A trip to Rajasthan in North India combines some of the finest elements of the country: medieval forts, opulent palaces and the famous Golden Triangle route that takes you from the mega-metropolis of Delhi, through Agra (in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh) to see the iconic Taj Mahal and ending in the pink city of Jaipur. Take your time touring the region’s spectacularly colourful cities: honey-coloured Jaisalmer, blue-toned Jodhpur and white-washed Udaipur. Marvel at magnificent architecture as you stand before the world-famous Taj Mahal and enjoy the riot of colours in the sacred city of Varanasi where
pilgrims come to seek salvation and spiritual comfort as they bathe in the waters of the Ganges. Finally, visiting the city of Mumbai is a must on Rajasthan holidays - home to the Bollywood film industry along with a heaving population of 14 million and counting, the city is wonderfully frenzied and endlessly fascinating.
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What are the best ways to discover Rajasthan and Agra?
Rajasthan is often held up to represent 'classic' India, and a luxury holiday taking in the dazzling cities, sights and sounds of the region would certainly be an ideal introductory visit to this hugely fascinating country.
Situated in the northwest of the country, Rajasthan is a large province famous for its many historic cities and desert landscapes. Add in the must-see that is the Taj Mahal in the neighbouring province of Uttar Pradesh, and this is a dream luxury tour.
Spend a day or two acclimatising and exploring the main sights of Delhi, including the Red Fort, the Qutab Minar (the highest stone tower in India) and the great Jama Masjid mosque, India's capital and political hub is an ancient city that has something for everyone. Settled seven times over the centuries, Delhi is India's showcase, be it architecture, religion, shopping, culture - everything is available here - waiting to be discovered.
Few visitors to Rajasthan will bypass a trip to Agra to view one of the world's most beautiful buildings - the exquisite architectural masterpiece that is the Taj Mahal. This luminous ivory marble mausoleum, embedded with semi-precious stones, was built between 1632 and 1648 by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Emperor Shah’s ode to love is a jewel of Muslim art in India and protected thanks to it’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
From Agra, take in the beautifully preserved ghost city of Fatephur Sikri and a tranquil tiger reserve before driving to Jaipur, the pink-walled, buzzing capital of Rajasthan, and a shopper's paradise famed for its precious stones.
Next stop is Jodhpur, the famed Blue City, and home to the majestic Mehrangarh Fort. Then it's on to Udaipur, the most romantic city in India, if not the world.
Finally, end up in the vibrant modern metropolis of Mumbai for some more contemporary luxury before flying on to other regions of the subcontinent, or back home.
This is a very exciting time in rural Rajasthan, with many new heritage properties opening their doors to holiday guests.
Rural Rajasthan is strewn with temples and hill top forts, the largest being Chittorgarh, and on your holiday it is worth staying in at least one converted fort in the countryside to enjoy the scene and pace of rural life which continues as it has for centuries.
If you are keen to get off the beaten track and away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, then this is the holiday for you, and in most of the hotels you are never too far from the city.
Outside Jodhpur ride through the desert scrubland on the beautiful Mawari Horses belonging to the Rohet family. Outside Jaisalmer at the Serai you can enjoy camel rides in pristine sand dunes.
In Ranthambore, enjoy game drives in the beautiful park, which is dotted with small palaces in the lakes and overlooked by the majestic fort.