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Art by Natasha Kumar

Essence of India with Natasha Kumar

16-day escorted tour

Summary

Short description

This small group tour of Rajasthan accompanied by celebrated artist Natasha Kumar is no longer operating but please contact us if you would like to arrange a tailor-made private tour to the places that have inspired Natasha's work

Highlights

  • Travel in the company of acclaimed artist Natasha Kumar
  • Enjoy exclusive excursions and special dining experiences
  • Explore Rajasthan's inconic sites and discover hidden gems
  • Explore the Best, (and Second Best) Exotic Marigold Hotel in sleepy Kempur
  • Stay in authentic heritage hotels throughout

In Brief

  • 3 Nights Jaipur
  • 2 Nights Bundi
  • 3 Nights Udaipur
  • 1 Night Narlai
  • 1 Night Jodhpur
  • 3 Nights Nagaur
  • 1 Night Jaipur

About

Recommended for:
Escorted tour | History & culture | Small group

Natasha Kumar's work is directly inspired by Rajasthan's delicate architecture, vibrant colours and unique cultural history. Recent exhibitions included a five-month solo show at Southbank, the Royal Geographic Society and Cinnamon Soho.  Her work is collected worldwide. Natasha herself will accompany this 16-day tour of her favourite and most inspiring places, including some of India’s most celebrated sites and a few of its hidden gems. Your adventure begins in colourful and chaotic Jaipur, Rajasthan's "Pink City" before you head on to Bundi, a town nestled beneath an enchanting fort-palace. Here Natasha will share the secrets of the Chitri-sala murals, and the extraordinary architecture of the town's step wells. You'll then visit lakeside Udaipur, stopping en-route at Menal, a 12th century temple town perched over a deep gorge. Experience the drama of Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh fort before travelling across the desert to Nagaur, where you'll soak up the sights and sounds of the town's famous cattle fair. For an authentic experience of Rajasthan, you'll stay in specially selected historic heritage hotels throughout.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
30 January 2019: Depart London

Depart London on your overnight flight, arriving in India the following day.

Day 2
31 January 2019: Arrive Jaipur

On your arrival in Jaipur, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Known as the 'Pink City', Jaipur is the capital of the colourful state of Rajasthan. It was once the capital of the Rajasthan province, and known as 'the abode of the Rajahs'. Everywhere you will see the monuments of its Rajput rulers. The city is world famous for some of the best shopping in India - especially with regard to textiles, jewels and gemstones.  In the evening you are invited to a special welcome dinner, which will provide an opportunity to get to know Natasha and your fellow guests.

Stay: Samode Haveli, Jaipur (Superior)

Meals: D

Day 3
1 February 2019: Jaipur

Enjoy a day of relaxation in the majestic surroundings of Samode Haveli before the tour starts in earnest. Alternatively, if you fancy a taste of what is to come, enjoy an outing to local markets for shopping with Natasha, with transport provided including a visit the Anokhi Museum to see a demonstration of block printing. You'll also have a the chance to try your hand at this - bring a plain t-shirt or handkerchief. In the evening dinner can either be taken at your hotel or transport will be provided to a recommended alternative.

Stay: Samode Haveli, Jaipur (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 4
2 February 2019: Explore Jaipur

Today, you'll embark on a full day's sightseeing of the remarkable attractions around Jaipur. Leave after breakfast for a photo-visit to the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) - a five-story wonder with a spectacular pyramidal façade and overhanging windows with latticed screens, domes and spires - followed by a visit to Amber Fort, a magnificent example of Rajput architecture. Then, after lunch at the atmospheric 1135 AD restaurant, situated within the fort itself, the afternoon continues with a visit to the awe-inspiring Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observation site built in 1726 by Maharaja Jai Singh II, before rounding off the day with visits to one or two of Jaipur's most exquisite shops.  This evening you could also opt to watch an Indian movie at the iconic Raj Mandir movie theatre, the most famous in India.

Stay: Samode Haveli, Jaipur (Superior)

Meals: B L

Day 5
3 February 2019: Bundi

After breakfast you'll visit the formal gardens of Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh with its attractive Chhatris, where you'll take a relaxing stroll, before leaving Jaipur for Bundi, with a stop for lunch en route (not included). This picturesque little town in the jungle of the Aravalli Hills is one of Natasha's favourite locations in India. The Fort-Palace "is such a palace as men build for themselves in their uneasy dreams - the work of goblins rather than men" (Rudyard Kipling); it is renowned for its intricate paintings and murals, and was the capital of the state in the heyday of the Rajputs. The walled town, 37km north of Kota, lies in the north of the former Hadaoti state, shielded on the north, east and west by jagged outcrops of the Vindhya Range. The rest of the afternoon and evening is free for you to relax. Natasha and your tour guide will be able to recommend options for dinner (not included). There may be the opportunity to drop in to a film at the private cinema at Hadoti Palace during your stay.

Stay: The Hadoti Palace (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 6
4 February 2019: Bundi

Take a guided tour of Bundi, an astonishing town that holds many secrets, with mesmerising step wells, exquisite Chhatris and captivating streets. Visit the dilapidated and romantic Bundi Palace, where monkeys clamber through its halls and, by night, bats fly through jali windows. The palace is decorated with some of the finest murals in India. It is no wonder Kipling wrote The Jungle Book here, and that Natasha finds it so inspiring. You'll also visit the Mari Kipling Palace & Hunting Lodge and the nearby Pot Village, where the men turn the pots from local clay and the women decorate them. A special dinner has been arranged at the nearby Bundi Villas (payable locally).

Stay: The Hadoti Palace (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 7
5 February 2019: Udaipur

Spend the day travelling to the beautiful city of Udaipur, set amidst the Aravalli Ranges of Rajasthan, within elevated hills and beautiful lakes. Udaipur is regarded as one of the most romantic cities in the world, and often referred to as the 'Venice of the East'. En route, you'll visit the Menal temple complex – a 12th century temple town overlooking the gorge of Menali River that's dedicated to the Lord Shiva. After lunch (payable locally), you'll take a lighter break at the Ravla Khempur Palace, a small village hotel famous for its role in the film the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for afternoon tea. Locally it is known for its Mawari horses with their unique inward turning ears. Once in Udaipur, the evening is free.

Stay: Fateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 8
6 February 2019: Udaipur

Spend today in Udaipur, a lakefront city decorated with picturesque white marble palaces set against placid blue lakes and mountains. This morning, you'll enjoy a morning relaxing at the hotel in between breakfast and lunch (not included). In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Monsoon Palace set high in the mountains overlooking the lakes of Udaipur. This is a great spot to watch the sunset and the Palace below, which in the evenings is illuminated with a golden glow.

Stay: Fateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 9
7 February 2019: Udaipur

In the morning Natasha accompanies you around the fascinating City Palace complex, built over a period of 400 years by several kings, starting with Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559. The palace complex consists of four major and several minor palaces forming a single breathtaking façade of 900 metres overlooking the Pichola Lake. Once the home of the Mewar rulers, most of the palace is now converted into a museum. It houses a collection of rare miniature paintings, decorative mirrored mosaics and a large array of artefacts. You'll also visit the armoury museum. Don't miss the Dunbar Hall - the place of royal ceremonies even today. In the late afternoon, you'll enjoy a boat ride on Lake Pichola. From the lake, the views of the City Palace stretching along the east bank are simply stunning. Note that the boat ride is dependent on the water level of the lake.

Stay: Fateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 10
8 February 2019: Udaipur – Narlai

After breakfast, drive to Narlai, stopping en route to visit the spiritually inspiring white marble Jain temple complex of Ranakpur. The temples are over 500 years old but well preserved, unique in style and design, with ceilings carved with fine, lac-like foliate scrollwork and geometric patterns. After lunch (not included), you'll continue to Narlai. Check into your hotel on arrival and relax for the rest of the day. Narlai is in rural Rajasthan and whilst service standards are not as high as in other parts of Rajasthan it has an abundance of charm and character.  The real reason for staying in Narlai becomes apparent in the evening, when you'll enjoy a completely unique dining experience in the 16th century stepwell of Rawla Narlai. Leave the hotel after dark and travel by bullock cart to the stepwell, where a traditional Rajasthani feast is served by candlelight, accompanied by a yogi singing devotional songs.

Stay: Rawla Narlai, Narlai

Meals: B D

Day 11
9 February 2019: Narlai – Jodhpur

Head to Jodhpur, home to one of Rajasthan's most magnificent forts. Jodhpur has a rich colonial history, and the city prospered under the British Raj. When India gained independence in 1947, Jodhpur became the second city of Rajasthan. During the day, you'll will visit Jaswant Thada, an imposing white marble cenotaph built to commemorate the acts of bravery and generosity of the 19th century rulers. The evening is free to relax at the hotel.

Stay: Ajit Bhawan, Jodhpur (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 12
10 February 2019: Jodhpur - Nagaur

Visit the imposing Mehrangarh Fort this morning, one of India's largest, founded 1459 AD. Within the 5km fort, there are several brilliantly crafted palaces. There's also a museum that houses an exquisite collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. Then, in the afternoon, you'll continue our journey to Nagaur, home to the famous Cattle Fair. There are no planned activities for the late afternoon and evening, so you'll have the chance to enjoy some free time in the the grounds of our spectacular hotel, Ranvas, situated within Nagaur Fort itself, once the Zenana (the queen's and women's quarters).   

Stay: Ranvas Nagaur (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 13
11 February 2019: Nagaur

Enjoy a leisurely morning at the hotel followed by an early lunch (not included) before visiting the colourful Nagaur Cattle Fair to catch the afternoon light. The fair is the second largest in India, and is held annually for eight days between January and February. Its purpose is to trade cattle, bullocks, camels and horses, with more than 75,000 exchanges taking place each year. There's also plenty of entertainment, including games such as tug of war and camel races, dancing horses and desert folk musicians who give performances during the afternoon and sunset. 

Stay: Ranvas Nagaur (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 14
12 February 2019: Nagaur

Spend another morning at the Cattle Fair, take a camel or horse ride, or you may choose to relax at the hotel. In the afternoon, visit Nagaur Fort, a Muslim stronghold built in the 12th century that has many temples and palaces within the complex. It has exquisite Mughal pavilions surrounded by gardens and tanks with a intricate water system that was restored in 2009. The fort's internal and external spaces now serve as a venue to the Sufi Music Festival. In the evening, you'll enjoy a special farewell Thali dinner.

Stay: Ranvas Nagaur (Superior)

Meals: B D

Day 15
13 February 2019: Nagaur – Sambhar Lake – Jaipur

Return to Jaipur after breakfast, visiting Sambhar Lake - India's largest saline lake at 22.5 km long - en route. This is a beautiful landscape where water and sky merge into infinity - an appropriately timeless pause at the end of the tour. On arrival in Jaipur, where you'll stay overnight, a late lunch is included at the Trident Hotel and then the afternoon and evening are free for you to relax. 

Stay: Trident Jaipur, Jaipur

Meals: B L

Day 16
14 February 2019: Tour ends

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before returning to Jaipur airport for your onward or return flight.


Although this escorted tour accompanied by Natasha Kumar will no longer be operating in January 2019 but we would be delighted to arrange a private tailor-made tour to visit the locations that have inspired Natasha's work for your choice of dates; please contact us for details and a personalised quotation.

Meals: B

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