On this vacation, visit India and Nepal, two countries with a long history and a rich cultural heritage. But first, stop off in Dubai and spend time discovering its many souks (markets). Then, head to India and visit the Taj Mahal, built by Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife. Built from 1631-1648 AD, he employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen as well as a labor force of 20,000. You’ll get the chance to see this amazing structure plus Agra Fort, the 16th-century red sandstone fortress where Moghul rulers lived. The remarkable structures are just part of India’s appeal. You’ll also enjoy a rickshaw ride through a colorful local bazaar, a cooking demonstration of Indian food, and a home-hosted meal with an Indian noble family. If you’re interested in the different religions, you’ll get a chance to learn more. Visit Sarnath, the “Cradle of Buddhism,” where Buddha first spoke of his philosophy. In Varanasi, board a boat to watch the Hindu’s devotional bathing in the Ganges. Observe hundreds of pilgrims gathered at the river’s edge—some practicing yoga, others meditating, and others bathing fully clothed. You’ll also travel to Kathmandu, where you’ll visit Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in the world and a focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. From Kathmandu, travel to Royal Chitwan National Park. Keep your eyes out for the elusive tiger, leopards, and the endangered Great One-Horned Rhinoceros on your game viewing activities by elephant or jeep. With all this and more, it’s a vacation of a lifetime!
Day #1 Arrive in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Your hotel room is available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Day #2 Dubai. This morning, enjoy a city tour that begins with a stop at the JUMEIRAH MOSQUE, one of Dubai’s great landmarks, then a drive along Dubai Creek, the lifeline and pulse of the city. You will also have time to stroll through the narrow lanes of Bastakiah, the city’s old district, and through the souks (markets), including the SPICE SOUK with its aromas of exotic spices and the GOLD SOUK with its 220 glittering shop windows. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. (B)
Day #3 Dubai. A full day at your leisure. You may wish to take a full-day trip to Abu Dhabi, enjoy a dinner cruise on a traditional dhow, or simply explore the area on your own. Your local host will have recommendations. (B)
Day #4 Dubai-Dehli, India. Fly to Delhi, India’s capital city. Enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. (B)
Day #5 Delhi. The morning is at your leisure to rest before meeting your traveling companions and Tour Director for sightseeing in the afternoon. Your Local Guide will show you the sights of “Old Delhi.” Start with a visit to the JAMA MOSQUE followed by a [LF] RICKSHAW RIDE through Chandni Chowk, a colorful local bazaar. Tonight your Tour Director hosts a lavish welcome dinner, including a COOKING DEMONSTRATION followed by a talk on Indian cuisine. (B,D)
Day #6 Delhi. This morning’s sightseeing will focus on “New Delhi.” Visit the INDIRA GANDHI MEMORIAL MUSEUM and Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948. Then, visit HUMAYUN’S TOMB and Qutab Minar followed by the grand government buildings, the President’s House, and Parliament House. The afternoon is at leisure. Consider an optional visit to three famous temples for an introduction to India’s most popular religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Your Tour Director has suggestions for other activities. (B)
Day #7 Delhi-Varanasi. Fly to Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu pilgrim cities, which is situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Sightseeing today visits SARNATH, the “Cradle of Buddhism,” where Buddha first spoke of his philosophy. For a truly memorable experience, join tonight’s optional tour: a rickshaw ride through the bustling streets of this unique city followed by a sunset cruise on the Ganges. Here you will witness fascinating religious rituals being performed—a truly unique experience. (B)
Day #8 Varanasi-Khajuraho. Around dawn, board a [LF] BOAT to watch a striking religious ritual—the Hindus’ devotional bathing in the Ganges. You’ll observe hundreds of pilgrims gathered at the river’s edge, some practicing yoga, others meditating, and still others bathing fully clothed. A late-morning flight takes you to Khajuraho, where sightseeing focuses on the mysterious TEMPLES, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that have been isolated for centuries. Art historians have long puzzled over myths and legends in an attempt to understand the bizarre combination of prolific religious and erotic temples. (B,D)
Day #9 Khajuraho-Orchha-Jhansi-Agra. Today, enjoy the scenery as you pass through rural areas en route to Orchha. Upon arrival, visit the impressive MEDIEVAL PALACE COMPLEX, once the capital of a locally powerful Rajput kingdom. Later, arrive in Jhansi to board your train to Agra, where much of the city’s impressive past is still evident today in the majesty of her buildings. (B)
Day #10 Agra. Start your day with a sunrise visit to the incomparable TAJ MAHAL, an extravagant marble monument to love. The Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan built it as a memorial to his beloved wife, who died during childbirth. To add to this memorable experience, you’ll also travel by tongas (horse-drawn carriage) during your visit. Later, visit AGRA FORT, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by the Moghul Emperor Akbar, this impressive fortress of red sandstone conceals the imperial city of the Moghul rulers and its many palaces. (B,D)
Day #11 Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Jaipur. This morning, visit FATEHPUR SIKRI (City of Victory) en route to Jaipur. In 1876, the city was painted pink to welcome Prince Albert and Queen Elizabeth II and it has been known as the “Pink City” ever since. Tonight, enjoy a SARI- and TURBAN-TYING LESSON followed by a [LF] HOME-HOSTED DINNER with an Indian noble family. (B,D)
Day #12 Jaipur. Today, visit the amazing AMBER FORT, built entirely of white marble and red sandstone. Tour the interior with its intricate mosaics, carvings, paintings, and mirror works. Then, visit the CITY PALACE and the adjoining MUSEUM, which houses a collection of rare manuscripts. You will also stop at the famous HAWA MAHAL (Palace of the Winds). In the late afternoon, take a [LF] WALKING TOUR through a local market, known for its arts and crafts, including jewelry, enamel work, hand-painted fabrics, and stone sculptures. (B,D)
Day #13 Jaipur-Jodhpur. This morning, head west to Jodhpur. This afternoon, visit the massive MEHRANGARH FORT, which sits 393 feet above the surrounding plains. The view will reveal why Jodhpur is known as the “Blue City.” Next, visit JASWANT THADA, a stunning white marble cenotaph built to commemorate Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. (B,L)
Day #14 Jodhpur-Udaipur. Enjoy time at leisure this morning before flying to Udaipur, the “City of Lakes.” This evening, CRUISE on Lake Pichola (water levels permitting), with a short visit to the island palace of JAG MANDIR. (B,D)
Day #15 Udaipur. Your full-day sightseeing starts this morning with a visit to EKLINGJI TEMPLE, dedicated to Shiva, the guardian deity of Mewar, followed by the JAIN TEMPLES OF NAGDA that date back to the 11th century. This afternoon, discover the massive granite and marble CITY PALACE with its courtyards, pavilions, terraces, and narrow corridors. Then, visit the adjacent CRYSTAL GALLERY before wrapping up your sightseeing at SAHELION KI BARI. Tonight, your Tour Director will host a festive farewell dinner to celebrate an unforgettable journey through India. (B,D)
Day #16 Udaipur-Kathmandu, Nepal. Today, fly via Delhi to Kathmandu. Your sightseeing starts this afternoon with a visit to HANUMAN DHOKA, the historic seat of royalty. Then, visit the TEMPLE OF KUMARI, residence of the Living Goddess and said to be constructed from the wood of a single tree. (B)
Day #17 Kathmandu-Royal Chitwan National Park. Enjoy the morning at leisure in Kathmandu. Later, fly to Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal’s famous wildlife reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you will enjoy GAME VIEWING by elephant or jeep. (B,L,D)
Day #18 Royal Chitwan. This morning, EXPLORE THE PARK by elephant or jeep for your chance to see some of the native wildlife. Royal Chitwan protects over 347 square miles of forest, grasslands, and marshes, and is home to many animals, including the elusive tiger, leopards, and the endangered Great One-Horned Rhinoceros. The afternoon is at your leisure. (B,L,D)
Day #19 Royal Chitwan-Kathmandu. Excursion to Patan. Today, return to Kathmandu and stop at BOUDHANATH, one of the largest stupas in the world and a focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Then, continue to PATAN, formerly known as Lalitpur or “City of Beauty.” Here, stop in DURBAR SQUARE, the center of business in the city and home to several Buddhist and Hindu sites. (B)
Day #20 Kathmandu-Delhi. Today, fly back to Delhi for overnight stay. (B)
Day #21 Delhi. Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. (B)NOTE:Some flights depart Delhi very early in the morning. In these cases, breakfast is not included and you will have to depart for the airport late in the evening on Day 20 or just after midnight on Day 21.