DAY 01 ARRIVE – DELHI
You will arrive at Delhi and transfer to your hotel.
India’s capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines in its folds the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiralling skyscrapers, the remnants of a bygone time in the form of its many monuments stand as silent reminders to the region’s ancient legacy. The first impressions for any visitor travelling in from the airport are of a spacious, garden city, tree-lined with a number of beautiful parks.
Evening at Leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 02 DELHI
After buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will be taken on a half-day sightseeing tour of Old Delhi. The tour will begin with a visit to Raj Ghat, a simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Drive past the Red Fort continuing to the Jama Masjid by bicycle rickshaws, one of Asia’s largest mosques. People stream in and out of the mosque continuously and the presence of a nearby bazaar means that the area is rarely quiet.
In the afternoon, proceed for a sightseeing tour of New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. The division between New and Old Delhi is the division between the capitals of the British and the Mughals respectively. The division in the walled city and New Delhi also marks the division in the life-styles. The walled city is all tradition where one will be able to glean a past life-style in all its facets, colours and spells. New Delhi in contrast, is a city trying to live up to the best of 21st century standards.
The tour to Imperial Delhi will include a visit to the Qutub Minar, the tallest stone tower in India. Qutub-ud-din Aibak started it in 1199. Pulling down 27 Hindu and Jain temples and using their columns erected the attached Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque also built by him. Then visit Humayun’s tomb, built by the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun, it is an outstanding monument in the Indo-Persian style, a precursor of the Taj Mahal. The tour also includes a drive past the imposing India Gate, the Parliament building and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President’s residence. Return to your hotel after the sightseeing tour.Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 03 DELHI – JAIPUR
After buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will be driven from Delhi to Jaipur (260 KMS/5.30 Hours) and upon arrival, proceed for check-in at your hotel.
Rajasthan’s kingdoms are an enduring legacy to India’s history. A land endowed with invincible forts, magnificent palaces and waves of sand dunes and serene lakes. No other region in the country assembles the many paradoxes of India, as does the desert land of Rajasthan. By far it is the most colourful region in India.
Jaipur’s past is never too far from hand. The city of victory, Jaipur presides over the fascinating desert state and its people: surrounded by rugged hills, each crowned by a formidable fort; and beautiful palaces, mansions and gardens dotted throughout its precincts. The palaces and forts of yesteryear that were witness to royal processions and splendour are now living monuments, accepted quite naturally into the lifestyles of the people of the “pink city”. Except for the busy traffic of bicycles, cars and buses, little seems to have changed. There is a timeless quality to Jaipur’s bazaars and its people. With its historical past, Jaipur revives legends of the ancient Rajputs. The dresses of the women and the turbans of the men add colour to this fascinating city.
Overnight at the hotel
DAY 04 JAIPUR
After buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will be driven just outside Jaipur to the ancient capital of Amber to see the fabulous Amber Fort. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started the construction of Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenulated walls lattice the surrounding area.
An elephant (alternatively by jeep) will spare you the trouble of reaching up to the fortress. Once on top stroll through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Many of the rooms have delightful wall paintings, with precious stones and mirrors inlaid in the walls. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) where a single lamplight is reflected in the many mirrors, lighting up the room.
En-route to Amber you will stop and see the `Palace of Winds’, otherwise known as Hawa Mahal. It is really an elaborate facade behind which the ladies of the court used to watch the daily goings on in the street below. It is extremely intricate in its pink sandstone carving. The cool wind blows through its facade of windows and latticed screens through which the queens of the court once viewed the streets of the city.
In the afternoon, you will visit the city of Jaipur. Among the highlights to be seen while touring Jaipur include the City Palace, which is an overwhelming complex of exquisite palaces, gardens and courtyards, decorative art and carved doorways. The palace museum houses collections of rare manuscripts, armoury, costumes, carpets and miniature paintings. Walk to the adjacent Jantar Mantar or Astronomical Observatory made by the Maharaja of Jaipur, built in 1726 and is one of the five such astronomical wonders built by Sawai Jai Singh and makes accurate predictions even to this day. You will also have the opportunity to wander about the local markets. Return to your hotel after the sightseeing tour of Jaipur City. Return to your hotel after the sightseeing tour.
Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 05 JAIPUR – FATEHPUR SIKRI – AGRA
After buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will be driven from Jaipur to Agra (240 Kms/ 6.3 Hours) en-route visiting Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city, built by the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar as his capital and palace in the late 16th century. It was abandoned soon after it was built when the local wells went dry and it remains today in much the same condition that it was over 300 years ago. It is complete with palaces and mosques and used to be a town larger than London when it was originally constructed. Now it is an extraordinary place to wander around with its buildings in near perfect condition. After your visit, continue your drive to Agra and upon arrival, proceed for check-in at your hotel.
Agra in terms of ambiance is still associated with its Mughal period. The Mughals besides being great rulers were also great builders and they preserved their best architectural wonders for Agra and its neighbourhood. It has many wonderful monuments and the Taj Mahal, the greatest of them all, is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture at its best. The massive but elegant Agra Fort, the magnificent Taj, are each unique and outstanding. Their architectural genius can also be seen in the forts, palaces and aesthetically laid out gardens – each one a silent witness to a grand style of a golden era.
Great empires have flourished in Agra and then grown to engulf the whole country. Great battles were fought on this soil, as can be gathered from its chequered history. It’s line-up of monuments today stand mute testimony to the splendour of a bygone era and the visionary far-sightedness of the many monarchs who once ruled different parts of this state.
As visitors walk down the narrow, bustling streets, they can’t help but wonder if the man contentedly smoking a hookah is a direct descendant of some bygone Mughal. Even the majority of the buildings in the modern areas of town such as the cantonment are date back over a hundred years.
Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 06 AGRA
Early in the morning, you will be taken for tour of the Taj Mahal (Closed on Friday’s.) Midway Tonga’s “horse carriages” would be waiting for you and will drop you at the gates of the Taj Mahal, taking 22 years and 20,000 men to build, the white marble was quarried 200 miles away and was transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, in mid 17th century, the Taj Mahal is truly one of the wonders of the world. After visit to the Taj, you will return back to the hotel for buffet breakfast.
After breakfast, you will visit Agra Fort – the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. This was the seat of Mughal rule and administration and the present structure owes its origins to Akbar who erected the walls and gates and the first buildings on the eastern banks of Yamuna River. Shah Jahan added the impressive quarters and the mosque while Aurangzeb added the outer ramparts. Visit its Hall of Public Audience and its Royal Pavilions. Afternoon is at leisure or free for shopping Overnight at the hotel
DAY 07 AGRA – JHANSI – KHAJURAHO BY: TRAIN / SURFACE
After an early buffet breakfast at the hotel, a representative will transfer you to the Railway Station in time for your train to Jhansi.
Departure: Agra at: 0810 hours by: Shatabdi Express Arrive: Jhansi at: 1025 Hours. A representative will meet you at the Jhansi Station; you will be driven from Jhansi railway station to Khajuraho (170 KMS / 5 Hours) en-route visiting Orchha, a city frozen in time. It was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela chieftain, Rudra Pratap Singh, who built this new capital on large wooded islands on the River Betwa. Today, remains of the fort and palaces speak eloquently of Orchha’s time of glory, of its splendid legacy of art and culture. Though little more than a village today, stepping back in time, into Orchha’s fortress and palaces is an enjoyable experience.
Place of interest in Orchha include the multi-tiered Jehangir Mahal, within the fort, built in 1606; the Raj Mahal noted for its fine murals and the Rai Praveen Mahal, a palace set in the gardens of Anand Mahal. Orchha has tall-spired temples that are certainly worth visit. Notable among them are the Ram Raja Temple, Laxminarain Temple with its exuberant frescoes, and the Chaturbhuj Temple.
After your visit, continue your drive to Khajuraho and upon arrival, proceed for check-in at your hotel where remainder of the day will be at leisure. In the realm of architecture, Khajuraho holds a unique position. The temples here were built between 950 and 1050 A.D. by the Chandela dynasty, who claims descent from the Moon God and a mortal, Hemavati, with whom the god fell in love.
Most of the temples of the north were destroyed by invaders, but Khajuraho escaped and stands today as an island of beauty. The Chandelas built 85 temples and some 22 survive today. Architecturally the temples have some unique features. They stand on high platforms and do not have customary enclosures. Each temple has a large number of spires in ascending order representing man’s aspirations towards spiritual goals. They are ornately carved, with each frieze and sculpture depicting the genius of the men who carved it and the king who inspired them. Although famous for erotic depictions, these form only a small part of the wealth of the site. Taken in totality, the sculptures of Khajuraho depict the everyday life of the people and the court in the 10th and 11th centuries. Khajuraho is not something that can be described in words; it has to be experienced.Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 08 KHAJURAHO – VARANASI BY FLIGHT
After buffet breakfast at the hotel, visit the Chandela Temple Complex. The tour of Khajuraho this morning concentrates on the famous erotic temples, which represent some of the finest examples of temple architecture in Northern India. The remote location of Khajuraho meant that the temples were unharmed by Muslim invaders and as a result, the intricately fine carvings are in very good condition and are said to represent life in heaven.
They were built during the mighty Chandela dynasty, the majority were constructed in a sudden burst of creative and religious energy, between the mid-10th and 11th centuries. After ruling for about 500 years the Chandela dynasty fell to the might of Islam and consequently the religious centre of Khajuraho was abandoned. The temples remain as a reminder of a society that believed in the full enjoyment of life, with all the senses being a path to nirvana. Of the eighty-five original temples only 22 remain, but many are in very good condition. You visit the Kandariya Mahadeva, the Chatrabhuj, Parswanath and Ghantai Temples, each remarkable for its beautiful design and architecture. Afternoon, a representative will transfer you to Airport in time for your flight to Varanasi.
A representative will meet you at the airport upon arrival and transfer you to your hotel, and upon arrival check – in at your hotel, where remainder of the day will be at leisure.
Varanasi, the ‘eternal city’, and Hinduism’s most important city, located on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, has been the center of learning and civilization for over two thousand years. Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 09 VARANASI
Very early in the morning you will take a boat ride along the bathing ghats on the Holy River Ganges. At sunrise the Hindu faithful flock to the river to cleanse themselves of their sins. You see the cremation ghats and the Deswameedha ghats. To die in Varanasi is to end the Hindu cycle of re-birth, thereby making it a popular place to end one’s life. After sunrise you will visit some of the temples in the surrounding area.
After buffet breakfast at the hotel, visit “Bharat Kala Bhavan” which lies within the sprawling grounds of Banaras Hindu University. Its outstanding collection of sculpture, paintings and textiles began with the private collection of the enlightened Rai Krishnadasa.
The sculpture collection includes terracotta and clay objects, stone and bronze and cast metal objects. Ancient terracotta varying from ritual icons to toys to utilitarian objects date to the Indus Valley Civilization, Mauryan, Sunga and Gupta period.
In the afternoon, you will proceed for an excursion to Sarnath, a major Buddhist centre in the world. After achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya, Buddha, the ‘Awakened One’, delivered his first sermon here. It was the sixth century then, when he also set in motion the wheel of law, the Dharmachakra. This dwelling place of the rishis, it was also known as ‘Rishipatana’ (the place of the Rishis or sages). Buddha gave his first sermon in the Deer Park where he initiated his first five disciples into Buddhist monkshood. Buddhism found its roots in Sarnath, the birthplace of this way of life. Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 10 VARANASI – DELHI BY: FLIGHT DEPARTURE
Buffet breakfast at hotel, morning is at leisure. Afternoon a representative will transfer you to airport to board flight for Delhi.
Upon arrival you will be met by a representative who will transfer you to international airport in time for your flight back home