India is the world’s second most populated country. Fact. The Taj Mahal is the most visited tourist spot in India. Fact. So we have taken on the challenge of creating the perfect itinerary, an India holiday which simultaneously ensures that stunning major sites such as the Taj are combined with escaping the hordes by getting out on the road less travelled.
The thrill of escaping the masses and having lesser known world heritage sites to oneself is an experience that lingers long in the memory. Arriving at a small secluded hotel brimming with character and intrigue where you are made to feel like the guest of honour creates a warm sense of satisfaction like no other. These are just a glimpse of what’s in store when you set out Yonder.
Our Hidden India itinerary takes in the very best of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, showcasing the main sites whilst ensuring that a different and altogether more enchanting side of northern India is shown.
*Every Yonder itinerary is uniquely created to suit our individual clients. Destinations, hotels, lengths of stay and even modes of transport are all decided by you, with the help of our local knowledge and expert guidance.
After a long-haul flight to Delhi, there is nothing more soothing than walking into the arrivals hall to see your name on a board and to have a driver on hand to wheel your trolley to the waiting limo. Your destination is The Imperial Hotel, a hotel steeped in history which will provide insight into India’s past as well as its present. When you are feeling restored by your cosseting surroundings, ask your driver-guide to lead you around the maze-like streets of Old Delhi, where you will see the good, the extraordinary and the unbelievable.
Our favourite way to leave Delhi is by train. The stations are such an experience. A little mayhemic but don’t worry your guide will chaperone you to your reserved seats in first class! On your way out of the capital, you’ll get a first-hand perspective of the rags and riches that coexist here. In Agra, you’ll find a Yonder representative waiting to whisk you off to the Oberoi Amarvilas hotel, with its direct view of the Taj Mahal. Naturally, the highlights of any visit to Agra are the immense Red Fort and the Taj Mahal. Whilst these are undoubtedly on the mass market trail, you’ll also visit the ancient red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri, still busy but often overlooked in favour of its illustrious neighbours.
On our Rajasthan tour, the road to Ajabgarh is spectacular, winding through remote villages. These are your first true steps on the road less travelled. And could there be any experience truer to the Yonder philosophy of gentle balms and the caress of fine fabrics to sooth away the dust of the road than pitching up at Amanbagh? We think not! A tantalising blend of exceptional scenery, facilities that will leave you wanting for nothing, and food so delicious you’ll be counting down the minutes to your next meal. It is the epitome of the hedonistic lifestyle on the road less travelled. But Amanbagh is not just about idle indulgence; there are some fascinating excursions available that provide a unique insight into life in rural India.
You’ll have to tear yourself away from Amanbagh after breakfast but with the next stop on your Rajasthan holiday being the fabled pink city of Jaipur, pulses will be racing. The capital of Rajasthan is famed for sites such as the City Palace, Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar. You’ll pull up at the Rajmahal Palace, the new uber cool boutique hotel in the heart of the city. The spectacular Amber Fort, a short drive outside Jaipur, will be one of the first things you visit as your guide and driver make themselves at your disposal. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the streets and shops which hum with traditional artisans crafting products from metal, wood and textiles.
On the move again, but with a different type of experience in prospect. Your destination is a hilltop fort to be precise. Hidden inside Nagaur’s old walls is Ranvas, your hotel for the next couple of nights. It has been beautifully crafted out of the old havelis belonging to the wives of the Maharaja of Jodhpur. The fort and the stunning old palace are on your doorstep. You’ll have a guided tour but will also be free to revisit any parts of the palace in your own time. And when you want to sooth your feet, just sit back around the pool or in the courtyard and enjoy the attentive Rajasthani hospitality.
A short hop and you’ll arrive into the sanctity of Jodhpur, for us, the cleanest and most orderly city in Rajasthan. The Maharaja has exacting standards which have helped ensure this small (by Indian metrics!) city is perfectly maintained. Our favourite place to stay is RAAS Jodhpur, a super elegant boutique pad, tucked away down a narrow street in the centre of the old town. With exceptional uninterrupted views up towards Mehrangarh Fort, it is perfectly located to allow guests to go out and explore on foot. On the doorstep you’ll find an ancient stepwell, deeper than you could imagine with its cascading staircases, a compact set of streets each with sections dedicated to specific crafts, and the sprawling market around the clock tower.
Only a few know about Rawla Narlai; a small hotel deep in rural India on the route from Jodhpur to Udaipur. It’s one of those Yonder hidden gems. Built into and around a former stronghold in the village of Narlai, the hotel is simple in its outlook but top-notch on experience.
You’ll encounter charming staff drawn from the village, exceptional landscapes with lakes and hillocks perfect for afternoon tea and birdwatching, if you’re lucky a wild leopard might cross your path, and in the evening you’ll be taken by ox cart to the ancient step well for a magnificent lantern-lit feast.
On leaving Rawla Narlai, you’ll be heading in the general direction of Udaipur. En route you’ll swing past the magnificent Jain temple at Ranakpur, said to be the largest Jain temple in India constructed entirely from marble, and the amazing hill top fort of Kumbhalgarh. The scale of both will leave you awed. Back in the car, you’re aiming for RAAS Devigarh, an absolute Yonder smash hit. We love it. You’ll have a few days to bask in the beautiful surroundings of this 18th century palace complete with frescos, mirror rooms, courtyards and ornate balconies. The ILA spa is second to none, the food is sublime and the ambience lends itself to doing… absolutely nothing.
We recently came across a phrase daubed on the side of a restaurant describing Udaipur as ‘God’s love nest’; it’s more often called the City of Love but you get the gist. The delightful watergardens, fabulous stained glass and mirror rooms in the City Palace and the stunning sunset Lake Pichola outings put romance in the air. Even the spectacular Jagdish temple, just a few steps down the hill from the city palace, sports a series of romantic (well, ok, really rather erotic!) carvings. Udaipur is a work of art, thanks in large part to the Maharanas who have thoughtfully built it over many centuries. And thanks in particular to Maharana Jagat Singh II who built the Lake Palace which is where you’ll settle in for a couple of nights. on your final morning after a leisurely breakfast, you’ll catch the early afternoon flight from Udaipur to Delhi where you’ll be met by one of our local guides who will steer you to the correct terminal for the evening direct flight back to the UK.
What you get for your money
This itinerary would typically cost from £3,800 per person staying in the specified hotels and having the services of a private chauffeur and guide, excluding international flights. The costs can vary based on season, room type and board basis. All our holidays are tailor-made and can be created around your budget.