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SPLENDORS OF NORTH INDIA

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 at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

As guests exit, they are accorded a traditional floral welcome and transferred from airport to 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... 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.

Old Delhi – Happily Chaotic!

13:00 hrs 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. Conclude the tour with Raj Ghat – Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial.

Overnight: The Imperial – Delhi
www.theimperialindia.com

North India
Day 02

DELHI
Breakfast at the hotel

New Delhi: Touch of Faith, Philosophy & British India

09:30 hrs 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.

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.

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.

We then drive past a Sikh place of worship called a Gurdwara or Temple. This 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.

Afternoon: At leisure

Overnight: The Imperial – Delhi
www.theimperialindia.com

North India
Day 03

DELHI / AGRA (APPROX. 205 Kms / 4-5 Hrs DRIVE)
Breakfast at the hotel

08:00 hrs: Proceed to Agra by surface

Arrive Agra & check into 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!

Afternoon: 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: The Oberoi Amarvilas
www.oberoihotels.com

North India
Day 04

AGRA / FATEHPUR SIKRI / JAIPUR

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 coloured 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 colours 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.

Return to hotel for breakfast

08:00 hrs Check-out and drive to Fatehpur sikri (40 Kms/01 Hour)

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 splendour 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.

10:00hrs After visit continue drive to Jaipur

7:00hrs Arrive Jaipur and check-into hotel.

Jaipur – The City of Royalty

Jaipur was one of the first examples in the world of city planning. The 250 year old city is a startling blend of forts and palaces, of teeming markets, shops and transport of every kind, from cars to camels!

Jaipur today, is the capital of Rajasthan with a population of over 1 ½ million people. Jaipur is called the "Pink City", for by law all the buildings in the old city must be painted a deep saffron-pink.

It is especially known for its arts and crafts: jewellery, enamel work, hand-painted fabrics and stone sculptures. Above everything, Jaipur is an extraordinary colourful place. On its streets you see women in their brilliant read and orange head coverings and sweeping skirts, and men in their equally vivid turbans and upturned moustaches. Jaipur is also a city of polo which is played on horseback, elephants and at times on bicycles!

Overnight: The Oberoi Rajvilas
www.oberoihotels.com

North IndiaNorth India
Day 05

JAIPUR
Breakfast at the hotel

Amber – The Medieval Rajput Citadel

"I have seen many royal palaces, but for varied and picturesque effect, for the richness of carving, for wild beauty of situation and the strangeness of finding such a building in such a place and country, I am able to compare nothing with Amber." Bishop Heber, 1824.

Morning: Amber, the former capital of Jaipur state stunningly situated on a hillside and overlooking a lake which reflects its terraces and ramparts. To add the sprit of adventure and royalty, we ascend the hill on elephant back (subject to availability). Amber is a fortified complex of many splendid palaces evolved over a period of six centuries.

953 little windows and balconies

Afternoon: We proceed to visit the highly ornamented Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds built in 1799 which has no less than 953 little windows and balconies.

It is a stunning example of Rajput artistry and was originally built to enable ladies of the royal household to watch the everyday life in the streets below through delicately honeycombed sandstone windows.

Later visit the imposing City Palace now a museum this was the former royal residence built in a blend of the Rajasthani and Mughal styles which now houses a museum with a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes and armoury of the Mughals & Rajputs. Also visit the ancient Observatory – Jantar Mantar & picturesque bazaars of the walled city.

Overnight: The Oberoi Rajvilas

Day 06

JAIPUR/JODHPUR (APPROX. 320 KMS, 06 HRS DRIVE)
Breakfast at the hotel

Check-out and transfer by surface to Jodhpur

Jodhpur – the imperial city echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert. The lifestyle in Jodhpur is unusually fascinating with people wearing lovely multi hued costumes, artistically designed. Shopping in Jodhpur bazaar is a heady experience with a colourful display of the rich collection of exquisite handicrafts, the tie-and-die fabric, embroidered jutis or slippers in suede, camel skin and an extensive range of useful and decorative items.

Arrive and check-in to hotel Taj Hari Mahal

Rest of the afternoon at leisure

Overnight: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace
www.tajhotels.com

Day 07

JODHPUR – THE BLUE CITY
Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: City tour of Jodhpur - the largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur, Jodhpur stands at the edge of the Thar Desert. It was founded by Rao Jodha Chief of the Rajput clan known as Rathores and the Rathore kingdom was once known as Marwar the Land of Death.

The tour includes Meherangarh Fort the majestic fort one of the most impressive & formidable in the whole of fort studded Rajasthan, Jaswant Thada the Royal Cenotaphs.

Afternoon: An exciting jeep safari to the famous Black Buck Sanctuary to spot antelope, blue bull, quantities of peacocks, deer and black buck. Continue the safari through the various tribal villages of the "Bishnois" who are well known lovers of nature & staunch environmentalists.

Rest of the afternoon at leisure

Overnight: Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace
www.tajhotels.com

North India
Day 08

ARRIVE JAISALMER
Jaisalmer-The Golden City
This captivating city is popularly known as the Golden City because of the honey colour imparted to its stone ramparts by the rays of the setting sun.

One of the main attractions is the imposing 12th century Jaisalmer Fort. The beautiful havelis are another interesting aspect of the desert city. The best way to explore the vast desert landscape and sand dunes is on camel back

Overnight: Taj Gateway Rawal Kot
www.tajhotels.com

North India
Day 09

JAISALMER
Breakfast at hotel.

0900 hrs: Spend today morning visiting interesting parts of this Golden City.

Jaisalmer Fort
Jaisalmer fort is the second oldest in Rajasthan after Chittor and commands the desert-scape from its 250 feet high perch on the hill. Three strong walls protect the citadel.

The fort has five palaces called Sarvottam Vilas, Akhai Vilas, Gaj Mahal, Rang Mahal and Moti Mahal-all interconnected behind the seven-storied façade. Small stairs take you from one court to another with superb jali screens shading interiors from the fierce heat and desert wind.

Havelis of Jaisalmer
It is at an unhurried pace that the havelis (houses of rich merchants) should be seen and admired. These havelis are the pride of Jaisalmer architecture, a part of the national heritage. Salem Singh haveli, at the eastern end of the city, is an Arabian Nights structure, which, like a wild flower, blossoms at the top.

Overnight: Taj Gateway Rawal Kot

North India
Day 10

JAISALMER / RANAKPUR / UDAIPUR
Breakfast at the hotel

09:00hrs: Check-out and transfer by surface to Ranakpur (160 Kms)

RANAKPUR these magnificent 15th century Jain temples are situated in a deep secluded valley of the Aravalli Hills. Though over 500 years old, the temples here are superbly preserved in a near-perfect condition. In the centre is the main “Chaumukha temple” dedicated to Adinath. The most distinctive features are the 29 halls supported by 1444 pillars, of which no two are exactly alike. Every conceivable surface is carved and every corner and angle is engraved with Jain images.

13:00hrs: Recommend lunch at Fateh Bagh Resort, Ranakpur

14:00hrs: Continue drive to Udaipur (100 Kms)

16:00hrs: Arrive and check-in at hotel

Rest of the afternoon at leisure

Overnight: The Oberoi Udaivilas
www.oberoihotels.com

North India
Day 11

UDAIPUR
Breakfast at the hotel

09:30hrs Sightseeing of Udaipur City

City Palace - overlooking the lake Pichola is the City Palace, a marvel of marble and granite. The largest palace in Rajasthan, its exquisite worksmanship makes it a must on every visitor's itinerary. The three mahals - Baari, Dilkush and Moti, the Suraj Gokhada of the Sun Balcony, the Mor Chowk known for its beautiful peacock Mosaics ; the shrine of Dhuni Mata and the Museum of Rana Pratap are the highlights of this complex.

Evening: Enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Pichola at sunset visiting the Jagmandir Island - in the middle of the romantic Lake Pichola. It commands a magnificent view of the City Palace, Lake Palace and Sajjangarh Fort, on its own island, and it is where Prince Khurram was given refuge in the 17th century.

Overnight: The Oberoi Udaivilas
www.oberoihotels.com

Day 12

UDAIPUR / DELHI
Early breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Check-out and transfer to Udaipur airport. Depart by flight to Delhi

END OF TOUR