India - A Cultural Paradise
Day 01. Upon arrival at Delhi airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel pre-booked. The rest of the day sightseeing around New Delhi – the British-built side of the city. Key monuments we hope to visit include India Gate (a memorial arch honouring soldiers who were killed in WW1), Lakshmi Narayana Temple, Rashtrapati Bhawan (the president’s house), and Humayun’s Tomb –an exquisite example of Moghul architecture, set in a magnificent formal Persian garden. Dinner on your own and Overnight at Hotel.
Day 02. Today after breakfast you will be visiting the Raj Ghat which is the cremation ground of the father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and continue to the Humayun's Tomb which is believed to have been designed in 1565 AD by the widow of Mughal emperor Humayun. Its design and layout is based on the description of Islamic paradise gardens and is known to have inspired the Taj Mahal and many later Mughal tombs. The Qutab Minar has walls inscribed with intricately carved quotations from the Koran and is one of the most perfect towers of the Persian world. Today evening you will be transferred to the Delhi Railway Station for an overnight journey to Varanasi. Meals are available on board at an additional cost. It is advised to ask your driver to take you to a good restaurant for packed meals. The overnight journey will be by Sleeper train, 2 AC compartments, or the best available depending upon the availability of online tickets.
Day 03. The train should arrive in Varanasi in the mid-morning. From the station, you will be transferred to your hotel where you will be allowed to get breakfast and freshen up before undertaking an orientation tour of the city. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 04. Before dawn, you will go on an unforgettable sunrise boat ride on the River The Ganges. A principal attraction is a long string of bathing ghats where pilgrims make their morning cleansing wash in the river. Also, there are the burning ghats where cremations are undertaken. Return to the hotel for breakfast. The rest of the day will be full of sightseeing activities including the old city which stands on the west bank of the sacred Ganges and extends back from the ghats in a winding maze of narrow streets.
The city tour will include visits to a range of temples and sights including Bharat Kala Bhavan, Banaras Hindu University, Golden Temple (Vishwanath Temple), Aurangzeb Mosque, Monkey Temple (Durga Temple), and Mother India Temple. This will be followed by an afternoon excursion to the excavated site of Sarnath, the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon.
Day 05. Transfer to the airport to board an onward flight to Khajuraho. Upon arrival in Khajuraho, you will be transferred to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Khajuraho offers a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the busier Indian cities. You may wish to visit the local Archaeological Museum or Adivart Tribal & Folk Art Museum which showcases the local vibrant tribal art and culture or rejuvenate with a relaxing Ayurvedic massage treatment, or indulge in the local flavours and taste authentic north and central Indian delicacies. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 06. Post breakfast today visit The Khajuraho temples which are one of the seven wonders of India, second only to the incredible Taj Mahal. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Khajuraho temples were built during the Chandela dynasty which came into power at the beginning of the 10th century. The temples belong to the two distinct religions of Hinduism and Jainism and are masterpieces of Indian architecture and sculpture. The sensuous and spiritual carvings that cover the Khajuraho temples are amongst the finest temple art in the world and depict all aspects of society during that medieval period. Our tour will visit both the Western and
Eastern group of Khajuraho temples. Afternoon at leisure for optional activities or sightseeing. Today in the evening you will attend the Sound and Light show at the Temple Complex. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 07. Drive to Jhansi/Orchha. (172 km – 4 hours approximately), Lunch at Orchha Resort. Post lunch you will be visiting the Phool Bagh, which is a stunning garden in Orchha that represents the rich artistic sense of the royal rulers of the Bundelkhand dynasty. It also reflects the natural wonder of the place during the bygone era. Later you will be visiting the Orchha fort complex is a must-visit attraction of town with several palaces within it portraying the stories of the wonderful past. It is the only place in the country where Lord Rama is worshipped as a king and not as a god. Dinner and overnight at Orchha.
Day 08. Start your day with a healthy breakfast at the hotel. Later visit Sunder Mahal is a gorgeous palace in Orchha which now serves as a major pilgrimage centre for Muslims. This palace belongs to a Hindu king named Prince Dhurbhajan and his Muslim lover. Continue to visit Raj Mahal is one of the famous palaces of Orchha that grab the attention of visitors from around the world. It was initially built by Rudra Pratap Singh in the 16th century and completed by his successors. You will also be visiting the Cenotaphs - Chhatris are the tombs of Maharajas which have been positioned on prominent platforms and supported by pillars. They are designed and structured in a unique way allowing them to enter the list of major tourist attractions of Orchha. Continue to Agra. Dinner and overnight at Agra.
Day 09. Today early morning visit to the Taj Mahal - Built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal the beauty of the Taj Mahal is unmatched. On the death of his beloved wife, in wild extravagance, Shah Jahan built her this memorial. 20,000 men laboured for over 17 years to build this wealth of white marble and precious stone. The Agra Fort, with its grand courtyards, royal pavilions, and palaces, is a fitting testimony to the Great Moghuls – Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan – during the era when Agra was the capital of the Moghul Empire. The most impressive part of the Fort is the Dewan-e-Am, where the Emperor sat on his throne to dispense to his subjects and the Dewan-e-Khas where he received foreign dignitaries. Return to your hotel for Lunch.
Later you will be visiting Itimad-ud-Daulah, known as the ‘Baby Taj’; it was built before the Taj Mahal by Nur Jahan, queen of Jehangir, for her parents. The first Mughal building to be faced with white marble and where ‘Pietra dura’, (precious stones inlaid into marble) was first used. Agra is a great place to try barbecue meats (kebabs) mixed with Indian spices. Petha, pieces of white pumpkin dipped in sugar syrup, and Gajak, a crumbly sweet made with sesame and Jaggery, are delicious local sweets and sold everywhere – It is recommended to try them. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 10. Today after breakfast, while driving 40km from Agra, you will be stopping at Fatehpur Sikri to explore the fortified city built during the second half of the 16th Century by Emperor Akbar, this so-called City of Victory was only the capital of the Mughal Empire for ten years, but it bears exceptional testimony to the great vision of Akbar, and the architects of his day. From Fatehpur Sikri drive to Jaipur – the colourful, chaotic capital of Rajasthan. You will have plenty of time here to explore several of the city’s medieval palaces and monumental forts. But be warned -- travelling between each iconic building can be an adventure in itself. Expect to see camel carts and elephants, scooters, trucks, and bikes all jostling for space on the roads. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 11. After breakfast, Sightseeing in Jaipur of the Amber Fort, the honey-coloured fortress-palace in the Aravalli Hills just north of the town centre. The sombre exterior belies the richness of the royal apartments, which open to striking views of the gorge. The Hall of Victory presents a galaxy of decorative art - panels of alabaster with fine inlay work of the tenderness hues and the intriguing Chamber of Mirrors. We return to town to view Jai Singh’s Observatory built in the 17th century by the founder of Jaipur who, besides being a prince was also a soldier, astronomer, and builder. The tour concludes at the City Palace, now a museum that contains fine Rajput and Moghul paintings, rare manuscripts and an armoury, old carpets, and even amazingly embroidered clothes of the Maharajas and the Maharanis. Evening free for shopping in Jaipur
Day 12. After breakfast proceeds to the Airport for a flight to Delhi and then an onward flight back home with sweet memories of your Trip to India – Truly a Cultural Paradise.