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Enchanting North India & Varanasi

15 day Enchanting North India & Varanasi tour with return flights, expert guides, breakfast daily, sightseeing & more!

From
$2,199
15 days | per person twin share | |
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  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Enchanting North India & Varanasi – 2018
  • Absolutely fantastic value for money. Fantastic guide Vivek Paliwal was an amazing guy, who was outstanding in ensuring our tour was stress free and thoroughly enjoyable. No complaints from beginning…
  • I just wanted to provide feedback regarding a tour I just competed with webjet to India. nIt far out weighed my expectation's throughout the entire stay. nWe stayed in palaces,… Carly T

Highlights

Experience an unmissable, fully-guided 15 day Enchanting North India & Varanasi tour! Start your journey in India’s capital, Delhi, a major gateway to the country. Enjoy local cuisine, see the Red Fort and the President’s residence, the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Be awed as you walk inside the famous Taj Mahal, find enlightenment at the holy site of Daswamedha Ghat in Varanasi. 

No trip to India is complete without experiencing a train journey! Ride on one of the most famous rail networks in the world from Lucknow to Delhi.

Marvel at the beauty of the region’s diverse landscapes and learn the history of this cultured and treasured land, all with the knowledge and guidance of expert guides.

Your package includes return international airfares, accommodation, dedicated tour guide, breakfast daily, sightseeing, entrance fees and more! Experience the same destination in three unique travel styles to match your travel needs. Choose from Essential Package or upgrade to experience more. 

Essential Package:

 Our Essential packages are for those travellers wanting to experience the destination affordably and in their own way. These packages give you the flexibility of more free time or to tailor make your holiday with your preferred sightseeing. We have included the Essentials like return international airfares, key sightseeing, standard accommodation, a professional Webjet tour guide and more.

Classic Package:

The Classic package is for the traveller wanting the best of both worlds! We have included all the essentials like return international airfares, key sightseeing, a professional Webjet tour guide plus relax knowing you have more sightseeing, more meals, superior upgraded accommodation and other benefits included in your Classic Package. 

 Signature Package:

The works! For those travellers wanting to leave nothing to chance. All the perks like return international airfares, key sightseeing, a professional Webjet tour guide while enjoying the most meals, the most sightseeing and deluxe upgraded accommodation.

See the What You Get section for more.

 
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Day 1: Australia – airplane-takeoff  – 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 please make your own way to the starting hotel.

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 finedining – Delhi has it all.

Day 2: Delhi (B)

Today we head out on tour 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.

Optional Tour: Old Delhi Rickshaw – proceed by bicycle rickshaws through the bustling streets of Old Delhi to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan.

Optional Meal: Enjoy your first lunch in India and sample local cuisine.

Optional Tour: Guided visit to Humayun’s Tomb – Proceed to Humayun’s tomb, the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and today a World Heritage Site. It was the first great example of a new distinctive style, which developed to become the hallmark of the Mughal Dynasty.

Optional Tour: Guided visit to Qutab Minar – Visit Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India built to establish the might of Islam and onset of Muslim rule in India.

This afternoon, we 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.

Optional Meal: Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. 

Day 3: Delhi – Jaipur (B)

In the morning, we drive to the pink city of Jaipur (approx. 7hrs drive). 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.

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. 

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 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. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenelated walls lattice the surrounding area.

Optional Tour – Guided visit of Amber Fort – Enjoy a guided tour of the fabulous Amber Fort. Crowning the crest of a hill, Amber Fort offers a view of Maota Lake and the historic old town located at the base of the hill, which formed the early seat of the Amber kings before the fort was made their capital. 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.

Optional Meal – Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. 

This afternoon, enjoy a tour of the Pink City, an “abode of rajahs” on a guided heritage walk. 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. Appreciate the beautiful murals on their exterior walls as you continue to the big terracotta red building called the Jaipur College. Proceed through the narrow alleys seeing a collection of textiles, utensils, wedding attires and street food vendors. 

Optional Tour – City Palace Museum – One of the highlights of Jaipur is a visit to the City Palace Museum, which has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, and armoury of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiselled handles. Many antiques and artefacts 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. 

Optional Tour – Jantar Mantar Observatory – A guide will take you through the awe-inspiring Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century. Located adjacent to the City Palace, Jantar Mantar is an impressive UNESCO World Heritage-listed architectural-astronomical observatory. It consists of some 20 major geometric devices for measuring time, tracking stars in their orbits, ascertaining the declination of planets, accurately determining the celestial altitudes and predicting the occurrence of eclipses.

The rest of the evening it at leisure. 

Day 5: Jaipur – Abheneri – Agra (B)

After breakfast, we head to the Mughal city of Agra (approx. 7hrs drive) 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. These tanks were used as cool places of retreat and as water reservoirs during parched times of the year. Chand Baori is the most popular of the wells in the region, and it is one of India’s deepest and largest. There are three ways to reach the water using the steps, which are divided into stories. This colossal, delicately carved well is located in front of the Harshat Mata Temple.

On arrival in to Agra, we check in to the hotel. 

Optional Tour – Guided tour of Agra Fort – This afternoon explore the Agra (Red) 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. 

Tonight, get ready, tomorrow we visit the Taj Mahal! 

Day 6: Agra – Orchha (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 sunrises, 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 to Orchha. 

This historic village on the banks of the boulder-strewn Betwa River showcases a supreme display of Mughal architecture, some of which is similar to that of nearby Khajuraho with much grander palaces and cenotaphs dotting the pastoral landscape as well. The atmosphere in Orchha, though, is far more laid-back and hassle-free, which makes for a relaxing stay. 

Day 7: Orchha – Khajuraho (B)

This morning we explore Orchha village. The medieval city of Orchha seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. Orchha had the distinction of being the capital of one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms of Central India. The Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, founded the city, located by the side of the beautiful Betwa River, in the 16th century. The word Orchha means ‘hidden’. When the Tughlaqs, who were ruling Delhi in the 15th century, pushed the Bundelkhand rajas out of Garkhundar, they retreated to distant Orchha.

Optional Tour: Visit to Orchha Palace & Cenotaphs – The palace has three stories with 136 chambers. It has 3 types of balconies, 4 types of arches, 5 types of domes & 6 types of ceiling. A procession of stone carved elephants attracts the visitors instantaneously. The inner & the outer walls of the palace are decorated with cobalt & turquoise blue tiles. All the chambers had been painted with murals, remain of which are still visible. The riverside cenotaphs belonging to Bundela kings & members of their clan. Most of the structures are three storied. All the chambers on four corners have dome shaped tops surrounded by small cenotaphs resting on columns. Though most of them are in a dilapidated condition but a few are well preserved marble statue of Madhukar Shah.

Optional Meal: Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

We then continue our journey to Khajuraho. In the afternoon we explore Khajuraho’s Eastern Group of temples. This group comprises of two historic Jain temples – the Adinath Temple lavishly embellished with sculpted figures, and the Parsvanath Temple, the largest Jain temple, sculpted with charming detail. There are other shrines such as the Vamana Temple with apsaras in sensuous poses, and the Javari Temple that has a richlycarved doorway.

Optional Tour: Khajuraho’s Western Temples – Continue to the Western Group of temples which are entirely Hindu, and constitute some of the finest examples of Chandela art at its peak. The largest being the Kandhariya Mahadev dedicated to Lord Shiva, followed by a granite temple – Chaunsath Yogini. The Chitragupta Temple is dedicated to the Sun God, while the Vishwanath Temple sports a three-headed image of Brahma – the Creator of the Universe. The Lakshmana Temple is superbly decorated, while the Devi Jagdambi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. Other temples in the Western Group include the Varaha Temple with a nine-foot high boar-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Matangeshwara Temple with an eight-foot high lingam, and the Brahma Temple. 

Day 8: Khajuraho – Allahabad (B)

After breakfast we leave Khajuraho behind us and continue our journey east to Allahabad. Allahabad is among the largest and holiest cities in Uttar Pradesh. It stands at the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. Sangam, as the confluence is called, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This number swells to millions during the world famous Kumbha Mela. A third mythical river, the Saraswati, believed to flow underground towards the Sangam, gives the confluence its other name ‘Triveni’. 

On arrival, the rest of the afternoon is free to explore this holy city at your own pace.

Day 9: Allahabad – Varanasi (B)

This morning enjoy a tour of Allahabad including a visit to the Fort, built from 1583 onwards by Akbar at the confluence of the two great Rivers Ganges and Jamuna. The largest of Akbar’s forts, although most of its original form has been impaired by poor early restoration work. The fort consists of a beautiful zenana palace with a fine baradari or pavilion with a central square hall, carved on 64 columns surrounded by a deep veranda of double columns with clusters of four in each corner. Continue to the Khusrau Bagh, once the pleasure garden of Jahangir, son of Akbar. It houses the tomb of Prince Khusrau, elder son of Shah Jahan, who died in 1615. His tomb was completed seven years later and is a large domed structure in Mughal style. You also visit the Sangam which is the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna where the world renowned Kumbh Fair takes place.

We then continue on to one of India’s holiest meccas, Varanasi (Approx. 3hrs drive). Located along the west bank of the holy River Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of Varanasi is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site and is one of the oldest. 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. In the evening you will be transferred to Daswamedha Ghat along the River Ganges to witness the special Hindu Aarti ceremony performed at the Ghats.

Optional Tour: Witness a Aarti ceremony by boat – This evening head to the Daswamedha Ghat along the River Ganges to witness the special Hindu Aarti ceremony performed. Every evening at 1730 hour (in Winter), a magical Aarti is performed at Dashwamedha Ghat. Halt your boat right at the steps for the best view. The presiding priests stand on a wooden chauki in the water. To the chant of Sanskrit mantras, and the clash of cymbals and drums, the river is worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk and vermilion. First the blazing camphor lamp and then the many- flamed aarti lamps are raised high and then arched back to the water, the dark river reflecting the golden flames as Ganga accepts the worship. 

Day 10: 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. 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 where to morning is at leisure. 

Optional Tour: Visit to Sarnath – Visit the site where Lord Buddha had preached his first sermon or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra-Pravartan) enshrining the principles of his teaching into laws. 200 years later, in 3rd century BC, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who spread the Buddha’s message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, built massive stupas, viharas and monasteries making it the centre of the Buddhist world. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between 3rd century BC and 11th century AD and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.

Day 11: Varanasi – Lucknow (B)

This morning we leave Varanasi behind us and head to Lucknow. For all its modernity, Lucknow remains true to its cultural past, impeccable manners, a courtly diction, and a love for the arts and all beautiful things. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, the erstwhile Awadh or Oudh still preserves the spirit of the past era. On arrival the afternoon is free to explore and enjoy this old World city. 

Day 12: Lucknow (B)

Today, enjoy a highlights tour of Lucknow. Visit the Jama Masjid, the grand mosque built by Muhammad Ali Shah in typical Mughal style with tall minarets and onion-shaped domes followed by visit to the spectacular Kaiserbagh Palace. The Kaiserbagh Palace is a landmark of Mughal architectural ingenuity, although parts of the palace were damaged during the attack of the British in the year 1858, as it was believed to be the stronghold of the Nawabs led by the valorous Begum Hazrat Mahal.

Optional Tour: Bara Imambara and Chhota Imamabara – The Bara Imambara built by Nawab Asafuddaula to provide relief to his subjects during the famine of 1784 is a reminder of the past glory of Nawab of Oudh. The Imambara is unique for the absence of pillars or supports in the main hall, which stands 50 feet tall. Continue to the Shah Najaf Imambara, the tomb of Nawab Ghaziuddin Haider, and his family is housed in this majestic white domed building. The tombs are plated in silver and gold and the interiors are ornate with floral designs and chandeliers. 

Optional Lunch: Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

After, enjoy a shopping tour of Lucknow, where you guide can assist in showing you the best bargains and the art of haggling. 

Day 13: Lucknow – train-icon – Delhi (B)

After breakfast we have a leisurely morning before making our way to the train station to board our train to Delhi. No trip the India is complete without experiencing a train journey! Without a shadow of a doubt, the best way to see India is not on a plane at 35,000 feet, but at ground level on the incredible Indian railway system. 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. Our train journey to Delhi takes around 7 hours giving you time to watch the world go by. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel in Delhi. 

Day 14: Delhi – airplane-takeoff –   Australia (B)

After breakfast, the day is at leisure. At the appropriate time, make your way to the airport to board your homeward flight. 

Day 15: Australia

Arrive home in Australia today.

 
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Day 1: Australia –  airplane-takeoff – 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 please make your own way to the starting hotel.

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 finedining – 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 of Old Delhi to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan.

Optional Meal: Enjoy your first lunch in India and sample local cuisine.

Optional Tour: Qutab Minar – Enjoy a guided tour of Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India built to establish the might of Islam and onset of Muslim rule in India.

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. 

Tonight, get to know your fellow travellers at a delicious welcome dinner.

Day 3: Delhi – Jaipur (B) 

In the morning, we drive to the pink city of Jaipur (approx. 7hrs drive). 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. 

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. 

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 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. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenelated walls lattice the surrounding area. 

Enjoy a guided tour of the fabulous Amber Fort. Crowning the crest of a hill, Amber Fort offers a view of Maota Lake and the historic old town located at the base of the hill, which formed the early seat of the Amber kings before the fort was made their capital. 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.

One of the highlights of Jaipur is a visit to the City Palace Museum, which has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, and armoury of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiselled handles. Many antiques and artefacts 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. 

This afternoon, enjoy a tour of the Pink City, an “abode of rajahs” on a guided heritage walk. 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. Appreciate the beautiful murals on their exterior walls as you continue to the big terracotta red building called the Jaipur College. Proceed through the narrow alleys seeing a collection of textiles, utensils, wedding attires and street food vendors.

Optional Tour – Jantar Mantar Observatory – A guide will take you through the awe-inspiring Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century. Located adjacent to the City Palace, Jantar Mantar is an impressive UNESCO World Heritage-listed architectural-astronomical observatory. It consists of some 20 major geometric devices for measuring time, tracking stars in their orbits, ascertaining the declination of planets, accurately determining the celestial altitudes and predicting the occurrence of eclipses. 

The rest of the evening it at leisure. 

Day 5: Jaipur – Abheneri – Agra (B)

After breakfast, we head to the Mughal city of Agra (approx. 7hrs drive) 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. These tanks were used as cool places of retreat and as water reservoirs during parched times of the year. Chand Baori is the most popular of the wells in the region, and it is one of India’s deepest and largest. There are three ways to reach the water using the steps, which are divided into stories. This colossal, delicately carved well is located in front of the Harshat Mata Temple.

On arrival in to Agra, we check in to the hotel. This afternoon explore the Agra (Red) 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.  

Tonight, get ready, tomorrow we visit the Taj Mahal! 

Day 6: Agra – Orchha (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 sunrises, 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 to Orchha. 

This historic village on the banks of the boulder-strewn Betwa River showcases a supreme display of Mughal architecture, some of which is similar to that of nearby Khajuraho with much grander palaces and cenotaphs dotting the pastoral landscape as well. The atmosphere in Orchha, though, is far more laid-back and hassle-free, which makes for a relaxing stay. 

Day 7: Orchha – Khajuraho (B)

This morning we explore Orchha village. The medieval city of Orchha seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. Orchha had the distinction of being the capital of one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms of Central India. The Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, founded the city, located by the side of the beautiful Betwa River, in the 16th century. The word Orchha means ‘hidden’. When the Tughlaqs, who were ruling Delhi in the 15th century, pushed the Bundelkhand rajas out of Garkhundar, they retreated to distant Orchha. 

Optional Tour: Visit to Orchha Palace & Cenotaphs – The palace has three stories with 136 chambers. It has 3 types of balconies, 4 types of arches, 5 types of domes & 6 types of ceiling. A procession of stone carved elephants attracts the visitors instantaneously. The inner & the outer walls of the palace are decorated with cobalt & turquoise blue tiles. All the chambers had been painted with murals, remain of which are still visible. The riverside cenotaphs belonging to Bundela kings & members of their clan. Most of the structures are three storied. All the chambers on four corners have dome shaped tops surrounded by small cenotaphs resting on columns. Though most of them are in a dilapidated condition but a few are well preserved marble statue of Madhukar Shah. 

Optional Meal: Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

We then continue our journey to Khajuraho. In the afternoon we explore Khajuraho’s Eastern Group of temples. This group comprises of two historic Jain temples – the Adinath Temple lavishly embellished with sculpted figures, and the Parsvanath Temple, the largest Jain temple, sculpted with charming detail. There are other shrines such as the Vamana Temple with apsaras in sensuous poses, and the Javari Temple that has a richlycarved doorway. 

Continue to the Western Group of temples which are entirely Hindu, and constitute some of the finest examples of Chandela art at its peak. The largest being the Kandhariya Mahadev dedicated to Lord Shiva, followed by a granite temple – Chaunsath Yogini. The Chitragupta Temple is dedicated to the Sun God, while the Vishwanath Temple sports a three-headed image of Brahma – the Creator of the Universe. The Lakshmana Temple is superbly decorated, while the Devi Jagdambi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. Other temples in the Western Group include the Varaha Temple with a nine-foot high boarincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Matangeshwara Temple with an eight-foot high lingam, and the Brahma Temple. 

Day 8: Khajuraho – Allahabad (B)

After breakfast we leave Khajuraho behind us and continue our journey east to Allahabad. Allahabad is among the largest and holiest cities in Uttar Pradesh. It stands at the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. Sangam, as the confluence is called, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This number swells to millions during the world famous Kumbha Mela. A third mythical river, the Saraswati, believed to flow underground towards the Sangam, gives the confluence its other name ‘Triveni’. 

On arrival, the rest of the afternoon is free to explore this holy city at your own pace.

Day 9: Allahabad – Varanasi (B)

This morning enjoy a tour of Allahabad including a visit to the Fort, built from 1583 onwards by Akbar at the confluence of the two great Rivers Ganges and Jamuna. The largest of Akbar’s forts, although most of its original form has been impaired by poor early restoration work. The fort consists of a beautiful zenana palace with a fine baradari or pavilion with a central square hall, carved on 64 columns surrounded by a deep veranda of double columns with clusters of four in each corner. Continue to the Khusrau Bagh, once the pleasure garden of Jahangir, son of Akbar. It houses the tomb of Prince Khusrau, elder son of Shah Jahan, who died in 1615. His tomb was completed seven years later and is a large domed structure in Mughal style. You also visit the Sangam which is the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna where the world renowned Kumbh Fair takes place.

We then continue on to one of India’s holiest meccas, Varanasi (Approx. 3hrs drive). Located along the west bank of the holy River Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of Varanasi is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site and is one of the oldest. 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. In the evening you will be transferred to Daswamedha Ghat along the River Ganges to witness the special Hindu Aarti ceremony performed at the Ghats. 

Optional Tour: Witness a Aarti ceremony by boat – This evening head to the Daswamedha Ghat along the River Ganges to witness the special Hindu Aarti ceremony performed. Every evening at 1730 hour (in Winter), a magical Aarti is performed at Dashwamedha Ghat. Halt your boat right at the steps for the best view. The presiding priests stand on a wooden chauki in the water. To the chant of Sanskrit mantras, and the clash of cymbals and drums, the river is worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk and vermilion. First the blazing camphor lamp and then the many- flamed aarti lamps are raised high and then arched back to the water, the dark river reflecting the golden flames as Ganga accepts the worship. 

Day 10: 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. 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 where to morning is at leisure. 

Optional Tour: Visit to Sarnath – Visit the site where Lord Buddha had preached his first sermon or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra-Pravartan) enshrining the principles of his teaching into laws. 200 years later, in 3rd century BC, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who spread the Buddha’s message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, built massive stupas, viharas and monasteries making it the centre of the Buddhist world. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between 3rd century BC and 11th century AD and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.

Day 11: Varanasi – Lucknow (B)

This morning we leave Varanasi behind us and head to Lucknow. For all its modernity, Lucknow remains true to its cultural past, impeccable manners, a courtly diction, and a love for the arts and all beautiful things. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, the erstwhile Awadh or Oudh still preserves the spirit of the past era. On arrival the afternoon is free to explore and enjoy this old World city. 

Day 12: Lucknow (B)

Today, enjoy a highlights tour of Lucknow. Visit the Jama Masjid, the grand mosque built by Muhammad Ali Shah in typical Mughal style with tall minarets and onion-shaped domes followed by visit to the spectacular Kaiserbagh Palace. The Kaiserbagh Palace is a landmark of Mughal architectural ingenuity, although parts of the palace were damaged during the attack of the British in the year 1858, as it was believed to be the stronghold of the Nawabs led by the valorous Begum Hazrat Mahal. 

We then proceed to Bara Imambara and Chhota Imamabara.The Bara Imambara built by Nawab Asafuddaula to provide relief to his subjects during the famine of 1784 is a reminder of the past glory of Nawab of Oudh. The Imambara is unique for the absence of pillars or supports in the main hall, which stands 50 feet tall. Continue to the Shah Najaf Imambara, the tomb of Nawab Ghaziuddin Haider, and his family is housed in this majestic white domed building. The tombs are plated in silver and gold and the interiors are ornate with floral designs and chandeliers. 

Optional Lunch: Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

After, enjoy a shopping tour of Lucknow, where you guide can assist in showing you the best bargains and the art of haggling. 

Day 13: Lucknow –  train-icon  – Delhi (B)

After breakfast we have a leisurely morning before making our way to the train station to board our train to Delhi. No trip the India is complete without experiencing a train journey! Without a shadow of a doubt, the best way to see India is not on a plane at 35,000 feet, but at ground level on the incredible Indian railway system. 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. Our train journey to Delhi takes around 7 hours giving you time to watch the world go by. 

On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel in Delhi. 

Day 14: Delhi – airplane-takeoff Australia (B)

After breakfast, the day is at leisure. At the appropriate time, make your way to the airport to board your homeward flight. 

Day 15: Australia

Arrive home in Australia today.

 
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Day 1: Australia – airplane-takeoff  – 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 please make your own way to the starting hotel.

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 finedining – 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 of Old Delhi to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan. 

Optional Meal: Enjoy your first lunch in India and sample local cuisine.

Enjoy a guided tour of Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India built to establish the might of Islam and onset of Muslim rule in India. Then 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. 

Tonight, get to know your fellow travellers at a delicious welcome dinner.

Day 3: Delhi – Jaipur (B) 

In the morning, we drive to the pink city of Jaipur (approx. 7hrs drive). 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. 

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. 

Day 4: Jaipur (B,L) 

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. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenelated walls lattice the surrounding area. Enjoy a guided tour of the fabulous Amber Fort including a lunch at a local restaurant. Crowning the crest of a hill, Amber Fort offers a view of Maota Lake and the historic old town located at the base of the hill, which formed the early seat of the Amber kings before the fort was made their capital. 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” on a guided heritage walk. One of the highlights of Jaipur is a visit to the City Palace Museum, which has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, and armoury of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiselled handles. Many antiques and artefacts 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. 

A guide will take you through the awe-inspiring Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century. Located adjacent to the City Palace, Jantar Mantar is an impressive UNESCO World Heritage-listed architectural-astronomical observatory. It consists of some 20 major geometric devices for measuring time, tracking stars in their orbits, ascertaining the declination of planets, accurately determining the celestial altitudes and predicting the occurrence of eclipses. The rest of the evening it at leisure. 

Optional Meal – Sound & light show at Amber Fort followed by dinner – Enjoy an evening filled with a mesmerising play of sound and light, that blend together to retell the glorious story of Amer. Witness the history come alive with powerful narration, enchanting music and learn about the town of Amer, its traditions and the grand lifestyle of the royal family. After the show, enjoy a delectable dinner at a popular restaurant in Jaipur that serves traditional Indian and local Rajasthani cuisine.

Day 5: Jaipur – Abheneri – Agra (B)

After breakfast, we head to the Mughal city of Agra (approx. 7hrs drive) 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. These tanks were used as cool places of retreat and as water reservoirs during parched times of the year. Chand Baori is the most popular of the wells in the region, and it is one of India’s deepest and largest. There are three ways to reach the water using the steps, which are divided into stories. This colossal, delicately carved well is located in front of the Harshat Mata Temple.

On arrival in to Agra, we check in to the hotel. This afternoon explore the Agra (Red) 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. 

Tonight, get ready, tomorrow we visit the Taj Mahal! 

Day 6: Agra – Orchha (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 sunrises, 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 to Orchha. 

This historic village on the banks of the boulder-strewn Betwa River showcases a supreme display of Mughal architecture, some of which is similar to that of nearby Khajuraho with much grander palaces and cenotaphs dotting the pastoral landscape as well. The atmosphere in Orchha, though, is far more laid-back and hassle-free, which makes for a relaxing stay. 

Day 7: Orchha – Khajuraho (B,L) 

This morning we explore Orchha village. The medieval city of Orchha seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. Orchha had the distinction of being the capital of one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms of Central India. The Bundela Rajput chieftain, Rudra Pratap, founded the city, located by the side of the beautiful Betwa River, in the 16th century. The word Orchha means ‘hidden’. When the Tughlaqs, who were ruling Delhi in the 15th century, pushed the Bundelkhand rajas out of Garkhundar, they retreated to distant Orchha.

Visit the Orchha Palace & Cenotaphs. The palace has three stories with 136 chambers. It has 3 types of balconies, 4 types of arches, 5 types of domes & 6 types of ceiling. A procession of stone carved elephants attracts the visitors instantaneously. The inner & the outer walls of the palace are decorated with cobalt & turquoise blue tiles. All the chambers had been painted with murals, remain of which are still visible. The riverside cenotaphs belonging to Bundela kings & members of their clan. Most of the structures are three storied. All the chambers on four corners have dome shaped tops surrounded by small cenotaphs resting on columns. Though most of them are in a dilapidated condition but a few are well preserved marble statue of Madhukar Shah. We then take a break to enjoy a lunch at a local restaurant.

We then continue our journey to Khajuraho. In the afternoon we explore Khajuraho’s Eastern Group of temples. This group comprises of two historic Jain temples – the Adinath Temple lavishly embellished with sculpted figures, and the Parsvanath Temple, the largest Jain temple, sculpted with charming detail. There are other shrines such as the Vamana Temple with apsaras in sensuous poses, and the Javari Temple that has a richlycarved doorway. 

Continue to the Western Group of temples which are entirely Hindu, and constitute some of the finest examples of Chandela art at its peak. The largest being the Kandhariya Mahadev dedicated to Lord Shiva, followed by a granite temple – Chaunsath Yogini. The Chitragupta Temple is dedicated to the Sun God, while the Vishwanath Temple sports a three-headed image of Brahma – the Creator of the Universe. The Lakshmana Temple is superbly decorated, while the Devi Jagdambi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. Other temples in the Western Group include the Varaha Temple with a nine-foot high boar-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Matangeshwara Temple with an eight-foot high lingam, and the Brahma Temple.

Day 8: Khajuraho – Allahabad (B) 

After breakfast we leave Khajuraho behind us and continue our journey east to Allahabad. Allahabad is among the largest and holiest cities in Uttar Pradesh. It stands at the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. Sangam, as the confluence is called, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This number swells to millions during the world famous Kumbha Mela. A third mythical river, the Saraswati, believed to flow underground towards the Sangam, gives the confluence its other name ‘Triveni’. 

On arrival, the rest of the afternoon is free to explore this holy city at your own pace.

Day 9: Allahabad – Varanasi (B) 

This morning enjoy a tour of Allahabad including a visit to the Fort, built from 1583 onwards by Akbar at the confluence of the two great Rivers Ganges and Jamuna. The largest of Akbar’s forts, although most of its original form has been impaired by poor early restoration work. The fort consists of a beautiful zenana palace with a fine baradari or pavilion with a central square hall, carved on 64 columns surrounded by a deep veranda of double columns with clusters of four in each corner. Continue to the Khusrau Bagh, once the pleasure garden of Jahangir, son of Akbar. It houses the tomb of Prince Khusrau, elder son of Shah Jahan, who died in 1615. His tomb was completed seven years later and is a large domed structure in Mughal style. You also visit the Sangam which is the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna where the world renowned Kumbh Fair takes place.

We then continue on to one of India’s holiest meccas, Varanasi (Approx. 3hrs drive). Located along the west bank of the holy River Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of Varanasi is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site and is one of the oldest. 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. 

This evening you will be transferred to Daswamedha Ghat along the River Ganges to witness the special Hindu Aarti ceremony. Here we board a boat on the River Ganges to witness the special ceremony. Every evening at 1730 hour (in Winter), a magical Aarti is performed at Dashwamedha Ghat. Halt your boat right at the steps for the best view. The presiding priests stand on a wooden chauki in the water. To the chant of Sanskrit mantras, and the clash of cymbals and drums, the river is worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk and vermilion. First the blazing camphor lamp and then the many- flamed aarti lamps are raised high and then arched back to the water, the dark river reflecting the golden flames as Ganga accepts the worship.

Day 10: 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. 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 where to morning is at leisure. 

Later we make a visit to Sarnath, the site where Lord Buddha had preached his first sermon or in religious language, set in motion the Wheel of Law (Maha-Dharmachakra-Pravartan) enshrining the principles of his teaching into laws. 200 years later, in 3rd century BC, the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who spread the Buddha’s message of love and compassion throughout his vast empire, built massive stupas, viharas and monasteries making it the centre of the Buddhist world. Several Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between 3rd century BC and 11th century AD and today it presents the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.

Day 11: Varanasi – Lucknow (B) 

This morning we leave Varanasi behind us and head to Lucknow. For all its modernity, Lucknow remains true to its cultural past, impeccable manners, a courtly diction, and a love for the arts and all beautiful things. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, the erstwhile Awadh or Oudh still preserves the spirit of the past era. On arrival the afternoon is free to explore and enjoy this old World city. 

Day 12: Lucknow (B,L) 

Today, enjoy a highlights tour of Lucknow. Visit the Jama Masjid, the grand mosque built by Muhammad Ali Shah in typical Mughal style with tall minarets and onion-shaped domes followed by visit to the spectacular Kaiserbagh Palace. The Kaiserbagh Palace is a landmark of Mughal architectural ingenuity, although parts of the palace were damaged during the attack of the British in the year 1858, as it was believed to be the stronghold of the Nawabs led by the valorous Begum Hazrat Mahal. 

We then proceed to Bara Imambara and Chhota Imamabara.The Bara Imambara built by Nawab Asafuddaula to provide relief to his subjects during the famine of 1784 is a reminder of the past glory of Nawab of Oudh. The Imambara is unique for the absence of pillars or supports in the main hall, which stands 50 feet tall. Continue to the Shah Najaf Imambara, the tomb of Nawab Ghaziuddin Haider, and his family is housed in this majestic white domed building. The tombs are plated in silver and gold and the interiors are ornate with floral designs and chandeliers. Also, visit a local restaurant for lunch.

After, enjoy a shopping tour of Lucknow, where you guide can assist in showing you the best bargains and the art of haggling. 

Day 13: Lucknow – train-icon  – Delhi (B) 

After breakfast we have a leisurely morning before making our way to the train station to board our train to Delhi. No trip the India is complete without experiencing a train journey! Without a shadow of a doubt, the best way to see India is not on a plane at 35,000 feet, but at ground level on the incredible Indian railway system. 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. Our train journey to Delhi takes around 7 hours giving you time to watch the world go by. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel in Delhi. 

On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel in Delhi. 

Day 14: Delhi – airplane-takeoff  – Australia (B) 

After breakfast, the day is at leisure. At the appropriate time, make your way to the airport to board your homeward flight.

Day 15: Australia 

Arrive home in Australia today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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What You Get

Your package includes return international flights, all accommodation, dedicated tour guide, overnight houseboat cruise, sightseeing and more...

Experience the same destination in three unique travel styles to match your travel needs:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Package

  • Return international airfares departing with a full service airline including 23kgs checked baggage
  • 13 nights standard 3* accommodation on a twin share basis in comfortable, well positioned hotels
  • Breakfast daily
  • Dedicated air-conditioned coach transportation
  • The services of a professional English speaking Webjet tour guide throughout entire tour
  • All monument entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • No peak season surcharges!

Classic Package

Includes ALL of the above, plus;

  • Upgraded superior 3-4* star accommodation throughout
  • Hassle free return airport transfers including meet & greet
  • Welcome dinner to get to know your group
  • Extra sightseeing & experiences, including:
    • Rickshaw ride in Old Delhi
    • A visit to Humayuns Tomb
    • Explore the majestic Amber Fort
    • City Palace Museum of Jaipur
    • Unearth the Agra Fort
    • Visit the Western Group of Temple in Khajuraho
    • Boat ride on the Ganges during a Aarti ceremony
    • See the Bara Imambara in Lucknow

Signature Package

Includes ALL of the above, plus;

  • Upgraded deluxe 4* star & Heritage accommodation throughout
  • A small intimate group experience (20 people max)
  • Extra sightseeing & experiences, including:
    • A guided tour of Qutub Minar
    • Visit to Jantar Mantar astronomical observatory
    • Explore the Orchha Palace
    • Visit to Sarnath near Varanasi
  • Included culinary experiences at:
    • Lunch at a local restaurant in Jaipur
    • Lunch at a local restaurant in Orchha
    • Lunch at a local restaurant in Lucknow

Enhance your journey further with one of the following extensions:

Goa Extension – EssentialClassic and Signature
Kerela Extension – EssentialClassic and Signature 
Corbett National Park – EssentialClassic and Signature 

 See Fine Print for travel period.

 
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Fine Print

Departure Dates:

2018

15 February
1 March
15 March
22 March
5 April 
19 April
24 May
28 June
23 August
20 September
4 October
18 October
25 October
8 November
29 November

Surcharges may apply to some dates, please see the availability calendar for more details

Bookings not accepted when within 65 days of departure

Availability on Departure Dates listed in Fine Print is subject to change. Live availability is shown on the availability calendar after clicking on the BUY NOW button

Tour Excludes: 

  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Personal Expenses 
  • Anything not mentioned or ‘optional’ in the itinerary

 

Airline: 

  • Return economy airfare with China Southern Airlines (Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines or similar)
  • Perth or Brisbane – Return economy airfare with China Southern (Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines or similar if unavailable)
  • Adelaide – Return economy airfare with Singapore Airlines (Malaysia Airlines or similar if Singapore Airlines is unavailable). A $250 interstate surcharge applies per person, please purchase the interstate fee after you click ‘Buy Now’ or by clicking here in addition to your 15 Day voucher. We are unable to guarantee which airline you will travel with as flights will be booked subject to promotional fare availability for your travel dates.
  • We are unable to guarantee which airline you will travel with as flights will be booked subject to promotional fare availability for your travel dates.
  • Customers wishing to choose their preferred airline – please purchase your voucher first and request your preferred airline in the ‘special requests’ field when submitting your booking form. Webjet Exclusives will then advise if any surcharges are payable. Should you be unhappy with the additional surcharge amount, you will be provided with a full refund of your voucher.
  • Including minimum 23kg of checked baggage per passenger (actual limit is subject to airline).
  • One return airfare is supplied per voucher
  • Names cannot be changed once flights have been booked. Once we receive your form and your dates are available, your booking will be completed – no further changes will be possible.
  • The airfare remains non-refundable at all times.

Flights:

  • Some flights may depart a day before/after, involve up to 2 transits, stopovers or a substitute airline. Such changes are beyond our control, as availability on flights can vary. 
  • Once your flights are confirmed and ticketed, flights are non-refundable and non-changeable. Full names (First, Middle & Surname) as per passport must be provided for ticketing.
  • Please Note, flight itineraries will not be provided until 30 days prior to departure. If your travel dates are within 30 days of purchase you will be provided with your itinerary within 7 days.
  • All flights have been booked to meet minimum connection times as instructed by the ticketed airline

Documentation: 

Documentation will be provided after final payment is complete and before 30 days of travel, including E-Ticket instructions, hotel confirmation, itinerary extension & optional tour confirmation (where applicable) and destination travel tips.

Single Supplement:

 Essentials – $599 per person in addition to your twin share voucher 
Classic – $699 per person in addition to your twin share voucher
Signature – $999 per person in addition to your twin share voucher 

You can purchase you single supplement by clicking here.

Group Size

Essential: 2 – 35 people
Classic: 2 – 35 people
Signature: 2 – 20 people

Triple Share: Not available

Land Only: To purchase this tour as land only (no flights) by clicking here.

Coach Transportation: Where group sizes are not sufficient to use a full-sized coach, we reserve the right to use a smaller coach on the same level of comfort.

Accommodation: 

The accommodation listed below may be subject to change, but will remain of a similar or higher standard. Any changes remain beyond our control and all efforts are made to communicate these as soon as possible. We endeavour to always book non-smoking rooms however these cannot be guaranteed

Essential

Delhi: Sunstar Grand or similar
Jaipur: Royal Orchid Central or similar
Agra: Crystal Inn or similar
Orchha: Orchha Resort or similar
Khajuraho: Syna Heritage or similar
Allahabad: Milan Palace or similar 
Varanasi: New Temple Town or similar
Lucknow: Spana Clarks Inn or similar

Classic

Delhi: Africa Avenue or similar
Jaipur: Zone by Park or similar
Agra: Amar or similar
Orchha: Amar Mahal or similar
Khajuraho: Clarks Inn or similar
Allahabad: Milan Palace or similar 
Varanasi: Grapevine or similar
Lucknow: Spana Clarks Inn or similar

Signature

Delhi: Hanz Plaza or similar
Jaipur: Fern or similar
Agra: Clarks Shiraz or similar
Orchha: Amar Mahal or similar
Khajuraho: Ramada Hotel or similar
Allahabad: Milan Palace or similar 
Varanasi: Grapevine or similar
Lucknow: Lebua Hotel or similar

Optional Tours:

Any Optional Tours purchased after your initial booking (and 60 days before departure) must be emailed to customerexperience@webjetexclusives.com.au to ensure your booking is correctly updated. Failure to do so may result in you not being accepted on this optional tour and your purchase will be refunded.

Note that while Optional Tours provide an excellent opportunity to further explore this wonderful country, it will also reduce the leisure time described in the itinerary.

Optional Tours requested within 60 days of travel cannot be accepted.

You can purchase your optional tours by clicking here 

Extension Itineraries: 

Any Extensions purchased after your initial booking must be emailed to customerexperience@webjetexclusives.com.au to ensure your booking is correctly updated.

Extensions requested after the 2nd Instalment due date are subject to availability and may incur surcharges.

Should you choose to extend your itinerary, note that groups sizes vary and may not be with the same group as the main package, unless specifically requested. Extensions are not fully escorted but still include drivers and guided sightseeing.

Extensions requested within 60 days of travel cannot be accepted.

You can purchase your tour extension after you click ‘Buy Now’ or by clicking here 

Tipping:

At the start of your tour:

Through our experience we have found that our travellers are often confused, frustrated or embarrassed about tipping, especially if they are unsure of the correct etiquette in the country they are visiting.  To overcome this, we have established an on-tour ‘Tipping Kitty’. Upon meeting your tour guide, they will discuss the idea of having a group pooled kitty, where everyone contributes an equal share. This is to cover small tips made along the way to local services such as porters, railway station assistants (if applicable), restaurants (included meals only), toilet stops,  tips to shoe keepers during temple and monument visit. Your guide will collect this amount at the start of your tour and tip the intended recipient’s on your behalf allowing you to enjoy your experience more freely.

The amount to budget for on this trip for the kitty is: INR 2585 per person

Please note that this doesn’t cover a tip for your tour leader & driver.

Towards the end of your tour:

If you have enjoyed the knowledge, service and expertise of your tour guide and driver a tip (while not compulsory) is appropriate towards the end of your tour. While it may not be customary in Australia, tipping is entrenched into many cultures especially within the tourism industry globally. It helps reward and inspire excellent service. The following is provided to assist our guests, but we leave the decision to provide a gratuity entirely at their discretion:

The group leader: Our past guests have left gratuities based on their overall service of INR 4195 per person for the full tour

The driver & assistant:  Our past guests have left gratuities based on their overall service of INR 1400 per person for the full tour

Gratuities aren’t compulsory on your trip, but they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. Your guide will hand around two envelops towards the end of the tour (1 Tour Guide and 1 Driver envelope) to make the process as easy as possible.

Flight Variations: 

 If you wish to modify the promotional airfare included in your Webjet Exclusives package, the following Flight Variations can be requested:

  • Early arrival
  • Late departure
  • Upgrade to Premium Economy or Business Class where available
  • Airline of your choice where available

 A $250 per person “breakaway” charge will apply per person plus any applicable fare and tax difference.

In order to obtain a quote for your requested variations, you must purchase your vouchers first and submit your request via the online booking form. On this form will be a section highlighted “Flight Quote Request”. You must complete the mandatory information in this section to be provided with an accurate quote.

Your quote will not be provided immediately and will be processed in departure date order only after the 2nd Instalment has been paid. Please contact flightdesk@webjetexclusives.com.au if you have not received your quote within two weeks of paying the 2nd Instalment.

 Should you be unsatisfied with the initial quote provided, you can opt to:

1. Travel with the group, as per the tour itinerary and promotional airfare; 

2. Take the package as Land Only and receive a refund of the Land Only discount, if available, or;

3. Cancel the vouchers purchased and receive a full refund. 

The quote will include instructions on how to make payment and failure to pay by the stipulated time will cause the quote to lapse.

Once flights have been confirmed and ticketed, any voluntary changes made thereafter will incur a change fee plus any fare and tax difference.

Should you choose to vary your arrival date, departure date or airline from the promotional airfare, we are unable to offer the group airport transfer and this will need to be arranged at your own expense.

 We are unable to provide additional accommodation for early arrivals or late departures and this will need to be arranged at your own expense.

Deposit Information:

  • A deposit of $199 per person plus any applicable surcharges are due at the time of purchase in order to secure your date. We offer a FREE date change policy allowing you to change your departure date any time up until your 2nd instalment payment is made.
  • 2nd Instalment: $1,000 per person is due at 210 days prior to your travel date. Once this payment is made, no cancellations or amendments are permitted and all prior payments become strictly non-refundable. If you book within 210 days of travel, you will be sent an invoice within 7 days.
  • 3rd Instalment: Final payment is due 90 days prior to your travel date. If you book within 90 days of travel, you will be sent a final invoice within 7 days,
  • Invoices will be emailed to you in advance and it is your responsibility to ensure payments are made prior to the due date
  • Should payment not be received by the due date, your booking will be cancelled and all prior payments will remain strictly non-refundable

Free Date Changes:

  • After booking your travel and paying the deposit, you may change your travel date subject to the following terms.
  • Changes can only be made up until 210 days prior to travel or when the 2nd instalment has been paid, whichever is earlier. After this point, your booking becomes non-changeable and remains strictly non-refundable.
  • Any change is subject to availability
  • To request a date change, please email customerexperience@webjetexclusives.com.au with your existing booking details and your requested travel date

Exchanging Money: When exchanging Australian dollars into Indian Rupees or withdrawing funds from an ATM while in India, always retain the transaction receipt. You may be required to present the receipt as proof of withdrawal if purchasing items with cash.

Travel Insurance: Help cover yourself for the unexpected with great value Webjet Travel Insurance, we highly recommend it. Click here for a quote.

Visas: Visas are not included. It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure they meet the visa requirements for the country they are visiting. Webjet Exclusives is unable to provide visa advice.

Note: If you have not yet selected your dates of travel or submitted your booking form, our 21 Day Money Back Guarantee allows you to claim a full refund within 21 days of your purchase. However, if you have selected your dates and submitted your booking form, your purchase becomes strictly non-refundable even within 21 days of purchase. See our Terms & Conditions for further details.

 
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Package Inclusions
  • Return international airfares with a full service airline
  • Breakfast daily
  • Dedicated air-conditioned coach transportation
  • The services of a professional  Webjet tour guide 
  • All monument entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • No peak season surcharges!
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