DAY 1: Delhi
Today we begin our tour in India’s capital city, Delhi. Start the afternoon by exploring the tomb of the 2nd Mughal king Humayun. Completed in 1572 this is one of the many buildings that inspired the Taj Mahal. The main tomb building is made from red sandstone with a white marble dome. The tomb complex also contains Persian style gardens that had never been seen before in India. Next stroll through the gardens surrounding India gate, the memorial for soldiers from the British Indian Army who died between 1914 and 1921 in the Afghan war and the First World War. Over 13 thousand soldiers names are inscribed into the stone of the gate making this a very moving place despite the busy location. Finish the day by seeing some of the government buildings including the Indian presidents house.
DAY 2: Jaipur
Today we drive to the pink city of Jaipur. The city was first established in 1727 and was India’s first planned city. In the evening we visit the Birla Temple built by the well known Birla family to worship Lord Vishnu and his wife Goddess Lakshmi. The temple is built purely from white marble and contains an array of delicate carvings. This is an oasis of calm in a busy city.
DAY 3: Jaipur
Today we have a full days sightseeing in Jaipur. First we enter into the old city and head to see the spectacular “Hawa Mahal” or wind palace with its many intricately designed windows,this is a major landmark of Jaipur. From here we take a short walk to Jantr Mantr, one of the best observatories in India containing a collection of instruments made from marble and brass. Next we visit the city palace museum which is still the residence of the current maharajah and royal family of Jaipur. The museum houses a wide selection of artefacts and uniforms allowing an insight into life long ago. The palace is also home to the beautiful mosaic peacock gate in the entertainment hall. We finish off the day by driving to the Amer fort just outside Jaipur. The fort was built in the 16th century from red sandstone and marble. Situated on the top of a hill the fort commands stunning views of the surrounding countryside and also over the lake below.
DAY 4: Agra
Today we drive to the city of Agra situated on the banks of the holy Yamuna river. On the way we stop at Fatehpur Sikri to see the grand mosque and tallest gateway (buland darwaza) which is 55 metres high. The mosque was completed in the late 16th century and was designed to hold 10 thousand worshippers. Agra is famous all over the world for being home to many historic sights most notably the majestic Taj Mahal. In the evening we go to see a theatre show which tells the epic love story that led to the creation of the Taj Mahal.
DAY 5: Agra
Early morning visit to the magnificent Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was built by the emperor Shah Jahan in the late 17th century in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The building is made from white marble inlaid with precious and semi precious stones. In the afternoon we visit Agra fort, another stunning example of Mughal architecture, built by emperor Akbar in 1565.
DAY 6: Orchha
Today we take the morning train to Orchha an ancient city founded in 1501 by Rudra Pratap Singh who became the first king of Orchha. Today the city has a small population but a wealth of stunning architectural sights. We visit the palace and some of the many temples and marvel at the Mughal era architecture as we are transported back in time.
DAY 7: Khajuraho
Today we drive to Khajuraho a collection of ancient temples from the Chandella dynasty (AD 900 – 1130) which today is a UNESCO world heritage site. Temple building was a tradition of Chandella rulers and the ornate temples were designed to bring spiritual peace through eroticism. This afternoon we visit some of the temples where we can see erotic carvings depicting scenes from the Kama sutra.
DAY 8: Varanasi
Today we take a short flight to Varanasi the spiritual capital of India and one of the oldest living cities in the world. Spend the day exploring this lively city with its many shops and stalls selling religious items and offerings for the temples. The rest of the day is free to explore this enchanting city.
DAY 9: Varanasi
Sunrise boat trip on the Ganges to see the many ghats and pilgrims bathing in the holy water. This is a fascinating time of day to visit the ghats as the whole world begins to come to life with bathers, chai sellers, people selling breakfast snacks and holy men advising pilgrims on prayers. In the afternoon we visit Sarnath the place where lord Buddha gave his first sermon. Here we also visit the museum which contains interesting artefacts and carvings from the Buddhist and Hindu religions. In the evening we go to see the religious ceremony that takes place on the banks of the river Ganges every day.
DAY 10: Delhi
Today we take a short flight and return to Delhi. In the afternoon we visit the Jama mosque built by emperor Shah Jahan and completed in 1656. This is the best known mosque in India and was built to hold 25 thousand worshippers in its courtyard. After we go to Raj Ghat the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi father of the nation. The gardens here contain a black marble platform which marks the spot where Gandhi was cremated and there is an eternal flame kept alight at one end. Later we spend some time in the old city of Delhi and explore the many narrow winding streets there.
Tonight we will have a final group dinner to mark the end of the trip.