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Rajasthan Highlights With Varanasi - 11 Days / 10 Nights

Explore the rich history of the Moghuls as you travel through the heart of the Rajasthan. Starting in historic Delhi, go on to discover the beautiful lake palaces in Udaipur, the impressive fortress-dominated Jodhpur, the marble purity of the Jain Temples at Rankapur and the majesty of the "Pink City" of Jaipur. In Agra, marvel at the perfection of the Taj Mahal that is beyond comparison before finishing in India's holiest city, Varanasi where the veneration of Hindu Gods reaches its pinnacle.

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Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrive Delhi

After completing immigration and custom formalities you will be met by your guide who will escort you to a waiting vehicle for your transfer to the hotel.

Delhi is made up of about 15 cities, spanning the period from the 11th to 20th centuries. There is little left of the early cities. Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) and New Delhi, the two most recent cities and the heart of modern Delhi, are relatively intact. Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in 1650 switched the Mughal capital from Agra to Delhi. Shah Jehan possessing an exquisite talent, especially in architecture, created the seventh city and in the process brought about Delhi’s glorious renaissance.

The Red Fort (Lal Qila) is Shah Jehan’s symbol of power and elegance, built behind red sandstone walls. Its main gate (Lahore Gate) faces Chandni Chowk, the perpetually congested avenue heading west from the Red Fort, is lled with twisting lanes, small streets and crowded bazaars. If you peer through a portico you may see a man getting shaved, silver being weighed, or any other conceivable form of intense commerce.

In 1911 King George V announced the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. The King’s architects, Lutyens and Baker, set in motion the design and construction of Delhi’s eight city - New Delhi. Lutyens designed an “Imperial City” having palatial-sized buildings set amid broad tree lined avenues punctuated by Moghul style gardens, complete with fountains and shallow pools. It took 20 years to complete this immense undertaking only to have the British pack up and relinquish the subcontinent in 1947.

Overnight : The Lalit, Delhi
Included Meals: BD

Day 2 Delhi

This morning visit Old Delhi, which is a striking contrast to New Delhi. Here are very narrow streets with unregulated traffic of all kinds (where might is always right). The Red Fort, built when the Mughal (Muslim) architecture was at its peak, is surrounded by a 2 km red sandstone wall and houses several splendid buildings. The Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) opposite the Red Fort is the largest mosque in India and one of the greatest examples of the architectural extravaganza of the Mughal era, then a brief stop at Raj Ghat -- Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial in black marble. The highlight is a walk through Chandni Chowk (Silver Square), the main shopping street, and a legacy of the Mughal era.

This afternoon visit New Delhi. Visit Qutub Minar - a tall tower, built to call the devout for prayer at an adjoining mosque. The India Gate (War Memorial) is a 42 meter high stone arch and has names of 90,000 Indian soldiers who died in the 1st world war. The President’s house is a huge building with 340 rooms in the middle of sprawling well laid out gardens. The architecture here is purely British.

Overnight : The Lalit, Delhi
Included Meals: B

Days 3 Udaipur

This mornng after breakfast, check out from the hotel and an escorted vehicle will take to you to Indira Gandhi Airport for your flight to Udaipur.

** Flight Details as per Dates **

Udaipur, the city combines real beauty with a picturesque association of a glorious past. It stands in a valley, amidst green hills on the banks of Lake Pichola. On little islands in the lake, from the water’s edge, rise marble palaces that glisten like fairy castles. Crowning the ridge in which the city clusters, along the shore of the lake is the palace of the Maharana. Possibly no city in Rajasthan is quite as romantic as Udaipur and is replete with fantastic hill top fortresses, exotic fairy tale palaces and gripping legends of medieval chivalry and heroism.

Keep the day at leisure, and exlore the streets of Udaipur on foot.

Overnight : Lalit Laxmi Vilas, Udaipur
Included Meals: B

Day 4 Udaipur

This morning visit the City Palace, towering over Lake Pichola. The City Palace is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Though it is a conglomeration of buildings built by successive rulers, it man- ages to retain a surprising uniformity of design and affords neviews of the lake and the city from upper terraces.

Also visit Jagadish temple which enshrines a black stone image of Lord Vishnu and his vehicle - a might bird called Garuda -- in a brass image. The temple is an example of Indo-Aryan art. The temple is still in use and is visited by colourfully dressed pilgrims.
Also visit Sahelion Ki Bari
- the spectacular garden displaying the unique life style of the royal ladies who once lived in the palaces.

Spend some time in the bustling market that sprawls behind the City Palace Complex. This afternoon set out on a boat ride on Lake Pichola (subject to water levels). There is no more delightful way to see this city. While boating in Lake Pichola, you will see the City Palace and its crenellated walls, draped gracefully along a high ridge. You will also see the Gangaur Ghat, where during the colourful Gangaur Festival, Rajasthani women offer prayers for a good husband. You will also see the beautiful island of Jagmandir, dedicated to the Lord of the Universe, and Jag Niwas (the Lake palace), mirrored in the waters of Lake Pichola.

Overnight : Indiana Palace, Jodhpur
Included Meals: B

Day 5 Udaipur/Jodhpur

After touring Jodhpur's massive Meherangarh Fort that towers over the city and the cenotaph of the Jodhpur Maharajas we drive on to Jaipur. Accommodation Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, or similar (2 nights)
Included Meals: B

Day 6 Jodhpur/Jaipur

Today explore the streets of Jodhpur that reveals one of the most vibrant and colourful cities in Rajasthan. The bazaars sell all manner of goods, with locally made specialties including tie-dye fabrics, puppets and lacquered jewelry. The old city is still surrounded by 15th century town walls and the colourful lane of Jaisalmeriyon ki Gali feels like a step back in time.

Also visit the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. ‘Mehrangarh’, meaning the Majestic Fort is one of the largest forts in India. Located at the center of the city the fort spreads over 3 miles. The magnifcent fort was originally started by Rao Jodha in 1459. Most of the fort which stands today dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (1638-78). The fort houses some of the most intricately adorned palaces with exquisitely carved panels, latticed windows and brilliant stained glass.

There are three gates, (originally seven) each built to commemorate a particular victory. Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana are some of the important palaces and apartments. The fort museum, in a series of palaces has a collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The canons, placed strategically on the ramparts are well preserved and impressive.

After the sightseeing, be prepared for your overland journey to the pink city of Jaipur. The drive takes approximately 5 1⁄2 hours.

Overnight : ITC Rajputana, Jaipur
Included Meals: B

Day 7 Jaipur

After breakfast at the hotel and get ready because it’s time to explore and enjoy sightseeing in the Pink city of India - Jaipur.

Amber Fort, a magni cent example of a Rajput Fort building at its best. Forti ed by hills and a succession of gates, the fort was a perfect capital for the Kuchwaha Rajputs from the 11th to the 18th centuries. The fort contains a dramatic Hall of Public Audience opposite a beautifully painted Ganesh pole. Ganesh, the elephant- headed son of Siva and Parvati, is commonly propitiated before beginning any new venture. Visit the gardens and the marble rooms, which are cooled by pouring water through perforations in the center of the wall. This low-tech air condition- ing was highly effective and easy to use. As you move between the rooms of this magnificent structure, you will feel the history and visualize the pomp and grandeur of a kingdom never conquered.

This afternoon visit the City Palace, home to an impressive collection of tradi- tonal Rajasthani and Mughal artwork, jewels, textiles and arms; Jantar Mantar; and the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, a tall facade of almost one thousand windows, behind which royal ladies once took the air in privacy.

Next to the City Palace is the Solar Observatory -- an astronomical treasure house with solar devices that give accurate predictions to date.

Overnight : ITC Rajputana, Jaipur
Included Meals: B

Days 8 Jaipur/Agra

This morning after breakfast, prepare for your overland journey to Agra. The drive takes approximately 4 hours.

Take a stop at the Geejgarh Village, for a special rajasthani lunch in the beautiful Geejgarh Village Resort, set amidst the arravalis. Also visit the Chand Baori stepwell, one of the oldest step wells of India.

En route visit Fatehpur Sikri (a hilltop ghost fortress and site of the mausoleum of Salim Chistis, a medieval Muslim saint). Make a wish at his tomb as it is said that he still grants the prayers of the pure-hearted. This abandoned capital of the Mughala is a perfectly preserved city at the height of the empire’s splendour. It is not hard to imagine what the court life must have been like in the days of its grandeur.

Agra is best known as the city of Taj Mahal, the world’s most famous monument of love. It is situated along the banks of the River Yamuna and attracts thousands of tourists every day from all over the world. Agra, with its laid back lifestyle and its immense wealth of architecture, handicrafts and jewellery, is amongst the most remarkable city of the world. In terms of ambience it is still associated with its Mughal period led by Babur, who arrived in 1526. Agra grew in prominence as almost all of India came under the rule of Mughal empire but Agra reached its zenith under the rule of Akbar, Shah Jehan and Jehangir. It was under the rule of Akbar that Agra become a leading centre of art, science, commerce and culture.

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. Akbar the Great made Agra great. The city’s origins are dim but Akbar’s grandfather Babur is credited with Agra’s founding. The short golden age of Agra came to an end with the seventeenth century reign of Shah Jehan, mastermind of the unforgettable Taj Mahal.

Overnight : Crystal Sarovar Premier, Agra
Accommodation: Ramada Jaipur
Included Meals: BL

Day 9 Agra - Delhi / Varanasi

At approximately 6:30 AM depart the hotel to visit the Taj Mahal during sunrise (subject to weather conditions. In December the air is cool and fog can occur, if so you will visit the Taj during the day after the fog has worn off).

The Taj Mahal is one of the most extravagant monuments in the world, built by an emperor in the found memory of his queen. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631, and is believed to have taken 18 years to complete, with over 20,000 craftsmen working around the clock.

The design and construction is said to be that of the legendary architect, Ustad Ahamad Lahori. Legend has it that once construction was completed, Shah Jehan had Lahori’s hands cut off, and blinded, so he would never be able to duplicate the structure. What makes the Taj Mahal unique is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, medium of construction and ornamentation. Its marble exterior reects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day. It is impossible to visualize the Taj Mahal in any surrounding other than in its paradoxical garden. Paradise, in Islam, is visualized as a lush garden where running streams ow. When the Mughals brought this concept to India they elevated it to heights of incomparable artistry.

Return to the hotel for breakfast. This morning you will also visit the Agra Fort, before your overland journey to Delhi.

Reach Indira Gandi Airport, Delhi for your flight to Varanasi.

** Flight Details will be based on Dates **

This evening your guide will take you to the Ganges to see the aarti (loud recital of spiritual songs).

Overnight : Ramada, Varanasi
Included Meals: B


Dates & Pricing

Travel Dates Per Person Sharing Twin
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Single Room Supplement
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Price varies by season. Contact us with your specific travel date.


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Accommodations


Included

- meet & greet on arrival
- round-trip airport transfers
- accommodation as described (or similar)
- river cruise
- ground transportation
- sightseeing as indicated inclusive of entrance
- meals as described by BLD
- local taxes & service charges
- services of professional English-speaking guides

Not Included

- international & domestic airfares (to include or not)
- departure taxes
- most lunches
- optional excursions
- gratuities
- items of a personal nature
- entry visa fee
- travel insurance



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