ART, CULTURE & ARCHITECTURE TOUR OF INDIA
The Best of North India Tour of India is a delightful journey of magnificent Rajasthan, splendid heritage forts and palaces, pilgrimage places of North India and is also a fascinating visit to Taj Mahal.
The tour starts with sightseeing of Delhi, peeps into the boat cruise and mesmerizing evening prayer ceremony at the River Ganges in Varanasi to The Exotic temples of Khajuraho, further to Gwalior and from there takes you into the gardens of Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri of Agra, Amber fort of Jaipur and ends at the city of beautiful lakes & palaces. This trail of India is also filledwith excitements that range from visiting Palaces and culture to involvement in shopping at every destination.
Day 01 : Mumbai Arrival
Arrive at Mumbai airport in the evening. Transfer to hotel. Check in and relax.
Its young, its lively and a confluence of varied cultural currents and cross currents have given Mumbai a unique position of the most multi-ethnic city of India. The capital city of Maharashtra State, formerly known as Bombay lies in the southwestern part of India and occupies a peninsular site originally composed of seven islets lying off the Konkan coast of western India. Oozing with the self - confidence of a maverick moneymaker and "BINDAAS" (carefree) attitude, Mumbai is also country's financial and commercial hub and has a principal port on the Arabian Sea.
Overnight will be at Mumbai.
Day 02 : Mumbai
Breakfast will be at hotel.
Chowpatty Beach - Chowpatty Beach situated at the end of Marine Drive has a moderate expanse of sand and is the only beach in the central part of Mumbai. One can witnesses many Hindu religious ceremonies taking place at Chowpatty like the Annual Thread-Tying Ceremony initiating young boys into the Brahmin caste, 'Nariel Purnima' towards the end of the monsoons and 'Ganesh Chaturthi' immersions.
Flora Fountain/ Hutama Chowk - This fountain situated in the heart of the city was erected in 1869 in honour of a British Governor of Bombay. Sir Brtle Frere. Flora Fountain marks a junction of five streets and known as the 'Picadilly Circus 'of Mumbai, which is decorated at its four corners with mythological figures, the Fountain is a structure in dull stone with a figure the Roman Goddess of flowers, at the top.
Mumbai High Court - An attractive building in early English Gothic style, situated next to the Oval Ground is well worth a visit for its impressive architecture. Statues representing Justice and Mercy surmount the Central structure.
Rajabai Clock Tower - Rajabai Clock tower, situated at the gardens of the Bombay University building rises above the portion of the library section. Consisting of five elaborately decorated storeys the tower is 280ft.in height. The top of the cupola is ornamented with sixteen statues depicting various Indian castes.
Hanging Gardens in Mumbai - Also known as Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, the Hanging Gardens were built in 1880 and renovated in 1921. These gardens are popularly known as Hanging Gardens, because of their location on the slope of a hill. The terrace garden looks south from Malabar Hill towards Colaba, and affords a panoramic view of the city or a breathtaking sunset. It is built over three reservoirs, which store 30 million gallons of water pumped here for cleaning before being supplied to the town.
Relax at the hotel in the evening.
Day 03 : Mumbai - Aurangabad By AirBreakfast will be at hotel.
Transfer to airport for flight to Aurangabad. Reach and check in at hotel.
The city of Aurangabad was founded in 1610, on the site of a village, Khirki by Malik Ambar - the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam Shah II. When Fateh Khan, Malik Ambar's son turned successor in 1626, he gave the city the name 'Fatehpur'. Later in 1653, when Prince Aurangzeb became Viceroy of the Deccan, he made the city his capital and called it Aurangabad. Aurangzeb added the walls that enclose the central part of the city in 1686 in order to withstand attacks from the Marathas. There are four principle gateways to the city - the Delhi Darwaza, the Jalna Darwaza, the Paithan Darwaza and the Mecca Darwaza. Nine secondary gateways also formed a part of the defensive system of this city.
Aurangabad district has always been a prominent region on the Deccan plateau. Having been inhabited since the Stone Age, it has a long artistic and cultural history - to which several dynasties have made major contributions over the years. Maurya rule marked the arrival of Buddhism in Maharashtra. The earliest caves at Ajanta and Pitalkhora were excavated during the Satvahana period (in the 2nd century BC) During the Chalukya reign, Buddhism continued to flourish. This resulted in several 'viharas' (monasteries) and ' chaityas' (chapels) being excavated at Aurangabad, Ajanta and Ellora. In later years the Rashtrakutas built several temples, the most significant being the Kailas Temple (Cave 16, Ellora) - an unrivaled example of Indian architecture. With Aurangzeb's death his empire, extending over almost the entire Indian sub- continent, disintegrated into small fragments. Shorn of its glory, Aurangzeb's city remained just a part of the State of Hyderabad, which ultimately merged with the Indian Republic in 1948.
Aurangabad today is a bustling city of Maharashtra with diverse big and small industries, fine silken textiles, and exquisite hand woven brocades of silver and gold fabrics, Himroo of world frame. To scholars and lovers of art and culture the city is more familiar as the gateway to the ancient caves of Ajanta and Ellora, both famous as treasure houses of Indian Art and Sculpture.
During the day visit the following:
Ellora Caves: Impressive in their own right is the rock-hewn temples and monasteries of Ellora that lie just 30 km away from Aurangabad city. In all, there are 34 cave temples, 12 Mahayana Buddhist caves (550-750 AD), 17 Hindu caves (600-875 AD) and 5 caves of the Jain faith (800-1000 AD) 22 more caves, dedicated to Lord Shiva, were recently discovered. Kailash Temple (cave16), the central attraction at Ellora, is the most remarkable. Chiseled by hand from a single massive rock, it includes a gateway, pavilion, courtyard, vestibule, sanctum, sanctorum and tower which bear testimony to the excellence of Dravidian art. It is believed to have taken 7000 laborers, working in continuous shifts and 150 years to build. Ever since the first European visitors in 18th Century, Ellora has attracted chroniclers, antiquarians, scholars and in more recent years, ever- increasing number of tourists.
Aurangabad Caves: The almost forgotten caves of Aurangabad lie just outside the city. Excavated between the 2nd and 6th century AD, they reflect TANTRIC influences in their iconography and architectural designs. In all there are nine caves which are mainly viharas (monasteries). The most interesting among these are Caves 3 and 7. The former is supported on 12 highly ornate columns and has sculptures depicting scenes from the legendary 'Jakata' tales. Cave 7 with its detailed figures of bejeweled women also has a dominating sculpture of a 'Bodhisattva' praying for deliverance.
Daulatabad Fort: Once known as 'Devgiri', this magnificent 12th century fortress stands on a hill just 13 km. from Aurangabad. It was given the name Daulatabad, the 'city of fortune', by Muhammad Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi. Initially a Yadav stronghold, it passed through the hands of several dynasties in the Deccan. One of the world's best preserved fort of medieval times, surviving virtually unaltered, Daulatabad yet displays the character that made it invincible. This fortress was conquered only by treachery. A series of secret, quizzical, subterranean passages lie coiled like a python amidst the fort. Here flaring torches were thrust upon an unwary enemy. Or hot oil poured down his path, as he deliberated in the labyrinth. Also the heat from a brazier was blown into the passage by a process of suction suffocating the entire garrison within. The Fort itself lies in the body of an isolated hill; the steep hill - sides at the base falling so sharply to the moat that no hostile troops could scale the height. The moat, 40 ft. deep with mechanical drawbridges teemed with crocodiles. A 5-kilometer sturdy wall, artificial scarping and a complicated series of defenses made Daulatabad impregnable. The 30-meter high Chand Minar (Tower) built much later with 3 circular galleries had a defensive and religious role in the fortress.
Relax in the evening. Overnight will be at Aurangabad.
Day 04 : AurangabadBreakfast will be at hotel.
Proceed for a full day sightseeing with excursion to Ajanta Caves.
Ajanta caves: Nestling in an inner fold of the Sahyardi hills, 100 km from Aurangabad in the shape of a mammoth horse- shoe, are the 30 rock-hewn caves of Ajanta. The Caves date from the 2nd century BC. Discovered in 1819 by a group of British army officers, these startling achievements took around 600 years to create. Carved with little more than a hammer and chisel, Ajanta, once the retreat of Buddhist monastic orders features several 'chaityas' (chapels) and 'viharas' (monasteries). The exquisite wall and ceiling paintings, panels and sculptures of Buddha's life are famous throughout the world as the earliest and finest examples of Buddhist pictorial art.
Overnight will be at Aurangabad.
Day 05 : Aurangabad - Mumbai By Air
Breakfast will be at hotel.
Transfer to airport in time for flight to Mumbai. Reach and proceed to visit ELEPHANTA CAVES.
Start the tour of ELEPHANTA CAVES.
The Elephanta Island is the site of the magnificent Elephanta caves, containing beautiful carvings, sculptures, and a temple to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. These caves are located at a distance of 11 km from Mumbai and are now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island of Elephanta, being a commercial, military and religions centre for centuries has traces of early Buddhist culture.
The Elephanta caves are thought to date back to the Silhara kings belonging to the period between 9th - 12th centuries. With the Brahminical resurgence during the reign of Gupta dynasty in 3rd century AD, these great cave dedicated to Lord Shiva exploded into existence at Elephanta. Legends and history suggest that the great warrior prince of Chalukya dynasty Pulkesin ll raised the shrine to celebrate his victory. Some historians also suggest that these caves were built by the Kalchuri King Krishnaraja in 6th century AD.
As the worship of the figure of the Buddha began to be encouraged with rise of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, a shrine was introduced to house Buddha's image, replacing the cells at the centre of the back wall. The Monasteries of Ajanta lead us directly to Elephanta. It appears that the same families of craftsmen and sculptors who were working on the Kailasa temple of Ellora and adjoining Buddhist caves at Ellora were employed at Elephanta.
Return to city and transfer to airport for flight to Udaipur.
The city of Dawn, Udaipur is a lovely land around the azure lake, hemmed in by the lush hills of the ARAVALLIS. A vision in white drenched in romance and beauty, Udaipur is a fascinating blend of sights, sound and experiences and inspiration for the imagination of poets, painters and writers.
Its kaleidoscope of fairy-tale palaces, lakes, temples, gardens and narrow lanes strewn with stalls, carry the flavor of a heroic past, epitomizing valor and chivalry. Their reflection in the placid waters of the LAKE PICHOLA is an enticing sight.
Udaipur is the jewel of MEWAR - a kingdom ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for 1200 Years.
Reach Udaipur and check into hotel. Overnight will be at Udaipur.
Day 06 : UdaipurBreakfast will be at hotel.
Proceed for sightseeing tour of Udaipur, stopping first at City Palace. Here you will marvel at rooms with mirrored walls and ivory doors, colored glass windows and inlaid marble balconies and the Peacock Courtyard.
Also visit the lovely Sahelion-ki-Bari Gardens, the Jagdish Temple and the local folk Museum.
In the afternoon, enjoy a motor launch cruise on the placid waters of Lake Pichola. From the boat you will be able to view the city of Udaipur as it rises majestically above the lake in the middle of the Rajasthan desert.
Also visit the JAG MANDIR PALACE - the other island palace in the middle of the lake.
Overnight will be at hotel.
Day 07 : Udaipur - Jodhpur
260 km in 6hr
After breakfast drive to Jodhpur.
En-route, visit the RANAKPUR TEMPLES, dating back to the 15th century. 200 pillars, none of which are alike, support its 29 halls. The Temple abounds with intricate friezes and sculptures. Includes visits to two more Jain temples and the Temple of the Sun God with its erotic sculptures.
Lunch will be at a mid-way restaurant.
Set at the edge of the Thar Desert, the imperial city of Jodhpur echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert. Once the capital of the Marwar state, it was founded in 1459 AD by Rao Jodha-chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs who claimed to be descendants of Rama - the epic hero of the Ramayana. The massive 15th century AD Mehrangarh Fort looms on the top of a rocky hill, soaring 125 Mts. Above the plains. The city is encompassed by a high wall -10 km long with 8 gates and innumerable bastions.
Relax in the hotel and visit the museum of UMAID BHAWAN PALACE.
Overnight will be at Jodhpur.
Day 08 : Jodhpur - Jaipur
By Road 290 km in 6hr
Start for Jaipur after breakfast.
Lunch could be in KISHANGARH PHOOL MAHAL PALACE. Visit the KISHANGARH FORT.
Reach and check in at hotel.
Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan a romantic realm of resplendent palaces, mighty fortresses and regal Maharajahs that lies in the western deserts and is an utterly unique part of India. Proudly belonging to the KSHATRIYA warrior caste and fiercely independent, the Rajput princes made fearsome foes. However, many of them realized that to maintain their wealth and authority locally, it was expedient to proclaim allegiance to the central power. Thus, many enjoyed a privileged position under the Mughal emperors and also the British Raj that followed.
The bustling Rajasthan capital of Jaipur takes its name from its venerated founder Jai Singh II, who was given the title Sawai Maharaja by the Mughal. Literally translated this would mean 'one and a quarter', suggesting that the Mughal thought this emperor to be more valuable than just 'one'. Jaipur is known as the 'Pink City' on account of the distinctive colour of its buildings. This did not, however, form part of the original plan, but dates back to 1856, when the city was given a wash of pink in honor of a State Visit from Prince Albert.
This evening, visit the Birla Temple to learn more about the fascinating religious life of Jaipur. The marble structure, built as recently as 1985, houses ornate statues including one of Lakshmi (goddess of Wealth and Beauty) and Narayan dressed in gaudy robes, representing a Hindu vision of heavenly luxury. Carvings in the temple and on pillars supporting the covered walkways include images of the Hindu pantheon, as well as Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Francis of Assisi. Your visit will coincide with the AARTI Ceremony, which involves oil lamps being lit and waved, in order to awake and invoke the deity. Enjoy the experience and spend night at Jaipur.
Overnight will be in Jaipur.
Day 09 : Jaipur
Breakfast will be at hotel.
Morning excursion will be to the Amber Fort where you will reach the fort on elephant back.
AMBER FORT PALACE - Amber is the classic romantic Rajasthani fort palace. Its construction was started by Man Singh I in 1592, and completed by his descendent Jai Singh I. Its forbidding exterior belies an inner paradise where a beautiful fusion of Mughal and Hindu styles finds its ultimate expression.
Lunch will be at the TURBAN MUSEUM RESTAURANT.
Afternoon sightseeing tour of Jaipur visiting...
CITY PALACE - A delightful blend of Mughal and traditional Rajasthani architecture, the City Palace sprawls over one-seventh of the area in the walled city. It houses the Chandra Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum.
JANTAR MANTAR - This is the largest and the best preserved of the five observatories built by Jai Singh II in different parts of the country. This observatory consisting of outsized astronomical instruments is still in use.
HAWA MAHAL - The ornamental facade of this "Palace of Winds" is a prominent landmark in Jaipur. It is a five-storey structure of sandstone plastered pink encrusted with fine trelliswork and elaborate balconies. The palace has 953 niches and windows. Built in 1799 by Pratap Singh, the Mahal was a royal grandstand for the palace women.
Overnight will be at Jaipur.
Day 10 : Jaipur - Delhi By Air
Breakfast will be at hotel.
Take flight to Delhi. Reach and proceed to a hotel close to the airport for meeting with Durjay and a light lunch.
Take flight to Gwalior.
A little southward of Agra is the ancient city of Gwalior. Centuries of history can be witnessed even today in its monuments, temples, museums and cultural traditions. The magnificent Gwalior Fort, with its reflections of art, religion and military might, is an enduring symbol of this glorious past. The colorful history of this city dates back to the eight century and is a mosaic of Rajput clans of the Pratihasas, Kachwahas and Tomars, each leaving their marks on the city's magnificent monuments. Gwalior's history is traced back to a legend in 8th century AD when a chief tain known as Suraj Sen was struck by a deadly disease and cured by a hermit-saint Gwalipa. As a gratitude for that incidence, he founded this city by his name. The new city of Gwalior became existence over the centuries. The cradle of great dynasties ruled the city Gwalior. With different Dynasty, the city gained a new dimension from the warrior kings, poets, musicians, and saints who contributed to making it renowned throughout the country. The city is also the setting for the memorials of freedom fighters such as Tatya Tope and the indomitable Rani of Jhansi. Today the old settings stand side by side with the trappings of modernity.
Check in at the beautiful HERITAHE PALACE hotel.
Relax in the afternoon and in the evening proceed for the SOUND & LIGHT SHOW at the FORT.
Overnight will be at Gwalior.
Day 11 : Gwalior
Breakfast will be at the hotel.
Proceed for a sightseeing tour of the city visiting the following interesting monuments.
Gwalior Fort: Standing on a steep mass of sandstone, Gwalior Fort dominates the city and is its most significant monument. It has been the scene of momentous events, imprisonment, battles and jauhars. A steep road winds upwards to the fort, flanked by statues of the Jain tirthankaras, carved into the rock face. The magnificent outer walls of the fort still stand, two miles in length and 35 feet high, bearing witness to its reputation for being one of the most invincible forts of India. This imposing structure inspired Emperor Babur to describe it as "the pearl amongst the fortresses of Hind ".
Man Mandir Palace: Built between 1486 and 1517 by Raja Mansingh.The tiles that once adorned its exterior have not survived, but at the entrance, traces of these still remain. Vast chambers with fine stone screens were once the music halls, and behind these screens, the royal ladies would learn music from the great masters of the day. Below, circular dungeons housed the state prisoners of the Mughals. Emperor Aurangzeb had his brother, Murad imprisoned, and later executed here. Close by is Jauhar Pond, where in the Rajput tradition, the Ranis committed mass sati after their consorts had been defeated in battle. At Man Mandir Palace, a poignant ambience of those days of chivalry and heroism still lingers in the silent chambers.
Gujari Mahal: Within the fort are some marvels of medieval architecture. The 15th century Gujari Mahal is a monument to the love of Raja Mansingh Tomar for his intrepid Gujar Queen, Mrignayani. The outer structure of Gujari Mahal has survived in an almost total state of preservation; the interior has been converted into Archaeological Museum housing rare antiquities, some of them dating back to the 1st century A.D. Even though many of these have been defaced by the iconoclastic Mughals, their perfection of form has survived the ravages of time. Particularly worth seeing is the statue of Shalbhanjika from Gyraspur, the tree goddess, the epitome of perfection in miniature. The statue is kept in the custody of the museum's curator, and can be seen on request.
Sas Bahu ka Mandir: Two architecturally beautiful 11th century temples.
Jai Vilas Palace: A splendor of a different kind exists in the Jai Vilas Palace, current residence of the Scindia family. Some 25 rooms have been turned into the Jivaji Rao Scindia Museum, and in these rooms, so evocative of a regal lifestyle, the past comes alive. Jai Vilas is an Italianate structure which combines the Tuscan and Corinthian architectural modes. The imposing Darbar Hall has two central chandeliers weighing a couple of tonnes, and hung only after ten elephants had tested the strength of the roof. Ceilings picked out in gilt, heavy draperies and tapestries, fine Persian carpets and antique furniture from France and Italy are the features of these spacious rooms. Eye catching treasures include: a silver train with cut glass wagons which served guests as it chugged around the table on miniature rails; a glass cradle from Italy used for the baby Krishna each Janmashtami, silver dinner services and swords that were once worn by Aurangzeb and Shah Jahan. These are, besides, personal mementoes of past members of the Scindia family: the jeweled slippers that belonged to Chinkoo Rani, four-poster beds and gifts from practically every country in the world, hunting trophies and portraits. The Scindia Museum offers an unparalled glimpse into the rich culture and lifestyle of princely India.
Sun Temple: Located near the Residency at Morar, the newly constructed Sun Temple takes its inspiration from the famous Konark Sun Temple in Orissa.
Ghaus Mohammed's Tomb: The sandstone mausoleum of the Afghan prince, Ghaus Mohammed, is also designed on early Mughal lines. Particularly exquisite are the screens which use the pierced stone technique as delicate as lace.
Gurudwara Data Bandhi Chhod: It was built in the memory of Guru Hargobind Saheb, the 6th Sikh Guru who was imprisoned here by Emperor Jehangir for over two years. It is located on the Gwalior Fort.
Sarod Ghar: This Museum of Music has been set up in the old ancestral house of the legendary Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan. It houses ancient instruments of the great Indian Masters of yesteryears. It also houses an impressive collection of photographs and documents. Sarod Ghar is a unique institution devoted to promoting Indian classical music, heritage and culture. Through this 'window' to the past, music lovers can gain a better understanding of the evolution and history of our classical music and a deeper perspective and insight into the context of the art as it exists today.
Enjoy the SPA at the palace and relax in the evening.
Overnight will be at Gwalior.
Day 12 : Gwalior - Orchha By Train
Proceed for station after breakfast.
Reach Jhansi and transfer to Orchha, 12 km away.
It is a medieval city founded by the BUNDELA rulers with palaces and temples of the 16th & 17th century - which has remarkably withstood the onslaught of time. The town is known for its CHATTRIS which were built in the memory of the kings and the place is flanked by the river BETWA.
Proceed for sightseeing of ORCHHA sites within the Fort Complex. Enjoy your lunch at Orchha.
Continue drive to Khajuraho.
Situated in the northernmost part of Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho is famous for its enchanting temples and its legendary Khajuraho dance festival. The name Khajuraho is derived from the Khajur tree (the date palm tree) which is grown abundantly in the region. The Khajuraho Temples are dedicated to a celebration of womanhood, her myriad moods and facets. Famous for its erotic architecture, the carvings include, women writing a letter, applying eye makeup, combing her tresses, dancing & playing with her child. Her innocent, blushed, charming, seductive, ardent beauty, all depicted in exquisitely sculptured details. These temples have been designed and carved to lead the eyes from ground level upward till you seem to be looking at heaven.
Reach Khajuraho. Transferred to hotel and relax. Watch the SOUND & LIGHT SHOW at WESTERN SET OF TEMPLES.
Overnight will be at Khajuraho.
Day 13 : KhajurahoBreakfast will be at the hotel.
Start sightseeing of the WESTERN TEMPLES.
The remote location of Khajuraho meant that the temples were unharmed by Muslim invaders and as a result, the intricately fine carvings are in very good condition and are said to represent life in heaven. They were built during the mighty Chandela Dynasty, the majority were constructed in a sudden burst of creative and religious energy, between the mid-10th and 11th centuries. After ruling for about 500 years the Chandela dynasty fell to the might of Islam and consequently the religious centre of Khajuraho was abandoned. The temples remain as a reminder of a society that believed in the full enjoyment of life, with all the senses being a path to nirvana. Of the eighty-five original temples only 22 remain, but many are in very good condition including the Kandariya Mahadeva, the Chatrabhuj, Parswanath and Ghantai Temples, each remarkable for its beautiful design and architecture.
Watch the DANCES OF INDIA show at the foundation centre or visit the SILPGRAM in the evening.
Overnight will be at Khajuraho.
Day 14 : Khajuraho - Varanasi By Air
Breakfast will be at hotel.
Proceed for a guided tour of the EASTERN & JAIN TEMPLES of Khajuraho.
Transfer in time to airport for flight to Varanasi. (Early lunch at hotel)
Picturesquely situated on the crescent shaped left bank of the holy River Ganges, Varanasi, one of the ancient seats of learning in India, is said to be a compound of the names of two streams, the Varuna and the Assi, which still flow in the north and south of the city respectively. This name seems to have been corrupted, in medieval times to Varanasi, which was in use till May 1956, when it was changed to Varanasi, by an order of the Government of India. Varanasi is probably one of the most ancient living cities in India. From time immemorial it has been a great religious center for Hindus and one of their most sacred places of pilgrimage, being visited by millions of people every year. To every visitor Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges; the high-banks; the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue .soul stirring hymns and mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air.and the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats. Varanasi - The land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. Some of the world - renowned exponents India has produced in these fields were schooled in Varanasi's cultural ethos. Luminaries apart, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art which manifests itself in precious Banarasi silk sarees and silk brocades which are cherished as collector's items across the world today.
Visit Sarnath 5 miles out of Varanasi: The great Buddha enhanced the sanctity of Varanasi by choosing the environs of the city to preach his first sermon at Sarnath, (only 10 Kms away) after attaining enlightenment. Later, Ashoka, the great Mauryan Emperor erected magnificent stupas and other buildings along with his mighty stone pillar, Dharmarajika Stupa. The 110 ft. tall Damekh Stupa marks the place where Buddha preached first sermon.Sarnath has been a premier centre for Buddhism. It is a rich collection of ancient Buddhist relics and antiques comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisatva images on display at the Archaeological Museum (1000 hrs to 1700 hrs. Open all days except Friday)
Enjoy the evening AARTI at the GHATS. The guide will be giving a commentary to you on the proceedings and meanings of the chants during the AARTI of the river.
Overnight will be spent at Varanasi.
Day 15 : Varanasi
In the early morning drive to Daswamedh Ghat and take a boat ride on the sacred river Ganges to see the cremation Ghats and witness the living traditions of one of the world's oldest and most important religions. (To start at 0500 hrs. for the best lifetime experience) For you to appreciate this remarkable city, we'll transfer you to the banks of the River Ganges before the sun rises. Board a boat with your guide and proceed to the middle of the river, where at sunrise the sight unfolds before you. Thousands of faithful come daily to the banks to bathe and pray while in the background, temples and palaces rise in tiers from the water's edge. Then return for a walk through the cobblestone streets along the banks of "Ganga". As shops are opening, the place now becomes a beehive of activity as the faithful are coming and going. Visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple while returning to the hotel.
Return for breakfast to the hotel.
Proceed for day guided tour of Varanasi including the Bharat Mata Temple, which features a big relief map of Mother India engraved in marble. Also visit the 18th century Durga Temple, commonly known as the Monkey Temple due to the huge population of the monkeys. Proceed to the Tulsi Manas Temple, crafted from white marble which features the entire Ramayana inscribed on its walls. Also visit the BHU considered as the biggest residential university in Asia. The University Campus houses an Art Gallery and the Mosque of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
Vishwanath Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is the most sacred shrine in Varanasi. The original temple was destroyed by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb which was later restored by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore in the 18th century. The Gold plating of the dome was done during the 19th century by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. Foreigner's entry restricted.
Banaras Hindu University: Founded by Pundit Madan Mohan Malviya it is considered to be the largest residential university in Asia. Within the university campus, Vishwanath Temple and Bharat Kala Kendra (Museum) are well worth a visit.
Overnight will be in Varanasi.
Day 16 : Varanasi - Bodhgaya By Train
Breakfast will be at the hotel.
During the day, visit a village close to the city and see the cowsheds.
In the early evening take train to BODHGAYA. Reach and transfer to hotel.
Bodhgaya is one of the sacred places for the Buddhists as well as for the Hindus. Here under the Bodhi Tree, Gautama attained supreme knowledge to become Budhha, the `Enlighted One'.
Lord Buddha, who founded the first universal religion of the world, worked and lived much of his life in Bihar though he was born in Kapilavastu, now in Nepal. Most of the major events of his life, like enlightenment and last sermon happened in Bihar. Significantly, the state's name originated from 'Vihara' meaning Buddhist and Jain monasteries, which abounded in Bihar.
Though the Buddha was born as a Sakya prince in the Terai foothills of the Himalayas, Buddhism as a religion was really born in Bihar and evolved here through his preaching and the example of his lifestyle of great simplicity, renunciation and empathy for everything living. Perhaps the present day life of trauma and tension reminds us of the other alternative that was always available to us, the Buddha's way of life, gentle and simple. Several centuries after Buddha's passing away, the Maurya emperor Ashoka (234-198 BC) contributed tremendously towards the revival, consolidation and spread of the original religion. It is the monasteries Ashoka built for the Buddhist monks and the pillars erected to commemorate innumerable historical sites associated with the Buddha's life, mostly intact to this day, that helped scholars and pilgrims alike to trace the life events and preachings of a truly extraordinary man.
The Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya, under the Bodhi tree, 10 km from Gaya - The ancient Hindu pilgrimage centre. The tree from the original sapling still stands in the temple premises. It is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage centre as Buddhisrn was born here.
The magnificent Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an architectural amalgamation of many centuries' cultures and many heritages that came to pay their homage here. The temple definitely has architecture of the Gupta and later ages, inscriptions describing visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China between 7th and 10th century AD. It is perhaps still the same temple Hiuen Tsang visited in 7th century.
Overnight will be at BODHGAYA.
Day 17 : Bodhgaya
Breakfast will be at hotel.
Proceed for sightseeing of Maha Bodhi Temple and Tree. Visit the Chinese Temple. In the afternoon proceed to visit the Niranjana Temple and River. Visit the school of the destitute.
All meals at hotel and overnight will be at Bodhgaya.
Day 18 : Bodhgaya - Nalanda - Rajgir - Patna
By Road 220 km in 7hr
Breakfast will be at hotel.
Early morning proceed to visit the historical towns of Nalanda & Rajgir. Have lunch at Rajgir. Proceed to Patna after lunch. Overnight will be at Patna.
NALANDA - Nalanda, where ruins of the great ancient university have been excavated, is situated at a distance of 90 km. south east of Patna by road. It falls on way to Rajgir. It is also linked by rail with Patna, Rajgir and Bakhtiyarpur (on Delhi-Howrah main track). Hieun Tsang, the renowned Chinese traveller of the seventh century, says that according to tradition the place owed its name to a Naga of the same name who resided in a local tank. But he thinks it more probable that Lord Buddha, in one of his previous births as Bodhisatwa, became a king with his capital at this place and that his liberality won for him and his capital the name Nalanda or "Charity without intermission". The third theory about the name of the place is that it derived from NALAM PLUS DA. NALAM means lotus which is a symbol for knowledge and Da means given the place had many lotuses.
Nalanda has a very ancient history. It was frequently visited by Lord Vardhamana Mahavir and Lord Buddha in the 6th century BC. during his sojourns, the Lord Buddha found this place prosperous, swelling, teeming with population and containing mango-groves. It is also supposed to be the birth place of Sariputra, one of the Chief disciples of the Lord Buddha.
RAJGIR - The Buddha lived in the sixth century BC. Mahavir was born in 567 BC and the traveller in Bihar will encounter them both constantly. Rajgir is 10km south of Nalanda and sacred to the memory of the founder of both Buddhism and Jainism. Lord Buddha spent many months of retreat during the rainy season here, and used to meditate and preach on Griddhkuta, the 'Hill of the Vultures'. Lord Mahavir spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda. It was in Rajgriha that Lord Buddha delivered some of his famous sermons and converted king Bimbisara of the Magasha Kingdom and countless others to his creed. Once a great city, Rajgir is just a village today, but vestiges of a legendary and historical past remain, like the cyclopean wall that encircles the town and the marks engraved in rock that local folklore ascribes to Lord Krishna's chariot. This legend, like many others associates Rajgir to that distant time when the stirring events recorded in the epic Mahabharata were being enacted. Rajgir is located in a verdant valley surrounded by rocky hills.
An aerial ropeway provides the link with a hill-top stupa "Peace Pagoda" built by the Japanese. On one of the hills in the cave of Saptparni, was held the first Buddhist Council. The Saptparni cave is also the source of the Rajgir Hot Water Springs that have curative properties and are sacred to the Hindus.
Patna, the capital city of Bihar, is a historical city, which has like Delhi, experienced the trauma and pain of being conquered. The heritage of Patna or Pataliputra as it was known goes back to two millennia. This city was the seat of administration for many rulers and each of them ascended with a new name for their capital.
Kusumpura became Pushpapura, Patliputra, Azeemabad and now Patna. Pataliputra was the capital of Magadha, a kingdom, which dominated and influenced the politics of India for a long time. Located on the banks where rivers Sone and Ganga merge, this city has witnessed the rules of Chanakya, Chandragupta, Ashoka and the Nanda rulers.
Overnight will be in Patna.
Day 19 : Patna - Lucknow By Air
Breakfast will be at hotel.
Enjoy sightseeing and explore the side where Buddha was cremated and visit Mahaparinirvana Temple.
Transfer to airport for flight to Lucknow.
The upcoming METRO CITY of Lucknow is a hallmark of cultural extravaganza, known all over the world for its many splendors. A city that has a magical charm, a charm that's forever and a charm that's apart. Be it the cultural charm or the monumental one - all is well conserved here to make Lucknow "The city of many splendors".
Walking through the lanes and by-lanes of Chowk and Aminabad one finds Lucknow of yore. The 'TEHZIB' or mannerism is still prominent and a topic of great appreciation. This is a city that still speaks the language of "YOU SIR" and the dictum of "YOU FIRST" is still a part of everyday life for a true Lakhnawi - and so natural it is - AADAB or salutation which has its own sophistication and style. Dress forms though have changed noticeably in the span of a century, yet the beauty and charisma of CHIKAN - the intricate and delicate hand embroidery, still rules the wardrobe. Lucknow is in fact among a few cities that duly understands the grace of the 'dupattas' or the covering cloth. Wisdom, women and wine are the three things truly understood and respected by the Nawabs. Not a thing of condemnation but an institution it was the "KOTHAS", where sons of Nawabs were deliberately sent to learn the culture, sophistication and respect for the fairer sex. Love was found in either Paris or Lucknow - a proof of this is the lover's lane in the posh modern Hazratganj. These lanes were used as a meeting place for the lonely hearts to escape the monitoring eyes of their parents.
Overnight will be in Lucknow.
Day 20 : Lucknow
Proceed for sightseeing of the city after a relaxing breakfast.
Day 21 : Lucknow - Delhi
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel.
Take flight to Delhi. Reach Delhi and will be received at the domestic airport.
Check in at a hotel close to the airport for the day.
Enjoy shopping and in the evening proceed to for international flight home with sweet memories of India.
ART, CULTURE & ARCHITECTURE TOUR OF INDIA
|Delhi||Visit of Chandni Chowk.|
|Agra||Vist of beautiful Taj Mahal at sunrise.|
|Jaipur||Elephant ride to Amber Fort.|
» Accommodation on twin / Double Sharing basis
» Elephant Ride at Amber, Fort Jaipur.
» Daily Breakfast
» All the arrival and departure transfer with company representative
» Complete transportation with an English speaking chauffer
» Driver Allowance
» Toll Taxes and Parking
» State taxes
» All the currently applicable taxes
Does not include:
» Entrance fee to monuments.
»Monument fees, (Supplement is given separately).
» Meals except then breakfast ( Dinner supplement is given separately)
» Tips, Laundry, Phone calls
»Any other expenses not mentioned above.
May i ask for tailormade itinerary ?
Yes, you can ask for it.
What is Indian Time zone?
It is + 0530 GMT
Can I use foreign currnecy there in India?
No, you can't use foreign currnecy in India directly, you need to change it through bank or authorize money changer into Indian rupees .
Who will Meet us at the Airport ?
Our company representative will be there at the airport arrival lounge carrying a company placard mentioning your name on it.
Does monument fees included in the cost ?
No, it's not included in the package cost and supplement is given separately for that.
What is the weather & temperature like?
Weather in the mountains is notoriously difficult and hard to predict. Of course, it is generally cold at night, and in winter, the days can be quite beautiful if the sun is out. There can be snow or rain storms any time of the year. Trekking in spring (March - April) is particularly lovely and beautiful as the rhododendrons are in full bloom. The mountains still have plenty of high snow to snap your photos. You need to be aware that it can get pretty hot and sunstroke can be a risk. Good polarizing sunglasses or glacier glasses (not trendy fashion ones) for high altitudes/winter treks, and a large brimmed hat are a necessity. It is also important to make sure that you can stay warm and dry in just about any conditions. Expect the unexpected! Between 1000m and 3500m the temperature could be as high as 20 deg C to 5 deg C low. At higher altitude, the temperature ranges from 20 deg C to -10 deg C. During winter it is around 10 deg colder.