Sojourn Through North India from $7,950pp* Departs 08 FEB 2018.

Join me on this fantastic journey through North India. We will visit New & Old Delhi (2), Varanasi (2), Agra(2). Kalakho (2), Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (2), Jaipur (2), Udaipur (2), Mumbai (2).

We will stay in luxury hotels and heritage listed hotels. Not only will you visit the famous monuments of this great land but you will certainly “experience the living cultures of India”.  

Ian Norris – founder India Travel Specialists.

Itinerary

Day 1 : 08 FEB'18 - Arrive Delhi

Depart Australia for New Delhi. After clearing customs in Delhi we will be met by our representative and transferred to our hotel.

Overnight: The Taj Palace Hotel

Day 2 : 09 FEB'18 - Delhi (B,D)

After breakfast, experience the combined charm of Old and New Delhi.

The day begins with the sightseeing of Old Delhi and a visit to the Raj Ghat. Drive past the Red Fort on your way to the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. A tour through the bazaars of Chandni Chowk is followed by a drive past the historical India Gate, the President’s estate and the Parliament House. Proceed to visit the Humayun’s Tomb – said to be the precursor to the Taj Mahal. The day is concluded with a visit to the capital’s most striking monument; the 70 meter high Qutab Minar.

Welcome Dinner at a local Indian restaurant.

Overnight: The Taj Palace Hotel

Day 3 : 10 FEB'18 - Delhi to Varanasi (flight) (B)

After breakfast, transfer to airport for your flight to Varanasi. We will board Jet Airways flight 9W at 11am and arrive Varanasi 12.20pm. On arrival we be met and escorted to our hotel.will be received on arrival in Varanasi & transferred to your hotel. Rest of afternoon is free to explore.

Varanasi is a holy city; its life is dedicated to Siva. Like Jerusalem, Rome, and Athens, Varanasi is one of the world’s ancient living cities.  It is the center of Hindu culture; like Jerusalem it is seen as a holy land and has survived the centuries because of its sanctified place in Indian religious life. To die in Kashi (Varanasi) insures release, or moksha, from the endless karmic cycle of rebirth and suffering. Varanasi is India in microcosm, both the beautiful and the repellant.

In the evening, we will attend the traditional Aarti ceremony performed on the banks of River Ganga.

Overnight: The Taj Gateway Hotel

Day 4 : 11 FEB'18 - Varanasi (B)

We will 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. You will walk through the streets and visit some of Varanasi’s many temples before returning to the hotel for breakfast.

Following  breakfast, we take a short drive to Sarnath. It was here at the Deer Park of Sarnath that Sakyamuni Buddha, having achieved enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, delivered his first message of the middle path to final nirvana. Also of interest are excavated pillars from the time of the Maurya Dynasty (323-185 B.C) and stupas from as late as the 12th century. These were unearthed during the British archaeological explorations in 1836 and are housed in the museum on site.

Overnight: The Taj Gateway Hotel

Day 5 : 12 FEB'18 - Varanasi to Agra (flight) (B)

This morning we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Agra to connect with our Air India flight AI406 departing at 12.10pm and arrive in Agra at 1.20pm

We will be met on arrival in Agra and transferred to our hotel.

Today, we get a preview of tomorrow’s excitement as we view the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh, an idyllic garden complex located directly across the Yamuna River from the fabled mausoleum, providing great photo opportunities.

Overnight: The Taj Gateway Hotel                                                                                                                          

Day 6 : 13 FEB'18 - Agra (B)

This morning we will rise early for our visit to the Taj Mahal to watch the sunrise.  Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in 1631 to enshrine the mortal remains of his Queen Mumtaz Mahal. You will wander with your guide into the inner chambers of this monument to love, the planet’s most famous and most entrancing exercise in Muslim architecture. Experience the Taj up close, and watch the light play on its magnificent lines from other parts of the city—sometimes the reflection of the Taj in the Yamuna River seems as spectacular as the monument itself.

Overnight: The Taj Gateway Hotel

 

We return to our hotel for breakfast before visiting Agra Fort, built by Akbar as his citadel over the years 1565-73 in the finest architectural style. It is an almost perfect fusion between military might and lavish beauty. The fort, approachable through its two lofty main portals on the west and south, was successively occupied by three great Mughals – Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan – each of whom made significant structural contributions to this complex. Shah Jahan died here, imprisoned by his son, gazing at the Taj Mahal he had built in memory of his wife.

 

In the afternoon, visit the forerunner of the Taj Mahal – the elaborately ornate Itmad ud Daula. In memory of her father, this mausoleum was built by Queen Nur Jahan in 1622, and is a perfect example of the fine inlaid stonework and translucent marble screens that Agra is so famous for. Many historians believe that this monument was the inspiration for Shah Jahan to build the Taj and is often described as the “petite Taj.”

Day 7 : 14 FEB'18 - Agra to Kalakho via Fatehpur Sikri (approx. 4 hours drive) (B,L,D)

After breakfast, drive to Fatehpur Sikri (40 kms/ approx. 1 hr)

Fatehpur Sikri bears exceptional testimony to the Mughal civilization at the end of the 16th century. It offers a unique example of architectural ensembles of very high quality constructed between 1571 and 1585. Its form and layout strongly influenced the evolution of Indian town planning, notably at Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi). We then drive onto Kalakho (135 kms/ approx. 3 hrs)

Arrive Kalakho and check-in at the Dera Village Retreat. Rest of the day is at leisure or we can visit a local village.

Overnight: Dera Village Retreat

 

 

Day 8 : 15 FEB;18 - Kalakho (B,L,D)

In the morning, leave on a camel cart to visit a village where you will interact with the local people to understand village life and return back to the retreat.

Rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Dera Village Retreat

 

 

Day 9 : 16 FEB'18 - Kalakho to Ranthambore via Abhaneri approx 5 hours drive) (B,L,D)

After early breakfast at the retreat, leave for Abhaneri (32 kms/ approx. 1 hr)

Visit the Abhaneri Stepwell.

Abhaneri is prominent for ‘Baoris’, step wells which were invented by the natives to harvest rain water. These tanks were used as cool places of retreat and as water reservoirs during parched times of the year. Chand Baori is the most popular of the wells in the region, and it is one of India’s deepest and largest. There are three ways to reach the water using the steps, which are divided into stories. This colossal, delicately carved well is located in front of the Harshat Mata Temple. It was a ritual to wash the hands and feet at the well before visiting the adjoining temple.

We will then drive to Ranthambore (150 Kms/ approx. 3 ½ hrs). Arrive Ranthambore and check-in to ourr hotel. Lunch at the hotel.

In the afternoon, proceed for a Jeep safari in the national park. The park is famous for its tigers and is one of the best places in the country to see these majestic predators in the wild.

Overnight: Vivanta by Taj – Sawai Madhopur Lodge

Day 10 : 17 FEB'18 - Ranthambore (B,L,D)

On today’s morning and afternoon game drives, we’re sure to see more game (though tiger and leopard sightings are not guaranteed).  One of India’s best known national parks, Ranthambore belongs to India’s groundbreaking 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.

In-between the safaris, you 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: Vivanta by Taj – Sawai Madhopur Lodge

Day 11 : 18 FEB'18 - Ranthambore to Jaipur (approx. 4 hours drive (B,D)

After breakfast drive to Jaipur – the home of India’s legendary Hindu warriors, whose historic forts & palaces lend a timeless quality to this region.

After some time at leisure this afternoon, tonight we are dinner guests of a multigenerational Rajasthan family in their home.  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: Taj Jai Mahal Palace

Day 12 : 19 FEB'18 - Jaipur (B)

After breakfast, our day’s sightseeing excursion tour takes us to the mighty Amber Fort. En route, we make a photo stop at the Palace of Winds, the Hawa Mahal. A five-story building with 25-cm thick façade, dating from the 18the Century, the Hawa Mahal has 953 windows and niches so that ladies of the royal family could see the processions and events in the city without being visible to the people.

Proceed to the Amber Fort, situated on a ridge 130m high surrounded by the Aravalli hills, 11 km north of Jaipur. Amber was the ancient capital of the Kachhawaha Rajputs until 1037. Enjoy an elephant ride to the top of the Palace fort.

In the afternoon, visit the “Pink City” of Jaipur. The City Palace occupies the center of Jaipur. It houses the Royal residence and museums with collections of textiles and costumes, armory, manuscripts, paintings, and other royal treasures.

Also visit the Jantar Mantar observatory (1728-34), built by Maharajah Jai Singh II, who had great interest in astrology.

Overnight: Taj Jai Palace

Day 13 : 20 FEB'18 - Jaipur to Udaipur (approx. 7 hours drive) (B)

After breakfast, drive to Udaipur.  On arrival we will check-in to our hotel.

Rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Fateh Prakash Palace

Day 14 : 21 FEB'18 - Udaipur (B)

After breakfast explore the City Palace, one of the largest palaces in the world, which stands on the bank of Lake Pichola. It is a massive series of palaces built at different times commencing from 1559. The balconies of the palace provide a panoramic view of the “Jag Niwas” (now the famous Lake Palace Hotel). Maharana Udai Singh established his new capital, Udaipur in 1559 when he built the small City Palace on an overlooking ridge. Other buildings and structures soon mushroomed around the palace.

Proceed to visit the Crystal Gallery – Housed in the Fateh Prakash Palace is the world-famous Crystal Gallery; it is spread across the upper-gallery of the glittering The Durbar Hall Sabhagaar. Crystal Gallery has been hailed as probably the single largest private collection of crystal anywhere in the world. The visitors here are privy to one of the most exclusive and exquisite crystal collections.

Visit Sahelion-ki-bari – Maharana Sangram Singh built this in the mid-18th   century. The “garden of the maidens” brings to mind the lifestyle of the ladies of the court. The delightful gardens appear discreet and in impeccable taste. There are four pools with dainty kiosks, and all around are flower beds, lawns, pools and fountains protected by a series of walls and shady trees. The fountains of the Sahelion ki Bari function solely by water pressure and no pumps are used. The garden has a lotus pool, a sitting room decorated with paintings and glass mosaics.

Visit the Jagdish Temple which was built by Maharaja Jagat Singh in 1651. It enshrines a black stone image of Vishnu as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe.

Late afternoon/evening take a boat ride on Lake Pichola, watching the sunset on the lovely City Palace complex.

Overnight: Fateh Prakash Palace

Day 15 : 22 FEB'18 - Udaipur to Mumbai (flight) (B)

Following breakfast we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Mumbai.

Indigo Air flight 6E748 departs Udaipur at 10.10am and arrives Mumbai at 11.35am. On arrival in Mumbai we will be  transferred to our hotel. 

Mumbai, India’s largest port, its commercial and industrial centre, as well as fashion capital and heart of Bollywood (India’s thriving movie industry), Mumbai is an endlessly fascinating hive of activity. A jumble of captivating contradictions, grand colonial architecture rubs shoulders with chaotic bazaars, trendy restaurants, exclusive boutiques, slums and shanty towns, all interspersed with beautiful, tropical palm trees. A shopper’s haven, this bustling cosmopolitan metropolis offers anything from pavement stalls and ancient markets to glitzy malls and designer outlets. A melting pot of cultures from every corner of the country, Mumbai embodies a little bit of all India’s diverse traditions rolled into one.

In the afternoon visit the Prince of Wales Museum – founded in the early years of the 20th century, the museum houses approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from foreign lands, categorized primarily into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History. The museum houses Indus Valley Civilization artifacts, and other relics from ancient India.

Overnight: Taj Mahal Hotel

Day 16 : 23 FEB'18 - Mumbai (B,D)

After breakfast, leave for an excursion to the Elephanta Caves. Take a boat ride (on common/shared boat) from Mumbai’s wharf to the Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site found on the eponymous island in Mumbai Harbor. The caves – some Hindu, others Buddhist – were cut into the basalt rock between the 5th and the 8th Centuries. The main cave is devoted to Shiva, with carvings that measure more than 16 feet in height. There is also a superb view of the Mumbai skyline from the thickly wooded island. A narrow-gauge train runs from the pier to the 120 steps at the base of the caves. Elephanta caves are closed on Mondays.

 

You will see the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s most famous monument. It was built as a triumphal arch to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Ironically, when the Raj ended in 1947, this colonial symbol also became a sort of epitaph: the last of the British ships that set sail for England left from the Gateway.

 

In the afternoon visit the Dhobi Ghat – a unique feature of Mumbai, the dhobi is a traditional laundryman, who collects dirty linen, washes it, and returns it neatly pressed to your doorstep. All for a pittance! The “laundries” are called “ghats”: row upon row of concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. The clothes are soaked in sudsy water, beaten on the flogging stones, then tossed into huge vats of boiling starch and hung out to dry. Next they are ironed and piled into neat bundles.

 

End the day with a visit to Mani Bhawan – located on leafy Laburnum Road, a quiet lane named after its shady trees, Mani Bhavan is the old Mumbai residence of Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a pretty, two-storied structure that now houses a reference library with over 2000 books, a photo exhibition of the Mahatma’s life, and well preserved memorabilia, including an old charkha or spinning wheel that Gandhiji. Today, it is only a symbolic exhibit that lies unused, but many old Gandhians still visit the place to pay homage to their hero and demonstrate the noble art of spinning your own yarn!

Farewell dinner at a local Indian restaurant.

Overnight: Taj Mahal Hotel

Day 17 : 24 FEB'18 - Depart Mumbai (B)

After breakfast, check-out from the hotel and transfer to airport for our onward international flight (Hotel check-out time is 12 Noon)

Or why not extend your India experience to:

  • 8 Days Kerala & the Backwaters from $2,240pp

 

17 Days from $7,950pp land only.

Single Room Supplement – $3,331

Inclusions:-

  • 5 star accommodation based on twin share room
  • India domestic airfares Delhi to Varanasi, Varanasi to Agra & Udaipur to Mumbai
  • Welcome & Farewell dinners
  • All entrance fees at monuments & museums as per the itinerary
  • Rickshaw ride in Old Delhi
  • Early morning & eveing boat rides on the Ganges River in Varanasi
  • 3 game drives in Ranthambore National Park
  • Elephant ride at Amber Fort in Jaipur
  • Boat ride on Lake Pichola in Udaipur
  • Boat tickets for excursion to Elephanta Caves in Mumbai
  • Services of local English speaking guides for sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • Assistance at the airports
  • 2 bottles of mineral water per person per day
  • 9% Government service tax & all currently applicable taxes

Exclusions:-

  • Expenses of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, camera / video fees at monuments, medical expenses etc.
  • Any meals or beverages that are not specified in itinerary
  • International airfares. Contact us if you would like a competitive quote on your favourite airline to India
  • Any services not mentioned in the inclusions

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 90 days before departure. If payment is not received by this time we reserve the right to cancel the tour.

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 90 – 45 days before departure – 50% of tour cost
Cancel 44 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.

India Tourist Visa

Guests travelling on Australian Passports require an India Tourist Visa. Please refer to www.vfs-in-au.net 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.

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