Set yourself on a journey to explore the rich culture of India, with a tour of India's Golden Triangle followed by a cruise along the Ganges River.
Day 1 - Delhi
Upon arrival in Delhi, you will be met by a representative at the Aerobridge. Our representative will then provide assistance to you to clear through immigration, collect baggage from the baggage belt and will guide you through Customs. As you step into the “Meet & Greet Hall”, you will be met by our airport representative who will then escort you to your vehicle and accompany you in the chauffeur driven vehicle to your hotel. At the hotel, our representative will assist you with the necessary check-in formalities.
Later board your vehicle and drive to Old Delhi, the former Imperial capital of the Mughal Emperor, though very little remains of the grandeur of the Emperor Shah Jahan’s city. Old Delhi’s backbone is Chandni Chowk. Originally a canal that ran through the middle of the street as a part of the water supply scheme, it is said that moonlight reflecting on its canal, earned it the name, 'Chandni’ (Moonlit) Chowk (Market). Here, you trade your vehicle for a cycle rickshaw and take a fun ride through the many narrow streets and an excellent introduction to the organised chaos which is quintessentially Indian! It is an amazing experience and opportunities for photography are endless. Disembark at India’s largest Mosque, Jama Masjid. This mosque is the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan. Begun in 1644, the mosque was not completed until 1658. It has three great gateways, four angle towers and two minarets standing 40m high. It is constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble.
If time permits, you will also visit Humayun’s tomb.
On your way back to the hotel, you will drive past some famous landmarks; Rajpath (Kingsway), the imposing approach to New Delhi that sets the scene for the Republic Day parade every January 26th for millions of people to gather and enjoy the spectacle. Among the buildings you drive past are the Secretariat buildings, Parliament House, Presidential Palace (Rashtrapathi Bhawan) and India Gate, a memorial to 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who died in the period between 1914 and 1921.
Overnight: The Claridges or similar
Day 2 - Delhi - Agra
After breakfast, your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby. Today you set out for your drive (approximately 3.5 hours) to Agra. The drive is comfortable and there are rest stops en route.
Two great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and Shah Jahan, transformed the little village of Agra into a befitting second capital of the Mughal Empire. Today, visitors to Agra are caught up in a world of contrasting edifices of red sandstone and white marble, narrow gullies and quaint buggies, and that irresistible charm that this favourite city of the Mughals still retains.
In Agra, you transfer directly to your hotel and check-in.
This afternoon explore some of the popular sights in Agra, starting with Agra Fort. When the Mughal Emperor Akbar established his supremacy in Northern India, he began his first architectural venture, rebuilding the fort as a beautiful fort palace. The work was completed by his son and grandson, highlighting the Mughal’s ability to blend defensive and decorative architecture. Richly decorated with marble and mosaic, it was in a part of this fort that Shah Jahan spent the last years of his life, imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb. His private quarters, where he was confined, has a magical view of the Taj across the river Yamuna.
In the evening, visit the beautiful Taj Mahal. This stunning mausoleum was built for Shah Jahan’s last wife Mumtaz Mahal, “light of the palace”. Worked upon by Indian artisans and artisans from neighbouring Islamic countries, it is aptly described by the poet laureate Tagore as “A tear on the face of eternity”. Decorated with a mosaic of semi-precious stones and Persian calligraphy recreating verses from the Koran, the mausoleum is an important place of pilgrimage since the empress died in childbirth making her a martyr. Stay at the monument through sunset before returning to your hotel.
NOTE: The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.
NOTE: One entry ticket is valid for 3 hours only and after this time, guests will be required to purchase a new ticket at their own expense.
Overnight: ITC Mughal or similar
Day 3 - Agra - Fatehpur Sikri - Jaipur
This morning, after breakfast, meet your guide and drive approx 45-60 mins outside of Agra for a visit of Fatehpur Sikri. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fatehpur Sikri was temporarily the capital of the Mughal Empire under Akbar the Great. Built by Emperor Akbar to honour the Saint Salim Chisti who foretold the birth of Akbars’ son and heir, this structure is constructed entirely in vibrant red sandstone. Architecturally it draws its inspiration from Hindu, Persian and Islamic styles.
NOTE: At Fatehpur Sikri, private vehicles are not allowed to drive to the monument. You will have to board the government run buses (non AC; seat in bus basis) from parking to the monument and on return. Approximately 10 minutes ride each way.
After the visit drive to Jaipur. Jaipur is also known as the ‘Pink City’, because of the terra cotta colour lime plaster that coats the old part of the city's walls, buildings and temples. The reasons for painting the town pink are unknown; some say it is because Maharaja Jai Singh II’s was a devotee of Lord Shiva and pink was his favourite. The most popular reason is that pink is the traditional colour of hospitality, and the old part of the city was freshly painted and paved with pink gravel to warmly welcome Edward VII for his visit here in 1876.
Upon arrival check-in at the hotel.
Overnight: Trident Hotel Jaipur or similar
Day 4 - Jaipur
Set out after breakfast to Amber Fort.Hill forts were always important to the Rajput rulers. Belonging to the Hindu “Kshatriya” or warrior class, they believed that “a fort is the strength of a king”. They built a number of such forts all over the state of Rajasthan; some made for purely defensive purposes, but most built as fort palaces. Amber is one of the finest examples of a fort palace, built similar in style to the surrounding richly decorated Mughal courts. Next, visit Anokhi Museum.Located in a magnificently restored Haveli (mansion), the museum displays a varied selection of block printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects – all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition. We will organise a session with one of the masters and you get to watch him carve unbelievably intricate wooden printing blocks and even have a go at printing your own scarf under his direction.
Later visit the extraordinary “Jantar Mantar”, the astronomical observatory built by Raja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1827. Roughly translated the name means “The Formula of Instruments”. This is one of five observatories he built in northern India. The instruments resembling massive futuristic structures are actually highly sophisticated instruments which are accurate even today.
En route, stop at the Hawa Mahal the ornate pink façade an icon of the city for photos. This five-storied high “screen” composed of projected windows and balconies protected by fine latticed screens, was destined to enable the ladies of the harem to observe the lively street scenes of the city from a position of privacy.
Next, visit the City Palace. This sprawling palace is a superb marriage of the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. The seven-storied Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace) is a sprawling complex with multiple courtyards, public buildings, astronomical observatory and zenana mahals (harems). Within the palace complex are several museums; including an interesting textile gallery exhibiting a fine selection of textiles and costumes from the royal collection. You will also have a tour of the residential areas of the palace, visiting some of the more interesting family rooms followed by a glass of Indian bubbly served to you in the grand drawing room. Royalty, presidents and movie stars have all been hosted in this historic room.
Return to your hotel by late afternoon.
Tonight, enjoy a fun, interactive session on local traditions as you learn and try on the local outfits of India. Each region of Rajasthan takes great pride in its own distinctive way of tying a turban. It has been estimated that there are approximately 1,000 different styles and types of turbans in Rajasthan. The “wraparound’’ dress of India, the sari, is the typical dress of the Indian women. It comes in many colours and patterns. We will arrange a sari draping session for women and a turban tying session for men.
Overnight: Trident Hotel Jaipur or similar
Day 5 - Jaipur - Varanasi
Today you bid goodbye to Jaipur as you board your flight to Varanasi. Fly to Varanasi where you will be met on arrival and assisted to your vehicle which will transfer you to your hotel.