Asia + The Middle East Rajasthan rural gems, vivid colours, off the beaten track adventures, quintessentially indian experience Vivid colours, swirling crowds, majestic forts and palaces, teeming medieval cities, the heat and dust of the desert and the dreamily romantic lakes – Rajasthan holidays deliver the quintessentially Indian experience. For this to be truly magical, however, it must be handled with care. While most visitors tend to race from one city to another, packing in as much as they can, we believe in a different approach. Although the major sights are wonderful – and an important part of your experience they are ‘well touristed’ and seeing too many of them can become more of an endurance test than a holiday. We believe in taking Rajasthan at a more leisurely pace, combining the cities with some rural gems that we have discovered and enabling you to get under the skin of this incredible State. At these little rural places, there are no grand sights but that is the point; here you will see a Rajasthan that is off the beaten track, its way of life little changed over the centuries. We try to show off each of these places with special experiences that are unique to cazenove+loyd, and the insight of some exceptional private guides. Nevertheless, although we believe that properties with character and authentic charm are essential to a genuinely Indian experience, we are not averse to a good dose of luxury – and we combine Rajasthan’s new breed of world-class hotels with just the right mix of more authentic places. Stories Places to Stay Highlights Location Stories As every one of the holidays we create is truly tailor-made, all of our clients come back with different and interesting stories. We love to hear from our clients on their return to find out about their most memorable moments. Our Destination Experts are also always travelling to our extraordinary destinations and every trip allows us to refine and add value to our clients' future experiences. Street Food in Delhi On my first day in Delhi I met up with writer, journalist and Indian historian, Asif, who led me through the narrow and crowded backstreets of Old Delhi in search of some of the area’s best street food. Find out more My Lovely Experience on a Trip by cazenove+loyd After being a winner in 2014’s Travel Photographer of The Year, I was elated that my prize was a sponsored trip to Jaipur by cazenove+loyd, a luxury tour company based in UK. Find out more A Journey to Jaipur We Will Never Forget Meeting and interacting with elephants is a wonderful experience, and for one c+l client it was a dream come true… If you love elephants you will love Rajasthan. They’re everywhere. Elephants are a symbol of welcome in Hindu culture and greet you at every threshold. There’s even an elephant god, Lord Ganesh, who is worshipped… Find out more A Family Trip to India Marissa Vorfeld travelled to India with her family for the first time during October Half Term and was pleasantly surprised how much her two teenage children enjoyed this fascinating country. Find out more Postcard from India Our clients, Mr+Mrs Hayward, had a truly memorable trip to Rajasthan. It was a holiday full of surprises and was packed with sightseeing, shopping, Royal welcomes and the most comfortable and luxurious hotels. Find out more A Memorable Visit to Jaisalmer Our US Representative Miranda Plunkett visited the beautiful city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan to meet with the founder of a US charity and view the proposed site for a new girls school, experiencing first hand the importance and need for responsible tourism in this remote and economically challenged part of the world. Find out more Hand-woven Heaven in Rajasthan On a recent trip to Udaipur our US Representative Miranda Plunkett was introduced to the colourful world of Rajasthan's textile industry and found a bespoke showroom selling incredible hand-woven fabrics in the process. Find out more Riding across rural Rajasthan Riding was not one of Alex Wix's passions, it actually filled her with dread. However faced with a challenge, Alex took a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to ride with a guide across rural Rajasthan, which turned into an experience she will never forget. Find out more The Perfect Day in Rajasthan Nothing could prepare our client for his experience of seeing the Taj Mahal at first light. Escaping the crowds and the hustle and bustle, his day started in luxury and made for a truly memorable experience. Find out more ‘We didn’t want grand but we wanted authenticity’ Victoria Pilkington wanted to take her family to India to for a holiday they could all remember and enjoy. Alex at c+l planned activities for each of the children's different interests and made sure that the holiday was an authentic experience without the loss of comfort. Find out more Hotels For A King in Rajasthan One of our clients, Chris Sturdee had the most amazing time imaginable staying in some of India's most interesting and luxurious hotels. He is already dreaming about his next trip to India in 2015. Find out more Riding and Culture in Rajasthan Susie Aird was asked by a friend to arrange a riding trip to Rajasthan. Her Bridge Four, joined by two more friends, spent a week enjoying the cultural sights of the city followed by a week on horseback riding through local villages experiencing the beauty of rural Rajasthan. Find out more A photographic journey through Rajasthan Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell persuaded Georgia Oetker to go to small, owner-run places in rural communities to allow her to develop a real sense of the place and culture. She captured hundreds of amazing images getting under the skin of India, capturing the people and the richness of their souls. Find out more Rana Dancers in Rajasthan Chris Wilmot-Sitwell experienced a rare, spirit-soaring moment of tear-inducing poignancy after watching a beautiful dance performed by Rana girls. Their delicately measured dancing is rooted in centuries of Rana tradition. The joy and passion of the girls, who keep their traditions alive, is clear to see on their faces. Find out more Full of hot-air! Our Asia + The Middle East destination expert, Sabrina, was unsure about her hot air balloon ride over Jaipur. But as soon as the balloon was propelled by the sudden flare of flames, her fears subsided and she enjoyed the glistening views beneath her as they floated down over hidden towns and villages. Find out more Colours and Cloth in Rajasthan Grace Cooper, one of our clients, is a fashion graduate. She travelled to Jaipur where she was in heaven browsing the multiple fabric shops which are the life and soul of the town. She was in awe at all the colours and cloth - from the beautiful silks of the saris to the intricate work of the dhurri makers. Find out more A Private Elephant Trek in Jaipur Penny Buckley, our Asia + The Middle East destination expert enjoyed an unforgettable evening trekking through agricultural fields and past candlelit temples on Lakshmi the elephant, accompanied by one of cazenove+loyd's favourite guides, Ranju. Find out more Show All Places to Stay At cazenove+loyd, we have no vested interest in the hotels, lodges, boats, trains and tented camps which we select. We only choose what is right for a particular client. We visit each destination in our three regions on a regular basis and have detailed conversations with our clients on their return so our choices are continually refined. Here are just four c+l reviews. This is by no means a prescriptive list, but hints at what we look for and value in places to stay. Taj Lake Palace If you have ever felt the desire to stay somewhere straight out of a fairytale, Udaipur’s Lake Palace is probably one of your best options. This Taj hotel floats on the gleaming, mystical waters of Lake Pichola, with the misty outline of the Aravalli Hills rising on the horizon as its backdrop. Think dripping chandeliers,… Find out more Mihir Garh, Rajasthan Rising up amidst the rugged, untouched Rajasthani countryside, the magnificent fort of Mihir Garh appears almost to be part of the desert landscape itself. But behind these golden walls lies a luxurious haven, the perfect retreat from a busy tour of the region’s colourful cities. Find out more Samode Haveli, Jaipur Samode Haveli is our favourite heritage hotel in the city of Jaipur and run by a wonderful team of friendly and welcoming staff. The hotel is housed in a 150 year old haveli and is bursting with character and charm; it has an authentic sense of place and is boutique in size, which suits our clients who don’t want to stay in some of the larger and grander chain hotels in the Jaipur area. Find out more JAWAI LEOPARD CAMP, RANTHAMBHORE Jawai Camp is undoubtedly one of our favourite safari camps in India and, because it is possibly the best place in India to catch sight of the elusive leopard, it stands out amongst other safari experiences worldwide. Lying in the heart of the wilderness at the base of the Aravali hills, this remote location provides a truly rural experience to relax and unwind. We particularly love that after a morning safari, you can head out on a mountain bike or just flop by the pool and soak up some rays in such a tranquil environment. Find out more Highlights For over 20 years we have been creating the best luxury tailor-made holidays, we know our countries inside and out and really know how to get under the skin of each one and the best way to experience them. Agra The city of Agra is of course most famous for the Taj Mahal, one of the world’s rightful ‘wonders’. A two-hour train journey from Delhi on the famous early-morning Shatabdi Express, and an easy overnight stop en route to Jaipur means it is simple to fit into an itinerary and well worth the slight detour. Find out more Amer Fort About 7 miles North of Jaipur City lies the magnificent Amer (Amber) Fort in the town of Amer, which was once the ancient capital that preceded Jaipur. The Fort, built by Raja Man Singh I, in the 16th Century is among the finest of all the fort palaces in Rajasthan and is a highlight of… Find out more Bhangarh Ghost Town The Bhangarh Ghost Town is a deserted town where over 10,000 houses were abandoned 300 years ago. It is an incredible feeling wandering the empty streets with very few other visitors. Find out more City Palace, Udaipur Few other palaces in Rajasthan boast such a glorious display of wealth and princely treasures as the City Palace in Udaipur. Your expert guide will bring the glorious history of the City Palace to life and although you can stay here we feel there are more interesting and better run hotels in Udaipur. Find out more Meherangarh Fort The dramatic Mehrangarh Fort was built in the 15th Century and is at first sight absolutely remarkable, set on a perpendicular cliff which looms over the city of Jodhpur. Rudyard Kipling described it as “the work of giants” so colossal are its proportions. The fort dominates the skyline of Jodhpur, the ‘Blue City’ which was once the capital of Marwar. Find out more The Bishnoi Community The Bishnoi community is a farming community based in mainly Eastern Rajasthan. They follow the principles of non-violence of the Vaishnava sect and are pioneers in wildlife conservation and environmental management, We can get you exclusive access to see how they go about their day to day lives and how their culture has evolved. Find out more Jantar Mantar A visit to see the fascinating Jantar Mantar literally known as 'Instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens’ is a highlight of any day spent exploring the sites of Jaipur. The observatory has a fascinating history and with the help of one of our knowledgeable guides you can learn how each extraordinary instrument is used for a particular function and can even today still give a fairly accurate reading. Find out more Show All Location We know Rajasthan better than most. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing. On the map below, we have plotted some of our current favourite places to stay, some c+l highlights and a few pertinent client stories. And you can see if there is a team member travelling in that particular country and link through to them and what they are up to, so you can get them to call you on their return. Best time to visit Rajasthan Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to go Best visited between October and March, this part of India gets very hot outside of these months and, as most visit this part of India for cultural sightseeing, whilst possible to visit it is not advisable. There is a reason why the British retreated to the hill stations and away from the plains in the Monsoon Season. With good domestic flights from the main cities, you can combine a visit to Central India with either the North or the South of the country. Meet the Team Asia + The Middle East Venetia Chris Penny Florence Auriole We'd love to hear from you Our well travelled Destination Experts have extensive first hand knowledge of their destinations and can open doors that others simply can’t.