Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary – regarded as one of the most amazing in the world
Admire historical stalwarts: weathered forts and breathtaking temples
Meander through the chaotic markets of Jaipur and Jodhpur
Discover the comparatively untreaded paths of the most popular travel circuit in India on this exotic bike tour combining Rajasthan, Agra & Delhi. This trip encompasses all the elements of India that makes it unique in persona, to any other country. The trip unveils with spellbinding lakes and palaces of Udaipur and traverses through amazing intricate temples and bucolic villages of Rajsamand; the deserts and forts of Jodhpur; chaotic streets of Jaipur; bird and tiger sanctuaries of Bharatpur and Sariska; Taj Mahal, and ends at Delhi with the Aravalli range of mountains in the backdrop throughout the tour.
Take a connecting flight to Udaipur either from Delhi or Mumbai International Airport. Most of the international flights to Delhi and Mumbai arrive around midnight hours. Allow at least 3 hrs of layover time between your international and connecting flight to Udaipur. We recommend to take either Jet Airways or Air India flight from Delhi for Udaipur as they fly from same terminal (T3) as international arrival terminal (T3). All other low-cost domestic airlines fly from T1 terminal at Delhi (keep minimum 4 hrs layover if flying from here). Please note, during peak winter season (late Dec – early Jan) in Delhi, many of the domestic flights get delayed and some cancelled from or to Delhi due to heavy fog here. Mumbai is a good option around that time.
Day 1: Udaipur
Udaipur can be a jumble of sights, sounds and smells but is an absolute must for travelers. On the first day of the trip, our guide meets at your hotel at 13:00, and we cover some Udaipur highlights – a guided walk of the City Palace. The City Palace is enclosed in a large complex on the banks of Lake Pichola and has many more palaces inside.
Enjoy walking the old market and eating street food at Paliwal Kachori, take an amazing cooking class with Sashi or a boat ride in the Pichola Lake.
We convene tonight at the dinner, next to the beautiful lake, to celebrate the start of a fabulous cycling journey.
Day 2: Udaipur
Today we explore the ‘City of lakes’ on a short half day long loop on a bike, swerving to untreaded nooks and corners through the beautiful rural countryside and absorbing this historic capital of Mewar at your own pace. A colourful landscape unfolds here with brightly clothed village women. Here you can see a typical hamlet of Rajasthan with people busy with farming. We get to discover kingfisher, langoors, cows, goats, peacocks along the way and a chance to take a refreshing ride around Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar and Badi Lake.
In the evening, we recommend to enjoy enthralling cultural show organized at Bagore Ki Haveli.
This day we start early and take a shuttle to short distance and ride to the next town of Kumbhalgarh. This is the most scenic ride of the trip as you climb the Aravalis, maneuver through the rolling hills and cycle past a Dhonk (Anogeissus Pendula) strewn topography. The plant adds a spattering of colour to the pale brown stretches along the way. Kumbalgarh is yet another historic fort town from the 15th century.
In the evening, we climb the rugged Kumbalgarh Fort, surrounded by a 35km wall with 365 temples within.
Another beautiful day on a bike through the dense forest and undulating stretches takes you close to the Aravalis and later to the famous Ranakpur Jain Temple here. After you have rested and had lunch, use this time to see the magnificent temple. Made of marble, the temple is an intricate artwork of local craftsmen; do not miss two of the most exquisite carvings here – one made out of a single marble rock, which showcases 108 snakes and 1444 pillars, which will leave you awestruck.
We start cycling early this day across lush millet vegetation and carpets of yellow mustard fields. The ride remains largely flat. You can enjoy the vistas with ease and look forward to your stay at the Sardar Samand Palace.
An erstwhile hunting lodge, the palace was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh in 1933. Set in tranquil surroundings of a lake, the low lying Aravalli hill ranges visible in the distance, and vast shrubby forests teeming with wildlife, the heritage resort is a great stop. Here you can relax in the comfort of a pool with peacocks strutting by the side or if you feel you still have the legs, take a walk around the property spread over hundreds of acres of land.
On the last day of the ride we make our way towards the fabled blue city of Jodhpur. We ride through a quiet and narrow backroad that offers ample opportunities for spotting wild animals like the black buck, blue bulls and if we’re lucky, the shy but extremely graceful Indian Gazelle too. As we ride past swaying masses of yellow mustard and wheat, run into hordes of camels and goats as well as friendly villagers always happy to pose for a photograph or two.
Along the way, we stop by for a lunch at the village homestay, Chandelao Garh and later shuttle to Jodhpur.
We arrive at Jodhpur and visit the towering Mehrangarh Fort, a key highlight of Jodhpur, looms over the city from a small hill and can be seen from everywhere. The rest of the evening is free and you can spend as per your plan visiting a local market or spending quite time at nearby rooftop restaurants.
Note: An audio guided tour of Mehrangarh Fort is organized here.
We take an early morning train (06:05 – 10:50) from Jodhpur to Jaipur. In the afternoon, we take an Arts & Crafts Walk with our local expert Vineet, in pinkcity bazaar, to get upclose and personal with the life of Jaipur.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Train: 4.5hrs
Day 8: Jaipur
We start a trip of the pink city of Jaipur with the famous fortress of Kacchawaha kings at Amber. Large courtyards, intricate carvings on formidable structure and nuances of
Rajput rule can be seen in the fort overlooking the Maota Lake. If you’re up for a walk, take a tunnel to Jaigarh Fort.
The rest of the day is at leisure. Jaipur is the erstwhile capital of the ruling Kacchawahas in the early eighteenth century. We recommend to take a walk in the old city and experience the delightful ancient markets at ease. Hawa Mahal and the numerous bazaars selling bright textiles and silver are worth every hour spent.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 9: Shahpura
This day we start early in the morning and ride past small villages, mountainous and greener landscape.
The ride is undulating and gives a chance to witness the rural life around Jaipur from close quarters.
We cycle towards the forest of Sariska, through the amazing Aravalli hills, lakes and past Bhangarh Fort, the most haunted place in India. Today is an amazing trail for biking. We will continue cycling to Sariska National Park, a favourite haunt of wildlife buffs & professional wildlife photographers from around the world. The topography of Sariska supports scrub-thorn arid forests, rocky landscapes, dry deciduous forests, rocks, grasses and hilly cliffs. The park is famous for its Bengal Tigers, one of the most magnificent animals of India, which has long fascinated people with its awesome power and beautifully striped coat. It is the first tiger reserve in the world to have successfully relocated tigers.
We take a gorgeous bike loop around Sariska in the morning and later in the afternoon, spend a day searching for tigers and other animals into the wildlife. Apart from the Bengal Tiger, the reserve includes many species of wild life, such as the leopard, jungle cat, caracal, striped hyena, golden jackal, chital, sambhar, nilgai, chinkara, four-horned antelope, wild boar, hare, hanuman langur, Rhesus monkeys.
Sariska is also ethereal for bird watchers with some of the rarest feathered species like Grey Partridge, White-throated kingfisher, Indian peafowl, Bush Quail, Sandgrouse, Treepie, Golden-backed Woodpecker, Crested serpent eagle and the Indian eagle-owl.
Please note Sariska Park is open only during Oct-Mar.
Begin the day with a hearty breakfast at the hotel, then set off on a bike ride through the picturesque countryside, chequered with mustard fields and millet farms to the Bharatpur. On the way, we make a stop at Abhaneri for lunch and visit Chand Baori, one of the largest stepwell built over a thousand years ago in the Abhaneri village of Rajasthan.
Later in the evening, we explore the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary on a bike, famous for avifauna sanctuary that plays host to thousands of birds, where you have an opportunity to interact with the local guide and gain greater insight into the bird lives.
In the late morning, we take a transfer to the Agra for a visit of Taj Mahal. We have a good half-day to visit one of the most awesome and extravagant monuments ever built – the Taj Mahal. It was constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife in 1631-1653, with thousands of semiprecious stones inlaid.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 14: Delhi
Delhi hoards centuries of history, remnants of which, lie unassumingly in all parts of the city. Weathered monuments mingle with modern life seamlessly. Plan your own day today, if you have time.
We recommend to take a walk in the old city, an area called Chandni Chowk. Old crumbling houses precariously line the edge of narrow streets while old wires obstruct your view of the sky here – with so much going on in one place, yet the warmth and acceptance of the area is heart-warming. If you have an appetite for street food, we recommend a bite of the oily parathas, kachoris, lassi and some tea.
The Exotic India trip takes place in two stages, each with its own distinct flavor, terrain and geography.
The terrain on the route varies from rolling hills to flat desert to grasslands. Maximum altitude is 1100m near Kumbhalgarh. In general the route is undulating around the Aravalli mountain ranges till the village of Narlai. From here the flat begins. Nearly 30% of the route is flat and the remaining is amidst rolling hills. Average distance cycled per day is approx. 50 kms.
Explore nature and wildlife of Rajasthan. Commonly spotted animals include Antelopes like Bluebull, Blackbuck and Chinkara. Jackal, Fox and Wildboar can sometimes be spotted too. Herds of Camel can be commonly seen grazing by the sides of the roads. Common birds include Peacock, Kingfishers, Hornbill.
Flora – Flora varies greatly with the geography. In the desert region around Jodhpur Dhok, Acacia, cactii, Khejad trees, and shrub jungles are common. Closer to the Aravalli ranges fields of Mustard, Wheat, Maize, Barley etc. dot the landscape.
Rajasthani food is influenced by the harsh desert climate. Forced to improvise with whatever little the desert could offer, the cuisine has over the millennia evolved distinct flavors and tastes found nowhere else India. You can get to savor local delicacies like Rajasthani Lal Maas, Ker Sangri(desert beans), Besan Gatta, Dal Bati Churma etc.
Culture – This is culturally one of the most vibrant regions of Rajasthan. Experience the lifestyle of the Bishnois – one of the world’s oldest environmentalist communities who protect trees and wildlife. Come across wandering gypsies called Rebaris.
In Udaipur meet Bhil Tribals still residing in little stone huts perched on hilltops. Pose for photographs with tribal women dressed in intricate jewellery and tattoes.
Watch the millennia old Persian Water Wheel being used to irrigate wheat fields near Kumbhalgarh.
In Jodhpur listen to folk musicians called Manganiyars play traditional Rajasthani instruments like the Ravanhatta – said to be the oldest extant bowed instrument in the world and the predecessor of the Cello and the Violin.
The route cuts through the northern end of the Aravalli mountains. The Aravallis, not the highest of mountain ranges, are at their lowest here before disappearing altogether near Delhi. Bharatpur is at an altitude of 180m above the sea level. Jaipur is at an elevation of 430m.
The route is generally a gentle uphill. A stretch near Sariska is with a gradient of 10-12%.
Fauna – The Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur is a World Heritage Site. The sanctuary is believed to be the world’s richest bird area, playing home to more than 350 species of birds including some rare species like the wood sandpiper, the greater spotted eagle, the Marshall’s iora etc.
Sariska tiger reserve is a major national park of India. Apart from the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger other common wildlife include the leopard, wild boar, four horned antelope, jackal, rhesus monkey, spotted dear etc. Herds of camel, mongoose, nilgai etc can be commonly spotted along the route.
Food – Delhi is renowned for its variety of rich Mughlai and Punjabi cuisine. The Tandoor – a cylindrical oven made of clay and set into the earth, and fired with wood or charcoal – is a dominant influence in the region’s cuisine. While in Jaipur try the famous Daal Baati Churma. For dessert try Ghewar – a Jaipur specialty made with flour and sugar syrup.
Drink – Lassi, masala chai
Culture – Visit the famous Taj Mahal.One of the seven wonders of the world – an everlasting monument of love. Meander through old Delhi’s maze like bazaars. Experience its medieval Mughal splendor vying for space with a rapidly expanding modern megacity. In Jaipur explore the Pink City with its eclectic architecture and rugged forts.
Recommended Reading List
“Where Silence Sings : Sounds and Rhythms of Rajasthan” by Tripti Pandey is an illustrated volume that provides easily accessible insights into the history, culture and traditions of Rajasthan.
Pauline Van Lynden’s Rajasthan is considered a classic collection of photographs and notes on Rajasthan.
from our friends
“Jewel in the Crown: 14 day cycling trip in Rajasthan – We took the 14 day trip offered by Art of Bicycle Trips, starting in Delhi and finishing in Udaipur. I cannot begin to describe what a breathtaking and awe-inspiring adventure this has been. Even before our arrival in India, all communication with the Art of Bicycle Trips staff was prompt and helpful and timely. We have done a number of cycling trips in Europe but truly none can come close to this one. The bikes (Scott) were excellent: 24 gears, hardy and well maintained. The routes each day were amazing: beautiful and varied vistas, charming villages and small towns and, of course, we saw so many animals: monkeys, cows, Buffalo, foxes, bats, deer and antelopes and even a mongoose ! The hotels that were chosen were lovely heritage properties: in the cities, it was often a central haveli with historic charm. In the countryside, the places were even more spectacular. For example, we stayed on the hunting lodge of the King of Jodhpur! There were also city tours, a camel ride and visits to a bird sanctuary and safari! However, the jewel in the crown of this experience was really our trip leader, Kamalpreet Singh. He was quiet and understated but a fountain of knowledge about all things Indian. He could talk about the Aravalli hills and the religions of India, as well as about local people and customs. He was very reliable and professional. I cannot speak highly enough about how well organized this 2- week adventure was! Excellent value for money but more importantly a life affirming experience about good travelling! Great work to the Art of Bicycle Trips team! You have an amazing experience here!”
“How do I put our trip into words! This was one of the most remarkable and enjoyable travel experiences we have ever had. Right from my initial enquiry, responses were prompt, questions were answered and your willingness to adapt and fit in around our specific requirements was fantastic. Cycling is such a great way to experience a country, not just see it. We had so many memorable interactions with the locals, especially the children! Being surrounded by cycling children on their way to school, scooters slowly travelling beside us so they could ask us questions, slowly manoeuvring through herds of cattle, sheep and goats carefully tended by shepherds, women in brightly coloured saris smiling and waving to us from the fields and school children yelling and waving with excitement as we cycled past schools. So many amazing and vivid memories. Their kindness, curiosity and generosity is something we will remember forever. We also enjoyed the many historical sites we visited. The local guides were knowledgeable, making our tours very interesting. Kumbhalgarh Fort was a favourite, such an amazing place, and of course Bhangharh Fort. Thank you for allowing us to detour into this very intriguing place, such a unique place to visit and to hear all the very intriguing tales. The walking tour in Jaipur with Vineet was outstanding and gave us an insight into the life and skills of the traditional arts and crafts within the city walls and also a taste of some delicious local street food. Something completely different was the slum tour in Delhi, a very educational and thought provoking experience, nothing like we had anticipated and an experience that I find myself still reflecting back on. We thank you for getting to know us well enough over the two weeks that you would suggest this as an option for us to do in Delhi, it really was a highlight. Visiting the villages was also an amazing privilege, being invited into homes and being given such a warm welcome by the families. How can we ever enjoy a Chai again after drinking one made from milk we saw being freshly milked! It was such an honour to be able to spend time with these wonderful people. Our accommodation was always of a high standard and provided a lovely insight into India’s history and of course a lovely comfy bed after a day on the bike. The food was exceptional, our local Indian restaurant will never be the same! Our driver Munshi was always calm, patient, helpful and it was nice to know he was just a short distance behind us if we ever needed him for more water, a quick snack or puncture repairs. He was our hero. Finally, Pankaj, our tour leader. Thank you for organising such a memorable trip, taking care of every little detail, helping us understand local customs and answering our many questions. It was a privilege to spend time with you and to meet your lovely wife. Thank you for taking the time to get to know us and understand the type of things we enjoy doing and are interested in and tweaking our trip to meet these interests. We enjoyed our many conversations and laughs along the way. One day we will be back.”