2018 Desert to Ganges Experience India 18 Days Itinerary
Inspiring, unforgettable, enriching……We are off to journey deep into Rajasthan & Utter Pradesh criss crossing over India’s religions – Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism & the Muslim faith, over golden sands of Thar Desert, in the glowing shimmering rays of sunsets & sunrises. My favourite state Rajasthan, is the most exotic & historically opulent part of North India, vibrant with colour everywhere you turn, reflecting the golden past of Rajasthan, her forts & grand palaces, endless desert, mesmerizing lakes, colourful bazaars, temples you hear before you see, we experience all this along side locals going about their daily life. The state Uttar Pradesh has the beautiful monument, Taj Mahal a Wonder of the World. Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience, rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges, the high-banks with Ghats,temples & shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue.
Old & New Delhi, we explore this city of stark contrasts, once my home for 4 years. The glorious capital of India, a chaotic tapestry made up of Old Delhi medieval fortifications, Mughal mausoleums & dusty bazaars, this old city has seen the battle between Hindu & Muslim rulers where earliest architectural relics date back to the Maurya Period c. 300 BC. New Delhi a colonial-era city with 1920’s designed tree lined boulevards of Luytens New Delhi blends with mega malls & modern apartments.
Out of New Delhi we journey to The Life Source of India, Varanasi also known as Benaras. Mark Twain was enthralled by the legend & sanctity of Benaras, he wrote : “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. Take time, sit on one of the many ghats, become aware amongst soul stirring hymns & mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air & the holy waters gently splashing the Ghats.
Back into New Delhi Early morning we’re off on a fantastic return day trip on Indian Rail to Agra, visiting Agra Fort & experience the mystery of the beautiful Taj Mahal built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz 1653. For those who already have had the delight of experiencing Taj Mahal & wish to stay in Delhi just a 5 min walk from our small guest house takes you to Humayun’s Tomb built by Mughal Emperors, walk & absorb the everyday life style of locals in Nizamuddin West through food markets, visit the local mosque & dargah- burial site- one of the world’s most famous 14th century Sufi saints.
We board Indian Railways to take us to Jaipur for 6 nights, you choose your days activities. Blend the Jaipur Literature Festival – JLF – within the setting of Diggi Palace & Jaipur’s historical sites, Bollywood cinema, a day out into the country to visit a rural village school, getting lost in Jaipur chaos inside the old walled city amongst fresh flower & food sellers, home wares & precious jewels… unbelievable! We take an elephant ride up the huge ramparts thru gates into the Fort & visit an elephant care village that promotes the well being of these giant creatures. Our beautiful boutique hotel has Ayuverda treatments available, why not have a day ‘in house’, total relaxation.
Out of Jaipur, we take to the road south onto charming pictorial Udaipur, to enjoy 2 nights soaking in beautiful sunrise & sunsets over Lake Pichola from our historic lakeside haveli in this small city. Driving north onto Jodhpur to wander thru Mehrangarh Fort that stands on a perpendicular cliff 122 metres above the old Blue City. Camels & desert sands, we travel to the remote but not forgotten small town of Jaislamer, no place better evokes exotic camel-train trade routes of the past & desert mystery. We experience first hand the beauty of Thar Desert & wonderful local hospitality. After a flight back into New Delhi, as my guest we share a feast of north west frontier Peshawari cuisine at, in my opinion & Bill Clinton’s, one of New Delhi’s best restaurants. Afternoon flight returns us to New Delhi for our final night.
Desert to Ganges Experience begins in New Delhi & ends in New Delhi. Full itinerary below.
18th January 2018 Thursday
Arriving into New Delhi I will meet you, we transfer to our guesthouse where you have time to relax after your long flight. Overnight New Delhi 2 nights.
19th January Friday
We meet 8am, make our way for breakfast at New Delhi’s famous landmark Imperial Hotel known for it’s heritage & legacy. Tour Old Delhi, see Red Fort, travel thru Chandni Chowk on a rickshaw & the bustling aromatic spice market where spices can be purchased to take back home, packaged to pass strict Australian Customs rules. Afternoon is away from the crowds, we go to Gandhi’s Remembrance Museum, later we will explore the fascinating area of Nizamuddin my home away from home base in New Delhi.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight New Delhi.
20th January Saturday
This morning we’re off flying south east to the Life Source of India, The Ganges staying in Varanasi, also known as Benaras. Our stay begins with a 15 minute boat ride upstream along the famous ghats of Benaras to reach our 218 year old Palace which is connected by small alleys & streets leading to the famous Dasashwamedh Ghat. The palace traces it’s history back to the early 18th century built by the Royal house of Nagpur. Its now been painstakingly put together again to provide the best ghat stay experience in Benaras. Mark Twain was enthralled by the legend & sanctity of Benaras, he once wrote : “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. Varanasi offers a breathtaking experience.Lunch & dinner your expense. Overnight Varanasi 2 nights.
21st January Sunday
Relaxed breakfast. Yoga to suit all levels an option. Today we explore Varanasi- Benaras- at our leisure. Rise early & catch the rays of the dawn shimmering across the Ganges & the high-banks opposite. This is your time…sit & absorb the ambience, temples & shrines along the banks bathed in a golden hue, soul stirring hymns & mantras along with the fragrance of incense filling the air & the holy waters gently splashing the Ghats. An option during our stay in Varanasi is to partake in a guided meditation session at a time that suits you.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Varanasi.
22nd January Monday
Relaxed breakfast. Yoga to suit all levels is an option & time for a last morning devotion on Mother Ganga. Early afternoon we depart Varanasi flying to New Delhi. This evening I invite you as my guest to join me feasting at one of my favourite restaurants, savouring North West Frontier foods. Before India was partitioned 1947, the Province of North West Frontier included parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan & Punjab. This restaurant is popular with former President of United States, Bill Clinton he is often in New Delhi working with NGO’s involved with the Clinton Foundation.Lunch only your expense. Overnight 2 nights New Delhi.
23rd January Tuesday
Early morning we take off with a picnic breakfast on a fantastic return day trip on India Railways to Agra, to visit the worlds most grand monument to love. A Wonder of the World, built by Shah Jahan in loving memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz in 1653. After soaking in the beauty of the Taj we explore Agra Fort where for the final years of Shah Jahan’s life he was imprisoned by his son. Those who already have had the delight of experiencing Taj Mahal & wish to stay in Delhi a 5 min walk from our small guest house takes you to Humayun’s Tomb built by Mughal Emperors, you can absorb the everyday life style of locals in Nizamuddin West, walk through food markets, visit the local mosque & dargah- burial site- of one of the world’s most famous 14th century Sufi saints.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight New Delhi.
24th January Wednesday
This morning we take a picnic breakfast on our early morning train. We experience the infamous Indian Railway, this institution moves nearly 20 million people every day through out all India. Traveling on Indian Rail will add a fascinating new dimension to your Indian experience. There is virtually no better way to make friends with the local people & see the diverse Indian countryside. Our train journey takes us west to the state of Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur the Pink City. Why Pink City? In 1879 the city was painted terracotta pink to welcome Prince Albert & Queen Victoria. A lot to see & do in Jaipur away from the Jaipur Literature Festival, – JLF – catch a Bollywood film in the famous Raj Mandir cinema, see the historic side of Jaipur, a cooking class, hands on block printing, visit the many jewellery stores, you are in the Gem Stone capital of the World.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jaipur 6 nights.
25th January Thursday
Early morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel if you wish. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Our days in Jaipur have options, the very full Jaipur Literature Festival program or an option is visiting the elephant farm in an elephant care village that promotes the well being of these giant creatures, no performances just elephants being elephants. As part of the JLF each evening there is fun, music & feasting around Jaipur giving us all a chance to mix with visitors from all over India & Internationally.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jaipur.
26th January Friday
Early morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel is an option. Time for a leisurely breakfast. Our days in Jaipur have options, the very full Jaipur Literature Festival program &/or we can escape Jaipur & drive west to visit the small village of Sawarda where I have connections with a local school. Visiting this rural school gives us a chance to interact with very keen English speaking young students, the future of India can be seen in the faces & smiles of these enthusiastic children. If you have any second hand children’s English reading books please bring them along for their English book collection. More evening fun, music & feasting open to all organised by JLF.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jaipur.
27th January Saturday
Early morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel if you wish. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Our days in Jaipur have options, the very full Jaipur Literature Festival program or an option, get ‘hands on’ block printing in a local textile print shop. The small town of Bagru outside Jaipur is the place to experience the skill of hand worked textiles in block printing, vegetable dying & the unique dabu print technique. We can have a go at block printing a cotton muslin scarf for ourselves. Another ‘must’ see is Hawa Mahal & City Palace built in 1799 inside the old walled Pink City. We explore the imposing Palace of Winds formally known as Hawa Mahal. The many small windows decorated with intricate stone lattice allowed royal ladies observing strict “purdah” (face cover) to view everyday life in the street below without being seen. In the old walled city take to wonder for a few hours thru the old walled city, amongst fresh food & flower sellers, stores bursting with household items we cannot imagine. Again this evening evening there is fun, music & feasting around Jaipur giving us all a chance to mix with visitors from all over India & Internationally.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jaipur.
28th January Sunday
Option of early morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel, time for a leisurely breakfast. For our days in Jaipur there are always options, ‘the greatest literary show on earth’ JLF programme &/or seeing the historic side of Jaipur, take a morning elephant ride up the huge ramparts thru gates along cobbled paths into Amber Fort an opulent palace fort. As part of the JLF each evening there is fun, music & feasting around Jaipur giving us all a chance to mix with visitors from all over India & Internationally.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jaipur.
29th January Monday
Option of early morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel. Time for a leisurely breakfast. For this day, again options, last day attending J L F, catching a Bollywood film in the famous Raj Mandir cinema, spend part of the day in a cooking class followed by feasting or our beautiful boutique hotel has Ayuverda treatments available, why not have a day ‘in house’, total relaxation. Again this final evening evening fun, music & feasting open to paying public, a chance to mix with visitors from all over India & Internationally.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jaipur.
30th January Tuesday
Optional early morning yoga to suit all levels in our hotel. Hotel breakfast, then a 1 hour flight south west to reach Udaipur, in former days the historic capital of the kingdom Mewar world famous for the Rajput- era palaces. Arriving in Udaipur mid morning we have the day about Udaipur sight seeing, you can loose many hours in the flamboyant City Palace, palaces within the Palace & viewing the ‘forgotten’ amazing crystal gallery. Afternoon take in the sunset view lakeside from our historic overnight Haveli, what is a Haveli? Haveli is the private mansion of rich merchants this one dating back to 1750’s.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Udaipur 2 nights.
31st January Wednesday
Optional early morning walk up to the vista point of Neenach Mata Temple, 850 meters up hill walk above Udaipur. On return to our haveli time for a relaxed lakeside breakfast. This day free for you, enjoy Udaipur, sight seeing &/or cooking lesson/feasting with a local family. Antique textiles are available & very well presented for purchasing or for the joy of viewing in this small easy walking city. Option of a sunset boat cruise on the lake.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Udaipur.
1st February Thursday
Early morning hotel breakfast then we drive north west to Jodhpur ‘Blue City’ approx. 6 hours. On our travels we view the holy Jain Temple in Ranakpur, a great example of the refined skills of Rajasthani stone craftsman of a bygone era, these same skills are still used today. Wash off the Thar Desert dust at our Haveli, then onto the roof top for dinner at one of my favourite dining locations.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jodhpur.
2nd February Friday
Option of early morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel. After breakfast we visit the stunning Mehrangarh Fort standing on a perpendicular cliff 122 metres above Blue City Jodhpur, within are several palaces known for their intricate carvings & expansive courtyards. Midday we drive off into the Thar desert to reach Jaisalmer, remote but not forgotten. Jaisalmer looks like a massive sandcastle rising from the sandy plains like a mirage from a bygone era. No place better evokes exotic camel-train trade routes of the past & desert mystery.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jaisalmer.
3rd February Saturday
Morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel if you wish. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast. The fort of Jaisalmer is a breathtaking sight. Ninety-nine bastions encircle the still inhabited fort & twisting lanes. It is a ‘working fort,’ meaning that unlike every other fort in India, there are people living & working within its walls.There are shops, hotels & age old havelis inside the fort area where families have lived for generations. Shops swaddled in bright embroideries, a royal palace & numerous businesses looking for your rupee, it’s hard not to be enchanted by this desert citadel. This afternoon an option of camel riding & a freshly cooked dinner in the dunes, return to town or sleep under the stars! The fun of a camel desert ride will give us a hands on experience of this rustic wind swept sand dune location.Lunch & dinner your expense. Overnight Jaisalmer.
4th January Sunday
Optional early morning yoga to suit all levels in our hotel or an early morning walk thru narrow streets for a up close view of the havelis. Hotel breakfast. Drive east to Jodhpur to take our afternoon flight to New Delhi.Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight New Delhi overnight.
5th February Monday
Final day of the tour breakfast then free to fill the hours before your departure.
Few more details . . .
The accommodation I have selected has a story to it, meaning some places with long histories & royal connections in Rajasthan. In Jaipur a beautiful boutique family run hotel. New Delhi a modern private guesthouse with an Indo Western ambiance, Varanasi a Palace built in the year 1812 as a retreat. All places I have stayed at before & always found them clean & safe with air conditioning.
The cost of $6822 is per person twin share accommodation. Costs would be higher for a single traveler, invite someone to join you & have fun together.
For road travel, our small bus is with a professional driver who I use regularly. Our driver is not a Tour Guide.
Train travel is an experience no trip to India is complete without. New Delhi to Jaipur & the return train trip from New Delhi to Agra are a daily Indian commute train. It is air-conditioned & safe, we will be together in a close space.
During January/February weather is cold with clear sunny followed by very cold evenings & mornings.
Maximum of 10 people on tour plus myself, your companion.
Your trip cost, $6822 covers:
- Ros to welcome you on arrival in New Delhi at Indira Ghandi International Airport
- 4 days private bus, driver
- 4 internal flights
- 3 train trip
- 18 nights accommodation twin share with breakfast
- Desert to Ganges Experience India dinner in New Delhi.
Extras costs for you
- Taxi cost on your departure from Hotel to Indira Ghandi International Airport. Approx. $35 per car
- Meals [other than all breakfasts & the evening feast you are my guest] & drinks. Meals can vary from $10 to $40 ex alcohol
- Other than the delicious Indian Kingfisher Beer, alcohol is expensive
- If you wish to do morning yoga, to suit all levels, that is an extra cost of no more than $20 per session
- If you wish to partake in ‘options” e.g. cooking class, camel riding, sunset lake ride etc etc
- Tipping is expected in India, this will come from a daily kitty, amount to be decided on our first tour day together. Covering occasions such as but not restricted to, toilet stops, meal tipping [other than breakfast] & hotel tipping
- Tip for our driver at the end of 7 days approx. $25 per person.
- Entry & guides to/at all sites – approx. 8 sites -. Entry cost per person can range $5 up to $28 for the Taj Mahal. Guides max $13 per person
- Shop around for special return flights Brisbane to New Delhi, approx. $1200/$1400 Economy
- You must have a Visa to visit India. There are 3 options to go about this. 1. Apply for 60 day online Tourist e-Visa, a process done all online, no posting away, https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html. Approx $65. 2. Apply for a 6 month tourist Visa on http://www.vfs-in-au.com/ , this requires you to post away your passport to Canberra or your selected Australian capital city & allow 20 days for the process cost approx $110. 3. Through your local Travel Agent. I can give direction to all these applications.
- Travel Insurance is compulsory on this trip. I require you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. Your policy also is to cover personal liability, cancellation, curtailment & loss of luggage & personal effects. See Terms & Conditions for more on compulsory Insurance.
- Depending on your departure times out of New Delhi you may need a hotel on 3rd February, I can assist.
- If you want to do more in India I suggest adding extra days after our trip finishes on 3rd February. I am happy to pass on what I know of the places you may wish to visit.