Exotic India: A Journey Through the Northern Triangle

12 days / 11 nights

$2,895

(Land Only, based on Double Occupancy) | October 31 – November 11, 2017

Tour Highlights: From Delhi to the Taj Mahal and the Ganges River. Experience India like never before!

India is a land that has for millennia, stifled many would-be conquerors, from Phoenician traders, Persian spice merchants, Mughals to British colonials. All have left their imprints in art, architecture, food, language and many other ways, too numerous to name.

Today, with a population of a billion people, the fascination and diversity of India still is intoxicating, baffling, bazaar and at the same time, dynamic and moving forward as an economic force to be recognized, as well as being the largest democracy in the world.

This special tour from the Gil Travel Group’s Iconic Journeys, concentrates on northern India. Combining expert tour leadership the comfort of deluxe hotels, wonderful cuisine, plus…the personal touch that makes our tours so rewarding.

Join us for this deluxe tour of India’s “Northern Triangle”.

The memories will last forever…

Signature Jerry informal

Jerry Sorkin 

Director of Marketing & Product Development 

Gil Travel

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12 days | 11 nights | 10 touring days

What is included

  • All ground transportation and transfers as per itinerary or similar
  • All accommodations as specified in this itinerary or similar, (including first day early morning arrival)
  • Airport transfers are included for those arriving/departing on the designated dates.
  • All meals as specified within the budget as outlined in itinerary by B, L, or D
  • Entrance fees for all tours and excursions specified in the itinerary or similar
  • Professional English-speaking local guides
  • Baggage handling

What is NOT  included

  • International flights
  • All airport departure taxes (international departure taxes to be paid in USD)
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Passport and visa fees. A visa is required for this trip
  • Meals not specified in this itinerary
  • All drinks except bottled water with meals
  • Personal items such as laundry, email, fax, telephone, souvenirs, etc.
  • Gratuities for tour and site guides and drivers
  • Trip cancellation, travel delay, and baggage insurance (Note: This optional coverage is highly recommended and can be purchased through your local insurance company)

Note: No credit/refund for any unused services.

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Day 1 - Tuesday, October 31
Delhi

Upon your late night arrival in Delhi, you will be met in the arrival hall after clearing immigration and customs. Porters are arranged to be responsible for your baggage, a practice that will continue through your Indian journey.

You are then escorted to your hotel, Le Meridien, your deluxe Delhi hotel, located in the heart of this bustling city.

Overnight in Delhi.

Day 2 - Wednesday, November 1
Delhi

This is a city full of history, and it is a city split in two. Old Delhi was the capital of Muslim India between the 17th and 19th centuries. Here you find dense, crowded streets with mosques, museums, and forts that tell the story of Muslim rule. It is contained within the 17th-century walled city of Shahjahanabad and centers on the main street known as Chandani Chowk.

Humayun’s tomb

Humayun’s tomb

New Delhi, on the other hand, was established as the capital of India when the British took over. Its streets are more open and contain embassies, government buildings, parks, and fountains. At its center is Connaught Place, once the commercial hub of the British Raj.

Your morning activity begins with the historical part, Old Delhi, starting with ‘Shah Jehanabad’ which has some dramatic remnants of the Mughal Empire in the imposing Red Fort and Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, built by Emperor Shah Jehan, creator of the Taj Mahal. You ride rickshaws through its principal street, Chandni Chowk. Chandni Chowk was originally renowned throughout Asia with its tree-lined canal flowing down its center. These days it’s a bustling jumble of shops, temples, mosques and craftsmen’s workshops of goldsmiths, silversmiths, silk traders and embroiderers. Experience the hustle and bustle of Old Delhi and streets of Chandni Chowk.

Culminate the Old Delhi tour with a photo stop at Raj Ghat the site of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation. Built on the banks of the Yamuna River, it is a simple memorial that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948. A pretty park has been created around the memorial.

Qutab Minar

Qutab Minar

Continue to a Gurudwara (sikh temple) and witness the community kitchen where thousands of worshippers are fed round the clock. At the temple, an expert will talk to you on Sikhism.

Next drive through New Delhi, passing by Presidential Palace- the one-time imperial residence of the British viceroys; the India Gate – a memorial raised in honor of the Indian soldiers martyred during the Afghan war, Parliament house and other government buildings built in the first quarter of the 20th century by two famous English architects, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Edwin Lutyens. It was during this time period that the capital of the British Empire was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.

The tour to Imperial Delhi will include a visit to the Qutub Minar, the tallest stone tower as well as one of the finest Islamic structures raised in India. Then visit Humayun’s tomb, built by the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun, it is an outstanding monument in the Indo-Persian style, a precursor of the Taj Mahal.

Tonight, welcome dinner is arranged at local specialty restaurant.

Overnight in Delhi.  (B, D)

Day 3 - Thursday, November 2
Delhi/Udaipur

Mid-morning, assisted transfer to the airport and fly to Udaipur (Please note, luggage allowance on this flight is 15 kg checked in baggage and 7 kg hand luggage).

On arrival, assisted transfer to the hotel and check in for your stay.

Jag Mandir

Jag Mandir

Udaipur: Set on the shores of Lake Pichola and surrounded by hills, Udaipur grew in complete contrast to the harsh deserts of the rest of Rajasthan. From the late 16th century, peace brought about an era of renaissance in the arts and encouraged the building of beautiful palaces around the lake, culminating in the City Palace, one of the largest palace complexes in the world. The lake itself is a romantic setting surrounding the gleaming white Lake Palace and the Jag Mandir, a refuge of the rebel Mughal prince, Shah Jahan, soon to be the creator of the incomparable Taj Mahal.

Evening enjoy a boat cruise to Jag Mandir, a palace of splendidly carved marble on an island in Lake Pichola.  The lake Pichola is best explored on a boat ride as it covers all the attractions around the lake. One can also wander along the bathing and washing ghats by the lakeside. The most resplendent sights on the boat ride are the island palaces. The 17th century Jagmandir Island Palace is one of the oldest and most grandiose palace that is legendary as place of refuge to Prince Khurram (later Emperor Shahjahan).

Overnight in Udaipur. (B, D)

Day 4 - Friday, November 3
Udaipur

Morning, visit City Palace. Standing on a crest overlooking Lake Pichola, this majestic palace is a stunning blend of medieval European and Chinese architecture, surmounted by balconies, towers, cupolas and terraces with wonderful views of the city and lake.  The main part of the palace is now a museum with a large and eclectic collection of miniature paintings. Next take a private tour of the Crystal Gallery in Fateh Prakesh Palace to see the breathtaking collection of crystal objects.

City Palace

City Palace

Stop next at the three-storey Jagdish Temple, a wonderful Indo-Aryan temple built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1651. Climb up stone steps flanked by sculpted elephants and admire the intricate pillars, carved ceilings, stunning frescoes and the massive black, stone image of Vishnu as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe.

Continue on to the Sahelion-ki-Bari (Garden of the Handmaidens), a good example of the Hindu art of landscape gardening on a princely scale. Ornamental pools with finely sculptured cenotaphs of soft black stone are surrounded by a profusion of fountains.

Afternoon, see the Vintage and Classic vehicle Collection – The original Palace Garage, near the City Palace Complex, was painstakingly reconstituted into the Vintage and Classic vehicle Collection in February 2000. The new collection showcases old limousines and rare automobiles belonging to the Royal House of Mewar. All the vehicles are in perfect running condition. An original Burma Shell petrol pump is also located on the premises. The quaint pump, still in working condition, adds yet another touch of nostalgia and authenticity to the Collection. The preservation and development of the Vintage and Classic vehicle Collection demonstrates the sensitivity of the House of Mewar towards cultural heritage conservation.

Return to the hotel and remainder of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight in Udaipur (B, D )

Day 5 - Saturday, November 4
Udaipur - Jaipur
Aravalli Hills

Aravalli Hills

Morning, drive to Jaipur, known as the “pink city” for the abundance of pink plastered stone used to build its massive forts, magnificent palaces and exquisite temples.  Today’s drive takes you across the Aravalli Hills, the oldest mountain range in the world. The scenery along the way is superb and you will see many vignettes of Rajasthani rural life. Among the sights you see are colorful villages, farms where an ancient system of irrigation using bullocks and a Persian wheel are still in practice, outdoor schools and the sartorially vibrant people who add a splash of color to the countryside.

On arrival, check in for your stay.

Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan province is known for its arts and crafts, jewellery, hand-painted fabrics and stone sculptures; it is one of North India’s finest examples of a planned city embodying the best of Rajput and Mughal architecture.

Upon arrival, check in for your stay. Rest of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight in Jaipur. (B, L)

Day 6 - Sunday, November 5
Jaipur

Set off this morning to Amber Fort. Jaipur’s Maharaja Man Singh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started constructing Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power. The Fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake.  You will ascend the hill leading to the fortress on elephant-back and then walk through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Many of the rooms have delightful wall paintings, with precious stones and mirrors inlaid in the walls. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) where a single lamplight is reflected in the many mirrors, lighting up the room.

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal

Return to the city, with a photo-stop at Hawa Mahal (the Palace of Winds). Five stories in height, and built of red and pink sandstone highlighted with white quicklime, it is thought that the women of the royal harem used the many casements to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen.

Continue to Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh ll in the 18th century. The Maharajah, a scientist as well as an astronomer, had the principles of Euclid translated into Sanskrit. One of the most remarkable sites in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar has fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses and tracking stars and planets. Just next to the observatory is the City Palace. Built within the fortified area of the original city, it has one of the finest monumental entrances in India. The Palace is now principally a museum housing a collection of great treasures, including miniature paintings, carpets, royal garments and other interesting objects from Jaipur’s intriguing past.  The former royal family retains a part of the palace for their personal use.

You will have some leisure time at the hotel or opt to visit the colorful local market. Walk through the old city of Jaipur past the Palace of Winds and market stalls before heading back to the hotel. Please be aware that these are very old market places in Jaipur used almost entirely by local people, hence you should be prepared for the hustle and bustle in the streets.

Overnight in Jaipur. (B, D)

Day 7 - Monday, November 6
Jaipur - Agra

Morning, commence your drive to Agra – passing some incredible scenery.

We stop in Bharatpur at a charming heritage hotel for lunch.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

Continue on the remainder of your journey with an enroute stop at Fatehpur Sikri. The deserted red sandstone city is an outstanding example of Mughal architecture, built by the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar as his capital and palace in the late 16th century and abandoned after 15 years due to scarcity of water. It was a veritable fairy tale city and its ‘ruins’ are still in a pristine condition.

On arrival, check in for your stay.

Agra in terms of ambiance is still associated with its Mughal period. The Mughals besides being great rulers were also great builders and they preserved their best architectural wonders for Agra & its neighborhood. It has many wonderful monuments and the Taj Mahal, the greatest of them all, is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture at its best. Their architectural genius can also be seen in the forts, palaces and aesthetically laid out gardens – each one a silent witness to a grand style of a golden era.

Rest of the evening is at your leisure.

Overnight in Agra. (B, L )

Day 8 - Tuesday, November 7
Agra
Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

As dawn breaks, watch the sunrise over the incomparable Taj Mahal. It is fitting to see this extraordinary monument by the first light of day as its exemplary beauty is awe-inspiring and will create an unforgettable memory.

Said to be one of the most elegant and a harmonious building in the world, Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in 1630 AD to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal manifests the wealth and luxury of Mughal art as seen in architecture and garden design, painting, and calligraphy. The 144 foot double dome of the Taj is capped with a finial and the four minarets each 131 ft. high and crowned by an open octagonal pavilion highlight the perfect symmetry of the tomb.

Return to the hotel for breakfast.

Agra Fort

AGRA INDIA – OCT 17: local people visit Red Fort on July 17 2012 in Agra India. Built by several Mughal emperors from XV to XVI centuries red Fort is one of the most famous touristic highlights.

Later, make your way to the Agra Fort, which was the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. This was the seat of Mughal rule and administration and the present structure owes its origins to Akbar who erected the walls and gates and the first buildings on the eastern banks of Yamuna River. Shah Jehan added the impressive quarters and the mosque while Aurangzeb added the outer ramparts. Visit its Hall of Public Audience and its Royal Pavilions.

From here continue to the 18th century Roman Catholic Cemetery – a 450+ year old and North India’s oldest Christian cemetery. The tombs in Agra’s Roman Catholic Cemetery are the resting places of initially the Armenian Christians in the 1550s and thereafter, of other European Catholics in the city. The European Christians in Agra were creating their own fairy-tale like mausoleums in a cemetery dating back to Akbar’s time in carved red sandstone, yellow basalt and whitewashed plastered walls. However, the tomb that stands out from all the rest is that of British Colonel John Hessing also popular as Islamic mausoleum for Christian souls… The Red Taj Mahal (small replica of Taj Mahal built in red sandstone).

Afternoon is at your leisure.

Towards the evening, join your local hosts for High Tea and local savories with interactions on the Indian family value system. This evening, after dinner, attend a special cultural play called Mohabbat the Taj

Overnight in Agra. (B, D)

Day 9 - Wednesday, November 8
Agra - Jaipur - Khajuraho

This morning, we depart Agra to Khajuraho Following an breakfast, check out of your hotel and transfer to the railway station for the train to Jhansi, some 150 miles away. You will have a reserved seat in an air-conditioned train car. Railroad travel in India often provides scenic views of India not possible by the auto routes. This route, Jaipur to Jhansi, is one of these scenic routes. Once we arrive in Jhansi, we will return to a vehicle that takes the road to Orchha.

Erotic carvings - Khajuraho

Erotic carvings – Khajuraho

Founded in the 16th century by the Bundela king, Rudhra Pratap, on the banks of the Betwa River, this medieval city seems frozen in time and space, existing even today as it must have done in the 16th and 17th centuries, when it was built. The countryside undulates gently between riverine plains and rolling forest-clad hills and the landscape is dotted with palaces and temples, a fortress and cenotaphs. The architecture is a synthesis of traditional Hindu, hybrid Indo-Saracenic and ornate Mughal. One of the finest sights is the view of the cenotaphs from across the Betwa River.  Visit the Jehangir Mahal, the most grandiose structure in Orchha; the Raja Mahal Rai Praveen Mahal. Lunch will be in Orchha.

Following lunch, we continue on to Khajuraho. Built by the Chandela dynasty, which rose to power in Central India between the 10th and 11th centuries, Khajuraho is magical. Home to some 25 odd temples depicting the different facets of life, including the erotic, these erotic carvings on some panels have given rise to much speculation since Khajuraho’s rediscovery by a British officer in 1838. To preserve it for posterity, Khajuraho has been declared a World Heritage Site and is among the prominent destinations on the world tourism map. On arrival to Khajuraho, check in to your hotel.

Overnight in Khauraho. (B, L, D)

Day 10 - Thursday, November 9
Khajuraho - Varanasi

Morning explore the famous Western Group of Temples with your guide. The name Khajuraho is derived from the Hindi word khajur meaning date palm. The city was once the religious capital of the Chandela Rajputs, a Hindu dynasty that ruled this part of India from the 10th to the 12th centuries. The Khajuraho temples were built over a span of a hundred years, from 950 to 1050. The whole area was enclosed by a wall with eight gates, each flanked by two golden palm trees. There were originally over 80 Hindu temples, of which only 22 now stand in a reasonable state of preservation, scattered over an area of about 8 square miles.

Temple – Khajuraho

The temples of Khajuraho are an example of religion laced with erotica. They are fine examples of Indian architectural styles that have gained popularity due to their salacious depiction of the traditional way of life during medieval times. They were rediscovered only during the 20th century and the jungles had taken a toll on some of the monuments.

This afternoon you fly to Varanasi, a city of more than a thousand temples and shrines, sacred to Hindus and Buddhists alike. On arrival, assisted transfer to the hotel and check in for your stay. As you will see, your hotel and the greenery around it are like an oasis within the midst of chaos!

The ‘eternal city’, Varanasi or as the British colonial powers called it, Benares…is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India, and the Ganges, which flows through the city, is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. For the Satpious Hindu, the city has always been a special place, and it is considered a particularly auspicious place to die, ensuring an instant routing to Heaven.

This evening, make your way to the banks of the sacred Ganges for a special evening cruise on the Ganges River on candle lit country boats to see the devout Hindus performing the “Arti Puja” with lighted lamps. The presiding priests stand on a Chauki (wooden stand) near the water. To the chant of Sanskrit mantras, and the clash of cymbals and drums, the river is worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk and vermilion. First the blazing camphor lamp and then the many flamed aarti lamps are raised high and then arched back to the water, the dark river reflecting the golden flames as Ganges accepts the worship. It is the Ganges that gives Varanasi its spiritual resonance.

Overnight in Varanasi. (B, D)

Day 11 - Friday, November 10
Varanasi
Gagnes

Gagnes

Early this morning, take a boat ride on the sacred Ganges. Hindus regard the Ganges as the elixir of life bringing purity to the living and salvation to the dead. Watch the wonderful colors of the sunrise as you meander along the sacred Ganges River in a boat.  As part of their pilgrimage rites, the faithful walk down steps into the river to perform their religious ablutions.  Watching the people worshipping at the ghats is an extraordinary experience.  You may also witness a funeral pyre, an essential part of the traditional Hindu funeral ceremony.

Disembark the boat and walk through the narrow streets of Varanasi before returning to the hotel.

This walk will take you through an inextricable maze of small streets and alleyways, hiding in disorderly array no less than 2,000 temples and shrines. Domes, pinnacles, towers and derelict 18th-century palaces dominate the left bank of the Ganges River. The streets are noisy, colour is rife.

Return to the hotel for breakfast.

Later, you will visit the holy city of Sarnath. Here in Sarnath, Buddha is said to have preached his first sermon after achieving enlightenment, setting in motion the wheel of law. Right near the Dhamekh Stupa are the remains of Ashoka’s pillar, with his name engraved in the stone. The stupa is believed to mark the spot where Buddha preached his sermon at Deer Park. Sarnath is also home to the museum that houses the iconic Ashoka Pillar with its four guardian lions, the emblem of independent India. Around the site are a series of temples built by Buddhist groups from around the world. We will have the special opportunity to chant with the monks at one of the Buddhist Temples.

Afternoon, visit Bharat Kala Bhavan, an outstanding museum housed within the sprawling grounds of Benares Hindu University. The extraordinary collection features sculpture, paintings and textiles dating as far back as the prehistoric Indus Valley civilization.

In the evening, interact with a Hindu scholar to discuss the philosophy of Hinduism.

Overnight in Varanasi. (B, D)

Day 12 - Saturday, November 11
Varanasi and Departure from Delhi

Morning fly to Delhi (Please note, luggage allowance on this flight is 15 kg checked in baggage and 7 kg hand luggage).

Arrive Delhi and transfer to international airport to connect flight for onward destination.  (B)

(B) Breakfast  (L) Lunch  (D) Dinner

Note: All itineraries are subject to change
* A minimum of 10 passengers is required for tour service.
This tour is limited to 18 participants.

 

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Dates: October 31 – November 11, 2017

Please contact a travel agent about airfare for this tour: 1.800.223.3855

 

Rates: $2,895

 

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Hotels

CityHotelDescription 
DelhiLe MeridienLocated just 1 mile from the Presidential Palace, Parliament House and Connaught Place. The hotel is also walking distance to several shopping and entertainment districts.Le Meridien
UdaipurThe TridentThis beautiful hotel is perfectly located, only a 10-minute drive from UdaipurTrident
JaipurHiltonAmazing location, outstanding service and modern design make this hotel the best choice in JaipurHilton
AgraThe Taj GatewayThis hotel offers a glorious view of The Taj Mahal from most rooms. The hotel encompasses gracious interiors, personalized service and unique style, making it a destination in itself.Agra
KhajurahoTaj ChandelaThis 11-acre property provides peace and tranquility, as well as easy access to the world famous Khajuraho templesChandela
VaranasiThe Gateway Hotel GangesThis 40-acre property offers modern design and comfort, only 4 miles from the Gagnes riverGagnes

 

 

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