India’s Golden Triangle plus the incredible city of Varanasi
Northern India conjures up memorable and colourful images including turbans,
saris, great food and rickshaws. We visit the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, home to
the wonderful former Maharaja’s Palace and the splendid hilltop Amber Fort.
Agra and the serene Taj Mahal are not to be missed and fully live up to
expectations. Varanasi is often the city that lingers longest in the memory;
located on the River Ganges it is one of the most sacred in India.
* See the unforgettable Taj
* Explore the spectacular ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur
* Meander along the Ganges at Varanasi
Day 1 Depart London.
Flights usually depart London in the evening.
Arrive Delhi; transfer to Sariska National Park.
Those who are on the group flights will land in Delhi in the morning. Those
not on the group flights will need to be at the start hotel by 9am (or at the
airport when the group land). A local representative will meet Land Only
clients at the start hotel and provide a transfer to the airport where we
meet clients arriving on the group flight; once everyone has arrived we will
then transfer to Sariska National Park.
Morning game drive around Sariska National Park; drive to Jaipur in the
This reserve was declared a sanctuary in 1955 and is home to nilgai, wild
boar, jackals, hyenas and chowsingha (four-horned antelope). The game drive
will be in the buffer zone of this national park mainly on sealed roads
(there will not be an opportunity to see tiger during these summer months).
Although these departures operate during the rainy season the crowds are
reduced and those with an interest in bird life will find an abundance in
Sariska. In the afternoon we drive to Jaipur and transfer to our hotel.
Visit City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and the Amber Fort; free time
Built in the late 18th century, Jaipur is a planned city of broad avenues
built of sandstone and painted pink at a later stage. We visit the City
Palace in the centre of Jaipur, formerly the residence of the Maharaja, now a
fine museum containing rare manuscripts, paintings, royal garments and
weapons. Close to the palace is one of the most intriguing sights of India,
the observatory of Jai Singh. This is an assembly of immense astronomical
instruments made of marble and brass set in a pleasant garden. We will also
see Jaipur’s impressive landmark, the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds. We
then see the impressive and splendid Amber Fort, a few miles from the main
city, rising above a lake where elephants bathe. Jaipur is a centre of many
handicrafts, such as durries (woven rugs), carpets, printed cloth,
semi-precious stones, leatherwear etc. It will be difficult to leave a
workshop without buying anything!
Drive to Agra via Fatehpur Sikri.
Today we driveto Agra via Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is the Emperor
Akbar’s deserted royal city. This impressive and well-preserved citadel
became his capital in 1571, after the blessing of a local Moslem holy man
correctly predicted the birth of a longed-for son, his successor the Emperor
Jehangir. The mosque, designed to hold ten thousand worshippers, the palaces,
residences and halls of audience are all made of decorative red sandstone.
But this magnificence only lasted 14 years, as in 1584 Akbar left Fatehpur
Sikri to secure his outlying territories, leaving this city much as we see it
today – in perfect condition. This is another very full but rewarding day.
Visit the incredible Taj Mahal and Agra Fort; overnight train to Varanasi.
Today we will rise early to visit the beautiful white marble Taj Mahal at
sunrise; built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved
wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. The Taj is serenely beautiful and never
fails to amaze a first time visitor; the white marble exterior changes colour
according to the position of the sun during the day and is matched by the
rich interior detail. Within striking distance is the imposing Red Fort of
Akbar, third of the Moghul Emperors, whose mighty sandstone walls enclose the
beautiful white marble Pearl Mosque and the palaces, halls, courtyards and
fountains of his sons and successors, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. It is here
that the latter spent his last years, imprisoned by his own son Aurangzeb.
Later in the day we will transfer to Agra train station and join the
overnight sleeper train to Varanasi.
Day 7 Relax and enjoy the wonders of Varanasi.
We arrive in Varanasi during the morning and transfer to our hotel. Varanasi,
located on the river Ganges, is one of the most holy cities in India and
stands at the centre of the Hindu Universe. As such, the city lives and
breathes Hinduism: there are thousands of pilgrims, wandering holy men
(Sadhus), religious elders and casual visitors. It is a city to get immersed
in by exploring its maze of narrow lanes and the many temples, and watching
the Hindu ceremonies that take place around the clock. There is time to
explore the emporiums specialising in silks and brocades or maybe take a
massage by the banks of the Ganges. Your leader can organise various optional
sightseeing trips during your 2 days here.
Dawn boat ride on the Ganges visiting the bathing ghats; afternoon flight to
Just before dawn, we take a boat out on the Ganges to witness the
extraordinary spectacle on the ghats, the steps leading down to the river.
Every day thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to these three miles of riverbank
to soak in the holy waters. This afternoon we fly back to Delhi.
Full free day to explore Delhi independently or do optional tour
Today you are free to relax or explore the sites of New and Old Delhi (an
optional sightseeing trip will be organised if you wish). Recommended sites
are the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate, Jama Masjid (India’s largest
mosque), Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) and Raj Ghat. For last minute
shopping, we recommend the market area of Chandni Chowk or Karol Bagh.
Day 10 Fly to London.
Those on the flight inclusive package will depart for the airport this
morning for the daytime flight back to London; Land Only arrangements will
finish after check-out from the hotel.