Taj, Temple and Tiger Tour
Duration: 16 Days
Places to Visit: New Delhi – Jaipur – Ranthambhore – Bharatpur – Agra – Bandhavgarh – Khajuraho – Varanasi – New Delhi – Fly Back Home
Day 1. Arrive New Delhi
On arrival at the airport in New Delhi you will be received by the representative of Nature Safari India who will then take you to the hotel. Overnight at New Delhi.
Day 2. New Delhi
Morning: A visit to the old city of Delhi to see the majestic Red Fort, home of the Mughal emperors. The all red sandstone walls, built in the year 1638, still stand tall as a remarkable memory of the magnificent power of the Mughals. Take the famous cycle rickshaw ride through the busy streets of Chandni Chowk, and see the external view of the biggest mosque of the country, Jama Masjid, built in 1656. Return to the hotel for lunch or eat at an interesting restaurant in town.
Afternoon: Visit the Qutub Minar,a tower of victory built in the 12th century and India Gate, the war memorial. Enjoy Lutyen’s Delhi and drive past the Rashtrapathi Bhawan, the residence of the President of India, the Houses of Parliament and the Government Secretariat buildings.
Overnight in New Delhi.
Day 3. New Delhi – Jaipur
After breakfast at the hotel drive to Jaipur, 260km/5 hours and check in to the hotel.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is known as the pink city. Pink is the colour for hospitality in Rajput culture and hence the old Jaipur, including the entire market area, is coloured pink. It is the first planned city of its era and keeper of the largest cannon in the world, named Jaiwan. Overnight in Jaipur.
Day 4. Jaipur
In the morning proceed on an excursion to the Amber Fort with an Elephant ride up to the top of the Fort. Drive past Hawa Mahal, known popularly as the Palace of Winds, a facade built for the Ladies of the Royal household in the 19th century. The Amber Fort, the capital of the erstwhile State of Jaipur until 1728, is perched on a hill. It has halls of Public and Private Audience, a Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) and various marble palaces which are marvellous examples of ancient Rajput architecture. The Temple of Amba (Mother Goddess), the patron deity of the Royal family, is at the entrance to the palace.
Return to the town in the afternoon en route visiting the City Palace – the former royal residence built in a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles which houses a museum with a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes and armoury of the Mughals and Rajputs, including swords of different shapes and sizes with ornate handles. It has an art gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit. Also visit the Jantar Mantar – an astrological and astronomical observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century, which is remarkable for its accuracy even in the present times. Overnight in Jaipur.
Day 5. Jaipur – Ranthambhore
After breakfast drive to Ranthambhore, 180km/3 hours. Check in to the hotel in time for lunch. Afternoon safari to Ranthambhore National Park. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Ranthambhore: The land of the Bengal tiger, Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan is spread over 392 sq km, bordered by rocks and ridges. The Park is famous for the Wildlife Sanctuary by the same name where one can experience the rendezvous of wildlife, history and nature. At the centre of the Park is the 10th-century Ranthambhore Fort and scattered nearby are ancient temples and mosques. The lakes are filled with crocodiles and aged, huge turtles. The ruins and remains of the past give Ranthambhore a unique soothing appeal. Besides tigers there are more than 300 species of birds in the Park. It is an exceptional place where history and mother-nature entwine to present a stunning sight.
Day 6. Ranthambhore
Morning and afternoon safaris. All meals and overnight at hotel.
During the day visit the famous Ranthambhore Fort, a unique Rajput fort. It is a massive enclave but perhaps the only fort which is not visible from a long distance. Mughal Emperor Shah Alam gave it as a gift to Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur in 1754 AD and it was maintained as a private hunting reserve. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have stayed here.
The Archeological Department took it over in 1964. It is 1578 ft above sea level and 750ft from the ground. Total area of the fort is about 7 miles. There is no driveway up to the fort, just the stairs. There are three big artificial lakes up in the Fort.
Day 7. Ranthambhore – Bharatpur
Morning safari to Ranthambhore National Park. Then drive to Bharatpur, 210 km/5 hours.
On arrival in Bharatpur check into the hotel. Evening visit to the Bird Sanctuary. Overnight at hotel.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park, commonly known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a home to more than 400 species of water birds. The Park is one of the finest and is an ideal habitat for the birds. The lightly wooded and swampy terrain is widely spread over 29 sq km. This bird sanctuary was once a private shooting and hunting preserve for the Maharaja of Bharatpur. Today it is a protected breeding ground for various bird species. The Park is also the winter home for many migratory birds. One can spot colonies of cormorants, spoonbills, storks, egrets, herons, pelicans, ibis and grey herons. The ideal time to visit the bird sanctuary is from October until March.
Day 8. Bharatpur – Agra
Morning visit to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park by cycle rickshaws. Later drive to Fatehpur Sikri and on to Agra, 56km/45 mins. Overnight in Agra.
Fatehpur Sikri: This exquisite city built by Akbar the Great in 1569, in red sandstone, with its forts, palaces and mosques was abandoned 14 years after its creation due to political reasons. The Diwan-i-am – a vast courtyard in which the emperor gave a daily public audience; Diwan-i-khas – a large quadrangle which contained all the major functions of the Palace; Pachisi court, the Emperors private living quarter; Jodha Bhai’s Palace; Mariam’s Palace; Birbal’s Palace; Hawa Mahal and Panch Mahal are some of the important buildings of this residential complex. The Friday Mosque and the exquisite tomb of Sheik Salim Chisti are in the religious grounds set aside in a separate enclosure adjacent to the secular buildings.
Day 9. Agra – Katni
After breakfast proceed on a city tour of Agra.
Agra is famous as the home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Taj Mahal. The architectural splendour of the mausoleums, the fort and the palaces in Agra is a vivid reminder of the opulence of the legendary Mughal Empire. Agra was their capital for nearly a hundred years from 1564. A pleasant town, with a comparatively easy pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soapstone by artisans who are hereditary crafts persons. The city is also famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes.
Visit the Agra Fort, built by three Mughal Emperors starting from Akbar the Great in 1565, which is a masterpiece of design and construction. Within the fort are a number of exquisite buildings including the Moti Masjid, Jahangir’s Palace, Khas Mahal and the Sheesh Mahal, Diwane-i-Am, Diwane-i-Khas and Musamman Burj, where Emperor Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor, died a prisoner. Later visit the Taj Mahal – the inimitable poem in white marble. Built over a period of 22 years, by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1630, for his Queen Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains, it is one of the seven modern wonders of the World. [The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays].
In the evening take a 1st Class A/C Sleeper class overnight train to Katni (for Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve). Our representatives will assist you at the railway station and you will be provided with a packed dinner for the train.
Day 10. Katni – Bandhavgarh
Arrive early morning at Katni Railway Station. Drive to Bandhavgarh National Park, 95 km/2 hours and check in to the hotel.
Afternoon safari to the National Park. Meals and overnight at the hotel.
Day 11. Bandhavgarh
Morning and afternoon safaris. All meals and overnight at the hotel.
Bandhavgarh National Park lies in the North Eastern border of Madhya Pradesh and northern edges of the Satpura Mountain Ranges. This Park contains 32 hills and a natural fort in the centre.
The National Park is mainly known for its tiger population. This is the place where the famous White Tigers of Rewa were discovered. The other wild attractions in the Park include Nilgai, Chausingha, Chital, Chinkara, Wild Boar, Fox and Jackal. The reptile population in the Park includes cobras, kraits, vipers, ratsnakes, pythons, lizards and turtles. There are two primate species, the Rhesus Macaque and the Hanuman Langur.
At independence Bandhavgarh remained the private property of the Maharaja until he gave it to the state for the formation of the National Park in 1968. After the Park was created poaching was brought under control and the number of animals rose dramatically. Small dams and water holes were built to solve the problem of water shortage. Grazing by local cattle was stopped and the village within the Park boundaries was relocated. The tigers, in particular, prospered and the 1986 extension provided much needed forest to accommodate them.
Day 12. Bandhavgarh
Morning and afternoon safaris. All meals and overnight at the hotel.
Day 13. Bandhavgarh – Khajuraho
Morning safari in the National Park and later drive to Khajuraho, 280km/6 hrs. Evening Sound and Light show at Khajuraho. Overnight at Khajuraho.
Khajuraho, discovered by chance, is India’s second biggest single tourist attraction. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval temples that are adorned with numerous sculptures of extraordinary grace and delicacy celebrating the stylized and refined courtly accomplishments of beauty, love and creative arts. Once the religious capital of the Chandela Rajputs, the temples of the city date from 950-1050 AD. A wall with eight gates encloses the entire area and two golden palm trees flank each of them. Originally, there were over 80 temples, of which only 22 are now remarkably preserved. The set of temples at Khajuraho celebrating Hindu religious thought in its mystifying variety of scope and inclusion stands distinguished from rest of the Hindu temples. The temples highlight the existential ethos in religion that venerates ‘Yoga’ and ‘Bhoga’. ‘Yoga’ is union of the self with the Almighty, while ‘Bhoga’ is the path to God through physical pleasure. The temples at Khajuraho, dedicated to physical love and pleasure are a testimony to this philosophy. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1986, Khajuraho is a prominent, must-see destination and its temples are India’s unique gift to the world as they capture life in every form and mood in stone.
Day 14. Khajuraho – Varanasi
In the morning visit the Eastern and Southern group of temples. The Parasvanath temple of the Eastern group is the group’s largest Jain temple. The themes depict, in charming detail, everyday activity. Also visit the Kandariya Mahadev temple dedicated to Shiva and the Chaturbhuj temple of the Southern group.
In the afternoon transfer to the airport to board the flight for Varanasi. Meeting and assistance on arrival at Varanasi airport and transfer to the hotel. Evening visit to the ghats. Overnight in Varanasi.
Varanasi is one of India’s most important pilgrimage sites and the holiest of holy cities for Hindus. Known also as Kashi and Benaras, Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest living cities and has been a centre of learning and culture for well over 2000 years.
In the evening visit the “ghats” or bank of the Ganga River. This is a fascinating walk as you can experience the cultural ethos that guides the life of the pious. See the rituals that take place to the setting sun and the ablutions that are performed in the river. As boats float down-stream, some carrying goods, fruits and vegetables, you will see others carrying the pious who perform ceremonies along the river. On the banks or “ghats”, you can see some absorbed in prayer and the chanting of hymns, and others engaged in commerce and yet others performing functions like hair-cutting, massaging and even cleaning ears! Walk across to the Manikarnika Ghat, where you can see cremation, performed with intense ritual – the process of sending the departed soul to the heavens. Hindus believe that the gateway to the Heavens and for the Re-incarnation of the Soul `in a better state’, is possible when life’s last journey is from Varanasi.
Day 15. Varanasi – Delhi
Take an early morning boat ride at dawn down India’s most sacred river, the Ganges. Sunrise at the holy river is a truly tranquil and breathtaking sight with pilgrims standing waist-deep in water, praying to the rising sun. On your return, walk through the streets of the old city. See the famous Vishwanath temple with its spires covered with gold, dedicated to Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
Later in the morning visit the Banaras Hindu University founded in 1916 and its famous Museum, Bharat Kala Bhavan, which houses one of the finest collection of Mughal miniature paintings and brocade textiles. Also visit the Bharat Mata and Durga Temple.
Later transfer to the airport to board a flight to New Delhi. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight at New Delhi.
Day 16. Fly back home
Transfer to the international airport at the appropriate time to board a flight back home.
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