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EAT-PRAY-LOVE

India… a country which will enchant you with her beauty and diversity, delight you with her colorful pageantry, enrich you with her culture, stun you with her modernity, embrace you with her warmth, and overwhelm you with her hospitality…a land where the ancient and the contemporary exist side by side, where thousands of brilliant images fill the soul with wonder and where quaint and startling contradictions juxtapose to lend an extraordinary vitality, texture and poetry to life.

India ~ the ancient land of mystery, palaces and kings, romance and intrigue, nobility and grandeur.
A land steeped in a tradition of services and privileges to royalty. A land which has the largest Tiger population in the world.

Imagine yourself transported back a couple of centuries. Imagine waking up to find yourself in a royal, canopied bed with the soft gauze of sunshine filtering in through exquisitely filigreed windows. Imagine padding across to the windows to find peacocks mincing across the lawns. Imagine being waited upon and served a banquet with fluid grace by an army of turbaned bearers. Imagine being a king for a day. Imagine living in a palace!

This is one fantasy that can be fulfilled.

Day 01

ARRIVE DELHI
Upon arrival in Delhi you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

A capital way to begin your discovery of India

"I asked my soul what is Delhi?

It replied, the world is the body; Delhi is its soul….. this is how a 19th century poet described this city that has ever been so many things to so many different people. To the weary travelers on the ancient silk route it was the first plain after having crossed the Himalayan Mountains with the promise of shelter, food and business opportunities. To the Afghan, Turk, Greek, Arab and Roman kings it was a vast and inexhaustible source of treasures of all kinds to the Chinese travelers it was the land of knowledge and wisdom. Its ageless face saw the advent of Islam. It saw empires being built and destroyed or even merely dismantled to make way for the new and Delhi lived on...

The British created their own Delhi with large well planned avenues and planted 10000 trees with a 112 kms of hedges that it would be green round the year abundant with flowers a botanical paradise. The seat of the British Empire Delhi of 1911 was planned to resemble 'an Englishman dressed for the climate'. Its planners and main architects decided that it would be neither Hindu, nor Muslim, nor Buddhist, nor English nor Roman but IMPERIAL a house for the Viceroy that resembled 'a giant Indian bungalow, embattled Rajput fortress and Mughal tomb with shades of Buckingham Palace with English country house comforts. Delhi is perhaps the only city in the world that fuses its past present and evokes its future without losing an iota of its identity. 1300 monuments speak of her antiquity of the ambitions of men who thought they could hold on to her but history proved otherwise. A popular superstition is that it is also known as the 'graveyard of dynasties' with every one of its cities built there heralding the death the dynasty that built it.

Thus, Delhi is a Melting Pot of cultures, politics and religions of India's colourful past in its monuments, its palaces, and in the faces of its people that they narrate the story of their glorious past.

Overnight: Hotel in Delhi

Eat, Pray, Love
Day 02

DELHI

Old Delhi – Happily Chaotic!
Begin the day with a traditional breakfast of puri, chole & aloo (traditional fried bread with beautifully spiced chick peas and potato curry). Wash it down with a glass of sweetened buttermilk or piping hot cardamom spiced tea

We proceed for our unique yet fascinating experience of Old Delhi. Visit the mighty Red Fort followed by “cycle rickshaws” through the lanes of “Chandni Chowk” or silver Street, experiencing the sights and sounds of this very busy Avenue heading west from the Fort. Chandni Chowk literally means “moonlit crossroads” and an area which best represents the “super-Oriental”- the glory and the guile; the grandeur and the grime, with its crowded bazaars, twisting lanes, maze of small streets strange aromas, the pungent odour of Oriental spices, the cries of shopkeepers, coolies and “rickshaw- walas” and the clatter and whirr of furious industry. The thrill of being driven through the narrow, winding lanes is a memorable experience. This is perhaps one of Delhi's most populated areas and the largest marketplace.

Visit the famous Rakab Ganj Gurudwara (sikh temple). The shrine is the scene of constant devotional music, whose ethereal tones are relayed throughout the entire complex. A Sikh temple without a Community Kitchen or “Langar” is inconceivable. Food is serviced in the kitchen of the Gurudwara 24 hours to all visitors without any distinction of caste, creed, color or religion. All people - high or low, rich or poor sit in the same queue. Approximately 40,000 visitors share meals everyday.
The Jama Masjid (Muslim house of worship) also located in this part of the city is the largest mosque in Asia, and demonstrates the importance of a mosque in the life of an ordinary Muslim.

Conclude the tour with Raj Ghat – Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi's memorial

Overnight: Hotel in Delhi

Eat, Pray, Love
Day 03

Delhi

New Delhi: Touch of Faith, Philosophy & British India

The discovery of New Delhi starts with a visit to Qutab Minar which is Delhi's Eiffel Tower, its Statue of Liberty and Nelson's Column. Visit the mosques, mausoleums and ruins of forts that lie around it.

A short stop at the Chattarpur Temple complex will introduce us to the pantheon of Hindu Gods and their various avatars, and the importance of religion in the life of an Indian

Later visit the Humayun's tomb - the magnificent structure in red sandstone and white marble – one of the finest examples of the garden tomb and a precursor to the Taj Mahal

Food from the different Indian states is as individualistic as the people, language, culture and dress of each of the areas, and the amazing thing of living in Delhi is the availability of all types of Indian cuisine right at our doorstep. At lunch, we enjoy a typical South Indian meal of idli, dosa, sambar, vada and various types of chutney. Gorge on the best of Tamilian cuisine right in the heart of the capital

We drive to one of the most colonial part of New Delhi called Raisina Hill. Drive past the Viceroy's House (now known as Rashtrapati Bhawan, present residence of the President of India) Lutyen's magnum opus; the India Gate, a war memorial arch.

Overnight: Hotel in Delhi

Day 04

Delhi
Early morning transfer to Delhi railway station to board the train to Agra, where you will be received and transferred to the hotel.

Agra – The city that created the most extravagant monument ever built for love.

Agra city is a virtual gateway to a world of discovery. It has witnessed the rise of the pomp and pageantry of three great Mughal monarchs - Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan, all of whom lavished on this fabled city, their love and riches to transform the land into one of the greatest centers of art, culture, learning and commerce. Much of the city's impressive past lives in evidence even today, in the haunting presence inside the monuments and in the majesty of the buildings.

The Great Red Fort of Agra!

Visit to the Agra Fort has been arranged. The Agra Fort's construction was started by Emperor Akbar in 1565 when he was just 23 years of age.

Within the fort are several fascinating buildings – the Pearl Mosque built of marble, the Hall of Public Audiences, the Hall of Private Audiences where the famous "peacock throne" was kept, the Octagonal Tower, the Jehangir Palace built by Akbar for his son Jehangir and the Khas Mahal, a beautiful white marble structure used as a private palace

Overnight: Hotel in Agra

Day 05

AGRA / FATEHPUR SIKRI / AGRA

Visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise (Closed on Friday)

It is said that the world is divided into two parts; those who have seen the Taj Mahal and those who have not.

A flawless architectural creation

For centuries, the Taj Mahal has inspired poets, painters and musicians to try and capture its elusive magic in word, colour and son. Since the 17th century, travellers have crossed continents to come & see this ultimate memorial to love, few have been unmoved by its incomparable beauty.

Taj Mahal stands in the city of Agra, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of the Yamuna river. It was built in the memory of the beautiful Arjumand Bano Begum, who won the heart of a Mughal prince. She was married at 21 to Emperor Jahangir's third son Prince Khurram and stayed loyally by his side through good times and bad: in the luxurious royal palaces of Agra as well as the transient tents of war camps.

A labour of love ~ Work on the mausoleum began in 1633 and 20,000 workers laboured for 17 years to build it. The most skilled architects, inlay craftsmen, calligraphers, stone-carvers and masons came from all across India and lands as distant as Persia and Turkey. The master mason was from Baghdad, an expert in building the double dome from Persia, and an inlay specialist from Delhi. Intricacy in design ~ what is most amazing about the Taj Mahal is the fine detailing.

The colored inlay is never allowed to overwhelm the design, as carvings done in relief sensitively balance it. The ornate pietra dura and relief carvings are of floral, calligraphic and geometric designs.

However, flowers remain the main decorative element as the tomb depicts a paradise garden. The skill of the inlay worker is so fine that it is impossible to find the joints, even when as many as 40 tiny pieces of semi-precious stones have been used in the petals of a single flower. Some of the best calligraphy of Koranic verses can be seen around the entrance arches and on the two headstones. The colors of the Taj ~ Taj Mahal changes its moods with the seasons and the different times of the day. At dawn, the marble has a delicate bloom in shell pink, by noon it glitters majestically white, turning to a soft pearly grey at dusk. Monsoon clouds give it a moody blue tint and it appears and disappears like a mirage in the drifting mists of winter. It can be solid and earthbound, fragile and ethereal, white, amber, grey and gold. The many faces of Taj Mahal display seductive power of architecture at its best.

Fatehpur Sikri - this exquisite city built by Akbar the Great in 1569, in red sandstone, with its forts, palaces and mosques was abandoned 14 years after its creation due to political reasons.

It is a visual experience of an ancient city abandoned by its ruler and yet well preserved to this day. One can visualize the splendor and glory of a bygone era. Fatehpur Sikri radiates a true sense of faith and belief in oneself and in God. Even today, people visit a shrine within the complex to pray for a better life.

Overnight: Hotel in Agra

Eat, Pray, Love
Day 06

AGRA-JHANSI (by Train)
JHANSI-KHAJURAHO (175 kms/3 ½ hrs)

Khajuraho or 'Khajur-vahika' (bearer of date palms),

Located in the provincial state of Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho is known the world over for its temples, architecture and sculpture. The constructions of these Temples are thousand-year old. Many of the 85 temples believed to have been built between the 9th and 12th centuries only 20 have survived, many in splendid condition, others having given way to the ravages of time and nature.
The most important aspect of the temples is the abundance of sculptures that decorate the facades and interiors of the shrines.

Overnight: Hotel in Khajurah

Eat, Pray, Love
Day 07

KHAJURAH

Western Group of temples
The Western Group of Temples, in the heart of the town are the most famous temples of Khajuraho, with the mithunas (couples), gandharvas, apsaras, vidyadaras and kinaras. The images of the apsaras are stunning, with their sensuous poses and liquid movements. There are the unforgettable images of a maiden adorning herself before a mirror, applying kohl on her eyes, plaiting her long hair, removing a thorn from her foot. The erotic images, almost acrobatic orgiastic scenes have been associated with Tantric rituals and practices. However, it/'s not so much the sexual aspect but the grace, energy and feeling that strikes one most about these images. The eyes, the face and the body are poetry of pure emotive movement.

Eastern Group of Temples
The Eastern temples are partly Jain and partly Hindu. The most striking is the Parsvanath Temple, with its exquisite sculptures depicting everyday activity. There is a bull-emblem of the first Tirthankara, Adinath. It is a fine instance of sensitive art without any sexual motifs.

Overnight: Hotel in Khajuraho

Eat, Pray, LoveEat, Pray, Love
Day 08

KHAJURAHO-VARANASI

Varanasi – The holy city

The north Indian city of Varanasi, or Benares, is regarded as holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Situated in the fertile Ganga valley and on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus, who come to bathe in the holy river. Known as the City of Temples and a beacon of culture, Varanasi has produced many renowned writers. It's also a center of silk weaving, so practice haggling at the chaotic bazaar for some beautiful souvenirs. Rickshaws are the best way to get about.

This evening, visit to the nearest temple with a specialist to learn about Hinduism as a way of life in this ancient city.

Overnight: Hotel in Varanasi

Eat, Pray, Love
Day 09

Varanasi
A short boat cruise is proposed to watch the early morning activities on the gahts. A cultural and people watching cruise, this experience will take you the legendary ghaats on the banks of the river Ganges. Accompanied by an expert you will see Hindus from all parts of India living their faith. You will observe bathing pilgrims, meditating sadhus (holy men), and priests conducting funeral rites. Appreciate the cultural significance of these scenes as they unfold in front of you.

Hinduism in Motion
The Varanasi experience spans the spectrum of human emotions from mauj masti or spirit of fun to mrityu, the joy of death. Your expert guide will highlight for you the many facets of Hindu religion and culture. Here you will uncover the significance of the rituals of life and death. You will meet swamis (spiritual leader) and visit an ashram (hermitage). The experience will end with a magical evening aarti organized for you away from the maddening crowd in an early 20th century haveli in one of the oldest parts of Varanasi.

Foods of Varanasi
Discover the finger licking delicacies that Varanasi is renowned for. After a early morning dip pilgrims congregate in the lanes of Varanasi to enjoy their favorite dishes. In this experience you will follow in the footsteps of these pilgrims. You will visit traditional food stalls that developed in the folds of the culture of Varanasi. At each stop you will unravel the history, traditions, and culture behind the "house specialties".

The experience will end with a hygienic home cooked meal made and served in the traditional style.

Overnight: Hotel in Varanasi

Eat, Pray, Love
Day 10

VARANAS

Sarnath Temple

Sarnath, about 10 km from the holy city of Varanasi, is the place where Gautam Buddha, founder of Buddhism chose to deliver his first sermon. The celebrated Mantra, 'Buddham Sharanam Gachhami', owes its origin to Sarnath. On the day before his death Buddha included Sarnath along with Lumbini, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar as the four places he thought to be sacred to his followers. It makes Sarnath one of the most venerated Buddhist places. Besides Buddhism, Sarnath is also connected with Jainism. Visiting Sarnath museum is also recommended.

Benaras Hindu Universit

Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya founded this centre of excellence just a few months before the Russian Revolution in 1917. The BHU has resisted the decay and violence that U. P. universities are renowned for. And 80 years on, it continues to be respected as a centre of education in Indian art, culture, music and Sanskrit.To the visitor, the interesting feature of this sprawling university is the Bharat Kala Mandir, which houses a fine collection of miniature sculptures and paintings

Overnight: Hotel in Varanas

Eat, Pray, LoveEat, Pray, Love
Day 11

VARANASI-DELHI (By Air)

Morning is free to explore the city on your own.
At midday transfer to the airport to board your flight to Delhi where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

In time transfer to the International Airport for your flight back home.