6th February- 20th February 2020
DELHI – JAISALMER – JAIPUR – RANTHAMBHOR -AGRA – DELHI – SARNATH -VARANASI
14 Nights/15 Days
India is a cultural cocktail. With its diverse mixture of people, climates, scenery, architecture, religions and cultural influences, it can be inspiring, moving and is incomparable to any other destination or civilization.
This tour gives you an opportunity to put your finger on the pulse and experience the very soul and essence of India. It encompasses for you the potpourri of cultures from the golden desert city of Jaisalmer, the royal elegance of Jaipur, the Mughal architectural marvels of Agra, and the spiritual face of India at the holy city of Varanasi.
4th February: Depart for India. Arrival 6th to Delhi.
6th February: Thursday: Arrive Delhi. Overnight
7th February: Friday: Fly Delhi-Jaisalmer- Overnight
8th February: Saturday: Jaisalmer. Overnight
9th February : Sunday : -Jaisalmer. Overnight
10th February: Monday : Fly Jaisalmer- Jaipur. Overnight
11th February: Tuesday: Jaipur .Overnight
12th February: Wednesday. Jaipur. Overnight
13rd February: Thursday: Drive to Ranthambhor. Overnight
14th February: Friday: Ranthambhor . Overnight
15th February: Saturday : Train/Drive to Agra. Overnight
16th February: Sunday : Drive to Delhi . Overnight
17th February: Monday: Delhi. Overnight
18th February : Tuesday: Train to Varanasi. Overnight
19th February: Wednesday : Varanasi and Sarnath. Overnight
20th February: Thursday; Varanasi -Departure to Delhi.
Day 01: 6th February: Thursday: Delhi
On arrival at the airport you will be met by our guide and transferred to your hotel . At leisure to recover from your flight. Overnight Delhi.
Day 02: 7th February: Friday: Delhi-Jaisalmer
Morning transfer to aiport for flight to Jaisalmer. Arrive Jaisalmer. Transfer to hotel. Day at leisure. Overnight.
There is something magical about Jaisalmer, which rears out of the inhospitable Thar Desert like a mirage from the “1001 Nights”. Once a staging post on the trading routes west, it is a walled citadel, formidably fortified, of a sand color that turns golden in the setting sun, and it contains a labyrinthine fort surrounded by palaces and temples. Below the forest of intricately carved spires and turrets is a merry jumble of buildings, alleys, animals, humans, shops and cafes, wonderful golden havelis and numerous fine Jain temples. Get lost in the maze of streets and walk around the walls to look out on the shimmering expanse of desert and appreciate the sheer isolation of the location.
Day 03: 8th February. Saturday: Jaisalmer
After breakfast, proceed for a visit to the Jaisalmer fort. Visit the Fort Palace,with its spectacular 360-degree views from the rooftop, a the treasure trove of seven beautiful yellow sandstone Jain temples, Nathmalji Ki Haveli and the Patwa-ki-Haveli, highly appreciated for their architecture and intricate carvings.
Evening at leisure. Overnight Jaisalmer.
Day 04. 9th February:Sunday; Jaisalmer
Today you will visit the Jaisalmer Desert Festival , an annual event that takes place every year in the Hindu month of Magh (February), three days prior to the full moon. The festival is celebrated amidst the beautiful dunes of the Thar Desert. Romantic, remote and unspoiled, the location comes to life during the three day extravaganza of the delights of the desert. Enjoy the colorful festival and in the evening experience a sunset camel safari in the dunes. Overnight Jaisalmer.
Day 05: 10th February Monday: Jaisalmer – Jaipur
Morning at leisure to explore Jaisalmer on your own. Check out in the afternoon and transfer to the airport for flight for Jaipur. Departing at 1700 hours. Arrive Jaipur 1815 hours. You will be met and transferred to your hotel. Evening at leisure. Overnight Jaipur.
Jaipur or ‘the City of Victory’, was founded in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh. Bordered by a crenellated wall with seven gates, it is one of India’s finest examples of a planned city, built ,following the principles of ‘Shilpa Shastra’, the science of Indian Architecture. Often called the “Pink city” , it is a labyrinth of fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces and historic sites. A city where tradition and modernity co-exist, Jaipur today is a major business centre with all requisites of a metropolitan city.
Day 06: 11th February: Tuesday: Jaipur
After breakfast, you will be met your Jaipur city guide and you will begin your tour with a drive past the unique five-storey Hawa Mahal.
Next ascend on elephant back (optional) the fort palace of Amer ,which was the bastion of the Kachhawaha Rajputs till 1728 when the capital was shifted to Jaipur. The aesthetic ambiance of this formidable fort is seen within its walls in the well turned out opulent palace complex – built with sandstone and marble consisting of the various buildings, the Ganesh Pol, Diwan-e-Aam, the Diwan-e-Khas, the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) and the Sukh Niwas. Visit the Anokhi Textile Museum to see the art of block printing. Overnight Jaipur.
Day 07: 12th February: Wednesday: Jaipur
After breakfast visit the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the City Palace which now houses the Maharaja Man Singh II Museum; however a greater part of it is still a royal residence. The sprawling complex is a superb blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture, incorporating an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings.The Museum treasures include royal costumes and textiles, weaponry, paintings, mughal carpets, musical instruments and silver urns, providing a fascinating glimpse into Jaipur’s princely past and an introduction to the arts and crafts.
Also visit the Jantar Mantar, one of the five observatories built by Sawai Jai Singh II. The one at Jaipur is the largest and best preserved. The observatory is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, consisting of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars’ location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides.
Later explore the bustling colorful bazaars of the old city. Adjacent to the famous Hawa Mahal, Badi Chaupar, is probably the most crowded location in Jaipur. With a wealth of colorful mojaris (leather footwear), handicrafts, antiques, Rajasthani furniture and Jaipuri print dress materials, this square is teeming with tourists. You can see craftsman at work on some fine forms of local art like Zardozi embroidery, Gota work, Kinari, appliqué, silver filigree and meenakari, precious and semi-precious stone work, and lac work. Hone your bargaining skills.
Evening at leisure Lunch & Dinner on your own at a local restaurant. (Dinner recommendation: The Palladium at Narain Niwas Palace). Overnight Jaipur.
Day 08: 13th February,Thursday: Jaipur-Ranthambhor
Check out after breakfast and drive 3 hours to your jungle lodge on the outskirts of Ranthambhor National Park. Post lunch. Proceed for an safari in open jeeps (shared) with an expert naturalist and forest guide into the park for your best chance at spotting the reclusive tiger. (All meals included) Overnight at Ranthambhor.
There are few places on earth that combine a profusion of wildlife with valuable historical heritage. The Ranthambhore National Park lies at the junction of two iconic hill ranges, the Aravallis and the Vindhyas. It is one of the finest places in the world to encounter wild tigers that roam the dry deciduous, dry thorn forest. A variety of wildlife thrives across Ranthambhore’s spectacular landscapes and diverse ecosystem, including the leopard, bear and a large number of prey species. Ornithologists flock to the area for the abundant birdlife that resides within, or migrates to, Ranthambhore across the many seasons.
Day 09: 14th February, Friday: Ranthambhor
Morning and evening safari into the park for your best chance at spotting the reclusive tiger.
During time between safaris we visit the local Women’s Cooperative “Dastkar”. Dastakar Ranthambhore is a non profit organization that produces handicrafts created by women from villages around the park. Founded in 1989, this was an effort to empower and provide income to villagers on the periphery of the park. Interact with the women, speak with them and watch them work . You can buy their products in order to support the fine endeavor. All meals at the Lodge. Overnight Ranthambhor.
Day 10: 15th February ,Saturday: Ranthambhore – Agra
This morning transfer to the railway station to board the Jan Shatabdi departing at 0720 hrs. Arrive Bharatpur at 0930hrs. Transfer to Agra( 1 hour). Enroute Optional visit to the ghost city Fatehpur Sikri.
Built by Emperor Akbar between 1571 and 1585 in honour of Sufi saint Salim Chishti, Fatehpur Sikri was the Mughal capital for 14 years. It was the first planned city of the Mughals and also the first one designed in an amalgamation of Indian, Persian and Islamic architectures, with distinct private and public areas along with imposing gateways. This walled city reflected Akbar’s secular vision as well his manner of governance.
Drive onto Agra 1 hour. Check into your hotel.
Later in the day visit the imposing red sandstone Agra Fort, Surrounded by a deep moat, the 16th century Fort is situated on the west bank of the river Yamuna. The ramparts form a crescent along the river front and encompass an enormous complex of courtly buildings, ranging from the early eclecticism of Akbar to the sublime elegance of Shah Jahan. Visit the small and elegant garden tomb of Itmadullah. Built in 1630, it is lyrically described as a ‘jewel box in marble’, it is a combination of white marble, coloured mosaic, stone inlay and lattice work. As the sun sets we head for a view of the Taj
from Mehtab Bagh, a different perspective from across the river Yamuna. Overnight Agra.
Suggested Valentine Dinner at Peshawari at ITC Mughal – A unique concept, the restaurant offers a sophisticated yet totally ethnic experience where the kitchen is part of the restaurant.
Agra stands as a testimony to the true spirit of a resilient era that made India a force to be reckoned with. With their talent and wealth the Mughals immortalized Agra in stone and marble leaving behind a legacy of some of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in the country. Today. Although, one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is the most famous and synonymous with Agra ,the Red Fort, ,and the tomb of Itmad ud Daula.
Day 11: 16th February; Sunday Agra-Delhi
Have a spectacular start to the day with a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal “teardrop on the cheek of eternity”, the crowning jewel of Indo-Islamic architecture, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1560, in loving memory of his queen Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains. Return to the hotel for a late breakfast. Check out by noon and drive to Delhi (3 hours). Arrive late afternoon. Check into your hotel.
Drive past New Delhi’s splendid array of colonial architecture in the Raisina Hill area where one can see the corridors of power, which signify Delhi to be the “Seat of the Largest Democracy” in the world. These are all in a fusion of Western and Victorian in architecture yet Indian in detail evoking its colonial era. Drive up the Raisina Hill to the Viceroy’s House (now the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the residence of the President of India). It is larger than Versailles and architecturally is a fusion of Indian and Western design. Past the Parliament House and India Gate. Check into your hotel. Evening at leisure. Overnight Delhi.
Delhi, India’s capital is a multidimensional metropolis. A vibrant melting pot, it is sprinkled with captivating ancient monuments, magnificent museums, a vivacious performing-arts scene, modern hotels and great places to eat and shop!
Day 12. 17th February. Monday:Delhi
After breakfast, begin your day with a visit to Bangla Sahi Gurudwara (Sikh Temple). Observe and maybe join in “kar seva” meaning selfless service at the‘Langar’ – a free community kitchen.
Every religion follows its own way of feeding the hungry but, this practice is followed dedicatedly at this holy place too, the food is cooked and served by volunteers to nearly 10,000 people every day, irrespective of caste, color, creed, sex or religion.
Next we visit bustling soul center of Old Delhi, mounting cycle rikshas through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, the spine of Old Delhi. Jahanara Begum, the daughter of Shah Jahan designed this commercial place in1648. It is today perhaps one of Delhi’s most populated areas and the largest marketplace – jewellers, spice merchants, food vendors, money lenders, shopping arcades, workshops as well as residences!
Ride past the dazzling bylanes of wedding finery Kinari Bazaar and and silver street Dariba Kalan upto the Jama Masjid the royal mosque built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan in 1656. It is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in the world and is constructed in red sandstone and white marble. The main prayer hall has a seating capacity of more than 20,000 worshippers.
Drive on to South Delhi to visit the superb buildings in the Qutub Minar complex dating from the onset of Islamic rule in India. The Qutb Minar itself is a soaring 73m high tower of victory that was started in 1193, immediately after the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom in Delhi. At its base is Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid (Might of Islam Mosque), India’s first. Built on the foundation of a Hindu temple, many elements of the construction reflect their Hindu and Jain origins. Within the complex, there are a myriad of monuments that combine both Islamic calligraphy and Hindu motifs. A 2000 year old high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner on your own. Overnight Delhi.
Day 13, 18th February. Tuesday: Delhi-Varansi
Early morning transfer to New Delhi Railway station to board the high speed Train to Varanasi, departing at 6am. Arrive Varanasi at 2pm. Checkin to your hotel.
After a few hours rest ,you will proceed to the ghat and board a boat, cruising past the cremation ghats watch the evening aarti ceremony, a collective prayer, amidst jingling bells, floating diyas (traditional lamps) and the chanting of mantras. Overnight Varanasi.
Varanasi is full of color and the sound of temple gongs and bells. Fascinating and exceptionally photogenic, the city’s most outstanding feature are its ghats, mostly used for bathing and ceremonial purposes, but also for cremations. At dawn, the river is bathed in sunlight as colorful pilgrims perform their morning rituals. Mark Twain famously described Varanasi as “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. Varanasi is the oldest continually inhabited city on earth and the religious capital of Hinduism.
Day 14. 19th February : Wednesday Varanasi
Today your guide will greet you at dawn and accompany you to see life on ghats abuzz with activity. Participate a havan (fire ritual) and vedic chants on the Assi ghat. Board a boat and cruise downstream, watch devotees performing their ablutions in the river or offering prayers to the rising sun and performing religious rituals. Get off at the Manikarika Ghat and walk through the narrow alleys of the oldest part of the ancient. Return to the hotel by a tuk tuk for a late breakfast.
Afternoon visit Sarnath, the site of the ancient Buddhist city and university. It is also known for the spot that the Buddha gave his first sermon after he gained enlightenment. Overnight Varanas.
Day 15: 20th February, Thursday: Varanasi-Departure
Morning at leisure. Post noon check out and transfer to airport for onward international departures to Delhi.