India

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Ten Days in India's Golden Triangle

As large and varied as some continents, India is a vast place to wrap one’s mind around. Most first-timers begin with the state of Rajasthan, which contains a wealth of magnificent landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Direct flights between Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur are available, allowing visitors to see all four of these marvelous cities in ten days.

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Day 1-2: Delhi

Delhi

One of the world's most ancient cities, Delhi contains structures spanning three millennia. Top sights include the Red Fort, Jama Masjid Mosque, Lotus Temple, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Safdarjung and Humayun's Tomb, Akshardham and the Qutb complex. In New Delhi, the area built as a British government center in the 1930s, visitors will drive up the Raj Path leading up to the towering India Gate. Walking tours are recommended through such areas as the Mehrauli Archaeological Park and Nizamuddin village (particularly recommended during sunset), the Connaught Place Flower Market and the Lodi gardens, which are filled with elaborate tombs and parakeets.

Avoid the afternoon sun by visiting the most renowned museums, including the Sanskriti Kendra (there’s an excellent café for lunch), the National Museum, Gandhi Smriti, which celebrates the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi, Triveni Kala Sangam and the National Gallery of Modern Art. As the day draws to a close, choose from over a hundred martinis at classic Ricks Bar followed by dinner at the beloved Bukhara, which serves table-sized naan bread, or at Veda, known for its leg of lamb.

Day 2-4: Jodhpur

Jodhpur

Fly to Jodhpur and admire Mehrangarh Fort, the 15th-century royal home that towers over the city and was described by Rudyard Kipling as the "work of giants." Take a walking tour around the Blue City, so-called for its cobalt-colored structures, and shop the many boutiques along the Umaid Bhawan Palace Road. Shop for antique wooden furniture and decorative items, including tiles, lanterns and mirrors, at Kohinoor Glass Art, Shekhawati Art Exports and Prince Art Exporter. Make time to practice yoga, get Ayurveda massages and hear Sufi music.

Day 4-6: Udaipur

Udaipur

The 16th-century city of Udaipur was the crossroads of Hinduism and Islam in India and vestiges—such as marble palaces, temples and lavish gardens—remain in the lake-filled valley. The two largest sites are the Jagdish Temple and the City Palace complex, home to eleven palaces and a stunning collection of 19th-century English crystal. Exploring Lake Pichola by boat and visiting the gardens of "floating" Jagmandir Island and Monsoon Palace will bring to life the luxurious lifestyle of the maharajahs. A day trip out to the Jain temples of Ranakpur is an excellent way to see the countryside.

Custom silk jackets can be made in a day by expert tailors while shoppers explore the city's fruit and vegetable markets. Udaipur is also renowned for its miniature painting tradition, so be sure to pop into one of the studio / galleries to watch artisans at work on this intricate craft—then pick-up your favorite pieces.

Day 6-9: Jaipur

Jaipur

Fly to Jaipur, called the "pink city" for its rose-hued facades, but equally famous for its palaces and style. The gem-cutting center of the world, Jaipur is a renowned shopping haven, whether you’re seeking jewelry, housewares, shoes or cashmere. Some must-shop spots for gems include the Gem Palace, Shanu Ram Jewellers, Royal Gems and Arts, Fanny Dominique Boucher, Emerald House, and Bhuramal Rajmal Surana. Jaipur is also home to some of India's most beautiful wood block print textiles, which can be purchased at Anantaya by AKFD, Brigitte Singh, Hot Pink and Anokhi. To keep up energy, veteran visitors stop for a chai, the favored flavorful hot tea drink.

More active pursuits such a hot-air ballooning over the city, or polo (on horse or elephant) can be arranged. Visitors will be amazed at the City Palace and its museums, the 11th-century Amber Fort, (a city older than present-day Jaipur) and its hall of mirrors, maze of corridors and magnificent gardens. Walk from Hawa Mahal to Goverdhan Nathji Temple to Jantar Mantar (a complex of observatories built by Jaipur's founding maharaja) and Govind Dev Ji Temple. Set just outside the city, Galtaji is a magnificent site filled with temples and natural springs. The favorite dinner spot is the grande dame Suvarna Mahal, in the Rambagh Palace, topped off by a viewing of the Amber Fort's evening sound and light show.

Return to Delhi.

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