Delhi | Shimla | Jaipur | Bundi | Bijaipur | Udaipur | Sujan Jawai Leopard Camp | Jodhpur | Mumbai
I railed and rode and drove and tramped and slept in Kings’ palaces or under the stars themselves and saw panthers killed and heard tigers roar in the hills, and for six days had no white face with me, and explored dead cities desolate these three hundred years, and came to stately residences where I feasted in fine linen and came to desolate way side stations where I slept with natives upon the cotton bales and clean forgot that there was a newspapery telegraphic world without. Oh it was a good clean life and I saw and heard all sorts and conditions of men and they told me the stories of their lives, black and white and brown alike, and I filled three notebooks and ‘walked with death and morning on silver horns’. – Rudyard Kipling
The Englishman who wrote with an Indian voice, this one-of-a-kind expedition explores the life and times of Rudyard Kipling in India. An epic adventure that sweeps across this intriguing land, we immerse ourselves into his world at the height of the British Raj. Led by acclaimed Kipling biographer Harry Ricketts, the expedition provides unparalleled access and insight into Kipling’s life, habits and haunts, as well as the locations of his most popular books – including Kim, The Jungle Book and Plain Tales from the Hills – classic stories that defined the empire and the times.
Staying in some of India’s most iconic hotels, former palaces and a luxury tented camp, we take in the very best contemporary highlights of Northern India including explorations of Delhi and Mumbai, the hill station of Shimla and the enchanting state of Rajasthan. A wealth of exclusive experiences have been specially curated for the expedition and we will be joined along the way by local experts and academics, who will bring the rich history, cuisine and culture of this mesmerising region to life.
Every Arcadia expedition provides you insider access to the most unforgettable and thought-provoking local experiences, curated exclusively by us for our travellers. Here are some of the Arcadia Exclusives on this trip:
Day 01 – Arrive Delhi
“Kim dived into the happy Asiatic disorder which, if you only allow time, will bring you everything that a simple man needs.”
– Rudyard Kipling
On arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, you are met at the arrivals gate by an Arcadia representative, who will then transfer you by private vehicle to the regal grounds of our hotel – the Imperial.
After 11 years away at school, Kipling left England for Bombay in 1882 at the age of just 16. He wrote that he returned to India as a prince entering his kingdom. At the time, the British Empire was at its most powerful with India seen as the jewel of the crown. Obsessed with replicating the rituals of their homeland, British expats ignored the local culture and became more British than the British back home. However, Kipling was interested in another side of life – the ‘real India’ and his writings were about to put the cat among the pigeons…
After our 6pm group welcome meeting, we enjoy a fine-dining oriental welcome dinner at the award-winning Spice Route restaurant in our hotel.
Imperial Hotel, Delhi | Meals: D
Day 02 – Delhi
With the extraordinary legacy of seven capitals from seven different ages, Delhi has been looted, plundered, and resurrected many times over the years, emerging from the ashes to take her place in the world as a global capital – politically, culturally and commercially.
This morning we travel through the lanes of Old Delhi by cycle rickshaw before heading for lunch at Haveli Dharampura, a stunningly restored sandstone mansion built during the late Mughal period. The wonderful setting of this restaurant is the perfect place for a culinary adventure as we sample different street food dishes cooked in Mughlai and Modern Indian styles.
After lunch we explore Colonial Delhi with our expert guide and include a walk following the path of the 1857 Mutiny – a pivotal point in India’s history that marked the first revolt of a soldier in the British Army, whose act is said to have catalysed a nation into fighting for home rule and independence. It is the road that leads us to Mahatma Gandhi. We visit the Gandhi Smriti Museum – a memorial for the man best known for his non-violent struggle against colonialism; the last 144 days of Gandhi’s life were spent where the museum stands today.
Imperial Hotel, Delhi | Meals: B,L
Day 03 – Delhi
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
This morning our travellers can choose from the following included options in Delhi:
Tea tasting with a tea connoisseur
Enjoy a private tea tasting with Mr Mittal, a tea sommelier, who will teach us the finer points of preparing and drinking one of India’s most famous exports.
Mehrauli Heritage Walk
Be transported back in time as we take a heritage walk through Mehrauli Archaeological Park. The only area in Delhi known for 1,000 years of continuous occupation, this extensive park consists of many historically significant monuments, ruins and architectural relics from the periods of the Delhi Sultanate, Mughal Empire and the British Raj.
Curator-led visit to the President’s official residence
The Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India, the largest residence of any head of state in the world. Led by the curator, we visit the museum located within the estate, gaining an insider’s view of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, its art, architecture and the lives of past presidents.
This afternoon, you have free time to take in more sites of Delhi or simply relax in the grounds of your opulent hotel and reflect on the expedition so far.
Imperial Hotel, Delhi | Meals: B
Day 04 – Delhi to Shimla
After breakfast, we drive to Delhi’s domestic airport for the flight to Chandigarh. On arrival we will transfer to Dharampur to board Shimla’s famous toy train – the Himalayan Queen Number 52455. But first, we have an exclusive visit to a workshop where the toy trains are maintained, giving us a rare insight into the mechanics of this engineering marvel.
Considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful railway journeys, the scenic route on this narrow-gauge track passes through numerous tunnels and bridges and takes in breathtaking views of rugged Himalayan mountains, waterfalls and forested valleys. Built by the British in 1903 to create easier and faster access to Shimla, the summer capital of the Empire, the maiden journey of this iconic train included Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India.
On arrival, you will be transferred to your glorious hotel, the Oberoi Cecil, a grand heritage hotel with rich wooden floors, glowing fireplaces and panoramic mountain views.
The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla | Meals: B,L,D
Days 05 & 06 – Shimla
Over the next two days we explore the Queen of the Hills and Kipling’s time there. Once a small town of temples and palaces, Shimla quickly rose to prominence from 1864 once it was declared the summer capital of the British Raj. With its favourable alpine climate, beautiful handicrafts and panoramic views of pine-covered slopes and river valleys, Shimla today has still maintained its laid-back hill station charm.
Kipling arrived at Shimla for the first time in 1883 and spent the next five consecutive summers here. Sent by the Gazette to be the correspondent for the summer season, Shimla was the playground of the cream of Anglo-Indian society and the most English town of India. However, it was also a scandalous place. At first the young Kipling is enamoured with high society; however, he soon began to see through it, and writes biting satire of what he sees. His first book of short stories Plain Tales from the Hills (full of adultery, loneliness and betrayal) was not a flattering portrait of the Raj and made him unpopular with the British in India – but it was the making of Kipling.
We explore the fascinating heritage of Shimla led by local Raj and Kipling expert Raaja Bhasin, the author of Shimla: The Summer capital of British India. Raaja immerses us into the world of the British elite, sharing with us colourful stories that helped give Shimla a reputation, according to Kipling, as a place of “frivolity, gossip and intrigue”.
Explore the Viceregal Lodge, the official summer residence of the British viceroys until World War II. This elaborate Tudor-style home was built in 1888 by Lord Dufferin, who requested a building that would both impress guests at state banquets and remind him of his home country. The Lodge was the scene of two historically significant conferences, in 1945 and 1946, that gave rise to the partition of India and Pakistan.
Follow Kipling’s trail, passing through the old village of Kyatoo to see Northbank Longwood, Kipling’s summer residence – the house of Mrs Hauksbee, a character featured in a number of his short stories and go in search of Kim’s great teacher – A M Jacob and his home House Belvedere. We also visit the Christ Church of Shimla, the windows of which have their own Kipling tale to tell.
Our three night stay allows time to explore this delightful hill station and its history as well as enjoy the tranquillity and spectacular mountain scenery, take afternoon walks through the villages and mountain trails and have afternoon tea in the old town.
The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla | Meals: B,L,D
Day 07 – Shimla to Jaipur
After breakfast we transfer to Chandigarh for our onward flight to Jaipur.
“But to return to Jeypore — a pink city set on the border of a blue lake, and surrounded by the low, red spurs of the Aravalis — a city to see and to puzzle over.”
– Rudyard Kipling
It is from Jaipur that we follow Kipling’s journey through Rajasthan, described so vividly in his book Letters of Marque. Our journey through this incredible realm visits the key locations of his month-long journey.
On arrival in Jaipur, you will check in to the elegant Samode Haveli, a 150-year-old mansion built as the Samode Royal family’s suburban Manor House. The hotel has been meticulously restored and maintains antique furniture and original works of art, with old family portraits adorning the walls of its rooms.
This afternoon you can choose to relax by the hotel pool or head out to explore Jaipur’s atmospheric old quarter on a discovery walk before we meet for sunset drinks on the terrace at Samode Haveli.
Samode Haveli, Jaipur | Meals: B,L
Days 08 & 09 – Jaipur
Over the next two days we explore Kipling’s Jaipur. We begin at the Maharajah’s stables where Kipling was shown some 250 horses. Then we explore the centre of town, including Hawa Mahal, Jaipur’s most ornate and most distinctive landmark. Just as Kipling did, we explore Amer Fort – one of the most intricate and beautiful Rajput fortresses – and the citadel of the Kachhawaha clan. We delight in the Imperial Gardens and its frescoes, then explore the Albert Hall Museum and the Maharaja’s Palace. We then take in the Observatory and visit Jaipur’s ancient water tank, a site that so impressed Kipling. We explore local handicrafts, textiles, gems, silver jewellery, blue pottery and carpets, as we navigate our way through street hawkers and chic boutiques.
We drive to Dera Amer, a private retreat full of natural beauty on the outskirts of Jaipur. We meet the man who has been striving towards creating a positive effect on the environment and providing a natural habitat and a healing touch to the animals. We enjoy a special organic farm fresh lunch in the wilderness and spend time with the lovely resident elephants.
We embark on a private tour of the City Palace complex – the 18th Century grand court of the Maharajah of Jaipur that continues to be the home of the royal family. Here we will enjoy an exclusive high tea inside the palace’s exquisite Blue Room. We conclude this special day with a private dinner at Dera Mandawa with the incomparable Mr Durga Singh, a rare renaissance man with interests as diverse as philosophy, religion, contemporary politics, tribal culture, music and poetry. Durga sports not only a grand moustache but also a wonderful sense of humour.
With three nights in the pink city, there is plenty of time to explore the old town, climb the Amber Fort or just stroll through the bazaars and back streets.
Samode Haveli, Jaipur | Meals: B,L
Day 10 – Bundi
The Palace of Boondi, even in broad daylight, is such a Palace as men build for themselves in uneasy dreams – the work of goblins more than the work of men.
– Rudyard Kipling
After breakfast we drive to Bundi, an enchanting little town often described as the undiscovered jewel of Rajasthan. Surrounded on three sides by the rugged, thickly forested Aravalli hills, this walled town has retained much of its historic character.
After checking in to our hotel, we will head out to explore the sites, including the Taragarh Fort, Bundi stepwells and the dazzling frescoes and miniature paintings that adorn the walls of the imposing Bundi Palace.
Haveli Braj Bhushanjee, Bundi | Meals: B,L,D
Day 11 – Bijaipur via Chittorgarh
This morning we leave Bundi to visit one of the largest forts in India, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Chittorgarh Fort. Perched on a hill overlooking the farmed valley below, the epic battles of this remarkable stronghold created a wealth of heroes; Gora, Badal, Rana Kumbha, Maharana Pratap to name a few. Each hero’s legacy is an interesting story of valour, best heard on the fort ramparts, narrated by our local guide. Here Kipling is overcome by the effects of the palace and its dark history.
The Fort resembles a man-of-war. Every distant view heightens this impression, for the swell of the sides follows the form of a ship, and the bastions on the south wall make the sponsions in which the machineguns are mounted. From bow to stern, the thing more than three miles long, it’s between three and five hundred feet high, and from one-half to one quarter of a mile wide.
– Rudyard Kipling
At the time, he wrote that he would never try to describe what he saw there by moonlight for fear of insulting ‘a scene as lovely, wild, and unmatchable as any that mortal eyes have been privileged to rest upon’, but five years later he conjured up the same memory to depict the ruined palace known as ‘Cold Lairs’ of his Jungle Books.
– Charles Allen
We then drive on to Castle Bijaipur where we will stay overnight. Castle Bijaipur is a 16th century castle which was part of the mighty defences of the kingdom of Mewar. The owners renovated the property into a glorious heritage hotel full of character.
Castle Bijaipur | Meals: B,L,D
Day 12 – Bijaipur – Udaipur
If the Venetian owned the Pichola, he might say with justice, ‘see it and die’”
– Rudyard Kipling
After a late breakfast we drive to Udaipur, an oasis of tranquillity in the Aravalli Mountain range, a wondrous place made up of serene lakes, beautiful gardens and magnificent palaces.
On arrival, we check in at the magnificent Taj Lake Palace. The Lake Palace is a dream of white marble and mosaic that offers a striking 360-degree panoramic view of the majestic Aravalli Hills on one side and lofty palaces on the other. Relax until the late afternoon when we set out on a sunset boat ride on Lake Pichola – one of the most beautiful ways to take in the city of Udaipur.
Taj Lake Palace | Meals: B
Day 13 – Udaipur
Today we immerse ourselves into this royal city in the footsteps of Kipling, starting at the Gate of the Sun before visiting the intricate Jagdesh Temple, with its paintings of Garuda and Ganesh. We explore the City Palace Complex, the largest in Rajasthan. Built between the 16th and 20th centuries this impressive lakeside residence sprawls out over an area of 5 acres.
Kipling’s trail takes us to the Durbar Gardens and the Victoria Hall – now the Gulab Bagh and zoo.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
This afternoon our travellers can choose from the following included options in Udaipur:
Painting Workshops – Jal Sanjhi & Miniature Art
Unlock the secrets of Jal Sanjhi, a rare, 200-year-old art form that involves painting on water, kept alive by one family in Udaipur. Udaipur is also known for its Pichwai and the Phad painting styles and its Mughal miniatures. Meet with artists to learn the intricacies of these different art forms – and the rich narrative behind them and their depictions.
Cooking up the past
Venture into the home of a local family to learn about traditional Udaipur recipes. This interactive cooking class concludes with a delicious meal that you have helped to prepare.
Ancient temples of Eklinji & Nagda
We venture outside of Udaipur to visit the enormous complex of ancient Shiva temples in Eklinji and the ruins of the exquisitely carved 11th century temples of Nagda.
Taj Lake Palace | Meals: B
Days 14 to 16 – Udaipur to Sujan Jawai Leopard Camp
But full on the crest of the hill, blown along – there is no other word to describe it – like a ball of thistle-down, passed a brown shadow, and men cried: – “Bagheera” or “Panther!” according to their nationalities, and blazed (away with their guns). The shadow leaped the wall that had turn the pig downhill and vanished amongst the cactus.
– Rudyard Kipling
During his stay in Udaipur, Kipling was invited on a boar hunt in the Aravalli Hills. It is during this hunt that he witnesses the killing of a leopard and its cub. The event affects Kipling deeply. On commencing The Jungle Book, only a few months later, one of the main characters he creates is a black panther named Bagheera, whose “mother died in the cages of the King’s Palace of Oodeypur (Udaipur)”. After breakfast we set out to explore the wild lands that likely inspired The Jungle Book manuscript.
We arrive at the spectacular Sujan Jawai Leopard Camp for lunch, our home for the next three nights. This lavish Relais & Chateaux property is located in one of India’s most enchanting and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. These luxury permanent tents, each with its own ensuite bathroom and private veranda, offer the perfect way to experience the great outdoors with panache.
This afternoon we take an excursion to a small village near the camp belonging to the local Rabari herdsmen. We meet some of the villagers, visit a traditional family home and hear how the shepherds of the area have peacefully co-existed with leopards. We also learn how Sujan Jawai has improved the quality of living, health and education for local people in this and other villages of the area through their exemplary sponsorship of community outreach projects.
Each day we explore the rugged wilderness of the Aravilli Hills on safari, with morning and evening game drives in search of Jawai’s abundant wildlife and the spirit of Kipling’s Bagheera. Jawai has one of the most abundant populations of leopards in India. In the company of expert wildlife guides in customised 4×4 jeeps, we hope to spot these magnificent creatures amongst the wild oat grass and towering granite formations of the area.
Sujan’s Jawai Leopard Camp | Meals: B,L,D
Day 17 – Sujan Jawai to Jodhpur
Before breakfast we embark on a final wildlife safari at the Leopard Camp and then continue on to Jodhpur.
The work of angels, fairies and giants…built by Titans and coloured by the morning sun…he who walks through it loses sense of being among buildings. It is as though he walked through mountain gorges.
– Rudyard Kipling
Kipling is above describing the immense battlements of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, the next stop on our journey. Once a flourishing trade center for opium, silk and copper, this brilliant blue city is one of the most enchanting cities in Rajasthan and the last bastion of ramparts, colorful bazaars and animated people before the desert sands stretch away towards the horizon.
Our home for the next two nights is the RAAS Jodhpur, a boutique luxury hotel with spectacular views of the fort.
Afternoon at leisure.
RAAS Jodhpur | Meals: B
Day 18 – Jodhpur
This morning we explore the older quarters of the Blue City in Kipling’s footsteps, with its quiet lanes, exquisite havelis and the bazaar. We stop for lunch at the Step Well Café – which has beautiful views over the town’s ancient step well. There is some free time to stroll the covered lanes and shop in the bazaar.
This afternoon we visit the colossal 15th Century Mehrangarh Fort. Towering above the town on a rocky outcrop, Mehrangarh is one of India’s largest forts, whose imposing thick walls protect some of the most beautiful and historic palaces in Rajasthan. We enter the fort through a series of seven gates and explore these immaculately decorated palaces with their intricate carvings and expansive courtyards.
Dine this evening at the hotel’s Darikhana restaurant, where we feast on delicious North Indian cuisine beneath the illuminated splendour of Merhrangarh Fort.
RAAS Jodhpur | Meals: B,L,D
Day 19 – Jodhpur to Mumbai
Mother of Cities to me, but I was born in her gate, between the palms and the sea, where the world-end steamers wait.
– Rudyard Kipling
We transfer to Jodhpur airport this morning and take a flight to Mumbai. Formerly a territory of sleeping fishing villages, today this sprawling, bustling metropolis is undeniably one of India’s most dynamic cities.
Following our arrival into Mumbai, we stop in at the bustling Crawford Market. Here we view a set of bas-reliefs depicting market scenes that was carved by Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling.
We check in to the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, an architectural marvel built in 1903 and considered to be one of the best luxury hotels in India.
Afternoon at leisure.
The Taj Mahal Palace | Meals: B
Day 20 – Mumbai
After breakfast we shall explore the wonders of this historical city with a local Kipling expert. We commence with a private tour of the recently restored Kipling family bungalow in the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy (J.J.) School of Art. It was here his father taught and where Rudyard was born. We then visit St Thomas Cathedral – the place where he was Christened.
Today we have lunch at Bombay Canteen, which is rated as one of the country’s best restaurants. Housed within a recreated old Mumbai Bungalow, an ode to the city’s architectural history, the food focuses on recreating traditional recipes using local seasonal ingredients, showcased in a contemporary form.
The afternoon is free to explore the city. In the evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at the sumptuous Souk Rooftop Restaurant at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which features stunning panoramic views overlooking Mumbai harbour.
The Taj Mahal Palace | Meals: B,L,D
Day 21 – Departure from Mumbai
Pack your suitcases with the memories you’ve collected along the way. Transfer to the airport and your international flight or embark on further explorations.
For those who would like to enrich their Kipling experience with an opportunity to see one of nature’s most magnificent predators, we can arrange a four-day tiger safari at the stunning Jamtara Wilderness Camp. Situated next to Pench National Park, this luxury tented property is the ideal base for game drives and jungle explorations.
Professor Harry Ricketts
Harry is a poet, biographer, academic and literary scholar who has had a lifelong interest in Rudyard Kipling and his work. His biography of Kipling – The Unforgiving Minute: A Life of Rudyard Kipling – is considered to be one of the definitive works on this master storyteller.
An end-of-Empire kid, Harry grew up in the 1950s in England, Malaysia and Hong Kong, wherever his British Army father was posted. His interest in Kipling began as a child with the Jungle Books and developed as a teenager with the Barrack-Room Ballads. He went to Oxford University and stayed on as a post-graduate to write a thesis on the range of Kipling’s short stories. It was working on the thesis that started to show him just how compelling, complex and simply memorable a writer Kipling is.
Taking up a position in the English Programme at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand in the early 1980s, Harry began to teach Kipling, give talks about him and publish articles on his work. This led to the well-known London publisher Chatto & Windus commissioning him to write his Kipling biography. The biography received a front-page review in The Times Literary Supplement and went into an American edition. It has been much praised for its insight into the relationship between Kipling and his work. Since then, Harry has published widely on different aspects of Kipling’s work, including chapters on Kim, Kipling’s poetry and his influence on First World War poetry.
Harry has delivered keynote addresses at a number of Kipling conferences. In 2016, Harry with fellow Kipling scholars attended a conference held in what had been the Vice-Regal Lodge in Shimla, India. The papers, and the experience as a whole, requickened his fascination with the early, Indian Kipling and the worlds the young journalist and writer inhabited and explored. In 2018, Harry, his wife and their half-Indian niece travelled in Rajasthan, loosely following the two-month trip that Kipling recorded in his Letters of Marque (1887-88).
Harry has published around thirty books, including a group-biography of a dozen British First World War Poets (Strange Meetings: The Poets of the Great War, 2010), two extended personal essays, and eleven collections of poetry (most recently Winter Eyes, 2018). He is a lifelong cricket addict, an addiction he shares with many Indians, but not with Kipling who dismissed cricketers as “flannelled fools at the wicket”.
Taj Lake Palace
Originally a pleasure palace of the Mewar royal dynasty built in 1746, the iconic Lake Palace has been spectacularly restored to its former glory. Made of white marble and set on its own island in the middle of Lake Pichola, this famed hotel oozes glamour, decadence and old world charm.
Sujan’s Jawai Leopard Camp
This lavish Relais & Chateaux property is a contemporary tented camp located in the remote wilderness of south-west Rajasthan. Each tent has its own ensuite bathroom and private veranda. An ideal base for leopard safaris, Sujan Jawai’s commitment to conservation has benefited both wildlife and local communities.
The Taj Mahal Palace
This legendary heritage hotel is considered one of the finest properties in India. An architectural marvel, the hotel has a distinguished history and has been at the forefront of Indian society since its opening in 1903. Mixing old-world elegance with modern contemporary design, the Taj’s ideal waterfront location gives it stunning panoramic views of the Arabian Sea and the Gateway of India.
- Domestic flights as per itinerary
- Meals as per itinerary (20 breakfasts,14 lunches, 12 dinners) including welcome and farewell dinners
- Private airport transfers (arrival and departure)
- Accommodation as stated on a twin-share basis
- Porterage at airports and hotels
- All land transport by private air-conditioned vehicle and train
- Services of an Arcadia Expedition Leader and English-speaking local guide throughout
- Sightseeing as specified including entrance fees to sites mentioned in itinerary
- Reusable responsible travel water bottle with daily drinking water provided
- Gratuities/tipping for local guides, drivers, hotel staff and restaurants for included meals
- All taxes
- Return international flights
- Passport and visa charges
- Items of a purely personal nature (i.e. telephone calls, laundry etc)
- Excess luggage
- Lunch and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in itinerary
- Travel insurance