The sights, sounds, smells and sheer vibrancy of Rajasthan will entrance your family as you will explore the beautiful cities and villages of India's most vibrant state. With breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, delicious cuisine and family-friendly hotels, Rajasthan is a great destination for your family holiday!
Your flight to Delhi departs from London Heathrow in the evening for the eight-and-a-half-hour night flight to the Indian capital. As you've got children in tow we will have provided them with our exclusive Sharky & George backpacks packed with games, gizmos and gadgets to keep the little ones occupied in the airport, on the transfers and, of course, on the flight. Ideally, though, they will just sleep!
Your flight arrives into Indira Gandhi International Airport at around breakfast time. Once you have passed through customs and collected your luggage you will be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel. Depending on which you are staying at, this journey should take between 45 minutes and one hour and we recommend staying in New Delhi because it's a little less hectic the old city with more green spaces for the children to enjoy.
On arrival, you can check in and then have lunch at the hotel. You then have the afternoon to relax by the pool while you and the children adjust to the pace of life in India. Alternatively, you can hit the ground running and explore this vibrant city, using our detailed Dossier to recommend the best places to eat, drink and shop. The Dossier will also come in useful for choosing a restaurant this evening, and we can make reservations at the time of confirming your trip to make sure you get the best table in the best family-friendly restaurants in town.
This morning you will be introducing the children to Delhi in style, on a morning's private bicycle rickshaw tour. Your rickshaw driver/guides will cycle you through the winding alleys of the markets of Old Delhi where you and the children will witness Indian city life up close as you pass street barbers and stall keepers selling colourful garments, spices and sweets. Hop off whenever you want a closer look, and return to the hotel in time for lunch.
After lunch, it's time for an introduction to Indian history and architecture with a visit to Humayun's Tomb, also in New Delhi and somewhere for the children to run around in the shaded formal gardens surrounding the elegant tomb of a Mughal king. Then pop back to the hotel for a swim and early night and don't forget to set the alarm!
This morning it's time to visit the Taj Mahal, possibly the most famous building on the planet. It's another early start, though, because you can then appreciate this magical place at what photographers call 'the golden hour' - either sunrise or sunset - and before the hordes of tourists arrive. Hopefully, the children will appreciate that they are in the presence of great beauty as well, but then it's off for the next leg of the journey.
On route to Bharatpur train station, you will stop at Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted and almost perfectly preserved city that briefly served as the Mughal capital before a spring that provided the city's water dried up and the site was abandoned. The children can have a run around here before the roughly two-hour train ride to Sawai Madhopur, the gateway station to Ranthambore National Park. You will be met at the station for the private transfer to Sher Bagh, a gorgeous safari-style tented camp just outside the park proper. Depending on your arrival time, you may even have time to take the children on one evening game drive by 4x4 into the park, but otherwise, the children can enjoy getting the hang of camp life after a long day.
If the children are even remotely into the Jungle Book (either version), then the next couple of days should be the highlight of the trip as you explore the beautiful Ranthambore National Park, home to an increasing number of tigers, hundreds of other species of wildlife and a UNESCO World Heritage fort just for good measure.
After a hearty breakfast, the family will enter the park in a 4x4 with a driver/guide and - fingers crossed - see or even hear the king of the big cats, Shere Khan himself. Chances of sightings are improving all the time, but the good news is there are plenty of other cast members from the Jungle Book to see as well, from leopards to monkeys and sloth bears and many more to see as well from caracals, and civet cats to hyenas, deer and marsh crocodiles along with over 300 species of bird.
As it gets towards lunch and the hottest part of the day you will leave the park and return to Sher Bagh for lunch where the camp's team of chefs rustles up longstanding family recipes and also family-friendly dishes as well. Relax by the pool until the temperature drops a bit and then we have arranged for the family to visit the admirable Dastkar Ranthambhore project up the road, where you can learn about this not-for-profit organisation where local women produce high quality hand-woven handicrafts (including toys, shawls and clothing) that are for sale.
This evening there's time for another game drive back in the park, so keep your collective eyes peeled before a return to Sher Bagh where the family can recount the memorable sightings of the day by the campfire.
Ranthambore is a beautiful place whether you have sightings of tigers or not and visiting the fort is a must. This morning you can drive up there, and explore the temples and buildings that make up the fort in its outstanding position dominating the skyline of a ridge. Make sure to take some binos because it's not unheard of for tigers and other animals to wander down to the lake beneath the fort for a drink.
Return to camp for lunch and then you will be met by your driver
for the private transfer to Jaipur, the Rajastahani state capital,
some four hours away. On route, you will drive through some of
Rajasthan's rural areas, where the muted colours of the fields and
hills contrast beautifully with the brightly coloured turbans and
saris of rural villagers. On arrival into Jaipur, you will stay in
one of our family-friendly hotels there and enjoy a relaxed
Today you can explore Jaipur with your driver/guide on a private tour of the city with the emphasis on things that will appeal to the children. Jaipur is known as the Pink City thanks to its soft-hued sandstone architecture, most in evidence at the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds in the City Palace, a façade from behind which ladies from the royal household could see what life was like in the wider city.
Next stop will be the extraordinary Jantar Mantar, an area of eccentrically shaped buildings commissioned by an 18th-century Rajput king wanting precise astrological readings by which to make decisions about the direction in which to take the kingdom. A fascinating day finishes with a wander through the bustling bazaar to learn more about Jaipur's jewellery trade and craftwork and with the possibility to visit an ancient akhara or traditional gym where you can watch young men learning Indian wrestling or sword fighting. Our Dossier might come in use again this evening if you want to eat at a restaurant or one of the other fine hotels in Jaipur this evening.
This morning after breakfast your driver and guide will meet you at the hotel for the 15-minute drive to Amber Fort, one of the finest of Rajasthan's historic hill forts. The children will love exploring the various levels and courtyards while your private guide explains about the fort's fascinating history dating back to the 12th Century.
After a morning tour, you will be transferred back to the hotel
in time for lunch and this afternoon is yours to relax by the pool
or choose another of the exclusive activities and experiences we
offer in the Rajasthani capital.
From Jaipur to Udaipur today, and you will be transferred to Jaipur Airport for the morning flight, which takes one hour, to the so-called City of Lakes, Udaipur, one of the most beautiful cities in India. You will be transferred to your lakeside hotel in time for check in, and you then have the rest of the day to explore this lovely city at your own pace. Our detailed Dossier will come into its own again with its recommendations of where to eat and shop in Udaipur.
This evening we have arranged a private boat trip around Lake
Pichola to see the various islands, including the Lake Palace, and
to see the city from the water. The children can watch as troops of
monkeys come to down to the water's edge to enjoy the sunset over
the lake, and after returning to the jetty you will make your way
back to the hotel for the evening.
After breakfast this morning the family will have the chance to learn about "jal sanjhvi", a religious ritual performed at temples dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna, and basically involving painting on water. You will be transferred to the small Krishna temple in the old city where you will see one of the last few practitioners of the art form create a painting, which can take as much as five hours from start to finish. You will arrive in time to see him finish the piece.
Another traditional and increasingly rare craft is koftgari engraving, where silver and gold wire was intricately inlayed on iron daggers or swords used by Rajput warriors. You will visit a family who are some of the last practitioners of this dying art form.
Return to your hotel for lunch and then you have your last afternoon in India to relax or potter around the city some more before dinner at a recommended family-friendly restaurant in the city.
A last early start sees the family transferred to Udaipur Airport for the early morning flight to Mumbai, which takes an hour and a half. You then have a relaxing layover in the airport with your bags checked on through to London before the long flight to London, which takes nine and a half hours and arrives at teatime.
After an early breakfast this morning you will be transferred to Hazrat Nizamuddin station in Delhi (which should take no more than 30 minutes max) to onboard the Gatimaan Express train to Agra. The train leaves at around eight in the morning and arrives into Agra about an hour and 40 minutes later, and the children will enjoy their first real glimpse of rural India from the window of the 100 mph train.
You will be met on arrival into Agra and taken by your driver/guide for an introductory tour of the city and particularly Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is effectively a walled city within a city, built of red sandstone and the long-time seat of the Mughal emperors. More importantly, it's somewhere the children can run off some energy as well.
By now it will be time for you to check in to your hotel, and enjoy a lovely lunch there before an afternoon to relax after an early start. In the evening, we have arranged for a driver to take you and the family across the Yamuna River to a special viewing spot where you can gaze across at the Taj Mahal reflected in the water as the sun sets and the white marble turns slowly red. Tonight you can eat at your hotel, or we can recommend another restaurant in the city.