Religions of India Tours 18 Nights / 19 Days

Destinations Covered :
Delhi - Amritsar - Dharamsala - Agra - Varanasi - Lucknow - Udaipur - Cochin - Goa - Mumbai

Upon arrival in New Delhi you will be met and transferred airport/hotel. Delhi is the capital of India. Her history dates back 3000 years. Various rulers built eight successive cities in and around present day Delhi. Few capitals in the world have as many monuments of which Delhi is justly proud. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning tour of New Delhi. Designed in 1911 by the British, New Delhi is one of the greenest capitals in the world. Your tour today includes a visit to the impressive Qutab Minar, a 234 foot sandstone tower and Humayun's Tomb, a predecessor to the famous Taj Mahal. Later drive past the government buildings and presidential palace along the broad and majestic Rajpath, Diplomatic Enclave etc.
Morning transfer to the railway station for a train ride to Amritsar. Founded in 1577 by Ram Das, the fouth guru of the sikhs, Amritsar is both the centre of the sikh religion and the major coty of the Punjab state. Literally, Amritsar means 'Pool of Nectar' referring to the sacred tank around which the Sikhs Golden Temple is built. It's a two-storeyed marble structure with a unique blend of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles and has a golden dome which is said to be glided with 100kg of pure gold, representing an inverted lotus flower. Afternoon sightseeing of the Golden Temple and the city.
Morning you drive to Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government in exile and the temporary residence of His Holiness - the Dalai Lama who rested here after fleeing from Tibet during the Chinese invasion. Throughout his more than 40 years of exile, for religious as well as practical reasons, the Dalai Lama has worked for a peaceful settlement with China in keeping with his pacifist approach towards all personal and poltical conflicts in the world. Afternoon at leisure to explore the valley
on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Today visit the monastery in McLeod Ganj which is built for the serious students of Tibetan culture and one can also visit the school of Tibetan studies and it's library, one of the best in the world for studying Tibet and it's culture. If available, attend a lecture of His Holiness - the Dalai Lama. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning you drive to Jammu (195 kms - 5 hrs) to take the connecting flight to Delhi. Upon arrival you will be met and continue driving to Agra (200 kms - 4 hrs). Alternatively take the overnight train to Delhi and upon arrival in Delhi, early morning, continue driving to Agra. The earliest reference to Agra is in the epic "The Mahabharat". Ptolemy, Alexander the Great's geographer also called it Agra. It was however in the medieval period that Agra earned prominence as a capital city under the Mughals. It's many wonderful monuments and the Taj Mahal, the greatest of them all, have given it a unique position as a major tourist centre. Ovemight at the hotel.
Moming visit the Taj Mahal and the Ara Fort. Taj Mahal, simply, is beauty - not just in design and technique, but in desire and intent. It was built as a monument of love, a manifestation of life's most powerful emotion. When his wife died unexpectedly, Emperor Shahjahan vowed to honour her with a memorial of unmatched beauty. He commissioned the world's best craftsmen and 20,000 workers to The Golden Temple, Amritsar. build this beautiful structure. The result stands before you today - a delicately carved, white marble jewel, which seems to float on a sea of red limestone.
Afternoon excursion to Fatehpur Sikri, the once fabled Mughal capital which has taken on a sleeping beauty quality, lying quietly but wonderfully preserved. You will see the Halls of Public and Private Audiences, the tower of Victory and the tomb of Salim Chisti which is laced with mother-of-pearl. Overnight at the hotel in Agra.
Morning at leisure; later in the morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Varanasi. Upon arrival in Varanasi you will be met and transferred airport/hotel. Varanasi is believed to have been created when this universe itself was created. According to historical records, it is a city contemporary with Niniveh and Thebes and therefore is the oldest living city in the world. It is today the most important "place of pilgrimage for the Hindus and the sight of devout Hindus praying, standing waist deep in water is a moving experience. Varanasi has been a seat of learning from times immemorial. It was at nearby Sarnath that the Buddha preached his first sermon. Visit Sarnath and it's fine museum this afternoon. Overnight at the hotel.
Early morning you will be picked up from your hotel for a boat ride on the holy River Ganges. To see thousands of devout Hindus descend to the holy water of the Ganges for prayers and rituals may be one of the most extraordinary experiences of your visit to India. Varanasi has over 100 bathing ghats, but the Manikarnika is the most sacred of them all. During holy occasions, it is visited by a multitude of pilgrims who offer flowers, milk, sandalwood and sweetmeats. Sightseeing will include a visit to the Bharat Mata relief map of India and also visit the Benares Hindu University, founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya as a centre of education. Later in the evening another boat ride on River Ganges to witness the sacred Hindu rituals at sunset. Overnight at the hotel.
In the morning, drive to Lucknow (320 kms / 7 hrs) visiting en route Allahabad city, which is at the confluence of two major rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. This meeting point of the two rivers - the Sangam, is believed to have great soulcleansing powers and is thus, a majorHindu pilgrimage site. It becomes even more holy in the belief that Saraswati, the invisible river is supposed to join the other two at this point. Lucknow was prominent as the capital city of the Nawabs of Avadh who controlled a large region in north-central India for about a century after the decline of the Mughal Empire. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning tour of Lucknow city - visit the Bara or Great Imambara, tomb of a Shi'ite holy man built in 1784 which has one of the largest vaulted galleries in the world with the central hall being 50 metres long and 15 metres high. Also visit the Residency built in 1800, for the British resident, this group of buildings became the stage for the most dramatic events of the 1857 Mutiny / Uprising - the Seige of Lucknow. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi, from where you will be taking a connecting flight to Udaipur. Udaipur stands in a valley, amid green hills on the banks of the wide steel-blue Lake Pichola. On little islands in the lake from the water's edge, rise marble palaces of pure white that glisten like fairy castles. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning sightseeing tour of Udaipur includes a visit to the vast and exquisite City Palace of the Maharana. Arnber, jade and colour~ glass give the palace a sparkling, yet ethsreal will also see Fateh Sagar Lake, the Jagdish temple and Gulab Niwas, the garden. In the afternoon, visit Ranakpur (2-1/2 hr drive), with it's exquisitely carved Jain temples and a place of pilgrimage for the Jains. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Mumbai to take the onward connecting flight to Cochin. Cochin or Kochi is a city built on scattered islands. Unlike Mumbai, reclamation projects have not cemented the islands together into one indistinguishable mass. The islands have remained islands and the place has a canal town feel, though today it is a modern bustling port. And what makes Cochin more unique is that the city straddles the portion of land between the Arabian Sea and the mouth of the backwaters. A quaint system of ferries connects the various parts of the city. Afternoon at leisure. In the evening, attend a programme of Kathakali dances. Overnight at the hotel.
On our tour of Cochin this morning, you will visit the Jewish Synagogue, one of the oldest il} 1D9ia, the Dutch Palace well known for its mural paintings.")You will also see the Chinese fishing nets in operation, at the entrance of Kochi harbour. ... they are a fascinating sight! They were first brought by Chinese traders from Kublai Khan's court. Aftternoon cruise on the backwaters of Kerala. The complex network of lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals fringing the coast of Kerala forms the basis of a distinct regional lifestyle , and travelling by boat along these backwaters is one of the highlights of our visit to this state. The boats cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes studded with Chinese fishing nets, and along narrow shady canals where coir (coconut fibre), copra and cashews are loaded onto boats. Stops are made at small settlements, where people live on carefully cultivated narrow strips of land only a few metres wide, and there's a chance to see traditional boats with huge sails, and prows carved into the shape of dragons. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Goa. This former Portuguese colony is a picturesque land full of scenic charm and many attractions such as historic forts, ornate churches and temples, evergreen hills and mountains, winding rivers and creeks, fields and particularly the palm-fringed pearly white b.eaches which leave any visitor spellbound. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning tour of Old Goa. The most famous churches are in Old Goa, 8 kms from the capital city of Panjim. The sacred remains of the patron of the East, St. Francis Xavier lie enshrined in the Basilica of Born Jesus and have made Goa famous as the "Rome of the East". Visit the Church of St. Francis or take the day to stroll in Panaji or take advantage of some of Goa's fine beaches, warm water and mild weather. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Mumbai. A beautiful harbour studded with hilly islands and a palm-fringed shore rising gradually to the peaks of mountain ranges form a fine waterfront for Bombay, "the Gateway of India". Besides being the rrajor port of India, Bombay is also a great industrial centre. A cosmopolitan city, it owes it's prosperity to the industry and enterprise of its population of about eight million. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Morning tour of Bombay city. We will visit the Gateway of India, a 262 feet high gateway overlooking the sea, built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. We will drive past the Victorian railway station to the Flora fountain. Known by the natives as Hutatma Chowk, this spot is the centre of Bombay's life. We will also visit the Hanging Gardens, Prince of Wales Museum, the Gandhi Museum and the Dhobi Ghats - the public laundry. Afternoon at leisure for last minute shopping etc. Later in the evening transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

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