Spirit of India Private Tour: 8 days – 7 Overnights (with Optional Extension Tours)
New Delhi, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Agra and Jaipur - This amazing voyage in north India includes the most important historical and cultural sites in the nation's capital, New Delhi; the medieval Mughal capital Agra that is famous for the Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikri, the capital for 14 years of the Mughal Emperor Akbar that was then deserted for almost 400 years until the early years of 20th. century. The ancient Kachhwaha Rajput capital of Amber and the 17th. century built walled city of Jaipur offer breathtaking sights and sounds. A short flight from Delhi brings you to Hinduism's holiest and most ancient city, Varanasi and the archaeological site of Sarnath, the deer park north of Varanasi where Buddha preached his first sermon to his initial five disciples setting in motion the 'Dharmachakra', the wheel of religion. Another short flight from Varanasi brings you to the world famous Hindu and Jain temples from 10th. century that were built under the patronage of Chandela Rajput rulers of central India. Optional extension tours are mentioned at the end of theitinerary below:
Day 1, Delhi:
Arrive in Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. Traditional welcome with fresh marigold flower garland and transfer to hotel for overnight.
Day 2, Delhi:
After breakfast proceed for sightseeing of New Delhi - Qutub Minar- its construction was initiated by Qutubudin-Aibak in 1199 CE upon becoming the first Sultan of Delhi;
second Mughal Emperor Humayun's Tomb - its architecture may have influenced the construction of the Taj Mahal in Agra;
Baha'i Lotus Temple - this distinctive lotus shaped marvel in marble is a symbol of peace; India Gate (the war memorial),
Parliament House and Presidents House (from outside). In the afternoon stop by the Red Fort for photography from outside - the massive sandstone fort built by Shah Jahan on the banks of river Yamuna, Jama Masjid - is the largest mosque in India and stands across the road from the Red Fort, built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan 1648 CE. About 20,000 people can pray here at a time. Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride in the narrow lanes of old Delhi near Jama Masjid and broad, grand Chandni Chowk avenue. Overnight stay in hotel in New Delhi.
Day 3, Delhi - Varanasi:
After breakfast drive to Delhi domestic airport to board flight to Varanasi, arrival & transfer to hotel. In the afternoon sightseeing of temples in the ancient city - Sankat Mochan Mandir dedicated to Hanuman & Durga Mata Mandir dedicated to Goddess Durga,and the Bharat Kala Bhawan Art Museum in the Banaras Hindu University campus area. In the afternoon visit the Man Mandir Palace with astronomical observatory of Sawai Jai Singh of Amber and Jaipur, and temples on the Ghats. Man Mandir Palace was built by Maharaja Mansingh I of Amber, who was one of Navratnas (9 Jewels of Emperor Akbar's court). Sawai Jai Singh II, the builder of the walled Jaipur city, constructed one of his 5 astronomical observatories on the roof of Man Mandir Palace. The instruments are functional in this observatories but because of higher buildings in the neighborhood, they cannot be used in afternoon hours when sun is near the western horizon. In the evening enjoy the Ganga Aartee, a unique oil lamps prayer ceremony on the banks of the River. This interesting ritual takes place in the evening on Dasasvamedha Ghat, just below Man Mandir Palace. The view of the Aartee ritual from the boats in Ganga river is fascinating and memorable. Overnight in hotel in Varanasi.
Day 4, Varanasi – Khajuraho:
Early morning boat ride on River Ganga to view the Hindu rituals at sunrise.
After breakfast check-out and drive a short distance to Sarnath, where Buddha preached his first sermon more than 2500 years ago. Visit the vast the archaeological site and the archeological museum just outside. The Lion capital from Mauryan period under Ashoka the Great that was declared the national emblem of free India is preserved in this museum. Later transfer to airport to board the flight to Khajuraho. The Varanasi airport has a restaurant serving sandwiches and snack as well as hot & cold beverages.
After arrival half day sightseeing of the three Hindu - the most important temples in Hindu section are Varaha (dedicated to boar incarnation of Vishnu), Lakshman Temple, Kandaria Mahadeo Temple (dedicated to Shiva) and Jagdambi Temple dedicated to mother goddess Durga. Overnight in hotel in Khajuraho.
Day 5, Khajuraho – Orchha – Jhansi – Agra:
After breakfast sightseeing of Jain Temple Group and drive to Orchha. After lunch at Orchha Resort, sightseeing of Orchha Fort and the two Hindu Temples (including one with the murals) on the way to Jhansi. Transfer to railway station to board the Bhopal Shatabdi Express or the Taj Express Train). Arrival in Agra & transfer to hotel for overnight.
Day 6, Agra:
Early in the morning we drive a short distance to the world famous mausoleum of the Mughal Queen, Arjumand Bano Begum, Taj Mahal before dawn. After marriage with Mughal Prince Khurram (Emperor Shahjahan) Arjumand was honored with the title of Begum Mumtaj Mahal or the Queen Crown of the Palace.
There will be ample time for sightseeing in the vast walled complex. After breakfast at hotel marvel at the craftsmanship at a marble factory where traditional artisans still work using similar hand operated implements that their forefathers had used more than 300 years ago when they worked to build the Taj Mahal.
Drive to the Red Fort of Agra for sightseeing of the red sandstone palaces of Emperor Akbar and the white marble palace that his grandson Emperor Shahjahan replaced. Emperor Aurangzeb, the son of Emperor Shahjahan kept his own father, Emperor Shahjahan, a prisoner in his own palaces in Agra Fort for the last 8 years of his life.
Later visit the beautiful white marble mausoleum of Mirza Ghiaz Beg and his wife Begum Asmat, the parents of Empress Nurjahan and paternal grandparents of Begum Mumtaj Mahal. The mausoleum was designed by Empress Nurjahan probably based on the design of Emperor Babur's unfinished, temporary tomb nearby. The decoration has a distinct feminine and Persian character - notice the Chikan embroidery engraved in the four main marble arched gateways. Overnight in hotel in Agra.
Day 7, Agra – Fatehpur Sikri- Jaipur:
Breakfast at hotel and proceed to Jaipur with stop to visit Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted capital of Emperor Akbar.
Visit the palaces complex and the mosque with white marble tomb of Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chistie after driving 40 kilometers or 25 miles from Agra.
Later proceed to Jaipur & check into hotel.
After lunch sightseeing of the City Palace of Kachhwaha Maharajas to view the fascinating textiles gallery in Mubarak Mahal, the Sarvatobhadra (Hall of Private Audience) with the two famous Gangajallis (Silver Urns to carry Ganga River water), the colorful courtyard of Chandra Mahal with its Peacock Gate and the “Diwan-i-Am” Art Gallery that houses some of the most famous Mughal and Rajasthani miniature paintings.
Stepping out of the City Palace visit the Astronomical Observatory that is largest one built by the founder of Jaipur, Sawai Jai Singh. All except one of its 17 astronomical instruments are still functional. Of the other observatories the one in New Delhi is not functional, the one on the roof of Manmandir Palace in Varanasi is partly functional but the one in Ujjain is very well maintained and fully functional. Dinner & Overnight in hotel.
Day 8, Jaipur – Delhi – USA:
After breakfast a short drive north of walled Pink City to the ancient capital of Kachchwaha rulers on the hilltop at Amber where you ride on beautifully decorated elephants to the palaces of Maharaja Mansingh (1589 to 1614 CE) that were originally decorated with fresco paintings and those of Mirza Raja Jai Singh (1621 to 1667 CE) with the interiors decorated with interiors laminated with beautiful patterns of convex mirrors and inlay of black marble in white marble on the bottom of the walls. After sightseeing (lunch on the way) drive to Gurgaon for farewell dinner and later transfer to Indira Gandhi International Airport for flight back to USA.
Suggested 5-star hotels in New Delhi: Taj Mahal Hotel, Oberoi Hotel, Leela Palace Hotel, Taj Ambasador Hotel, Oberoi Maidens Hotel, Surya Hotel
Suggested 3-star hotels in New Delhi: Justa the Residence in Greater Kailash; Hotel Sunstar Grand in Karolbagh; Justa the Residence in Panchsheel Park; The Legend Hotel near Kailash Enclave in Block E.
Suggested 5-star hotels in Varanasi: Nadesar Palace; Gateway Taj Ganges; Ramada Palace; Radisson Hotel; Suryauday Haveli at Shivala Ghat (4-star heritage); Hotel Hindustan International (4-star);
Suggested 3-star hotels in Varanasi: Hotel Buddha; Palace on Ganges Rashmi Guest House; Ganapati Guest House on Meer Ghat; Hotel Alka on Dasaswamedh Ghat;
Suggested 5-star hotels in Khajuraho: Lalit Temple View Hotel; Radisson Jass Hotel; Ramada Khajuraho Hotel; Hotel Chandela;
Suggested 3-star hotels in Khajuraho: Syna Hotel (4-star); Zen Hotel; Hotel Harmony; Hotel Surya;
Suggested 5-star hotels in Agra: Oberoi Amar Vilas; Courtyard by Marriott; Trident; Mughal; Radisson Blu; Taj Gateway Hotel; Double Tree by Hilton;
Suggested 3-star hotels in Agra: Hotel Taj Resort; Hotel Taj Vilas; Hotel Royale Residency; Hotel Alleviate; Hotel Atulya Taj;
Suggested 5-star hotels in Jaipur: Taj Jai Mahal Palace; Trident; ITC Rajputana; Marriott Hotel; Samode Haveli
Suggested 3-star hotels in Jaipur: Jas Vilas; Umaid Mahal; Nahargarh Haveli; Umaid Bhawan Heritage House; Katha Haveli
PRICE (please call 559-446-0499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to choose the hotels that you like and get the price for the full package):
PRICE INCLUDES FOLLOWING SERVICES:
- 8 nights’ accommodation in the mentioned or similar hotels inclusive of taxes in double or twin occupancy rooms.
- Daily buffet breakfast at your hotels.
- AC Tata Indigo or Toyota Itios car for 02 Pax / Toyota Innova Van or similar vehicle for 04 Pax and Tempo Traveller van for 06 – 10 Persons with driver on full time basis.
- Bottled water 2 per day in car
- English speaking local guides at each city for city tour only as per program
- Assistance at each city by our company representative
- Rickshaw ride at Jama Mosque in Delhi.
- Elephant ride at Amber Fort in Jaipur.
- Boat ride over River Ganges / Varanasi
- All taxes, parking fees, interstate taxes, state taxes, driver’s allowance etc.
- Farewell dinner as mentioned above
- India Visa Fees (India visa can be applied for online in USA and collected on arrival at Indian airport)
- International/Domestic airfare will be conveyed at the time of the booking
- Single hotel room occupancy supplement
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in restaurants and hotel
- Lunches and dinners
- International Travel Insurance
- Expenses of personal nature such as drinks, telephone, laundry bills etc.
- Tips and porter charges
- Any additional expenses incurred due to any flight delay or cancellation, weather conditions, political closures, technical faults etc.
- Any other service/s not specified above
An advance payment of US$ 500 is required with registration. Balance is due and payable 90 days before departure date from US airport.
Optional ExtensionTours from New Delhi:
Add an extra overnight in Delhi to visit one or more of the three important museums of Delhi: National Museum of artifacts from Indian and foreign antiquity and archaeological excavations, ancient coins, miniature paintings, manuscripts, Buddhist artifacts including the holy relics of Buddha from Kapilvastu where he spent his childhood and youth and/or National Gallery of Modern Art in the former palace of the Maharaja of Jaipur near India Gate and / or Craft Museum where you can witness fine traditional crafts in folk painting, textiles, terracotta figurines and pottery, wood carvings etc. and / or visit the Akshardham Swami Narayan Temple - capital's largest Hindu temple (about 3 hours required for temple sightseeing).
Optional Extension Tours from Agra:
Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary with Bear Rescue Center that has 256 black Himalayan bears and the Elephant Sanctuary (both these are inside the bird sanctuary) and / or
Visit the archaeological Museum at Mathura that has India's largest collections of Kushan, Gandhar and Gupta period sculptures and /or Krishna Janmabhumi - the birthplace of Bhagwan Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu and / or the ISCKON Hare Krishna Temple in Vrindavan.
Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur where about 150 Indian species of birds reside throughout the year and another 150 species of migratory birds arrive from Tibet, China, Mongolia, Siberia and even Scandinavia. This requires one overnight in Bharatpur.
Get off the train at Gwalior, the capital of the former central Indian Maratha kingdom of Scindia Maharajas to visit their grand palace and the Gwalior Fort that towers over the entire city. Gwalior fort is very old and contains ancient Jain sculptures and Hindu temples apart from the medieval palaces.
A short drive from Gwalior is the small town of Datia. The palace of Datia in red sandstone was built by the same Bundela clan of ruler who built the fort in Orchha. Edwin Lutyens, the architect and town planner of the British East India Company's capital, New Delhi, was very impressed by the decorative elements in Datia Palace and he incorporated many of these features in the Viceroy's Mansion that is now the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the Secretariat buildings that are now Prime Minister's and Home Minister's offices. It takes about 4 hours to drive from Datia to Agra.
Optional extension tours from Jaipur:
About an hour before arriving in Jaipur is the town of Dausa that is quite close to Chand Baori - the world's deepest stepwell and the Hindu temple of goddess Harshat Mata, there is a large collection of sculptures found in the vicinity here.
Just before entering Jaipur in the valley of Aravali Mountains is the Garden Palace of Sisodia Rani (Queen of Sawai Jai Singh belonging to the royal house of Mewar in Udaipur) and further in the same valley is the Hindu pilgrimage center of Galta with a natural water spring and many beautiful Temples.
At a distance of about one hour's drive from Jaipur, Samode Palace, an ancient palace of the former rulers of Samode, is famous for its glass mosaic palace halls and is located in a quiet valley.
105 kilometers or 65 miles from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi is the ancient fort of Neemrana, perched on hilltop. It is an ideal place to relax before the international flight.