Choice of standard, first class, deluxe & luxury hotels with private bath/shower.
American breakfast daily.
Assistance by an ACTC representative at airport and hotels.
Local English speaking guide for each sightseeing tour.
Baggage handling and porterage.
Day to Day Program:
DAY 1 – MUMBAI
On arrival at Mumbai this evening, you will be greeted with a traditional Indian welcome and escorted to the hotel. Mumbai, a cluster of seven islands, derives its name from Mumbadevi, the patron goddess of the Koli fisher folk, the oldest inhabitants.
DAY 2 – MUMBAI TOURING
Afternoon tour includes the British-built Arch Gateway of India, Mumbai’s landmark, builtin commemoration of King George V’s visit in 1911; Dhobi Ghat, open air laundry, Jain Temple, Marine Drive, Hanging Gardens; Malabar Hills and Prince of Wales Museum. BL
DAY 3 – MUMBAI / AURANGABAD – Ellora Caves
Breakfast at the hotel and board the early morning flight to Aurangabad, named after Aurangzeb, the last Mughal emperor, is your base to explore the famous Ajanta and Ellora cave temples. Transfers and check into your Hotel. Explore the magnificently sculptured caves of Ellora in the afternoon. These caves illustrate a resurgence of Hinduism, reflected by the creation of 17 caves with Hindu themes, sculpture, and art; The awe-inspiring Kailash Temple, like all of the other Cave temples was created out of one rock. However, the significance of that fact changes when you put it in perspective of its enormous structure.
DAY 4 – AJANTA CAVE TEMPLES
Spend your day exploring Ajanta. Buddhist monks and other craftsmen began excavating,sculpting, and painting at Ajanta in the 2nd century BC. The incredible variety of paintings and sculpture were created in hard rock by using elaborate and ingenious lighting, tools, and materials. The 28 caves are a testimony to the devotion of the Buddhists, as well as the talents of their skilled craftsmen. Ajanta’s incredible paintings are even more amazing considering that the color and texture you’re admiring today was created by artists about two thousand years ago.
DAY 5 – AURANGABAD / MUMBAI / UDAIPUR
Travel today to Udaipur by air connecting via Mumbai. Udaipur, which is also referred to as the Venice of the East, this lake city is perhaps the most romantic of all the Indian centers. A fairytale collection of exotic gardens, mirror-calm lakes and fantasy island palaces.
DAY 6 – UDAIPUR & RANAKPUR
This morning we drive to Ranakpur for sightseeing of the fabulous 500 -year old JainTemples. The temples are superbly preserved in near perfect condition. The most distinctive feature are the 29 halls of the main temple, some octagonal and many more than one story high, are dissected by 1444 pillars, each sculpted with unique designs which no two are the exactly alike. The carving on the walls, while musicians and dancers have been modeled out of brackets between the pillars and the ceiling. On return back tour of Udaipur includes, the City Palace, the huge palace towering over the lake, Saheliyon-ki-Bari a small ornamental garden, with its fountains, kiosks, marble elephants and delightful lotus pool.
DAY 7 – UDAIPUR / JAIPUR
Travel by air to Jaipur this morning. The city owes its name, foundations and careful planning to the great warrior, astronomer, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. Afternoon, tour the City Palace, once the formal residence of the royal family, built in a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Continue to Jantar Mantar, the largest of Jai Singh’s remarkable observatories. Its complex instruments, whose setting and shapes are scientifically designed, represent the high points of medieval Indian astronomy.
DAY 8 – AMBER FORT EXCURSION
Visit the ancient capital of Amber, ascending the Palace Fortress on the back of a gaily caparisoned elephant. Tour the intricate chambers and hallways of the palace. En route to Amber, photograph the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) built in 1799 AD. Afternoon is at leisure to explore a shopper’s paradise.
DAY 9 – JAIPUR / FATEHPUR SIKRI / AGRA
Travel overland to Fatehpur Sikri, an imperial capital frozen in time, was constructed by Akbar the Great around 1570. Continue to Agra where no other historical monument has evoked as much awareness and admiration as the Taj Mahal. Time permitting visit Taj Mahal by sunset.
DAY 10 – AGRA
Visit the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1631-52, as a tomb and memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace). Stop at the Taj Museum of Agra for a close look at the original pieces of drawings of this wonderful marble monument. A look at the drawings reveals the level of accuracy and precision that has gone in planning the structure of the Taj Mahal. The architect had also guessed that the construction would be done in 22 years. Drawings of the interiors show the position of the graves in such precision that the foot of the graves faces the viewer from any angle. Many more such breathtaking collections include royal ornaments, wonderful paintings, portraits of Mughal emperors etc. Continue to Agra Fort built by three of the greatest Mughal emperors. Afternoon is at leisure to explore the city.
DAY 11 – AGRA / JHANSI / ORCHHA / KHAJURAHO
Morning, board an express train to Jhansi. Drive to Orchha, once the capital of the formidable Bundela kings who ruled over a large tract between the Ganga and Narmada rivers. Visit the fort complex housing palaces, temples, cenotaphs and memorials. Raj Mahal was constructed by Raja Bir Singh Ju Deo in 1606 to commemorate Emperor Jahangir’s visit Chaturbhuj and Laxmi Narayan temples are some of the other religious attractions in Orchha. Continue to Khajuraho, India’s unique gift to the world. Of the original 85 temples, 22 survive, enthralling visitors all over the world. Tour the principal Eastern Group of Temples to see the exquisitely carved sculptures.
DAY 12 – KHAJURAHO
Morning, visit the Western Group of Temples, the largest and loveliest temples includingKandariya Mahadev, Chandela art at its best with intricately carved erotic figures, representing life in heaven. Also visit the principal eastern group of temples this afternoon. The temples are noted for their exquisitely carved sculptures. This afternoon is at leisure.
DAY 13 – KHAJURAHO / VARANASI
After a morning at leisure a short flight brings you to Varanasi, a city that cannot be described but only experienced. This religious city is crowded with temples, and its labyrinth of streets with their throngs of people is exciting and enticing. This afternoon’s tour includes an excursion to Sarnath, where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon, after enlightenment. Here he revealed the eight-fold path, the Buddhist doctrine. Visit the museum and many stupas, ruins and Mulagandhakuti Vihara, containing relics found during the early excavations.
DAY 14 – VARANASI / KATHMANDU
An early morning boat ride on the Holy River Ganges presents an incredible scene to witness the multitudes of Hindus absolving themselves of sin. Fly to Kathmandu, the capital of the Kingdom of Nepal. Embark on a city tour, which includes the Durbar Square with its pagoda-shaped temples, bazaars and the Royal Residential Palace, Temple of the Living Goddess Kumari, worshiped as a deity by devout Nepalese. Bodhnath, home of the largest Buddhist stupa in the world and Pashupatinath, the most sacred Lord Shiva’s shrine in Nepal on the Banks of the Bagmati River.
DAY 15 – PATAN & BHADGAON EXCURSION
Your exploration of Kathmandu valley begins at Patan, the ‘city of beauty’ with its many palaces and temples embellished with intricately carved gods and goddesses in erotic poses. Tibetan refugee camp presents an opportunity to see the deft hands of Tibetans weaving carpets and other distinct Tibetan handicrafts. Enjoy a drive through the terraced rice fields to the primitive city of Bhadgaon. The Durbar Square includes the Big Bell – once rung to usher in curfew, the Bell of the Barking Dogs, the Lion Gate, the Picture Gallery and the famous Golden Gate.
DAY 16 – KATHMANDU / DELHI
Morning is at leisure. Fly to Delhi, India’s bustling capital city, where you will be greeted with a traditional Indian welcome and escorted to the hotel. New Delhi reflects the legacy the British left behind. The division between New and Old Delhi is the segregation between the capitals of the British and the Mughals respectively.
DAY 17 – OLD & NEW DELHI TOUR
Tour Old and New Delhi includes the exquisite audience halls, marble domes and slender minarets of the Jama Masjid, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Raj Ghat, the Ashoka Pillar and the famous Chandani Chowk Bazaars, once the royal Mughal shopping arcade. Drive along Rajpath to photograph the Parliament House, President’s Palace and India Gate, a memorial to India’s soldiers. Tour Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, one of the most popular place of worship for Sikhs in Delhi, built on the site of a house where Guru Harkishen Dev, the eighth Sikh guru, stayed here on his visit to Delhi. Continue to Humayun’s Tomb, one of the most spectacular Mughal buildings. The mausoleum is known as the precursor to the Taj Mahal. Proceed to the Qutab Minar and ruins of the Hindu temples destroyed during the Qutabshahi period.
DAY 18 – DELHI
Enjoy a day of leisure to explore Delhi on your own.
DAY 19 – DEPART INDIA
Board your international flight, filled with wonderful memories of India and Nepal.