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Immerse yourself in the buzz of India's vibrant capital, Delhi. On arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel where you'll meet your Travel Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception with drinks and local appetizers this evening.
The heady scents of spice linger throughout our rickshaw ride, navigating the busy streets of Old Delhi. We'll see the Red Fort, with its towering sandstone walls, before riding through the colorful Chandni Chowk market. Watch it rise and shine as the day's trading begins amidst the sounds of traffic. We'll visit Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India and admire its grandeur before enjoying the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
We dive into culture this morning, embarking on a guided walking tour to discover the work done by the Salaam Baalak Trust. Your visit will make a difference to this non-profit organization which aims to provide a caring environment for street children. Later, we'll walk through the bazaar of Paharganj, rubbing shoulders with the locals who flock to the market to shop every day. Lunch is at a local restaurant before we head to the district of New Delhi, designed and built by the British in the 1920s. Here we'll visit the UNESCO-listed Humayun's Tomb and Qutub Minar before driving past Parliament House and India Gate, commemorating the Indian soldiers who died during WWI.
Delve into the imperial history of the Mughal Empire as you explore the iconic, yet unexpected highlights of Agra. Visit the UNESCO-listed Agra Fort and stroll through the chambers of a royal residence that lay at the center of the dynasty until the 17th century. As you drive through the city's crowded streets, connect with its vibrant spirit and raw energy.
Gaze at the sun-kissed white marble of the Taj Mahal, arriving just before sunrise to see its elegant walls glow with rose and golden hues. Learn how this well-preserved landmark stands today as a monument of love, then return to the hotel for breakfast. Later, journey to Jaipur, the Pink City and gateway to the colorful state of Rajasthan, stopping for lunch en-route.
Visit the ornate City Palace this morning, then continue to the UNESCO-listed Jantar Mantar, featuring the world's largest sundial. Stop to admire the red and pink ornate façades of the Palace of Winds, whose latticed windows once revealed the outside world to the sheltered ladies of the royal household. Later learn about the tradition of hand block printing with a Local Specialist and see how the Jaipur's exquisitely patterned cottons have been made for centuries. Afterward, it's time to prepare for the Diwali celebrations. Choose your traditional Indian dress to be worn the following evening - the more colorful, the better! You'll also have an opportunity to delve into the art of turban tying and a favorite pastime in Jaipur, kite flying—giving you insights into the ancient customs and pastimes of the city.
Admire the opulence of the UNESCO-listed Amber Fort this morning before returning to the hotel for some free time to prepare for tonight's Diwali festivities. This afternoon, dive into culture with a visit to a local market and see the puja items which are used for the traditional worship of the deities as well as the lamps, flowers, fruits and sweets that the local people use in their celebrations. You'll have a front-row seat to the 'Festival of Lights,' watching how devout locals light lamps, candles and beautifully decorated lanterns. Connect with locals as you join a local family in their home for the Diwali festivities and dinner. Learn about and take part in the puja sacred ritual and offering to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The skyline of Jaipur lights up in a dazzling spectacle of fireworks as you return to your hotel.
We journey to Narlai and check into Rawla Narlai, a beautifully maintained heritage resort, which was once one of the Jagir villages of Jodhpur's royal family. Experience royal Rajasthan within its lavishly decorated walls.
Embark on a Jeep safari into the nearby countryside and keep a keen eye open for deer and leopard in their natural habitat. Later, take a walk around Narlai village and gain insights into the traditional way of life of the villagers before they depart for the days' grazing. Later, meet one of the family members who'll share fascinating stories about the hotel and the locals. At dinner, descend into the 16th-century baori (step-well) for delicious Rajasthani flavors.
Leave Narlai behind and later revel in the romance of Udaipur—a mystical encounter with culture and traditions, enjoyed against the backdrop of the Aravalli Hills and shimmering Lake Pichola. Admire your colorful surrounds, boarding a scenic boat ride to watch the sunset glint off the lake's tranquil waters.
Delve into the history of the Maharana era during a visit to Udaipur's exquisite City Palace, whose ornate walls overlook Lake Pichola. We trade tranquillity for the city's spirited markets and bazaars next, gaining a deeper understanding of the day-to-day lives of the citizens of Udaipur. Visit the Jagdish Temple built in 1651 with its ornate carvings and bronze figure of the Garuda, then proceed to the enclosed Garden of the Maids of the Honour, watching as water spurts from its marble elephants. After lunch in a local restaurant, enjoy some free time or consider joining an Optional Experience.
Feel the passion and verve of cosmopolitan Mumbai, visiting Dhobi Ghat where you'll dive into culture exploring the world's largest outdoor laundry. See the UNESCO-listed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a historic railway station built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. This afternoon, marvel at the colossal Gateway of India, a huge archway on the water's edge that welcomed the first-ever visit to India of a British Monarch in 1911. Explore the exhibits of the Prince of Wales Museum, then stroll through the famous Crawford Market.
We sail across Mumbai Harbour to see the centuries-old rock-cut temples on Elephanta Island. The labyrinth of UNESCO-listed cave temples represents some of India's most impressive temple carvings. This afternoon, enjoy time at leisure or consider joining an Optional Experience. Join your fellow guests and Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner later.
Our encounter with the energy, color and traditions of India at its end, we take a transfer to Mumbai Airport for your onward flight.
13 buffet breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners.
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.
A unique way of seeing Delhi is to explore the city as it is waking up, by bicycle. Covering more distance than is possible on foot cycle through the narrow lanes of the old city and the colonial carriageways of Lutyen’s Delhi, experiencing the city as it appears through the eyes of the local people. Immerse yourself in the morning rhythms and patterns of the city waking up and coming alive, pass people on their morning walks, see vegetable and flower markets being set up and discover the true character of this city.
Adult Price: $55
The Miniature Paintings of Udaipur symbolize Rajasthan in many ways—colorful, detailed and opulent. These paintings were popular in Mewar, Udaipur, and even in the Jaipur courts of royalty. The 16th Century painters would paint the intricate patterns onto a tiny canvas, and present them to Kings, to keep as memoirs of certain specific events. Nowadays the paintings are intended only for the decoration of interior spaces, rather than being documents of culture. They are made using a rigorous process which involves the manufacture of the pigments and colors from scratch. Very often, these paintings reflect real-life events and are portrayals of such events. Visit the house of an Artist to witness this special art form which takes a very long time to master.
Adult Price: $37
Ever since the first film was screened at the Watson Hotel in Mumbai in 1896, India’s motion picture industry (now known as Bollywood) has captivated millions of audiences. India now produces close to one thousand feature films every year -including films in Hindi and several regional languages besides documentaries, TV serials and commercials. Visit one of the Bollywood studios, see the artists and watch outdoor and indoor shootings in progress (subject to availability on the day of the visit). Afterward, take a drive around and pass by the houses of some well-known Bollywood celebrities.
Adult Price: $190
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