Friday, February 16. (D)*. DEPART FOR DELHI
Depart this evening on the airline of your choice to Delhi, India. Dinner and light breakfast served on the plane.
Saturday, February 17. (B,L,D)*. DELHI
Continue flying to Delhi. Lunch and Dinner served on the plane. You arrive late night at New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport. We meet you outside the customs and transfer you to your hotel, where you stay two nights.
Sunday, February 18. (B). DELHI
Morning sightseeing of the Old City to see the Qutub Minar built in 1210. In the afternoon, we visit Humayun’s Tomb whose lovely gardens offer an escape from the heat. The RAJ GHAT, site of the cremation of three of India’s most revered leaders, Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, Indira Gandhi (no relation to the saintly man) in 1984 and her son Rajiv in 1991. All three were assassinated by fanatics. We will drive by India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhawan (President’s House), and other government official buildings built on wide boulevards, epitomizing the spirit of the British Raj.
DELHI: Delhi is a sprawling metropolis of 12 million, with a stunning backdrop of both ancient and modern architecture. Geographically, as well as historically, it consists of seven successive cities, with the British built New Delhi making the eighth. Monuments in marble and sandstone are dotted around the Old City. Whereas the colonial-style buildings from 1911, and the modern architecture from after Independence in 1947, are found next to each other in New Delhi. Delhi’s new metro system, designed by American engineers Parsons Brinckerhoff, opened first phase in December 2002. In the meantime, one has to weave a path through bicycles, auto-rickshaws, mopeds, cars, vans, buses, trucks, cows, bullock carts and hand-pulled trolleys to flow with the traffic.
Monday, February 19. (B). DELHI – JABALPUR – BANDHAVGARH
This morning we will take domestic flight to Jabalpur. From Jabalpur, we will drive to Bandhavgarh. It will be a 4-hour drive. We will stay in Bandhagarh for two nights.
BANDHAVGARH: Bandhavgarh was the hunting ground of the present Maharaja of Rewa’s ancestors, going back to the 13th century. In 1968, he donated the core area to the Indian state as parkland. In 1986, two more chunks were added, giving the park a total area of 175 square miles. It is home to many species of deer and gazelles, as well as other wild animals. The main attraction is spotting one of the fifty or so tigers, or the even more elusive leopard.
Tuesday, February 20. (B). BANDHAVGARH
Early this morning, we go on a safari, in open jeeps provided by the Park Service, inside the Bandhavgarh National Park. This afternoon’s safari, go deeper into the core area, of the park, to see more wild and exotic birds and animals.
Wednesday, February 21. (B). BANDHAVGARH – KANHA
Early this morning, one more safari will be made inside the Bandhavgarh National Park in open jeeps. After breakfast, we drive south to arrive in Kanha national park, where we stay two nights. It is approximately a 5 hour drive.
KANHA: Kanha National Park which encompasses 370 square miles, was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1933, before India’s independence. Prior that, it was an enormous hunting ground exclusively for high ranking British army officers and civil servants, seeking trophies for their colonial bungalows. It is now a protected habitat, home to hundreds of species of birds and animals, including tigers.
Thursday, February 22. (B). KANHA
Early this morning and in the late afternoon, we will have two safaris in open jeeps, provided by the park service, deep into the park to see the wild life and perhaps to photograph a tiger on the prowl.
Friday, February 23. (B). KANHA – JABALPUR – DELHI
Today, we will drive you to Jabalpur to take a domestic flight to Delhi. It is approximately a 4-hour drive to the airport. We will receive you at Delhi Domestic airport, and transfer you to your hotel, for one night’s stay in Delhi.
Saturday, February 24. (B). DELHI – AGRA
Today we drive southeast witnessing the mass of people moving about or selling goods along the highways, dressed in the most colorful clothes imaginable. We arrive in Agra where we stay two nights. This afternoon we will visit the Agra Fort, built by the great Moghul Emperor Akbar. Successive emperors augmented it, until the last one Aurangzeb, who imprisoned his old father Shah Jahan here. From there you can catch a fabulous view of the Taj Mahal across the Yamuna River, lit up by the setting sun.
AGRA: Agra, the capital of India under the Moghul rulers is the third apex of the “Golden Triangle”. Jaipur and Delhi are the other two. It fully merits its status, due to the magnificent Taj Mahal, which was best described by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore as a “tear on the face of eternity”. It is above all, a mausoleum built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan (literal translation - Ruler of the Universe) over the tomb of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal who died in 1631. Only he, of all his predecessors, had experience since the age of sixteen in designing monuments, and the recent discovery of an enigmatic diagram inscribed with numerous Islamic scriptures on the façade, leads scholars to believe that his tomb was intended as a reproduction of God’s throne in Heaven.
Sunday, February 25. (B). AGRA
This morning we will visit one of the most photographed monuments in the world, The Taj Mahal. Built of white marble, with inlaid precious stones on its facades, shinning like multi colored garlands around one of mankind’s greatest creations. This afternoon we will visit the Itmad-ud-Daula described as “jewel box” or sometimes called the “Baby Taj”, built between 1622 and 1628. This mausoleum was commissioned by Shah Jahan’s mother NurJahan.
Monday, February 26. (B). AGRA - RANTHAMBHORE
This morning, we will drive first to visit the former capital of the great Moghul emperor Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri, now a ghost city. We visit the Royal Palace, Jodha Bai’s Palace and Birbal’s Mansion. We continue our journey to arrive in Ranthambhore where we stay two nights. Ranthambhore National Park spans an estimated area of 392 sq. km. It was the private hunting ground for the Maharaja of Jaipur till mid 20th century. It was nationalized soon after India gained independence. In 1972, when the Project Tiger was launched, Ranthambhore was one of the “Original 9 Parks” to be earmarked for the tiger conservation project. Besides tigers, leopards, hyenas, sambhars, chital, blue bulls, foxes, jungle cats, jackals, crocodiles and slot bears can also be seen.
Tuesday, February 27. (B). RANTHAMBHORE
Early this morning and late afternoon, you will go inside India’s most popular wildlife reserve, fed by several rivers, that have been dammed to form lakes. The park is dotted with old hunting pavilions, and creepers covered Rajput palaces. These regal hunting outposts, are now homes to the some of the most powerful predators on the earth.
Wednesday, February 28. (B). RANTHAMBHORE - JAIPUR
Early this morning you will go for one more drive in the park. Afternoon, we will drive northwest to Jaipur, where you will stay two nights.
JAIPUR: Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’, is the state capital of Rajasthan, due to the rose pink color wash applied to its palaces and monuments. It was done to spruce up the city, for the visit by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1876. It was founded in 1727, by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. The Maharaja (King), personally laid out the city’s streets on a grid, built the City Palace, as well as the JantarMantar Observatory, the largest stone built observatory in the world.
Thursday, March 01. (B). JAIPUR
Morning sightseeing of this flamboyant showcase of Rajasthan architecture begins with driving by Jaipur’s landmark, Hawa Mahal or ‘Palace of Winds’. It was built in 1799 to enable Ladies-of-Court to watch street processions, while remaining unseen behind finely screened windows. We will continue our drive to visit Amer, the ancient Capital of Maharajas of Jaipur, where we visit Amer Fort. We will take an elephant ride to reach up to the Amer fort. We will visit the Palace Complex, with its lofty Hall of Public Audience, the dazzling Seesh Mahal – private chamber of former Kings and Queens, and Sukh Mahal, where the marble rooms were cooled by water cascading through fine perforations in the center of the wall. In the afternoon, we visit the City Palace Museums, Mubarak Mahal and the Hall of the Private Audience. We also visit the unique Jantar Mantar observatory to see a total of 18 instruments built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, many of them his own inventions. Constructed between 1728 and 1734.
Friday, March 02. (B). JAIPUR – DELHI – BACK HOME
This afternoon, we take a domestic airline flight to Delhi. We will transfer you to Delhi International Airport for your flight back home.