Toronto – New Delhi Departure in the late afternoon from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport with Air Canada (or) Jet Airways service direct to New Delhi, India. Dinner, breakfast and lunch will be served.
Evening arrival at Delhi International Airport, where we meet our hosts who will welcome us to a city with a long lineage of rulers who fixed their royal citadels and parliament here. They will then transfer us to our hotel. Overnight Delhi
After breakfast we will be given a tour of India’s capital city beginning in Old Delhi the former seat of Mughal Power with its ancient monuments, narrow streets and bustling bazaars. Driving past the vast Red Fort, built in 1648, we visit the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib Sikh Temple, the Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi and the Jama Masjid, the greatest mosque in India completed in 1658 by Shah Jehan. Following lunch we make our way to New Delhi where we drive past the stately government buildings of the British Era designed by Edwin Lutyens including the India Gate & the Presidential Palace. Today’s tour ends at the beautiful tomb of Humayun, first of the great Mughal architectural masterpieces and an exquisite example of Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture and the 12th C. towering minaret of Qutub Minar made of red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an. At 74 meters, it is the tallest brick minaret in the world. Overnight Delhi
We leave by bus after breakfast, stopping en-route to visit the Swaminarayan Akshardham epitomizing 10,000 years of Indian culture, and the expressive contemporary Lotus Temple of the Bahai faith before continuing to Agra. Though the heritage of Agra is linked with the Mughal dynasty, numerous other rulers also contributed to the rich past of this city. Modern Agra was founded by, Sikandar Lodhi 2nd ruler of the Lodhi, Pashtun dynasty in the 16th century. Babar, founder of the succeeding Mughal dynasty, also resided in Agra, which came into its own in the 17th C. when Shah Jehan ascended the throne of the Mughal Empire and built the ‘crown jewel’ of Mughal architecture, the Taj Mahal as the central feature of a ‘Garden of Paradise’. Upon arrival check in at the hotel. The remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight Agra Jama Masjid, Old Delhi Lotus Temple, Delhi
After breakfast at the hotel an amazing day in Agra begins with a sunrise visit to the most admired of Mughal structural and landscape architecture the serene Taj Mahal. Little needs to be said about this artistic wonder built by Shah Jahan, as a loving memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. This monument, taking 22 years to complete, is extolled for its superb symmetry, elegant contours, intricately carved marble jaali (lattice screens) and intarsia. We return to the hotel for breakfast followed by a visit to Agra Fort lying on the bend of the river Yamuna with a view of the Taj from its walls. From 1563-73 Akbar built the fort as his citadel employing a majestic mix of Indo Islamic styles. It has imposing gates and massive walls of red sandstone. The superb jaali in the scalloped arches of the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), created during the reign of Shah Jahan, are paramount among Agra Fort’s dazzling wonders. After Lunch we cross the Jumna River to the Tomb of I'timad-ud-Daulah. Often described as a "jewel box", its design is thought to be a draft of the Taj Mahal. Later in the afternoon you will have the opportunity for a visit to the Mother Teresa Charity Mission. Overnight Agra
Breakfast at the hotel before our bus ride to Jaipur. We’ll take time along the way to visit Fatehpur Sikri founded in 1569 by the Mughal emperor Akbar to honor the Muslim saint, Shaikh Salim Chishti who had foretold the birth of Akbar's son and heir, Jehangir. The city was Akbar's capital until 1584. By 1605 it was largely deserted because of an inadequate water supply and political unrest in the area. A masterpiece of Muslim architecture, the city is unique in India as a largely intact Mughal city. The expert craftsmanship of the exquisitely refined marble jaali screening the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti is miraculous. Sunrise, Taj Mahal, Agra Fatepur Sikri Just before arriving in Jaipur, we take a short detour to the farming village of Abhaneri to visit the incredible 9th C., 13 storey deep ‘Chand Baori’ (step well) lined along its steep descending walls with 3,500 double flights of steps arranged in perfect symmetry, used to reach the bottom of the well. According to a legend, the village is so called because the Goddess Harshat Mata, who is portrayed in a joyous mood in the sculptural program on the walls of the entrance is believed to spread brightness or "abha" all around. We continue the drive to Jaipur checking in at the hotel upon arrival. Overnight Jaipur
Breakfast at the hotel before we begin our tour of Jaipur, the bustling capital of Rajasthan. Popularly known as the `Pink City' the historic city of Jaipur stands out as one of the world’s most spectacular and culturally vibrant destinations. The city retains its ‘old self ‘, immersed in a fast-paced modern city. You can see extreme contrasts on the streets of Jaipur with a puzzling blend of bicycles, rickshaws, motorized vehicles, camel carts and cows, with people wearing dhotis, turbans, kurtas, saris, Salwar kameez, suits, tank tops and jeans. Your city tour will include the imposing City Palace, home to the Maharaja. Several of the rooms are now open to the public. Many antiques and artifacts belonging to the ruling family are housed here. You will also visit the Hawa Mahal, "Palace of the Winds", and the open-air Jantar Mantar Observatory to see vast 17th C. astronomical instruments. We stroll through the colourful bazaar before returning to our hotel. Overnight Jaipur
Our first stop following breakfast at the hotel is at the Barefoot College in Kishangarh, then we continue to Pushkar a mellow, serene and bewitching little town which attracts those in search of some respite from the tumult of India. Pushkar is right on the edge of the desert. This travelerfriendly town clings to the side of the small Pushkar Lake with its many bathing ghats and temples. Because Pushkar is a very important Hindu pilgrimage centre it attracts many Sadhus (individuals on a spiritual search). Upon arrival check in at the tented accommodation / hotel. After lunch we take a stroll through Pushkar with its many temples, and bathing ghats. Most famous of the temples is the Brahma Temple, one of only two in India dedicated to this deity. It's marked by a red spire, and over the entrance gateway is the Hans, or Elephant ride to the Amber Fort, Jaipur En-route to Pushkar Sadhus on pilgrimage to the Brahma Temple, Pushkar En-route to Pushkar goose symbol of Brahma, who is said to have personally chosen Pushkar as its site. Rest of the Day is at leisure to explore the Camel Fair (Pushkar Festival). Overnight Pushkar
Following breakfast at the hotel, we have a pull- cart transfer to the Pushkar Camel Fair celebrated for five days from Kartik Ekadasi to Kartik Poornima which according to the legends, are the days when Brahma created Pushkar Lake. The fair is synonymous to a cattle fair, as mass trading of camels, cattle, horses, cows, goats, and sheep, take place during these five days. Although various animals are traded, camels rule the roost. They are washed spanky clean and adorned with various drapery and ornaments and paraded through the fair. Stalls selling jewelry and other finery for camels are set up. Silver bells and bangles around their hoofs jingle when they walk past the golden sand dunes. A ritual involves piercing the camel's nose. With over 25,000 camels exchanged, the Pushkar Fair is arguably the world's largest camel fair. Overnight Pushkar
Today we travel by bus to Bikaner. Pass by the Lallgarh Palace, a small beautiful palace of the Maharajah of Bikaner as we arrive in the city. Shortly after lunch tour the Rajput Junagarh fort and its fabulous palaces built by Rai Singh between 1588 and 1593, which has a 986-metre-long wall with 37 bastions. “One hump or two?” Try some camel milk ice cream during a visit to the government-managed Camel Research and Breeding Farm the only one of its kind in Asia. Overnight Bikaner
An afternoon arrival in Jaisalmer brings us to our hotel to check in and have lunch. The name Jaisalmer evokes a vivid picture of sheer magic and brilliance of the desert. Local color and warmth prevail over the inhospitable and forbidding terrain, imbuing the medieval town with a special magic, which is yours to explore or just relax and enjoy the atmosphere. Overnight Jaisalmer
One of the main attractions is the imposing 12th century Jaisalmer Fort. This morning we stroll through this fortified Rajput desert community built in 1156 by Rawal Jaisal. One fourth of the population of Jaisalmer lives inside the Fort, which rises triumphantly above the shimmering city of stone it commands. Inside the fort we visit the Jain Temple, and palace. After lunch we take a walking tour through the lower city to visit the Patwan-Ki and other elaborately carved sandstone havelis built by wealthy merchants. Overnight Jaisalmer
This morning explore the enchanting Royal memorials of Rawalsin Barra bagh, then make our way into the desert stopping along the way at the graceful pleasure pavilions of Gadisar Lake before riding through the sparse agricultural landscape to Khuri sand dunes. a must visit for finding the solitude of the desert. It is a peaceful place with houses of mud and straw decorated like the patterns of Persian carpets. Enjoy a ride on camel back and let the place itself take you to its mesmerizing heights. Get closer to the local way of living with a close view of thatched straw roofs, camels, narrow streets and the local bazaar. As the Day passes, we gather around a campfire, listen to the songs of 'Kalbeliyas' and try Rajasthani cuisine while we study the changing hues of the sand dunes as the Day passes. Celebrate a mesmerizing adieu to the sun as it sets behind the crimson red sand dunes before returning to your hotel in Jaisalmer. Overnight Jaisalmer Village.
Breakfast at the hotel then drive through the arid sub tropical Thar Desert before reaching Jodhpur. Stretches of sand in the desert are interspersed by shrubbery, stony hillocks, and gravel plains. Due to the diversified habitat and ecosystem, the vegetation, human culture and animal life in this arid region is very rich in contrast to the other deserts of the world. Jodhpur rises at the edge of the desert. It was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a chief of the Rajput clan known as Rathores. The city has a history of battles and royalty highly evidenced by the huge Meherangarh fort overlooking the city. Upon arrival, we will check in at the hotel and after lunch tour the Mehrangarh palace fortress, and the, Jaswant Thada a graceful temple cenotaph built of translucent marble commissioned by the wife of Maharaja J. Singh II. Overnight Jodhpur (Fort Chanwa Hotel, Luni)
After breakfast we take some time to enjoy the unique hospitality of Fort Chanwa restored to its pristine glory and charm by its proud owners Maharaj Dalip Singh & Rani Madhu Devi, who warmly welcome travelers from distant lands offering princely hospitality in an inimitably enchanting setting- a Heritage Hotel in the finest of traditions before making our way to the airport for our flight to Delhi. Remainder of the Day in Delhi for personal pursuits. Overnight Delhi Evening Garden, Fort Chanwa Hotel, Turban wrapping lesson, Meherangarh Fort.
After breakfast at the hotel transfer to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi’s International Airport for our onward flight to Paro where we will board a bus for our journey through the mountains to Thimphu. (1hr.) After checking into our hotel we visit the School for the Traditional Arts. Overnight Thimphu
This morning is an early start to visit the bustling Thimphu market which attracts people from all over the region. Later we begin a day of sightseeing at the Tibetan inspired National Memorial Chorten. Built in 1974 in honour of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck the third King of Bhutan. After lunch we make a brief visit to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine where traditional medicines are researched, prepared, and dispensed to the local Bhutanese after which we make our way to the Tashichho Dzong on a hilltop just outside Thimphu. Overnight Thimphu
This morning we leave Thimphu and drive eastward climbing steeply through oak, pine and rhododendron forests to the, Dochu-La Pass which, at 3,140 meters, is the highest point of the journey. Crowned with prayer flags and a Chorten, on a clear Day the pass affords a magnificent panoramic view of the Bhutanese Himalayas. We then continue down to Punakha with its semitropical climate. After lunch we go to the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu Rivers to visit the Punakha Dzong Completed in 1638 AD the Dzong has had numerous additions to its original structure – partly due to fires in the 1750s, mid-19th Century and, more recently in 1986. There are numerous chapels and temples within its walls. In the late afternoon we take a short excursion just south of Punakha to stroll through Wangdi Phodrang a characteristic Bhutanese town along the banks of the Puna Tsang Chhu river before returning to our hotel. Overnight Punakha
This morning, leave for Gangtey. After lunch explore Gangtey Gompa & Phobjikha valley. Spotting black necked cranes in the meadows next to Gangtey is an ornithologist’s delight. The cranes migrate here from the high plains of the Tibetean plateau in winter to milder climate of Phobjikha valley. Also visit Gangtey Gompa Monastery, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region. Nyingmapa is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Overnight Gangtey
After breakfast in the hotel, we proceed to Paro. Upon arrival in the late afternoon we check into our hotel. Take time to stroll through the market with its many craft shops before dinner. Overnight Paro Dochu-La Pass
This morning drive through the Paro Valley to the base of the climb that leads to the famous Taktsang Monastery a major pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese since 1646, spectacularly perched on the promontory of a cliff 900 meters above the valley floor and Drukgyel Dzong where on a clear Day one can see the commanding view of Mt. Chomolhari from the village nestled below the dzong. The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by the cluster of farm houses where we visit a traditional ‘pounded earth’ farm house. Overnight Paro
- Air...trans-continental & India domestic as per itinerary. - All accommodation...4 Star and Heritage class hotels sharing twin/double bedded room. Tented accommodation in Pushkar. - Service charges and present applicable taxes and gratuities. - Porterage. - All meals throughout; ....breakfast, lunch, dinner daily. - India arrival/departure transfer; sightseeing tours and excursions by Coach. - Bhutan travel with non air-conditioned Toyota Coaster. - Bhutan Entry Fee and Taxes. - All admissions as per itinerary. - Services of accompanying English speaking guide throughout. - Full time Pauwels escort. - Elephant ride at Amber Fort in Jaipur. - Camel ride in Jaislamer.
- The current combination of airport taxes, security fees, and fuel surcharges at this time approx. $1350 ($700 for “Land Only” as domestic airfare taxes are still applicable) but subject to change; the final amount will be reflected on the final invoice. - All expenses of a personal nature such as telephone bills, table drinks, laundry etc. - Camera charges where applicable and per local custom. - Beverages with dinners, and meals other than those outlined above. - Coach /driver, guide gratuity of approx. 8-10 USD per person per day($175-220) - Travel insurance: available through the Agency. - Applicable multi-entry India visa. To obtain consult... http://cibtvisas.ca/travel-visa-search-results.php If you experience difficulty obtaining the India Visa on line contact Garry Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.