Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Historic palaces-Udaipur-226502-P

Hidden Rajasthan and the Holi Festival

Wilderness Travel
5.0 . Excellent
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
19 days
From: $ 10,195 $ 537 / day
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  • Experience the rich traditions of Rajasthan's more remote towns, with their legacy of ancient temples, palaces, havelis (mansions), and imposing fortresses
  • Attend the Holi Festival in Siana, a spirited affair with singing and dancing
  • Explore the grand cities and palaces of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Udaipur, with a stay at the legendary Lake Palace Hotel on Lake Pichola

Short Description

Join Trip Leaders extraordinaire Hashmat Singh and his wife, Priya, for an incredible journey that explores not only the rich traditions of Rajasthan’s celebrated walled cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, with their grand forts and bustling bazaars, but also the region’s smaller towns, where the sumptuous palaces of erstwhile princely families, their empires lost to the Indian union, have been transformed into atmospheric “heritage hotels.” From the painted havelis at Mandawa and the Jain temples of Ranakpur to the traditional villages near Siana and the romance of Udaipur, Rajasthan’s glorious culture comes alive in our interactions with the people and in the arts and tribal music we have a chance to experience. The highlight of our adventure is the Holi Festival in Siana, where we mingle with the locals in a wildly exuberant event heralding the approach of spring, complete with singing, dancing, and the enthusiastic flinging of vividly colored powder and water on participants (everyone is fair game, but don’t worry—we’ll provide you with the proper  clothes!).

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Delhi
End City Delhi

Trip Includes

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leaders and local guides
  • Accommodations
  • All meals
  • Ground transportation, entrance fees and service charges, baggage handling
  • Airport transfers for trip members

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Days 1-2, Mar 8- 9, 2019: Delhi, India / Neemrana, Rajasthan

Accommodation: Radisson Blu Airport Hotel; Neemrana Fort-Palace

After meeting in Delhi, we begin our journey with a drive to the historical town of Neemrana, set just at the edge of Rajasthan. Here we visit the local village and the baori, a 17th century step-well that goes down nine levels into the ground with pillared hallways and verandas. Overnight is at the Neemrana Fort-Palace, a former 15th century fort converted into a heritage hotel.

Days 3-4, Mar 10-11, 2019: Mandawa, Shekhawati Region of Rajasthan

Accommodation: Vivaana Culture Hotel

The towns of Shekhawati, a semi-desert region in north Rajasthan, are a virtual open-air art gallery, famous for the breathtaking frescoes depicting mythological, historical, and folk themes that appear on the walls of numerous forts, palaces, and havelis (mansions). Our base is in Mandawa, a fairytale town right in the heart of the Shekhawati area and the perfect place for exploring many of the nearby towns. Overnights are at the Vivaana, a beautifully restored 19th century haveli.

Days 5-9, Mar 12-16, 2019: Bikaner / Nagaur / Osiyan

Accommodation: Lallgarh Palace; Ranvas Nagaur; Manvar Desert Camp

In Bikaner, we explore Jain and Hindu temples and stroll the narrow streets of this beautiful town. Heading to Nagaur, our explorations include a walk through the old quarter of town to visit many of its mosques and temples, the colorful market, and the palaces of Ahhichatragarh Fort (also known as Nagaur Fort), famous for its wall paintings and the layout of its now empty water system of aqueducts, wells, and cisterns. In Osiyan, we explore the town’s main Jain temple.

Days 10-11, Mar 17-18, 2019: Jaisalmer

Accommodation: Suryagarh Jaisalmer

Remote and desert-bound, the golden city of Jaisalmer lies on the ancient trade route that linked India with the trading centers of Central Asia. The narrow streets of the walled city preserve a traditional way of life as craftsmen still work in ancient arts, including stone carving and silver jewelry. Our explorations include the traditional merchants’ havelis and the hilltop Golden Fort, which contains a seven-story palace with its Megh Durbar, or Hall of Clouds.

Days 12-13, Mar 19-20, 2019: Jodhpur

Accommodation: Raas Haveli

In Jodhpur, we see the vibrancy of Rajasthan on a princely scale. Seven massive gateways lead into the walled city, with its temples and palaces, gardens and lakes, and its bustling lanes and bazaars. We visit the great Mehrangarh Fort and enter a series of palaces and courtyards that house a royal collection of rare miniature paintings, silver howdahs, palanquins, armor, and royal cradles. Overnights at a boutique hotel set in the middle of the colorful old town and market, with absolutely spectacular views of Mehrangarh Fort.

Days 14-15 , Mar 21-22, 2019: Siana / Holi Festival

Accommodation: Siana Garden

The wildlife of the region around Siana includes the chinkara, Indian striped hyena, desert fox, civet cat, and leopard. We enjoy a leopard-tracking safari by 4WD vehicle and visit the local village, with its potters and woodworkers. Our arrival in Siana is timed for the first day of the Holi festival and this evening we’ll attend the lighting ceremonies. We spend the following day (called Dhuleti) visiting local villages and celebrating this wildly colorful and riotous festival with them. Overnights at a simple but comfortable lodge.

Days 16-19, Mar 23-26, 2019: Ranakpur Jain Temples / Udaipur

Accommodation: Maharani Bagh Orchard Hotel; Taj Lake Palace

We head to Ranakpur, famous for its marvelous complex of finely ornamented Jain temples set in a beautiful forest where peacocks and langur monkeys roam. Our fascinating journey ends with a flourish in Udaipur, one of the most romantic cities in the world, with its oasis of palaces, traditional havelis, parks, fortresses, and temples. We stay at the legendary Lake Palace, the 250-year-old former summer palace of the Maharaja of Udaipur, one of the world’s most breathtaking heritage hotels, set on an island in tranquil Lake Pichola. Depart on Day 19 via Delhi.


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Price From $ 10,195
Price Per Day: $ 537 per day
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Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Small Group - 24 max

Maximum Number of People in Group: 16


Radisson Blu Airport Hotel: Day 1 (1 night), Delhi, India

This stylish business hotel is just a few miles from Delhi’s international airport, with comfortable rooms and all the services you’d expect from a 5-star property. You can visit the hotel’s fitness center and keep up with your workout routine, take a dip in the outdoor pool, or relax at its welcoming spa.

Neemrana Fort-Palace: Day 2 (1 night), Rajasthan, India

The Neemrana Fort-Palace is a heritage resort built out of the restored ruins of a 15th century fort palace. Sprawling over 25 acres, including 14 layers of tiered land, the resort has nine palace wings encompassing six acres of gardens, two swimming pools, an Ayurvedic spa, and India’s first zip-line. Special care has been given to these structures to preserve the authenticity of medieval times, but this also means there are areas of steep ramps and steps that require some physical exertion. Two state-of-the-art elevators allow for easier access to some areas of the palace. The resort has three restaurants which serve a variety of Northern Indian cuisine as well as some international dishes. Guest rooms are brightened with Indian fabrics and they all have air-conditioning, minibars, and en suite bathrooms with showers.

Vivaana Culture Hotel: Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Mandawa, India

You'll get a real sense of Old Rajasthan at the Vivaana, a beautiful 19th century haveli restored into a Heritage Hotel. It's almost like a museum, with its wonderful paintings and antiques. There are 24 uniquely decorated guestrooms, along with an Ayurvedic spa and pool. You may just feel like a king (or queen) by the end of your visit!

Lallgarh Palace: Days 5 to 6 (2 nights), Bikaner, India

Built in the 19th century, this former red sandstone palace of the Maharaja Ganga Singhji of Bikaner now offers superb lodgings in two of its wings. As a luxury Heritage Hotel, it combines modern amenities with vintage furnishings (check out the hallways with their sepia photographs and old hunting trophies). Sprawling green lawns are roamed by brilliant peacocks and a courtyard offers open-air dining.

Ranvas Nagaur: Days 7 to 8 (2 nights), Nagaur, India

Ranvas (“Abode of Queens”) is a stunning new heritage hotel built in the heart of an ancient fort on the edge of the Thar Desert. The massive fortress has been restored to its former glory through the efforts of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, and the hotel is set within the ramparts. This atmospheric accommodation offers a step back in time—but with tasteful modern rooms that blend beautifully with the stunning architecture of the fort. Dining outside in the pavilion under billowing awnings is a delightful experience.

Manvar Desert Camp: Day 9 (1 night), Dechu, India

The location of this camp is simply stunning—set in the middle of the Thar Desert and surrounded by shrub-covered sand dunes. This is “glamping” at its best—30 safari-style tents set in a circle are lavishly decorated with teak furniture, colorful rugs, and beautiful block print tent linings. Tiled bathrooms are attached, with running hot and cold water and flush toilets. It can get cold in the desert at night, but electric heaters keep you warm and cozy. The sunrises, sunsets, and stargazing are incredible!

Suryagarh Jaisalmer: Days 10 to 11 (2 nights), Jaisalmer, India

Enjoy hospitality at its best at the fort-like Suryagarh Jaisalmer, set outside of Jaisalmer's city center. Guestrooms are spacious, and there is an indoor pool with spa. The grounds include a man-made lake and you'll find all sorts of wandering pets, from rabbits to peacocks enjoying a morning stroll.

Raas Haveli: Days 12 to 13 (2 nights), Jodhpur, India

The Raas Haveli occupies a stunning position beneath Jodhpur's imposing Mehrangarh Fort and is the only boutique hotel in India located right within an ancient walled city. Combining contemporary comfort and the charm of a 300–year-old mansion, it offers charming, spacious rooms and an inviting swimming pool. The view of the Mehrangarh Fort is especially dramatic at night from here.

Siana Garden: Days 14 to 15 (2 nights), Jalore District, Rajasthan, India

The rustic but charming Siana Garden features 15 cottages, set in a lovely rural setting. It's an ideal place from which to take part in the Holi celebrations, as the owner is a headman and personally involved with the local villagers.

Maharani Bagh Orchard Hotel: Day 16 (1 night), Ranakpur, India

The well-furnished bungalows at the Maharani Bagh are set within the walled 19th century orchard of the Jodhpur royal family. The bungalows are spacious and surrounded by big shady trees and lush gardens hung with bird feeders (a birdwatcher’s delight!). Meals are served in an open-air restaurant. This lovely lodge has a peaceful, rural atmosphere and walking paths through acres of mango trees.

Taj Lake Palace: Days 17 to 18 (2 nights), Udaipur, India

It’s not a stretch to say that the Lake Palace, the 250-year-old former summer palace of the Maharaja of Udaipur, is one of the world’s most breathtaking heritage hotels, and to spend a night here is truly a fairytale experience that begins the moment you first see it. Floating in tranquil Lake Pichola with the Aravalli Hills as its backdrop, this palace hotel has been called “a dream of white marble.” Inside, you can live the royal life and enjoy its many courtyards, restaurants, elegant terraces, and gardens abloom.

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

  • Up to 151 days prior to departure: No charge!
  • 91-150 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
  • 90 days or less: 100% of trip cost

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Trip Excludes

  • International airfare, internal airfare
  • Airport departure taxes
  • Optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Other expenses of a personal nature

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