2018 Holi - Kama Sutra - Ganges Experience 14 Days - February/March Itinerary
Holi – The Festival of Color, Food & Drinks. Toss that in with bonfires, good defeating evil & welcoming spring! 'If you practically wish to witness happiness, jovial exuberance, unconditional human spirit & an entire country drenched in fun-smashing colors, accompanied with scrumptious food & drink you must visit India during the festival of Holi.' All people irrespective of their color, sex, caste, creed, or religion get together for this enchanting festival in India.
Exhilarating lasting memories......We are off to visit Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh criss crossing over India's religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism & the Muslim faith, over the sacred river Ganga & Yamuna, onto golden sands of the Thar Desert in the glowing shimmering rays of sunset & sunrises.
On arrival to India your cultural immersion begins in New Delhi, a city of stark contrasts & once my home for 4 years. Out of New Delhi we travel west to Jaipur the Pink City to experience Rajasthan's royal Amber Fort via elephants & Hawa Mahal. We are on 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 dimension to your experience of being amongst the locals. 4 days in Jaipur you have options to enjoy; cooking class followed by feasting, relax & pamper with a ayuverda massage at our beautiful boutique abode or be out & about in Jaipur visiting Palaces, Forts, getting lost in old Jaipur & shopping...textiles jewels or both! Morning visit to a village school, later we get a hands on textiles experience in block printing, vegetable dying & the unique dabu print technique in Bagru outside Jaipur. All that with the celebration of Holi too! Festival of Color, Food & Drinks.
Ganges - We fly 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 & holy waters gently splashing the Ghats.
Kama Sutra - We fly onto the small town with a big history, Khajuraho. A UNESCO World Heritage site known for its ornate temples that are spectacular examples of human imagination, artistic creativity & magnificent architectural work deriving spiritual peace through eroticism & daily activities. Viewing a Sound & Light show is an evening option here. We have another option, exploring the wilderness of the Panna National Park with a guide, seeing the tigers & a host of migratory birds, chital & sambar (deer species) & sloths in their natural habitat while enjoying the forests beauty. We fly back into New Delhi to enjoy an evening feast as my guest of north west frontier Peshawari cuisine at, in my opinion & Bill Clintons, one of New Delhi's best restaurants.
Taj Mahal - Our return day train trip will take us south to Agra visiting Agra Fort & to experience the mystery of the beautiful Taj Mahal built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz in 1653. Taj Mahal ' the epitome of love ' has charismatic energy & imposing beauty. It is the immense love behind this outstanding monument that has given life to this masterpiece, nothing short of an architectural marvel, no wonder it stands proud as being one of the ' Seven Wonders of the World '.
Travel starts & finishes in New Delhi. Full itinerary below.
25th February 2018 Sunday
Arriving into New Delhi I will meet you, transfer onto our guesthouse where you will have time to relax after your long flight.
Overnight New Delhi 2 nights.
26th February Monday
Early morning we take off after early breakfast on a fantastic return day trip on India Railways to Agra, visiting 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 during the final years of Shah Jahan's life he was imprisoned by his son. For 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, 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.
27th February Tuesday
We take a picnic breakfast on our early morning train trip to Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur the Pink City. Why the Pink City? In 1879 the city was painted terracotta pink to welcome Prince Albert & Queen Victoria. Early afternoon out & about. We drive west to visit the small village of Sawarda where I have connections with a local a 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. A lot to see & do in Jaipur, catch a Bollywood film in the famous Raj Mandir cinema, see the historic side of Jaipur, visit the many Jewellery stores, you are in the gem stone capital of the world. Lunch & dinner your expense.Overnight Jaipur 4 nights.
28th February Wednesday
Option of morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel. Morning free. Options for you to choose today: hot air ballooning is available as well a mid day feast/ cooking lesson or reflection in a local temple. Afternoon of history & everyday Jaipur bustle. We walk through 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. After City Palace we explore Old Jaipur city, inside the 6 meter high 3 meter thick walls, are a series of bazaars for local residents as well tourists. Lunch & dinner your expense. Overnight Jaipur.
1st March Thursday
Option of early morning yoga to suit all levels in the hotel. Hotel breakfast. Today we take a morning elephant ride up the huge ramparts thru gates along cobbled paths into Amber Fort an opulent palace fort. Afternoon is free. Plenty to choose from; visit an elephant farm in an elephant care village that promotes the well being of these giant creatures & shows tourists that not all of them are mistreated, exploring the bazaars, Bollywood cinema, our beautiful boutique hotel has Ayuverda treatments available, why not have a day 'in house', total relaxation. The start of Holi ceremonies commence this evening, all neighbourhoods erect bonfires in the street as a symbol of good defeating evil. The origins of this famous festival are due to the miraculous event that saved the life of a God’s devotee & killed the demoness named Holika in a bonfire. Holi celebrated on one of the full moon days also marks the end of winter & the beginning of spring. Lunch & dinner your expense. Overnight Jaipur.
2nd March Friday
Optional morning yoga to suit all. Relaxed breakfast then ...Let Holi begin! During the festival, all people irrespective of their color, sex, caste, creed, or religion get together for this enchanting time in India. They rejoice with colors, foods & drinks to express happiness & symbolically celebrate life with the victory of good over evil, spreading the message of love, unity & peace. Lunch & dinner your expense. Overnight Jaipur.
3rd March Saturday
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.
4th March Sunday
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.
5th March Monday
This morning we’re off flying east via New Delhi to the Life Source of India, The Ganges, Varanasi, also known as Benaras. Our 2 day stay begins with a 15 minute boat ride upstream along the famous ghats of Benaras to reach our Haveli which is connected by small alleys & streets leading to the Famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple (15 minutes walk). The Haveli traces its history back to the early 20th century built by the Royal Family of Nepal as a retreat. It has 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, 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.
6th March Tuesday
Relaxed breakfast. Yoga to suit all levels is an option. Today we explore Varanasi- Benaras- at our leisure. Rise early & catch the rays of dawn shimmering across the Ganges & the high-banks opposite. This is your time...sit & absord 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.
7th March Wednesday
Relaxed breakfast & yoga to suit all levels is an option. Time for a last morning devotion on Mother Ganga. Mid morning we depart Varanasi flying to UNESCO World Heritage town Khajuraho, small town with a big history. Here we can take hotel bicycle's around town & walk thru the ornate temples that are spectacular examples of human imagination, artistic creativity & magnificent architectural work deriving spiritual peace through eroticism & daily activities. Sound & Light show this evening an option. Lunch & dinner your expense. Overnight Khajuraho .
8th March Thursday
Option of morning yoga & a relaxed breakfast. Further option is a early morning Tiger Safari to Panna National Park. Picked up early morning from your hotel & driven to your jungle safari at Panna National Park approx 1 hour 45 mins out of Khadjuraho. Situated in the Vindhya Hills in a tropical forest along the tranquil Ken River. The forest has cascading waterfalls & it is one the country´s largest tiger reserves. The park is famous for its big cats like tigers & leopards & its extremely rich bio-diversity. Apart from the tigers & leopards the park also has wolves, chinkara, chital, sambar (deer species), sloths & a host for migratory birds. Mid afternoon we fly back into New Delhi. Lunch & dinner your expense. Overnight New Delhi 2 nights
9th March 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 on rickshaw Chandi Chalk & 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. Our final night, this evening I invite you as my guest to join me feasting at one of my favorite restaurants, savoring 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 your expense. Overnight New Delhi.
10th March Saturday
Final day of the tour is free to fill the hours before your departure.
Few more details . . .
The accommodation I have selected has a story to it, meaning places with long history’s & royal connections in Rajasthan. In Delhi a modern private guest house with an Indo Western ambience, Jaipur a stylish boutique hotel, historical Palace on the Ganges & a peaceful Heritage Hotel in the Himalayan valleys. Udaipur alongside Lake Pichola in a Heritage Haveli & Khajuraho western style hotel. All places I have stayed at before & always found them clean & safe with air conditioning.
The cost of $6798 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 a professional driver who I use regularly. Our driver is not a Tour Guide.
During February/March weather is cool/warm during the day with cold/cool evenings.
Maximum of 8 people on tour plus myself, your companion.
Your trip cost, $6798covers:
- Ros to welcome you on arrival in New Delhi at Indira Ghandi International Airport
- 7 days small bus &/or car & driver
- 5 internal flights, including airport transfers
- 3 train trips, including station transfers
- 13 nights accommodation. 1 night arrival + 12 nights twin share with breakfast
- Celebrate India Dinner as my guest in New Delhi
A deposit of $900 with the Booking Form is required to confirm your booking. Final payment due on or before 4th January. Receipts will be issued at all times. See Terms & Conditions for details.
Extras costs for you
- Taxi cost on your departure from Hotel to Indira Ghandi International Airport. Approx. $30 per car
- Meals [other than all breakfasts & the dinner as my guest in New Delhi] & drinks. Meals can vary from $8 to $35 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
- 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.
- Entry & guides to/at all sites – approx. 6 sites -. Entry cost per person can range $5 up to $25 for the Taj Mahal. Guide at sites max $10 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, process done all on line, 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 with 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 10th March, I can assist
- If you want to do more in India I suggest add extra days after our trip finishes on 10th March. I am happy to pass on what I know of the places you may wish to visit.