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Trip Highlights: Taj Mahal, Boat Ride in the Ganges, Varanasi, Buddhist Monuments, River Rafting, Indian Cooking Class, Kunjapuri Trek, Himalaya Sunrise, Amber Fort, Pink City Jaipur, Markets & Bazaars, Elephant Ride, Rickshaw Ride, New Delhi, and more!
Saturday, November 17-Depart NYC
Our flight will depart NYC at 10:30am, arriving in Delhi at 2:30pm.
Sunday, November 18-Delhi Arrival
We will arrive in Delhi, the Capital of India at 2:30pm. Upon arrival, we'll check into our Delhi hotel and receive a welcome drink before our first dinner in India. For the remaining of the evening you may explore the area.
Monday, November 19-Old Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri & Jaipur Transfer
After breakfast, our morning will be spent exploring and sight seeing Old Delhi. We will visit Chandni Chowk by gliding through the mayhem on a rickshaw ride. This loop visits Old Delhi's major bazaars and monuments such as Sisganj Gurdwara, Kinari Bazaar, Jama Masjid, Chawri Bazaar, Fatehpur Mosque, and Red Fort.
Old Delhi can be seen as a crazy hubbub that bombards the senses. Diverse cultural elements absorbed into the daily life of the city have enriched its character. Our day of exploring the city will be a fascinating and rewarding experience.
After an early lunch, we'll drive to Jaipur, visiting Fatehpur Sikri on the way. Once we arrive in Jaipur, we'll check into our hotel and have time to explore the area and local markets.
Fatehpur Sikri was built in the year 1570 entirely in red sandstone. Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of Akbar for almost 14 years. This city was established as the capital city of Mughal empire during the reign of Akbar, but the scarcity of water forced him to shift his capital soon after. Within a span of 20yrs of its construction, Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned.
Janipur in Rajasthan's capital, and is an enthralling historical city and the gateway to India's most flamboyant state. The city's colorful, chaotic streets are filled with camels, rickshaws and motorbikes. At the city's heart, the City Palace continues to house the former royal family.
Tuesday, November 20-Amber Fort, Elephant Ride, and Pink City Jaipur
After and early breakfast, we will drive to visit Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal and enjoy an elephant ride and local sight seeing. The magnificent Amber Fort is more of a palace, built from pale yellow and pink sandstone and white marble, and divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard. We will ride up on elephant back to the top of the fort (you can also walk or take rickshaw).
Jaipur's most distinctive landmark is Hawa Mahal , an extraordinary, fairy-tale, pink-sandstone delicately honeycombed hive that rises a dizzying five stories. It was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable ladies of the royal household to watch the life and processions of the city.
The Old City (Pink City) is partially encircled by a crenelated wall punctuated at intervals by grand gateways. The major gates are Chandpol, Ajmer Gate, and Sanganeri Gate.
Wednesday, November 21-Agra & Taj Mahal
After an early breakfast, we will depart for Agra by coach. On our way we'll visit Haridwar temples, and the Indian country side to see the way people live in the villages. Once in Agra, we'll check into our hotel and then proceed for the visit to the Taj Mahal and other monuments.
The Taj Mahal of Agra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Mumtaz Mahal, an inseparable companion of Shah Jahan, died in 1631, while giving birth to their 14th child. It was in the memory of his beloved wife that Shah Jahan built a magnificent monument as a tribute to her.
Thursday, November 22- Holy City of Varanasi & Sightseeing
After an early breakfast, we'll board our 9:30am flight to Varanasi, arriving at 11am. We'll be met by our guide, and transferred to our hotel. After lunch, our local guide will take us sightseeing. In the evening we'll see temples and watch the Ganga Aarit (when thousands of lighted lamps are set afloat on the river from a ghat). This is a very powerful and uplifting spiritual ritual.
The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world! Mark Twain described it as: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together."Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the orgins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.
Friday, November 23-Boat Ride in the Ganges & Sarnath
We will leave the hotel early for our Boat Ride in the Ganges. On the glittering waters of the Ghats, we will have the pleasure of a ravishing boat ride to its many Ghats. There are a number of temples on the bank of the Ganga river. It is believed that people are cleansed physically, mentally, and spiritually at Ganga Ghats. It is at the Ganga Ghats where we see life and death together. For thousands of years people have been thronging these Ghats to offer their morning prayers to the rising sun. There are more than 100 ghats along the Ganga in Varanasi.
In the late morning, we'll proceed to Sarnath, about 10km from Varanasi. Sarnath is the place where Buddha chose to deliver his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The celebrated Mantra, 'Buddham Sharanam Gachhami' originated from Sarnath. Here is where we will see many Buddhist monuments and edifices.
Saturday, November 24-New Delhi
After breakfast, we will leave for the airport for our 11:30am flight, arriving in Delhi at 12:50pm. After we check into our hotel, we will enjoy a tour of New Delhi. Some sights the tour would include would be a visit to the Qutub Minar, a drive along the ceremonial avenue-Rajpath, past the imposing India Gate, Parliament House, the President's Residence and would end with a drive through the Diplomatic Enclave.
In the evening enjoy the night bazaars or a nice spa.
Sunday, November 25-Rishikesh & Optional Cooking Class
In the early morning, we will proceed to Rishikesh on a 4hr train ride to Haridwar. From Haridwar, we'll transfer 1hr by vehicle and arrive to Rishikesh. On arrival, we'll check into our Swiss Tent accommodations. After lunch, you can either use your time to explore the area, or attend an Indian cooking class at camp! In the evening, we'll enjoy a bonfire with light snacks, followed with dinner.
Rishikesh is situated amidst a calm environment, impressive water front, dense forest and hills. Apart from being known as the land of Gods, Rishikesh is also the mecca for peace seeker through Yoga & meditation, and styles itself as the 'Yoga Capital of the World'. Rishikesh is where the Beatles rocked up at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late 60's. Rishikesh is a popular for whitewater rafting, and gateway treks in the Himalaya.
Monday, November 26-White Water Rafting OR Kunjapuri Trek in Rishikesh
After breakfast, you will have the choice of either Whitewater Rafting on the Ganges River (12 miles), or Trekking from Kunjapuri to Rishikesh (6.5 miles). Choose your own adventure!
Whitewater Rafting-You will get some of the most exciting rapids on the Ganges River, like Sender, Roller Coaster, Golf Course, Club House, Double Trouble, Hilton, and Terminator. You will also have a chance to try body surfing and cliff jumping in the river section. In the later part of the day, you will float past temples, ashrams, and ghats. Enjoy watching the riverbank life along the Ganges.
Kunjapuri Trek -In the early morning we'll visit the temple to see great views of the Himalaya Mountains and sunrise. You will then begin your trek by walking downstream of a small river for close to an hour. You will then reach a beautiful secluded picnic spot by the side of a waterfall. The trek passes several local villages such as Badkot where you can witness the typical hillside village life. There are stunning views of Rishikesh and the Holy Ganga. Along the route you may get glimpses of wildlife such as deer, wild peacock and wild boar. You will enjoy a packed lunch en-route. The trek will finish late afternoon at Neer-Gaddu road head.
In the evening the whole group will depart for Haridwar to visit the temples by night and hear the chanting.
Tuesday, November 27-Delhi-Open Day & Departure
We will depart early morning to catch our train back to Delhi, arriving in early afternoon. After arrival in Delhi, it will be your day to decide how you'd like to spend it. If you are a shopper, today is a great day to set aside for that. Some of the capital highlights to explore are its buzzing restaurants and astounding shops to the medieval old city. Explore the government emporiums and eat at some of the best restaurants in India, or sample the city's delicious street food. Explore New Delhi's main attraction Humayun's Tomb or Hazrat Nizam-ud-din Darhah.
In the late afternoon, we'll all have our last Indian fest (the best Indian food and Clinton family favorite) atBukhara Restaurant. After our meal, we'll transfer to the airport for our 9pm flight.
Note: Our flight arrives at JFK airport at 7:20AM on Wednesday, November 28.