Essence Of India (14n/15d)

The Red Fort is one of the most iconic sights in India

The Red Fort is one of the most iconic sights in India

Arrive at Delhi International Airport. Delhi – A bustling metropolis and a city of 14 million inhabitants, is also India’s capital. A near perfect blend of the ancient and the modern, Delhi, consisting two parts Old & New Delhi, is a city with something for everyone. Upon clearing Customs and Immigration, you are met by our representative who will arrange for your transfer to your hotel for check-in. No activity is scheduled today, since most of the International flights arrive into India close to midnight. Overnight at hotel.

Day 02: IN DELHI
This morning you are collected from your hotel for a full special India tour of Old and New Delhi. The tour of the 17th-century old city includes the great mosque of Jama Masjid. The main street of Old Delhi is the colourful shopping bazaar known as Chandni Chowk (“Moonlit Street”). Red Fort, most spectacular pieces of mughal architecture, built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648. Drive past Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. The tour of New Delhi includes Qutab Minar, one of the most popular landmarks in Delhi built in 1199. The Humayun’s Tomb, the precursor of the Taj Mahal. Drive down the spectacular Rajpath (“the Kingsway,”) passing the India Gate (the memorial built to commemorate the unknown soldiers,) the President’s House, and the House of Parliament. Enjoy a brief respite from the otherwise bustling city at Birla Mandir, a modern and colourful Hindu temple. Evening at leisure to perhaps venture out and discover the city or try one of its many restaurants on your own. Overnight at hotel.

Day 03: DELHI – AGRA
This morning you drive to Agra (220km). Agra – “The Land of Taj” was once the capital of the Mughal Empire and even today it seems to linger in the past. Not surprising, for the Mughal emperors with their passion for building, endowed the city with some of the finest structures in the world. Upon arrival in Agra, check in to your hotel. Afternoon, you are collected for half day city tour of Agra visiting The Taj Mahal – a poem, a feeling of love, in white marble, is a fine example of the fusion of many architectural styles. It has been described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. Your tour also includes a visit to the Red Sandstone Agra Fort, seat of the Mughal dynasty in the 16th century, which lies on the bend of the River Yamuna, almost in the heart of town. Akbar built it as his citadel over the years of 1565-1573.  Evening at leisure. Overnight at hotel.

This morning you drive to Jaipur (250 kms/05 hrs.), visiting Fatehpur Sikri en-route – often called the ghost city, built by Akbar the Great in the 16th century to serve as the capital of his vast empire. Fatehpur Sikri was mysteriously abandoned 13 years later. Later continue your drive to the Pink City of Rajastha, Jaipur. Jaipur – the capital of Rajasthan is colour-washed pink, the colour associated with auspiciousness and Rajput hospitality. This Pink City of fairy tale palaces, rugged fortresses perched on barren hills and a city of broad avenues is picturesque. A formidable wall encircles the first planned city of its time. Upon arrival in Jaipur, check in to your hotel and rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at hotel.

Day 05: JAIPUR
AM: Excursion to Amber fort. Drive past the Hawa Mahal, known popularly as the palace of winds, which is just a façade built for the ladies of the royal household in the 19th century. The Amber Fort, the capital of the erstwhile state of Jaipur until 1728 is perched on a hill. It has halls of public & private audience, a Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) various marble palaces, which are marvellous examples of ancient Rajput architecture. Ride an elephant to ascend the hill on which the fort is situated. PM: City tour of Jaipur. Visit the city Palace – the former Royal residence built in a blend of the Rajasthani and Mughal style. It now houses a museum with a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, an armoury of the Mughals and Rajputs with weapons of arms, an art gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit. Visit the Jantar Mantar – an astrological and astronomical observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century, which is remarkable for its accuracy of the instruments even in the present times. Evening at leisure. Overnight at hotel.

This morning you will be met by our representative and escorted from your hotel to the Jaipur airport in time for your flight to Udaipur.  Udaipur – The enchanting city of Udaipur was once the lakeside capital of Mewar. Romantic, wistful, and serene, Udaipur was built around shimmering blue lakes that reflect the green hills of the Aravali Ranges. Maharana Udai Singh founded Udaipur in 1599, and this extraordinarily beautiful city has come to be celebrated for its association with Queen Padmini and Meera Bai, royal princesses who are linked with the fortunes of the Sisodia family. Developed scientifically, the old city was surrounded by fortified bastions with entry through 11 gates. Ruins of the ancient fortifications are still in evidence, and the more recently built palaces can still be visited.  Upon arrival you will be met and escorted to your hotel for check-in etc. The day ends with a sunset boat ride on the shimmering waters of the Lake Pichola, within which seemingly floats The Lake Palace Hotel. Considered one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, arising out of the Turquoise Waters of the Lake Pichola like an elegant fantasy in white marble. Overnight at hotel.

This morning you are collected from your hotel for half-day tour of Udaipur.  The tour includes a visit to the City Palace, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, with its scalloped arches, fretted balconies, and cupolas. The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum. Saheliyon-Ki-Bari or “Garden of the Maids of Honor” is a small ornamental garden with fountains, kiosks, marble elephants, and delightful lotus pools. Jagdish Temple is an Indo-Aryan temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It has a black stone image of Vishnu as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe. Rest of the day at leisure to explore the city on your own. Overnight at hotel.

This morning you will be met by our representative and escorted from your hotel to the Udaipur airport in time for your flight to Mumbai followed by a connecting flight to Cochin. Cochin: – Cochin means harbour and even before the building of Ancient Rome, spices, silks, ivory and sandalwood were traded here. Cochin proudly boasts a rich cultural heritage, but is also one of the most fast-paced and modern cities in India. It is also one of the finest natural harbours of the world and a major Indian port. Upon arrival you will be met and escorted to your hotel  Your evening tour includes a Kathakali dance performance at a local theatre. Kathakali is a traditional dance form, depicting Indian epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata). Overnight at hotel.

Day 09: – COCHIN
This tour includes a visit to Fort Cochin – a home to a unique community of Eurasians, commonly known as “Anglo-Indians”. The architecture of the quiet streets in this enclave is very definitely European with fine houses built by wealthy British traders, and Dutch cottages with split farmhouse doors. Mattancherry Palace—locally known as the Dutch Palace – the two storey building was actually erected by the Portuguese, as a gift to the Cochin Raja. St. Francis Church – this Protestant church was originally built by the Portuguese in 1510 A.D. It is considered to be India’s oldest European church.  Jewish synagogue – dates from 1568 and is adorned with fine glass lamps and floor tiles. At the end of your tour visit the harbour near Vasco da Gama Square, where you can watch fishermen hoisting their catch from the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that line the shore. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at hotel.

This morning you drive to Kumarakom (85 kms/02 hrs.) Kumarakom: The enchanting backwater destination of Kumarakom is a small village that is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake in Kerela. Kumarkom strengthens Kerala’s reputation for being God’s own country with its unbelievably beautiful mangrove forests, coconut groves and emerald green paddy fields interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with white lillies. It is part of the Kuttanad region, and the bird sanctuary here spreads across 14 acres of an ornithologist’s paradise. Upon arrival check-in to the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure to enjoy Nature’s beauty on your own. Overnight at hotel

Day at leisure. This enchanting backwater destination offers visitors many leisure options. From wandering into the depths of its wildlife sanctuary to cruising down the back waters and fishing, Kumarkom is perfect for a lazy and laid back holiday. The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarakom sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands, as hundreds of swaying verdant coconut palms lining the rivers lean to brush the tops of your heads. Kumarkom is an example of nature at her bountiful best in the fragrant flowers, the riot of multi coloured birds, the surrounding greenery and the clear waters. Overnight at hotel.

House Boat – A highlight of any trip to Kerala is a night spent onboard a houseboat, or a rice barge. These converted rice barges or “Kettuvallams” sail along shallow, palm-fringed lakes and narrow canals where coconut and cashew is loaded onto dugouts. You pass villages built on narrow spits of land, stopping to visit local markets, or to marvel at craftsmen engaged in centuries-old boat-making tradition. For most of the journey, the boat is poled, sailing only between dawn and dusk. Although the accommodation on board is basic, this is an unforgettable experience. Overnight on board Houseboat

After breakfast, disembark the houseboat in Alleppey and drive to Cochin airport in time to connect with the flight for Mumbai. Mumbai: Mumbai or Bombay as it was known earlier is the commercial capital of India, a city of entrepreneurs, concrete towers, clubs and discos, cricket, Bollywood and more. Upon arrival you will be met and escorted to your hotel for check-in etc. Evening at leisure. Overnight in Mumbai

Day 14: – MUMBAI
This morning you are collected from your hotel for half-day tour of Mumbai. This tour includes a visit to the Gateway of India — a grand ceremonial arch built to commemorate the visit of King George IV, Mani Bhavan – where the father of our Nation resided for 15 years, the Marine drive, the Prince of Wales museum – considered as one of the best museums in the country, the Hanging gardens & Victoria rail station. Rest of the day at leisure to perhaps venture out and discover the city or its many restaurants on your own. Overnight in Mumbai.

Met by our representative and escorted from your hotel to the Mumbai airport in time for your flight home.

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