Important Joining Hotel Change for Departures starting between 5th October 2017 and 8th November 2017 only:Hotel Manang Paknajol Thamel 44600 Kathmandu Tel: +97714700888 Please note if your trip departs outside of these dates you will be staying at our normal joining hotel as per your trip notes. Border Information: If you are joining the trip in Kathmandu, you will most likely enter Nepal at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (IATA code: KTM).Wrapped around the Himalayan mountain range is the remarkable country of Nepal. It is the birthplace of the Buddha and is a land of legend and beauty. Within its narrow confines Nepal contains an utterly spectacular variety of culture and landscapes. Nepal has a stunning natural beauty and a simple charm. There is an important group meeting at 6:00pm. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where and when this important meeting will take place. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kathmandu before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kathmandu. In Kathmandu we stay in a good quality hotel. Hotel for the night: Hotel Tibet Hotel Tibet Lazimpat Road Kathmandu 44600 Nepal Tel - +977 1442 9085 Activity Approximate Cost Discover Kathmandu on a guided city tour NPR 100 Visit the sacred Hindu Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Nepal's unofficial national deity NPR 1000 Visit the former royal palace of Narayanhiti and see the crown jewels of Nepal NPR 500 Get out of the city and explore the nearby national park of Sundarijal, and see its idyllic waterfalls and rock formations NPR 250 Visit the beautiful and tranquil Durbar Square in the nearby medieval town of Bhaktapur, and visit its nearby museums NPR 750 About Kathmandu: Kathmandu is the magnificent and evocative capital of Nepal - situated on the shores of the Bagmati river, it's a lively, bustling place where ancient collides with modern to create an exhilarating melting pot of sights, sounds and smells. Today's modern jumble of concrete buildings and busy streets has built up around the medieval old town, where wandering through the winding alleyways is like taking a step back in time. The heart of the old city is the magnificent Durbar Square, where Nepalese Royalty used to be crowned, and today it's a good spot to sit and watch the world go by. The buildings here date from the 17th and 18th Centuries, although many of the original structures were even older and many suffered from earthquake damage over the last few centuries. Other sights worth visiting are the Temple of the Living Goddess, the Royal Palace, the Pashupatinath Hindu temple, Boudhanath Buddhist stupa and Swayambunath (the Monkey Temple), all of which are set against the magnificent Himalayan backdrop. When all the sightseeing gets a bit too much, you can kick back and relax in the numerous cafes and bars around the tourist areas of Thamel and ‘Freak Street'.
Today we will leave Kathmandu after breakfast, driving through stunning scenery down to the Terai grasslands. Our destination is Chitwan National Park, where we will stay for the next 2 nights. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!). If we arrive in good time we will make a visit to Bis Hajaar Tal, also known as 20,000 Lakes, which is a wetland area near the Royal Chitwan National Park. Here we will get the opportunity to see peacocks, wild boars, deer and there is also a slim chance of seeing tigers and rhinos. If we cannot visit 20,000 Lakes today we will make our visit tomorrow. In Chitwan we will stay in a local guest lodge. Activity Approximate Cost Explore the village of Chitwan on a tour by traditional ox and cart Included in Kitty Explore the heart of the incredible Chitwan National Park on a jeep safari (alternative to the 20,000 Lake excursion) NPR 3500 Elephant safari through the grasslands of Chitwan in search of Rhino & Tigers Included in Kitty Take a jeep safari around the stunning wetland area of 20,000 Lakes Included in Kitty Witness the fascinating and impressive local tradition of Tharu stick dancing Included in Kitty About Chitwan National Park: Chitwan National Park is situated in the central Nepali Terai, a huge nature reserve protecting hundreds of square kilometres of grassland and marshes. Home to over 700 species of animals in total, it's a fantastic place to look for wildlife - if you're very lucky then you may spot a heavily-armoured Asiatic Rhino, as well as sloth bears and even tigers! You can go on walking safaris, boat trips or travel by jeep in the National Park.
Today we'll spend the day exploring the National Park by canoe and on foot, and there is the option to take a jeep safari! There will be an opportunity to see a traditional Nepali dance demonstration in the evening. In Chitwan we will stay in a local guest lodge. Activity Approximate Cost Explore the village of Chitwan on a tour by traditional ox and cart Included in Kitty Explore the heart of the incredible Chitwan National Park on a jeep safari (alternative to the 20,000 Lake excursion) NPR 3500 Elephant safari through the grasslands of Chitwan in search of Rhino & Tigers Included in Kitty Take a jeep safari around the stunning wetland area of 20,000 Lakes Included in Kitty Witness the fascinating and impressive local tradition of Tharu stick dancing Included in Kitty
Border Information: Exit Nepal at Belhiya, enter India at Sonauli. Today we enter the legendary country of India. India has so much to offer, from the beautiful landscapes of the Himalayas, to the amazing temples and coastlines, rich culture, and of course the food! This morning we have a fairly relaxed start to the day before packing up and driving to the border. We will cross the border to India and continue on a short drive to the town of Gorakhpur. We will stay in a local hotel in Gorakhpur. Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
Today we will continue driving and reach the holy city of Varanasi in the evening. Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours. On the following day we will get up very early for an included boat trip down the Ganges. This is a magical time of day to see the famous ghats and watch the morning rituals of the thousands of people who come here to purify themselves in the holy river. We will have auto-rickshaws for the rest of the day to explore the rest of the city - we will have the opportunity to use them to visit a traditional silk workshop and the Mother India temple. In Varanasi we will stay in a comfortable local hotel. Activity Approximate Cost At dawn drift down the holy River Ganges in Varanasi Included in Kitty Explore the stupas and temples of Varanasi Free Visit the Mughal-era mosque of Gyanvapi in Varanasi Free Visit the ancient site of Isipatana and the museum in the town of Sarnath, one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world and where many Buddhist nations have built temples in their national styles USD 5 About Varanasi: Set on the banks of the river Ganges, Varanasi (formerly known as Benares) is the holiest place in the Hindu religion. Hindu pilgrims travel here from all over the world come here to wash away their sins in the blessed river water of the Ganges, and to cremate their loved ones who have passed away. In Hindu mythology, to die in the city of Varanasi will result in instant "moksha", a release from the cycle of death and reincarnation. Varanasi is also the birthplace of Buddhism, as the Buddha is said to have given his first ever sermon at the nearby site of Sarnath in 528 BCE. Dawn is probably the best time of day to experience the city - by floating down the river on a boat, you can witness thousands of worshippers coming to the river's ghats to purify themselves in their morning rituals. You will also be able to see the burning ghats, where the bodies of the faithful are cremated and their ashes strewn out over the waters. To the Hindu people, Varanasi is a very special and spritual place, and it has a very evocative and sometimes otherwordly atmosphere, although being so close to the intimate rituals of life and death can sometimes leave you feeling a little overwhelmed.
Today we will drive to the town of Khajuraho, having some free time to relax at our treehouse campsite when we arrive. Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours. On the next day we will head out for an included guided visit to the Khajuraho Erotic Temples. The next day is free to explore the area, relax on the banks of the river, or take an optional jeep safari to the nearby Panna National Park in search of wildlife. In Khajuraho we will stay in a campsite with good facilities. Activity Approximate Cost Jeep safari through Panna Game Reserve INR 1500 Guided tour of the famous erotic temples at Khajuraho Included in Kitty About Khajuraho: Khajuraho was once the capital of the Chandelas of Jejakabhukti between the10th-13th Centuries CE, a small Rajput kingdom. Rajput kingdoms were small local dynasties that dominated political life across northern and central India between the 6th Century BCE and the 20th Century CE. The Chandelas of Jejakabhukti ruled over much of the modern-day region of Bundelkhand, and built the magnificent Hindu and Jain temples in Khajuraho in around 1000 CE. Considered to be "one of the seven wonders of India", the temples are in three geographic groups - western, eastern and southern. Because they were built in quite a remote and inaccessible location, the western group of temples have been almost perfectly preserved. Set in peaceful, well-kept gardens, the temples are magnificently decorated and covered in some very graphic carvings depicting all sorts of erotic acts!
After breakfast we leave our campsite and head to the city of Agra. Most of today will be spent travelling and we will arrive in the evening. Estimated Drive Time - 9-11 hours. On the following day we will have an included day tour of the major sites of Agra, starting with sunrise at the world-famous iconic mausoleum of the Taj Mahal, followed by a visit to the Agra Fort. In Agra we will stay in a local hotel. Activity Approximate Cost See the stunning Taj Mahal and visit the Agra Fort at Agra. Included in Kitty Community homestay to experience true Indian hospitality Included in Kitty Explore the peaceful grounds of the Itmad Ud Daulah mausoleum, often described as a 'draft' of the Taj Mahal INR 100 About Taj Mahal: The Taj Mahal is by far the most recognisable icon of India. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, coming face-to-face with this magnificent building never disappoints. Built between 1632-1653 CE by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the spectacular building was a mausoleum in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died while giving birth to their 14th child. Because of this origin, the building is often described as a "monument to love". It took over 20,000 labourers and skilled craftsmen to built it, some of whom were brought in from all over India, Central Asia and even Europe to work on the marble inlay work and complex decorations. The site has been described by UNESCO as being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".The Taj Mahal is fantastic to explore at any time of the day, but the early mornings are the best - sitting quietly and watching as the iridescent white marble takes on a soft morning glow is a memory you will never forget. About Agra: Of course the main highlight of Agra is the iconic Taj Mahal, but this means that it is all too easy to overlook some of the city's other magnificient sites. Agra (then known as Akhbarabad) was the capital of the Mughal empire under Shahs Akhbar, Jahangir, and Jahan, before Shah Jahan moved it to Shahjahanabad (modern-day Delhi) in 1648 CE. The heritage of the Mughals is still evident, not just with the stunning Taj Mahal, but with the spectacular Red Fort and wonderful Itmad-ud-Daulah tomb (sometimes known as the 'Baby Taj'). The city is also a good place for shopping, particularly jewellery, textiles and other arts and crafts.
We leave Agra today and head overland to the pink city of Jaipur, stopping en route at Fatehpur Sikri (the old capital of the Mughal Empire). Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. On the following day we will have a full day exploring the sites of Jaipur on the truck with our local guide. Whilst in Jaipur there will also be the option for an early morning or late afternoon hot air balloon ride over the city. In Jaipur we will stay in a comfortable local hotel. Activity Approximate Cost 2 night stay and guided tour of Jaipur, the beautiful Pink City Included in Kitty Take an unforgettable sunrise or sunset balloon ride over the forts and palaces of Jaipur USD 250 See a traditional outdoor Rajasthani Kathputli puppet show in Jaipur INR 100 Explore the fascinating 18th-century astronomical observatory of Jantar Mantar Included in Kitty Visit the ancient citadel of the Amber Palace, a fascinating blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture Included in Kitty Head out to see a Bollywood movie at the Raj Mandir, one of India's most famous and elegant cinemas INR 80 Discover the perfectly-preserved 16th-century Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sikri, and its beautiful temples and monuments Included in Kitty About Jaipur: The city of Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan, and named after its founder Maharaja Jai Singh II who moved his capital here from nearby Amer in the 18th Century due to population growth. It is known as the "Pink City", as all the buildings within the walls of the old town are painted a dusky rose pink - the story goes that Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh ordered that all the buildings should be painted in this colour to welcome the visiting Prince of Wales (who later became Edward VII) to the city in 1876, and the buildings have remained the same colour ever since. Jaipur is busy and bustling, with chaotic streets full of traffic, but it is also home to some incredible architecture and colourful history. The Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal) in the city centre is the most famous building, with storey after storey of intricately carved honeycomb windows - and the impressive City Palace should not be missed.Other sites of interest include the old Jantar Mantar Observatory and the Iswari Minar Swarga Sal minaret. It's also a great city for people-watching, set out on foot and you will find yourself surrounded by tall, proud Rajasthanis. Many of the men sport magnificent handlebar moustaches and huge brightly coloured turbans whilst the women are equally colourful in their mirrored skirts and chunky jewellery. About Fatehpur Sikri: Fatehpur Sikri is the site of the perfectly preserved but deserted capital built by Akbar, the third Emperor of the Mughal Empire. In 1569 CE, Akbar founded the new city to honour the Sufi holy man Salim Chishti, who had previously blessed him and foretold the birth of Akbar’s only son. Akbar proclaimed the city as the new Mughal capital in 1571, only for it to be abandoned in 1585 due to the drying up of the only water source. After briefly declaring Lahore as the new capital, it was once again returned to the nearby city of Agra. There is little left of the wider orignal city, but much of the magnificent imperial complex, protective walls and wonderful old mosque remain almost intact, a testament to the might and power of Akbar and the Mughal Empire.
Today we leave Jaipur and travel to the chaotic Indian capital of Delhi. Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours. In Delhi we will stay in a friendly local hotel. About Delhi: Delhi is the bustling and thriving Indian capital, and the third largest urban area in the world (behind Tokyo and Jakarta). The Delhi area has been continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BCE and has served as the a capital of various kingdoms and empires throughout the last three millennia, most prominantly by the Afghan and Turkic Sultanates of the medieval period, and the Mughal Empire between the 16th and 18th Centuries. The city was taken by British colonial forces in 1858 and made the capital in 1911, a status which was kept when India gained its independence in 1947. Delhi has many incredible sights spanning all eras of its history. The Lok Sabha (parliament building), President’s Palace, India Gate and the Rajpath are impressive reminders of the old British Indian Empire, while a trip on the metro to Qutab Minar will let you discover this intricately carved tower built during the Afghan Sultanate period. To surround yourself in the phenomenal Mughal-era architecture, take a visit to Humayan's Tomb (allegedly a forerunner of the Taj Mahal), and the magnificent Red Fort and Jama Masjid in the area known as 'Old Delhi'. Bustling Delhi is also a great place to indulge in shopping and people-watching. In the old town you'll find Chandni Chowk, a colourful shopping bazaar and fascinating market. The market is one of the most popular in India, taking it's name from the words meaning "moonlight square".
Today we will have an included guided tour of Old Delhi, heading to the Mughal Jama Masjid mosque, a local tea-maker, a Sikh temple, and the local spice markets. We will also have some free time to freely explore the sights of Delhi in the afternoon. Activity Approximate Cost Take a walking tour through some of the back streets and narrow alleyways of Old Delhi, discovering the hidden side of the city Included in Kitty Explore the Sanjay Colony 'slum' area of Delhi on a guided tour to see the micro-industries, schools and residential life there INR 600 Freely explore the colossal Mughal Red Fort in Old Delhi, built by the emporer Shah Jahan in 1648 upon moving the capital there INR 250 Visit the stunning Mughal-era mosque of Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, and climb its iconic minarets for an unrivalled view of the old city INR 400 Visit the Indira Gandhi Museum in Delhi, dedicated to the former Prime Minister who was assassinated by her own bodyguards in 1984 INR 100 See the ground-breaking modern architecture of the Delhi Baha'i Temple, known as the Lotus Temple due to its unique shape Free See the India Gate at the end of Delhi's ceremonial axis, built to commemorate all Indians who have died in various wars Free Explore the site of Humayun’s Tomb, a phenomenal early Mughal tomb that is said to be a major inspiration for the Taj Mahal INR 250 Discover the phenomenal 13th Century Qutab Minar and Mehrauli Archaeological Park in the south of Delhi, an intricately-carved pillar built during the Sultanate era of Indian history INR 250
Border Information: If joining the trip in Delhi, you will most likely enter India at Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (IATA code: DEL). Today is a free day to explore Delhi. There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this meeting. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Delhi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Delhi. In Delhi we will stay in a local hotel. Hotel for the night: Florence Inn Florence Inn 15 A/6 WEA Ajmal Khan Road Near Karol Bagh Metro Station Opposite Puja Park Karol Bagh New Delhi 110005 Tel - +91 987 163 2007 Please note that there is a sister hotel in Delhi called the Hotel Florence. This is a different hotel a few blocks away, so please make sure you go to the Florence Inn. Activity Approximate Cost Take a walking tour through some of the back streets and narrow alleyways of Old Delhi, discovering the hidden side of the city INR 100 Explore the Sanjay Colony 'slum' area of Delhi on a guided tour to see the micro-industries, schools and residential life there INR 600 About Delhi: Delhi is the bustling and thriving Indian capital, and the third largest urban area in the world (behind Tokyo and Jakarta). The Delhi area has been continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BCE and has served as the a capital of various kingdoms and empires throughout the last three millennia, most prominantly by the Afghan and Turkic Sultanates of the medieval period, and the Mughal Empire between the 16th and 18th Centuries. The city was taken by British colonial forces in 1858 and made the capital in 1911, a status which was kept when India gained its independence in 1947. Delhi has many incredible sights spanning all eras of its history. The Lok Sabha (parliament building), President’s Palace, India Gate and the Rajpath are impressive reminders of the old British Indian Empire, while a trip on the metro to Qutab Minar will let you discover this intricately carved tower built during the Afghan Sultanate period. To surround yourself in the phenomenal Mughal-era architecture, take a visit to Humayan's Tomb (allegedly a forerunner of the Taj Mahal), and the magnificent Red Fort and Jama Masjid in the area known as 'Old Delhi'. Bustling Delhi is also a great place to indulge in shopping and people-watching. In the old town you'll find Chandni Chowk, a colourful shopping bazaar and fascinating market. The market is one of the most popular in India, taking it's name from the words meaning "moonlight square".
Today we start our journey with a full day drive to the city of Bikaner. In Bikaner we will either stay in a local hotel or camp at an eco-lodge a short distance outside the city. Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!). Activity Approximate Cost Witness the holy rats in the Karni Mata rat temple near Bikaner Included in Kitty About Bikaner: Bikaner is a desert town in north west Rajasthan, protected from the encroaching sands by its high city walls and gates. The atmospheric old town is built out of the same pinky-red sandstone as many of the buildings in nearby Jaipur. Close to Bikaner you will find the bizarre temple of Karni Mata, dedicated to a medieval-era female ascetic Hindu sage - in this temple, thousands and thousands of sacred rats known as kabbas are revered and worshipped. The legend goes that Karni Mata's stepson, Laxman, drowned after falling into a pond when trying to take a drink, and Karni Mata convinced Yama, the god of death, to allow him and all of her other male children and descendants to be reincarnated as rats. They scurry around the temple, over your feet, between your legs, up the walls and on the furniture!
Today we continue our journey with a drive to the ancient Rajasthani city of Jaisalmer, stopping at the Karni Mata (Rat Temple) for an included visit en route. In Jaisalmer we will stay in a comfortable local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours. About Jaisalmer: The city of Jaisalmer is one of the old Rajput capitals of Rajasthan, dating back to its founding in 1156 CE. Known as the "Golden City', Jaisalmer is dominated by the old fort, built on a hill which gives it a commanding view over the Thar Desert. Built of beautiful yellow sandstone, the fort's walls are a tawny beige colour during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets. The monumental walls are ornately designed with imposing parapets and towers at every turn, and covered in intricate stonework. In the old town the havelis (houses of once-important Jaisalmer families) look like small palaces with facades covered in fine carvings and highly-decorated balconies.
Today we will have a free morning in order to freely explore the sights of Jaisalmer. In the late afternoon we will head out on an included camel safari into the Thar Desert - exploring the desert with local Rajasthani camel drivers is the most authentic way to experience the area! Tonight we will camp out in the desert, sleeping under the stars. Activity Approximate Cost Trek into the Thar Desert on an overnight camel safari with Rajasthani camel drivers Included in Kitty
This morning we will return to Jaisalmer from our camel safari. The rest of the day will be free to relax or explore more of Jaisalmer and the surrounding area. Tonight we will return to our hotel in Jaisalmer. Activity Approximate Cost Visit the beautiful and ornate 18th-century mansions of Salim Singh-ki Haveli and Patwa-ki Haveli INR 70 3 nights at Jaisalmer to explore the medieval streets, the fort and the desert INR 250 Watch the sunset from the stunning Amar Sagar Jain Temple in Jaisalmer INR 100
This morning we will drive from Jaisalmer to another famous Rajasthani city, Jodhpur. En route to Jodhpur we will make an included visit to the Sambhali Trust project (a charitable project that works for the empowerment of women and girls in Rajasthan), where we will learn about the efforts of the project and make a group donation from the kitty. After our visit we will make our way to our accommodation, rooms that have been set up by local families in their own homes for visitors. We will be splitting up into 2 or 3 small groups for our homestays. Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.On the following day we will be in and around Jodhpur. In the morning we will have an included visit to the Mehrangarh Fort and Palace, and the afternoon is free to explore the city independently. Activity Approximate Cost Explore the blue city of Jodhpur and the mighty Meherangarh fort Included in Kitty Community homestay to experience true Indian hospitality Included in Kitty Visit and support the Dragoman-supported Sambhali Trust near Jodhpur, and see the excellent work they do to provide local women and girls with education and vocational skills Included in Kitty Visit the Jaswant Thada, a beautiful marble cenotaph next to a picturesque lake built in memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II INR 55 Learn all about Rajasthani cuisine at a cooking class at our guesthouse or homestay in Jodhpur INR 1000 Explore the museum of the Jodhpur Royal Family in the Umaid Bhawan Palace, one of the world's largest private residences INR 50 Explore the nearby Mandore Gardens and ancient ruined fort Free Go out on an exhilarating zip-lining excursion over the gardens of the Mehrangarh Fort INR 1800 About Jodhpur: Jodhpur, situated on the edge of the Thar Desert, is affectionately known as the "Blue City" of Rajasthan due to its many indigo coloured houses in the old town. These are best seen from the ramparts of the mighty Mehrangarh Fortress, which looms above the bustling city. Built in the late 15th Century CE, the colossal fort of Mehrangarh is the largest in the whole of Rajasthan, and has never been taken by force. The fort complex itself is huge and spreads over the hill looking over Jaipur - it houses the Maharaja's Palace as well as a number of temples, extensive gardens and some of the most well-stocked museums and galleries in all of India. Elsewhere in the city, Nai Sadak is the place to head for shopping, and the Sardar Market is a riot of sights, sounds and smells that's a baffling assault on the senses. Also in Jodhpur are the historical sites of Jaswant Thada, built at the end of the 19th Century and constructed entirely out of sheets of marble, and Mandore, the ancient capital of Marwar. About Sambhali Trust: The Sambhali Trust is an organisation near Jodhpur that provides underprivileged Rajasthani women and girls (and now also some boys) with educational, vocational, and social skills to help them to become confident and financially independent. Even though the destructive 'caste'-system is officially abolished in India, it is still a huge issue in the region. They specifically work with 'Dalit' women and girls, who usually have little or no access to education or basic health services. They do not even have the right to choose their husband and manage that relationship. In addition to helping break the cycle of poverty and financial dependence on family members, the Sambhali Trust gives these women a voice and a support network to nurture their hopes, dreams, and ambitions. The Trust also does everything to get the girls into schools and pay for their education. There is also a sewing school, where the Trust helps the women to establish their own small tailoring shops in their own villages. We visit the Sambhali Trust to see all the work they do on our trips between Delhi and Mumbai, and provide a donation on our visit.
After breakfast we set off for our drive to Udaipur, visiting the Jain Temple at Ranakpur en route. We will have 3 nights in Udaipur, giving us plenty of time to discover this amazing, romantic Rajasthani city. In Udaipur we will stay in a comfortable hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. Activity Approximate Cost 2 nights to discover the stunning white city of Udaipur Included in Kitty About Udaipur: Udaipur is arguably the most romantic city in all of Rajasthan - an evocative and magical place on the shores of Lake Pichola. The city boasts several royal palaces, the most spectacular of which is the floating Lake Palace, made famous in the James Bond film "Octopussy". This palace is now home to a its beautiful mosaics of peacocks - a sacred bird not only to the people of Udaipur but also to all Rajasthanis. luxury hotel and it's sometimes possible to take a short boat trip out onto the lake to see it. Back in the city itself, the huge City Palace towers over the rest of the buildings here - not surprising, seeing as this is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan! Its many balconies, towers and cupolas offer fine views over the lake and city. Now a museum, the City Palace is home to the "Mor Chowk" with its beautiful mosaics of peacocks - a sacred bird not only to the people opf Udaipur but also to all Rajasthanis.
On these 2 days we will have free time to explore the sites in and around Udaipur, take part in some optional activities, and relax on one of the many roof-top terraces in the city. Activity Approximate Cost Take an evening ride on the Udaipur Ropeway, to see the stunning vista of the city after sunset INR 78 Learn all about the folk art, culture, songs and festivals of Rajasthan at the Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal cultural institution INR 50 Visit the Animal Aid Unlimited animal shelter and hospital in Udiapur, and support the incredible work they do there to look after injured street animals in the area USD 10 Visit the iconic Monsoon Palace, perched on a mountain overlooking Udaipur INR 160 Visit the flamboyant City Palace of Udaipur, built in a fascinating fusion of Rajasthani and Mughal styles INR 250 Explore the Pichola Lake, and it's famous temple islands of Jagniwas and Jagmandir, on a stunning and peaceful boat cruise INR 430 Head out on a half-day horse ride through the beautiful surroundings of the foothills of the Aravalli Mountains around Udaipur INR 1000 Visit the palaces of Udaipur INR 100
Leaving Udaipur, we will be joined by a local cook who will accompany us during the next few days whilst we are wild camping. Today will mostly be spent travelling to Mandu via the backroads of rural Rajasthan. We will be off the tourist trail here and tonight we will wild camp, perhaps on the edge of a local village. Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours. About Mandu: Mandu was founded as a fortress and retreat in the 10th Century CE by Paramala Dynasty, a Rajput kingdom that ruled over much of the modern-day Malwa region of central Inda. It was conquered by the Muslim rulers of Delhi in 1304. After the victory of the Mughals in the early 16th Century in Delhi, the Afghan cheiftain of Mandu, Baz Bahadur, fled Mandu instead of facing the Mughal army. It was taken by the Maratha Dynasty in 1732, and was mostly abondoned when they moved their capital to the city of Dhar. An extensive deserted hilltop fort on the edge of the Vindhya hill ranges, Mandu was once known as "the city of joy". Today the atmosphere is more one of mystery and romance. The views from the fort are quite stunning, and it's a great spot to take in the vistas of the vast plains below - and if you find Echo Point, when you clap you'll be able to hear the sound you make echoing all the way down the valley. It's interesting to wander around and explore the old buildings, in particular the Royal Enclave, which includes some charming palaces built by the Sultan for the ladies of his hareem. You can also see the Hindola Mahal, or "Swinging Palace", which takes its name from its sloping sided walls that look like a swing.
Today we will visit Mandu, an extensive and largely abandoned hill-top fort from the Mughal era. We will then spend the afternoon driving to our wild camp spot near Kharwand Dam, en route towards Ajanta. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours. The next day we complete the drive to Ajanta, arriving in the afternoon. We will visit the complex of 29 ancient Buddhist temples cut into the rock face. We will wild camp nearby. The following day we will drive a short distance to Ellora where we will have an included visit to the ancient Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves - a set of a small temples in the rock face dating from the 6th to 11th Centuries CE. We will camp in the same campsite tonight. Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours. Activity Approximate Cost Visit the tomb of Hoshang Shah, the first Muslim leader of Mandu - the tomb itself is India's first marble building and one of the most refined examples of Afghan-syle architecture in the country Included in Kitty Visit to the Jahaz Mahal (or the Ship Palace)the most famous building in Mandu Included in Kitty Visit the deserted hilltop ghost city of Mandu Included in Kitty Take a guided visit around the incredible Buddhist rock caves and paintings of Ajanta, some dating back as far as the 2nd century BCE Included in Kitty Guided visit to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rockcut temples and monasteries of Ellora Included in Kitty About Ajanta: Hidden in a rocky escarpment, the phenomenal caves at Ajanta were discovered in 1819 by a British hunting party that stumbled upon them. Their isolation has contributed to the fine state of preservation we find them in today. In all there are 29 caves nestling in the curve of a stunning deep gorge, all dating from around 200 BCE to 650 CE. The caves are beautifully decorated with paintings and sculptures telling the story of Buddha and illustrating tales from Buddhist fables and jatakas. The frescos are amazingly colourful and considered by many as amongst the finest examples of Buddhist art in India. About Ellora: Ellora is known for its remarkable sculptures - the incredible site features 34 Hindu and Jain temples carved into the caves around the area. The Hindu caves are the most dramatic, and the sheer size of the Kailasa Temple is overwhelming. It covers twice the area of the Parthenon in Athens and is oneand-a-half times as high. It was carved out of solid rock from the top down, and it is estimated that it entailed removing 200,000 tonnes of rock. Setting off early today, we will say goodbye to our local cook and drive to the bustling city of Mumbai. In Mumbai we will stay in a comfortable hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
About Mumbai: Mumbai is India's most cosmopolitan city, and lies on the west coast. It's also home to the largest film industry in the world, Bollywood - so if you've never seen an Indian movie before, this is the place for it. Full of high-drama, romance, suspense, music and dancing, Bollywood films are all-singing, alldancing extravaganzas! Combine India's version of LA with a hefty dose of traffic, busy streets, lively bazaars, briefcase-clutching businessmen and some impressive colonial architecture, and there you have Mumbai. The city is a mad mixture of horrific poverty standing side-by-side with prolific consumerism; this is the financial capital of the sub-continent and it has the shopping centres, bars and restaurants to match - but more than half the inhabitants live in the slums. Mumbai can be a bit of a shock to the system and an assault on the senses. But once you get your head around it, you'll begin to appreciate all the city has to offer. There's tons to do here, wander the streets and discover some of the beautiful old colonial architecture and Art Deco buildings, treat yourself to a meal in one of the country's best restaurants, and shop until you drop in the bazaars. In the evening, you can visit Chowpatty beach where colourful crowds of people mill about in the cooler evening air. Palmists, balloon sellers, magicians and acrobats all compete for your attention, vying to show you the magic of Mumbai.
Border Information: If you are leaving in Mumbai, you will most likely exit India from Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (IATA code: BOM). Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Mumbai. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below. Activity Approximate Cost Take a guided tour of the backstreets, shops and schools of the Dhavari district, to experience a slice of the real Mumbai INR 1200 Take a Bollywood dance class in one of Mumbai's premier dance studios INR 500 Discover the marvellous collection of historical objects and art at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum, one of India's premier museums INR 300 Explore the labyrinth of cave-temples on Elephanta Island near Mumbai, some of the most impressive rock carvings in all of India INR 250