Start and end in New Delhi! With the in-depth cultural tour Best of North India, you have a 13 day tour package taking you through New Delhi, India and 8 other destinations in India. Best of North India includes accommodation in a hotel as well as flights, an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
Namaste ? Welcome to India! Upon arrival, we are greeted the traditional Indian way with hands clapped together. We are then transferred to our hotel, with the balance of the day free. Overnight: Sheraton, New Delhi (2 nights)
The capital of India is truly a tantalizing mixture of old and new. We start our morning tour with an exploration of New Delhi and a visit to Birla House, the last residence of Mahatma Gandhi. Next, take in the famous India Gate, followed by the Houses of Parliament, Connaught Place and Humayun?s Tomb*, built in 1570 as the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. Humayan?s Tomb inspired several major architectural innovations, including the Taj Mahal. Experience the stunning ancient minaret of Qutb Minar* before venturing in to Old Delhi. Here, our afternoon visits start with the famous Red Fort*, built by Shah Jehan as one of the most opulent forts in the Moghul Empire. We then embark on a captivating journey by rickshaw through the hustle and bustle of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi?s oldest and busiest market. End our ride at monumental Jama Masjid, India?s largest mosque, before proceeding to Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. Evening we enjoy a welcome dinner at a well-known Indian restaurant. (B, D) Note: Red Fort and Birla House are closed on Mondays and Chandni Chowk is closed on Sundays
A short flight gets us to Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world. On arrival, we are transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon, we explore Sarnath, the site where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. Varanasi is also famous for its silk sarees and we visit some of the houses where the beautiful sarees are actually woven. In the evening, we take in the otherworldly banks of the Ganges and witness the Aarti ceremony, a Hindu religious ritual of worship in which light from wicks soaked in ghee or camphor is offered to one or more deities after sunset.? Overnight: The Gateway Hotel Ganges, Varanasi (1 night) (B, D)
In and around KhajurahoIn the early morning, we take a serene sunrise cruise on the River Ganges, soaking in the unique scenes along the river bank. One of the cardinal principles of Hinduism is the belief in the holiness of the Ganges. Every morning, scores of pilgrims and priests bathe in the river?s holy waters and performing various other rituals. This unique experience will make us feel as if we?re looking through a window to another world. ?After our boat ride, we explore old Varanasi, visiting the Bharat Mata Temple, which houses a huge marble relief map of India. We then explore the Durga Temple, the Tulsi Manas Mandir beside the Banaras Hindu University and the Mosque of Moghul Emperor Aurangazeb. Following the tour, we come back to the hotel for breakfast. Later we take a short flight to Khajuraho. On arrival in Khajuraho, we are transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon, we explore the Khajuraho Group of Monuments*, a collection of temples that are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Considered as some as the finest temple art in the world, the temples were built between 950 and 1050 A.D. Today only 20 temples are left, but the remaining structures are known worldwide for their intricate sculptures. Overnight: Mint Bundela Resort, Khajuraho (1 night) (B, D)
In and around JhansiA scenic morning drive to Orchha to visit this amazing medieval fortress-city, located on the shores of the Betwa River. The fort features regal palaces and imposing temples, and the fortress itself is surrounded by rolling green pastoral lands. We then enjoy a uniquely Indian experience as we embark on the Shatabdi Express train to Agra. This train is fully air-conditioned and we get to enjoy complimentary meals. It also provides a great opportunity to meet local folks on board the train and get to know them. As we get closer to Agra, we see the Taj Mahal at a distance. Arrival at Agra Railway Station, where we are welcomed and transferred to our hotel.? Overnight: Trident Agra / The Gateway Hotel, Agra (1 night) (B, D)
We start our day with a sunrise visit to one of the most well-known wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal*. An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and a universally admired masterpiece of world heritage. Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna in a vast Moghul garden, this funerary monument combines elements and styles of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture. After visiting the Taj Mahal, we return back to our hotel for breakfast. Following our morning meal, we visit Agra Fort*. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses the spectacular imperial city of the Moghul rulers. Explore fairy-tale palaces, audience halls and two very beautiful mosques. In the afternoon we visit Fatehpur Sikri*. Built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, this stunning complex was once capital of the Moghul empire. After just 10 years, its temples, mosques and monuments were abandoned due to lack of water. The remains include one of the largest mosques in India and the artistically designed mausoleum of the revered Sufi saint, Salim Chisty. Evening is free to explore this small town home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites (B, D) Note: On nights with a full moon, the Taj Mahals pure white marble shimmers silver in the moonlight. Bestway Tours & Safaris can arrange an optional tour to enjoy this very special occasion.
Our adventure continues as we set off for Ranthambore, the former hunting ground of the Maharajas of Jaipur. Ranthambore National Park boasts one of the largest and most diverse collections of wildlife species in India. It?s rugged terrain and dense deciduous forests also offer stunning panoramas. After lunch at our lodge in Ranthambore, we take an exciting safari through the park, spotting tiger, nilgai, chausingha, chital, chinkara, wild boar, jungle cat, ratel, hyena, porcupine, rhesus macaque and the black-faced langur. About 150 bird species can also be found here, including migratory birds that arrive in winter. Overnight: Tiger Den Resort, Ranthambore (1 night) (B, L, D)
Ranthambore was established as a game sanctuary in 1955 and declared a Project Tiger reserve in 1973. Spotting Ranthambore?s famous Royal Bengal tigers in their natural habitat is an awe-inspiring experience. Early morning, we take another safari through the park with our eye out for these majestic animals. After our morning safari, we drive to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur is also called the Pink City, since most of the buildings in the old city are made of pink sandstone. In the evening, we enjoy dinner followed by a unique Rajasthani cultural dance show.? Overnight: Trident Jaipur, Jaipur (2 nights) (B, D)
This morning, we are treated like the royalty of yesteryear with a journey to Amber Fort, located in a picturesque valley among the Kalikho Hills. Known as the gem of Jaipur, this imposing fort dating from the late 16th century was never attacked or invaded. Built from a combination of yellow and pink sandstone and white marble, the fort includes distinguished halls, intricate carvings and ornate gardens. Next we return to Jaipur to visit the majestic City Palace, which houses a rare collection of Indian art. We also stop at the stunning Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, where the ladies of the royal harem used to watch the city from behind the intricately carved fa?ade, and the Jantar Mantar*, a historic astronomical observation site boasting instruments used to star-gaze with the naked eye. The evening is free to enjoy the one-of-a-kind shopping of the bazaars. Jaipur is noted for its craftsmen, skilled in brass inlay, lacquer work and stone setting. (B, D)
A leisurely drive to Pushkar, a bewitching little town on the edge of the desert with temples, bathing Ghats, onion domes and chalk-coloured buildings clustering around its holy lake, said to have appeared when Brahma dropped a lotus flower. The lake is an important pilgrimage centre and we shall see many pilgrims and Sadhus, Hindu holy men. We visit the famous Lord Brahma Temple, one of the few temples in the world dedicated to this deity. Evening we walk through the town and meet the local folks. Overnight: The Green House Resort, Pushkar (2 nights) (B, D)
Enjoy superb countryside views as we journey through Rajasthan to Udaipur. Rajasthan literally means the land of the Rajas and the region?s royal heritage is still readily apparent. Udaipur was the historic capital of the former kingdom of Mewar and no other city in Rajasthan is quite as romantic. Centred around shimmering Lake Pichhola, the city offers beautifully intricate buildings set amid misty, rolling hills. On arrival, we check in to our hotel. Balance of the day is free. Overnight: Trident Udaipur, Udaipur (2 nights) (B, D)
Our fascinating exploration of Udaipur starts with a visit to the enchanting City Palace, which overlooks the Lake Palace located in the blue waters of Lake Pichola. The palace features several architectural and artistic treasures, such as the stunning peacock mosaics in the Mor Chowk and the murals of the Bhim Vilas Palace. We then visit the Jagdish Temple to view some remarkable friezes dating back to 1651. Next we explore Fateh Sagar Lake and Saheliyon Ki Bari, the Garden of Maids. We end our tour of Udaipur with a boat ride on Lake Pichola, sailing past the picturesque Ghats and palaces, and visit Jag Mandir, a 17th century palace built on an island in the middle of the glistening lake, used by the royal family as a summer resort. (B, D)
After an incredible tour of the Best of North India, we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Delhi. Here we met and transferred to a hotel near the airport to enjoy day rooms until 8:00 PM. After a farewell dinner, we are transferred to the international terminal for our flight home. We bid farewell after a memorable journey into the history, culture, art and architecture of incredible India. Or extend our adventure with India holiday tour packages to other regions of the country.? Overnight: Vivanta by Taj Dwarka, New Delhi (Day rooms) (B, D) NOTES ? Ranthambore National Park remains closed from July 01 to September 30. For departures during this period, an additional night will be provided in Varanasi on room + dinner basis instead of Ranthambore.