India is many times rightfully referred to as a subcontinent. Our journey to the Ganges will take you to the cultural heart of India. You will watch thousands of Hindu pilgrims congregate on the bank of the River Ganges to bathe in this holy river in Varanasi. Explore India’s great artistic legacy from in Khajuraho of ancient India to the medieval Mughal cities of Agra and Delhi. India features many different geographical regions where diverse civilizations and cultures flourished. At Bestway Tours & Safaris we have developed several tours that focus on India’s regions. Combine these tours and gain in-depth knowledge of this vast subcontinent.
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites covered in this tour|
|1.||Agra Fort||5.||Qutub Minar and its Monuments, Delhi|
|2.||Fatehpur Sikri||6.||Red Fort Complex, Delhi|
|3.||Humayun's Tomb, Delhi||7.||Taj Mahal, Agra|
|4.||Khajuraho Group of Monuments|
|Price (From)||:||US$ 3425|
|Includes international air|
Day 01: Arrive Delhi
Arrival. Namaste! We are warmly welcomed the traditional Indian way with hands clapped together at the airport and transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax.
Overnight: Vivanta by Taj Dwarka (5 Star), Delhi (3 Nights)
Day 02: Delhi
We start our morning with a tour of New Delhi, with a visit to Birla House, the former residence of Mahatma Gandhi, before his assassination in 1948. We then visit the famous India Gate, a war memorial located astride the Rajpath, on the eastern edge of the ‘ceremonial axis’ of New Delhi. We then drive by the Houses of Parliament and Connaught Place to Humayun's Tomb*. This tomb, built in 1570, is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal. We continue to the Qutub Minar and its Monuments*. Built in the early 13th century the red sandstone tower of Qutub Minar at 73 metres (240 ft.), is the tallest brick minaret in the world. The surrounding archaeological area contains funerary buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, a masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art and two mosques. In the evening we enjoy a sumptuous welcome dinner at a renowned local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 03: Delhi
Today we explore Old Delhi, starting with the Red Fort Complex*. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex. The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement. Each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions. After visiting the Red Fort, we embark on a captivating journey on board a rickshaw, travelling through the narrow lanes of the renowned Chandni Chowk Bazaar, dating to the 17th Century. To this day it remains one of the busiest markets in Delhi. Our rickshaw ride ends at the Masjid-i Jahan-Numa commonly known as Jama Masjid. Built in the 17th century it is one of India's largest mosques. We then proceed to Raj Ghat, a black marble platform that marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation. (B, D)
Note: Red Fort and Birla House are closed on Mondays and Chandni Chowk is closed on Sundays.
Day 04: Delhi/Haridwar/Rishikesh (Train & Drive)
Today we board our Shatabdi express train to Haridwar. Shatabdi Express trains are fully air-conditioned and we enjoy complimentary meals and seating comparable to business class on airlines. Upon arrival at Haridwar we are driven to Rishikesh, a very important Hindu pilgrimage site featuring a number of ashrams and temples on the shores of the Ganges River. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, the area is filled with thick green forests. Rishikesh is famous for its yoga sessions that are taught here by many yoga experts. We will be visiting Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula, Geeta Bhawan and other temples and ashrams. In evening we attend Aarti Ceremony at the Parmarth Ashram in Rishikesh.
Overnight: Vasundhara Palace (3 Star), Rishikesh (2 Nights) (B, D)
Day 05: Rishikesh
In the morning we enjoy a Yoga session at the hotel. The remainder of the day is free for independent activities. (B, D)
Day 06: Rishikesh/Haridwar/Delhi (Drive & Overnight Train)
Morning is free. In the afternoon we drive to Haridwar, an important Hindu pilgrimage site, where the Ganges River enters the plains, and becomes quiet and calm. Haridwar has earned fame as being the place, which has been blessed by the trinity of the Lords Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. In evening we attend Aarti Ceremony on Ghats of Ganges at Haridwar. Later we drive to the railway station for our overnight train to Delhi.
Overnight: On board Train. (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 07: Delhi/Mathura/Agra (Drive)
We arrive at Delhi Railway station and after breakfast drive to Agra. Along the way we visit Mathura, widely known as birth place of lord Krishna. Mathura is called the ‘Athens of India’, as the great school of sculpture known as the Mathura school of Art flourished here for 1200 Years. We will see many samples in the Government Museum. We continue to our hotel in Agra.
Overnight: Crystal Sarovar Premiere, Agra (2 Nights) (B, D)
Day 08: Agra
This morning, before sunrise, we visit one of the most famous monuments in the world, the Taj Mahal*. An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his most beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna river in a vast Mogul garden, this funerary monument combines elements and styles of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture. For its construction, masons, stone-cutters, inlayers, carvers, painters, calligraphers, dome builders and other artisans were requisitioned from the whole of the empire and also from the Central Asia and Iran. After our visit to the Taj Mahal we return to hotel for breakfast. Later we visit Agra Fort*, also known as the Red Fort of Agra. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses, within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers, dating to the 16th century. It comprises many fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jahan; audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas; and two very beautiful mosques. In the afternoon we drive to Fatehpur Sikri*. Built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar. Known as the ‘City of Victory’, it was made capital by the Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605 AD) and constructed between 1571 and 1573 AD. Fatehpur Sikri was the first planned city of the Mughals marked by magnificent administrative, residential and religious buildings comprised of palaces, public buildings, mosques, living areas for the court, the army, the servants of the king and an entire city. Upon moving the capital to Lahore in 1585 AD, Fatehpur Sikri remained as an area for temporary visits by the Mughal emperors. The complex of monuments and temples, all in a uniform architectural style, includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid and the artistically designed mausoleum of the revered Sufi saint, Salim Chisty. (B, D)
Note: Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. On nights with a Full Moon the Taj Mahal's pure white marble shimmers silver in the moonlight and is open to visitors. We can arrange for an optional tour to enjoy this very special occasion.
Day 09: Agra/Jhansi (Train)/Orchha/Khajuraho (Drive)
Today we board our express train to Jhansi. Shatabdi Express trains are fully air-conditioned and we get to enjoy a complimentary meal. We then continue to visit Orchha, an amazing medieval fortress- city located on the shores of the Betwa River. The fort consists of several connected buildings erected at different times, the most noteworthy of which are the Raja Mahal and the Jahangir Mahal. After our tour we proceed to Khajuraho and check in our hotel.
Overnight: Mint Bundela (4 star), Khajuraho (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 10: Khajuraho/Varanasi (Flight)
In the morning we explore the Khajuraho Group of Monuments* The temples at Khajuraho were built during the Chandella dynasty, which reached its apogee between 950 and 1050. Today only 20 temples remain and they fall into three distinct groups and belonging to the religions of Hinduism and Jainism. They strike a perfect balance between architecture and sculpture. The Temples are decorated with a profusion of sculptures that are among the greatest masterpieces of Indian art. In the afternoon we take a short flight to the holy city of Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world. On arrival we are transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Hindustan International (4 Star), Varanasi (2 Nights) (B, D)
Day 11: Varanasi
In the early morning we take boat ride at sunrise on the River Ganges for a most serene experience. One of the cardinal principles of Hinduism is the belief in the holiness of the Ganges. Every morning scores of pilgrims and priests fill the riverbanks bathing in the holy waters and performing various other rituals. Watching this unique experience literally transports us to another world. We return to our hotel for breakfast and then explore old Varanasi, visiting the Bharat Mata Temple, which houses a huge marble relief map of India; the Durga Temple, the Tulsi Manas Mandir beside the Banaras Hindu University and the Mosque of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. The city is famous also for its silk sarees and we visit some of the houses where the beautiful silk sarees are woven. In the evening we return to the banks of the Ganges to witness the devotional ceremony of Aarti performed by devout Hindus after sunset. (B, D)
Day 12: Varanasi/Allahabad (Drive)
After breakfast we drive to Allahabad. On arrival, we check in to hotel. Later we take a city tour of Allahabad, visiting Allahabad Fort, which was built by Emperor Ashoka on the banks of the Yamuna near the confluence with the river Ganges. The fort was unrivaled for its design, construction and craftsmanship. This huge fort has three galleries flanked by high towers. We then visit the Allahabad Museum, Anand Bhawan and the Swaraj Bhawan mansions. We conclude our tour at Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the two physical rivers Ganges, Yamuna, and the invisible or mythic Saraswati. It is a place of religious importance and the site for historic Kumbh Mela held every 12 years. Here devotees come for ritual bathing in the holy waters and priests perform special rites of worship.
Overnight: Kanha Shyam (3 Star), Allahabad (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 13: Allahabad/Lucknow (Drive)
After breakfast we drive to Lucknow and visit the Bara Imambara built in 1784 by the Nawab Asaf ud Daula. The architecture of the complex reflects the maturation of ornamented Mughal design, namely the Badshahi Mosque - it is one of the last major projects not incorporating any European elements or the use of iron. The main imambara consists of a large vaulted central chamber containing the tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula. We then admire the Hussainabad Clock Tower, one of the finest examples of British Architecture in India dating to 1887. We then marvel at the Jama Masjid, started in 1840 by Mohammad Ali Shah and completed by his wife Begum Malika Jahan after his death. This splendid mosque was built in the typical Mughal style.
Overnight: La Place Sarovar Portico (3 Star), Lucknow (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 14: Lucknow/Kolkata (Flight)
We are free to shop for Lucknow’s famous gold and silver brocades, silverware, clay figurines and pottery, before we are transferred to airport for flight to Kolkata. Upon arrival in Kolkata we are mat and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Hindustan International (4 Star), Kolkata (2 Nights) (B, D)
Day 15: Kolkata
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta is a compelling, effervescent city, teeming with life. Under the East India Company and later under the British Raj, Kolkata served as the capital of India until 1911. In the morning after breakfast we start our tour, starting at the famous Malik Ghat flower market beneath the Howarh Bridge. This is the place where the cities floral retailers buy their fresh merchandise. Next we visit Howrah Bridge, iconic symbol of modern Kolkata followed by visit to Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramkrishna Mission founded by Swami Vivekanand. The temple is notable for its architecture that features Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions. Later we visit Dakshineswar Kali Temple, followed by a meal featuring typical Bengali cuisine at Oh! Calcutta. Our afternoon concentrates on British Calcutta, visiting St. John's Church, St. Paul's Cathedral and the Victoria Memorial, with its formal gardens and water courses, conceived by Lord Curzon to commemorate the British Empire at its peak. The evening is free to relax or enjoy a leisurely walk at the famous Park Street. (B, L, D)
Day 16: Depart Kolkata
Today we are transferred to the airport for our flight home. We bid farewell to India after what will have been a memorable journey into history, culture, art and architecture. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Departure Dates & Prices
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