This morning is at leisure. Afternoon sightseeing in Old Delhi. We take a Rickshaw Ride parallel to the Red Fort through the old city and famous Silk Road and Silver Bazaar. Sightseeing of Old Delhi includes "Rajghat", the place where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated and Jama Masjid, the great mosque of old Delhi. Today we also visit the famous "Humayun Tomb" which is the first substantial example of Mughal architecture in India and "Qutub Minar" which is 71 meter high and was constructed in 1199. Before we proceed to the Hotel we have a drive through New Delhi where we see the India Gate, Government Buildings and Embassies.
Today we drive to the Pink City, Jaipur. This city owes its name, foundations and careful planning to the great warrior and astronomer, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and famous for its handicrafts and precious and semiprecious stones. In the afternoon we visit the City Palace which is still the formal residence of the royal family, built in a blend of the Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. In the museum of the city palace we visit the private collection of the Jaipur Maharajas. We continue to Jantar Mantar, a stone observatory, the largest of Jai Singh's five remarkable observatories. Its complex instruments reveals us the secrets of medieval Indian astronomy.
After breakfast we drive to the ancient capital of Amber, laying 11 km. away from Jaipur. Amber was the ancient capital of Kachhawaha dynasty for 6 centuries before it was moved to newly created Jaipur. We will ascend to the Palace Fortress on the back of an Elephant. Enroute to Amber we visit the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), built in 1799 AD, it contains 953 small casements with each having its own balcony. The windows enabled cool air to circulate and the ladies to watch processions below without being seen. In the afternoon we have a walk through the colourful Bazaar of Jaipur and visit a factory to see the famous block printing work being done since centuries in Jaipur. In the evening we drive through the new city of Jaipur and visit " Laxmi Narayan Mandir" , a Hindu temple made out of white marble. We might have an opportunity here to observe a prayer ceremony. Today we have dinner with a presentation of Indian music and dance.
Day 05: Jaipur - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra (about 260 km)
Today we leave Rajasthan, the biggest state in India and drive through a series of fields, small towns and villages to Agra. Enroute we make a stop and visit Fatehpur Sikri, which was once an imperial capital frozen in time, constructed by Akbar the Great in the 16th century. This wonderful city constructed by red sand stones was abandoned as abruptly as it had been built. It has been generally stated that it was due to failing in the water supply. Late evening arrival in Agra. Rest of the day at leisure.
We start today our sightseeing by a visit to the Agra Fort, built by three of the greatest Mughal emperors. The construction of this massive structure began in 1565 under Akbar's reign and continued till the time of his grandson's reign, Shah Jahan who built the impressive imperial quarters and mosque. After the visit of Agra Fort we proceed to visit the most beautiful monument of India, the Taj Mahal, an enduring monument to love, with a continually fulfilling beauty. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1631-52, as a tomb and memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace), who died at the age of 39 giving birth to her 14th child. We spend enough time at Taj Mahal to take this impressive memory home. After the visit of Taj Mahal we have a look at the famous fine marble inlay work which is still being done in Agra by the descendants of the families of builders and artists of the Taj Mahal.
Today we leave Agra, the city of Taj Mahal and drive to Gwalior. After a break in the Hotel in Gwalior we visit the famous Fort which was built by Raja Man Singh of Tomar dynasty in the 6th century. The fort of Gwalior is considered to be one of the most powerful Fort in India having a further advantage of its unlimited supply of water. Most fascinating in the Fort of Gwalior are the six huge doors to get in to the Fort. After the visit of Fort we visit an old Hindu Temple (10th century) dedicated to god Vishnu.
Day 08: Gwalior - Orcha - Khajuraho (about 300 km)
On the way to Khajuraho we visit the city of Orchha from middle age, once capital of its own state. Orchha was found by the Bundela chief Raja Rudra Pratap on a beautiful site as capital on an island of rock on a blend in the Betwa river. Orchha contains three palaces, each built by succeeding Maharajas in a similar style being the Jahangiri Mahal most beautiful. After the visit of Orchha we drive through the colourful villages and proceed to Khajuraho. Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandela dynasty. The Chandela Kings claimed descent from the moon. The temples of Khajuraho are among the finest examples of temple craftsmanship in the whole of India.
Today we visit the temple complex of Eastern Group and Western Group to see the most beautiful temples in India. Most famous among them is the Laxmana Temple which is dedicated to god Vishnu. The presence of erotic sculptures in the Temples at Khajuraho is one of the expression among others of the celebration of all human activities displaying different aspects of Hinduism. In the evening flight to Varanasi. The rest of the day at leisure. Varanasi is without doubt India" s most sacred city and thus visited by over one million people. Varanasi is also called the city of light. Buddha visited this city in 500 BC.
Optional: A drive can be organized to Sarnath (10 km). Sarnath is the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon at deer park.
In the early morning we take a boat ride on the holy river Ganges and enjoy sunrise on the boat. Ghats (flight of steps) and the activities of pilgrims on that are the principal attraction for visitors to Varanasi. Thousands of pilgrims and devotees visit this city to make holy prayers, to meditate and to purify themselves through taking a bath in the holy river Ganges. After a break in the Hotel we go for the sightseeing of the city of Varanasi. In the afternoon flight to Kathmandu. Rest of the day at leisure in Kathmandu.
Day 11: Kathmandu Excursion: Swayambhunath, Bodnath, Pashupatinath
In the morning we start our sightseeing by visiting Durbar Square. Durbar Square is the spiritual heart of Kathmandu. The old royal palace at the centre of the city was surrounded by temples and other important buildings. This is the most important point in Kathmandu to observe the culture and religion of Nepal. We also visit the temple of living goddess Kumari. After Durbar Square we will visit Swayambhunath. The stupa at Swayambhunath is the most important and oldest site of Buddhist worship in Nepal. Swayambhunath Stupa is famous for the eyes of Buddha which seem to observing the world from all 4 directions. After Swayambhunath we visit Bodnath. Bodnath is the largest Stupa of Nepal. Around the octagonal base of Stupa there are 108 images of Buddha where prayer ceremonies of Buddhist Lamas are taking place since over 2000 years. Now we proceed to the temple city of Pashupatinath which is Nepal" s most important Hindu pilgrim site on the banks of the Bagmati river. The temple of Pashupatinath is dedicated to god Shiva.
Today we drive to Patan. Patan was the second largest town in the valley but it has been absorbed into Kathmandu. Patan was previously known as Lalitpur (the beautiful city). The famous King Ashoka built the Stupas at four corners in the 250 BC. The temple architecture here gave this city fame to be unique and most beautiful. After Patan we proceed to Bhaktapur, the third biggest city of the valley. Bhaktapur has preserved its medieval character better than Patan. We visit the golden door, the Palace of 55 windows (15th century) and Pagoda Nyatapola (18th century).
Day 13: Kathmandu Excursion: DakshinKali Kathmandu - Delhi (by air)
Today we drive to Dakshinkali. On the way we pass through the villages and small localities. Today we see the rural area where most of the people make their living by cultivating their fields. The temple of Dakshinkali is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus where animals sacrifices for the goddess Kali are still performed. In the afternoon flight to Delhi.