CYCLING THROUGH RAJASTHAN
Jodhpur to Agra
Rajasthan has landscapes varying from green rolling hills to barren deserts. The whole state is dotted with dramatic fortresses, while away from the desert the countryside is a patchwork of villages and small towns where we see the timelessness of rural India. Cycling is the perfect way to explore, offering a fascinating insight into the traditional way of life here. From Jodhpur our journey takes us to the beautiful lakeside city of Udaipur then to the holy town of Pushkar. We ride to Jaipur, a town overlooked by the splendid hilltop Amber Palace. We also visit Sariska National Park, beautifully located and home to an abundance of wildlife. The trip ends off at the iconic Taj Mahal.
Udaipur | Pushkar | Jaipur | Sariska National Park | Taj Mahal
• 14-night comfortable hotel accommodation, one overnight air-conditioned sleeper train
• Local transportation
• Tour leader, local guides
• Some meals and some activities
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Day 1: Start Jodhpur.
The group flight arrives in the afternoon. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel. The rest of the day is used to assemble the bikes and explore locally before an evening briefing about our cycling adventure.
Day 2: Explore Jodhpur by bike.
We start cycling early in the morning in order to get used to the Indian weather. We have a short ride in the bus to the outskirts of Jodhpur, from where we cycle on quiet roads on to Kailana Lake. From sunset point, we leave the lake and cycle through an area of scrub bush where there is chance of seeing Blue Bull and Wild Boar. We then cycle through huge sandstone mines. The stone is used for building the traditional Jodhpur houses. We stop to see a cow shelter, a place where unwanted street cows are well looked after by well-meaning individuals or the government. After a stop for a local snack, we climb up to Mehrangarh Fort. The views on the way up are well worth the effort of the climb. We leave the bikes in the car park and have a guided tour of the Fort. 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 10km in circumference and is dominated by the massive fort that stands on a rocky hill commanding the surrounding desert. After the tour of the fort, we walk down into the old city with great views of the blue houses painted to distinguish them as those of Brahmins. We have time to explore the old city before returning to our hotel.
Day 3: Ride/drive to Ranakpur.
We start our day with a transfer of 92 km (approx. 2.5 hours) to Jatpura circle. En route we can visit the interesting Omm Banna Bullet Temple, the only temple on earth dedicated to a motor bike! From Jatpura circle we cycle mostly on backroads with less traffic and a fascinating insight into rural life. We pass through several villages and finally arrive at Ranakpur, where we 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 cycle 2km to our hotel.
Day 4: Cycle to the lakeside town of Udaipur; evening city tour.
We leave early and have a challenging uphill 15km ride through a magnificent gorge. The road climbs, steeply in places, up through forested hills to a small temple. From here we have a beautiful descent of 10 km to our bus. We drive the rest of the way to Udaipur. 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. This afternoon we visit the wonderful City Palace, still the home of Maharana.
Day 5: Cycle tour around Udaipur.
After breakfast we set off on the bikes and spend the morning exploring the countryside around Udaipur. We leave the city and busy roads behind. First we come to Dudh Talai, and a little further on we come to Lake Pichola, the main lake in Udaipur. We cycle along the lake shore for a while to a 500 year old Lord Shiva temple. We continue on quiet backroads past farmland and small villages and head to Tiger Lake. According to locals many years ago there were Tigers in the surrounding hills. Further on we have a chance to visit Animal Aid, a local NGO run hospital for injured animals. We then ride to Lake Fateh Sager where we have lunch overlooking the lake. We end the ride back at the hotel and rest of the day is free for individual exploration, or you can simply relax by the hotel pool.
Day 6: Ride on backroads to the fort of Kumbhalgarh.
It's time to leave this beautiful city and take a short drive (1.5 hours) to Iswal where we start our cycle ride 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. We arrive in Kumbhalgarh for a late lunch and a rest. Then there is a chance to cycle to Kumbhalgarh Fort, a challenging 5km uphill ride (there is an option to take a jeep). Kumbhalgarh has one of the finest examples of defensive fortifications in Rajasthan including a lovely temple and palace with panoramic views.
Day 7: Ride/drive to Pushkar on quiet roads.
It's back to the desert scenery today as we make our way to the holy town of Pushkar. Our route today follows rural backroads 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. Before going to the hotel we visit this bustling town, which boasts one of the only Brahma temples in India. The bustling bazaar is also interesting.
Day 8: Ride/drive to Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, via rural villages and Rupnagar.
We leave Pushkar on our bikes travelling through desert backroads and small villages to the town of Rupnagar; a marble working centre. There is the option to extend the ride by another 34km to the Naraina railway crossing, from where we transfer by vehicle to Jaipur.
Day 9: Optional morning heritage ride; Jaipur sightseeing.
For those who are up early we have an optional heritage ride around the wonderful Pink city. A great way to discover the life of Jaipur is cyling through its fascinating narrow laneways. Passing havelis (private mansions) and sacred temples we will head for the majestic Albert Hall which was built to welcome the Prince of Wales on his visit during the 1870s. Along the way we wil stop at some of the popular food stalls where you can sample what the locals enjoy for breakfast. After the ride you will have time back at the hotel to freshen up before we head out for a wonderful day of sightseeing. We will visit the majestic Amber Fort and enjoy the fine museum within the City Palace, former residence of the Maharaja. A trip to Jaipur must include a photo stop at the iconic Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the winds. This city is the centre of many handicrafts such as woven rugs, carpets, printed cloth, semi-precious stones and leather ware. During our stay there will be time to visit the markets and possibly pick up a treasure to remind you of Jaipur.
Optional cycle approx. 12 km / 7 miles.
Day 10: Ride/drive to Sariska National Park via Pratap Garh.
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.
Day 11: Game drive; optional afternoon ride.
Before breakfast we have an early morning game drive. 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. 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. We return to hotel for a late breakfast and in the afternoon there is the option to do a cycle ride to the near-by Siliseth Lake. The ride is approx. 36km and takes us on backroads through rural villages and farmland. We can have tea at the Lake Palace Hotel with stunning views across the lake to the surrounding Aravali hills. For those who don’t want to cycle they can enjoy the garden and swimming pool at the hotel.
Optional cycle approx. 36km / 22 miles.
Day 12: Ride/drive to Bharatpur N.P., renowned for its bird sanctuary, later visited 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 UNESCO 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.
Day 13: Late morning cycle towards Agra, passing through Fatehpur Sikri; visit the Taj Mahal at sunset.
In the morning we leave Bharatpur and cycle on backroads passing through Fatehpur Sikri, the emperor Akbar's deserted royal city. Later we transfer to Agra in time to see the sunset over the stunning Taj Mahal. This romantic monument was 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.
Day 14: Drive to Delhi; optional Delhi sightseeing.
We set off for our drive to Delhi arriving in the afternoon when we check into our hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore this fascinating city. Recommended sites are Humayun’s tomb, India Gate, Jama Masjid and Raj Ghat. You are free to explore on your own or if you'd like a guided tour your leader will organise this for you. We will have our last night group dinner in one of the local restaurants close to the hotel.
Day 15: End Delhi.
For those who are on the flight inclusive package we depart for Delhi airport in the morning for the day flight back to London. The arrangements for those not flying with the group ends after check out.
Operated by Exodus Travels. Prices will be quoted in CAD. Departure dates available year round, prices may vary, please contact us for details. Trip style Moderate. Activity level: Moderate.
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