Dreams of the Taj Escapade Experience 2019-2020
7 days with Pacific Delight Tours Rating:
Day 1 • Arrive Delhi
Arrive at your Deluxe accommodations. Delhi is India’s capital and a major gateway to the country. Perhaps, there is no other capital city in the world so steeped in history and legend as the Indian capital Delhi. It was the magnet which drew the Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Mughals and the British, all of whom contributed to its glorious but turbulent past. The fascination with Delhi was such that even though it was abandoned many times, its rulers returned to it again and again, rebuilding it at least seven times. Today, the twin cities of Old and New Delhi still intrigue Indians and tourists alike as the cultural and political capital of the largest democracy in the world.
Day 2 • Delhi
Today, begin your guided exploration of Delhi, India’s capital city that sports a rich history spanning over 2,000 years. Arrive in Old Delhi and ride in a cycle rickshaw (pedi-cab) through the narrow lanes. The Old City walls wrap around Chandi Chowk, the ancient market that continues to thrive. The energy in the streets is palpable. Local men sit and sip their tea at chai stands. Next, visit Jama Masjid—the largest mosque in India, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century and surrounded by multiple entrances that all lead to the apex of the main worshiping deck. You will continue to Raj Ghat, the memorial of Gandhi, built at the site of his cremation on the banks of the Yamuna River. Later, visit the Sikh temple Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, second most important Sikh shrine in India, and learn about the history of this religion. Optional: While at the temple, you have the option to volunteer in the community kitchen to prepare and serve food to the visitors (the temple is visited by about a million every day), and, if you wish, you can enjoy a traditional vegetarian lunch at the temple with the community. In the afternoon, drive past India Gate and the Government Secretariat buildings on the way to Qutab Minar—the five-story victory tower which signifies the beginning of the Muslim rule in India by the first Muslim ruler Qutab-ud-din Aibak. (B)
Day 3 • Delhi / Agra
This morning, set out on a drive to Agra—the city of Taj Mahal. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel. Agra, once a small village on the banks of the Yamuna, was transformed by two great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and his grandson Shah Jehan, into the second capital of the Mughal Empire–Dar-ul-Khilafat, or ‘seat of the Emperor’ in the 16th & 17th centuries. A world of contrasting edifices of red sandstone and white marble, narrow galleys, bustling streets and small buggies, Agra retains the irresistible charm that made it the favorite city of the Mughals. (B)
Optional: Mohabbat E Taj—a fascinating live show that narrates the story of Taj Mahal and presents it in various shades and seasons; the true and immortal love of Shajahan for Mumtaj Mahal, his beautiful wife; the lavish lifestyle of the Mughal era; and the 22 years of hardship of the artisans who created this most precious piece of craftsmanship (US$40 p.p.)
Day 4 • Agra
Rise early for a dawn visit to the Taj Mahal. It is fitting to see this extraordinary monument by the first light of day, as its exemplary beauty is awe-inspiring and will create an unforgettable memory. Mughal emperor Shahjahan built this architectural wonder to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Fashioned from white marble with semi-precious pietra dura stone inlay work, it was described by Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore as “a teardrop on the face of eternity.” Note: Timing subject to change based on the local sunrise schedule. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Later, proceed to visit Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. Built in 1565 by the great Mughal ruler Akbar, the citadel consists of marble palaces, ornate alcoves and terraced pavilions. From the ramparts of the fort, there is a lovely view of the gleaming white Taj Mahal in the distance. From here, continue to the Roman Catholic Cemetery—at over 450 years old, it is North India’s oldest Christian cemetery. The tombs in Agra’s Roman Catholic Cemetery are initially the resting places of the Armenian Christians in the 1550s, and thereafter, of other European Catholics in the city. The European Christians in Agra were creating their own fairy-tale-like mausoleums in a cemetery, dating back to Akbar’s time, in carved red sandstone, yellow basalt and whitewashed plastered walls. However, the tomb that stands out from all the rest is that of British Colonel John Hessing. The cemetery is also popular as an Islamic mausoleum for Christian souls. Last but not least, visit the Red Taj Mahal, small replica of Taj Mahal built in red sandstone. (B)
Day 5 • Agra / Abhaneri / Jaipur
This morning, set out on a drive to Jaipur, the 18th-century capital of Rajasthan. Stop en-route at Abhaneri Village, a popular stop along the Agra – Jaipur road, for the impressive Chand Baori stepwell and the Harshat Mata Temple. The Chand Baori is perhaps the region’s most visited stepwell and is one of the largest and deepest in all of India. Continue to Jaipur, reaching it in the evening. On arrival, check in at your hotel. Jaipur is also known as the ‘Pink City’ for the abundance of pink plastered stone used to build its massive forts, magnificent palaces and exquisite temples. The city which was built in 1727 A.D. by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, followed a grid system which made it the only planned city of its time. A young Bengali architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya designed the city in accordance with Shilp Shastra—an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. There is far more to the city than just its famous monuments, and to get a complete experience of Jaipur, one must uncover the mysteries of the bazaars and visit silversmiths, turban sellers and traditional markets. (B)
Optional: After a day of exploration, perhaps, head to the Raj Mandir Cinema to experience the glamour of a Bollywood film (US$33 p.p.) Note: Though Bollywood movies are 3 hours in duration, we will watch it only till half time (1h30) –no translation facility available.
Day 6 • Jaipur
This morning, visit the imposing Amber Fort. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is an authentic example of Rajput architecture, and the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is one of its more spectacular buildings. Next, we will make a brief photo stop at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds). Its beehive-like structure is an interplay of red and pink sandstone, painstakingly outlined with white borders and motifs. Behind this elaborate latticed facade, the cloistered ladies of the court could watch the daily activities in the street below. In the afternoon, proceed for a city tour including Jaipur's Royal City Palace with its extravagant rooms and apartments. Later, discover one of the five astronomical observatories, Jantar Mantar, built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. (B)
Optional: Cooking demonstration and home-hosted meal. For a memorable evening affair, indulge in a gourmet experience, where you not only dine on tasteful local meals but learn to prepare them yourself. It’s a fun and interactive session that combines delicious local food and drinks with a very happy palate and some serious recipes to take home (US$80 p.p.)
Day 7 • Depart Jaipur via Delhi
Enjoy the morning at leisure. This afternoon, you will be driven back to Delhi, reaching it in time to board your flight home/onward. (B)
All This Included
New Delhi: Hotel Pullman New Delhi Aerocity
Agra: Crystal Sarovar Premiere
Jaipur: Sarovar Portico Jaipur
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.