**INDIA **20 Days ** August 10th – 29th, 2015
– Delhi – Rajasthan – Mandawa – Bikaner – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Ranakpur – Udaipur – Chittorgarh
– Jaipur – Fatehpur Sikri – Agra – Jhansi – Orchha – Khajuraho – Varanasi – Sarnath – Kolkata
************Cost: $3,980 ( Land Content )
India is an immense landmass known as the Subcontinent. It is the
most diverse and colourful country on the planet. With a population
of one billion people, India is a vast, crowded, explosion of sights,
sounds, smells, tastes and experiences that will jostle your entire
India can be difficult for independent travellers but this tour is designed to
take care of everything. You will be fully escorted through so many of the
country’s major highlights :-
The chaos of Delhi with it’s rich history, culture, shopping & seductive
string of eateries.
Rajasthan, the Land of Kings, is India at exotic best, awash with searing,
riotous colour. Like a legend that has come to life, it has an incredible
array of mighty forts, elaborate palaces and fanciful cities:
Udaipur’s bone-white buildings on shimmering lakes; the honey-coloured
magnificence of Jaisalmer, arising from the desert; Jodhpur – a
luminescent blue patchwork; the seductive pink mayhem of Jaipur; and
the sprawling old-walled desert town of Bikaner with it’s red sandstone
havelis. – Lonely Planet
The Taj Mahal, many have tried to sum up its beauty but even the poets
of the time were unable to do this magnificent building justice.
The peaceful beauty of Orchha, a picture book setting, with spires and
domes breaking the skyline in every direction.
Varanasi, a magical city where the most intimate rituals of life and death
take place in public on the city’s famous ghats. The holiest place in India
where Hindu pilgrims come to bathe in the waters of the Ganges.
Sarnath, where the Buddha preached his message of the middle way to
Kolkata ( Calcutta ), with its mass of humanity, crumbling buildings and
frenetic streets, has long been acknowledged as the cultural capital of
And that is only a snippet of all that this tour will include.
All meals are included, accommodation is in 4 star hotels, we travel
between cities in our own air conditioned coach or internal flights and
we have the services of a National Guide throughout as well as local
guides. You can relax and enjoy India in safety and in style.
There is no where quite like India. It’s a must-see
destination that many people miss out on because
of the difficulties they perceive in navigating
through the chaos. In reality, It has more to offer
than anywhere else on earth, so I hope you will
join us in August 2015 for an unforgettable
Day 1: Monday August 10th
We arrive in Delhi where we are met by our local guide and
escorted to the hotel for check-in.
Delhi is the capital of India and has been the seat of power of a
number of Dynasties – the Rajputs, the Afghans, the Turks and
the Mughals who continued their imperial line until the arrival
of the British.
Scattered throughout the city are surviving ruins, remnants of
mighty edifices, medieval bazaars and tombs of warriors and
saints. It is littered with relics of lost empires which form part
of the chaotic tapestry that hallmarks the world’s second most
Delhi is a fascinating mix of the old and the ultra-modern. It’s
a great introduction to India and a guaranteed culture shock.
Once you’ve settled into your hotel, John and Veronica will
take those interested for a warts and all walking tour of the
Delhi streets using public transport where practical. A great
way to acclimatise to life in India.
Hotel – Jaypee Siddharth ( 2 nights )
Day 2: Tuesday August 11th
After breakfast we embark on a full day’s sight-seeing of Old &
Our first stop is the Red Fort. This 350 year old walled city was
built by Emperor Shah Jehan in 1648 as his capital. Created at
the very peak of Mughal power, the fort is built entirely of red
Opposite the fort are the black and white onion domes and
minarets of the Jama Masjid, the most elegant mosque in
We’ll also see Kotla Firoze Shah, a 14th century ruin of an old
fort and the 13 meter high Ashoka Pillar dating from the third
Visit Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948.
Our tour through Old Delhi will also include a rickshaw ride
through the old streets, passing through the famous grain
market and stopping for photos at several interesting local
After lunch we’ll take a tour of New Delhi, the new Capital
designed by Sir Edward Lutyens.
Sights include the Presidential Palace, the Rashtrapati Bhavan
and the Secretariat Buildings – the centre of all Government
We head down the main avenue to India Gate, the High Court
Buildings and the Old Fort.
Visit Humayun’s Tomb, built in 1565 by his grieving widow
Haji Begum, the 72 meter high Qutub Minar and the ruins of
See Delhi’s most curious antique, the uncorroded Iron Pillar,
which dates back to the 4th century AD.
Day 3: Wednesday August 12th
After breakfast we depart Delhi in our own private coach
and head for the town of Mandawa ( 260 km ).
The town of Mandawa emerges like a mirage, a medieval
fort gradually rising on the horizon.
The Mandawa bazaar has many painted houses, some of
which have now been turned into curio shops. The Havelis
of the Chokanis, the Goenkas and the Sarafs are magnificent
buildings with extravagantly painted frescos.
Hotel – Desert Resort ( 1 night )
Day 4: Thursday August 13th
The day begins with a walking tour to enjoy the frescos and
Havelis of Mandawa.
Bikaner is a medieval flavoured city set
along the old caravan route which linked
Central Asia and North India with the
Charming red stone Havelis ( mansions )
stand in the old part of this walled city
and a leisurely lifestyle still prevails in this
sublimely picturesque place surrounded by harsh desert.
This afternoon we visit the Junagarh Fort, one of the finest
of Rajput monuments, with paved courtyards, narrow
staircases and terraces connect all thirty seven palaces,
pavilions and beautiful Jain temples built by different kings.
One should take particular note of the intricately designed
ceilings, done either in wood or copper plate and covered with
Hotel – Heritage Resort ( 1 night )
Day 5: Friday August 14th
After breakfast we farewell Bikaner and drive to Jaisalmer
( 350 km ).
Founded by Prince Jaisal in 1156, Jaisalmer
grew to become a major staging post on the
trade route across the forbidding Thar
Desert from India to the West. Set in a sea
of golden tinged sand, Sonar Kila, a golden
fort rises out of a rock of topaz. The entire
living area of Jaisalmer lies within the
gigantic citadel walls.
Hotel – Fort Rajwada ( 2 nights )
Day 6: Saturday August 15th
Visit the 12th century Fort and Palace built by Prince Jaisal.
This Fort is quite unique, being the only ‘living’ fort in
Rajasthan with people still residing within its walls.
We will also visit the Jain temples, which lie within the fort
complex. Some of them have quaint but impressive figures of
Jain saints in white marble or red and black sandstone.
Others have beautiful images of deities, which indicate the
remarkable religious tolerance of that age. The famous art of
the stone carvers of Jaisalmer is evident in the elaborate
facades of the yellow sandstone desert havelis (mansions)
which glow softly in honey tones.
Visit intricately carved Havelis built by Merchants, the largest
and most elaborate of the famous havelis of Jaisalmer is
Patwon ki Haveli. Patwas were the merchants trading in rich
brocades, gold and silver embroidery, sequins and ribbons.
This family eventually expanded their business to include
opium, banking and revenue collecting.
A brief stop at Gadhi Sagar is a must – a man made pond; a
luxury in the centre of the Thar Desert !
In the evening we take a camel ride in the desert sand dunes.
Day 7: Sunday August 16th
Morning after breakfast we leave Jaisalmer and travel by
private coach to Jodhpur ( 280 km ).
Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a chief of the
Rajput clan ‘Rathores’. Jodhpur certainly has one of the
country’s most spectacular fortress and palace complexes.
It was from here that those baggie tight horse-riding trousers
‘jodhpurs’ took their name.
Afternoon city tour visiting the imposing Mehrangarh Fort,
which sprawls along the top of a steep escarpment. Started in
1459 it has walls up to 36 meters high and 21 meters wide
towering above the plains. It’s a fine example of Rajput
architecture and remained the royal residence until the
Umaid Bhawan Palace was completed in 1943.
The fort museum has the Maharaja’s private collection of art
and artefacts. There is a wonderful display of palanquins,
armoury and miniature paintings; stop by to see the well-
preserved Hall of Public Audience and the Sheesh Mahal.
Hotel – Park Plaza ( 1 night )
Day 8: Monday August 17th
After breakfast we drive to Udaipur, visiting the Ranakpur
Temples en route ( 300 km ).
A deep, secluded valley at Ranakpur is the most magnificent
Jain temples in India. It is an extensive complex covering
3,600 sq. meters and has 29 halls with 1,444 pillars, each
unlike the other, intricately covered with delicate carvings.
The main temple is Chaumukha Temple
or four-faced temple, dedicated to
Adinath, the Revealer of Truth.
Continue our drive to Udaipur.
On arrival check in at hotel.
The city of Udaipur or the city of
`sunrise’ combines real beauty with
a great and glorious past. The
legendary Ranas or kings of this
state traced their ancestry back to
Udaipur stands in a valley, amidst green hills on the banks of
the wide, steel blue lake Pichola and is regarded as the most
romantic spot in India. On little islands in the lake, from the
waters edge, rise marble palaces of pure white that glisten like
fairy castles. Crowning the ridge, in which the city clusters,
along the shore of the lake, stands the massive palace of the
Hotel – Royal Retreat ( 2 nights )
Day 9: Tuesday August 18th
City tour of Udaipur
Visit the City Palace, once the home of the Mewar’s rulers and
today a museum. It consists of several flawlessly integrated
palaces overlooking the clear blue of Lake Pichola. Visit
Sahelion-ki-bari (Garden of the Maids of Honour) the scene
of royal parties for centuries.
Drive around Fateh Sagar Lake, excavated in the late 17th
century by Maharaja Jai Singh. Also browse through the Kala
Mandir (Puppet Museum), the Cenotaph of Maharana Pratap
and the Jagdish temple.
Evening enjoy a boat ride on beautiful Lake Pichola.
Day 10: Wednesday August 19th
Morning after breakfast drive to Jaipur, en-route visiting
Chittorgarh ( 410 km ).
Chittorgarh, also called Chittaur, from the 7th century to
the 16th, was the capital of Mewar under the Rajputs. Chittaur
evokes memories of great heroism and sacrifice by Rajput
men and women in the intermittent battles they fought
against invaders from the Northwest or Delhi.
Chittaur witnessed both the ravages of war and the triumphs
of the spirit. Allaudin Khilji who coveted Queen Padmini of
Chittaur, invaded the city in 1303 A.D. Queen Padmini and
the women of the court sacrificed themselves in a pyre of fire
rather than submit to anybody. This supreme sacrifice has
been called ‘Jauhar’ and epitomises the fiery spirit of the
Rajputs of the day. The city stands strewn with monuments
and battlements as evidence of the blood and gore that it
went through in medieval times
Continue drive to Jaipur. On arrival check in at hotel.
Jaipur is where the enduring charisma of the past blends
with the throbbing vitality of today. Where a colourful cast
of characters – from printers and potters to artists and
antique dealers – present a fascinating picture of a city that
is alive to both tradition and change.
Raja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur was no ordinary man.
He was a scholar and an astronomer, keenly sensitive to
beauty, a formidable general who tempered power with
wisdom. In building Jaipur, Jai Singh’s vision took him
beyond architectural beauty. In the sprawling, barren plains
beneath Amber, the former capital, he gave India its first
planned city. Jai Singh made Jaipur a haven that became an
important centre for commerce and religion.
Hotel – Clarks Amer ( 2 nights )
Day 11: Thursday August 20th
Morning visit to the Amber fort, the former seat of the Rajput
rulers of Jaipur. Ascending the fortress seated on elephants
(subject to availability – otherwise a jeep ride will be provided),
we’ll wander around the beautiful palace and visit the Shiladevi
temple (which continues to be the private temple of the Royal
family) with its exquisite marble carvings and silver door.
Afternoon visit the open-air royal observatory “Jantar Mantar”,
with gigantic astronomical instruments, the City Palace and
Museum, stopping by the “Hawa Mahal” or the Palace of
There will also be a rickshaw ride through the historic old
CITY PALACE – A delightful blend of Mughal and traditional
Rajasthani architecture, the City Palace sprawls over
one-seventh of the area of the walled city. It houses the
Chandra Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace
JANTAR MANTAR – This is the largest and the best preserved
of the five observatories built by Jai Singh II in different parts
of the country. This observatory, consisting of outsized
astronomical instruments, is still in use.
HAWA MAHAL – The ornamental facade of this “Palace of
Winds” is a prominent landmark in Jaipur. It is a five-storey
structure of sandstone plastered pink and encrusted with fine
trellis work and elaborate balconies. The palace has 953 niches
and windows. Built in 1799 by Pratap Singh, the Mahal was a
royal grandstand for the palace women.
The rest of the day is at leisure with an opportunity to shop.
Jaipur is a shopper’s delight offering a wide range of local
handicrafts, vegetable dyed carpets with Persian designs, block
printing with indigo and a variety of natural dyes, blue pottery,
dyed fabrics and scarves. Jaipur is also famous for its gems
and is a centre for the gem cutting industry.
Evening at leisure.
Day 12: Friday August 21st
The abandoned red sandstone city built in the 16th century by
the Mughal Emperor Akbar, one of India’s greatest rulers.
Remarkably broadminded for his time, this Muslim king
married a Rajput princess in order to win over his Hindu
subjects. The architecture at Fatehpur Sikri is a combination
of Hindu and Muslim styles, expressing Akbar’s vision of
synthesising the cultures.
Afterwards proceed for Agra. On arrival check in at the hotel.
Hotel – Clarks Shiraz ( 2 nights )
Day 13: Saturday August 22nd
With its incredible lacy white grandeur the Taj Mahal is
perhaps the most perfect architectural monument in the
world. To the poet Tagore it was a ‘tear on the face of
eternity’. In memory of his wife the great Mughal
emperor Shah Jehan constructed this most extravagant
and incomparable monument built for love. Amazingly
graceful from any angle, it is the close up detail, which
is really astounding.
Later visit Agra fort. Agra Fort is situated on the banks
of the river Yamuna, another monumental mission
accomplished by the great Mughal visionary Emperor Akbar.
His son Jehangir and grandson Shah Jehan added to this
imposing structure during their rule. The palaces, mosques
and audience hallscontained within its massive wall of red
sandstone are perfect examples of blending Islamic and
We will also visit Mother Teresa’a home, rounding out an
Day 14: Sunday August 23rd
Morning transfer to the Railway station to board our train
bound for Jhansi. On arrival at Jhansi railway station we
proceed to Khajuraho visiting Orchha enroute.
Orchha’s grandeur has been captured in stone. A rich legacy
of the ages frozen in time. The palaces and temples built by
its Bundela rulers in the 16th & 17th centuries retain much of
their pristine perfection. Founded in the 16th century,
Orchha boasts the exquisite Jehangir Mahal, a tiered palace
crowned by graceful chattatris.
In Raj Mahal and Laxmi Narayan Temple, vibrant murals
brings the walls and ceilings alive.
After visiting Orchha we drive on to Khajuraho and upon
arrival check in at our hotel.
Hotel – Jass Radisson ( 2 nights )
Day 15: Monday August 24th
In the morning we visit the famous Khajuraho temples built
by Chandela Kings between 250 A.D. and 1050 A.D. The most
important are the Chaunset Yogini Temple dedicated to
Goddess Kali, the Mahadev Temple, Chitragupta or Bharatji
Temple with a lovely image of 11 headed Lord Vishnu,
Vishwanath and Nandi Temples, Lakshmana Temple and
Visha Temple dedicated to Shiva, which is the largest and
most classical of the temples.
Khajuraho temples are India’s unique gift to the world,
representing a paean to life, love and joy: perfect in execution
and sublime in expression. Life in every form and mood has
been captured in stone, testifying to the craftsman’s artistry
and the extraordinary breadth of vision possessed by the
Chandela Rajputs. The Khajuraho temples were built in the
relatively short span of one hundred years ( from 950 – 1050
A.D. ), in a truly inspired burst of creativity. Of the 85 original
temples, 22 still survive and are considered to be one of the
world’s greatest wonders.
Day 16: Tuesday August 25th
After breakfast transfer to the airport for a connecting flight
to Varanasi. On arrival we check-in at our hotel.
Varanasi’s antiquity, like its spirituality, is shrouded in
immortal time. Puranic and other ancient texts date its
existence back at least 3,000 years ago. Life in the Varanasi
of today revolves around the ghats located along the River
Ganges where the bulk of the temples are located. From dawn
to dusk a steady stream of devotees perform rituals. Every
devout Hindu’s ambition is to visit Varanasi once in a lifetime
and to bathe in the sacred River Ganges. For several thousand
years, pilgrims have cleansed themselves of their sins here and
sought release from the cycle of rebirth – “Nirvana”. The town
itself is a maze of small streets and alleyways, hiding in
disorderly array not less than a thousand temples and shrines.
Hinduism, deep and mystical, is everywhere. In a decorated
doorway, in a glimpse of a glittering temple, in the sound of a
sacred bell, in the chant of the priests and the fragrance of
flower offerings. This is Varanasi – the city that is a prayer.
Evening witness the Aarti ceremony of the River Ganges on
Hotel – Radisson ( 2 nights )
Day 17: Wednesday August 26th
We take an early morning boat ride on the holy River Ganges
( 2&1/2 hrs ). The time to see the ghats is early dawn when
out of the morning mist, forms descend the steps, their
numbers increasing by the minute until a silent multitude,
lit by the sun’s first rays, move in the same direction to
immerse themselves in the holy stream and to salute the
Afterwards we return to the hotel for breakfast. After
breakfast we embark on a city tour of Varanasi.
You will see the Bharat Mata Temple, dedicated to Mother
India, which, instead of gods and goddesses, houses a relief
map of India carved out of marble.. Emperor Aurangazeb’s
Mosque built in the 17th century on the site of a Hindu Temple.
The rear of the mosque reveals specimens of the ancient
temple art of India. Vishwanath Temple (Golden Temple)
erected by Rani Ahalyabai Holkar of Indore in 1776.
The shikharas of the temple are gold plated. Visit the Durga
(Goddess of Power) Temple popularly known as the Monkey
Temple because of the hundreds of monkeys in the courtyard.
Afternoon excursion to Sarnath.
Sarnath – 10 kms. from Varanasi – The Buddha preached his
first sermon to five disciples at the Deer Park here, enshrining
the principals of his teaching into laws. The Dhamek Stupa
marks the location of a once resplendent monastery. A large
complex of ruined monasteries cover the area north of the
stupas. Some of the buildings belong to the Kushan and Gupta
period. The first monk communities probably settled here in
the 3rd century BC. The major events of Buddha’s life are
depicted here in wall paintings. Sarnath has an interesting
archaeological museum which has preserved the famous
Sarnath pillar whose capital forms India’s national emblem.
Day 18: Thursday August 27th
Breakfast in the hotel. Later transfer to the airport to board
our flight for Kolkata.
On arrival with meeting & assistance transfer to hotel &
Perhaps no other city overwhelms a visitor as Kolkata does
– crowded, alive, vibrant, a city with a rich intellectual and
cultural heritage. Inhabited by people who are proud to call
themselves Kolkattans, this city is over 300 years old and has
a fairy tale beginning. Kolkata owes its origin to the British
merchant Job Charnock. During the British Raj, Kolkata was
known as the Jewel of the East, and was the capital of the
country until 1911. Today it is still the most important city in
the East, the nerve centre of trade and industry, a city bustling
with a population of around 15 million.
Hotel – Pearless Inn ( 2 nights )
Day 19: Friday August 28th
Morning after breakfast full day city tour.
The tour of this sprawling city begins with the Howrah Bridge;
this bridge is built on the river Hooghly and connects the city
of Kolkata with the industrial town of Howrah.
We drive through Dalhousie Square where we see the Writers
Building (State Secretariat), Raj Bhawan (Governor House),
General Post Office Building, Kolkata High Court, Kolkata
Town Hall and the St.John’s Church. We than move to see the
Victoria Memorial. It is a massive domed building of white
marble from Rajasthan. It was inaugurated in 1921 by the
Prince of Wales (later, briefly, Edward VIII). It houses a
collection of Victorian memorabilia and also historical objects
and documents on Bengal. In the park in which the memorial
stands are statues of Queen Victoria, Lord Curzon and other
figures of the Raj. Here, on weekends, people picnic, families
meet for matchmaking, and transiting pilgrims bring flowers
to the statue of “Maharani Victoria”.
Day 20: Saturday August 29th
Today is the last day of our India tour. You will either transfer
to the airport for a connect flight to your onward destination
( probably Melbourne return but we can assist with any
onward travel plans you may have ) or elect to stay on for a
few days in Kolkata independently.
- Hotel accommodation for 19 nights ( all 4 star hotels
with the exception of the Desert Resort in Mandawa,
which is 3 star).
Based on twin-share. Single supplement available.
- All meals ( breakfasts, lunches and dinners ).
- All transfers, sight-seeing tours, land transportation
( using our own private air-conditioned coach )
- All entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary.
- All other transportation – Boat ride in Udaipur /
Rickshaw rides in Delhi & Jaipur / Camel ride in
Jaisalmer / Boat ride in Varanasi / Train fare on
Shatabadi Express in A/C carriage from Agra –
Jhansi / Elephant ride to Amber Fort in Jaipur
( subject to availability or else jeep ride provided ).
- Domestic airfares ( Khajuraho – Varanasi / Varanasi –
- All Guides ( including English speaking tour escort
accompanying us for entire tour / local guides / Airport
and railway meeting representatives )
- Tips to all guides, drivers, baggage handlers.
- All currently prevailing taxes on the hotels, transport
and Government Service Tax.
- India visa
>>COST: $3,980 Twin Share ( Land Content )
>>>>>>>$940 Single Supplement
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