Day 1: Australia – – Delhi
Depart Australia today on your overnight 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, a Webjet representative will meet you as you exit the arrivals hall.
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 spiralling skyscrapers, the remnants of a bygone time, in the form of its many monuments, stand as silent reminders to the region’s ancient legacy. Delhi is a food-lovers haven and has something to please every palate. There is an unlimited variety available across cuisines, across price-brackets and across experiences – from street food of North India to International cuisine and from road-side dhabas to fine dining – Delhi has it all.
Day 2: Delhi (B,D)
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 to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan.
Continue on a guided tour of New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. You will visit Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India built to establish the might of Islam and onset of Muslim rule in India and 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, the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President’s residence) before returning to the hotel. Tonight, get to know your fellow travellers with a welcome dinner.
Day 3: Delhi – Jaipur (B)
In the morning after breakfast we disembark for Jaipur. Jaipur, one of the most enticing places in India, is nestled between mighty forts and the rugged Aravalli Hills. It is known as ‘the pink city’ as its prominent buildings are washed in this colour. Founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1727, Jaipur is steeped in Rajput history and is characterised by sites such as the City Palace with its astronomical Observatory, Hawa Mahal and the beautiful Amber Fort. Jaipur is a bustling capital city and a business centre with all the trappings of a modern metropolis yet flavoured strongly with an age-old charm that never fails to surprise a traveller. On arrival the rest of the afternoon is free to explore this incredible city at your own pace.
Optional Tour: Interaction followed by Dinner with Indian Family—Familiarise yourself with the climatic, cultural and historical influences that make India so diverse. Experience culinary delights, savour the tantalizing flavours and bask in a blend of aromas of Indian cuisine. Celebrate the love of food and listen to secrets from your hosts who are highly inspired from the rich traditions and exuberant hospitality that India is famous for!
Day 4: 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 you 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. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenellated walls lattice the surrounding area.
At the foot of the hill you will be taken on the jeep up to the main gate. Tour the chambers and hallways of the palace, famous for the excellence of its design and decoration. Within the complex is Ganesh Pol, an imposing gateway painted with the images of the elephant headed god, Ganesh. The merging of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles is captured in the Sukh Niwas and Jas Mandir apartments, and the Charbagh garden with its perfectly proportioned landscaping. Pierced screen windows offer views from different vantage points and shimmering mirrors encrust the walls of Sheesh Mahal.
This afternoon, enjoy a tour of the Pink City, an “abode of rajahs”. The highlights of the tour include a visit to the City Palace Museum, which has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, and armory of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiseled handles. Many antiques and artifacts belonging to the ruling family are housed here, including a collection of weaponry. It also has an art gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit. Proceed to the aweinspiring Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century. Later, enjoy a rickshaw ride through the narrow bylanes of the colorful bazaars. The rest of the evening it at leisure.
Day 5: Jaipur – Agra (B)
After breakfast, we head to the Mughal city of Agra en-route visiting Akbar’s abandoned capital, Fatehpur Sikri. Located 40 km from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri was built by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1571 in honour of the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti. It was the Mughal capital for 14 years after which it was abandoned due to paucity of water. It is made of red sandstone and combines influences from both Hindu and Mughal architecture. Even to this day, the entrance to the fort is through the road that Akbar built which leads to the Buland Darwaza, a huge 54 metres gateway. Other inspiring monuments in Fatehpur Sikri are the
Hiran Minar that Akbar built in memory of his favourite elephant, Tomb of Sheikh Salim Later, head out on a sightseeing tour of Agra Fort. An outstanding example of Mughal generations. Shah Jahan, the Taj’s creator, spent the last years of his life imprisoned at the fort by his son Aurangzeb. It was built in the late 1560`s by their predecessor, Akbar, with later embellishments by Jehangir, his son, and Shah Jahan, his grandson.
Day 6: Agra – Delhi – – Patna (B)
This morning we head out for the big one! The Taj Mahal, for a spectacle not to be missed— a sunrise visit to the legendary Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a masterpiece in marble and one of the world’s most famous landmarks. As the sun sets, a chaste and secretive image of the Taj starts to emerge, casting a very soft light illuminating the contours of this enchanting monument in marble. Referred to as one of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal in Agra is the epitome of tourism in India and is celebrated for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty. There is plenty of time to explore the grounds of the Taj Mahal gardens before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Post breakfast we make our way back to Delhi to board our flight to Patna
Along the banks of River Ganga is Patna, (originally known as Pataliputra), the capital of Bihar. It is an immensely fertile, arched stretch of land and boasts of a history and cultural heritage of over 2000 years old. It was named “PATNA” in the 16th century under the great Afghan King, Sher Shah Suri.
Upon arrival, you will be met at airport and transferred to your hotel.
Day 7: Patna – – Kahalgaon – Bateshwar (B,L,D)
It is an early morning start today, you will be give a simple packed breakfast before being met at your hotel and transferred to railway station for your train to Kahalgaon. The train journey takes approximately 6 hours. You’ll be able to watch the countryside from the comfort of your air-conditioned carriage. Upon arrival, you will be driven a short distance to Bateshwar Sthan Jetty to board your river cruise ship.
Day 8: Vikramshila (B,L,D)
After an early breakfast on-board, we disembark Bateswarsthan to visit the ruins of Vikramshila. Vikramshila was built by Bengal King Dharmapala in 8th Century. Vikramashila was one of the largest Buddhist universities, with more than one hundred teachers and about one thousand students. It produced eminent scholars who were often invited by foreign countries to spread Buddhist learning, culture and religion. The most distinguished and eminent among all was Atiśh Dipankar, a founder of the Sarma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
Day 9: Gaur (B,L,D)
Today we cruise slowly as the beautiful country side of Bihar and Jharkhand unfolds around us. After passing through Manihari, we reach Rajmahal, the gateway to Gaur and Malda. Gaur also known as Lakhnauti, is a ruined city on the India-Bangladesh border, located 16 km from Malda town, has major historical significance, as it was the capital of Bengal for several centuries. Gaur gathered prominence during the Sena dynasty, with the name of the city, often attributed to the Sena king Lakshman Sena. Prior to the accession of the Sena dynasty, Gauda region was under the control of the Pala dynasty. Here we explore the remnants of the historical sites by visiting Bara Darwaza, a gigantic rectangular structure of brick and stone, this mosque is the largest monument in Gour. Then continuing on to Dakhil Darwaza gateway. This gate once guarded the main fort that no longer exists. We then stop at the Firoz Minar, similar to the Kutb Minar in Delhi before arriving in Gaur before returning to the ship.
Day 10: Farakka (B,L,D)
Today we are moored in the town of Farakka. He we disembark the ship to learn about the lock gates of the Farakka Barrage. The Farakka Barrage is a huge engineering project designed to help the flow of the neighbouring Hooghly River. The purpose of the barrage is to divert 1,100 cubic metres per second of water from the Ganges to the Hooghly River for flushing out the sediment deposition from the Kolkata harbour without the need of regular mechanical dredging. The Farakka Barrage – is the longest barrage in the world and has recently been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records. It has 101 gates and it is from here the water is shared between India and Bangladesh. After touring the barrage we return to the ship.
Day 11: Jiaganj and Azimganj (B,L,D)
Jiaganj-Azimganj Municipality is one of the oldest municipalities in Murshidabad district. The twin town is situated on the opposite banks of the river Bhagirathi, a branch of river Ganges. Jiaganj is on the east side while Azimganj is on the west. These two riparian settlements remind the rich history and cultural heritage of Bengal. The twin towns of Jiaganj and Azimganj were important trade centre during the Subah reign in Bengal. Today there is free time on-board or in town as we collect more guests joining us for the remainder of the voyage. There are several historic temples in the city which you could visit. Your ships reception will be able to assist you with transportation.
Day 12: Murshidabad (B,L,D)
Today the vessel will drop anchor at Murshidabad, the historic town, the earliest evidences of history perhaps as early as circa 1500 B.C. The Nawab Murshid Quli Khan made Murshidabad the capital city of Sube Bangla, comprising of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The East India Company reigned from here for many years after the Battle of Plassey. Today enjoy a sightseeing tour of The Hazarduari Palace and the Nizamat Imambara. The Hazarduari Palace, or the palace with a thousand doors is the chief tourist attraction of Murshidabad. This three-storey palace was built in 1837 by Duncan McLeod for the Nawab Najim Humaun Jah, descendent of Mir Zafar. It has thousand doors (among which only 100 are real) and 114 rooms and 8 galleries, built in European architectural style. It is now a museum and has a collection of armoury, splendid paintings, exhaustive portraits of the Nawabs, various works of art including beautiful works of ivory and china. It is then on to the Nizamat Imambara, a Shia Muslim congregation hall before returning to the vessel.
Day 13: Mayapur & Matiari Mayapur (B,L,D)
This morning we are moored in Mayapur & Matiari Mayapur. We begin with a visit to Matiari village where every house makes tablewares and artifacts out of Kansha (Bell metal wares) was a poor man substitute to the rich silverware used in Bengali homes for prayers, table wares and also for cooking. The traditional Kansari artisans make from scrap metals handcrafted wares and artifacts. We then continue on to Mayapur, the Headquaters of ISKCON, better known as the Hare Krishna Movement. ISKCON was founded in 1966 in New York City by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who is worshipped by followers as Guru and spiritual master. Its core beliefs are based on select traditional Hindu scriptures, particularly the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam. Preaching the power of prayer to attain salvation. After, return we return to the ship.
Day 14: Kalna (B,L,D)
The vessel will drop anchor at Kalna today where the Maharajas of Bardhaman built several magnificent temples with intricate terracotta ornamentation. The main one being 108 Shiv Mandir built in 1809 in traditional architecture and the Raj bari which house most of the temples. We then make our way to Shantipur. Here, learn about the weavers of fine Bengal cotton. Weaving is the second largest occupation in the state of West Bengal. The weavers here blend the traditional art with the modern life style needs, offering rich variety of textiles. sarees, stoles and fabrics.
Day 15: Bendal (B,L,D)
Today we are in Bendal, which translates to the Port of Bengali, a famous ancient Portuguese settlement. The Church and the Monastery were built around 1660 by the Portuguese and the word Bandel is derived from Portuguese word mast of ship. We begin our sightseeing with a visit to Bandel Church. The Basilica of the Holy Rosary commonly known as Bandel Church is one of the oldest Christian churches in West Bengal, India. Situated in Bandel, it stands as a memorial to the Portuguese settlement in Bengal. Continue on to the Chandannagore Museum one of the oldest museums of the region. It boasts a collection of French antiques (such as cannons used in Anglo-French war, wooden furniture of 18th century, etc.) which are difficult to find anywhere else in the world. Enjoy some time on the Chandannagore Strand, a tree-shaded promenade along the river about 1 km in length with many buildings of historical importance along the way. Enjoy the breeze and watching as small boats sail by.
Day 16: Kolkata (B,L,D)
We have reached our most southerly stop, Kolkata. Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital of India’s West Bengal state. Founded as an East India Company trading post, it was India’s capital under the British Raj from 1773-1911. Today it’s known for its grand colonial architecture, art galleries and cultural festivals. Enjoy a tour of the city and enjoy a visit to the Kumartuli, a unique artisan village that dates back 400 years, making it perhaps the oldest of its kind in the world. It is the lifeblood of Bengal’s biggest festival and keeps the Puja fervor alive among Bengali communities in other countries. Today’s tour encompasses the Howarh Bridge, Dalhousie Square and St Paul’s Cathedral. The Cathedral measures 71m in length 24m in width the spire rising 60m high. The interior has exquisite scriptural scenes. Above these are the two Florentine frescos. In the centre of the eastern sector is the magnificent alter piece. Before heading back to the ship we enjoy a walk around the College Street Book Market.
Day 17: Kolkata (B)
Following breakfast disembark from your ship. You will be met at the pier and transferred to your central hotel. The rest of the day is free at leisure to enjoy this incredible city.
There are many facets to Kolkata. For one thing, it is a noted cultural centre, famed for its cinema, poetry, music, art and cinema. For another, it offers some wonderful memorabilia of the British Raj. But, above all, Kolkata is an intensely human city and the warmth and charm of its people is to be experienced to be believed.
Day 18: Kolkata – – Australia (B)
After breakfast, the rest of the morning is at leisure. You will be met at your hotel by a Webjet representative and assisted with your transfer to the international airport for your onward flight home.
Day 19: Australia
Arrive home today.