Grand Tour Of Northern India14 days & 13 nights, Escorted Discovery Group
Escorted Discovery Group
Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Rohet & Udaipur
Explore the diverse cultural influences that have created the fascinating heritage of northern India. This tour encompasses the holy city of Varanasi, the resplendent Taj Mahal, Jodhpur's blue-washed houses, and the beautiful lakes and palaces of Udaipur. Also go in search of the elusive Royal Bengal tiger in Ranthambore National Park, India's premier tiger reserve.
Day 1Arrive Delhi
You will be met and taken to your hotel.The Lalit New Delhi - 2 Nights
When the British chose Delhi as their capital in 1911, they appointed two architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, to plan and build a new city to rival the fabled cities of the Mughals. New Delhi was thus built in true colonial style with tree-lined avenues, colonial bungalows, the Parliament House, the War Memorial Arch and the Viceregal Palace, now the official residence of the President of India. Alongside these British architectural gems are several monuments commemorating other occupants of Delhi including the Emperor Humayun and the Muslim saint, Nizamuddin Auliya. Indigenous Indian monuments include Jantar Mantar, the observatory built by Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur, and the Birla Mandir, a modern marble Hindu temple. During your tour you will drive past India Gate and the President's Palace and visit the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, and the pre-Mughal monuments including Iltutmish's tomb, Qutb Minar and the tomb of Isa Khan.
Shah Jahan founded the city of Shahjahanabad, now referred to as Old Delhi, in 1648. The famous Red Fort in the heart of Old Delhi was once the most opulent fort of the Mughal empire and it boasts the Diwan-i-Am, Hall of Public Audience; and the Diwan-i-Khas, Hall of Private Audience. A short drive from the fort is the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in the world, built by Shah Jahan to dominate his city. The Raj Ghat is the location of Gandhi's cremation. Your tour will include visits to the Jama Masjid mosque and Raj Ghat as well as a drive past the Red Fort.The Lalit New Delhi (B)
Your evening walking tour of Old Delhi will take you through the bustling alleyways to discover hidden monuments.
Day 3To Varanasi
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport for your flight Varanasi.Radisson Hotel - 1 Night (B)
Upon arrival, you will be met and taken to your hotel.
Just 6 miles from Varanasi lies the site of Sarnath where it is said Buddha preached his first sermon, setting in motion the Wheel of Law. Pilgrims travel from around the world to Sarnath, which features monasteries constructed by Buddhists from several countries including China, Burma, Tibet and Japan. The tour includes a visit to the Sarnath museum, which houses a rich collection of Buddha and Bodhisattva sculptures and images that are considered among the finest works of Buddhist art in India.
The Sarnath museum is closed on Fridays.
This evening you will be taken to Dasaswamedh Ghats to witness the Ganga Aarti ceremony. The Ganga Aarti ceremony is performed every night on the banks of the river Ganges at sunset. This beautiful ceremony is part of the evening puja or prayers. As the atmospheric ceremony gets underway, priests stand on platforms, incense sticks are lit and conch shells are blown. Musicians play while flaming torches light up the sky in a carefully choreographed ritual. Bells are rung and the chanting and singing of hymns provide a fascinating and spiritual conclusion to the day's end. Many devotees offer deeyas (oil lamps) to Mother Ganga with thanks and devotion for the light of the sun and for her divine light, and it is a moving sight to watch hundreds of miniature lamps float along the river.
Day 4To Agra
Take an early morning boat ride along the river Ganges and see the famous bathing 'ghats', the stone steps which lead down to the river where the gathered faithful ritually cleanse themselves.The Trident Agra - 2 Nights (B)
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport.
Upon arrival, you will be met and taken to your hotel.
Visit the Taj Mahal in the changing light of the rising sun, a truly magical time to gaze in wonder at this ode to eternal love, built by Shah Jahan on the death of his bride Mumtaz Mahal. Emperor Shah Jahan said on its creation that it made 'the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes'. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as the world's most beautiful monument. It was built over a period of 20 years, starting in 1632, by 20,000 laborers and craftsmen, and displays superb craftsmanship. The close up detail of the Taj Mahal is as exquisite as the overall architectural design, with semi-precious stones and beautiful patterns covering the marble surface. Not long after it was finished Shah Jahan was overthrown and imprisoned in Agra Fort where, for the rest of his days, he could only gaze out at the Taj Mahal through a window. Following his death in 1666, Shah Jahan was buried here alongside his treasured Mumtaz.
Akbar began Agra Fort in 1565, with additions to the citadel being made through to the time of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan. The citadel consists of marble palaces, ornate alcoves and terrace pavilions. Continue to the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah. Often referred to as the 'baby Taj', the tomb was built by the Empress Noor Jahan in memory of her father, Itmad-ud-Daulah. An exquisite building, the 'baby Taj' is thought to be a forerunner of the Taj Mahal.
Afternoon at leisure or optional excursion as below.The Trident Agra (B)
About 6 miles from Agra lies Sikandra and the tomb of the greatest Mughal, Akbar. A fusion of Muslim and Hindu architectural styles, some say this tomb, begun by Akbar himself and then completed by his son, is an example of the great rulers' idiosyncratic taste, resembling a truncated pyramid, set on a marble platform, in the midst of a 150-acre garden.
Day 6Fatehpur Sikri - Ranthambore
Drive from Agra to Bharatpur, a journey of 35 miles and approximately 1.5 hours, additionally stopping en route at Fatehpur Sikri.Dev Vilas - 2 Nights (B, D)
The magnificent deserted red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri with its forts, palaces and mosques is located 23 miles from Agra. The city, designed as a tribute to the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti, who had predicted the birth of Akbar's son and heir, was begun in 1571 and was abandoned just 15 years later due to a shortage of water.
Take the train from Bharatpur to Sawai Madhopur, a journey of 114 miles and 2 hours.
You will be met and taken to your hotel.
Today, enjoy early morning and late afternoon wildlife safaris to try to catch a glimpse of the Indian tiger and other wildlife.Dev Vilas (B, L, D)
Day 8To Jaipur
Go on safari in Ranthambore National Park.Trident Jaipur - 2 Nights (B)
This afternoon, drive from Ranthambore to Jaipur, a journey of 100 miles and approximately 4.5 hours.
The ancient Rajput capital is located on a hill 7 miles north of Jaipur. Amber was the capital of the Kachhawa Rajputs from 1037 until Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh founded Jaipur in 1727, but the majestic fort-palace was not begun until about 1600. The building was added to by successive Rajput rulers; however, the architecture displays many Mughal influences in addition to the traditional Rajput designs. Whilst visiting the palace you will be able to explore the intricate chambers and hallways, the maze of passages and courtyards and enjoy the wonderful views of the Jal Mahal water palace below.Trident Jaipur (B)
You will tour Jaipur, known as the 'Pink City' of Rajasthan, since so many of its buildings are painted in a lovely pink hue. The City Palace, with its museum, is still the home of the Maharaja of Jaipur. On show are an extensive collection of art, carpets, textiles and weapons, all beautifully preserved. Across from the City Palace is the observatory or Jantar Mantar, a curious collection of sculptures each of which has a specific purpose such as measuring the position of the stars, altitudes and calculating eclipses. It is the best-preserved example of the original five observatories built by Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur.
You will also make a brief photo stop at the 'Hawa Mahal', known as the Palace of Winds. Built in 1799, it is a remarkable facade structure, constructed of red sandstone overlooking one of the main streets, specifically meant for the ladies of the Royal family, who would sit behind the trellis screens and comfortably observe the activities on the streets without being seen.
Day 10Jodhpur - Rohet
Drive from Jaipur to Jodhpur, a distance of 204 miles and a journey time of approximately 7.5 hours including stops. Here you will visit the Mehrangarh Fort.Rohet Garh - 2 Nights (B, D)
The magnificent Mehrangarh Fort is set high on a hill overlooking the city. Inside are some of the most intricately ornamented palaces with exquisitely carved panels and latticed windows. The palaces all have evocative names: the Moti Mahal, or Pearl Palace; the Phool Mahal, or Flower Palace; and the Sukh Mahal, or Pleasure Palace. The ramparts of the Fort offer stunning views of the blue-painted Brahmin houses for which the city is famous. On your way down from the Mehrangarh Fort you will visit Jaswant Thada, a beautiful white marble cenotaph built in 1899 to honor late Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.
Continue to Rohet, a distance of 25 miles and a journey time of approximately 50 minutes.
Day 11Bishnoi tribal villages
A highlight of this excursion is a visit to the Bishnoi tribe who have shot into international prominence on account of their conservationist religious beliefs. They protect their flora and fauna with a reverence and live in tiny tidy hamlets. They farm large agricultural tracts where they keep parts fallow for the benefit of wildlife. Their history and customs are legendary and as far back as the 16th century they are known to have resisted royal edicts ordering the felling of trees, by literally wrapping themselves around them. In the 19th century many sacrificed their lives when defying the Jodhpur ruler from cutting down a forest by tying themselves to the trees.Rohet Garh (B, D)
Day 12Ranakpur - Udaipur
Drive from Rohet to Rankapur, a distance of 118 miles and journey time of approximately 5 hours.Trident Udaipur - 2 Nights (B)
Ranakpur is located 62 miles north of Udaipur, and is the largest Jain temple complex in India. In the 15th century, Rana Kumbha of Mewar gave the Jains a large stretch of land in a quiet and picturesque valley, deep in the Aravalli hills. This area became known as Ranakpur, and although these superb temples are almost 500 years old, they are in almost perfect condition. The central Chaumukha temple, built in 1439, has 29 halls supported by 1,444 ornately carved marble pillars, no two of which are alike.
Outside the temple precincts, your local guide will highlight the salient features of this exquisite temple complex, as guiding is not permitted inside the Ranakpur Jain temples. However, audio guides are available for a small charge. To secure an audio guide, you may be asked for a refundable deposit and a photo ID. The photo ID and the deposit will be returned to you when you hand-in the audio guide upon completion of your tour of the Ranakpur temples.
Continue to Udaipur, a distance of 62 miles and journey time of approximately 2.5 hours.
Your tour includes the City Palace and Jagdish Temple. The City Palace is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, comprising many buildings added at different times by various maharajas. Perhaps the most beautiful are the Moti Mahal with its mirror inlay and the Chini Mahal with its iridescent tilework. Amar Mahal, which is believed to have inspired Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal, houses the silver museum. On display at the silver museum are several objects, owned by the royal family of Udaipur since the 8th century. At the nearby Jagdish Temple, there is an impressively carved image of Lord Vishnu, to whom the temple is dedicated.Trident Udaipur (B)
The local state administration traffic regulations mean mini-buses and coaches (with the exception of buses operated for public transport) do not have access to Udaipur City between 09:00 and 21:00 hours. Therefore, the duration of your half day tour of Udaipur, including transport to / from the hotel, would be around 5.5 hours.
Udaipur is famous for its traditional miniature paintings, which are mural-like paintings mainly depicting incidents from Rajput or Mughal history and legends, or stories from the Hindu Puranas. Visit a miniature painting studio to see several fine examples of these works of art, which are beautiful if looked at from a normal viewing distance but much better appreciated close-up where you can see the fine details that is a result of the hours of care and dedication of the artist.
Day 14Depart Udaipur
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport.(B)