Day 1: Depart London Heathrow.
Day 2: Arrive Delhi in the morning. Reception upon arrival at the International airport and transfer to Hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of New Delhi. Visit Qutab Minar (1193 A.D.). This striking medieval tower of victory, built by the slave dynasty, is 73 m high. Within the Qutab complex, amidst the ruins of Quwat-ul-Islam mosque, stands the Iron pillar which has stood the vagaries of weather and has not rusted for over 1500 years. Continue your tour to visit the Humayun’s Tomb. Free time before dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 3: Delhi-Agra-Delhi. Tea/coffee at the hotel. Early morning transfer to Agra by train and transfer to Hotel for Breakfast. After breakfast visit Fatehpur Sikri. This deserted, red sandstone city, built by Emperor Akbar, between 1570 and 1585, now glows in its magnificent past. This was once the capital of the Moghul Empire for a short period but later abandoned due to scarcity of water. Here you will visit the Bulund Darwaza (the Gate of Victory), which is said to be the tallest gateway in the world. In the northern part of the courtyard is the superb white marble tomb of the famous Sufi saint - Shaik Salim Chishti. This tomb was built in 1570 and legend says that the Moghul Emperor Akbar was without a male heir because of which he made a barefoot pilgrimage from Agra to seek the blessings of this saint.
The saint foretold the birth of a son, and in gratitude Akbar named his son Salim, who was later called by the title Jehangir. Return to Agra for lunch. After lunch, proceed for a city tour where you will experience the Taj Mahal. An extravagant marble monument of love, built by Shah Jahan in 1653 as a memorial to his queen Mumtaz Mahal. This beautiful mausoleum in pure white marble took 22 years and 22,000 craftsmen to build. Continue your tour to the Agra Fort, the original red sandstone fort built by Moghul Emperor Akbar in 1565. The Fort’s maze of courtyards, its marble mosque and lavish private chambers reflect the grandeur of the Mughal Empire. Free time before the evening train transfer Delhi. Transfer to Hotel dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 4: Delhi. Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning we make a sightseeing tour of Old Delhi beginning with a visit to Jama Mosque, the largest mosque in India, built in 1650 AD. This is followed by a drive past the Red Fort (1639-48), built by Emperor Shah Jahan, creator of The Taj Mahal. Later proceed to Raj Ghat - the site of the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Lunch at local restaurant. In the afternoon we visit the Akshardham Temple, built without steel, and entirely composed of sandstone and marble. It consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangled shikhars, a spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants) and 20,000 murtis and statues of India's great sadhus, devotees, acharyas and divine personalities.
The monument is a fusion of several architectural styles of pink stone and pure white marble. Pink stone symbolizes bhakti (devotion) in eternal bloom and white marble of absolute purity and eternal peace. The monument was built after over 300 million man hours of services rendered by 11,000 volunteers, sadhus and artisans. It is the one of the wonders of the modern world, and of modern India. Evening Indian Classical dance show at Parsi Anjuman hall followed by dinner at Chore Bizzare Restaurant of Hotel Broadway. Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 5: Delhi - Indore - Maheshwar. Early morning flight from Delhi to Indore and drive to Maheshwar (91 km/2.5 hours). On arrival check-in at Hotel, lunch at the hotel. Free time to explore Maheshwar. Maheshwar was a glorious city at the dawn of Indian civilization when it was Mahishmati, capital of king Kartivarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Maheshwar's temples and mighty fort-complex stand in quiet beauty, mirrored in the river below. In the evening we enjoy a boat ride from hotel to Ahilya Fort and Dinner at Ahilya Fort. Return to hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 6: Maheshwar. Full day trip to Mandu (41 km/1.5 hours each-way). Perched along the Vindhya ranges at an altitude of 2,000 feet, Mandu, with its natural defenses, was originally the fort capital of the Parmar rulers of Malwa. Towards the end of the 13th century, it came under the sway of the Sultans of Malwa, the first of whom named it Shadiabad - "city of joy". And indeed the pervading spirit of Mandu was of gaiety; and its rulers built exquisite palaces like the Jahaz and Hindola Mahals, ornamental canals, baths and pavilions, as graceful and refined as those times of peace and plenty Lunch in Mandu. Return to Maheshwar. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 7: Maheshwar - Aurangabad. After breakfast, drive from Maheshwar to Aurangabad (313 km/8 hours). Picnic lunch at Burhanpur. Aurangabad, derived from the Persian word meaning "Built by the Throne" and named after Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, is a city in Maharashtra, India. The city is a tourist hub, surrounded with many historical monuments. On arrival check-in at Hotel, dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 8: Aurangabad. Full day excursion to Ajanta Caves where you will visit many of the thirty temples, which have been carved out of a cliff by Buddhist monks between the 2nd century BC and 7th century AD. Although the Ajanta paintings are particularly notable, there are many interesting sculptures as well. Optional visit to Fabric outlet. Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 9: Aurangabad - Secunderabad (Hyderabad). Visit the extraordinary cave temples of Ellora which are about 30 km from Aurangabad. The sculptures are remarkable and the main feature of interest is the Kailasa Temple. Chronologically, the Ellora caves start where the Ajanta caves finish. In all there 34 caves at Ellora: 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain. Lunch near Ellora. After lunch proceed for an excursion to Daulatabad - situated between Aurangabad and the Ellora Caves. The Fort is surrounded by five km of sturdy wall while the central bastion tops a two hundred metre high hill. In the 14th century the slightly nutty Muhammed Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi, conceived the crazy plan of not only building himself a new capital but marching the entire population of Delhi 1100 km south to populate it. Also visit Bibi-Ka-Maqbara. Free time before dinner. After dinner transfer to Secunderabad. Overnight on board the train.
Day 10: Secunderabad - Hyderabad. Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh’s capital city, Hyderabad has the atmosphere of an Arabian Night’s fairy tale. Hyderabad, India’s 5th largest city, was founded in 1590 by Muhammad Quli, the fourth of the Qutab Shahi kings. They ruled this part of the Deccan from 1512 until 1687. The city’s historical connection traces itself to the rulers or Nizams whose wealth was and still is legendary. Brunch at the hotel. Afternoon visit The Tombs of Qutab Shahi. Located two km from the Golconda Fort amidst picturesque landscaped gardens, known as Ibrahim Bagh, is the royal cemetery of the Qutub Shahi kings. Characterized by an ostentatious display of arches, domes, minarets and columns, most of the tombs are a marvel of Indo-Persian and Deccan architectural style.
A living testimony of the glory and grandeur of Golconda and its kings, the tombs still retain their original glory despite the combined assault of time, weather and man. Built on square bases surrounded by pointed arches, most of the tombs form a large cluster. The Qutb Shahi Tomb complex houses about 30 tombs of both the rulers as well as those who were not related to royalty. The tombs are in two large quadrangular enclosures, the first of which houses the mausoleums of Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah, Ibrahim Quli, Jamsheed Quli, Sultan Quli and Kulsoom begum, daughter of Muhammed Qutub Shah. In another quadrangle are the tombs of Muhammed Qutub Shah, Hayath Bakshi Begum, Taramathi and Premamathi, the last two being the favorite courtesans of Abdullah Qutub Shah whose tomb is outside of the quadrangles. Evening Sound and Light show at Golconda Fort, one of the most magnificent fortresses in India. In the 16th Century Sultan Quli Qutab Shah from Persia declared Golconda his capital. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 11: Hyderabad. Morning visit Chomalu Palace (Nizam’s Palace). “The Charminar”, standing in the heart of the Old walled city and surrounded by lively bazaars, this huge arch of triumph was built by Muhammad Quli Qutab Shah in 1591 to commemorate the end of a plague in Hyderabad. Next to Charminar is the “Mecca Mosque”, one of the largest mosques in the world, its construction began in 1614 during the reign of Muhammad Quli Qutab Shah and was not finished until 1687. Lunch in a local restaurant. Free time or afternoon visit to Government Handicraft shops and/or Birla Temple. Dinner at Restaurant. Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 12: Hyderabad–Bidar-Gulbarga. Drive from Hyderabad to Bidar (150 km/3 hours). Coffee on arrival at Kamath Restaurant in Bidar. This walled town, located in the extreme North-East corner of Karnatakakt, was once the capital of the Bahmani Kingdom and later the capital of the Barid Shahi dynasty. It is today a pleasant town with a splendid 15th century fort containing the Rajeenmahal, Chini Mahal and Turkish Mahal Palaces. The impressive Khwaja Mahmud Gawan Madrasa in the middle of town has a few colourful remains of typical Islamic mosaics. We will also visit the huge tombs of the Bahmani and Barid Kings. Lunch in Bidar. At 17:00 drive from Bidar to Gulbarga (3 hours drive) and upon arrival check-in at Hotel, dinner at Kamath Restaurant (Vegetarian), overnight at the Hotel.
Day 13: Gulbarga - Bijapur. Morning sightseeing tour of Gulbarga. This town was the Bahmani capital from 1347 until its transfer to Bidar in 1428. Later the kingdom broke up into a number of smaller kingdoms: Bijapur, Bidar, Berar, Ahmednagar and Golconda. Gulbarga’s old moated fort is in a much deteriorated state, but it has a number of interesting buildings inside, including the Jama Masjid, reputed to have been built by a Moorish architect, who imitated the great mosque in Cordoba, Spain. The mosque is unique in India, with a huge dome covering the whole area, four smaller ones at the corners, and 75 smaller still all the way around. The fort itself has 15 towers. Gulbarga also has a number of imposing tombs of Bahmani kings, a shrine to an important Muslim saint and the Sharana Basaveshwara Temple. Lunch at the hotel.
After lunch drive from Gulbarga to Bijapur (150 km/3 hours). Bijapur, known as the Agra of the south, this village is full of ruined and still-intact gems of 15th to 17th century Muslim architecture. Littered with mosques, mausoleums, palaces and fortifications, Bijapur was the capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty (1489—1686), one of the five splinter states formed when the Bahamani Muslim Kingdom broke up in 1482. The others being Bidar, Golconda, Ahmednagar and Gulbarga. Bijapur today is a pleasant garden town, still strongly muslim in character. On arrival check-in at Hotel, dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 14: Bijapur. Morning visit to Gol Gumbaz, the second largest dome in the world, and the Jamia Masjid. Lunch in Kamath Restaurant. Afternoon visit to the huge cannon, Malike Maidan, one of the largest guns ever made in medieval times and then to the Ibrahim Roza, the elegant mausoleum and mosque built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1626). Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 15: Bijapur - Sholapuri - Mumbai. Drive from Bijapur to Sholapur (approximate 85 km/2 hours) airport in time to board flight for Mumbai. India’s western gateway is Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra. The island of Mumbai defines itself straight from the dictionary: vibrant, vivid and electrifying. The city’s rise from the dowry of a Portuguese queen (when Catherine of Braganza married England’s Charles II in 1661) to the country’s foremost sea port, commercial center and home to the worlds largest film industry, has been nothing short of meteoric. Mumbai is now the economic powerhouse of India. Free time before dinner at Khyber Restaurant. Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 16: Mumbai. Morning excursion to Elephanta Island. Just 10 km north east of Apollo Bundur, Mumbai’s major tourist attraction famous for its four rock cut temples. These temples were cut out between 450 and 750 A.D. and at that time the island was known as Gharapuri, the Fortress city. This was renamed “Elephanta” by the Portuguese. The most renowned of the caves’ sculptures is a Trimurthi, a 3 headed, 20 ft tall figure of Lord Shiva. The walk to the caves is lined by street-side stalls selling Indian crafts etc. Lunch in a local Restaurant. Optional afternoon sightseeing tour of Mumbai, the tour begins at the “Prince of Wales Museum“, built to commemorate King George V’s first visit to India in 1905.
Designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, it has sections of art, paintings, archaeology and natural history dating back from 18th to 19th century. “The Gateway of India” Mumbai’s foremost landmark overlooking the harbor, was conceived following the visit of King George V in 1911 and officially opened in 1924. A drive up to the Malabar Hill, to the hanging gardens, gives a panoramic view of the city and the Queens Necklace – the Marine Drive. The tour concludes with a drive through the Flora Fountain and Fort area and view the Gothic and Victorian style buildings. Visit the Victoria Terminus (now known as Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus) India’s finest Gothic building and a bustling Railway Station. Continue drive around the Horniman Circle and visit the Town Hall, right besides the docks. Dinner at Trishna Restaurant (Sea Food). Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 17: Mumbai - London. Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer from hotel to the airport. Depart Mumbai and arrive Heathrow in the evening.
Note: All non Indian passport holders need a valid Indian Visa from country of Origin Passport must be valid for six months from the date of entry.
- The leadership of professors Robert and Carole Hillenbrand
- Tour management throughout by Beverley Willcox
- All international and domestic airfares
- Travel insurance
- 14 nights accommodation in 3-5* hotels on twin sharing basis with all meals starting with lunch
- Arrival/departure transfers and sightseeing by air-conditioned coach
- Services of a local English speaking guide in Delhi, Agra and Mumbai
- Services of an accompanying English speaking guide from Indore till Aurangabad and again from Hyderabad till departure from Sholapur
- Train fare for sectors Delhi - Agra - Delhi by Shatabdi Express by a/c chair car
- Train fare from Aurangabad to Secunderabad in air-conditioned class
- All applicable taxes on hotel and transport
- All entrance fees to monuments as per the itinerary
- Service of an accompanying escort from arrival till departure from Mumbai
- Boat ride from Hotel Narmada Retreat to Ahilya Fort in Maheshwar for dinner
- Dinner with drinks at Ahilya Fort
- Mineral water during sightseeing and long drives
- Porterage at the airports and hotels
- Tipping in hotels, restaurants and to guides
- Special Northwest Frontier food dinner at Khyber restaurant
- Special seafood dinner at Trishna Restaurant in Mumbai.
Single supplement: £ 640 per person.
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Asia India Local Culture Cultural Journey Sightseeing