East India has a rich and ancient heritage. Two great religious leaders, Gautam Buddha and Mahavir Jain, were born here. Great empires such as the Mauryan flourished here and many centuries later the British established their first capital in Kolkata (Calcutta). As a major entry point into the East, Kolkata offers a vantage to the exotic Northeastern states, the Himalayas, eastern beaches and Buddhist trail. The 14 century Qutab Shahi dynasty laid the foundations of Hyderabad city. Though well south of the Vindhya mountain range, Hyderabad exudes a cultural amalgamation of Eastern and Southern India.
Historically the states of South India remained untouched by the turmoil of the North. When the Aryans began their vast migration into India, each wave displaced some of the original inhabitants southward. The invasion of South was never completed and Dravidian culture survived from ancient times without real threat of extinction. The southern rulers traded by sea with the west, perhaps long ago at the time of of Babylon. In the east they controlled the trade routes as far as China. Their kings patronised learning and the fine arts, a rich heritage enjoyed by the inhabitants even today. Indo Asia's Calcutta to Cochin includes some of the highlights of Eastern and Southern India. An area vibrating with community life-bazaars, smells, colors, music, dance and worship. Come feel the never-ending presence of a glorious civilization.
Day 1: Delhi
Fight to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi transfer to the hotel. Check time is 1200 hrs.
Day 2: Delhi
In Delhi's 3000 years of existence, seven cities stood where the present capital of India stands. Here you'll encounter a fascinating blend of the ancient and the contemporary - where government buildings, medieval palaces and bazaars exist besides a modern metropolis. Delhi is a city waiting to be explored.
After breakfast sightseeing of Old and New Delhi.
Visit the 7th city of Delhi, Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) which was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1639-48 AD) after he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi. Red Fort – the 17th century imposing fortress built in red sandstone is surrounded by a huge boundary wall 33m high. Inside are exquisite palaces and beautiful gardens. Opposite the Red Fort lies Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) made of red sandstone and white marble, completed in 1656. It is India's largest mosque where more than 20.000 people can kneel in prayer. Visit Raj Ghat on the banks of the river Yamuna, Mahatma Gandhi's Memorial, where he was cremated following his assassination in January 1948. The memorial lies in the midst of landscaped gardens and made of a simple square platform of black marble inscribed with his last words "Hey Ram". An eternal flame burns 24 hours.
Afternoon visit New Delhi.
The Humayun's Tomb, built by his wife Haji Begum in the 16th. Century. An early example of Mughal architecture considered the predecessor of the Taj Mahal. The Qutub Minar – the landmark of Delhi, a huge tower of victory started in 1199 and completed in 1368. The minar is 72.5m high with a diameter at the base 14.4m and 2.7m at the top. Proceed to the Rashtrapati Bhawan once the Viceroy's residence is now the official residence of the President of India. Designed by Lutyens, it combines western and eastern styles – the dome reflects the Buddhist stupa, the chattris Hindu and the graceful colonnades very British. It has 340 rooms. The Government Buildings designed by Baker, are topped by baroque domes and decorated with lotus motifs and elephants, while the north and south gateways are Mughal in design. The northern building has an inscription with "Liberty will not descend to a people; a people must raise themselves to liberty.
It is a blessing which must be earned before it can be enjoyed". The Parliament House, designed by Baker is 173m in diameter. Inside is the library and chambers for the council of state, chamber of princes and legislative assembly. The India Gate (42m), commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who died in the 1st world war. 13516 names of British and Indian soldiers killed in the Afghan War of 1919 are engraved on the arch and foundations. Under the arch, the Amar Jawan Jyoti commemorating Indian armed forces' losses in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 3: Delhi - Varanasi
After breakfast transfer to airport for flight to Varanasi. Arrive Varanasi and transfer to hotel.
Varanasi derives its name from the two streams – Varuna in the north and Assi in the south, the British corrupted the name Varanasi to Banaras. The oldest name is Kashi, which means `the City of Light'. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the holiest city for the Hindus, also for the Jains, because the three tirthankars, 7th, 11th & 23rd were born here. It is believed that anyone who dies here goes straight to heaven The city draws pilgrims from all over the world, to worship, meditate and above all to bathe.
After check in at the hotel, excursion to Sarnath, 9 km from Varanasi, one of Buddhism's major centers in India. It was here that Buddha gave his first Sermon after attaining Nirvana. In the complex is the Dhamekh Stupa (5th-6th AD) or Dharma Chakra, the most imposing monument at Sarnath built to commemorate the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon to the five disciples. Also visit Dharmarajika Stupa that was built by Emperor Ashoka (273-326 BC). From this stupa a green marble casket containing human bones and pearls was found, said to be the relics of Buddha. It was the seat for Buddha's meditation. To the rear is the 5m lower portion polished sandstone Asokan Column (3rd century).
The Deer Park on the south – west, has several species of deer. On the way back to the Hotel visit a modern Buddhist temple which has beautiful life size frescos of Buddhas life. In the vicinity is the sapling of the Bodhi tree brought from Sri Lanka, under which Buddha sat and attained enlightenment.
Overnight stay at the Hotel.
Day 4: Varanasi - Kolkata
Today early morning you experience the life of this ancient city. See the beauty of the rising sun on the Ganges Boat Ride. The boat ride passes along some of the 100 ghats, with numerous palaces built by Hindu kings. Experience the early morning rituals of the Hindus being performed, thousands of people taking a bath in the holy river believing they will be free from the circle of rebirth. It is interesting to see the pilgrims offering sweets, flowers and holy water to the Sun God.
Return to the hotel for breakfast. You are free for the rest of the morning.
In the afternoon enjoy the feel of this holiest of holy cities – Varanasi. Visit the Bharat Mata Temple inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. It is a relief map of `Mother India' in marble made to scale. The Durga Temple (18th century) built in Nagara style is painted red and has the typical five spires (symbolising the elements) merging into one (Brahma). The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is one of the largest campus universities in India. Founded by Madan Mohan Malaviya at the turn of the century. It was originally intended for the study of Sanskrit, India art, music and culture. Drive through the university, which today has all the faculties of arts and science. Many of our earlier Indian leaders passed out from here.
The New Visvanath Temple built in 1966 is located on the campus, and dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the tallest in India.
Rooms till 1200 hrs. In the evening transfer to the railway station to connect overnight train to Howrah ( 2030/0645 hrs).
Overnight in the train.
Day 5: Kolkata
Arrival in Howrah at 0645 hrs and transfer to the hotel.( ROOMS WILL BE AVAILABLE FROM 1200 HRS ONWARDS)
Kolkata, a mere village in the 17th century, has grown in just 300 years, into one of the biggest metropolis in the world, with the dubious distinction of being India's second largest city, and the commercial hub of the eastern region. A proud cultural and intellectual capital of India, with an outstanding contribution to the arts, science, medicine and social reform in its past and rich contemporary cultural life.
Afternoon half day sightseeing Kolkata. As the former Imperial capital, Kolkata retains some of the country's most striking colonial buildings, yet at the same time it is truly an Indian city.
Visit Victoria Memorial : A splendid architectural structure in white marble, modeled on the Taj Mahal, was built in the early 20th century in memory of Queen Victoria and was formally inaugurated by the Prince of Wales in 1921 who later became King Edward VIII of England. The stately bronze statue of the queen near the entrance, the brass canons, wrought iron street lamps, manicured lawns, gardens and pathways, the magical lighting effect in the evening and a fairy tale 'Fountain of Joy' facing the memorial building create an atmosphere of unforgettable charm. Botanical Gardens: There Gardens have great variety of flora and fauna, all carefully classified. There is also a 250 years old great Banyan tree measuring around 400 meters in circumference. Kali Temple: Famous temple dedicated to Goddess Kali and located at Kaligha, built in 1809 in typical Bengal style of architecture. A large number of devotees visit the temple on festive Durga Puja.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 6: Kolkata - Bhubaneshwar
After breakfast in hotel transfer to the airport to connect flight to Bhubaneshwar. On arrival in Bhubaneshwar, transfer to the hotel.
Bhubaneshwar is the capital of Orissa State. Set on the edge of the lush green rice fields of the Mahanadi Delta, the pleasantly broad street of the planned town, offer a striking contrast to the architectural legacy of its period of greatness over one thousand years. The graceful towers of those early temples, complemented by the extraordinary fineness of the stone carving make Bhubaneswar one of the most rewarding destinations in East India.
Afternoon excursion to the caves of Udayagiri (hill of sunrise) and Kandagiri (broken hill). These 2nd -3rd century BC caves on the two low hills of Udaigiri and Khandgiri are 8 km from Bhubaneswar. Around 63 caves said to be made by the Jain ascetics. There are monasteries in the caves of Udaigiri, where small monk cells are found.
Cave 1 Rani-Gumpha (royal caves) is the largest and most impressive of the 17 caves. It is a double storeyed monastery cut on three sides with fine wall friezes and some pillars. The pilasters at the entrance to the cell and the arches are beautifully carved with religious and royal scenes while the main with an inner yard.
Khandagiri: Noteworthy are caves 1, 2 known as Tatowa Gumpha, cave 3 Ananta Gumpha and cave 7 known as Navamuni Gumpha, and 9 known as Trisula Gumpha. These caves have arches, pilasters, doorways, friezes, with carvings of birds, animals, various symbols like the svastika regarded as auspicious by the Jains. Royal elephants with a turbaned royal person, identified as Surya, the Sun god. Lakshmi the goddess of wealth in the lotus pond with elephants holding pots from which she is taking a bath. Cave 7 has the sculptures of 7 Tirthankaras and two reliefs, one of Parsvanatha and the sage Rishabanatha.
Return to Bhubaneshwar.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7: Bhubaneshwar
After breakfast sightseeing in Bhubaneshwar. You will see the important temples, with time to explore the city.
The Lingaraja-Temple (1000 AD) with its 54 m high square tower known as the Sri Mandir dominates the landscape. It represents the peak of achievement of the Orissan middle period, one of India's most remarkable architectural achievements. Non Hindus are not allowed inside. However, it is possible to get an impression of the main features of the temple from a specially constructed viewing platform outside.
The Mukteshwara-Temple (around 900 AD) is one of the most beautifully decorated with outstanding carvings. New Designs are in evidence, which include graceful female figures and pilasters carved with snake figures. Most strikingly, the porch has a new and more dramatic layered form. In this temple the Torana - gateway arches with flower ornaments, medallions with 2 female figures are very unique.
Raja Rani Temple (early 11 century) a form of a sanctuary is striking. The main tower 18 m high is surrounded by four miniature copies, giving the sanctuary an almost circular appearance.
The Vaital-Temple (7.-8.century) has a double story carriage shelter and what surprises one, is that it gives an impression of being influenced by Buddhist cave architecture. Another striking feature is the temple's tantric associations, marked by its presiding deity, Chamunda (a terrible form of Durga).
Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 8: Bhubaneshwar - Konark (64 kms) - Puri (20 kms)
After breakfast drive to Puri. Around mid noon you arrive in Konark one of the most vivid architectural treasure of Hindu India and a World Heritage site. The shore temple is the last phase of the temple architecture of the Kalinga dynasty (13 Century). Dedicated to the Sun God "Surya", the temple is in the form of a chariot. It has 12 wheels, which denote the 12 months in a year and 7 horses denote the 7 days in a week. The temple was conceived to reflect a picture of life, with sculptures of every aspect of life – dancers, musicians, figures from mythology, scenes of love and war, court life, hunting, elephant fights. A significant section is erotic art.
Further drive to Puri, one of the 7 holy cities of India, most holy for the followers of God Vishnu.. After arrival check-in in the hotel.
Afternoon visit Jagannath Temple, an attraction for the Hindus. Non Hindus are not allowed into the temple. From the terrace of a Library opposite the temple, you can have a view of the inner temple. The original temple built in Kalinga style consisted of the sanctuary and the jagamohan audience hall. The wooden figures of the three deities, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra stand in the sanctuary garlanded and decorated by the priests. The Rath Yatra, Lord Jagannath's car festival commemorates Lord Krishna's journey from Gokul to Mathura in an extraordinary riot of colour and noise. Shaped like a temple sanctuary and brightly decorated, a 13 m car of Lord Jagannath with 16 wheels, accompanied by bedecked elephants. The procession is led by Balabhadra chariot, followed by Subhadra's and Lord Jagannath in the rear. About 4000 pilgrims need to draw each chariot.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 9: Puri - Bhubaneshwar - Hyderabad
Drive to Bhubaneshwar to connect flight to Hyderabad ( operates only on Tue, Thu, Sat). Arrival in Hyderabad and transfer to the hotel.
Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, along with its twin city Secunderabad, resembles a legendary city from the Arabian Nights The City was founded in the late 16th century by the Qutub Shahi Dynasty. The City of Hydrerabad is known for its minarets and its pearl bazar.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Hyderabad
After breakfast an excursion to Golconda Fort (1512 – 1687) The fort city built in the phase ending Muslim architecture in the Deccan. It was the former capital of the Qutab Shahi dynasty. The fort known for the use of acoustics in its architectural design – sound signals could be passed from the gates to the top of the fort without the use of modern equipment.
While driving back to city visit city's landmark, the Char Minar (four minarets built in the 16th century) in the middle of the old city. There is a beautiful mosque on the second floor and a large water tank in the centre. Drive further to an old palace of the Nizams, the Purani Haveli (1671-1748), a vast mansion comprising 11 buildings, and Salar Jung Museum which has probably the most comprehensive one-man-collection of the Nizam, once the wealthiest man in the world. 33 rooms housing Indian textiles and bronzes, Indian sculpture, minor arts of South India, printed fabrics and glass, children's section, Ivory room, armaments, metal ware, modern Indian painting, Indian miniatures, European art, jade, European bronzes, clock room, manuscripts, Far Eastern porcelain and a Kashmiri room. Needs more than a day to see it in detail.
Overnight at the hotel.
IMP: SALAR JUNG MUSEUM CLOSED ON FRIDAY.
Day 11: Hyderabad - Chennai
After breakfast transfer to the airport to connect flight to Chennai. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Formerly Madras is now Chennai. The city traces its origin to 1639 when Francis Day a trader with the British East India Company, built a trading post – Fort St. George, near the village of Madraspatnam. Today Chennai is the fourth largest city of India with a population of 5,5 million people. Also called as "Hollywood of India" it is the center for making South Indian films.
Afternoon half day tour of Chennai. Visit Kapaleshvara Temple in Mylapore, dedicated to God Shiva and offers a good example of South Indian colourful temple architecture. An opportunity to mingle with the pilgrims. Fort St. George – a British trading post and powerful bastion and entrance to South India. The 16th century Portuguese old Cathedral of St. Thomas Church in which the remnants of St. Thomas is buried who came to India in 52 AD. Pass by the University built in Indo-Sarscenic style, as well as 5 km long Marina Beach, a lovely esplanade by the sea, and National Museum with sculptures from Pallava, Pandava and Chola time which houses archaeology, art, exceptionally beautiful bronzes statues, with exhibits of stone and iron age.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 12: Chennai - Mahabalipuram - Via Kancheepuram
After breakfast drive to Mahabalipuram. Enroute visit Kancheepuram (64km), the "Golden City". It was once the capital of the Pallavas and the Cholas. These two powerful ruling dynasties gave the city its numerous temples and tanks. The city is also famous for its "Kancheepuram Silk". It has still has 150 active temples, dedicated various gods and goddesses. Kancheepuram is also one of 7 holy cities in India.
First visit the Kailashnath Temple, one of the oldest temples, built in 7th century AD It is built of sand stone and house some of the most elegant sculptures of Natraja (Shiva in Kosmic dance). The Kailashnath temple also contains some remnants of mural paintings belonging to the Pallavas period. After this visit Ekambareshwara- Temple, the biggest in the city, are large complexes with mandapas, tanks and sculptured halls with devotees who still flock here. It has an ancient mango tree, and it's believed that its branches represent the four vedas and its fruits are said to have a different taste.
Further drive to Mahabalipuram. On arrival in Mahabalipuram check in at the hotel.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 13: Mahabalipuram
After breakfast transport yourself to the yesteryears, the magnificent rock temples and carvings. Five Rathas (chariots) ceremonial chariots, rock-cut monoliths, named after the 5 Pandavas - heroes of the Mahabharata epic and Draupadi their wife. The Shore Temple by the sea surrounded by gardens designed according to descriptions of the original layout from ancient times. Built in sandstone in the 7th century. Bhagiratha's Penance is a bas- relief (27 to 9m) sculptured on the face of two enormous adjacent rocks, depicts, the penance of Arjuna, myraid characters from the Mahabharata, realistic life-size figures of animals, gods and saints watching the descent of the river goddess Ganga to earth. After sightseeing drive back to hotel.
Rest of the day is free.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 14: Mahabalipuram - Madurai
After breakfast drive to Madurai. It is the cultural capital of Tamilnadu. Here, the Dravidian culture reached its zenith in art, architecture, palaces and temple buildings. Once the capital of powerful Nayaka kings, a bustling city packed with pilgrims, businessmen, bullock carts and legions of rickshaw pullers. Its narrow overcrowded streets seem to be bursting at the seams with activity. Southern India's oldest center for pilgrimage and learning. Upon arrival check-in to the hotel.
In the evening enjoy a rickshaw ride to Meenakshi temple to watch the night ceremony. The temple is a hive of activity, colorfully decorated temple elephant, flower sellers and performances by musicians. At 21:30 hours, the image of Shiva is carried in a procession accompanied by musicians, temple singers and priests from his shrine. Enroute Shiva visits the other deities before entering Parvati's (Meenakshi) temple to sleep with her for the night.
Overnight in hotel at Madurai.
Day 15: Madurai
After breakfast again visit Meenakshi – Temple an outstanding example of the Dravidian temple architecture from the Vijaynagar kingdom. Meenakshi, the fish eyed goddess and the consort of Shiva has a temple to the south and Sundareswarar (Shiva) a temple to the west. One of the biggest temples of India. Its nine "Gopuram"-Temple towers (23-30m ) have wonderful stucco images of gods, goddesses and animals from the Hindu mythology.
After this drive to Thirumalai Nayak Palace, a palace in Indo-Saracenic style built in 1636, with huge domes and 240 columns rising to 12 m, a beautiful garden and a attached museum. The celestial Pavilion, an arcaded octagonal structure is curiously constructed in brick and mortar without any supporting rafters.
Afternoon is free for own activities.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 16: Madurai - Periyar
Early morning after breakfast drive to Thekkadi the Periyar National Park through the cardamom country. This unique wildlife sanctuary is about 780 sq. km centered around an artificial lake fed by the Periyar River.
This afternoon game viewing is on board boats, which carry you through the jungle along convoluted waterways and afford sightings of elephant, bison, deer and occasionally, tiger. Small animals include black Nilgiri langur, bonnet and lion tailed macaque, Giant and Flying squirrel. There are some 246 species of birds and 112 species of butterfly. There are trees more than 100 years old and over 50 m high.
Overnight in the hotel at Periyar.
Day 17: Periyar - Cochin (185 km)
After breakfast drive to Cochin. On arrival in Cochin, check-in to the hotel.
If Kerala is India's most beautiful state, which many tourists believe, then the lovely port of Cochin is its jewel. It has been variously hailed as Queen of the Arabian Sea, Venice of Orient, etc. Some choose to call it simply a museum city for its rich past and colorful present. Cochin displays a blend of peoples and architecture. It is one place where you can see a Jewish synagogue, Portuguese churches, Dutch architecture, a couple of mosques, Hindu temples and Chinese fishing nets all in one day.
Evening enthrall yourself with a special presentation of the colourfully costumed Kathakali Dance Drama. This mask dance form is originally from Kerala and 1500 years old. This classical dance has 24 mudras expressing the nine emotions of serenity, wonder, kindness, love, valor, fear, contempt, loathing and anger.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 18: Cochin
After breakfast sightseeing of Cochin, a city till today influenced by medieval Portugal, Holland and England. You visit St. Francis Church, built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars where Vasco da Gama was buried for 14 years before his remains were transferred to Lisvon. His tombstone still stands. Nearby is the Mattancherry Palace or "Dutch Palace". The central hall on the Ist floor was the coronation hall of the rajas of Cochin. Other rooms depict scenes from the Ramayana and Puranic legends connected with Hindu gods. Amazing are the Chinese fishing nets. These cantilevered fishing nets line the entrance to the harbour mouth. They were introduced by traders from the courts of Kublai Khan. You also see the Jew City with the Jewish Synagogue , constructed in 1568, with hand-painted, willow-pattern floor tiles brought from Canton in the mid-18th century by a Rabbi, who had trading interest in that city.
Afternoon enjoy a boat ride through the back waters of Cochin, an idyllic experience. Pass through the lagoons watching the waterside local activities of the villagers - coir-making, toddy tapping, fishing, rice growing along the palm lined banks and narrow strips of land that separate the water-ways, and the constant traffic are typical. It also offers the opportunity to see tropical vegetation, bird life and crops.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 19: Cochin - Bangalore - Mysore
Morning free. Afternoon transfer to the airport to connect flight to Bangalore. On arrival in Bangalore drive to Mysore.
Mysore, the former capital of the princely state is the second largest city in Karnataka. It is a beautiful city of stately palaces, gardens, parks and museums. Sandalwood and a centre for the manufacture of incense sticks. The city is famous for the scent of jasmine in the spring.
On arrival in Mysore check in at the hotel.
Day 20: Mysore
Morning an excursion to Somnathpur East of Mysore. This tiny village has one of the best preserved and the only complete magnificent Hoysala Temple (13th century) of approximately 80 Hoysala temples dedicated to God Keshava. Small but exquisite the temple has excellent ceilings which show the distinctive features of the late Hoysala style.
Afternoon visit Chamundi Hill, it has the temple of Durga (Chamundeswari) celebrating her victory over the buffalo god. She became the guardian deity o the Wodeyars. On the road to the top is the giant Nandi Monolith carved in 1659 (4,8m x 7,6m huge bull sculpture). On way back visit the Maharaja Palace (1857): that was once the residence of the Wodeyars, Built in Indo-Saracenic style in grand proportions, with domes, arches and colonnades of carved pillars and shiny marble floors. One of the largest palaces in the country with some art treasures,
Overnight at the hotel in Mysore.
Day 21: Mysore - Bangalore - Mumbai
After breakfast drive to Bangalore. Half day sightseeing of Bangalore.
Bangalore the capital of Karnataka, famous as the `Garden City', was once a summer resort of the British Raj. It is one of the most attractive cities in India with its beautiful parks, avenues and impressive buildings. It is referred to as the `Silicon Valley' where most of the big electronic and computer companies have their centres.
Short day sightseeing of Bangalore. Visit to the Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens. The gardens are said to be laid out by Haidar Ali and his son Tipu Sultan as a summer garden in the 18th century, has numerous flowers, hundred year old trees from many countries and the lotus Pond. There are over 1800 species of tropical, subtropical and medicinal plants and a Floral Clock. The Glass House holds temporary exhibitions. Then to Bull Temple in dravidian style with the huge monolith statue of Shiva's vehical, the sacred Nandi Bull, nearly 5 m high and 6 m long., in grey granite polished. Vidhan Sabha (legislative assembly) with its impressive facades and portals of pure sandal wood. Finally to City Museum that was opened in 1886, one of the oldest in the country. Has 18 galleries including Neolithic finds from the Chandravalli excavations, and from the Indus Valley, especially Mohenjodaro antiquities. Also antique jewelry, textiles, coins, art, miniature paintings and geology.
Later in the evening transfer to the airport to connect flight to Mumbai. On arrival in Mumbai check in at the hotel.
India's most cosmopolitan city, an ancient port and trading centre. This palm- fringed shore of the Arabian Sea was the British Empire's entrance to its `Crown Jewel'. Mumbai is also the centre for Hindi films. It is called Bollywood, with a credit of almost 900 films a year.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 22: Mumbai
After breakfast sightseeing of Bombay.
Half day sightseeing of Mumbai city, rich blend of East and West. The tour includes the 26 meter high British-built Arch "Gateway of India", Mumbai's landmark built to honour the visit of George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Marine Drive dubbed as the Queen's Necklace is Mumbai's most popular promenades and a favourite sunset watching spot. The Kamla Nehru Park from where you have a picturesque view of the city, Hanging Gardens are so named since they are located on top of a series of tanks that supply water to Mumbai. Pass by the `towers of silence' the crematorium of the Parsis. Also visit Mani Bhawan a private house where Mahatma Gandhi used to stay when he visited Mumbai. It is now a museum and research library with 20,000 volumes.
Overnight in hotel.
Day 23: Mumbai - Udaipur
Morning transfer to the airport to connect flight to Udaipur.
The city of Udaipur lies in the Girwa valley amidst the Aravali hills of south Rajasthan. It is considered a romantic city - with its lakes, gardens, temples and palaces - an Oasis in the Thar desert. The old city is a traditionally planned fortified walled city, a maze of narrow winding lanes flanked by houses with doorways decorated with Mewar folk art, windows with stained glass or jali screens, massive havelis with large inner courtyards and shops. The legendary Ranas who ruled, traced their ancestry to the Sun Dynasty.
On arrival in Udaipur and transfer to the hotel. In the evening boat ride on Lake Pichola.
Day 24: Udaipur
In the morning excursion to Nagda (40 km). It has three temples: the ruined 11th century Jain temple of Adbhutji and the Vaishnavite Sas Bahu - the Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law Temple. The complex, though comparatively small, has very intricate carving on pillars, ceiling and mandapa walls. Visit the white marble Eklingii temple with a two storey mandapa of Shiva, the family deity of the Mewars, dates from 734 AD, rebuilt in the 15th centyury. There is a silver door, screen and a silver Nandi facing the black marble Shiva.
Afternoon visit City Palace built on the bank of the Pichola Lake, by Maharana Udai Singh in 1570. The impressive complex of several palaces is a blend of Rajput and Mughul influences. Half of it is still occupied by the Royal family, and part converted into a museum. The Jagdish Temple – (1651) was built by Maharana Jagat Singh. A fine example of the Nagara style of temple arhitecture.. A brass Garuda stands outside and stone elephants flank the entrance steps. Inside is a black stone image of Vishnu as Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe. Sahelion-ki Bari an ornamental pleasure garden specially made for the ladies of the palace in the 18th century. It has beautiful fountains, trees and flowers.
Overnight at the hotel..
Day 25: Udaipur - Jaipur
After breakfast transfer to airport for flight to Jaipur, Transfer to the hotel.
Jaipur was built in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II. It is a planned city built with ancient Hindu rules as the colonial capital of a richly colorful state. It was made attractive with the pink wash - a traditional colour of welcome in 1853 in honour of the visit of Prince Albert.
Afternoon visit the "Pink City" of Jaipur. The City Palace occupies the center of Jaipur. It now houses the Royal residence and museums with collections of textiles and costumes, armoury, manuscripts, paintings etc.
Also visit Jantar Mantar (1728-34) by king astrologer Jai Singh II. The instruments are built of stone with marble facing on the important plains for measuring the harmony of the heavens. Each instrument serves a particular function and each gives an accurate reading.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 26: Jaipur
After breakfast, half-day excursion trip takes you to Amber Fort. En route, make a photo stop at the palace of winds the Hawa Mahal. A 5 stored building with 25cm thick facade from the 18 century having 953 windows and niches so that ladies of royal family could see the procession and events in the city without being visible to the people. Proceed to the Amber City Fort situated 130m high with the Aravalli hills around and 11 km north of Jaipur. It was the ancient capital of the Kachhawaha Rajputs till 1037. Enjoy an Elephant ride to the top of the Palace fort.
Afternoon free for independent activities.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 27: Jaipur - Agra (250 kms)
After breakfast drive to Agra. En-route sightseeing of Fatehpur Sikri. 40 km (1 hour) before Agra, lies the beautiful and deserted medieval city built by Akbar the Great in the 16th century to serve as the capital of his vast empire. It was mysteriously abandoned 13 years later. Today, it is perfectly preserved as a ghost city built at the height of the empire's splendor.
Proceed to Agra. Agra stands on the right bank of the river Yamuna, was once the seat of the Mughal rulers, the zenith of art and an enshrined romance. A town famous for its beautiful medieval monuments. The passion of the Mughals for building endowed it with some of the loveliest buildings in the world.
Afternoon visit the world famous monument of India, the Taj Mahal (1631-1653), a poem in white marble, built by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaj Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child. It employed 20,000 workers from the Central Asia and Europe for 22 years to construct this extravagant monument of love, inlaying the white marble edifice with precious and semi precious stones.
Overnight stay at the hotel in Agra.
IMP: Taj Mahal is Closed on Friday.
Day 28: Agra - Delhi Airport (240 kms)
After breakfast visit Agra Fort (Fort and Palace) situated on the west bank of the river Jamuna, made by the Mughal King Akbar in the 16th century and completed by his grandson Shah Jahan, who was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb for 8 years in this fort, before his death. The fort is crescent-shaped and the perimeter is 2.4 km long.
After sightseeing drive to Delhi. Enroute visit Sikandra, 9 kilometer after Agra, the mausoleum of the great Mughal King Akbar (1556-1605). Proceed straight to the International Airport to connect flight back home.