Rajasthan has landscapes varying from green rolling hills to barren deserts. The whole state is dotted with dramatic fortresses and the countryside is a patchwork of villages and towns where we see the timelessness of rural India. From the captivating Mehrangarh Fort at Jodhpur, the lakeside palace of Udaipur, the holy town of Pushkar and onto the superb 'pink city' of Jaipur, each place has its own story to tell. A fitting way to finish the trip is at the magnificent Taj Mahal. Cycling is the perfect way to explore Rajasthan, offering a fascinating insight into the traditional way of life here.
The group flight arrives in the morning. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel. The rest of the day is used to assemble the bikes and explore locally before an evening briefing about our cycling adventure.
We start cycling early in the morning in order to get used to the Indian weather and city traffic. After cycling for about 25km we return to the hotel. After breakfast and a shower we start our sightseeing of New and Old Delhi by bus. The bikes and main luggage will be transferred to Jodhpur by bus (you are advised to take your required toiletries and other essential items in your day bag for the overnight train journey). In the evening we transfer to the station and catch the overnight train to Jodhpur
We arrive into Jodhpur in the morning and transfer to our hotel where we have some time to relax or have a wander in the surrounding area. In the afternoon we get the bikes out and go sightseeing on two wheels. Jodhpur was founded by the Rajput chief Roa Jodha and was formerly the capital of the State of Marwar. The city is surrounded by an immense wall almost ten kilometres in circumference and is dominated by the massive fort that stands on a rocky hill commanding the surrounding desert. In the afternoon we visit the magnificent Meherangarh Fort from where we have a great view of the blue houses, painted to distinguish them as those of Brahmins.
Today is a long day so we will have an early start. We begin our day cycling from the hotel for about 40km. We then take a transfer by bus to Ranakpur where there is time to visit the stunning 15th Century Jain Temple. The main temple, beautifully carved from marble, is dedicated to Adinath. It has 29 halls supported by 1444 pillars, each delicately carved with a different design. We then take a short 15km transfer by vehicle to a roadside Hindu temple. From here we then get back on our bikes and ride through the Aravlli hills for about 34km and finally transfer by bus to the stunning lakeside town of Udaipur.
Known as 'The Pearl of Rajasthan', the 'City of Sunrise' and 'Venice of the East', Udaipur is a beautiful place regarded by both Indians and travellers as the most romantic city in India. Situated on the east side of Lake Pichola, the main palace commands an unsurpassed view across the shimmering lake to the dusty Aravalli Hills with the luxurious Lake Palace hotel adding to the scene. Lake Pichola has two islands, each with a palace to rival that on the mainland; Jag Mandir and Jag Nivas (the latter is now the luxurious Lake Palace Hotel) rise out of their own reflections in the waters of the lake. After breakfast we set off on the bikes and spend the morning exploring the countryside around Udaipur. We cycle on quiet roads past farmland and small villages as we head to Tiger Lake. Continuing on rural backroads, we have the chance to visit Animal Aid, a local NGO animal hospital for injured animals. We finish our ride close to the city, from where we visit the impressive City Palace.
This morning we take a short drive (1.5 hours) to Iswal where we start our cycle ride to Kumbhalgarh. The route stays away from the main road and follows a less direct but quieter series of back roads and allows us to see the fascinating rural life of India. It can be hot cycling in India but the vehicle support will be on hand if required for a four-wheeled break. We arrive in Kumbhalgarh for a late lunch and a rest. Then there is a chance to cycle to Kumbhalgarh Fort, a challenging 5km uphill ride (there is an option to take a jeep). Kumbhalgarh has one of the finest examples of defensive fortifications in Rajasthan including a lovely temple and palace with panoramic views.
It's back to the desert scenery today as we make our way to the holy town of Pushkar. Our route follows rural backroads to the main highway from where we dismount our bikes and travel the rest of the way in our vehicle Surrounded by the desert the little town of Pushkar is a Hindu pilgrimage town which sits on a holy lake. Legend has it that its lake was created from petals that fell from the divine hands of the creator god Brahma and it is here that you can see one of the worlds few Brahma temples. Dotted with 52 ghats and around 400 milky-blue temples this town is also famous for its annual Camel fair that transforms the town into a bustling market. Before heading to our hotel we will spend some time exploring the sites and sounds of a town like no other in Rajasthan.PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR DEPARTURES: The itinerary for these departures is slightly amended to spend two nights in Pushkar and one night in Sariska N.P, this is done in order to maximise time at the Camel Fair. Accommodation in Pushkar during the festival departure will be provided in en suite Swiss Cottage Tents (canvas tents designed to emulate Swiss cottages) with attached bathroom and all meals will be included.
We leave Pushkar on our bikes travelling through desert backroads and small villages to the town of Rupnagar; a marble working centre. There is the option to extend the ride by another 34km to the Naraina railway crossing, from where we transfer by vehicle to Jaipur. Cycle approx. 60km (94km including optional ride).
For those who are up early we have an optional heritage ride around the wonderful Pink city. A great way to discover the life of Jaipur is cyling through its fascinating narrow laneways. Passing havelis (private mansions) and sacred temples we will head for the majestic Albert Hall which was built to welcome the Prince of Wales on his visit during the 1870s. Along the way we wil stop at some of the popular food stalls where you can sample what the locals enjoy for breakfast. After the ride you will have time back at the hotel to freshen up before we head out for a wonderful day of sightseeing. We will visit the majestic Amber Fort and enjoy the fine museum within the City Palace, former residence of the Maharaja. A trip to Jaipur must include a photo stop at the iconic Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the winds. This city is the centre of many handicrafts such as woven rugs, carpets, printed cloth, semi-precious stones and leather ware. During our stay there will be time to visit the markets and possibly pick up a treasure to remind you of Jaipur.Optional cycle approx. 12 km / 7 miles.
A combination of cycling and transfer as we leave the 'the pink city' behind us and return to rural India. We transfer to Jamwa Ramgarh and then cycle to Sariska via Pratap Garh and through the beautiful landscape of Aravali foot hills.
Before breakfast we head off in open jeeps for our early morning game drive. Sariska is a beautiful and interesting park to explore and it has an abundance of wildlife. Leopard sighting is a possibility, along with deer, wild boar, antelope, jackal, hyena and other wildlife. A large variety of bird species are also grace the landscape. We return to the hotel for a late breakfast and in the afternoon there is the option to do a cycle ride to the near-by Siliseth Lake. This takes us on backroads through rural villages and farmland. We can have tea at the Lake Palace Hotel with stunning views across the lake to the surrounding Aravali hills. For those who dont want to cycle they can enjoy the garden and swimming pool back at the hotel.Optional cycle approx. 9 miles/15Km
After breakfast we begin the day's ride from our hotel to Muhwa where we then take a short transfer to our lunch spot. Another short transfer takes us to Bharatpur N.P. This park is renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage listed bird sanctuary - the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. This entire region was originally semi arid and only received rainfall during the monsoon season. The Maharaja of Bharatpur diverted water from a nearby irrigation canal and it was converted into a bird sanctuary in 1956. On arrival in Bharatpur we visit the bird sanctuary on our bikes, home to an array of egrets, ducks, coots, storks, kingfishers, owls, eagles and harriers. There are now over 360 species of birds to be found here.
In the morning we leave Bharatpur and cycle on backroads passing through Fatehpur Sikri, the emperor Akbar's deserted royal city. Later we transfer to Agra in time to see the sunset over the stunning Taj Mahal. This romantic monument was built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. The Taj is serenely beautiful and never fails to amaze a first time visitor; the white marble exterior changes colour according to the position of the sun during the day and is matched by the rich interior detail.
In the morning we will visit the imposing Agra Fort of Akbar where the mighty sandstone walls enclose the beautiful white marble pearl mosque, palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains of his sons and successors, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. In the afternoon we transfer to Delhi by bus arriving early evening in time for dinner. Your leader will arrange a group dinner for those who would like one last time together to share memories of the trip.
For those who are on the flight inclusive package we depart for Delhi airport in the morning for the day flight back to London. The arrangements for those not flying with the group ends after check out.