India 18 Days Sojourn through North India & Varanasi rom $6,625pp* Departs 05 March 2019

18 Days / 17 Nights

“Join me on this fantastic tour of North India. We will not only visit the famous monuments of this great land but also “experience the living cultures of India”.

From the legendary Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur & Agra we will experience village safaris in Kalakho and the wildlife of Ranthambore National Park, a world renowned tiger reserve where we will enjoy 3 jeep safaris in search of the Bengal Tiger. Our itinerary also includes Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world and take a morning and evening boat ride on the Ganges. Plus much more!”

Ian Norris – Founder, India Travel Specialists.

Delhi (2), Udaipur (2), Jaipur (2), Ranthambore (2), Kalakho (2), Agra (2), Khajuraho (2), Varanasi (2), Delhi (1)

Prices are based on land only. This allows you to fly with your favourite airline or use frequent flyer points. India Travel Specialists have competitive rates with all the major airlinesflyign between Australia and India including AIr India, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Thai Airways. Let is know if you would like a competive airfare quote to compliment this tour.

You must arrive in Delhi on or before the 5th March 2019. 

Itinerary

Day 1 : 05 March'19 - Arrive Delhi

After clearing Customs and Immigration, step into the receiving area, where our representative will meet us and escort us to our hotel. Rest of day at leisure.

Delhi is a dynamic city where the past coexists with the present. While historic evidence shows that the area around Delhi was first occupied around 2,500 years ago, Hindu mythology predates that by another 500 years. The British captured the city in 1803 and when they decided to make it the capital of India in 1911, they commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to draw up the plans. The result is slightly surprising with spacious tree-lined avenues punctuated with architecture which is among the most striking in the world.

Overnight stay at hotel

Day 2 : 06 March'19 - Delhi

This morning meet our guide at hotel lobby at 0830 hrs to start with the tour of “Old Delhi,” head out to explore this exotic locale with its narrow dirt roads, myriads of people and inexpensive and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous A bicycle rickshaw will take you into the heart of Chandni Chowk (the silver square – so named because of the silver merchants). We will then visit the Jama Masjid, one of the largest Muslim mosques in India

Visit the Gandhi Memorial (Raj Ghat), the simple black marble slab honoring India’s beloved Mahatma Gandhi.  The political and spiritual leader of India’s independence movement, Gandhi was renowned for his advocacy of civil disobedience as a form of nonviolent resistance followed by drive past the Red Fort.

Later we proceed for New Delhi region, Drive past India Gate, a 42-metre archway built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War and Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy.  Today, it is the official residence of the President of India. Followed by visit to Humanyu Tomb the 16th-century Tomb of Humanyu, the second Mughal emperor whose resting place is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its ground breaking Mughal architecture.

Last for the day is Qutub Minar, one of Delhi’s most visited and striking monuments.  Sultan Qutb al-Din Aibak laid the foundation for the monument after defeating the last Hindu Kingdom in 1200 CE.  With a height of 240 feet, this red stone tower ranks as the highest brick minaret in the world.

Overnight stay at hotel (B)

 

Day 3 : 07 March'19 - Delhi - Udaipur (flight)

Today, we will take the flight to scenic Udaipur. It is described as the “City of Sunrise,” standing in a valley amid green hills on the banks of the Lake Pichola.

After breakfast, transfer to Delhi airport to connect with flight to Udaipur.

Flight: Jet Airways – 9W-837

Depart Delhi                  12:00 hrs.    

Arrive Udaipur             13:20 hrs.

We will be taken to our hotel to check in and relax.

Late afternoon enjoy a boat ride on Lake Pichola, watching the sunset on the magical Lake Palace, the lovely City Palace complex and scenic Udaipur.

Overnight stay at hotel (B)

Day 4 : 08 March'19 - Udaipur

Today we will explore this beautiful city, visiting the Jagdish Temple, the largest and most venerated temple in Udaipur. Built in 1651 A.D. by Maharaja Jagat Singh, the temple is decorated with friezes and enshrines a black stone image of Vishnu. Walk about the Garden of Maidens (Sahelion Ki Bari), which consists of an ornamental lotus pool with delicately carved cenotaphs of black and white marble and soapstone. You can explore the rest of the Maharajah’s City Palace, an imposing edifice of granite and marble, standing atop a ridge overlooking the blue waters of Lake Pichola and the exquisite Lake Palace.

Return to the hotel for lunch. Afternoon at leisure.

In evening we will go for a dinner at a hotel situated on a mountain from where you can see the entire city as it mesmerises your senses.

Overnight stay at hotel (B)

Day 5 : 09 March'19 - Udaipur to Jaipur (flight)

After breakfast we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Jaipur.

Flight: Spice Jet Airways – SG- 8637

Depart Udaipur                   09:00 hrs.    

Arrive Jaipur                        10:00 hrs.

Jaipur was the home of India’s legendary Hindu warriors, whose historic forts, palaces, and gardens lend a timeless quality to this storied region.  Called the “pink city” for its buildings of rose-hued sandstone, Jaipur today retains the exquisite symmetry of its original construction, as well as the eight historic gates that protected the city centuries ago.

Vastu Shastra, a traditional Hindu system of design based on directional alignment was the principle of design used by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II who founded Jaipur the first planned city of India when he moved his capital from Amber in 1727.

The walled city of old Jaipur divided into chowkris (wards) by the main streets and chaupars (crossroads) was further divided into sub wards. Planned for functionality, mobility and social distribution these sub wards housed the population of the city according to jati (caste). Referred to as mohallas these wards formed communities of specific professions and as a result strong social bonds formed. Jai Singh sent many personal invitations to noted merchants and craftsmen from across Asia offering generous tax concessions and gifts of land if they would relocate to the new city.

In its prime the city housed scholars, poets, writers, musicians, dancers and highly skilled craftspeople in specialist karkhanas (workshops) Thus ensuring a steady output of utility items and art and crafts artefacts these karkhanas contributed to the wealth, prestige, prosperity and preservation of the city.

280 years later the original old walled city of Jaipur still survives. Its incredible history, architecture and crafts are all still there to be discovered, stories of old can still be heard and the skills handed down through generations can still be observed.

On arrival at the airport our representative will greet us and we will go Sanganer area famous for its distinctive blue pottery, which we see the craftspeople paint free-hand. 

Later in the day we will go for city orientation tour with our guide, visit Birla temple followed by visit to noble family where we will have dinner.  This provides a fascinating window on Indian life and an opportunity to witness up close the traditional society from which India is transitioning to a more urban lifestyle.

Overnight at the hotel (B,D)

DAy 6 : 10 March'19- Jaipur

This morning we will do a full day sightseeing of Jaipur including a visit to the Amber Fort and a photo stop at the Palace of the Winds, the Hawa Mahal in the morning.

A visit to the City Palace in the afternoon, which now houses the royal residence and museums with a fine collection of textiles and costumes, armory, manuscripts and paintings, followed by a stopover at Jantar Mantar, wraps up the day.

In the evening we are free to explore the local markets or if you wish can visit a jeweller’s workshop as Jaipur is most famous for its gems.

Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 7 : 11 March'19 - Jaipur to Ranthambore ( approx. 3 hours drive)

After Breakfast we drive to Ranthambore. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel and lunch, followed by afternoon game safari in the national park.

Ranthambore belongs to India’s ground breaking Project Tiger, dedicated to preserving and protecting the once plentiful Royal Bengal tigers that roamed the land here.  Now threatened by poachers, illegal logging, and encroaching civilization, India’s tiger population has decreased precipitously; it is believed that just 58 tigers currently live in Ranthambore (which actually represents a net gain in the past decade or so).  Nationally, Project Tiger has seen the Bengal population rise to about 2,226 at latest count in 2015 from the 1,800 counted when the project launched in 1973.

Post safari return back to our retreat and relax for the day, dinner will be served at the hotel.

Overnight at Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 8 : 12 March'19 - Ranthambore National Park

Today we will do morning and afternoon game drives, where we are sure to see more game (though tiger and leopard sightings are not guaranteed).  One of India’s best known national parks,

In-between the safaris, we will visit an organization called Dhonk which works with members of the Mogya tribe, a traditional hunting community.  Here we see tiger conservation in action as families who once relied on poaching the big cats now have an alternative means of earning income through crafts and artwork.

Overnight at Hotel (B, L, D)

 

Day 9 : 13 March'19 - Ranthambore to Kalakho (approx. 4 hours drive)

After breakfast we will drive to Kalakho and on arrival check into The Clement Village Retreat & Spa.

The Retreat offers a welcome break from the regular tourist visits to monuments, museums and market places and the hustle and bustle of the crowded cities and move towards the pristine and untouched lives of the real people of the land. The villages visited are tucked away within a valley inside the Aravalli Hills, where a community of the Meena Tribals are living. The joy and spirit of rustic life is palpable in the  lively faces of the village folks. Here, in many ways, time has stood still  and  globalization has had little impact.

Rest of day we are free to relax. If you feel energenic, you can take on the Retreat’s staff in a friendly game of cricket!

Overnight at Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 10 : 14 March'19 - Kalakho

This morning relax or go for a walk through nearby countryside and listen to the chirping of the birds and see local farmers working in their fields. After lunch we set out on a camel safari (on camel cart) through the surrounding villages to meet the local Meena tribes people who live in mud huts that they decorate inside with floral and animal designs.  Largely an agricultural people, the Meena have maintained much of their traditional culture and customs, as we will see for ourselves up close.

Late this afternoon we return to the retreat for afternoon tea. In the evening we will experience  Rajasthani Folk Dances performance.

Overnight at Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 11 - 15 March'19 - Kalakho to Agra via Abhaneri & fatehpur Sikri (4 hrs approx)

This morning we check out from the retreat and proceed to Agra. Enroute visit Abhaneri Stepwell.

Abhaneri is known for its ‘Baori’ or step well which was invented by the natives to harvest rain water. The Baori was used as a cool place of retreat and as a water source/reservoir during parched times of the year. Chand Baori remains one of India’s deepest and largest stepwells. The Baori consists of three flight of stairs descending into the earth with a subterranean palace on one side. The flight of stairs and the palace are all arranged in a square pattern with the well lying at the very bottom. The flight of steps are thirteen storeys deep. The palace at the bottom of the Baori was a place for the royals to stay during hot summers days. There is a large courtyard all around the Baori from where great views of the Baori can be had. All around the courtyard there are covered areas housing intricately carved sandstone artifacts/idols dating as far back as 10th century.

We continue our drive to Agra and visit Fatehpur Sikri.

Fatehpur Sikri, the Capital of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The fortress is a UNESCO world heritage site and is built entirely of red sandstone.  The tomb of the revered saint Salim Chisti is built in pristine white marble and stands in stunning contrast to the red sandstone. View the exquisite filigreed marble lattice work and mother of pearl interior.  This deserted sandstone city was the glorious but ephemeral capital during Akbar’s reign. Lying on a rocky ridge, this fortress is today a haunting complex with empty palaces, forts and mosques representing a variety of architectural styles.  You often wonder how these ancient fortresses must have come alive with music, laughter, beautiful courtesans and the colour and pomp of royalty!

On arrival in Agra, rest of day is at leisure.

Overnight at Hotel (B, L)

Day 12 : 16 March'19 - Agra

This morning, savour a travel highlight as we embark on a sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal, the magnificent tomb of white marble built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who had implored her husband to build a monument symbolizing their undying love for each other.  Some 20,000 laborers and artisans from around the world spent 22 years constructing what became Mumtaz’s mausoleum, which was begun in 1632.  Along with its exquisite symmetry, the Taj features striking examples of pietra dura, a decorative art in which craftsmen embed precisely cut semi-precious stones in marble to form dazzling patterns. Return to the hotel for breakfast. 

After breakfast, visit the imposing Red Fort of Agra (also known as Agra Fort. A creative, architectural, and strategic masterpiece, the Fort is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  In a cruel twist, Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal and whose grandfather built the original Fort and who also assumed the throne himself, was imprisoned here at the end of his life by his own son – in a room looking out on the Taj Mahal across the river.

Afternoon free to relax or visit the local markets. 

This evening, (optional) witness the “Mohhabat The Taj” show based on the chronicles that depict the legacy behind the Taj Mahal. An attempt to recreate the glory of Mughal architecture at its peak, the little Taj is a tribute to the craftsmanship of the original Taj Mahal. This show has been created to represent the eternal love story of Shahjahan and Mumtaj.

Overnight at Hotel (B)

Day 13 : 17 March'19 - Agra to Jhansi by train & drive to Khajuraho via Orchha (approx. 5 hours)

This morning is an ealry start as we board our train to Jhansi. On arrival we will be met by our representative and visit Orchha.

Train Depart Agra  08:00 hrs.   Arrive Jhansi  10:45 hrs.

The historic town of Orchha, nestled on the banks of river Betwa, was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput Chief, Rudra Pratap. Here, the river Betwa splits into seven channels, also called the Satdhara. Legend goes that this is in honour of the seven erstwhile Chiefs of Orchha.

The ancient town seems frozen in time, with its many monuments continuing to retain their original grandeur even to this day. Here you will find some of the most fascinating temples and palaces that will help you realise a childhood fantasy – travelling back in time!

Post visit enjoy lunch at local restaurant and continue drive to Khajuraho (approx. 4 ½ hrs drive).

Khajuraho is known the world over for its temples, architecture, and erotic sculpture.  Today the city’s collection of 22 Hindu temples (out of 85 originally built here) dating to the 10th century is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Arrive Khajuraho and rest of day at leaisure.

Overnight stay at Hotel (B,L)

Day 14 : 18 March'19 - Khajuraho

Following breakfast we will visit the Khajuraho temples. 

Khajuraho has derived it’s name from date palm trees called as “Khajur”. It is famous for erotic sculptures, which accounts for only 10 % of total sculptures, rest is Jain & Hindu temples. Of the total 85 temples only 20 have survived destruction and ravages of time. These temples were discovered in 1850’s after being neglected for centauries

Built between 950-1050 AD by the Chandela Dynasty, these temples depict various forms like meditation, spiritual teachings, kinship, wrestling, royalty and most significantly, erotic art. The temples consist of stunning displays of fine sculptures and exceptional architectural skill, making them one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Based on their geographical location, the temples are categorised into three groups: Eastern, Western and Southern. Beautiful, intricate and expressive, the sculptures of the Khajuraho temples will leave you in awe and wonder.

Overnight at Hotel (B)

Day 15 : 19 March'19 - Khajuraho / Varanasi (flight)

Following a leisurely morning transfer to the airport to board our flight to Varanasi.

Flight: Jet airways -9W-370

Depart Khajuraho  14:20 hrs.    

Arrive Varanasi       15: 15 hrs.

Upon arrival we will transfer to ourhotel. Rest of day free to check out the local shops and markets.

Varanasi, or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi’s prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrivalled. Mark Twain, the English author and litterateur, who was enthralled by the legend and sanctity of Benaras, once wrote : “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together” To every visitor Varanasi offers a breath taking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high-banks, the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue, soul stirring hymns and mantras along with the fragrance of incense fill the air – the land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. 

Late afternoon, take a boat ride in the holy River Ganges where you will witness the beautiful and captivating ‘Aarti’ ceremony’ at twilight. ‘Aarti’ is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, in which wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor are offered to one or more deities. An absolute must see in Varanasi, the evening aarti is conducted every day at sunset by priests, worshiping the river goddess with incense, camphor, flowers and earthen lamps.

Overnight stay at Hotel (B) 

 

Day 16 : 20 March'19 - Varanasi

Rise early this morning and take a boat ride on the Ganga past the ghats. Here, pilgrims gather on the steps that lead down to the river to bathe in the waters of the sacred river, as the city begins to come alive, in the magical misty light of dawn.  Walk through the streets and visit some of Varanasi’s many temples before returning to the hotel for breakfast, followed by relaxation and time to use hotel facilities.

Visit Sarnath which is one of four holy Buddhist sites and an exceedingly tranquil place. It is the place where the enlightened Buddha gave his first sermon. Visit the Dhamek Stupa- built in 500 CE to commemorate the Buddha’s activities in this location. (Sarnath museum remains closed every Friday), 

Overnight stay at Hotel (B)

Day 17 : 21 March'19 - Varanasi to Delhi

Morning at leisure before we transfer to the airport for our flight to Delhi.

Flight: Air India AI 433

Departs Varanasi:    1530 Hrs

Arrive Delhi:               1705 hrs.

Upon arrival in Delhi we will be met and transferred to our hotel.

Overnight stay at Hotel (B)

Day 18 : 22 March'19 - Depart Delhi

Today we will depart for the airport for our return flight home or your onward journey,

Sojourn through North India & Varanasi from $6625pp*. Departs 05 March 2019.

*Price includes:-

  • 17 nights in deluxe accommodation on twin sharing basis.
  • India domestic flights
    • Delhi to Udaipur
    • Udaipur to Jaipur
    • Khajuraho to Varanasi
    • Varanasi to Delhi
  • Daily breakfast.
  • Tipping
  • All transfers and sightseeing tours as per itinerary.
  • Private a/c vehicle with driver.
  • Entrance fees at all monuments as per itinerary, road taxes, parking fee, fuel charges, interstate taxes, and porterage at all hotels & airports.
  • Services of accompanying local English language speaking tour directors.
  • Representative for assistance on all arrival and departure transfers.
  • All currently applicable taxes.

* Price does not include:-

  • International Airfares
  • Expense of personal nature like laundry, telephone/fax calls, alcoholic beverages, camera/video camera fee at monuments, medical expenses, airport departure tax etc.
  • Any other services not mentioned in the inclusions.
  • Any meals or beverages that are not specified on the above inclusions.
  • Expenses caused by factors beyond our control like rail and air plane delays, roadblocks, vehicle malfunctions, political disturbances, taxes, lost luggage, etc.
  • Any further tax levied by the government of India.

Booking Process:

Deposit
To confirm your reservation on this tour a non refundable deposit of $440 per person is required at time of booking.

Balance Payment
The balance payment is due 60 days before departure or if booking within 90 days of departure full payment is required on confirmation.

Cancellation Policy
Should you need to cancel your holiday, please advise us immediately in writing. Cancellation fees are applicable as follows:-

Cancel more than 90 days before departure – Loss of deposit
Cancel 89 – 50 days before departure – 50% of tour cost
Cancel 49 days or less before departure – 100% of tour cost

Comprehensive Travel Insurance Policy
It is a condition of this booking that guests have taken out a comprehensive travel insurance which includes cover for cancellation fees, medical expenses and emergency evacuation. Contact us if you would like a competitive comprehensive insurance quote.

India Tourist Visa

Guests travelling on Australian Passports require an India Tourist Visa. Please refer www.indianvisaonline.gov.in for information on India Visa Applications. We are more than happy to assist you with the visa application process.

Health & Vaccinations
Please refer to your doctor for advise on health and vaccinations precautions for the areas visited on this tour.
Information is also available at www.traveldoctor.com.au. Note it is the guests responsibility to have the appropriate vaccinations.

This tour will require guests to have a reasonable level of fitness. Guests with any pre-existing illness or medical dietary requirements should consult their doctor to determine whether they are able to participate in the activities of this tour.

Experience the Living Cultures of INDIA - Call 1300 039 481 or Learn More