As we sightsee in this city of 600 square miles, you will recognize the difference between the old and the new India. Overtime, Delhi has been governed by the Turks, the Rajputs, the Mughals, Afghans and the British with each leaving their mark. Since the 10th Century there were seven cities and consequently a mixed history. “Old Delhi” was constructed by the Mogul Emperor Shah Jehan and was the city of the Mughals. Up to today it is well maintained with narrow alleys, forts, mosques, bazaars and usual medieval lodgings. Between 1911-1931 during the time of British rule “New Delhi” was built. This capacious, multi-gardened, green city, that showcases spectacular buildings and wide avenues was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Breakfast is the first item on today’s itinerary and then we take a tour through the city in the old part of Delhi. The old town dated back to the 7th century was built as the capital of the Mughal empire by Emperor Shah Jahan, whose headquarters were based in Agra up until then.
Our first stop is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Red Fort, a remarkable fortification from the 17th Century, hedged in by a red stone 33m high wall. Inside this site you will find grand courtyards, marble palaces, and beautiful gardens. Just a short distance away is the Friday Mosque, Jama Masjid, that was constructed in 1656 with contrasting red sandstone and white marble and has a holding space of about 20,000 people; it is the biggest mosque in India. That will be our next stop. This mosque located on a small hill, gives a fantastic view of the busy streets and active bazaars. Taking a drive in Rickshaw is perhaps the best way to be on the narrow alleys and streets of old Delhi. Here you will find yourself as a part of the electrifying Indian energy.
Next we head over to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial, Raj Ghat. It is a scenic and attractive landmark on the river bank of Yamuna.
We will explore New Delhi further after lunch. This time, it will be a section of this city that is not as naturally developed as other areas of old Delhi. Its infrastructure was designed with stately government Palaces and the exceptional Rajpath. In terms of the more modern era, our trip will take us to the office of the President, Rashtrapati Bhawan. The President house is a fusion of the usual Indian architecture and other aspects are of Western origin. It’s a colorful mix that represents the architectural flavors of various religions in India. Take for instance the chattris (dome-shaped pavilions) a depiction of Hindu architecture, the dome displays Buddhist architecture and not to be left out are the colonnades from the period of British rule. As we tour the government quarters we can view and be impressed by the buildings with their distinct colonial stamp, However, for security purposes there are a number of restrictions on this tour. It is also a good time to visit the renowned India Gate, which is believed to be a copy of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The India Gate was constructed as a memorial to the 90,000 soldiers who died during World War 1.
The Qutub Minar Complex will be the next stop. On this location, we will visit two UNESCO World Heritage monuments along with a variety of other monuments and buildings that represent the start of the Muslim era in India. Overpowering the complex is the Qutub Minar the tallest block tower in the world at 72 m high. It is not only spectacular in size but also in design with detailed Islamic calligraphy, grooved columns, protrusive balconies and colored sandstone. This structure was constructed as a victory tower, celebrating the Muslim’s triumphant invasion of the Rajput Hindu kingdoms in India, with the setting up of the Slave Dynasty in 1192. It also carries the title of the first mosque to be built in Delhi after the Islamic triumph of India. Alai Darwaza the major south gate to the Qutub Mosque will be the next high point of our tour. This arched gateway was built in 1311 by Ala-ud-din Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate and is adorned with red sandstone, latticed stone screens and tiled white marble. It is also the first building in India where the methods of Islamic architecture were used and highlights the outstanding workmanship of the local and Turkish artisans who worked on it. The thought is that the slave dynasty domes and arches were false but Ali Darwaza represented the earliest examples of India’s authentic arches and domes.
Our final visit will be to Laxmi Narayan Temple which is well-known as Birla Temple, a Hindu place of worship that is still in use, where people are able to pray to the gods Shiva, Lakshmi, Hanuman, Ganesh, Durga or Krishna. It was constructed by the industrialist JK Birla in 1939 consecrated to the goddess of Wealth, Goddess Lakshmi, and her console Narayan, the Preserver. The architectural design is superb and its colors of chocolate brown and honeycomb gold are a beautiful sight to behold. The lovely interior and the friendliness of the locals combine to create a spiritual and energizing atmosphere. Overnight in Delhi!
Today we will venture even further into Delhi! Starting with the Lotus Temple, which is famous more so for its Sydney Opera House look. It is a Baha’i place of worship dedicated to the unification of all religions. The Lotus Temple is a spectacular sight with 27 unconnected marble petals forming a structure of nine sides with a stunning likeness to a lotus flower and is one of the prized architectural structures in India. We will then make a stop and visit the Akshar Dham Temple, the most expansive temple complex in India, taking 5 years, millions of hours of labor and 7,000 skilled sculptors to complete. The Swami Narayan Akshardham reflects 10,000 years of Indian culture and is an interesting method of architecture, having no cement or lime in its structure but only the use of interlocking stones. In the main shrine in the temple, there is a 150 kilo Gold Statue and the overall temple is simply blissful.
Any tour of India must include a visit to National Museum in Delhi. This outstanding institution is more than a museum, ever since it was opened in 1983 the National Museum Institute of Art, Conservation and Museology also became a university, training people how to preserve India’s rich heritage. You will find thousands of artifacts that uncover 5000 years of history of India and the world. The galleries are roomy and spacious and it will take hours to complete your tour of the largest museum in India. Explore the extraordinary remnants of the lost civilizations of Indus Valley and Harappan. View the ancient artifacts of Central Asia, including the exotic silk paintings from the 1st century AD, along with tribal masks, sculptures, Indian textiles, musical instruments, old coins of the Dutch, Portuguese, and Danish, miniature paintings and weapons such as the old battle-axe from 1739 AD. The displays spread over three floors and provides a functional education and conservation program.
As sunset draws nigh, we will visit the Humayun Tomb, a Mughal mausoleum from the 16th century that has been designated a UNESCO Site. You will experience a jaw- dropping moment at the first sight of this exquisitely Persian designed wonder, which looks more like a royal palace than a tomb. Its beauty transcends to another level at sunset, when the red and white marble of the tomb glows gloriously, while hedged in by a well – manicured garden that was created to look like the Quran’s paradise garden. The building of Humayun’s tomb was initiated by his widow Hamida Banu Begum, who started the construction for her late husband in 1565, nine years after his death. It was completed in 1572. The size and symmetry, from the Moorish domes to the structure’s width, perfectly combine both Persian and Mughal elements that would later inspire the design of the Taj Mahal.
Spend a few hours lingering in the bustle of Connaught Place a sprawling market officially named Rajiv Chowk. Shop at the jazzy stores, open air clothing market and cafes both above and underground. Experience the hustling and bargaining of Indian shopping. It will be worth your time! Overnight in Delhi!
You will be picked up from your New Delhi Hotel early in the morning and transported to the railway station for a thrilling air-conditioned, high speed train ride to Amritsar. You are guaranteed an experience of a lifetime; simply put just traveling on a train in India gives that experience and you will see for yourself. Imagine that the train is a town on wheels with everything possible traveling in it and you will get the picture. It will take 6 hours and you will be treated with breakfast and snacks along the way, however, you should also bring along a few extra snacks to ensure that you are satisfied.
After you have arrived in Amritsar around 13:40pm, the driver will take you to your accommodation, where have time to rest and relax. Then the afternoon tour begins!
Amritsar, is the second largest town in the state of Punjab and is known as a spiritual and cultural center for the Sikh religion. Amristar’s name is derived from the revered Golden Temple and means ‘Pool of Nectar’ It was brought into being by Guru Ram Das – the fourth guru of the Sikhs in the year 1574. Travelers from every part of the globe come here to dip in the holy water for spiritual purification and to revere Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs which is continuously read aloud.
Your expert guide will collect you after lunch and you will travel in air conditioned comfort to Wagah border (31 Km). Here, you can watch the famous flag lowering ceremony which is also known internationally as the ‘Beating Retreat Border Ceremony’ that occurs every evening before sunset. India’s Border Security Force and Pakistan’s Ranger since1959 have performed this military ritual every day.
The parades on both sides of the Wagah border that was once the only road to both countries are rapid and a sight to behold. The soldiers from Pakistan and India with tall, imposing figures perform every task in perfect unison. The infantrymen stand at attention, gates are opened and the flags of both nations are lowered, all exactly together as the sun sets. This has become a blithe spectacle for thousands of people daily, as the two sides compete to see whose marching style is most showy and who can garnish the most vocal supporters. It’s a mixed atmosphere somewhat like an outside show, a party yet a military parade and so very Indian. The parade ends, both gates are closed and flags lowered as the night closes in. You will learn more about this meticulously organized ceremony from your expert guide. Then we head to the Golden Temple.
We will arrive in Amristar early in the evening for a first look at the spectacular floodlit Golden Temple, which glows against the dark sky and shimmers in the waters around it. Visitors, devout worshipers and people of all faiths are free and welcome to come to the Golden Temple, which is often compared to a visit to the Taj Mahal and certainly just as magnificent.The combination of thousands of people offering services for nothing in return, incessant chants,still waters and the temple’s sheer beauty all redound to an extra special and unforgettable experience.
Looking for a haven for food in India ? Amritsar is it! This place has some delightful places to eat and is a paradise for those who love doing so. For dinner you can have your pick from a wide selection of restaurants. Perhaps,you may want to excite your palate with some Street Cuisine from near the Temple, or visit the Golden Temple Langar at their community kitchen. Check out the walled city surrounding the Golden Temple for a food lover’s dream. Pay just 100 – 150 INR for some tasty small Indian bread known as kulchas and Lassi yoghurt drink from Kulcha Land. But, if you prefer your vegetables then dhabas Bharwan ka dhaba or Kesar ka dhabais is the place for you, with rajma, which is red beans and rice or tandoori roti the Indian bread prepared in the fascinating mud oven.
After an enjoyable dinner, you will go back to your hotel. Overnight in Amritsar!
Not with standing its beauty at night, the Golden Temple is equally exceptional and charming in the daytime. See the reflection of this enchanted temple in its large and consecrated pool, that is enveloped by a series of marble walkways. The interior is decorated with gold and silver wooden panels, ivory carvings and a dome with 1000 kg of pure gold. As a Sikh tradition anyone can be given food for free and the kitchens have the capacity to feed 5000 people per hour. There are large containers of lentils or dhals and an old machine that makes hot chapattis continuously. Lunch at the Langar Golden Temple is indeed delicious.
Our next stop will be more toned down and gloomy as we visit the place where the British troops massacred innocent people in Amristar on April 13,1919. It is Jalianwala Bagh, At this somber site in 1919 men, women and children in the thousands were peacefully celebrating the Vaisakhi festival in Jallianwala Bagh garden. at that time however, it was illegal to have any public gatherings, to this end the British soldiers gunned down between 379 and 1,000 people with several more being injured. The Martyr’s Well is a dismal reminder of the 120 people who jumped inside to their death in a desperate attempt to escape the bullets of the soldiers. This massacre changed the tide in India in terms of governance and was a significant contributing factor to the end of colonial rule and the independence of India. This event had an intense effect on Gandhi, who then started his well-known ‘civil disobedience’ campaign.
Hear from your expert guide how the lovely Ram Bagh Gardens that we visit next were so named by the former Raja of Punjab in reverence to Guru Ram Das. View the remains of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s summer palace – which is now a national museum. Be amazed at the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, a three-dimensional mural that represents the most significant happenings in the life of the legendary Sikh king. Behold the legendary Raja’s statue with him sitting on a horse.
In the evening you will be driven to the railway station to take a train back to Delhi.The journey will take about six hours and there will be complimentary dinner on board. When you arrive our driver will then transport your hotel in Delhi. Overnight in New Delhi!
After eating a hearty breakfast you will be taken to the former capital of the great Mughal Empire Agra. Magnificent and historic buildings along with the impressive sandstone Red Fort and without doubt the “crown of palaces” the white-marbled Taj Mahal are all prized features of this city.
We check into our hotel for a short break and in the afternoon take a guided tour of Agra.
We will first visit the mammoth Red Fort of Agra which was constructed by Emperor Akbar on the Yumana riverbanks with red sand stone and was then elaborated by his grandson Shah Jahan, in white marble. Red fort a former city, housing mosques, palaces and halls all surrounded by walls 20m high is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A stroll around the complex will reveal wonderfully designed rooms like the public hall of audience Diwan-I-Am and the private hall of audience Diwan-I-Khas You will also hear and learn about the detailed Islamic and Hindu designed 16th-century Agra Fort.
In the afternoon we take the long awaited trip to an Indian and world landmark and the most popularly known building on earth and what must certainly be the greatest demonstration of love ever built – the Taj Mahal. This wonder of the world was constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan to memorialize his beloved wife Mumtaz and as a sign of his eternal love to her. It was built of marble and was decorated with some of the most precious stones and took 20,000 men for labor and some 22 years to build at a cost of about 3 million rupees then, which is about $70 million today. As described by Rudyard Kipling it is ‘the embodiment of all things pure’. Filigree, calligraphy, the inlay and such detailed workmanship is mind boggling and jaw-dropping. You will stand in awe!
In the evening we check out a cooking demonstration as we visit the Agra family and then dine with them if so desired. Overnight in Agra!
Today we enjoy a delightful breakfast and then head to the ‘Pink City’ Jaipur which is world renowned for its pink houses.Jaipur is thought to be the first city of India to be prepared. The idea was birthed and implemented by Maharaja Jai Singh II a 1699-1744, astronomer and warrior. Interestingly enough, the houses are pink for a reason, for here, it represents the Rajput hospitality and culture and was done initially as a welcome signal in honor of Prince Albert who visited in 1883.
On our way to Jaipur we will stop at the nearby Abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a wonderful example of the foresight of Akbar the great Moghul Emperor and the architects in 1569. For 16 years it was the Moghul capital but was left desolate after the death of the Emperor. It is now a landmark for what was once a powerful city in Mughal India in the 16th Century. We will travel with a local guide as we cast our eyes on the perfectly upheld imperial court and the magnificence of the 5-storey Panch Mahal. Perhaps you may also find the pachisi board interesting, where slave girls were used as pieces in what was a game quite similar to the modern day chess. Many people consider the Diwan-i- Khas or the Hall of Private Audience to be the loveliest of all the monuments in the city. Lotus shaped with a carved central pillar it is unmatched in its beauty and adds strength to the curved roof Akbar’s old debating room.
After we have arrived in Jaipur we go to the hotel and then for an excursion to Nahargarh Fort which looks over the city from the northeast. Nahargarh, which is a 300 year-old stately stone fort provides a wide ranging an unobstructed view of downtown Jaipur. Driving to the fort will take more time than its actual exploration. But don’t worry you will not regret it! Even if it’s just roaming around the Fort, or enjoying a Kingfisher beer in the open-air. Overnight in Jaipur!
Fort Amber (10 km), the previous capital of Kachhawaha Rajputs is our next stop after breakfast . We will make a stop at the “Palace of the Winds” aka Hawa Mahal the city’s attraction which was constructed in the 18th century. It is a five story building with an amazing 953 windows and hollows, where the royal women watched the street happenings and processions without leaving the palace.
We continue at Amber Fort, which is positioned on picturesque and rugged 400 ft hills, enveloped by a series of mountains called Aravali. The fort’s groundwork was started by the Rajput empire in the 12th century yet no one lived in it until the 18th century, before founding the city of Jaipur. It is a fantastic fusion of Hindu and Mughal architecture and inside is made up of the goddess Kali’s temple, century old front walls that are gorgeously painted, the Hall of Mirrors and mosaics that are splendid. The gardens lying between the walls and the scenic views of the valley are simply spectacular. Your transportation will be an elephant! It will be a heck of a time as you safely ascend the fort like a Maharaja on an elephant’s back. If you like adventure then you will love this!
City Palace is where our trip takes us in the afternoon. The palace is also known as the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum and continuously showcases luxury and wealth with ancient royal artifacts, weapons from the Era of the Maharajahs, silver, armaments, silk, chandeliers, costumes and furniture. It was built in 1734 in the middle of Jaipur and is currently the home of the royal family of Jaipur. Make sure you have a look at the two largest silver objects in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records; the two gigantic silver urns that were filled with the water from the Ganges and taken to London for the trip in 1901 of Madho Singh II.
In the ceremonial Hall Diwan-I-Aam the leaders of Jaipur are presented in life-size portraits that bring to life their stories. You can even find shops and stalls there for shopping as the royal family still offers support to the traditional craft families by allowing them to sell in a designated area of the palace. The items are lovely; shawls, carvings made from a variety of materials and small paintings make perfect gifts. Just next door is another famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jantar Mantra which is an open-air observatory. This observatory built in the 18th century by the city founder Jai Singh II, contains the only original historic instruments of India as those in the other three observatories no longer exist. You will indeed marvel at the fact that these old instruments made of stone and marble are still able to precisely measure the position of the sun, give the local time, zodiac signs or rashis and the pole star. It is a haven for astrology or astronomy lovers but just about any one will find it an exciting place to be.
We take a guided amble to the center of Jaipur. See the exotic turbans of the Rajsasthani men and the bright, colorful saris worn by the local women, which represents their pride. It is a pulsating loud and colorful atmosphere with ancient traditions and ancestral costumes from the region on display. Rickshaws, elephants, camel carts, temples and houses of the past Maharajas, along with countless shops all make up the center of Jaipur.
There is no schedule for the rest of the day. You can determine your own activities. Relax! Shop! Explore the city! Sightsee! It’s all up to you. If you are looking to shop though you may want to check out the splendid arts and crafts of Jaipur: blue pottery, enamel and brass ornaments, precious and semiprecious stones and carpets are just a small part of the offerings.
Overnight in Jaipur!
We continue to the Sardargarh Heritage Castle and we will also make a stopover at Ranakpur a remote village in the wooded , out-of-the way Aravali, which is popular in Rajasthan for some of the most famous Jain temples. The interior tells us more about the temple built in the 15th century, with architecture that displays the dedication of the monks, having some 29 different halls all supported by 1444 pillars with each of them being carved by hand and all with different designs.
When we have completed out tour of Ranakpur we will head to Sardargarh on a journey that will see us passing crowded villages, shepherds and sheep and an incessant stream of cows. Our expert driver will safely transport us through four enormous stone gates, Sardargarh ‘s great fort on the hilltop which is on the bank of a man-made lake. Here you will find a personal and friendly boutique hotel with 21 rooms. You will experience a cultural and traditional atmosphere in this intimate, 21-room boutique hotel. Sardargarh provides the real feel of heritage, as you glance across its wide gigantic walls.
This property belongs to the royal descendants of a powerful Rajasthan Dhodhia, Sardar Singh, who conceptualized the fort in the mid-18th century. It is also managed by them. The suites, which were the original homes of Dhodhia’s wives and children. Each suite, has an antique wooden swing, made for two and fastened by ornate brass chains to the arched ceiling of the porch entry. The intriguing nooks and crannies of the old fort are filled with artfully placed antiquities, bowls filled with floral designs made from the petals of innumerable flowering trees and bushes. It is obvious that the Sardargarh’s owners intention is to maintain the fort and also its vibrant cultural inheritance.
There are several activities to be enjoyed late in the afternoon, like the village Gypsy Safari & Horse and Camel ride. Head to the local market, Kalbeliya Tribe, Family bagh, Banjara village and Talao paal which are also just as exciting. Taking a boat ride as the sun sets on the lake is also a quality choice and it will be an experience that you will never forget.
As the night closes in, you can move to the beat of the Rajasthani folk song and dance performance and indulge in a Mewar style campfire dinner. Your meals will be served in the open air maybe on the walls overlooking the garden or the valley, as you are perhaps entertained by the owner and his wife with intriguing ancestral stories.
Staying at the Heritage properties of Rajasthan is a must – do ! Sardargarh Fort is a must-see! Overnight in Heritage hotel Sardargarh Fort!
On finishing your breakfast we drive to Udaipur the city of romance. The title of being Rajathan’s and possibly India’s most romantic city came about in 1829 in the book Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan by Colonel James Tod. Surrounded by the ancient hills of Aravalli, the dome-crowned City Palace rises from the shiny waters of Lake Pichola and towers above the old city. The balconies of the palace look over the lake in the direction of the Lake Palace,another one of India’s landmarks and an enchanting, fairy-tale mixture that beams by day and glimmers by night.
Enjoy an afternoon of relaxation after arriving at your hotel
Look forward to yet another enjoyable evening as the sunset approaches. Your guide will collect you for the Sunset Boat Cruise on Lake Pichola. It will be a splendid time as you sail along the shimmering waters of the lake with the majestic mountains and the city in sight, adding a fantastic background for the beautiful sunset.
As you sail, you will see the historical landmarks along the shore; the elaborate Lake Palace Hotel, the amazing City Palace Complex, the ghats , which are steps that the locals use for bathing and the mansions or havelis of the aristocrats especially the Bagore ki Haveli, which is the most pronounced of them all. Also Gangaur Ghat which is at the distant end of the building and the Tripola Gate with its three arches. Another spectacular view is the Sajjangarh palace which sits on the hills.
You will be taken back to the hotel after a wonderful night sailing on the Lake Pichola.
Overnight in Udaipur!
In the morning you will be collected from your Udaipur hotel and taken to City Palace Complex a massive hilltop building, which is designed with a fusion of Mughal and Rajasthani architectural styles and the panache of a medieval European and Chinese mixture.There you will explore the pavilions, courtyards, gardens and extensive views from the City Palace Museum which is the main section. Inside, the rooms are beautifully designed with tiles and paintings, mirrors that are exquisitely decorated and a wide collection of ancient pieces. You will walk through the gateways into the expansive gardens like the Badi Mahal, a lovely central garden embedded with a swimming pool on third level of the complex. When you are finished you move on to the unobstructed views of the Lake Palace Hotel and the city. There is an incredible collection of miniatures dated 1778-1828 of Maharana Bhim Singh at Kishan Vilas. The Surya Choupad brandishes a large ornamental sun which is the representation of the sun-descended Mewar dynasty and unlocks into Mor Chowk-Peacock Courtyard with lovely mosaics of peacocks, Rajasthani’s favorite birds, that are very pleasant to the eyes.
Udaipur is where we will take in some culture and street action as we take a nice stroll around the old town. There, we will make a stop at the big Hindu Temple elevated on a tall terrace called the Jagdish Temple. It has a noticeable and extraordinary Indo-Aryan architectural style and you will learn more about the Hindu gods from your learned tour guide. Plan to shop as you walk around as there are a number of shops catering to tourist near the temple where you can purchase your souvenirs. A little further away, you will have access to some fantastic local shopping if you prefer, in areas like Bada Bazaar. It’s a great place for you to mingle in the crowds and really feel the vibes of the Indian people and their culture. It’s also a good time to capture some fantastic photos with women in their saris and all the goods on sale. It certainly is a lovely place with colorful traditional style murals painted on the outer walls of houses in the old town. These murals are a reminder of the luxurious lifestyles of the people in the past years and enhance the city’s appeal.
You will also visit the ‘Garden of Maidens’, also called Saheliyon ki Bari which is located near the Fateh Sagar Lake in Udaipur, These beautiful gardens were designed in the early 18th century by Maharana Sangram Singh II. In the midst of it is a reservoir walled by four black marbled cenotaphs. Previously, this place was exclusive to royal ladies who used it for their strolls in the garden under the cool shady walkways and lawns and a truly colorful array of bougainvillea.
You will then return to your Udaipur hotel in the afternoon!
In the evening pay a visit to Sajjangarh Fort. Once known as the Sajjan Garh Palace, the Monsoon Palace, a lavish home it sits on a hill in the city of Udaipur which looks over the Lake Pichola and the city. Of much interest is the reason why the fort was constructed. With a well-equipped and resourceful collection system for rainwater, which is absolutely important for the barren region, it was built to check how the monsoon clouds in the neighboring areas were developing.The method of collecting water here is definitely very innovative.
The lime-plastered walls with their glossy shine, pillars made of marble and decorated with leave sand flowers, domes, fountains and the Jharokhas at the Sajjangarh fort Udaipur, all come together to give us a glimpse of the impressive architecture and art of this region. The palace provides an extensive scenic vision of the lakes in the city and its countryside. Indeed it is the perfect spot to enjoy the lovely sight of the sun setting over the Aravali mountains. Overnight stay in Udaipur!.