Duration: 9 days
Transportation: Airplane, auto, train
This tour starts with visits to the classic Mughal architecture monuments in Delhi. We then visit one of the holiest and densest cities in all of India, Varanasi, formerly known as Banaras, the ancient city of light and perhaps the oldest city in the world. This city is believed to be Lord Shiva’s earthly abode as well as the sacred city on the Ganges River to where faithful Hindus make their final pilgrimage (death and cremation in Varanasi bestows moksha, or liberation, upon the deceased). Next is Khajuraho, which was once the capital of the Jajhauti Kingdom and later the seat of the Chandela Dynasty. Today it is known as one of the most famous collections of Hindu temples in all of India, particularly noteworthy for its magnificent and erotic sculpture and complex architecture. Then on to Agra and the legendary Taj Mahal (also known as the ‘Resplendent, Immortal Teardrop on the Cheek of Time’), Shah Jahan’s monument and mausoleum of eternal love for his wife.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
DAY 1: ARRIVE DELHI
Upon independent arrival in New Delhi, travelers will be met by a Yama Adventures representative at the Indira Gandhi international airport, and transfered to the hotel.
DAY 2: NEW DELHI
After breakfast we will commence our exploration of the main cultural and historical sites of New and Old Delhi. This will include visits to historical monuments, and examples of classical Mughal architecture, such as Old Delhi's Red Fort and Jama Masjid (the largest mosque in all of India). We will also have a chance to explore the nearby Chandni Chowk bazaar, one of the most colorful open public markets in the city, as well as Raj Ghat, the memorial site and eternal flame for Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaralal Nehru, and Indira Gandhi. We will take lunch at one of the many traditional restaurants in Old Delhi. In the late afternoon, participants will have the option of resting back at the hotel, visiting some of New Delhi's capital district and museums, and/or shopping. We will have dinner together either at the hotel or at a nearby restaurant and retire early after this exciting first day in order to prepare for the upcoming day's activities.(B)
DAY 3: VARANASI
Following breakfast at the hotel, we will transfer to Delhi's domestic airport to fly by jet to Varanasi, the ancient City of Light and perhaps the oldest city in the world. Also one of the holiest and densest cities in all of India, Varanasi, formerly known as Banaras, is believed to be Lord Shiva's earthly abode as well as the sacred city on the Ganges River to where faithful Hindus make their final pilgrimage (death and cremation in Varanasi bestows moksha, or liberation, upon the deceased).
Upon arrival in Varanasi we will transfer to our heritage hotel, Palace on the Ganges, which is located only a few meters from the holy Ganges River at Assi Ghat. After lunch at a local restaurant we will explore some of the nearby attractions along the river banks and within the city itself. We will take dinner together at a nearby restaurant before retiring for the night to the sounds of bells and chants resounding from the many local temples. (B)
DAY 4: VARANASI - SARNATH
Today, following breakfast, we will step away from the Hindu traditions of Varanasi and instead explore the Buddhist heritage of the region, making a day trip to Sarnath, just over 30 minutes drive from Assi Ghat. This is where, in the Deer Park, the Buddha first gave teachings on the 'middle way path to nirvana,' a philosophy which soon came to be known as Buddhism. Sarnath is also where some of the greatest universities of Buddhist learning were established in the 1st millennium, and today there remain extensive ruins and archaeological monuments to this legacy. There are also dozens of monasteries and temples from Buddhist nations throughout the world, as well as an excellent museum to explore for the remainder of the day. We will return to Varanasi for dinner in the evening and again stay at the Palace on the Ganges. (B)
DAY 5: KHAJURAHO
This morning we will rise early, and following breakfast, make the 2 hour boat tour. After lunch back at the hotel, we catch the Kingfisher Airlines afternoon flight to Khajuraho (14:45-15:25). Upon arrival in Khajuraho we will transfer to the Hotel Chandela and have the late afternoon and evening free for rest and individual exploration of this small town. A World Heritage Site, Khajuraho was once the capital of the Jajhauti Kingdom, and later the seat of the Chandela Dynasty. Today it is known as one of the most famous collections of Hindu temples in all of India, particularly noteworthy for its magnificent and erotic sculpture and complex architecture. We will have dinner at our Chandela Hotel or in a local restaurant before retiring for the evening. (B)
DAY 6: KHAJURAHO
Following breakfast at our hotel, our second day in Khajuraho will be spent exploring the legendary architectural and sculpture complexes of the Khajuraho temples. This city of brilliant Hindu stonework was built primarily from 950-1050 CE by the Chandela Dynasty, but fell quickly to the Mughal onslaught from Central Asia at the turn of the second millennium. Today, the beautiful wonders which remain are matched by the question of why it was built in the first place. Whatever the answer, the remote location of the Khajuraho temples certainly benefited their preservation, and to this day the ancient exotica and erotica of the Hindu relief remains awe inspiring. We will return to the Hotel Chandela again this evening for dinner and rest. (B)
DAY 7: AGRA
After breakfast at our hotel we will have the morning available to further explore the Khajuraho complexes, take a leisurely stroll around the quaint local town, and/or rest poolside at the hotel. We will depart Khajuraho after lunch and drive 2-3 hours by private coach to the railroad junction at Jansi. From there we will board the Shatabdi Express Train 2001, departing at 17:56 and arriving in Agra at 20:10. Upon arrival in Agra we will transfer to the Mughal Sheraton, and retire for the night following dinner at the hotel. (B)
DAY 8: AGRA
This morning we will rise by 6 am in order to witness the spectacular sunrise at the legendary Taj Mahal (also known as the 'Resplendent, Immortal Teardrop on the Cheek of Time'), Shah Jahan's monument and mausoleum of eternal love for his wife.
Following a morning at the Taj Mahal and lunch out on the town, we will venture to the famous Agra Fort and/or the lost city of Fatehpur Sikri. That evening we will be able to rest back at the hotel and have time for limited shopping excursions, and, if possible, we might also be able to experience an evening viewing of the Taj Mahal. Following dinner at one of Agra's finer restaurants, we will return to the train station for the Shatabdi Express Train 2001 to Delhi, departing at 20:30 and arriving in Delhi at 21:30. Upon our arrival in the capital, we will return to the Intercontinental Hotel 'The Grand New Delhi' and retire for the night.
DAY 9: DELHI
Our last day in India will be generally open as a free day in Delhi, with ample time provided for sightseeing and shopping. There will be opportunity to visit various points of interest around town, such as museums and temples and/or traditional handicraft centers. Following an afternoon rest we will have a final dinner together at one of Delhi's favourite restaurants before most participants transfer to the airport for their night departure.
LAND COST: Available on request.
Included in Land Cost:
- Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
- Meals as noted in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
- All ground and internal air transportation
- Sightseeing as noted with experienced English-speaking local guides
- All entry fees at all temples and monuments
Not Included in Land Cost:
- Medical and evacuation insurance
- Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage loss insurance
- International airfare
- Miscellaneous expenses and tipping to the staff
- Visa fees, excess baggage fees
- Video, still camera, and movie camera fees
- Items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.
- Any extra charges incurred as a result of delays or natural calamities beyond Yama Adventures control
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