20 DAYS RAJASTHAN - 28. February to 20. March 2014

No report on the trip to India can properly begin other than by acknowledging the wonderful reception, hospitality, love and generosity shown to us from the moment we arrived until we departed by Anita Tours India, Anita and Bangali, and our 2 drivers Ramesh and Raj Kumar.

We, 3 women and 3 men, we found ourselves through an internet forum and started together a 3 weeks Rajasthan tour. 2 cars (a/c Ambassador and a/c Toyota Innova) with drivers and our accommodation were booked by Anita Tours India.

Please read our detailed journey report covering the following destinations:
Delhi as our starting point and the final point; Mandawa, Bikaner, Jaisalmer und Jodhpur, enroute visiting Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh to Udaipur, continuing our journey to Chittorgarh, Bundi, Todgarh, Pushkar and Jaipur. The highlight of our tour was, of course Agra and the Taj Mahal.

DELHI - 28.2. and 1. 3. 2014

Welcome to our Incredible India tour!
Our Anita Tours India private driver welcomed us at the Airport and toke us to our hotel. After a (short) break we started to your first city tour of India's bustling capital city.
New Delhi is the new garden city which was built between 1911 and 1930 by the British. We visited Rashtrapati Bhavan, the representative President House and government buildings and India's house of the Parliament, Sansad Bhavan. Viewed of Rajpath, from Raisina Hill and India Gate at its end. The India Gate, originally called the All India War Memorial, is a war memorial with engraved names of some 70,000 Indian soldiers who died in World War I. Later we saw Gurudwara Bangka Sahib Temple, a Sikh temple, the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and Lotus temple, a very beautiful a Bahá'í House of Worship completed in 1986. Unfortunately it started raining and we decided continuing our sightseeing tour in Gandhi Smriti. The residence of industrialist BD Birla has been converted into a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. We watched a documentary film until rain stopped. After that we took a walk through the nearby Lodi Garden and Safdarjung tomb.
Due to poor weather, visiting Qutab Minar was, unfortunately, a literal wash-out..

"must-see places" in Delhi: India Gate, Lotus Temple, Jama Masjid, Qutab Minar, tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun.

The next day we went to Old Delhi, which present stunning sights and sounds with the ancient city built by Emperor Shah Jahan the builder of the famous Taj Mahal. We drove through the old city and passed a lot of the most famous attractions, such as Jama Masjid the biggest Mosque in India and later Red Fort. We walked through the winding streets of the old city Chandni Chowk Market and saw the life of the people in this part of the world. Our next stop was Raj Ghat - the cremation sites of Mahatma Gandhi. In the afternoon our drivers suggested to visit Akshardham, one of the largest Hindu temple of the world.
Finally upon invitation we drove to Anita and Bangali's home having a delicious dinner.

Our group at Raj Ghat

New Delhi to MANDAWA - 02. 03. 2014

270 km - about 8 hours journey including 1 ½ hour sightseeing.
Early morning departure to our first destination on our trip through Rajasthan, Mandawa. Mandawa is located in Shekhawati Region which consists important other villages like Alsisar, Fatehpur, Jhunjhunu, Laxmangarh, Mahensar, Nawalgarh, Ramgarh. On our way to Mandawa we made a brief stop at Rani Sati Temple in Jhunjhunu. Together with a local guide we had a nice walk to see some of the beautiful Heritage village in Mandawa that used to be an important caravanserai of the yesteryears. We saw many beautiful fresco painted havelis of this quaint little town built by the rich and the famous merchants of the 18th and 19th centuries. These havelis have been painted with activities of daily life and of deities to break the monotony of the desert life. Overnight at Hotel Mandawa Heritage.

View over Mandawa, haveli painings

Mandawa - BIKANER - 03. 03.2014

260 km - about 6 hours journey including sightseeing.
This day we proceeded towards Bikaner en route stop in Fatehpur with its nice havelis and at Karni Mata Rat Temple in Deshnoke, a very unique experience. We reached Bikaner early afternoon to see the Junagarh Fort, a royal museum that encompasses history of Bikaner from its days of construction that dates back to the 16th century. In the evening were free to wander in the busy market area. Overnight at Hotel Sagar Bikaner. Other places of interest are the Camel Breeding farms and Lallgarh Palace; unfortunately we run out of time to visit.

Bikaner - Junagarh Fort.

Bikaner - JAISALMER - 04. 03.2014

333 km - about 7 hours journey including sightseeing and breaks.
Today's target: Golden City Jaisalmer! Lunch break in the small city Pokaran. Visitors having enough time it may be worth spending a night at this place. The bazaar in the middle of this village is very colorful and full of local flavors. After lunch we continued towards Jaisalmer and arrived early enough to see Bada Bagh Cenotaphs and we became witness of the sunset over the desert and the imposing castle on top of a hill overlooking Jaisalmer. Overnight at Hotel Royal Jaisalmer.

"Jaisalmer palace"

JAISALMER - 05.03.2014
We scheduled 2 days for our stay in Jaisalmer. So we had enough time for an 'extended' sumptuous breakfast on the roof garden of our hotel. The entrance to the historical Jaisalmer Fort was near our hotel. Unfortunately there are no pedestrians areas in India, even on narrow winding streets and lanes tuc tucs, motor bikes and rickshaws are allowed. Many small shops offering all kind of souvenirs, clothes and other nice goods and invite to bargaining. The rest of the day leaves time for some final sightseeing e. g. Gadisar Lake, Jain temples inside the Sonar Killa. The Jains are a community that respects life and are pure vegetarians by religion. We visited the citadels palace that houses a museum with a huge collection of robes and artifacts from the royal family of Jaisalmer. Worth to see are also some havelis e. g. Patwon ki haveli with intricately designed latticed windows used by the ladies to view the external world.

For desert safaris that extend from half a day to a full day and up to an overnight trip a visit of Khuri village would be recommendable.

"historical Jaisalmer Fort"

Jaisalmer - JODHPUR - 06. 03.2014

280 km - about 6 hours journey including 2 hours sightseeing.
Early Morning we drove to Jodhpur the blue city, visiting the majestic Mehrangarh fort. Mehrangarh Fort dominates the city and is the largest fort in all Rajasthan. We saw the superb collection of paintings and arms and ammunitions. The view of the city from the rampart walls is breath taking. Going down from the fort is Jaswant Thada. It is a white marble memorial built by Maharaja Sardar Singh of Jodhpur State in 1899 in memory of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.
Overnight at Hotel Kuchaman Haveli.

JODHPUR - 07.03.2014
Jodhpur is the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan. The city's main shopping area is Nai Sadak, lined mostly with sari and shoe shops and leading straight into Sardar Market around the famous Clock Tower. This bustling Indian market with a barely contained riot of sights, sounds and stinks. The Clock Tower in the center is a useful orientation point.

Jodhpur - RANAKPUR - 08. 03.2014

160 km - about 3 hours journey.
After breakfast we drove to Ranakpur Temples - a very big pilgrimage centre for the Jains, admire the workmanship from the 15th century temples situated in the lovely valley of the Aravali Mountains. Ranakpur is a nice place for resting, relaxing and recovering from an exhausting journey. Its surrounding is quiet and very picturesque. Overnight at Hotel Ranakpur Hill Resort.

Ranakpur - KUMBHALGAHR - 09. 03.2014

60 km - about 2 ½ hours journey including 30 minutes photostop.
Today we made an excursion to Kumbhalgarh. The narrow road with lots of potholes leads through a beautiful countryside. On the way to Kumbhalgarh we stopped by the fields to see the local way of farming and irrigation. The Kumbhalgarh Fort - the stronghold of the kingdom of Mewar built by Maharana Kumbha in 1453. The view from the parapet wall is breath taking and this is where the soldiers used to be stationed to view the advent of the enemies. Kumbhalgarh with its perimeter walls of about 36 km was built in 15th century. It is a less known UNESCO World Heritage site, but totally worth going there.
Udaipur is again 90 km away. On the way to our hotel in Udaipur we stooped at Saheliyon-ki-Bari (Courtyard of the Maidens), which was built by Maharana Sangram Singh. The garden with fountains and lakes is very popular and a quiet place to relax. Overnight at Hotel Pichola Haveli.

Kumbhalgahr - UDAIPUR - 9. and 10. 03.2014

90 km - about 2 ½ hours journey.
Again 2 nights in the same city. Early morning we visited the City Palace, the richest palace museum in the entire Rajasthan. We saw the Peacock Square and the miniature painting school inside the palace premises.
From the hill station of Udaipur's new ropeway we had most beautiful panoramic view of the city. We also visited there Karni Mata temple. The ropeway is near Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Park at lake pichola.
In the evening we toke a lake cruise on the placid waters of Lake Pichhola by sunset and visit the island palace Jagmandir where according to legends the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan lived and got inspired to build the Taj Mahal later.

Udaipur - CHITTORGARH - 11. 03.2014

120 km - about 2 hours journey.
After breakfast we left for Chittorgarh Fort. The hilltop fortress of Chittorgarh epitomizes the whole romantic ideal of Rajput chivalry. The fort is situated at an altitude of about 153 metres and is spread over a rocky area of about 5 km. A stronger enemy sacked the fort 3 times from 1303 to 1568 and on Each occasion, the end was "Jauhar". The men donned the saffron robes of martyrdom and rode out from the fort to certain death and the women and children immolated themselves on a huge funeral pyre.
Vijay Stambha, is a huge nine story tower which was built by Maharana Kumbha to commemorate his victory over the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Gujarat in 1440.
Kirti Stambh is tower is dedicated to Rishabha, the first Tirthankara of Jainism. It was built by a merchant and is decorated with figures form the Jain pantheon. It is a seven storied pillar which was built by Biherwal Mahajan Sanaya of Digambar Jain sect during 12th century AD. Overnight at Hotel Meera in Chittorgarh.

Chittorgarh - BUNDI - 12. 03.2014

160 km - about 4 hours journey including 45 minutes photostop.

Bundi - TODGARH - 13. 03.2014

370 km - about 6 to 7 hours journey.
Todgarh, a small village about 5 km off the main road (National Highway 8 (NH 8)) about 15 km from Bhim.
Our todays hotel, Hill Valley Resort Todgarh, with its beautiful garden and swimming pool invite to having a relaxed break from sightseeing and travelling. Next time we will stay here for more than one night.

Todgarh - PUSHKAR - 14. 03.2014

150 km - about 3 ½ hours journey including 45 minutes photostop.
Pushkar happens to be the holiest places according to the Hindus as it is considered that Lord Brahma (the Creator) and his wife Saraswati (the goddess of learning and music) performed a ritual in the lake. Here we visited the only Brahma temple of the world before intermingling with the local colors in the local bazaar.

Pushkar is the world famous for its cattle pushkar fair held each year in the month of October/November. On the way you can visit Ajmer. Ajmer is the pious city for the Muslims. Surprisingly both the cities are at distance of 11km from each other. Overnight at Pushkar Heritage.

Pushkar - JAIPUR - 15. to 17. 03.2014

170 km - about 3 hours journey; thereof 45 minutes within Jaipur.

Jaipur - AGRA - 18. 03.2014

270 km - about about 7 hours journey including 2 hours sightseeing in Fatehpur Sigri.

Agra - DELHI - 19. 03.2014

230 km - about 2 to 3 hours journey on Yamuna Expressway.

This report will be continued shortly, please visit again. Thank you.

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