Day 01: Arrival / DelhiLate night arrival. Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car.
Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you.
Welcome to India, or as we say 'atithi devo bhava' (the guest is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you!
Day 02: DelhiYour morning activity begins with the historical part of the city also known as Old Delhi starting with `Shah Jehanabad' which has some dramatic remnants of the Mughal Empire in the imposing Red Fort and Jama Masjid India's largest mosque, built by Emperor Shah Jehan, creator of the Taj Mahal. You ride rickshaws through its principal street.
Chandni Chowk, originally renowned throughout the Asia with its tree-lined canal flowing down its center. These days it's a bustling jumble of shops, temples, mosques and craftsmen's workshops of goldsmiths, silversmiths, silk traders and embroiderers.
Explore the hustling and bustling of Old Delhi and streets of Chandni Chowk sitting in a cycle rickshaw.
Culminate the Old Delhi tour with a photo stop at Raj Ghat the site of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation. Built on the banks of the Yamuna River, is a simple memorial that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948. A pretty park has been created around the memorial.
Continue on to Explore New Delhi drive through the boulevards of New Delhi and pass India Gate which is a memorial built to the 85000 soldiers who died in World War I and the Afghan battles of 1919.
At the other end of Rajpath stands the official residence of India's president, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, a complex of buildings that mix Mughal and Western architectural styles. Prior to independence, this was the home of India's last viceroy, Lord Mountbatten. Close by is Sansad Bhavan, the large though less imposing parliament building.
Lunch will be arranged at 'The Lodi' located next to Lodi Garden.
After lunch proceed to visit Qutab Minar, a tower of victory begun by the Slave Dynasty's founder, Qutb-ud-din-Aybak, in A.D. 1193 and completed by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1368. At its base is India's first mosque, the Might of Islam Mosque, built on the foundation of a Hindu temple. It was completed in A.D. 1300.
Like the nearly contemporary slave, or Marmeluke, rulers of Egypt, slave kings of Delhi were anything but servile. The term simply indicates that they had once been held captives. In a court awash with intrigue and opportunity, India's Turkish conquistadors regarded a slave's loyalty as more dependable than that of their own kin. Purchased, rapidly promoted, eventually freed, and forever trusted, the erstwhile slave of a royal patron was ideally placed to act as either power broker or pretender. His elevated status was equally proclaimed with monuments. The Qutb Mosque boasts a tower of victory that doubles as India's, and perhaps Islam's, most massive minaret.
Day 03: Delhi / Neemrana (122 Kms) (03 Hrs Drive)Following a leisurely breakfast, ride out 122 kms to the obscure village of Neemrana which is dominated by the majestic Neemrana Fort, which is India's oldest heritage resort. Situated on a majestic plateau, concealed in a horseshoe formation of the billion-year-old Aravalli ranges, Neemrana fort Palace Heritage Hotel has 40 air-conditioned rooms. Each room has its own unique character and history. On the basis of theme the rooms have been named as the Malabar room, Barsat Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Mata Mahal, Surya Mahal, Gopi Mahal and the Sheesh Mahal.
Afternoon, we visit the adjoining tribal villages where life has not changed for centuries. We explore the tribal country surrounding the imperial fort. The lifestyle here remains unchanged for centuries and untouched by modern times.
Day 04: Neemarana / Jaipur (150 Kms) (03 hrs Drive) Afternoon, we explore the unending shopping options of Jaipur. An essential starting point for Rajasthan craftwork is block making and block printing and we will be exploring the process from start to finish in some of the popular stores here. The opportunity also exists here to tailor make outfits to your design and size.
We also explore one of the chief attractions of Jaipur - its jewelry, which offers a variety that ranges from chunky tribal jewelry to enameled gold to modern diamond jewelry. Kundan (art of stone setting) and enamel jewelry has been a specialty of Rajasthan, particularly that of Jaipur. The stones are embossed into decorative shapes & patterns and embellished with delicate enamel ornamentation in the champeve (raised field) technique. Jaipur is well known for its gold and silver enameling. Colorful bangles made of lac and set with semiprecious stones make an inexpensive buy. The craftsmen take great pains to embed the hundreds of stones into the lac. The skilled gem-cutters of Jaipur carve enchanting little animals and birds from rock, crystal, jade, smoky topaz and amethyst. Intaglio beads & buttons and crystal scent bottles are also available.
Day 05: Jaipur After a leisurely breakfast, we proceed on a guided tour of the Amber Fort. Set on the dry wrinkled Aravali Hills, the Fort is a superb example of Rajput (Medieval Hindu) style of architecture. A slow elephant taxi takes us to the top of the Fort, which houses several graceful buildings.
We will ride up to this hilltop palace on a caparisoned, painted elephant, passing through the ancient main gate where Maharajas of Jaipur have entered for four hundred years. Our guide will elaborate on the history of this architectural masterpiece with its mirror-studded alcoves, dazzling mosaics and water-cooled swings that delight today's visitors as they did their former royal residents.
We shall visit the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, a five-storied structure of pink sandstone with semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed windows overlooking the main street of the old city.
Day 10: Varanasi / Delhi (9W 724 - 1440 / 1600 Hrs) Morning is at leisure to absorb & observe the religious spirit of Varanasi
Later transfer to the airport to connect your flight to Delhi
Meeting and assistance upon arrival & transfer to your The Imperial
Home Visit & A Farewell Dinner With An Indian Family : This evening, we would visit an Indian family for an Indian home experience. The evening is designed to give you a 'feel' and insight into Indian family life as well as experience typical Indian hospitality and home made Indian food.
Day 11: Delhi / Departure Transfer to the International airport to board your flight back home
Day 08: Khajuraho / Varanasi (9W 724 - 1300 /1410 Hrs)This morning, proceed on a tour of the world famous western group of temples depicting erotic sculptures of love making images of Gods and Goddesses and celestial Nymphs. The fantasies displayed in the sculptures are mind-boggling. It speaks very highly of the artistic creativity and imagination of the sculptors. The frank depiction of uninhibited does hint towards a liberated society and times where people believed in dealing openly with all aspects of life. The graphic and realistic illustrated scenes of lovemaking elaborated on the Tantric texts
Later, transfer to the airport to board your flight to Varanasi
Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to hotel Taj Ganges
Varanasi is quite possibly the world's oldest living city. Religious artifacts link it to the sixth century B.C. Said to be founded by Shiva, Varanasi's Vedic affiliation goes back to the beginning of time. It is also a city of many names. The present name, Varanasi (derived from the names of two nearby rivers) is mentioned in the Mahabharata. The ancient name is Kashi, the City of Light. To the devout it is also called Kashika, the shining one, referring to the light of Shiva. Many others prefer the anglicized Benares. Revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jain alike, Varanasi is considered the holiest city in all of India. It is presided over by Shiva in his manifestation as Vishwanatha, Lord of the Universe. Buddha delivered a sermon in nearby Sarnath and Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, lived in Varanasi. As a result, more Indians will make a pilgrimage to Varanasi in their lifetime than any other place.
Evening, we visit the ghats of Varanasi to witness the performance of Ganges Aarti. We enjoy a special evening cruise on the Ganges. See the Hindu devotees performing the "Puja" with lighted lamps. The view is very mesmerizing and the ambience is spectacular in the backdrop of the beating of cymbals and bells as well as the incessant chantings.
Day 09: VaranasiAt dawn we visit the sacred Ganges for a boat ride. Every morning at dawn hundreds of worshippers can be seen bathing in the sacred waters. The great river banks are lined with an endless chain of stone steps-the ghats-that stretch from one end of the city to the other. The Ghats form an impressive part of the religious landscape of the city. Proceeding downstream at a leisurely pace, you would be pointed out the significant temples and buildings as well as the changing architectural style. Life and death go hand in hand in Varanasi. While young people seek prosperity and protection from harmful influences, the older generation comes to Varanasi to cleanse their souls in the forgiving waters in preparation for their ultimate dissolution. Believing that anyone who dies in the river of life in Varanasi gains freedom from the cycle of birth and death, the City of Light has become a haven for the sick and aged waiting out their final days. The smoke that billows from the crematoriums on the edge of the river gives testimony to their final release from life's earthly confines. We would dock our boat at Manikarnika (Cremation) Ghat. On any given day, anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred corpses are cremated here; the ghat is assiduous with activity as the cremated bodies threw up smoke and fire.
Following the boat ride we set off on foot to explore the inner city. Through a twisted maze of narrow alleys, home to numerous shrines and pilgrim shops, we walk back a few centuries. Life here has stood still for years. The homes, the shops and even the cattle have not changed over the centuries. It is a brilliant nostalgic experience of timelessness!
Afternoon, we will visit several temples and the Hindu University at Benares. First stop would be the Bharat Mata (temple of Mother India). Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, it features a huge marble map of India on the ground floor. Next up, the Durga Temple. Known for its bright red color and the playful, if sometimes aggressive, monkeys that run amok there, the Durga Temple is one of the most imposing architectural monuments in Varanasi.
The university, which occupies a large piece of land at the southern end of town, is also home to the New Vishwanatha Temple. The New Temple is modern in design and open to Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Surrounded by palm trees, it is a splendid white marble structure that shines in the afternoon sun against a pale blue sky. Inside, the temple is spacious and airy. The interior walls are covered with Vedic art above inscriptions from the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. In the center of the first floor is the Shiva linga.
This evening we take a short trip to the Buddhist city of Sarnath .It is here that the Buddha preached his first sermons after attaining enlightenment. The highlight of this tour would be a participation in the evening prayer service (aarti) of the main Buddhist temple here - the synchronized chanting of hymns to the accompaniment of traditional temple music is a sole stirring experience.
Day 06: Jaipur / Fatehpur Sikri / Agra (245 Kms) (04 ½ Hrs Drive)Morning we drive to Agra, stopping at deserted Capital City of Fatehpur Sikri. This abandoned capital of the Mughals is a perfectly preserved city at the height of the empire's splendour. The city divided into religious and secular parts has interesting well-sculpted buildings. From here we continue our ride to Agra
Meeting and assistance upon arrival as you are individually checked in at your rooms at the luxurious Amarvilas hotel, which is one of the best boutique hotels in the world. The hotel of whimsical charm has several attractions. However, being in the city of the Taj Mahal, the most relevant charm of the hotels is the unhindered view of the Taj Mahal from your bedroom. It is the most beautiful and an amazingly uplifting sight. Only 600 meters from the Taj Mahal stands this luxury resort. Discerning travelers can now appreciate the fabulous Taj Mahal while enjoying world-class luxury. The elaborate Mughal gardens, terraced lawns, fountains, reflection pools and pavilions complement the classical architecture of the hotel.
Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, perhaps the most photographed monument in the world. However, there is a degree of enigma about the Taj. Once you hear about a building so much and once you see so many pictures of a building your expectations are real high; and this is the enigma about the Taj Mahal. No matter how many pictures you have seen or no matter how high your expectations are the Taj never lets you down - the unparalleled glory and beauty of the building surpasses beyond all human imaginations. At sun set we visit the Taj Mahal to witness this spectacular monument built for love. Besides perfect symmetry in every aspect of its construction, the inlay work of semi precious stones into marble in pietra dura style is absolutely remarkable.
Day 07: Agra / Jhansi (Shatabadi Express - 0820 / 1040 Hrs) Jhansi / KhajurahoMorning, transfer to the train station for a short ride on India's premier train service to Jhansi.
Meeting & assistance upon arrival at Jhansi train station & we will drive to Khajuraho
Upon arrival check into your hotel Taj Chandela
After wash & change we proceed on a tour of Eastern group of Temples .If pictures speak a thousand words, then the temples of Khajuraho form a magnum opus... an expression of Indian sculptors of yore. These temples of Khajuraho were built by the Chandela kings following the tradition of Tantric art. Although famed for their erotic sculptures, the philosophy behind the temples is much more vast and encompassing. They are in fact a celebration of life!
Sound & Light Show:
Evening, we visit temple complex to enjoy Sound & Light Show, where the history of the temples is narrated through the medium of Sound & Light. This fascinating Son-et-Lumiere spectacle evokes the life and times of the great Chandela Kings and traces the story of the unique temples from the 10th century to the present day. Amitabh Bachhan, the Indian Super Star, narrates the story of Khajuraho in his mesmerizing voice