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 site 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.
After having our breakfast we leave the Delhi and drive to Mandawa in the Shekhawati region. Arrival in Mandawa in the evening. Shekhawati lies in the North east region of Rajasthan and is the homeland of marwaris. The marwaris form one of the most important merchant and business groups in India. Later after having a small break we visit the grand havellis of the Shekhawati area. The marwaris enjoyed protection by Maharajas and many of them built grand havellis. The havellis are mansions, elaborately and attractively decorated with a strong main entrance. The walls are often covered with murals, local legends and religious scenes from Hindu Mythology.
Today we drive from Mandawa to Bikaner. After a short break in Bikaner we visit the Junagarh Fort (1571-1611 AD) constructed of red sandstone and marble with kiosks and balconies embellishing the structure at intervals. This imposing Fort and its palaces are an unforgettable experience for us.
Today we drive through the desert and proceed for Jaisalmer. Very often one can see along the road to Jaisalmer some of the antelopes of this region. Blackbuck and fast running chinkara are the most common among them. We have a stop enroute at a village to observe the traditional life of the villages in Rajasthan. We arrive in Jaisalmer in the late evening.
Sightseeing of the medieval city of Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer's crenellated golden sandstone walls and its narrow streets lined with exquisitely carved buildings makes this city unique. Jaisalmer is famous for its carved havellis (grand mansions). In medieval times, its prosperity was due to its location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt, Arabia, Africa and the West. Jaisalmer is a marvel of beautiful culture and this city remains one of the most exotic city not only in Rajasthan but in the whole of India. Some of the visitors called this city "a living museum". We have a walk through the old city and visit the Fort and the Jain temple. In the afternoon we drive around 40 km. away from Jaisalmer to Sam dunes where we enjoy the sunset before we drive back to Jaisalmer.
Day 07: Jaisalmer - Osian - Jodhpur (about 290 km)
Early morning drive to Jodhpur via Osian. Osian is a great centre of Hindu and Jain religions. The oldest Temple here was constructed in 1178 AD. The city was once the capital of the princely state of Marwar (Land of death). Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan. Jodhpur is also known as the blue city as most of the houses of the old city are painted blue. The old city is surrounded by a huge 10 km long wall which has 101 bastions and seven gates. Jodhpur lies on the once strategic Delhi-Gujarat trading route and the marwaris got benefit from the passing traffic of opium, copper, silk which was traded to China.
Today we will visit the Mehrangarh Fort (majestic fort). Mehrangarh Fort was built on a steep hill and is among the best in India with exquisitely latticed windows in residential apartments within. We also visit the Jaswant Thada, a royal cenotaph built in white marble. After the sightseeing we have a walk through the Bazaars of Jodhpur.
Today we drive to Udaipur. In the evening arrival in Udaipur. Udaipur is called the romantic city of Rajasthan. A city built around shimmering, clear, blue water lakes which reflect the green hills of the Aravali ranges.
Today we visit Udaipur, also known as the city of sunrise. We start our sightseeing with the visit of Sahelion-Ki-Bari. This Garden of the Maids of Honour is well laid out with extensive lawns and shady walks. After the visit of Garden of Maids we visit a Museum of folk art. This museum has a rich collection of Folk dresses, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls, folk musical instruments and paintings on display. After a break we proceed to City palace, the biggest Palace in India, where 4 generations of Maharajas added their contribution, is so carefully planned and integrated with the original buildings that it is difficult to believe that it was not conceived as a whole. The museum of the palace includes the beautiful peacock mosaic and miniature wall paintings of Indian mythology. Today we have an opportunity to visit a traditional painting school and see the famous miniature paintings done. In the evening we have a Boat ride on the lake Pichola. The famous Lake Palace of Udaipur was the summer residence of the former rulers. The James bond Film Octopussy was shot here and made this palace more known in the west.
Today we drive to Ranakpur. Ranakpur is known for its superbly carved marble Jain Temples. An enormous basement of this temple covers 48,000 sq. feet. There are four subsidiary shrines, twenty four pillared halls. The total number of columns is 1,444, all of which are intricately carved, no two being alike. The Ranakpur Jain Temples were built during the 15th century.
Today we leave Ranakpur and drive to Pushkar. Pushkar being one of the most religious places for Hindus has the atmosphere of an ancient religious town. The only temple of God Brahma is in Pushkar thus making Pushkar an important pilgrimage city for Hindus. Pushkar has become famous in the world due to its Pushkar Festival which takes place in the month of November when the whole of Pushkar is transformed into a spectacular fair ground where thousands of pilgrims come to bath in the holy water of Pushkar lake and the biggest cattle and camel markets take place here where Farmers, breeders and camel traders buy and sell.
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 15: 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 in direction of 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 transfer to Agra Fort Railway Station for night train to Varanasi, Overnight in Train.
Today in the morning arrival in 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 organised 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. In the noon we visit the city of Varanasi.
In the morning after having our breakfast, we will drive to Pokhara. Pokhara is the gateway to Himalaya. The Pokhara valley is the second biggest valley in the central hilly region of Nepal after Kathmandu. The town of Pokhara itself, at an altitude of just 900 m on the Seti Khola river is overshadowed by the fishtail mountain (6999 m), one of the most beautiful mountain of the world. We will drive further to the north of Pokhara.
In the early morning we drive to the north of Pokhara to the view point and enjoy the panorama view of the Annapurna and Machapuchare mountains which are only 30 km away from us. In the morning time these mountain appears to be in the golden light. After the breakfast in Pokhara we drive 15 km to Begnas lake and have a Boat ride on the lake. The Begnas lake is the biggest lake in the Pokhara valley with beautiful surrounding. We can have a walk here and see the life in the villages of Himalayas. It is a home to thick forests, gushing rivers and emerald lakes.
Breakfast at Hotel in Pokhara. After breakfast drive to Chitwan. On arrival transfer and check into the Hotel. Late afternoon elephant safari at Chitwan National Park. Chitwan National Park is the most famous national park in Nepal which offers 450 species of birds including four species of deer, leopard, sloth bear, wild boar and many other wildlife. This park is well known for one horned Rhinoceros and it is a shelter for few Royal Bengal Tigers. Besides this Chitwan also supports a great variety of flora and fauna. Dinner at Hotel. Overnight at Lodge at Chitwan.
Day 24: 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 26: 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.