Day 1: Australia –– Delhi
Depart Australia 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, 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 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. 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)
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. After, continue on to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan. Later, enjoy a guided walk through the bustling streets of Old Delhi.
Continue on a guided tour of New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. Enjoy a photo stop at the imposing India Gate (War Memorial Arch), drive past the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President’s residence). Stop for a visit to Agrasen ki Baoli, a 60-meter long and 15-meter wide ancient step well. Then, proceed to the holy shrine of Sikhs, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Originally, a bungalow owned by Raja Jai Singh, this huge complex features a devotion centre, a large pond for a holy dip, a missionary school, an art gallery, a charitable hospital and the free kitchen – called Langar.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Dinner at a local restaurant
Day 3: Delhi – Agra (B)
After breakfast you will be driven to the Mughal city of Agra (a journey of 202 km/ 4 ½ hrs drive approximately). Known to the world as the city of the ‘Taj Mahal’, Agra is still associated with the Mughals, who besides being great rulers were also great builders. The architectural splendour of the mausoleums, forts and palaces is a vivid reminder of the opulence of the legendary Mughal Empire. From the Taj Mahal to the massive Agra Fort; Agra is amongst the most remarkable city of the world and a must visit.
After check-in, proceed on a sightseeing tour of Agra Fort – explore the Agra Fort, an outstanding example of Mughal architecture and the seat and stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive 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
Optional Tour (at own expense): Witness the Kalakriti show [Silver Class] Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Centre Agra showcases plays inspired from history of Agra. The shows are replete with beautiful costumes, elaborate set-up, captivating narration, incredible choreography and direction. Watch it to be transported to the time and lives of the Mughals, their grandeur and mystifying stories.
[Note: Show is not operational during the month of May, June & July and also for 4 days during Diwali in the month of November]
Day 4: Agra – Bharatpur –– Ranthambhore (B)
Early this morning, proceed on a spectacular sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal, celebrated for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty. Emperor Shah Jahan built this exquisite white marble mausoleum for his favourite queen Mumtaz Mahal. The monument was commissioned in 1631 and took 20,000 artisans, 22 years to complete. Witness the dramatic interplay of light as the sun rises and casts its golden rays over the pearl white tomb, recreating the magic of the Taj.
Following visit, return to the hotel for breakfast.
In the afternoon, you will be driven to Bharatpur Railway Station [approx 1.5 hrs drive] to board your onwards train to Sawai Madhopur [Ranthambore].
Nestling at the foot of the Aravalli Hills is Ranthambore National Park, a famous tiger reserve and an outstanding example of Project Tiger’s efforts at conservation in the country. The forests around the Ranthambore Fort were once the private hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. One of the most popular parks with tiger sightings at its best, a photographers dream come true, dotted with lakes and ponds around which the wildlife abounds, predators and prey enact their day to day drama. Ranthambore, hailed as one of India’s finest wildlife locations, is also categorized as a heritage site because of the picturesque ruins of the fort that dot the park.
Tonight, enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Day 5: Ranthambore (B,L,D)
Wake up early today to undertake an experience you’ll never forget, a thrilling jungle safari on sharing canter basis through Ranthambhore National Park. The experience is likened to an African safari. Drive to the dense jungle of Ranthambore for tiger tracking and bird watching accompanied by a naturalist. The scrub woodlands of Ranthambore were the erstwhile hunting reserve of Maharajas of Jaipur, and royal hunting parties were hosted in the Park. Today, it is a sanctuary for India’s exotic wildlife, and famous for spotting the majestic predator – the tiger. The park is also home to a large variety of other animals, including sambar deer, panthers, marsh crocodiles, jungle cats, civets, wild boar, sloth bears and leopards, as well as being a birdwatcher’s delight with more than 250 species of birds nesting there. Following safari, return to the hotel for breakfast.
Lunch at the hotel.
This afternoon, head back out on another jungle safari on sharing canter basis to hopefully spot the animals you missed earlier! Get another chance to track the wildlife as you embark on another game drive into Ranthambore National Park.
Tonight enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Visit to Dastkar Centre & Tree Plantation DASTKAR’s Craft Community Centre at Ranthambore was conceived as the culmination of the first phase of the DASTKAR Ranthambore Project. It is a project working for income generation subject in the villages around the Ranthambore Park through community building, training, production sales and social awareness. The centre today houses a production centre, raw material store, office, sales outlet, training workshop apart from accommodating a guesthouse and a local community centre. It is a non-sectarian workspace for group interaction, utilised for the development and production of crafts, like block printing and tie-dyeing, that cannot be done in homes. The existence of this facility has also enabled the conducting of a large number of training programmes, on topics ranging from tailoring, pottery or dyeing techniques, on the one hand, to cooperative management, accounting, legal literacy or adult education for the local people. Today you get to visit the centre and see the skills being practiced here by local women including block printing, tie-dye, patchwork, pottery, leatherwork amongst others. Following visit, plan a tree at Ranthambore.
Day 6: Ranthambhore – Jaipur (B)
After breakfast at the hotel you will be driven to the pink city of Jaipur [approx 05 hrs drive] en-route visiting Abhaneri Stepwell.
Chand Baori [stepwell] in the Abhaneri village is one of the oldest and most popular attractions in Rajasthan. It was built by King Chanda of the Nikumbha Dynasty in 9th century AD. One of the largest stepwells in the world, Chand Baori was built to conserve water and provide a respite from the intense heat. Chand Baori is an architectural wonder with 3500 perfectly symmetrical narrow steps.
Following visit, drive onwards to Jaipur. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in.
Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It has long been established on tourist itineraries as the third corner of India’s Golden Triangle. The old city of Jaipur is partially encircled with seven gates – the major gates are Chandpol, Sanganeri, and Ajmeri. The ‘pink city’ label, applies specifically, to the old walled quarter of the Rajasthani capital, while in the northeast of the town, glorious palaces and temples, in an assortment of styles, spanning centuries, are scattered throughout the predominantly urban area. Jaipur is a tourist’s delight. It is an extremely colourful city, and in the evening light, the pink and the orange buildings exude a magical glow, which is complemented by the vibrantly attired Rajasthanis.
Optional tour (at own expense): Bazaar, Cuisine, Crafts of Jaipur Begin your tour from the Sanganeri Gate as you walk through the colourful fruit and vegetable market and bustling alleyways of original havelis, many still inhabited by traditional merchant families. Stop at the family owned temple of Siddhi Ganesh dedicated to Lord Ganesh symbol of good luck in Hinduism. Observe intricate gold painting and enamelling work on marble by a local artist. See ‘gota‘embroidery (gold and silver thread embroidery) work applied to saris and traditional Indian clothes. Visit a President’s award winning fifth generation Meenakari craftsman in his workshop. Join him for tea in his 200-year-old residence, a direct descendant from the family of chief hakims (physicians) who served the Emperors during the Mughal Dynasty. His traditional haveli resplendent with fine chandeliers, period furniture and traditional carpets is a highlight of the walk. His rare art collection is a sight to behold. For foodies Ghee Walon ka Rasta an entire street dedicated to eating is heaven! Sample a large variety of Indian savoury snacks including samosa, kachories and pakoras.
Continue to Gopal Ji Ka Rasta, the centre of Jaipur’s famous jewellery shops is home to many wealthy merchants; always teaming with bargain hunters.
Day 7: Ranthambore – 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 heritage walk in the pink city. Starting from the massive Tripolia Gate, make your way through the bustling lanes of Jaipur as you walk past the beautiful old temples and painted havelis. Wander through the streets as you see some of the gorgeous temples on both side of the roads dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman and the many forms of Lord Krishna. Proceed through the narrow alleys seeing a collection of textiles, utensils, wedding attires and street food vendors.
Following visit, return to the hotel.
Optional tour (at own expense): Interaction with Indian Family followed by dinner. 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 8: Jaipur – Pushkar (B)
This morning, you will be driven to the holy city of Pushkar [approx 03 hrs drive]. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in. Pushkar is a peaceful pilgrim town of lakes and temples. Pushkar lies in a narrow valley overshadowed by rocky hills that offer a spectacular view of the desert at sunset. Legend claims Pushkar’s lakes were created from petals that fell from the divine hands of Brahma the Creator, thus the name Pushkar pushpa (flower) and kar (hand). Life in Pushkar, today, revolves around its lakeside ghats, temples and vibrant colourful bazaars, and it is this harmonious mix of the spiritual and commercial that draws people to Pushkar. The charm of this holy, lakeside settlement so captivated the great Indian poet, Kalidas, that it found a place in his classic, Abhigyan Sakuntalam. The Hindu epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana also make references to Pushkar. Evidence points to its having existed during the Fourth century B.C. A lake in the inhospitable surroundings of a desert is no less than a miracle and shimmers like an Oasis. Today, Pushkar is a buzzing tourist spot, overflowing with travellers from all over the world.
Rest of the day will be free at leisure.
Day 9: Pushkar (B)
Today we explore fascinating Pushkar. The holy town of Pushkar is a very sacred town for the Hindus. Situated 11 kms North-West of Ajmer this little town is dotted with more than 400 temples dedicated to various Hindu Gods and Goddesses. We’ll begin by visiting the main temple, the Brahma Temple, which is considered the only Brahma Temple in the world. We then continue down to the Pushkar Lake. Here you can witness the many people bathing in its holy waters and see the famous blue houses which line the lake’s bank. It is considered that the famed waters of the Pushkar wash away the sins of whole life. After, we continue for a walk in the Pushkar market to see the many merchants which have remained almost unchanged for centuries.
Following sightseeing return to your hotel. Afternoon will be free at leisure.
Day 10: Pushkar – Ajmer – Delhi (B)
This morning will be free at leisure. Later, this afternoon you will be driven to Ajmer Railway Station [a journey of approx 01:30 hr drive] where you will board your train for Delhi i.e. 12016/ NDLS Shatabdi at 1545 hrs. 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 11: Delhi –– Australia
At the appropriate time 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 12: Australia
Arrive home today