India is many times rightfully referred to as a subcontinent. On this tour we traverse the country from Delhi to Kolkata travelling through time exploring India’s Hindu, Buddhist, Mughal and British heritage. India features many different geographical regions where diverse civilizations and cultures flourished. At Bestway Tours & Safaris we have developed several tours that focus on India’s regions. Combine these tours and gain in-depth knowledge of this vast subcontinent..
|Tour Duration||:||16 days|
|Min. Tour Size||:||02 persons|
|Max. Tour Size||:||15 persons|
|Includes international air|
|Tour Price (from)||:||US$|
Day 01: Arrive Delhi
Arrival. Namaste! We are warmly welcomed the traditional Indian way with hands clapped together at the airport and transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax.
Overnight: Hotel in Delhi (2 nights) (D)
Day 02: Delhi
We start our morning tour with New Delhi and visit Birla House, the Former Residence of Mahatma Gandhi before he was assassinated by Nathu Ram Godse on January 30, 1948. Later we visit the famous India Gate followed by the Houses of Parliament, Connaught Place and Humayun's Tomb*, the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, built in 1570. We continue to Qutb Minar and its Monuments* Built in the early 13th century the red sandstone tower of Qutb Minar is 72.5 m high. The surrounding archaeological area contains funerary buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, a masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art and two mosques. Our afternoon concentrates on Old Delhi, starting with the Red Fort Complex*. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex. The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under the Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement and each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions. Next we visit the Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque and Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. We end our tour with a bazaar experience at the famous Chandni Chowk. (B, D)
Please Note: Red Fort and Birla House are closed on Mondays and Chandni Chowk is closed on Sundays
Day 03: Delhi/Sikandra/Agra
We drive to Agra visiting the Mausoleum of Akbar the Great in Sikandra en-route. Our afternoon tour starts with a visit to one of the most well-known wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal*. An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage. Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna in a vast Mogul garden, this funerary monument combines elements and styles of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture.
Overnight: Hotel in Agra (2 nights) (B, D)
Please Note: Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. On nights with a Full Moon the Taj Mahal's pure white marble shimmers silver in the moonlight and is open to visitors. We can arrange for an optional tour to enjoy this very special occasion.
Day 04: Agra/Bharatpur/Agra
We start the day with a visit of Agra Fort*. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses, within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. It comprises many fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jahan; audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas; and two very beautiful mosques. We then drive to Fatehpur Sikri*. Built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, the City of Victory was the capital of the Mughal Empire for only some 10 years. The complex of monuments and temples, all in a uniform architectural style, includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid and the artistically designed mausoleum of the revered Sufi saint, Salim Chisty. We then drive to Keoladeo National Park*. This former duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas is one of the major wintering areas for large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia. Some 364 species of birds, including the rare Siberian crane, have been recorded in the park. (B, D)
Day 05: Agra/Bhopal
Today we are transferred to railway station for our express train to Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Shatabdi Express trains are fully air-conditioned and travellers enjoy complimentary meals and seating comparable to business class on airlines. On arrival, we check in at our Hotel. Bhopal is known as the city of Mosques. We will visit the Jama Masjid with its Gold spikes crowns the minarets, the Moti Masjid, architecturally similar to Delhi's Jama Masjid, and Taj-ul-Masajid, one of the largest mosques in Asia. It has a double-storied gateway with four recessed archways and nine cusped multifold openings in the main prayer hall. The Quibla wall in the prayer hall is carved with eleven recessed arches and has fine screens of trellis work. The massive pillars in the hall hold 27 ceilings through squinted arches of which 16 ceilings are decorated with ornate designs.
Overnight: Hotel in Bhopal (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 06: Bhopal/Excursion to Sanchi & Bhim Betka Caves
In the morning we explore the Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi* consist of a group of monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries in different states of conservation, most of which date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. It is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence and was a major Buddhist centre in India until the 12th century A.D. On our way back we visit Udaygiri Caves , a group of rock-cut cave sanctuaries carved into a sandstone hill from 4th and 5th centuries AD. In the afternoon we visit the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka* in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains on the southern edge of the central Indian plateau. Within massive sandstone outcrops, above comparatively dense forest, are five clusters of natural rock shelters, displaying paintings that appear to date from the Mesolithic Period right through to the historical period. The cultural traditions of the inhabitants of the twenty-one villages adjacent to the site bear a strong resemblance to those represented in the rock paintings. (B, D)
Day 07: Bhopal/Jhansi/Orchha
The morning is free for further exploration of Bhopal. In the afternoon we are transferred to the Railway Station to take our express train to Jhansi. Shatabdi Express trains are fully air-conditioned and travellers enjoy complimentary meals and seating comparable to business class on airlines. From Jhansi we are driven to Orchha and are welcomed to our hotel.
Overnight: The Orchha Resort (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 08: Orchha/Khajuraho
We explore Orchha, an amazing medieval fortress- city located on the shores of the Betwa River. The fort consists of several connected buildings erected at different times, the most noteworthy of which are the Raja Mahal and the Jahangir Mahal. We then proceed to Khajuraho, once the capital of a powerful dynasty of Hindu Kings called the Chandellas.
Overnight: Hotel in Khajuraho (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 09: Khajuraho/Varanasi
We explore the Khajuraho Group of Monuments* The temples at Khajuraho were built during the Chandella dynasty, which reached its apogee between 950 and 1050. Today only 20 temples remain and they fall into three distinct groups and belonging to the religions of Hinduism and Jainism. They strike a perfect balance between architecture and sculpture. The Temples are decorated with a profusion of sculptures that are among the greatest masterpieces of Indian art. We then take a short flight to Varanasi. On arrival we are transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon we start our exploration of old Varanasi, visiting the Bharat Mata Temple, which houses a huge marble relief map of India; the Durga Temple, the Tulsi Manas Mandir beside the Banaras Hindu University and the Mosque of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. The city is famous also for its silk sarees and we visit some of the houses where the beautiful silk sarees are woven. In the evening we are free to go to the banks of the Ganges to witness the devotional ceremony of Aarti after sunset performed by devout Hindus.
Overnight: Hotel in Varanasi (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 10: Varanasi/Bodhgaya
In the early morning we take a sunrise cruise on the River Ganges for a most serene experience. One of the cardinal principles of Hinduism is the belief in the holiness of the Ganges. Every morning scores of pilgrims and priests fill the riverbanks bathing in the holy waters and performing various other rituals. This unique experience literally transports you to another world. Later we explore Sarnath, the site of Lord Buddha's first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The Ancient Buddhist Site of Sarnath contains Chaukhandi Stupa, a lofty brick structure crowned with an octagonal tower and the remains of several stupas, monasteries and Ashokan column are built from the 3rd century B.C. to 12th century A.D.in brick and stone. In the afternoon, we drive to Bodhgaya.
Overnight: Hotel in Bodhgaya (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 11: Bodhgaya/Varanasi/Darjeeling
We visit the Mahabodhi Temple Complex*, one of the four holy sites related to the life of the Lord Buddha, and particularly to the attainment of Enlightenment. The first temple was built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C., and the present temple dates from the 5th or 6th centuries. It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely in brick, still standing in India, from the late Gupta period. Devout Buddhists and tourists from all over the world visit Bodhgaya, to study Buddhism and the art of meditation, or to simply absorb the aura of solemn grandeur that surrounds the place. The Bodhi tree grown here is believed to be the direct descendant of the original tree, under which Gautama Buddha mediated and attained enlightenment. Later we return back to Varanasi and after dinner at a local restaurant we are transferred to railway station in time to board our overnight train to New Jalpaiguri.
Overnight: On Board Train (B, D)
Day 12: Darjeeling
We arrive at New Jalpaiguri railway station and are driven through lush tea gardens, pine and fir forests to Darjeeling, one of India’s most scenic hill towns. Upon arrival we check into our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel in Darjeeling (2 Nights) (Breakfast on Board Train, L, D)
Day 13: Darjeeling
Before sunrise, we travel in 4x4 vehicles to Tiger Hill to view the sun rise from behind the lofty mountain peaks of the Himalayas. On a clear day we can even view Mount Everest and Mount Kunchunjung. After breakfast we ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway*. The Toy Train was the first, and is still the most outstanding, example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, its design applies bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. Later we visit Ghoom Monastery, built in 1875; it houses one of the largest statues of the Maitreya Buddha. Next we visit the Himalayan Zoo, home to Red Pandas, Black Bears, Yaks and Tigers in their natural habitat. We end our day with a visit to the Natural History Museum, which has a fine collection of preserved butterflies, birds, reptiles and insects of the Himalayas. (B, L, D)
Day 14: Darjeeling/Kolkata
Free day until we are transferred to the Bagdogra airport for our flight to Kolkata. Upon arrival we are met and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel in Kolkata (2 Nights) (B, D)
Day 15: Kolkata
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta is a compelling, effervescent city, teeming with life. Under East India Company and later under the British Raj, Kolkata served as the capital of India until 1911. In the morning after breakfast we start the tour of our cultural city with a visit to the famous Malik Ghat flower market beneath the Howarh Bridge. This is the place where the cities floral retailers buy their fresh merchandise. Next we visit Howrah Bridge, iconic symbol of modern Kolkata followed by visit to Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramkrishna Mission founded by Swami Vivekanand. The temple is notable for its architecture that features Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions. Later we visit Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Our afternoon concentrates on the British Calcutta, visiting St. John's Church, St. Paul's Cathedral and the Victoria Memorial, with its formal gardens and water courses, conceived by Lord Curzon to commemorate the British Empire at its peak. The evening is free to enjoy and maybe join the famous Calcutta Tea Houses, well known as a meeting point of philosophers, writers, poets and students. (B, D)
Day 16: Depart Kolkata
After a memorable journey through incredible India, we are transferred to the airport for our departure home or to our next exciting destination. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Departure Dates & Prices
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This tour operates on a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 15 participants
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