India: a Cultural Journey
Below is a sample itinerary of a past Goway Group. It is provided to give you an idea of what we have already done & what you might also consider doing.
However, because of timing, your own group's special interests and budget, we expect to custom make a program just for you. Contact your favorite travel agent click on "Inquire about this Trip" to fill out request for a group quotation.
One of Goway’s most popular group destinations, India will not disappoint the group traveler wanting to embrace a vast array of cultural and historical experiences. Our interactive itinerary gets us out of the coach to engage all our senses in the colourful chaos of day to day life in India: from exploring the splendid monuments, palaces, gardens, and unique places in Central and Southern India, including Dhobi Ghat, the world’s largest open laundry to visiting Elephenta Island, a UNESCO designated World Heritage site, and, of course, to discovering the timeless beauty and symbolism of the Taj Mahal. Not only do we get out of the coach, we also get actively involved in the sites we are seeing from walking tours in Udaipur and Old Delhi and meeting the teachers and students at a vocational training center for the abused and destitute children in Jaipur, to finding out the secrets of Indian cuisine with our chef at a Vegetarian Cooking Lesson and even learning some skills from traditional weavers, musicians, and potters at Shilgram, a living arts village. The list is endless, and, if your group has a special interest that we have not included, we will incorporate it into your customized itinerary.
Fly from home to Mumbai
On arrival at Mumbai Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport (formerly Bombay) airport, we will be greeted and transferred to our hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure. Today we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Being the largest city in India, Mumbai, or Bombay by its former official name, is the largest city in India and the country’s chief western seaport since the 1700's. It is also the financial center and home to India's diamond-cutting and film industry. A city of sharp contrasts, it has Asia’s largest slum and is said to have more millionaires per square than in Manhattan. People say that “if there’s a city that stirs the soul and fires the imagination like no other, it’s Mumbai.” D
Overnight: 2 nights
Full day tour in Mumbai
Our first stop this morning is at the Gateway of India, an imposing stone archway built in 1924 to commemorate the 1911 visit of King George V and Queen Mary. From there, we will take a ferry to Elephanta Island, a UNESCO designated World Heritage site, which was believed to be created between AD 450 and 750. Atop a large hill, we will see the main temple, which is a long hall stretching 90 feet (27 metres) and has a series of sculptured panels lining the walls of the cave portraying images from Indian mythology.
At the end of the tour, we will take the ferry back to the harbour and proceed to Mani Ghavan, a quaint Gujarati-style house, where Mahatma Gandhi lived from 1917 to 1934. It was here in November 1921 that he conducted a 4-day fast in order to restore peace to the city. This quiet three-story home on a beautiful laburnum tree-lined avenue now preserves the spirit of the man who selflessly put his nation before himself. There's a library of Gandhi-related works, as well as displays of photographs, posters, slogans, and other items that document and explain Gandhi's legendary life.
This afternoon we visit the Prince of Wales Museum, one of the most highly regarded museums in India with a great collection of arts works. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, it was built to commemorate the visit of Britain’s Prince of Wales and is an architecture masterpiece which combines European, Islamic and Indian styles. To round off today’s tour, you will have a photo stop at the colossal Dhobi Ghat, the world’s largest outdoor laundry, before traveling back to your hotel. B
Fly Mumbai to Udaipur
This morning travel to the airport for the flight north to Udaipur. On arrival, join your coach and guide for a half day tour of City Palace, the largest Maharaja’s palace in Rajasthan and an architectural marvel. Next we take a private tour of the Crystal Gallery in Fateh Prakesh Palace followed by a stroll through Sahelion Ki Bari (the Garden of the Maids of Honor), which was built for the 48 maidens destined to be a part of the dowry of the princess. Later this afternoon we travel to our hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. B
Overnight: 2 nights
A Full day tour in Udaipur
After breakfast, depart your hotel and venture to one of Udaipur’s most popular bazaars, well-known for its extensive selection of fabrics and beautifully designed saris. Next, we proceed for an in-depth city walking tour, where we will explore the amazing temples, gardens, and monuments that make Udaipur a beloved city.
After lunch (on own account), we proceed to Shilgram, a living arts village where traditional weavers, musicians, potters, and other craftsmen from the western states demonstrate their arts and life styles. Painstakingly built by dwellers themselves with the help from traditional artisans, each of the ethnic huts contains various household articles of everyday use for visitors to fully appreciate the rich diversity of tribal arts, crafts and architecture. Travel back to our hotel at the end of the tour. B
Fly Udaipur to Jaipur
Later this morning, we will be transferred to the airport for the flight to Jaipur, the Pink City.
On arrival, join our guide and coach and visit a vocational training center for the abused, orphaned and destitute children. The center was first opened for girls in August 2005 and accepted boys in February 2006. It’s reported that the center houses 175 children, provideing food and training to 2500 more that still sleep on the streets. At Ladli children learn jewellery-making, tailoring and other skills. Ladli has an active volunteer program. Volunteers can teach and play with the children, or help with the day-to-day running of the centre. Jewellery and textile designers are especially needed. Travel back to your hotel at the end of the visit. The rest of the day will be at leisure.
An urban master piece with fascinating bazaars and opulent palaces, Jaipur is informally called the “Pink City” because the buildings of the walled city were washed in a rich salmon color, in honor of Queen Victoria when Prince Albert visited there. The previous royal seat of the Maharajahs, Jaipur remains a magnificent reminder of the luxury and opulence that characterized the era. The walled city is notable for its spectacular layout; in contrast to other cities in India, Jaipur was designed with broad avenues in perfectly straight lines and cross-cutting streets at right angles. B
Overnight: 2 nights
Morning Amber Fort and Palace, Afternoon India Vegetarian Cooking Lesson
A full day exploration of Jaipur starts at the Palace of Winds, a beautifully decorated pink façade and a landmark of Jaipur standing majestically at the heart of the city. The Palace was built at a time when royal ladies were required to follow purdah (covering the faces). Staying behind screened balconies, it provided the royal ladies an opportunity to watch activities on the streets below without exposing themselves.
Next we proceed to Amber Fort and Palace. On arrival, an elephant (alternatively by jeeps) will spare us the trouble of reaching up to the fortress. Explore this incredible fort palace, and marvel at its architectural wonders, pristine beauty and various collections of priceless artifacts. Remember not to miss the Hall of Mirrors, which could be lit at night by a single candle and then reflected in thousands of tiny, intricate mirrors.
Later this afternoon, we meet our instructors for a special Indian Vegetarian Cooking Lesson. Indian food offers an immense variety of vegetables, combined with aromatic spices and endless choice of exotic flavors and textures. In this class, we take advantage of the local grown season and learn from our chef and the secrets of creating a healthy, well-balanced, delicious, and locally grown Indian vegetarian menu. BD
Travel by road Jaipur to Agra, visit Fatehpur Sikri enroute
Travel through rural India by road to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. Enroute to Agra, we visit the hauntingly beautiful city of Fatehpur Sikri (the Victory Palace), the temporary capital of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and a fairy-tale ghost city of red sandstone. We gain insight into the secular vision of Akbar through close scrutiny and discussion of the Hindu and Islamic architectural styles.
See Bulund Darwaza, the largest gateway in the world. Facing south and built by Akbar, the monumental gateway was the main entrance to the palace to commemorate his conquest over Deccan in 1601. Standing on the highest point of the ridge, it echoes early Mughal design with simple ornamentation, carved verses from the Koran and towering arches. The gateway is approached by 42 steps and expresses eloquently the grandeur of Akbar’s empire.
Agra, a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is about 115 miles (185 KM) south-east of New Delhi. With a history dating back to the 2nd century, it served as the capital of Mughal Empire for more than a hundred years and is the third highlight of the Golden Triangle, which takes in some of India’s most well-known monuments. Sprawling and overcrowded, the city offers an intense Indian experience, with the well-known monuments, including forts, tombs and mausoleums, as well as bustling chowks or bazaars. B
Full tour in Agra
Early this morning we depart hotel for a sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal (closed on Firdays). An immense mausoleum of white marble, it was built between 1631 and 1648 by the order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third and favorite wife. The funeral mosque took 17 years and 20,000 men to build and is regarded as the jewel of Muslim art which combines elements and styles of Persian, Central Asian, and Islamic architecture. Though the Taj Mahal appears to be amazingly perfect from almost any angle, it is the close-up marble inlay work that astounds visitors. The architectural precision is balanced by the delicate white marble decoration of floral arabesques, decorative bands and calligraphic inscriptions.
Return to the hotel for breakfast before visiting Agra Fort. Built near the gardens of the Taj Mahal, the sixteen-century fortress was founded in 1565 by the Emperor Akbar. The citadel comprises a large number of palaces, an octagonal tower, some reception rooms, the Hall of Public Audience and two mosques built of white marble. Emperor Shah Jahan, who oversaw the building of the Taj Mahal, was imprisoned by his son in Agra Fort, from which he could see the building erected in memory of his beloved wife. The emperor was said to have died in a tower. Travel back to your hotel at the end of the tour. The rest of the day will be at leisure for own exploration. B
Fly Agra to Varanasi
This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Varanasi, India's holiest city, which is also known as Banaras or Kashi, the "city of light."
On arrival, our first stop is in Sarnath (Buddhist Stupa) to visit the Deer Park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 kilometers north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India.
At dusk, we witness the holy ceremony of 'aarti' (hyms and prayers) on the banks of the Ganga and view the sight of hundreds of lighted lamps flowing on the waters – a sight one will not forget. B
Overnight: Ramada Hotel (2 nights)
Full day tour in Varanas
We start our day with an early morning boat ride on the sacred River Ganges to see the cremation Ghats and witness the living traditions of one of the world's oldest and important religions. At sunrise the sight unfolds before us, thousands of faithful come daily to the banks to bathe and pray while in the background, temples and palaces rise in tiers from the water's edge.
After the boat ride, we visit the Golden Temple and walk through the narrow lanes of Varanasi. We will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before heading to Benares Hindu University, an internationally reputed temple of learning in Varanasi. This creative and innovative university was founded by the great nationalist leader, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in 1916. It played a stellar role in the independence movement and has developed into the greatest center of learning in India. It has produced many great freedom fighters and builders of modern India and has contributed immensely to the progress of the nation through a large number of renowned scholars, artists, scientists and technologists who have graced its portals. Here will meet some of the students and faculty and a short lecture on the Hindu Religion. BL
Fly to Delhi
Today we will be transferred to the airport for the flight to Delhi, the capital of India. On arrival we will check into our hotel and then depart to explore the city. Built by the British in the 1920s, New Delhi is a city of wide boulevards, impressive government buildings, and green parks and gardens.
We will first stop at the 12th century Qutab Minar, the world’s tallest stone tower and one of the earliest and most prominent examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. Next we proceed to Humayan's Tomb, a landmark in the development of Mughal architecture. Located in the centre of a large garden, the tomb, built by the widow of Humayan, the second Mughal Emperor of India, is set in the center of a large garden and laid out in four-fold style with pools joined by channels and exemplifies the formative stage of the Mughal structural style and an architectural achievement of the highest order.
We will also drive past the President's House, Parliament House, Government Secretariat buildings and Connaught Place shopping center. Our tour will end at our hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure.
India’s capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines in its folds, the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiraling skyscrapers, remnants of a bygone time in the form of its many monuments stand as silent reminders to the region’s ancient legacy. B
This morning we depart for South Delhi where we will visit the Mehrauli Flower Market which specializes in Genda Phool (in loose and garland form) but also some cut flowers).
Next, we will stop at the Red Fort (closed on Mondays), one of Delhi's major attractions and the former home to India's Mughal emperors. After taking a fascinating glimpse into the opulent and cultured world of the country's most charismatic rulers, we will proceed to Raj Ghat, the memorial and cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. A “ghat” is a wide stone stairway leading to the river, where people bathe, wash their clothes, and worship. Raj Ghat is a park-like stone stairway, where pilgrims and visitors come to honor their leader. Next we visit Jami Masjid, the largest and best-known mosque in India and the principle mosque of Old Delhi. Being a result of the efforts of 5,000 workers over a period of 6 years, the mosque has three great gates, four towers and two 40 m high minarets of red sandstone and white marble with its courtyard accommodating up to twenty-five thousand worshippers.
Travel back to your hotel at the end of the tour. The rest of the day will be at leisure. Tonight we will enjoy our farewell dinner at the local restaurant and transfer back to our hotel at the end of the dinner. B
Depart Delhi for the flight home
Today we will be transferred to the airport for the flight home. B
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