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Enjoy a quintessential Indian travel experience that incorporates a seven-night train journey carrying you into the heart of India. Disembark to explore some of its most riveting sights and cities as you follow the train tracks to the indigo-coloured houses of Jodhpur, the sprawling palace complex of Chittorgarh and the wildlife havens of Ranthambore and Bharatpur. Visit the Agra, Amber, Red, Jaisalmer and Mehrangarh forts and soak in the colourful landscapes of rural India on this captivating, world-renowned train adventure.
Depart London on your scheduled, overnight flight to Delhi.
On arrival in Delhi, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. After lunch, you will visit the ISKCON temple of Krishna consciousness, which will undertake a short tour before the rest of the day is at leisure. Return to your hotel for tonight's welcome dinner.
A city built over centuries by different rulers and dynasties, each leaving a distinctive stamp, Delhi offers a captivating combination of historic monuments and modern landmarks. Explore both Old and New Delhi on a full-day tour of the city, setting off this morning through the narrow, bustling streets of Old Delhi on a rickshaw. Experience your first taste of Delhi as you embark on a short tour through the carefully planned streets of New Delhi, driving past India Gate, the President's house and Parliament Building before exploring the shrines of the vast Birla Temple. Make your way to the towering, red walls of the Red Fort and explore the intricately etched hallways of this former home of the ruler Shah Jahan, better known as the mastermind behind the Taj Mahal. Visit Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, then enjoy lunch before crossing over into New Delhi and visiting the Mahatma Gandhi memorial and the 12th century minaret of Qutab Minar.
Check out of your hotel in the late morning with time for some souvenir shopping. After lunch at a local restaurant, transfer to Safdarjung Railway Station where you'll board the Palace on Wheels, your home on the tracks for the next 7 days. Enjoy a traditional welcome and check-in, with time for photos with the traditionally uniformed staff, then refresh yourself with a complimentary welcome drink in the lounge before your early evening departure. Dinner will be on board as the train journeys past the night lights of rural India.
Step off the train to a royal welcome in Jaipur as you are welcomed by Shehnai music and garlands and whisked away to Hawa Mahal. Known as 'The Palace of the Winds', the 953 windows of this pink palace once shielded the faces of the royal ladies of the household so they could observe street processions unseen. Continue onward to ancient Jantar Mantar and the world's largest sun dial, located in its courtyard. After a short break for some shopping, ride festively adorned elephants up the steep ramparts which lead to the Amber Fort, where you'll have lunch on the fort premises. After lunch, discover the charms of this well-preserved landmark as you explore its courtyards, concubines' chambers, detailed inlays and mirrored ceilings. Drive back into the city, taking in the rich collection of artefacts in the Albert House Museum and the fine white marble of Birla Mandir temple before returning to your train and travelling through the night.
Disembark in Ranthambore early this morning for your drive to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Journey through the reserve, overlooked by the 10th century hilltop Ranthambore Fort at its centre, as you look out for leopards, hyenas, sloth bears and the majestic tigers which roam its lands. Enjoy lunch on board your train as you travel to Chittorgarh, where you'll take a late afternoon excursion to India's largest fort. Delve into this enormous complex of palaces and towers, dotted with 22 bodies of water, before taking in a night-time light show at the fort. Return to your train for dinner, staying parked at the Chittogarh station for the night.
Depart Chittorgarh in the early morning for the journey to Udaipur, where today's excursion takes you to the verdant gardens and lotus pool of Saheliyon Ki-Bari, anoramic lake views from the balconies and towers of Udaipur City Palace, and the rare crystal collection of a former Maharana at the Crystal Gallery. After lunch, a spectacular boat ride around the Lake Palace Hotel, sitting atop a small island in the middle of Lake Pichola, allows you to view this former royal summer escape from the water. Return to your train as it departs for your next destination in Rajasthan.
After breakfast, make your way to Gadsisar Lake in Jaisalmer, a water conservation tank built in 1400AD, and wander the temples and shrines that dot its shores. Next, explore the immense Jaisalmer Fort, its walls adorned with delicately carved figures, and look out for its lively bazaar and inhabitants (local people still live inside the fort) as you stroll through its interior. Continue on to the city's 'havelis' for a chance to see these lavish, historic houses of wealthy, former merchants. After lunch, travel to the rolling expanse of the Sam Sand Dunes in the Thar Desert for a camel ride into the sunset. Return to the train for a chance to refresh yourself before a night of traditional music, dancing and performances over dinner at the Gorbandh Palace Hotel. Depart Jaisalmer later this evening on an overnight journey to Jodhpur.
Admire the sweeping views from Jaswant Thada as today's tour starts at this splendid marble memorial set against a dramatic mountain backdrop. A short walk takes you to the nearby Mehrangarh Fort, sitting on a hill that soars above Old Jodhpur. Gaze out over the indigo houses that surround the fort and gave rise to the city's nickname, 'The Blue City', before entering the fort through a series of defensive gateways. Explore palatial apartments, wide courtyards and a museum collection then continue on to the museum located in the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, which houses the personal artefacts of Jodhpur's former Maharaja. Depart Jodhpur in the late afternoon as you travel towards Bharatpur.
Take an early morning bus ride from Bharatpur Railway station to the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and embark on a rickshaw ride through one of the world's best birdwatching sites, as over 375 bird species swoop, glide and nest around you. Return to the train for breakfast as you depart for Agra, where you'll disembark at midday. Explore the maze of courtyards and buildings within the expansive Agra Fort before visiting one of the world's most amazing architectural wonders - the Taj Mahal. Soak in the beauty of the marbled domes and minarets of this testament to Emperor Shah Jahan's love for his late wife. Return to the railway station for dinner and your last night on board the Palace on Wheels.
Your rail journey comes to an end as your early checkout takes place after breakfast. Check into your hotel in Delhi and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Why not do some last-minute shopping in Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets in India, or retreat to the peaceful greenery of Lodhi Gardens, making the most of this chance to explore the city at your own pace.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK or continue on to your chosen extension.
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 £96 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.
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.
Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage, however the restriction on your domestic flights is only 15kg, so you may want to pack less or make heavy items such as cameras easily transferable to your hand luggage to avoid any issues. 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. For handling purposes the maximum weight of any single piece of baggage must not exceed 32 Kgs. Hand Luggage: One piece of hand luggage with maximum total dimensions not exceeding a total of 115cm in size and 7kg in weight. 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 a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves climbing of steep stairs and getting on and off coaches, trains and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 2, and the maximum will be 20. If in the unlikely event there are less than 2 people booked on your tour date, we will endeavour to reduce any disruption to your holiday and try to operate your tour with lower passenger numbers. If we are not able to operate your departure date then you may be asked to change to a different date and a full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is an escorted tour, meaning that you will have a local English speaking guide during your excursions in Delhi. During your stay on the iconic ?Palace on Wheels? you will have a Tour Manager and Staff on board and during each sightseeing trip and excursion, an English-Speaking Guide.
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 £500 per person will be sufficient for the duration of the tour.
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