Jill Cherry is a landscape architect, horticulturist and garden historian. She has directed such prestigious gardens as those of the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, the VanDusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver, Canada and the parks and urban forest system of the City of Toronto, Canada. She has traveled widely for her garden research, including Japan, France, United States and the UK. Most recently she has been pursuing her interest in Islamic gardens and their pre-Islamic antecedents. So far this has taken her to Morocco, India, Türkiye (Turkey) and Southern Spain. She is particularly interested in the influence that the Persian garden has had on the gardens of other cultures in the Islamic and non-Islamic world. A personable and enthusiastic communicator, Jill has taught at college level and made numerous acclaimed presentations.
This exciting tour of India and the Kashmir Valley includes the most important of the world-renowned historical and heritage sites combined with a special focus on the gardens of the great Mughal period. The Mughals are known for the magnificent architecture of their palaces, tombs, forts and mosques – all within a garden setting. The unique form of these gardens and parks, inherited from the Persians, was reinvented with great artistry within the landscape and cultural heritage of India and Kashmir. Led by garden expert Jill Cherry, a garden historian with a particular focus on Persian gardens, and with the assistance of talented, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable local guides, the tour will reveal many lesser known treasures in addition to those more famous. Furthermore, it includes the hauntingly beautiful lake and mountain settings of the Himalayan Kashmir with its fragrant cedar forests and blossoming almond trees.
|International air not included|
Day 01: MARCH 31, 2016: Arrive Delhi
Arrive Delhi. Namaste! We are warmly welcomed at the airport in the traditional Indian way with hands pressed together, and transferred to our hotel. All individual arrivals will be met at the airport.
Overnight: Sheraton New Delhi (03 Nights)
Day 02: APRIL 01, 2016: Delhi
Our excitement begins with a morning tour of New Delhi to visit the imperial city created as the new British capital during the first quarter of the twentieth century, designed by renowned British architect Edwin Lutyens. Here we see India Gate, Presidents House better known as Rasthrapati Bhawan, the Houses of Parliament and the Connaught Place. The new city redesigned major portions of older areas, one of which included several 15th century Lodi tombs and mosques. We will take a pleasant walk through what became the popular Lodi Garden, restyled as an English park. Afternoon explorations will include the Qutb Minar and its monuments dating back to the 13th century. The red sandstone tower of Qutb Minar is 72.5 m high and the surrounding area includes two mosques and the Alai-Darwaza Gate, a masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art. Later we visit the Mughal Safdarjang Tomb and its four-part gardens. Evening we are treated to a welcome dinner at a popular Indian Restaurant. (B, D)
Day 03: APRIL 02, 2016: Delhi
We begin the day with a sunrise tour of Humayun’s Tomb and garden. In the early morning pink light the gardens can be experienced with tranquility avoiding the daytime crowds. Recently restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the mid 16th century tomb is located in the centre of a complex layout of flowing water channels and pools. The site is recognized by UNESCO as a ‘Persian Garden’ World Heritage Site. Breakfast at our hotel. We then visit the Red Fort Complex built by the great Mughal king, Shah Jahan in 1639. The string of riverfront pavilions including the Mumtaz Mahal, the Rang Mahal, the hammam and the Moti Mahal which together constituted the more private quarters of the complex are connected by an ornamental canal, the Nahr-i Behesht (stream of paradise). The Hayat Bakhsh garden extends from the Moti Mahal and contains two symmetrical pavilions used by the royal family during the monsoon season as well as a central pool. Have an authentic Indian experience and an exciting one too as we take a journey by rickshaw through the narrow lanes of the famous Chandni Chowk Bazaar. It was built by Shah Jahan and is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi. We end our rickshaw ride at the Mughal Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque set at the highest point of the city. We return to our hotel via Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. (B, D)
Day 04: APRIL 03, 2016: Delhi/Agra (Drive 220 Km/04 Hours)
We leave Delhi on a four-hour journey to Agra. Along the way we see villages and farms with people working in the traditional way as well as seeing many brickworks at work supplying to the local communities. Rest at our hotel before we set out to see the Agra Red Fort. Built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and refined by Shah Jahan who was later imprisoned by his own son at the Jasmine Tower within viewing sight of his masterpiece, the Taj Mahal. The principal garden here is the Anguri Bagh, or Grape Garden, overlooked by a trio of pavilions called the Khass Mahal. We also visit the Ram Bagh, a garden built by the Empress Nur Jahan, wife of Emperor Jahangir, in 1621 with two pavilions placed on a terrace along the riverfront. Next we will visit the Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah, also built by Nur Jahan in 1621 as a mausoleum for her father and mother. Set within a traditional Persian four part garden layout, it is often called the ‘Baby Taj’ as its intricately carved white marble edifice is understood to be an inspiration for the later built Taj Mahal. We end the day at sunset at the Mahtab Bagh or ‘moonlight garden’ - a recently excavated imperial pleasure garden standing across the Taj Mahal on the Yamuna River. From here we can appreciate not only the magnificent Taj and the remnants of the adjacent riverside palaces but also understand that it was designed as a visual extension of the Taj and built at about the same time.
Overnight: ITC Mughal (01 Night) (B, D)
Day 05: APRIL 04, 2016: Agra/Fatehpur Sikri/Bharatpur (Drive 65 Km)
We begin the day at sunrise at the breathtaking Taj Mahal. A familiar image, yet nothing quite prepares for the impact and atmosphere of this masterpiece of the Mughal architecture and its surrounding gardens. We can best appreciate its massive yet ethereal presence and garden context in the photography-friendly early morning light and when visitors are few. Built by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal between 1632 and 1643, the mausoleum stands at the north end of the garden along the riverfront, not at the centre as is more usual with Mughal tomb gardens. The detailing of the tomb building is of particular note and the monument combines elements of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture. After breakfast at the hotel we drive to Fatehpur Sikri, a ‘ghost’ city built by Emperor Akbar in 1571 but abandoned only a decade later, probably due to a shortage of water. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it contains what is left of the Zenana (women’s quarters) Garden. At Bharatpur we check into our hotel with the balance of the day to relax in the lawns of the Palace.
Overnight: Laxmi Niwas Palace (01 Night) (B, D)
Day 06: APRIL 05, 2016: Bharatpur/Deeg/Jaipur (Drive 240 Km/06 Hours)
Today we drive to Jaipur via the 18th century Mughal style Deeg Palace and its magnificent gardens. This is a lesser-known site and well worth a visit for its extensive traditional Mughal garden typology with its fourpart symmetry, sunken garden beds and elevated walkways and pavilions for use during the monsoon season, when the roofs resonate in the downpour. We will also see an ancient well site in the vicinity. At Jaipur we pay a brief visit to the Albert Hall to see the oldest garden carpet in the world.
Overnight: ITC Rajputana (02 Nights) (B, D)
Day 07: APRIL 06, 2016: Jaipur
Another exciting day ahead. We start with a visit to the Amber Fort, about 14 kms above the city of Jaipur. Built at the beginning of the 17th century by a prominent Rajput family, the fort contains several outstanding gardens, an interior courtyard garden with sunken beds and ‘flying’ walkways and the Maunbari Garden built on a raised platform in the lake with 3 terraces and an ornate system of parterres. We return to Jaipur to see the City Palace which houses a collection of Indian art and the beautiful Hawa Mahal, the ‘palace of winds’ where the ladies of the royal harem watched the city from behind its ornate facade. We also visit the mystical Jantar Mantar, a late Mughal astronomical observation site recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. With a strangely surreal atmosphere, Jantar Mantar is testimony to the skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince in the early 18th century. Free time to visit the local bazaars. (B, D)
Day 08: APRIL 07, 2016: Jaipur/Jodhpur (Drive 340 Km/07 Hours)
Today we drive from Jaipur to Jodhpur. It will be a day to relax as we travel through the countryside. Jodhpur lies at the edge of a desert landscape and is known as the ‘sun city’ for its bright sunny weather and also as the ‘blue city’ for the blue painted houses surrounding the Mehrangarh Fort. As we approach Jodhpur we will visit the Mandore Gardens lying around 5 km north of the city and which surround temple-like royal cenotaphs dating from the 15th to the 18th centuries. On arrival in Jodhpur we are free to relax.
Overnight: Ajit Bhawan Palace (01 Night) (B, D)
Day 09: APRIL 08, 2016: Jodhpur/Ranakpur/Udaipur (Drive 290 Km/ 06 Hours)
Morning visit to the majestic Mehrangarh Fort that rises 122m above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Within are a series of courtyards and palaces with a well-stocked museum. Later we visit yet another highlight – the Ranakpur Jain Temple dating back to 1439 CE. We arrive in the romantic city of Udaipur set within misty ochre-shadowed hills and pale intricate buildings which encircle beautiful Lake Pichhola. Balance of the day us free.
Overnight: Radisson Blu (02 Nights) (B, D)
Day 10: APRIL 09, 2016: Udaipur
We start our experience of Udaipur with a visit to the City Palace known for its stunning peacock mosaics and lovely wall paintings. From the City Palace we can see the Lake Palace, shimmering like a jewel in Lake Pichhola. Next we visit Fateh Sagar Lake and the Saheliyon Ki Bari, or ‘garden of the maids’. The gardens were constructed in the early 18th century for Maharana Fateh Singh and consist of a series of courtyards, lotus pools, fountains and a profusion of flowers. We end our tour of Udaipur with a boat ride on Lake Pichhola and visit Jag Mandir, a royal palace built on an island in 1551 and used as a summer resort and pleasure palace. (B, D)
Day 11: APRIL 10, 2016: Udaipur/Delhi/Chandigarh (Flight)
We fly from Udaipur to the architecturally renowned planned city of Chandigarh. Designed by the massively influential 20th century modernist architect, Le Corbusier, Chandigarh includes the Capital Complex, Sukhna Lake, Rose Garden and Rock Garden. Evening is free in this unique and beautiful city.
Overnight: Taj Chandigarh (01 Night)(B, D)
Day 12: APRIL 11, 2016: Chandigarh/Srinagar (Flight Dep 14:15 Hrs., Arr 15:25 Hrs.)
We begin the day by driving to the magnificent site of Pinjaur in the Himalayan foothills, some 20 kms from Chandigarh. Unlike most Mughal gardens the entrance is from the higher ground and the 7 terraces step down the hill, revealing a fresh view at every level. The steepness of the site allows impressive waterfalls between each terrace. There are mango orchards on each side of the central water-course. We then fly from Chandigarh to Srinagar in Kashmir. Arrival transfer at Shrinagar. Time to enjoy shikara excursions on Dal Lake.
Overnight: Srinagar on a charming and traditional houseboat on Lake Dal (3 Nights) (B, D)
Day 13: APRIL 12, 2016: Srinagar
After a traditional Kashmiri breakfast we are paddled by boat through the floating vegetable and flower gardens of the Lake Dal community and beyond the lotus lilies to approach the Nishat Bagh, one of the first of the famed royal lakeside Mughal gardens. We arrive as the royal family would have come, by water. Nishat Bagh, or ‘garden of delight’ was built in 1625 by Asif Khan, the elder brother of Empress Nur Jahan. It enjoys a magnificent setting between the snow capped Himalayas and the calm Lake Dal below and consists of a series of levels with a dynamic broad central watercourse that has cascades and fountains at every level. From here we drive to the Shalimar Bagh built during the reign of Emperor Jahangir who loved the dramatic landscape of Kashmir with a passion. Again, the mountains form a stunning backdrop to the garden which has pavilions lining and straddling the central watercourse with pools and fountains. Ancient oriental plane trees provide scale and shade. We leave Shalimar Bagh to drive to Chashmashahi that was built around a freshwater spring and then on to Peri Mahal, a romantic garden ruin that provides a magnificent vista over Srinagar and down to Lake Dal. (B, L, D)
Day 14: APRIL 13, 2016: Srinagar
The romance of Kashmir is experienced as we take a drive from Srinagar along the river valley to Achabal Bagh. Rarely open for visits in recent years this very special site was built for Nur Jahan around 1620. Set against the mountainside, there is a primary central watercourse with pavilions and parallel narrower channels to each side. Once again, the oriental plane trees tower over the garden and fountains play in the pools. We then drive on to Verinag, also just reopened to visitors. Verinag is built at a sacred site at the Benihal pass, at the source of the Bihar River amidst a pine forest. The water in the garden flows from a deep spring-fed octagonal pool overlooked by a domed pavilion. From there it courses down a straight 330 m long channel that divides the garden symmetrically. It is a simple design but set in a dramatic landscape. At Verinag, we will enjoy a traditional Kashmiri picnic lunch. We return to Lake Dal and our last evening in Srinagar. (B, L, D)
Day 15: APRIL 14, 2016: Srinagar/Delhi/Depart
Our Persian Gardens of India tour comes to an end as we are transferred to Srinagar airport for our flight to New Delhi. Special day rooms at the hotel near the airport for you to rest, change and take time for last minute shopping. Evening we bid farewell to India and our tour mates at a farewell dinner. After a memorable journey through incredible India, we are transferred to the airport for our departure home or to our next exciting destination. (B, D)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Departure Dates & Prices
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This tour operates on a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 25 participants
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