India

The Majesty of Rajasthan

Adventuring through India’s fabled land of forts, palaces & iconic Rajasthani culture

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Duration
15 Days
Description

Be awed by the monuments, artistic heritage and wild open lands of north-western India: visit the Taj Mahal, sleep under the endless sky of the Thar Desert and engage with contemporary artists and activists in the heart of Rajasthan

Dates

Nov 1 - Nov 16, 2017


Suggested Ages

All Ages

Number of Participants

12


Availability

open

Begins In

3 Weeks

Tuition

$8,895


Estimated Flight Cost

$2,070

New Delhi

Agra

Bikaner

Jaipur

Jaiselmer

Jodhpur

Udaipur

Program Overview

Once the nexus of the greatest wealth on earth, Rajasthan's history, cultural traditions, arts and architecture inspire and amaze


From the medieval to the modern, the magic of Rajasthani history represents a blanket of colorfully woven periods portraying the great nation of India. From the ancient Emperors to the medieval Mughal warrior rulers this vast desert land, situated in the westernmost points of northern India, between Pakistan and the Punjab, Rajasthan holds the secrets to modern India’s dazzling desert persona. Home to the Great Thar Desert, Rajasthan reveals the most colorful culture in this diverse subcontinent. Rajasthan is known for its great mahals (palaces) and ancient havelis (mansions), as well as its unique textile industry, semi-precious stone jewelry and magic carpets.

Famed for its warrior class that lived by the motto “death before dishonor,” the forts and castles of Rajasthan bespeak a day when Rajput Kings ruled with absolute authority, and when unimaginable wealth was concentrated among the ruling elite. A trip through Rajasthan is a tour through a vast museum of mind-boggling architectural…

From the medieval to the modern, the magic of Rajasthani history represents a blanket of colorfully woven periods portraying the great nation of India. From the ancient Emperors to the medieval Mughal warrior rulers this vast desert land, situated in the westernmost points of northern India, between Pakistan and the Punjab, Rajasthan holds the secrets to modern India’s dazzling desert persona. Home to the Great Thar Desert, Rajasthan reveals the most colorful culture in this diverse subcontinent. Rajasthan is known for its great mahals (palaces) and ancient havelis (mansions), as well as its unique textile industry, semi-precious stone jewelry and magic carpets.

Famed for its warrior class that lived by the motto “death before dishonor,” the forts and castles of Rajasthan bespeak a day when Rajput Kings ruled with absolute authority, and when unimaginable wealth was concentrated among the ruling elite. A trip through Rajasthan is a tour through a vast museum of mind-boggling architectural monuments. It is an exploration of the arts and cultural traditions that developed under the rule of India’s most iconic Maharajas. On this tour from the medieval to the modern, we will explore the history of these ancient peoples and meet their descendants who breathe life into this unique desert kingdom.

After meeting as a group in Delhi, we orient ourselves to the journey before us, intentionally stepping into the perfect chaos of ancient marketplaces, temples and parks that surround our quiet enclave. On the following morning, after a languid stroll through Lodhi Gardens, we begin in earnest our collective journey. First stop, Agra. With an evening in Agra, we visit the Taj Mahal at the sacred times of day – sunset viewing and again the next morning from a spectacular, less visited viewing spot across the river to see the splendor of Asia’s most renown memorial come alive in the day’s varied light. We then travel to Jaipur with a stop at Fatehpur Sikri, where we walk through this fortified ghost city, once the capitol of the Mughal empire. In Jaipur, we visit the Hawa Mahal “Pink Palace”, explore the jewelry and textile marketplaces of the old city and ride elephants to the top of nearby Amber Fort. Day two in Jaipur will begin with an urban hike to the top of Tiger Fort for a Rajasthani sunrise and continue to a quiet community on the outskirts of the city where we spend the afternoon at Vatsalya Udayan – a boarding school for orphaned children, as well as a central workshop for traditional Rajasthani block printing production. Vatsalaya is the home to Anoothi, a production unit of women from the local villages that produces beautiful handmade home décor items such as table covers and bedsheets. We participate in a block printing workshop as well as learn how traditional arts are continued in a modern marketplace. The evening takes us to Chowki Dhani for a traditional Rajasthani 10 course meal.

The following day, we board the Jaisalmer Express for an adventurous train trip across the Thar Desert into the majestic walled city of Jaisalmer. We explore the hilltop fort and castle complex of Jaislamer Fort and enjoy an extraordinary camel trek amid the dunes of this unique region.

From Jaislamer we drive to Jodphur, India’s fabled “Blue City” we visit the Meherangarh Fort, explore the city’s markets, and enjoy high tea at the Umaid Bhawan Palace. In Jodhpur, we also spend the day with Sambhali Trust, whose focus is the development and empowerment of women and girls in Rajasthan. We follow the stories of these young girls out to the country-side where many of them are originally from, linking the geographically proximate, but culturally distant realities of urban and rural Rajasthan.

From Jodhpur, we fly back to Delhi to spend our final nights at one of India’s most historic hotels, the Imperial, which has played host to world leaders, celebrities, and nobles – the perfect setting to celebrate, reflect, and prepare for the journey home.

Travelers on this journey will be surprised and delighted by the splendor of Rajasthan. Though our accommodations will be high-end, travel will be occasionally rugged. We will have long travel days along roads of varying conditions. Getting out of the hotel and into the streets and wild spaces requires a willingness to take on all of India. While enjoying some of India’s most extraordinary art, amidst ancient cultural traditions that will stun you with their beauty, we will engage in the other realities that represent modern-day India; we are never too far from a reality of too many people making due with too few resources. Rather than insulating ourselves from these realities, we will engage with them, meeting with development professionals and aid workers who will juxtapose the treasures of historic Rajasthan with the stories of those who struggle to survive in today’s India.

A trip to India, and particularly a trip to Rajasthan, is a voyage through time and a window into radically different human experiences. In the company of our exceptional guides you can expect a profoundly beautiful and wide-ranging exploration of magical Rajasthan.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

2/5
Comparative Religion

Compare how Hinduism and Islam have shaped the history of Rajasthan.

5/5
Development Studies

Meet with local leaders who are working with the population and resource problems of the 21st century;

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Rajasthan's history and culture; the problems facing modern India.

1/5
Home Stay

This course has no home stay element.

2/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

There will be room for course participants to delve into specific questions with the aid of local leaders and Dragons' guides.

2/5
Language Study

Gain a basic handle on Hindi.

2/5
Learning Service

Speak with local service leaders to better understand how Rajasthani communities are facing the problems that arise in modern India.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Long travel days on variable roads.

3/5
Trekking

Explore the Thar Desert on camelback and ride elephants up the ancient walkway of a castle.