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Embrace the vibrant energy of Delhi, the capital of India. On arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel where this evening you'll join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception with drinks and appetisers.
We 'Dive Into Culture' this morning, embarking on an exhilarating rickshaw ride around Old Delhi. We'll view the UNESCO-listed Red Fort - its towering red sandstone palace walls considered to be the most opulent of the Mughal Empire, followed by a visit to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Our next stop at Chandni Chowk to see first-hand how its merchants spend their day trading enthusiastically. We continue along the ceremonial avenue Rajpath and past Parliament House and India Gate, commemorating the Indian soldiers who died during WWI. After lunch in a local restaurant, we'll head to the district of New Delhi, where we'll visit the UNESCO-listed Humayun's Tomb to admire its magnificent Persian-style façades of white marble and red sandstone. Then it's on to another UNESCO-listed site, Qutub Minar, the world's tallest brick minaret. Our evening is at leisure.
Embark on a pilgrimage to the sacred city of Varanasi, located on the banks of the holy river Ganges. Immerse yourself in its spiritual surrounds, exploring the city's role as the centre of Hindu religion, before escaping to the countryside and 'Make A Difference' with a visit to Rameshwar village. 'Dive Into Culture' and witness first-hand how all local activities are aimed at sustainable livelihood and community empowerment whilst ensuring the economic growth of the under-privileged. Observe local women making papad and pickles, doing embroidery or making saris which they sell to the local markets. Visit the village school and the Shanti Dham Ashram, a catholic prayer centre for the Christian society living in Varanasi. Feed your soul as you cruise down the River Ganges to witness the ritual of Aarti, watching as the delicate diya laden with a candle and tiny blooms floats in a magical train down the river. Return to our hotel for dinner.
Admire the pink light of sunrise appear over the River Ganges, watching the sights and sounds of Varanasi stir slowly along the banks of the river. Observe the locals taking their morning bath in the holy water while worshipping the rising sun. Then, return to your hotel for breakfast followed by a visit to Sarnath, one of the four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage. Explore the spectacular collection of Buddhist artefacts dating back to the 3 BC and see the Lion Capital of Ashoka with its inverted lotus carving, adopted as the national emblem of India. Return to your hotel for an afternoon and evening at leisure.
Take a short flight to Agra to delve into the imperial history of the Mughal Empire and India's Golden Age. Visit the UNESCO-listed Agra Fort this afternoon, gaining insight into the heritage, rituals and traditions of the dynasty that ruled here until the 17th century. As you drive through the city's crowded streets, connect with its vibrant spirit and witness local life first-hand. Enjoy dinner at your hotel and consider joining an Optional Experience.
Rise with the birds, embarking on a spiritual encounter with the magnificent UNESCO-listed Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Watch as the white alabaster marble of this monument of love glows pink and gold at the first hints of sunrise, admiring the flawless architecture that took 18 years and over 20,000 craftsmen to complete. Return to your hotel for breakfast, then depart for Jaipur, the Pink City and gateway to the colourful state of Rajasthan. This evening, we 'Connect With Locals', joining a local family for a 'Be My Guest' dinner in their home.
Our first stop this morning sees us explore Jaipur's UNESCO-listed Amber Fort, one of the country's most exquisite examples of Rajput architecture. Marvel at its royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, mirror and glass work, before returning to your hotel. En route, we'll enjoy a quick photo stop outside the Palace of Winds, whose latticed windows once revealed the outside world to the sheltered ladies of the royal household. This afternoon, we embark on a city tour including a visit to the ornate City Palace to see the seamless blend of traditional Rajasthani and Mughal Art. Across the road from the palace is the UNESCO-listed Jantar Mantar, featuring the largest sundial in the world. Later this evening, we'll join our fellow guests and Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Our spiritual encounter with India's Golden Triangle at its end, we take a transfer to Jaipur airport for our onward flight or travel to Delhi by coach, departing at 10:00 and arriving to Delhi at approximately 16:30. The coach will drop off at Delhi International Airport and the Trafalgar post-night airport hotel; the Pride Plaza.
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