CULTURAL TOUR OF INDIA

Tour cost not valid for the period 20th December – 08th January and other festive seasons.

DAY 01: ARRIVE DELHI

Arrive New Delhi international airport, on arrival meeting our representative & transfer to hotel.
Delhi, The capital of India, is fascinating city with complexities, beauty and dynamism, where the past co-exists with the present. Many dynasties ruled from here and the city is rich in the architecture of its monuments. Delhi is not only the present metropolis of India but also a necropolis. Located on the banks of the river Yamuna, Delhi has witnessed the rise and fall of many cities over the last five millennia.

Overnight in Delhi

DAY 02: IN DELHI

After a leisure breakfast at the hotel, proceed to explore the city of Old Delhi visiting India’s largest mosque Jama Masjid , built by Shah Jahan. Later visit the historic Red Fort - Shah Jahan’s elegant citadel in red sandstone, built in the 17th century AD. Visit the Diwan-i-Am, the pillared Hall of Public Audience, Diwan-i-Khas, the Hall of Private Audience where the Emperor met select visitors, the Emperor’s chambers and the Hall of entertainment and the pearl mosque built by Aurangazeb, the last of the Great Mughals. The morning tour of Old Delhi will conclude at Raj Ghat, the memorial to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi by. Later in the afternoon, explore the city of New Delhi visiting the Tomb of Humayun built in 16th century AD, a magnificent structure in red sand stone and white marble,a fine example of a garden tomb and a precursor of the Taj Mahal. Drive to the Qutab Minar, a Tower of Victory started by Qutabuddin Aibak of the Slave Dynasty which ruled over Delhi in the 12th century and completed by his successors. Within the courtyard of the adjoining Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque stands the famous Iron Pillar, dating back to the 4th century AD which bears Sanskrit inscription. The pillar has puzzled scientists, as its iron has not rusted through the past centuries. Also visit Rail museum.

Drive along the Rajpath towards the residence of the President of the Republic of India, Rashtrapathi Bhawan, which is flanked by the houses of the Parliament and the Government Secretariat buildings. Visit the India Gate, a majestic arch, 42 meters high, built as a memorial to the Indian soldiers killed in World War I.

Overnight in Delhi

DAY 03: DELHI / AMRITSAR

After breakfast , transfer to New Delhi airport to board morning flight. Arrive Amritsar . Assistance upon arrival at the airport & transfer to hotel. Amritsar is one of the most ancient and fascinating cities of India. It is an important seat of Sikh history and culture. Being the gateway for travelers coming to India on the overland route from central Asia, it soon became the centre of various commercial activities

Late afternoon: Visit Wagha border by car (30Kms / 1 hr drive one way). Wagha is the international border between India and Pakistan. The pomp and pageantry of the Beating Retreat and the Change of Guard within handshaking distance of the Indian and Pakistani forces makes for a most charming spectacle takes place every evening.

Overnight in Amritsar

DAY 04: IN AMRITSAR

After a leisure breakfast at the hotel, enjoy morning tour of Amritsar visiting the famous Harmandir Sahib, which was founded by the fourth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Ramdas and completed by his successor Guru Arjan Dev. If interested, participate in the common kitchen and also enjoy sumptuous meal at the community where thousands of people eat every day. Also visit another revered shrine is the Durgiana temple dedicated to goddess Durga. The museum at Ram Bagh houses weapons dating back to Moghul times and some portraits of the ruling houses of Punjab. The Jallianwala Bagh, famous for the notorious massacre by the British General Dyer on 13th April 1919, reminds everyone of the most heart-rending events in the history of India.
Afternoon, free to explore the city on your own.

Later in the evening, attend the evening ceremony at the Golden temple. These are the rituals that attend the traditional bearing of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib from the Harimandir Sahb to Kotha Sahib in the Akal Takht, where it is kept each night, which it is always returned after 9.30 pm in the evening.

Overnight in Amritsar

DAY 05: AMRITSAR / DELHI / VARANASI

After leisure breakfast , trasnfer to Amritsar Airport to board flight for Varanas via Delhi. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel. Varanasi is Hindus holiest pilgrimage city, also known as the “City of Light.” Ancient names for this city include Benares or Kashi. Varanasi is also the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It is here that all Hindus aspire to come once in their lifetimes to bathe in the Ganges River from the Ghats, or landings, all along the river.

Evening: Attend the `aarti' at the ghat by boat - the waving of the oil lamps as a symbol of devotion to the river Ganges and the ceremony accompanying it. Once you will be free from taking photograph of the preparation of evening aarti of river ganga, sail on the other side of the ghat by boat so that you can take some nice photograph of the aarti.

Overnight in Varanasi

DAY 06: IN VARANASI

Early morning: Enjoy a boat ride at dawn down India's most sacred river, The Ganges. Sun rise at the holy river is a truly tranquil and breath taking sight with pilgrims standing waist deep in water, praying to the rising Sun. Past these bathing ghats, see the "burning ghats where the Hindus cremate their dead. This is done with great religious fervour which makes for a moving experience. Return to hotel for breakfast

Morning: Excursion to Sarnath,13kms from Varanasi is the place where the Buddha delivered His first Sermon and ‘Turned the Wheel of Law’. See the Chowkandi and Dhamek Stupas, the ruins of 9th and 10th century monasteries and temples and the temple built by the Mahabodhi Society in 1931. Visit the famous Sarnath Museum.

Afternoon: City tour of Varanasi, visit the Benaras Hindu University founded in 1916 and its famous Museum - Bharat Kala Bhavan which houses one of the finest collections of Mughal miniature paintings and brocade textiles. The Bharat Mata and Durga Temple and see the famous Vishwanath temple with its spires covered with gold, dedicated to Shiva, the presiding deity of the city.

Overnight in Varanasi

DAY 07: VARANASI / KHAJURAHO

After a leisure breakfast at the hotel, transfer to airport in time to board morning flight for Khajuraho . Arrive Khajuraho and transfer to hotel.

The Temples of Khajuraho was constructed by the Chandela kings from around 925 AD for about 150 years. These temples are known for their architectural and sculptural excellence, carved with the roughest of tools. 85 temples in all portrayed the civilization of those times’ zest for life. They portray spirituality, love, music, dance hunting and feasting. Today, 22 temples survive. Known the world over for the sensual appeal of the erotic sculptures, strangely these form only a very small part of the wealth of these unique temples that depicts the everyday life of the people and the court of the Kings of the 10th and 11th centuries.

Afternoon: Tour of Western, Southern & Eastern Group of temple visiting the Laxmana Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, the Preserver of the Universe, is the only Chandela Temple of the 10th century AD which is complete, intact and in excellent condition. The Kandariya Mahadeo temple of this Group is the largest, dedicated to Shiva. In both these temples, the main shrines are exquisitely carved and feature, in delicate detail, gods, goddesses, celestial maidens and lovers. The Parsvanath temple of the Eastern group is the group’s largest Jain temple. The themes depict, in charming detail the everyday activity of those times. Visit the Chaturbhuj temple of the Southern group.

Overnight in Khajuraho

DAY 08: KHAJURAHO / ORCHA / JHANSI / AGRA

After leisure breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Jhansi transfer to by car (175kms / 6 hrs drive including en-route visit Orchha). Orchha was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput Chieftain Rudra Pratap Singh. Orchha’s grandeur has been captured in time; a rich legacy to the ages. The palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries retain much of their pristine in perfection.

Visit Jehangir Mahal, built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in the 17th century to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatries and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness. Raj Mahal Palace with its plain exteriors, crowned by chhatris, give way to interiors with exquisite murals, boldly colorful, on a variety of religious themes. Rai Praveen Mahal - the palace built for the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani. It is a low, two storied brick structure, designed to match the height of the trees in the surrounding, beautifully landscaped gardens of Anand Mahal, with its octagonal flower beds and elaborate water supply system. Skillfully carved niches allow light into the Mahal which has a main hall and smaller chamber. Ram Raj Temple - the palace-turned temple with its soaring spires and palatial architecture - is one of the most unusual in India; also are the Chaturbhuj temple and the Laxminarayan temple.

Later drive on to Jhansi railway station in time to board Bhopal Shatabdi at 1840 hrs.

Arrive Agra at 2130hrs meeting assistance at the Agra railway station and later transfer to hotel.

Agra is famous as the home to one of the seven modern wonders of the World- the Taj Mahal. This city having been the capital of the Mughal dynasty for over hundred years till 1650 there are many Mughal monuments of repute.

Overnight Agra

DAY 09: AGRA / FATEHPUR SIKRI / SAWAI MADHOPUR

After a leisure breakfast at the hotel, morning tour of Agra visiting Agra Fort & Taj Mahal.
The Agra Fort was built by three Mughal Emperors, Akbar the Great, his son Jahangir and grandson Shah Jahan in succession. Started in 1565 AD, the fort is a masterpiece of design and construction. Within the fort are a number of exquisite buildings including Jahangir’s Palace, Khaas Mahal,Sheesh Mahal,Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas and Musamman Burj, the Octagonal tower, where Emperor Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb for seven years and died a prisoner.

Taj Mahal, the inimitable poem in white marble was built over a period of 22 years, by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1630, for his Queen, Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains. It is one of the seven modern wonders of the World. Evening: Free to relax

After the visit, transfer to Sawai Madhopur by car (200 Kms / 5-6 hrs drive including visit) en route visiting Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri-the exquisite city built by Akbar the Great in 1569, in red sandstone, with its forts, palaces and mosques, and abandoned 14 years after its creation due to political reasons. Diwan-i-am - vast courtyard in which the emperor gave daily public audience, Diwan-i-khas - a large quadrangle where all the major functions of the palace took place, Pachisi court, the emperor’s private living quarters, are some of the important buildings of this residential complex.

Arrive Sawai Madhopur, check-in at hotel

Ranthambore National Park is considered to be the countries best for observing and photographing the activities of the tiger. The park, covering an area of 392 sq. km. is home to more than 300 species of birds. The tiger, hyena, rate, jackal and fox are among those constituting the carnivorous population here. Sawai Madhopur is known for its exclusive toys, ethnic ornaments and costumes.

Dinner & overnight in Sawai Madhopur

DAY 10: IN SAWAI MADHOPUR

Early morning: Visit Ranthambhore National park by open jeep on sharing basis along with an English speaking naturalist. Return to hotel for breakfast

Morning: At leisure

Afternoon: Visit Ranthambhore National park by open jeep on sharing basis along with an English speaking naturalist.

Dinner & overnight in Sawai Madhopur

DAY 11: SAWAI MADHOPUR / JAIPUR

After breakfast transfer to Jaipur by car (150 Kms/ 3-3½ hrs drive). Upon arrival, check-in at hotel. Upon arrival, check-in at hotel. Jaipur - the capital of Rajasthan is color washed pink - the color associated with auspiciousness and Rajput hospitality. This Pink City of fairy tale palaces, rugged fortresses perched on barren hills, and a city of broad avenues is picturesque. The first planned city of its time, Jaipur is encircled by a formidable wall.
Evening: At leisure

Overnight in Jaipur

DAY 12: IN JAIPUR

Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Excursion to Amber Fort & Palace. Drive past the Hawa Mahal, known popularly as the Palace of Winds, a facade built in the 19th century AD to enable the ladies of the Royal family to watch the happenings on the street from the decorated windows of this facade. Visit the Amber Fort, the capital of the erstwhile state of Jaipur until 1728.

Perched on a hill it has the halls of Public and Private Audience, a Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) and various marble palaces which are marvelous examples of medieval Rajput art and architecture. Visit the Temple of Amba (Mother Goddess), the patron deity of the Royal family, at the entrance to the Fort. Also enjoy short Elephant ride to ascend the hill on which the fort is situated.

Afternoon, proceed for city tour of Jaipur visiting the City Palace, the former royal residence built in a blend of the Rajasthani and Mughal styles. It now houses a museum with a superb collection of Rajasthani textiles and costumes, Mughal and Rajput weapons of war, an art gallery with a fine collection of miniature paintings, carpet and royal paraphernalia. Visit the Jantar Mantar an astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 18th century which is remarkable for the accuracy of its instruments even in the present times.

Overnight in Jaipur

DAY 13: JAIPUR/ DELHI/ DEPART

Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Delhi airport by car (270kms / 6-7 hrs) to board flight for onward destination.

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