Northern Jewels of India Itinerary

Day 1
DELHI – ARRIVAL
Welcome to Delhi, India! a monumental city with a vibrant mix of old and new teeming bazaars, stately British boulevards, powerful Mughal palaces and forts, and intricate, ethereal towers, temples and tombs. On arrival at Delhi International Airport you will be met and assisted by our company executive and transferred to your hotel for check in. This evening have an exclusive welcome dinner at the Veda restaurant.

Veda Restaurant
Born out of collaboration between the golden child of India fashion scene, Rohit Bal, and one of the sharpest entrepreneurial minds in the capital, Alok Aggarwal, Veda mirrors the sheers creative genius of one and reflects the sharp intellect of the other. The interiors are an amalgamation of the elegantly simple and the exquisitely ornate. The rich red bricks, soft strategic lightning, flickering shadows and the low intensity chandeliers create an earthy feel for the restaurant. Everywhere one looks, one can see elements of the craftsmanship and skills of the bygone era, rightfully celebrating all that is wonderful, special and magical about India.

Cuisine: Fusion Indian; the cuisine marries the traditional with the contemporary. Forgotten ancient recipes that might have faded from memory are given a new lease of life by the master chefs of Veda, not modern interpretations of the old culinary dishes but those very delights that made these dishes true classics. Great attention is paid to the subtle flavoring that makes a dish “simply extraordinary” and each dish is indicative of the commitment that Veda makes to its diners, of offering them a truly sumptuous culinary adventure.
Overnight: New Delhi
Meals: Dinner

Day 2
DELHI
Our introduction to India begins in the hustle and bustle of Old Delhi, the Mughal capital established by Shah Jahan in 1638. Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, the spine of Old Delhi that houses the spice market and jeweler’s lane. The famous Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India where 20,000 people can pray at one time.

Our tour of Old Delhi will tantalize us with delights such as the Parathewali Gali, we continue our quest on to the famous bazaar – Chandni Chowk- bustling with commerce and enterprise. Spices are the specialty of Khari Baoli, be prepared to be assaulted by exotic smalls and fragrances.

This afternoon enjoy your lunch at Karim’s Restaurant, the leading non vegetarian food chain that is highly popular because of its exotic spices, delicate herbs with vegetables or meat. They have a wide menu list that includes delish dishes like Shan-E-Tandoor, Shahi Dastar Khwan, Bharatia Pattal, Kebabs’, Murgh Ka Shorba, Mutton Yakhni, Subzi ka garam ras, tomato soup, Beverages, Ice Creams and more. Their tasty meals are appreciated by clients for their amazing flavor and spice.

Afternoon visit to the Qutab Minar which reveals a stunning 240 foot minaret which is the tallest in the world. You will see the distinctively shaped Lotus Temple which is an architectural wonder in marble and is a symbol of purity and peace. It is 1 of only 9 Bahai Temples in the world. We will stop to view India Gate, a World War I memorial, and then on to see the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Presidential Palace. Completed in 1929, this palatial building on the Raisina Hill was formerly the Viceroy’s House during British rule. We will visit Raj Ghat, the serene and evocative cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, on whose principals of non-violence gave
India her freedom from the British.

We will drive through the elegant boulevards of New Delhi and continue with a visit to the Devi Laxmi Temple – Goddess of wealth and prosperity and a Hindu priest will explain the significance of this reputed goddess.

Later in the day, we will regroup to meet a successful woman entrepreneur for Chai and Chat! While sharing an essential cup of Indian tea, we will enjoy the opportunity to talk about life in India, the challenges for women in business, and the day-to-day domestic issues that she faces. So often it is not surprising to find numerous commonalities in our lives.
Overnight: New Delhi
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Evening Tea

Day 3
DELHI–VARANASI  (Flight)
This morning after your breakfast you will be transferred to Delhi airport for your flight to the ancient city of Varanasi, the center of Hindu culture. A holy city dedicated to Shiva, Varanasi has survived the centuries because of its sanctified place in Indian religious life.
At sunset, cruise the Ganges River to witness the evening Aarti prayer rituals. Later come back to the hotel for dinner.
Overnight: Varanasi
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4
VARANASI
Early this morning, before sunrise, drive to the Ghats on the Ganges to take a boat ride on the river Ganges. Witness the fascinating early morning rituals performed by Hindu devotees along the river bank which includes the cremation Ghats. People bathe early in the morning to offer the prayers to the rising sun. The two cremation ghats are Manikarnika & Harishchandra where funeral pyres burn day and night. Every pious Hindu believes that to die in Kashi and to be cremated on the banks of the Ganges are to attain release from the cycle of birth and death. Return back to the hotel for breakfast.

Later this afternoon enjoy a half day excursion to Sarnath to visit the tranquil Deer Park where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment or as the Buddhist say set the ‘wheel of dharma’ or law rolling.
Overnight: Varanasi
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5

VARANASI – DELHI (Flight)

After breakfast transfer to the airport and connect the flight to Delhi.  Upon arrival check in to the hotel. Afternoon at your leisure.

Day 6

DELHI – AGRA (205kms / 3.5 hour drive)

AGRA – Home of the world-famous Taj Mahal, Agra is one of India’s prime tourist destinations for specifically this reason, though its attractions also extend to an array of other impressive historical sights. These include the red-hued Agra Fort, the sacred Jama Masjid mosque and Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb, with its white marble facade embellished with intricate inlaid designs and semi-precious gems. The Taj, however, is in a league of its own and needless to say is a must-see for any visitor to the city. Commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 15th century as a memorial to his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, it is an architectural masterpiece of exquisite craftsmanship and perfect proportions.

This afternoon discover Henna! You will have an Indian tattoo design on your hand by a professional. These Heena (Mehendi) designs are associated with many things – a good dark design is a sign of good luck for a married couple.

This amazing tattoo experience will take you down the by lanes of Indian festive culture by letting you immerse deeply into the fun-filled mood of this exciting task. There would be professionals who would create the best masterpieces on your beautiful hands, making them look even more gorgeous.

Enjoy dinner at the hotel’s buffet restaurant.

Overnight: Agra
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7
AGRA

Early morning proceed to the Taj Mahal, perhaps the most photographed monument in the world. The iconic Taj Mahal is not only an architectural masterpiece, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World – it’s also the enduring legacy of a royal love story. It was commissioned in the 15th century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan after the death of his third and favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, to serve as her final resting place and a symbol of his eternal affection for her. Combining Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian design elements, it’s an awe-inspiring structure of elegant domes and white marble, which changes colour along with the light – pink at sunrise, pearly white in the afternoon and silver-gold in the full moon.

Breakfast at hotel

Later proceed for a sightseeing tour of Agra Fort. The elegant building inside reflecting an interesting synthesis of Hindu and Central Asian architectural style built by Emperor Akbar. Pay a visit to marble craftsmanship with the demonstration of the inlay work of precious and semi-precious stones in the marble.

Overnight: Agra
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8
AGRA – RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK

Today you will depart to Ranthambhore, enroute visiting Fatehpur Sikri, the eerily abandoned capital of the Mughal Empire between 1570 and 1586. Akbar built this city to celebrate the birth of his son and future heir to the throne, Emperor Jahangir. While Akbar is believed to have been illiterate, he took great interest in the arts and architecture; Fatehpur Sikri is one of his masterworks. Sadly, it served as a capital for little more than a decade, eventually abandoned for lack of accessible water.

Continue overland to Ranthambhore covering a distance of 280 kms in approx. 5.5 hours.

Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest national parks in northern India, celebrated for the superb sightings of Bengal tiger in its natural habitat. Formerly the hunting ground of the Maharajas of Jaipur, the area boasts deciduous forests, stretching for over 1000 sq km and recognised as one of the last forest strongholds in arid northern India. Many other mammals, such as leopard, caracal, jungle cat, wild boar, sloth bears and jackals can also be found here.
Overnight: Ranthambore National Park
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9
RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK

Today, you will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives. Early Morning proceed for a game drive at Ranthambhore National Park by shared open canter / jeep accompanied by a naturalist.

Afternoon proceed for a game  drive at Ranthambhore National Park by shared open canter / jeep accompanied by a naturalist. The landscape is accentuated by the many ruins of palaces and forts of this once royal hunting reserve. Ranthambhore has large numbers of sambar, chital, and nilgai. You may also see chinkara, However, it is the larger predators that are so compelling, these include leopard, hyena, jackal, and of course Royal Bengal tiger, for which the park is famous.
Overnight: Ranthambore National Park
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10
RANTHAMBORE – JAIPUR  (180 KMS. 4 HRS drive)
After breakfast continue overland to Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital.

Gateway to the state of Rajasthan, Jaipur offers a heady mix of old and new India. Famously known as the “Pink City”, Jaipur’s nickname was coined in 1876 when a visit by the Prince of Wales prompted the government to paint the Old City terracotta pink, traditionally the colour of hospitality, to welcome the Royal. Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a soldier, ruler, and scholar in mathematics and astronomy, after whom the city has been named. Jaipur is home to splendid fortresses, majestic palaces, temples and a must-see medieval observatory.

Jaipur – Founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, Jaipur was the first planned city in India. This town is also referred as the Pink city for the color of buildings. The city was painted pink to honor the visit of Prince Albert of England in 1882.
Arrive Jaipur, check in to the hotel. Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Overnight: Jaipur
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11
JAIPUR
Located a short distance outside of the city is Amber Fort and Palace. En-route we will stop to see the grand Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Winds. This magnificent five story structure was built with 953 windows to allow the royal ladies of the court to discretely watch the grand processions along the main street without being observed. Perched on a hillside on the outskirts of town, Amber Fort and Palace was constructed in the 1590s by Maharaja Man Singh, the commander of Akbar’s army, who chose the location for its highly defendable location. This is a beautiful and very well preserved structure, built on four levels and surrounded by ruins. It served as the backdrop for the Mira Nair movie “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.” Upon arrival it is customary to ride the highly decorated caparisoned elephants up to the fort, Maharaja-style. However, the elephants are licensed and highly regulated, and it is possible at a moment’s notice to be informed that the daily quota has been met. In that case, we will be transferred via jeep.

Continue to the City Palace Museum, which has a priceless collection of antiques, costumes and armory of the Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiseled handles. It also has an art gallery which displays a collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit. We will visit the Jantar Mantar Observatory, a UNESCO World heritage site – a stone astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century.

After lunch (on your own), we will explore the bazaars of Jaipur during our Old Jaipur tour. The bazaars between the Badi (Large) and Chhoti (Small) Chaupar (Square) in the old city of Jaipur feature some of the best photo opportunities that the city has to offer. Your guide will lead you through the labyrinth of colorful alleys where artisans make puppets, bangles, and other local handicrafts.

Leisurely Panache – Shopping in Jaipur: Go on a bespoke shopping tour of Jaipur’s diverse workshops, boutiques and markets. Jaipur’s shops are known for, among other things, silks, fabrics, gems, Alwari suits (unisex outfits comprised of baggy pants that taper at the ankles and loose-fitting tops), and many more. Hunt for treasures offering an extravagance of riches! We will provide a personal lady shopper; given Jaipur is a Mecca for those after exotic purchases.

Special arrangements will be done for the ladies who want to learn and wear a traditional Saree. A Saree is a strip of unstitched cloth, ranging from four to nine meters in length that is draped over the body in different styles. It is popular in India and the subcontinent. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with one end then draped over the shoulder baring the stomach. Special staff will be available to help the customers are, to drape the saree!!

Enjoy a Bollywood Movie at Raj Mandir Cinema (2 hours). The Raj Mandir movie theatre in Jaipur is widely acclaimed as the largest cinema in Rajasthan, and one of the best in the country. The exterior of the building is adorned with asymmetrical curves and shapes with stars, illuminated by hidden lights at night.

Overnight: Jaipur
Meals: Breakfast

Day 12
JAIPUR – UDAIPUR  (370 KMS/ 7 HRS drive)
This morning after breakfast continue on to Udaipur, founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 and fondly referred to as Rajasthan’s most romantic city. Its rich history is matched by its picturesque setting among the Aravalli Mountains and three manmade lakes. Arrive Udaipur, check in to the hotel.

In the early evening we will take a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola, sailing past picturesque Ghats and palaces, stopping at the island of Jag Mandir, a 17th century water palace that witnessed two important historical events. It was the refuge for Prince Khurram, later known as Shah Jahan, when he was exiled by his father and later during the uprising of 1857, the island offered safety to several British families who fled from nearby Née much.

Overnight: Udaipur
Meals: Breakfast

Day 13
UDAIPUR
Yoga Session: is a system of exercises for the physical & mental well being. It combines stylized poses with deep breathing and meditation. The term yoga itself is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘to join together’. The ultimate aim of yoga it to unite the human soul with the universal spirit. It was developed about 5000 years ago. The founders were great Sages who carried out intense feats of physical and mental concentration. Yoga has its origins in the Vedas, the oldest records of Indian culture.

We begin our day at the City Palace, overlooking the blue waters of Lake Pichola. Maharana Udai Singh initiated construction in 1559 A.D., and it was subsequently expanded, with impressive uniformity, by several succeeding Maharanas. The palace consists of a number of beautiful courtyards and gardens. The main hall has been converted into a museum, housing populent artifacts and original works of art. Inside the complex we will find the exquisite crystal gallery, exhibiting 19th century pieces including crystal chandeliers, tables, sofas and beds. We will continue walking towards the Jagdish Temple to study its many remarkable friezes. Lavishly built in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh, it is easy to understand why Jagdish is the most venerated Hindu temple in Udaipur. Later we will explore the Old City, wandering through its bustling streets lined with art shops, spice vendors, tailors and more.

Cooking Demo: Later in the evening experience and master the art of cooking from the mistress of spices. Learn with a family as you participate in an interactive cooking lesson. She will share the secret recipe which has been passed on from generation to generation. The recipe cooked will be served during the dinner.
Overnight: Udaipur
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14
UDAIPUR- MUMBAI  (Flight)
This morning you will be transferred to Udaipur domestic airport for a flight to Mumbai. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel to check in.

This afternoon leave for lunch at a nice local restaurant and later enjoy a half day city tour of Mumbai where you will discover the fascinating Dhobi Ghat. Each morning laundry from all over Mumbai is brought here soaped, soaked, boiled, beaten, and thrashed. The next day, after being aired, pressed, folded and wrapped, the bundles are returned from where they came. The secret that keeps the operation running smoothly is the coded symbol that each dhobi-wallah places on every item. Then visit the Prince of Wales Museum (closed on Mondays). Housing many interesting artefacts, the museum structure itself is a work of art. Designed by architect George Wittet, who also designed the Gateway of India, the museum is crowned by an impressive white dome. During your visit, admire displays of jade work, weapons from the Mughal Empire, and clay and terracotta figures from the 3rd century BC. The main sculpture room contains excellent Greek influence 4th and 5th century heads and figures from the Buddhist state of Gandhara, a former colony of Alexander the Great.

The main attraction, however, is a superb collection of Indian paintings, including manuscripts and miniatures. Continue to Mani Bhawan, the Gandhi Museum, for an intriguing visit. Serving as Mahatma Gandhi’s Bombay base between 1917 and 1934, Mani Bhawan now serves as a museum and memorial. A series of tiny dioramas tell Gandhi’s life story; photos covering the walls capture historic events; a sitting room and bedroom preserved behind glass take you back through time; and personal artifacts offer insights into Gandhi’s hopes and struggles. One letter is addressed to Hitler, asking him to refrain from war. Gandhi also corresponded with Roosevelt, Tolstoy and Einstein. End the tour on Marine Drive dubbed as the Queen’s Necklace, Mumbai’s most popular promenade and a favorite sunset watching spot.

Return to the hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel specialty restaurant “Kebabs n Kurries “. As served in royal courts and on the battlefield of history, the fare at K & K is a coming together of ancient culinary secrets, long forgotten herbs and exotic flavours to pamper the palate. It is a melting pot of innumerable new dishes which originated throughout Central Asia and ultimately found a home in India. Presenting a superlative menu of Indian delicacies cooked to perfection in myriad ways – in sealed deghs and copper handis, in clay and iron tandoors, and on angethis and tawas, the delectable array of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes at K & K straddles the many culinary legacies of India.
Accommodation: Mumbai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Farewell Dinner

Day 15
MUMBAI – DEPARTURE DAY

Morning take one hour boat ride across Mumbai Harbour brings you to the lush green Elephanta Island (Monday CLOSED). Here, visit some of the huge and intricately carved Elephanta Caves that date back to the 8th century. For rows of massive columns cut into solid rock from three magnificent avenues, lead to the outstanding three-headed sculpture representing Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer.

Rest of time free at leisure for your Independent activities. And later transfer in time to airport to connect with onward flight.

INCLUSIONS

INCLUDED WITH THIS TRIP

  • Accommodation based on twin share at 4 * and boutique selected hotels (single room supplement may be available up on request at an additional cost)
  • All transfers as mentioned by air-conditioned vehicle
  • All airport transfers with English speaking guide
  • Domestic Flights
  • Sightseeing, activities and entry fees as outlined in the itinerary
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Services of a fully experienced local bi-lingual guide to accompany the group

NOT INCLUDED WITH THIS TRIP

  • International Airfare
  • Visa fees – each member of the group must carry a valid passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond the duration of your trip) and have obtained the appropriate visas
  • Tips, personal telephone charges.
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory) – You will need to give the policy number prior to departure
  • Items of a personal nature; postage, drinks and souvenirs, camera fees
  • All drinks including water, soft drinks and alcohol
  • Other meals not mentioned on the itinerary
  • Medical Advice – Please refer to your GP or local travel clinic for up to date travel health advice for the area(s) you are visiting.

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • Food & drinks – All food quality is carefully selected
  • Local Guide – The group will be accompanied by a local English speaking guide. Our guides are highly professional, very friendly with an extensive knowledge of the area. They know every hidden corner and will give you the opportunity to experience all the unspoiled places and the real culture of the region.
  • Transport – A private bus and driver will be available for the group for its everyday transfers and transportation of luggage.
  • Please be aware that flight times, hotels and all other logistics, services and days of travel are subject to change. Where flights are cancelled or delayed we will endeavour to secure alternative arrangements of similar value as noted in our booking conditions.
  • The travelling times mentioned within this dossier are approximations only. These times will vary according to weather, road, traffic or any other prevailing conditions.
  • This itinerary and supplementary information has been complied in good faith and was accurate at time of writing.
  • Please ensure you have the correct visas for travel. Women’s Own Adventure is not responsible if you enter a country and do not have the correct visa.