Day 1, June 1: USA. Depart this afternoon
Day 2, June 2: Delhi. Arrive Delhi late at night. Spiritual Journeys, Inc. representative will welcome you at the airport when you arrive late night at Delhi Airport, and escort you to your hotel. Overnight: Delhi.
Day 3, June 3: Delhi. Experience the country-side as we drive to Agra. En-route, see the Sikandar’s (Emperor Akbar’s) tomb, a massive filigree constructed gate. Overnight: Agra.
Day 4, June 4: Agra. Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. A dawn visit to 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. There are four geographically important places in the life of Buddha: birthplace (Lumbini, Nepal), place of enlightenment (Bodh Gaya, India), where he gave his first sermon (at the Deer Park in Sarnath, India) and where he left his mortal body (Kushinager, India). 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. Opportunity to shop, part on foot and part on rickshaws. Overnight: Agra.
Day 5, June 5: Varanasi. Varanasi's prominence in Hindu mythology is unrivaled. A city where the past and present, eternity and continuity co-exist. During a pre-dawn boat ride on the River Ganga we see riverside ghats and temples. 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. We then experience the city of Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world, by rickshaw and foot. Walking though the streets which are wide enough for a pedestrian to touch buildings on both sides of the street will give you the most memorable experience of any visit anywhere. Overnight: Varanasi.
Day 6, June 6: Khajurao. Khajurao. Sightseeing the city of Varanasi. See a temple where the deity is ones country. Fly to Khajurao. King Yasovarman began the era of temple construction around 930-1050 AD. 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. It is also 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. Such depiction of sex forms only a small fraction of all the carvings at Khajurao. Overnight: Khajuraho.
Day 7, June 7: Khajurao. The city of Khajuraho is the legacy of the Chandella Dynasty when construction of the temple began around 930 AD. Such detail in these sculptures like the depiction of strained muscles and cuts on the calf muscles or the biceps is unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Eighty five temple were built out of which twenty two survive. Overnight: Khajuraho.
Day 8, June 8: Orcha. Drive to Orcha, 3 1/2 hours away. 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 unique Ram Raja Mandir, the only temple where Ram is worshipped as a king. Participate in an Aarti at dusk at this temple. Photo opportunity at sunset. Overnight: Orcha.
Day 9, June 9: Bhopal. Depart for Bhopal by train, and after we arrive, we will take 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. Overnight: Bhopal.
Day 10, June 10: Bhopal. In Bhopal we will see: Taj-ul-Masjid the largest mosque in the country, (and the second largest in Asia) and the Jain Temple up on a hill, overlooking the city. Later, we will take a train to Delhi. Overnight: Delhi.
Day 11, June 11: Rishikesh. Early in the morning, we will drive to Haridwar, and then on to Rishikesh. Both these cities are considered amongst the holy cities in India for Hinduism since they are on the River Ganges and at the foothills of the Himalayas, at the start of the mighty river’s 2,000 mile journey through the plains of India, through Varanasi and into the Indian Ocean near Calcutta. Overnight: Rishikesh.
Day 12, June 12: Rishikesh. A day of leisure in Rishikesh. Overnight: Rishikesh.
Day 13, June 13: Rishikesh. Mid-morning, drive back to Delhi. Overnight: Delhi.
Day 14, June 14: 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. We will see: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the house where the eight Sikh Guru went to Delhi at the invitation of Raja Jai Singh, the largest Cathedral in India, the Bahai Temple, often called as the Taj Mahal of the 21st century, the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, designed as Emperor Shahjahan’s principal mosque, an austere yet beautiful building in red sandstone with white marble, and pulpit being carved out of a single block of marble. About 20,000 people can pray at a time in this mosque. In the afternoon, we will have an opportunity to shop. Evening Sound and Light at the Red Fort. Overnight: Delhi.
Day 15, June 15: Delhi. Full day at leisure. Depart late this night.
Day 16, June 16: USA. Arrive this afternoon.
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