Day 04: Agra / Jhansi (Shatabdi Express - 0820 / 1040 Hrs) Jhansi / Khajuraho Morning, transfer to the train station for a short ride on India's premier train service to Jhansi.
Meeting and assistance upon arrival drive through fascinating tribal country to Khajuraho.
Upon arrival check into your hotel The Grand Temple View
After rest & relaxation 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: Afternoon, 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.
Day 05: Khajuraho / Varanasi (9W 724 - 1300 / 1410 Hrs)Morning we proceed on a tour of Western Group of Temples depicting erotic sculptures of love making images of Gods and Goddesses and celestial Nymphs. The sexual fantasies displayed in the sculptures are mind boggling. It speaks very highly of the artistic creativity and imagination of the sculptors. Afternoon return to your hotel.
Later, transfer to the airport to board your flight to Varanasi
Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to hotel Taj Ganges
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 back drop of the beating of cymbals and bells as well as the incessant chantings.
Day 07: Varanasi / Delhi (9W 724- 1330 / 1410 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 and transfer to your hotel The Imperial
Home Visit & a Farewell Dinner with an Indian Family : Meeting and assistance upon arrival and 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 08: Delhi / Departure Today we will be transferred to International airport to connect our onward flight back home.
Day 06: Varanasi At 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 docked 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.