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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 travelers for a Welcome Reception with drinks and appetizers.
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 center 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 center 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 artifacts 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 colorful 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.
Embark on a journey into India's Rajasthan countryside, meeting your ME to WE guide at Jaipur bound for Udaipur. On arrival, you'll make your way to the rural surrounds of Araveli Lodge, where you'll learn how rural communities are working to break the cycle of poverty and uplift the community through education, healthcare and food security projects. Brush up on your Hindi before meeting the local community and immerse yourself in their warm embrace as you interact with local students and villagers who are directly impacted by the work you are doing. Take a moment to participate in puja—a traditional Hindu prayer ceremony to bless your new initiative, then learn about the village and school you will help to rebuild. Discover how your efforts and the work of WE Charity make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and their families. Lunch and dinner are prepared by Chef KK, a local who is passionate about sharing traditional cuisine and explaining the story behind each dish.
Begin your day like the locals and center yourself through a session of morning yoga, or consider joining a dosha class to balance your body. Rub shoulders with the local women as you assist with their daily activities—making chapatti in their homes, hauling water from the local well and feeding the animals. Escape the midday sun and indulge in a brief jhapki (siesta) and lunch at Araveli Cottages and Tented Camp before returning to the day's activities. Meet a local farmer to gain insights into his agricultural challenges and successes, then roll up your sleeves and begin work at the build site, where guests of all ages and abilities will help build a much-needed facility for the community. Your reward for a day of hard work is a colorful performance, showcasing local folk dance traditions.
Join a local guide this morning for a leisurely walk through the beautiful foothills of the Mewar region before returning to the project site where you'll continue to work as a team to contribute to the project the community needs most at that time. Enjoy a well-deserved afternoon at leisure to connect with the age-old customs, culture and craft of the villagers, from henna and tie-dying to block printing. Meet the men and women involved in alternative income projects and learn about their daily struggle to support their families. During this open discussion, you'll have an opportunity to delve into their lives in rural India and discuss gender roles in the community. Later, return to the project site to continue your team project.
As the sun rises, so do we for our morning yoga practice. After a special farewell breakfast, say bidaai ka vachan to your new friends at Araveli and transfer to Udaipur's Maharana Pratap Airport for your onward flight.
10 buffet breakfasts, 5 lunches, 8 dinners.
On this trip extension you will get to experience a life changing side by side volunteer project and see first hand how you can make a difference to the local communities. MeToWe is an award winning charity which has 21 years in sustainable development.
Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.
The Taj Mahal represents the finest example of Mughal architecture and the ‘Mohabbat-e-Taj’ show, with the backdrop of the largest replica of the Taj Mahal to date, brings to life this wonderful monument. Spend an enjoyable evening at the show and gain an insight into what life might have been like in those days. Discover the epic love story of the emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz in a typical Bollywood song and dance show, performed by over 80 talented artists dressed in lavish costumes.
Adult Price: $55
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