Day 1, November 17: Delhi. Arrival at International airport, New Delhi. We meet you outside the customs and transfer you to the hotel, where you stay two nights at TAJ PALACE Delhi.
Day 2, November 18 (B): Delhi. Morning sightseeing of the Old City to see the Qutub Minar built in 1210. In the afternoon, we visit Humayun’s Tomb whose lovely gardens offer an escape from the heat. The RAJ GHAT, site of the cremation of three of India’s most revered leaders, Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, Indira Gandhi (no relation to the saintly man) in 1984 and her son Rajiv in 1991, all three assassinated by fanatics. Drive by India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhawan (President’s House), and other government official buildings built with wide boulevards, epitomizing the spirit of the British Raj.
Delphi: Delhi is a sprawling metropolis of 12 million, with a stunning backdrop of ancient and modern architecture. Geographically as well as historically, it consists of seven successive cities, with the British- built New Delhi making an eighth. Monuments in marble and sandstone are dotted around the Old City, whereas the colonial-style buildings from 1911 and the modern architecture after Independence on August 15, 1947, are found next to each other in New Delhi, which has been the seat of the central government since 1931.
Delhi’s brand new metro system, designed by American engineers Parsons Brinckerhoff, opened first phase in December 2002 and is expected to be completed in 2020. In the meantime, one has to weave a path through bicycles, auto- rickshaws, mopeds, cars, vans, buses, trucks, cows, bullock carts and hand- pulled trolleys to flow with the traffic, looking at Hindus and Moslems dressed in orthodox clothes, women wearing colorful saris or businessmen dressed in suits and ties going about their daily ordeals.
Day 3, November 19 (B): Agra. Today we drive southeast witnessing the mass of people moving about or selling goods along the highways, dressed in the most colorful clothes imaginable. We arrive in Agra where we stay two nights at the centrally located MUGHAL SHERATON. This afternoon we will visit the Agra Fort built by the great Moghul emperor Akbar and augmented by successive emperors until the last one Aurangzeb, who imprisoned his old father Shah Jahan here. From there you can catch a fabulous view of the Taj Mahal across River Yamuna , lit up by the setting sun.
Agra, the capital of India under the Moghul rulers is the third apex of the “Golden Triangle”. Jaipur and Delhi are others. It fully merits its status due to the magnificent Taj Mahal, which was best described by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as a “tear on the face of eternity”. It is above all, a mausoleum built by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan ( meaning Ruler of the Universe) over the tomb of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631 and the later his. Only he, of all his predecessors, had experience since the age of sixteen in designing monuments, and the recent discovery of an enigmatic diagram inscribed with numerous Islamic scriptures on the façade, leads scholars to believe that his tomb was intended as a reproduction of God’s throne in Heaven.
Day 4, November 20 (B): Agra. This morning we will visit the most alluring monument, The Taj Mahal built of white marble, with inlaid precious stones on its facades shinning like multi – colored garlands around one of mankind’s greatest creations. This afternoon we will visit the Itmad-ud-Daula described as “jewel box” or sometimes called the “ Baby Taj”, built between 1622 and 1628. This mausoleum was commissioned by Shah Jahan’s mother Nur Jahan.
Day 5, November 21 (B, L): Agra – Fatehpur Sikri – Jaipur. This morning we drive west to stop first at the former capital of the great Moghul emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri, now a ghost city. We visit the Royal Palace, Jodha Bai’s Palace and Birbal’s Mansion. Lunch enroute. We continue our journey west to arrive in Jaipur where we stay two nights at the incomparable The Raj Palace Hotel, built as one of the palaces in 1745.
Jaipur, the chaotic capital of the state of Rajasthan, is known as the “Pink City”, because of the rose pink color wash applied to its palaces and monuments when the city was spruced up for the visit of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert in 1876. It was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, who personally designed the City Palace and Jantar Mantar, the largest stone – built observatory in the world.
Day 6, November 22 (B): Jaipur. Morning sightseeing of this flamboyant showcase of Rajasthani architecture begins with driving by Jaipur’s landmark, Hawa Mahal or “Palace of Winds” built in 1799 to enable women of the court to watch street processions, while remaining unseen behind finely screened windows. We visit part of the City Palace Museums, Mubarak Mahal and the Hall of the Private Audience. We also visit the unique Jantar Mantar observatory to see a total of 18 instruments erected by Maharaja Jai Singh, many of them his own inventions, built between 1728 and 1734. Afternoon free for Shopping.
Day 7, November 23 (B,L,D): Jaipur - Samode. Today we drive northeast to stop first in Amber, the ancient Capital of Maharajas of Jaipur, where we begin the sightseeing of the Amber Fort, swaying up to the top of the hill on the back of an elephant. We visit the Palace Complex, with its lofty Hall of Public Audience, the dazzling Seesh Mahal – private chamber of former Kings and queens, and Sukh Mahal, where the marble rooms were cooled by water cascading through fine perforation in the center of the wall - an early and very efficient system of air-conditioning.
We have specially organize elephant safari in foot hills of Amer fort in a private farm followed by lunch. We continue our drive and arrive in Samode, where we stay one night at the Samode Palace Hotel. Dinner at the hotel. Samode, hidden among the arid Aravali Hills was the setting for the hit movie” The Far Pavilions” in 1980. The 18th century palace is implacably restored as an award- winning heritage hotel.
Day 8, November 24 (B, D): Samode – Pushkar. Today we drive southwest to stop first in Ajmer to see Daulat Bagh and Anna Sagar. Afternoon arrival in Pushkar, where we stay two nights at the Welcome Heritage Luxury Tent . Dinner in the restaurant on the property. Pushkar, came into existence, as per the Hindu legend, when Lord Bhrama, the Creator dropped his lotus flower to earth from his hand to kill a demon.
At the three spots where the petals landed, water magically appeared in the midst of the desert to form three blue lakes and it was on the banks of the largest of these that Lord Bhrama convened a gathering of some 900,000 celestial beings – the entire Hindu pantheon. Today, there are more than 500 temples built during the past two millenniums, around the lake during the past three millenniums.
Day 9, November 25 (B,L,D): Pushkar. Morning sightseeing of this very ancient city begins with the visit of some of the 52 Ghats which are waterside platforms and temples, each built by Rajasthani Maharajas, who employed their own priests to perform rituals during their stays. Witness the largest camel market in the world during the Pushkar Fair, where women dressed in mirrored multi–colored skirts and vivid shawls layout embroidered cloth, jewelry, and ornaments besides the herds of camels, cattle, sheep and goats sold by thousands of traders who gather in the sand dunes west of town, for one week in the month of November.
Day 10, November 26 (B,L): Pushkar – Jodhpur. This morning one more visit is made to photograph the festive multi-colored environment of the large Camel Fair. After Lunch at the property restaurant, we drive west to arrive in Jodhpur, where we stay two nights at the deluxe TAJ HARI MAHAL HOTEL. Dinner at hotel. Jodhpur, known as the “Blue City” due to the color wash of its old houses, is spread across the eastern fringe of the Thar Desert. It is overlooked by the mighty Mehrangarh Fort, whose ramparts rise from a steep sandstone outcrop. Described by Rudyard Kipling, as the work of angels and giants, it is a photographer’s dream at sunset.
Day 11, November 27 (B): Jodhpur. Morning sightseeing of the Mehrangarh Fort begins with an elevator ride up to the Palace level after going through first of seven gates which made the fort virtually impregnable, even to charging enemy on elephants. We will see the superb Mehrangarh Museum with solid silver “howdahs” - elephant seats, and palanquins on display. Nearby is the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), a dancing hall for the entertainment of the maharajas and his guests. The views of the city from the ramparts are simply breath taking. Afternoon safari to a village to see rural life in Rajasthan.
Day 12, November 28 (B,L): Ranakpur – Udaipur. Today we drive south to stop first in Ranakpur to visit the marvelous Jain Temples, the largest complex of its kind in India. We will see the main temple built in 1439 according to a strict system of measurements that had the number 72 at its core. The entire temple sits on a pedestal measuring 72 by 72 yards and is held up by 1440 (a divisor of 72) individually carved pillars.
Inside, there are 72 elaborately carved shrines and the main Jain deity, the four – faced Adinath which measures 72 inches tall. After lunch, we continue our drive to arrive in Udaipur where we stay one night at the new deluxe LEELA Kempensky hotel. Dinner at Hotel.
Udaipur, built around Lake Pichola is set majestically at the base of the rolling hills of the Aravali Range. Its skyline of whitewashed elaborately decorated mansions and tapering temples, covered with domes, and ornately carved balconies of the famous City Palace makes it the most romantic city in Rajasthan.
Day 13, November 29 (B): Udaipur – Delhi – U.S.A. Morning sightseeing begins with a visit to the City Palace founded in 1559, where the present Maharana still lives. We will see the massive courtyard Toran Pole, where elephants once lined up for inspection before battle, brilliant miniature paintings on marble and granite walls and three large peacocks composed of 5000 pieces of glass, glittering in green, gold and blue.
We will also visit the Sahelion ki Badi. This afternoon, we take a domestic airline flight to Delhi, where we will have our Gala Farewell Dinner at a deluxe hotel near the airport. We transfer you to the Delhi International Airport for the flight on airline of your choice back to U.S.A., arriving home the next day.
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