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Home » Destinations » Asia » India » Exodus Highlights of Northern India
Northern India conjures up memorable and colourful images of turbans, saris, flavoursome curries and rickshaws. Visit the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, home to the wonderful former Maharaja’s Palace and the splendid hilltop Amber Fort. Agra and the serene Taj Mahal are not to be missed and fully live up to expectations. An early morning boat ride through the mist along the ghats of Varanasi is probably the most sensory intoxicating excursion in India and is both fascinating and deeply moving – an experience only equalled by spotting a tiger in Ranthambore National Park.
Flights usually depart London in the evening.
Those who are on the group flights will land in Delhi in the morning. Those not on the group flights will need to be at the start hotel by 9am (or at the airport when the group land). A local representative will meet Land Only clients at the start hotel and provide a transfer to the airport where we meet clients arriving on the group flight.
Built in the late 18th century, Jaipur is a planned city of broad avenues built of sandstone and painted pink at a later stage. We visit the City Palace in the centre of Jaipur, formerly the residence of the Maharaja, now a fine museum containing rare manuscripts, paintings, royal garments and weapons. Close to the palace is one of the most intriguing sights of India, the observatory of Jai Singh. This is an assembly of immense astronomical instruments made of marble and brass set in a pleasant garden. We will also see Jaipur’s impressive landmark, the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds.
We wind our way through the villages of rural India to Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (approx. 5 hr drive); we stay in a hotel not far from the park entrance and make 2 game drives into the park, one in the late afternoon and one the following morning. Ranthambore is one of India’s tiger reserves under Project Tiger. After initial success, poaching has drastically reduced the tiger population and the chance of spotting a tiger is small, but many Exodus groups have seen tigers over the last few years.
In the morning we take our second game drive, trying to find that elusive tiger, before we start our journey to Agra via Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is the Emperor Akbar’s deserted royal city. This impressive and well-preserved citadel became his capital in 1571, after the blessing of a local Moslem holy man correctly predicted the birth of a longed-for son, his successor the Emperor Jehangir. The mosque, designed to hold ten thousand worshippers, the palaces, residences and halls of audience are all made of decorative red sandstone.
Today we will rise early to visit the beautiful white marble Taj Mahal at sunrise which was built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. The Taj is serenely beautiful and never fails to amaze a first time visitor; the white marble exterior changes colour according to the position of the sun during the day and is matched by the rich interior detail. Within striking distance is the imposing Red Fort of Akbar, third of the Moghul Emperors, whose mighty sandstone walls enclose the beautiful white marble Pearl Mosque and the palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains of his sons and successors, Jehangir and Shah Jahan.
We arrive in Varanasi during the morning and transfer to our hotel. Varanasi, located on the river Ganges, is one of the holiest cities in India and stands at the centre of the Hindu Universe. As such, the city lives and breathes Hinduism: there are thousands of pilgrims, wandering holy men (Sadhus), religious elders and casual visitors. It is a city to get immersed in by exploring its maze of narrow lanes and the many temples and watching the Hindu ceremonies that take place around the clock.
Just before dawn, we take a boat out on the Ganges to witness the extraordinary spectacle on the ghats, the steps leading down to the river. Every day thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to these three miles of riverbank to soak in the holy waters. This afternoon we fly back to Delhi.
Today you are free to relax or explore the sites of New and Old Delhi (an optional sightseeing trip will be organised if you wish). Recommended sites are the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate, Jama Masjid (India’s largest mosque), Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) and Raj Ghat. For last minute shopping, we recommend the market area of Chandni Chowk or Karol Bagh.
Those on the flight inclusive package will depart for the airport this morning for the daytime flight back to London; Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.
6 nights hotels, 2 nights air-conditioned sleeper trains.
The hotels used are standard city tourist hotels (2 or 3-star, local rating). All rooms have en suite facilities.
Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don’t include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment’s notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.
Please call us free on 0800 707 6229 for pricing and availability
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