SPIRIT OF INDIA GROUP TOUR
This amazing and inspiring Journey reveals to you Hinduism’s holiest and most ancient city, Varanasi as well as the birthplace of Buddhism at Sarnath. Witness the art, culture, history and architecture of India’s most interesting cities including its capital, New Delhi; Mughal capital city of Agra that is famous for the Taj Mahal; the pink city, Jaipur; Udaipur, Rajasthan’s city of lakes and palaces; 15th century Jain Temple at Ranakpur is one of India’s finest in architecture and location and the blue city of Rajasthan: Jodhpur. This informative and enlightening travel experience includes roundtrip international flights between San Francisco and New Delhi, 11 hotel overnights in India, all meals with breakfast and dinners in 5-star / heritage hotels and lunches in selected city restaurants well known for their cuisine, entrances to monuments and sites, guided and escorted in India, thrilling rickshaw ride in the alleyways of old Delhi between Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk, horse tonga or battery car ride at Taj Mahal in Agra, majestic ride on decorated elephants at Amber Fort, pleasant boat ride on serene Pichola Lake in Udaipur with views of palaces and Aravali Mountains. Three domestic flights – roundtrip flight between New Delhi and Varanasi are also included in the price of US$ 2,850. This price includes all expenses except drinks in restaurants and hotels as well as tips to drivers, guides; and expenses of personal nature. Please see detailed price inclusions and exclusions below the itinerary.
January 17 to 30, 2019
February 14 to 27, 2019
with roundtrip flight from San Francisco to New Delhi
- Thursday, January 17, 2019, San Francisco:
Departure from San Francisco flight to Delhi (there may changes in Airline and schedule, please call for flights from other airports)
- Friday, January 18, 2019, Delhi:
Arrive in Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. Traditional welcome to India with marigold garlands and transfer to Surya Hotel for dinner and overnight - this luxury 5-star hotel is llocated in the heart of New Delhi designed by British Architect, Edwin Lutyens. There will be an orientation meeting before dinner.
- Saturday, January 19, 2019, New Delhi - Varanasi by flight:
After breakfast the mausoleum of the second Mughal Emperor Humayun may have served as inspiration for the architecture of the world famous Taj Mahal in Agra. It was built in 1570 during the reign of the 3rd. Mughal Emperor Akbar and its construction was supervised by Emperor Humayun's widow, Haji (Biga) Begum.
Later drive past the government buildings of India’s capital, planned & designed by the British architect, Edwin Lutyens and his friend Sir Herbert Baker: Office of Prime Minister, Office of Home Minister, President’s official residence, Parliament House and India Gate.
Lunch at Moti Mahal Restaurant in Daryaganj in New Delhi.
After lunch 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. End the day's sightseeing with a thrilling bicycle rickshaw ride in Chandni Chowk Bazaar.
On the way to airport drive to the Qutub Minar.
This area of the New Delhi was the capital of Chauhan Rajput rulers until the second battle of Taraori in 1192 when Prithvi Raj Chauhan was defeated by the Afghan ruler, Muhammad Ghur. The Afghan conqueror returned back to Ghur in Afghanistan after appointing the commander of his army, Qutubuddin Aibak as his governor in Delhi. Soon after Muhammad Ghur was assassinated in Ghur, Qutubuddin Aibak proclaimed himself the first Sultan of Delhi, a sovereign monarch. He was originally a slave of Muhammad Ghur, who rose among the ranks of his army to become his favorite commander. Qutubuddin Aibak destroyed 20 Hindu and Jain temples to use their material to start the construction of Qutub Jami Mosque – the oldest Islamic mosque in India. Many Islamic rulers of the Sultanate and later periods added to and repaired this tall minaret. An iron pillar in the courtyard that never rusts was originally the (Dhwaja Stambha) flag post of a Hindu Vishnu Temple built by Chandragupta II (375 to 417 CE). The Kufic Islamic calligraphy is unique in this mosque because it was sculpted in red sandstone by Hindu artisans under direction of Islamic scholars. The artisans did not know Arabic language and made the endings of letters curved, as they used to do in Brahmi and Devnagri script of Sanskrit language.
Board Indigo flight 6E 176 at 4.30 pm to arrive in Varanasi at 5.55 pm. Transfer to Taj Gateway Ganges Hotel for dinner and overnight.
- Sunday, January 20, 2019, Varanasi:
In early morning drive to River Ganga for boat ride at sunrise to view the Hindu pilgrims performing their prayers and rituals on the Ghats (river banks). After breakfast sightseeing of Sarnath, the birth place of Buddhist religion. Buddha gave his first sermon to his initial five disciples at Sarnath to start the Dharma Chakra (the wheel of religion) after his enlightenment at Bodhgaya in present day Bihar state. Later sightseeing of Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Durga Temple and the Bharatiya Kala Bhawan Museum in Banaras Hindu University. In the evening witness the Ganga Aartee at Dasaswamedha Ghat. Dinner and overnight in Taj Gateway Ganges Hotel.
- Monday, January 21, 2019, Varanasi - New Delhi (by flight) - Agra:
After breakfast transfer to airport to board the Indigo flight 6E 243 at 10.30 am to arrive in New Delhi at 12.05 pm. On arrival drive on the Yamuna Expressway to Agra.
- On arrival in Agra sightseeing of Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb, the mausoleum designed by Empress Nurjahan, the 20th queen of Emperor Jahangir. She designed the mausoleum and most of the motifs used in its decoration herself. On top of the four arched entrances into the white marble mausoleum, the carvings depict Chikan Embroidery – special embroidery used nowadays in cotton Kurtas famous from the Lucknow city. The mausoleum was built to honor her parents, Mirza Ghiaz Beg and Begum Asmat. Some other close relatives of the Empress are buried in the corner chambers.
On the way to hotel visit Agra’s oldest and best marble inlay factory which is a virtual museum. Some of the work done by their artisans is much finer and delicate than the inlay art work in the Taj Mahal itself. Dinner and overnight in Courtyard Marriott Hotel.
- Tuesday, January 22, 2019, Agra:
Before dawn drive a short distance to the world famous Taj Mahal for viewing the world famous monument to love of Emperor Shahjahan to his Queen Begum Mumtaj Mahal. Ample time for sightseeing in the vast walled complex.
- After breakfast at hotel sightseeing of Emperor Akbar’s Agra Fort, built between 1565 to 1573 with red sandstone. Emperor Akbar’s grandson, Emperor Shahjahan demolished some of the original palaces on the eastern side facing the River Yamuna to replace them with majestic white marble edifices. In the last 8 years of his life, Emperor Shahjahan was kept a prisoner in these palaces after his youngest overthrew him and killed his 3 surviving brothers.
After lunch at Pinch of Spice Restaurant visit Sikandara, the tomb of Emperor Akbar.
The main gate added to the monument subsequently by his son, Emperor Jahangir. The decorative motifs on this gate suggest that his wife, Empress Nurjahan, who was of Persian origin, may have influenced its construction.
Later visit the Dayalbagh Temple that has been under construction for almost 100 years.
Dinner and overnight in Courtyard Marriott Hotel.
- Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Agra to Fatehpur Sikri to Jaipur (241 kilometers or 150 miles):
After breakfast at hotel and proceed to Jaipur with stop to visit Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted capital of Emperor Akbar.
Sightseeing in Fatehpur Sikri includes the vast Palaces area with a blend of various architectural styles to reflect Emperor Akbar’s tolerant religious philosophy.
- Later drive further to the pink city, Jaipur for lunch at Surabhi Restaurant. Rest of the afternoon is free for shopping: Demonstrations of wooden block textile printing; woolen carpet weaving; cutting & polishing of semi-precious and precious stones for jewelry.
- Dinner and overnight in Mariott Hotel.
- Thursday, January 24, 2019, Jaipur & Amber:
After breakfast drive through the walled “Pink City” to stop at Hawa Mahal, a royal parades viewing gallery for the women of Maharaja’s family in which they could watch outside but people outside could not see them.
At the foot of Amber Hill ride a decorated elephant up to the hilltop palaces of Maharaja Man Singh (one of the Navratnas, the 9 most important nobles of Emperor Akbar’s court and the convex mirror decorated palaces of Mirza Raja Jai Singh.
After lunch at the “Yellow Door” on M. I. Road, 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 large paintings of portraits of various Maharajas of Kachhwaha Dynasty of Amber & Jaipur.
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. Dinner & overnight in Marriot Hotel.
- Friday, January 25, 2019, Jaipur to Deogarh (158 kilometers or 98 miles in 3 hours):
After breakfast drive to the Deogarh Mahal (built in 17th. century), located on the boundaries of Mewar, Marwar and Merwara, about 80 miles north-east of Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan. Deogarh is a famous for its unique style of miniature painting and some of the Deogarh miniatures adorn the personal collection of the present Rawat Sahib in this historic palace. Frescoes of this art form can also be seen on the castle walls. After lunch rest of the day is free to explore the medieval palace and the surrounding village with its narrow lanes. Dinner and overnight in Deogarh Mahal.
- Saturday, January 26, 2019, Deogarh to Udaipur:
After breakfast drive to Udaipur for lunch at Ambrai Restaurant in Amet Haveli on Pichola Lake shore.
Later check-in Trident Hotel located on shores of Pichola Lake with views of the Taj Lake Palace, Jag Mandir Palace and the Maharana’s City Palace.
In the afternoon take a boat ride on Pichola Lake with stop at Jag Mandir Island Palace where Mughal Emperor Shahjahan took refuge while revolting against his father, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. He was inspired to use marble instead of red sandstone in his palaces and monuments after his stay here. Dinner and overnight in Trident Hotel.
- Sunday, January 27, 2019, Udaipur:
After breakfast start the full day’s sightseeing of the Sisodia Dynasty’s City Palace, the largest royal palace in the state of Rajasthan. The Maharanas of Mewar had their original capital in the present day pilgrimage town of Nagda, 30 kilometers or 19 miles north of Udaipur. It was established by the 1st. Maharana, Guhil, in 568 CE. In the 8th century CE the capital was moved to Chittor, where the successive Maharanas built the largest Fort and city in contemporary India. Already before the sacking of Chittorgarh by Mughal Emperor Akbar, in February 1568 after a long siege that began in October 1567, the plans for a new capital were under way. The construction of the Mewar Dynasty’s City Palace in Udaipur started in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh and continued by his successors over a period of about 300 years. Today the visitors see the Mardana (male section) and Zanana (female section) of the museum part of the palace. Apart from this two other sections of the palace are converted in to hotels: “The Shiv Niwas Palace” and “The Fateh Prakash Palace”. The descendants of the Maharanas of Mewar still reside in one section of the palace.
After City Palace walk north through the Tripolia (3-arched royal entrance) to the Jagdish Temple that was constructed by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1651 CE.
After lunch at 1559 AD Lake Front Villa visit the Saheliyon-ki-Bari fountain gardens for the women of Maharana’s family. Saheliyon ki Bari Gardens or the Garden of the Maids of Honor was designed as a peaceful retreat outside the old city of Udaipur. This beautiful garden is said to have been built by Maharana Sangram Singh II in 1710-1734 for the 48 chamber maids who accompanied the queen after her wedding. The garden is well known for its lush green lawns, marble art and fountains. It has a white marble Chhatri (kiosks) fountain in the center and black marble Chhatris at the corners. Outside this courtyard are fountains, pools, lawns, flowers and trees. Many of the fountains present here are made of cast iron. They were made in England and would not be out of place in an English seaside resort. The large circular fountain pool is ornamented with marble elephants and fountains. This garden presents a perfect fusion of Indian and English style of architecture. Dinner and overnight in Trident Hotel.
- Monday, January 28, 2019, Udaipur to Ranakpur to Jodhpur (106 kilometers or 66 miles in about 2 hours):
After breakfast drive to Ranakpur for lunch at the Fatehbagh Palace Restaurant. After lunch sightseeing of early 15th century built, Chawmukha Jain Temple that has a floor area of 40,000 square feet. The temple is dedicated to the first “Tirthankar” (teacher) of Jain religion, Bhagwan Adinath.
Later drive to Jodhpur for dinner and overnight in Indana Palace Hotel.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019, Jodhpur to Delhi (Flight):
After breakfast sightseeing of Marwar Maharaja’s Mehrengarh Fort belonging to the Rathore dynasty and Jaswant Thada memorial of former rulers of Marwar.
After lunch at Mehran Terrace transfer to Jodhpur airport to board the Spicejet flight SG2696 at 4 pm to arrive in New Delhi at 5.10 pm. Transfer to Atria Boutique Hotel for refreshing (some rooms will be available for use of bathrooms) and farewell dinner.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019, New Delhi to San Francisco:
Transfer from hotel to board the return flight. Arrive in San Francisco. (Airline and schedule may vary)
The Price of US$ 3,570 includes following:
- Non-stop roundtrip international flight from San Francisco to New Delhi
- 11 overnights in double or twin bedroom accommodation in mentioned 5-star / heritage hotels or similar with breakfasts and gourmet 5-star dinners.
- Lunches in selected, exclusive city restaurants during sightseeing
- Deluxe air-conditioned coach for airport & intercity transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary, all taxes, parking fees, interstate taxes, state taxes, driver’s allowance etc.
- 2 Bottles water per day per person in coach
- Entrances to monuments and museums in India as per program
- English speaking guides throughout the tour in each city
- Assistance at each city by our company representative
- Sunrise visit of Taj Mahal.
- Rickshaw ride in the Bazaar alleys of Old Delhi
- Elephant ride at Amber Fort in Jaipur
- Boat ride on Pichola Lake in Udaipur
- Decorated Tonga/ Camel Cart ride / Battery Bus Ride during visit of Taj Mahal.
- Farewell dinner with room for wash & change for few hours at a Hotel near IGI Airport in New Delhi.
- All current luxury government taxes and GST
The above price does not include:
- Single hotel room occupancy supplement of US$ 947
- India Visa Fee. The Visa application can be filled online at: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
- Vaccination: Please consult your personal doctor
- Still and Video camera fees
- Tips to porters in hotels, tips to guide and driver
- International travel insurance
- Any costs of personal nature like alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at restaurants and hotels, room service, telephone charges, laundry etc. in hotels