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From Delhi to Mumbai, this epic journey through royal Rajasthan delves into the history of India's Maharajas, discovers magnificent forts, opulent palaces and breathtaking scenery along colonial railways deep into the heart of this majestic country.
Depart London on your scheduled overnight flight to Delhi.
On arrival in Delhi, you will be met by your local guide and transferred to the hotel. After lunch and some time to settle in, a short tour of the beautifully planned city of New Delhi will follow. Offering a taste of its imperial glory, you'll drive past the India Gate, President's House, Parliament Building and visit the Birla Temple, made purely out of 2,000 tons of Rajasthani white marble.
A full day tour of Delhi commences after breakfast, beginning with the historic Old Delhi in the morning. Lying side by side, Old Delhi dates back to the Mughal period, whilst New Delhi was built just over a hundred years ago. Travelling through the narrow and crowded streets on a rickshaw will transport you back in time, passing vibrant food markets of Old Delhi where breadmakers bake deliciously scented naan from the tandoor ovens and chai wallahs brew their sweet tea. A visit to the regal Red Fort gives you a sense of the lavish life once led by the former rulers before stopping for lunch at a local restaurant. Your tour will continue on to New Delhi to see the Mahatma Gandhi memorial and the 12th century Qutab Minar. Built on the foundations of Jain and Hindu temples, the complex was built in 1193 after the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu kingdom and displays fine examples of Indo-Islamic architecture as well as the tallest stone tower in India.
Waking early, it's time to board the Taj Express* to Agra. This train journey swiftly leaves behind the hustle and bustle of Delhi and arrives into Agra with time for lunch before your afternoon excursions. Despite being a small city, Agra was once the capital of the mighty Mughal dynasty whose strength manifested itself in the huge forts and buildings built to maintain its power. During the afternoon, you will visit the vast red sandstone Agra Fort. The colossal walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by the Mughals in 1573 and boasts gigantic pavilions, grand palaces and spectacular courtyards.
This magical day starts with an early morning tour of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. Words do not do this remarkable palace justice; it really must be seen to appreciate its stupendous beauty. Taking 17 years and 20,000 men to build, the heartbroken Mughal Emperor Shahjahan dedicated this stunning white marble monument of love to his deceased wife to enshrine her mortal remains. After breakfast back at the hotel, visit Fatehpur Sikri. Built in 1569, it is the ancient capital of Akbar and known as the 'abandoned city' as the area suffered from water shortages making it an unsuitable residence. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with some time to spare in the afternoon before proceeding to the railway station to catch your train to Jaipur which includes dinner onboard, arriving in Jaipur later that evening.
Begin your first day in Jaipur with a visit to the spectacular Amber Fort, the ancient capital of the royal family until 1728, located just 11km from Jaipur. Spanning over four huge courtyards, you will travel to the centre of the fort by either elephant or jeep, passing snake charmers, harems of the Maharajah and the Palace of Mirrors along the way which all make for a truly unforgettable morning. An afternoon city tour of Jaipur takes in the major sights including the home of the royal family of Jaipur - The City Palace and the Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory. Lastly, marvel at the hundreds of tiny windows on the facade of the Hawa Mahal, known to many as the Palace of Winds, where it is said that the women of the royal family could once watch the streets below without being seen. Return to the hotel for lunch Stop for lunch at a local restaurant and some time to walk through the colourful bazaars before enjoying dinner at a local restaurant returning to the hotel for dinner.
Depart your hotel after breakfast and travel onwards by train to Pushkar, an important Hindu pilgrimage site. The town has hundreds of temples, the most famous being Brahma Temple, said to be one of the few temples in the world dedicated to this deity. The town winds around a vast lake where Hindus come and use one of the 52 ghats to enter and bathe in the holy water during religious ceremonies and festivals. Continue by train to Jodhpur in time for dinner at your hotel.
Situated on the edge of the Thar desert, Jodhpur is the birthplace of the last Maharaja of India. You'll begin your day-long tour with a visit to the Mehrangarh Fort, a beautiful fort founded in the 15th century by the Rathore Rajputs that appears to rise from bluff-coloured sandstone within the hill itself making it hard to tell where the land ends and the building begins. Strolling through stately palace apartments you'll get a real feel for life as a royal in an Indian court. Later visit Jaswant Thada, the traditional cremation ground of the rulers of Jodhpur with grandiose white marble memorials amongst ornamental gardens.
Leaving Jodhpur, en-route to Deogarh you will visit the world famous Ranakpur temple complex. Acclaimed for their intricate and superb architectural style, the temples are the largest of the Jain cult and form one of the five major pilgrimage sites. Wholly constructed in marble with more than 1,400 exquisitely carved supportive pillars, they contain numerous beautifully and delicately carved sculptures and are definitely a highlight of any trip to this area. There'll be a break for lunch in a local restaurant before continuing the journey to Deogarh, arriving in time for dinner at the hotel.
Begin your day with a trip on Deogarh's metre-gauge train for a journey around the picturesque local area, passing waterfalls and thick jungle, soaking up the ambience of a bygone era. After lunch in a you'll continue on to Udaipur.
Affectionately known as 'The Venice of the East', magical Udaipur is a city of romance with beautiful lakes and fantastical palaces all bordered by lush, forested hills. This morning you will visit the huge City Palace, lining the eastern shore of Lake Pichola, with its balconies gazing out towards the stunning Lake Palace seemingly floating on the waters of the shimmering lake. Next make a stop at the celebrated Jagdish temple, the largest in the city and whose 79-foot sculpted spire dominates the skyline. Here you can appreciate the three-storied temple that is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe.
Leaving Rajasthan behind the tour travels onwards to Ahmedabad where you'll explore the city on a varied sightseeing tour, visiting Sabarmati Ashram, the former home and retreat of Mahatma Gandhi as well as the Science City, Swaminarayan Temple and Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, famous for its intricately carved ten stone latticework windows.
This morning board the double-decker express train to Mumbai which arrives in the afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore the surrounding area before dinner with your group.
An early morning start to commence your full day tour of Mumbai awaits you. Your first stop is the iconic stone arch landmark known as the Gateway of India to board a motorboat to Elephanta Island, explore the ancient caves dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back in Mumbai, you will delight in admiring such sites as the grand Jain Temple before meandering through the picturesque Hanging Gardens which offer beautiful views of the city and sea before arriving at the beach at Chowpatty. Continue to the museum of Mani Bhavan where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai between 1917-1943 and finally explore the beautiful Kamala Nehru Park. Enjoy a final dinner together with your group on your last evening in India.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
A visa is required for entry into India. British Citizen Passport Holders will need to obtain an e-Tourist Visa (eTV) for travel to India. We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be able to arrange your visa on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250 590 and quote 'Mercury Holidays'. The cost of the visa is approximately £72 per person. The Travel Visa Company can only apply for this 30 days before your proposed travel date and takes around 10 working days to issue. It is only valid for a 30-day single entry stay from the date of arrival. When calling the Travel Visa Company they will advise you of any changes to the fees or the procedure, they will also advise you of all information they will require in order to apply for the visa.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flight is to Delhi International Airport with Jet Airways (9W), departing from London Heathrow Terminal 4. Final flight details will be confirmed on your e-ticket and final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage, however weight restrictions will be finalised on your e-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in. Check-in should be at least 3 hours before departure. Checked baggage allowance may vary. Please refer to the bottom right of your E-ticket receipt for the correct baggage allowance. For example, if it shows 20k this means your allowance is 20kg; or 1PC means One piece not exceeding 23kg. Important note: For handling purposes, the maximum weight of any single piece of baggage must not exceed 32kg. Please refer to the airline's website for further details and the most up-to-date information.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with an average level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves full days of sightseeing, often on foot, and includes some climbing of stairs and getting on and off coaches. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10, and the maximum will be 35. If in the unlikely event there are less than 10 people booked on your tour date then you may be asked to change to a different date. A full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
The currency in India is the Rupee or Rs. The Rupee is a closed currency and officially you are not allowed to take any cash out of India. US Dollars and GBP are also widely accepted in India should you wish to keep an alternative currency on you.
You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any personal purchases, such as souvenirs, laundry and extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £200-£300 per person will be sufficient for the duration of the tour. Tipping is not compulsory and is at your discretion. Should you wish to tip, this will be collected by your guide at the end of your tour for your convenience. It is asked that if you do not tip in the local currency, please do not give coins as these are difficult to exchange.
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