Day 1: Arrive at Delhi
- most flights arrive either in the evening or at night, and we strongly recommend
that our guests consider arriving a day earlier as this allows you to recuperate from jetlag, and serves as insurance against international flight delays and cancellations. The cost of an additional nights Hotel stay can be quoted upon request.
Our services begin here
. You are greeted at the airport by an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator and ushered to a chauffeur driven vehicle. You are then driven to your hotel and assisted with your check-in. The next day’s plans are briefly reviewed and you are presented with your welcome package. This package includes travel documents such as your air tickets and hotel vouchers, as well as copies of documents (such as our General Travel Guide) that were sent to you earlier.
Day 2: Delhi.
Begin your exploration of India with a guided city tour of New Delhi. This excursion begins with a drive through Lutyens’ New Delhi. This drive will include photo opportunities at the following attractions - the exterior of the massive and awe-inspiring Rashtrapati Bhawan (known as Viceroy’s House during the British era) and Delhi’s landmark structure India Gate. From here you will be driven to visit the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. This gold domed Sikh Temple
is the most prominent Gurudwara in Delhi and is associated with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan. It was first built as a small temple by Sikh General Sardar Bhagel Singh in 1783, who supervised the construction of nine Sikh shrines in Delhi during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Alam. The campus includes the temple, a kitchen, a school, an art gallery, and the holy pond (Sarovar), whose water is called Amrit (Holy Nectar). As with all Sikh Gurudwaras, the concept of langar (community meal) is practiced here and anyone may eat in the Gurudwaras Kitchen. Thousands of meals are prepared daily and served to all visitors, regardless of race, religion or other status. The food is prepared by the religious leaders who are assisted by scores of local volunteers. You will witness the fascinating processes of cooking, serving and cleanup for these countless meals. Only vegetarian food is served, so that no religion’s dietary restrictions are violated. After the langar ceremony, you will drive through Connaught Place, which is New Delhi’s downtown.
There is a break
After lunch, you have the option to drive to the nearby National Museum
the crown jewel of India’s Museums, for a very short tour. If museums are not your cup of tea
, your Guide will offer alternatives to this highly recommended experience. The museum is charged in its mission statement with being “the epitome of national identity”, a goal that it undoubtedly achieves. There is a plethora of exhibits and artifacts and a comprehensive tour would take well over a day. Our visit will be brief
, and your Guide will walk you through the Pre History Gallery’s Harrapan Collection and its displays from the Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished on the banks of the river of the same name. Most visitors to India are unaware of the fact that this was the most advanced and widespread of the world’s three oldest civilizations, and that the nation of India derived its name from this magnificent river.
You will be amazed by the sophistication of the exhibits of pottery, tools, coins, jewelry and other artifacts that range from 10,000 BC to 1000 BC
. Please let us know if you would like a more extended visit while finalizing your tour reservation process.
The last part
of this excursion is the awe-inspiring Qutab Minar (1193 A.D.). This 239 ft tall medieval tower is a symbol of victory and a beautiful example of Persian architecture from that period. There is a winding stairway inside the tower that goes up all the way to the balcony at the very top of the tower – unfortunately they are no longer accessible for visitors. The Qutab Minar and its Monuments are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the Qutab complex
, amidst the ruins of the Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque, stands one of the legendary Ashoka Pillars. This large iron pillar has withstood the ravages of Delhi’s weather (and recent pollution) and has not rusted in over 1500 years.
From the Qutab Minar you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 3: Delhi.
Continue your exploration of Delhi with a guided city tour of Old Delhi. This tour begins with the amazing Red Fort. Both the Jama Masjid (Mosque) and this massive structure were built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who created the Taj Mahal. The great city
inside the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort offers visitors a large number of architectural and historical attractions; it was once known as the 8th wonder of the world. The Red Fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire for more than two hundred and fifty
years and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an amazing example of a blend of Persian, Indian and European architecture. One of your most vibrant and enduring memories of India will be your next experience as you drive, walk and ride through the ancient city's streets and alleys for a couple of hours. You will enjoy a fascinating rickshaw ride, and extended walk with your guide through the crowded ancient alleys of Chandni Chowk. The cacophony of sounds both ancient and modern from the cries of hawkers and the animated bargaining that have echoed through the centuries, to the modern motor horns, the riot of colors from spices to saris, and the equally diverse smells emanating from the street food stalls and spice markets that form part of the bazaar, this is truly an assault on the senses at every level. Next is an exploration of the Jama Masjid (1650 A.D.), the largest mosque in India. The Masjid (Mosque) is a magnificent example of Mughal architecture and is constructed of red sandstone and white marble. It is an active place of worship and its courtyard can hold 25,000 worshippers.
There is a break
After lunch a short drive will deliver you to an oasis of calm and serenity, which also happens to be your last destination in Old Delhi. The cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi (Raj Ghat) is a simple yet stirring memorial to the father of the nation. Lush lawns extend beyond the enclosure surrounding the black marble platform occupying the spot where the Mahatma was cremated. An eternal flame burns next to the platform.
you will drive to visit the magnificent tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. Delhi has such an abundance
of amazing monuments that this Tomb Complex (1562 A.D.) does not quite get the acclaim that it deserves. It is Delhi’s third UNESCO World Heritage Site and its amazing architecture and the elaborate gardens will captivate you as your guide explains the unique architectural and historic facets of this monument.
After exploring the tomb you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 4: Delhi - Agra.
Check-out from your hotel in the mid-morning and you are driven to Agra on North India’s newest highway. Arrive at Agra and there is a break for lunch. After lunch,
you will be driven to your hotel for check-in.
you will visit the first red sandstone fort of North India, the Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in 1565 by India’s greatest Mughal ruler, Emperor Akbar. Its royal audience halls, immense stone courtyards, marble mosque and the private royal chambers give us a glimpse of the grandeur of the Mughal Empire.
Enjoy a sunset visit
to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the incomparable Taj Mahal. The world’s greatest monument dedicated to love is obviously a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Taj Mahal was completed by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 A.D. as a memorial to his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. This spectacular white marble mausoleum was created by about 22,000 skilled craftsmen and it took twenty two years to complete. When you experience the Taj Mahal with an Easy Tours Tour Guide who shares unique insights into its innumerable facets, some of their passion for this masterpiece may rub off on you. Explore the amazing Taj and its surroundings until it is time to admire the sun’s rays setting on the façade of the world’s finest monument.
Day 5: Agra - Ranthambore.
Enjoy a visit to the magnificent Taj Mahal at sunrise – the best time to see it during most of the year! Due to it being more expensive for Indian tourists at that time, and the early hour, the massive monument and its surrounding Mughal gardens are a lot less crowded than in the afternoon. As the rising sun’s rays illuminate the precious stones inlaid in the marble, they will gleam momentarily as the marble’s color changes. You will return to your hotel to freshen up and have breakfast after the excursion. Check-out from your resort and then you are driven to the Chand Baori stepwell at Abhaneri
, located just off the Agra – Jaipur highway. You can either get a packed meal from your hotel, or, before your arrival at Abhaneri, you have the option to stop for lunch at a reasonably priced nature resort that serves local cuisine. Chand Baori is a unique monument that is located next to a charming Rajasthani village. Please note that the local guides in Abhaneri are not as proficient in the English language as the guides you will have in other destinations, and their accents can be hard to understand. The massive 10th century Chand Baori
stepwell is one of the most impressive in all of India. The depth of the stepwell is that of a modern 7 storey building, and there are stairs leading down to the bottom from three of the 100 foot plus (35 meters) four sides of the opening. Enjoy a guided exploration of the stepwell and then you will walk through the small village to get a glimpse of the lives of the simple but proud Rajasthani villagers
. There will be young boys and girls herding goats, sheep, and cows around the area, camels carrying loads for their owners, and many other experiences that are only found in rural India. There are potters huts that you can stop at, as well as ladies weaving traditional garments, as well as opportunities to view many other indigenous activities. This is not a disguised effort to sell local wares, as is often found in tourism destinations. These are real villagers, and their simplicity, warmth, and hospitality will captivate you.
After this you will continue on with
your journey to Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore National Park). The second half of this drive is through rural Rajasthan and there are multiple photo opportunities of the colorful villagers as they go about their daily activities. You will also encounter many camels and other livestock on this drive. You are greeted on arrival at your jungle lodge and assisted with your check-in. All meals will be at your lodge during your stay at Ranthambore.
Since 2006, Easy Tours of India
has tracked the percentage of tiger sightings for our guests in Ranthambore National Park. More than 85% of our guests have had tiger sightings during this period, with many of them getting multiple sightings.
Day 6: Ranthambore.
Covering an area of 410 square kilometers, Ranthambore National Park runs along the eastern spur of the Aravali mountain range until it meets
with the Vindhya ranges. Ranthambore was once the Jaipur rulers’ private hunting ground. In 1972 it was declared a Sanctuary and was brought under the Project Tiger Conservation platform. Dry deciduous forest covers most of the park, and the vegetation is lush around the many small lakes and ponds. The open grasslands that are the tiger’s favorite terrain account for much of the land on the higher slopes. This varied flora supports a large number of animals including a variety of deer, the sloth bear, the shy caracal, leopards and of course, the tiger.
Enjoy wildlife safaris
into the park in the morning and evening.
In between safaris, you have the option of a guided visit to the Ranthambore Fort.
This excursion does have a fairly steep climb with approximately 700 feet of stairs. The massive Fort is one of the finest examples of the ancient Hindu concept of Vana-Durg, or a fort protected by a jungle. The history of this Fort (originally built in 944 A.D.) is a chronicle full of tales of blood and valor. Successively occupied by the Muslims, Rajputs and Mughals, the insides of the fort today lie partly in ruin. There are superb views of the park to be had from its ramparts. There is also an ancient temple located in the fort which attracts a continuous stream of pilgrims from the surrounding villages. A little note of caution – a large number of aggressive langurs (South Asian monkeys) have made the Fort area their home and it is not advisable to have food or shiny objects visible in your hands as you tour the fort as they will be snatched away.
Day 7: Ranthambore - Jaipur.
Enjoy your last safari into Ranthambore in the morning. Return to your lodge after the safari to freshen up and have breakfast. You are at leisure for a while so that you can freshen up, after which you are assisted with your check-out from your jungle lodge and then there is a break for lunch (included). After lunch you are driven to Jaipur. Sawai Madhopur itself (the community located next to Ranthambore) is a rural small town, and you will drive through it to get a glimpse of life here before you head for Jaipur. The first half of this drive is also through rural Rajasthan and there are multiple photo opportunities. Check-in at your gorgeous hotel upon your arrival at Jaipur.
Day 8: Jaipur.
Start your day with an excursion to the Amber Fort and Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located a short distance from the walled city. Just like the Emperors of a few centuries ago, enjoy the ascent up to the ramparts of the fort on top of a colorfully caparisoned elephant.
If you prefer not to ride the elephants, you can be driven to the rear entrance of the monument. The massive Fort complex was originally built by Raja Mansingh and is one of India’s finest examples of Rajput architecture. Explore the chambers and hallways, which are famous for their exquisite designs and handcrafted embellishments. Return to the valley beneath the Fort and there is a break
You are now driven to the outskirts of Jaipur to the ancient Hindu pilgrimage site of Galtaji in the Aravalli Hills. The complex of temples here is collectively known as the Monkey Temple because a large tribe of monkeys lives here and believes they own all the monuments. We recommend that you don’t carry any food in your hands, as it may be snatched away. The complex of temples has several ponds that are fed by springs on the hill tops, and Hindu pilgrims consider taking a dip in these to be purifying. The monkeys agree and swim around the main pond with reckless abandon, and many of them can be seen diving into the pool
from various vantage points.
Enjoy a guided tour
of the beautiful Galtaji Temple, which is crafted in pink stone. There are other ancient temples in the complex, such as the Balaji Temple. Monkeys are everywhere, and they are obviously in-charge! For someone not used to their social behavior and grooming practices and rituals, observing them can be fascinating. If you are up to a trek and have the time, you can climb to the top of the tallest hill in the area and visit the Sun Temple.
After this excursion, you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 9: Jaipur.
Continue your adventure with an exploration of the walled pink city of Jaipur, including its magnificent City Palace. You will start with a visit to Jantar Mantar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a fascinating stone observatory built by Raja Jai Singh in 1728. Among other instruments, it includes a massive stone sun dial that is accurate to within 2 seconds. After the observatory comes a photo opportunity at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind). This intriguing facade was built in 1799 so that the ladies of the court could use its unique windows and observe the bustling bazaar without being visible to the people on the streets. Continue the tour with an exploration of the City Palace, the former royal residence (a part is still occupied by the Royal family and is not accessible to the public), built in a delightful blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. Your guide will regale you with stories of royalty as you admire their trappings. This immense complex also houses a number of museums that offer a large and impressive collection of costumes, armory and miniature paintings, and brief visits to these can be a part of your late morning.
There is a break
During the early afternoon you will enjoy an extended guided walk through the “pink” bazaar in the heart of the old town, and watch the locals as they bargain for their everyday necessities. You will walk through spice, vegetable, fruit and flower markets which are interspersed with street food stalls, displays of clothing and footwear spread all over the sidewalks, an alley full of artisan’s hawking local jewelry and accessories, and a lot more.
In the bazaar area you will also enjoy a brief stop for a tour of a collection of vibrant Rajput turbans. A turban tying demonstration is included, as are turban and Sari tying lessons for those that are interested.
In the latter part of the afternoon you are driven to a very scenic location in Jaipur adjacent to a public park, for a guided exploration of The Albert Hall Museum, which was completed in 1887 by the architect Samuel Swinton Jacob. Its origins lie in the suggestion to open a museum of the Industrial Arts, which would acquaint local craftsmen with the best examples of art work and handicrafts of India. It was hoped that this would inspire them to improve their own skills, thereby protecting and preserving traditional arts, while providing greater employment for artisans. It was also the intention that the display would help to educate youth in a wide variety of fields, entertain and inform the people of Jaipur. Rudyard Kipling (himself the son of a curator) on a visit was so impressed by the architecture, woodwork, display, exhibits, cleanliness, and not least the curator’s office that he wrote "it is now a rebuke to all other museums in India from Calcutta downwards".
Return to your hotel in the evening.
Day 10: Jaipur - Pushkar.
Check-out from your hotel after breakfast and then you are driven to Pushkar. Arrive at Pushkar around noon and you are assisted with check-in at your desert lodge. Please note that, although it is one of the best adjacent to the Pushkar Festival Fairgrounds,
your lodging for this night is basic and will not have anywhere near the luxury of your other hotels in India. There will be a staffed Easy Tours Facilitation Center in the lobby of the desert lodge to assist you for any needs that may arise.
There is a break
for lunch. All 3 meals are at your lodge while you are at Pushkar.
Experience a camel cart ride to the cattle trading fairgrounds. Walk through the Fair camp grounds with Easy Tours guides and Tour Directors to experience the cattle trading and everything else that goes on at this massive fair. The trading activity is at its peak during this part of the fair and you will experience rural Rajasthan as one can only do during this massive cattle fair - photo and video opportunities are endless. Thousands of camels, horses, and other cattle will be traded within a few days. The cattle are groomed and decorated, their skills and strengths are demonstrated in various ways, and there is intense haggling. A plethora of street vendors are mixed in with all this activity, selling food to the villagers and fodder for the various cattle.
At the end of the day
the trading ceases and the thousands of villagers settle down to discuss the day’s exploits, and to prepare for their evening meal. At this time, as the sun sets in the desert, you will return to your lodge by camel cart.
Day 11: Pushkar - Udaipur.
If you want to experience the early morning activities at the Fair you can have an early breakfast and join your guide for a visit to the fairgrounds, where you will walk through the awakening campground and observe the villagers as they prepare for the day.
Return to your lodge to freshen up. You are driven
to the small town of Pushkar, where you will walk through its crowded
and colorful alleys this morning. This is a pilgrimage destination and you will see temples that are a hubbub of activity during this auspicious period. There is usually a colourful religious procession that goes through the alleys this morning, but this events schedule can change and so it is not guaranteed. Visit the holy lake in the middle of town where pilgrims are taking a dip to wash away their sins.
Board your vehicles
again and you are led to a spot where your caravan of camels awaits. You are assisted in climbing on your personal camel (camel carts are also available) and then you proceed on a camel safari through the semi-arid region near Pushkar. Your safari ends at a venue where you are the guests of honor at an Easy Tours sponsored Camel Race.
Experience the fascinating race
where some camels will develop a mind of their own and head in every other direction but the finish line. You will be amazed by the speed and grace of these awkward looking animals as they fly over the sand.
Return to your lodge and freshen up.
You are assisted with your check-out from your desert lodge and then you have your last meal at Pushkar.
Proceed on the drive to Udaipur. This is one of the most picturesque drives in all of India as you drive through the pastoral regions of the Aravalli hills. Arrive at Udaipur in the evening and check-in to your boutique hotel.
Day 12: Udaipur.
Proceed for a city tour, including a tour of the fabled City Palace. At this Palace complex, explore the beautifully decorated rooms with thousands of exquisite, handcrafted mirrors that cover the walls, the ancient ivory doors (a dark reminder of Indian royalty’s passion for hunting), the brightly colored stained glass windows, expansive inlaid marble balconies and the unique
peacock courtyard. There are amazing views to be had from this structure, especially of Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace hotel and Jag Mandir Island. Enjoy a private tour of the amazing Crystal Gallery, which houses the world’s largest collection of priceless crystal. Marvel at pieces like the complete bedroom furniture set in crystal and the gorgeous crystal fountains in the courtyards.
There will be a break for lunch
at a time of your choosing. The boutique café inside the City Palace complex is a recommended option for lighter fare.
you will enjoy a cruise on Lake Pichola and visit the historical and beautiful monuments at Jag Mandir Island (if available - the royal family at Udaipur will occasionally rent out the island for large celebrations, and on those occasions the island cannot be visited by tourists).
you are driven to visit the Monsoon Palace, a small hilltop structure that offers amazing views of the picturesque city of Udaipur and its lakes and palaces. The short drive up the hill takes you through a protected wildlife sanctuary and occasional wildlife sightings can be experienced. Enjoy the spectacular sunset from this vantage point before returning to your hotel.
Day 13: Udaipur - Varanasi.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel in the morning and you will now enjoy a three-wheeler (Tuk Tuk) ride through the streets, and then a guided walk with your guide to explore some of the markets in this charming city with a small town atmosphere.
There is a break
for an early lunch at a lake front restaurant. After lunch you are driven to the Udaipur airport in time to board your mid-afternoon flight to Varanasi. You are greeted on arrival at the Varanasi airport and then driven to your resort where you are assisted with your check-in.
Flexible Schedule for Dev Diwali at Varanasi - Since the actual festival dates can change at the last minute between two dates (11th or 12th Nov. for 2019) the activities scheduled on this itinerary will be adjusted to accommodate any such change)
Day 14: Varanasi.
Experience Dev Diwali, the Diwali of the Gods. The festival of Diwali is the premier festival in India and is celebrated with great passion throughout most of the nation. Remodeling of homes and business premises (especially fresh coats of paint) is often timed to finish just before the festival. Gifts are exchanged between friends and family. On the day itself people decorate their houses, at night they light oil lamps and candles on the façades of their homes and businesses. A plethora of firecrackers illuminate the night, and a prayer ceremony is conducted in virtually every home.
is celebrated in Varanasi fifteen days after the rest of the country celebrates Diwali, on the occasion of Kartik Purnima, the most auspicious full moon of the year in Hinduism. The ancient holy city is always full of pilgrims and on this occasion the number exceeds two million visitors that are here to celebrate. Processions of decorated deities are taken out into the streets of Varanasi, and the locals and pilgrims decorate the Ghats with designs in flowers and powdered colors. Millions of oil lamps and other lights decorate the Ghats as Hindu’s perform rituals of prayer. All day the banks of the holy river are awash with these and other activities.
Varanasi is fascinating
on any day of the year as tens of thousands of pilgrims visit here daily; during Dev Diwali they number in the millions. Due to this influx our boarding and disembarking for the river cruises today takes place at a different location than our usual spot.
Start your Dev Diwali
with an early morning boat cruise on the Ganga.
The best time to visit the Ghats is at dawn, as that is when the pilgrims take their morning dip. It is also the ideal opportunity to experience some of Hinduisms ancient and iconic rituals. The most famous Ghat is the Dasadwamedh Ghat, which is where the amazing ceremony will take place this evening. During your morning excursion you can simultaneously witness the ceremony of a recently deceased Hindu's ashes being immersed in the river, while nearby, another Brahmin priest orchestrates the naming ceremony of a newborn. Just like this evening, your boat offers an excellent view of all the activity on the Ghats - women bathing discreetly while still wearing their sarees, priests offering prayers as they immerse themselves in the holy water, men that are oblivious to their surroundings as they practice yoga or meditate on the banks of the Ganga.
Return to your resort
for breakfast and to freshen-up.
Enjoy a guided tour
of the Buddhist Pilgrimage destination of Sarnath. Explore the monuments of this holy city, including the ancient Dhamekha Stupa that is located near the spot where the Buddha preached his first few sermons. This Stupa was constructed by Emperor Ashoka in 249 BCE. Sarnath was also where the first Sangha was formed and the area is home to a number of other Buddhist monuments that you will briefly visit, including the Chaukhandi Stupa and the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple. A highlight of the visit to Sarnath is the Archaeological Museum, with its small but impressive collection of local artifacts.
There is a break
In the early afternoon you will experience a walking city tour of Varanasi that includes visits to some of the ancient temples that lie along the banks of the holy river. You will walk through the narrow lanes and through the crowded bazaars to discover a way of life that has not changed much over the past few millennia. You will also enjoy a walk on some of the less crowded Ghats and observe as the pilgrims prepare for this evenings celebrations. The devout are conducting prayer ceremonies, creating floral designs on Ghats with flower petals and colors, setting up millions of oil lamps and light strings, all in preparation for this evenings celebrations. Your walk will end at a spot where your boat awaits you for your sunset cruise.
Sunset cruise and Aarti Ceremony on the Ganga -
on the occasion of Dev Diwali there is an elaborate and extended Aarti ceremony on the most auspicious of Varanasi's Ghats, the Dashashwamedh Ghat. Over a dozen priests plus their assistants perform this ritual on the colorfully decorated and illuminated Ghat, honoring the Gods with flaming trays while chanting prayers in Sanskrit, against a backdrop of firecrackers illuminating the sky. Our guests get to observe this ceremony from our boats that are located near the banks of the Dashashwamedh Ghat. This event attracts many of India's famous and influential people as guests of honor, and special temporary seating arrangements are made for these VIP's. It is hard to describe the ceremony in words and we recommend that you watch this video
to get an idea.
Your boat enables you to enjoy a great view of the hundreds of lamps as they are sent floating on the holy river. Your guide will be happy to provide you with your own oil lamps, if you desire to float them in the holy river.
After the ceremony you will return to your resort.
Day 15: Varanasi - Delhi - International Flight.
You are at leisure until the late-morning when you are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and driven to the airport, where you are assisted in boarding the afternoon flight to Delhi. Arrive at Delhi airport and collect your baggage, then check-in for your international flight.
If your international flight departure
is four or more hours from your scheduled arrival time at Delhi, you are greeted at the Delhi airport by an Easy Tours Facilitator and your personal chauffeur. Your personal vehicle and chauffeur are available to you until 9 pm for your assisted check-in at the airport. This is a good time to do some last minute shopping and/or sightseeing if you are so inclined. If your flight departs early the next morning, you may want us to arrange a room for you so you can rest.
Our services end at Varanasi or Delhi airport.