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The Era Of The Nawabs - 6 Nights / 7 days

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Duration :6 Nights / 7 days
Places : Delhi->Nimrana->Jaipur->Varanasi->Lucknow
Travel Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive DELHI

The magic and mystery of India engulfs you as you arrive at New Delhi airport. You are met and assisted at the airport, before being transferred to the hotel. On arrival at the hotel, a traditional Indian welcome is accorded, with girls dressed in traditional Indian costumes greet each guest with garlands, performing the aarti and, tika ceremony. A welcome drink will be served. Lunch at the hotel.
In the afternoon take a tour of India’s capital. Sightseeing of Old Delhi includes a visit to the Red Fort, built in 1648 during the reign of Shah Jehan in red sandstone, which gave the fort its name. Jama Masjid is India's largest mosque, built of red sandstone and white marble in the middle of the 17th century. Chandni Chowk (Silver Street), once the imperial avenue down which Shah Jehan rode at the head of lavish cavalcades, is today bustling with shops, stalls and silversmiths' ateliers Sightseeing of New Delhi includes a visit to India Gate, built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War.
Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy is today the official residence of the President of India. Parliament House, an unique circular building with huge colonnades, houses the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament. One of Delhi’s most striking monuments is the 70-meter high Qutb Minar, which looms majestically across the plains of Delhi In the evening enjoy a welcome dinner with a special programme of Indian classical music. Overnight at the hotel.


After breakfast depart for the 122-km (three-hour) drive to Neemrana Fort-Palace, named after a brave local chieftain - Nimola Meo - who ruled here. Strategically located on the route between Delhi and Jaipur, the fort, which dates back to 1464, was the creation of the Rath clan of Rajputs, the Chauhans, who trace their lineage to Prithviraj Chauhan III.
The oldest among the palace hotels, Neemrana provides an evocative experience extending beyond the physical structure. Every arch, a window, a carved flower are not just little details but an essence of the whole, catalyzing reactions, providing in a real sense a brush with history.
After lunch at Neemrana continue on the 123 km (3-hour) journey to Jaipur.
On arrival at the hotel in Jaipur, the vibrant colours of Rajasthan come alive as you drive to the hotel. Gaily caparisoned elephants, stately camels, drummers, flutists and belles clad in traditional attire welcome you in royal Rajasthani style and lead you to the regal portals of the hotel, your home for the next few days. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.


After breakfast at the hotel, visit Amber, the capital for 6 centuries before Jaipur was built, which lies 11 km north of Jaipur. To recreate the romantic ambiance of the days of yore, the male members of the group will be given a safa (Rajasthani turban) and each lady draped in a duppata (shawl), before elephants carry you up the ramparts of the fort.
Rising majestically on the slopes of a hill, this 11th century fort and palace complex is a blend of Hindu and Muslim styles - the earlier constructions in the inner apartments designed by the Hindu founder are austere, while later constructions abound in the rich flourishes characteristic of Muslim influence. The Diwani-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) affords a view of the strategic location of Amber.
The Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory) is the finest example of the artistic exuberance of the day - panels of alabaster, fine inlay work, a shimmering Hall of Mirrors, renowned for its fine mirrorwork. The Sukh Nivas (Hall of Pleasure) has 17th century air conditioning.
Lunch is arranged at the beautiful Samode Haveli, a delightful family-run heritage hotel located in the heart of the old city.
In the afternoon explore Jaipur, one of the best planned cities in India, built of rose-pink sandstone by the great astronomer-king Jai Singh II in 1727. The City Palace stands in the centre of the city. Part of it is still the Maharaja's residence, while most of the complex has been developed into a museum containing rare manuscripts, fine specimens of Rajput and Mughal paintings, royal apparel and an armoury.
Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is the landmark of Jaipur. It stands on one of the main streets, a curious building, elaborate and fanciful, built of pink sandstone with a delicate honeycomb design. Rising five storeys high, it is composed of semi-octagonal overhanging windows, each with its perforated screen, which allowed the ladies of the court to look onto the main street without being seen. Jantar Mantar observatory built by the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. The huge stone instruments were devised to study the movements of the sun, moon and planets and are incredibly accurate.
There is time to wander through the colourful bazaars, a veritable collector's paradise where you can watch ancient craft forms. Meenakari or enamelling delicate patterns of birds and flowers fired in glowing red, deep green, peacock blue and white; the gold jewel is then given further sparkle with emeralds, rubies, white sapphires and dangling pearls. In tiny ateliers you can see the age-old tie-dye methods of cloth printing, with yard upon yard of vivid turquoise, ochre and crimson cloth unfolding.
Your last evening in Jaipur is special - a lavish barbecue dinner is served, with colourfully apparelled folk dancers and musicians entertaining you as you savour Rajasthani delicacies. The evening ends with a magnificent fireworks display. Overnight at the hotel.


After breakfast, depart on the 233 km (6-hour) drive to Agra.
En route stop at Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted sandstone city, which was the glorious but short-lived imperial capital of Akbar, the greatest of Mughal emperors. Lying on a rocky ridge, it is today a haunting complex of empty palaces, forts and mosques. A variety of architectural styles are found, since craftsmen representing many schools were employed.
In the afternoon depart for a tour of Agra city. Visit the red sandstone Agra Fort, which stands like a crescent on the banks of the Jamuna river, enclosed by forbidding 20-meter high walls, with a 12-meter moat between them. Three successive Mughal emperors - Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan - helped create this massive structure which contains Hindu and Muslim architecture.
The highlight of your trip will probably be a visit to the Taj Mahal, surely the greatest monument to love and one of the wonders of the modern world. Completed in 1652, skilled craftsmen from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and some 20,000 labourers worked for 17 years to build this edifice, constructed by emperor Shah Jehan as a mausoleum for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. Watch the setting sun bathe this pristine white edifice in shades of orange, ochre and gold, before returning to the hotel on colourfully decorated cycle rickshaws.
This evening’s special theme is a recreation of the majesty of the Mughal era. Chobdars (gatekeepers) usher you to a dawat khana (venue of the dinner) and hostesses clad in silken, flowing ghaghras (skirts) and chunnis (veils) welcome you with flowers and attar (perfume) in traditional style. A sumptuous spread of Moghlai delicacies is served in a manner befitting royalty, as you watch a performance of Kathak, a classical dance form which was performed in the Moghul courts. Overnight at the hotel.


Breakfast at the hotel. Morning transfer to the airport for flight CD 407, departing Agra at 1105 hours and arriving Varanasi at 1255 hours. You are met on arrival and transferred to the hotel in time for a late lunch at the hotel.
In the afternoon visit Sarnath, located 9 km from Varanasi. Sarnath is the centre of the Buddhist world, just as Varanasi is that for the Hindu. It was here that Buddha preached his first sermon, partially recorded on one of its stones.
Dhamek Stupa dating back to 500 AD, is the largest with geometrical ornaments on its wall. Dharmarajika Stupa was set up by emperor Ashoka to contain the bodily relics of the Buddha. There is an outstanding museum, worth visiting.
In the evening a special dinner on the lawns of the hotel, with a classical Indian dance show. Overnight at the hotel.


Early in the morning, before sunrise, depart for a boat ride on the sacred Ganges river, where devout Hindus can be seen performing their daily ablutions. The bathing ghats, lead down from a steep bank to the river. They are the soul of the city - here, where the wavelets of the Ganges lap the last of the stone steps, can be seen young Hindu men practicing Hatha yoga, older men seated, eyes closed in medication, Brahmin priests under sunshades, waiting to bless the passing pilgrims and beggars sitting in serried ranks. Manikarnika burning ghat is the chief cremation centre of Varanasi. Corpses lined in white silk or linen are borne on bamboo stretchers to the smoking pyres, where they are deposited to await their turn. Photography is not usually permitted here.
Walk back to the hotel through the winding lanes of this ancient city. Varanasi has been the religious capital of the Hindu faith since the dawn of history. Known as Kashi in the 7th century BC it constitutes a microcosm of Indian life. No one knows how old it really is - when Buddha came here in 550 BC, it was already a flourishing ancient settlement. The town is one inextricable maze of small streets and alleyways, hiding in disorderly array no less than 2,000 temples and shrines. Domes, pinnacles, towers and derelict 18th-century palaces dominate the left bank of the Ganges river. The streets are noisy, colour is rife.
Afternoon transfer to the airport for flight IC 805, departing Varanasi at 1700 hours and arriving Lucknow at 1745 hours. You are met on arrival and transferred to the hotel.
In the evening, enjoy a special Lucknowi Darbar Theme dinner, transporting you to the era of the Nawabs. Two adorned tuskers salute you to the main entrance of the hotel, from where the ladies are carried in bedecked palkhis (palanquins) to the main hall.
Beautifully decorated to resemble the grandeur of Nawabi lifestyle, the hall is divided into a Durbar area, which has low seating arrangements where guests can have cocktails as they watch a traditional Kathak dance performance. The dining area – the `Dastarkhwan’ - denoting “bounty of the table”, offers the culinary delights of Lucknow. Accompanying the dinner will be a live Gazal performance. Overnight at the hotel.


After breakfast at the hotel, depart on a tour of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
The city straddles both banks of the Gomti, a tributary of the mighty Ganga. It rose to importance during the Indo-Islamic medieval period, especially under the Mughals and subsequently under the Nawabs of Oudh and later the British. The city is renowned for its cultivated manners and refined urban culture, as well as its traditional crafts.
These include the fine bidri - silver-inlaid black metalware, delicate jewellry and chikan work - intricate shadow-work embroidery. The city is the home of light classical North-Indian Hindustani music and Kathak, a traditional school of dance. Places of historical importance include Nadan Mahal, a Moghul tomb; Bara Imambara, built in 1784, which contains the tombs of the builder and his family; the ruins of the British Residency, where the Great Indian Mutiny took place; the Husanabad Imambara, which stands in a large enclosure with an attached mosque and a great ornamental gate, the Rumi Darwaza and its charming labyrinth, supporting the roof of the edifice.
Other places of note are the Chhatar Manzil, the tombs of Saadt Ali and his wife; Dilkhusha Palace and Constantinia, now La Martiniere School, founded in the 18th century by the Frenchman Claude Martin.
Late afternoon transfer to the airport for flight IC 805, departing Lucknow at 1820 hours and arriving Delhi at 1915 hours. You are met on arrival and transferred to the hotel, where rooms will be provided for wash and change.
A Village Theme evening has been arranged specially for you - a brilliant show with the backdrop of fairy lights and thatched huts with colourful buntings and floral decorations where artisans provide continuous entertainment and depict India as a land of colour, gaiety and festivals. A puppet show with folk singing, a vertical merry-go-round, folk dances, magic shows, performance by acrobats, demonstration by jugglers, artisans and palmists are some of the attractive features of the show.
A glittering market where shopkeepers sell clothes, beauty aids, artifacts and handicrafts also forms part of the show. A befitting farewell dinner to leave lingering memories of this vibrant land. Late evening transfer to the airport for your onward flight.


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