Through the eyes of our experienced guide, your spirits will respond to the sights, sounds and beliefs of a civilization that renounced materialism, and found a way to infuse spirituality into daily life. Spirituality is not just about seeing and experiencing different places of worship. Eminent teachers and speakers will inter-space the tour with six one-hour long talks given in the comfort of your hotel. These are:
- History of Different Religions in India,
- Origins and History of Buddhism,
- History of Islam in India,
- Hinduism - the Emergence of a Religion from a Philosophy,
- History of Christianity in India, and,
- The Essence of Sikhism.
Day 1, February 2: Leave Europe or travel. Arrive Delhi late at night. Our representative will welcome you at the airport when you arrive late night at Delhi Airport, and escort you to your hotel.
Day 2, February 3: Delhi. Delhi is the third largest city of India and been the capital city of a succession of powerful kingdoms with numerous fascinating ruins through the ages. See: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the house where the eight Sikh Guru stayed in Delhi; Bahai Temple, often called as the Taj Mahal of the 21st century; Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, designed as Emperor Shahjahan’s principal mosque, a beautiful building in red sandstone and white marble, the pulpit carved out of a single block of marble with a capacity of 20,000. In the afternoon, an opportunity to shop. Discussion: “History of Religions in India”. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3, February 4: Jaipur. Experience the country-side as we drive to Jaipur. Founded in 1727, it was the only planned city of its time. There's an amazing appeal to Jaipur's colorful bazaars, beautifully laid out gardens, parks & the monuments. See: The City Palace, which houses a museum collection of costumes, armoury, art gallery of miniature paintings, carpets and rare astronomical works; Hawa Mahal with fine trellis work and 953 semioctagonal and honey combed sandstoned windows; Amber Fort Complex , a romantic Rajasthani fort-palace which took 200 years to build, starting in 1592, climbing to its top on elephant back; Jantar Mantar, a huge stone observatory to gauge altitude, and celestial clocks accurate to less than half a minute. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4, February 5: Jaipur. Continue sightseeing and shopping in Jaipur. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5, February 6: Agra. Drive first to Fatehpur Sikri and then onto Agra. Described as an epic poem in red sandstone, Fatehpur Sikri owes its foundation to Emperor Akbar, architecture a combination of Hindu and Muslim styles. Later, see Agra Fort designed and built by Emperor Akbar in 1565 AD, and other epic sites of this great architectural era. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6, February 7: Varanasi. Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, a sublime experience of the greatest love story ever told. Emperor Shahjahan built the Taj Mahal - the seventh wonder of the world! - in memory of his beloved wife, Begum Mumtaz Mahal. Fly to Varanasi and drive to Sarnath, one of the most important places in the life of Buddha, here at the Deer Park where he gave his first sermon. We will see a number of Stupas and visit the Sarnath Museum. Walk around (clock-wise) the great Stupa. See the bodhi tree whose sapling was brought from a tree in Sri Lanka, whose sapling was from the original tree under which Buddha sat in Bodh Gaya and gained enlightenment 2,500 years ago. Discussion: “Buddhism in India” including an authentic Indian sit-down meal as you witness and participate in a variety of devotional activities. Opportunity to shop, part on foot and part on rickshaws. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7, February 8: Khajuraho. During a pre-dawn boat ride on the River Ganga we see riverside ghats and temples. We then experience the city of Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world, by rickshaw and foot. The banks of the Ganges exhibit the ultimate expression of giving up ones ego, and thus stepping closer to attainment. It is a spectacular sight to see thousands set aside their inhibitions and be just one with their Almighty. Fly to Khajurao where King Yasovarman began the era of temple construction 1,000 years ago. The patient hands of the craftsmen have transformed even the mundane to excellence unparalleled anywhere else in the world for you to see amongst the finest examples of temple architecture. The depiction of uninhibited sex hints towards a liberated society in yesteryear, though it is suggested that prior to entering the place of worship, if one was attracted to sex as depicted, then perhaps one was not ready to take the next step towards enlightenment. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8, February 9: Orchha. Continue sightseeing in Khajuraho. Drive to Orcha. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9, February 10: Orchha. Orcha’s grandeur has been captured in stone; a rich legacy and unique murals and paintings bring to life Hindu & Islamic palaces and temples built by its Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Jehangir Mahal to commemorate the visit of Emperor Jehangir, Raj Mahal, Rai Praveen Mahal, Chaturbhuj Temple specially constructed to enshrine the image of Ram and the palace-turned-temple Ram Raja Mandir, the only temple in India where Ram is worshipped as a king, and participate in an Aarti at dusk. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10, February 11: Bhopal. Depart for Bhopal by train, then a short drive to Sanchi. Sanchi is known for Stupas, monasteries, temples, and pillars built by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (c.304 BC - 232 BC) to train monks for them to go overseas and promote Buddhism. The Four Gateways that surround the Great Stupa are considered the finest Buddhist art, and thus counter balance the massive solidity of the Stupa they encircle. If time permits, we will go to the Udaygiri caves, which were produced in the 4th century AD. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11, February 12: Indore. In Bhopal see Taj-ul-Masjid the largest mosque in the country, (and the second largest in Asia); the Jain Temple up on a hill, overlooking the city. Discussion: “History of Islam in India”. Fly to Indore. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12, February 13: Indore. Drive to the temple palace of Maheshwar. Maheshwar is perhaps one of the most beautiful temples that I have ever seen. It’s exquisite carvings, grandeur and magnificence of the palace twinned with the serenity of the setting of its setting on the River Narmada make this an extraordinary palace-temple-city. Lining the banks are poignant stone memorials to the satis who perished on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 13, February 14: Indore. Spend the day in Mandu. We will drive through Delhi Darwaza, the main entrance to the fortress city with a 45 km parapet of walls that encircle Mandu. Mandu called the City of Joy, is a celebration in stone of life and joy, of the love of the poet-prince Baz Bahadur for his beautiful wife, Rani Roopmati. We will see exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions and architectural gems like the Jami Masjid, Hoshang Shah's Tomb, Ashrafi Mahal (palace of gold coins) and Roopmati's Pavilion, the retreat of the lovely queen. Discussion on “Hinduism”. Enjoy Indian folk dances as you dine. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 14, February 15: Delhi. Fly back to Delhi and spend most of the day for shopping, allowing you an opportunity to shop in the most diverse assortment of shops in India. Experience an evening song and light show at the Red Fort. Discussion: “The History of Christianity in India”. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 15, February 16: Delhi. Shopping. Then fly home at night. Included: (B), (L), (D).
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