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adventure travel trip to India
India has countless sights to enchant you
Dates
  • Oct 18-30, 2014
  • Nov 13-25, 2014
  • Privately on Request
  • Duration 13 days
    Group Size 2-12
    Land Cost $3,550 Details
    Single Supplement $1,100
    Lodging 3 stars
    Grade I
    Best Time

    North India Treasures

    The most sacred and iconic sights of northern India

    Day 1      Arrive Mumbai

    Welcome to India!  The city of Mumbai, formerly known as "Bombay" originally consisted of seven islands that were once home to communities of fishing colonies. In the 500 years since its discovery by the Portuguese, these islands have since been joined together by a series of reclamations. The city is now a metropolis of over 10 million people and a magnet for entrepreneurs and the home of many important financial institutions. Its port handles half the country’s foreign trade, and its movie industry is the largest in the world. On arrival at the Mumbai Airport, you'll be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel.

    Meals: None
    Lodging: Hotel Marine Plaza or similar

    India Gate in Mumbai
    Day 2      Mumbai Exploration

    Spend the morning at your leisure. In the afternoon, head out on a guide tour of the city, with its weathered Victorian mansions, some still privately owned and grand public buildings. Begin with a stop at the Gateway of India, a monument built during the British Raj around 1924. Wander along Mumbai's seaside promenade, Marine Drive. This eight-lane highway is very popular for relaxing, people watching, or appreciating the views of the Arabian Sea. You then visit the Prince of Wales Museum, one of the most highly regarded museums in India and an architectural masterpiece combining European, Islamic and Indian styles. Next, visit the Hanging Gardens containing an assortment of hedges that have been trimmed into animal shapes since 1881 and enjoy a photo stop at the colossal Dhobi Ghat, the world's largest outdoor laundromat. Before returning to your hotel, stop at Mani Bhavan, a quaint Gujarati-style house where Mahatma Gandhi lived from 1917 to 1934. It is now a museum displaying photographs, posters, and other items that document and explain Gandhi's legendary life.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Hotel Marine Plaza or similar

    Explore Mumbia and its many sights, old and new
    Day 3      Mumbai Markets and Udaipur

    After breakfast, take a walking tour through the local markets, including the lively Crawford Market, famous for its wholesale fruits, fresh vegetables, and poultry. Or, visit Chor Bazaar, one of the largest flea markets in India where you can bargain for just about anything. You then proceed to the airport for your flight to the picturesque city of Udaipur. Often known as both the "City of Sunrise" and the "City of Lakes", this charming town offers a surprising contrast to its desert neighbors, presenting a serene picture of shimmering blue lakes, green hills and impressive white marble palaces. It's a kaleidoscope of color against stark surroundings.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Fateh Garh Heritage Hotel or similar

    See the Kumbhalgarh Fort in Udaipur
    Day 4      Udaipur

    Udaipur was founded in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II as the final capital of what used to be the Mewar kingdom. It boasts beautiful lakeside views and a rich economic history. This morning, enjoy a walk through the local fruit and vegetable market where women and men of all ages can be found in their brilliantly colored clothes displaying their baskets of every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable. Afterwards, proceed on a sightseeing tour beginning with a stop at the City Palace, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, decorated with mirrors and galleries adorned with frescoes. The Jagdish Temple is located in the City Palace complex and designed in Indo-Aryan style.  The day ends with a leisure boat ride on Pichola Lake, an artificial lake created in 1362 to meet the drinking water demands of the city. Return to your hotel for the night.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Fateh Garh Heritage Hotel or similar

    Enjoy a boat ride around the lovely Jag Niwas Palace
    Day 5      Jain Temples of Ranakpur and Pushkar

    Immediately after breakfast, check-out of the hotel and depart for Ranakpur (approx. 2 hrs drive). The cluster of Jain temples here, made of intricately-sculpted white marble, are marvelous feats of architecture. It would take anyone by surprise to learn that they were built in 1460 due to the fact they are so well preserved. The main temple is supported on 1,444 pillars, none of which are alike. After exploring Ranakpur, continue on to the sacred town of Pushkar for the night (approx. 5 hrs drive). This charming, sleepy lakeside settlement is also home to many temples.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Pushkar Palace Hotel or similar

    Ranakpur Temple
    Day 6      Pushkar's Holy Lake and Temples and Jaipur

    In the morning, visit the famous Brahma Temple, the only temple in the world dedicated to this deity. It sits on a high platform with marble steps leading up to it. Next, visit the holy Pushkar lake, surrounded by 52 bathing ghats (a series of steps leading to the lake) where pilgrims throng in large numbers to take a sacred bath, especially around the Pushkar Fair (Oct-Nov). A dip in these mystical waters is believed to cure skin diseases. If you are visiting during the Pushkar Camel Fair, one of the largest camel fairs in the world, you'll enjoy some time walking around the fair and witnessing the buying and selling of livestock.

    Continue on to Jaipur, the "Pink City" (approx. 3 hrs drive). Surrounded by rugged hills, beautiful palaces, and impressive forts, Jaipur presides over the fascinating desert state and its people. You'll overnight at the lovely Shahpura House, the former residence of the Shekhawat clan of Rajput.  Built in 1956, this mansion was later converted into a Heritage Hotel by Rao Dhir SinghI and today, it still remains the family home and you will be personally welcomed as their honored guests.

    Optionally, enjoy dinner and a cultural show at Sankotra Fort, built in the 16th century.  Its Haveli, built in the 17th century to the Sankotra Family, is one of the oldest Havelis in Jaipur. This charming structure contains beautiful glass works, giving it the name "Kanch Ka Darwaja".  Enjoy your Rajasthani cultural show over dinner. Total duration is about 3 to 4 hours at an additional cost of $200 per person.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Shahpura House or similar

    You'll see many camels in Pushkar
    Day 7      Jaipur Forts and Bazaars

    This morning, you will drive along the streets of Jaipur to the Amber Fort, stopping en-route to view and photograph the beautiful Palace of Winds or Hawa Mahal, so named for the perforated screen facade that catches the breezes or "Hawa". Completed in 1799, the Palace was originally built to allow the sequestered ladies of the court to view the bustling life of the city. At the Amber Fort, which is constructed of white and red sandstone, ascend the hill to the fort on elephant (on request and not guaranteed).

    This afternoon, take a cycle rickshaw and explore some of the local markets including Bapu Bazaar, the perfect place to shop for camel skin products, textiles and perfumes as well as artifacts made of marble and sandstone. No shopping experience can be complete without a visit to the Johari Bazaar where you will find an array of gold, silver, diamonds, and emeralds to choose from if you like. Other market options include the Ramganj Bazaar, known for embroidered shoes and Kishanpol Bazaar, known for its tie-dye garments.

    Continue on to the Birla Temple to witness the evening Aarti Ceremony, a Hindu ritual where wicks soaked in ghee or clarified butter are offered to the deities. This sacred ceremony is accompanied by music, with the lyrics telling the stories of the powers and goodness of the deity.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Shahpura House or similar

    Take an elephant ride up to the Amber Fort
    Day 8      Spice Market and City Palaces of Jaipur

    Early this morning, your guide will meet you at the lobby of the hotel for a walk through a local spice market where you have the opportunity to learn about India's many spices such as cardamom, ginger, mint, cinnamon and cloves. In addition to adding flavor and aroma to foods, Indian spices are also thought to contain magical healing powers.

    There are several options to choose from for the day.

    1. Spend the afternoon exploring the city and visiting the City Palace, a dazzling display of Hindu and Mughal architecture. The palace contains a museum with items on display including queen's carriages, weapons, artwork, and huge water flasks made entirely from silver. Before returning to your hotel, visit the Jantar Mantar Observatory, built between 1728 and 1734 by Maharaja Jai Singh. This is the largest observatory of the five Maharaja Singh had built.

    2. An elephant safari to Naila Bagh followed by a cooking demonstration and dinner ($250 additional cost per person).  Naila Bagh Palace dates back to 1872 and is currently the home of the Royal Rajput family of Naila.  During your elephant ride through the countryside, you'll enjoy photo stops along the way and enjoy the sunset over the Aravali Hills. At Naila, you say good-bye to your elephant by feeding them bananas and jiggery and begin your cooking demonstration. Your instructor will explain the ingredients to you and show you how to whip up a scrumptious meal. After feasting on your creation, you'll return to your hotel in Jaipur (approx. 1 hr).

    3. Excursion to Samode with a school visit and lunch (additional $100 per person). You'll drive out to Samode, a large, princely town with a history that dates back 450 years. The palace here combines some of the best of Indian and Mughal styles. Along the way, you'll take a jeep ride to a nearby village and interact with the local people as well as visit the village school. You'll enjoy lunch before returning to your hotel in Jaipur for the night.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Shahpura House or similar

    See traditional farming methods used in Jaipur
    Day 9      Jaipur to Agra

    In the morning, you will be transferred to Agra, visiting Fatehpur Sikri on the way (approx. 3.5 hrs). The deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri was built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and later abandoned due to scarcity of water. The graceful buildings within this city are remarkably well preserved, including the Jama Masjid, the Tomb of Salim Chisti, and Panch Mahal. Also see Bulund Darwaza, the largest gateway in the world built to commemorate Akbar's conquest of Deccan in 1601. From Fatehpur Sikri, it's about another one and a half hours to Agra, where you check-in to your charming palace hotel for the night. Agra, once the capital to the Mughals in the 16th and 17th centuries, is most famous for its impressive monuments, including the Taj Mahal.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Jaypee Palace Hotel or similar

    Explore the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri
    Day 10      Taj Mahal, Mausoleums and Agra Fort

    You will be met early in the morning at the hotel for a sunrise view of India’s most famous site, the majestic Taj Mahal. This legendary monument, dedicated to love, was built by Emperor Shah Jehan in 1630 to enshrine the remains of his Queen Mumtaj Mahal. This architectural marvel is a perfectly-proportioned masterpiece fashioned from white marble. It stands today as testimony to the skill of craftsmen brought in from Persia, Turkey, France, and Italy and to 17 years of labor by 20,000 workers. Next, visit the Agra Fort, home to three Mughal Emperors. Here you will see the transition from the military might of the stern citadel raised by Akbar to the lavish beauty of shimmering white marble palaces built by Shah Jehan. Within the fort are palaces and the Halls of Public and Private Audience.  In the evening, witness an amazing performance depicting the tale of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz, known as the Mohabbat the Taj. This colorful and mesmerizing light and dance show is a love story that is sure to leave you emotional. Return to your hotel for the night.

     

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Jaypee Palace Hotel or similar

    See the majestic Taj Mahal at sunrise
    Day 11      Agra to Delhi

    After breakfast, you have the option of exploring the local markets by rickshaw. You'll see goods such as leather and brass, carpets and spices being bought and sold. Or you can choose to stay back at the hotel to enjoy a final relaxing morning, or perhaps you would like to see the sunrise at the Taj Mahal again (on own.) Afterwards, head out on a morning drive to Delhi (approx. 5 hrs/130 mi), India's capital and a major gateway to the country. This bustling metropolis successfully combines the ancient with the modern. As the fourth largest city in the world, it has a history that dates back to the sixth century B.C. On arrival, you'll check in to your centrally located hotel. The rest of the day will be free to relax.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Suryaa Hotel or similar

    Agra Fort
    Day 12      Delhi

    You'll spend the morning exploring the Old Delhi section, beginning with a visit to Jama Masjid Mosque, commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan and completed  in 1656. On the way, drive past the Red Fort, a symbol of Shah Jehan's Mughal power and thought to be the greatest wonder of all the cities of Delhi. Afterwards, board a cycle rickshaw, the best way to navigate the narrow, bustling alleyways of this lively area. Your ride takes you through the fabled "Chandni Chowk", one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi. It was designed by Jahanara Begum, Sha Jehan's favorite daughter in the 17th century. You then visit Raj Ghat, a simple square platform that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948.

    In the afternoon, head out to the New Delhi area beginning with a drive past the government buildings including the President's House and Parliament House, all designed in the 1920's by British architects Lutyens and Baker. At the end of the avenue is the India Gate, also known as Rajpath (King's Way), a War Memorial Arch built to remember the 90,000 Indians who gave their lives in WWI. Continue your tour with a visit to Humayun's Tomb, a magnificent monument built in red sandstone. Humayun's first wife and mother of Emperor Akbar, designed and supervised the entire construction. Today's tour ends with a visit to Qutab Minar, India's tallest stone tower. At a height of 234 feet, this "Tower of Victory" is the tallest minaret in India. Return to your hotel for a final night.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Suryaa Hotel or similar

    Make your way through the narrow streets of Chandni Chowk
    Day 13      Depart India

    You'll have the morning free to spend at your leisure. If you have the time and will be boarding a late evening flight, we can arrange for you to learn about Indian cuisine at the home of an Indian family ($75 additional including guide, transportation and dinner). This is an excellent way to get insight into the ways and life of the local people. This four hour experience starts with an introduction to your hostess, who will teach you about traditional spices such as cardamom, ginger, mint, cinnamon, etc. In addition to adding flavor and aroma to meals, spices are also known to have magical healing powers. You then join your hostess in the kitchen and she will then teach you how to make simple Indian dishes, which you will have the opportunity to feast on your creation. During dinner, you'll engage in a lively conversation with your host and receive some insight into Indian customs and family values.

    After checking out of your hotel around noon, you'll transfer to the airport for your onward flight or extend your visit with an excursion the holy city of Varanasi.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: None

    Opportunity to experience a home-cooked meal


     
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