THE CLASSICAL INDIA TOUR
* DELHI * SAMODE *JAIPUR *AMER *FATEHPUR SIKRI * AGRA *KHAJURAHO * VARANASI
9 DAY'S / 8 NIGHTS
Day 1: Delhi
You will arrive in the evening at New Delhi International Airport . Following customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection, your representative will meet you as you exit the arrivals terminal building and transfer you to your hotel .
India 's capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines in its fold the ancient and the modern. One of the most historic capitals in the world, Delhi is a treasure trove that reveals the ultimate combination of tradition and trends. Delhi is made up of seven ancient cities, spanning the period from the 11 th to 20 th centuries. Delhi has seen the rise and fall of many emperors, which have 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. Its many-layered existence is tantalising and can entice the curious traveller into a fascinating journey of discovery.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Delhi
Following a leisurely breakfast, enjoy a combined sightseeing of Old and New Delhi . You will head for a guided city tour of the Old City of 'Shahjahanabad', founded by one of the greatest Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Your introduction to the city will be with a visit to Raj Ghat - the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, arriving at the Red Fort - the magical monument in red sandstone, built at the pinnacle of the Mogul empire. From here proceed in bicycle rickshaws through the bustling streets to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan.
This afternoon, you will proceed to visit New Delhi , which reflects the legacy the British left behind. The tour to Imperial Delhi will include a visit to the Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India built to establish the might of Islam and onset of Muslim rule in India and Humayun's tomb, the first great example of a new distinctive style, which developed to become the hallmark of the Mughal Dynasty. The tour also includes a drive past the imposing India Gate (War Memorial Arch), a monument dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives during World War I, the Parliament building and the Rashtrapathi Bhawan (the President's residence).
Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Delhi - Samode - Jaipur
Following an early breakfast, you will be proceed on a driven to Jaipur en route visiting the feudal village of Samode (260 km / 5hour30mins), nestled picturesquely amidst rugged hills dominated by its famous and beautiful Palace. The village in itself exudes a rare nostalgic charm and has many interesting places to explore and wander around.
Continue to Jaipur where on arrival you will check into your hotel.
The vibrant capital of Rajasthan renowned for its forts and palaces is popularly known as the ' Pink City ' because of the pink-colour buildings in its old city. An ideal base for touring the royal state, the city has the distinction of being the third jewel of India 's "Golden Triangle". Its main claim to fame is that it is India 's first 'planned' city built by the famous 18th century astronomer King Sawai Jai Singh II.
Jaipur is not only the gateway to the state; it is also the most natural place to begin a discovery of Rajasthan's multifaceted attractions. Its beautiful buildings including the City Palace , Amer Fort and the landmark Hawa Mahal are truly worth seeing. Browsing through the markets in Jaipur, where skilled craftsmen display jewellery, paintings, carvings and colourful textiles, is an enjoyable experience for tourists.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Jaipur - Amer - Jaipur
This morning, after breakfast, you will proceed on a full day excursion commencing with a photo stop at the Hawa Mahal ( Palace of Winds ) - a five-storied wonder with a spectacular pyramidal facade and overhanging windows with latticed screens, domes and spires. Continue on drive to the ancient capital of Amer to see the fabulous Amber Fort, situated on a ridge just outside Jaipur city. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar's most successful General, started the construction of Amber Fort in the 17 th 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 . Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenulated walls lattice the surrounding area.
At the foot of the hill you will board jeeps to transfer you up to the main gate. Tour the chambers and hallways of the palace, famous for the excellence of its design and decoration. Within the complex is Ganesh Pol, an imposing gateway painted with the images of the elephant-headed god, Ganesh. The merging of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles is captured in the Sukh Niwas and Jas Mandir apartments, and the Charbagh garden with its perfectly proportioned landscaping. Pierced screen windows offer views from different vantage points and shimmering mirrors encrust the walls of Sheesh Mahal.
Following your visit to Amber, enjoy a tour of the Pink City , an "abode of rajahs". The highlights of the tour include a visit to the City Palace , the former royal residence built in a blend of the Rajasthani and Mughal styles. A n overwhelming complex of exquisite palaces, gardens and courtyards, decorative art and carved doorways, t he Palace also houses a museum with a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes and armoury of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiselled handles. The art gallery showcases an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit. Carry onwards to the awe inspiring Jantar Mantar Observatory , a stone astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century.
Overnight at hotel
Day 5: Jaipur - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra
Following an early breakfast, you will proceed on drive to Agra (240 km / 6hours30mins) en route visiting Akbar's abandoned capital, Fatehpur Sikri . Built by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1571 in honour of the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti, it was the Mughal capital for 14 years after which it was abandoned due to paucity of water. It is made of red sandstone and combines influences from both Hindu and Mughal architecture. Even to this day, the entrance to the fort is through the road that Akbar built which leads to the Buland Darwaza, a huge 54 metres gateway. Other inspiring monuments in Fatehpur Sikri are the Hiran Minar that Akbar built in memory of his favourite elephant, Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, Birbal's House and the Diwan-i-Khas.
Continue your drive to Agra where on arrival you will check into your hotel.
The city of Agra , the quintessence of the grand Mughal era, reigns to this day in the public mind as the embodiment of royal grace, imposing architecture and power. Agra is globally renowned as the city of the Taj Mahal. But this royal Mughal city has, in addition to the legendary Taj, many monuments that epitomize the high point of Mughal architecture. No tour to India can be complete without paying a visit to this erstwhile capital of the Mughals and the city of the Taj Mahal, the world's most beloved monument. With its laidback lifestyle and its immense wealth of architecture, handicrafts and jewellery, Agra is amongst the most remarkable city of the world.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Agra
This morning, after breakfast, you will enjoy a guided tour of Agra Fort , an outstanding example of Mughal architecture and the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. 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.
Continue to the world renowned Taj Mahal (closed on Fridays). Enjoy an exciting rickshaw ride to the gates of the majestic Taj.
Referred to as one of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is the epitome of tourism in India and is celebrated for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty. A symphony in white marble, a tribute to eternal love, it was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. There are tombs of Mumtaz and Shahjahan within the mausoleum. Done in white marble, it took 22 years and over 20,000 workers and craftsmen to complete this rhapsody in stone (1630-52 AD). The main structure is set amidst landscaped gardens. While on three sides it is surrounded by high walls, the rear is bound by the river Yamuna.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Agra - Jhansi - Orcha - Khajuraho
Following an early breakfast, you will be transferred to the railway station in time to board the Shatabdi Express train to Jhansi . On arrival in Jhansi , you will be met and transferred to Khajuraho (170 km / 5hours). En route visit the medieval city of Orcha which seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. The city, located by the side of the beautiful Betwa River , was founded by the Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, in the 16th century. Apart from the famous landmarks like Jehangir Mahal, the Laxminarayan Temple , the area is peppered with fascinating little shrines and memorials, all of which add to the overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, the city evokes in the visitor.
Continue on drive to Khajuraho where on arrival you will check into your hotel.
Situated in the heart of India in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho lies in the forested plains of the region of Bundelkhand and world renowned for its temple architecture and exquisite sculptures. Built under later Chandela kings between 950 and 1050 AD in a truly inspired burst of creativity, the temples are superb examples of indo-aryan architecture. The engravings on these temples are highly sensual and erotic that depicts in graceful forms intimate scenes of the whole range of human emotions and relationships. These sculptures congeal in stone a lyrical paean to love and passion and reflect the Chandela dynasty's immense appreciation for art.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 8: Khajuraho - Varanasi
This morning, after breakfast, enjoy a guided visit to the Eastern Group of temples. This group comprises of two historic Jain temples - the Adinath Temple lavishly embellished with sculpted figures, and the Parsvanath Temple , the largest Jain temple, sculpted with charming detail. There are other shrines such as the Vamana Temple with apsaras in sensuous poses, and the Javari Temple that has a richly-carved doorway. Continue to the Western Group of temples which are entirely Hindu, and constitute some of the finest examples of Chandela art at its peak. The largest being the Kandhariya Mahadev dedicated to Lord Shiva, followed by a granite temple - Chaunsath Yogini. The Chitragupta Temple is dedicated to the Sun God, while the Vishwanath Temple sports a three-headed image of Brahma - the Creator of the Universe. The Lakshmana Temple is superbly decorated, while the Devi Jagdambi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. Other temples in the Western Group include the Varaha Temple with a nine-foot high boar-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Matangeshwara Temple with an eight-foot high lingam, and the Brahma Temple .
Later, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Varanasi better known as Kashi.
Located along the west bank of the holy river Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of Varanasi is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site and is one of the oldest. It is a city which enshrines the very essence of Hinduism - temples, shrines and devotees, sunrise boat rides, flower ceremonies with traditional music and walks on the ghats. A city of colourful bazaars, exquisite and bright silks, festivals - all centring around the teeming ghats of the holy Ganges .
On arrival, you will proceed on an excursion to Sarnath. Located about 10km from Varanasi , it is one of the important Buddhist centres. It is the site where Lord Buddha had preached his first sermon or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra-Pravartan) enshrining the principles of his teaching into laws. 200 years later, in 3rd century BC, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who spread the Buddha's message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, built massive stupas, viharas and monasteries making it the centre of the Buddhist world. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between 3rd century BC and 11th century AD and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.
Enjoy a visit to the Stupa, the museum housing beautiful Buddhist and Hindu sculptures and temples.
Return to Varanasi and check into your hotel.
Later in the evening, enjoy a bicycle rickshaw ride through the old streets, winding your way to the ghats (embankments) on the banks of the holy River Ganges. Experience Varanasi intimately when you go on a leisurely rickshaw ride through the narrow streets and alleys. Wandering through this maze can be fascinating. Shops sell rich brocaded silks, brassware and also all the articles essential for worship at the numerous little shrines. In the evening the Ghats and temples are lit with oil-lamp lights or candles. At dusk the ghats are magical, as hundreds of little lamps float out on the river as offerings.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Varanasi - Delhi
Today bid farewell to India as your ' Ganges ' tour comes to an end. Early this morning, enjoy a boat cruise on the river Ganges . Varanasi 's principle attraction is the string of bathing ghats, which line the western ghats of River Ganges. The spectacular 4 Km sweep of the Ghats is a unique sight, best viewed at dawn . An early morning boat ride presents an incredible scene as the multitudes of devotees come to the river to pay homage to the Sun God. Pass the bathing ghats where thousands of pilgrims immerse themselves in the holy water of the Ganges River and the burning ghats where cremations are conducted.
Following the boat ride, you will visit the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple (also known as Golden Temple ) , the most sacred of all shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga , the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varansi. (Note: It is open only to Hindus). Continue to the Bharat Mata Mandir , inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi and dedicated to 'Mother India'. This simple temple houses a perfect relief map of India carved out of marble instead of gods and goddesses.
Later, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Delhi . On arrival, you will transfer to a hotel, which will be the collection point for your late night transfer to the international airport for your flight back home.