This itinerary features many of India's essential sites, as well as some off the beaten path destinations to get you away from the tourist track. After a few days in Delhi, travel into the spiritual North, to Varanasi, a holy site for many of the Hindu faith. After the Taj Mahal in Agra and the fascinating city of Jaipur, spend a few days traveling the rest of the "purs" throughout Rajasthan.
In the morning, you will be picked up at the airport in Delhi and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Delhi is India’s historical capital and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, whose character and culture was shaped by waves of influences since ancient times. New Delhi has expanded and now encompasses residential and commercial development to the west and south, plus the satellite towns off Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad. Delhi has overtaken Mumbai and Kolkata in recent years to become the most vibrant creative art and culture center in India.
This afternoon you will embark on a guided tour of New Delhi.
New Delhi was designed and built by the British in the 1920's - it's a city of wide boulevards impressive government buildings, green parks and gardens. In 1911 King George V announced the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. The King's architects, Lutyens and Baker, set in motion the design and construction of Delhi's eighth city - New Delhi. Lutyens designed an "Imperial City" having palatial-sized buildings set amid broad tree-lined avenues punctuated by Mughal style gardens, complete with fountains and shallow pools. You will visit two monuments from Delhi's past - Humayun's Tomb and Qutub Minar. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today you are invited to know the daily lives of these street children of Delhi, some of who live in the New Delhi railway station area and one of these children is your guide today to take you through their shelters and run you through their life-stories. The walk has been specially designed for you to give you the insight of these street children and their success stories and achievements in life as you learn about their lives on the railway track, platform (where these children spend their day), small school, shelter and Salaam Baalak Trust Contact Center and Office and get to interact with their coordinator, who is also a volunteer in the program. (This service is on a private basis.)
Enjoy a private tour of Old Delhi today. Old Delhi was an ancient walled city. Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in 1650 switched the Mughal capital from Agra to Delhi. Shah Jehan possessing an exquisite talent, especially in architecture, created the seventh city and in the process brought about Delhi's glorious renaissance. Start the day with a cycle rickshaw ride through Old Delhi. Here you will see Red Fort the most opulent Fort and Palace of the Mughal Empire. The fort is Shah Jehan's symbol of power and elegance, built behind red sandstone walls. Its main gate (Lahore Gate) faces Chandni Chowk, the perpetually congested avenue heading west from the Red Fort is filled with twisting lanes, small streets and crowded bazaars. If you peer through a portico you may see a man getting shaved, silver being weighed, or any other conceivable form of intense commerce. Also visit Raj Ghat, the memorial site of the Mahatma Gandhi; Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India; and Chandni Chowk, the bustling and colorful market of the old city. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Delhi and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Varanasi. Upon arrival in Varanasi, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Varanasi is a popular pilgrimage site for people of the Hindu faith. One of the seven holiest cities, Varanasi city is also one the Shakti Peethas and one of the twelve Jyotir Linga sites in India. In Hinduism it is believed that those who die and are cremated here get an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and re-births.
This evening take a visit to Ghats to witness evening Aarti. Aarti is a Sanskrit word which stands for homage or devotion. The Aarti or offering of the lamps is observed at prescribed hours of the day and night to invoke the gods.
It is believed that the gods physically present themselves before devotees at this ceremony. The lamps are revolved before the idols in a clockwise manner along with the chanting of hymns. This recitation is accompanied by drums, blowing of the conch-shell and tolling of the temple bells. At the end of the `aarti’, the priest takes a handful of water which he revolves around the god's idol. This is to pacify `agni' (the Fire God). (This service is on a group basis.)
Very early in the morning, before dawn, leave your hotel for a boat excursion on the Ganges. Walk through the shuttered market, where only the devout make their way through the silent streets. Board a rowboat and sail first upstream, and then downstream. Sunrise is a sacred hour for Hindus, with the broad steps of the ghats leading to the river thronged with locals and pilgrims. As the first rays of the sun light up the western bank of the river, a panorama of temple spires and mansions, priests and pilgrims offering prayers will greet your eyes. While on the boat, your guide will speak about the philosophy and history of the Ganges and Varanasi, and the Hindu religion. Varanasi‘s surreal aura is heightened and intensified further by sight of cremations taking place very close to the spots where the worshippers gather.
Return to your hotel for breakfast.
This afternoon travel to Sarnath where the Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining Enlightenment. Pause at the very spot before strolling through the peaceful grounds, marked by ancient as well as relatively newer stupas and temples, and the Deer Park. The onsite Archaeological Museum is a treasure house of prehistoric and ancient sculpture including the magnificent Ashoka Pillar, which is India’s official symbol. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Varanasi and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Delhi. Upon arrival in Delhi, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
At the time of the Mughals, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Agra was the capital of the grand Mughal Empire. During this period the city became a leading center of art, science, commerce and culture. The short golden age of Agra came to an end with the seventeenth century reign of Shah Jehan, mastermind of the Taj Mahal.
After breakfast proceed for a city tour of Agra with visit to Taj Mahal & Agra Fort.
That magnificent monument of love – The Taj Mahal, was built by an emperor in memory of his beloved queen. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631, and is believed to have taken 22 years to complete, with over 20,000 craftsmen working round the clock. The design and construction is said to be that of the legendary architect, Ustad Ahamad Lahori. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, and dazzling white during the day.
Later proceed to Agra Fort. Agra Fort is also known as Lal Qila, Fort Rouge and Red Fort of Agra. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its much more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city. The great Mughals Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahanand Aurangzeb lived here, and the country was governed from here. It used to contain the largest state treasury and mint and was visited by foreign ambassadors, travelers and the highest dignitaries who participated in building India's history.
After breakfast you’ll drive to Jaipur. (5 hour drive.) En route enjoy a visit to Fatehpur Sikri. This is an hour’s drive outside Agra.
Fatehpur Sikri was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar. The architectural grandeur of this deserted city cannot be described in words and one can only experience the aura of its magnificent edifices by seeing them.
As one enters Sikri from the Agra Gate, one of the nine gateways on the way to the palace complex, Diwan-I-Aam, or the hall of public audience appears first. It is a huge rectangular walled-in courtyard where petitions were heard, proclamations made, ambassadors received and entertainment programs held.
Ponder the mysterious desertion of this capital city that was dramatically abandoned a few years after it was built. It was a veritable fairy tale city and its 'ruins' are still in a pristine condition.
Later continue your drive to Jaipur. Upon arrival you’ll check in at your hotel. The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the facilities at hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Known as the “Pink City," Jaipur is the capital of the colorful state of Rajasthan. It has the distinction of being a well planned and laid out city. As you drive through the old part of town, you will witness a life most unlike others. Witness how the city blooms during the day in a kaleidoscope of color and sound.
After breakfast proceed for an excursion to inspiring Amber Fort. Amber Fort is a marvelous example of Rajput architecture with its terraces and ramparts reflected in the Maota Lake below. The interior of the fort has various royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, mirror and glass. You will head to the fort on the back of an elephant today!
After the Amber Fort, proceed for a city tour of Jaipur. You will visit the City Palace Museum where you can see an imposing blend of traditional Rajasthani and Mughal Art. The museum is resplendent with its collection of robes of royal princes, carpets, an armory of old weapons, miniature paintings portraying court scenes, battle scenes and processions, Also visit the awe inspiring Jantar Mantar (an accurate observatory built in 1726 AD). Also included is a photo visit 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.
Enjoy this free time at your leisure.
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Jaipur and transferred to your accommodations in Jodhpur. (This service is on a private basis.)
Among Rajasthan's many princely settlements, Jodhpur is one of the most distinctive. This five hundred year old settlement was the headquarters of the Rathore Rajputs celebrated for their tales of daring. This princely state is also referred as "The Blue City." Founded in 1459, the oldest of Rajputana's great cities, Jodha's Jodhpur preceded Bika's Bikaner by thirty years, Udai Singh's Udaipur by more than a hundred, and Jai Singh's Jaipur by nearly three centuries.
This morning leave for a city tour of Jodhpur visiting the famous red sandstone fort, built five centuries ago and containing the handsome Maharajah’s palace. See Jaswant Thada, a royal memorial built in pure white marble, and the Mandore Gardens.
This afternoon you will proceed for a Bishnoi Village Safari. If you want to get an experience of tribal India, Jodhpur Guda Bishnoi Village is the place for you. It is approximately 25 kms from the main city of Jodhpur. The village is scenic beauty marked with Khejri trees and deer. Also in the village is the Guda Bishnoi Lake, an artificial lake and very scenic spot. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today, you will drive approximately 5 hours to Udaipur, breaking up the long drive with a visit to the Ranakpur Temples. Ranakpur is a village near Sadri town in the Pali district of Rajasthan in western India. It is located between Jodhpur and Udaipur, in a valley on the western flank of the Aravalli Hills. Ranakpur is easily accessed by road from Udaipur.
Ranakpur is widely known for its marble Jain temple, and for a much older Sun Temple which lies opposite the former. Continue on to Udaipur to check into your overnight accommodations. (This service is on a private basis.)
Capital of the former kingdom of Mewar, the “City of Sunrise” is one of India’s most beautiful locales, a patchwork of manmade lakes, ringed by low hills and dotted with lakeside palaces, pavilions and clusters of elegant whitewashed houses.
This morning enjoy a guided tour of this "Lake City". Udaipur is a cool oasis in the dry heart of Rajasthan. It is probably the most romantic city in a state where every city has some romantic or exotic tale to tell. You'll visit Udaipur's City Palace Museum. The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum displaying a large and diverse array of artifacts. Down steps from the entrance is the armory museum exhibiting a huge collection of protective gear, weapons including the lethal two-pronged sword. Proceed on to the Jagdish temple which enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu and his vehicle - a mighty bird called Garuda in a brass image.
Later this afternoon take a boat cruise on the serene and beautiful Lake Pichola. The island palace on the lake called Jagmandir Palace is quite fascinating. The banks of the lake provided interesting glimpses of the daily bathing and laundry that takes place here. Looking across the lake, with the city and its great palace rising up behind the island palace, is a scene of rare beauty. You will also have time to spend in the bustling market that sprawls behind the City Palace Complex. (This service is on a private basis.)
Enjoy this free time at your leisure.
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport. (This service is on a private basis.)
The Suryaa New Delhi is a 5 Star Deluxe Hotel located in the heart of New Delhi, a mere 35 minute drive from the International Airport & adjacent to Delhi's business districts - Nehru Place, Pragati Maidan-International Trade Fair venue, Okhla & Noida Export Promotion Zone. The 242 guestrooms are designed to provide an ultimate experience in convenience & luxury with 82 Club Rooms luxuriously appointed with 42 inches plasma TVs, Bedside Control Console & a very exclusive Club Lounge.
This very modern resort, in the Cantonment area of Varanasi, offers contemporary style and luxury to both business travelers and tourists. The Ramada Plaza JHV Hotel in Varanasi, with its signature cylinder-shaped architecture, has exceptionally well-trained staff and outstanding leisure options that include a swimming pool with a swim-up bar and a race track. The spacious rooms have garden or pool views, modern facilities including internet connectivity, and marble bathrooms. The Silk Route restaurant serves Chinese food, Tadka serves Indian cuisine, and there are several more bars and coffee shops. A shopping mall is situated right next to the resort and the train station is only 1.5 kilometers away while the airport is 22 kilometers away. The famous Ghats are also just a short drive from the hotel.
The regal Jaypee Palace Hotel and Convention Centre, a glorious structural blend of red sandstone and marble, is spread over an unbounded 25 acres of elegantly landscaped luxuriant greenery. Sprinkled with enormous water bodies and endless walkways, this magical creation impeccably blends Mughal and contemporary architecture with modern amenities. Leading the way to luxurious rooms and suites, the impressive interiors along the way set the tone for a majestic way.
A refurbished old mansion in the center of the Pink City, the hotel is near the Johari Bazaar, City Palace, and Hawa Mahal. The rooms take you back to the days when the Thakurs of Alsisar lived here with antique furniture and medieval Rajasthani style-fabrics enhance the Rajasthani look. The hotel is located just outside the old walled city and is an oasis of tranquility from the busy Indian streets. The old mansion surrounded by a beautiful garden with a small, pleasant pool also allows outdoor dining and is a treat in this setting. The indoor dining room serves Indian and western food, has walls decorated with inlaid gold, and is truly magnificent.
With magnificent views of the Blue city, Ranbanka Palace retains and preserves the old world charm and glory of a bygone era. Its central location allows easy access to key leisure and business addresses in the city. The heritage hotel today houses a range of accommodations from deluxe pool and courtyard facing rooms to extravagant suites in the royal 'Heritage Wing' and luxurious 'Jodhana Wing'.
Well-positioned in Lake City - Lake Pichhola / Fateh Sagar Lake, Radisson Blu Udaipur Resorts & Spa is the ideal point of departure for your excursions in Udaipur. Only 12 km from the city center, the hotel's strategic location ensures that guests can quickly and easily reach many local points of interest. For those of you who want to venture out, Ashtang Yoga Ashram, Ashoka Arts, Gangaur Ghat are just some of the attractions available to visitors.