The royal route: a palatial pilgrimage through India


Travelling through India’s spectacular cities and following in the footsteps of royalty, this journey takes in culture and historic palaces at every turn

Embarking on a journey of rediscovery, I find myself once again on the sacred soil of India, filled with anticipation and joy as I reunite with this land of wonders. Guided by Exotic Destinations and accompanied by the team from the renowned Taj Hotels, my adventure unfolds across several enchanting destinations, each offering its own allure and captivating beauty.


As I arrive in Delhi, I am welcomed by the grandeur of the Taj Mahal Hotel, where its magnificent medallion domes and traditional murals exude regal splendour as you enter, setting the tone for the journey ahead. Eager to indulge, I treat myself to a memorable dining experience at House of Ming, the hotel’s signature restaurant. The following morning, I am introduced to Ranjeet, our organiser, and Arun, our highly knowledgeable guide whose hidden talent in photography adds an extra dimension to our exploration.

Our first destination takes us to the bustling city of Old Delhi. Riding a bicycle rickshaw through the labyrinthine streets of Chandni Chowk, I am swept away by the vibrant sights, sounds, and aromas that envelop this bustling market. Our journey continues with a visit to Jama Masjid, an architectural masterpiece that stands as a testament to the grandeur of the Mughal era. As I step inside, I am awestruck by the vast marble domes and towering minarets that grace the skyline. The serenity of this sacred place envelops me, offering a moment of respite from the hustle and bustle outside.


Leaving behind the bustling metropolis of Delhi, we embark on a journey to Agra, home to one of the world’s most iconic landmarks — the Taj Mahal. Approaching this majestic mausoleum, I am overwhelmed by its ethereal beauty. The pristine white marble shimmers in the sunlight, reflecting the love and devotion that inspired its creation. Walking through its intricately carved corridors and gazing at the delicate marble inlays, I am transported to a realm where time stands still. Our exploration in Agra also includes a visit to the Red Fort, or Agra Fort, which immerses us in the rich history of the Akbar era, built in 1565.

My stay at the Taj Hotel & Convention Centre in Agra is a seamless blend of luxury and comfort. The rooftop infinity pool offers enchanting views of the Taj Mahal, allowing me to bask in its splendour. Indulging in the delectable Nawaabi and Mughlai cuisine at Daawat-e-Nawab, accompanied by live Indian classical music, I savour the flavours of Agra and immerse myself in its cultural richness.


From Agra, we journey to the vibrant city of Jaipur, known as the Pink City. Stepping into its old city, with its pink-coloured buildings, feels like entering a realm of history and romance. The architectural wonders that adorn the city, such as the City Palace, Palace of Winds, and Jai Singh’s Observatory, captivate me with their intricate designs and rich heritage. The vibrant markets and the jeweller’s paradise at Johari Bazaar invite me to indulge in the city’s rich tapestry of shopping and sightseeing. A visit to the Amber Fort reminds you of the majestic testament to Rajput architecture.

In Jaipur we find ourselves on a path leading to two palaces, sitting comfortably next to each other. Rambagh Palace, one of the oldest and finest palace hotels in the country, bears witness to a storied past. Once the home of the dashing Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and the beautiful Gayatri Devi, it has been transformed into a magnificent palace by the visionary British architect, Sir Swinton Jacob. We are welcomed with ‘band baja’ at the Sawai Man Mahal, the newest addition to this timeless sanctuary, where we are taken to our grand suites. After an extravagant dinner at Rambagh Palace, we retire to the library-themed cocktail lounge, 1835, with its prized malts and 200-year-old books. The palace’s Spanish-themed multi-cuisine restaurant pays homage to the Maharaja’s role as India’s first ambassador to Spain.


Leaving behind the splendours of Jaipur, our journey takes us to the enchanting city of Jodhpur, known as the Blue City. Here, the Umaid Bhawan Palace stands tall as a testament to the princely lifestyle that once graced these lands. Its Indo-Colonial and art-deco style transport me to a bygone era, where opulence and hospitality were paramount. Exploring the Jaswant Thada, Mehrangarh Fort, and the royal palace, I am immersed in the tales of daring and valour that define Jodhpur’s history. Mehrangarh, one of Rajasthan’s three great hilltop forts, stands as a magnificent example of medieval splendour. Its carved panels, elaborately adorned walls, and windows seem to breathe life into the past. Rising 400 feet above a hill, Mehrangarh appears impregnable, a true testament to the power and grandeur of the Rajput rulers.

Wandering through the narrow alleys of the Blue City, I discover hidden gems such as Bibaji Churiwala at Manek Chowk, renowned for its crystal bangles, a must-have souvenir reflecting the city’s vibrant culture. The Omelette Shop, a tiny stall filled with eggs and spicy delights, offers a taste of local flavours and the warmth of Jodhpur’s street food scene.

My accommodation at the Umaid Bhawan Palace itself epitomises opulence and regality. Spread across 10.5ha, with 6ha dedicated to enchanting gardens, the palace complex becomes my sanctuary. It boasts numerous luxurious amenities, including throne chambers, Durbar Hall for public gatherings, private dining halls, a library, a spa, and sports facilities. As I step into my suite, a hushed silence fills the air, and I feel transported back in time, surrounded by the grandeur of a bygone era. In the evening we are grandly escorted to bespoke curated dinner at Baradari, with firecrackers announcing our arrival.


My next destination is Udaipur, often referred to as the City of Lakes, where tranquillity and romance permeate the air. Enroute, we visit the majestic Ranakpur Temple, a 15th-century Jain temple known for its awe-inspiring architecture. The temple boasts 1444 columns, each uniquely adorned with intricate sculptures and filigrees, creating an overwhelming abundance of marvellous stonemasonry on white marble.

Upon arriving in Udaipur, I am greeted by the ethereal beauty of the Taj Lake Palace, which rises gracefully from the turquoise waters of Lake Pichola. This architectural gem, with its white marble facade and intricate details, creates a fairy tale-like ambience that immediately captivates me. Originally known as Jag Niwas, and constructed under the watchful eye of Maharana Jagat Singh II, the palace now stands as one of the world’s finest palace hotels. From my luxury suite room, I am treated to panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding Aravalli Hills, providing a soothing balm for the soul. Each suite is unique, with its crystal artwork and stained glassworks, where one is woken up by the morning sun shimmering with the lake’s reflection. Afternoon cocktails hosted at the rooftop restaurant was spectacular as the sun was setting, then we headed to dinner at Fateh Prakash Palace, a short boat ride away.

The narrow lanes of the city are adorned with colourful stalls and bustling markets, which I explored for part of the afternoon. The City Palace, overlooking Lake Pichola, enthrals me with its marvellous marble and granite workmanship, making it a must-visit destination. The Crystal Gallery, with its exquisite collection, and the Durbar Hall, where I enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, add to the royal experience.

Travelling through the living palaces of Rajasthan, which is still the abode of the royal families, you are truly among royalty.


The culmination of my journey brings me to Hyderabad, where the majestic Taj Falaknuma Palace awaits. This palace, suspended 2000 feet above the city, takes me on a journey through the footsteps of Nizams, European royalty, and enchanting Begums. The Palace Library, with its collection of rare manuscripts and acclaimed Holy Quran, stands as a testament to the intellectual pursuits of the Nizams.

Exploring the old quarter of Hyderabad, I immerse myself in the rich culinary heritage of the city. From aromatic Biryani to traditional Irani tea, Hyderabad’s gastronomic delights captivate my taste buds. The city’s vegetable markets, and breakfast snacks offer a glimpse into the local culture, while sipping cups of Irani tea with Osmania biscuits becomes a cherished pastime.

During my stay, I also visit iconic landmarks such as Char Minar, Mecca Masjid, and the Salar Jung Museum, each offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history. Our final evening at the palace was memorable as the team re-created the 101 table. It is where the King used to dine and, even with 101 settings, the room is designed in such a way that he could hear his subjects from the other side of the table.

As I reflect upon this emotional and immersive journey, a sense of gratitude fills my heart. From the bustling streets of Delhi to the regal elegance of Jaipur, the captivating charm of Jodhpur, the romantic ambience of Udaipur, and the grandeur of Hyderabad, each destination has woven a tapestry of unforgettable memories. Stepping into the pages of history and embracing the splendour of a bygone era, this journey remains etched in my heart like a precious gem. The Taj hospitality shone through in every destination.

12-day Explore India Journey Sample Itinerary

Exotic Destinations can also create a customised itinerary for individual clients.

Days 1–3: Delhi

Morning city tour in Old Delhi includes a rickshaw ride, visiting New Delhi’s landmarks.

Stay: HOTEL TAJMAHAL (Club room)

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 3–4: Agra

An early start this morning to drive to Agra (200km/4hrs). Visit the historical Red Fort; a local bazaar and Agra’s unique gem-inlaid marble work. Later, behold the ethereal Taj Mahal, a Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s tribute to his favourite wife.


Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 4–6: Jaipur

Drive to Jaipur is 252 kms (5-hr drive) after early morning visit the Taj Mahal to see it in a different light at sunrise. Jaipur, Rajasthan’s vibrant capital, is known as the ‘Pink City’ for its distinctive architecture, balances historical allure and shopping. A city tour of Jaipur includes visiting The City Palace, Palace of Winds, Jai Singh’s Observatory and afternoon visit to Amber Fort.


Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 6–8: Jodhpur

Renowned as ‘The Blue City,’ Jodhpur, is a 500-year-old settlement famous for its vibrant colours and locals in colourful attire. Visit Mehrangarh Fort, the Royal Palace, and take a tuk-tuk ride to Sadar Bazaar.

Stay: UMAID BHAWAN PALACE (Palace Room, Garden view)

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 8–10: Udaipur

Drive to Udaipur (260km/5hrs). One of the most romantic cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur is known as the city of lakes.  Tour the City Palace, overlooking Lake Pichola (which you will sail on during the second evening).

Stay: HOTEL LAKE PALACE (Palace room, Lake View)

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 10–12: Hyderabad

Fly to Hyderabad, famed for its cuisine. Walk through the city’s food markets and lanes; and explore the historic Mecca Masjid.

Stay: TAJ FALAKNUMA PALACE (Palace Room, Garden view)

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Itinerary Inclusions

Arrival/departure transfers, accommodation, all specified meals, tours and transfers by airconditioned private vehicle by English-speaking local guides, entrance fees.

Itinerary exclusions

Airfares, travel insurance, personal expenses.

For a more detailed version with more pictures of this trip visit or call Exotic Destinations on +61 3 9585 1118 or 1300 885 846 (within Australia).

When to go

The best time is between mid-January and the late March; and mid-October until mid-December.


The rates for this 11-night/12-day package range from approximately AUD$10,451 per person, dependant on time of year (based on twin share).

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