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. Before we proceed to the Hotel we have a drive through New Delhi where we see the India Gate, Government Buildings and Embassies.
In the morning we visit "Qutub Minar" which is 71 meter high and consists of five stories. In 1199 work began on this tower which was intended to be the most glorious tower of victory in the world. This tower was damaged twice and repaired in 1326 and 1368. After the sightseeing of Delhi we drive to Shekhawati region. Shekhawati is situated 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, they developed their business acumen on the trade routes between Delhi and the coast between India and Central Asia. The marwaris enjoyed protection by Maharajas and many of them built grand havellis. Arrival in Shekhawati in the late evening.
In the morning we visit the grand havellis of the Shekhawati area. 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. After the visit of Shekhawati area we proceed 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. 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 arrive in Jaisalmer in the late evening.
Today we have 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). 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 kms)
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. 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. After having a break in Osian we drive to Jodhpur. 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. 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.
Day 08: Jodhpur - Ranakpur - Udaipur (about 260 kms)
Today we drive to Udaipur. Enroute we will visit 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. We have a break in Ranakpur before proceeding further for 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 take leave from the City of Lake (Udaipur) and drive to Dungarpur. Dungarpur means a Hill town In Dungarpur we enjoy the overnight stay in a Fort which has been converted into a Hotel. We have the rest of the day at leisure and therefore enough time to relax and have a walk in the Bazaar.
After the breakfast we drive to Chittorgarh. In the noon we visit the Chittorgarh Fort, the world famous fort of Chittorgarh which is crowning 180 meters hill and covers about 170 acres. On the crest of the enormous grey hill, girdled by massive walls and seven majestic gateways, one stumbles upon shattered palaces, a "Temple of Mirabai" the mystic poetess and the intricately carved nine storeyed Tower of Fame, built in the 12th Century in honour of Lord Adinath, the first jain Tirthankara.
Today we leave Chittorgarh 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 leave the holy city of Pushkar and 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.
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 will 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 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. Afterwards we have a walk through the colourful Bazaar of 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.
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 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.
In the morning drive to the airport for the flight to Srinagar. In the afternoon arrive at the Srinagar airport. Upon arrival you will be met by our representative and transferred to the House Boat on the Dal Lake. Srinagar has been described by some visitors as the Venice of the East. This beautiful city was established by Emperor Ashoka some 2300 years ago. A unique charm of Srinagar is its 1300 or more houseboats, the floating little hotels on the edge of the Dal Lake. Rest of the day free for leisure to explore the beautiful surroundings in Srinagar.
Today we visit the famous Mughal gardens in Srinagar. The Mughal emperors often visited Kashmir. They planted gardens with sloped terraces and flowing watercourses. Chashma Shahi, Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh are the three famous Mughal gardens in Kashmir. Chashma Shahi means the Royal Spring and is dedicated to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The spring waters are believed to have curative properties. After visiting the Chashma Shahi we visit the Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh. Nishat Bagh is the larger of the two gardens and has an impressive plantation of Chenar trees on its highest terrace. This garden was built by Noor Jahans brother, Asaf Khan and lies alongside the Dal lake. Shalimar Bagh was built by the Mughal emperor Jahangir, whose love for Kashmir was legendary. The Shalimar Bagh is a series of stone pavilions and flowing water with paint box bright flowerbeds.
In the morning we drive to Sonamarg. Sonamarg is situated on the Srinagar - Leh Highway, about 85 km from Srinagar. Sonamarg, a small but uniquely beautiful hill resort, is located on the Ladakh road. Sonamarg means the golden meadow. It derives its name from the golden colour of its massed spring flowers. The main attraction in Sonamarg are the Bisansar Lake and Krishnasar Lake. These two beautiful lakes adds to the beauty of Sonamarg. The Krishnasar Lake is famous for the Trout fishing. After visiting these two beautiful lakes in Sonamarg we drive back to Srinagar.
In the morning after breakfast drive to Pahalgam. On the way we pass through pine forest and also visit the saffron fields. Pahalgam is the popular hill resort of the Kashmir valley. Pahalgam is situated at a height of 7,200 feet. The flora and fauna is good and the scenery in Pahalgam is captivating. It is from Pahalgam that the pilgrims often take a Amarnath Yatra. Arrive in Pahalgam by the afternoon.
Today in Pahalgam one can have a walk to Baisaren, which is about 2 km from Pahalgam. This walk to a small village, set in pine and fir forest will be pleasing. This place offers some good views of the surroundings. If you want then you can also go for further 11 km trekking to Tulian Lake (3353 m). This lake is covered with ice for most of the year. Rest of the day at leisure.
In the morning transfer to airport to connect flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa. Upon arrival at Gongor airport at Lhasa, transfer to the hotel in Lhasa. From Kathmandu to Lhasa it would be a scenic flight across the Himalayas. The rest of the day is at leisure to acclaim yourselves to this high altitude of Lhasa.
In the morning after having breakfast proceed for a sightseeing tour of Lhasa city. In Lhasa we visit Potala Palace. Potala Palace is the dominant landmark of Lhasa which is situated at a height of 117 meters above the sea level. The construction of this palace was started on the red hill in 1645 under the 5th Dalai Lama. An immense building, 13 Stories high with walls 3 meters thick contains over 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues. It was both the residence of the current Dalai Lama and tomb of the former head of state. The Potala Palace is full of elaborate art work and frescos that tell many stories. In the afternoon we drive to visit the Jokhang temple. Jokhang temple was built in the 7th century A D and houses the most prized Buddhist relic, a 1300 year old Sakyamuni Buddha statue. The main section of the temple is topped with golden roofs which is found only in Tibet. After visiting the temple we have a walk in the Barkhor Bazaar. It is a lively and colourful market where you can bargain over such treasures like ornate long bladed knives, prayer wheels and exquisite jewellery. Overnight at the hotel.
In the morning after having breakfast we visit the Drepung monastery. This monastery is situated in the west suburbs of Lhasa city. It was formerly the largest and richest monastery in the world with about 10000 monks. Of particular interest is the medieval monk's kitchen with its great cauldrons of steaming barley 'stamp' sitting on top of huge earthen stoves and tented by saffron robed monks wielding massive ladles. From the roof of the monastery one can enjoy the natural beauty of the Lhasa valley. Then we visit the Sera monastery. Sera is more like a small town on the outskirts of Lhasa at the base of Tatipu hill. It is the main teaching monastery and one of the three great Gelukpa Universities - once housing more than 5500 monks. Here one can see the young novices learning scriptures in the Debating Garden. In the evening we visit the Norbulingka Summer palace. On the banks of the Kyichi River, there is a tree and flower filled pard known as the Norbulingka or the Jewel Park. Covering a total area of 360,000 square meters, the park was originally laid out in the year 1750. Norbulingka is also the site of the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas (8th to 14th). The small palace of the 13th Dalai Lama is an odd mix of traditional Tibetan architecture and modern paraphernalia.
Today we drive from Lhasa to Gyantse via Kampa La pass (4794 m) and Yamdrok Tso (4482 m) also known as Turquoise Lake (600 square km.), one of the three largest lakes in Tibet. Enroute we cross Karo La pass (5010 m) and two other smaller passes before reaching Gyantse Town. Gyantse was earlier the Tibet's third most important city, lying in the Nyangchu valley and along the main routes from India and Nepal to Lhasa. In former times it was a fort as well as the centre of Tibet's wool trade and a gateway to the outside world. We have an overnight stay at the hotel in Gyantse.
In the morning after having breakfast visit the Phalkor monastery and Kumbum Stupa designed by Newari architects from Nepal. The Phalkor monastery has a special influence over Buddhism owing to its unity of Gelugpa, Sakyapa and Bhutan sects. After visiting the monastery drive to Shigatse. Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel.
In the morning after having breakfast visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lamas. This monastery houses the Maitreya Buddha statue which weighs 275 kgs and is made of gold and 26 metres in height. After visiting the monastery drive to New Tingri. On the way cross two passes which are Tsuo La (4500 m) and Lhakpa La (5220 m). We have an overnight stay in the hotel in New Tingri.
Today we drive from New Tingri to Zhangmu. After leaving New Tingri there are great views of Mount Everest (Chomulangma) and Mount Shisapangma. Enroute we pass Nyalam (3500 m), an irnportant old trading post and also cross Lalung La (5050 m). This is a very scenic drive as the road cuts through the Himalaya and the dramatic changes in the vegetation and the landscape in such a short distance are truly amazing. We have an overnight stay in hotel in Zhangmu.
In the morning after having breakfast we drive to Kathmandu. After immigration and custom formalities, drive to Friendship Bridge, the border of Nepal and China. Then we cross the bridge on foot to Kodari and drive to Kathmandu. Upon arrival transfer to the airport for the flight to onwards journey.