Day 1: New Zealand – – Delhi
Depart New Zealand today on your flight to Delhi (please note, some flight may depart 1 day before). You will arrive at New Delhi International Airport. Following customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 2: Delhi –– Varanasi (B)
Today we head out on a full day to explore Delhi. Begin your day with a guided tour of the Old City of ‘Shahjahanabad’. Your introduction to the city will start with a visit to Raj Ghat – the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, drive past the Red Fort—the magical monument in red sandstone built at the pinnacle of the Mughal Empire. From here proceed by bicycle rickshaws through the bustling streets of Old Delhi to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan.
Later today we visit Humayun’s tomb, the first great example of a new distinctive style which developed to become the hallmark of the Mughal Dynasty. We also drive past the imposing India Gate (War Memorial Arch), the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President’s residence) before enjoying one of Delhi’s most incredible Sikh Temples.
After sightseeing, we make our way to the train station to board our overnight sleeper train to Varanasi. No trip the India is complete without experiencing a train journey! You can safely forget media images of overcrowded suburban trains with people sitting on the roof. On a long distance train in an air-conditioned carriage all seats are reserved and it’s a safe, civilised & comfortable way to get around India.
Day 3: Varanasi (B)
This morning, the train arrives early into Varanasi. Upon arrival, you will be met at the Railway Station and assisted by transfer to the hotel. Rooms aren’t available until 2PM, however bags may be left at reception. Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before enjoying free time to explore Varanasi. This evening head to the Daswamedha Ghat along the River Ganges to witness the special Hindu Aarti ceremony performed.
Day 4: Varanasi – – Agra (B)
This morning we take a boat cruise on the Ganges to soak in the vibrant colour and life of Varanasi (subject to water levels). An early morning boat ride presents an incredible scene as the multitudes of devotees come to the river to pay homage to the Sun God. Pass the bathing ghats where thousands of pilgrims immerse themselves in the holy water of the Ganges River and the burning ghats where cremations are conducted. On our return we visit the bazaars (local market) and Kashi Vishwanath Temple – the most sacred of the shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. We then return to the hotel for breakfast. Following breakfast we visit Samath, the site where Lord Buddha had preached his first sermon enshrining the principles of his teaching. There is then free time before we return to the train station to board an overnight sleeper to Agra.
Day 5: Agra (B)
This morning, the train arrives early into Agra. Upon arrival, you will be met at the Railway Station and assisted by transfer to the hotel. Rooms aren’t available until 2PM, however bags may be left at reception. Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before enjoying free time to explore Agra. This afternoon, we head out for the big one! The Taj Mahal, for a spectacle not to be missed. There is plenty of time to explore the grounds of the Taj Mahal
After, explore the Agra (Red) Fort, an outstanding example of Mughal architecture and the seat and stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations.
Day 6: Agra – Karauli (B)
Today we leave Agra for Karauli. Karauli is a district and town in the state of Rajasthan. An old princely-state, it has an old fort and several palaces with some very attractive frescoes and jaalis. Although off the beaten track, it is well worth a visit. Here we learn about Lord Krishna and visit the City Palace and Madan Mohan Ji Temple.
Day 7: Karauli – Abhaneri – Jaipur (B)
After breakfast, we head to the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur en-route visiting the famous Abheneri Step Well. Abhaneri was originally named Abha Nagri, which means “city of brightness,” but due to mispronunciation, the name was changed. The city is now in ruins, but it attracts tourists from across the globe. Abhaneri is prominent for ‘Baoris’, step wells which were invented by the natives to harvest rain water. We then continue on to Jaipur.
Day 8: Jaipur (B)
An exciting day awaits you as begin your sightseeing tour with a photo visit at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) – a five-storied wonder with a spectacular pyramidal facade and overhanging windows with latticed screens, domes and spires. Continue your tour as we drive to the ancient capital of Amer to see the fabulous Amber Fort situated on a ridge just outside Jaipur city, surrounded by fortified battlements. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started the construction of Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power. This afternoon, enjoy some free time.
Day 9: Jaipur (B)
Today, enjoy a tour of the Pink City, an “abode of rajahs” on a guided heritage walk. After, return to the hotel and enjoy some free time for your own activities.
Day 10: Jaipur – Delhi (B)
Today we make the journey back to Delhi. India’s capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines in its folds – the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiraling skyscrapers, the remnants of a bygone time, in the form of its many monuments, stand as silent reminders to the region’s ancient legacy.
Day 11: Delhi – – New Zealand (B)
After breakfast, the rest of the morning is at leisure. You will be met at your hotel by our representative and assisted with your transfer to the international airport for your onward flight home.
Day 12: New Zealand
Arrive home in New Zealand today.