DESERT KINGDOMS OF RAJPUTANA
16 – Day India Adventure
16 – Day India Adventure
|GROUP SIZE||Maximum 14 people|
|GROUP MINIMUM||1 person (all our trips are guaranteed departures)|
For centuries, the magic of the desert has inspired travelers and adventurers alike. These mysteries come to life in VegVoyages’ Desert Kingdoms of Rajputana adventure. For sixteen days, you will step back in time and experience firsthand the timeless beauty of India’s great Thar Desert in Rajasthan, where Rajput rulers, colorful-bustling bazaars, ancient Hindu and Jain temples, remote villages, impregnable fortresses, magnificent centuries-old palaces, caravanning camels, formidable badlands and exotic wildlife are the norm! In addition to plenty of mouthwatering vegan food and lots of local interaction, the adventure also includes hiking, safaris, yoga lessons, language lessons, live traditional music and dance, a vegan cooking class and much more.
From Rudyard Kipling to David Lean, the mysteries of the desert and their rulers have nurtured fantasies and dreams.
For centuries, the magic of the desert has inspired travelers and adventurers alike.
These mysteries come to life in VegVoyages’ Desert Kingdoms of Rajputana adventure.
For sixteen days, you will step back in time and experience firsthand the timeless beauty of India’s great Thar Desert in Rajasthan, where Rajput rulers, colorful-bustling bazaars, ancient Hindu and Jain temples, remote villages, impregnable fortresses, magnificent centuries-old palaces, caravanning camels, formidable badlands and exotic wildlife are the norm!
In addition to plenty of mouthwatering vegan food and lots of local interaction, the adventure also includes hiking, safaris, yoga lessons, language lessons, live traditional music and dance, a vegan cooking class and much more.
15 nights accommodations (3 nights at hotels, 5 nights at Maharajahs’ palaces, 3 nights at a Raja’s remote desert palace, 2 nights at a serene hillside retreat, 2 nights at an old lakeside mansion)
45 meals (15 breakfasts, 15 lunches, 15 dinners)
VegVoyages Adventure Leaders & Local Guides
* Airport pick up is provided only if you arrive a day or two earlier than the tour date. If you would be arriving three days or more early, please arrange for your own airport pick up.
International airfare, airport departure transfer, visa for India, personal travel insurance, gratuities and items of a personal nature.
|START DATE||March 1||October 4||February 28||July 18||November 7|
|END DATE||March 16||October 19||March 15||August 2||November 22|
* Promotional Prices – please note, promotional prices are not valid with any other discounts or offers. Also, bookings must be made directly to VegVoyages. Thank you.
Namaste! Welcome to India! On arrival, we’ll pick you up at the airport. There are no activities for today, as you may want to relax after your flight. If you feel like going out, just talk with your Adventure Leader who will be on hand to assist and point you in the right direction. In the evening, we’ll have our group orientation meeting complete with local snacks and dinner where you’ll have a chance to get to know your Adventure Leader and fellow travelers while discussing the adventure ahead. (Snacks, Dinner)
Today, we travel to the historical village of Roopangarh, once a hub of activity, as it was located on one of the main Mughal trading routes. Built by Maharaja Roop Singh in 1648, we’ll be staying at Roopangarh Fort Palace, a captivating example of Rajput defensive architecture with underground passages and armories – evidence of its chivalrous past. The Maharajas here were also patrons of the arts and the area’s paintings, including those that adorn the palace walls, are well known throughout India. On arrival, we’ll explore the narrow lanes and colorful streets of the village before settling down on the royal terrace for dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Founded in 1488, Bikaner is a lively desert outpost surrounded by scattered sand dunes. Located on the crossroads of the ancient caravan routes, Bikaner was built as a trading center centuries ago. The charm of its golden days is still evident in the forts, palaces and mansions that fill the city. Before reaching Bikaner we’ll visit the 600-year-old Karni Mata Temple, home to hundreds of rats who roam freely as they are considered sacred. Arriving at one of the old residences of the local royal family, we’ll freshen up before sitting down for dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After yoga, we’ll join a local family at their home for a traditional vegan breakfast. Finishing breakfast, we’ll explore the city’s storybook-like streets, visiting the 16th century impregnable Junagarh Fort. Considered one of India’s most impressive forts, it is also one of the few forts that were not built on a hill. This did not make it any less secure, with its formidable walls and moat – it was never conquered. Next, we’ll visit Bikaner’s bazaar where we’ll buy gifts for children at local school. As the sun sets, we’ll be guests of a local family at their house for a delicious home-cooked vegan dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today we travel to the rustic yet charming village of Bhadrajun where we’ll be personal guests of the Raja (equivalent of a Lord) at his 16th century palace residence. In this picturesque village we have the opportunity to experience India well off the beaten track. On the way we’ll stop in Jodhpur for lunch and visit the 15th century Mehrangarh Fort, which towers over the blue city on a rocky ridge. Upon arrival in Bhadrajun, with its palace nestled among the red-tinted rocky desert hills, we’ll freshen up before meeting for dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The history of Bhadrajun dates back thousands of years and is even mentioned in the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata. We start the day as guests of a local school before exploring the narrow-winding streets of Bhadrajun. Hopping aboard jeeps in the late afternoon, we’ll go on safari into the desert to watch sunset from atop a sand dune. As the sun dips off the horizon, we’ll continue out to a remote Hindu temple that dates back well over 3,000 years for their aarti (Hindu ritual) ceremony. At nightfall, we’ll return to the palace for a candlelight dinner as personal guests of the Raja’s family. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The Bishnois are strict vegetarians and have been strong environmentalists for centuries. Known for their protection of the trees and wildlife that surround their villages, the Bishnois are self-sustaining and many of their villages, like the one we’ll visit today – look similar to the way they’ve looked for centuries. After lunch with a local Bishnoi family, we’ll be guests of a girl’s school where we’ll join the students in the popular game of sitolia. From the school we’ll visit a nearby a shepherds village before returning to our royal residence where we’ll meet on the ramparts for dinner and a colorful evening of Marwari music and dance. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today we’ll visit the magnificent 15th century Ranakpur Jain temple – one of the five holiest sites in the Jain religion. This awe-inspiring temple sprawls over 48,000 square feet, has 20 domes and 1,444 pillars. Then we’ll head up into the Aravallis, one of the oldest mountain ranges in Asia, to our home for the next two days – a serene hillside retreat surrounded by forests, rivers and small villages. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Countryside Our journey today takes us to the formidable medieval citadel of Kumbhalgarh. This massive 15th century fortress rises 1,100 meters from a ridge and is encompassed by a 20-mile long defensive wall with seven majestic gates, ramparts, watchtowers and rounded bastions making it nearly impregnable. After exploring Kumbhalgarh, we’ll head back to the retreat for lunch before hiking through the surrounding fields and forests to a nearby Bhil (local tribe) village. As evening approaches we’ll settle down for a night of Bhil music, dance, and of course – more tasty food! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Called the Venice of the East, the enchanting oasis city of Udaipur is one of the most romantic cities in India. Surrounded by lakes and rich in history, we’ll spend our time here taking in the alluring princely charm of Rajasthan including visiting one of India’s most stunning palaces, the 1559 AD founded City Palace. A series of complexes built by different kings over the centuries, the palace houses intricate halls and courtyards boasting great views. Then, we’ll board our boat for a trip around the lake. Seeing the “City of Lakes” from the water offers a totally different perspective of this medieval city. As the sun sets, we’ll meet our friends who are also great chefs for tonight’s cooking class where, under their guidance, we’ll not only learn – but also cook tonight’s meal. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
One of the highlights of our stay here is our visit to a very special animal rescue organization known as Animal Aid. Located in a nearby village, they not only offer a hospital, but a home for the abused and neglected animals of the city. In the evening, we’ll be guests of a local family at their home where we’ll watch the colors of the old city change to night while enjoying a tasty Mewari dinner and live traditional folk music and dance. So don’t forget your appetite, dancing shoes and party shirt! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
From Udaipur, we make our way through the desert to the Kingdom of Kishangarh. Founded by a Jodhpur prince four centuries ago, the kingdom flourished due to its military prowess and fortunes earned as a member of the Mughal court. Here, we’ll be staying at the Maharajah’s beautiful monsoon palace built in 1870 on the edge of Gundalao Lake just outside the walls of the massive Kishangarh Fort. During our stay here, be on the lookout for kites, peacocks, herons and wild ducks that call the nearby fields and lake home. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Our first stop today will be at a local school where, as guests of the students and teachers, we’ll join them in one of the their favorite games before setting out to learn a little bit about marble. Rajasthan is famous for its marble – you’ll see it in temples, homes and palaces, and this afternoon you’ll find out how it comes to be – from the quarry to the final product. Next, we’ll explore the colorful bazaar and centuries old streets of this princely state founded in 1611 AD before returning to our old royal residence for a feast of local vegan Marwari delicacies! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
In the morning we set out for the UNESCO World Heritage Keoladeo Ghana National Park – a haven of wetlands and forests home to over 400 species of birds including a selection of herons believed to be among the best in the world, along with a wide variety of other wildlife. On the way, we’ll visit the epic over half-millennium-old Chand Baoli step-well, said to be the largest step-well in India. Arriving in Bharatpur, we’ll traverse the back trails of the national park by bicycle or rickshaw (your choice) with our naturalist guide before returning to our hotel for dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
India’s most famous landmark – the Taj Mahal, of course needs no introduction and is a remarkable mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to his favorite wife – Mumtaj Mahal. When one sees it in person, the feeling is best summed up in the words of Tagore who described the tomb as “one tear drop…upon the cheek of time”. After taking in the Taj, we’ll visit the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri. Built in the 16th century by Emperor Akbar, these well-preserved ruins were the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585 AD before being deserted. Back at our hotel, you’ll have time to freshen up before we meet for our farewell vegan dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Arriving in Delhi in the afternoon, our adventure ends after lunch. Bahut, bahut dhanyavaad (thank you very much)! (Breakfast, Lunch)
While I was looking for a way to explore India in a manner that would feel more authentic and would bring me closer to the lives of “real” people, nothing prepared me for the magic of VegVoyages. The depth and breath of our exposure to India was outstanding in everyway. This trip was so much more than I ever imagined it was going to be. I recommend VegVoyages for anyone with curiosity and adventure in their soul. See you again!
Thank you for a marvelous trip! We had a wonderful time and would recommend VegVoyages to anyone. We’ve learned a great deal about India and appreciated the opportunity to see aspects of the country and culture, which the average tourist would not.