|Spiritual Essence Of India Tour
Throughout India’s vibrant history, religion has always been a dominant theme. A kaleidoscope of faiths evolved into the founding of some remarkable religions including Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Hinduism. The tour gives a brief but fascinating glimpse of many of the holy places, in dispersed with quiet hill stations and dazzling scenery. The first destination is Amritsar and the Golden Temple, with its golden dome of the Hari Mandir, topped by an inverted Lotus flower said to symbolise the Sikh concerns of this world. Our journey then takes us to Dharamsala. This unique town, the home of the refugee Tibetans fleeing the Chinese, has many peaceful walks and bazaars to while away the hours. Next go to Haridwar to learn more about the nature of Hinduism and witness the spectacular ceremony at Har-ki-Pauri. Then heading to Rishikesh, with memories of the Beatles feel the strong pulse of Hinduism at this sacred place. Ashrams crowd the banks of the River Ganges, and the bustling town is alive with tourists coming to study at one of the many Yoga centres. Varanasi, one of the oldest Hindu cities, has its life’s blood focused on the Ganges. Mystics mingle through the crowds of pilgrims, purifying themselves in the sacred waters or observing the final rites before commending the ashes of their loved ones to the Holy waters. The tour then follows the route from Agra to Jaipur, pausing at the fabled Taj Mahal and magnificent Amber Fort. At Pushkar see the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma and at Ajmer, the shrine of the Sufi Saint Moin-ud-din Chishti. Then to Mt Abu and the incomparable Jain Temples, before a visit to Udaipur and the famed Lake Pichola.
Destinations Covered: Delhi - Amritsar - Dharamsala - Delhi - Haridwar - Rishikesh - Varanasi - Agra - Jaipur - Pushkar - Ajmer - Deogarh - Mt Abu - Udaipur - Mumbai
20 Nights / 21 Days
Day 1: Arrive Delhi
Meeting and assistance on arrival at International airport & transfer to hotel. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Delhi
Morning sightseeing of New Delhi is consisting of drive through the Raisina Hills- Parliament House, India Gate, President House; 16th century tomb of Emperor Humayun built of Marble & Red stone in typical Mughal fashion, Lotus temple (Bahai Temple) & Qutab Minar. Afternoon sight seeing of Old Delhi is highlighted Shah Jahan's Red Fort, the bustling market place of Chandni Chowk by Rickshaw Puller Ride, Raj Ghat, and the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. Evening visit Bahai Lotus temple. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3: Delhi / Amritsar (By Flight)
Morning transfer to flight to Amritsar. On arrival, transfer to hotel. Afternoon city tour includes visit to the Golden Temple, so beloved by the Sikhs, and the Jallian Wala Bagh. Late night optional visit to witness the ceremony of Sukh Asan. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Amritsar - Dharamsala – McLeod Ganj (By Surface)
Morning after breakfast drive to Dharamsala with lunch en-route. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 5: Dharamsala – McLeod Ganj
Early morning go to see the devotion and meditation at the monastery. Followed by a walking tour of the monasteries observing the Monk’s daily life. McLeod Ganj is now the new home of the Dalai Lama of Tibet; the area has a decided Tibetan feel, with bustling bazaars selling numerous Tibetan artefacts and a good selection of bookshops selling Buddhist literature. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 6: Dharamsala / Delhi (By Flight)
Day at leisure to explore the area perhaps walking to Bhagsu with its temple and waterfall or the slightly longer stroll to Dharamkot with its delightful views. Transfer from hotel to airport to connect flight to Delhi. On arrival, transfer to hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7: Delhi – Haridwar - Rishikesh (By Surface)
Early morning train to Haridwar, propitiously located at the point the Ganges leaves the Himalayas, to see the bathing Ghats and religious ceremonies. At Har-ki- Pauri witness the devotees performing their rites. Later drive to Rishikesh, made famous by the Beatles back in the sixties. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8: Rishikesh
Fascinating day exploring the Ghats and temples of Rishikesh. Yoga and meditation can be organised locally. A walk of particular interest is across Lakshman Jhula Bridge to Swargashram. In the evening watch the ceremony of ‘Ganga Aarti’. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9: Overnight train to Varanasi
Day at leisure. Early morning visit to Ashrams or yoga centres can be arranged if requested in advance. Depart to Haridwar to board night train to Varanasi. Overnight on board the train.
Day 10: Arrive Varanasi
Afternoon arrival in Varanasi. Meeting and assistance on arrival at railway station and transfer to hotel. Rest of the day free. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: Overnight train to Agra
Early morning boat ride on the sacred River Ganges to silently observe the devout bathing in the waters for purification. Later visit Sarnath to see the ancient Buddhist site, where Buddha preached his first sermon and now a centre of International worship. In time transfer to railway station to board overnight train to Agra. Overnight on board the train.
Day 12: Arrive Agra
Arrive Agra. Meeting and assistance on arrival at railway station & transfer to hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Agra visiting Itmad-ud-Daulah, the magnificent mausoleum of the father of Empress Noor Jahan, and the compellingly beautiful Taj Mahal (TAJ MAHAL IS CLOSED ON FRIDAYS). To end the day another visit at sunset to linger at this monument of love. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 13: Agra – Fatehpur Sikri – Jaipur (By Surface)
Morning visit the World Heritage site of the Agra Fort, created by successive Moghul Emperors, each adding his own inimitable signature. Later drive to Fathepur Sikri the fabled deserted city of the mighty Emperor Akbar, before arriving at the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 14: Jaipur
Morning excursion to the Amber Fort, slowly winding up the steep path on elephant back. Afternoon city sightseeing including the City Palace complex, Jantar Mantar Observatory and the charming Palace of the Winds. Optional evening excursion to the Choki Dhani for a traditional rustic Rajasthani meal. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 15: Jaipur – Pushkar (By Surface)
Drive to Pushkar on the edge of the Great Thar Desert, to enjoy a contemplative time at this Holy village. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Pushkar is an important Hindu Centre with numerous temples, including the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma. Take a walking tour of the delightful Pushkar Lake passing the bathing Ghats where devout pilgrims purify themselves in the Holy water. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 16: Pushkar – Ajmer - Deogarh (By Surface)
Morning drive via Ajmer with its rich combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Visit the mausoleum of the venerated Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti, with its attendant Mosques. Stay at Deogarh Mahal for the night. Optional Village Jeep safari to see the local people and wild life. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 17: Deogarh - Mount Abu (By Surface)
Morning after breakfast drive to Mount Abu, the only Hill Station in Rajasthan. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 18: Mount Abu
In the morning visit the Brahma Kumaris Ashram – the World Spiritual University with its Spiritual Art Gallery. Also visit the incomparable Dilwara Jain Temples. Their simple facades belie the superb craftsmanship inside. The workmanship is at times quite breathtaking: solid marble carved with such delicacy and sensitivity that it appears almost translucent. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 19: Mount Abu – Ranakpur - Udaipur (By Surface)
Morning drive to Udaipur en-route visiting the Ranakpur Jain Temples. The beauty of the carving in the temples is wonderful. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 20: Udaipur
Morning sightseeing tour of Udaipur includes the City Palace and fascinating museums. Later visit the delightful Maids of Honour Gardens. Evening boat ride on Lake Pichola as the sun sets on this romantic city. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 21: Udaipur - Mumbai (Bombay) By Flight
Morning at leisure. Later transfer to airport to connect flight to Mumbai. On arrival, transfer to International airport to connect flight for onward destination / home.