For your first night in Delhi, take the afternoon to lunch and to explore the grand domed tombs of the Lodi Gardens. Stay nearby, at The Claridges. This grand hotel serves delicious baltis and butter chicken at its Dhaba restaurant. In the British-built New Delhi you’ll visit grand Presidential buildings. In the morning, weave through the street life to the Jama Masjid - the largest mosque in India - and get gloriously lost in the teeming bazaars.
Arrive in Agra, but delay your first sight of the Taj Mahal. First visit the blistering red Agra Fort, a walled city and royal residence crammed with carvings and white marble. Then get to know the riverside city by touring with local guides. In the evening, arrive at the Mehtab Bagh, the Moonlight Garden, which offers the best distant view of the Taj Mahal, suffused in the sunset light. The following day at sunrise, arrive at the Taj Mahal again for a farewell before the drive to Jaipur.
Before entering Jaipur, stop at the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, left in ruined splendour when its lake ran dry. Then on to the Rajasthan capital. Its streets were painted to welcome a visiting British prince, but it is the red sandstone buildings that truly makes this the pink city. See the Hawa Mahal, the palace of winds, with its façade of 953 windows and the hilltop Amber Fort, guarding the nearby town of Amer. For homebound souvenirs, skim the bazaars for slippers and camel skin.