Women’s Only India Sojourn – Culture – Cuisine – Shopping & Holi Festival

Departing 04 March 2020

14 Days from only $5,992pp including return international airfares.

 This unique tour has been specially designed for women. The theme of the tour is experience the culture, cuisine & shopping of India.

The tour will be fully escorted by Ian Norris, founder of India Travel Specialists. Guests will experience the New & Old Delhi, the Taj Mahal in Agra, Jaipur where our guests will participate in the Holi Festival – Festival of Colour with the locals. Guests will also experience local villages and interact with the locals & visit local schools. We will find some of India’s famous brassware, jewellery, leather, silver, handicrafts, marble, rugs & textiles.
Priced from $5,992pp, including return international airfares.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Wednesday 04 March'20 - Arrive Delhi

On arrival at Delhi International Airport we will be met by  our local representative and transferred to our hotel.

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 at hotel (No Meals)

Day 2 : Thursday 05 March'20 - Delhi

After breakfast, we visit Old Delhi and experience the charm of old City.

The day begins with a drive past the Red Fort, Raj Ghat followed by a Rickshaw Ride through the bazaars of Chandni Chowk. Old Delhi is pure indulgence and immersion in the local cultural flavours of a beautiful historical city. The Mughal-built city of Shahjahanabad eats, breathes and lives history. Enjoy a memorable rickshaw ride through its alleys that offer a unique insight into its historic past and present day cultural fabric, making Old Delhi the perfect amalgamation of living traditions and spectacular built heritage. Enjoy this unique essence of Old Delhi at a leisurely pace on our rickshaws and a walk through the spice markets.

Continue with tour and drive past India gate, Parliament House & Govt Buildings and visit the most prominent Sikh Gurdwara, or Sikh Temple, in Delhi. It was originally a bungalow belonging to Raja Jai Singh, a 17th century Indian ruler. It is open to people of all faiths, castes or creeds. The premise houses a sacred pond in which devotees bathe. They believe that this would wash off their misdeeds and thus allow them to attain peace of mind.  The ‘Langars’ or the community kitchen proves to be the ideal example of prodigious hospitality of the Sikhs. Anyone and everyone can have scrumptious meal irrespective of caste, colour or class.  Also see community kitchen and experience how food is made at such a large scale.  Later go to local restaurant for lunch.

After lunch, we will visit the 16th-century Tomb of Humanyu, The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and since then has undergone extensive restoration work, which is complete. Besides the main tomb enclosure of Humanyu, several smaller monuments dot the pathway leading up to it, from the main entrance in the West, including one that even pre-dates the main tomb itself, by twenty years; it is the tomb complex of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble in Sher Shah Suri’s court of the Suri dynasty, who fought against the Mughals, constructed in 1547 CE. In the evening enjoy Welcome Dinner at a local Indian restaurant.

Overnight at hotel(B, Welcome Dinner)

 

Day 03 : Friday 06 March'20 - Delhi

Today we will visit Qutub Minar which is a victory minaret built by the first invading Persian, Qutub-ud-din, a millennium ago in South Delhi. One of Delhi’s most visited and striking monuments, the 72-meter (230 feet) high tower majestically watches over the wide plains of Delhi. Later we will go to Gandhi Smriti, housed in the Old Birla House the sacred place where Mahatma Gandhi’s epic Life ended on 30 January 1948. Mahatma Gandhi had lived in this house on September 9, 1947, to January 30, 1948. Thus, the hallowed house treasures many memories of the last 144 days of his life. The Old Birla House was acquired by the Government of India in 1971 and was converted into a National Memorial of the Father of the Nation and was opened to the public on August 15, 1973. The preserves include the room where Gandhi lived and the prayer ground where mass congregation used to be held. This was the place where Gandhi was felled by the assassin’s bullets. The building and the landscape have been preserved as they were in those days.

In the afternoon we will go to the famous markets of “Delhi Hatt” famous for shopping and experience Indian culture and fashion traditions.

 Overnight at hotel (B)

Day 4 : Saturday 07 March'20 - Drive Delhi – Agra (210 Kms /4 Hrs Approx.)

After breakfast we drive to Agra.

Agra has been immortalized as the City of the Taj. Yet, it doesn’t take much for the roving eye to discover that there’s more to Agra than just the fabled Taj Mahal. The city is a virtual gateway to a world of discovery….. a freeze-frame from a resplendent era that’s long since gone by.

In the great epic ‘Mahabharat’ the region of Agra is described as ‘Agraban’ (an integral part of the Braj Bhumi or the land of Lord Krishna). The latter part of Indian history outlines the origin of Agra to 1475 A.D., the reign of Raja Badal Singh.

On arrival check in at the hotel, later visit the Taj Mahal, the greatest monument to love and one of the wonders of the modern world. Completed in 1652, skilled craftsmen from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and some 20,000 labourers worked for 17 years to build this edifice, constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. Later in the afternoon return to our hotel and relax.

Overnight at Hotel (B)

Day 5 : Sunday 08 March'20 - Agra

Today includes visit to the red sandstone Agra Fort, which stands like a crescent on the banks of the Yamuna River enclosed by forbidding 20-meter high walls, with a 12-meter moat between them. Three successive Mughal emperors – Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jehan – helped create this massive structure, which contains Hindu and Muslim architecture.

In the afternoon  we visit  Itmad Ud Daulah tomb, popularly known as Baby Taj. From there proceed to visit the “Mehtab Bagh” situated north of the Taj Mahal complex on the opposite side of the Yamuna River, in the flood plains. The garden complex, square in shape, is perfectly aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite bank. The most important attraction of Mehtab Bagh is the Taj Mahal itself. This is a unique spot as we can get a picturesque view of The Taj from here.

Overnight at Hotel (B)

Day 6 : Monday 09 March'20 - Drive Agra – Kalakho (165 Kms /3 Hrs Approx.)

This morning we embark on our drive to Dera Village Retreat in Kalakho.

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 Tribe 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.

Enroute we will visit a local school and interact with the children before arriving at the retreat. After lunch at the retreat, we set out on a camel safari (on camel cart) through the surrounding villages to meet the local Meena tribe 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 see for ourselves up close. Late this afternoon we return to the retreat. Dinner will be served at the retreat.

Overnight at the Dera Village Retreat (B, L, D)

Day 7 : Tuesday 10 March'20 - Drive Kalakho - Jaipur (Holi Festival) (99 Kms /2 Hrs Approx.)

Today, after an early breakfast we will proceed to Jaipur. On arrival at Jaipur we will join in the festivities of the Holi Festival, where you will change cloths and experience one of India’s most

beloved festivals – Holi, the festival of colours, celebrating the triumph of good over evil with bonfires, dances, and ritual games using rich pigments. Traditionally, Holi heralded the arrival of spring, fertility of the land and a good harvest. Holi is an excuse for Indians to bring out the child in them, chase each other around, throwing brightly coloured powder (gulal) and water over each other.

“Holi Hai” is the cry you hear as children, friends and neighbours gather on the streets and a riot of colour takes over. Coloured powders called “gulal” are thrown into the air and smeared on faces and bodies. “Pichkaris” (water pistols) are filled with coloured water and this is spurted onto people. Water balloons are thrown at friends and neighbours in the spirit of fun. The younger crowd is drenched with buckets of coloured water and pummelled with water balloons.

“Dholaks” or Indian drums are heard everywhere and the songs of Holi are carried by the voices of these merrymakers. A variety of food is cooked; ‘gujiya’, a sweet specific to this festival are offered to guests. Beer and local brew is widely drunk. The festivities start winding down around lunch time.

Overnight at hotel (B,L)

 

Day 8 : Wednesday 11 March'20 - Jaipur

After breakfast, proceed to the Amber Fort, built by the Kachhawah Rajputs as their capital from 1037 to 1728 and considered the pinnacle of Rajput architecture. The impressive room of mirrors, walls of jewel-encrusted marble, and the royal apartments offering beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. Make a photo stop at the Palace of Winds, the Hawa Mahal. A five-story building with 25-cm thick façade, dating from the 18th Century, the Hawa Mahal has 953 windows and niches so that ladies of royal family could see the procession and events in the city without being visible to the people.

A visit to the City Palace which now houses the royal residence and museums with a fine collection of textiles and costumes, armoury, manuscripts and paintings, followed by a stopover at Jantar Mantar, wraps up the day. Explore the local markets or visit a jeweller’s workshop as Jaipur is most famous for its gems.

In the afternoon we will go on ‘food walk”. We take you around the local bazaars of the city to familiarize you with the Indian flavours. On this food walking tour, we let you explore the roots of Rajasthani cooking, beginning from visiting the vegetable and spice markets which lie untouched by modern departmentalism. During the walk, we will pass by many vendors preparing the local Indian street food that is a smashing hit among the locals, some of which you could try out for yourself! Our guide will also take us to a traditional family-owned sweets shop, where the locals have been going for generations to buy their desserts. If you need a sugar high, don’t hesitate before trying some of the freshly prepared desserts along the way. At the heart of Indian cuisine, lie the spices. This tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit through the spice market. Here we will learn not only about the different spices commonly used such as haldi (turmeric) and jeera (cumin), but also how the spices are ground and kept. This is a great opportunity to pick up some fresh spices as a souvenir. The association with vendors and shop owners makes the walking tour more engaging.

The walk merges into high tea at the ancestral home of a noble family of the erstwhile Jaipur. This is a rare opportunity to interact with the family where over a cup of tea we get to listen to the tales by our host and learn about their history, their way of life and of the people of the bygone era. 

Overnight at Hotel (B, High Tea)

Day 9 : Thursday 12 March'20 - Jaipur

This morning we will go for an xcursion to Sanganer, a small town located near Jaipur, it is well known throughout the world for the handmade paper industry, block printing and the Jain temples. This place holds a great historical importance and one can see a few ancient constructions and Jain temples of the deity Adinath. This region is 16 kms away from Jaipur and is located on the Tonk Road. It is famous for textile printing, handmade paper industry, and for Jain temples. Sanganer prints are one of its own kinds, for the reason that patterns in bright colours are always printed on white backgrounds. Sanganeri Hand block printing received the geographical indication (GI) tag in 2010.
After the visits return to ourr hotel, later in afternoon we will visit a local family for home host dinner experience. Where ladies can learn more ways of Indian culinary experiences and also know more on Indian traditions and families. Post dinner return back to the hotel.

Overnight at Hotel (B, Home host dinner)

Day 10 : Friday 13 March'20 - Fly Jaipur - Varanasi SG - 2985 at (0550 / 0725 Hrs)

This morning we have an early start & transfer to the airport for our flight to Varanasi.  On arrival in Varanasi transfer to our hotel and enjoy breakfast at the hotel.

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 unsurpassed. Mark Twain, the English author, 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.”  Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience to every visitor – 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 filling the air. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education.

In afternoon we will go for Aarti experience on the Ghats. Taking a boat ride in the holy River Ganges where we 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 at Hotel (B)

Day 11 : Saturday 14 March'20 - Varanasi

After breakfast 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.

We will stroll down narrow lanes and alleyways lined with houses and shops, we pass cyclists, cows, and city denizens of all kinds.  We arrive at the home of a famous sitar player where we enjoy a private classical sitar performance.  The home is also a music school, and we may hear some students practicing.

Later in the day visit local markets and BHU (Banaras Hindu University) established in 1916, the first university in India that was the result of a private individual’s efforts. The foundation for the main campus of the university was laid by Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy of India, on Vasant Panchami 4 February 1916. To promote the university’s expansion, Malviya invited eminent guest speakers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, Prof C. V. RamanPrafulla Chandra Roy, Prof Sam Higginbottom, Sir Patrick Geddes, and Besant to deliver a series of what are now called The University Extension Lectures between 5–8 February 1916. Gandhi’s lecture on the occasion was his first public address in India. Also visit Shiva temple in the university complex.

Overnight at Hotel (B)

Day 12 : Sunday 15 March'20 - Fly Varanasi – Delhi by UK - 955 at (1520 / 1655 Hrs)

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. 

Relax and in evening enjoy Farewell Dinner at  a local Indian restaurant.

Overnight at Hotel (B,D)

Day 13 : Monday 16 March'20 - Depart Delhi

Breakfast will be served at the hotel.

Later in time transfer to airport for our flight to onward destination. (Standard check out time is 1200 hrs).

PRICING 

Air & Land                         : $5,992 per person twin share

Single Supplement        : $1,944

NOTE: Pricing is subject to change without notice due to fluctuations in currency exchange rates ans changes to airline airfares and fuel surcharges and changes to Government taxes until fully paid.

INCLUSIONS:

  • Accommodation in twin sharing room as per the above mentioned hotel & Meal Plan.
  • India domestic flights:-
    • Jaipur to Varanasi
    • Varanasi to Delhi
  • Daily breakfasts
  • Tipping
  • One time entrance fees at monuments as per the itinerary.
  • Services of English speaking local guide as per the itinerary.
  • Welcome and Farewell dinner in Delhi
  • Rickshaw ride in Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi.
  • Camel cart ride in Kalakho
  • Visit to Sangaer in Jaipur to experience Block printing
  • Food walk in Jaipur with high tea and snacks
  • Holi festival celebrations in Jaipur.
  • Boat ride in River Ganges on sharing basis.
  • 2 bottles of bottled water per person per day during transfers.
  • Currently applicable Goods & services tax. 

EXCLUSIONS::

  • Expense of personal nature like laundry, telephone/fax calls, alcoholic beverages, camera/video camera fee at monuments, medical expenses, airport departure tax etc.
  • Travel Insurance. Travel insurance is strongly recommended. Contact India Travel Specialists for 25% discount on comprehensive travel insurance policy.
  • Visa Fees
  • Any meals or beverages that are not specified in the above inclusions.
  • Expenses caused by factors beyond our control like rail and air plane delays, roadblocks, vehicle malfunctions, political disturbances, taxes, lo luggage, etc.
  • Any other services not mentioned in the inclusions
  • Any further taxes levied by the government of India
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