The Journey of a Lifetime
~ Everytime ~
Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and Varanasi
28 February to 16 March, 2019
India’s recorded history goes back to 4,000 years, with remarkable examples of civilization well ahead of other countries. Throughout this period, reverence was shown to the many Gods her people worshipped, and the land was dominated by independent kingdoms. Reverence to the Gods led to gold and jewels and the finest of architecture bestowed onto them, and the independent kingdoms accumulated wealth not seen elsewhere. Thus she was a prime target for marauders, attracted by her wealth and attributes of her civilization. Forts for defense and palaces for residence were de-rigor for the independent kingdoms, and though many have not survived the ravages of time, those that have, were either too beautiful not to have been maintained or too well built and withstood the elements. Thus, there are some exquisite examples of architecture that we will not only see, but also live in – most perhaps only 200 to 400 years old, though some forts going back to at least 1,000 years.
We will also visit Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, and one of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi.
We will see the finest examples of India’s temples and forts, religions, jewelry and wealth - all that has made India famous.
This tour will be led by Adrianna Castelazo. Adrianna loves India and starting in the mid 1990s, has been all over the country more than 40 times. Deepak Singh will accompany her.
28: Depart Mexico
We welcome you
in the capital city of India, for a journey across the fascinating
history-markers of medieval north India. Wars were fought and rulers
changed in Delhi but ordinary lives were lived in relative continuity.
Glimpses of these can be seen even today as the character of the
city underwent massive changes in the last decades. In the land
to have been seven capital cities, signs of the old are continuously
jostling with the new, presenting an ever-fascinating panorama.
We welcome you to its chaos and stability, into its steadfastness
and its impatience and into a delightful rainbow of amalgamation,
producing a world completely its own. We will meet you as you exit
customs and immigration at Delhi airport and transfer you to your
2: Delhi - Udaipur
Udaipur is a centre of historic arts and crafts of Mewar, like the Mewar School of Miniature Painting. There is the modern face of Udaipur that one can look at if interested, but given the other sights from a glorious past, modernity is no real distraction. Udaipur will hold you in its thrall no matter who you are or where you come from. During your tour you will visit the City Palace built in 1725, a majestic architectural marvel towering over the lake on a hill surrounded by crenellated walls, it is a conglomeration of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens. The main entrance is through the triple arched gate, the "Tripolia" with eight marble porticos. The Maharanas were weighed under the gate in gold, the equivalent amount of which was distributed among the populace. There after visit Shri Jagmandir Temple - built by Maharana Jagat Singh I in 1651 the temple enshrines a black stone image of Lard Vishnu. There is a brass image of Garuda the Lord bird carrier. The exterior and the plinth are covered with base relief of alligators; elephants, horsemen and celestial musicians rise in tiers. Chanting, bells and music can be heard throughout the day. It is the largest and most splendid temple of Udaipur.
Ranakpur is famous for its Jain temples built in the 15th century are situated in the lovely Aravali valley. The town is named after Rana Khumba the legendary warrior king of Udaipur. Its surroundings are peaceful and picturesque. The temple has a grand structure and beautiful sculptures. There are 1444 pillars in the main temple and no two of them are similar. Thereafter commence drive to Jodhpur.
Visit Mehrangarh Fort - Situated at an altitude of about 125 meters, the Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur is spread over an area of 5 sq km in the heart of the city of Jodhpur. Besides being a landmark in Jodhpur, Mehrangarh Fort is a must visit for all the tourists. The fort has seven gates of which the noted ones are the Jayapol, built by Maharaja Man Singh in 1806; Fatehpol or the Victory Gate built by Maharaja Ajit Singh; and the Lohapol or the Iron Gate. Jaswant Thada - is a white marble memorial built in memory of Maharaja Jaswant II in 1899 A story goes that Maharaja Jaswant succumbed to injuries in this place while fighting the Mughal king Jahangir. This place is a must visit in Jodhpur. Umaid Bhawan - Made of marble and pink sandstone, the construction of the Umaid Bhawan of Jodhpur started in 1929 and it took 16 years to complete it. It is believed that the palace was constructed to give employment to the famine-struck population of Jodhpur. This majestic building is presently the residence of the former rulers with a part of it running as hotel and remaining part as a museum. In time transfer to Jodhpur railway station to board train for Jaipur departing 1630, arriving 2115.
Compare the city of Old Delhi with the city of Jaipur, a city unique amongst its medieval contemporaries. The streets, palaces, temples, residences, shopping place are all in accordance to the ancient Hindu rules of Vastu Shastra. The pink wash was added in 1853 in honour of the visit of Prince Albert. Perched atop the hill looking down majestically is the Amber fort. We ride up into the palace astride elephants just like the Maharajas of yore. The plain and time worn exteriors belie the exquisite detail with which the interiors were crafted with a gentle breeze which cools the interiors. In the famed Sheesh Mahal look up and be prepared to feel a surge of color as the optical effect makes you a part of this royal past. In the city, drive past Hawa Mahal, where again notice the jails. The Maharaja's City Palace, much of which has been converted into a museum covers almost one-seventh area of the city in a fortified unit. Here the Armoury Museum housing an impressive array of weaponry-pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers. Become one with the planetary bodies at Jantar Mantar, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world. Jaipur is also an interesting place for those interested in jewellery, clothes, carpets and other handicrafts items. The city is a veritable paradise for those seeking souvenirs of the craftsmanship of Rajasthan.
From the romance of the deserts we move towards the monument of a man’s love for his beloved, the city which treasures a lover’s dream, Agra (6 hrs). On our way we stop at Fatehpur Sikri. In its imposing red sandstone structure lies the city envisioned by Emperor Akbar only to be abandoned a mere fourteen years later due to water scarcity.
Before dawn, visit the spectacular Taj Mahal - the most extravagant monument ever built for love. On the death of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Moghul Emperor Shah Jehan built her this memorial over which 20,000 men laboured for 22 years to create a masterpiece in white marble inlaid with semi precious stones; the art is called pietra dura. Stroll down the ornamental gardens laid out along the classical Mughal charbagh lines. This garden is separated by a long watercourse, which reflects the monument in perfect symmetry. Return to your hotel for breakfast. A short drive away is the Agra Fort where Shah Jehan spent the last years of his life, imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. The most impressive part of the Fort are the Dewan-eAm, Hall of Public Audience where the Emperor met officials and listened to petitioners, and the Dewan-e-Khas Hall of Private Audience where he received foreign dignitaries. The Peacock throne (now in Iran) was in this fort, before being moved to Delhi by Emperor Aurangzeb. Overnight: Agra.
10: Agra - Khajuraho
Early morning transfer to Agra train station Agra to board your train for Jhansi (0802-1045 hrs). On arrival drive to Khajuraho (5 1/2 hrs) en route visiting Orchha - The city of Orchha is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. The meaning of Orchha is 'hidden' and the city is located on the banks of River Betwa in Madhya Pradesh, 16 kilometers away from Jhansi, and is encircled by fascinating hills and loads of greenery. The small village of Orchha was once the capital of Bundelkhand. The historical memorials of Orchha narrate the stories of war and peace, love and devastation and still retain the unspoiled charm. Visit Jehangir Mahal - Jehangir Mahal is exceedingly beautiful and the most visited monument in Orchha. The palace was built by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir to Orchha. The main attraction of the palace are the two statues of bowed elephants right at the entrance of the gate that set the mood for your exploration of this charming palace. You will notice a strong resemblance in the structure of this palace and many other monuments built in Islamic architectural style; Raj Parveen Mahal - The palace was built King Indramani in the 17th century. It is said that he built it for his love Raj Parveen who was an exceptionally talented poetess and a musician. The palace is only two floor high. It was built this way to match with the height of trees in the area. You can get scintillating views of nearby gardens of Anand Mahal and the octagonal flower garden. Thereafter commence drive to Khajuraho. On arrival and check in at your hotel, spend rest of the day sightseeing (if time permits). Visit the Eastern & Western Group of Temples – the most important temple being the Kandariya Mahadeo Temple-dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest and most typical of the Khajuraho temples. Visit the Chaunsat Yogini Temple-dedicated to the 64 “Yoginis” or attendants of Goddess Kali. This temple stands apart from the rest. Also see the Chitragupta or Bharatji Temple with a lovely sculpture of Lord Vishnu in his 11-headed form. The sculptures that adorn the temples, carved in stone depicts gods, goddesses and amorous couples. The Eastern Group of Temples includes the Ghantai Temple, Vamana Temple dedicated to the "Vamana" or dwarf incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the Javari Temple. There are also three Jain Temples with beautiful carvings and non-erotic sculptures. Although these are Jain temples, they also contain numerous Vaishnav deities.
Go to the Holy River Ganga before dawn. Experience Ganges cruise & watch activities on Ghats – The long string of bathing ghats are the principal attraction in Varanasi. Ghats are the steps which lead down to the river and the best time to visit the ghats is at dawn, when pilgrims take their morning dip. There are over 100 ghats in all. The best way to see the activities on the ghats is to take a boat ride along the ghats. One can see the women bathing discreetly in their saris, the young men going through yoga exercises, the priests offering blessings. Look for the burning ghats where bodies are cremated. Manikarnika and Harishchandra are the main burning ghats. The lingams mark each ghat, for Varanasi is the city of Lord Shiva. Back to the hotel for breakfast and proceed for the sightseeing of Sarnath. The main tourist attractions in Sarnath are the Stupas, excavated ruins of monasteries, Ashoka Pillar, Deer Park, where the Buddha delivered his first sermon, Dhamekh Stupa, Bodhi tree, Moolgandha Kuti Vihara and Archaeology Museum (closed on Friday).
Visit Humayun’s Tomb built by Haji Begum, the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun’s, nine years after his death and took eight years to complete. It is designed by the Persian architect Misak Mirza Ghiyaz. Octagonal in shape, raised on a plinth, with double domes, high arches, laid in the centre of a large walled enclosure, the monument is an imposing structure, The Qutub Minar – Delhi’s landmark, 73 mtr. Tall victory tower was started by Qutub-ud-din Aibak,the first Muslim ruler in 1193 but could finish only the 1st storey of sand stones. Iltutmish succeeding him added 2nd& 3rd floor in sand stone and later in 1368 Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed 4th& 5th storey in both sand stone and marble. Delhi’s most curious antique, the uncorroded Iron Pillar, which dates back to the 4th century AD.
Drive past Rashtrapati Bhavan – The house that houses the President of India and the house that boasts of having welcomed the most powerful men in history. The Rashtrapati Bhavan was designed by Edwin Lutyens and built in 1931, to be the central point of the British power in Delhi, and the Secretariat Buildings – the centre of Government activity, down the impressive Rajpath (the main avenue), to the World War I memorial arch, India Gate, the High Court Building and the Old Fort, India Gate – Sir Edwin Lutyens designed this war memorial to 90,000 Indian soldiers who died on the North-west Frontiers during World War I. The Duke of Connaught laid the foundation in 1921 and was completed in 10 years. Visit a Sikh Gurudwara.
Evening you can visit Connaught Place – which was built in 1931. It comprises of two concentric circles with colonial style buildings surrounded by a park. These buildings can be reached through the inner, middle and the outer circles. Gulmohur trees, a large fountain, ornate fencing and the recently added light post grace the central park.
~ ~ End of services offered by Spiritual Journeys, Inc. ~ ~
• Hotel accommodation as above on double/twin-sharing room,
• Daily buffet breakfast at hotels,
• Spanish speaking local guide for sightseeing in all places as per program. If Spanish speaking guide is not available in all places, then an English speaking guide will be made available,
• All transfers and sightseeing/excursion by an air-conditioned 40-seat Volvo with toilet except in Khajuraho & Varanasi, where an air-conditined 35-seat coach will be provided,
• 1 Elephant (or vehicle) ride at Amber Fort, Jaipur,
• Common Boat ride at Lake Pichola, Udaipur (subject to water level),
• Train fare Jodhpur to Jaipur & Agra/Jhansi in air conditioned sitting chair,
• Tips and gratuities to driver, guide, porters, bellboys and waiters at restaurants,
• All applicable taxes including mandatory government service tax,
• Air fares in economy class: Delhi / Udaipur, Khajuraho / Varanasi, Varanasi / Delhi, including presently applicable taxes (subject to change at time of booking / issuance),
• Entrances fee for entry into monuments as per the itinerary,
• The services of a SJI representative at all airport and hotel transfers,
• Morning Boat Ride on River Ganges,• Boat Ride at Lake Pichola, Udaipur (shared boat), and,
• Evening Aarti ceremony on Ganges Ghat,
• Rickshaw Ride in Varanasi,
• The services of a SJI representative at all airport and hotel transfers.
• Tips and gratuities
to bellboys in hotels,