Grand India Tour

Day wise Itinerary:

DAY 01: ARRIVE DELHI BY: INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT
Arrive at Delhi's InternationalAirport. Following customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection, ourrepresentative will meet as you exit the arrivals terminal building and transfer you to your hotel.

Delhiis India's capital and a major gateway to the country. It is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines in its folds - the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiraling skyscrapers the remnants of a bygone time in the form of its many monuments stand as silent reminders to the region's ancient legacy.
Overnight - Hotel. Meals - None

DAY 02: DELHI
After breakfast, your guide will take you on the discovery tour of Delhi.

Begin the tour with a visit to unique yet fascinating experience of Old Delhi, the capital of Mughal India during 12th and 17th century. Drive past the opulent Red Fort towards the 17th century Jama Masjid, one of Asia's largest mosques. People stream in and out of the mosque continuously and the presence of a nearby bazaar means that the area is rarely quiet. Take a private tricycle ride through the lanes of ChandniChowk, also known asSilver Street. This is perhaps one of Delhi's most populated areas and the largest marketplace. Conclude the tour of Old Delhi with Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation.

Lunch is at a local restaurant.

The discovery of New Delhi starts with a visit to Humayun's tomb ~ the magnificent structure in red sandstone and white marble, one of the finest examples of the garden tomb and a precursor to the TajMahal. Visit QutabMinar which is Delhi's EiffelTower, its Statue of Liberty and Nelson's Column. Drive to one of the most colonial part of New Delhi called Raisina Hill. Drive past the Viceroy's House, now the residence of the President of India and Lutyen's magnum opus; the India Gate, a war memorial arch.

In the evening we will arrange your visit to SIKH TEMPLE - BANGLA SAHIB: Bangla Sahib Gurdwara is situated just a furlong away from the main Connaught Place and has become a centre of pilgrimage for lakhs of people who throng the Gurdwaraeveryday. People belonging to different religions, castes, color visit this shrine to pay their respect everyday.
On the eastern side of the Gurdwara is the community kitchen hall, known as the "Langar". Everyday free food is served to all the devotees coming to the Gurdwara. You will have a chance to see and help in cooking the food for devotees.

Tonight come together for a welcome dinner at the hotel
Overnight - Hotel. Meals - Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 03: DELHI - VARANASI BY: FLIGHT
After breakfast, assisted transfer to the airport to board your flight to Varanasi:

Varanasi is the religious center of Hindu religion. Situated on the banks of the holy river Ganges, Varanasi is considered to be among the oldest living cities of the world and has been a center of learning and civilization for centuries. Varanasi holds special significance in the lives of the Indian people. Every year hundreds of thousands of Travel to Varanasi with an open mind and see what faith can do to people and what their devotion to god leads them to achieve. Look beyond the poverty into the eyes of the people and you will see a sense of enlightenment and peace that their belief in a god has given them. Varanasi is a unique city that vibrates with cosmic forces beyond comprehension.

On arrival in Varanasi directly from airport you will proceed for half day excursion to Sarnath, which is around 10 Kms. from the center of the city. Sarnath symbolizes the birth of Buddhism. It was here that Buddha revealed his doctrine and founded his monastic community. The museum at Sarnath (closed on Mondays) is amongst the most important in India and contains carvings representing a whole range of styles archaic, the MathuraSchool, Gupta, past Gupta and Medieval covering work of sculptors from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. Also seen here is the original lion's heads from the Asoka Pillar, which form the symbol of the Indian republic.

Later return to Varanasi and check in to your hotel.

In the evening walk the Pilgrim's Route, (the Bengali Tola Riverside Walk): Winding through the streets and popping out onto the riverside will give you an insider's look at the symbiotic life of the riverside people of Varanasi. Eventually you will end up on Bengali Tola, the street of the Bengalis, visiting hidden Mother Goddess Kali shrines and the vistas of life along the riverside. The tour ends at the historic ritual bathing site called Dashaswamedh, the ten-horse sacrifice Ghat. Evening GangaAarti ceremony at Ghat.
Overnight - Hotel. Meal - Breakfast

DAY 04: DEPART VARANASI BY: OVERNIGHT TRAIN
Early this morning leave your hotel around 5:30 for an early morning sunrise boat excursion on the holy River Ganges. See Varanasi come alive along the banks of the river. See people bathing in the holy water and worshiping the rising sun. Witness the conclusion of life at the river bank holy cremation grounds. It is believed if you die in Varanasi you go straight to heaven. Varanasi will be one of the most extraordinary experiences of your visit to India. During your boat ride you will be accompanying by one Sitar Player who will perform some traditional music with his magical Indian instrument called Sitar. Sitar is perhaps the most well known of the Indian instruments. It will create a unique ambiance with the combination of waves of Ganges. Artists such as Ravi Shankar have popularized this instrument around the world.

On return, visit the bazaars and KashiVishwanathTemple - a sacred shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Afterwards return to your hotel for breakfast.

After the breakfast, We will also try to arrange your meeting with Ugarhi Baba (If baba is available in Varanasi). Babaji has 5 meters long jatas (dread locks) he carefully hides in a red turban on top of his head. If Ugarhi Baba is not available then alternatively we will arrange your visit to Kim Ram Asharam where you will have an opportunity to visit many other sadhus of Varanasi.

In the evening, assisted transfer to the railway station to board your overnight train to Agra: We will keep some fruits and packed snacks for the group during the overnight train.
Overnight - On board. Meal - Breakfast.

DAY 05: ARRIVE AGRA BY: OVERNIGHT TRAIN
On arrival in Agra, transfer to your hotel. We will try for an early check-in but it will be subject to availability of rooms at the time of check-in.

At the time of the Mughals, in the 16th & 17th centuries, Agra was the capital of the grand Mughal Empire. During this period the city became a leading centre of art, science, commerce and culture. It came into prominence when a lavish patronage of Mughal rulers created forts, tombs, and palaces in red sandstone and marble inlaid with semi precious stones.
Overnight - Hotel. Meals - Breakfast.

DAY 06: AGRA
You will visit TajMahal at sunrise (closed on Fridays). Horse carriage will take you to the gates.

Built by an emperor in memory of his beloved queen, construction of the TajMahal began in 1631, and is believed to have taken 18 years to complete, with over 20,000 craftsmen working around the clock. What makes the TajMahal unique is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, medium of construction and ornamentation. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day. It is impossible to visualize the TajMahal in any surrounding others than its paradoxical garden. Paradise, in Islam, is visualized as a lush garden where running streams flow. When the Mughals brought this concept to India they elevated it to heights of incomparable artistry.

Return to the hotel for breakfast.

After your breakfast, you will have an opportunity to visit Mother Teresa Orphanage in Agra, this orphanage are cared for by the Sisters of the order of nuns that Mother Teresa created. You will be introduced with nun in charge over there who will take you for the visit of Orphanage.
Later you will explore the Mughal legacy in Agra.Sites to visit include:
Agra Fort, built in the 16th century, this fortress of red sandstoneknown as the Red Fort of Agra, encompasses the imperial city of the Mughal rulers.
Marble Inlay workshop and Zardozi, Agra is known for its fine marble work which is made by some of the marble carver descendants who worked on the TajMahal. Various semi-precious stones are embedded in marble to create pleasing geometric and floral patterns, similar to those seen in the TajMahal. Zardoz, the craftsperson that sets seed pearls and precious stones with fine gold and silver wire, is part of a craft that has flourished within India and been revived over the past 50 years.
Overnight - Hotel. Meal - Breakfast

DAY 07: AGRA -JAIPUR BY: SURFACE
After breakfast, drive toJaipur (253Kms/5hrs), enroute visiting FatehpurSikri. The city of FatehpurSikhri was built of red sandstone by Mughal Emperor Akbar in the late 16th century and deserted soon after because its water supply failed. It is a perfectly preserved ghost city characterized by a harmonious synthesis of Hindu, Mughal and Persian architectural style.During your visit you will have an option to tie a wish knot at the tomb of SalimChisti, it is a common belief in India that every wish is full filled by tying a knot at the tomb and when fulfilled one has to come back to open the knot.

Lunch is arranged at LaxmiNiwas Palace, a charming heritage mansion, located in Bharatpur village. Continue your drive towards Jaipur after lunch.

Jaipur ~presides over the fascinating desert state and its people: surrounded by rugged hills, each crowned by a formidable fort; and beautiful palaces, mansions and gardens dotted throughout its precincts. The palaces and forts of yesteryear that were witness to royal processions and splendor are now living monuments, accepted quite naturally into the lifestyles of the people of the "pink city". Except for the busy traffic of bicycles, cars and buses, little seems to have changed. There is a timeless quality to Jaipur's bazaars and its people. With its historical past, Jaipur revives legends of the ancient Rajputs. The dresses of the women and the turbans of the men add color to this fascinating city.

On arrival in Jaipur, check-in to your hotel.
Overnight - Hotel. Meals - Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 08: JAIPUR
After an early breakfast, your will visit Amber Fort. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar's most successful General, started the construction of Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the CityPalace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power.With its honey-colored fortress-palace in the Aravalli Hills which can be mounted on elephant back, Amber has been described as the sleeping beauty of Rajasthan.

Return to your hotel after the tour.
Lunch is arranged at a local restaurant in the city.
Take a half day tour of Jaipur. Sites to visit include:
HawaMahal (Palace of Winds), an elaborate building encrusted with delicate honeycomb screens and carved balconies from which the royal ladies, confined to their quarters, could view the world outside. Jai Singh's Observatory built in the 17th century by the founder of Jaipur who, besides being a prince was also a soldier, astronomer and builder.
CityPalace, a part is now a museum that contains fine Rajput and Moghul paintings, rare manuscripts and an armory, old carpets, and embroidered clothes of the Maharajas and the Maharanis.

In the evening proceed to visit SOS village. The smaller children are looked after at the SOS Kindergarten, which is on the premises of the SOS Children's Village. This kindergarten is also attended by children from the local community. Older youths from the SOS Children's Village usually move to the SOS Youth Facility when they start a vocational training course or go on to higher education. With the support of qualified youth workers, the young people develop realistic perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder
Overnight - Hotel Meals - Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 09: JAIPUR - UDAIPUR BY: FLIGHT
After breakfast, assisted transfer to airport to board your flight to Udaipur.

Udaipur is often called the "Venice of the East" and the most romantic city in the state of Rajasthan. Udaipur nestles like a gem in a valley surrounded by green hills, reflected smooth and white in the clear blue waters of LakePichola. The city is a kaleidoscope of narrow lanes flanked by bright stalls, gardens, lakes, palaces and temples.

In the afternoon, take a half day tour of Udaipur.Sites to visit include:

CityPalace, the majestic palace is actually a conglomerate of eleven palaces overlooking the sprawling LakePichola. Tour the private collection of precious and rare crystals from the Royal treasure. For more than 100 years the crystals remained underground, and the gallery was not open to public prospect due to its beauty and richness.
Jagdish Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located in the centre of the old city. The temple has a black marble image of Lord which is unusual for the northern part of the country, where statues of Gods are normally in white marble.

During your visit to Jagdish Temple we will arrange a special interaction with the priest of the temple to know more about Indian mythology and culture. He will describe some interesting stories related to that temple and the place.

Sahelion-ki-bari: The spectacular garden displaying the unique lifestyle of the Royal ladies who once lived in the Palaces.

Later, take a boat cruise on the placid waters of LakePichola towards Jag Mandir Palace, which covers almost four acres and is noted for its marble pavilion and an imposing dome.
Overnight - Hotel.Meal - Breakfast

DAY 10: UDAIPUR - MUMBAI- AURANGABAD BY: FLIGHT
Morning is at leisure.
Assisted transfer to airport to board your flight to Aurangabad via Mumbai.
On arrival, transfer to your hotel.

From ancient times Aurangabad has been a place of great importance due to it's location on the famous "Silk Route" that traversed across the breadth of Asia to reach Europe. Textiles, embroidered finery and various kinds of beads made in nearby Paithan were exported to the markets of Greece, Rome and Egypt.Aurangabad's strategic position in the Deccan earned it the name of "Khidki" meaning window, serving as it did, as an opening through which North India could look into the Deccan.
Overnight - Hotel. Meal - Breakfast

DAY 11: AURANGABAD - AJANTA -ELLORA - AURANGABAD
After breakfast, depart hotel for anexcursion tour of Ajanta (110 Kms / 03 Hrs one way-closed on Mondays) and Ellora Caves (33 Kms / 01 Hrs one way - closed on Tuesdays)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site,AjantaCaves are twenty nine in number. The caves consist of chaitya halls (shrines) or viharas (monasteries). Paintings, scriptures and architecture of both the Hinayana sect as well as the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, the 29 caves were built as secluded retreats of the Buddhist monks, who taught and performed rituals in the Chaityas and Viharas, the ancient seats of learning, and nerve - centers of the Buddhist cultural movement. Using simple tools like hammer and chisel, the monks carved out the impressive figures adorning the walls of these structures. Many of the caves house panels depicting stories from the Jatakas, a rich mine of tales of the several incarnations of the Buddha.

Lunch will be at local restaurant.

Post lunch drive to Ellora, The cave temples and monasteries at Ellora, excavated out of the vertical face of an escarpment, are 33kms north of Aurangabad. Extending in a linear arrangement, the 34 caves contain Buddhist Chaityas, or halls of worship, and Viharas, or monasteries, the sculpture in the Buddhist caves accurately convey the nobility, grace and serenity inherent in the Buddha. Caves 6 and 10 house images from the Buddhist and Hindu faith, under the same roof, the latter dedicated to Vishwakarma, the patron saint of Indian craftsmen. The Vishvakarma cave is both a Chaitya and a Vihara, with a seated Buddha placed in the stupa. Its two - storied structure sports a colourful pageant of dwarfs, dancing and making music.

By late evening, you will come back to the Aurangabad.
Overnight - Hotel. Meal - Breakfast& Lunch

DAY 12: AURANGABAD - MUMBAI - COCHIN BY: FLIGHT
After breakfast, assisted transfer to airport to board your flight to Cochin via Mumbai.
On arrival, transfer to your hotel.

Kochi or more familiarly Cochin's history is a bright tapestry - many coloured threads woven through centuries together present the fabric of the present. Its involvement with the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British are evident in the architecture of city buildings, the old durbar hall is the spice in the dish! Modern day Kochi may be a busy port and shipping centre but it has many attractions for ordinary tourists. It is spread across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and the Backwaters.

In the evening, you will visit a local theatre to witness Kathakali Dance Performance.
Overnight - Hotel. Meal - Breakfast

Day 13: COCHIN
Today, you will take a full day city tour of Cochin.

Sites to visit include:
Dutch Palace (Closed on Fridays and Jewish Holidays), also known as Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese and presented to the Raja of Cochin in 16th Century AD. It acquired the present name in the 17th century when the Dutch carried out extensions and repairs in the palace. At no time did the Portuguese or Dutch stay here, its interiors are decorated with murals from the Ramayana and there are some lively displays of royal costumes and palanquins.
Jewish Synagogue (Closed on Fridays & Saturdays and Jewish Holidays), Built in late 16th century, the Great Scrolls of the old Testament, the copper plates in which the grants of privilege made by the Cochin rulers were recorded and the exquisite Chinese hand-painted tiles are of interest Chinese Fishing Netsline the sea-front and exhibit a mechanical method of catching fish by local fishermen in FortKochi. Said to have been brought from China by traders of Kubalai Khan's Court, they are used at high tide. St. Francis Churchwas originally built by the Portuguese in 15th century and is believed to be the oldest church built by the Europeans in India. It is here the remains of the inveterate traveller, Vasco de Gamma were initially buried and 14 years later, his mortal remains were taken to Portugal.

In the afternoon, a special Kerala Cookery Session is arranged at a Kerala home, with traditional lunch. Nimmy and Paul have been involved in 'at Home' hospitality for more than twelve years. Nimmy and Paul belong to traditional Syrian Christian community in Kerala. Nimmy, a professional cookery instructor and her stockbroker husband Paul enjoy having guests and serving food. Nimmy conducts cookery classes. She teaches guests the nuances of traditional Kerala recipes. She is also a food consultant to writers, chefs and magazines. Overnight -Hotel. Meals - Breakfast & Lunch

Day 14: COCHIN- KUMARAKOM BY: SURFACE
After breakfast, you will be drive towardsKumarakom (80 Kms/2 hrs).
The state of Kerala is known for its numerous canals and waterways and its verdant forests and mangrove swamps. Set in one of the most idyllic locations in Kerala, Kumarakom is a tiny settlement, nestled in the backwaters of Kerala. An unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forest, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with white lilies. Situated on the Vembanad lake, in this small water world you'll come across plenty of traditional country crafts, boats and canoes which will take you into the heart of the scenic lake, We will arrange your day cruise along with a special visit to local village and you will get an opportunity to interact with villagers. You will get the feel of their day to day life.

During your stay in Kumarakom you will have the opportunity to experience the magic of Ayurveda.The day is at leisure for you to relax and enjoy the quite surroundings. You may opt for one of the optional local excursions available at the hotel or enjoy use of the hotels professional ayurveda center.From relaxing massages, rejuvenation therapies to specific programs to treat a problem, you will have the opportunity to meet an Ayurveda doctor and discuss your lifestyle.
Overnight - Hotel. Meal - Breakfast

DAY 15: KUMARAKOM- PERIYAR BY: SURFACE
After breakfast today you will drive towards Periyar (120Kms/ 3 hrs).

Periyar, set in the heart of the Cardamom Hills of Kerala is famous for its Wildlife Sanctuary. As the road winds through mountains, you will descend through a carpet of tea bushes, estates of tall rubber trees and gardens of coffee, cardamom and pepper. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the premier reserves of Southern India and home of the wild elephant, the bison, antelopes, langurs and sambar that can be observed from the launches that cruise the lake.

In the afternoon, take Nature tour provided on forest department run boat rides.

You can spend your evening time with Yoga and Meditation. Yoga has been practiced in India since the days Indus civilization. It is around 5000 years old. Yoga is a philosophy in itself. And will do wonders to the practitioner's health. Other forms of exercise like aerobics, gymnastics concentrates only on the physical part of the human body. But Yoga integrates mental and physical form. One attains selfless form with years of practice. It is achieved by 08 fold yogic practice. Meditation in India is synonymous with India and Indian spirituality. Meditation is one of the most important components of Yoga, which is a mind-body therapy involving a series of exercises.
Overnight - Hotel. Meal - Breakfast

DAY 16: PERIYAR-TRICHY - TANJORE BY: SURFACE
After breakfast ,you will drive towards Thanjavure also known as Tanjore (297 kms/7 hrs). Lunch will be at local restauranct in Madurai. Continue with your drive to Tajnoreen-route visiting Trichy. Situated on the banks of the river Kaveri, Trichy was the citadel of the Chola Dynasty. It was occupied for a short while by the Pandya and Pallava Kings. The town itself was developed by the Nayaks of Madurai, who also built the famous Rock Fort. Visit the Golden Rock Fort. The view from the Fort is spectacular. On the southern face are several beautifully carved rock-cut temples of the Pallava era. Half way up to the VinayakaTemple which adorn the summit, and is reached through a tunnel in the rock, stands the SriThayamanaswamyTemple, with its 100 pillar hall and gold covered Vimana. About 3 kms from the Fort is the island of Srirangam on the KaveryRiver, and its tributary the Kollidam. Spread over 60 hectares, with 7 concentric walls and 21 gopurams is the fascinating temple complex of Sri Ranganathaswamy, well preserved from the 10th century. One of the gopurams is the tallest in India at 72 meters with 13 tiers. It was built in 1987, whereas the others were built between the 14th and 17th century. The temple is well preserved and has beautiful carvings and painted walls and ceilings.

On arrival in Thanjavure, check-in to your hotel.
Overnight - Hotel. Meal - Breakfast& Lunch

Day 17: THANJAVUR-KARAIKUDI- MADURAI BY: SURFACE
After breakfast, take a morning tour of Thanjavur.
The Chola kings built the majority of Tanjore's 93 temples. The enormous gopurams of the BrihadeeshwaraTemple built in the 10th century by Raja Chola . Fortified walls and a moat surround the temple itself, between the GrandAnicutCanal and the old town. The old town too used to be similarly enclosed, but most of the walls have now disappeared. What remains are winding streets and alleys and the extensive ruins of the Palace of the Nayaks of Madurai. The SarawatiMahal library contains over 40,000 rare books and palm leaf inscriptions.

Later you will continue your drive towards Madurai(132 Kms/ 03 hrs) en-route visiting Karaikudi. Before your sightseeing we will arrange lunch at The Bangala, Karaikudi - the Tamil pronunciation of "The Bungalow" is a quaint Heritage Hotel, located on the outskirts of Karaikudi in a property that was built up over the last 75 years. Now is its ninth year as a Heritage Hotel, it is the favourite of visitors to Chettinad and is gaining fame for its genuine home cooked Chettinad Food.

Post lunch visit Karaikudi is known as an ancestral home of Chettiyars. It is famous for its ChettinadMansion, CECRI (Central Electro Chemical Research Institute), Temples, Old buildings, Gopurakarai saris and Chettinad delicious tasty dishes. Nowadays it is termed as a shooting spot for Tamil and Telugu film industries and as well as a tourist center. Tourists come in large numbers to have to have a view on history of Chettinad buildings. One of the well known country's magazine recently came out with surprising news wherein it was mentioned that Chettinad was one among the top 5 fast growing vacation spots in India.

Upon arrival in Madurai, check-in to your hotel.

Madurai - The temple town is one of India's oldest seats of culture, learning and pilgrimage. Known to have had links with Greece as far back as the 4th Century BC, Madurai became a major centre for writers, builders and academicians by the 14th Century AD. Today, its main attraction is the labyrinthine complex of temples within the Sri Meenakshi Temple, spread over six hectares.The temple contains friezes, stone and brass images, as well as one of the best exhibits of Hindu deities in its 1000-pillared hall. Outside the temple are the Musical Pillars which when tapped, produce the entire scale of 'swaras' or musical notes.

In the evening, you will visit the temple complex to witness the evening prayer ceremony.
Note: Non Hindus are not allowed inside the Inner Sanctum of the temple.
Overnight - Hotel Meal - Breakfast& Lunch

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