India 12-Day Sample Tour

 


Day 1, : DEPART USA

Today we depart the USA on our flight to Delhi. (meals aloft)

Day 2,  ARRIVE DELHI

We arrive to Delhi this afternoon and are met with a traditional Indian Welcome at the airport with arlands. Then we transfer to Hilton New Delhi Noida Mayur Vihar Hotel by deluxe coach for check-in, with time to freshen up before our welcome dinner this evening. New Delhi, the capital and the third largest city of India is a fusion of the ancient and the modern. Delhi unwinds a picture rich with culture, architecture and human diversity, deep in history, monuments, museums, alleries, gardens and exotic shows. Comprised of two contrasting yet harmonious parts, Old Delhi and New Delhi, the city is a travel hub of Northern India. Narrating the city’s Mughal past, an exploration of Old Delhi takes you through the labyrinthine streets passing through formidable mosques, monuments and forts. The imperial city of New Delhi displays the finely curved architecture of British Raj. It generates a mesmerizing charm reflecting well-composed and spacious streets. (meals aloft,D)

Day 3, : DELHI

Today we spend the day exploring Old & New Delhi. Old Delhi was once known as the city of hahjahanabad. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan established it and made it his capital. This fortified city has a long and interesting history, and the remains of its glorious past can be seen in the form of Kashmiri Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Turkman Gate, Delhi Gate and Feroz Shah Kotla. Our first stop today is a visit to the Raj Ghat, the last resting place of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was cremated here on January 31, 1948 following his assassination on January 30, 1948 by Nathuram Godse. The memorial stone is a simple square platform made of black stone. The last words uttered by Mahatma “Hey Ram” are inscribed near the black platform. An eternal flame keeps burning in a copper urn in the Raj Ghat. From here we drive past Red Fort, the mighty citadel built of red sandstone; and Jama Masjid, built in the mid-17th century and one of the largest mosques in India with a seating capacity of more than 20,000. Then we enjoy a cycle-rickshaw ride in one of Delhi’s main markets. Following this memorable experience, we continue to New Delhi, built as the imperial capital of India by the British with wide avenues and regal buildings. New Delhi is where the high fashion socialites meet over frothy cappuccinos at swanky cafés. Here we see the India Gate, a 42 meter high stone Arch of Triumph. It bears the name of the 85,000 Indian Army Soldiers who died in military campaigns of the early 20th century. We also drive past Parliament House, a marvelous piece of architecture; and Humayun’s Tomb, a red sandstone structure that is considered to be the predecessor of Taj Mahal. Following our tour we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)

Day 4,  DELHI

We depart early today for an excursion to Moradabad, located about 100 miles from Delhi. Here we visit Noah’s Ark International Exports, founded in 1986. Noah’s Ark is committed to Fair Trade and to changing lives of artisans through education and capacity building so that they may stand on their own feet, become more aware of fair working conditions and environment in order to prove the value, cultural heritage & beauty of their hand made products and continuing the improvements collectively towards poverty
eradication. Noah’s Ark works with about 49 artisan groups in- volving approximately 500 artisans. Following our visit, we return to our hotel with dinner included this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 5, : DELHI

Today we meet with the leadership of Noorjahan Enterprises and then visit another WorldCrafts site in Delhi: Sewa Ashram. Noorjahan Enterprises offers jewelry created from the hands of women who believe they can shape their future. Each piece is a light of hope for them, made available from the villages of India.
Today Noorjahan Enterprises is bringing light to the Muslim women of India by mobilizing natural gifts for sustainable development. These Muslim women represent one of the least educated, poorest segments of Indian society, yet they are changing their destiny piece by piece. Handcrafted in the villages of India, each piece is a glimmer of light to these women who believe women can improve the health and education of their families and themselves. Following that meeting we continue to Sewa Ashram, a project of Delhi House Society that has been reaching the poorest of the poor in Delhi India for more than thirteen years. Partnering with some of India’s most marginalized people, the invisible parts of society, their mission is to see lives and communities transformed and people equipped with the tools necessary to break free from the poverty cycle. Their commitment is to provide quality healthcare, education, microenterprise and microfinance in the context of a loving and supportive community. After our visit, we return to our hotel in Delhi for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 6, : DELHI/AGRA

Early this morning we transfer to the railway station for our journey to Agra, where we are met and transferred to Radisson Hotel Agra by private deluxe coach. The Mughal love of architecture translated into beautiful monuments such as Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra. The glory of Agra was at its peak during the reign of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jahan. Akbar made it the center of art, culture, commerce and learning and Shah Jahan saw it in full bloom. These monuments were built in the contemporary Mughal style. Mughlai cuisine and the skilled craftsmen can still be seen in the narrow lanes of the city as a reminiscent of the lost times. Our program includes a visit to Agra Fort. The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565, A.D. although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shah Jahan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise consisting of a number of exquisite buildings. Return to our hotel for overnight, with dinner included this evening.(B,L,D)

Day 7, : AGRA/JAIPUR

Early this morning, we visit the monument of love: Taj Mahal – sheer poetry in marble, majesty and magnificence unrivalled – a monumental labor of love of a great ruler for his beloved queen.
From 1631 A.D., it took 22 years in the making. An estimated 20,000 people worked to complete the enchanting mausoleum on the banks of the Yamuna. Following our visit we return to the hotel
for breakfast and then depart for the Pink City of Jaipur, stopping enroute to see Fatehpur Sikri. The imperial city of the Mughal dynasty between and 1584, Fatehpur Sikri was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar. The architectural grandeur of this deserted city cannot be described in words and one can only experience the aura of its magnificent edifices by seeing them. From there we continue driving to Bharatpur, arriving to the beautiful Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel by lunch time. We visit Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, one of the finest bird parks in the world, a reserve that offers protection to faunal species and nesting indigenous water-birds as well as migratory water birds and waterside birds. The sanctuary is also inhabited by Sambar, Chital, Nilgai and Boar. This afternoon we continue driving to Jaipur, arriving at Hotel Trident in the afternoon. Jaipur is a reservoir of the architectural wonders embracing the rich legacy of India. The remnants of the bygone era boast of the royalty of Jaipur. There are many forts and monuments in Jaipur that are worth seeing. Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort are the three antique forts that provide the spectacular view of the city. In the heart of Jaipur, there lies the stunning City Palace. The Pink city marks its impact with the sight of the amazing Hawa Mahal. Overnight at our hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 8, : JAIPUR

After breakfast, we depart for an excursion to Amber Fort, located a few kilometers north of Jaipur, and one of the most popular attractions in Jaipur, where the tourists can enjoy elephant rides from the bottom of the Amber Fort to the hilltop. From the hilltop you can see the excellent views of Maota Lake. We enjoy an elephant ride, and then return to Jaipur. We visit Ergon Handcrafts, which produces a beautiful range of stationery, boxed note cards, and journals. Ergon Handcrafts seeks to empower women with job skills, income, and confidence through employment in fair trade, with all products created from handmade cotton papers. Following our visit, we continue to Hawa Mahal, built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai
Pratap Singh and the most recognizable monument of Jaipur. The five-story monument has 152 windows with over hanging latticed balconies and is a fine piece of Rajput architecture. We also see the City Palace, situated in the heart of the old city and occupying about one seventh of the old city area. The palace is a blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture and houses a seven-story Chandra Mahal in the center, which affords a fine view of the gardens and the city. There is also a Clock Tower as well as a collection of armory and weapons. We conclude our day at Jantar Mantar, or the Astronomical Observatory. Translated into ‘Instruments of Measuring the Harmony of the Heavens’, Jantar Mantar was built by Sawai Jai Singh between 1728 and 1734 and is a grand celebration of astronomical science. Tonight we are treated to a
special Rajasthani evening with overnight at our hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 9,  JAIPUR/KOLKATA

Early this morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta). Upon arrival we are met and transferred to Hotel Oberoi Grand. In 1690, Job Charnok, an agent of the East India Company chose this place for a British trade settlement. In 1772, Calcutta became the capital of British India, and remained so until 1912 when the British moved the capital city to Delhi. Interesting places to see in Kolkata are Victoria Memorial, a monumental grand structure with an exquisite garden
constructed as a memorial for the Queen. Inside are some eye-catching watercolor paintings of Indian landscapes and buildings. The piano that was played by Queen Victoria as a little girl has been preserved inside. An additional attraction to visitors is a sound and light show in the evening. St. Paul’s Cathedral stands at the southern end of the Maidan and just to the east of Victoria Memorial, adjacent to the Birla Planetarium. It was built between 1839 and 1847 and is now one of the most important churches of
Kolkata. And of course most visitors to Kolkata pay their respects at Mother Teresa’s tomb within the Sisters of Charity’s Motherhouse. There is a small museum displaying Teresa’s worn sandals and
battered enamel dinner bowl. Upstairs, ‘Mother’s room’ is preserved in all its simplicity with a crown-of-thorns above her modest campbed. (B,D)

Day 10,  KOLKATA

Today we visit Freeset,  located in Sonagacchi, the largest, most infamous sex district in Kolkata, India. Within a few square miles more than 10,000 women stand in line selling their bodies to thousands of men who visit daily. Many are trafficked from Bangladesh, Nepal and rural India. For others poverty has left them without options. The cries of their hungry children drive them to sell their bodies. Freeset trains women with new skills for a new job and empowers them with life-skills needed to appreciate freedom and provide a brighter future for their families. Also today we visit Love Calcutta Arts, likewise located within the red light area of the city. Love Calcutta Arts brings freedom to young girls who would otherwise be at risk of abuse. The girls are trained and carefully supervised to produce quality cards and bags. In addition to providing economic freedom, they are also able to rebuild their sense of dignity and self-worth. This afternoon we visit Serampore, a pre-colonial town on the right bank of the Hoogly River. It is several centuries old and has witnessed both the growth and decline of the feudal system, the coming of the Danes and their settlement, and then a cultural renaissance (known as the Bengal Renaissance) initiated by the British following the construction of the east Indian railway, along with subsequent industrial development. The beginning of the nineteenth century can be considered the most significant period in the history of Serampore, with the arrival of four English missionaries, including William Carey, who helped establish Serampore College in 1818. Later this afternoon we return to our hotel in Kolkata. (B,L,D)

Day 11,  KOLKATA

This morning we visit ConneXions Vocational Training Center, founded in 2002, where young women from the slums receive training and job opportunities. As well as being trained in tailoring and paper crafts, the women are taught English, business skills and values for life. The women, whilst being paid for their craft work, are increasingly self-sufficient. Their self-esteem and dignity are built up and they are empowered to begin to improve the quality of their lives. Following our visit we have some time for independent sightseeing and last-minute souvenir shopping. Late this afternoon we transfer to the airport for our return journey to the USA. (B, meals aloft)

Day 12, : ARRIVE USA

We arrive back in the USA this morning and continue on to our hometown. (meals aloft)
All sites listed in the itinerary will be included but the sequence and days may be altered to adjust to holidays, special closings of sites, air schedule changes, hotels, etc.