Rajasthan has landscapes varying from green rolling hills to barren deserts. The whole state is dotted with dramatic fortresses and the countryside is a patchwork of villages and towns where we see the timelessness of rural India. From the captivating Mehrangarh Fort at Jodhpur, the lakeside palace of Udaipur, the holy town of Pushkar and onto the superb 'pink city' of Jaipur, each place has its own story to tell. A fitting way to finish the trip is at the magnificent Taj Mahal. Cycling is the perfect way to explore, offering a fascinating insight into the traditional way of life here.
We start cycling early in the morning in order to get used to the Indian weather and city traffic. After cycling for about 25kms we return to the hotel. After breakfast and a shower we start our sightseeing of New and Old Delhi by bus. The bikes and main luggage will be transferred to Jodhpur by bus (you are advised to take your required toiletries and other essential items in your day bag for the overnight train journey) In the evening we transfer to the station and catch the overnight train to Jodhpur. Ride approx 25km
We arrive into Jodhpur in the morning and transfer to our hotel where we have some time to relax or have a wander in the surrounding area. In the afternoon we get the bikes out and go sightseeing on two wheels. Jodhpur was founded by the Rajput chief Roa Jodha and was formerly the capital of the State of Marwar. The city is surrounded by an immense wall almost ten kilometres in circumference and is dominated by the massive fort that stands on a rocky hill commanding the surrounding desert. In the afternoon we visit the magnificent Meherangarh Fort from where we have a great view of the blue houses, painted to distinguish them as those of Brahmins. Ride approx 20km.
We start our day cycling from the hotel for about 40km mostly on the backroads with less traffic and fascinating rural life, then take a transfer by bus to Ranakpur where there is time to visit the stunning 15th Century Jain Temple. The main temple, beautifully carved from marble, is dedicated to Adinath. It has 29 halls supported by 1444 pillars, each delicately carved with a different design. We then take a short 15km transfer by vehicle to a road side Hindu temple. From here we get back on our bikes and ride through the Aravlli hills for about 34 kms and finally transfer by bus to the stunning lakeside town of Udaipur. Ride approx 74km.
Known as 'The Pearl of Rajasthan', the 'City of Sunrise' and 'Venice of the East', Udaipur is a beautiful place regarded by both Indians and travellers as the most romantic city in India. Situated on the east side of Lake Pichola, the main palace commands an unsurpassed view across the shimmering lake to the dusty Aravalli Hills with the luxurious Lake Palace hotel adding to the scene. Lake Pichola has two islands, each with a palace to rival that on the mainland; Jag Mandir and Jag Nivas (the latter is now the luxurious Lake Palace Hotel) rise out of their own reflections in the waters of the lake. We spend the day cycle sightseeing, visiting the City Palace and Jagdish Temple, which holds a huge black stone image of Jagannath, an aspect of Lord Vishnu. If time allows it may be possible to visit the gardens of Gulab Bag or take a boat trip on the lake. Ride approx 20km.
Its time to leave this beautiful city and turn north as we cycle to Kumbhalgarh. The route stays away from the main road and follows a less direct but quieter series of back roads and allows us to see the fascinating rural life of India. It can be hot cycling in India but the vehicle support will be on hand if required for a four-wheeled break. Kumbhalgarh has one of the finest examples of defensive fortifications in Rajasthan with a lovely temple and palace with panoramic views. Ride approx 60 km.
It's back to the desert scenery today as we make our way to the holy town of Pushkar. Our route today follows rural back roads to the main highway from where we transfer in the vehicle. Surrounded by the desert the little town is a holy site on the fringes of a lake. This is a great place to relax and soak up the atmosphere. If you still have the energy a 45 minute climb on foot to the hilltop temple for sunset is recommended before returning to the town to watch the giant bats drink from the lake in flight. Ride approx 65 km PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR DEPARTURES: The itinerary for these departures is slightly amended to spend two nights in Pushkar and one night in Sariska N.P, this is done in order to maximise time at the Camel Fair. Accommodation in Pushkar during the festival departure will be provided in en suite Swiss Cottage Tents with attached bath and all meals will be included.
We leave Pushkar on our bikes travelling through desert backroads and small villages to the town of Rupnagar a marble working centre. Then (optionally) extend the ride to the Naraina railway crossing, from where we transfer by vehicle to Jaipur. Ride approx 94km.
A day of sightseeing by bus. The Pink City of Jaipur is one of the most attractive and colourful cities in India. Rajah Jai Singh decided to abandon his nearby fortress and palace at Amber in 1727 and laid out a planned city of broad avenues, built of sandstone, painted pink at a later stage. In the centre of Jaipur is the City Palace, formerly the residence of the Maharaja, and now a fine museum containing rare manuscripts, paintings, royal garments and weapons. Close to the palace is one of the most intriguing sights of India, the observatory of Jai Singh. This is an assembly of astronomical instruments made of marble and brass and set in a pleasant garden. We will also see Jaipur's impressive landmark, the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds. A few miles from the main city is the splendid Amber Palace, rising above a lake. We can walk or ride an elephant (optional) up the hill and through the massive gateway to the courtyard. Jaipur is a centre of many handicrafts, such as durries (woven rugs), carpets, printed cloth, semi-precious stones and leather ware. It will be difficult to leave a workshop without buying anything!
A combination of cycling and transfer as we leave the 'the pink city' behind us and return to rural India. We transfer to Jamwa Ramgarh and then cycle to Sariska via Pratap Garh and through the beautiful landscape of Aravali foot hills. Ride approx 85Km.
At Sariska we stay in a hotel with private facilities. We use open jeeps to take our morning game drive into the park The Park itself is very beautiful, interesting to explore and there is an abundance of wildlife in the park. Leopard sighting is a possibility, besides Deer wild boar, Antelope, Jackal, hyena, Jungle cat and other wildlife a large variety of bird species are also found here. In the evening there is the option to take another game drive or visit the nearby village by bike.
After breakfast we begin the day's ride from our hotel to Muhwa where we then take a short transfer to our lunch spot. Another short transfer takes us to Bharatpur N.P. This park is renowned for its World-heritage listed bird sanctuary - the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. This entire region was originally semi arid and only received rainfall during the monsoon season. The Maharaja of Bharatpur diverted water from a nearby irrigation canal and it was converted into a bird sanctuary in 1956. On arrival in Bharatpur we visit the bird sanctuary on our bikes, home to an array of egrets, ducks, coots, storks, kingfishers, owls, eagles and harriers. There are now over 360 species of birds to be found here. Ride approx 70 Kms.
In the morning we leave Bharatpur and cycle through the backroads to Fatehpur Sikri, the emperor Akbar's deserted royal city. This impressive and well-preserved citadel became his capital in 1571. The mosque (designed to hold ten thousand worshippers), the palaces, residences and halls of audience are all made from decorative red sandstone. But this magnificence only lasted 14 years, as in 1584 Akbar left Fatehpur Sikri to secure his outlying territories, leaving this city much as we see it today - in perfect condition. Later we transfer to Agra where we will visit the beautiful white marble Taj Mahal for sunset, built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. The Taj is serenely beautiful and never fails to amaze a first time visitor; the white marble exterior changes colour according to the position of the sun during the day and is matched by the rich interior detail. Ride approx 40 km
In the morning we will visit the imposing Agra Fort of Akbar where the mighty sandstone walls enclose the beautiful white marble pearl mosque, palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains of his sons and successors, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. In the afternoon we transfer to Delhi by bus arriving that evening in time for dinner. Please note that the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.