Welcome to India! Or as they say in the local dialect, Namaste! The excitement and fun begin as soon as you disembark at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. You will immediately be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of India; it will appeal to all your senses.
The first port of call is the commercial hub of New Delhi, where you will be treated to the best hospitality as you settle into your hotel room. Here you can freshen up, relax and chill out before your adventure begins. The finest delicacies that Indians have to offer will satisfy your taste buds and melt in your mouth. This is just the beginning, there is much more on the menu for the next two weeks—even a street food tour.
It is time for the fun and excitement to begin. The aroma of the local food with its characteristic spices will make your mouth water, and the energetic buzz of the market is an experience you will want to add to your memories.
You are about to experience the real urban India, from cars, buses and bicycles to cows and monkeys, all contributing their quota to the traffic gridlocks in the busy streets of new Delhi.
After a visit to Jama Masjid, you will be given a jolly ride in your personal cycle rickshaw through Chandni Chowk and India Gate. In the afternoon, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar, two World Heritage Sites, are the next stops. In the evening, you will be treated to a culinary experience by an expert who will tell you all there is to know regarding the best Indian dishes. It doesn’t end there; you will have a sumptuous meal afterwards, and later you can cool off with an ice-cold Cobra at one of the best bars in New Delhi, to end the day on a good and rewarding note.
Summary of Activities: Half Day Old Delhi City Tour with Cycle Rickshaw Ride in Chandni Chowk, Half Day New Delhi City Tour with visits to the Humayun Tomb and Qutub Minar and an exciting Old Delhi Street-Food Tour.
Today morning, after a hearty breakfast, we drive to Agra. Home to one of the world’s most famous monuments, the Taj Mahal, Agra is undeniably one of the most historically rich places in northern India. However, besides the Taj, there are a lot more places that contribute to the legendary stories that prevail in the city. Being a centre of the Mughal empire for around 130 years, it has preserved its history and legends. Besides the Taj, the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
On the way we will visit beautiful Akbar’s Tomb, situated on the outskirts of Agra, which was built to commemorate the great Mughal emperor
After arrival in Agra, transfer to hotel.
After Lunch we will visit the two UNESCO World heritage sites of Red Fort and Taj Mahal.
Agra Fort is known to have played host to many Bollywood films and once housed the famous Kohi-i-Noor diamond. It will leave you to imagine what a great experience it would be to live here.
The Taj Mahal is an utter cliché for India and is now a cheesy symbol of love. The plastic replicas and snow globes peddled in its vicinity are proof of that. Yet, when you set eyes upon it for the first time, it’s impossible not to exult. Possibly the world’s most famous mausoleum, it is an edifice of exquisite grace and perfection. Everyone knows it was built by Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. But much about its construction is still wrapped in myth, making it all that more alluring.
Paying a visit to the Taj Mahal during sunset is beautiful sight to behold. When you see the shimmering white marble, you will marvel at its utter brilliance. The beautiful, impressive and aesthetic beauty hypnotizes its viewers. Words cannot do justice to the Taj Mahal. Its incredible details just have to be seen to be appreciated.
Overnight stay in Agra.
The excitement rises as you become a movie star in your own road movie; you get to film it yourself by pointing your phone anywhere you wish along the road to Jaipur. You will have perfect scenes for a real blockbuster.
Our first stop is a short visit to the fortified ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, an array of red sandstone palaces and pavilions. Considering the astounding architecture of these buildings, you will immediately realize that the architect was a Mughal emperor. Akbar’s creation was abandoned in the 1600’s, but the buildings have been restored and are well-preserved. Wandering around the erstwhile capital of the Mughal empire, you will get a peek into the history of this magnificent time.
As the journey proceeds, Abhaneri Village is first on the menu, after a 2-hour drive. The ancient step well, which is one of the largest in India and has fortifications on all sides, will become a cherished memory. You’ll be completely swept away by what you see. The original idea was to make it a water reservoir.
As soon as you arrive at your hotel in Jaipur, the rest of the day is yours to spend as you like.
Call it one of India’s most revered and precious gems and you will not be far from the truth. You can go about your adventure in two ways: Focus on the Fort’s labyrinthine world of corridor with glistening mirrors, ornate rooms and beautifully designed marble halls, or have an enjoyable time out with the monkeys, even take some selfies as you goof around. If you think you have seen it all, then you are wrong; there’s more to come in the afternoon as the sun sets on Jaipur City and its residents.
The City Palace is an excellent decorative piece of wonder, and the Maharaja Jai Singh 11 ’s Jantar Mantar will pique your curiosity; alien-like instruments and all sorts of astronomical phenomena are on display. Get involved in some retail therapy and allow yourself to be wowed by Jaipur’s bazaars, among the best in India. The day comes to an end in a fun, relaxing mood with a Bollywood movie.
Summary of Activities: An enjoyable and exciting visit to Amber Fort, an awesome Full Day Jaipur City Tour visiting Bazaar of Old Jaipur, City Palace, Jantar Mantar Solar Observatory and finally, watching an interesting Bollywood Movie.
Recommendation: All lovers of nature should consider a two to three-day visit to Ranthambhore National Park, just three and a half hours’ drive outside Jaipur. Twice-daily Jeep safaris are available during which you can watch the wildlife and try to spot an elusive Bengal tiger.
Optional Jaipur Cycle Tours: Get up early to beat the traffic and take one of three bike tours on offer, covering different aspects of the Pink City. YOU can explore the hidden lanes, temples, markets and food stalls of the city, and it’s a fun way to learn about its workings and culture. Breakfast and refreshments are included, and helmets are provided
Today, late morning, we take a flight to Varanasi (Benares).
The flight arrives at Varanasi right in time for a terrific breakfast at a local cafe or in your hotel. To enjoy this vibrant city, you will need energy. You will discover the heart of the Hindu religion at the banks of the River Ganges. Varanasi stares you in the face with its bright colors and wonderful aromas. Visit some of the ghats and identify with the pilgrims as the evening puja starts.
Next is a trip to Sarnath where you will admire the magnificent ruins of the ancient Buddhist monasteries, especially the Dhamek Stupa, and the extensive collection at the Sarnath Museum.
Over 3,000 years old, Varanasi, the belief goes, is the abode of Lord Shiva. This sacred city promises release from the endless cycle of birth and death and is among the holiest of pilgrimage sites. No wonder so many seekers of salvation, Western travelers looking for the ultimate Indian experience and worshippers wanting to wash away their sins flock here. Life in Varanasi runs along the ghats. The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the busiest.
The day closes with a visit to the riverbank (ghats) to witness the Ganga Aarti, the exhilarating ritual with fiery lanterns, clanging bells and songs of worship.
Your Flashpacker Tour of India comes to an end on this day. If you decide to continue your adventures in Nepal, it turns into a two-in-one vacation. Although the two countries border each other, they differ in so many ways. To put you in the right mood as you prepare to experience Nepal with its pure ambiance, take the sunrise boat ride on the Ganges. It will also give you the time to reflect on India’s wonders.
Early morning, at dawn, is the best time to get to know the sacred Ganges River. It offers a rich collage of different captivating scenes and activities. Ancient religious dwellings, or matts, and palaces line the banks of the river. It is widely believed that the Ganges’s holy waters will cleanse the devout of their sins, so large numbers of people can be seen bathing in the shallows of the river. Bright colored saris are spread out to dry, while priests offer prayers to their Mother Ganga. Others perform meditation and yoga. Maybe you will see the smoke rising from a funeral pyre, the yellow flames reflected on the smooth surface of the river. After this interesting cruise, we return to the hotel for a hearty breakfast.
Come afternoon, we head back to Benares, as Varanasi is often called, for more sightseeing. For centuries this city has been an important religious and cultural center, so a visit to the Hindu University is the place to start. One of the oldest centers of learning in India, it offers a variety of courses, including engineering, philosophy, medicine, liberal arts and languages. We proceed to Bharat Mata Mandir, also called the Mother India Temple. The main attraction here is the huge map of Undivided India carved in marble, complete with mountain ranges, water bodies and plains. The map is a symbol of the people’s struggle for freedom from the British Raj. We have come to the end of our tour of India, and spend it in holy Kashi, as Varanasi is referred to in the ancient Vedic Sanskrit hymns.
From Varanasi you will take the one-and-a-half-hour flight back to New Delhi. On arrival you will be transferred to a hotel close to the airport and tomorrow take the airplane on to Kathmandu in Nepal.
Overnight in New Delhi.
Today is the end of your trip in India, but thanks to this 2-in-1 vacation, it’s not the end of your trip to Asia.
Nepal is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the whole wide world. Its capital Kathmandu is situated in a concave valley in the Himalayas at a height of 4500 feet with towering snowcapped peaks surrounding it. Kathmandu is the cultural heart of Nepal and a captivating city. It is immediately clear that this city with its many Buddhist temples stands in striking contrast to India; there is a distinct Far East feeling to it.
After arrival in Kathmandu, transfer to Hotel.
Travel through Kathmandu focuses on Thamel and the backpacking lifestyle that attract so many visitors. The meandering alleys lead you to bustling marketplaces, intriguing bazaars, cafés and restaurants with international flavors, and UNESCO sites of great interest. Visiting this place intoxicate your senses, creates amazing memories, and tires you out because there is so much to see and do.
Do not limit your exploration. Take a trip outside Thamel to see the Kathmandu that locals experience all the time. The city is full of rich history, interesting culture, and amazing opportunities to view art. Relax and explore and experience the friendliness and welcoming attitude of the people who make this their home.
Overnight stay in Kathmandu.
Every trip to Kathmandu must include these squares on your itinerary.
A long time ago, the three kingdoms of Basantapur (Kathmandu), Bhaktapur, and Patan all ruled in Nepal. Each one had a luxurious palace with a beautiful square surrounding it. Today, Nepal is a unified country and the squares are used as historical sites and places to visit temples and see artwork and architecture. Each has welcoming open courts, cool fountains, statues, Newari wood carving, and so many people walking through every day.
The squares are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, and you can still see much of the historical beauty and wonder they had back in the palace days. Unfortunately, earthquakes in the past decades have damaged and destroyed some of the structures. They are still worth a day’s exploration.
Patan, which was originally called Lalitpur or the City of Beauty, combines modern energy and lifestyle with an interesting heritage and historical culture. Take a stroll down the cobblestone street to visit pagoda-style temples, the 600 stupas, and more. This is where Kumari, the Living Goddess, makes her home. This unique Nepalese tradition assigns a young girl to be the goddess here on Earth. You can only see her during certain ceremonies and times of the day, so schedule your trip appropriately.
The next stop on the trip is another World Heritage site: Bhaktapur, a medieval style city. The “City of the Devotees”, Bhaktapur, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers four square miles. The city was the crown jewel of the Malla Empire 700 years ago. Today it has the historic Durbar Square, ancient courtyards, sacred temples and winding streets where artisans still practice age-old traditions. We explore some of these sights on a guided tour.
When you visit here, make sure to stop at Asan, a popular market street that lies between Thamel and Durbar Square. Not only will you have the opportunity to buy a wealth of local items, but you can experience the haggling and hustling rush that occurs every afternoon. This truly shows you the excitement of a bargain hunter’s dream.
Experience the spiritual side of Nepal at these three important temples. Kathmandu has a rich spiritual tradition with both Buddhist and Hindu worshipers visiting temples of various types. Buddha was born in Nepal, so that pass is quite popular.
Pashupatinath Hindu Temple
Amidst the throngs of life in Nepal, there are reminders of the cycle of life and death in the spiritual temples that you can see throughout the cities. The Pashupatinath Hindu Temple honors Shiva, who is associated with transformation and destruction. You may walk by and look at the outside, but only Hindus are allowed inside.
The Pashupatinath Temple was built on the edge of the Bagmati River which is considered a holy place for by people who worship there. Devotees visit the temple for spiritual guidance and worship, and come back to the river for cremation after they die.
The fires of cremation consume them as their bodies lie on open air ghats. The belief system states that their soul continues to the afterlife and is reincarnated into another being. The ashes left behind after the cremation fall into the river and are swept downstream. Pashupatinath is a microcosm of Nepal in that its spirituality is intrinsically linked to everyday life in this way.
For visitors who want to explore the other culturally fascinating things, make sure to visit Nandi, Shiva’s golden bull, and Shivalinga. You can also see colorful paintings and carvings in the area.
Boudhanath Stupa and Candles Made of Butter
To learn even more about the spiritual center of Kathmandu, you must take a trip to the Boudhanath stupa. It is the site of every day pilgrimages, and whenever you visit, you will undoubtedly see some of them walking the circumference of the dome with prayer wheels in their hands. Tourists who are not there for spiritual purposes are free to watch and enjoy the chanting Tibetan monks and the unique prayers. They light butter candles in tribute to Buddha.
Boudhanath stupa was built first in the 14th century and holds the title of largest stupa in Nepal. Also, in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it is also considered the holiest Temple that is not actually in Tibet.
Late afternoon is a good time to visit if you want a more leisurely and calm experience gazing on the interesting architecture and not getting in the way of pilgrims and monks. You may have more time and opportunity to see what you want.
From the street, the gleaming white dome and Buddha’s all-seeing eye are quite an impressive sight. The outside of the temple is festooned with Buddhist prayer flags. If you are able to get an aerial view of the stupa, you will see that it is laid out like a Mandala. This symbolizes the path to enlightenment that Buddhists try to follow.
Swayambhunath – Under Buddha’s Eye
Everyone who visits Kathmandu should take some time to see the Swayambhunath Temple. Bring your hiking shoes and your energy, as the stupa is found 365 steps up to where Buddha’s watchful eye gazes out over the valley city. This view is an exceptional way to see the busy life going on every day in Kathmandu. It is worth the effort.
Instead of focusing on one spiritual tradition, Swayambhunath includes both Hindu and Buddhist icons and artwork. The smell of incense fills the air, butter candles flicker, and worshipers chant the traditional Buddhist om mani padme hum.
Visit Swayambhunath during evening prayers to see the local people walk around the temple with their prayer wheels and chanting. This time of day also gives you the opportunity to take beautiful sunset photographs over the city. These days, you can visit only the main structures of Swayambhunath Temple. A serious earthquake in 2015 did damage the site.
The visits to these three spiritual centers of Kathmandu will give you the opportunity to learn about history, religion, and the people who make this area of Nepal their home. A diverse range of religions and cultures melts together here and make this country diverse and beautiful.
Enjoy Leisure Time Activities
Visits to the temples, the bustling market square, and all the other intriguing historical and cultural sites may tire you out on your visit to Kathmandu. Leave time for leisure and more laid-back experiences. Consider a stroll through the Garden of Dreams near Thamel. Enjoy the neo-classical garden with soothing fountains, verandas and pavilions, and a comfortable amphitheater complete with soft pillows. While the local food is a must-have on a trip to Nepal, the Kaiser restaurant offers hamburgers and other Western dishes for your enjoyment.
From Kathmandu take the five-hour scenic drive all the way to Pokhara. Breathe in the fresh clean air and take the time to enjoy nature dressed in all her splendor. All around are some of the highest mountains on the globe. The little town of Pokhara lies on Lake Phewa, so embark on a boat ride to admire the unbelievable views of Annapuma Mountain Range. Their sparkling white peaks are reflected in the waters of the lake like in a mirror. The silence is absolute; surely there is no finer mountain panorama on earth.
After arrival in Pokhara, transfer to your lake side hotel.
We enjoy a delicious Nepalese lunch before departing for the impressive Shanti Stupa, one of two peace pagodas in Nepal. This Buddhist temple was conceived by Nichidatsu Fujii and constructed by the Japanese with the help of locals in 1980. There are various ways to reach the monument. You can take a boat across Lake Phewa and then follow a moderately easy 20 to 25-minute hike through a few villages, or you can drive or cycle to the foot of the pagoda and climb up the ±400 steps to reach the top. Whatever route you decide on, the views of the surrounding landscape and the lake are spectacular. Many shops on the hike offer a refreshing tea-break opportunity to catch your breath.
The air at the top of the stupa is wonderfully cool, and you can feast your eyes on the beauty of the peaks of the Annapurna Mountains. Looking down is equally breath-taking, with the green valley landscape, the peaceful water of Lake Phewa and Pokhara city. The rewards for climbing up all those steps are certainly worth their while. Four golden Buddha statues are found on the second tier of the pagoda and nearby, in the Dhamma Hall is a huge meditation Buddha statue. The entire Pokhara valley can be seen from four different sides of the temple.
The reminder of the day is yours to spend as you choose.
Rise early for a spectacular sight of the sun rising over Annapuma. Slowly the peaks change color; starting from a soft pink hue to a brighter yellow until they are washed in a sparkling gold tinge. The contrast with the bright blue of the sky is something not easily forgotten. Of the 12 peaks higher than twenty-five thousand feet on earth, eight can be found in Nepal. The amazing thing is that from Pokhara three of these can be seen!
We return to our hotel to enjoy a much needed, sumptuous breakfast. That done, we are ready for our easy 5km trek to Damsadi, a small nearby village. We set off from Lake Phewa and cross the long suspension bridge across the deep, narrow Seti Gorge. It offers a stunning view of the valley below. In Ambot and Damsadi the locals will be happy to chat with you about their daily lives and after a refreshing cup of local tea or two, it is time to return for a relaxing, well-deserved boat trip on Lake Phewa. Just sit back, relax and feast your eyes on the spectacular Himalayan peaks. The rest of the day is at your disposal to spend as you please.
Spend some time wandering through this charming little town, with the waters of the lake never far from sight. Discover interesting local crafts, stop for a snack or meal in any of the numerous quaint restaurants and do not forget to lift your eyes to admire in the beautiful views all around you.
Five-six hours drive back to Kathmandu. After arrival in Kathmandu, Transfer to Airport for an onward flight.
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Old and New Delhi➜ Samode Palace & Village➜Jaipur➜ Fatehpur Sikri➜ Abhaneri Stepwell➜Agra➜New Delhi➜ Goa
New Delhi ➜ Mandawa – Khimsae (Heritage Fort Hotel) ➜ Jodhour ➜ Ranakpur ➜ Udaipur ➜ Chittorgarh Citadel ➜ Bundi ➜ Jaipur ➜ ➜ Abhaneri Stepwell ➜ Fatehpur Sikri ➜ Agra (Taj Mahal & Red Fort) ➜ Khajuraho ➜ Orchha ➜ Varanasi (Ganges & Sarnath) ➜ Kathmandu Lumbini ➜ Pokhara ➜ Chitwan National Park ➜ Kathmandu
New Delhi ➜ Jaipur ➜ Ranthambore National Park ➜ Abhaneri Stepwell ➜ Ghost City Fatehpur Sikri ➜ Agra (Taj Mahal & Red Fort) ➜ Khajuraho ➜ Orchha ➜ Varanasi (Ganges & Sarnath) ➜ Lumbini (Nepal) ➜ Chitwan National Park ➜ Pokhara ➜ Kathmandu