Highlights Of India & Nepal – 22 Days

Places Covered: DELHI – JAISALMER – JODHPUR – UDAIPUR – JAIPUR – RANTHAMBHORE – AGRA – PANNA – VARANASI – KATHMANDU – POKHARA - DELHI


COMPASS REPRESENTATIVE will receive you on arrival at the DELHI AIRPORT and transfer to the hotel.

Reach and check in at the hotel.

DELHI, the capital of kingdoms and empires is now a sprawling metropolis with a fascinating blend of the past and the present. It is a perfect introduction to the composite culture of an ancient land. A window to the kaleidoscope - that is India.

Overnight will be at Delhi.

After breakfast at the hotel, proceed for a guided tour of Old Delhi.

The tour will begin with a visit to Raj Ghat, a simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. He is also famously known as the "father of the nation".

Drive past one of the most important buildings of Old Delhi - RED FORT (closed on Monday). The magnificent Red Fort was built during the years 1638 – 48 when the Moghul Empire was at its peak. In 1638 Shahjahan transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi and laid the foundations of Shahjahanabad, the seventh city of Delhi. It is enclosed by a rubble stonewall, with bastions, gates and wickets at intervals.

Continue your tour to Jama Masjid by bicycle rickshaws, one of Asia’s largest mosques. People stream in and out of the mosque continuously and the presence of a nearby bazaar means that the area is rarely quiet.

Walk through the narrow by lanes of Chandani Chowk exploring spice markets, old utensils, watchmakers, perfume designers, tailors, etc.

After lunch proceed for a sightseeing tour of New Delhi, which reflects the legacy of the British left behind. The division between New and Old Delhi is the division between the capitals of the British and the Mughals respectively. The division in the walled city and New Delhi also marks the division in the life-styles. The walled city is all tradition where one will be able to glean a past life-style in all its facets, colors and spells. New Delhi in contrast, is a city trying to live up to the best of 21st century standards.

Imperial Delhi will include the Qutub Minar, the tallest stone tower in India. Qutb-Minar in red and buff sandstone is the highest tower in India. It has a diameter of 14.32 m at the base and about 2.75 m on the top with a height of 72.5 m. Qutbu'd-Din Aibak laid the foundation of Minar in AD 1199 for the use of the mu'azzin (crier) to give calls for prayer and raised the first floor, to which were added three more floors by his successor and son-in-law, Shamsu'd-Din Iltutmish (AD 1211-36). All the levels are surrounded by a projected balcony encircling the minar and supported by stone brackets, which are decorated with honeycomb design, more conspicuously in the first flo

Next stop would be the majestic Humayun’s Tomb. Humayun died in 1556, and his widow Hamida Banu Begum, also known as Haji Begum, commenced the construction of his tomb in 1569, fourteen years after his death. It is the first distinct example of proper Mughal style, which was inspired by Persian architecture. It is well known that Humayun picked up the principles of Persian architecture during his exile, and he himself is likely to have planned the tomb, although there is no record to that effect.

The tour also includes a drive past the imposing India Gate, the Parliament building and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President’s residence.

Enjoy a WELCOME DINNER at a fusion restaurant serving colonial and East India cuisine hosted by COMPASS.

Overnight will be at Delhi.

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Proceed to the airport for flight to Jaisalmer. (Currently there is one flight around 9AM however before the holiday season, another flight is announced during midday and we would like you to take the later flight in that case)

Arrive and we will transfer you to the hotel.

Rising from the heart of the Thar Desert like a golden mirage is the city of Jaisalmer. A commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone stands, with its awesome splendor, dominating the amber-hued city.

The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, Lord Krishna – the head of the Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of the Yadav Clan would build his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156 AD when Rawal Jaisal, a descendent of the Yadav Clan and a Bhatti Rajput, abandoned his fort at Lodurva and founded a new capital – Jaisalmer, perched on the Trikuta Hill. His Yadav descent can be traced back to the Mahabharata and the Rajputs were famed for courage and gallantry.

Jaisalmer is studded with magnificent tourist haunts that encapsulate the vivacious culture of this lovely locale. It is laced with beautiful forts, sacred shrines, stately havelis reminiscent of the yester years, well stacked museums and a rippling lake.

In the late afternoon, proceed to visit the typical Rajasthani Desert Village. View the sunset from the dunes, as the sky is set on fire. Enjoy Camel ride in the dunes.

Overnight will be at Jaisalmer.

After a relaxed breakfast proceed for full day sightseeing tour of The Golden City - Jaisalmer. It is in the heart of the Great Indian Desert. Its temple, fort and palaces are all built of yellow stone. The city is a mass of intricately carved buildings, facades and elaborate balconies.

Visit the JAISALMER FORT – The oldest living Fort in the world. (This is the highlight of the tour)

The fort stands almost 30 metres over the city and houses an entire living area within huge ramparts. Walking through the narrow lanes is an experience worth savoring. It is approached through Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol and Hawa Pol. Also, within it are many beautiful havelis and a group of Jain temples dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries. The golden - yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer Fort, over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within its walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Seen from outside, the sight must be almost identical to what was seen by merchants on their overland camel caravans to central Asia. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer grew wealthy on the proceeds. But the advent of commercial shipping relegated the town to relative obscurity. Known as SONAR QUILA, rising from the sand, the mega structure merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and the setting suns in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale look. It’s simply a magic, the bastions envelops a whole townships that consist of palace complex various security sources and the havelis of rich merchants carved with an incredibly light touch, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed strategically on the trade route, from where the ancient caravans passed.

Enjoy the sightseeing of the following places out of which the JAIN TEMPLES are inside the fort.

NATHMAL KI HAVELI: Two architect brothers built it in the 19th century. Interestingly, while one concentrated on the right, the other concentrated on the left and the result is a symphony epitomizing the side by side symmetry during construction. Paintings in miniature style monopolize the walls in the interior. Mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the Haveli.

SALIM SINGH KI HAVELI: This Haveli was built about 300 years ago and a part of it is still occupied. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of the princely state and his mansion has a beautifully arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of Peacocks. The mansion is just below the hill and it is said that once it had two additional wooden storeys in an attempt to make it as high as the maharaja's palace, but the maharaja had the upper storey torn down.

PATWON JI KI HAVELI: This is one of the largest and most elaborate Haveli in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and is extensively carved. It is divided into six apartments, two owned by archaeological Survey of India, two by families who operate craft-shops and two private homes. There are remnants of paintings on some of the inside walls as well as some mirror work.

TAZIA TOWER: The delicate pagoda like Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace). Rising in its five-tiered splendor, with each storey graced by a delicately carved balcony, the tower is of historical significance. Muslim craftsmen built it in the shape of a Tazia and gifted it to their royal patron.

GODI SAGAR LAKE: This tank, south of the city walls, once held the town water supply, and befitting its importance in providing precious water to the inhabitants of this arid city, it is surrounded by small temples and shrines. The beautiful yellow sandstone gateway arching across the road down to the tank is the Tilon-ki-Pol, and is said to have been built by a famous prostitute, Tilon. When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the Maharaja refused permission under it to go down to the tank and he felt that this would be beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gate, adding a Krishna temple on top so that king could not tear it down.

JAIN TEMPLES: These fine Jain temples were built in the 12th to 15th century, within the Jaisalmer Fort. They are beautifully carved and dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Sambhavnathji. The Gyan Bhandar, a library containing some extremely old manuscripts, is within the temple complex.

Evening will be free at leisure.

Overnight will be at Jaisalmer.

After breakfast, drive towards Jodhpur.

Reach and check into the hotel.

Set at the edge of the Thar Desert, the imperial city of Jodhpur echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert. Once the capital of the Marwar state, it was founded in 1459 AD by Rao Jodha-chief of the RATHORE clan of Rajputs who claimed to be descendants of Rama - the epic hero of the RAMAYANA. The massive 15th century AD Mehrangarh Fort looms on the top of a rocky hill, soaring 125 Mts. Above the plains. A high wall - 10 km long with 8 gates and innumerable bastions encompasses the city.

Later visit the museum of Umaid Bhawan Palace and enjoy shopping in the evening and a walk in the blue city.

VISIT MUSEUM IN UMAID BHAWAN PALACE: The Umaid Bhawan Palace was actually built with the purpose of giving employment to the people of Jodhpur during a long drawn famine. The royal family of Jodhpur still lives in a part of the palace. Another part of the palace houses a well-maintained museum, displaying an amazing array of items belonging to the Maharaja and the royal family - weapons, antiques & fascinating clocks, crockery and trophies.

COMPASS will host high tea at the palace.

In the evening, walk down through the local bazaars and witness local life.

Overnight will be at Jodhpur.

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Enjoy the sightseeing tour of the city after breakfast.

MEHRANGARH FORT: Situated on a steep hill, Mehrangarh fort is one of the largest forts in India. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrate a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures. Mehrangarh Fort, spreading over 5 km on a perpendicular hill and looking down 125 meters, presents a majestic view on city horizon. It was built on advice of a saint in 1459 to establish an impregnable head-quarter. This Fort is one of the best in India with its exquisitely latticed windows, carved panels, elaborately adorned windows and walls of Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal. A collection of musical instruments, palanquins, royal costumes, furniture and the cannons on the fort's ramparts are well preserved.

JASWANT THADA: Close to the fort complex, lies Jaswant Thada. This 19th century royal cenotaph built in white marble in commemoration of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II and three other cenotaphs stand nearby. The cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh holds the rare portraits of the rulers and Maharajas of Jodhpur. A visit inside the cenotaphs, with some villagers of the region, would bring forward the reverence they still hold for their brave kings.

Later drive towards Udaipur. En-route visit Ranakpur temples.

Situated around 60 km north of Udaipur, Ranakpur is one of the five most important pilgrimage sites of Jainism. It is home to an exceptionally beautiful temple complex in the Aravali ranges and a must visit for the tourists coming to this region. Ranakpur is tucked away in a remote valley in the Aravali range.

Visit the RANAKPUR TEMPLES, dating back to the 15th century have 200 pillars, none of which are alike, support its 29 halls. The Temple abounds with intricate friezes and sculptures. Includes visits to two more Jain temples and the Temple of the Sun God with its erotic sculptures.

Reach Udaipur and check into the hotel.

The city of Dawn, Udaipur is a lovely land around the azure lake, hemmed in by the lush hills of the ARAVALLIS. A vision in white drenched in romance and beauty, Udaipur is a fascinating blend of sights, sound and experiences and inspiration for the imagination of poets, painters and writers.

Its kaleidoscope of fairy-tale palaces, lakes, temples, gardens and narrow lanes strewn with stalls, carry the flavor of a heroic past, epitomizing valor and chivalry. Their reflection in the placid waters of the LAKE PICHOLA is an enticing

Udaipur is the jewel of MEWAR – a kingdom ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for 1200 Years.

Overnight will be in Udaipur.

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Proceed for sightseeing tour of Udaipur, stopping first at City Palace.

City Palace: Standing on the east bank of Lake Pichola, is a massive series of palaces built at different times from 1559 A.D. The balconies of the palace provide panoramic views of "Jag Niwas" (the world wide famous Lake palace hotel), Jag Mandir on one side and on the other the city of Udaipur. Its main entrance is through the triple-arched gate - the Tripolia, built in 1725. The way now leads to a series of courtyards, overlapping parations, terraces, corridors and gardens - a harmonic profusion hard to describe. There is a Suraj Gokhda, where the maharanas of Mewar presented themselves in the times of trouble to the people to restore confidence. The Mor-chowk (Peacock courtyard), gets its name from the vivid mosaics in glass decorating its walls. The Chini Chitrashala is noteworthy while a series of wall paintings of KRISHNA are on display in Bhim Vilas. There are numerous other Palaces such as Dilkhush Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Moti Mahal and Krishna villas - in memory of a princess of striking beauty who poisoned herself to avert a bloody battle for her hand by rival princess. Now the palace contains many antique articles, paintings, decorative furniture and utensils and attracts thousands of visitors every day.

Here you will marvel at rooms with mirrored walls and ivory doors, colored glass windows and inlaid marble balconies and the Peacock Courtyard.

Saheliyon Ki Bari: Maharana Sangram Singh builds this in the mid-18th century. The 'garden of the maidens' brings to mind the lifestyle of the ladies of the court. The delightful gardens appear discreet and in impeccable taste. There are four pools with dainty kiosks, and all around are flowerbeds, lawns, pools and fountains protected by a series of walls and shady trees. The Foundation of the Sahelion Ki Bari functions solely by water pressure and no pumps are used. The garden has a lotus pool, a sitting room decorated with paintings and glass mosaics. The whole ambiences are flavored by the nostalgia of those beautiful bells enjoying themselves in a lavish aura.

Bagore Ki Haveli: This is a very congenial old building built right on the waterfront of Lake Pichola at Gangori Ghat. Amir Chand Badwa, the Prime Minister of Mewar built it in the eighteenth century. The palace has over hundred rooms and some very interesting display of costumes and modern art. The glass and mirror in the interiors of the Haveli delicate work and well preserved too. It also preserves a fine example of Mewar Painting on the walls of Queen's Chamber. The two peacocks made from small pieces of colored glasses are fine examples of glasswork. After the death Badwa the building became the property of Mewar State. It came to be occupied by Maharana Shakti Singh of Bagore who built the palace of the three arches also in 1878 and it acquired its name of Bagore-Ki Haveli, the house of Bagore. After independence the structure lay in neglect until 1986 when it housed the West Zone Cultural centre.

Jagdish Temple: The temple is situated in the middle of the city. The temple of Jagannath Rai, now called Jagdish-ji, is a major monument and should be seen carefully. Raised on a tall terrace and completed in 1651, it is a tribute alike to the tenacity of its builders and the resilience of the art tradition it represents. It attaches a double storeyed Mandapa (hall) to a double - storied, Saandhara (that having a covered ambulatory) sanctum. The mandapa has another storey tucked within its pyramidal Samavarna (bell - roof) while the hollow clustered spire over the sanctum contains two more, non - functional stories. Lanes taking off from many of the Sheharpanah (city wall) converge on the Jagdish Temple and walking leisurely through them brings you face with the many layers of the cultural palimpsest that Udaipur is. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh Ist in 1651 A.D.

Proceed for Evening Motor launch cruise on the placid waters of Lake Pichola. From the boat you will be able to view the city of Udaipur as it rises majestically above the lake in the middle of the Rajasthan desert. Also visit the Jag Mandir Palace - the other island palace in the middle of the lake and spend some time.

Explore the lanes of City of Lakes by walk and witness day-to-day life of locals.

Overnight will be at Udaipur.

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Later proceed to the airport for flight to beautiful Pink City – Jaipur.

Upon arrival at Jaipur, you will be met and transferred to hotel. Check-in and relax.

Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan a romantic realm of resplendent palaces, mighty fortresses and regal Maharajahs that lies in the western deserts and is an utterly unique part of India. Proudly belonging to the KSHATRIYA warrior caste and fiercely independent, the Rajput princes made fearsome foes. However, many of them realized that to maintain their wealth and authority locally, it was expedient to proclaim allegiance to the central power. Thus, many enjoyed a privileged position under the Mughal emperors and also the British Raj that followed.

This evening, visit the Birla Temple to learn more about the fascinating religious life of Jaipur. The marble structure, built as recently as 1985, houses ornate statues including one of Lakshmi (goddess of Wealth and Beauty) and Narayan dressed in gaudy robes, representing a Hindu vision of heavenly luxury. Carvings in the temple and on pillars supporting the covered walkways include images of the Hindu pantheon, as well as Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Francis of Assisi. Your visit will coincide with the AARTI Ceremony, which involves oil lamps being lit and waved, in order to awake and invoke the deity. Enjoy the experience and spend night at Jaipur.

Overnight will be at Jaipur.

Proceed for a morning excursion to Amber Fort after breakfast. Enjoy the fort ascent on elephant back in a royal manner

AMER FORT: Standing tall on the outskirts of Jaipur is the lofty Amer fort. Nestled amongst the Aravallis, this fort has a cobbled way at its entrance. Overlooking the Maota Lake, the Amer fort also provides a beautiful overview of Jaipur. Inside the fort, there are various palaces, chambers and temples. The most striking feature however is the Sheesh Mahal, or palace of mirrors. It is built with a thousand mirrors and some more. Some parts of it have colored glass pieces as well. It is believed, that since the queen and other royal women were forbidden from sleeping under the sky, the king ordered the architect to construct a room, where the queen would get the feeling of sleeping under the sky.

Your vehicle would be waiting on the other side hence return by car and proceed to the pink city.

Visit the royal palace of JAIPUR.

CITY PALACE: A sprawling complex containing The Chandra Mahal and the Mubarak Mahal, the city palace was constructed as per Vaastushastra, an ancient Hindu ideology. A major part of the Chandra Mahal has now been converted into a museum. It has a large collection of art and artifacts, along with common items of use of the erstwhile Maharaja.

JANTAR MANTAR (ROYAL OBSERVATORY): It is home to the largest sundial in the world and is now regarded as a UNESCO world heritage site. Also, this is the best preserved of the five observatories built by Jai Singh II in different parts of the country. This observatory consisting of outsized astronomical instruments is still in use. Enjoy a local lunch at a hundred year old city restaurant. The food would be served on large silver / brass plates and it’s more like a taster’s menu.

Walk out and visit the PALACE OF WINDS for a photography session.

HAWA MAHAL (PALACE OF WINDS): Contrary to the name, this is not a palace, but a beautifully designed screen. The Rajput royal women practiced purdah (not revealing their faces). This giant wall consisting of 953 windows enabled them to peek into the bustling street life. The structure of this finely latticed wall resembles the crown of Lord Krishna, a legendary Hindu God. The other purpose of Hawa Mahal is to create a cooling effect. It is believed that once the fierce hot winds of summer filter through the latticed screen; it becomes cooler, thereby cooling the inner parts of the ladies quarters.

In the later afternoon enjoy exploring the bustling bazaars.

Jaipur is renowned for textile block printing, blue pottery, carpet weaving, semi-precious stones and local crafts which still thrive from the day of Maharaja Jai Singh's patronage when he designed special areas in the city for the 'bandhanas', the 'cheepas' and the 'meenakari' workers.

Overnight will be at Jaipur.

Breakfast will be the hotel.

Drive to Ranthambhore.

Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, at the junction of the Aravalis and the Vindhyas, is a unique example of natural and historical richness, standing out conspicuously in the vast, arid and denuded tract of eastern Rajasthan, barely 14 kilometers from Sawai Madhopur. Get in tune with nature for a luxury holiday in the heart of the jungle. Most of the resorts are close to the National Park Gate, Tiger Den being the closest.

It spreads over a highly undulating topography varying from gentle to steep slopes; from flat-topped hills of the Vindhyas to the conical hillocks and sharp ridges of the Aravalis, from wide and flat valleys to narrow rocky gorges. An important geological feature the ‘Great Boundary Fault’ where the Vindhya plateaus meet the Aravali Hill range meanders through the Reserve. The rivers Chambal in the south and Banas in the north bind the National Park.

Tiger, at the apex of the food chain, lord over the kingdom in a subtle way. Solitary by nature, it operates in stealth. Therefore tiger sightings, frequent as they are, are always a matter of chance. However, even evidences of tiger's activities are very exciting.

Arrive and transfer you to hotel/resort. Check – in and relax.

Dinner will be served at the hotel/resort.

Overnight will be at Ranthambhore.

Wake up early morning and leave for your safari into the National Park. Track the tigers and other wildlife through the morning. Return to the hotel/resort by 1000 in the morning and have breakfast.

Freshen up and either spend time at the pool or visit the town. You could also go for a nice visit to the temple on top of the fort.

In the afternoon have lunch and then leave again for you afternoon safari. The safari will be till evening 1700 – 1800 hr and then return to the resort.

Dinner will be at the hotel/resort and retire early for the night.

Overnight will be at Ranthambhore.

Breakfast will be at the hotel/resort

Drive to Agra visiting Fatehpur Sikri en-route.

Fatehpur Sikri is 37 km west of Agra. Jajal-ud-din-Muhammad Akbar, Humanyun's son, accessed the throne at the tender age of 14. While hunting around Sikri his curiosity was aroused by the songs of some minstrels about the celebrated Khwaja -Mu'inu'd-din Chishti, the founder of the Chishti order of SUFIS. Akbar, who was without a male heir, heard about Saint Salim Chishti and visited him in the year 1568 and the saint, blessed him with three sons. In gratitude, Akbar ordered the great mosque of Fatehpur Sikri built under his supervision. As a mark of respect to the saint, Akbar shifted his capital to Fatehpur Sikri and built various secular buildings like the Diwan-I-Am, Diwan-I-Khas, Jodhabai palace, Birbal's house, Marian's house and the Panchmahal.

Enjoy sightseeing and continue drive to Agra.

Reach Agra and check into the hotel.

AGRA: Two great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and Shah Jahan, transformed the little village of Agra into a befitting second capital of the Mughal Empire - giving it the name Dar-ul-Khilafat {seat of the Emperor}. Today a visitor to Agra is caught up in a world of contrasting edifices, of red sandstone and white marble, narrow galleys and quaint buggies, and that irresistible charm that this favorite city of the Mughals still retains. It is not surprising, that modern Agra still reflects its Mughal heritage most conspicuously.

Overnight will be at Agra.

Proceed for a sunrise tour of TAJ MAHAL (closed on Friday).

TAJ MAHAL – Little needs to be said about this architectural wonder, which is always the soul raison-de-etre for every tourist's visit to Agra. Built by Shah Jahan, the Taj is a white marble memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. This monument took 22 years to be completed and was designed, and planned by Persian architect Ustad Isa. Apart from its stunning design balance and perfect symmetry, the Taj is also noted particularly for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and some of the best inlay work ever seen.

Return to hotel for freshening up and breakfast.

Later start for the tour of the ancient city.

SIKANDRA – This beautifully maintained monument is where EMPEROR AKBAR was buried. It is a very low profile monument but it has one of the most awe - inspiring tombs. It is surreal how one of the greatest emperors has been put to rest. The manicured lawns has spotted and other varieties of deer roaming in them. Named after the Afghan ruler Sikander Lodi, Sikandra is the final resting place of Emperor Akbar. The Emperor began the construction of his own garden mausoleum during his lifetime. However, his son Jahangir completed the construction in 1613. An impressive marble - inlaid gateway leads to the spacious four - tiered monument that is crowned by a white marble cenotaph and screen. What is interesting is that the structure imbibes the best of Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain motifs, signifying the new religion started by Akbar - the DEEN E ILAHI.

AGRA FORT – The red sandstone structure is surrounded by “chahar-bagh”, a foursquare formal garden. Built by the famed Mughal emperor Akbar in 1565 AD, the fort is predominantly of red sandstone. Ensconced within is the picture perfect Pearl Mosque, which is a major tourist attraction. It lies on the bend of the river Yamuna, almost in the heart of the town. Akbar built it as his citadel over the years 1563-73 in the finest architectural style. It has imposing gates and walls of red sandstone and a moat

ITMAD-UD-ULLAH – The interiors of which are considered better than the Taj. Nur Jahan, the Empress of Jehangir for her father in 1628, built one of the most beautiful Mughal tombs, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb. The tomb is a resting place of the powerful personality in Mughal Court, Itmad-Ud-Daulah, whose life is very interesting. Formerly a very poor Persian merchant then named Mirza Ghiyas or Ghiyas Beg he became a minister and a trusted treasure in Akbar's court. After Akbar's death in 1605, his son Jahangir rose into power. Jahangir made Ghiyas Beg his chief minister and honored him with the title of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, the Pillar of State. Later, Jahangir met a beautiful daughter of Ghiyas Beg named Mehr-Un-Nissa and married her. Mehr-Un-Nissa soon played a significant role in the Jahangir's court and was called Nur Mahal, the light pf the Place. Owing to her influence, her father and brother were granted with privileges in the court. When Ghiyas beg (Itmad-Un-Daulah) dies in 1622, Nur Mahal decided to build a mausoleum for him. Queen Mumtaz Mahal or the lady of the Taj was also from this prevailing family. The mausoleum is entirely made of white marble and graced with intricate decoration of inlay work, and marble-screen work belonging to the Islamic style. With its tranquil, small garden on the bank of Yamuna River, the tomb stands impressively elegant from a distance.

Proceed for a HERITAGE WALK to the other side of River YAMUNA with your guide.

The other side of the TAJ MAHAL across the river Yamuna where Mughal History has been written in edicts of stone, the river Yamuna lined with the residences of mobility was the artery, the very lifeline, which fostered the development of Mughal Agra. These heritage relics have been weaved together for a historic experience of Mughal Agra. You would walk through the various monuments in midst of rural setting intertwined with the communities along with stunning view of the TAJ MAHAL.

Enjoy the extended hospitality of the local villagers sipping a cup of Masala Chai on the Tea Terrace with standard, comfortable, clean, affordable, and safe facilities. The whole village walk through India’s Mughal History and amiable people is an unforgettable experience.

Overnight will be at Agra.

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Transfer to the railway station to board train for Jhansi (This is a super-fast train with airline type seats and snacks / mineral water is served on board).

Reach Jhansi and drive to Panna visiting Orchha enroute.

ORCHHA – A medieval city founded by Bundela rulers with Palaces and temples of the 16th and 17th century which have remarkable withstood the onslaught of time. The River Betwa picturesquely flanks the city.

Enjoy sightseeing of ORCHHA sites within the Fort Complex.

Continue drive to Panna. Reach Panna and check into the hotel.

PANNA National Park is situated in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, at a short distance from Khajuraho. The region, famous for its diamond industry, is also home to some of the best wildlife species in India and is one of the most famous Tiger Reserves in the country. The park is known worldwide for its wild cats, including tigers as well as deer and antelope. Due to its closeness to one of the best-known Indian tourist attraction in India, Khajuraho, the park is recognized as an exciting stop-over destination. The climate of the region is tropical. Summers, somewhat scorching, are when one has the maximum chances of encountering the exclusive wildlife of this park.

PANNA is famous for its diamond mining industry and this makes it an interesting place to visit. PANDAV FALLS is also a major attraction with its lake that is fed by a waterfall. Another major attraction of this region is the RAJGARH PALACE, a magnificent piece of architecture overlooking the valley.

Dinner will be served at the hotel.

Overnight will be at Panna.

Enjoy early morning game drive.

Come back to the hotel and enjoy leisurely breakfast.

Later proceed for an excursion to Khajuraho. Visit FAMOUS WESTERN & EASTERN TEMPLES of Khajuraho.

The Western group of temples: Primarily built in one style the temples have the entrance, the assembly hall, the vestibule and finally a circumambulation running around the inner sanctum. The temples are divided in three major zones, the western, the eastern and the southern temples of which the western temples are the most popular ones.

The arch of Kandariya Mahadev shrine has meticulously carved various themes of life. Celestial beings, lovers serenading musicians all the movements captured in stone, frozen in time, yet retaining a quality of warm, pulsating life. The very stone seems to have taken on the living, breathing quality of the carved figures. Outer walls have three horizontal panels showing deities of the Hindu pantheon, and groups of lovers, a pageant of sensuousness, vibrantly alive.

The Chousat Yogini temple dedicated to kali is also present but without the deity in the sanctum.

The Matangeshwara temple is the only shrine used for worshipping. The temple is almost devoid of ornamentation.

The Varaha Temple stands opposite the Matangeshwara temple and is dedicated to the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu in form of a Boar. The monolithic figure is exquisitely carved with 764 divine figures around it.

The Lakshmana Temple, dedicated to the four armed and three headed man-lion-boar statue of Vaikuntha is the best-preserved and the most evolved Vishnu temples. There are sculptures depicting many mythological stories such as the churning of the ocean and Kalia mardan. On the exterior, the entire range of the Khajuraho temples is on display. Ecstatic street singers and the architect of the temples, surrounded by his apprentices are among the noteworthy images on this temple. The Vishwanath temple was supposed to be embedded with jewels, but only a stone lingam is what remains now. The exteriors of this temple however are the most stunningly beautiful. Here one can see nymphs can be seen playing on their flutes, removing thorns from their feet, fondling children and looking into a mirror. Some of the most erotic depictions are seen as well.

Another interesting temple is dedicated to the Sun God, the Chitragupta temple. It shows the Sun God driving the chariot drawn by seven horses. The exteriors show, royal processions, elephant-fights, hunting scenes, group dances and the lavish lifestyle of the Chandela kings and their court in its all pomp and glory.

The Eastern Group of temples: The Brahma and the Hanuman temples are the most famous and well-preserved temples of this group. The Vamana temple shows all the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

This place also has a few temples belonging to the Jain religion, probably because one of the descendants of the Chandela dynasty may have adopted Jainism. The prominent among these are the Ghantai temple, the Parsvanath and the Shnatinath temple.

Lunch will be arranged at a local restaurant in Khajuraho.

Come back to the hotel and spend evening in leisure.

Dinner will be served at the hotel.

Overnight will be at Panna.

Enjoy early morning game drive.

Come back to the hotel and enjoy leisurely breakfast.

Transfer to the airport to take flight for Varanasi.

Upon arrival at Varanasi, you will be met and transferred to hotel.

Picturesquely situated on the crescent shaped left bank of the holy River Ganges, Varanasi, one of the ancient seats of learning in India, is said to be a compound of the names of two streams, the Varuna and the Assi, which still flow in the north and south of the city respectively. This name seems to have been corrupted, in medieval times to Varanasi, which was in use till May 1956, when it was changed to Varanasi, by an order of the Government of India. Varanasi is probably one of the most ancient living cities in India. From time immemorial it has been a great religious center for Hindus and one of their most sacred places of pilgrimage, being visited by millions of people every year. To every visitor Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience. The rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges; the high-banks; the temples and shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue …soul stirring hymns and mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air…and the refreshing dip in the holy waters gently splashing at the Ghats.

Varanasi – The land where experience and discovery reach the ultimate bliss. Varanasi is also renowned for its rich tapestry of music, arts, crafts and education. Some of the world – renowned exponents India has produced in these fields were schooled in Varanasi’s cultural ethos. Luminaries apart, Varanasi abounds in the art of silk weaving, an exotic work of art, which manifests itself in precious Banarasi silk saris, and silk brocades that are cherished as collector’s items across the world today.

Enjoy visit to the Ganges along with the Rituals of Death Tour and learn about the traditions that are followed during a Hindu cremation. This will be followed by AARTI at the GHATS. The guide will be giving a commentary to you on the proceedings and meanings of the chants during the AARTI of the river.

Spend the evening shopping in the lanes of Varanasi.

Overnight will be at Varanasi.

Drive to Dashashwamedh Ghat very early in the morning and take a boat ride on the sacred river Ganges to see the cremation Ghats and witness the living traditions of one of the world's oldest and most important religions. (To start at 0500 hrs. for the best lifetime experience) For you to appreciate this remarkable city, we’ll transfer you to the banks of the River Ganges before the sun rises. Board a boat with your guide and proceed to the middle of the river, where at sunrise the sight unfolds before you. Thousands of faithful come daily to the banks to bathe and pray while in the background, temples and palaces rise in tiers from the water’s edge. Return for a walk through the cobblestone streets along the banks of "Ganga". As shops are opening, the place now becomes a beehive of activity as the faithful are coming and going.

Return to hotel for a sumptuous breakfast.

Proceed for day-guided tour of Varanasi including the Bharat Mata Temple, which features a big relief map of Mother India engraved in marble. Also visit the 18th century Durga Temple, commonly known as the Monkey Temple due to the huge population of the monkeys. Proceed to the Tulsi Manas Temple, crafted from white marble that features the entire Ramayana inscribed on its walls. Also visit the BHU considered as the biggest residential university in Asia. The University Campus houses an Art Gallery and the Mosque of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Visit Sarnath – 5 miles out of Varanasi for a day excursion: One of the holiest Buddhist sites in the world, where Buddha preached his first Sermon in 590 BC. Here he revealed the eightfold path that leads to the attainment of inner peace, Enlightenment and Ultimate Nirvana. Witness the ruins of a once flourishing Buddhist monastery and then visit a fine Museum which houses an excellent collection of Buddhist art and sculptures found at the site.

Overnight will be at Varanasi.

Breakfast will be at hotel.

Transfer to the airport to take flight for Delhi. Reach and board the connecting flight for Kathmandu.

COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE will meet and assist you upon your arrival at the Kathmandu international airport. Transfer to your hotel…check in and relax.

The Katmandu Valley, the political, commercial and cultural hub of Nepal, is the first for the majority of visitors to Nepal. Once a separate kingdom in itself, it contains three fabled cities – Katmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Each is an artistic exposition of graceful temples, elegant palaces, brick paved courtyards and quaint streets. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in the valley.

Overnight will be at Katmandu.

Breakfast will be at hotel.

Proceed for the sightseeing of Kathmandu.

Visit the DURBAR SQUARE. It is the historic seat of royalty. The Durbar Square, with its old temples and palaces, epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here that kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Interesting things to see here are: Taleju Temple built by King Mahendra Malla in 1549 AD, the temple of Kal Bhairav, the God of destruction, Nautalle Durbar, Coronation Nasal Chowk, the Gaddi Baithak, the statue of King Pratap Malla, the Big Drum and the Jagannath Temple.

On the right hand corner, a large wooden lattice screen hides an enormous gilded face of Sweta Bhairav. The screen is removed only during the Indra Jatra festival. There are also the Numismatic Museum and Tribhuvan Museum inside the Hanuman Dhoka Palace building. Photography is prohibited inside the museum. Both the museums remain closed on Sundays, Mondays and government holidays.

Continue the tour and visit PASUPATINATH, SWAMBHUNATH & BOUDHNATH.

The temple of Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath, with two tiered golden roof and silver door is considered one of the holiest shrines for Hindu. It is Top Hindu temple of the world. Although only Hindus are allowed inside the temple, visitors can clearly see the temple and the activities performed in the temple premises from the eastern bank of the Bagmati River.

The Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath situated on the top of a hill west of the city is on the most popular and instantly recognizable symbols of Nepal. The temple is colloquially known as the 'monkey temple' after the large tribe of handsome monkeys which guards the hill and amuses visitors and devotees with tricks, including slinding gracefully down the double banisters of the main stairway to the temple. The roving monkeys quickly snatch up any offerings of food made by devotes and will just as quickly grab anything you may be carrying.

Proceed to visit BOUDDHANATH. The Stupa of Bouddhanath lies 8 km east of Kathmandu. This ancient colossal Stupa is one of the biggest in the world, and the center of Tibetan Buddhism in the world.

In the evening, proceed for a Nepali Folk Dance performance followed by dinner.

Overnight will be at Katmandu.

Breakfast will be at hotel.

Drive to the tranquil valley – Pokhara.

Reach Pokhara, transfer to hotel, refresh & relax with the spectacular panorama of Annapurna range forming the backdrop.

Stretching from the east to west, the Annapurna massif includes Annapurna I to IV and Annapurna South. Although the highest among them is Annapurna I (8091m), it is Machhapuchhre (the fishtail), which dominates all others in this neighborhood. Boastfully levitating in the skyline, the fish-tailed pinnacle is the archetypal snow-capped, needle-pointed mountain.

okhara is a remarkable place of natural beauty. Situated at an altitude of 827m from the sea level and 200km west of Katmandu valley, the city is known as a center of adventure. The enchanting city with a population of around 95,000 has several beautiful lakes and offers stunning panoramic views of Himalayan peaks. The serenity of lakes and the magnificence of the Himalayas rising behind them create an ambience of peace and magic. It is part of a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and valorous warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers. The Thakalis, another important ethnic group here, are known for their entrepreneurship. The climate of Pokhara is slightly warmer than Katmandu with daytime temperature hovering around 15 degrees Celsius in winter and 35 degrees in summer. The monsoon season which lasts from mid-June to mid-September is very wet; in fact Pokhara records the highest rainfall in the country.

The activities of foreign visitors to Pokhara focus around two districts known as Damside and Lakeside (or Pardi and Baidam, in Nepali, respectively). These two areas, with their strips of hotels and restaurants, are a few kilometers south-west of the main Pokhara bazaar.

Overnight will be in Pokhara.

We start our day with the early morning visit to Sarangkot for the fabulous sunrise.

After the spectacular sunrise, we drive back to our hotel to start our remaining activities for the day with the breakfast at the hotel.

Today, we take you to the famous Devi’s Fall (also known as Devin’s or David’s) locally known as Patale Chhango (Hell’s Fall), an awesome waterfall lying about 2 km south-west of Pokhara Airport on the highway to Tansen. Legend has it that a trekker (Devin, David…) was washed away by the Pardi Khola and mysteriously disappeared down into an underground passage beneath the fall.

Bindhyabasubu Temple at the old bazaar, Seti Gandaki, the boisterous river running completely underground at the places, Mahendra cave (House of Bats), the natures’ wonder at Pokhara & Pokhara Museum.

After lunch, start exploring the city by driving to the Begnas Lake & Rupa Lake located 15 Km from Pokhara divided by a forested hillock called Panchabhaiya Danda, offering the perfect nature retreat with their relative seclusion.

End your trip by visiting the Tibetan Monastery.

Overnight will be in Pokhara.

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Transfer to the airport to take flight for Kathmandu. Reach and board the connecting flight for Delhi.

Arrive at Delhi and proceed to board your connecting flight back home with sweet memories of the India trip.


TOUR ENDS




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