India is by no measure a monolithic culture or state, but a diverse collection of historic cities and nations each with their own distinct histories, language and culture. India is a country of immense diversity and extremes – geographical, economic and spiritual. Its geography encompasses the glacial heights of the Himalaya in the north, the arid plains of the west, and palm-fringed tropical beaches in the south – a vast tapestry of mountains, plains, forests and deserts. India’s population exceeds a staggering billion people. It is home to over 18 official languages, with dialects and accents that change in the space of kilometers. It is a land of ancient traditions and countless mother tongues, a nation where the culture, dress, language and cuisine change with the diverse terrain. India has a long and influential history to be explored from the Mughals to British rule. Then there is also the long history over the centuries of Spice and the trade with the Arabs, the Portuguese and the Spaniards. Immerse yourself in the spiritual essence of this journey which beautifully combines the holy temples, and heritage monuments and gives an insight into the cultural aspects that India offers. The journey covers sights and sounds of Mumbai, Mathura, Agra, Khajuraho, Varanasi, and concludes the sojourn at New Delhi.
Upon arrival at the Mumbai you will be transferred to the hotel. Check into the hotel and relax. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
After breakfast, proceed for the excursion to the Elephanta Caves. It is a complex of rock-cut caves inspired from Brahmic architecture displaying vibrant sculptures. It is famous for the life-sized three-headed rock-cut sculpture of Lord Shiva. Board your ferry back to the Gateway of India. Spend time clicking photographs at the 20th century Gateway of India built in honor of the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1911.
Later, visit the Prince of Wales Museum, also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, inspired from Indo-Saracenic architecture. It is said to have more than 60,000 objects on display for visitors. Head to the Hanging Gardens built in 1881. It is located atop the Malabar Hills and is popularly known for its mesmerizing sunset views over the Arabian Sea. The flower clock is one of its must-see attractions. Later in evening, spend time at the Marine Drive. At night, it is lighted up with a string of lights that resembles a necklace. This is why, it’s called the Queen’s Necklace. Return to hotel to rest for the day.
After breakfast, check out hotel and transfer to airport to board flight for Aurangabad. Upon arrival, check in to the hotel and relax.
Later, you will proceed for sightseeing of Ellora caves (30kms from city). They were carved out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 10th centuries. The carving work began around 550 AD, about the same time the Ajanta Caves (100km northeast) were abandoned. At the time, Buddhism was declining in India and Hinduism was beginning to reassert itself. There are 34 caves in all: 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hindu caves and 5 Jain caves. The coexistence of structures from three different religions serves as a splendid visual representation of the prevalent religious tolerance in India. The Kailash Temple in cave 16 is a stupendous piece of architecture, with interesting spatial effects and varied sculpture. Its construction was a feat of human genius – it entailed the removal of 250,000 tons of rock, and took 100 years to complete. The Ellora Caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
After breakfast, enjoy a tour of the Ajanta Caves (98kms from city) showcasing some of the best Buddhist art in India. These are a series of 29 Buddhist cave temples, some of which date from the 2nd century BC. They were carved out of a horseshoe-shaped cliff and used by Buddhist monks as prayer halls (chaitya grihas) and monasteries (viharas) for about nine centuries, and then abruptly abandoned. The Mahayana caves feature colorful murals and statues depicting the life (and former lives) of the Buddha and various Bodhisattvas.
Later in evening board on flight for Delhi; check in at a hotel on arrival and then relax.
Today, you will proceed for a full-day tour of Old and New Delhi. Visit Jama Masjid, which is the largest mosque in India, commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan. Enjoy a rickshaw ride in Chandni Chowk, the busiest market in Old Delhi. Visit Red Fort (closed every Monday), President House, India Gate and several other government buildings in Edwin Lutyen’s modern Delhi before you head to Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948.
Thereafter, visit Humayun’s Tomb, commissioned by Humayun’s wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562. It was the first garden tomb built in the Indian sub-continent where the Persian architect used red sandstone on a large scale. Later in the evening visit the Qutab Minar, which is the tallest brick minaret in the world; it was commissioned by Qutbuddin Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi.
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and drive to Agra. En route visit Mathura. Situated on the banks of the holy River Yamuna, the old city of Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh, is one of the most important religious destinations in India. A labyrinth of lanes lined by temples, ancient ghats and numerous stories of Lord Krishna, who is said to be born here, echoing throughout the streets, Mathura invites devotees from far and wide. Upon arrival, check-in to the hotel. Later, visit the Dwarkadish temple; Dwarkadish temple holds an interesting architecture in the area; there is another small town called the Radha Kund; The Gita Mandir is called so because the whole of Gita (the sacred book of the Hindus) has been inscribed on the walls of the temple; Sri Krishna Janma Bhumi is another site to visit, it is the place where Lord Krishna was born; and also Lord Krishna’s rest place after his triumph over the tyrant Kansa is the Vishram Ghat. Later, drive to Agra. Upon arrival Agra you will check in at a hotel and relax.
Day begins with an early morning visit to the Taj Mahal (closed on Friday) - a white marble edifice symbolic of the love of Emperor Shahjahan for his beloved wife. Take a dip into the saga of ‘The Taj’ and unfurl the grace and grandeur of this purest symbol of love ever built. The splendid sunrise views over this monument is the biggest tourist draw. Later, return to hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast, visit the Agra Fort - one of the finest Mughal forts in India. This palatial red-sandstone and marble fortress houses many courtyards, a palace of Mirrors, private and public halls and Masjids (Mosques). Next, you will visit the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, nicknamed as the Baby Taj, whose design even outshines the Taj. It is a breathtaking mausoleum made entirely from white marble and is surrounded by Persian-style gardens. Visit Sikandra - the beautiful mausoleum with Tomb of Mughal emperor Akbar. Later, in evening you can visit to Kalakriti to enjoy the "Mohabbat E Taj" (saga of Love) based on the theme of Taj Mahal and Shah Jahan.
After breakfast, drive to Agra railway station to board train to Jhansi. On arrival, our company representative will drive you to Orchha. On reaching, check-in at the hotel. Orchha is a city dotted with artistically-beautiful palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries that still retain much of its pristine perfection. After some relaxation, visit Orchha Fort Complex. Visit the Jehangir Mahal built in the 17th century by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatris and trellis work. Explore the Raj Mahal crowned by chhatris and exquisite interiors, boldly colorful murals based on religious themes. Visit the Ram Raja Temple, which is the most unusual as it is a palace turned temple where Rama is worshipped as a Raja (King). Head to the Laxminarayan Temple linked by a flagstone path to the Ram Raja Temple. Its interiors contain the most exquisite wall paintings in Orchha.
After breakfast, we will drive you to Khajuraho. On arrival, check into the hotel. Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandela kings and its temples were built in the short span of hundred years from 950-1050 AD. Most of them were destroyed by Muslim invaders. Adorned with exquisite sculpture, only 22 temples remain of the original 85. Khajuraho’s temples are covered with hundreds of sculptured figures - a galaxy of Gods and Goddesses, beasts and serpents and a multitude of erotic couples.
After some relaxation, head out to visit the Khajuraho Group of Temples that speak volumes of the grandeur of Chandela Kings. These temples are around 200 years old. These are a set of temples divided into eastern, western and southern wings The Eastern wing is majorly dominated with meticulously-designed Jain Temples. The Parsvanath Temple is the largest temple of this wing. The western wing features some of the finest temples including the Andariya Mahadev Temple, Devi Jagadambe Temple, Chausat Yogini, and Chitragupt Temple, etc. while the Southern wing comprises of three temples: Duladeo Temple, Chaturbhuj Temple, and Beejamandal Temple. All these temples display exquisite detailing, erotic carvings that are hard to find anywhere else in India.
After breakfast, our company representative will drive you to the Airport to board your flight to Varanasi. Upon arrival, get transferred to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Varanasi is a city located on the banks of River Ganga that is the 2nd largest river in India. Formerly known as Kashi and Benares, this city is around 3000 years old. It is one of the holiest pilgrimage sites of Hindus as it is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva (God of Destruction). Every year, Hindu devotees visit this city to take a holy dip in the River Ganga that is said to wash away all the sins.
Early morning you will enjoy boat ride in Ganges; thereafter you will be back to hotel to enjoy breakfast. Later proceed for the city tour of the Varanasi from the Heritage temples and the city. Starts from the visit of Durga temple called as the Sankat Mochan temple and the Bharat Mata temple. The Benaras Hindu University, one the most presumed educational institutions in India.
Later enjoy the pleasure trip to Sarnath few kilometres from Varanasi. This destination holds great religious importance of Buddhists. Here Lord Buddha lectures his first sermon to his disciples, after he attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya.A tombstone is built in the deer park where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon. Emperor Ashoka, a dedicated Buddhist and Preacher of Dhamma had built a number of stupas and Chaityas here which exists even today. Most prominent amongst these are the Damekh stupa built in the year 249 BCE and the Chaukhandi stupa built in 5th century AD. The Sarnath museum is home of many Buddhist ruins and artifacts. It is also the proud keeper of the Ashok Stambha, the national emblem of India.
In early morning you will enjoy boat ride in Ganges. Later, you will proceed for half day sightseeing of Varanasi. Alamgir Mosque also known as Beni Madhav Ka Darera, this mosque was originally built in the Vishnu architectural style but now displays Hindu and Mughal architectural influences. Perhaps best seen from a boat, the mosque sits picturesquely on the banks of the Rover Ganges.GhatsWith over 100 ghats to explore, it is unlikely any visitor will have time to see them all. Each of the primary ghats (steps leading down to the river) are indicated by a lingam, or a phallic symbol of lord Shiva. Many of the ghats double as morning bathing spots for pilgrims, an amazing sight at dawn. The ghats are also a popular hangout for religious men, some of which spend their time practising yoga or smoking ganja for religious purposes. These colorful characters are often willing to engage in conversation with visitors and are even willing to be photographed for a small donation. Highlights include Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats, which are commonly referred to as ‘burning ghats’ for their function as the site of Hindu cremations. Visitors can pause to take in this sight, but are not encouraged to linger for long or to take photographs. One of the most relaxing ways to take in the ghats from a distance is to hire a boat for a trip along the river.Pandit Malaviya TempleUnique in that it is open to people of all castes and religions, the Pandit Malaviya Temple was inspired by the man of the same name, who wanted to see Hinduism eliminate caste distinctions. The interior is said to be a reconstruction of the now destroyed Vishwanath Temple, which was toppled by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb in the 17th century. Later, our representative will transfer you to Varanasi railway station to board the train to Delhi.
Upon arrival you will check in at a hotel and relax. Thereafter you are free at leisure for your independent activities (no vehicle hereafter).
After breakfast, you will be given transfer to Delhi airport to board flight for onward destination; henceforth your journey ends with sweet memories.
|13 Nights / 14 Days
|Mumbai - Aurangabad - Delhi - Mathura - Agra - Khajuraho - Varanasi - Delhi