A Heritage Trip with Carol and Martin Noval
14 October to 1 November
Join Carol and Martin and a small group of travelers and time travel into a remote past in the still alive ancient world of India.
DELHI - JAIPUR - RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK - KARAULI - KEOLADEO GHANA NATIONAL PARK - FATEHPUR SIKRI - AGRA - ORCHHA - KHAJURAHO - VARANASI - DELHI
In Varanasi, India 's most sacred city, join pilgrims from all over India in witnessing and being part of ancient rituals and a timeless way of life. Ride in bicycle rickshaws and walk through the city's fascinating lanes and dazzling bazaars. Go boating on the sacred river Ganges in the rosy light of sunrise and sunset; glide by temples and palaces, and ghats thronged with priests and worshippers and discover the ancient world living on this river, a timeless stream of wisdom and myth. We'll be in Varanasi for the Sharad Purnima (Full Moon) Festival when boating on the Ganges in the moonlight is a special occasion.
Our trip begins in New Delhi, a spacious garden city with tree-lined avenues and beautiful parks; here we'll see great landmarks of the British colonial period, monumental expressions of an imperial vision. In Old Delhi, we visit the Friday Mosque, temples and walk the lanes of its bustling bazaars. The 12th-century Qutb Minar, the world's tallest victory tower, and the buildings around it are an amazing fusion of Indian and Islamic architecture and styles-a stunning example of the way India has always embraced diverse people and traditions and made them her own.
Jaipur, capital city of the State of Rajasthan, India's "land of kings," was built in the 18th century. It is entirely walled, with massive gateways, grand palaces and colorful bazaars and all painted in vibrant pink ("the soft, rich tint of strawberry ice cream," said Mark Twain when he visited the town in 1879. Planned according to ancient Hindu architectural canons, the layout of the city is in harmony with the structure of the universe. Jaipur is a vibrant town, peopled with mustachioed men in phosphorescent turbans and bold women in bright sweeping skirts. Traditional products are still made in pre-industrial ways and transported within the city on camel cart: the distinctive Rajasthani upturned, pointy-toed shoes, and a kaleidoscopic array of tie-dye and woodblock hand-printed fabrics and precious stones, gold and silver jewelry.
Visit the Jaipur City Palace and the Jantar Mantar with its monumental, surreal "instruments for measuring the heavens." The gigantic stone sundials in this royal observatory tell time accurately to the second. The Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, the emblem of the city, is a façade with 953 windows, each with a different stone lattice design, so ladies of the court could sit unseen and watch royal processions pass through the street below.
Long before Jaipur was built, the kingdom's capital was Amber Fort, on the outskirts of modern Jaipur. This is a fairy tale of a place with beautifully decorated pavilions, water channels, crenelated walls and panoramic views over the rugged highly defensible countryside. Its ornate palaces contain rooms covered in mosaics of countless convex mirrors, which delighted kings and queens as a single flame transformed them into star-filled skies. Like the royals of old, we ride up to Amber Fort on the backs of richly caparisoned elephants
Agra is home to the Taj Mahal: floating in its garden, ethereal and insubstantial as a dream, this architectural masterpiece, archetype of purity of form, is grand in conception yet subtle and beautiful in detail. Nearby Fatehpur Sikri is the Emperor Akbar's perfectly preserved 16th-century palace complex and it brings to life the enlightened atmosphere of his court.
We explore two of India's finest wildlife sanctuaries. Once the hunting preserve of the Maharajas of Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park is one of the world's most picturesque game reserves. Bengal tigers roam amid its fort's ancient ramparts in a magnificent rugged, jungle-covered landscape dotted with palaces and royal pavilions.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park is one of the world's great bird sanctuaries. A World Heritage Site, it provides up-close views of tens of thousands of birds of hundreds of species: storks, spoonbills, ibises, egrets, cranes, cormorants, parakeets, lapwings, hornbills, woodpeckers, ducks, geese, owls, and eagles, to name only some of the most prominent. We view the birds from cycle rickshaws on the shaded embankments of this oasis created by the maharaja as his private hunting grounds.
Before India gained independence in 1947, it comprised hundreds of independent princely states each with its own ruler, fort, palace and even its own currency, passports and postage stamps. One of these, Karauli, has been called "history's sideshow," for it never rose to great power, but it was never razed either and so the town retains traditional flavor and charm. Famous for its orange-red sandstone, a bastioned wall of it surrounds the town and its narrow streets are paved with it too. The old City Palace is a treasure trove of architecture, stone carvings, gorgeous jali (stone screen) work and classic Rajasthani paintings. The palace's main or Durbar Hall is spellbindingly beautiful. Witness devotional life at Kaila Devi Temple Festival and at the Madan Mohan Krishna Temple. Walk the town's bazaars for their local color and local handicrafts; watch colorful lac bangles made before your eyes. We stay in a gracious and atmospheric palace hotel full of royal memorabilia.
Surrounded by forested countryside, Orchha has grand and monumental "Escheresque" palaces, temples and nobles' mansions on a fortified river isle, and a charming village ambience. One fabulous palace was built for a Mughal Emperor's single night's stay.
Today Khajuraho is a small village in Central India, but a thousand years ago kings of the Chandela dynasty erected eighty-five temples here. Opulently decorated, each temple is an architectural masterpiece, a microcosmic mountain adorned with exquisitely carved, sensuous, often explicitly erotic sculpture. Abandoned and neglected for more than 700 years, Khajuraho today is a World Heritage Monument and the most alluring temple site in India.
On this trip, we journey by air, rail and road to India 's greatest attractions and wonders and stay in luxurious modern hotels, noblemen's mansions (opulent fantasies of art and design) and a 17th century royal guest house.
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