Thank you for your help in putting together the India Trip for me and Kevin - Our arrival was easy – having the e-Visa already in hand made entry relatively quick - we had an amazing time – and give you our feedback on our experiences:
Driving in India is vastly different than anywhere else and we were impressed at our driver, Binny’s ability to navigate the roads avoiding other cars, trucks, bikes, people, and animals… he rarely had to use his horn and he took care when there were issues with the roads (potholes, bumps, etc.). We always felt safe and comfortable. The hotels we stayed at were great – good staff at each place, comfortable rooms, great food, and we used the pools at each place. The various city guides were well chosen. Each one was very knowledgeable, paced the day well (site seeing and breaks), spoke good English with us, and made sure we had the opportunity to take plenty of pictures (or have pictures taken for us of the best views & angles). We always felt safe with the guides and learned a lot about the culture. Taj Mahal aside (if going to India, of course this is a must), Kevin & I loved visiting Gwalior and Samode. The Gwalior Fort was a fantastic addition – we loved this tour. And, the Taj Usha Kiran Palace Hotel there was just beautiful! The Samode Palace also didn’t disappoint one bit, and we appreciated the village tour to see what the small-village-community was like – Kevin even got to bat in a local cricket game a bunch of the kids were playing. We loved it, and we hope they loved having us there to watch them play. I definitely recommend keeping these on your future itineraries for people booking a Golden Triangle trip. We cannot express enough thanks for your organization of this – it was so much better than anything we would have figured out in trying to plan it ourselves. We plan on recommending the trip to our friends, and encourage them to use your services to do so. - Carly
ITINERARY: Extended Golden Triangle Tour for Carly F. and Kevin J.
1. Friday, March 25, 2016, New Delhi: Arrival at 9.35 am. Receive with marigold garlands at Indira Gandhi International Airport and transfer to Crown Plaza New Delhi Okhla. PM: Raj Ghat memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, Old Delhi sightseeing with photo stop outside Red Fort on the way to Jama Masjid. Riksha Ride in old Delhi area of Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk. Overnight in Crown Plaza Today Hotel. Restaurants: Zaffran in Connaught Place or Gulati’s in Khan Maret.
2. Saturday, March 26, 2016, New Delhi: Sightseeing of Qutub Minar, Humayun Tomb, India Gate, drive past Parliament, Raj Path, Prime Minister’s office and President’s Mansion. PM: Akshardham Temple in east bank of Yamuna River. Overnight in Crown Plaza Today Hotel.
3. Sunday, March 27, 2016, New Delhi to Agra: Drive on Yamuna Expressway to Agra. Sightseeing of ItmadudDaulah’s mausoleum on arrival. PM: Sikandara, the Emperor Akbar’s tomb and Dayalbagh Temple. Overnight in Marriott Hotel. Restaurants: Pinch of Spice or Pind Balluchi on Fatehabad Road.
4. Monday, March 28, 2016, Agra: Visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise (about 6 am). Spend about 2/3 hours in the Taj Mahal complex to view the main mausoleum, Yamuna River view, Mosque or Mahmankhana viewing and visit Taj Mahal museum if interested (it is located in Naubatkhana building in western wall of Taj Mahal in the middle of the garden. Later visit the Subash Emporium on Gwalior Road Shahzadimandi to view the finest in inlay art (their not for sale articles are much finer than the art in the central chamber of the Taj Mahal, the only place in the world to view such fine art work in PietraDure). PM: Extended sightseeing of Agra Fort starting with the red sand stone palaces from Emperor Akbar’s period and the white marble palaces replaced later by Emperor Shahjahan. Musammam Burj pavilion where Emperor Shahjahan spent his last 8 years as a prisoner of his own son, Aurangzeb. Hall of private and public audience as well as Moti Masjid (from outside, it is closed to tourists).
5. Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Agra – Murena – Gwalior: Drive to Bateshwar and later to the 8/9th. Century temples of Murena on the way to Gwalior Fort. Later visit the Scindia Maharaja of Gwalior’s Jai Mahal and its Darbar Hall with gigantic chandeliers.
Overnight in Taj Usha Kiran Palace Hotel. Eat in the hotel restaurant as there are no good city restaurants.
6. Wednesday, March 30, 2016, Gwalior – FatehpurSikri – Jaipur: Drive to FatehpurSikri for sightseeing of Mughal Emperor Akbar’s palaces that reflect his tolerance of India’s other religions, i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. – the architecture of palaces was a blend of religious architectural elements of all these religions. The hall of private audience has an ornamental pillar in the middle of the room supporting Emperor Akbar’s throne platform. 4 bridges connect the platform in the middle to 4 corners depicting paths of different religions originated in the 4 directions – east, west, north and south. His principal queen was Empress Jodhbai who received the title of Maryam Zamani (Mary of the world), she came from the Hindu Rajput royal family of Amber (near Jaipur) and was not asked to change her religion. Her palace has niches in the walls for her idols and an red sandstone square vessel for the holiTulsi plant that she used to water after her morning prayers. Walking out of palaces view the massive Friday Mosque that was the place where Emperor Akbar met the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chistie, who profesied that the emperor would have 3 sons when he was desperate for a male heir to the throne. The Saint’s mausoleum is in white marble – the only white marble building in the deserted city – Emperor Akbar lived in FatehpurSikri for only 14 years – it was later deserted and covered with forest with wild animal wandering in the palaces for 400 years. Later drive to Jaipur. Shopping suggestions in Jaipur: Jaipur Handicrafts Emporium on Amer Road for readymade and made to order cotton & silk garments, carpets and wooden block printed cotton etc. Antiqariat Emporium for cutting and polishing of colored precious stones demonstration at Daserah Kothi on Amer Road. Stop of lunch at Laxmi Vilas Palace in Bharatpur. Overnight in Marriott Hotel.
7. Thursday, March 31, 2016, Jaipur: Drive to Hawa Mahal in the historic walled city called Pink City as all facades of buildings are painted in pink color. After short stop for photography of the narrow parade viewing gallery called Hawa Mahal – the ladies of the royal family used to sit behind the screens so they could look out on the street without being seen by public. Later drive to Jal Mahal (an island palace that was used by the Maharajas of Bird shooting). Drive further to Amber Fort. Elephant Ride to the hilltop palaces of Mirza Raja Jaisingh and Maharaja Mansingh. After coming down by Jeeps visit the elephant village of photographing the elephants resting place after they work in Amber Fort. PM: City Palace and Astronomical Observatory – there are 17 astronomical instruments that all function except the one that was not completed. The great Sun Dial has an accuracy of 2 seconds. Overnight in Marriott Hotel. Restaurants: Surabhi Restaurants in an old aristocratic mansion with a museum of Rajasthani Turbans. Umaid Mahal Restaurant on the hotel’s roof terrace.
8. Friday, April 1, 2016, Jaipur – Samode Palace: Drive to Samode Village for a relaxing stay at the Samode Palace. Sightseeing of the palace – the Darbar Hall is intricately painted with colorful murals. The palace has a swimming pool that can be used if weather permits. Enjoy the Spa facilities etc. and relax.
9. Saturday, April 2, 2016, Samode – Neemrana Fort Palace: The Neemrana Fort Palace is about 100 kilometers from International Airport. Relax in a double room Kaath Mahal or Moti Mahal or similar. Sightseeing of the massive fort is impressive. Farewell dinner in the fort.
10. Sunday, April 3, 2016, Neemrana Fort Palace – Indira Gandhi International Airport: Depart from the fort at about 8 am to drive about 100 kilometers to the airport.