Highlights include Old Delhi, New Delhi, Rajasthan, Jain Temple, Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, Game Drives, Taj Mahal, Mother Teresa's Charity Home, Khajuraho and more.|
Day #1 Overnight Flight -
Day #2 Delhi, India - Tour Begins - Your tour begins in Delhi, India’s capital and a city rich with history spanning over 2,000 years.
Day #3 New Delhi - LANGUAGE DISCOVERY: Today, your Tour Manager helps you discover the origin and history of the Hindi language, teaching you key words and phrases that will help you communicate with locals. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Old Delhi and visit Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Then, explore the city's narrow streets by rickshaw, the traditional mode of transportation! Later, tour New Delhi, visiting Qutub Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world. Visit Humayun's tomb, built by the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun, and considered a precursor to the Taj Mahal for its Indo-Persian design. See the imposing India Gate war memorial, the Parliament and the palatial Rastrapathi Bhawan – the President's residence.
Day #4 Delhi - Udaipur - This morning fly to Udaipur, your gateway to Rajasthan, where chivalrous tales come to life at forts and palaces. Check into your hotel for the next two nights, a lovingly restored palace overlooking the lake! This evening, enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Pichola for lovely views of the Jag Mandir Palace and the City Palace.
Day #5 Udaipur - Visit the exquisite City Palace whose main entrance, a triple-arched gate called the Tripolia, was built in 1725. Continue to Jagdish Temple, the largest temple in Udaipur, built in the 16th century and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Stop at Sahelion-ki-Bari – the Garden of the Maids of Honor – to learn about the unique lifestyle of the royal ladies who once strolled through these exquisite gardens.
Day #6 Udaipur - Jaipur - This morning fly to the “Pink City,” Jaipur. Make a brief stop at Hawa Mahal, taking in its striking façade of 953 windows. This “Palace of the Winds” remains the home of a former Maharaja. Visit the City Palace, comprised of palaces, gardens and courtyards, and boasting intricate decorative art and carved doorways. Marvel at Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built in 1726 by Sawai Jai Singh, which still makes accurate predictions of eclipses and celestial events.
Day #7 Jaipur - This morning, participate in a relaxing yoga class and learn basic exercises and breathing techniques from a local expert. An elephant* takes you to the top of Amber Fort, once the seat of power in India. Stroll through a local flower market and learn the art of making the garlands used in traditional Indian welcome ceremonies. This evening, enjoy a home-hosted dinner and learn about daily life inside the old city from your local hosts.
Day #8 Jaipur - Ranthambore - Travel to the famous Ranthambore National Park, an example of Project Tiger's efforts at conservation in the country. The forests around the park were once the private grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. Learn from a naturalist about the wildlife of the country – through a slideshow and lecture – in preparation for your game viewing drive by canter, an open air vehicle. Keep your eyes open for marsh crocodiles, hyenas, sloth bears and even tigers!
Day #9 Ranthambore - Start your day early with a game viewing drive. Return to the hotel for breakfast. This afternoon, visit the Ranthambore School of Art which recruits students from neighboring villages and trains them to be self-sufficient artists. Next, visit Dastkar Ranthambore Project, founded in 1981 when six women united to protect traditional artisans in contemporary India.
Day #10 Ranthambore - Bharatpur - Agra - All aboard! An early morning train brings you to Bharatpur. After brunch continue to Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city built by the Mughal Emperor Akbarin in the late 16th century. Complete with palaces and mosques, this marvel was larger than London at the time it was constructed. Your day ends in Agra.
Day #11 Agra - Visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise, riding a tonga – or horse carriage – to the gates. The Taj Mahal took 22 years and 20,000 men to build; its white marble was quarried 200 miles away and transported by 1,000 elephants. Built in the mid-17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is truly one of the wonders of the world. Next, visit Agra Fort, the seat of the Mughal Empire. Continue to Mother Teresa's Charity Home, a residence for orphans of all ages which is supported by the efforts of the tour group Foundation. Here, the sisters provide children with clothing, food, affection and quality education.
Day #12 Agra - Jhansi - Occhra - Khajuraho - Board your train for Jhansi, continuing to Occhra for a visit to the fort. The intricately carved Jahangir Mahal has an aura of grandeur and opulence representative of Bundela School of Architecture. Continue to Khajuraho, your home for the evening.
Day #13 Khajuraho - Varanasi - Visit the Chandel Temple complex and behold some of the finest examples of temple architecture in northern India and a reminder that all senses are the path to nirvana. Fly to Varanasi, a simplistic and charming city with a universal mystique. This evening visit the Ghats – the banks of the river – to witness the illuminated Ganga Aarti ceremony. Later, enjoy a lecture by a Hindu scholar who discusses the philosophy of Hinduism.
Day #14 Varanasi - An early morning boat ride on the holy River Ganges takes you past various Ghats where you’ll see people ritually cleansing themselves of their sins, hoping for salvation. A city tour includes Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva; Benaras Hindu University; and Bharat Mata Temple. Continue to Sarnath where Siddarth Gautama, later known as Buddha, gave his first sermon on a quiet grove in the 6th century BC. Join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner this evening.
Day #15 Varanasi - Delhi - Tour Ends - Enjoy a morning at leisure before flying back to Delhi. After dinner, depart for the airport for your flight home.