Forts, Palaces, Spirituality & the Taj Mahal
5-Star Hotels, or best hotels available in
Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and Varanasi
15 nights, 3 to 17 October, 2023
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.
The Spanish speaking tour will be led by Adrianna Castelazo. Adrianna loves India and starting in the mid 1990s, has been all over the country more than 50 times. Deepak Singh will lead the English speaking tour. We will all be traveling together.
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, palaces 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 50 times. Tour will be in English and Spanish, with our guide from beginning to end with us.
3: Arrive Delhi
Spend the day on a sightseeing tour across the city of 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. Later a boat cruise on Pichola Lake, 4-Km long and 3-Km wide, surrounded by splendid hills, palaces, temples, bathing ghats and embankments. Overnight: 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.
8: Jodhpur - Jaisalmer
9: Jaisalmer – Jaipur (by air)
This morning you will drive to the outskirts of the city to visit Amber Fort. The weather-beaten façade of the nearly 420-year old Amer Fort belies the elegant beauty of its majestic interiors. Some of the most spectacular structures of the fort are ‘Diwan-i-Aam’ (hall of public audience), ‘Sheesh Mahal’ (glass palace), and ‘Sukh Mahal’ (pleasure palace). After Amber Fort, spend an hour or so with elephants. While one can go up the Fort on elephant back, we do not promote this elephant joy ride due to animal protection and cruelty.
Compare the city of Old Delhi with the city of Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, 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 jewelry, clothes, carpets and other handicrafts items. The city is a veritable paradise for those seeking souvenirs of the craftsmanship of Rajasthan. Overnight: Jaipur.
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. Spend rest of day sightseeing
and shopping in Agra, visiting Agra Fort where Shah
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.
13: Delhi – Varanasi (by air)
14: Varanasi – Delhi (by air)
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). You can stroll through narrow lanes of Varanasi bazaar & experience shopping.
Spend the day on a sightseeing tour of Delhi. 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 Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, an important Sikh place of worship.
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. Overnight: Delhi.
17: Delhi – Departure
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Read about Rajasthan? Read Faint Promise of Rain before, during or after your journey. A book written by a known author and dancer (who also happens to be a friend of mine).
COST DOES NOT INCLUDE:
• Beverages, mineral water, alcohol, laundry, telephone calls; or other items of personal nature,
• Increases in Airfares or Government imposed taxes or entrance fees,
• Tips and gratuities to hotel bell boys and guides,
No other meals except breakfasts,
• Still camera or video camera fees at the various monuments and museums,
• Services not specifically stated in the itinerary,
• Personal or travel insurance, departure Taxes or Visa Handling Fees,
• Any changes you may choose to make during your tour, and,
• International Air.