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India's Fabled Rajasthan by Rail
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11 days

from $18,789 AUD trip_detail hint icon

($12,895 USD)

Prices are per person, based on twin share occupancy. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange. The expedition price will be finalised at time of booking.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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Expedition Overview

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Travel for five nights aboard the Palace on Wheels, a train that evokes the splendor of the maharajas and travels to places not easily accessible by road.
  • In the company of a National Geographic expert, explore six UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Fatehpur Sikri and the hill forts of Rajasthan.
  • Experience the exquisite Taj Mahal at both sunrise and sunset, and photograph this iconic wonder under changing light.
  • Get a glimpse into daily life on a walk through Bharatpur village, and enjoy a private performance by a sitar musician in Agra.
EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP

A National Geographic expert will accompany each expedition to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed here are some of the experts that will be joining departures on this trip.

Itinerary

Step aboard the Palace on Wheels and set off on an unforgettable rail journey to the fabled cities of Rajasthan. Venture into majestic forts and palaces, visit the immense Amber Fort high above Jaipur, and watch the sunset light up the Taj Mahal. Experience one of India’s celebrated festivals or fairs on each departure and immerse yourself in the colors and rhythms of India’s captivating culture.

Each departure follows a similar itinerary to the one shown below but will include a different festival or celebration.

Day 1: Delhi, India

Arrive in Delhi at any time and check in to our hotel.

Day 2: Delhi

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Set out on a tour of New Delhi, the capital established by the British in 1911, and see the India Gate and Parliament buildings. Then delve into Old Delhi, a patchwork of eight different cities built by a succession of rulers and a center of Muslim India between the 13th and 19th centuries. Explore Humayun's Tomb, a milestone in the history of Mughal architecture, and Gandhi Smriti, a museum honoring Mahatma Gandhi. This evening, gather for a special welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3: Jaipur

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Travel from Delhi to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Known as the "Pink City" for its rose-colored buildings, Jaipur is protected by high fortifications and multiple gates. Stroll through a local bazaar before visiting Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of the Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building where the delicate latticework and honeycombed windows were originally designed to allow ladies of the court to watch life on the streets below.

Day 4: Jaipur

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This morning, ascend to the hilltop Amber Fort, a 16th- and 17th-century complex. Explore its exquisite and well-preserved palaces, temples, gardens, and pavilions. After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of the City Palace, a vast complex with a museum housing rare manuscripts, paintings, and an armory. Visit the 18th-century royal observatory known as Jantar Mantar and examine a variety of precise astronomical tools. This evening, board the Palace on Wheels and settle into your cabin.

Day 5: Ranthambhore National Park/Chittaurgarh

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Set out on a morning game drive in Ranthambhore National Park in search of the elusive tiger as well as hyenas, jackals, and foxes. After lunch back on the train, arrive in the city of Chittaurgarh. Trace a turbulent history of siege, valor, and sacrifice at Chittaurgarh Fort, one of the largest forts in India. Later this afternoon, meet villagers on a walk within the hilltop fortified walls and stop for tea at sunset.

Day 6: Udaipur

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Known as the City of Lakes, Udaipur is most celebrated for its fairy-tale marble palaces, which appear to emerge from the waters of Lake Pichola. Venture into a spectacular labyrinth of courtyards within the City Palace, a soaring creation of marble and granite perched on the lake's edge. This palace complex, the largest in Rajasthan, blends medieval, European, and Chinese architecture and is richly decorated with inlaid mirror-work, mosaics, and frescoes. Cruise by the Lake Palace Hotel on an afternoon boat ride on Lake Pichola.

Day 7: Jaisalmer

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Today the train carries us into the heart of the Thar Desert to magical Jaisalmer, founded by Rawal Jaisal in A.D. 1156. Rising above the city, the imposing turrets and bastions of the golden sandstone fort conceal a lively town within. Explore this magnificent fort and discover the havelis, once the mansions of wealthy merchants, decorated with elaborate facades. In the late afternoon, ride a camel across the sand dunes of the Thar Desert and stop for a traditional tea. Enjoy dinner off the train this evening while watching a performance by traditional folk dancers.

Day 8: Jodhpur

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Jodhpur's blue-hued old city lies at the foot of the massive Mehrangarh Fort, perched on a rocky outcrop some 120 meters high. Visit the 15th-century fort with stunning views of the city, elaborately mirrored rooms, and a museum with a spectacular collection of miniature paintings, ivory artifacts, and weapons. Delve into the narrow streets of the old city with its blue hued buildings, clock tower, and people shopping at the Sardar Bazaar. Enjoy lunch before returning to the Palace on Wheels for the final leg of our rail journey.

Day 9: Keoladeo Ghana National Park/Agra

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Disembark the train in Bharatpur and head into the wetlands of Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a renowned bird sanctuary. Search for egrets, flamingos, and many other bird species and wildlife. Then stop at a hotel near the park for a cooking demonstration and lunch. Take a guided walk around Bharatpur village before heading to Fatehpur Sikri, the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1569 to 1585, where elegant carved sandstone palaces remain incredibly well-preserved. Continue to Agra this evening.

Day 10: Agra

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Rise early this morning to see the Taj Mahal's marble sparkle in the dawn light. Constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is often described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. After lunch, explore Agra Fort's courtyards, mosques, and private chambers, which bring to life the story of the Mughal Empire. Pay a visit to a marble inlay workshop to see how the intricate stonework of the Taj Mahal was created. This evening, visit the iconic Taj Mahal once again at sunset before gathering for a festive farewell dinner.

Day 11: Agra/Delhi

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After breakfast, pay a visit to a local orphanage if you wish. Then drive to Delhi and relax in day rooms at Taj Mahal Hotel. Later, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

EXTENSIONS

Day 1: Agra/Delhi

Drive from Agra to Delhi as scheduled in the main expedition. Relax at the hotel in Delhi this evening.

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Day 2: Delhi/Khajuraho

Fly this morning to Khajuraho. Visit the intricately carved temples of the Chandela Rajputs, who ruled the area from the 10th to 12th centuries.

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Day 3: Khajuraho/ Varanasi

Spend the morning exploring the eastern group of the Khajuraho temples before taking an early afternoon flight to Varanasi. Situated on the banks of the Ganges River, Varanasi is a pilgrimage site for Hindus and a center for learning. Transfer to the hotel and enjoy free time to relax before this evening’s dinner.

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Day 4: Varanasi

Begin the day with a sunrise boat cruise on the sacred Ganges River to observe morning rituals and prayers. Visit Sarnath, where Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment and delivered his first sermon in Deer Park. Discover the old city by rickshaw and see the evening Aarti before one last dinner together.

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Day 5: Varanasi/Delhi

This morning, visit one of India’s leading academic institutions, Banaras Hindu University, established in 1916 to promote the study of Sanskrit literature and preserve Hindu culture. Visit Bharat Kala Bhawan, a museum on the university campus with a fine collection of miniature paintings and sculptures from the 1st to 15th centuries. Transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight to Delhi. Relax in day rooms at the hotel before boarding your return flight home.

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What to Expect

This trip has an activity rating of light\/moderate; travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, and prepared for multiple hours of activity on some days. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, climbing stairs without handrails, and walking on paths with steep ascents\/descents. Those who are prone to motion sickness may be uncomfortable on the train or during drives on bumpy roads.

Accommodations
Throughout the trip, we stay in high-end hotels with many amenities. During our five nights on the train, we stay in deluxe cabins measuring 12.6 x 7.7 feet with twin beds that can be converted to a double bed.

Expedition Team
A National Geographic expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.

ACCOMMODATIONS

We stay in world-class hotels in Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. During our five nights on the train, we stay in Deluxe twin-bedded cabins measuring 12.6 x 7.7 feet. The twin beds can be joined to form one double bed on request.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Mar 2-12, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $18,789 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $24,399 AUD Per Person

Prices are per person based on double or single occupancy (unless otherwise noted) and do not include international airfare to/from your destination. Internal flights for the optional extension are $675 per person. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.

  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • All gratuities

What's Not Included

  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
David Silverberg
Geographer Geologist Conservationist
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David Scott Silverberg is a geographer working on conservation projects spanning six continents. His mix of exploration, research, and digital photo-video storytelling has been popular with National Geographic travelers for many years. A fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Asia Society, David was the executive science director at Earthwatch Institute, set up and managed Boston University environmental field research programs in British Columbia and eastern Africa, and was a founding White House staff member for AmeriCorps. David has worked in more than 100 countries, manages the Environmental Learning Institute, and teaches at several international universities.

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  • Mar 2-12, 2020