FEEDBACK FROM CARLY F. AND KEVIN J., GERMANY

NORTH INDIA TOUR WITH DIWALI, RIVER RAFTING, BUNGEE JUMPING, BUNGEE SWINGS & HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE @ PUSHKAR FAIR FOR CYNTHIA, PAT & JULIA

FEEDBACK COMMENTS BY CYNTHIA

This trip has been the best trip of my life and it is all because of the excellent service we have received from start to finish. Brijesh was my first point of contact and he worked tirelessly to create an itinerary based off of my desires to go white water rafting on the Ganges and a hot air balloon ride. Not only did he spend a lot of time revising the schedule as I made changes but after it was all finalized and paid for, we had a member of our group that had to come later due to work. Brijesh was so gracious and easily made all the necessary changes to our itinerary. He kept me up to date on all the schedule changes, train rides, plane rides and hotel recommendations. Thank you Brijesh for all of your hard work and patience with me.

One of the highlights of this tour was meeting your wonderful family and allowing us to come to your home and celebrate Diwali with you. It meant so much to us to take part of this wonderful celebration, lighting candles, creating sand drawings and talking with your family. I know that Patrick especially enjoyed the time he spent with you while I was cared for by your wife and daughter when I had a migraine. Oh how caring you all are and then you even came to the airport to see us off. I can't thank you enough for all of your generosity.

Our trip would never have been successful without the skill of the driver (forgive me but I cannot spell his name). I always felt safe and he navigated the most difficult of situations with calm patience. His driving was more technical than a professional race car driver and I stand in awe of his skills. He was so kind to me, helping me out of the car, assisting me with my luggage and was considerate at all times.

Without exception our guide was the most important person that made this entire trip a dream come true. Hemender was so enthusiastic, knowledgeable and had an uncanny ability to read our minds. He was so fun and anticipated our every whims - I can't say enough about his extraordinary people skills. I know that we were a tough customer with very specific needs and he was able to fulfill and even anticipate our requirements. As an example, I prefer to read about a site and then explore on my own but ask questions once I have viewed the site. From the first day, he understood my mood, knowledge of the site and planned the trip for the day accordingly. I must say that our rafting trip together was for me one trip that I will always cherish. Hemender is not only a fantastic guide but has also become a friend. When I come back to India, I will change my dates of travel just to ensure he is the guide that will be there to share my adventure.

I have already sung the praises of this tour group to my friends and had requests for your information. I look forward to my next trip to India - love the people and the wonderful traditions.

Kind regards,
Cynthia

1. Wednesday, October 18, 2017, Frankfurt / USA / Delhi: Cynthia and Pat: Board Lufthansa LH100 at 10.15 am in Frankfurt Terminal 1 and arrive in Munich at 11.10 am. Board LH762 @ 12.20 pm and arrive in New Delhi at 11.20 pm. Traditional Indian welcome with marigold garland and transfer to Vivanta by Taj Ambassador Hotel.

Thursday, October 19, 2017, New Delhi: (DIWALI CELEBRATION TO BE HELD ON 19 OCT’17)

Cynthia and Pat:

After breakfast drive on Raj Path Avenue where all the colonial era Indian government buildings are. Drive past Prime Minister's and Home Minister's (popularly called South & North Block, usually tourists like to stop at India Gate to take photographs which takes just a few minutes.

In old Delhi the usual route suggested is from Jama Masjid to Chandni Chowk - your car can park at Jama Masjid and cycle rickshaw rides will be provided from there through narrow lane Bazaars to the broad Chandni Chowk Avenue and return to your car near Jama Masjid. Moti Mahal for lunch in Daryaganj area. Diwali celebration and dinner will be with an Indian family in New Delhi. Overnight in Vivanta by Taj Ambassador.

Friday, October 20, 2017, New Delhi – Rishikesh / SHIVPURI (255 Kms, 5.5/6 Hrs drive) Cynthia and Pat: After breakfast in the Vivanta by Taj Ambassador Hotel, check out to depart by air-conditioned Toyota Van for Rishkesh / Shivpuri. Between New Delhi and Rishikesh there are three towns (Meerat, Muzaffarnagar & Haridwar) and near these towns there are good restaurants. Dehradun is also near to the highway. The best restaurant is Grand Cheetal at National Highway 58, Khatauli, Muzaffarnagar. Driving time between New Delhi and Rishikesh is between 5 and 6 hours and you can make at least three restaurant stops and if you want more stops; then you can ask the drive to stop any scenic spot where you like to stop to just walk about a little. Depending on stop duration total time will increase a bit. After lunch proceed for the jungle trek to the water fall. Explore the area and trace your steps back to camp. Dinner and Ganga Kinare Boutique Hotel in super deluxe room.

Saturday, October 21, 2017 : Shivpuri / Rishikesh Cynthia and Pat: After breakfast walk to the starting point for special rafting run. Today’s raft down from Shivpuri to Muni Ki reti is 17 Kilometers or 11 miles in total. We hit some of the best rapids on the river e.g. good morning , Roller Coaster, Golf Course and Club House rapids, Initiation, Double Trouble, Hilton & Terminator. One can try cliff Jump and body Surfing on this section. In the later part float past temples, ashrams and ghats enjoying the river bank life along the Ganga River. Arrive & drive to camp. Lunch at the Camp. After some rest try a hand on Dukies (Inflatable Kayak) near the camp. Dinner and overnight in Ganga Kinare Boutique Hotel.

Sunday, October 22, 2017 : Shivpuri / Rishikesh – New Delhi (255 Kms , 5.5/6 Hrs drive) Cynthia and Pat: After breakfast in the Ganga Kinare Boutique Hotel and check out to go to Jumpinheights for Giant Swing. http://www.jumpinheights.com/. Dinner and overnight in Vivanta by Taj Ambassador./ Le Meridian

Monday, October 23, 2017, New Delhi – Agra (By Train GATIMAN EXPRESS 0820 Hrs/0950 Hrs) : Cynthia and Pat: After breakfast transfer to Hazrat Nizamuddi Railway Station to board the chair car compartment of India’s fastest train, Gatiman Express, departing at 8.10 am and arrive in Agra Cantonment Railway Station at 9.50 am. Our Agra representative will meet you on the platform of the railway station and arrange transfer to Mughal Hotel (Room category: Mughal).

Sightseeing in Agra includes 3rd Mughal Emperor Akbar’s Agra Fort. Emperor Akbar built this mighty fort on the ruins of Badalgarh, a fort initially built by Hindu king Badal Singh. The construction under Emperor Akbar started in 1575 CE and it was completed in 1573 with about 4000 masons and other construction labor working on the Red Sand Stone fort with about 500 palaces and buildings. Emperor Akbar’s grandson, Emperor Shahjahan demolished some of the palaces on the eastern side facing the Yamuna River and replaced them with grand, white marble ones. Emperor Shahjahan was kept as a prisoner in his own palaces in Agra Fort for the last 8 years of his life by his own son, Emperor Aurangzeb. The Red Sandstone Jahangiri Mahal is still in its original condition and displays the unique blend of Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Islamic architecture.

Later visit the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula that was the mausoleum of Mirza Ghiaz Beg and Begum Asmat, the parents of 4th Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s 10th wife, Empress Nur Jahan. Her original name was Mehrunissa and was married to an Afghan commander of the Mughal Army, Sher Afgan, who died before Emperor Jahangir married her and gave her the title of Nurjahan, the light of the universe. She designed and supervised the construction of this mausoleum and this is evident in the feminine and Persian influences in its architectural decorations. It was built sometime after 1622 when Mirza Ghiaz Beg died. He was the grandfather of ArjumandBano Begum, for whom the Taj Mahal was built.

Before sunset visit Mehtab Bagh for view of Taj Mahal at Sunset from there. Lunch at Pinch of Spice Restaurant in Agra. Dinner and overnight in Mughal Hotel.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017, Agra – Gwalior (125 Kms, 3.5/4 Hrs drive) Cynthia and Pat: After a late breakfast at 9 AM, depart for Gwalior at 10 AM and enjoy the sightseeing of Jai Vilas Palace of the Scindia Maharaja of Gwalior and Gwalior Fort. Overnight in Taj Usha Kiran Palace Hotel – Room category: Superior. (lunch and dinner is suggested in the hotel in Gwalior).

Julia’s departure from Washington DC by Lufthansa 9253 flight operated by United at 10.10 PM. Wednesday, October 25, 2017, Gwalior – Orchha (135 Kms, 4/4.5 Hrs drive) Julia’s arrival in Frankfurt at 12.10 PM. Departure by Lufthansa 760 at 1.45 PM from Frankfurt.

Cynthia and Pat: After breakfast drive to Orchha for the sightseeing of Orchha Fort. Jahangiri Mahal Palace in the fort was specially constructed by Bir Singh, the Bundela Rajpur ruler for the visit of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. While still a Mughal Prince, Salim (Later Emperor Jahangir) conspired with Bir Singh Bundela to ambush & kill his father, Emperor Akbar’s best friend and the author of his official biography, Akbarnama, Abul Fazl Allami. Later visit Hindu temples of Orchha. Overnight in Amar Mahal Hotel – Room category: Deluxe. (lunch and dinner is suggested in the hotel in Orchha)

Thursday, October 26, 2017, Orchha – Khajuraho (176 Kms, 3.5 Hrs drive) Julia’s arrival in New Delhi at 12.55 AM. Transfer to Pullman Aerocity Hotel (1 mile from IGI Airport) for overnight. After breakfast checkout of hotel and sightseeing of Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and New Delhi’s colonial monuments and government buildings. After lunch at Gulati’s Restaurant in Khan Market in New Delhi, sightseeing of Jama Masjid and rickshaw ride in Chandni Chawk bazaar. Dinner and overnight in Vivanta by Taj Ambassador./ Le Meridian

Cynthia and Pat: After breakfast drive to Khajuraho and enjoy the sightseeing of the Jain group of temples in the afternoon. Overnight in Ramada Khajuraho Hotel – Room category: superior room. (There is a very good rooftop restaurant just opposite the gate of Hindu Temple Complex, dinner is suggested in hotel in Khajuraho)

Friday, October 27, 2017, Khajuraho – Jhansi (190 Kms, 4 Hrs drive) – Agra ( By Shatabdi Train 1800 Hrs / 2030Hrs) For Julia: After breakfast transfer to New Delhi Train Station to board Bhopal ShatabdiExpress at 6 AM and arrive in Agra Cantonment Train Station at 7.570 AM. Transfer for sightseeing of Agra Fort and Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb. After lunch at Pinch of Spice Restaurant on Fatehabad Road, sightseeing of Sikandara (Emperor Akbar’s Tomb) – the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. Overnight in double room with Patrick in Mughal Hotel.

Cynthia and Pat: After breakfast enjoy the sightseeing of the Hindu group of Temples in Khajuraho including Varaha (Boar Incarnation of Vishnu) Temple, Lakshman (younger brother of the incarnation of the Vishnu, Ram) Temple, Kandaria Mahadeo (Shiva) Temple, Jagdambi (goddess) Temple and Vishwanath (Shiva) Temple. The temples were constructed in the 9th and 10th centuries CE under the patronage of Chandela Rajput rulers. Lunch is suggested in the rooftop restaurant across the Hindu Temples or in Hotel). In the afternoon drive to Jhansi to board the chair car compartment of Shatabdi Express Train departing at 5.59 pm and arrive in Agra Cantonment Railway Station at 8.30 pm. Transfer to Mughal Hotel (Room category: Mughal) for dinner and overnight.

Saturday, October 28, 2017, Agra – FatehpurSikri – Bharatpur – (2 Hrs) For Cynthia, Pat and Julia: Sightseeing of Taj Mahal by sunrise (6 to 8 AM). Before dawn sightseeing of the world famous, Taj Mahal, in the golden glow of sunrise. Ample time to view and photograph the majestic southern courtyard, the grand main gate, the Charbagh (4-Quarter) gardens in front of the main white marble mausoleum of the Queen Mumtaj Mahal. ArjumandBano Begum was 14 years of age when she was married to Emperor Shahjahan. She became his favorite queen and was his most trusted advisor and constant companion, even in the camps at battlefields. She received the title of Begum Mumtaj Mahal, the crown of the palace, from her husband. She died in 1630 delivering his 14th child, a daughter, who was still born. Emperor Shahjahan chose a garden where the palace of the Maharaja of Jaipur stood earlier for the site of the mausoleum. The construction started in 1631 and was completed in 1648.

After breakfast drive to the deserted capital of Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri. Emperor Akbar did not have a male heir to the Mughal throne for a long time. He went to a Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chistie, who lived in the village of Sikri among the stone cutters who worked in the red sandstone quarry there. The saint correctly prophesied that the emperor would have 3 sons. Emperor Akbar moved with his pregnant queen, Jodha Bai, to live near the saint. When the son was born, he was named after the saint, Salim. He later took the title of Jahangir or conqueror of the world. Two other sons Murad and Daniel were later born in Fatehpur Sikri. When the emperor moved to this village soon more and more courtiers and common folk started moving to the new capital. Akbar took personal interest in the construction of the palaces and the mosque as described the Jesuit priest, Father Montserrat, who lived in Fatehpur Sikri and informed Emperor Akbar about Christianity. Emperor Akber later had to move to Lahore to quell uprisings in the north west and in Afghanistan. Soon the capital of Fatehpur Sikri was completely deserted. Thick forest engulfed the palaces and wild animals made their abode in the ruins of the palaces. In early 20th century, Viceroy Lord Curzon, instructed the Archaeological Survey of India to clean up the palaces part and start renovations. This restoration is still going on. Emperor Akbar’s tolerant religious philosophy is displayed in the blend of various architectural styles in FatehpurSikri, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Monument. Drive half an hour to Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in Bharatpur for lunch. Drive an hour to Laxmi Vlilas Palace Hotel in Bharatpur for Lunch, relax and explore the Laxmi Vlilas Palace Hotel. Sightseeing of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary for all only at sunset. Dinner and overnight in Laxmi Vlilas Palace Hotel.

Sunday, October 29, 2017, Bharatpur – Dausa – Jaipur: (185 Kms, 3/3.5 Hrs drive) After breakfast drive to Jaipur, stopping to visit Sisodia Rani Garden and Galta Springs (Hindu religious pilgrimage site. There are some interesting temples and there are lots of black faced languor monkeys and red faced rhesus monkeys near the temples. Drive to Jaipur and check-in Samode Haveli Hotel. Later take a Rickshaw ride in the walled pink city, Jaipur. Lunch at Surabhi Restaurant in Jaipur. Dinner and overnight in Samode Haveli Hotel.

Monday, October 30, 2017, Jaipur: Drive through the historic walled, Pink City, to Hawa Mahal – a royal parade viewing gallery for the women of the royal family of Jaipur. After a stop for photography drive further to Amber.

Ride decorated elephants to the hilltop palaces of Maharaja Man Singh (one of 9 Jewels – most important nobles) of Emperor Akbar’s court and Mirza Raja Jai Singh.

Come down in Jeeps and drive back to the city.

Lunch is suggested at Stag Café opposite Amber Fort. In the afternoon sightseeing of Jaipur Maharaja’s City Palace visiting the royal portraits gallery in the former Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), the Sarvatobhadra (Hall of Private Audience) and the Mubarak Mahal gallery of royal costumes and textiles. Coming out of the City Palace visit the Astronomical Observatory of Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur city. All but one of the 17 large masonry instruments in the observatory are still functioning. The SamratYantra (Large Sundial) has an accuracy of 2 seconds. Dinner and overnight in Samode Haveli.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017, Jaipur – Pushkar (140 Kms. 3.5/4 Hrs drive): (Pushkar fair to be held between 28 Oct’17 – 04 Nov’17) After breakfast drive to Pushkar pilgrimage town that is famous for India’s oldest Brahma Temple and its annual Camel Fair – more than 20,000 camels, cattle, sheep, goats, horses etc. are traded here during the Pushkar Fair. Check in the Pushkar Palace hotel. The hotel can arrange a camel cart to ride in the fair grounds. If some event is going on in the stadium in the fairgrounds, do visit it. During the fair there are competitions of decorated camels, horses etc. Later walk in the street near fair grounds to the Brahma Temple. Visit the hilltop temple. In the evening enjoy the lake side celebrations all around the Pushkar Lake. The Ghat (steps leading to the water in the lake) near Pushkar Palace is one of the most popular place in Pushkar. Before 4 pm the Hot Air Balloon Ride provider in Pushkar will send a car to transfer you to take off site in Pushkar for a 60 minute ride, snacks with tea or coffee will be provided by the Balloon Ride company. Transfer back to hotel will also be provided by the Balloon Ride company. Cost of Hot Air Balloon Ride is US$ 250 per person and is to be included in the price mentioned below. Overnight in Pushkar Palace.(lunch and dinner is suggested in Pushkar Palace). Palace – Room category: Super Deluxe. (lunch and dinner is suggested in Pushkar Palace)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017, Pushkar Another day at Pushkar. Explore the fair grounds and relax in Pushkar Palace. Lunch, dinner and overnight in Pushkar Palace.

Thursday, November 2, 2017, Pushkar – Sanganer Airport in Jaipur – New Delhi: (keep flight) After breakfast drive to Sanganer Airport in Jaipur (3/3.5 Hrs) to board Jet Airways 9W2624 departing at 2.10 pm arrive in New Delhi at 3.15 pm. Stop for lunch at midway restaurant between Pushkar and Sanganer Airport. After check out drive about 20 minutes to Kingdom of Dreams show, culture center – later enjoy dinner in one of the restaurants there. Transfer to Indira Gandhi Airport at 11.00 pm to board the flight back to DCA airport in USA and to FRA in Germany.

Friday, November 3, 2017, New Delhi – Frankfurt / USA: Julia and Pat Board Air Canada Flight 6825 (Operated by Swiss Air) departing at 2.05 am to arrive in Zurich at 6.25 am. From Zurich to Toronto and then to DCA. Cynthia Boards Swiss Air Flight LX147 departing at 2.05am and arrives in Zurich at 6.25 am. Board Flight to Frankfurt at 7.05 and arrive at 8.15 am.

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