Rajasthan Palace Classic Tour
Rajasthan, the “Land of Kings” situated south-west of Delhi, on the edge of the Thar desert as it stretches to meet Pakistan, has been the home of proud Rajput warriors and seat of the mighty Mogul Empire. India at its exotic best! This deluxe desert-palace tour takes us through back roads to seldom seen castles converted into luxury hotels, hosted often by descendents of those who once claimed princely reign over the kingdoms of Rajasthan. The tour includes visits to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, two of the best wildlife parks in India, and culminates with the brightest jewel in India’s crown, the Taj Mahal.
This is a tour that has an abundance of visual textures. Sweeping desert dunes, lush oases, jagged mountains accented with towering fortresses known as havelis, and towns of ornate architecture and vivid colours. The market places remain as traditional as they have for thousands of years. In the land of the Rajas, the camel is a common mode of transportation.
The Rajasthan motorcycle tour doesn't call for any special riding skills, other than coping with chaotic traffic in a few cities. Any competent road rider can easily handle the tour. The complete tour covers nearly 2,000 km, with the longest distance ridden in one day being about 330 km.
21 January - 3 February 2018
ARRIVE DELHI. We will greet you personally upon your arrival and drive you to our airport hotel in an A/C minibus. Relax and refresh after your long international flight. We offer an optional afternoon guided tour of Delhi, with maybe time to take advantage of the many shopping bargains Delhi has to offer. Welcome dinner party tonight in one of Delhi’s colorful local restaurants. Our hotel is located near the main highway leading into Rajasthan from Delhi and is the perfect departure hotel for the start of our motorcycle adventure. Sita Heritage Village.
DELHI – NAWALGARH. (250 km) An early rise for breakfast, we meet our local crew, select our motorcycles and get familiar with the control layouts, starting techniques, and bike handling. We start our motorcycle tour from Delhi early this morning to avoid the rush hour traffic in India’s massive capital city as we head past the airport and on into Rajasthan on the main national highway 8, before our turn off and onto the back roads from Rewari through small Rajasthani villages and farms, heading for the capital of the Jhunjhunun district and on to our first amazing desert hotel. The hotel was formerly one of the palaces of the Maharajas of Jaipur, set in a small village in the middle of the Sukavati sand dunes. The palace was converted into a hotel some 20 years ago and refurbished and upgraded in 2008. Roop Vilas Palace Hotel.
NAWALGARH – BIKANER. (190 km) We start the day with a brief visit to Mukandgarh Fort, then we surprise peacocks and wild camels as we continue our run through the heart of the Rajasthan outback and end the day at a palace on the outskirts of Bikaner, in the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. We take an afternoon ride to the Bikaner Palace Museum for a glance at the opulent historical past of this once wealthy trade route centre. The castles that were built by the Rajas in the desert outposts were intricately carved sandstone buildings called havelis. Combined with impressive fortress defence structures, they created elaborate palaces. Our hotel tonight was once just such a Raja desert castle. Palace Hotel.
BIKANER – JAISALMER. (310 km) After breakfast in the palace gardens, it is a full day in the saddle as we ride through small villages set among desert oases with deep blue vast open skies above to the horizon of golden sands. Wild camels and caravans of gypsies drift by as we are virtually alone on the roads through the desert. Our destination for the next two nights is the fantastic Ali Baba “Golden Fortress City” on the Pakistan – India border in the Thar Desert, Jaisalmer. Our hotel sits just outside the walls of the city among the citadels on the dunes with views past the swimming pool gardens into the golden sands. After a long days ride, we relax at the hotel restaurant for dinner. Sonargarh Fort Hotel.
JAISALMER (free day). After breakfast we have time to take a walking tour of the walled city centre and ancient markets, past fantastic carved sandstone havalis to the famous Jain Temple complex. We have time before lunch to explore the many alleyways, walk the ramparts of the city walls, and stop at the many shops selling everything under the sun. We can take an optional ride into the desert dunes this afternoon to get a feel for the sand and experience the beauty of the deep Thar desert. We’ll have a chance to ride camels as well! Sonargarh Fort Hotel.
JAISALMER - JODHPUR. (315 km) For our ride to one of the world's best known fortresses,we head south through the sand dunes to an ancient temple complex called Osiyan for a visit and fast lunch on our way to the fascinating desert city of Jodhpur, dominated by the Maharaja’s hilltop fortress called Maherangarh. After the long day's ride, we arrive at our hotel on the hill leading up to the imposing Meherangarh Fort complex. This intricately carved little havali has views of the city below and the Fortress above from the rooftop garden bar/restaurant, and the rooms are unique. Dinner on the rooftop with traditional Rajasthani music and dancing girls. Pal Havali Hotel.
JODHPUR – PUSHKAR. (245 km) Before leaving Jodhpur we ride the hill above our hotel to the Meherangarh Fort and take an hour to have a tour of the impressive museum created by the Jodhpur Maharaja and family. This is one of the most awesome fortress palace complexes preserved in all of India and is a must see! Our ride continues east today past rock dinosaur fins and fantastic shaped pillars on the main highway towards Pushkar. The Brahman lake that the small village of Pushkar surrounds remains the holiest site in all Rajasthan, with bathing ghats to the holy waters encircling the entire lake. Jagat Palace Hotel.
PUSHKAR - RANTHAMBORE (255 km).With an early rise, there's time this morning to explore the small havelis built around the lake shore, take a camel ride into the desert, or just relax in the hotel’s beautiful gardens to watch the village pilgrims doing their sacred ‘Puja’ in the holy waters of the lake. Then we head off to the world famous Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. We ride the backroads from Pushkar east to Ranthambore through a whole different Rajasthan. The hills are rocky and sharp compared to the soft dunes of the desert. Just outside the tiger reserve lies a small village where our resort is located, we stay in cottages with a swimming pool and gardens in a jungle setting. Regency Resort.
RANTHAMBORE TIGER RESERVE. This morning we have an early rise to join the dawn jeep safari to get a glimpse of the most elusive of big cats, the Royal Bengal Tiger. Our naturalist guide takes us through the reserve by jeep in search of the tiger, and many more species of jungle wildlife encountered along the way. If there is one tiger reserve in India where you are most likely to spot the big cats it’s Ranthambore. Back to the hotel for a swim and lunch. There's time in the afternoon to relax or explore the surrounding villages before dinner in the resort. Regency Resort.
RANTHAMBORE TIGER RESERVE (free day). Because once is not enough we take another morning safari. Then we pick up the motorbikes and ride into the tiger reserve to the ruins of the hilltop ancient Hindu city at Ranthambore Fort and temple complex, to visit one of the most famous temples of Hanuman, the monkey god. Here monkeys mix with hundreds of worshippers, which leads to a most interesting afternoon of people and monkey watching. Regency Resort.
RANTHAMBORE – BHARATPUR BIRD SANCTUARY. (170 km) Keeping a keen eye out for the hundreds of monkeys along the road, we run the narrow backroads through small villages and temples set in green jungle valleys to one of the least seen but most stunningly beautiful palaces in India at Deeg. Continuing on to the Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary at Bharatpur we stay in the famous bird watchers haunt just outside the bird sanctuary. The Birder's Inn.
BHARATPUR – AGRA. (90 km) Any tour to Rajasthan in winter would be remiss to pass this amazing sanctuary. More then 325 kinds of birds have been sighted, most of which have migrated from as far as Siberia and China. This is one bird sanctuary which even non-ornithologists shouldn’t miss! We have the entire morning to explore by bicycle, camera ready, throughout this wildlife park teeming with more birdlife in one place than anywhere else in India. On the road to Agra from Bharatpur is an elaborate city fort complex which in 1596 was the capital of the Mogul Empire – Fatehpur Sikri, now a perfectly preserved ghost town. We take a guided tour of this fascinating abandoned city before heading the 40 km to Agra and the Taj Mahal. After checking into our 5-star hotel in Agra, there is time to visit the Taj for sunset a truly unforgettable experience! Mansingh Palace Hotel.
AGRA – DELHI. (210 km) The Taj Mahal is one of the great wonders of the world, poetry in marble! No visit to the Indian sub-continent is complete without a sunrise/sunset visit. This morning we get an early start for sunrise at the Taj, then it’s on the motorcycles again for the last leg of our tour along the main highway that takes us back to our hotel in Delhi. There we’ll complete our tour with a farewell dinner. City Park Hotel.
DELHI. After breakfast this morning our tour ends, transfer to Gandhi International airport is in an A/C car or coach. Your return flight will arrive in the UK later this evening.
Total distance c. 2000 km
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