TOUR CODE: ETRIND
Experience incredible India and find yourself mesmerized by its striking forts, palaces and majestic tigers. See Old Delhi on an exciting rickshaw ride and observe the holy rituals on the Ganges then take in the timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal and search for the mysterious Bengal tigers in the old hunting grounds of the Maharajas. Take an exciting elephant ride up to Amber Fort and witness an interesting mix of Hindu and Mughal architecture.
You are met by our representative in the arrival area of the airport after you clear all immigration and customs formalities. Depart for your hotel where you will check in for your stay.
Delhi stands as the capital of Modern India. Here you can see the mingling of the Old and New India, the ancient and the modern. Delhi is made up of seven ancient cities, spanning the period from the 11th to 20th centuries. Delhi has seen the rise and fall of many emperors, which has left behind a plethora of monuments that commemorate the grandeur and glory of bygone ages. Very few cities in the world can express such a profusion of architectural styles.
After a short briefing, head out on a tour of Old Delhi, the capital of Mughal dynasty between the 16th and 19th centuries. Visit Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in year 1650 AD and completed in the year 1656 AD. From here we board our cycle rickshaws for a tour of Chandni Chowk (Silver Street). You will get a glimpse into an old world lifestyle slowly fading from Delhi. The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be felt in the Chandi Chowk’s narrow lanes. After the rickshaw ride, going past the Red Fort (photo stop), and we disembark at the Raj Ghat – a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, set within a beautiful park. Continue the tour passing along Sansad Bhawan (the Parliament House) and Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President’s House). Take a photo stop at India Gate, a stone arch of triumph raised in honor of the Indian soldiers martyred in the campaigns of WWI. Next visit the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb and conclude the tour with a visit to the Qutab Complex, the soaring minaret was erected in 13th-century by the Afghan dynasties that ruled India from 1210 to 1526. The surrounding complex displays a visual history of India’s earliest political history—decorative Hindu panels, Islamic domes and early Afghan architecture converge to stunning effect. A walk through the complex provides an excellent overview of the varied architectural styles and cultural elements prevalent throughout India.
In the morning, fly to Varanasi, the ‘eternal city’ is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India and is located on the banks of the sacred River Ganges. Late afternoon proceed for a guided Bengali Tola walk where you will have an opportunity to get a glimpse of the symbiotic life of the riverside people of Varanasi. Eventually Bengali Tola, the street of the Bengalis, where you will be visiting the hidden Mother Goddess Kali shrines, the historic ritual bathing site called Dashaswamedh, or the ten-horse sacrifice Ghat. At Dasahwamedh Ghat watch the illuminated aarti ceremony. The presiding priests stand on a Chauki (wooden stand) near the water. To the chant of Sanskrit mantras, and the clash of cymbals and drums, the river is worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk and vermilion. First the blazing camphor lamp and then the many flamed aarti lamps are raised high and then arched back to the water, the dark river reflecting the golden flames as Ganges accepts the worship. It is the Ganges that gives Varanasi its spiritual resonance.
Early this morning, take a boat ride on the sacred Ganges. Hindus regard the Ganges as the elixir of life bringing purity to the living and salvation to the dead. Watch the wonderful colors of the sunrise as you meander along the sacred Ganges River on a boat. As part of their pilgrimage rites, the faithful walk down steps into the river to perform their religious ablutions. Watching the people worshipping at the ghats is an extraordinary experience. You may also witness a funeral pyre, an essential part of the traditional Hindu funeral ceremony. Disembark and walk through the narrow streets of Varanasi before returning to the hotel. Walk through an inextricable maze of small streets and alleyways, hiding in disorderly array no less than 2,000 temples and shrines. Domes, pinnacles, towers and derelict 18th-century palaces dominate the left bank of the Ganges River. The streets are noisy, color is rife. Varanasi is the religious capital of the Hindu faith since the dawn of history. Known as Kashi in the 7th century BC, it constitutes a microcosm of Indian life. Visit some of the more important temples such as the Bharat Mata Mandir and the Durga Temple. Go past the beautiful Tulsi Manas temple. Take a walk down Vishwanathji Ki Gali — the ancient alley which is home to some beautiful temples.
Around noon time, board your flight to Khajuraho, built by the Chandela dynasty, which rose to power in Central India between the 10th and 11th centuries and is home to some 25 odd temples depicting the different facets of life, including the erotic. These erotic carvings on some panels have given rise to much speculation since Khajuraho’s rediscovery by a British officer in 1838. To preserve it for posterity, Khajuraho has been declared a World Heritage Site and is among the prominent destinations on the world tourism map. In the late evening, we will witness the sound and light show.
In the morning, visit the Western Group of Temples, which represent the finest examples of North Indian temple architecture. 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, which claims descent from the Moon God and a mortal, Hemavati, with whom the God fell in love. Architecturally, the temples have some unique features. Although famous for erotic depictions, these form only a small part of the wealth of the site. Later drive to Jhansi enroute stopping at Orchha (10 miles from Jhansi) for sightseeing of the city, frozen in time. Orchha 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. Place of interest in Orchha include the multi-tiered Jehangir Mahal, built in 1606 AD; 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 a visit. Notable among them are the Ram Raja Temple, Laxmi Narain Temple with its exuberant frescoes and the Chaturbhuj Temple. Continue to Jhansi railway station to board a train to Agra. On arrival, transfer to your hotel.
It is fitting to see this extraordinary Taj Mahal by the first light of day as its exemplary beauty is awe-inspiring and will create an unforgettable memory. Said to be one of the most elegant and harmonious buildings in the world. Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in 1630 AD to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal manifests the wealth and luxury of Mughal art as seen in architecture and garden design, painting, and calligraphy. Return to hotel for breakfast and the morning is at your leisure. In the afternoon, visit Agra Fort, the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. Encircled by a moat, this dramatic city within a city was the palace of three emperors, Akbar, Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb, each of whom made significant contributions to the wonderful architecture of the inner buildings, a combination of Persian (Islamic) and local Hindu styles. In the evening, visit Mehtab Bagh from where you will have the opportunity to watch the Taj Mahal during sunset from across the river.
(Please be advised that Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays)
In the morning, drive to Bharatpur, on our way, we visit the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city that was built by Emperor Akbar as his capital. Ponder the mysterious desertion of this capital city that was dramatically abandoned a few years after it was built. It was a veritable fairy tale city and its ‘ruins’ are still in a pristine condition. Continue to Bharatpur and board the train for Ranthambore. Arrive Ranthambore and check in for your stay. The Ranthambore National Park was once the hunting ground of Maharaja of Jaipur. In 1955, it was declared a game sanctuary; in 1980, it became a national park. Ranthambhore Park is famous for tigers and due to conservation efforts; the tiger population has stabilized if not increased here. The tigers can be spotted quite often even during the day, at their normal pursuits hunting and taking care of their young ones.
Enjoy a day of game drive into the park, see series of high escarpments, the forests, lakes and dry scrub that make up the park are dotted with old forts and temples, creating a wonderful atmosphere for both bird and mammal viewing amongst a landscape oozing with ancient Rajput history and Rajasthani culture.
In the morning, drive to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan province is known for its arts and crafts, jewelry, hand-painted fabrics and stone sculptures. Your afternoon tour in the old city will take you to Badi Chaupad and Johari Bazaar area to see the local craftsman at work. You will be able to see craftsman working on some fine forms of local art like Zardozi embroidery, Gota work, Kinari, silver ornament work, and precious and semi-precious stonework, all taking place in these old bazaars of Jaipur. In the evening visit the ancient Hindu Birla temple for Aarti (Prayer) ceremony which is the act of showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. An essential part of puja for the devotee is making a spiritual connection with the divine. Most often that contact is facilitated through an object: an element of nature, a sculpture, a vessel, a painting, or a print.
Start the day at Amber Fort, for a magical elephant ride. Surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Once you are 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. Later, visit Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh ll in the 18th century. Continue to City Palace housing a collection of great treasures, including miniature paintings, carpets, royal garments and other interesting objects from Jaipur’s intriguing past.
Morning drive to Delhi, transfer to the airport.
Meals: B= Breakfast
Per person, based on double occupancy
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