India Culture And Nature (27n/28d)

The Temple Complex of Khajuraho

The Temple Complex of Khajuraho

Day 01  – Depart Home
Depart from your home destination.

Day 02 – Arrival Delhi
Individual arrivals at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport.  Own transfer and Check in at the pre-booked hotel in Delhi.

Day 03 – Delhi.
Breakfast meet and tour brief. After breakfast start the tour of Old and New Parts of Delhi with a friendly English speaking guide visiting Humayus Tomb, Jama Masjid, Lotus temple etc. Overnight in your Delhi  hotel.

Day 04– Delhi to Neemrana
After breakfast drive to Neemrana village and stay at the grand and beautiful Neemrana Fort Palace. Neemrana Fort Palace – This 15th century heritage resort is ideal to invent your own past at the dream site of history. Seven palace wings built over 12 layers tiered into a hill across 2.5 hectares/ 6 acres of garden-palace.

Day 05  – Neemrana to Mandawa
After breakfast leave for the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan and drive through small villages and towns to reach the Mandawa Village. Mandawa was a prominent village on the silk trade route in the old days. Mandawa is rich with frescoed havelis (big mansions of a house) from the old days and has a lot of character in the village. We will take a walk in the village and visit the havelis. A remote feudal principality in the centre of the Shekhawati region, Mandawa was a trading outpost for the ancient caravan routes that stopped here from China and the Middle East. Thakur Nawal Singh, the Rajput ruler of Nawalgarh and Mandawa, built a fort in 1755 to protect this outpost. The township that grew around the fort soon attracted a large community of traders, who settled here. This town has been referred to as the “open art gallery” of Rajasthan because the entire Shekhawati region and not just Mandawa is dotted with fascinating mansions(havelis) that have lavishly painted walls.

Day 06  – Mandawa to Bikaner
After breakfast leave for Bikaner. Upon arrival in Bikaner transfer to the hotel and later visit the famous Junagadh Fort and also visit Deshnoke (The rat Temple). Bikaner is a District in the northwest of the state of Rajasthan in northern India. It is located 330 kilometres (205 mi) northwest of the state capital, Jaipur. Bikaner city is the administrative headquarters of Bikaner District and Bikaner division. It was formerly the capital of the princely state of Bikaner. The city was founded by Rao Bika in 1486 and from its small origins it has developed into the fifth largest city in Rajasthan. The Ganges Canal, completed in 1928, and the Indira Gandhi Canal, completed in 1987, have allowed the farming of crops such as mustard, cotton, groundnuts, wheat and vegetables. Other industries include wool production and the mining of Gypsum, plaster of Paris and bentonite. Junagarh Fort: The fort was built by Raja Rai Singh, the sixth ruler of Bikaner who reigned from 1571 to 1612. Rai Singh had conquered part of Marwar and had been granted territory in Gujurat and Burhanpur by the Mughal emperor Akbar as a reward for his services as military commander. This, as well as funding from Jodhpur, enabled him to build the fort. Rai Singh held high rank in the imperial courts of both Akbar and his successor, Jehangir. During his imperial service he travelled extensively, giving him an appreciation of art and architecture. These ideas have been incorporated meticulously into the architectural style of Junagarh Fort. Karni Mata Temple: The world famous shrine of Karni Mata can be found in the town of Deshnoke 30 km south from Bikaner on the road to Jodhpur. Karni Mata is worshiped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. This temple is famous for rats which can be seen everywhere in the temple

Day 07  – Bikaner to Phalodi
After breakfast leave for Phalodi. A village on the way to Jaisalmer and it has a beautiful haveli hotel. Visit the village and it’s temple on foot and also visit the famous domicile crane spot…..thousands of domicile cranes fly from Mangolia every year to take shelter on the outskirts of this village. Truly amazing phenomenon. It is well known for the migratory bird “Kurja” (crane). The village Khichan is hardly 4 kilometres (2 mi) away from Phalodi. Bawari Kalan and Bawari Khurd are situated 15 and 18 kilometres (9 and 11 mi) from Phalodi, respectively. The villages of Sevad Rajpurohits spiritual guru’s of Rathore Rajput here. Phalodi was established in mid-15th century. In 1488, a Fort was constructed by Hamir Singh, the grandson of Rao Suja. He did a number of developmental works during his period. In 1230, famous Kalyan Raoji’s Temple was constructed. The temple of Goddess Latiyal Devi and Shantinath are some of the oldest temples of the town. The Parsnath Jain temple, established in 1847 by the Oswal Jain community, has been made only in stone and does not have any girders or RCC construction. It is made of old Belgium glass. This Jain temple is considered a marvel in architecture (total of 10 Jain temples and 6 dadabadis). In 1547, Rao Maldeo was the ruler of Phalodi. But in 1578 it was handed over to Rai Singh, the King of Bikaner, by the emperor Akbar. In 1615, it came under the control of Rao Soor Singh of Jodhpur State and thereafter remained a part of the state of Jodhpur. Phalodi also has a large number of communities living in it. The majority are Pushkarna-pushkarana Brahmins. Small industries flourish in Phalodi. The town is well known for the large number of industries for the production of sodium salt and plaster of Paris. Phalodi is the largest supplier of salt in India.

Day 08 – Phalodi to Jaisalmer
After breakfast travel deep into the thar desert and visit the beautiful town of Jaisalmer and its golden fort. Jaisalmer is often referred to as an open museum or a chapter out of the Arabian nites.  Upon arrival in Jaisalmer transfer to the hotel. Jaisalmer nicknamed “The Golden city”, is a town in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located 575 kilometres (357 mi) west from the state capital Jaipur. It was once known as Jaisalmer state. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert and has a population of about 78,000. It is the administrative headquarters of Jaisalmer District. Jaisalmer Fort – Built in 1156 by the Bhati Rajput ruler Jaisal, Jaisalmer Fort is situated on Meru Hill and Named as Trikoot Garh had seen the scene of many battles. Its massive sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour during the day, turning to a magical honey-gold as the sun sets. The famous Indian film director Satyajit Ray wrote a detective novel and later turned it into a film – Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) which was based on this fort. This is a living fort and about a quarter of city’s population still live inside the fort. The main attractions inside the fort are: Raj Mahal (Royal palace), Jain temples and the Laxminath temple. Jaisalmer has been enriched by its Jain community, which has adorned the city with beautiful temples, notably the temples dedicated to the 16th Tirthankara, Shantinath, and 23rd Tirthankara, Parshva.

Day 09 – In Jaisalmer
After breakfast start the sightseeing of Jaisalmer and visit the Gadisar lake, Golden fort and it’s palaces and the Jain temples. Later in the day transfer to Sam or Khuri sand dunes for a short camel ride over the dunes and enjoy the local dance and music followed by dinner by camp fire.

Day 10 – Jaisalmer to Jodhpur
After breakfast leave for Jodhpur.  Upon reaching Jodhpur transfer to the hotel. The city is known as the “Sun City” for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred to as the “Blue City” due to the vivid blue-painted houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. The old city circles the fort and is bounded by a wall with several gates. However, the city has expanded greatly outside the wall over the past several decades.

Day 11  – In Jodhpur
After breakfast start the sightseeing of Jodhpur and visit the Mehrangadh Fort and Jaswant Thada. Later visit the clock tower and the Old part of the town. Overnight at the hotel in Jodhpur.

Day 12  – Jodhpur to Khimsar Dunes Camp
After breakfast leave for Khimsar Forty. Upon arrival at Khimsar fort…….explore this beautiful heritage hotel and later after lunch you will be transferred to the unique Khimsar dunes camp built in the middle of sand dunes. Jeeps will be used for the transfer. At the dunes camp enjoy camel ride and in the evening enjoy local music and dinner by campfire.

Day 13  – Khimsar to Pushkar
After breakfast transfer back to Khimsar fort and drive to Pushkar. Upon arrival in Pushkar transfer to the hotel. Pushkar is one of the oldest existing cities of India. It lies on the shore of holy Pushkar Lake. Pushkar is a must visit place for every Hindu in their lifetime to perform holy rituals for their ancestors. A colorful and tourist oriented and culturally rich place.

Day 14  – In Pushkar
After breakfast start the sightseeing of Pushkar – Holy lake city and also visit the only temple of God Brahma – the creator of the universe. This is one of the places in India where rituals/puja prayers are performed for the deceased ones/ancestors. If one wishes the pooja ceremony can be organised for individuals or for the group.

Day 15 – Pushkar to Jaipur
After breakfast leave for Jaipur. Upon arrival in Jaipur, transfer to the hotel.  Afternoon free to relax. Jaipur was founded on 18 November 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, after whom the city has been named. The city today has a population of 3.1 million. Jaipur is also known as Pink City and Paris of India. Jaipur City is remarkable among pre-modern Indian cities for the width and regularity of its streets which are laid out into six sectors separated by broad streets 34 m (111 ft) wide. The urban quarters are further divided by networks of gridded streets. Five quarters wrap around the east, south, and west sides of a central palace quarter, with a sixth quarter immediately to the east. The Palace quarter encloses a sprawling palace complex, (Hawa Mahal), formal gardens, and a small lake. Nahargarh Fort, which was the residence of the King Sawai Jai Singh II, crowns the hill in the northwest corner of the old city. The observatory, Jantar Mantar, is one of the World Heritage Sites

Day 16  – In Jaipur
After early breakfast leave for Amber Fort and enjoy the elephant ride up to the fort. Later visit the City palace and it’s museum. Later some time for souvenirs collection.

Day 17 – Jaipur to Bharatpur
After breakfast leave for famous Bhratpur bird sanctuary. Upon arrival at Bharatpur visit the UNESCO world Heritage bird sanctuary with a local naturalist sighting birds. Later proceed to the hotel and enjoy the night stay at a hotel in Bharatpur.

Day 18 – Bharatpur to Agra and overnight train to Jabalpur
After breakfast leave for Fatehpur Sikri – the so called deserted capital of the mughal king Akbar. Our local guide will guide you through its architectural marvel and its rich history and later proceed to Agra and Visit the famous Tal Mahal. Later transfer to the train station to board an overnight train to Jabalpur in central India. Important Note on the train – Train No.2412 Gondwana Express. Lv. Agra Cantt. Station at 1850 Hrs. and Arrive in Jabalpur at 0715 Hrs. This train has 08 First Class AC Seats and about 16 second AC seats. They are in high demand due to the busy season and the booking for these seats open 90 days in advance. It is important to have the names and passport details of the participants as much in advance as possible – 90 days prior.

Day 19 – Arrive Jabalpur and transfer to Kanha Nationa Park
Upon arrival at Umaria transfer to Kanha national Park and stay in a beautiful jungle resort here. Kanha National Park was created on 1 June 1955. Today it stretches over an area of 940 km². At Kanha the majestic tiger is the keystone species. The big cats tigers and leopards are tertiary carnivores in the food chain. Besides the big cats wild dogs, wild cat, fox and the jackal are carnivores commonly seen at Kanha. Among the deer species Swamp Deer or Hard Ground Barasingha is pride of the place as it is the only sub species of swamp deer in India (Cervus Duavcelli Branderi). The animal is adopted to hard ground unlike swamp deers of the North which live in marshy swamps. Kanha National Park has been instrumental in rescuing the “Swamp Deer” from extinction. Indian Gaur (Bison) is found in Kanha. Other commonly seen animals in the park include the spotted deer, sambar, barking deer and the four-horned deer. Recently, mouse deer have also been discovered in the tiger reserve. Nocturnal animals like fox, hyena, jungle cat, civets, porcupine, ratel or honey badger and hares can be seen outside the park confines. Reptiles like pythons, cobras, krait, rat snakes, vipers, keelbacks and grass snakes are nocturnal animals, and are therefore rarely seen. There are many species of turtles as well as amphibians found in or near the water bodies. Kanha National Park is home to over 1000 species of flowering plants

Day 20 – In Kanha
Enjoy early morning and afternoon game drives in the park sighting Tigers and various other wild life.

Day 21 – Kanha to Bandhavgarh
After breakfast drive to another UNESCO world heritage park of Bandhavgarh. Upon arrival at Bandhavgarh transfer to a jungle resort. Bandhavgarh National Park  is one of the popular national parks in India located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968, with an area of 105 km². The buffer is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals 437 km². The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which is said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka (Ceylon). This park has a large biodiversity. The density of the tiger population at Bandhavgarh is one of the highest known in India. The park has a large breeding population of Leopards, and various species of deer. Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured the first white tiger in this region in 1951. This white tiger, Mohan, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajas of Rewa.

Day 22 – In Bandhavgarh
Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives in the park sighting Tigers and various other wild life and its numerous flora.

Day 23 – Bandhavgarh to Khajuraho
After breakfast drive to Khajuraho. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures.The name Khajuraho, ancient “Kharjuravāhaka”, is derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura = date palm and vāhaka = “one who carries”. Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had taken a toll on the monuments. In the 19th century, British engineer T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham put Khajuraho on the world map when he explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India. The Khajuraho temples contain some sexual / erotic art outside the temple or near the deities. Also, some of the temples that have two layers of walls have small erotic carvings on the outside of the inner wall. There are many interpretations of the erotic carvings. It has been suggested that these suggest tantric sexual practices. Meanwhile, the external curvature and carvings of the temples depict humans, human bodies, and the changes that occur in bodies, as well as facts of life. Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes; those reportedly do not show deities: They show sexual activities between people. The rest depict the everyday life of the common Indian when the carvings were made and activities of other beings. For example, those depictions show women putting on makeup, musicians, potters, farmers, and other folk. The mundane scenes are all at some distance from the temple deities. A common misconception is that, since the old structures with carvings in Khajuraho are temples, the carvings depict sex between deities.

Day 24 – In Khajuraho
In the morning visit the eastern and western group of temples with a local English speaking guide. Optional visit to Panna National Park (Additional Cost)

Day 25 – Khajuraho to Orchha
After breakfast leave for Orchha. Upon arrival in Orchaa transfer to the hotel. Orchha is a historic city with beautiful architecture consisting of Forts, Memorials and Temples on the banks of beautiful river Betwa. Orchha was founded in the 15th century AD, by the Bundela chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, who became the first King of Orchha, and also built the Fort of Orchha. The Chaturbhuj Temple was built, during the time of Akbar, by the Queen of Orchha, while Raj Mandir was built by ‘Madhukar Shah’ during his reign. On a seasonal island on the bank of the Betwa River, which has been surrounded by a battlement wall, stands a huge palace-fort. The fort consists of several connected buildings erected at different times, the most noteworthy of which are the Raja Mahal and the Jahangir Mahal. The Ram Raja Temple is built on a square base and has an almost entirely plain exterior, relieved by projecting windows and a line of delicate domes along the summit. The Jahangir Mahal is built on a rectangular base and is relieved by a circular tower at each corner surmounted by a dome, while two lines of graceful balconies supported on brackets mark the central storeys. The roof is crowned by eight large fluted domes, with smaller domes between them, connected by an ornamental balustrade. The Jahangir Mahal is considered to be a singularly beautiful specimen of Mughal architecture. Chaturbhuj Temple is an old temple from the 9th century. Numerous cenotaphs or chhatris dot the vicinity of the fort and the Betwa river. Elsewhere about the town there is an unusual variety of temples and tombs, including the Chaturbhuj temple, which is built on a vast platform of stone. The more unguarded and neglected of these buildings are popular hangouts for tropical bees, wasps, and other such excitable stingy creatures.

Day 26 – Orchha to Gwalior
After breakfast leave for the Orchha sightseeing and later leave for Gwalior,. Upon arrival in Gwalior transfer to the hotel. Gwalior a historic city is famous for Gwalior Fort, which has changed hands many times. From the Tomaras in the 8th century, it passed to the Mughals, then the Marathas under the Scindias (1754). At the heart of Gwalior is Gwalior Fort, improved by Raja Man Singh Tomar where a previous structure existed, of the Tomar dynasty. This formidable structure was reputed to be one of the most structurally sound forts of India. It occupies an isolated rock outcrop. The hill is steepened to make it virtually unscalable and is surrounded by high walls which enclose buildings from several periods. The old town of Gwalior lies at the eastern base of the fortress. Lashkar, formerly a separate town that originated as a military camp, lies to the south, and Morar, also a formerly separate town, lies to the east. Gwalior, Lashkar and Morar are presently part of the Gwalior Municipality. The massive Gwalior Fort, popularly called “the Gibraltar of India”, overlooks the city. The Emperor Babur reputedly described it as “the pearl in the necklace of the forts of Hind”. This fort’s architecture is unique. It displays a Chinese influence on Indian architecture, as Chinese dragons have been crafted at the hilt of the pillars. This influence was due to trade between China and India during the fort’s period of construction.

Day 27 – Gwalior to Delhi. Train
After breakfast leave for the Gwalior sightseeing and later transfer to the train station for train to Delhi. Upon arrival in Delhi individual transfer to the airport.

Day 28 – Delhi to Home.
Transfer to the airport for flight home.

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