Day 1 – Delhi (D)
You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. Depending on your arrival time you may have some time to explore the city or enjoy the hotel facilities.
Day 2 – Delhi (B, L, D)
We commence our first day with a tour of New Delhi. New Delhi was designed and built by the British in the 1920s. It’s a city of wide boulevards, impressive government buildings, green parks and gardens. In 1911 King George V announced the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. Lutyens designed an imperial city which had palatial-sized buildings set amid broad tree-lined avenues punctuated by Mughal style gardens, complete with fountains and shallow pools. Our first stop will be Agrasen ki Baoli which is only a short drive from our hotel and the first of three different stepwells we will see and photograph during our tour. Our drive then takes us along the Ceremonial Avenue, imposing India Gate, President’s Palace and Parliament House. We then visit two monuments from Delhi’s past, Qutub Minar with the largest minaret in the world followed by Humayun’s Tomb, built-in 1570 and inspired by Persian architecture.
After lunch, we make our way into the ancient city of Old Delhi. Here we experience the hustle and bustle of Chandni Chowk on a rickshaw. Chandni Chowk is a busy shopping area with markets full of spices, dried fruit, silver jewellery and vivid saris, while the narrow side streets are crowded with tiny shops selling essential oils, stationery and traditional Indian sweets. This is an experience you will never forget, ending with a more relaxed visit of Fatehpuri Masjid, a 17th-century mosque.
Day 3 – Delhi => Jodhpur (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will be transferred to the airport to catch our flight to Jodhpur, a city ringed in high stone walls with seven gates and several bastions. The second-largest city of Rajasthan was founded by Rao Jodha in 1458 AD. Owing to its unique blue architecture, Jodhpur is often referred to as the “Blue City’ of Rajasthan.
After lunch at our hotel, we venture into the city centre to visit Sardar markets and the old city of Jodhpur. We will wander around the streets and markets, weaving our way through and around hustling and bustling Jodhpurians as they finish their busy day. Late afternoon we head over to Toorji Ka Jhalra stepwell before making our way to a special roof-top location for dinner.
Day 4 – Jodhpur (B, L, D)
This morning we visit Mehrangarh Fort, a perfect location for viewing and photographing the “blue” city. The towering fort known as Mehrangarh rises 120 metres above the plains. On a clear day, one can even see the fort of Kumbalgarh which is 124 kilometres away. We will be able to explore the splendid palaces located in the fort, noted mainly for their exquisitely carved sandstone latticework.
Afterwards, we visit Jaswant Thada, a white marble memorial built by Sardar Singh in 1899 in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The monument, in its entirety, is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble. These stones are extremely thin and polished so that they emit a warm glow when the sun’s rays dance across their surface.
Mid-afternoon we will enjoy a casual walk through the streets of the “blue” part of the city ending at a roof-top bar/restaurant for sunset and a light dinner. Our journey back to the hotel will be by rickshaw.
Day 5 – Jodhpur => Pushkar (B, L, D)
After breakfast, once again we will head into the city centre for one last walk around the markets and surrounding laneways. We then commence our journey to Pushkar, stopping at Nimaj Palace for lunch.
Pushkar is the location of one of the world’s largest and most famous camel fairs. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the colour, spectacle and carnival of one of the last great traditional festivals. It attracts more than 11,000 camels, horses and cattle, and is visited by over 400,000 farmers, traders and villagers from all over Rajasthan. After checking into our hotel we head over to the fair late afternoon to explore and photograph the camel herders and activities.
Day 6 – Pushkar (B, L, D)
Today will be an intensive day wandering around and photographing the Pushkar camel fair. There will be plenty to photograph, from the countless camels strolling across the sands of Rajasthan to the gathering of livestock and horses. We will also photograph men with their large colourful turbans and an assortment of facial hair, and women dressed in traditional attire and adorned head to toe with exquisite jewellery.
The festival also attracts stalls selling colourful clothing and jewellery, tattooists, juggling acts and fire dancers. This is going to be a day to remember.
Day 7 – Pushkar => Jaipur (B, L, D)
For those who are keen, this morning we have the option of going out to the fair one last time, otherwise, you are free to relax. After breakfast, we commence our journey to Jaipur.
Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital of Rajasthan state. The kingdom of Jaipur was originally known as Amber, which was also the name of its ancient capital situated eleven kilometres from Jaipur. Its history can be traced backed to the 12th century. In the 1720’s Sawai Jai Singh II, began to build the new city of Jaipur. The city turned out to be an astonishingly well-planned one based on the ancient Hindu treatise on architecture, the Shilpa Shastra. Different streets were allotted for different professions such as potters, weavers, dyers, jewellers and bankers. Jaipur has a variety of manufacturing industries. It is especially known for its arts and crafts, jewellery, enamel work, hand-printed fabrics and stone sculptures.
Late afternoon we enjoy a casual walk around the city’s busy commercial and historical centre.
Day 8 – Jaipur (B, L, D)
This morning we depart for Amber Fort, stopping briefly to see and photograph Hawa Mahal commonly known as Palace of the Winds. Amber Fort is regarded as one of the most famous forts of Rajasthan. The structure has four different parts, each with a separate entrance. The main entrance to the fort is through the ‘Suraj Pol’ or Sun Gate which opens up into the main courtyard.
After lunch back in the city, we visit Jantar Mantar, the largest astronomical observatory built in stone followed by the City Palace complex with its impressive gardens and museums.
Day 9 – Jaipur => Agra (B, L, D)
This morning we depart early on what will be a long day of travel. En route, we take a short detour to visit Chand Baori, one of the largest and most beautiful stepwells in the world.
After lunch, we stop at Fatehpur Sikri to visit Jama Mosque built in the 17th Century. This is one of the largest Mosques in India with some of the designs reflecting beautiful Iranian architecture.
If time allows we will visit nearby Chini-ka-Rauza in Agra. Chini-ka-Rauza is considered a milestone in Indo-Persian architecture, as it is the very first building in India that has been exclusively decorated by glazed tile works.
As the sun begins to go down, we continue along this northern bank of the Yamuna River to a spot directly opposite the Taj known as the Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden) where we watch the sun go down over the river and the Taj Mahal.
Day 10 – Agra (B, L, D)
It’s an early morning start as we travel to see the morning light on the Taj Mahal, and also to avoid the crowds that come later in the day.
After breakfast back at the hotel, we visit the Agra Fort and its Jasmine Tower, an exquisite octagonal turret from which the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan would watch the workmen’s progress on the Taj Mahal. Views of the Taj Mahal from the fort are amazing.
After lunch, we visit Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb, often referred to as the “baby Taj”. Along with the main building, the structure consists of numerous outbuildings and gardens. Late afternoon we will go for a casual walk around a residential area where there will be plenty of opportunities to photograph the locals going about their lives.
Day 11 – Agra => Varanasi (B, L, D)
This morning we rise early to do a sunrise shoot of the Taj Mahal before returning to the hotel for a late breakfast. After breakfast, we will be transferred to the Airport for our flight to Varanasi via Khajuraho.
Varanasi, also known as “Benaras” is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in India. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges river, it has been a centre of learning and civilisation for over 2,000 years. Besides being a pilgrimage centre, it is considered as an auspicious place to die, ensuring an instant route to heaven.
Upon arrival, we quickly check into the hotel before heading down to the Ghats to the see the evening prayers being performed with burning lamps cast on the river’s surface, known as the “Aarti” ceremony.
Day 12 – Varanasi (B, L, D)
Early this morning we travel to the Ghats and undertake a boat ride at dawn along the Ganges. The activity at this time of day is fascinating and the light along the Ghats is spectacular. After the boat journey, we visit the Burning Ghats and then take a short walking tour through the maze of laneways of Varanasi before returning to the hotel for breakfast.
After lunch, we travel to the Muslim area of Varanasi, where they specialise in the weaving of silk scarves before returning to the Ghats area to do some more amazing photography and portraits of the colourful characters.
Day 13 – Varanasi (B, L, D)
Today is Dev Diwali or Dev Deepawali, the festival of lights of the Gods, honouring the victory of Lord Shiva over the demon named ‘Tripurasur’. Varanasi attracts thousands of devotees from different parts of the country and abroad during this time. All come to witness this breathtaking sight.
We get up early to make our way down to the Ganges where devotees will bathe. It is believed that the Gods descend to Varanasi on this auspicious occasion to take a dip in the River Ganga, so expect thousands of devotees bathing in their colourful attire. This kaleidoscope of colour is like a smorgasbord for the lens, and we will be watching and photographing it from a boat.
After lunch, we visit a local orphanage before once again heading down to the ghats for yet another boat trip, this time to watch and enjoy the night festivities, including the largest and most spectacular “Ganga Aarti” show with 24 Brahmin Priests. The main ritual takes place after seeing the moon rise, at which time the steps of all the Ghats along the River Ganga are illuminated by thousands of lamps. Celebrations continue throughout the night.
Day 14 – Varanasi => End Of Tour (B)
This morning we return to the Ghats for one final photoshoot. Once again we’ll use a boat but on this occasion will have a couple of Sadhu’s on board so we can do some portraits photography.
Breakfast will be back at the hotel and then we’ll start preparing for our journey back home. After lunch, we will be transferred to the airport for our flight back to Delhi. Upon arrival at Delhi airport, we will say our goodbyes and go our separate ways.