ROMANCE AWAITS YOU AT RANTHAMBORE
VARANASI – DELHI
TO AGRA TO SEE THE FAMED TAJ MAHAL
WATCH THE STUNNING TAJMAHAL IN MORNING, AND AGRA FORT IN EVENING
TO VARANASI: THE CITY THAT RESTS ON SIVA'S TRIDENT
VARANASI: FAITH, LOVE, SPIRITUALITY AND THE GANGES
ARRIVE TO THE CAPITAL OF INDIA: NEW DELHI - A PERFECT BLEND OF TRADITION AND MODERNITY
ENCAPSULATE THE ESSENCE OF DELHI IN YOUR HEART: THE WONDERS OF MUGHAL ERA
UDAIPUR – NARLAI
UDAIPUR AND ITS STUNNING BEAUTY
SPENDING A DAY IN NARLAI VILLAGE - UNDERSTAND THE LIFE OF RURAL INDIA
UNDER A TENT IN A DESERT - WELCOME TO MANVAR
ONWARD JOURNEY TO BLUE CITY - JODHPUR
JODHPUR: AN ODE TO THE ROYALTY OF RAJASTHAN
JAIPUR: THE GATEWAY TO FABLED LAND OF RAJPUTS - WARRIOR CLAN OF INDIA
JAIPUR: PLACES TO UNDERSTAND VALOR AND ROYALTY OF THE ERSTWHILE KINGS
TO THE 17TH CENTURY VILLAGE NARLAI
TO THE DECIDUOUS JUNGLES OF RANTHAMBORE, THE HOME OF ROYAL BENGAL TIGERS
MUMBAI - FOR BOLLYWOOD, VADA-PAW AND STOCK EXCHANGE
EXPLORE MUMBAI - THE NEW YORK OF INDIA
ENJOY ROMANTIC UDAIPUR: THE CITY OF LAKES
ULTIMATE LUXURY AT THE LAP OF HIMALAYAN PLAINS
Arrive at Mumbai, the financial hub of India, and often compared as the New York of East. We stay for a day in Mumbai and get to see the important places here – and then to Udaipur, one of the most important places to hold the nerve of exotic Rajasthan. Enjoy Udaipur and then travel to Narlai, where you will get an exceptional chance to work with the society, and help a school take a step further in their education. We will then travel to Manvar to see Thar Desert in full glory! After a day at Manvar, we will move to Jodhpur – the blue city! Obviously the trip can’t end without a visit to Jaipur, the gateway to valiant Rajput lands. Our next leg of journey will be Agra – where resides the world famed Tajmahal – a poem written in Marble! Enjoy Agra for a day and arrive then to Varanasi – the oldest city of India, which is said to rest on Lord Siva’s trident. Enjoy the most spiritual experience of your life here, in Varanasi.
ITINERARY IN DETAIL
Day 1 Arrive Mumbai
Today arrive Mumbai (Bombay). Mumbai was named by the original inhabitants, the Kolis, after their goddess mother Mumba Devi. You will be met on arrival by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 2 Mumbai
After breakfast you will travel by boat to Elephanta Island, located about 10 km from Mumbai Harbour. There, on a hill, is a set of four rock-cut Hindu temples. From the ferry landing, the caves are reached by a stairway up the hillside. Though the exact date of these temples is not known, archaeologists estimate sometime between the 6th and 7th centuries when Buddhism was declining and Hinduism gaining ascendancy in India. It would appear that some of the same families of craftsmen and sculptors who worked on the Kailasa Temple and the adjoining Buddhist caves at Ellora, were also employed at Elephanta.
Later, after lunch, you will have a city tour of Mumbai. You will visit the Gateway of India, Mani Bhavan - the memorial built for Gandhi - and the famous Dhobi Ghats featured in the award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.
DAY 03 Mumbai – Udaipur
Today fly to Udaipur, the “city of sunrise,” India’s most romantic city, built around four lakes. The blue waters reflect the shimmering white palaces and temples and the whole city exudes a feeling of peace and space.
On arrival, here check in at the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure.
DAY 04 Udaipur
Udaipur, in the heart of Rajasthan, is a city of majestic palaces and beautiful lakes. Here, adorning the banks of Lake Pichola and standing witness to the historic City Palace, you enjoy a full day 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. The huge City Palace, towering over the Lake Pichola is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Though it is a conglomeration of buildings built by successive rulers, it manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design and affords fine views of the lake and the city from upper terraces.
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. The temple is a very fine example of Indo-Aryan art. The temple is still in use and is visited by colourfully dressed pilgrims.
An afternoon cruise on Lake Pichola offers spectacular views of the cityscape from the water.
DAY 05 Udaipur – Narlai
Our journey takes us onward into the Aravalli hills to the sights and sounds of the 17th century village of Narlai. We'll take a stroll in the village with visits to the Hindu and Jain temples. Our accommodation for the night is a beautifully restored hunting lodge, now a delightful heritage hotel.
DAY 06 Narlai
Adventure walkers will want to climb to the top of the hill to admire the colossal statue of the elephant guarding the village. Later, we'll stroll in the village to get a feel for village life. There is a small bazaar here where we can learn to design amulets. Here modern India seems very far away.
Later visit to a local school will introduce you to the children who are about to tame India’s economic tiger, and perhaps practice their English with you, or teach you a few words in Hindi.
This evening you are taken on a magical journey from the Rawla through the village streets in to the jungle. Before arriving at the 1100 year old “Step well”. The Magical setting is brought to life by dimly lit oil lamps that illuminate setting through flickering night. The very private dinner is laid out in a traditional manner, it promise to remain unmatched experience to anything you will ever experience for a long time. The entire evening is like a secluded sanctuary inspired by the mystical past, bracing Indian spirituality and unique experience of one being completely with nature.
DAY 07 Narlai – Manvar
Rajasthan is India’s desert state and today we venture out into the heart of the desert to stay in a splendid tented camp. From our base here we’ll explore the untouched sand dunes, visit the homes of desert craftsmen and the chili and mustard farms, and watch the children trotting off to school while their mothers prepare the afternoon meal on dung-fire – this is your sanctuary and theirs. Our tents with private facilities are carefully placed for commanding views over the desert wilderness with traditional camping style teak furniture and lovely fabrics. Dinner under the stars is a breathtaking experience.
DAY 08 Manvar – Jodhpur
Today you will drive to Jodhpur also known as the “Blue City,” for the blue-washed color of its houses. The city set right at the edge of the Thar Desert, and strewn with forts and palaces that go back to the 15th century. A high stone wall with seven gates rings the city, the second-largest in Rajasthan, founded by Rao Jodha in 1459 A.D. Jodhpur it is known as the “Blue City,” for the blue-washed color of its houses. On arrival check-in at your hotel.
DAY 09 Jodhpur
This Morning visit of Jodhpur will take you to the Mehrangarh Fort. Towering above the city it is the setting of Kipling's The Jungle Book. The impenetrable walls of the fort rise like cliffs from the rocky outcrop. You'll visit the well- preserved interior and enjoy a magnificent vista over the city from the Fort.
Later visit the nearby Jaswant Thada - a royal cenotaph, close by, and an ideal spot from which to photograph the fort. The Jodhpur market is a wonderful place to shop for leather goods, handicrafts and spices.
Afternoon, we visit a small village to see the art of making glazed blue pottery, one of Jodhpur’s signature crafts, along with good antique reproductions, textiles, and spices to ship home.
DAY 10 Jodhpur – Jaipur
After breakfast you leave for the urban edge of the Pink City, Jaipur, and the third corner of India’s Golden Triangle. It is also located in the state of Rajasthan, created from 22 feudal kingdoms, following the 1947 Partition and is the state’s capital city.
Rajasthan evokes images of erstwhile royalty – polo-playing princes and beautiful princesses who captured their hearts. The history of Rajasthan – or ‘Rajputana’ as it was once called – is rich with legendary tales of love and valour. The Royal Standard of the House of Amber still flutters above Rajmahal Palace, one of the oldest and most treasured palaces in the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. Only the City Palace and the royal family’s private forts hold this distinction. Home to the Maharaja of Jaipur, this exquisite royal palace is located at the heart of Rajasthan’s bustling capital. An enclosed oasis, secluded in verdant gardens, Rajmahal Palace is the repository of a celebrated history. Tall bay windows, mirrored doors and meticulously appointed interiors allow guests to be transported to a new era of 21st century regal living. Conceived by H.H Sawai Jai Singh II as a private palace, a garden retreat, built for his beloved wife, Chandra Kanwar Ranawat ji, the daughter of the Maharana of Mewar, Rajmahal Palace has stood witness to over two hundred and fifty years of history.
DAY 11 Jaipur
This morning explore the monuments of Jaipur's golden age. Visit to the magnificently preserved Amber Fort, a beautiful complex of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples.
Also see where attitudes had their roots at Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), where a high and intricately carved wall sequestered women of the court while allowing them to watch processions below.
Afternoon explore the monuments of Jaipur's golden age. You will also see the City Palace, a former royal residence built in the centre of the old city in a blend of the Rajasthani and Mughal styles.
Another highlight is Jantar Mantar, the largest of the five remarkable observatories built by Jaipur's founder. Its complex instruments, with scientifically designed settings and shapes, represent the high points of medieval Indian astronomy.
Evening walk through the bazaars of the city. Return to the hotel.
DAY 12 Jaipur – Ranthambhore
Today we're off by road to the ‘Ranthambore’ on the fringes of the Vindhya Hills in Eastern Rajasthan, protects 400 square kilometres of rocky hill and plateau country in dry deciduous jungle. A formidable fortress high above the plains provides a dramatic backdrop for viewing game and a glimpse into Rajasthan’s valorous past. Although it is one of the smallest reserves in India, Ranthambore is famous as the foremost tiger sanctuary in the country. In addition to Bengal tiger, we hope to see an impressive array of wildlife including langur, sambar, nilgai, chital, wild boar, jackal, fox, and sloth bear.
Enjoy the rural countryside along the way. On arrival check-in at your hotel. Evening is at Leisure.
Nestling in the natural beauty of the wilds, The Oberoi Vanyavilas is India’s leading luxury jungle resort on the edge of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. The perfect base from which to explore the territory of the majestic tiger. Tiger sightings are most frequent during the months of May and June. While it is warm during the day, mornings and evenings are pleasant. The resort setting is picture-perfect with a dramatic watercourse and sun-kissed private decks. The luxury tents with finely embroidered canopies, luxurious bathrooms and private walled gardens are in perfect contrast to the ruggedness of the jungle.
DAY 13 Ranthambhore
Romance and adventure await at Ranthambore National Park, nestled in the Aravali hills, and once the private preserve of the Maharajas of Jaipur. This haven for the adventure seeker and the wildlife watcher, offers 410 kms of forested hills alive with dhok, ronj, salai, sanbar, tigers, leopard and exotic birds. In short, some of the best wildlife sightings Asia has to offer.
This morning’s jungle safari is by open jeep, followed by breakfast at the hotel, and a second thrilling safari in the afternoon.
DAY 14 Ranthambhore – Agra
After breakfast, you will be transferred by private vehicle to the city of Agra. This is a fascinating way to see the country as we wind our way down from the foothills back to the plains and onward to the city of love – Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Upon arrival check-in at your hotel.
DAY 15 Agra
Morning visit Shah Jehan’s monument to love - The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor as the final resting place for his favorite Queen, Mumtaz. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630-1652 A.D) of hard labor and 20,000 workers, masons and jewellers to build. It was designed by the Persian architect, Ustad Isa. The verses of Holy Quran are inscribed on it and at the top of the gate’s 22 small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to built. The elegant dome of the Taj has a diameter of 60 feet, and directly under the dome is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Fantastic inlay work, using semi-precious stones, decorates the exterior and interior.
This afternoon visit the Agra Fort. The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 A.D., although additions were made until the time of his grandson, Shah Jehan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 kilometres, and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9-metre wide and 10-metre deep moat surrounds the outer wall.
In the evening enjoy the grand live performance “Mohabbat-e-Taj” based on the love story of Taj Mahal.
DAY 16 Agra – Varanasi
Today morning you will be drive to the Delhi airport for your connecting flight to Varanasi.
The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Formerly known as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together." Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi will attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth.
DAY 17 Varanasi
Early this morning, we will board a launch for a cruise on the Ganges to the two-kilometre stretch of bathing ghats, or steps, that lead into the river. The ghats of the Ganges are perhaps the holiest spots of Varanasi, and are full of pilgrims who flock to the place to take a dip in the holy river. They believe this absolves them from all sins and cleanses them physically, mentally and spiritually. It is at the Ganga ghats where we see life and death together.
This afternoon, we’ll visit the holy site of Sarnath, the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage. Amongst the ruins the Dharmekh Stupa is impressive at 128 feet high, and 93 in diameter. This dates from around 200 BC and is the spot where the Buddha is said to have preached his first sermon.
This evening join your guide for a walk through the oldest and most famous narrow and winding lanes of the city, past the endless human panorama - pilgrims, worshipers, sadhus, children selling flowers and floating lights to place in the river - to arrive at the ghats at the Ganges to witness the Aarti Ceremony which is part of the evening puja or prayers. During the ceremony deepas (oil lamps) are offered to Mother Ganges with thanks and devotion for the light of the sun and for her divine light. As the Aarti fire ceremonies take place, bells are rung and chanting and singing provide a fascinating, magical and spiritual conclusion to the days end.
DAY 18 Varanasi – Delhi
Today drive to Delhi airport to connect your flight to Leh. On your arrival spend a relaxed day in the hotel.
DAY 19 Delhi
This morning, you will be escorted on the tour of Delhi. We will begin the day traveling by rickshaw past colorful bazaars, sacred temples, and colonial monuments through the winding streets of Old Delhi, the capital of Muslim India from the 12th through the 19th centuries. Enjoy a photo opportunity of the iconic Red Fort, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan before leaving Old Delhi.
Visit India's largest mosque, the white marble Jama Masjid or “Friday Mosque.” Rising from between the crowded medieval streets of Old Delhi, the Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India.
Other highlights include Humayun's Tomb, which was built by the wife of Mughal Emperor Humayun, Haji Begum in the mid-16th century. This red sandstone structure is considered to be the predecessor of Taj Mahal. The structure is one of the best examples of Mughal architecture. Humayun's wife is also buried in the tomb, which is built of red and white sandstone and black and yellow marble.
Later we'll visit to the Gandhi Memorial Museum, located in New Delhi, showcasing the life and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation.
As you navigate the city in your private air-conditioned motorcoach, you will drive along the ceremonial avenue, Rajpath, past the imposing India Gate and Parliament House.
DAY 20 Departure
Today connect your flight back home.