TOUR CODE: ETRIND
Trip Type: Independent Journey
Experience incredible India and be mesmerized by its impressive forts, palaces, and majestic tigers. See Old Delhi on a thrilling 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 Hindu and Mughal architecture mix.
We arrive in New Delhi, India’s capital city, and transfer to our hotel.
Delhi is one of the best examples in the world where ‘old meets new.’ We set out to discover Old Delhi. Our first stop is the 16th-century marble Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. Then, hop on a rickshaw ride through the most famous and historic street of Delhi and the colorful Chandni Chowk Market. We continue to Humayun’s Tomb, a beautiful example of early Mughal architecture, and pass by Indi Gate, an archway honoring the 70,000 Indian soldiers fighting for the British Army during World War I. Stop at Qutab Minar, the five-storied victory tower, to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India by the first Muslim ruler, Qutab-ud-din Aibak.
In the morning, fly to Varanasi; the ‘eternal city’ is one of India’s most important pilgrimage sites and is located on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Late afternoon proceeds for a guided Bengali Tola walk, where you will have an opportunity to glimpse 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 worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk, and vermilion. First, the blazing camphor lamp and the many flamed aarti lamps are raised high and then arched back to the water, the dark river reflecting the golden flames as the 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 beautiful colors of the sunrise as you meander along the sacred Ganges River. 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 an inextricable maze of small streets and alleyways, hiding in a disorderly array with 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, and the color is rife. Since the dawn of history, Varanasi has been the religious capital of the Hindu faith, known as Kashi in the 7th century B.C. It constitutes a microcosm of Indian life. Take a walk down Vishwanathji Ki Gali — the old alley is home to some beautiful temples. Visit some more important temples, such as the Bharat Mata Mandir and the Durga Temple. Go past the beautiful Tulsi Manas temple before returning to your hotel.
Around noontime, 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 tiny part of the wealth of the site. Later drive to Jhansi en route 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 delicate murals and the Rai Praveen Mahal, a palace set in the gardens of Anand Mahal. Orchha has tall-spired temples that are undoubtedly worth a visit. The Ram Raja Temple, Laxmi Narain Temple with its exuberant frescoes, and the Chaturbhuj Temple are among them. 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 outstanding beauty is awe-inspiring and will create an unforgettable memory. Said to be one of the most elegant and harmonious buildings in the world. Mughal Emperor Shahjahan built the Taj Mahal 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 the 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 picturesque city within a city where the palace of three emperors, Akbar, Shah Jehan, and Aurangzeb, all of whom contributed significantly to the inner buildings’ excellent architecture 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 note that Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays)
In the morning, we drive to Bharatpur. En route, we visit Fatehpur Sikri, a deserted red sandstone city and one of the finest examples of Mughal architectural splendor. Continue to Bharatpur and board the train for Ranthambore. Arrive at Ranthambore and check-in for your stay. The Ranthambore National Park was once the hunting ground of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Ranthambhore Park is famous for tigers, and tigers can be spotted quite often, even during the day, at their ordinary pursuits hunting and taking care of their young ones.
Head out for a game drive into the park see a 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 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 artisans working on some delicate 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 the Aarti (Prayer) ceremony, which shows reverence to a god, a spirit, or another divine aspect through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. An essential part of puja for the devotee is connecting spiritually 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 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 the 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 airport for your onward flight.
Meals: B= Breakfast
Per person, based on double occupancy
|2022||Land Only||Solo Traveler Supplement|
|Oct 01 - Dec 10||$3,499||$2,498|
|Jan 11 - Apr 15||$3,499||$2,498|
|Apr 16 - Jun 18||$2,899||$1,899|
|Oct 01 - Dec 10||$3,499||$2,498|
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