What Past Travelers Say:
We are so pleased with the tour. You have opened a new world for us, a culture and place so beautiful, so complex, so rich. As usual in traveling we come home with another perspective on which to view our own world. The trip was a wonderful overview. I cannot wait for the opportunity to return with you and to explore more profoundly the richness of the culture. Thank you for everything that you have done.- Doug S.
Gordon - Your deft guidance and deep knowledge of India made our experience unforgettably outstanding. All five of our senses were continually stimulated - to the max. Also the unusual bonding of the group was gratifying. We care about one another.
Truly, the trip was absolutely wonderful. It infiltrates my thoughts night and day and I've not yet grown tired of looking at pictures. The way you orchestrated everything - time, places, food, experiences was great - just enough guidance and information. For example the way you eased us from elegant Raj boulevards gradually to the cacophony of Varanasi's thoroughfares seemed masterful! I couldn't have asked for more. -- Laura I.
Your background and experiences in India helped us experience India in a unique way that no other tour can offer. --Sue R.
Rajasthan is one of India's most captivating states, famed for its Rajput forts and palaces, desert villages, spice markets and the warmth of its people. This is a handpicked itinerary by India expert, Gordon Janow, to give on a unique vision of India's deserts, places and local village, as we spend one week of our tour traveling by bike (moderate, fairly level terrain).
For those who know the joys of cycling, this is an excellent opportunity to visits some of India's most famed site and get an eye level view of village life. After traveling by train to the great desert town of Jaiselmer (think tales of the Arabian Nights) embark on back road discovery through barren deserts, lush oasis and traditional Rajasthani villages.
The exact back-country route we take between Jodhpur and Udaipur is a closely guarded secret, but distances covered are between 30km and 80km a day, and the route progresses from the flatlands south of Jodhpur, climbing up to the Araveli Hills towards the end of the journey. Along the way we take rest stops at the principal attractions as well as at a few places where you’ll have the chance to experience rural Rajasthan firsthand. Indeed you may well find that the highlight of your tour is a chance encounter with pink turbaned man miles from anywhere, or maybe a shared Rajasthani family meal. That's the beauty of this trip!
This trip does not require prior mountain bike experience, though we have some 5 + cycling days, all is at a moderate pace and open to all with an interest in exploring India. There is a support vehicle for those who choose not to ride on some or all of the biking days.
Detailed Daily Itinerary
January 19: Depart Home Country
January 21: In Transit
January 22: Arrive in Delhi
Upon arrival you will be met by our representative at the international airport and transferred to the hotel in Delhi. Those arriving early can join our guide and visit a few of his favorite places before the "official tour" starts on Jan 23. Overnight in hotel, Delhi
January 23: Full Day Sightseeing of Delhi
In the morning check out from the hotel, your guide will collect you from the hotel for the sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi.
As the capital of five empires, Delhi’s sights are vast. In Old Delhi we visit major architectural achievements including Lal Qila (The Red Fort) and the Jami Masjid (Friday mosque) while taking time to wander the bustling market streets with a possible rickshaw ride through the old spice market. Our tour starts with a visit to the parliament area and a discussion of India's government and history
Old Delhi: With the Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, built of red sandstone and white marble in the middle of the 17th Century. Then enjoy strolling around Chadni Chowk (Silver Street), once the Imperial Avenue down which Shah Jehan rode at the head of lavish cavalcades, and endless little alleyways, today bustling with silversmiths' ateliers and shops and stalls selling almost everything!
New Delhi sights include Humayan’s Tomb and the shrine of Nizam-ud-din. Humayan’s tomb is one of the oldest examples of Moghul architecture, precursor to the Taj Mahal. It’s a building filled with raw energy, topped by giant domes, surrounded by linear gardens. We may then visit the neighborhood of Nizam-ud-din, the birthplace Quawali music.
We may also visit the Jantar Mantar (built in 1725), a lunar and solar observatory (which looks like a post-modern playground). The Jantar also has instruments used in predicting eclipses. Should time permit we will and visit the Modern Art Museum, Hauz Khas Village and the Lodhi tombs and gardens.
After completion of your tour you will be transferred to the railway station to board your train (JAISELMER EXPRESS) to Jaiselmer departing from Delhi at 19:55 hours. Overnight in train
January 24: Arrive in Jaiselmer
Taken straight from Tales of the Arabian Nights, this walled city of gold is truly the “stuff dreams are made of.” Much time be spent wandering the narrow streets of the old city and peering across the desert high up on the ramparts. Your train will be arriving in Jaiselmer at 12.40 hours and we transfer to hotel. Rest of the day to in leisure or walk around town.
January 25: In Jaiselmer
Jaiselmer lies in the western extremity of Rajasthan, in the heart of the Thar Desert. The ancient city, which stands on a low range of hills, surrounded by a stone wall three miles round, was founded in 1156 AD. Within its walls lie temples, forts and palaces, all built of yellow sandstone. The Jain Temples in the fort are decked with deities and dancing figures in mythological settings. The library attached to these places of worship contains some of the most ancient manuscripts in India, some dating back to the 12th century, written on palm-leaf in black ink with hand painted wooden covers. Down in the city are the renowned Havelis or mansions of Salim Singh, Nathmalji and the Patwas, every house boasting superb latticework in innumerable and intricate designs.
January 26: Drive to Jodhpur and Sightseeing
Depart in the early morning for Jodhpur via Bus. After lunch, proceed for the city tour with our guide. Jodhpur is the land of the valiant Rathore kings, whose courage was a match for the tyranny of the Thar Desert. A bleak scarp rears up 120 meters from the desert valley. Straddling the rocky crevices is the massive Jodhpur Fort, its sheer walls reflecting the strength of its warrior builders. The fort is entered through seven gates, each a formidable barrier. The museum within the fort is one of the finest in Rajasthan and displays royal apparel, ancient paintings and manuscripts, fabled treasures of the royal household and an armory. An interesting section displays folk musical instruments from different regions of Rajasthan. Delicately latticed windows and pierced screens worked in sandstone form the dominant motif within the rugged casket of the fort and the palaces are exquisitely decorated. On the road down from the fort, the splash of blinding white marble on the left is Jaswant Thada, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II's cenotaph, built in 1899 - all previous rulers have their cenotaphs at Mandore. As with the Taj Mahal in Agra, the marble is from Makrana. The town below has many more fine buildings and temples and is interesting to walk through, particularly the market near the clock tower. Overnight in Hotel, Jodhpur
January 27: 40 KM Ride to Rohet Garh - Cycling Begins
Today we begin our journey across Rajasthan, starting gently with a 40 km ride to Rohet Garh. Rohet Garh a warm fortified home still alive with traditions of old. This 16th century stronghold of the Champavats lies an hour (40 km) away from Jodhpur. There is time to visit the family cenotaphs, wander around the village picking up bargains in leather ware, fabrics, metal ware and silver jewelry.
In the late afternoon visit the Bishnoi villages. The Bishnois are a fascinating community which follows the 29 (bish-noi) tenets laid down by the 15th century Guru Jambeshwar. They fervently believe in the sanctity of animal and plant life so all animals live near their villages without fear. When a Bishnoi dies, he is sometimes buried in the sitting position and often placed at the threshold of the house or adjoining cattle shed. A Bishnoi believes he will later be reincarnated as a deer, hence the herds of blackbuck often seen near their villages. Overnight at hotel Rohet Garh Palace
January 28: 60 KM Ride to Sardar Samand
A 60km ride east through small villages brings us to Sardar Samand, a hunting lodge for the Maharaja (King) of Jodhpur. The lodge is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking a watering hole frequented by countless bird species.
Sardar Samand Lake, 60 km from Rohet Garh, is beautiful. In the area of the lake are several villages inhabited by the Bishnois, which can be visited. The Bishnoi women dress in colorful dresses. Blackbucks roam freely in the area, because the Bishnoi protect them. They also protect the Khejri (prosopis sinreria) tree because the blackbucks eat only the leaves of this tree. In 1787, 300 Bishnois sacrificed themselves to protect these trees when the men of the maharaja came to chop them down. In Bishnoi villages you can see thatched houses, kitchen designs, and how the villagers apply cow dung to their walls and floors to disinfect their houses. Upon arrival check in to the hotel, evening free for leisure. Overnight in Hotel, Sardar Samand
January 29: 50 KM Ride to Dera Kherwa
Today it’s just a 30km hop to the small village of Dera Kherwa . Dera Khairwa is a 15th century fort-palace located in the village of Khairwa in the Pali District. The rulers of Dera Khairwa belong to the noble clan of Jodha-Rathores, who are related to the founders of the city of Jodhpur. In the afternoon we explore the village and its surroundings. Overnight in Hotel, Dera Kjerwa
January 30: 40 KM Ride to Jojawar
After Breakfast leave for Jojawar today ride 60 Km through the dry plains of Marwar passing through some very picturesque Rebari villages which gives the chance to experience the hard rural life of the desert
Jojawar is situated in the foot hills of Aravali Hills, which is famous for its tribes in all over world. Aravali hills are the world oldest hill portrait created by the nature. Jojawar offers an amazing insight into the village life and its surroundings. The village boasts of a high camel population bred by the fascinating Rebaris. Here you can find Garasiya, Sahriya & Bhil tribes. Jojawar is also known for Rabari Villages. Rabari's (Sheppard) are famous for the there rituals & culture. That whole region is covered by the forest or hills, which creates a silver moon scenario among the visitors eye. The vivid colors of the turbans and the dresses of villagers are a treat to watch for the ever seeking traveler’s eye. Upon arrival check into the hotel Rawla Jojawar. After some rest and perhaps a swim, you might like explore neighboring tribal and Rabari settlements with high tea. Overnight at Rawla Jojawar.
January 31: 65 KM Ride to Ranakpur
An 80km day of riding brings us to Ranakpur, home to the famed Jain Temples which are nestled in a lovely wooded valley. The following day is free to explore the intricate Jain Temple complex, take a horse ride, or just relax by the pool.
Upon arrival check in to the hotel Ranakpur Hill Resort and in the visit Ranakpur Jain Temple which is famous for its excellent sculptures and architecture. Surrounded by the Aravali hills and located on the banks of 'Magai' river this grand & gigantic four facet structures was erected in the 14th Century. The Temple is three storied, 102 ft. high and its spread over an area of 48000 sq. ft. The present structure of the temple came into being after the hard works of 50 years by various artisans & sculptors. the land of this temple which situated at the foot hill of 'Madri hills' was gifted by Maharana Kumbha of Mewar. Along with this temple a small town, about 2 km. from the temple also came into existence. This town got its name from 'Rana' & was named 'Ranpur' which later came to be known as 'Ranakpur'. The temple is dedicated to the first Jain Teerthkar 'Lord Adinath'. it is built on high platform, which has about nine basement. it has 84 idols of gods and demi gods., 1444 pillars elaborately and beautifully decorated along with 4 'Megh Mandaps'. Surrounding the main temple there are small shrines of Lord 'Parshwanath',' Neminath'& 'Surya Narayan'. Overnight at hotel Ranakpur Hill Resort.
February 1: 80 KM Ride to Kumbalgarh
Although it’s only a 50km ride, the route from Ranakpur up into the Araveli Hills is one of our most challenging. The terrain here is completely different from the rest of our ride and we’ll pass small hill villages and see traditional ox-drawn wells.
Later in the afternoon we visit the incredible hilltop fortress of Kumbalgarh.
The fort of Kumbhalgarh, accessible only by jeep, lies off a difficult rutted road. Its very inaccessibility ensured its security as a refuge for Mewar's rulers in times of strife. Built by the scholarly Rana Kumbha in the mid fifteenth century, the fort stands on the site of a more ancient fortress said to have been built by Samprati, a Jain prince, in the 2nd century AD. Within its crenellated ramparts spreading over eight miles are palaces, temples, humble dwellings, fields, water sources, farms and kitchen gardens - everything needed to withstand a long siege. Kumbhalgarh fell only once in its history, when the armies of Emperor Akbar, combined with those of the Rajas of Amber and Marwar, contaminated the water supply of the fort.
February 2: 50 KM Ride Udaipur - Final Cycling Day
In the morning there’s the chance for a jeep safari through Kumbalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The 80km ride today takes us down from the green heights of the Araveli Hills, down through desert lowlands until we reach the fabled lake city of Udaipur where you can enjoy a free day to explore the manifold wonders of the white city.
Upon arrival check in to the hotel, evening enjoy boat ride on Lake Pichola. The name derives from Pichola Village was submerged and Maharana Udai Singh enlarged the lake after he founded the city. He built a masonry dam known as Badipol and lake is now 4 km long and 3 km wide. This picturesque lake encloses the Jag Niwas Island and the Jag Mandir and the City Palace extends along its eastern banks. Evening free for leisure. Overnight at hotel, Udaipur
February 3: Sightseeing of Udaipur and Board Train to Jaipur
Our guide will collect you from the hotel and will take you for the sightseeing of Udaipur city. Visit to the City Palace which stands on the crest of a ridge overlooking Lake Pichola. The largest palace in Rajasthan, it was built at various periods but still preserves the harmony of design, enhanced by massive octagonal towers surmounted by cupolas. Now a museum, it is a labyrinth of courtyards richly decorated with inlaid mirror-work, galleries covered with frescos, temples and roof gardens which afford a wide panorama below. Sahelion-ki-Bari (Garden of the Handmaidens) is a good example of the Hindu art of landscape gardening on a princely scale. Ornamental pools with finely sculptured cenotaphs of soft black stone are surrounded by a profusion of fountains. The Jagdish Temple in the old town was built in the mid-17th century and has a remarkable bronze statue of Garuda, the mythical bird, facing his revered master Lord Vishnu. The shops and craftsmen's ateliers in the narrow streets of the bazaar justify endless walks.
After completion of your sightseeing drive to hotel for few hours. Check out from the hotel after dinner and drive to railway station to board your overnight train (UDZ GWL SUP EXP UDAIPUR CITY) to Jaipur departing at 22:20 hours. Overnight train to Jaipur
February 4: Elephant Ride on Amber Fort & City Tour of Jaipur
Arrive in JAIPUR at 06:00 hours, you are met at the railway station and transfer to the hotel.
The Rose Pink City founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693-1743), is the capital of Rajasthan. The Old City (Known as the Pink City) is a great place to wander around. The whole city was painted in Pink color by Maharaja Man Singh II when Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visited Jaipur in 1876 AD. Today, every home within the city is obliged by law to maintain its facade. It is a very well planned city laid out in a grid pattern and was designed by a young Bengali engineer and scholar by the name "Vidyadhar Bhattacharya".
Jaipur got its name from its founder Sawai Jai Singh (1693-1743), who had the vision to create a meticulously planned city as his capital. Jaipur was and remains the only city in the world, symbolizing the nine divisions of the universe, through nine rectangular sectors sub-dividing it. Jaipur is a royal city & this is its most noticeable aspect, small buildings & festivals testify it. Jaipur & its surroundings are rather like an endless museum. The city also offers an endless variety of crafts. Jewelers here still fashion the beautiful enamel-on-gold pendants, studded on the reverse with precious stones or pearls & turquoise that one sees in miniature paintings. Jaipur's lacquer bangles are famous all over the world.
The guide will come to the hotel and he will take you to the Amber Fort for the Elephant ride, 11 km north of Jaipur and the regional capital for 6 centuries before Jaipur was built. Rising majestically on the slopes of a hill, this 11th century fort and palace complex is a blend of Hindu and Muslim styles. It may be possible (subject to availability) to enjoy an elephant ride up the ramparts of the fort. The earlier constructions in the inner apartments designed by the Hindu founder are austere, while later constructions abound in the rich flourishes characteristic of Muslim influence. The Diwani-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) affords a view of the strategic location of Amber. The Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory) is the finest example of the artistic exuberance of the day - panels of alabaster, fine inlay work, a shimmering Hall of Mirrors, renowned for its fine mirror work. The Sukh Nivas (Hall of Pleasure) has 17th century air conditioning.
Continue exploring Jaipur, one of the best planned cities in India, built of rose-pink sandstone by the great astronomer-king Jai Singh II in 1727.
The City Palace stands in the centre of the city. Part of it is still the Maharaja's residence, while most of the complex has been developed into a museum containing rare manuscripts, fine specimens of Rajput and Mughal paintings, royal apparel and an armory.
Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is the landmark of Jaipur. It stands on one of the main streets, a curious building, elaborate and fanciful, built of pink sandstone with a delicate honeycomb design. Rising five stories high, it is composed of semi-octagonal overhanging windows, each with its perforated screen, which allowed the ladies of the court to look onto the main street without being seen.
Jantar Mantar is the Royal observatory, built by the founder of Jaipur Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. The huge stone instruments were devised to study the movements of the sun, moon and planets and are incredibly accurate.
Overnight at hotel, Jaipur
February 5: Drive to Delhi
Morning at leisure, There is time to wander through the colorful bazaars, a veritable collector's paradise where you can watch ancient craft forms. Meenakari or enameling delicate patterns of birds and flowers fired in glowing red, deep green, peacock blue and white; the gold jewel is then given further sparkle with emeralds, rubies, white sapphires and dangling pearls. In tiny ateliers you can see the age-old tie-dye methods of cloth printing, with yard upon yard of vivid turquoise, ochre and crimson cloth unfolding.
We will drive to Delhi after lunch depending on your international flight schedule, so that we arrive well in time in evening international airport Delhi.
Varanasi (Center of Hinduism/ Jerusalem of India - 3 days - travel by Plane)
Taj Mahal - (2 days - travel by train or bus)
Lead Guide: Gordon Janow
Gordon is a founding member of Alpine Ascents and is responsible for overseeing all operations and creating written materials, researching climbing and cultural histories. He scouts new locations such as India, Iran, Yemen and Mongolia to hand pick future itineraries. Gordon has traveled extensively for the past twenty years, with over a dozen visits to India/Pakistan. Gordon spends a fair amount of time writing and has had both fiction and travel works published in the U.S. and India. Gordon has served as an Indian subcontinent expert for numerous media sources such the New York Times and Outside Magazine and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC and the Nightly News. Gordon Leads private trips to India and also works closely with non-profit fund raising teams, private climbs and management training programs
Trip Cost: $6,000.00 (Based on small group size) Land Costs Include:
This is a fully inclusive trips with meals (see details below) bicycles, multiple guides included, below based on scheduled trip dates
Trip Cost: $6,000.00 (Based on small group size)
Land Costs Include:
Land Costs Do Not Include:
- $25 Wire Transfer Fee (If Applicable)
- $25 Wire Transfer Fee (If Applicable)
- International airfare and domestic airfare
- Passport and visa expenses
- Any accommodations, meals and transportation before or after trip dates
- Tips and gratuities to local drivers, guides and escorts, etc.
- Bottled water, alcohol, tobacco etc.
- Excess baggage charges, baggage portage, and airport taxes
- Personal items including gear, room service, optional tours, non-group transfers, etc.
- All expenses incurred in the event of early departure ( transport, evac fees, extra hotel nights, etc)
- Charges incurred beyond the control of Alpine Ascents
- Trip cancellation insurance - highly recommended
- Gear list and details to be furnished upon sign ups