India: Experience India’s Taj Mahal and Bengal Tigers
Our Itineraries are provided as a preview of what to expect on our tours. Please, note, that itineraries are subject to change.
Welcome to India! After clearing customs, immigration formalities, and baggage collection, you will meet our representative who will transfer to your hotel. Delhi stands as the capital of Modern India. Here you can see the mingling of the Old and New India, the ancient and the modern. Delhi is made up of seven ancient cities, spanning the period from the 11th to 20th centuries. Delhi has seen the rise and fall of many emperors, which has left behind a plethora of monuments that commemorate the grandeur and glory of bygone ages. Very few cities in the world can express such a profusion of architectural styles.
After a short briefing, head out on a tour of Old Delhi, the capital of Mughal dynasty between the 16th and 19th centuries. Visit Jama Masjid - the largest mosque in India built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. From here, board the cycle rickshaws for a tour of Chandni Chowk, known as The Moonlit Square of India. As you drive through the narrow lanes, witness the architectural marvels, the multicolored facades, beautifully decorated shops, ethnically dressed men and women and get bombarded by the cries of hawkers and fragrances emanating from the potpourri of eateries that line these historical alleys. During the British regime, the street underwent major changes and since then, this area has witnessed some of the most important events in Indian history. Today, these splendid ruins and tales of valor are a testimony of the evolution of the times. Chandni Chowk truly reflects the national unity, secularism, and diversity of India. Next drive through New Delhi, passing by Presidential Palace- the one-time imperial residence of the British viceroys; the India Gate - a memorial raised in honor of the Indian soldiers martyred during the Afghan war, Parliament House and other government buildings built in the first quarter of the 20th century by two famous English architects, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Edwin Lutyens. It was during this time period that the capital of the British Empire was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. The tour to Imperial Delhi will include a visit to the Qutub Minar, the tallest stone tower as well as one of the finest Islamic structures raised in India. Then visit Humayun’s tomb, built by the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun, it is an outstanding monument in the Indo-Persian style, a precursor of the Taj Mahal. Welcome dinner will be at a local restaurant.
Following breakfast, head to Jaipur, arriving in the early afternoon. Upon arrival, check-in for your stay. Jaipur - also known as the ‘Pink City’, for the abundance of pink plastered stone used to build its massive forts, magnificent palaces, and exquisite temples. The city built in 1727 A.D by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II followed a grid system, which made it the only planned city of its time. A young Bengali architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya designed the city in accordance with Shilp Shastra - an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. There is far more to the city than just its famous monuments and to get a complete experience of Jaipur, uncover the mysteries of the bazaars and visit silversmiths, turban sellers and traditional markets. The afternoon is at leisure for you to explore on your own or simply relax. In the evening, depart for Dera Amer to take part in a private elephant safari through the somnolent countryside. Dera Amber is located in the foothills of the Aravali Range and surrounded by the wilderness of a reserved forest. While on the safari, watch a gorgeous sunset and hear evening songs of the birds, making this an absolutely magical experience. Your elephant sojourn concludes at the camp of Dera Amer, situated in the middle of the forest, where you enjoy a dinner.
After breakfast, visit the sprawling Amer Fort. Jaipur’s Maharaja Man Singh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started constructing Amer Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amer was the seat of power. The Fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Once you are on top, stroll through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Many of the rooms have delightful wall paintings, with precious stones and mirrors inlaid in the walls. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) where a single lamplight is reflected in the many mirrors, lighting up the room. Enjoy jeep ride ascending the fort with lovely views of the topography and monuments around along the way. Next, explore the colorful local market. Walk through the old city of Jaipur past the Palace of Winds and market stalls before heading back to the hotel. On the way, observe local artisans in their workshops; jewelers and silversmiths, gold and silver foil makers. Please be aware that these are very old marketplaces in Jaipur used almost entirely by local people, hence you should be prepared for the hustle and bustle in the streets.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. The rest of the morning is at your leisure. In the afternoon, explore the city of Jaipur. Start with a visit to the Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh ll in the 18th century. The Maharajah, a scientist as well as an astronomer, had the principles of Euclid translated into Sanskrit. One of the most remarkable sites in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar has fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses and tracking stars and planets. Just next to the observatory is the City Palace. Built within the fortified area of the original city, it has one of the finest monumental entrances in India. The Palace is now principally a museum housing a collection of great treasures, including miniature paintings, carpets, royal garments and other interesting objects from Jaipur's intriguing past. The former royal family retains a part of the palace for their personal use. Towards the evening, visit a Hindu temple to attend the Puja (Prayer) ceremony. Puja is the act of showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. An essential part of puja for the devotee is making a spiritual connection with the divine. Most often that contact is facilitated through an object: an element of nature, a sculpture, a vessel, a painting, or a print. Later, visit a local Rajput family in their home for a home-hosted meal. After a short introduction, you will get into an informal chat talking on diverse topics on Rajputana ranging from Cuisine, History, Craft, and Culture of this city. This will be an excellent opportunity for you to get an in-depth knowledge of a particular culture. The discussions will be followed by a home cooked meal accompanied by the family.
In the morning, head to Ranthambore, reaching by early afternoon. On arrival, check-in for your stay. The Ranthambore National Park was once the hunting ground of Maharaja of Jaipur. In 1955, it was declared a game sanctuary; in 1980, it became a national park. But with the commissioning of Project Tiger in 1972, it was included in the project. With the addition of neighboring Keladevi and Mansingh sanctuaries, the total area of the national park stands at 1,334 sq. km. Ranthambhore Park is famous for tigers and due to conservation efforts; the tiger population has stabilized if not increased here. The tigers can be spotted quite often even during the day, at their normal pursuits-- hunting and taking care of their young ones. Ranthambhore is one of the best places to see these majestic predators. Ranthambore is also a heritage site because of the picturesque ruins that dot the wildlife park. There are lake palaces, 'chhatris', old fortifications and a majestic 1,000-year-old fort, overlooking the park. The lovely Jogi Mahal is located at the foot of the fort and gives a magnificent view of the Padam Tlao, painted white with water lilies. In the afternoon, there will be more chances for a game drive.
Enjoy a game drive in the park. Ranthambore is considered by many to be one of India’s most beautiful national parks. Encircled by a series of high escarpments, the forests, lakes, and dry scrub that make up the park are dotted with old forts and temples, creating a wonderful atmosphere for both bird and mammal viewing amongst a landscape oozing with ancient Rajput history and Rajasthani culture. After driving around the park for a few hours, you will return to the resort for a late breakfast. In the afternoon, visit the Ranthambore School of Art which recruits students from neighboring villages and trains them to be self-sufficient artists. Next, visit Dastkar Ranthambore Project, founded in 1981 when six women united to protect traditional artisans in contemporary India.
In the early morning, you will take a train to Bharatpur. Indian Railways is one of the largest train networks in the world and is the quickest way to travel a certain route. This short train journey will offer the opportunity to see the early morning life around the countryside. Upon arrival in Bharatpur, continue to Agra and en route visit Fatehpur Sikri (37 Kms southwest of Agra) - the deserted red sandstone city that was built by Emperor Akbar as his capital. Ponder the mysterious desertion of this capital city that was dramatically abandoned a few years after it was built. It was a veritable fairytale city and its 'ruins' are still in a pristine condition. After the visit, continue to Agra. On arrival, check-in for your stay. Agra in terms of ambiance is still associated with its Mughal period. The Mughals besides being great rulers were also great builders and they preserved their best architectural wonders for Agra & its neighborhood. It has many wonderful monuments and the Taj Mahal, the greatest of them all, is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture at its best also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the late afternoon, enjoy Hi Tea with a local family and later proceed for Kachpura Heritage Walk. A narrow bridle path through agriculture fields near Mehtab Bagh takes you into the ancient village of Kachpura and Humayun’s Mosque. The walk ends in Mehtab Bagh from where you will have the opportunity to watch the Taj Mahal during sunset from across the river.
Visit Taj Mahal (closed on Friday). It is fitting to see this extraordinary monument by the first light of day as its exemplary beauty is awe-inspiring and will create an unforgettable memory. Said to be one of the most elegant and harmonious buildings in the world, Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in 1630 AD to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal manifests the wealth and luxury of Mughal art as seen in architecture and garden design, painting, and calligraphy. The 144-foot double dome of the Taj is capped with a finial and the four minarets each 131 ft high and crowned by an open octagonal pavilion highlight the perfect symmetry of the tomb. Return to the hotel for breakfast. After check out of the hotel, you will visit Agra Fort, a high red stone monument overlooking the Taj Mahal. It is one of the finest and best kept Mughal Fort in India. Many Mughals emperors lived and governed the country from here. At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. The fort was also the site of a battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857. In the afternoon, you will head to Delhi for your departing flight home.
• Arrival and departure departures
• Meet and greet upon arrival
• 2 nights in Delhi at The Suryaa or similar
• 1 night in Agra at Radisson Blu Agra Taj East Gate or similar
• 2 nights in Ranthambore at Ranthambore Regency or similar
• 3 nights in Jaipur at Hilton Jaipur Hotel or similar
• 17 meals: 8 breakfast, 4 lunches, and 5 dinners
• Rickshaw ride in Delhi
• Bazaar walk in Jaipur
• Elephant safari in Jaipur
• 2 Game drives in Ranthambore by open canter on shared basis
• Hi tea with a local family in Agra
• Tonga Ride in Agra
• Inter-city overland transportation in very comfortable, an air-conditioned motor coach with microphone equipment.
• One train journey in air-conditioned chair car class from Ranthambore to Bharatpur
• All sightseeing and visits to places of interest in and sites as given in the itinerary conducted by well qualified English speaking national tour guide.
• All entrance fees to sites and monuments as per the itinerary for one visit
• Packaged drinking water in the coach throughout
• All taxes, tolls, parking fees and service tax
• Visa fees for India
• Accommodation in Delhi on the last visit
• All personal expenses such as gratuities, meals, medical expenses, laundry, drinks, telephone and fax services, video or camera fee at the monuments and all other services not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
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