The Wonders of Rajasthan: Past & Present

The Wonders of Rajasthan: Past & Present

An exclusive journey rich in culture & palaces – A treasure trove for photography enthusiasts
18 Days / 17 Nights touring

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Delhi – Udaipur – Khempur – Ranakpur – Rohet – Jodhpur – Shahpura – Bhainsrorgarh – Ranthambore National Park – Jaipur – Agra – Delhi

 

24th Oct                     Delhi arrival

(Please book your flights accordingly & advise your flight details, Check-in time is 14.00hrs)

Upon arrival, our representative will greet you at the airport with flower garlands and transfer you to the hotel with our compliments.

Overnight at The Claridges / The Oberoi Maiden.

25th Oct                     Delhi

After breakfast around 9AM, visit the great Jama Masjid, the most important mosque in India.  Also a quick stop at Agrasen Ki Baoli. Then set off on an exciting rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk, inching your way through a maze of bicycles, cars and the occasional wandering cow. Stop for lunch & visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the most prominent Sikh house of worship in Delhi, then on to Humayun’s Tomb, a Mughal complex that prefigured the Taj Mahal. Visit Qutub Minar, the second tallest minar in India.

Evening around 7.30PM, welcome dinner at a north Indian cuisine restaurant with our representative at Veda.

Overnight at The Claridges / The Oberoi Maiden (Breakfast & Dinner)

26th Oct                     Delhi – Udaipur by flight – Khempur 

By Air India departure Delhi at 1.30pm, arrival Udaipur at 2.45pm.

Leisurely breakfast and around 10.30AM we transfer you to the airport to board your flight to Udaipur.  Upon arrival, we receive you at the airport drive to Khempur, a village in Udaipur district, Rajasthan noted for its Ravla Khempur, an equestrian hotel which was originally the palace of a tribal chieftain. It featured as the hotel in the 2012 film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Do carry your swim brief, the pool is the new edition at The Marigold Hotel.

Later go on a guided village sightseeing on an ox cart or a camel cart followed by sundowner by the lake if time permits else next day.

Rest of the evening is at leisure.

Overnight at Ravla Khempur (Breakfast & Dinner)

27th Oct                     Khempur – Udaipur – Khempur

After breakfast, we start our day trip at 8.00AM to Udaipur visiting the magnificent city palace, monsoon palace, Jagdish temple; enjoy a boat ride on Lake Pichola.  Also visit Eklingji.

Later drive back to the hotel.

Overnight at Ravla Khempur (Breakfast & Dinner)

28th Oct                     Khempur – Rohet (4-5hrs)

After breakfast at 9AM, drive to Rohet situated on the edge of the Thar Desert.  Upon arrival check in to the hotel.

Built in 2009 AD….MIHIR GARH…. or ‘The Fort of the Sun’ is an indulgent initiative from the House of Rohet. Mihir Garh is a 5 star Heritage hotel in Rajasthan, Jodhpur, India. Manifesting out of the golden sands of Marwar, it stands majestically to embrace the discerning traveler and shower upon him the legendary hospitality and the diverse flavors of the land.

Rest of the day is at leisure; watch the beautiful sunset sipping your favorite cocktail from the infinity pool.

Overnight at Mihirgarh (Breakfast)

29th Oct                     Rohet – Jodhpur – Rohet

After breakfast at 8AM, we start our day trip to Jodhpur visiting Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada, Ghanta Ghar.

Later we continue to go on a zeep safari to Bishnoi village and witness the opium tea ceremony.  Taste the opium tea if you are adventurous 🙂

Later come back to the hotel.

Overnight at Mihirgarh (Breakfast)

30th Oct                     Rohet 

HAPPY DIPAWALI – THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

Leisurely breakfast and enjoy the magical fort.

Later we will take you through the unique experience of culinary demonstrations and workshops. The recipes come from Late Thakurani Sahbia Jayenda Kumari’s books (owner’s mother) on traditional Rajasthani food.  You can experiment with your own favorite recipes until you are confident that they can re-create the same taste at their homes. Else, you can remain mere spectators of the fine art of cooking – and later enjoy the delicacies at a special dinner.

This evening we shall celebrate it with style, say no to fire crackers instead release lots and lots of sky lanterns and lit the sky.

Overnight at Mihirgarh (Breakfast & Dinner)

31st Oct                     Rohet – Shahpura (5hrs)

After breakfast at 9AM, we drive to Shahpura.  Upon arrival, check in to the hotel.

Late afternoon, we visit the Dikhola village, a quaint and rustic village where time has stood still.  Explore the village and the fort and sundowner.

Overnight at Shahpura Bagh (Breakfast & Dinner)

1st Nov                      Shahpura

Morning go on a birdwatching nature trail at the hotel, enjoy a boat ride at the lake if the water level is up.

After breakfast we go on an excursion at the farm.

Rest of the day is at leisure / free to explore on your own

Overnight at Shahpura Bagh (All meals)

2nd Nov                     Shahpura – Bhainsrorgarh (3-4hrs) 

After breakfast, drive to Bhainrorgarh, perched dramatically atop a 200 feet slate ridge over the shimmering Chambal river with views that surpass the imagination.

Brief rest, and we go on a sunset safari. A ride through the country side in an open four-by-four takes you through farms of wheat and mustard, typical villages under local governance and a tribal village which continue to live without electricity. The drive that takes you over half an hour from the fort finally ends near the village of Balapura that rests by the edge of a reservoir. Ideally timed before sunset, tea and snacks are organized for guests while they take in the beauty and tranquility of a sunset in the country – birds settling down to the end of the day, stealthy jungle cats getting ready for their nocturnal prowls, village sounds of temple bells and the hustle of evening chores.

Evening is at leisure.

Overnight at Bhainsrorgarh Fort (Breakfast & Dinner)

3rd Nov                      Bhainsrorgarh 

After breakfast, visit the Badoli Temples, a work of architectural brilliance, built in the 9th century by the Hun Rulers followed by picnic lunch on the river island where one can see the elusive Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), a highly endangered species of crocodile found mainly in the Yamuna and Chambal Rivers.  In the mood for some fun, we will carry fishing rods and see if we get lucky to catch some big fish 🙂

Rest of the day is at leisure / free to explore on your own

Overnight at Bhainsrorgarh Fort (All meals) 

4th Nov                      Bhainsrorgarh – Ranthambore NP enroute Bundi (6hrs)

After breakfast, we drive to Ranthambore National park, en-route visiting Bundi.

Bundi is a beautiful town surrounded by the Aravalli hills on the three sides and is circumscribed by a massive wall with four gateways.  We will visit Taragarh fort, the 14th century old and one of the most impressive and in days gone by, impregnable forts in Rajasthan.

It has four enormous water reservoirs which were built to cater to the water requirements of the fort.

Later continue to drive to Ranthambore.  Upon arrival, check in to the hotel.

Rest of the day is at leisure / free to explore on your own

Overnight at Nahargarh / The Tigress (Breakfast & Dinner)

5th Nov                      Ranthambore NP

Early morning go on a tiger safari on an open jeep, sharing.  Later come back for breakfast.

Later in the afternoon, go for another jeep safari.

Overnight at Nahargarh / The Tigress (All meals)

6th Nov                      Ranthambore – Jaipur (4-5hrs)

After breakfast, we drive to Jaipur. Upon arrival, check in to the hotel.

Overnight at Fairmont / ITC Rajputana (Breakfast)

7th Nov                      Jaipur

Early breakfast and visit the Amber Fort on an elephant back.  Visit city place, Hawa mahal, Jantar Mantar and explore the local market.

Rest of the day is at leisure / free to explore on your own

Overnight at Fairmont / ITC Rajputana (Breakfast)

8th Nov                      Jaipur – Agra (4/5hrs)

After breakfast, we drive to Agra.  Upon arrival, check in to the hotel.

Rest of the day is at leisure.

Late afternoon, visit our secret spot for the ultimate view of Taj Mahal at sunset.

Overnight at Courtyard by Marriott (Breakfast) 

9th Nov                      Agra – Delhi

Early morning visit to the Taj Mahal, watch the white marble glow when the first ray of sunlight falls on this stunning monument. (Closed on Fridays)

Later come back for breakfast and brief rest.

Check out and we drive back to Delhi. Upon arrival, check in to the hotel.

Rest of the day is at leisure / free to explore on your own.

Overnight at The Park (Breakfast)

10th Nov                    Delhi departure

(Please book your flights accordingly & advise your flight details)

Today we transfer you to the airport to board your onward flight.

(Extended tours are available on request to Kerala / Goa / Amritsar / Kolkata / Andaman)

HOTELS:

CITY HOTEL
Delhi The Claridges / Oberoi Maidens
Khempur Ravla Khempur
Rohet Mihirgarh
Shahpura Shahpura Bagh
Bhainsrorgarh Bhainsrorgarh Fort
Ranthambore NP Nahargarh Fort / The Tigress
Jaipur Fairmont / ITC Rajputana
Agra Courtyard by Marriott
Delhi The Park
  • Tour is priced @ INR 327,645/- per person on twin sharing (Approx US $4910).
  • Single room supplement @ INR 171,806/- (Approx $2580)
  • Group Size: 10-14 pax
  • Tour dates: 24th Oct 2016 to 10th Nov 2016
  • Please read our cancellation & refund policy below carefully.

INCLUSIONS:

  • 17 nights hotel accommodation. Stay in hotels on room & breakfast basis unless as specified in the itnerary.
  • Transportation using AC tempo traveller
  • Services of English speaking local guides as per the program
  • Entrance fee to the monuments as per the program (01 time visit)
  • Welcome Dinner at Veda restaurant in Delhi (Beverages not included)
  • Village sightseeing on an ox cart or a camel cart followed by sundowner by the lake in Khempur
  • Boat ride on Lake Pichola in Udaipur
  • Bishnoi Village jeep safari in Rohet
  • Cooking class in Rohet
  • Diwali celebration in Rohet
  • Excursion to Fort and sundowner in Shahpura
  • Sunset Safari in Bhainsrorgarh
  • Picnic lunch on the river island in Bhainsrorgarh
  • 2 tiger safari in Ranthambore in jeep sharing basis
  • One way elephant ride/jeep at Amber Fort in Jaipur
  • Domestic flights for sector Delhi – Udaipur by Air India (Baggage allowance 25kg)
  • All presently applicable taxes

EXCLUSIONS:

  • International Airfare | travel insurance | visa fees
  • Any item of personal nature such as table drinks, laundry, telephone calls, mineral water etc.
  • Any other meals (except those mentioned above).
  • Camera fee at the monuments
  • Tipping, etc.

For reservation query, please email us at
robin@serenejourneys.co
steve@serenejourneys.co (enquiries from UK and Ireland)

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a boutique travel company in India and a freelance travel photographer, birder and rural explorer.  Follow him on Instagram @ serenejourneys or Facebook @ Serene Journeys or tweet @serenejourneys1

Steve is Director (UK & Ireland) with Serene Journeys and a freelance travel writer and photographer.

 Cancellation & Refund Policy:

We advise all customers to purchase traveller’s insurance in case of interruption, accidents, illness, or anything else that may come up.

Unless stated differently on the tour, cancellations received 120 days prior to departure date will be refunded in full less a 10% handling fee. Thereafter, cancellation fees are as follows: 

  • 119 to 90 days prior to departure = 25% of tour cost
  • 89 to 60 days prior to departure = 50% of tour cost
  • 59 to 30 days prior to departure = 75% of tour cost
  • 29 days prior to departure forfeits full tour price, including no shows. 

If the tour is cancelled by Serene Journeys, a full refund of all deposits and/or payments will be given. 

PRECAUTIONS DURING YOUR TRAVEL IN INDIA

Here is a list of precautions which will help you to enjoy your holidays in India fully. You need to be very attentive and careful about your documents, luggage and health during your India travel.

  • On streets keep all money in zipped pockets.
  • Keep all your important documents like passport, health certificate and international driving permit with you always.
  • Most of the diseases in India are water born there for always keep a flask of boiled water with you and never eat anything from shops or stalls which serve uncovered eatables.
  • Always keep a medical kit with you when you travel to India and stock up on aspirins, diarrhea tablets, insect cream, salt tablets and other first-aid essentials.
  • Always buy beverages and juices of good brand and check the seal and expiry date before buying.
  • Always peel your own fruit and vegetables, stay clear of raw vegetables salads, raw sugarcane or (a big cause of amoebic dysentery) iced cane-juice.
  • While traveling in dry climate you need to have a lots of fluids and to soak up all the excess liquid you might want to pick some solid eatables like biscuit, bread etc.
  • While traveling in dry places like Rajasthan have lots of water in-store with u.
  • If you wish to over stay, you are advised to contact the nearest Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office.
  • For personal side trips in the city, try to use pre-paid taxis/auto-rickshaws or pay by meter or ask for fare chart when you travel within India. Lots of reliable app based taxis like Uber, Ola etc are available as well.

Thattekad: Gone Birding in Fairyland

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I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the tress. – Henry David Thoreau

Also known as Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekad is indeed a heaven for aviary aficionados.

This birdman, interested in all things feathered and winged, spent 3 full days exploring various areas of the sanctuary with Vinod, my own personal ornithologist.

The First day took flight at 6am at a picturesque spot with flowering trees and bushes perfect for many of my feathered friends including Sunbirds, Bulbuls, Ioras, Orioles, Minivets, Leafbirds, Thrushes, Parrots, Hornbills and Woodpeckers to name a few.  It was an exciting morning watching them feed as the morning sun gave a glistening hue to their colourful feathers. The first spotting was magnificent – the Ceylon Frogmouth.

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Ceylon Frogmouth ( Batrachostomus moniliger)

After breakfast, we went looking for the Asian Paradise Flycatcher (PFC) adult male.  I refer to the male PFC as a gothic angel because of its combination of black head and beautiful white body with a marvellous long tail.  Instead we were greeted by a Malabar Trogan who struck a regal pose for us.  As we continued on our search, Brown Breasted Flycatcher, Monarch, Rusty Tailed Flycatcher joined us but no sign of the PFC.  After lunch, we followed another trail where we were greeted by the Black Baza for a few moments.  The Black Baza is not indigenous to the western Ghats and visits for only 3 months.  It’s not easily spotted, so perhaps I got lucky.  I was then called by this melodious shining bird, the Malabar Whistling Thrush.   Oh my, what an incredible combination of sight and sound!

The next two days was well spent spotting Indian Pitta, Nightjar, Black Baza, and at last my Gothic Angel.  Enjoy the pictures as I reflect and rejuvenate after my all-time favourite Avian experience!

By Robindro Saikhom
www.serenejourneys.co
Email: robin@serenejourneys.co
           steve@serenejourneys.co (enquiries from UK and Ireland)

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a boutique travel company in India and a freelance travel photographer, birder and rural explorer.  Follow him on Instagram @ serenejourneys or Facebook @ Serene Journeys or tweet @serenejourneys1

Steve is Director (UK & Ireland) with Serene Journeys and a freelance travel writer and photographer.

How to reach Thattekad:  From Kochi airport, it is an hour and half drive.  Most hotels will arrange airport pickup and drop.
Where to stay in Thattekad:  Seventh Heaven Resort  http://www.7thheavenresort.in (upmarket) or Thattekad Birds Song Homestay http://www.thattekadhomestay.com (Budget)
Naturalist to contact in Thattekad:  Vinod, Mobile +91 9746 248274, +91 8943 894087, email at thattekkadhomestay@gmail.com
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Jungle Nightjar

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Plum-headed Parakeet

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White-cheeked Barbet or Small Green Barbet

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Rusty-tailed Flycatcher or Rufous-tailed Flycatcher

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Bronzed Drongo

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Golden-fronted Leafbird

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White-bellied Woodpecker

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Black Baza

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Asian Paradise Flycatcher (male) – Gothic Angel

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White-bellied Treepie or Southern Treepie

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Asian Paradise Flycatcher (female)

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Malabar Grey Hornbill

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Malabar Giant Squirrel

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Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher (female)

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Malabar Trogon (male)

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White-headed Starling

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Common or River Kingfisher

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Indian Pitta

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White-headed Starling

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Grey Junglefowl or Sonnerat’s Junglefowl

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Black-headed or Black-fronted Babbler

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White-headed Starling

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Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

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Black-naped Monarch

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Black-naped Monarch

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Malabar or Blue-winged Parakeet

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Common Flameback or Goldenback

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Black-naped Monarch

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Malabar Whistling Thrush

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Oriental or Asian Scops Owl

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Yellow-browed Bulbul

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Flame-throated Bulbul

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Dollarbird or Broad-billed Roller

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Malabar Trogon

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Rusty-tailed Flycatcher

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Malabar Grey Hornbill

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Orange-headed Thrush

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Jungle Nightjar

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Lesser Whistling or Lesser Tree Duck

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Asian Paradise Flycatcher

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Scarlet Minivet or Orange Minivet (female))

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White-headed Starling

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Scarlet Minivet (male)

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Green Imperial Pigeon

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Flame-throated Bulbul

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White-bellied Woodpecker

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Malabar Jungle Owlet

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Common Flameback or Goldenback

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Scarlet Minivet or Orange Minivet (female))

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Flame-throated Bulbul

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Malabar Grey Hornbill

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Malabar Grey Hornbill

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Scarlet Minivet (male)

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Shikra or Little Banded Goshawk

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Grey Junglefowl or Sonnerat’s Junglefowl

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Bronzed Drongo

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Grey Junglefowl or Sonnerat’s Junglefowl (female)

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Heart-spotted Woodpecker

 

 

ITC Grand Bharat, Gurgaon

A luxury retreat for discerning guests

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Have you ever wanted a weekend retreat from Delhi or to celebrate a special occasion without having to travel too far?  Then look no further than the luxurious ITC Grand Bharat at the foothills of the Aravallis overlooking beautiful landscaped gardens in the shade of the mountains.

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Located in Mewat region approximately 45 km from center of Delhi towards Gurgaon, this property boasts 100 deluxe suites with semi-private pools or terraces offering magnificent views of the picturesque surroundings. The retreat also features 4 Presidential Villas offering unrivaled luxury with butler services provided by a dedicated retreat host. Each of the Presidential Villas reflects a particular era of India’s rich and fascinating history and their decor draws inspiration from the Maurya, Chola, Mughal and Maratha dynasties.

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The retreat is a perfect place to relax, connect with nature or indulge in more adventurous activities including hiking, cycling, rock climbing or mountain-biking The hotel is also a haven for golf enthusiasts featuring a 27-hole, championship golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

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When I arrived at the hotel, I was received by friendly, smiling staff dressed in traditional attire, in a huge lobby area with palatial seating and a very impressive chandelier hanging atop. Guests staying in the Presidential Suites can choose to drive in directly to the arrival court, to a ceremonial welcome, without having to go to ‘The Palace’ or the main block to check-in.

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The hotel houses four restaurants, each offering its own unique culinary experience. You can choose to dine al fresco, poolside, in the opulent Aravali Pavilion or take a journey through India’s colonial past in the India Room offering European dishes from Greece, Portugal, Holland, France and Britain. The property also features the Peacock Bar, inspired by India’s national bird and serving classic cocktails and premium spirits. Relax with your favourite cocktail prepared by Zac Abbott, the master mixologist whilst enjoying some mild jazz.

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India is the birthplace of Yoga, ayurveda and meditation and ITC Grand Bharat offers you the ultimate experience in wellbeing and health services with therapeutic and aromatic massages at Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa or experience magical togetherness at the Yoga Pavilion. Take the opportunity to revitalise your senses in this island of tranquility.

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Picture Courtesy ITC Grand Bharat

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Picture Courtesy ITC Grand Bharat

Paying tribute to the glory of India, ITC Grand Bharat is a unique retreat for anyone living in Delhi, passing through on a stop-over before or returning from Agra or Jaipur. The staff are gracious and helpful and a warm welcome is extended to all guests.

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Robindro Saikhom & Steve O’Donnell
www.serenejourneys.co
Email: robin@serenejourneys.co
steve@serenejourneys.co (enquiries from UK and Ireland)

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a gay travel company in India and a freelance travel photographer.  Follow him on Instagram @ serenejourneys or Facebook @ Serene Journeys.
Steve is Director (UK & Ireland) with Serene Journeys and a freelance travel writer and photographer.