DAY 01: ARRIVE DELHI By: International Flight
Welcome to India! After immigration, you will be met and transferred to the hotel for your stay (Hotel check in time is 1400 hour).
Delhi is India’s capital and a major gateway to the country. Perhaps there is no other capital city in the world so steeped in history and legend as the Indian capital Delhi. It was the magnet, which drew the Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Mughals and the British, all of whom contributed to its glorious but turbulent past. The fascination with Delhi was such that even though it was abandoned many times, its rulers returned to it again and again rebuilding it at least seven times. Today, the twin cities of Old and New Delhi still intrigue Indians and tourists alike as the cultural and political capital of the largest democracy in the world.
DAY 02: DELHI
Your tour begins in Delhi, India’s capital city that sports a rich history spanning over 2,000 years. After a short briefing, head out on a tour of Old Delhi, the capital of Mughal dynasty between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Arrive Old Delhi and 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 you will board cycle rickshaws for a tour of Chandni Chowk (Silver Street). Here 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. Board the bus after the rickshaw ride, going past the Red Fort (photo stop), and you will disembark at the Raj Ghat – a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, set within a beautiful park.
Next drive through New Delhi, passing by Presidential Palace- the one-time imperial residence of the British viceroys; the India Gate - a memorial raised in honour of the Indian soldiers martyred during the Afghan war, Parliament house and other government buildings built in the first quarter of the 20th century by two famous English architects, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Edwin Lutyens. It was during this time period that the capital of the British Empire was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.
The tour to Imperial Delhi will include a visit to the Qutub Minar, the tallest stone tower as well as one of the finest Islamic structures raised in India. 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.
DAY 03: DELHI – JAIPUR By: Surface (254 Km /+/- 06 hour)
After breakfast drive to Jaipur. This route takes you through the region’s typical villages, where you can appreciate various scenes of traditional life.
Upon arrival, check in for your stay.
Jaipur - also known as the ‘Pink City’, for the abundance of pink plastered stone used to build its massive forts, magnificent palaces and exquisite temples. The city built in 1727 A.D by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II followed a grid system, which made it the only planned city of its time. A young Bengali architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya designed the city in accordance with Shilp Shastra - an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. There is far more to the city than just its famous monuments and to get a complete experience of Jaipur, uncover the mysteries of the bazaars and visit silversmiths, turban sellers and traditional markets.
DAY 04: IN JAIPUR
Set off this morning to Amber Fort. Jaipur’s Maharaja Man Singh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started constructing 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. You will ascend the hill leading to the fortress on elephant-back and then walk 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.
On the way back to the city, take a photo-stop at Hawa Mahal (the Palace of Winds) made famous because of the 953 windows, or jharokhas, that make up its structure. Five stories in height, and built of red and pink sandstone highlighted with white quicklime, it is thought that the women of the royal harem used the many casements to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen.
Continue to Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh ll in the 18th century. The Maharajah, a scientist as well as an astronomer, had the principles of Euclid translated into Sanskrit. One of the most remarkable sites in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar has fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses and tracking stars and planets.
Just next to the observatory is the City Palace. Built within the fortified area of the original city, it has one of the finest monumental entrances in India. The Palace is now principally a museum housing a collection of great treasures, including miniature paintings, carpets, royal garments and other interesting objects from Jaipur's intriguing past. The former royal family retains a part of the palace for their personal use.
Cultural connection (Optional):
Please be aware that these are very old market places in Jaipur used almost entirely by local people, hence you should be prepared for the hustle and bustle in the streets.
DAY 05: JAIPUR– AGRA By: Surface (236 Km /+/- 06 hour)
After breakfast, drive to Agra - the city of Taj Mahal; an iconic city that has always inspired love. It may be clichéd but no Indian landmark embraces blue sky as enthusiastically as Taj Mahal, no matter which way the compass needle swings, you will find it striking from any and every angle.
You will stop enroute at Fatehpur Sikri - the deserted red sandstone city, an outstanding example of Mughal architecture built by the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar as his capital and palace in the late 16th century and abandoned after 15 years due to scarcity of water. It was a veritable fairy tale city and its 'ruins' are still in a pristine condition.
Upon arrival, check in for your stay.
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 & its neighborhood. It has many wonderful monuments and the Taj Mahal, the greatest of them all, is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture at its best. 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.
Day 06: AGRA – LUCKNOW By: Surface (335 Km /+/- 05 hour)
As dawn breaks, watch the sunrise over the incomparable Taj Mahal. Horse drawn carriage will drop you near the gates. It is fitting to see this extraordinary monument 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 a harmonious building 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. The 144 foot double dome of the Taj is capped with a finial and the four minarets each 131 ft. high and crowned by an open octagonal pavilion highlight the perfect symmetry of the tomb.
Return to the hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast proceed visit Agra Fort, which was 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 Jehan added the impressive quarters and the mosque while Aurangzeb added the outer ramparts. Visit its Hall of Public Audience and its Royal Pavilions.
Afternoon drive to Lucknow.
Arrive Lucknow and transfer to the hotel for your stay.
Lucknow - 'The City of Nawabs' is an intriguing blend of old world charm, warm hospitality, courteous people, beautiful architecture and rich heritage. The city also is the centre for Chikan embroidery, renowned for its timeless grace and gossamer delicacy; it is a skill more than 2000 years old.
Day 07: LUCKNOW
After breakfast, enjoy a guided visit to the architectural marvel of age, La Martiniere College which was designed by the Frenchman Major-General Claude Martin as a palatial home. The Boys College is the only school in the world to have been awarded “Royal battle of honors” for its role in defense of Lucknow during the mutiny of 1857.
Later drive to 'Chowk' the oldest market place of Lucknow to shop for the unique crafts of this Nawabi City. We walk in the by-lane of Chowk called ‘Gol Darwaza’ –the market place that is known to house the best of handicrafts and Chikan work. Chiken is a unique craft where the craftsman work delicately on unique styles and stitches on very light cotton fabric.
Towards the late afternoon, visit local family, who will explain Awadhi cuisine to you over a casual tea at his home, and where you can enjoy his collection of antiques and his beautiful home.
After tea, take a culinary walk down the lane adjacent to the Akbari Gate, where you can taste the best street food from the most authentic places, which have held their own. During the walk, you will get the opportunity to sample the best dishes from the Awadhi menu from the places, where they actually originated. Sample the original Tundey Kebabs, Raheem’s Nihari and Mobeen’s Pasanda Kebabs. Observe the chef’s at work in these small and dingy shops that serve mouth watering delicacies. Your guide will explain the history and the recipe of each of these dishes and will encourage your adventurous spirit by tempting you to try them.
End this meal with local "Paan" Betel leaf with areca nut. Paan is chewed as a palate cleanser and a breath freshener. It is offered to guests and visitors as a sign of hospitality and at the beginning of social events. It has a symbolic value at ceremonies and cultural events in India.
Return to the hotel with your stomach full!
Day 08: LUCKNOW – VARANASI by train (0700/1320 Hrs.)
In time transfer to Lucknow railway station to connect train for Varanasi.
On arrival, assisted transfer to the hotel.
Evening, watch the illuminated aarti ceremony that is performed at Dasahwamedh Ghat. The presiding priests stand on a wooden Chauki in 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.
Day 09: VARANASI
· Breakfast at the hotel
· Morning sightseeing tour
· Witness the aarti ceremony
· Overnight stay in Varanasi
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 in 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 the boat and walk through the narrow streets of Varanasi before returning to the hotel for breakfast. This walk will take you 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, colour is rife.
Post breakfast visit some of the other important sites in the city with your guide. Dotted with temples, the city's principle shrine is the Vishwanath temple, dedicated to Shiva. The temple was destroyed repeatedly during various invasions but was finally rebuilt in 1776 A.D. by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore.
Afternoon visit Sarnath. After attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya the Buddha went to Sarnath. It was here that he preached his first discourse in the deer park to set in motion the 'Wheel of the Dharma'. The museum at Sarnath (Sarnath Museum Closed on Fridays) contains carvings representing a whole range of styles: archaic, the Mathura School, Gupta, past Gupta and Medieval covering work of sculptors from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D.
Day 10: VARANASI - DELHI by Flight by 9W 370 (1300/1440 Hrs.)
· Breakfast at the hotel
· Varanasi – Delhi by flight
In time transfer to Varanasi airport to connect flight for Delhi.
Upon arrival Delhi airport and proceed to connect flight for onward destination.
End of the Service.