Detailed Itinerary ~ Feb. 7-19, 2016
It is true that you never come home from India. It’s a world of contrast, a feast for our senses, and provides an ancient education in how the world began when beauty, life and culture was in balance with nature and spirituality.
Embark on a passage to India, on a ground-breaking journey to discover the superb cuisine and incredible cultural wonders of one of the world’s most intriguing civilizations. A traveler’s dream, we will encounter a 17th century nobility whose lineage still operate summer homes and boutique guesthouses, produce organic food, and still maintain a close and sustainable relationship with their villages. In this modern India, forts and palaces have been turned into chic hotels with Indian fusion food, taking traditional dishes and giving them an educated, contemporary twist.
On this special program, we’ll immerse ourselves in a deep culinary tradition through trips to local markets and walks through fields of millet and cumin. We’ll learn the craft of spice-infused Indian cuisine in the simplest of villages as well as the most exquisite kitchens. We choose spices in the India’s bustling marketplaces and in the kitchen, we learn to use them in both traditional recipes and improvised favorites. We’ll return home with spice boxes to brighten our own kitchens and to inspire our cooking in new ways from the source of mother India.
ITINERARY AT A GLANCE
|City||Hotel||Room Category||Number of Nights|
|Delhi||The Imperial||Heritage Room||Three|
|Samode Haveli||Deluxe Suites||
|Jodhpur||Raas Haveli||Luxury Room||
|Udaipur||Taj Lake Palace||Palace Room||
|18/19||Delhi||The Trident (Gurgaon)||Sup. Garden View Room||
6 FEB 2016 (SATURDAY) DEPART HOME
7 FEB 2016 (SUNDAY) ARRIVAL DELHI
If trees and streets could talk, the stories that would pour out of Delhi would keep listeners mesmerized for years. You can get no better insight into the diversity of India than from its capital—where the old and new, cultural and contemporary, rural and urban, all blend harmoniously. While Old Delhi is a maze of narrow serpentine lanes lined with shops, the new city is a bustling metropolis and wide open spaces.
On arrival at Delhi International Airport you will be met by a driver and transferred to The Imperial Hotel. After settling in, guests will meet at 7.00 PM at the Green / Blue Room for an informal introduction, followed by dinner at Daniell’s Tavern, The Imperial Hotel’s Pan Indian Restaurant.
8 FEB (MONDAY) DELHI
The group will meet for breakfast in the 1911 restaurant between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. After breakfast, our guide will meet us at 9:30 a.m. And we will begin our program by immersing ourselves in Delhi’s Meena Bazaar and Chandni Chowk, a souk-like bazaar with narrow streets and crowded alleyways. Many of the shops here are more than a 100 years old and the labyrinth of alleyways is full of surprises, with a conglomeration of various mini-markets including the silver market and spice market. Well integrated into the culture of the old city, these bazaars offer an opportunity to get a glimpse of life in Old Delhi.
With a local food expert, we’ll visit Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, Khari Baoli. Built in the 17t century, the market is situated near the historic Red Fort and displays hundreds of spices and condiments arranged in neat colorful piles making it a visual treat. We will have the unique experience of viewing the process of loading and unloading huge sacks from manual trolleys, shopkeepers busy with customers, customers selecting large quantities ofspices and weary labor resting and chatting. The overall experience seems chaotic but in reality it a very well managed.
A tour of Old Delhi would not be complete without a walk through Paranthe Wali Gali (“lane of parantha-makers”). The food here is old fashioned and strictly vegetarian—paranthas are stuffed Indian breads shallow-fried in clarified butter. Some of the exotic fillings include cashews, almonds and peas.
Our morning will conclude with an exhilirating rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of the old city to the exterior of Red Fort. Thereafter we will drive to Indian Accent Restaurant for a unique fine dining culinary journey showcasing Indian food for the 21st century. Indian Accent is the only restaurant from India to be featured on the prestigious World’s 100 Best Restaurant List — so prepare yourself for an unforgettable meal. A cooking demo with the talented restaurant chef Manish Mehrota, will be followed by lunch.
Return to the hotel and and rest during the afternoon and evening, relaxing or exploring at your own leisure. Unwind with an optional massage or take full advantage of the private swimming pool situated in the shade of the enchanting hotel gardens. Dinner tonight will be at your discretion since we have learned that most guests are full after our late lunch and tired after this day’s adventures.
Overnight in Delhi.
9 FEB (TUESDAY) DELHI
Today after a leisurely breakfast, we will drive to an urban Indian home for a cooking demo of traditional Southern Indian home cooking, learning to use local spices and ingredients in an informal, everyday way. We will enjoy a large vegetarian lunch with our hosts.
Return to the Imperial Hotel after lunch and enjoy the afternoon and evening for relaxing or an optional spa treatment.
Free evening to rest and recover from your jet lag to get ready for the rest of the Culinary Adventure and for a very early departure to Jaipur the following day.
Overnight in Delhi.
10 FEB (WEDNESDAY) DELHI / JAIPUR
(Shatbadi Express Train, dep 6:05 am, arr 10:30 am)
Early morning transfer to the New Delhi Railway station to board our train for Jaipur, the first stop in our tour of royal Rajasthan. On arrival in Jaipur, we will drive to the Observatorary. Built by Sawai Jai Singh between 1728 and 1734 the observatory has been described as the most realistic and logical steal landscape in stone. Jai Singh was inspired by the work of Mirza Ulugh Beg, the astronomer king of Samarkand.
In the afternoon we will check into our hotel, the Samode Haveli where we will enjoy our lunch. In the afternoon we will explore the colorful, chaotic bazaars of the city. This is a great opportunity to shop for handicrafts, textiles, leather, gems and jewelry, in addition to anything else that strikeds your fancy. Jaipur is famous for its ‘enamel’ and ‘inlay’ work with gems.
In the evening we will enjoy a cooking demo with the Chef at Samode Haveli followed by dinner.
Overnight in Jaipur.
11 FEB (THURSDAY) JAIPUR
This morning drive to the sprawling hilltop Amber Fort with its opulent royal apartments, halls and dramatic views. It is superbly located and protected by wild Aravali hills on all sides. The citadel was established in 1592 by Raja Mansingh 1 on the remains of an old 11th century fort.
We’ll drive back to the city to Dera Mandawa and meet with Thakur and Mrs. Durga Singh, our wonderful hosts for an introduction to Rajasthan cuisine and spices. The Durgas will walk us through the preparation of a few local dishes which we’ll enjoy for lunch. Thakur Durga Singh is an exceptional narrator and host. He is a scion of the erstwhile aristocratic family of Mandawa and brings his culture and country vibrantly alive. Durga sports not only a grand mustache but also a wonderful sense of humor.
This evening we will drive to Dera Amer (45 minute drive) and enjoy a private elephant safari through the somnolent countryside. The colossal size of the elephant, its playful antics, graceful gait and the wisdom of its eyes move all who are lucky enough to spend time with them. Dinner al fresco at Dera Amer.
Overnight in Jaipur.
12 FEB (FRIDAY) JAIPUR to CHHATRASAGAR (5 hour drive)
Today after breakfast we will drive to Chhatrasagar. We will check into our luxurious campsite situated on the dam of a 100 year old reservoir. The site exemplifies the luxury living of the Rajasthani royalty in tents that were often mini palaces. The tents offer breathtaking views of the sunrise over the lake and sunsets on the Aravali hills.
Lunch and dinner will be enjoyed overlooking the lake, including a truly delicious Indian and traditional Rajasthani meal cooked with farm fresh vegetables. Other than meals, guests will have the afternoon and evening free to explore, go birdwatching and enjoy the beautiful locale, and to soak in some fresh air, sit around the bonfire and listen to old folklore.
Overnight in Chhatrasagar.
13 FEB (SATURDAY) CHHATRASAGAR
Chhatra Sagar was built as a hunting lodge of the Nimaj Estate. Surrounded by lush green fields of wheat, mustard, cotton and chilies and vast grazing pastures, this 100 year old reservoir with a periphery of about 10 km is an ideal destination for nature lovers and a perfect getaway from the chaotic Indian city life.
In the morning, after breakfast, we will take a village tour accompanied by one of our hosts from the Nimaj family. We’ll have the opportunity to walk in the farms, which grow chili, anise seed, cumin seed, mustard and wheat. We’ll walk within the settlement, visit the elementary school and greeting local artisans as we take advantage of the great photo opportunities.
We will return to Chhatra Sagar for lunch and a free afternoon to enjoy the peace and quiet, and the lake views! At sunset we will hike up to the nearby hillock for sundowners and 360 degree view of the countryside. Dinner onsite.
Overnight in Charrasagar.
14 FEB (SUNDAY ) CHHATRASAGAR TO JODHPUR (2 hour drive)
After breakfast, we bid farewell to the Nimaj family as we head to Jodhpur. Epitomizing all the romance and feudal splendor of Rajasthan with the majestic Mehrangarh Fort towering over it, colorful bazaars and the sands of the Thar Desert, the city of Jodhpur exists in the most stunning shade of blue.
We will arrive at the Raas Hotel and enjoy lunch while our rooms are ready for check-in. In the evening we will have a chance to walk through the colorful bazaars of Jodhpur – well known for glass bangles, ornamental swords, rugged leather slippers and printed fabrics.
Dinner tonight will be at your discretion (recommendations provided).
Overnight in Jodhpur.
15 FEB (MONDAY) JODHPUR
This morning we will visit Mehrangarh Fort – perhaps the most majestic of Rajasthan’s forts, described by Rudyard Kipling as “the creation of angels, fairies and giants”. Mehrangarh’s forbidding ramparts are in sharp contrast to the flamboyantly decorated palaces within. Founded in 1459, the sandstone fort was added to by later rulers between 17th and 19th centuries.
Relax for the rest of the afternoon before heading to the kitchens at The Raas for a cooking demo, followed by dinner at Darikhana.
Overnight in Jodhpur.
16 FEB (TUESDAY) JODHPUR / RANAKPUR (3 hour drive)
RANAKPUR / UDAIPUR (2 HOUR DRIVE)
This morning we will drive to Udaipur with an en route stop at the The Mountbatten Lodge for lunch. This exclusive property in a stunning location is surrounded by ancient tress and provides us yet another glimpse into noble life in Rajasthan.
After lunch we will continue our drive to Udaipur and on arrival check into the Taj Lake Palace. The Taj Lake Palace is a dream of white marble and mosaic, glistening in the moonlight and offering a striking 360-degree panoramic view of the majestic Aravali Hills on one side and the lofty palaces on the other. It was built in 1754 in the middle of Lake Pichola and is spread over a 4-acre site complete with ponds and gardens for the frolicking courtesans.
Enjoy the afternoon to rest or explore. Dinner will be at your own discretion.
Overnight in Udaipur.
17 FEB (WEDNESDAY) UDAIPUR
After breakfast, we will explore the City Palace, a blend of stern Rajput military architecture on the outside and lavish Mughal inspired decorative art on the inside. This is the largest palace in Rajasthan covering an area of 5 acres and built between the 16th and 20th centuries. The older section of the City Palace complex dates back to 1568 and has a maze of royal apartments and courtyards. They are linked to each other by narrow passages, a typical feature of Rajput Palaces of that period, designed to confuse invaders.
Lunch at the Terrace restaurant, Fateh Prakash Palace, before returning to the Lake Palace.
At 4 PM, we will have a cooking demo in the fabled kitchens of Neel Kamal restaurant at the Taj Lake Palace, followed by our farewell dinner.
Overnight in Udaipur.
18 FEB (THURSDAY) UDAIPUR / DELHI (2:20 PM flight)
Free morning to relax and pack.
In the afternoon, we will transfer to Udaipur airport in time for our flight back to Delhi. On arrival at the Domestic Airport in Delhi at 3:35 PM , we will be met by a local guide, who will take us to the our hotel in Gurgaon, located in the suburbs of Delhi and in close proximity to the International Airport.
Guests will be free for dinner, as we prepare for our final departures.
19 FEB (FRIDAY) DEPARTURE DELHI
Breakfast will be provided at the hotel. Guests will be transferred with assistance to the International Airport for their flights.
– Pick-up at the airport in Delhi by private driver upon arrival
– 12 days of unforgettable images and discovery in the regal region of Rajashthan
– 5-star hotel accommodations and noble countryside estates
– Most meals and all cooking classes and demonstrations
– Cultural excursions to palaces and local artisans, villages and marketplaces, and historical sites
– Elephant ride
– Transportation, excellent driver and assistant
– Knowledgeable guides in all cities, including village jeep tours and safari bird watching
– Transfer and assistance to the International Airport on departure day
Not included but offered:
– India’s premiere wine selections
– Spa treatments
– Optional pre or post trip excursions to Agra and the Taj Mahal, and / to the Ellora Caves