Classical North India


9 nights

£1346

Introductions
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Classical North India

Explore the classics of North India on this 9 nights tour covering Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Khajuraho and Varanasi and the Ganges.


9 nights

from £1346

Description

Start and finish your Classical North India tour in Delhi with city tours in Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Varanasi. Visit the main historical sights of North India with visits to the Fort's, Temples and the river Ganges.

Highlights
  • A City tour of Old and New Delhi covering the Red Fort with a cycle rickshaw ride, Raj Ghat, the Presidential Palace and more
  • Amber Fort and a tour of Jaipur
  • City tour of Agra to visit the Taj Mahal
  • Visit the Eastern and Western Group of temples
  • Explore the colourful bazaar of Varanasi
  • Boat ride on the River Ganges along with an evening ceremony at the Ganges
  • Varanasi City tour
Additional Information

Package includes:
- Accommodation: 9 nights on twin sharing in standard category of room at all places
- Meal plan: Bed and breakfast at all places
- Transport: All transfers and excursions will be provided by an air-conditioned large car as per the itinerary
- Local English speaking guide for sightseeing as per the itinerary
- Elephant ride and return by jeep at Amber Fort
- Boat ride at the Ganges
- Evening Aarti ceremony on the banks on the river Ganges
- Train fare - AC Chair Car in Shatabdi Express from Agra to Jhansi
- Economy Class airfare from Khajuraho to Varanasi and Varanasi to Delhi however please be aware this price is subject to change
- Entrance fees and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) entrance fees to all monuments
- Services of an English speaking representative in each city
- All taxes as on date, all future levies will be charged extra

Package excludes:

- International Flights
- Any expenditure of personal nature such as telephone calls, laundry, minibar or drinks during meals, tips to driver, guide, helper etc.
- Any other meal/details not mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport departure tax/airport development fee usually included in the international air ticket
- Visa charges to India

Notes:
*Economy class airfares must be ticketed instantly upon booking and will be subject to cancellation fees once booked. Baggage allowance on the internal flights is 15kg checked-in baggage and 7kg hand luggage.
*The following monuments/sites are closed to visitors as per the below:
- The Red Fort, Delhi: Monday's
- Taj Maha, Agra: Friday's
- Sarnath, Varanasi: Friday's
*Accommodation will be provided in hotels mentioned or alternate hotels of a similar category
*All hotels maintain a check-in and check-out time of 12 noon or 1400hrs
*Train and air schedules/fares are subject to revision
*Visa is required for India - Passengers must organise it before their departure from their country of domicile/nationality. India has a facility of Electronic Tourist Visa.
*All passengers must be covered by suitable travel/health insurance prior to departure from the country of origin

Pricing
Feb 2024
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Description

Arrival in Delhi

Arrival into Delhi and be met with our representative and transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Delhi

Accommodation:
Standard category: The Suryaa Delhi or similar
Premium category: The Sheraton Delhi similar

Sheraton New Delhi Hotel

Our LEED Platinum & LEED Zero Certified hotel is designed to offer the discerning business and leisure traveller ‘A Home Away From Home Experience’. We are in close vicinity to Max Super Speciality Hospital and luxury malls like DLF Avenue, Select City Walk, DLF Emporio.

Meals Included: Room Only

DESTINATION

Delhi

Delhi, the capital of India, is a city with a rich cultural heritage that dates back to centuries. Located in the northern part of the country, it is a city steeped in history, home to several iconic landmarks and monuments that attract millions of visitors from all over the world. The city's eclectic mix of modern and traditional elements, along with its bustling street life, creates an unique and vibrant atmosphere that will captivate you from the moment you arrive.

Whether you're interested in history, culture, food, or shopping, Delhi has something to offer for everyone. Start your exploration of the city by visiting its ancient forts, such as the Red Fort and Qutub Minar, which will give you a glimpse into the city's rich history and cultural heritage. For a more contemporary perspective, visit the Lotus Temple, a stunning, modern temple shaped like a lotus flower, and Humayun's Tomb, which is considered as one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in India.

One of the most vibrant aspects of Delhi is its street life, where you'll find everything from street food vendors selling delicious chaat, to bustling street markets like Chandni Chowk, where you can find everything from traditional Indian textiles and handicrafts to modern and trendy clothing. Delhi's street food is not to be missed, and is a true reflection of the city's diverse culture. From chaat and pakoras to parathas and kebabs, there's no shortage of tasty food to try in Delhi.

For a more relaxed and refined shopping experience, visit the luxury malls and high-end boutiques in South Delhi, which offer a range of high-end designer labels and local Indian fashion brands. Here, you'll also find a variety of international restaurants and cafes, offering cuisines from around the world.

Delhi is also a hub for art and culture, with numerous museums and galleries showcasing the works of Indian and international artists. The National Museum, which houses a vast collection of artifacts and treasures from India's rich cultural heritage, is a must-visit for anyone interested in the country's history and culture.

In conclusion, Delhi is a city that truly has something to offer for everyone. Whether you're interested in exploring its rich cultural heritage, shopping for unique and beautiful souvenirs, or indulging in its vibrant street life and delicious cuisine, Delhi will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Delhi cuisine is known for being courageously spiced and is eaten with gloriously fluffy breads that are used to sop up every last drop of delicious sauce. Your holiday in Delhi will be steeped in the long religious and cultural history of India as you explore museums, markets and places of worship for all the major religions of the world. Though holidays to Delhi can be dampened by the monsoon season, much of the year is a wonderful time to travel there.

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Delhi holidays are visually powerful and overwhelming. Delhi is a vibrant city full of colours, green gardens, people to watch and museums full of history and art to fulfil even the most desirous of intellectuals. Throughout Delhi you’ll find many places to explore the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi. You can visit the National Gandhi Museum to learn about his works and while there, be sure to visit Gandhi’s Samadhi (the place where he was cremated). You can also visit the Gandhi Smriti, the home where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life and was ultimately assassinated. If your Delhi holiday leads you to explore the National Gallery of Modern Art, prepare your senses for extreme visual stimulation. The galleries contain modern artwork of varying styles that explore Indian culture from a foreigner's perspective, from the perspective of a native who was trained in the European art schools and some works that just make you question why and how they were made.

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Delhi holidays will be full of sound; road noise and car horns will bombard your ears, chatting and laughing people will be ever-present as you wander the streets and music will periodically float by from street performers. Delhi’s overwhelming quality is part of what makes it interesting and piques the curiosity of first-time travellers. Though sound may seem ever-present in Delhi, there’s an easy way to escape; step into a temple. As you enter the Lotus Temple your ears will be blasted with total silence. This marvel of architecture and place of worship for people of all religions, as is philosophically aligned with the Bahá’í faith, is a great place to escape and meditate away from the sounds and heat of holidays in Delhi. The Qawwalis at Nizamuddin Dargah are known for their mesmerizing ability to sing Sufi devotional songs alongside traditional Indian instruments.

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As you wind through the streets on your holiday in Delhi, your nose will be inundated with smells from each food establishment that you pass. The food of Delhi is known for being rich in spices and butter. While much of the population in Delhi is vegetarian, the culture is well known for inventing tandoori chicken which is heavily spiced and cooked in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven. The cuisine of Delhi is deeply rooted in the religious and cultural history of the place, with strong ties back to the Mughal Empire. Much of the food in India is tied to the region in where it was created, making a wide-range of traditional food throughout the country. In Delhi you’ll find lots of heavily spiced curries and fantastic street food. A favourite is saag paneer and butter chicken where bread is used for eating and soaking up every last bit of curry. While exploring the cuisine during your Delhi holiday, be sure to try some chaat or street snacks. Many travellers recommend the samosa, a fried pocket pastry, or kulle which is a fruit chaat consisting of hollowed out fruits or vegetables topped with pomegranate seeds, chickpeas, lime juice and chaat masala which is a salty tangy spice mix. For dessert, be sure to try a fruit or spiced lassi, which is a smoothie-like drink, or gulab jamuns, which are like fried doughnut holes covered in sweet syrups. The foods of Delhi are wide-ranging and will fulfil even the most adventuresome of gourmands.

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One of the best ways to explore a place is in the markets, watching and seeing all the wares available for sale. Located in Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazar are the best places to explore and find gifts for taking home with you to family and friends. With so many shops, you might want a tour guide to get you through thereby guaranteeing that you find exactly what you’re looking for and so much more. The chaos and crowded sidewalks of the market can be over stimulating, but if you’re interested in buying a sari or other clothing from a shop, you’ll be welcomed in with open arms and offered a steaming cup of masala chai tea to help along your decision. Don’t forget to remove your shoes before entering a shop and make sure you haggle and haggle and haggle some more- until you get the price you want.

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Springtime is the perfect time of year for exploring Delhi outdoors. Delhi is home to many parks and gardens, which are great ways to escape the city. You can picnic, practice yoga, walk or just sit and watch the other people go by. During this time of year you’ll find the flowers in full bloom. During the day, the average temperature is a balmy 24 degrees, with temperatures getting down to 10 degrees at night. Be sure to pack a range of clothing to stay warm but not be sweltering in the sun.

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During the summer you can expect temperatures up to 47 degrees and only drop to 30 degrees at night. Though the temperatures are hot, touring Delhi in the summer can still be great. If your holidays take you to Delhi between the months of April and June, be sure to bring light cotton clothes, lots of sun protection and plan to spend the afternoons inside. By touring in the late afternoon and early evening, you’ll be able to avoid the hottest part of the day and still see everything Delhi has to offer.

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Though not as wild as the coastal towns, Delhi does experience monsoon season. From July to mid-September you can expect to get wet during your holiday in Delhi. The monsoon season is still hot in Delhi with temperatures around 30 degrees, so you’ll find relief and coolness in the rain showers. The monsoon rains also bring a new glow to Delhi as they wash away all the dust and bring the smell of clean rain into the air.

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With temperatures hovering around 20 degrees, autumn is a great time to spend your holidays in Delhi. From September to November, you’ll experience dry, cool weather. This is another great time of year to spend your Delhi holidays outdoors. Whether you’re walking the streets, exploring the gardens or wandering the markets searching for the perfect gift for your loved ones back home, you’ll enjoy the cool, dry weather.

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December and January are the coldest months in Delhi with temperatures getting down to 8 degrees. Though rare, temperatures can dip below freezing during this time of year so be sure to bring warm clothing and bundle up while exploring the outdoor markets and being outside. December is the driest month in Delhi so you’re safe to leave your umbrella at home. Winter is a fantastic time of year to stay warm by eating all the spicy curries you can find and sipping on hot masala chai at every opportunity. 

Akshardham Temple. image

The temple is a complex of many small structures with the main monument built according to Vaastu Shastra (Science of Construction). It is 141 ft high, 316 ft wide and about 370 ft long supported by 234 pillars with floral carvings and also has 11 huge mandapas (domes) and decorated arches. There has been absolutely no use of steel to reinforce any of the structures in the temple complex. There is a plinth that has several stone statues of elephants known as Gajendra Plinth.

The pink sandstone and white marble used in the temple symbolizes perennial charm and virtue. There are over 20,000 statues of Hindu gods and goddesses, floral carvings, intricately carved pillars and arches that have made from white marble and pink sandstone.

The temple complex took 11,000 skilled craftsmen over five years to build. The temple has various structures that incorporate Mughal, Jain, Gujarati, Oriya and Rajasthani architecture which add to the beauty of the temple.

Akshardham Temple.. image

Besides the temple complex, there are many attractions spread across the 100 acre premises of the temple. There is an art gallery, musical fountain, a huge screen in the special theatre which shows many educational films and several exhibitions held from time to time throughout the year. A major attraction in the temple complex is the World Peace monument.

While visiting the temple, it is advisable not to carry electronic items as camera phones, cameras and other electronic items are not allowed inside the temple complex. You can see the light and music show at the musical fountain for a nominal admission fee. Entry to the temple and garden around the temple is open to all without any admission fee from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm every day except Monday. The various exhibitions can be viewed between 11 am and 6:30 pm.

SHOPPING

There is a souvenir shop in the temple complex that sells various religious photos and models of the temple and few of its most popular structures like the main temple and statues.

Seat of the Mughal Empire since Emperor Shah Jehan, the Red Fort stood for the might of imperial Hindustan. The medieval structure in Delhi holds significance even today as the Prime Minister of India makes his customary Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the fort on August 15. The fort stood at the eastern edge of Shahjahanabad, the new capital of Mughal Empire created by Shah Jehan in 17th century. Shahjahanabad was the seventh Delhi created since Indraprastha, the capital of Pandavas.  Built by Shah Jehan as his residence, the fort gets its name from the massive wall of red sandstone. The Red Fort was called the “Qila-i-Mubarak” or “The blessed fort”; however, it is popularly known as ‘Lal Qila’. Though the Agra fort made of red sandstone is also called Lal Qila, it is the fort at Delhi which is associated with the name.  Architecture of the fort, its planning and beauty showcases the ingenuity of Mughals and their love for creating masterpieces in stone. Though the fort has lost its glory and looks rather forlorn, it was the centre-stage of political happenings. The pomp and power of the fort was on display each Friday, when Emperor Shah Jahan paraded out of the fort at the head of his retinue atop an elephant, to offer prayers at the Jama Masjid.  The fort shot into limelight again and became the epicentre of political developments during the Revolt of 1857. It was the residence of the Mughals till the last royal Bahadur Shah Zafar was arrested for his role in the mutiny. The fort was the scene of an important event associate with the Indian freedom struggle. The joint court-martial of officers of Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army – Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan – was held at the Red Fort. The trio was defended by the INA Defence Committee which included legal luminaries like Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai, Kailashnath Katju and Asaf Ali.  The Red Fort attracts large number of tourists for its architecture, history and for its sheer magnificence. The Red Fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi. image

Situated along the Yamuna River, the fort spread over 254 acres, was designed to incorporate the pre-existing Salimgarh Fort. The construction of the fort began in 1638 and took a decade to finish. Situated at the eastern edge of Shahjahanabad, the fort gets its name from the massive wall of red sandstone. The wall is about 2.5 km long and it varies in height from 60 ft on the river side to 110 ft towards the city.

It was surrounded by a 10m-deep moat. It was crossed on wooden drawbridges but was lated replaced with stone bridges. A moat surrounded the fort and it was fed by waters from the Yamuna River.

Various monuments in the fort – the Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of Private Audiences, the Chatta Chowk, the Khas Mahal, the Diwan-i-Khas, the hammams, the Moti Masjid, the formal garden, the Hayat Bakhsh Bagh, etc. still speak of the Mughal love for architecture and splendour.

The Red Fort was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

Red Fort.. image

Shah Jehan decided to move his capital from Agra as he wanted to bring prestige to his reign. He also wanted a fresh canvas to give life to his ambitious building schemes and interests. Construction began in 1638 and it was completed in 1648. At its heyday, over 3000 people lived within the premises of the Delhi Fort complex. The fort’s importance and glory waned with the falling fortunes of the Mughals. However, it was catapulted again to centre-stage during the First War of Independence in 1857.

After the revolt was suppressed, the fort was captured by British East India Company. It later became the headquarters of the British Indian Army. After India’s independence, Indian Army took control of the fort. Indian Army vacated the fort in 2003.

Several pavilions and gardens in the fort were destroyed by the British for use as headquarters of their army.

Humayun's Tomb. image

The mausoleum stands in the centre of a 30-acre garden known as the Char Bagh or Four Gardens. The Persian-style garden was modeled on the Garden of Paradise. Humayun’s Tomb was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993. Restoration work: Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) along with Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has painstakingly restored the monument to its pristine glory. The restoration process culminated in 2003. As part of the restoration efforts around 12 hectares of lawns were replanted and over 2500 trees and plants were planted.

FUN FACTS

The last Mughal Bahadur Shah Zafar took refuge in Humayun’s Tomb during the First War of Independence in 1857. He was arrested along with his sons by the British from the mausoleum. The site was chosen on banks of Yamuna river, due to its proximity to Nizamuddin Dargah, the mausoleum of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya.

 

 

The Minaret image

One can see verses from the Holy Quran carved in Kufic style of Islamic calligraphy on the walls of the minaret. The minaret was used to summon the faithful for the prayers in the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. Inscriptions further indicate repairs of the minaret carried by Sultan Sikander Lodi in 1503 after it was struck by lightning. In 1802, the minaret was severely damaged by an earthquake and was repaired by Major R Smith of the Royal Engineers, who replaced the capola with a Bengali-style chhatri. The chhatri was later removed by the Governor General Lord Hardinge in 1848. The chhatri stands at the left side of the minar and it’s called Smith’s folly.

FUN FACTS

Several movies have been shot at the Qutub complex. The song Chand sifarish from the Aamir Khan-Kajol starrer Fanaa was shot here. Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar song from the film Tere Ghar Ke Saamne starring Dev Anand and Nutan was shot completely within the Qutub Minar. It was the last movie to be shot inside the tower.

Lotus Temple image

One of the most remarkable things about the temple is that although it’s been made by the Bahai community, the temple is open to worshippers from all over the world irrespective of their religion, nationality, ethnicity or colour. An exceptional feature about the temple is that it does not have any idols of any God. It just consists of a prayer hall for meditation. Unique prayer sessions are held in the hall which recites teachings from all the religions.

The temple design is composed of 27 freestanding marble clad petals arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. The prayer hall holds up to 2500 people. The surface of the House of Worship is made from white marble from Greece, which was also used for the other houses of worship of Bahai faith. Nine ponds surround the temple and it is set among lush green gardens and the whole property covers an expanse of 26 acres.

Safdarjung Tomb Interior image

The tomb is built in red sandstone and buff stone. The tomb stands on a high terrace which is surrounded by a plush green Mughal garden which spreads over 300 sq. meters. The garden in front of the tomb is called Charbagh. The tomb has a gate on the East and pavilions on the other sides, namely, “Moti mahal” or the pearl palace, “Jangli mahal” or the sylvan palace and the “Badshah Pasand” or the emperor’s favourite.

One can see great designs and carvings on the marble and buff sandstones at the entrance of the main mausoleum while the main entrance of the tomb is huge and exhibits fine ornamental paintings. The mausoleum houses two graves — one of Safdurjung and that of his wife. The mausoleum also had a mosque and a courtyard within its premises. The central square chamber of the tomb is surrounded by eight rooms. The rooms are rectangular in shape except the corner ones which are octagonal.

The mausoleum has also lent its name to the Safdurjung Airport, Safdarjung Road, Safdarjung Hospital and localities like Safdurjung Enclave and Safdarjung Development Area (SDA), all in the Delhi.

Purana Qila. image

All three gates are double storied and are built entirely from red sandstone like the fort itself. When the fort was in use, the Bada Darwaza and the Humayun Darwaza were used to enter the fort but today tourists are allowed entry only from the Bada Darwaza. The Talaqi Darwaza, which was the northern entrance, was always closed even during the time the fort was in use and hence named Talaqi.

A must see show when you visit Purana Qila is the Sound and Light Show which presents the history of Delhi which takes you back 5000 years as jets of water put on a captivating show in the nine pools in front of the steps. There is a lake near the old fort where boating facilities are available. It also allows to see the fort from water as you gently glide on a boat.

There are a number of exquisite structures within the fort premises like the Kairul Manzil, Qila Kuhna Masjid, Sher Mandal and a museum near the fort that holds many artifacts belonging to the Mughal era. Other attractions near the fort within walking distance are Nila Gumbad, Delhi Zoo, India Gate and Nizamuddin’s Shrine.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. image

There are no places to stay in the dargah. There are no places to eat in the dargah; however, there are many restaurants outside the dargah complex. The dargah can be visited any time during the year. It is advisable to visit the dargah during the winter months of October to March. Jama’at- Khana Masjid: Built in 1325 by Khizr Khan, son of Ala-ud-Din Khalji, the mosque is located to the west of Hazrat Nizamuddin’s tomb. Built with red sandstone, it is the oldest structure in the complex. It consists of three bays and low domes.

Chini Ka Burj: It was built during the era of the Lodis. ‘Chini-ka-Burj’ means ‘tower of tiles’.

Tomb of Jahan Ara: Located to the south of Hazrat Nizamuddin’s tomb, Jahan Ara’s tomb is simple structure without any roof and covered by earth in accordance with the princess’ wish. The princess had willed, “Let naught cover my grave save the green grass, for grass well suffices as a covering for the grave of the lowly”.

Amir Khusro’s Tomb: Amir Khusro was one of the chief disciples of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Khusro’s tomb is locatednext to that of the saint.

Kali-Or Kalan Masjid: Built by Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, prime minister of Feroze Shah Tughluq, the mosque is built from rubble stone. Originally, its courtyard was partly covered and partly uncovered as in the Khirki-Masjid. Its eastern doorway has an inscription mentioning that it was built in 772 AH (1370-71) by Kimam Shah Maqbul, son of Khan-i-Jahan.

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Description

City Tour of Delhi

After breakfast, proceed for a city tour of Old and New Delhi

In the morning, explore Old Delhi with a drive past the magnificent Red Fort (closed on Monday's). Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride in the by lanes of Chandini Chowk. Drive past Kotla Firoze Shah, ruins of an old fort of the 14th century. Visit Raj Ghat where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948. Drive through the old city subject to traffic conditions.

In the afternoon, explore New Delhi with a drive past the Presidential Palace, the Rashtrapati, the impressive Rajpath to the World War 1 memorial arch, the India Gate. Visit the Qutub Minar, the 72 metre high Minaret.

Overnight in Delhi

Accommodation:
Standard category: The Suryaa Delhi or similar
Premium category: The Sheraton Delhi similar

Sheraton New Delhi Hotel

Our LEED Platinum & LEED Zero Certified hotel is designed to offer the discerning business and leisure traveller ‘A Home Away From Home Experience’. We are in close vicinity to Max Super Speciality Hospital and luxury malls like DLF Avenue, Select City Walk, DLF Emporio.

Meals Included: Breakfast