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Destinations

India – History, Culture & Tigers

Description

Photos courtesy of &Beyond

This 15 Night India Discovery Itinerary was designed so you can link (4) destination modules together to extend your holiday and experience the highlights of this fascinating country!

Itinerary Highlights:
• Breathtaking architecture and urban vibe in Delhi
• The famous Taj Mahal
• The spectacular forts of Jaipur
• Udaipur is home to the beautiful Lake Palace on Lake Pichola
• Varanasi the oldest living city in the world with a spiritual legacy going back to 300 years
• The 10th century temples of Khajuraho
• Tigers & Exotic Indian wildlife on game drives with trained naturalists at Panna & Bandhavgarh National Parks.
• Bandhavgarh is known for its highest density of tigers.

Optional Destination Extensions:
Bhutan
(exceptional year round destination)
Nepal (October to March is the dry season)
Mumbai (milder winter temperatures during October to April)
Maldive Islands (best weather between November and April)
Dubai (November to March find milder temperatures)

Delhi & Taj Mahal| Jaipur & Udaipur|Varanasi|Panna & Bandhavgarh National Parks

DELHI & Taj Mahal– 4 Days / 3 Nights

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN DELHI
You will be transferred to your hotel and have the evening at leisure.

The Republic of India,
is a country in South Asia which amazes others by its diversity, its culture, its vibrant society, its hospitable people, delectable cuisine, magnificent wildlife and national parks.

Delhi is a bustling metropolis, a combination of medieval chaos and magnificent grandeur, the city is crammed to a bursting point with tombs, temples, monuments and ruins, existing along with modern suburbs of glass and chrome skyscrapers, bustling bazaars and elegant shopping emporiums. 

DAY 2: DELHI
After breakfast, start your guided sightseeing tour of Chandni Chowk, take a rickshaw ride in Chandni Chowk which was once the grandest of markets in India. Even though today Chandni Chowk appears choked with congestion, it retains its historical character.   In Chandni Chowk you will visit The Jama Masjid, the Friday congregational mosque, known as the largest and glorious mosque in India.

Following lunch you will drive through Lutyen’s Delhi, driving past Rashtrapati Bhawan, India Gate and the Old Secretariat.  Later visit Qutub Minar: The Qutub Minar, a tower in Delhi, India, is at 72.5 meters the world’s tallest brick minaret. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Continue onto Humayun’s Tomb, a complex of buildings built as the Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb, commissioned by Humayun’s wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, and is located in Nizamuddin East.

Evening at leisure.

DAY 3: DELHI – TAJ MAHAL, Agra DEPARTURE
After breakfast, begin your adventure to Agra.

From Delhi you will journey by road (approximately 3 hours) to Agra, where Emperor Shah Jahan engraved his immortal love for his Empress in marble, the Taj Mahal.

On arrival Agra, check into your hotel and have the afternoon at leisure.

This afternoon you will be taken for a guided sightseeing tour of the red sandstone Agra Fort, followed by a beautiful romantic visit of the Taj Mahal at sunset. It is said to be one of the most elegant and harmonious buildings in the world, Taj Mahal is the manifestation of the wealth and luxury of Mughal art as seen in its architecture, garden design, painting, and calligraphy.

Evening at leisure.

DAY 4: AGRA – JAIPUR DEPARTURE
Early this morning, you will return to the Taj Mahal to view the sunrise glisten over this stunning marble mausoleum.  You will return to your hotel for breakfast.

Extend your trip with the Jaipur & Udaipur Module.

JAIPUR & UDAIPUR – 5 Days / 4 Nights

DAY 4: AGRA – JAIPUR
As you leave the glistening Taj  Mahal, embark on a unique adventure of a 5 hour car journey on Indian roads to Jaipur stopping at the ancient abandoned walled city of Fatehpur Sikri for a quick visit en route.

On arrival at Jaipur, check into your hotel and have the balance of your day at leisure.

DAY 5: JAIPUR
After breakfast, enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the stunning Amber Fort built all in white marble and red sandstone. Amber Fort is located 11 km from Jaipur. It was the ancient citadel of the ruling Kachhawa clan of Amber, before the capital was shifted to present day Jaipur. Amber Fort is known for its unique artistic style, blending both Hindu and Muslim (Mughal) elements, and its ornate and breathtaking artistic mastery.

Your tour is followed by a short drive to Dera Amer for an Elephant Ride and Lunch.

After lunch, visit City Palace, Observatory tower and Hawa Mahal.

The City Palace, a wonderful combination of Mughal and Rajput forms of architecture, is now partly a museum housing miniature paintings, manuscripts, Mughal carpets, musical instruments, royal costumes and weapons, giving invaluable insight into Jaipur’s royal past. Some of the instruments at the astronomical observatory are still used today to forecast the weather and the turns of nature.

DAY 6: JAIPUR – UDAIPUR DEPARTURE
After breakfast, depart on your drive to Udaipur.

Journey from Jaipur (approximately 6.5 hours), and enroute stop for lunch at Bijay Niwas Palace.

After lunch, continue your drive to Udaipur. Delicate, feminine and elegant, Udaipur is known by many names – City of Sunrise, Jewel of Mewar and City of Lakes. Undoubtedly one of India’s most romantic cities, it nestles between the glassy waters of its famous lakes and the ancient Aravalli Hills. Although it is one of Rajasthan’s largest cities, modern Udaipur manages to retain a charming small town vibe.

Upon arrival at Udaipur, you will be transferred by boat across to The Taj Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is a dream of white marble and mosaic glistening in the moonlight, very reminiscent of the most beautiful tourist cliché in the world; the Taj Mahal.

Balance of your day at leisure.

DAY 7: UDAIPUR
After breakfast, transfer across by boat to visit the City Palace, the fine house of maharajas of Udaipur. A pearl of marble and vibrant mosaics, it is marvelous example of the attention to detail and the exemplary workmanship of the Rajasthani artisans. You will also visit the crystal gallery that has an extraordinary collection of objects including a crystal bedroom set and after that visit the Jagdish Temple & Sahelion Ki Bari.

Later visit Eklingji & Nagda.

Eklingji, the city dotted with temples, is 45-minutes drive to the North of Udaipur. It is a complex of 108 ancient temples, incised out of sandstone and marble. The temple was built in 734 AD, to propagate the blessings of Lord Shiva. Eklingji and Nagda temples are an architectural marvel.

In the evening, you will go on a private boating tour of Lake Pichola which is fringed with temples and Ghats (steps). In the centre of Lake Pichola is Jag Mandir Island, which commands magnificent views of the city palace. The palace and pavilion is built of yellow sand stones inlaid with marble and dedicated to the lord of universe. This served as refuge for price Khurram who later became Emperor Shah Jahan.

Balance of your evening at leisure.

DAY 8: UDAIPUR – DELHI DEPARTURE
After breakfast, your morning at leisure.

In the afternoon you will be transferred to airport for your flight to Delhi.

Extend your trip with the Varanasi Module.

VARANASI– 3 Days / 2 Nights

DAY 9: DELHI – VARANASI
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Varanasi.

On arrival Varanasi, you will be transferred to your hotel and have the balance of your day at leisure.

Varanasi is a city situated on the banks of the River Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest of India. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river’s religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years. People often refer to Varanasi as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, and “the city of learning.”

Thus evening, you will be taken for a guided tour to witness the Aarti ceremony the best time to visit is at dawn, when the river is bathed in a luminous yellow light as colourful throngs of pilgrims perform their morning devotions. A sunset boat ride on the river rewards with the magical sight of thousands of tiny candlelit lamps made of leaves and marigolds being set afloat as part of the ganga Aarti ceremony.

DAY 10: VARANASI
After an early breakfast, visit Ghats for a boat ride Varanasi’s unique culture is associated to the river Ganges, where life and death intermingle. The living flock the Ghats, praying with the belief that bathing in the waters of the sacred river would result in the remission of their sins, while the ashes of the dead are scattered in the water to break the cycle of reincarnation.

Afternoon visit Sarnath, where Gautama Buddha is believed to have given his first sermon about the basic principles of Buddhism, is situated about 10 km from Varanasi. The site houses a number of Stupas, excavated ruins of monasteries and the Ashoka pillar with the four sided lion’s head which is also the national emblem of India. The museum has a rich collection of sculptures comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images, considered amongst the finest specimens of Buddhist art.

Afternoon time to explore the city.

Extend your trip with the Panna & Bandhavgarh Module.

PANNA & BANDHAVGARH – 6 Days / 5 Nights

DAY 11: VARANASI – PANNA NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Khajuraho.

Upon arrival at Khajuraho, you will be met taken to visit the temples complex Originally a group of 80 temples of which about 25 remain today, the temples of Khajuraho fall into three distinct groups and belong to two different religions – Hinduism and Jainism. The temples strike a perfect balance between architecture & sculpture and represent the expression of a highly matured civilization.

A small village in the rural depths of Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho is an unlikely setting for a World Heritage Site. Yet it is here that some of the most beautiful temples in India, containing examples of the finest temple art in the world, rise above the jungle. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Vindhya Hills, the great temple complex that has made Khajuraho famous features intricately carved buildings dating back to between the 10th and 12th centuries.

After your visit, you will be transferred to Panna National Park (approximately 1 hour). One of the most pristine, quiet and beautiful of India’s wilderness areas, Panna National Park is the ideal place to escape to for serene appreciation of the country’s sheer natural beauty. The diverse landscape of gorges, plateaus, forests and the majestic Ken River creates surprises around every corner. Although the tiger population of the park is sparse, Panna is home to no less than five other species of cat – leopard, jungle cat, leopard cat, rusty spotted cat and caracal. Hyenas, wild dogs, jackals, wolves and foxes are also found here, together with India’s ‘Big Four’ snakes, the spectacled cobra, Russell’s viper, saw scaled viper and common krait.

Upon arrival at Panna, you will be checked in at Pashangarh Lodge Taj Safaris’ new jungle safari lodge comprises a cluster of stone cottages huddled atop a small hill, with magnificent views over the forest and a large nearby waterhole, which has been host to numerous tiger and resident antelope sightings.

Balance of your day at leisure.

DAY 12: PANNA NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast, enjoy scheduled morning and afternoon game drives.

Explore the teak forests of Panna National Park on early morning and afternoon game drives in an open 4×4 safari vehicle. One of our specially trained naturalists will accompany you throughout, pointing out and explaining details about the fascinating animals and plants of the jungle. Your early morning drive enters the park as the dawn is breaking over the jungle. Venture in search of the sloth bear, wild dog, sambar deer and other wildlife. On an afternoon drive, the wildlife is settling down for the night or having a final drink at the Ken River. Watch out for the elusive leopard and listen to the calling of jackal getting ready for the hunt.


DAY 13: PANNA NATIONAL PARK – BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK DEPARTURE
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Bandhavgarh.

The great Indian adventure continues from Panna National Park with a 5 hours road journey through the beautiful countryside of rural Madhya Pradesh from Kanha to Bandhavgarh National Park. An essential stop on any serious tiger safari, Bandhavgarh National Park is renowned for one of India’s highest concentrations of this magnificent animal. A relatively small park with a thriving tiger population, it offers guests a good chance of encountering the king of the jungle, as well as a selection of other exotic wildlife. Cradled between the picturesque Vindhya and Satpura mountain ranges, Bandhavgarh boasts a breathtaking mixture of dense green valleys and rocky hills. Mixed deciduous forests and woodlands are interspersed with flat grasslands and serene waterholes.

On arrival at Bandhavgarh, you will check in at &Beyond /Taj Safari Lodge Mahua Kothi. Guests in search of an authentic jungle experience won’t be disappointed at Mahua Kothi Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge, where just 12 kutiyas scattered around an original homestead disappear into the bamboo fronds. Given over to natural forest, the vast grounds create a park-like atmosphere that guests are free to explore on bicycles invitingly parked in the private courtyards of their jungle suites.

Given over to natural forest, the vast grounds create a park-like atmosphere that guests are free to explore on bicycles invitingly parked in the private courtyards of their jungle suites.

Enjoy Bandhavgarh National Park during your morning and evening game drives in a specially designed open four wheel drive vehicles.

DAY 14: BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast, enjoy scheduled morning and afternoon game drives.

Explore the dense jungles of Bandhavgarh National Park on early morning and afternoon game drives in an open 4×4 safari vehicle. One of our specially trained naturalists will accompany you throughout, pointing out and explaining details about the fascinating animals and plants of the jungle. Your early morning drive enters the park as the dawn is breaking over the jungle. You might stop for a mid-morning snack at the ancient fort. On an afternoon drive, watch out for the elusive leopard and listen to the calls of jackal getting ready for the hunt.

Evening at leisure.

DAY 15: BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast, enjoy scheduled morning and afternoon game drives.

Evening at leisure.

DAY 16: BANDHAVGARH NATIONAL PARK – USA DEPARTURE
After breakfast, you will drive to Jabalpur airport (approximately 4 hours) for your flight for Delhi and your onward flight to the USA, or perhaps extend your India stay with a flight to Mumbai, Bhutan or Nepal.

Fly: DELHI/USA

Phone one of our India Specialists at 1-800-227-5317 to start planning your Asian Holiday now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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