Days 1 - 2 Delhi
You are met at the airport in Delhi and transferred to your hotel. The day includes sightseeing tour of Sir Edward Lutyen’s New Delhi, the garden city built in 1911 by the British. We Also visit the Birla Mandir (Lakshminarayan temple), the President’s House, Humayun’s Tomb (the forerunner of the Taj Mahal), and the India gate. On the second day we shift from New to old, visiting the ancient city built by Emperor Shah Jahan the builder of the famous Taj Mahal. We visit the Red fort and then take a bicycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of the city to Jama Masjid, the oldest mosque in India. In the evening we transfer to the railway station to take the overnight train to Varanasi.
Day 3 Varanasi
On arrival in Varanasi we transfer to the hotel to freshen up and then stretch our legs with a walking tour of the city. From Varanasi we also take an afternoon to visit Sarnath, the place where Buddha gave his first sermon. The Spot id commemorated with a Stupa. We visit the ruins of the Buddhist monastery and the temple where one can see a life size painting of the life of the Buddha. Before we leave Varanasi, an early morning boat ride presents an incredible scene as the multitude of devotees come to the river to pay homage to the Sun God. We pass the bathing ghats where thousands of pilgrims immerse themselves in the holy water of the Ganges River, and the burning ghats where creations are conducted. As we sail down the Ganges with the temple bells ringing on the shore one feels transported to an entirely different world.
Days 4 - 5 Khajuraho
We continue on to Khajuraho by flight. Khajuraho is famous for its erotic temples. They are superb examples of Indo – Aryan architecture but it’s the decorations embellishing them that has made Khajuraho so famous. The sculptures have shown many aspects of Indian life 1000 yesrs ago, gods and goddesses, warriors and musicians, But two elements appears over and over again – women and sex. Khajuraho’s temples almost all date from one century long burst of creative genius from 950 to 1050 AD. Almost as intriguing as the sheer beauty and size of the temples, is the question of why and how they were built here, so far off any beaten path. Whatever the reason, this very remoteness must have prevented the temples from being destroyed by later invaders.
Days 6 - 7 Agra
We continue our journey to Agra. We travel first by coach to Orchha – the former capital of the region but now just a village. There we visit the old fort on an island in the Betwa River and a palace that was built for Jehangir – they are impressive in size and provide pleasant views of the countryside. After stretching our legs we continue on to Jhansi where we catch the Shatabdi train to Agra. Agra is home to the Taj Mahal – we say, the most complete and perfect of the wonders of the world. It was built in 1652 by Emperor Shah Jahan. It took 22 years and 20,000 skilled artisans to complete. We also visit the Agra Fort which lies across the river Jamuna. It was here that Aurangzeb, the third son of Shah Jahan, kept his father under house arrest. One can get a fantastic view of the Taj from the little octagonal tower in the fort.
Days 8 - 9 Jaipur
Today we continue our journey by deluxe coach to Jaipur. On the way we visit Fathehpur Sikri, the ghost city built in honor of Saint Salim Chisti who foretold the birth of 3 sons to Emperor Akbar. Jaipur, is the captital of Rajasthan. It was founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693 – 1743) and is the capital of Rajasthan. It is a city of contrasts where camels and elephants wait at the traffic lights along with cars and scooters. The whole city was painted Pink when the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, visited jaipue in 1876, giving it the nickname the “Pink City”. Today, every home in the city is obliged by law to maintain this façade. While in Jaipur we visit the Amber Fort, the former capital of the royal family of Jaipur, taking an elephant ride to the top. Another highlight of our visit is the City palace, the former royal residence built in a blend of the Rajasthani costumes, and Mughal and Rajput weapons. We also visit the Jantar Mantar observatory and the Hawa Mahal.
Days 10 - 11 Delhi
We return to Delhi by road. The afternoon is free for last minute shopping and relaxing. Our tour finishes with breakfast and transfer to airport for international departure.
With thanks to Ami Vitale for the bathing ghats image