North India Special Includes Khajuraho Dance Festival
The Khajuraho Dance Festival – is being held every year from 20th – 26th February
The live performances include Odissi, Kathak, Manipuri, Mohiniattam and Bharatnatyam by famous Indian classical dancers.
Held every year, Khajuraho Dance Festival takes place at the open-air auditorium in front of the Chitragupta Temple dedicated to the Sun God and the Vishwanatha Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. They are situated in the Western Group of temples, which is the largest, well maintained and most easily accessible temple group of Khajuraho. Started regularly since 2002, this weeklong festival has already become legendary with its classical dance performances presented in a dreamlike setting of splendidly illuminated temples. Khajuraho temples has sculptures depicting the art of love, dance and music in stone. No other venue can be more befitting to hold the cultural festival highlighting the various classical dances of India!
Some of the best artists and performers that have marked themselves in their fields come from the various states of India to participate in the festival and the performances including some of the best known dance styles such as the intricate footwork of Kathak, highly stylized and sophisticated Bharathanatyam, soft lyrical temple dance of Odissi, the dance dramas of Kuchipudi, Manipuri, the dance of rare and ancient civilization and Kathakali stage fights with elaborate masks. Recently, modern Indian dances have also found their place in the Khajuraho Dance festival. Along with the dance performances one can also see a number of craftsmen trading off their indigenous arts and crafts to the visitors.
Day 1: Arrival in Delhi.
On arrival you are met and transferred to your Hotel The Lalit.
Day 2: Delhi (B,L,D)
Full day tour of Old and New Delhi including the Jama Masjid Mosque, a rickshaw ride through the market in Old Delhi and Raj Ghat/Gandhi Memorial Museum, India Gate, President House, 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 & drive past Red Fort and 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..
We will stop for lunch at Pindi – North Indian Restaurant.
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 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. Dinner at Chor Bizarre Restaurant.
Day 3: Fly Delhi – Varanasi / The Gateway Ganges (B,D)
Transfer to airport for flight 9W2423 depart 1025 /arrive 1150 to Varanasi . Upon arrival, transfer to hotel.
Afternoon visit to Sarnath (Friday Closed) where Buddha gave his first sermon in 500 BC. The very spot is marked by the Dhamekh Stupa. ruins of the small monastery where Buddha lived during his visits and walk the mthe excellent museum that houses sculptures from Located in the midst we continue to the fairly new Buddhist temple. of the he took while After archeological park, we will also editating. visit the path visiting the park, the life paintings of The Buddha. At approx 6pm, local of a Japanese artist and Buddhists the excavated trace The walls of the temples are decorated by the in important events chant the words to Buddha’s last sermon. Dinner at The Great Kabab Factory.
Day 4: Varanasi (B,D)
Early morning boat ride on the River Ganges to witness the religious ceremonies of Hindus. Afterwards, a walking tour of temples and ghats. Return to hotel for breakfast. Rest of the morning is independent to relax or wander around the old village independently. Car is available to take you into Old Varanasi.
Evening: board a country boat to witness aarti ceremony performed on the banks of River Ganges.
Dinner at The Great Kabab Factory.
Day 5: Fly Varanasi – Khajuraho / Hotel Radisson Khajuraho (B,D) Dance Festival
Transfer to airport for flight 9W 2423 dep. 1220 / arr. 1310 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. In the evening attend a classical dance performance at Khajuraho Dance Festival.
Day 6: Khajuraho – Tiger Safari + Dance Festival (B,D)
Morning you will take on your Jungle safari at Panna National Park and witness the stunning sunrise. It is one of the best Tiger reserves of India where you will get to see more than 200 species of wild animals and birds.
After getting the glimpses of royal Indian Tiger and exotic flora and fauna.
Return back to Khajuraho by first half of the day. You can take rest for sometime at your pre-booked hotel. In the afternoon, your guide will accompany again you to the Eastern and Western groups of temples protected by UNESCO. Also visit the old village of Khajuraho
In the evening attend a classical dance performance at Khajuraho Dance Festival.
Day 7: Khajuraho – Orchha – Gwalior / Usha Kiran Palace (B,L,D)
Morning visit the old village of Khajuraho and then 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 at the Amar Mahal Hotel in Orchha.
Afterwards, drive 2.5 hours to Gwailor and check into hotel. Enjoy some leisure time to relax and dinner at the hotel.
Hotel Usha Kiran Palace. Rich in history, this 120-year-old Usha Kiran Palace played host to the King of England and is now a heritage hotel. Set amidst 9 acres of beautifully landscaped lawns, this regal palace is outfitted with artistic stone carvings and delicate filigree work.
Day 8: Gwalior – Agra (2hrs) / The Gateway (B,D)
After check in visit Itmad-Ud-Daulah, the first white marble inlaid grave in pure Indo-Persian style, built between 1622 and 1628. Afterwards visit Agra Fort. Agra Fort, built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565. The red sandstone Agra Fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahan’s time. This massive Fort is 2.5 km long & is considered as predecessor of Delhi Red Fort.
In the late afternoon sunset visit to Taj Mahal (Friday Closed), a jewel of Muslim art and one of the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Dinner at Pinch of Spice Restaurant
Day 9: Drive Agra – Jaipur (260 km) / Samode Haveli (B)
Enroute visit Fatephur Sikri. Built in 1571, Fatehpur Sikri is 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. Evening: attend puja at Ganesh Temple.
Day 10: Jaipur (B,D)
This morning we enjoy a pleasant 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.
Return to the hotel and lunch on your own (pay direct).
This 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.
Dinner at Spice Court Restaurant.
Day 12: Jaipur-Jodhpur (310 km) / Ajit Bhawan Palace (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we drive to Jodhpur and enroute visit Pushkar, a unique gem in the grandeur of Rajasthan. Lord Brahma, in a search for his abode on earth, performed the supremely spiritual vedic yagna at Pushkar. It is thus the site of the only Brahma Temple in the world. It has been a city of pilgrimage for centuries. With over 500 temples and ghats, Pushkar radiates an ambience of peace and spirituality that casts a lure to visitors again and again. We stop for lunch at the Pushkar Resort, then continue our drive to Jodhpur.
Evening, browse the bazaars of the old city, for Jodhpur is well known for its glass bangles, puppets and other folk art. Ornate mirror-embedded and lacquer-finished glass bangles can be found here. The area around the bazaars is a wonderful example of 19th century town planning, blending Rajasthani concepts with more contemporary styles.
Dinner at Garden Restaurant. It is an open air restaurant where multi-cuisine and barbeque dinner is served in a lively ambiance. Enjoy your dinner under the clear sky with live dance and music performances.
Day 13: Jodhpur – Deogarh (170 km) / Deogarh Palace (B,D)
Morning city tour of Jodhpur including the 15th century Mehrangarh Fort, perched majestically on a high hill. The best way to trace the history of Jodhpur is to visit the fort, which dominates 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 that exhibits a magnificent collection of royal memorabilia. Also see the graceful cenotaph at Jaswant Thada.
Afterwards we drive 2 hrs to Deogarh, a medieval fortress town and the home of Rawat Nahar Singhji, a knowledgeable art connoisseur, and his wife, the Ranisahiba. Here you will stay in a classic Rajasthani castle – the Deogarh Mahal. Built in 1670 AD by Rawat Dwarka as a family residence, it is the hub of village activity and towers over the town below. Each of the restored rooms in this castle has been decorated in a unique traditional fashion and original frescoes from the Rajasthani School of miniature paintings adorn the walls. You can explore the town, visiting the market and the craftspeople. The surrounding lake area is a haven for migratory birds and you can take a boatride on Raghosagar Lake across from the palace to see the ruins of an old fort on the opposite side. In the evening you can watch the sunset from the magnificent terraces overlooking the countryside.
Day 14: Deogarh – Udaipur (135 km) / Fateh Prakash Palace (B,L)
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. Afterwards we drive to Udaipur.
Just before sunset board a boat for a cruise on Lake Pichola. We will disembark at Jagmandir Palace for dinner (the menu has a wide variety of options; pay direct).
Day 15: Udaipur (B,D)
We start the morning with a visit the City Palace, the largest Palace complex in the area and the Museum of Rajasthan as well as the Crystal Gallery located inside the palace.
Afterwards we take a walk through the colorful Bapu Bazaar and enjoy some independent strolling. The bazaar is an easy walk back to the hotel.
We suggest lunch at the excellent Fateh Prakash restaurant (pay direct), adjacent to the City Palace.
This afternoon enjoy a walking tour with our guide, of the cobbled, narrow quaint streets in the area outside the City Palace gates; we shall also visit miniature painting studios.
Evening depart to Bagor Ki Haveli, overlooking Pichola lake in the old part of the city. It is a gorgeous 18th century haveli that has been converted into a museum showcasing Mewar art and architecture.
First we’ll visit the art gallery, featuring fine examples of Mewar contemporary and folk art, and an eclectic selection of world-famous monuments lovingly carved out of polystyrene (closes at 5:30 pm). We’ll stay for dinner and the dance performance(starts at 7 pm but people begin to take seats by 6 pm).
The haveli puts on one of the best Rajasthani folk dance shows in Rajasthan – Dharohar Dance. For an hour, performers dance to Rajasthani folk music wearing bright coloured ethnic dresses. The dances are varied and demonstrate the tradition and culture of Rajasthani folklore.
We’ll dine tonight at The UPRE Restaurant with spectacular views of the City palace and Lake Pichola. The restaurant offers fine international cuisine as well as authentic flavors of Rajasthan.
Day 16: Udaipur – Delhi (B)
Morning independent. Afternoon transfer airport for flight 9W823 depart 1300 / arrive 1410 or 6E 747 depart 1410 / arrive 1520 to Delhi, transfer to hotel near airport for wash/change till 2100hrs, Later transfer to International airport for flight to home.