Itinerary: Exotic Marigold India

October 31-November 12, 2017

 

Oct 30.   Leave from USA and travel to New Delhi,  India.

Day 1      DELHI.  You will be met at Delhi International Airport and driven to your hotel in the heart of the city.  Spend the rest of the day relaxing or explore the environs around the hotel.  Dinner at the hotel.

Day 2       DELHI-JODHPUR.  Today, we leave for an early morning flight to the desert city of Jodhpur, referred to as the “Sun City” due to its year round sunlight. It is also known  as the “Blue City”  given its many blue colored houses which lie in the valley below the massive Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhavan Palace. Our hotel is a charming “haveli” or nobleman’s house in the heart of the city. After relaxing, we head to Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in India, known for  its dazzling array of handcrafts and antiques.  This is an Aladdin’s cave of surprises. Enjoy candlelit dinner under the stars at the rooftop terrace overlooking the city.  Overnight Jodhpur

Day 3    JODHPUR.  After a leisurely breakfast, we head to  Mehrangarh Fort, a citadel in the sun with its strange haunting beauty and one of the finest forts in India. Here we can take in the sweeping view of the city.  Rudyard Kipling once described this magnificent fort as a “palace that might have been built by Titans, colored by the morning sun” .  Our afternoon will be spent in relaxation either quietly sipping tea on the rooftop terrace or strolling around the city.  There will be an optional cooking class at a local family’s house for those who want to sample cooking with traditional Rajastani Indian spices (taste the difference).  Overnight Jodhpur

Days 4&5     BISHNOI VILLAGE. They say that you will discover the soul of India in her villages.  Today, we head out of the city for a very unique experience in the desert.

Here, for the next two days, we will immerse ourselves in village life as  welcomed guests at Bishnoi Village.  The Bishnois, a sect of Hinduism and followers of Vishnu, are known for their  deep commitment to environmental preservation, love for the sanctity of nature and animals, and reverence for their community.  They have much to teach us.

Our village homestay will give us the opportunity to hear the stories of these remarkable desert people,  cook with the women and enjoy generous hospitality with clean accommodations in one of their traditional huts adorned with Rajasthani designs. In the evening, under the stars, we will celebrate local  musicians and dancers who will share their unique traditional art form with us.

Our excursions outside of the village will include a jeep safari into the desert and visits to neighboring artisans including weavers, potters and block printers who are the pride of this region.    The Bishnoi remind us of this:  “Come as a guest. Leave as a family member”.

Day 6  RANAKPUR -KHEMPUR . After an early breakfast, we  leave for Khempur, driving for almost six hours through the Thar Desert , witnessing vibrant desert life – villagers gathering water at the well, shepherds herding sheep, camels heading to market.  After lunch, we arrive at Ranakpur, home to the spectacular marble Jain Temple (the worlds largest) with its fine architecture and abundance of intricately carved pillars.  Ranakpur is also famous for the monkeys that live in and round the temple.   The sanctity of this temple will take your breath away and we will look forward to receiving a special blessing from the temple priest.

Our journey through the desert will bring us to our destination –  “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, situated in the small town of Khempur, once a nobleman’s house and now famous as the location for the British movie with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Yes, there is a Richard Gere room if you would like to sleep there!! Over cocktails in the open air rooftop courtyard we will look forward to hearing stories about this lovely place from the nobleman family who are in residence.

Days 7&8     Today, we travelers relax.  Spend our morning in leisure. There will be massages and henna painting available. We sit in the courtyard, savoring the warm breezes, listening to the call of the peacocks outside the gate, as we  write , sketch, take naps, wander around the property.

Just outside the gates of  Marigold Hotel is a small temple and a village where we can stroll comfortably – meeting with villagers as they go about their daily chores.  Don’t be surprised to make way for a bullock coming back from the fields; or meet the local headman who will invite you to have tea with him, or being followed by village children as they call out to you in their smattering of English.  Village life in Khempur is vibrant and alive!

india sunsetDay 9  UDAIPUR. After a leisurely breakfast, we leave for Udaipur (approximately 1 hour), a charming medieval city founded in 1559, considered the “Venice of the East” . Our charming haveli style hotel is  is right on the waterfront with its private balconies overlooking Lake Pichola.  After lunch, we will meander into the cobbled laneways of the Old City with its street bazaars and mughal styled buildings with their archways, pavilions and stained glass windows. Udaipur,  also known as the City of Lakes, is one of India’s most picturesque cities. Palaces surround the city, the most famous being The Lake Palace, which covers an entire island and was actually featured in the James Bond film Octopussy.  There’s no doubt you’ll enjoy this relaxing, lakeside city.

In the early evening we make our way to the magical Bagore-ki-Haveli, on the waterfront at Gangaur Ghat in the heart of the old city to see an incredible dance performance.

Here, under the evening sky, we sit on thick Persian rugs and gather with the audience as we are led into a  world of twirling dancers, turbaned musicians and puppet dramas with their dazzling tales  of triumph and defeat.  We will then dine at a  roof top restaurant overlooking Lake Pichola, gazing at the twinkling lights of the magnificent City Palace.  A perfect end to a magical day.

 Day 10   There is much to explore in this vibrant little city – and we will first visit the City Palace with its magnificent rooms as we glimpse into an era of past Mughal opulence.    Then, let us take a leisurely stroll around the old city, stopping at the street bazaars to bargain for some leather bound journals, silver jewelry, silk scarves, or sit back, sip masala chai and savor this exotic world around us.   Late afternoon take a sunset cruise around Lake Pichola, arriving on the island of Jagmandir Island Palace for delicious cocktails.  Overnight Udaipur

Day 11   UDAIPUR-DELHI.  After a relaxing breakfast, we leave for our late morning flight to Delhi.   Rest of the afternoon at leisure.  Tonight, we will celebrate with each other for our farewell dinner at a special Delhi restaurant.   Overnight Delhi.

Day 12   13 Nov 2017   Today is our  last day in India.  Check out of our hotel after breakfast,  before we head for some sightseeing of Delhi.  We can stop off at the National Museum or Craft Museum, or head to the outdoor market at Dilli Haat or drive around the city taking in such sites as, India Gate, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk and Raj Ghat (the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi).  We will then be driven to the international airport for our flight home.

Nameste and Farewell, India.

 

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