Essential India

Essential India

Day 1: Arrive Delhi. 
Our representative will meet you on arrival and transfer to hotel.


Day 2: Delhi

Full day tour of Old and New Delhi including the Jama Masjid Mosque, Red Fort, & a rickshaw ride through the market in Old Delhi and India Gate, Raj Ghat/Gandhi Memorial Museum, Lakshmi Narayan Temple (Birla Mandir)  and  Qutab Minar in New Delhi.

Start the tour with a visit to the great Jama Masjid- the principal mosque of Old Delhi. Built in the year 1656 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it is the largest & best known mosque in India. The courtyard of the mosque can hold up to twenty-five thousand worshippers. The mosque also houses several relics in a closet in the north gate, including an antique copy of the Qur’an written on deer skin. It lies at the origin of a very busy central street of Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk.


Next take an exciting rickshaw ride through Chandi Chowk, the old marketplace of Shah Jahanabad now a picturesque bazaar to reach Red Fort, built in the year 1648 by Shah Jehan.
The Red Fort, which protects the palace, is the largest surviving fort of Shah Jahanabad and is now called Old Delhi. The fortified outer wall, from which the modern name derives, was made of red standstone and many of the palace buildings within the wall are of white marble. The chief designer, Amad Lahwri, also designed the Taj Mahal building and garden. Shah Jahanabad can be viewed as a Paradise Garden converted into a city plan. It has a series of great courts with colonnades, arcades, gateways and numerous buildings. The pavilions for the emperor and the zanana are on terraces along a canal by the former river bank. Though connected by a canal the riverfront gardens had individual names: the Bagh-e Hayar Bakhsh, the Imtiyaz, the Bagh-e Angur and the Jahanara. The Bagh-e Hayar Bakhsh (Life Bestowing Garden) was the largest of these gardens and much of it survives. It had a waterfront terrace and a very large char bagh with water channels. The palace buildings had cypress-like columns and were themselves conceived as symbolic gardens with water channels and floral decoration. We will stop for lunch at a traditional Rajasthani restaurant. (pay direct)
We continue our tour, now driving to New Delhi. Raj Ghat, memorial to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. It is a simple black marble platform that marks the spot of his cremation on 31 January 1948. An eternal flame is lit.  Opposite Raj Ghat is the Ghandi Memorial Museum. Afterwards drive past India Gate, memorial built in the year 1931 to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died in the World War I & the Afghan Wars. President’s House built in the year 1931. Until 1950 it was known as Viceroy’s House & served as the residence of the Governor-General of British India.
The soaring spire of the Lakshmi Narayan Temple dominates the urbane skyline of Central Delhi. About 1.5 km west of Connaught Place, this garish, modern, Orissan styled temple was erected by industrialist B.D.Birla in 1938 and was inaugrated by Mahatma Gandhi on the condition that people of all castes especially untouchables would be allowed in. The temple enshrines almost all the deities of the Hindu Pantheon, the presiding deity being Narayan (Vishnu, the preserver in Hindu trinity) and his consort Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and good fortune. The revered shrine, nestling in the heart of the city, is as famous for its sanctity as for its architecture. Portraying an alluring blend of cream and red, the sacred shrine also affords a curious medley of Hindu mythology and ancient Indian architecture. The exterior is of white marble and red sandstone with tall curved towers. Visiting hours are from From 7 am to 12 noon and 2 to 9 pm. Visit Geeta Bhawan – Hall where paintings pepicting scenes from Indian mythology are displayed. Aartis (puja ceremony) are performed every evening. Other attractions are the gardens and fountains inside the premises. Friday is best day to visit this Temple; it is the special day of the Goddess Vaibhav Laxmi.
Culminate the day at Qutub Minar, built in the year 1206 by Qutub-ud-din Aibek. It is the tallest (72m) brick minaret in the world, an important example of Indo-Islamic Architecture.


Day 3: Delhi – Varanasi

Transfer to airport for flight 9W2423 dep. 1040 /arr. 1155 hrs to Varanasi. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel.  Some independent time to stroll the wonderously stimulating area in the Old City around the Ganges. Evening: board a country boat to witness aarti ceremony performed on the banks of River Ganges.


Day 4: Varanasi

Early morning today we leave for a boat ride on River Ganges. A boat ride along the Ghats gives you vantage views of this activity. The sunrise on the Ganges is a soul-lifting experience. We visit the Old city of Varanasi visiting, Bharat Mata Mandir, Durga Temple and drive pass Beneras Hindu University, regarded as the largest residential university in Asia before returning to the hotel for breakfast.


In the afternoon you will visit Sarnath (Friday Closed), where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon ‘Maha- Dharma-Chakra Pravartan’ (in Buddhist terminology, ‘turned the wheel of the law’) after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of the richest in Buddhist antiquities ranging in date from the times of Ashoka down to the 12th century A.D. Ashoka built here the Dharmarajika Stupa and erected a pillar surmounted by the magnificent capital of four adorsed Lions, which today forms the national emblem of India. Among other structures at Sarnath are the ruins of the brick temple; the Dhamekh Stupa, adorned with delicate floral carvings; the Chaukhandi Stupa and Mahabodhi Society’s Mulgandha Kuti Vihar Temple. We also visit the Archeological Museum, with an extremely rich collection of Buddhist sculptures comprising of numerous Buddha and Bodhisatva images.


Day 5: Fly Varanasi – Khajuraho

Transfer to airport for flight to Khajuraho . Transfer to hotel for check-in. Afterwards, visit the temples from the Chandella period, 9th- 11th century that are illustrated with remarkable sculptures of the classic erotic literature the Kama Sutra.


Day 6: Khajuraho – Orchha – Agra

Drive to Orchha (170km/ 105 miles) which was the capital of the kingdom of the Bundella Rajputs from 1531 to 1783. We visit Jahangir Mahal Palace, an Indo-Persian style palace of the Mughul period and the Ram Raja Temple, built in the 17th century.  Lunch (pay direct) at the Orchha Palace Hotel.

Drive onward to Jhansi (21 Km / 30 Mins) to connect Shatabdi Express to Agra 1810/2043.

Jahangir Mahal, Orchha

Day 7: Agra

At sunrise, we take our Tonga (Horse Carriage) to the visit the world famous Taj Mahal (Closed on Friday) built by Shah Jahan in 1630 for his queen Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains. This architectural marvel is a perfectly proportioned masterpiece fashioned from white marble that stands testimony to the sill of 20,000 craftsmen brought together from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and who took 17 year to complete this ‘Love Poem in Marble’. We return to our hotel for breakfast.  Rest of the morning is free for independent activities.

Afternoon we tour Agra Fort and Itmad–ud daulah. Agra fort, built by Emperor Akbar between 1565 & 1573, reveals the Mughal talent for combining defensive architecture with beauty and design. This fort palace was begun by Akbar as a purely defensive citadel and was subsequently completed by two successive generations that added the delicate mosaic and magnificent marble palaces. The fort is the history of Mughal life in Agra and offers a magical view of the Taj Mahal.

Itmad-ud daulah, one of the most beautiful of Mughal tombs, stands across the river Yamuna from the Taj Mahal, nearly one and a half kilometers up-stream. Belonging to the age of Jahangir, it contains cenotaphs of the parents of the powerful Mughal Empress Nurjahan, queen of Jahangir, an exceptional beauty and an astute administrator.


Evening at Mohabbat The Taj.
Show is ‘Mohabbat the Taj’ The Saga of Love, is based on story behind the making of Taj Mahal. The eternal love story of Emperor Shahjahan & his beloved wife Mumtaj Mahal who gave us first wonder in the world in the form of ‘Taj Mahal’.

The romantic tale from Indian history has been told in a dramatic manner through a live performance by over 80 professional artistes packed by latest light & sound technologies, the climax being the unexpected out of this world appearance of the most precious jewel the Taj Mahal on the stage.

“Mohabbat the Taj” is a live show performed by 70 professional artists from different parts of India. Major attraction of our show is 12’ Taj Replica (8250 Kg. in weight) which is made up of with the same material from which original Taj is made up off. Same inlay work same geometrical structure.

Venue of the show is Kalakriti Cultural and Convention Centre an indoor Air-conditioned Auditorium situated at Kalakriti Complex behind Hotel Trident, VIP Road to TAJ Mahal (Eastern Gate).

Duration of Show: 80 min. approx. Timings of Show: 06:30pm to 07:50pm.  Dinner at Hotel Restaurant


Day 8: Drive to Jaipur  via Fatehpur Sikri (145 km / 4hrs)

Sunrise visit to Taj Mahal (Friday closed).  Return to hotel for breakfast. Afterwards,  drive to Jaipur, enroute visit Fatephur Sikri, also called “the deserted city.”
Fatephur Sikri, built in 1571, one of the world’s most perfect ghost cities and a  marvel of design and construction.  It is a synthesis of the flourishing styles of the Persian courts and the prevailing Hindu-Islamic trends.  Fatehpur (town of victory) Sikri was built by Akbar, the third and greatest of the Great Moguls.  It is over 400 years old and today its pristine red sandstone buildings are as perfect as when they were first chiseled.

The town was erected after a holy man, Sheikh Salim Chisti, decreed the births of three sons to Akbar after all his children had died in infancy. There are three sections to the City:  The Royal Palace (notable for the Emperor’s throne), the outside of the Royal Palace and the Jami Masjid (the location of the Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, a masterpiece in brilliant white marble).  The centerpiece of this remarkable monument is the Jewel  House of the Diwan I Khas.  Architecturally extraordinary, the four doorways lead  into a single-story room where a huge central pillar supports a seat reached by mid-air walkways.

On arrival in Jaipur, check in to hotel.


Day 9: Jaipur

Morning excursion to Amber Fort. Amber is the name of the ancient kingdom of Jaipur as well as the name of its ancient capital, before it was shifted to Jaipur, situated 7 miles away.  Its history can be traced backed to the 12th century.  Amber Fort is superbly located, protected by the wild Arrival Hills on all sides. Originally built in the 11th century, it was expanded by Raja Mannish in the late 16th century. The rugged exterior belies a beautiful and delicate interior.


Afternoon, a city tour including the City Palace, Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) and the Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory. Browse the shops if you wish.


At the heart of Jaipur is its City Palace which houses an extensive collection of rare manuscripts, Mughal and Rajasthani miniatures, Mughal carpets, costumes and textiles, arms and weapons, royal buggies, chariots and palanquins and a remarkable carriage -the indiraviman – that was drawn by four elephants. At the center is Chandra Mahal, the seven-tiered moon palace where the present Maharaja still resides. The City Palace complex also contains the Govind Devji Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna.
Just outside the gateway of the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, the Yantralaya of Sawai Jai Singh II, the last great classical astronomer in India. The modernistic structures known as Yantras are the unique creations of this astronomer-king, designed by him and built by experts to observe the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars. This is the largest of five observatories founded by him in various parts of the country.

Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is Jaipur’s most-photographed building, a honeycomb palace with 953 latticed windows overlooking the bazaar and busy streets of Jaipur. Built in 1799 by the poet-king Pratap Singh, this extraordinary building was used by purdah-bound women to watch the grand processions that were a regular feature of the city.


Day 10: Jaipur-Jodhpur (310 km / 6hrs)

Morning drive to Jodhpur. Afternoon visit the 15th century Mehrangarh Fort, perched majestically on a high hill and dominating the skyline.  We enter through gates which bear the evocative handprints of the Sati queens, women of the royal harem who took their own lives when their men were defeated in battle.  The fort has a series of spectacular palaces, each decorated with exquisite engravings, lattice and mirror work.  Of particular note is the museum exhibit that showcases a magnificent collection of royal memorabilia; we will stop to admire the graceful cenotaph at Jaswant Thada


Day 11: Jodhpur – Udaipur (280 km)

Drive to Udaipur enroute visiting Ranakpur Jain Temples with 1444 pillars.  Surrounded by tangled forests with monkeys abounding in the  courtyard, Ranakpur is one of five important pilgrim centers for the Jain community.  Noted for its grandiose scale and elaborate ornamentation, of the three temples, the Adinatha is the most outstanding.  Built by Daranshah in 1439,  the temple is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara saint. The whole, including  the extraordinary array of 1444 sculptured pillars, each distinct in design, carved  ceilings, and arches decorated with friezes depicting scenes from the lives of  the Jain saints, Jain mythology and cosmology,  is fascinating.  Lunch at Maharani Bagh (Mango Orchard of the Maharaja of Jodhpur) near the temples.  After lunch continue to Udaipur.


Day 12: Udaipur

In the morning visit the City Palace, the largest Palace complex in the area, and the Museum of Rajasthan. The City Palace is a blend of stern Rajput military architecture on the outside and lavish Mughal-inspired decorative art on the inside. Set on a hill overlooking Lake Pichhola, it is quite large and made up of at least four separate inter-connecting palaces, built over a period of nearly 3 centuries. The palace museum contains a wonderful collection of old Rajput weaponry.

Later visit artists’ studios of the miniature paintings. Afterwards, some independent time to stroll the quaint city and take a walk through the colorful Bapu Bazaar. It is easy to walk about independently just outside the city palace gates for a real experience of the local culture beyond the tourist shops.

Sunset boat ride on Lake Pichola.

Lake Pichola

Day 13: Udaipur – Bombay.

Morning transfer to airport for flight to Bombay.

Today drive up Marine Drive to Malabar Hill visiting the 1904 Jain Temple dedicated to Adinath-the first Jain teacher, Hanging Gardens, Mahalakshmi Temple, Haji Ali’s Tomb, Dhobi Ghat and Prince of Wales Museum, the largest Fine Art Museum in India. Also visit Mani Bhavan (Gandhi Museum/House). Mani Bhavan was the residence of Ghandi between 1917 and 1934. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi started various struggle movements like Non-Cooperation, Satyagraha, Swadeshi, Khadi and Khilafat while residing here.

After noon, enjoy strolling around and shopping in Colaba on your own. We will have the bus pick you up at a designated place/time for return to hotel.


Day 14: Bombay

Morning guided heritage walking tour of Girgaon, an interesting part of Mumbai’s social fabric, part of the old urbanised Bombay.  Girgaon is divided into Wadis. These sub-divisional hamlets are signs of local urban Indian town planning.  Wadi’s, or hamlets are distinguished by low rise and high density housing with unique architectural and cultural nuances. Most wadis are organized on the basis of religion or caste. Bhangwadi, Popatwadi, Dabholkarwadi and Khotachiwadi are some of the wadis scattered over Mumbai. They still retain much of their traditional architecture that informs daily life patterns.  Visit Khotachiwadi–walk in the narrow lanes transporting you to another world from the clutter of multi-storied buildings and the distant shadows of skyscrapers, to a goan village, with the architecture and buildings to suit. Khotachiwadis organized along religion and caste with two communities dominating – the Pathare Prabhu and East Indian Christians.  Each has marked Khotachiwadi with their distinct architectural style, festivals, colours and dress.  The synthesis of their cultural and architectural traditions is evident in the corner temple, 19th century bungalows painted yellow and blue and in the curling staircases and sloping roofs with Mangalore tiles.


Late evening/night transfer to airport for flight to home.