Rajasthan Explorer

India

Culture | Christmas

Fort cities, rural villages & camel fair

Dates & Prices

Intro

This in-depth tour of Rajasthan takes you to some of its iconic cities and hidden rural villages. Travel through Mandawa in the Shekhawati region, renowned for its intricate havelis. Drive to Bikaner, on the fringes of the Thar Desert, and little-known Nagaur. Witness the spectacle of one of the world's largest camel fairs in Pushkar. Head west via Khimsar to the spectacular desert city of Jaisalmer and wander the labyrinthine alleyways of its living fort and take a camel ride in the sand dunes. Drive to the Blue City of Jodhpur, visit the impressive Mehrangarh Fort and the nearby Bisnoi tribal community. Finally end your Rajasthan trip in Udaipur, known for its lakes and magnificent palaces.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Nagaur's impressive Ahhichatragarh Fort
  • Visit the holy rats in Karni Mata Temple
  • The prominent Hindu pilgrimage town of Pushkar
  • Experience Pushkar's famous Camel Fair
  • Discover the fascinating history of Khimsar Fort
  • Hidden alleyways of Jaisalmer Fort
  • Admire the stunning Mehrangarh Fort
  • Boat ride on Lake Pichola in Udaipur

Places Visited

Delhi - Churu - Bikaner - Nagaur - Deshnoke - Pushkar - Khimsar - Jaisalmer - Jodhpur - Udaipur

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival - Delhi

Arrive into Delhi where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to the hotel. Overnight in Delhi. 

Meal plan: n/a

India’s capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the vast spiraling skyscrapers, the remnants of a bygone era in the form of its many monuments, stand as silent reminders of the region’s ancient legacy. The first impression for any visitor travelling in from the airport is of a specious, garden city, tree-lined with a number of beautiful parks.

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Day 2 : Delhi - Churu

Drive from Delhi to Churu. Enjoy a half day sightseeing tour of Churu, where you will have a heritage walking tour. Overnight in Churu. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Serving as your entry to Rajasthan, Churu is your gateway to the Thar desert and its fabulous inhabitants. While visions of Rajasthan are all about awe inspiring forts, great castles, palaces - Churu is a contrast rooted in realism. The story here is about commoners - The Marwari merchants - who built great wealth and became India’s most successful business community. In terms of their culture and living – they present a uniquely fascinating aspect of Rajasthani people compared to the Rajput warriors and their legacies.
While it's a 450 year old town, what makes Churu a worthy way to start your sojourn is region's art of fresco wall paintings on century old mansions all around, unmistakable connect of how the town's wealth and legacy was made during the days of British Raj, how the township was conceived as a community living space and a glimpse into off-the tourist map Rajasthan.


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Day 3 : Churu - Bikaner

Drive to the medieval city of Bikaner. Explore the city's magnificent forts and palaces. Overnight in Bikaner. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Lying in the north of the desert State, Bikaner is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city's lifestyle. The city is often referred to as ' the camel country'. The strategic location of Bikaner on the ancient caravan routes that came from West/Central Asia made it a prime trade centre in those times. Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by a seven km long embattled wall with five gates. The magnificent forts and palaces, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Surging lanes, colourful bazaars with bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience. Modern Bikaner is the result of the foresight of its most eminent ruler Maharaja Ganga Singh (1887-1943) whose reformative zeal set the pace for Bikaner transformation from a principality to a premier princely state.

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Day 4 : Bikaner

Tour the old city of Bikaner by horse cart. Later, explore Junagarh Fort and visit the Camel Research Centre. Overnight in Bikaner. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Junagarh Fort was originally called 'Chintamani' and was renamed Junagarh or 'Old Fort' in the early 20th century when the ruling family moved to Lalgarh Palace outside the fort limits. It is one of the few major forts in Rajasthan which is not built on a hilltop. The modern city of Bikaner has developed around the fort. The fort complex was built under the supervision of Karan Chand, the Prime Minister of Raja Rai Singh, the sixth ruler of Bikaner, who ruled from 1571 to 1611 AD. Construction of the walls and associated moat commenced in 1589 and was completed in 1594. It was built outside the original fort of the city, about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) from the city centre. Some remnants of the old fort are preserved near the Lakshmi Narayan temple.

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Day 5 : Bikaner - Nagaur

Drive to Nagaur with an optional visit to the Deshnoke Rat Temple en route. Overnight in Nagaur. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The bustling city of Nagaur is the administrative headquarters of the Nagaur District. It is built around the spectacular 12th century Ahhichatragarh Fort, one of the first Muslim strongholds in northern India. Nagaur has a large Muslim population as a result of the Muslim invasion from Central Asia, and there are several mosques within the city, including Tarkin-ki-Dargah, commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar. 

The small town of Deshnoke is famous for its 600-year-old Karni Mata temple, where rats are worshipped. There are around 20,000 rats within the temple, believed to be reincarnated Charan storytellers, who are then in turn reincarnated as one of the goddess Karni Mata's descendents. If a rat is killed within the temple, it must be replaced with one made of solid gold, while the sighting of a white rat amidst hordes of black rats is considered especially auspicious. Completed in the early 20th century in the late Mughal style by Maharaja Ganga Singh, the temple was further enhanced in 1999 by Kundanlal Verma, who donated huge silver gates and marble carvings to the temple. Throughout the year, pilgrims from around India visit to pay religious tribute to the goddess Karni Mata, who is respected and loved in areas such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana. During the Navratri festival, thousands of people travel to the temple by foot.

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Day 6 : Nagaur - Pushkar

Enjoy a city tour of Nagaur, including a visit to the impressive Ahhichatragarh Fort. Drive to Pushkar and check in to the hotel. Overnight in Pushkar. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Built around a holy lake believed to have appeared when Brahma dropped a lotus flower, the town of Pushkar is a prominent Hindu pilgrimage site. It is often referred to as "tirtha-raj", literally translating to "king of pilgrim sites". Pilgrims travel from across the country to take a dip in the lake's holy water and visit the beautiful Brahma Temple, one of the world's few temples dedicated to Brahma. The flower farming across the city has also earned Pushkar the name of "the rose garden of Rajasthan", with its flowers being exported around the world. 

Built in the early 12th century, Ahhichatragarh Fort is one of the most spectacular examples of Rajput-Mughal architecture. After undergoing a two-decade UNESCO-award-winning restoration, early materials and construction methods were rediscovered, while fine frescoes and architectural features were conserved. The intricate water system is particularly impressive, with an ingenious system of channels and ducts bringing water from a well near the ramparts to the fort's 90 fountains and the bath-house of the Abha Mahal palace.

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Day 7 : Pushkar [CAMEL FAIR]

Spend the day experiencing the camel fair in Pushkar. Overnight in Pushkar.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Taking place around the full moon in the Hindu lunar month of Kartika (in either October or November), Pushkar's Camel Fair is one of the Rajasthan's most famous festivals. Around 50,000 camels attend the fair, in which Rajasthani farmers gather to buy and sell their camels, cattle and horses. Now a major tourist attraction, the fair also includes a range of other activities arranged by Rajasthan Tourism, such as moustache competitions and camel races.

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Day 8 : Pushkar - Khimsar

Transfer to Khimsar and enjoy an afternoon jeep safari. Overnight in Khimsar. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Perched on the edge of Thar Desert, the 450-year-old Khimsar Fort is one of Khimsar's prominent attractions, originally built in the early 16th century soley for war. After the royal family moved in around the mid-18th century, a ladies residence was constructed, before a regal wing was finally added in 1940s by the present occupent, Thakur Onkar Singh. Today, the fort is used as a heritage hotel, set within beautiful courtyards, gardens and fountains. The tranquil Khimsar Dunes Village is just a 15-minute drive away from the fort, nestled in the rolling sand dunes with eco-friendly huts surrounding a small lake. 

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Day 9 : Khimsar - Jaisalmer

Transfer to the desert town of Jaisalmer and check in to the hotel. Overnight in Jaisalmer. 

Meal plan: Breakfast


Jaisalmer, the golden beauty etched in yellow sandstone, stands tall against miles of gleaming sand. Founded in 1156 AD by Maharawal Jaisal, Jaisalmer’s location kept it almost untouched by outside influences and even during the days of the Raj, Jaisalmer was the last to sign the Instrument of Agreement with the British. Very few cities can boast of the magnificence that surrounds Jaisalmer. There is a fort that seems to rise out of a desert haze, its yellow sandstone walls and bastions taking on a golden hue in the afternoon sun, which is why it is aptly called 'Sonar Kila' or the Golden Fort. The fort stands atop the 80m high Trikuta hill, where a quarter of Jaisalmer's population still lives. Within the fort are also beautifully carved Jain temples of the 12th to the 15th centuries. One can also see Badal Vilas Palace - the former ruler’s 20th century palace, as well as some impressive merchant mansions (havelis) including Patwon ki Haveli (1805), a five-storey building with carved pillars and murals, Salim Singh and Nathmalji ki Haveli.

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Day 10 : Jaisalmer

Enjoy a city tour of Jaisalmer, visiting havelis, the Golden Fort and Badal Vilas Palace. Proceed on a visit to a local village. Later, experience a camel ride and dinner on the dunes. Overnight in Jaisalmer. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 11 : Jaisalmer - Jodhpur

Transfer to Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan. Overnight in Jodhpur.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Jodhpur is the second largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located 335 kilometres (208 mi) west from the state capital, Jaipur. It was formerly the seat of a princely state of the same name, the capital of the kingdom known as Marwar. Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination, featuring many palaces, forts and temples, set in the stark landscape of the Thar desert. The city is known as the Sun City for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred to as the "Blue City". Jodhpur lies near the geographic centre of Rajasthan state, which makes it a convenient base for travel in a region much frequented by tourists. The old city of Jodhpur is surrounded by a thick stone wall.

Mehrangarh Fort is situated 400 feet (122 m) above the city, and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its boundaries there are several palaces known for their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards. The imprints of cannonball hits by attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate. To the left of the fort is the 'chhatri' (umbrella) of Kirat Singh Soda, a soldier who fell on the spot defending the Mehrangarh fort. There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (victory) built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over the Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol (victory) gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention even today. The museum in Mehrangarh Fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin, which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.


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Day 12 : Jodhpur

Enjoy a city tour of Jodhpur followed by a heritage walk, including a visit to the spectacular Mehrangarh Fort. Later, experience a Bishnoi village jeep safari. Overnight in Jodhpur. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 13 : Jodhpur - Ranakhpur - Udaipur

Drive to Udaipur, visiting the Ranakpur Jain Temples en route (note: guides are not allowed so an audio guide device will be provided). On arrival in Udaipur, check in to the hotel. Overnight in Udaipur.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Ranakpur Jain Temples are the largest and most important temples of the Jain cult. Built in the 15th century and dedicated to Lord Adinath, the temples were constructed in light-coloured marble and are supported by more than 1400 exquisitely carved pillars.

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Day 14 : Udaipur

Go on a city tour of Udaipur followed by a walk through the spice and vegetable markets. Later, enjoy an exclusive boat cruise on Lake Pichola. Overnight in Udaipur. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Udaipur is often called ‘Venice of the East’ or the ‘City of Lakes’, and was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 AD. According to legend, Udai Singh was guided to establish his capital on the very spot that a holy man was meditating on near Pichola Lake. Surrounded by Aravali Ranges, forests and lakes, this place was less vulnerable to external invasion than Chittaurgarh. Maharana Udai Singh died in 1572 and was succeeded by Maharana Pratap, who valiantly defended Udaipur from Mughal attacks. Maharana Pratap is the most revered Rajput icon who gallantly fought the Mughals in the battle of Haldighati in 1576. Mewar continuously defied foreign invaders and has a history of bloody battles, until the British intervention in the 19th century, when a treaty was signed to protect Udaipur. Upon gaining independence, Udaipur merged with the union of India.

The Lake Palace (Jag Niwas), located in the middle of Pichola Lake, is the finest example of an architectural and cultural marvel. The grand City Palace on the banks of the lake, along with the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh) on the hill above, enhances the beauty of this magnificent city. This is one of the largest palace complexes in the world. Udaipur is also the centre for performing arts, crafts and its famed miniature paintings. The Shilpgram festival is a great crowd-puller during New Year celebrations.


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Day 15 : Departure - Delhi

Transfer to Udaipur airport for your flight to Delhi or Mumbai, and connect with your international flight home. 

Note: extensions to other parts of the region or India can be organised. Contact us for more information.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Pullman Hotel Aerocity

Conveniently located near the airport, Pullman Hotel Aerocity is ideal for travellers. The hotel provides luxury accommodation with all rooms equipped with modern amenities including free WiFi. A range of Indian, Chinese and European cuisine is served within four onsite restaurants, while guests are welcome to enjoy the outdoor pool.

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Laxmi Niwas Palace

Built in 1904 as a majestic palace for royalty before being converted into a heritage hotel, Laxmi Niwas Palace features magnificent Indo-Saracen architecture with beautiful lattice work. The grand rooms are decorated with ornate furnishings and equipped with modern comforts, including free WiFi. Authentic local dishes and Chinese cuisine are served in the onsite Manuhar Restaurant, while guests are invited to enjoy the regular traditional Rajasthani puppet and music performances held in the garden.

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Ranvas

Set within the walls of Ahhichatragarh Fort, Ranvas heritage hotel is made up of a cluster of 18th-century havelis, originally built for the queens of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Each of the 10 spacious havelis has its own courtyard and open-air living room, with the grand bedrooms elegantly decorated with traditional Rajasthani furnishings. Guests can dine on a variety of European and Indian served in an open-sided pavilion or the air-conditioned restaurant. 

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Pushkar Palace

Perched on the side of Pushkar Lake, Pushkar Palace once belonged to the maharaja of Kishangarh. The spacious air-conditioned rooms are elegantly decorated with antique wooden furniture, frescoes and family portraits from different periods. Guests can savour the fresh bakes from the palace's German Bakery and enjoy beautiful lake views from the onsite Prince Restaurant while dining on a variety of Indian, Chinese and continental cuisine.

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Khimsar Fort

Nestled in the small hamlet of Khimsar, the luxury 15th-century heritage hotel of Khimsar Fort is spread over 11 acres of lush land with large courtyards and orchards. The grand rooms are finished with elegant antique furniture and carved hanging casements, while comforts including Egyption cotton sheets, air-conditioning and free WiFi provide a relaxing stay. An onsite restaurant offers a wide selection of Indian and international cuisine, specialising in local Rajasthani dishes, while guests are welcome to unwind in the outdoor pool. 

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Mandir Palace

Located in the heart of Jaisalmer, Mandir Palace is just a short walk away from the city's main attractions, including Jaisalmer Fort, Nathmalji-ki-Haveli and Bhatia Market. Used as the place of residence for the rulers of Jaisalmer for more than 2 centuries, Mandir Palace showcases exquisite carved Indo-Saracenic architecture, with ornate balconies, canopies and screens. Rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and free WiFi, while guests can explore the antique gallery and museum, dine in the Palace Restaurant and enjoy panoramic views of the fort from the Roof Top Restaurant.

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Ajit Bhawan

Originally built in 1927 for the Maharadhiraj Sir Ajit Singhji, Ajit Bhawan was re-opened as the Pioneer Heritage Hotel of India several decades later by his son and daughter-in-law. Set within lush gardens and ornate porches, each room is furnished with a blend of regal elegance and modern luxuries, decorated with artifacts from the Maharaja's own collection. There are a variety of dining options available on site: the multi-cuisine Jodhpur Cafe offers flavours from the royal kitchen of Maharaja; the open-air Garden Restaurant serves multi-cuisine and barbeque dinners; and the Dhani Restaurant specialises in authentic local Rajasthani Thali dishes. 

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Trident

Located on the banks of Pichola Lake and close to the city centre, Trident is spread over 43 acres with beautiful landscaped gardens. Offering luxury accommodation inspired by the architectural and cultural heritage of Udaipur, the hotel is furnished with traditional artifacts while rooms are equipped with modern amenities. Guests are welcome to enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and dine on local and international cuisine in the three onsite restaurants. 

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Reviews

Outstanding trip, custom made to our desires. Once again, Travel The Unknown did not disappoint, exceeding our expectations. The in-country coordination worked with clock-work precision.

Vladimir Lange & Amy Opfell (USA) , Tailormade India

Travel the Unknown put together an Itinerary in North East India - Living Root Bridges for me and a travelling companion. The accommodations, transportation, promptness of drivers, and knowledge of our guide was excellent. Easy booking from office and good pre trip information. Thanks TTU!

Christina Taft , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

What an excellent service! Rahul adapted, extended and improved our trip so many times without a qualm and we ended up with the trip of a lifetime. The destinations are unusual and interesting but everything has been checked out by the team and works brilliantly. I can`t wait to do another trip.

Penelope Smith , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

I thoroughly enjoyed my tailor made tour of northwestern and central India. Guides and accommodations were excellent and we saw as much of the area as could be packed into two weeks. I look forward to another tour with Travel the Unknown.

Mary Trubek (USA) , Tailormade India

This is our second fabulous trip with Travel The Unknown and we were not disappointed. Rajasthan's vibrant colours of turbans and saris, the noise, the spicy aromas, the silence in the hot air balloon over rural Jaipur, the majestic forts and palaces of ancient times, sighting leopards in the wild, all far exceeded our expectations and the heritage homes and hotels we stayed in, whilst being of high standard in every way, still had a friendly family touch. Thanks so much to Rahul and the team for such a memorable trip. Six weeks on and we still can't stop talking about it. I can't wait for the next one!

John & Christine Gregory , Tailormade India

Another fantastic trip with this company. WE really managed to get off the beaten track and have seen some amazing sights. Well put together. We will travel again with Travel the Unknown

Hazel & James Frost , Tailormade India

Wow, India is incredible and Travel The Unknown put together a trip that really showed the diverse nature of the country and cultures, from the busy capital Delhi to the splendour of the Taj Mahal and then off the main tourist trek with an overnight sleeper train to Varanasi on the Ganges, the Hindu religious capital with bathing , washing and cremations alongside the river - an astonishing experience. We then moved to the forgotten North East corner where there is a tribal culture in an area seemingly cut off from the rest of India. Our destination was the Living Root Bridges which are unique and remote. Just want to go back to India for more...

Ken Sankey , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

This trip was my first time travelling with Travel The Unknown, but definitely not my last!

Lori Martin , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

I had been studying the Apatani Tribe for quite some time… I’m talking roughly 7 years! Travel The Unknown made my dreams come entirely true. They organized every aspect of my experience in the most minute detail. I have never felt such confidence in an agency nor worked with one more knowledgeable about their destination. Because of them and their kind efforts, I will continue to travel with Travel The Unknown for all future expeditions to this or similar regions. Thanks, Travel The Unknown, for everything!

Christian Noni , Tailormade North East India

Gotta say thanks to Travel The Unknown for organising my fascinating trip to a little-known area of the world. The scenery was fantastic, food was amazing, the guide was great and the living bridges were inspiring. An India not many get to see. Thanks again.

Stephen , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India

As always Travel The Unknown were exceptional in organising my trip to India. The guides for Meghalaya and the Golden Triangle were friendly, extremely helpful and very informative. The tour was busy but never felt rushed; the combination of Meghalaya and Golden Triangle giving quite a varied perspective of India.

Terry Cooper , Living Bridges of Meghalaya

The Living Root Bridges trip was our first time with Travel the Unknown and we would have no hesitation from booking with them again.

Andria & John Palmer , Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India
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