Expert-Led Group Tour

India Group Tour - Classic Rajasthan

Travel in the company of Giles Tillotson. Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society

13 days

from £5,795pp
  • Giles Tillotson will help interpret India's cultural history with his formidable knowledge
  • Meet experts in the fields of contemporary art, Sufism and handblock printing
  • Visit Jaipur including an after hours private event at the City Palace
  • Take a champagne tour , after hours of Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

The tour includes the most celebrated cities and sites of Rajasthan: the bustling streets of Jaipur; the haunting desert outpost of Jodhpur; and the serene tranquillity of the lakes of Udaipur. As well as the forts and palaces for which the region is justly famous, we visit some of its splendid temples and we join in daily sacred rituals in praise of the Sun and Lord Krishna. We go deep into the heart of the country at Narlai to witness a formal meeting of local farmers under their traditional feudal master, and travel through the jungle in search of leopards. The tour also includes visits to both Delhi and Agra, where we explore the finest buildings of the Mughal and British empires, including the Taj Mahal. Along the way there are many other encounters with aspects of India’s diverse culture from devotional music to the local cuisine. 

Why should I join this group tour to India?

During this group tour to Rajasthan you visit the major highlights and along the way unveil some of the region’s best kept secrets. Accompanied by our Tour Lecturer, Giles Tillotson, a writer and lecturer on Indian architecture, art and history, he offers an excellent view of the region's politics, culture and history. Giles is also joined by guest lecturers and local figure heads who will all provide insight to your understanding of Rajasthan’s incredible heritage and natural beauty. This tour offers huge value for money as in addition to our expert you are supported by a Tour Manager who will pay attention to all your individual requirements during your visit.

Why travel with Giles Tillotson

Giles brings a genuine passion for Rajasthan’s architecture and history. The information he can share is significantly different from that of a local guide. His specialisms include the history and architecture of the Rajput courts of Rajasthan and of the Mughal cities of Delhi and Agra. Giles leads you through some of India’s most celebrated sites as well as lesser known but quintessential places.


Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Expert.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

What is the accommodation like in Rajasthan?

During this tour you will stay in a carefully selected range of heritage hotels and five star properties including Taj and ITC. All hotels are at least a four star standard and offer swimming pools, spa facilities and restaurants. The hotels have been chosen for their vantage points, and good access to city sightseeing where relevant.

Do I need a visa for India?

All visitors need a visa for India. There is now provision for an online e-visa for citizens of certain countries, including the UK. The visa has to be obtained before arrival in all circumstances. Tourist visas issued in the UK have six months validity from date of issue.

How fit should i be to enjoy this tour?

General overall fitness is required. There is a lot of walking however at a leisurely pace with some stairs. We would suggest that you make sure you bring a comfortable pair if walking shoes, that are easy to take on and off as you will be required to remove your shoes when visiting mosques and temples.

What is the food like in Rajasthan?

Rajasthani cuisine is famous for its snacks and desserts. The main meals are normally spicy and made with the use of ghee. Each region has its own trademark dish with Dal baati churma being the classic signature dish. Don’t leave Rajasthan without sampling each regional dish. However please don’t panic if you cannot tolerate spicy foods. Rajasthan has a wide choice of European eateries and all of the hotels where you are staying can prepare tasty western food without a problem.

What will the weather be like in INDIA IN October?

Warm sunny days with cooler nights. October is the end of the monsoon rains and the air is fresh. Average temperatures sit around 25 degrees.

What is the maximum group tour size?

Unlike other group tours to Rajasthan Steppes Travel guarantee that you join a small group with a maximum of 15 people.

Can I extend my stay in India?

This group tour combines well with an optional three day extension to Hyderabad or the Deccan Plateau or a few days exploring Mumbai should you wish to make this into a longer holiday. Or simply tell us where else you would like to go afterwards.

Departing on:
  • 7th October 2017

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
7th Oct 2017 19th Oct 2017 £ 5,795 £ 700 £ 1,295 Dr Giles Tillotson Available

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Delhi

Day 2

VIP Meet and Greet upon arrival
Our representatives will be there to meet you as you depart the aircraft. You will be escorted to the immigration desk and met again at the baggage carousel.

Blaring horns and the babble of its many inhabitants often drown out the fact that there is more to Delhi than the chaos on its busy streets. It may be one of the world's largest metropolises, but architectural wonders - new and old - fill the city, hidden beneath Delhi's urban sprawl.

Mughal treasures, including the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, are complemented by more recent additions to Delhi's architectural heritage, such as the stunning Lotus and Akshardham Temples.

Meanwhile, contemporary Delhi thrives in Connaught Place, which - with its colonially-designed buildings - is the most westernised part of the centre. Globalisation is in evidence, with brand names splashed across every storefront.

Arrival in Delhi
On arrival at The Claridges receive a traditional welcome with Aarti and Tika. A silver tray and oil lamp welcomes guests along with a vermilion mark on the forehead and a showering of fragrant petals.

Half a Day Exploring New Delhi
This afternoon discover Sir Edwin Lutyen's beautiful garden city of New Delhi. Now packed with political buildings, the city was designed by British architects during the early 20th century. Visit the Raj Path, India Gate, Rastrapathi Bhawan and other landmarks.
Afterwards, head south to the Lal Kot, the ancient Tomara capital of the region. Explore some of the city's earliest monuments, including the medieval sites of Qutb Minar, Quwwat-ul-Islam and Alai Darwa.
Constructed in the 12th century, Qutb Minar is an impressive brick-built tower of victory that celebrates Islam's march eastwards. One of Delhi's foremost sites, it is the tallest minar in India.
Finish at Humayun's Tomb, one of Delhi's Mughal wonders and the architectural inspiration for the construction of the Taj Mahal. A stunning mix of red stonework and while tiled domes, the design's emphasis on symmetry makes it particularly spectacular.
Please ensure you also carry your passport with you today.

You will be staying at Claridges Hotel

Day 3

Half a Day to Explore Old Delhi
A lifetime experience in the streets of Delhi is waiting for you. This grand tour of Old Delhi is experienced from an authentic rickshaw. Pass through the vibrant bazaars that sit at the foot of the Jama Masjid, arguably the most famous place of Muslim worship in India.
Here, watch vendors cook up delicious street-side delicacies, admire as bicycle mechanics service Delhi's innumerable two-wheeled cycles and stand aside as children race through the crowds.
This will prove to be a memorable rickshaw ride through the streets of Old Delhi. Leave the rickshaw at Khari Baoli and walk through the spice markets. Learn about the history, traditions and cultures behind these street specialities ranging from two hundred year old sweet shops to the Paratha Wallah - the street that specialises in flat breads.

Lunch will be provided today at the interesting Chor Bizarre

Guided Tour of the National Gallery of Modern Art
After lunch visit the National Gallery of Modern Art, in the company of Mr Kishore Singh. Well known in the art world and specializing in contemporary and modern art, Mr Kishore works as an advisor to several galleries and writes a weekly column in the cities leading papers.

Private Sufi Performance
Back at the hotel there will be a privately arranged Sufi performance by a local musical group . After the performance a talk on Sufism will be hosted by an expert in this field from the Inayat Khan ki Dargah in Delhi.

You will be staying at Claridges Hotel

Day 4

Gatimaan Express Train from Delhi to Agra

Leaving at a sensible time in the morning the Gatimaan Express train train offers air conditioned seating in a reclining chair. A packed breakfast will be provided from your hotel on check out.

Often considered synonymous with the Taj Mahal, historic Agra is in fact bursting with a variety of Mughal treasures. Whilst its pièce de résistance is undoubtedly this iridescent-white tribute to love, the city was once the capital of the Mughal Empire and its Mughal legacy survives through the magnificent structures that dot the area. A victim of its own success, Agra is plagued by wallahs, touts, guides and souvenir salesmen in a manner that can be quite overwhelming. Despite this, the city's wondrous sights make it completely unmissable and the bedlam on the streets fades away once the magnificence of the Taj takes a hold.

There will be time for wash and change at the hotel before starting sightseeing today

Explore Agra Fort
Explore Agra Fort. This huge, double-walled, red sandstone structure was built by Emperor Akbar in the 16th century and has been used by occupying armies ever since. Stroll through the fort and examine Akbar's simple rooms, his son Jehangir's more decorated ones, and finally the exquisitely rebuilt rooms of his grandsons. These private and public rooms are coated in intricately sculpted white marble, in the style of the Taj Mahal. Afterwards, visit local craftsmen to see how the exquisitely precise 'pietra dura' inlay work is still done today.

Magical Taj Mahal
One of the world’s most iconic buildings and undiminished by the crowds of tourists, the Taj Mahal remains magical and breathtaking and lives up to its reputation as a monument built for love. Meaning ‘crown of palaces, the Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum built by the great Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal when she passed away in 1630. Work for this great tomb began in 1631 and it took the efforts of 20,000 workers and almost 20 years of masterly craftsmanship to complete this grand monument whose marble dome is 35 metres high.

Mehtab Bagh Gardens
Drive to Mehtab Bagh gardens for the views across the Yamuna River to the Taj Mahal.

Agra By Night
This evening spend time in the company of a local expert, Megha Singh on her Agra by Night tour. Visit many of the famous landmarks at their floodlit best. Partially covered by car and on foot this tour lasts up to three hours.

Dinner by own arrangement this evening

You will be staying at ITC Mughal

Day 5

Early Morning Visit to the Taj Mahal
It is recommended to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise. The skies tend to be clear and the crowds are somewhat manageable! Take advantage of the soft dawn and first rays of sunlight playing across the elaborate stonework.

Explore Fatehpur Sikri
About 40kms from Agra lies the magnificent deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri, the capital of the great and loved emperor Akbar. During his reign, a great complex of forts, palaces and mosques sprang up but Akbar was forced to abandon his dream city due to scarcity of water.

Lunch will be arranged today at Bharatpur

Travel from Agra to Jaipur

Drive from Agra to Jaipur. A journey of approximately five to six hours.

Known as the 'Pink City' due to the pale red wash that coats its buildings, the magnificent city of Jaipur lies on an apex of the popular 'Golden Triangle' route. The capital of Rajasthan, the city claims to be India's first planned metropolis and acts as a gateway to the state's vast deserts.

Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in the 18th century, it was designed around a system of nine squares. Now packed with elegant Rajput architecture, the city is a testament to its founder's creative genius.

Alive with bazaars, street vendors and animals, Jaipur remains a vibrant, captivating place.

There will be some free time after check in to rest before sightseeing this afternoon

Bazaar, Craft and Cuisine Walking Tour
The royal family and nobles of Jaipur have been supporting various craftsmen and artisans in the walled pink city since its foundation in 1727. Many of these traditions continue to this day. In our fascinating walking tour, mingle and talk with locals while sampling some of the region's culinary delights - samosa, kachori, kulfi, lassi and sweets. Observe artisans like silversmiths and bangle makers at work.

Private Tour of City Palace Royal Quarters
With special permission, enter the royal quarters of the City Palace in the company of Mr Yunus Khimani, Director of Museum (subject to availability). A private opening of the museum will be arranged. After visiting there will be a private royal arrangement organised for dinner this evening.

You will be staying at Jai Mahal Palace

Day 6

Explore the Amber Fort
The famous fortified palace of Amber stands on a terraced plateau overlooking Maota lake. Surrounded by low hills, their ragged crests silhouetted against a never-ending line of fort walls and watch-towers, the approach to the fort is spectacular. This is very much a fort in which to lose yourself, with a seemingly never-ending maze of halls, small temples, passageways and intricate stone work, with commanding views across the surrounding countryside.

Visit to the Anokhi Museum
Continue your morning and head to the Anokhi museum.This little gem of a museum, in the shadow of the Amber Fort, is located in a magnificently restored haveli. The museum displays a varied selection of block printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects.

Half Day Dera Amer Elephant Safari
Travel to Dera Amer Camp, which is located close to the historic Amber Fort. Surrounded by verdant countryside, this wonderful camp offers a variety of elephant-based activities. Today ride an elephant through the beautiful surroundings, followed by lunch.

Evening Cookery Class at Dera Mandawa
In the evening, head to the Dera Mandawa Hotel to learn how to cook traditional Rajasthani cuisine, before staying for dinner. Leave with recipes that can be reproduced at home.

You will be staying at Jai Mahal Palace

Day 7

Morning Aarti
At sunrise, if you so wish, experience a private aarti ceremony at Galta ji Temple, followed by breakfast at the home of a Jaipur horse polo legend, Mr Ransher Singh. He has stables close to Amber Fort which he shares with his father, Colonel Rathore. There will be an opportunity to explore the stables. Breakfast will be served on the vast terraces.

Drive from Jaipur to Jodhpur

The drive to Jodhpur will take five to six hours. A packed lunch will be organised from the hotel at check out.

The former capital of the state of Marwar, the majestic city of Jodhpur was once a key member of the powerful Rajput alliance of principalities. The mighty Mehrangarh Fort epitomises this power and towers over the city, standing upon a steep-sided plateau.

Lying beneath the fort, Jodhpur's old city is maze of medieval streets, littered with glittering blue houses. Traditionally built to denote the homes of members of the highest caste, it is these colourful structures that have led to Jodhpur being known as the 'Blue City'.

The rest of the day is at leisure. Dinner recommendations will be given.

You will be staying at Raas Haveli

Day 8

Explore the Old City Bazaar and Visit the Jaswant Thad Cenotaph
Today there is time to take the morning easy and browse the shops of Sadr Bazaar in the old city. A great place for finding keepsakes to take home. Later visit the Jaswant Thad Cenotaph. Admire this impressive cenotaph, which was constructed by Maharaja Jaswant Singh in 1899. Built from the same carved marble as the Taj Mahal, this gleaming white building was the traditional place of cremation for Jodhpur's Rathore rulers.

Evening tour of Mehrangarh Fort
Arriving by traditional tuk tuk arrive at Mehrangarh Fort for a private tour. Perfectly described by Rudyard Kipling as 'the work of giants', the fort stands a hundred feet in splendour on a perpendicular cliff. It is built in red sand stone and stands proudly four hundred feet above the Jodhpur skyline. Start your visit with a chilled glass of bubbles as the sun sets over the city. In the company of the curator, visit the royal collections including the Royal Paintings of Jodhpur. After the visit walk down into the gardens of the fort where you will have dinner.

A private dinner will be organised this evening at Raas Haveli, overlooking the fort

You will be staying at Raas Haveli

Day 9

Drive from Jodhpur to Narlai (Road Journey)

Private transfer to Narlai, arriving in time for lunch.

Village Walk of Narlai
Later in the afternoon take a walk around the village to see traditional live. Narlai is a close knit community with proud residents. Simple agriculture and farming is the main stay of the village. Go inside houses, ask questions and have a cup of chai. This is best done later in the afternoon when the people are returning from their daily work.

Stepwell Dinner
In the evening, head to the nearby stepwell - or baori - for an atmospheric meal, lit by oil lamps and laid out in a traditional manner.

You will be staying at Rawla Narlai

Day 10

Gram Panchayat
This morning witness the proceedings of the village with the royal family of Narlai. A local self governing system. (optional tour).

Jeep Safari
The rugged Godwad countryside around Narlai suits the leopards and over a period the number has increased. Experience the thrill of customized ride on our jeeps for a sighting of this beautiful and graceful cat. Not easy to spot as they blend very well into the background, these cats can sometimes be seen sunning themselves on the rocks or resting under the shade of a tree. Unlike the lions, leopards do not stay in a pride and are solitary by nature and have large territories that they roam in. But sometimes they can be spotted in pairs. It is a very exciting activity that Rawla Narlai offers. Later stop by the lakeside for a picnic lunch.

You will be staying at Rawla Narlai

Day 11

Narlai-Udaipur via Ranakpur

Drive to Udaipur, stopping en route to visit Ranakpur Temples.

Once capital of the principality of Mewar, Udaipur sits beside the calm waters of Lake Pichola with the tree-dusted ridges of the Aravali Hills rising up around the city. Often referred to as the 'Venice of the East', the city is famed for the temples and palaces that fill its historic centre and add a dash of splendour to its tranquil lakeside.

The most famous of these are the City Palace, which adorns the lake's eastern shore, and the Lake Palace, which appears to float mesmerically upon the lake's surface. The latter of these featured in the 1983 James Bond film, 'Octopussy', as the eponymous character's lair.

Ranakpur Jain Temple
Enroute to Udaipur stop at Ranakpur, 90kms from the city. One of the best known of the five Jain sites in the country. The three main temples are known for their fine ornamentation and date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The most notable is the Adinatha (1439) whose sanctuary is planned around a central shrine which itself is set on a raised terrace within high walls. There are 1,144 pillars, all engraved and all different, and intricately carved ceilings and arches, many decorated with images of Jain saints with friezes about their lives and religious sites. Lunch will follow before continuing to Udaipur.

Sunset Boat Trip
This evening take a sunset boat ride to Jagmandir Palace past the city's ghats. These riverside landings are where locals congregate to chat, wash clothes or relax.

Dinner at Ambrai
The acclaimed Ambrai restaurant is located on the roof of the Amet Ki Haveli, overlooking the lake. Simple authentic food is served with a panoramic view of the lake. Watch the sunset over the Lake Palace Hotel and Jagdish Temple, making a perfect spot for a relaxed dinner.

You will be staying at Fateh Prakash Palace

Day 12

Half Day Visit to the City Palace
Take an in-depth look at the imposing City Palace, which is strung along the banks of Lake Pichola. Begun by the city's founder, Maharana Udai Singh II, the complex was subsequently augmented by other rulers. Decorated with sparkling coloured glass and Mewar School paintings, the palace's many terraces rise up in a flurry of balconies, towers and cupolas. From the uppermost levels, there are fine views over the city and lake.

Also visit the nearby royal annexes, the beautiful Fateh Prakash Palace and the royal motor car collection.

Jal Sanjhvi Ritual
Later in the afternoon witness the rare skill of drawing on water. A popular religious ritual performed at the temples dedicated to Krishna. The drawings are done on water using coloured powder. In the old city in Udaipur you will meet one of the last few practitioners of this dying skill and watch him create a picture.

Farewell Dinner
There will be a party organised on the terraces of Shiv Niwas overlooking the lake this evening. Get set for a final farewell, Indian style.

You will be staying at Fateh Prakash Palace

Day 13

Fly Udaipur to Mumbai

Transfer to the international terminal. Lounge access has been pre booked.

Fly Mumbai to London


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Claridges Hotel

Claridges Hotel

Built in 1952, The Claridges remains one of New Delhi’s most iconic hotels....

View Accommodation

Raas Haveli

Raas Haveli

Raas Boutique Hotel is a glorious little hotel lying at the foot of the mighty Meherangarh Fort in the heart of Jodhpur's Walled City....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

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Charlotte Lawton, Sales Consultant

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Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

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Kate Hitchen, Travel Expert

"Kate was calm and bent over backwards to accommodate my jitters about going to Kashmir in the light of tighter FCO guidelines just a few days before our departure. She was absolutely correct in advising against what I thought we should do. Several times during the holiday we said that, 'Kate was dead right about that!'."

"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Lecturer

Dr Giles Tillotson

Dr Giles Tillotson
Giles Tillotson is a writer and lecturer on Indian architecture, art and history. Fellow (and former Director) of the Royal Asiatic Society, he has been Reader in History of Art and Chair of Art & Archaeology at SOAS. His specialisms include the history and architecture of the Rajput courts of Rajasthan and of the Mughal cities of Delhi and Agra; Indian architecture in the period of British rule and after Independence and landscape painting in India. Books include Taj Mahal, Jaipur Nama: Tales from the Pink City, Mughal India, The Tradition of Indian Architecture, and the novel, Return to Bhanupur.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Dr Giles Tillotson

Departure Date (S):

  • 7th October 2017

  1. Moderate Activity - The tour may occasionally involve slightly longer walks, but nothing over 4 hours. The tour will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at a moderate pace.

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