15 Days |
The TajMahal – one of the Seven Wonders of the World
Amer Fort, Jaipur City Palace, FatehpurSikri, QutubMinar and Humayun’s Tomb – few of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The Golden Temple – most important pilgrimage of the Sikhs
Early morning boat ride by the Manikarnika and Harishchandraghats in Varanasi
Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar - most sacred ghat of Haridwar and the famous evening Aarti
The royal city of Lucknow – its cuisine and intricate embroidery work “chikan”
Welcome to India. Your trip begins at Amritsar which means Pool of Nectar that gets its name from the holy tank AmritSarovar surrounding the Golden Temple. You will be received by our representative who will take you to your hotel for checking-in.
Amritsar is a tourist’s favorite and is visited by millions of people from all over the world every year who belong to different religions. Amritsar district was the abode of Saints and Sages during the Vedic ages.
The city was built around 1577 by Lord Ram Das and the place was called Ram Das Pura. The population came under the spiritual inspiration of Lord Nanak in the beginning of the 16th century. The city is famous for the Golden Temple – the most important place of worship for the Sikhs and people of other religions as well. The city has numerous Sikh and Hindu temples, mosques, churches, forts, galleries, gardens, libraries, memorials and museums. It is famous for several fairs, festivals and folk dances.
If time permits , you will be taken for a small snapshot of Golden Temple in the late evening to watch the religious ceremonies that take place every night. The holy book Granth Sahib is treated with utmost regard and worshiped and rested every night. Come back to hotel and spend overnight in the city of the gold, Amritsar.
Start your day with the morning trip to the Golden Temple and proceed for the other top attractions of the city. Also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, it is the holiest Temple and the most important pilgrimage site of Sikhism.
The temple is surrounded by a man-made pool built by Lord Ram Das in 1577. The temple was built repeatedly by the Sikhs facing repeated persecution until 1809 when it was rebuilt in marble and copper by King Ranjit Singh who overlaid the sanctum with gold foil later in 1830. The name Golden Temple was coined for the same reason.
The Harmandir Sahib is a platform for worship for all – irrespective of gender, caste, faith and walks of life. It has a square plan with four entrances signifying “all religion and culture acceptance”, and has a path around the pool. There are a number of buildings in the temple complex surrounding the sanctum and the pool, including Akal Takht which is the chief center of religious authority of Sikhism. A clock tower, the offices of Gurdwara Committee, a Museum and a “langar” are few of the other buildings. Langar is a free kitchen run by Sikh community that serves meals to all visitors without discriminating in gender, caste and religion.
You will visit JallianwalaBagh, the place where General Dyer killed hundreds of innocent Indians. Up next is the Wagah Border to watch the retreat ceremony which is a daily military practice followed since 1959 by security forces of India and Pakistan both. As the sun sets, the border gates are opened and the two flags are lowered, folded and the soldiers from both the sides shake hands and close the gates again.
Come back to hotel to spend overnight in the border city, Amritsar
Have your breakfast and get transferred to Chandigarh by road.
Chandigarh means “The Fort of Chandi” that comes from an ancient temple ChandiMandir near the city. Chandigarh was one of the early planned cities in post-independent India and is still internationally known for its architecture and urban design. Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier created the master plan of the city by transforming from earlier plans created by the Polish architect MaciejNowicki and the American planner Albert Mayer.
Once you check-in to your hotel and get refreshed, you would be taken to visit Chandigarh in the afternoon. The places you will cover are the Secretariat, High Court, State Library, Rose Gardens, University and the Botanical Garden. The Secretariat building is composed of six eight storied blocks resembling the Marseilles apartment block, one of Corbusier’s earlier projects. The High Court was designed by Le Corbusier and due to its architectural brilliance, it is visited by students of Architecture from all over for the study of its design and facets. ZakirHussain Rose Garden has over 50,000 rose-bushes of 1600 different species. The Botanical Garden has more than 75 species of medicinal trees and 55 species of medicinal shrubs.
Cover these places and return to the hotel to spend the night. Accommodation is in the city of roses, Chandigarh.
Get transferred to Rishikesh by road after finishing your breakfast. The city is located at the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India and is known as the 'Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas' and 'Yoga Capital of the World' for a number of yoga centers. The city hosts the annual International Yoga Festival. There is a strong belief among people that if you meditate in Rishikesh, you would attain Moksha.
Rishikesh has a number of temples and the evening prayer of the holy river Ganga performed at dusk at the TriveniGhat is popular with visitors. NeelkanthMahadev Temple is a popular local pilgrimage situated in the forest 28 km from Rishikesh. Another spot is the VashishthaGuha (Cave of Sage Vashishtha) located at 21 km from the town.
Rishikesh is the proud home to the 133-year-old Kailash Ashram Brahmavidyapitham, an institution that preserves and promotes traditional Vedantic studies. Personalities such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Sivananda have studied in this institution.
John Lennon recorded "The Happy Rishikesh Song" composed by The Beatles which was never officially released. Several other artists, including Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Paul Horn, Donovan and Gyp Mills, visited the site to meditate.
Your full day is at leisure which you may utilize by taking a stroll around nearby places. Overnight is in the holy city of North India, Rishikesh.
You will be driven to Haridwar – which literally means “Gateway to God” and is one of the holiest pilgrimage spots for Hindus. The mythology says that during Samudramanthan, drops of Amrit (nectar) had spilled over Haridwar, Ujjain, Nasik and Allahabad. These are the 4 places where Kumbha Mela takes place once every 3 years. Haridwar is believed to be the place where devotees take bath in the Ganges to wash away their sins to attain Moksha.
Brahma Kund, is considered as the most sacred ghat of Haridwar. Legends say that this is the spot where the Amrit fell, and is located at HarkiPauri ("footsteps of the Lord"). The evening prayer, called Aarti in local language, at dusk offered to Goddess Ganga is a captivating experience for any visitor. It is a treat to the eyes to watch a spectacular show of sound and color when the floral floats with the earthen lamps.
Some sights to devour here are worth the visit. You will meet pilgrims, Sadhus (holy men) coated in cow dung ash, barbers waiting to shave and heads of the pilgrims before their ritual bath. The pilgrims, with their heads shaved seek blessings from the goddess and shower flowers, sweets and milk into the Ganges.
Your entire day is at leisure which you can utilize by spending at the ghats watching religious and traditional ceremonies. The other places of interest in Haridwar are Chandi Devi Temple, Mansa Devi Temple, Maya Devi Temple, Kankhal, PiranKaliyar, Neel DharaPakshiVihar (bird sanctuary), Bhimgoda Tank, Bharat Mata Mandir and PawanDham.
Drive back to Rishikesh and visit places like LakshmanJhula, Ram Jhula, GitaBhawan, attend the evening prayers on the way back. Overnight is in the pious and religious city of Rishikesh.
Get transferred to Delhi by road after having your breakfast. On arrival, you will be taken to your hotel for checking-in. Delhi is an old city which has been inhabited since the 6th century BC and has been capital of many kingdoms. Delhi is also called the “city of cities” and is full of beautiful monuments. The culture of the place has been influenced by its different rulers from time to time. And the same is reflected in the food habits of the residents. The Mughal cuisine originated here since the reign of the Mughal rulers.
Get amazed and awestruck with the variation in construction and look. Old Delhi showcases a maze of small lanes lined and old buildings exhibiting the different cultures that reigned in the city. And New Delhi is a modern city with broad roads and high rises. New Delhi is the capital of India and is a political hub. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight is in the city of mixed cultures, the capital of India, Delhi.
After breakfast, you will be taken for a morning tour starting off with Old Delhi. This part of the city was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1639 AD. The first spot is the Raj Ghat – that is the cremation point of Mahatma Gandhi and the museum which was built to commemorate him. Up next is the visit to the iconic Red Fort and the areas of ChandniChowk. The emperors of the Mughal dynasty used the Red Fort as their main residence for nearly 200 years until 1856. ChandniChowk is one of the most popular and busiest markets in Old Delhi. You may take a rickshaw ride around the area to check out the colorful crowd and shops.
The next spot to visit is the Jama Masjid, one of the iconic, historic and largest mosques in India built by Shah Jahan. It was built between 1644 and 1656 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The mosque has three great gates, four towers and two 40 meters high minarets constructed with strips of red sandstone and white marble.
You will checkout from your hotel at 1200 hrs, post which you will visit QutubMinar – the largest minaret of India. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, QutubMinar, built by Turk ruler Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak in 1192 is a 73-metre (239.5 feet) tall tapering tower of five storeys, with a 14.3 meters (47 feet) base diameter, reducing to 2.7 meters (9 feet) at the top of the peak. It contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps.
Up next is Humayun's tomb, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your next spot is India Gate which is a war memorial located across the Rajpath built in the memory of the Unknown Soldier. Drive past the Parliament House, President’s House and other Government Secretarial Buildings and reach your last spot of the day – Lakshinarayan Temple dedicated to Lord Narayana and Goddess Lakshmi.
Late in the evening, you will be transferred to Delhi rail-station to board your overnight train to Lucknow.
Lucknow is the capital and largest city of Uttar Pradesh and is rightly named the “The City of Nawabs” and “The Golden City of India” for its royal etiquette and sophistication. It is also named as Constantinople of the East and is a beautiful display ground of Imambaras, mosques, Islamic shrines and gardens. Lucknow has always been a multicultural city that flourished as a North Indian cultural and artistic hub, and the seat of power of Nawabs in the 18th and 19th centuries. Lucknow is still an important center of governance, administration, education, commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, culture, tourism, music and poetry.
Lucknow happened to be a major center of Indian rebellion of 1857 and was active in India’s Independence Movement. The city is famous for its cuisine that includes biryanis, different kinds of kebabs and breads. Ethnicity of Kathak, Khayal, Nawabs and Classical Music originated and became popular here in Lucknow.
This morning, you will be visiting the Great Imambara, Jama Masjid, Picture Gallery, the Clock Tower, RoomiDarwaza, Residency and Dilkusha Palace.
The Great Imambara is a colossal edifice built in 1784 by the then Nawab of Lucknow, Asaf-ud-Daula. It was originally built during the deadly famine to provide aid, shelter and food to people of Uttar Pradesh who were struck helplessly. The monument is unique as it is the largest hall in Asia that doesn’t have any external support from wood, iron and stone beams. Bara Imambara, ChhotaImambara and other monuments display a fusion of Mughlai and Turkish style of architecture. The 60 feet (18 m) tall Rumi Darwaza, built by NawabAsaf-ud-daula in 1784, served as the entrance to the city of Lucknow. The edifice at the west opens to the Great Imambara and is embellished with lavish decorations. DilkushaKothi is the remains of a palace constructed by the British resident Major Gore Ouseley around 1800 and showcases an example of English Baroque architecture. It was used as a hunting lodge for the Nawab of Awadhs and as a summer resort.
Afternoon is free for a stroll or shopping around Hazratganj, the city’s central shopping area, there is a fusion of old and modern architecture. Shopping in Lucknow is must for embroidery works including chikankari, zari, zardozi, kamdani, and gota making. Overnight is in the city of royals, the city of Lucknow.
The morning is free on this day. In the latter half, you will be transferred to the rail-station to board your train from Lucknow to Varanasi. On arrival at Varanasi, you will be taken to the hotel for check-in.
The city of Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to 5000 years. Varanasi is famous for its spiritual and cultural history and Hindus believe that death and cremation in Varanasi leads to salvation. Also known as the cultural capital of North India, Varanasi has its own charm in the temples, river banks, small lanes, food, culture and the ancient look of the entire ambience.
Overnight is in one of the oldest living cities of the world, Varanasi.
Start your morning with a boat ride in the two holy banks of the River Ganges – banks of Manikarnika and Harishchandra where thousands of devotees flock for taking holy dips and also for cremation purposes. Hindus believe that if a person dies at Varanasi or if someone’s ashes are immersed in the River Ganges, the soul attends Moksha (enlightenment and liberation from re-birth). You will be awestruck in disbelief to witness funeral pyres burning around near these ghats.
The rest of the day is at leisure to discover the city of Varanasi or visit Sarnath which is few kilometers away from Varanasi. It is in Sarnath that Buddha gave his first sermon. In the evening, treat your eyes with the mesmerizing evening prayers at the banks of Ganges which is worth watching.
Overnight stay at the holy city of Varanasi.
You will have the entire morning free to explore more places nearby or for shopping or to try the local delicacies, especially sweets. . Varanasi is older a city than Rome. It was already a flourishing trade center when Buddha came to Sarnath to preach his first sermon. Sarnath was a renowned school of learning between 6th century B.C. and 12th century AD. The ruins, the stupa, the Buddhist temple and the Museum – these and more than worth visiting.
Get transferred to Mughalsarai rail-station on time to board your train to the city of love, Agra. Overnight in the train.
In the morning, reach the rail-station, and get transferred to your hotel in Agra. The city of Agra is located on the banks of the River Yamuna and is the former capital of Hindustan. Agra is a part of the Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Jaipur and a major tourist destination of India. Agra was known as Akbarabad during the reign of the Mughals when it was through its peak and was the capital of under the Mughal rulers Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
Your city tour begins with the visit to the TajMahal - one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Built in the memory of his beloved wife Queen MumtazMahal, Shah Jahan built this marvelous piece of art crafted in white marble between the years 1631 and 1648. It stands majestically on the banks of the river Yamuna and is a mark of love and romance. An early morning visit avoids the crowd and the heat of the daytime.
Later, you will be driven to Agra Fort - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for its architectural structure exhibiting a glimpse of the royal Mughal lifestyle. Built during the Mughal Empire in 16th century, Agra Fort has several fairy-tale palaces like KhasMahal and Jahangir Palace. You will be taken to see Diwan-e-Aam (public audience hall) and Diwan-e-Khas (Diwan-e-Khas).
The rest of the day is at leisure with the vehicle and driver at your service. You may take a round to some nearby places of interest or shopping handicrafts of marble, wood and metal. Overnight is in the city of Mughals, the city of TajMahal, Agra.
After breakfast, head your journey towards Jaipur. On the way, take a halt for an hour or so, and explore the city of FatehpurSikri. The city was founded as the capital of Mughal Empire in 1571 by Emperor Akbar, serving this role from 1571 to 1585, when Akbar abandoned it due to a campaign in Punjab and was later completely abandoned in 1610.
FatehpurSikri is a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site of India and has several monuments of interest. The dynastic architecture of FatehpurSikri was modeled on Timurid forms and styles. The city was built with red sandstone in a lavish way. The city's architecture reflects both the Hindu and Muslim form of architectural magnificence which was popular during those days.
In the city, you will be taken to visit the Jama Masjid, followed by the Tomb of SalimChishti, the five floor palace, PanchMahal and BulandDarwaza- a graceful monument and stupendous piece of beautiful architecture. You will visit the other graceful buildings of this place such as IbadatKhana, Mariam-uz-Zamani's Palace, NaubatKhana and Birbal's house
After visiting the city of FatehpurSikri, continue your journey towards Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City, due to the dominant color scheme of its buildings. The city was painted pink in the 18th century to welcome the Prince of Wales as a sign of hospitality. Origin of Jaipur lies 260 years back. It was built by King Jai Singh and Jaipur got its name from this king. Jaipur is a popular tourist destination in India and forms a part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Agra (240 km, 149 mi). Jaipur is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the JantarMantar and the Amer Fort.
Spend the day at leisure with the transport at your disposal within the city limits. Overnight is in the city of palaces, Jaipur.
Start your morning with the visit to the hillside Amer Fort, the ancient capital of Jaipur. The Fort is known for its artistic Hindu style elements. The fort overlooks Maota Lake – the main source of water for the Amer Palace which stands tall with its large ramparts and a series of gates and cobbled paths.
The Fort is entirely constructed of red sandstone and marble and is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard. The main entrance gate is Surajpol having a fascinating architecture. Near the Ganesh Gate, there is Goddess Sila Devi temple. The Diwan-e-Aam - hall of public audience, Diwan-e-Khas - hall of private audience, Sheesh Mahal - palace of mirrors and SukhNiwas are worth treating your eyes with. At the SukhNiwas, a pleasant climate is created by winds that blow over a water cascade. There is a facility of elephant ride while ascending the hill, or one may choose Jeep ride too.
Descend down to the city and visit to the Maharaja City Palace, a royal architecture with seven floors
The palace includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces among several other buildings in the complex. The Chandra Mahal palace is now a museum, though a large section of it is still used as a royal residence. The palace complex fits in to an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. City palace is perfectly blends all three Mughal, Rajput and European style of architecture.
Visit the JantarMantar (astronomic observatory of Jaisingh II) – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The instrument is intended to measure the time of day, correct to half a second and declination of the Sun and the other heavenly bodies.
HawaMahal, the palace of the wind, is the next spot which is a palace constructed of red and pink sandstone located right on the edge of the City Palace, Jaipur, and extends to the zenana, or women's chambers. A tour of Jaipur is not complete without shopping for clothes, carpets, precious and semi-precious stones and jewelry and various handicrafts made of wood, metals, etc. and also for silk paintings and miniatures. The transport is at your disposal with-in the city limits. Overnight is in the pink city of India, Jaipur.
This day you will be driven to the Delhi International airport for you to catch your return flight. Your religious and spiritual tour of North India comes to an end. No accommodation reserved for this day.