chowks or courtyards, the Haveli is a quintessential Indo-Saracenic regal residence.

RAAS, Jodphur RAAS is situated in the prestigious north-eastern quarter of the Walled City, in the shadow of Mehrangarh's Victory Palace and Gate, and a stone's throw from the Clock Tower; the RAAS is comprised of four charismatic buildings in Jodhpur's very own 'rose-red' sandstone. The oldest - the Haveli proper -  was built towards the end of the 18th Century and served as the exclusive and intimate residence of the family. The newest, the Baradari, a multi-pillared, multi-purpose open Pavilion built in the 1850s, was really the centre of activity; it was where the Thakur spent his time entertaining and being entertained. It has sensational vistas, different styles and angles, a central water body, square and garden; and an all-pervasive warm ‘organic feel’. And almost every room in the hotel enjoys the most spectacular view of Mehrangarh.

Rawla Narlai Heritage Lodge, Narlai - At the foot of a huge granite rock, in the heart of the Aravalli Hills and one of the most beautiful parts of Rajasthan, lies the charming little 17th century Rawla Narlai. Set in a small village surrounded by forested hills, this lovely family-run hotel is a perfect stopover between Jodhpur and Udaipur. The hotel offers 12 spacious and contemporary rooms with soft earthy colours, parquet flooring and excellent bathrooms with separate bath and large rain shower and a great selection of toiletries. After a long day exploring the beautiful countryside enjoy an unforgettable sundowner on top of the granite rock and dinner in either the dining room, poolside, or a beautiful stepwell dinner under the stars. When you are not out on walks, birdwatching, jeep safaris, horse riding, bullock cart ride or visiting the temples at Ranakpur then put your feet up in the lounge or relax by the pool. The hotel also has a massage centre, Jacuzzi, library, yoga and bicycles. 

Fateh Garh Palace Hotel, Udaipur - Hotel Fateh Garh is a luxury heritage hotel with views of the lake and palace complex, perfectly located to explore the famed sites of the Udaipur city, such as the City Palace, the Monsoon Palace or the beautiful Jagmandir.. Nestled within the heart of the city of lakes Hotel Fateh Garh is a pioneer in sustainable, ethical and responsible tourism. Built on a hilltop facing the city, the design of the hotel draws heavily from the rich Rajasthani heritage and culture, & appears no less than a palace. Hotel Fateh Garh is built on principles of ‘Vastu’ which is a vedic architectural style for balance and harmony of natures forces. The Heritage Palace and has been conceptualised, designed, and executed to revitalise the environmental, cultural & spiritual heritage of the past.

Practicalities

Weather: The weather in India varies dramatically. While the southern tip of the India is being lashed by tropical monsoon rain, the north will be blanketed in thick snow. Therefore, the best time to travel to India depends greatly on the destinations to be visited and the climate experienced there. Indian weather itself is divided into three distinct seasons - winter, summer, and the monsoon. India starts heating up from around the end of February, first in the northern plains and then the rest of the country. By April, many places are experience daily temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit).

Food: Indian food is world-renowned for its tantalising flavours, spiciness and enormous variety. Many of the spices we now take for granted – pepper, cardamom and turmeric hail from India’s plains and jungles. The flavour of each Indian dish is a carefully judged balance of herbs, seasonings and spices, and each cook carefully maintains their own recipe for garum masala – literally ‘hot mix’. Rice is the foundation stone of Indian cooking, but you’ll also find many kinds of bread, from light, flat chapattis to fat, roasted naan. As often as not, Indian meals are served as thalis, with rice, sabzi (vegetables), soups, and side orders, all served on a single plate. The north of India specialises in meaty stews and kebabs, while the south favours highly spiced vegetarian curries and dosas (rice-flour pancakes).

Specialities:
*Dhal: Lentils; there are dozens of varieties and they come stewed, fried or ground up into flour as an essential ingredient for pastries and fritters.
*Pakora: Deep-fried vegetables in lentil-flour batter, a favourite portable snack.
*Samosa: Triangular pastry parcels, stuffed with potato and pea curry.
*Thali: A platter of rice, chapattis, vegetable curries, meat dishes and more; in many parts of India, this is a just described a ‘meal’.
*Naan: India’s favourite bread, cooked in the tandoor (clay oven).
*Tandoori chicken: A Punjabi speciality, spiced chicken marinated in yoghurt, cooked in the tandoor.
*Paneer: Soft Indian curd cheese cooked in sauces or spiced and grilled.
*Jalebi: Deep-fried batter in sweet syrup, poured out in a nest of orange squiggles.
*Dosa: A pancake made from fermented rice-flour batter, serve with curry dips or stuffed with vegetables curry, originally from the south.
*Chai: Sweet, strong Indian tea, best sampled from roadside chai-wallahs.
*Kingfisher: India’s most popular lager.

Currency & Tipping: Rupee (INR; symbol Rs) = 100 paise. Notes are in denominations of Rs1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Rs5, 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 20, 10 and 5 paise. Note: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Sometimes smaller vendors will not take bills larger than Rs 500. It is best to carry a range of rupee notes if you are shopping at bazaars and local markets. Tipping is part of the culture in many countries in the world including India, but it is often tricky for particularly New Zealanders to get our heads around. You should tip the person who meets you and assists you at the airport and porters who take your bags to your room. 10 to 15% is usual in restaurants that impose no service fee; optional where service fee is added to bill. Sarah wil be on hand to guide you.

Credit Cards: Credit Cards are widely used and accepted by local establishments (even in small towns). The most widely used card types are Visa and MasterCard, with Amex to a lesser extent. It would be a convenient option to use your Credit Card (valid for international use) whenever possible.

ATM's: ATM's are available in most main cities. You can take cash against Visa / Mastercard in most ATM'S. However, as different banks accept different cards, we advice you ensure that your card is valid for use in Italy by contacting your bank. Watch out for the Maestro or Cirrus logo.

The facts

Visas: Most nationalisties require a passport for India. Details on how to apply for an Indian Visa will be provided. 

Safe Travel: Dress appropriately for the places you are visiting on any given day and on the whole a conservative approach is best – and decent covered in shoes when we are visiting areas like Old Delhi. While not strictly the oldest part of Delhi, it was founded in 1639 and has every infrastructure issue imaginable of a densely populated old city.

Respect Cultural Differences: Things are done differently in Asia, and India is no exception. Please make sure in your dealings with local people you accept these differences. As a traveller you should keep as calm, cheerful and friendly as humanly possible. Patience and courtesy are virtues that open many doors in India!  Demanding tourists do not get smiles, service or respect.

Environmental Responsibility: Pollution and waste management is a huge problem throughout the world. Unfortunately in many parts of India, disposal systems are inadequate and recycling of plastics is limited. We suggest avoiding plastic packaging where possible and take along your own bag when shopping. Plastic bags will be offered for everything. Collect and dispose in the next town. The law protects certain endangered species of flora & fauna. Export & in even possession of these species as well as of wild animals, birds, reptiles etc., is illegal. The production and sale of items made from wild animals and reptiles, e.g.: Leopard skins, crocodile skins, elephant tusks etc., is also illegal. 

Not Included:

  • International Airfares - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Domestic flight Udaipur to Delhi (can be bought in conjunction with International flight) - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Arrival and departure transfers unless those specified. Transfers on alternative flights can be arranged for a minimal fee.
  • Additional meals and snacks.
  • All drinks.
  • Optional touring
  • Photography fees at some sites. (minimal)
  • Tips for Drivers & Guides - we recommend approx NZD$270 / AUD$250 per person be paid into a Kitty on arrival.
  • Items of a personal nature & phone calls
  • Indian Tourist Visa
  • Laundry & Personal Tips
  • Travel insurance - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Kurta Pyjamas for HOLI (+/- $20 a set – highly recommended)
Travel advice / FCO

We constantly monitor the advice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the places visited on this tour. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns. Furthermore, you should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.