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Varanasi and Khajuraho - 9 Days / 8 Nights

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Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrive Delhi

Arrive Delhi, India. After completing immigration and custom formalities you will be met by your guide who will escort you to a waiting vehicle for your transfer to the hotel.
Delhi is made up of about 15 cities, spanning the period from the 11th to 20th centuries. There is little left of the early cities. Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) and New Delhi, the two most recent cities and the heart of modern Delhi, are relatively intact. Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in 1650 switched the Mughal capital from Agra to Delhi. Shah Jehan possessing an exquisite talent, especially in architecture, created the seventh city and in the process brought about Delhi's glorious renaissance. The Red Fort (Lal Qila) is Shah Jehan's symbol of power and elegance, built behind red sandstone walls. Its main gate (Lahore Gate) faces Chandni Chowk, the perpetually congested avenue heading west from the Red Fort, is filled with twisting lanes, small streets and crowded bazaars. If you peer through a portico you may see a man getting shaved, silver being weighed, or any other conceivable form of intense commerce.
In 1911 King George V announced the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. The King's architects, Lutyens and Baker, set in motion the design and construction of Delhi's eight city - New Delhi. Lutyens designed an "Imperial City" having palatial-sized buildings set amid broad tree-lined avenues punctuated by Moghul style gardens, complete with fountains and shallow pools. It took 20 years to complete this immense undertaking only to have the British pack up and relinquish the subcontinent in 1947.

Day 2 Delhi

This morning visit Old Delhi, which is a striking contrast to New Delhi. Here are very narrow streets with unregulated traffic of all kinds (where might is always right). The Red Fort, built when the Mughal (Muslim) architecture was at its peak, is surrounded by a 2 km red sandstone wall and houses several splendid buildings. The Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) opposite the Red Fort is the largest mosque in India and one of the greatest examples of the architectural extravaganza of the Mughal era, then a brief stop at Raj Ghat -- Mahatma Gandhi's memorial in black marble. The highlight is a walk through Chandni Chowk (Silver Square), the main shopping street, and a legacy of the Mughal era.
This afternoon visit New Delhi. Visit Qutub Minar - a tall tower, built to call the devout for prayer at an adjoining mosque. The India Gate (War Memorial) is a 42 meter high stone arch and has names of 90,000 Indian soldiers who died in the first world war. The President's house is a huge building with 340 rooms in the middle of sprawling well laid out gardens. The architecture here is purely British.
Included Meals: B

Day 3 Delhi/Varanasi

At approximately 8:15 AM be ready in the lobby of hotel in preparation for your transfer to the airport.
10:30 AM Depart Delhi via Air India flight # 406 direct service to Varanasi. Total flying time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.
11:55 AM Arrive Varanasi. After collecting your luggage you will be escorted to a waiting vehicle for your transfer to the hotel.
Varanasi is the religious capital of the Hindu faith since recorded time and is a microcosm of Indian life. When Buddha came here around 500 B.C. he encountered an ancient settlement. Contemporary with Babylon, Nineveh, and Thebes, Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, a hub of firmly rooted traditions. For all its variety of sacred spots, Varanasi is really one big shrine, the shrine of Shiva. This cult is one of the oldest forms of worship, and was practiced in the Indus Valley thousands of years ago. Legend recounts how the Ganges was created. The water goddess Ganga was ordered to redeem the souls of some humans of great merit. But the fall of such a quantity of water would cause great damage to the world, so Shiva caught the goddess in his hair and let her seep out slowly to wash the ashes of the worthy mortals, and their souls ascended to heaven.
This afternoon explore the inner city (old city of Varanasi) on foot. Through a twisted maze of small streets and narrow alleys, home to numerous shrines and pilgrim shops, you walk back a few centuries. Life here seems to have stood still for years. Domes, minarets, pinnacles and towers, and derelict eighteenth century palaces dominate the sacred left bank of the river. The homes, the shops and even the cattle have not changed over the centuries. You will see marriage processions and funeral processions and cows grabbing big flower necklaces destined for the gods. Your visit to this fascinating and spiritual city is a brilliant and nostalgic experience.
This evening your guide will take you to the Ganges to see the aarti (loud recital of spiritual songs).
Included Meals: B

Day 4 Varanasi/Khajuraho

A dawn boat trip takes you along the bathing ghats on the holy river Ganges to witness 2,000-year old rites of prayer and devotion. The Ganges is the most sacred and venerated river in India. Beside the ritualistic aspect of Hinduism (thread ceremony, head shaving, food to departed souls, etc.) you can also see the bathing, laundry, and cremations of the dead that take place here on the banks of the river. Life and death go hand in hand in Varanasi. While young people seek prosperity and protection from harmful influences, the older generation comes to Varanasi to cleanse their souls in the forgiving waters in preparation for the ultimate dissolution. A ritual cleansing in the holy waters of the Ganges at Varanasi absolves the believer of all sins: it is the aspiration of every devout Hindu to die at Varanasi, thus ensuring a direct passage to heaven.
Varanasi, the City of Light has become a haven for the sick and the aged waiting out their final days. The smoke that billows from the crematoriums on the edge of the river gives testimony to their final release from life’s earthly confines. On any given day, anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred corpses are cremated here; the ghat is assiduous with activity as the cremated bodies threw up smoke and fire. The views of the city from the water are mysterious and magical.
Return to the hotel for breakfast.
At approximately 10:15 AM be ready in the lobby of the Hotel in preparation for your transfer to the airport.
12:25 PM Depart Varanasi via Jet Airways flight # 2423 service to Khajuraho. Total flying time: 50 minutes.
1:15 PM Arrive Khajuraho. After collecting your luggage you will be escorted to a waiting vehicle for your transfer to the hotel.
In 1838 Captain T.S. Burt, an officer in the Bengal Engineers, followed up local rumors and 'discovered' the great temple complex rising above the jungle in Khajuraho in 1838. He wrote of his 'discovery' for the Asiatic Society. Khajuraho was one of the capitals of the Chandela Rajput kings. Out of the original 84 temples only 22 survive today. If it were not for Khajuraho's remoteness, there would probably be fewer temples surviving.
Today visit the famed temples of Khajuraho. The temples are divided into three groups of which the western is the largest and best known. All but three temples, which are built of local granite, are constructed with hard river sandstone dug from the east bank of the Ken River, 13 miles to the east. None of the temples are enclosed; rather they are erected on high masonry platforms, each on an east-west axis. It is their detailed sculpture which gives Khajuraho its appeal and importance. Less than a tenth of it can be called 'erotic'. Numerous interpretations have been given for the erotic sculpture but there is nothing sordid about these inspired carvings showing beauty and voluptuousness of the female form. Most of the temples are 'banded' by horizontal panels of statues. The purvasins, or divine ladies, are shown engaging in commonplace human activities such as having a bath, getting dressed and applying makeup. Figures of Lord Shiva often protruded from the band. The long frieze with scenes of battles, processions and hunting that rind the base of the Lakshmana temples are some of the best examples of narrative sculpture.
The temples were built by the Chandela Kings between 950 AD and 1050 AD. The most important are the Chaunset Rogini Temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. The Mahadev Temple, Chitragupta or Bharatji Temple with a lovely image of 11 headed Vishnu, Vishvanath and Nandi Temples, Lakshmana Temple, Vishva Temple dedicated to Shiva which is the largest and most typical of Temples.
Included Meals: B

Day 5 Khajuraho/Jhansi/Agra

At approximately 9:30 AM be ready in the lobby of the hotel in preparation for your overland drive to Jhansi. The 110 mile drive takes approximately 4 hours.
En-route visit the Orcha Temples in Orcha. Orcha is one of the ancient cities located on the banks of Betwa River. The area has a number of historical monuments and the famous Raja Ram Temple. Orcha was founded in the 16th Century by the Bundela Chieftain, Rudra Pratap Singh. The main temples are Jehangir Mahal, Raj Mahal, Rai Praveen Mahal, Laxmi Narayan and Chaturbhuj Temple.
5:56 PM Depart Jhansi via the Shatabid Express Train to Agra. The journey takes approximately 2 hours, 29 minutes. Train time only an approximation.
8:25 PM Arrive Agra. You will be met at the train platform by your local driver and transferred to the hotel. The drive takes approximately 30 minutes.
At the time of the Mughals, in the 16th & 17th centuries, Agra was the capital of the grand Mughal Empire. During this period the city became a leading centre of art, science, commerce and culture. Akbar the Great made Agra great. The city's origins are dim but Akbar's grandfather Babur is credited with Agra's founding. The short golden age of Agra came to an end with the seventeenth century reign of Shah Jehan, mastermind of the unforgettable Taj Mahal.
Included Meals: B

Day 6 Agra

At approximately 6:30 AM depart the hotel to visit the Taj Mahal during sunrise (subject to weather conditions. In December the air is cool and fog can occur, if so you will visit the Taj during the day after the fog has worn off).
The Taj Mahal is one of the most extravagant monuments in the world, built by an emperor in the found memory of his queen. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631, and is believed to have taken 18 years to complete, with over 20,000 craftsmen working around the clock
The design and construction is said to be that of the legendary architect, Ustad Ahamad Lahori. Legend has it that once construction was completed, Shah Jehan had Lahori's hands cut off, and blinded, so he would never be able to duplicate the structure. What makes the Taj Mahal unique is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, medium of construction and ornamentation. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day. It is impossible to visualize the Taj Mahal in any surrounding other than in its paradoxical garden. Paradise, in Islam, is visualized as a lush garden where running streams flow. When the Mughals brought this concept to India they elevated it to heights of incomparable artistry.
Return to the hotel for breakfast.
Later travel by Tongas (horse carriage) to the massive Agra Fort. From the fort enjoy awesome views of the Taj Mahal. The elegant buildings inside reflect an interesting synthesis of Hindu and Central Asian architectural styles -- a contrast to the unique Mughal style that emerged during this period.
Explore the chambers of this royal residence. Shah Jahan was imprisoned here by his son Aurangzeb. The Shah spent his final years gazing at the tomb he had commissioned for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. You will also visit itmad ud Daulah, the tomb of Mirza Ghiyath Beg. It was designed by his daughter, Nur Jahan, the most powerful woman in Moghul history.
Included Meals: B

Day 7 Agra-Jaipur

At 9:00 AM be ready in the lobby of the hotel in preparation for your drive to Jaipur. The drive takes approximately 5 hour.
En route visit Fatehpur Sikri (a hilltop ghost fortress and site of the mausoleum of Salim Chistis, a medieval Muslim saint). Make a wish at his tomb as it is said that he still grants the prayers of the pure-hearted. This abandoned capital of the Mughala is a perfectly preserved city at the height of the empire's splendor. It is not hard to imagine what the court life must have been like in the days of its grandeur.
Continue your journey to Jaipur , the land of the Rajahs.
Jaipur was the capital of Rajasthan province. Everywhere you will see the monuments of its Mughal rulers. Jaipur is one of the main centers for shopping in India -- especially with regard to textiles, jewelry, stones carpets, etc. Ambling camels and brightly dressed locals, reflect Jaipur’s desert heritage while the teeming markets display a profusion of handlooms and crafts.
Included Meals: B

Day 8 Jaipur

At 9:00 AM depart hotel and visit Amber Fort, a magnificent example of a Rajput Fort building at its best. Fortified by hills and a succession of gates, the fort was a perfect capital for the Kuchwaha Rajputs from the 11th to the 18th centuries. The fort contains a dramatic Hall of Public Audience opposite a beautifully painted Ganesh pole. Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Siva and Parvati, is commonly propitiated before beginning any new venture. Visit the gardens and the marble rooms, which are cooled by water pouring through fine perforations in the center of the wall. This low-tech air conditioning was highly effective and easy to use. As you move between the rooms of this magnificent structure feel the history and visualize the pomp and grandeur of a kingdom never conquered.
This afternoon visit the City Palace, home to an impressive collection of traditional Rajasthai and Mughal artwork, jewels, textiles and arms; Jantar Mantar; and the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, a tall facade of almost one thousand windows, behind which royal ladies once took the air in privacy. The City Palace in the heart of the old city is a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. The center of the palace is a seven-storied building called the Chandra Palace, with fine views of the garden and the city. Next to the City Palace is the Solar Observatory -- an astronomical treasure house with solar devices that give accurate predictions till date.
Included Meals: B

Day 9 Jaipur-Delhi/Out

At approximately 9:00 AM be ready in the lobby of the hotel in preparation for your overland journey to Delhi,
Depart Delhi
Included Meals: B


Dates & Pricing

Travel Dates Per Person Sharing Twin
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Single Room Supplement
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Local Fee


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Accommodations


Included

- Meeting & Assistance on arrival/departure at Airport and Hotel by Alluring India Destination's Representatives.
- Arrival, departure transfers, sightseeing & excursions using Air-conditioned Tempo Traveller.
- Accommodation for total 08 nights sharing twin room on bed and breakfast basis.
- Local Guides in all the cities.
- Entrances at the monuments as per the program
- All presently applicable taxes including service tax
- Welcome gift with your compliments
- Adequate mineral water in the vehicle during travel

Not Included

- Any services other than the ones mentioned above
- Any visa charges & Airport taxes
- Any still camera or video camera fees.
- Any airfare
- Any tips to drive/guide/escort/restaurants etc.
- Any extras like table drinks, telephone calls, any tips, laundry etc or any other items of personal nature



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