India is like a huge palette, mixing and tossing all sorts of colours, the results could be chaotic, confusing, intriguing, intense, beautiful, and harmonious all at once, just like India’s complex history and social fabric. Some cities adopted a signature colour, such as Jaipur is the Pink City, Jodhpur the Blue City, Pushkar the White City. All these cities evolved through various stages of Indian civilizations shaped by different cultures, from Hindu civilization, Islamic Mughal empire, British colonial power, and more. Let’s journey through the past and present of India during this trip, blend into the local crowds by taking public transports and make real interactions, experience India up-close!
Board a late afternoon flight to New Delhi, arrival at night, transfer to a guesthouse in Paharganj area, which is a backpackers’ haven with a host of hotels, restaurants, and shops. Retire early to bed in preparation to catch an early morning train the next day.
Take a morning train to Agra, where the iconic Taj Mahal is located. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel. Afternoon, visit Agra Fort, where Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his own son; during house arrest, Shah Jahan was given a room with view of his shrine of love – Taj Mahal. Around sunset, stroll along the Yamuna riverbank to view Taj Mahal bathing in golden rays from a distance.
Rise early to visit Taj Mahal before the crowds build up. The mausoleum was built by Shah Jahan for his beloved third wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is known as the “perfect building”, and one of the Eight Wonders of the World. It is constructed with white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. After lunch, board a train to Jaipur, upon arrival around dinner time, transfer to hotel and go for food hunting.
In the morning, visit the grand City Palace Complex, as well as the city’s iconic structure, Hawa Mahal, its honeycombed windows used to enable royal ladies to watch the life and processions of the city. Afternoon, take a stroll through the Bapu Bazaar, a great place for shopping and food hunting. Before sunset, head to the ancient citadel Amber Fort.
Board a morning train to Ajmer, upon arrival, change into a local bus heading for Pushkar, a tiny town by the sacred Pushkar Lake, which according to legend was formed when Lord Brahma, the god of creation, dropped a lotus on earth. On all sides of the lake, there are many bathing ghats and temples. This is a pilgrimage center for Hindus, and there are plenty of Sadhus around.
Admire sunrise on top of a hill with panoramic view of Pushkar. After breakfast, free & easy. You may explore ancient temples and interesting alleyways, or hunt for souvenirs in the bazaar, such as traditional Rajasthani puppets, statues of Hindu deities, traditional musical instruments, local costumes, and more.
After breakfast, take a bus to Ajmer to catch an onward train to Jodhpur, known as the Blue City, as most houses here are painted blue. Arrival in late afternoon, transfer to a guesthouse located in the blue quarter where houses are painted in various shades of blue, the paint is said to have mosquito-repellent properties.
Take a morning walk to the massive 15th century Mehrangarh Fort, set on a hilltop looming over the city. The fort houses palaces, temples, and a well-organized museum. The fort has sights and activities to keep one occupied for hours and it offers panoramic view of the Blue City below. Later, stroll downhill to Jaswant Thada, a marble cenotaph surrounded by multilevel garden, carved gazebos, and a pond.
In the day, walkabouts in the Old City, sights of interest include a 19th century clock tower, Sardar Bazaar, and ancient steps-well refurbished into a square surrounded by cozy cafes. Next to the market’s entrance, there’s a not-to-be missed omelette shop, which is said to sell over 10,000 eggs per day. Late at night, board an overnight sleeper train to Jaisalme.
Early morning arrival, transfer to hotel, refresh and take breakfast. Later, start a 2-day-1-night camel safari trip in the nearby Thar Desert. Meet the hardy desert folks, admire the view of sand dunes stretching into the horizon, and at night, gather around bonfire to relax, chat, or stargazing. Sleep in tents on the open desert.
Around noon, return from the desert safari to Jaisalmer old city, and check in to a guesthouse. The Old City is dotted with Havelis (stone mansions) built by rich merchants in the past centuries, using wealth gained from the Silk Road caravan trade to decorate their homes ornately. Afternoon visits the Jaisalmer Fort, a living walled city filled with palaces, markets, temples, cafes, bars, and a vibrant community.
In the day, continue to explore Jaisalmer, roam its bustling streets and markets, stroll in the winding narrow alleyways to have a glimpse of locals’ way of life, sample street food, or pick a café to sit back and relax. Late afternoon, board an overnight sleeper train back to the capital city New Delhi.
Arrive in the capital, check-in to a guesthouse in Paharganj area and refresh. After lunch, visit the Red Fort, built by the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as his palace in the 17th century. Another interesting sight is the Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in India. Nearby the mosque is the biggest open-air market in Old Delhi.
Late morning, transfer to New Delhi International Airport, take an afternoon flight back to Kuala Lumpur, arrival at night. End of tour.
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Lam Yuet is an avid traveler, leaving her trails in four continents of the world. She had once spent two years making an Asia-Europe overland journey. Her tales from the road have been published under three titles – The Grand Overland Voyage, A State Called Home, and My Private Map.
She was a feature journalist, specialized in travel writing. As her former job involved lots of oversea assignments, she had experienced luxurious business tour as well as travel on a shoestring. Backpacking is still her preferred choice.
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