13 DAY HOLI FESTIVAL TAJ AND RAJ


Delhi, India’s capital is a city built in layers. Over millennia, with the city as epicenter, great empires have risen and fallen, one built atop the remains of another. Consequently, countless ruins and monuments dot the city, each with a story to tell. Alongside, New Delhi’s wide multi-lane motorways, bustling with shopping malls, fast cars and steel and glass office complexes, belong unmistakably to the 21st century.

Overnight at Delhi.

Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later, proceed for a guided tour of New Delhi. Also known as Lutyen’s Delhi, this part of the city is known for its imperial architecture, erected during the British era.

Our first stop will be at Qutub Minar. Built in 1193 AD by Qutubuddin Aibak, a slave general, it is India’s tallest stone tower and marks the site of the country’s first Muslim kingdom. The iron tower in a square opposite is unique in that it never rusts, although it has been exposed to the elements for centuries.

A short drive away, the stately Humayun’s Tomb is perhaps the first example of the Mughal style of architecture, inspired by Persian styles, more examples of which may be seen in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. The structure was erected in memory of Emperor Humayun, father of the illustrious Emperor Akbar, by his widow Hamida Banu Begum. An avid scholar who died an untimely death after falling down the steps of his library, Humayun himself was an architecture enthusiast and well-versed in the Persian style of building. It is said that he himself drew up the blueprint of his tomb in his lifetime, but there is no documented evidence to that effect.

Up next is India Gate, the red sandstone arch erected in memory of Indian and British soldiers who laid down their lives in World War I. Close by are the majestic Parliament House, the seat of the world’s largest democracy and the Rastrapathi Bhawan, the Indian President’s official residence. Inside are the famed Mughal Gardens with its ornate fountains and manicured lawns. Mughal Gardens are open to the public during spring.

The lotus-shaped Bahai Temple south of Delhi is also of interest. An ideal place for meditation, this Bahai House of worship is open to people of all faiths.

Overnight will be at Delhi.

Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later, proceed for a day’s sightseeing of the city, starting with the Akshardham Temple.

At the fascinating Akshardham Temple, a few millennia of Indian history comes alive through a mind-boggling kaleidoscope of dioramas, animatronics, giant iMax screens and installations. The immense temple structure itself is a modern architectural marvel with high shikharas, plinths, domes, pillars and over 20,000 statues in the traditional Indian style held up without the benefit of even a single ounce of steel.

After lunch, proceed for a guided tour of the walled city of Old Delhi, the Mughal side of the capital.

Raj Ghat is the famous memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. The shrine bears testimony to the simplicity of a man who changed the world with nothing but the power of ideas. A simple black stone structure with an eternal flame burning at one end.

The majestic Red Fort was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1639, and remained seat of the empire for the next two centuries. Today, the Prime Minister of the India delivers his Independence Day speech to the nation from the ramparts of this red sandstone structure.

Jama Masjid is one of Asia’s largest mosques. We shall view this magnificent structure from outside, its lofty and highly ornate domes and minarets reminiscent of a scene from the Arabian Nights.

A short distance away lie the bustling markets of Chandni Chowk - “Moonlit Square” - the celebrated 17th century market complex, where sweet shops from the 1790s still do roaring business .

Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the bustling, winding alleyways of Chandni Chowk.

Overnight at Delhi.

After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the airport in a Compass approved vehicle, in time for your flight to Udaipur. Upon arrival, a Compass representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your hotel transfer.

Founded by Maharana Uday Singh, beautiful Udaipur on the banks of Lake Pichola is a fairytale land with beautiful palaces in the middle of lakes, islands, opulent havelis and temples. Surrounded by the ancient Aravalli hills, Udaipur shimmers in dazzling white and is also called the City of Dawn.

In the evening, proceed for a cruise on Lake Pichola. Enjoy a stunning view of Udaipur city and the Aravalli hills from over the water. Visit the majestic Jag Mandir Palace situated in the middle of the Lake.

Overnight at Udaipur.

Breakfast will be at hotel.

Proceed for sightseeing tour of Udaipur, stopping first at City Palace.

CITY PALACE: Standing on the east bank of Lake Pichola, is a massive series of palaces built at different times from 1559 A.D. The balconies of the palace provide panoramic views of "Jag Niwas" (the world wide famous Lake palace hotel), Jag Mandir on one side and on the other the city of Udaipur. Its main entrance is through the triple-arched gate - the Tripolia, built in 1725. The way now leads to a series of courtyards, overlapping parations, terraces, corridors and gardens - a harmonic profusion hard to describe. There is a Suraj Gokhda, where the maharanas of Mewar presented themselves in the times of trouble to the people to restore confidence. The Mor-chowk (Peacock courtyard), gets its name from the vivid mosaics in glass decorating its walls. The chini chitrashala is noteworthy while a series of wall paintings of KRISHNA are on display in Bhim Vilas. There are numerous other places such as Dilkhush Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Moti Mahal and Krishna villas - in memory of a princess of striking beauty who poisoned herself to avert a bloody battle for her hand by rival princess. Now the palace contains many antique articles, paintings, decorative furniture and utensils and attracts thousands of visitors every day.

Here you will marvel at rooms with mirrored walls and ivory doors, colored glass windows and inlaid marble balconies and the Peacock Courtyard.

SAHELIYON KI BARI: Maharana Sangram Singh builds this in the mid-18th century. The 'garden of the maidens' brings to mind the lifestyle of the ladies of the court. The delightful gardens appear discreet and in impeccable taste. There are four pools with dainty kiosks, and all around are flowerbeds, lawns, pools and fountains protected by a series of walls and shady trees. The Foundation of the Sahelion Ki Bari functions solely by water pressure and no pumps are used. The garden has a lotus pool, a sitting room decorated with paintings and glass mosaics. The whole ambiences are flavored by the nostalgia of those beautiful bells enjoying themselves in a lavish aura.

BAGORE KI HAVELI: This is a very congenial old building built right on the waterfront of Lake Pichola at Gangori Ghat. Amir Chand Badwa, the Prime Minister of Mewar built it in the eighteenth century. The palace has over hundred rooms and some very interesting display of costumes and modern art. The glass and mirror in the interiors of the Haveli delicate work and well preserved too. It also preserves a fine example of Mewar Painting on the walls of Queen's Chamber. The two peacocks made from small pieces of colored glasses are fine examples of glasswork. After the death Badwa the building became the property of Mewar State. It came to be occupied by Maharana Shakti Singh of Bagore who built the palace of the three arches also in 1878 and it acquired its name of Bagore-Ki-haveli, the house of Bagore. After independence the structure lay in neglect until 1986 when it housed the West Zone Cultural centre.

JAGDISH TEMPLE: The temple is situated in the middle of the city. The temple of Jagannath Rai, now called Jagdish-ji, is a major monument and should be seen carefully. Raised on a tall terrace and completed in 1651, it is a tribute alike to the tenacity of its builders and the resilence of the art tradition it represents. It attaches a double storeyed Mandapa (hall) to a double - storied, saandhara (that having a covered ambulatory) sanctum. The mandapa has another storey tucked within its pyramidal samavarna (bell - roof) while the hollow clustered spire over the sanctum contains two more, non - functional stories. Lanes taking off from many of the sheharpanah (city wall) converge on the Jagdish Temple and walking leisurely through them brings you face with the many layers of the cultural palimpsest that Udaipur is. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh Ist in 1651 A.D.

Proceed for Evening Motor launch cruise on the placid waters of Lake Pichola. From the boat you will be able to view the city of Udaipur as it rises majestically above the lake in the middle of the Rajasthan desert. Also visit the Jag Mandir Palace - the other island palace in the middle of the lake. Spend some time at the Jag Mandir Palace.

Overnight will be at Udaipur.

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Start for Jodhpur visiting Ranakpur enroute.

En-route, visit the RANAKPUR TEMPLES, dating back to the 15th century. 200 pillars, none of which are alike, support its 29 halls. The Temple abounds with intricate friezes and sculptures. Includes visits to two more Jain temples and the Temple of the Sun God with its erotic sculptures.

Reach and check in at hotel.

Set at the edge of the Thar Desert, the imperial city of Jodhpur echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert. Once the capital of the Marwar state, it was founded in 1459 AD by Rao Jodha-chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs who claimed to be descendants of Rama - the epic hero of the Ramayana. The massive 15th century AD Mehrangarh Fort looms on the top of a rocky hill, soaring 125 Mts. Above the plains. A high wall encompasses the city – 10 km long with 8 gates and innumerable bastions.

VISIT MUSEUM IN UMAID BHAWAN PALACE: The Umaid Bhawan Palace was actually built with the purpose of giving employment to the people of Jodhpur during a long drawn famine. The royal family of Jodhpur still lives in a part of the palace. Another part of the palace houses a well-maintained museum, displaying an amazing array of items belonging to the Maharaja and the royal family - weapons, antiques & fascinating clocks, crockery and trophies

Overnight will be at Jodhpur.

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Enjoy the sightseeing tour of the city.

MEHRANGARH FORT: Situated on a steep hill, Mehrangarh fort is one of the largest forts in India. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrate a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures. Mehrangarh Fort, spreading over 5 km on a perpendicular hill and looking down 125 meters, presents a majestic view on city horizon. It was built on advice of a saint in 1459 to establish an impregnable head-quarter. This Fort is one of the best in India with its exquisitely latticed windows, carved panels, elaborately adorned windows and walls of Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, and Sheesh Mahal. A collection of musical instruments, palanquins, royal costumes, furniture and the cannons on the fort's ramparts are well preserved.

JASWANT THADA: Close to the fort complex, lies Jaswant Thada. This 19th century royal cenotaph built in white marble in commemoration of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II and three other cenotaphs stand nearby. The cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh holds the rare portraits of the rulers and Maharajas of Jodhpur. A visit inside the cenotaphs, with some villagers of the region, would bring forward the reverence they still hold for their brave kings.

Drive to the BISHNOI VILLAGES for a short jeep safari.

Visit the BISHNOI VILLAGES and have a rare glimpse into the rich culture and true essence of India. This village is inhabited by the Bishnoi community. They are staunch believers in the sanctity of plant and animal life. Villages are marked by Khejri trees and deer which thrive. Memorable moments of the great desert landscape fascinates one while driving along the countryside.

Overnight will be at Jodhpur.

After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll be driven to Jaipur in your Compass-approved vehicle.

Jaipur, also known as the ‘Pink City’ from the facelift it received in 1853 to celebrate a visit by Prince Albert, is dotted with havelis (traditional mansions), bazaars, opulent palaces and rugged majestic forts that showcase the glorious past of its rulers, the Rajputs. The Rajput princes were fierce warriors some of whom declared loyalty to the invading Mughals and proved to be formidable allies of the empire. Among them was King Jai Singh II, whom the Mughals gave the title Sawai Maharaja, or “King and a quarter”. Jaipur gets its name from this valiant king.

Later, proceed to Chagan Stadium for Jaipur’s famed elephant festival where scores of pachyderms bedecked in colourful festive finery line up to parade for visitors to the accompaniment of marching bands and dance troupes.

In the evening, witness the ceremonial Holika Dahan bonfire where an effigy of the demon Holika is burnt with much fanfare and beating of drums, symbolising the victory of good over evil.

Overnight will be at Jaipur.

Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Soon it will be time to participate in Holi, India’s famed festival of colours. Holi has been photographed, filmed and written about thousands of times but it really must be experienced first-hand.

Holi is played with abeer and gulaal - lightly scented, organic powder in vibrant reds, greens, blues and every conceivable shade in between. Colored water is sprayed on participants from multicolored indigenous squirt guns or pichkaris. Lakh balls that disintegrate covering an entire party in colour are a rare but fun addition to one’s holi arsenal.

Enjoy the experience and spend night at Jaipur.

Proceed for a morning excursion to Amber Fort after breakfast. Elephant ride ascent to the fort.

AMBER FORT PALACE - Amber is the classic romantic Rajasthani fort palace. Its construction was started by Man Singh I in 1592, and completed by his descendent Jai Singh I. Its forbidding exterior belies an inner paradise where a beautiful fusion of Mughal and Hindu styles finds its ultimate expression.

Continue sightseeing.

CITY PALACE – A delightful blend of Mughal and traditional Rajasthani architecture, the City Palace sprawls over one-seventh of the area in the walled city. It houses the Chandra Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum.

JANTAR MANTAR – This is the largest and the best preserved of the five observatories built by Jai Singh II in different parts of the country. This observatory consisting of outsized astronomical instruments is still in use.

HAWA MAHAL – The ornamental facade of this "Palace of Winds" is a prominent landmark in Jaipur. It is a five-storey structure of sandstone-plastered pink encrusted with fine trelliswork and elaborates balconies. The palace has 953 niches and windows. Built in 1799 by Pratap Singh, the Mahal was a royal grandstand for the palace women.

This evening, visit the BIRLA TEMPLE to learn more about the fascinating religious life of Jaipur. The marble structure, built as recently as 1985, houses ornate statues including one of Lakshmi (goddess of Wealth and Beauty) and Narayan dressed in gaudy robes, representing a Hindu vision of heavenly luxury. Carvings in the temple and on pillars supporting the covered walkways include images of the Hindu pantheon, as well as Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Francis of Assisi. Your visit will coincide with the AARTI Ceremony, which involves oil lamps being lit and waved, in order to awake and invoke the deity.

Overnight will be at Jaipur.

After breakfast drive to Agra.

Visit FATEHPUR SIKRI before reaching Agra.

Fatehpur Sikri is 37 km west of Agra. Jajal-ud-din-Muhammad Akbar, Humanyun's son, accessed the throne at the tender age of 14. While hunting around Sikri his curiosity was aroused by the songs of some minstrels about the celebrated Khwaja -Mu'inu'd-din Chisti, the founder of the Chisti order of SUFIS. Akbar, who was without a male heir heard about Saint Salim Chisti and visited him in the year1568,. The saint blessed him with 3 sons and in gratitude Akbar ordered the great mosque of Fatehpur Sikri built under his supervision. As a mark of respect to the saint, Akbar shifted his capital to Fatehpur Sikri and built various secular buildings like the Diwan -I-Am, Diwan-I-Khas, Jodhabai palace, Birbal's house, Marian's house and the Panchmahal.

Reach Agra and transfer to hotel.

AGRA: Two great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and Shahjehan, transformed the little village of Agra into a befitting second capital of the Mughal Empire - giving it the name Dar-ul-Khilafat {seat of the Emperor}. Today a visitor to Agra is caught up in a world of contrasting edifices, of red sandstone and white marble, narrow galleys and quaint buggies, and that irresistible charm that this favorite city of the Mughals still retains. It is not surprising, that modern Agra still reflects its Mughal heritage most conspicuously. A walk down the narrow bustling streets of the city will introduce the visitor to the wafting aroma of Mughlai cuisine.

Proceed for a HERITAGE WALK to the other side of River YAMUNA with your guide.

The other side of the TAJ MAHAL across the river Yamuna where Mughal History has been written in edicts of stone, the river Yamuna lined with the residences of mobility was the artery, the very lifeline, which fostered the development of Mughal Agra. These heritage relics have been weaved together for a historic experience of Mughal Agra. You would walk through the various monuments in midst of rural setting intertwined with the communities along with stunning view of the TAJ MAHAL.

Enjoy the extended hospitality of the local villagers sipping a cup of Masala Chai on the Tea Terrace with standard, comfortable, clean, affordable, and safe facilities. The whole village walk through India’s Mughal History and amiable people is an unforgettable experience.

Overnight will be at Agra.

Proceed for SUNRISE visit of the monument of love – TAJ MAHAL.

TAJ MAHAL – Little needs to be said about this architectural wonder, which is always the soul raison-de-etre for every tourist's visit to Agra. Built by Shah Jahan, the Taj is a white marble memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. This monument took 22 years to be completed and was designed, and planned by Persian architect Ustad Isa. Apart from its stunning design balance and perfect symmetry, the Taj is also noted particularly for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and some of the best inlay work ever seen.

Return to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast.

Proceed for day sightseeing of Agra.

SIKANDRA – This beautifully maintained monument is where EMPEROR AKBAR was buried. It is a very low profile monument but it has one of the most awe – inspiring tombs. It is surreal how one of the greatest emperors has been put to rest. The manicured lawns has spotted and other varieties of deer roaming in them. Named after the Afghan ruler Sikander Lodi, Sikandra is the final resting place of Emperor Akbar. The Emperor began the construction of his own garden mausoleum during his lifetime. However, his son Jahangir completed the construction in 1613. An impressive marble - inlaid gateway leads to the spacious four - tiered monument, which is crowned, by a white marble cenotaph and screen. What is interesting is that the structure imbibes the best of Hindu, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain motifs, signifying the new religion started by Akbar – the DEEN E ILAHI.

AGRA FORT – The red sandstone structure is surrounded by chahar-bagh, a foursquare formal garden. Built by the famed Mughal emperor Akbar in 1565 AD, the fort is predominantly of red sandstone. Ensconced within is the picture perfect Pearl Mosque, which is a major tourist attraction. It lies on the bend of the river Yamuna, almost in the heart of the town. Akbar built it as his citadel over the years 1563-73 in the finest architectural style. It has imposing gates and walls of red sandstone and a moat.

After Agra Fort we will visit BABY TAJ or the ITMAD-UD-ULLAH – The interiors of which are considered better than the Taj. It is one of the most beautiful Mughal tombs and was built by Nur Jahan, the Empress of Jahangir for her father in 1628. The tomb is a resting place of the powerful personality in Mughal Court, Itmad-Ud-Daulah, whose life is very interesting. Formerly a very poor Persian merchant then named Mirza Ghiyas or Ghiyas Beg, he became a minister and a trusted treasure in Akbar's court. After Akbar's death in 1605, his son Jahangir rose into power. Jahangir made Ghiyas Beg his chief minister and honored him with the title of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, the Pillar of State. Later, Jahangir met a beautiful daughter of Ghiyas Beg named Mehr-Un-Nissa and married her. Mehr-Un-Nissa soon played a significant role in the Jahangir's court and was called Nur Mahal, the light of the Palace. Owing to her influence, her father and brother were granted with privileges in the court. When Ghiyas beg (Itmad-Un-Daulah) dies in 1622, Nur Mahal decided to build a mausoleum for him. Queen Mumtaz Mahal or the lady of the Taj was also from this prevailing family. The mausoleum is entirely made of white marble and graced with intricate decoration of inlay work, and marble-screen work belonging to the Islamic style. With its tranquil, small garden on the bank of Yamuna River, the tomb stands impressively elegant from a distance.

Overnight will be at Agra.

Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Drive to Delhi in the afternoon where you will have enough time to enjoy some last minute shopping. Later, the Compass team will drop you to the airport in time for your flight home.

Compass experience includes:

Accommodation at mentioned Hotels,
Daily breakfasts & Dinners,
Sightseeing tours as mentioned in the itinerary,
Ac vehicle for all transfers & sightseeing as per the itinerary,
Local English speaking expert guides for all mentioned tours,
Assistance at the airports on arrival / departure,
All monument entrances,
Internal airfare in economy class from Delhi – Udaipur,
All applicable taxes and service charges,
All road taxes, government taxes and driver allowances.

Special highlights included:

Guaranteed Hotels,
Rickshaw ride at Old Delhi,
Old city walking tour in Delhi,
Boat ride at Lake Pichola in Udaipur,
Ranakpur Temple visit with priest,
Bishnoi village visit in Jodhpur,
Holi experience with an indian family in Old Haveli,
Elephant festival (elephant march & polo match) in Jaipur,
Elephant ride at Amer Fort in Jaipur,
Heritage walk with high tea at Agra
Tonga ride to Taj Mahal in Agra.

HOTELS:

CITY STANDARD & HERITAGE HOTELS DELUXE & THEME HOTELS NIGHTS
DELHI THE VISAYA SHANGRI – LA 03
UDAIPUR RAMADA FATEHGARH PALACE 02
JODHPUR RANBANKA PALACE RANBANKA PALACE 02
JAIPUR SHAHPURA HOUSE SHAHPURA HOUSE 03
AGRA MANSINGH RADISSON 02

TOUR PRICE:

OCCUPANCY DETAILS TOUR PRICE WITH STANDARD HOTELS TOUR PRICE WITH DELUXE HOTELS
PER PERSON ON TRIPLE OCCUPANCY 1222 $ 1555 $
PER PERSON ON DOUBLE OCCUPANCY 1499 $ 1555 $
PER PERSON ON SINGLE OCCUPANCY 2399 $ 3199 $

NOTE:
Please note that lunches are not included (if not mentioned in the inclusions) nor are movie camera, etc. fees at the monuments, tips and personal expenses. All hotels / flights mentioned are guaranteed at the time of quotation. Indian Visa along with international return airfare is not part of the tour package.




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