12 Day North India and Buddhism

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North India with its various splendors, the Taj Mahal, forts in Rajasthan, erotic temples at Khajuraho and the beginnings of Buddhism, this tour has it all.



HIGHLIGHTS

North India with its various splendors, the Taj Mahal, forts in Rajasthan, erotic temples at Khajuraho and the beginnings of Buddhism, this tour has it all.

Day by Day plan

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  • Day 1: Arrival in Delhi

    Our representative will meet you at the Delhi airport and help you check into the hotel.

     

    Delhi is the capital of India and the seat of the central power and government. With multiple administrative and state headquarters, important political hubs and national landmarks, Delhi is a modern world capital city with its multi-lane highways, snarling traffic, sky-high buildings and malls, and modern glass constructed financial and commercial centers. However, at the same time, Delhi is also a timeless entity, carrying within its folds, a rich history and a repertoire of artistic, aesthetic architectural wonders, that bear stamp on the different dynasties and rulers that have made their indelible mark on the landscape and culture of the city. Old Delhi hums the influence of the Mughal period, New Delhi, on the other hand, shines with colonial, contemporary and modern outlook.

     

    Have a pleasant overnight stay in your hotel. 

     

  • Day 2: Delhi Attractions

    After breakfast served at the hotel, begin a day of sightseeing the tourist's spots of the city.

     

    The sightseeing tour will include the following destinations.

     

    Raj Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna is the memorial built in the memory of the nation’s most iconic and revered personality, Mahatma Gandhi.  A stone footpath surrounded by lawns marks the way to the simple black platform with the eternal flame which is the site of cremation.

     

    The Red Fort built by Shah Jahan in 1639 is a fortified structure built in red sandstone and it is from here that the Prime Minister of India delivers the Independence Day speech every year. The massively built fort emits grandeur and grit and is one of the most visible and recognizable landmarks of the city.

     

    The Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in Asia and was built by Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656. Take a look at its splendid outer architecture manifested by the towering minaret, domes and arched gateways.

     

    From the splendor of the Mughal age, proceed to the area of New Delhi.

     

    Built by the British as their capital city sometime in the 1930’s, New Delhi is distinguished by its colonial influence. Sir Edwin Lutyen was commissioned to build the new city and hence the imposing government buildings and tree-lined streets of the New Delhi are also referred to as Lutyen’s Dehli.

     

    The India Gate is a war memorial dedicated to the soldiers who died during the First World War and Third Anglo-Afghan war. The India Gate is situated on the Rajpath which is one of the main areas where the Republic Day celebrations are carried out. The Parliament house a circular building where the ministers of the country meet regularly as well as the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India are at close quarters to the India Gate. The Mughal Gardens within the Rashtrapati Bhavan popular for its fountains and well-maintained lawns is open to the public during spring.

     

    Qutub Minar though built in 1193 by Qutbuddin Aibak has been rebuilt by various rulers over the years and marks the site of the country’s first Muslim Kingdom. The iron tower opposite the structure is unique since it is known not to have ever rusted through all these years.

     

    The Lotus Temple is a flower-shaped construction and is the Bahai House of Worship. Open to people of all religions and race, this architectural wonder is a place for quietude and peace with oneself.

     

    Return to the hotel after an eventful day of sightseeing and rest well. 

     

  • Day 3: Delhi to Jaipur, by road

    After breakfast, find yourself in a comfortable spacious vehicle for your road journey to Jaipur.

     

    Jaipur is the land of the erstwhile Rajput kings who are deemed to be warrior legends. Their valor, strength and focus on integrity and values set them apart and are remembered as one of the most notable era in Indian history.

     

    King Jai Singh II who was also titled as Sawai Maharaj by the Mughals is the Rajput king after whom the city of Jaipur is named.

     

    Jaipur, also called the ‘pink city’, is fraught with palatial architecture, mahals and forts that glorify the rich past, as well as, with clambering auto rickshaws, alleyways and camel laden rides making Jaipur a heady mix of the old and new, the grand and the mundane.

     

    Visit the Birla Mandir in the evening with its stunning three towers signifying the three different approaches to religion is an iconic landmark of the city of Jaipur. The white marble structure boasts of elegant carvings on pillars of gods, goddesses, as well as, of Christ and Virgin Mary. Witness the surreal aarti or lighting of lamps in the evening.

     

    Overnight stay will be in Jaipur.

     

  • Day 4: Jaipur Attractions

    After breakfast proceed for an elephant ride and excursion to the Amber Fort.

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    Amber Fort Palace situated on a hill top was constructed by Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by Jai Singh I. The interiors of the palace are breathtaking and the different sections within, such as, the Sheesh Mahal or palace of mirrors, Jas Mandir with its decorated ceiling and latticework and the Shila Devi temple with the splendid silver carved door are some examples of the intricate, delicate yet well thought and planned layout of the palace’s interiors.

     

    The Amber Fort Palace with its formidable red sandstone exterior plastered as white façade melts your heart once you step inside.

     

    Next, the City Palace built by Sawai Jai Singh II has been the home of Rajasthan royalty since the 18th century. The palace is a blend of the Mughal and Rajasthani architecture and is an interesting and unique construction of various pavilions, temples, gardens and palaces. The City Palace Museum displays a wide range of items and souvenirs used by the royals and kings.

     

    Jantar Mantar built by King Jai Singh II is a scientific and astronomical architectural delight. Walk through this geometric maze of wonder to sharpen your intellect and flex some brain cells.

     

    Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds is another architectural wonder in the city of Jaipur. With an exterior that reminds one of a honeycomb or beehive, the Hawa Mahal is built with perfect logical conclusions in order to allow the maximum circulation of air during the hot summers. This five-storied structure is made of lime and mortar and intricately decorated with delicate designs and latticeworks. The jharokas or windows offered privacy for the queens to peep out onto the world making Hawa Mahal an architectural feat of historical significance.

     

    Jaipur is famous for its shopping and gold and silver jewelry, pottery, tie and dye materials, carpets, silk, saris and handicrafts.

     

    Overnight stay will be in Jaipur.

     

  • Day 5: Jaipur to Agra by road, en route Fatehpur Sikri

    After breakfast proceed to Agra by road, en route Fatehpur Sikri.

     

    Fatehpur Sikri built by Akbar served as a capital for the Mughal Empire for a short 14 years, however, its architectural splendor and Indo-Islamic influences are hard to miss or found any place else.

     

    Visit the tomb of Salim Chisti with its stunning white marble façade and intricately carved marble screens is built in the honor of the saint who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne.

     

    Other attractions include the magnificent Buland Darwaza built by Akbar as a mark of victory over Gujarat and the historically iconic Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khaas, where the just king held hearings of the general public in the former and private meetings with his talented and trusted navratnas or nine ministers in the latter. In fact, Birbal, one of the most famous and witty ministers from Akbar’s court of navratnas lived in Fatehpur Sikri.

     

    Besides, the palace of Jodabai, Akbar’s Hindu wife is also a popular tourist attraction.

     

    Continue to drive to Agra and check into the hotel after arrival.

     

    Agra conjures images of the Taj Mahal as well as the impressive Agra Fort. Poised on the banks of Yamuna, Agra is every bit a tourist hub, with its much sought after Mughal era architectural wonders, mausoleums, bustling marketplaces or chowks, hordes of rickshaws and buzzing guides.

     

    Overnight stay will be in Agra.

     

  • Day 6: Agra Attractions

    After breakfast proceed for sightseeing.

     

    At Sikandra lies the grave of one of the most beloved kings, Akbar the great. The beautifully elegant and well-kept memorial has architectural motifs of different religions that inspired him. This is more significant since Akbar was a great secular king and also introduced Din-i-Ilahi a religion that was an amalgamation of the fundamentals of different religions, such as, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.

     

    The absolutely magnificent Taj Mahal deserves all the hype that surrounds this structure and is an ode of love built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. This splendid white marble structure though imposing is laden with intricate designs and carvings that are delicately detailed and finely carved.

     

    About two and a half kilometers from the Taj, stands the Agra Fort, a massive monument in red sandstone which can be described as a walled city. The planning and layout within the fort is highly impressive and strategic since the Fort acted as the residence of the Mughal dynasty till 1638. It is believed that Shah Jahan spent the last days of his life in Agra Fort in the Muasamman Burj, a tower with a balcony view of the Taj Mahal.

     

    Your final stop for the day is at Itmad-Ud-Daulah. Also known as Baby Taj, it was in fact built much before the Taj Mahal, by Nur Jehan wife of Jahangir, in the memory of her late father. Built in white marble and encrusted with semi-precious stones, the interiors of the mausoleum have intricate carvings, which many believe inspired the same in Taj Mahal.

     

    After an eventful day spent in visiting the famous tourist sites of Agra, spend the night relaxing in the comfort of your hotel.

     

  • Day 7: Agra to Jhansi by rail, Jhansi to Khajuraho by road, en route Orchha

    After breakfast proceed to Orchha.

     

    Orchha founded in 1501 by Rudra Pratap Singh is known for its cenotaphs called chhattris which are built as memorials for its kings. The town located on the shores of the Betwa River is dotted by the chhattris as well as a variety of temples and tombs.

     

    The magnificent Orchha Fort, the high spires and domes of the Chaturbhuj Temple and the Raj Mandir are some of the other tourist attractions of the town.

     

    Lunch will be in Orchha and then proceed to Khajuraho.

     

    Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh is home to some of the world’s most stunning sculptures and arts. The splendid temple complexes were built during the reign of the Chandela dynasty between 9th and 10th century AD.  During the 13-18th century, Central India was ruled by various Muslim dynasties that are believed to have desecrated many of the temples. Today about 20 temples remain and the entire temple area is categorized into the Eastern, Western and Southern temple groups based on their location.

     

    The Khajuraho temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the walls of the temple are an array of magnificent sculptures of gods, goddesses, and beasts, however, it is the erotic art and sculptures depicted on the walls that have garnered worldwide attraction and fame.

     

    Proceed for a tour of the western and eastern temples of Khajuraho

     

    We will begin the sightseeing in the complex, with the Western groups of temples. The Kandariya Mahadeva dedicated to Lord Shiva is the largest temple in the complex and is a fitting example of the brilliance and skill of sculptors and intricate designs depicting and applauding ancient Indian art. There are around 800 sculptures of maidens and gods adorning the walls of the temple.

     

    The oldest temple in the complex, the Chausath Yogini Temple, is a granite shrine built for the worship of Goddess Kali.

     

    The Lakshmana Temple is dedicated to Lord Vaikuntha- Vishnu and has two rows of sculptures on its outer walls, depicting gods, such as Ganesha as well as, couples and erotic scenes.

     

    The other Western group temples include the Vishwanath Temple known for its intricate stone art on the outer walls, the Chitragupta Temple with its illustration of the Sun god riding his chariot, the Varaha Temple a shrine to Varaha or the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of a giant boar and the Matangeshwar Temple.

     

    The Eastern groups of temples have eminent temple art in the famous Brahma and Hanuman temples. The Vamana Temple is an exquisite piece of art, showcasing in stonework all the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

     

    In the evening proceed for a light and sound show.

     

    Overnight stay will be in Khajuraho.

     

  • Day 8: Khajuraho to Varanasi, by air

    After breakfast head to the airport and board your flight to Varanasi.

     

    Varanasi located on the banks of the Ganga is one of the holiest Hindu cities, marked with the presence of temples, sadhus, ghats, funeral rituals and pyres, aartis and hordes of worshippers and tourists who want to soak in the spirituality and essence of this ancient yet vibrantly contemporary town.

     

    Whether it is a walk, a ride across the river, the smell of the incense, the ringing of the bells or the cinematic backdrop that Varanasi conjures, this ancient city will surely mesmerize you in myriad ways.

     

    Witness the soul touching aarti performed in the evening with our guide who will help understand the rituals and Vedic hymns.

     

    Overnight stay will be in Varanasi.

     

  • Day 9: Varanasi Attractions

    We make an early start in the morning for a boat ride on the holy Ganges to witness the town waking up to a divine actuality and spiritual ethos.

     

    A visit to some of the holiest ghats in Varanasi, including the Dashashwamedh and Manikarnika, will somber and enlighten your mind and soul. A part of the Manikarnika ghat is used for cremation and it is said that the pyre light never dies here.

     

    As the sun rises upwards in the sky, more and more worshippers throng towards the river for a holy dip and the ghats get filled with filling devotees.

     

    Return to the hotel for breakfast.

     

    Continue with your guided tour of Varanasi which begins with the Bharat Mata Temple where the deity is the marble map of undivided India.

     

    The Durga Temple is revered and the deity statue is believed to have just appeared at its spot without anyone actually sculpting it.

     

    The Tulsi Manas Temple has the Ram Charit Manas engraved as illustrations on its walls and its towers represent the summit or shikaras of the Himalayan peaks.

     

    After a reverential visit to the temples, we make a stop at the erudite Benaras Hindu University to take a stroll in its campus and visit the famous art gallery and mosque of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

     

    A short drive from Varanasi is Sarnath is brimming with pilgrims and worshippers who seek blessing and pay respect at this holy Buddhist site, however, besides its spirituality, Sarnath is also famous for the Sarnath museum that houses antiques dating back to the 3rd century BC.

     

    It is in Sarnath that you will see the iconic Indian symbol of India, the Asokan Pillar standing tall, as well as the magnificent Bodhisatvas made of red sandstone.

     

    Overnight stay will be in Varanasi.

     

     

  • Day 10: Varanasi to Bodhgaya, by road

    Breakfast will be served in the hotel, however, carry packed lunch as we will not stop over for a meal.

     

    Proceed to Bodhgaya.

     

    Bodhgaya is one of the holiest places for Buddhist and Hindus. It is here that Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. Buddha also lived here, hence adding a lot of significance to the place.

     

    Though Buddha was born in Kapilavastu in Nepal, he lived most of his life in Bihar. According to research, Bihar gets its name from Viharas meaning Buddhist and Jain monasteries that are fraught throughout the area.

     

    In fact, Buddhism as a universal religion can be said to have originated from here and his preaching and way of living were held as examples of a fulfilled life. Bodhgaya interestingly is more important in today’s turbulent times because it reminds one of the simple and honest life that Buddha lived here.

     

    King Ashoka is also credited for having revived and spread the religion further after Buddha’s passing away. The various pillar and monuments built by Ashoka, that are still present in our times, has helped to understand and trace the history of Buddha and Buddhism and for this history will be ever grateful.

     

    The Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya where the original sapling still remains is the holiest pilgrim center for Buddhist around the world. Bodhgaya is a mere 10km away from Gaya which is holy Hindu city, making this region one of the holiest in the country.

     

    The Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an example of generations and centuries of contributors who have shaped the site over the years. Though the architecture has a distinct Gupta era design, inscriptions describe pilgrims from as far as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China between 7-10th century AD. The famous traveller Hiuen Tsang visited and described the temple in his texts.

     

    Overnight stay will be in Bodhgaya.

     

  • Day 11: Sightseeing in Bodhgaya

    After breakfast proceed for sightseeing.

     

    Visit the Mahabodhi Temple and the Bodhi Tree. After spending some peacefully spiritual stirring time, make way to the Chinese Temple.

     

    In the afternoon visit the Niranjana Temple and the River.

     

    Overnight stay will be in Bodhgaya

     

  • Day 12: Bodhgaya to Delhi, by air

    After breakfast proceed to the airport for your flight to Delhi to continue with your onward journey.

     

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