Day 1: New Zealand – – Delhi, India
Today depart New Zealand for India! On arrival at Delhi airport meet & greet with our representative and transfer to your hotel.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, your tour starts today. Please make your own way to the hotel.
Day 2: Old Delhi City Tour (B)
After breakfast, we start a full day sightseeing tour of Old Delhi City and experience the Delhi Metro train system. Start By visiting Jama Masjid – the largest mosque in India taking 13 years to build and remains a marvellous treasure of the Old City. A steep climb to the top of its southern tower will reward you with a stunning view across the rooftops of Delhi. We then take a Rickshaw ride to explore the old part of town, which includes: ChandniChowk (Moonlight Square), one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi and then onto the Spice Market – one of Asia’s largest wholesale spice markets with hundreds of shops dealing in refined, local and exotic spices. This large market area is rich in colour and photo opportunities. We then visit the Red Fort – Delhi’ s most famous monument and a powerful reminder of the Mughal emperors who ruled India. We then return to the hotel by the Delhi metro train.
Day 3: Delhi – Jaipur (B)
After breakfast, proceed to Jaipur. Travel time approx. 6 hours. On arrival in Jaipur, we visit some sights including City Palace, situated in the heart of the old City, it occupies about one seventh of the old city area and is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. Jantar Mantar, built in 18th century and is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments. We also visit Albert Hall Museum – situated in the Ram Niwas Garden. This graceful building was founded in 1876 by Prince Albert (also known as Albert Hall). It has a rare collection of archaeological and handicraft pieces.
Day 4: Jaipur (B)
An early start this morning to witness the sunlight on the red and pink sandstone of HawaMahal – an amazing sight and the most recognizable monument of Jaipur. The 5 storied stunning semi-octagonal monument having 152 windows with over hanging latticed balconies is a fine piece of Rajput architecture. Originally designed for the royal ladies to watch and enjoy the processions and other activities, on the street below. Now it houses a well laid out museum.
Later we drive to Amer Fort to experience a Jeep Ride or Elephant ride from the old town to the Courtyard of Amer Fort. In earlier days the King’s army used the same route. Amer Fort is the old capital of the Kachhwahas and stands atop a range of craggy hills. The fort is remarkable as much for the majestic grandeur of its surroundings as for its sturdy battlements and beautiful palaces. It is a fine blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. The solemn dignity of it red sandstone and white marble pavilions, when reflected in the lake at the foot hill, is a sight to behold.
On the way Back from Amber Fort we stop at JalMahal, this small palace is set in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. Renovation around the lake is in progress. We also take the opportunity to visit a block-printing workshop, the ancient art of Jaipur plus a visit to the local markets.
Day 5: Jaipur – Pushkar (B)
After breakfast, proceed to Pushkar. Travel time approx. 3 hours. On arrival check into hotel then we visit Pushkar Bazaar where you’ll find items such as Rajasthani costumes and puppets, embroidered fabrics, souvenirs, bangles and beads, decorative pieces and accessories, curios, embroidered shoes, brass utensils, glass lamps, bags, belts and many more handicraft items. The majority of the traditional items here are from the Barmer District and other tribal areas of Rajasthan.
Day 6: Pushkar (B)
After breakfast, enjoy a camel ride around the Rajasthan desert before we make our way to Pushkar Lake – considered by Hindus all across India to be one of the most sacred lakes of India. The lake is surrounded by 52 palaces, 400 temples and 52 bathing ‘ghats’, which are a series of steps leading to the lake. Every year in November, pilgrims take a holy dip in this lake. It is believed that the water of the lake is capable of cleansing sins and curing skin diseases.
Brahma Temple is the lone Hindu temple in India where Lord Brahma, the Creator of the World is worshipped. This major attraction of Pushkar is situated on the banks of the Pushkar Lake and is considered to have a special position in the Hindu Pantheons. Built in the 14th century, the temple comprises a raised platform, red spire, stone slabs, marble floors and an image of ‘hans’ or swan, Lord Brahma’s vehicle. It is customary for pilgrims to stand on the steps and put coins to mark the deaths and births of their loved ones.
Savitri Temple – built in 1687 and situated on the peak of the Ratnagiri Hill it houses the statue of Goddess Savitri and offers good views of the surroundings, including the sand dunes of nearby villages and Pushkar Lake. Legend has it that the presence of Savitri was required in a ‘yagna’ that was done by Lord Brahma but she kept Him waiting. Lord Brahma irritated with her behaviour, married a milkmaid named Gayatri. Savitri became furious at this and cursed Him that he will only be worshipped once a year and only in Pushkar.
Day 7: Pushkar – Ranthambore (B)
After breakfast we make our way to Ranthambore. Travel time approx. 6 hours. On arrival check-in at hotel and relax.
Day 8: Ranthambore National Park Jeep Safari (B)
Arise early for an early morning drive to the Ranthambore Jungle with the naturalist on a Jeep Safari to spot tigers and wildlife. The safari lasts for 2-3 hours. We then return to the hotel for breakfast and enjoy some leisure time before heading back into the Jungle for an afternoon safari.
Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most renowned national parks in Northern India and most famous for it’s diurnal tigers but also home to leopards, striped hyenas, sambar deer, Chital, Nilgai, crocodiles, birdlife and so much more. The park is a photographers dream come true, dotted with lakes and ponds where the wildlife gather and predators and prey enact their day to day drama. Ranthambore is also categorized as a heritage site because of the picturesque ruins of the fort that dot the park.
Day 9: Ranthambore – Agra (B)
After breakfast proceed to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Travel time approx 5 1/2 hours. On the way, we visit the fortified ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri – built using red sandstone it’s a perfect blend of Indian, Islamic and Persian architecture.
Day 10: Agra, Taj Mahal at Sunrise – Delhi (B)
You cannot think of India without thinking of Taj Mahal. You may not have known of Agra were it not for the monument of love. We have an early morning start as the sun comes up over the white marble beauty of the majestic Taj Mahal! Constructed by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The monument stands proof for the brilliance of Mughal architecture. Named as one of the wonders of the world, Taj Mahal stands the test of time. Declared a World Heritage Site it truly is a feast to your eyes and senses to watch the unmatched beauty. (*Taj Mahal Closed on every Friday). We then return to the hotel for breakfast and check out.
We then visit Agra Fort – the 16th century monument is yet another proof of the architectural brilliance of Mughals. Called the Red Fort of Agra, you will be awe inspired by the powerful fortress. The fortress comprises many palaces namely, Jahangir Palace and KhasMahal. The entire fortress is a symbol of Mughal’s grandeur. It was in Agra Fort Shah Jahan was held prisoner by Aurangazeb, his son. Shah Jahan, the emperor, spent his last days here viewing the monument of love he had built for his wife.
Visit Itmad-ud-Daulah – India’s first tomb to be made completely out of marble before the drive back to Delhi (approx. 5 hours).
Day 11:- Delhi – – Varanasi (B)
After breakfast transfer to the airport to board the flight for Varanasi. Upon arrival in Varanasi, meet and greet with tour leader and transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon we take a sightseeing tour of Varanasi by experiencing the Old Town with a Rickshaw ride. It is a city, which enshrines the very essence of Hinduism—temples, shrines and devotees, sunrise boat rides, flower ceremonies with traditional music and walks on the ghats. A city of colourful bazaars exquisite and bright silks, festivals – all centring around the teeming ghats of the Holy Ganges.
Annapoorna Devi Temple – Annapurna or Annapoorna is the Hindu Goddess of nourishment. Anna means food and grains. Purna means full, complete and perfect. She is form of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. The most well-known temple dedicated to Goddess Annapurna is in Varanasi, U.P., India. Adjacent to the Sanctum of the Goddess is the Kasi Viswanath temple. The two are separated by only a few yards. Annapurna is regarded as the queen of Varanasi alongside her husband Vishweshwar (Shiva), the King of Varanasi.
Assi Ghat – the Ghat located at the confluence of Assi River and the holy Ganges, is the southernmost Ghat in Kashi. Renowned for a spectacular and large Shiva Lingam placed under a Peepal Tree. This is a favourite spot for Hindu devotees to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva after taking holy dip in the river.
Bharat Mata Temple – a relatively new temple built in 1936 and located at Kashi Vidyapeeth Campus, is a shrine dedicated to Mother India. This temple was built by a Gandhian follower Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi.
Dashaswamedh Ghat – a much acclaimed religious spot and a favourite among the Hindu devotees is considered as the main Ghat. It is believed that Lord Brahma performed his victorious Dasa Ashwamedha (ten-horses) sacrifice in this spot. Legend claims that a similar kind of ten horse sacrifice was done here in the second century by Bhara Shiva Naga rulers.
Evening visit to a Ganges Aarti Ceremony – Varanasi is a sacred and oldest city of the world located at the banks of the holy River Gange. Witness the special Hindu Aarti ceremony performed at the Ghats by a group of priests.
Day 12: Varanasi (B)
Varanasi’s principle attraction is the string of bathing ghats, which line the western ghats of River Ganges. The spectacular 4 Km sweep of the Ghats is a unique sight, best viewed at dawn. 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.
We return to the hotel for breakfast and a rest before afternoon sightseeing. We visit Banaras Hindu University – with over 30,000 students residing in campus, it claims the title of largest residential university in Asia.
Sarnath is the main place to visit while on tour around Varanasi. A sacred pilgrimage and tourist attraction, it is one of the four most significant Buddhist pilgrimage places in India. Sarnath is the place where Lord Buddha first covey his lecture after attaining “nirvana”.
Sarnath Buddhist Temple – many of the Buddhist temples at Sarnath are built and maintained by monks from Tibet, China and Japan but the main Buddhist temple is the Mulagandha Kuti Vihar. The main shrine (vihara), called the Mulaganda Kuti, is said to be located at the place where Buddha used to stay during his visits to Sarnath.
Sarnath Museum – houses a rich collection of sculptures, artifacts and edifices comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images and other ancient remains.
Pillars of Ashoka – The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BCE. Averaging between forty and fifty feet in height, and weighing up to fifty tons each, all the pillars were quarried at Chunar, just south of Varanasi and dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected.
Day 13: Varanasi – – Delhi (B)
At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi, meets and greet our representative and transfer to the hotel.
Day 14: New Delhi City Tour (B,D)
After breakfast, we start a full day sightseeing tour of New Delhi.
QutabMinar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, is an incredible example of early Indo–Islamic architecture. It was built in 1206, but the reason remains a mystery. Some believe that it was made to signify victory and the beginning of Muslim rule in India, while others say it was used to call the faithful to prayer.
Humayun’s Tomb – if you think it looks a bit like the TajMahal in Agra, that’s because it was the inspiration for the TajMahal’s creation. The tomb was built in 1570, and houses the body of the second Mughal emperor, Humayun. It was the first of this type of Mughal architecture to be built in India.
Bahai Temple – is commonly referred to as the Lotus Temple, as it’s shaped like a lotus flower. It’s particularly pretty at night, when it’s attractively lit up. Made out of white marble, the temple belongs to the Bahai Faith, which proclaims the unity of all people and religions. Everybody is welcome to worship there.
India Gate – the towering archway of India Gate at the centre of New Delhi is a war memorial, built in memory of the Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army in World War I. At night it glows warmly under floodlights, and the gardens that line its boulevard are a popular place to enjoy a warm summer’s evening.
Laxmi Narayan Temple – built in 1938 by the Industrialist G.D. Birla, it is one of the major temples in Delhi and is located near Connought Place. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Laxmi and her consort Narayana. The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on the stipulation that people of all castes shall be allowed to enter the temple.
Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner with your fellow travellers and receive a group photo as a memento of your trip to India.
Day 15: Delhi – – New Zealand (B)
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, at the appropriate time please make your own way from the hotel to your next travel arrangements.
Day 16: New Zealand
Arrive home today.