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This spiritual journey through the beating hearts of India is a feast for the senses, filled with ancient sights and sounds, stunning architecture, and ancient mystery. Experience the culinary magic, age-old marketplaces, old-city labyrinths and majestic landmarks of Mumbai, Udaipur, and Jaipur. Witness the breathtaking enchantment of the Taj Mahal, along with the panorama of life along the rivers, in the quiet temples, and on the busy streets. Your tour leaves nothing uncovered, an ethereal, authentic experience beyond words.
Upon your arrival, one of our airport representatives will assist you with Immigration and Customs formalities. In the arrivals hall, you will be met by a private guide, who will escort you to your vehicle and on to your hotel.
Hotel: The Taj Mahal Palace
Today’s Mumbai tour touches on all five senses: (1) See the highlights of Colonial Mumbai as you walk through the old Fort area with its stunning colonial and Neo-Gothic architecture, covering major landmarks such as the Gateway of India, Victoria Terminus, the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. (2) Hear Bollywood music with a 30-minute Bollywood dance workshop arranged exclusively for you. (3) Taste a typical meal from the coastal belt of India at a popular seafood restaurant. The Konkan cuisine features amazing seafood and is known for its pepper crabs and coconut-based curries. (4) Smell the heady aroma of spices as you walk through the Spice Market of Mumbai. Your guide will point out the various spices and tell you about their therapeutic properties. (5) Touch the lives of the less fortunate and spend some time with the local children.
Hotel: The Taj Mahal Palace
A tour at dawn pays homage to the people of Mumbai and venerates all those who go about their business obstinately with one purpose – a better life. Breakfast will be served en route at a local restaurant. At the start of this tour, you will find yourself at the clamorous and chaotic docks, understanding the life and times of the Koli fisher-folk, the original inhabitants of Mumbai. You will see thousands of illiterate vendors sorting newspapers printed in seven different languages in the middle of the street. You will come to understand the logistics of the food distribution in the city as milkmen ride past you on bicycles with aluminum milk canisters, bakers rush to deliver freshly baked bread and vendors procure meat, fruits, and vegetables for the markets. After breakfast back at the hotel, you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Udaipur. En route, you will stop at Dharavi, Asia’s second-largest slum, where you will take a tour that highlights the entrepreneurial skills of the people who make a living here. You will see various micro-manufacturing industries in action: cardboard, paper and plastic recycling, poppadum manufacturing, and leather work, before taking a walk-through through winding alleys past the narrow residential areas. After settling into your hotel in Udaipur, you will take in a Kawad performance and dinner at a small heritage hotel. Kawada is a 500-year-old tradition of storytelling that uses a wooden box temple with many folded doors. The doors have small paintings on them narrating the events of the story from Indian mythology.
Hotel: The Taj Lake Palace
Sightseeing starts this morning at the City Palace, really a series of four interconnecting palaces, illustrative of various architectural styles across three centuries. It features a blend of Rajput military architecture on the outside and lavish Mughal-inspired decorative art on the inside. You then walk through the Crystal Gallery, which has an eclectic collection of crystal objet d’art and furniture, including a complete bedroom set, discovered recently in a storeroom in the palace. Next, you will visit Bagore Ki Haveli, a splendid museum exhibiting Udaipur’s traditional arts and crafts, costumes, musical instruments and marble work. From here, your guide will take you to the home of a priest that specializes in the art of “water painting.” You will arrive to see him put the finishing touches on a painting, which takes up to 10 hours to complete. You may also wish to visit the Mewar School of Art to learn about the ancient art of miniature paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the evening, enjoy a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola on an exclusive boat tour, sailing past picturesque ghats and palaces. Dinner tonight is a unique culinary experience conducted by a noble family whose secret recipes have been passed down through generations. The Bedla family has played host to Queen Elizabeth II, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Hotel: The Taj Lake Palace
After breakfast you will take a three-hour drive to Narlai, visiting the temple complexes at Eklingi and Nagda along the way. You will arrive at your hotel around lunchtime. In the late afternoon, you enjoy the village walk with hotel staff, which will give you access to local homes, allowing you to gain insight into the lives of the people here. In the evening, a mystical journey through the village streets and into the jungle lands you at a 1,100-year-old “step-well.” The magical setting will be brought to life by oil lamps, with dinner laid out in the traditional manner. The entire setting is like a secluded sanctuary inspired by ghosts of the past, embracing Indian spirituality and the unique experience of being completely at one with nature.
Hotel: Rawla Narlai Luxury Heritage Hotel
Today, you will enjoy an excursion to the famous Ranakpur Jain temples. Considered one of the architectural gems of the area, this intricately carved temple was built in 1439 and is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara or saint.
Hotel: Rawla Narlai Luxury Heritage Hotel
After breakfast, you will drive to Jaipur, a five-hour journey, taking a packed lunch for the ride. Upon arrival at Jaipur, you will check into your hotel. Later in the day, you will drive about 30 minutes to Dera Amer, a private farmhouse at the edge of a forest. Here, you will interact with the resident elephants – feeding them, washing and scrubbing them, and decorating their trunks with organic colors. Before dinner, you will learn how to tie a sari. This lesson will be followed by a Kalbeliya dance – a local Rajasthani dance performance. The Kalbeliya community is the nomadic tribe of Rajasthan and this dance form is a part of their culture. It is also a part of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage in India. Dinner will be served at a private venue, featuring homemade dishes made with some of the organic vegetables grown at the farm.
Hotel: Rambagh Palace, Jaipur
In the morning, you take a two-hour hike in the surrounding Aravalli hills. You will visit the Meena tribal settlements, a ruined fort and hidden shrines, interacting with the local people. After this off-the-beaten-path experience, you will have breakfast at a small private inn nearby, before proceeding to Amber Fort. Hill forts were important to the Rajput rulers. Belonging to the Hindu “Kshatriya” or warrior class, they believed that “a fort is the strength of a king.” They built a number of forts across the state of Rajasthan – some for defensive purposes and some as fort palaces, such as Amber. From Amber, you will visit the Anokhi Museum, which chronicles the regeneration of Rajasthan hand-block printing techniques using traditional methods. After lunch, you continue your tour with a visit to the City Palace and Museum. The Palace is a superb marriage of the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. The seven-storey Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace) is a sprawling complex with multiple courtyards, public buildings and zenana mahals (harems). You will also tour private rooms of the palace that are not open to the public, where you will have a glass of wine in the royal living room. You will then visit the extraordinary Jantar Mantar, the astronomical observatory built in 1827. The massive futuristic structures that you will see are actually sophisticated instruments that are accurate even today. The next stop will be to photograph the iconic Hawa Mahal with its ornate pink façade. This five-storey “screen” of windows and balconies covered by latticework was designed to allow the ladies of the harem to observe the street from a position of privacy. The narrow lanes and colorful bazaars of the Old City are next on the agenda, a chaotic whirlwind of artisans and tradesmen.
Hotel: The Brunton Boatyard
After a leisurely breakfast, you will drive to Agra, a five-hour trip encompassing a stop at one of the Mughal Empire’s most inspired creations – the red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After checking into your Agra hotel and freshening up, your tour will continue on to the majestic Taj Mahal, a symbol of devotion and an expression of the magnificence of Mughal architecture. Your visit is timed to coincide with sunset.
Hotel: The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra
To allow for full optics of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, a quick return to the Taj Mahal this morning is scheduled for sunrise. After breakfast at the hotel, your guide and vehicle will be at your disposal for shopping or roaming around the city. Later, you will be escorted to the airport for your flight to Varanasi via Khajuraho. Upon arrival, you will go straight to the banks of the Holy Ganges River for a boat tour. One of India’s seven holy cities, Varanasi is the holiest of them all and devout Hindus will visit the city at least once in their lifetime. It is believed that if you are cremated in Varanasi, you are released from the endless cycle of rebirth. Varanasi is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a history going back to 1800 BC. At sunset, the main sounds you will hear are the temple bells, as the priests prepare for the evening Aarti ceremony. While the city is still busy, sunset quietens life along the river. You will sail upstream, arriving at Dashashwamedh Ghat in time for the Aarti ceremony, when priests perform rituals to put the river gods to sleep. Accompanied by the hypnotic drums and bells, and the chanting of prayers, the ceremony is mesmerizing, ending with the release of hundreds of lamps into the waters.
Hotel: Tree of Life Resort & Spa, Varanasi
A visit to Varanasi would not be complete without a tour of the Ghats at sunrise. This is the most auspicious moment in Hinduism, as people flock to the river to greet the rising sun. You will watch the activity from a boat, witnessing the panorama of life in a pilgrim town – people taking dips in the holy river, yogis practicing their art along the steps, women doing laundry and washing vessels, pilgrims worshipping at shrines, and in the background, the constant sound of temple bells and chanting. After you disembark from your boat, you visit the Old City. You will gain a fascinating insight into the rituals of Hinduism. Every temple is well-attended, and every street corner has roadside shrines and vendors selling garlands, incense, and other items used for worship. You will then return to your hotel for breakfast. And later, you will be escorted to the airport for your flight to Delhi. On arrival, you will be met and escorted to JW Marriott. After dinner, you will be escorted to the international airport for your flight home.
Hotel: JW Marriott
Today, you bid goodbye to India with your early morning return flight home.
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