Escape Thru India with Mystical India Travel
Duration: 23 Nights / 24 Days
2012 Departure Dates: 2013 Departures:
01Oct ending 24Oct 07Jan ending 30Jan
05Nov ending 28Nov 04Feb ending 27Feb
03Dec ending 26Dec 04Mar ending 27Mar
Delhi - Agra – Jaipur – Pushkar – Udaipur – Jodhpur – Jaisalmer – Bikaner – Mandawa – Delhi – Chennai – Mamallapuram – Pondicherry – Tanjore – Madurai – Periyar – Kumarakom – Cochin
Day 1 – Arrive in Delhi
Upon your arrival into Delhi, you will be met by a representative of Mystical India Travel and depending on your arrival time, either transferred directly to your awaiting accommodations for some much needed rest or you will be whisked away to begin your Indian Escape.
Day 2 Delhi to Agra
After breakfast and a brief city tour of Delhi visiting the Raj Ghat, India Gate, The Lotus Temple to name a few sights and then we will depart on a journey of approximately 200kms to the famed city of Agra. Upon arrival into Agra you will check into your hotel and the remainder of the day will be at your leisure as you have a very early appointment with the Taj Mahal in the morning!
Day 3 Agra
Before sunrise we will travel to the Taj Mahal, to enjoy her at sunrise.
This UNESCO heritage site was built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal and is often considered the most important piece of Muslim Art. After returning to the hotel to freshen up and have lunch we will embark on a city tour of Agra which highlights The Fort of Agra, constructed between the 16th & 17th Centuries by Mughals, it was originally a Military structure however was transformed and upgraded into a gilded palace but Shah Jahan and then later turned into a prison. We will return to the hotel this evening for you to freshen up and either accompany us on a planned outing or enjoy the evening at your leisure. Perhaps return to visit the Taj Mahal at sunset for more glorious views and photo opportunities.
Day 4 Agra to Jaipur
After breakfast this morning we leave the Taj and depart on a long journey of approximately 230kms to Jaipur, whilst enroute we will stop to visit Fatehpur Sikri, the famed abandoned capital of the Mughal Empire, built by Akbar in celebration of the birth of his son and future heir, Emperor Jahangir. Upon arrival into the “Pink City”, Jaipur you will be transferred to your hotel for the remainder of the day/evening at your leisure, unless you would care to join us for meal prepared by locals.
Day 5 Experience Jaipur
After breakfast this morning we will spend the day experiencing Jaipur, beginning with a tour to Amber Fort, then perhaps a ride on an elephant – if available, or alternately an opportunity to bathe the elephants (and our preferred option). Next stop is the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, which was built for the royal women so they could observe all the grand processions without detection. Then back to the hotel giving you time to freshen up and either enjoy the remainder of you time at your leisure in Jaipur or join us for the evening event.
Day 6 Jaipur - Pushkar
After breakfast we will drive to Pushkar, which will take about 4hours or roughly 150kms. And upon arrival check in to the hotel. Once refreshed you will proceed with a walking tour of the Holy City of God Brahma, highlights of the tour will include a visit to the Holy Lake and Brahma Temple along with a Pooja ceremony at the Ghat headed by a Hindu priest.
Day 7 Pushkar to Udaipur
After breakfast we will drive (about 5 hours or 250kms) to Udaipur, and upon arrival you will check into your hotel, once refreshed we will proceed with a tour of the City of Lakes and Palaces, which was founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559. This evening you will enjoy a cruise along Lake Pichola (public boat), sailing past picturesque Ghats and palaces, stopping at the island of Jag Mandir, a 17th century water palace that witnessed two important historical events. It was the refuge for Prince Khurram, later known as Shah Jahan, when he was exiled by his father and later during the uprising of 1857, the island offered safety to several British families who fled from nearby Née much.
Day 8 Enjoy Udaipur
After breakfast this morning we will begin our day at the City Palace which overlooks Lake Pichola. The palace consists of a magnificent courtyards and gardens. The main hall has been converted into a museum, housing opulent artifacts and original works of art. Inside the complex we will find the exquisite crystal gallery, exhibiting 19th century pieces including crystal chandeliers, tables, sofas and beds. We will continue walking towards the Jagdish Temple to study its many remarkable friezes. Lavishly built in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh, it is easy to understand why Jagdish is the most venerated Hindu temple in Udaipur. Afterwards we will explore the Old City, wandering through its bustling streets lined with art shops, spice vendors, tailors and more. Then we will return to the hotel and give you time to freshen up as a special dinner out awaits you this evening.
Day 9 Udaipur to Jodphur
After breakfast this morning we depart for Jodhpur, the trek will take about 5 hours, depending on traffic and covering a distance of just under 300ks, During our drive we will stop to visit Ranakpur Temple built in the 15th century and located on the west valley of the Aravali Range. Ranakpur is also considered one of the five holiest sites for Jain’s with over 1400 marble pillars, each differently carved in exquisite detail supporting the temple’s structure, some beleive the legend which says it is impossible to count the pillars. Care to try?
Upon our arrival into Jodhpur, we will check into the hotel and give you time to relax and refresh as you have the remainder of the day/evening at your leisure.
Day 10 Jodhpur to Jaisalmer
After breakfast this morning we will depart for Jaisalmer, which is approximately 290kms taking just over 5 hours as we stop enroute to visit Mehrangarh Fort and Jaswant Thada. Upon arrival into Jaisalmer, which was founded by Prince Jaisal in 1156. You will immediately notice it appears to be untouched by time as it rises out of the desert, surrounded by golden crenulated walls, the narrow streets are lined with exquisite havelis which makes for an almost medieval theme. We will check into the hotel and the remainder of the day/evening is yours to explore.
Day 11 Jaisalmer
After breakfast this morning we will depart the hotel for tour of Jaisalmer, beginning with the Golden Fort which was carved by Jains from the 12th – 16th Centuries and is located near the Haveli’s, a Persian word meaning “enclosed space”, or sandstone mansions errected by wealthy merchants encasing intricate etchings each more glorious than the next so as to prove the affluence of the owner. A visit is not complete without a walk through these amazing havelis. Each haveli has an inner courtyard surrounded by richly decorated apartments. Walk through the narrow streets of the fort to see the Nathmalji-ki-Haveli with its beautiful arched roof with carved brackets in the form of peacocks; Patwon-ki-Haveli the most elaborate and magnificent haveli and best known for its latticed façade and Salim Singh ki Haveli. Outside the walls of the fortified town is the small oasis of Gadi Sagar, which led Prince Jaisal to found his city.
This evening we will depart on a camel excursion to see the sunset at Sam Dunes, allowing us the opportunity to enjoy the enormous dunes and drink in the surreal landscape. Cheers to the dunes!
Day 12 Jaisalmer to Bikaner
After breakfast this morning we depart for Bikaner, the drive will take approximately 6 hours and we will travel over 300kms, upon arrival into Bikaner we will check into the hotel, freshen up and then depart for a visit to a uique camel farm, where camels are bred in captivity then we will return to the hotel for some rest and relaxation after a long days drive.
Day 13 Bikaner to Mandawa
After breakfast we depart for a tour of Bikaner visiting the Junagarh Fort, which is famous for the outer wall, The Badal Mahal which contains walls covered in stories about Krishna’s life. Next we begin our drive to Mandawa which will take about 4 hours as we travel about 200kms and upon our arrival, we will check into the hotel, and freshen up before we set out on a walking tour of this painted city. Mandawa is adorned with painted, arched gateways devoted to Lord Krishna and his cows. Afterwards we will visit some more havelis, those of Chokhani and Ladia along with the Saraf Havelis before returning to the hotel for the remainder of the day/evening at your leisure.
Day 14 Mandawa to Delhi
After breakfast we make our way back to the capital, Delhi and go directly to the airport where we will say good-bye to Northern India as we head South to Chennai/Madras. Upon our arrival into Chennai this evening we will travel outside the city to the beach resort town of Mamallapuram where you will have the remainder of the evening at your leisure.
Day 15 Mamallapurum
After breakfast this morning, we will begin our day with a sightseeing tour of the 5 Rathas, each of the five temples is dedicated to heroes from the great epic of the Mahabharata. The Five Rathas are shrines that were all carved from a an outcrop of rock, all amazing and unique wonders unto themselves. After the tour we will enjoy a local and traditional South Indian lunch, cutlery is optional.
After lunch we will return you to your hotel where you can enjoy the rest of the day and evening at your leisure.
Day 16 Mamallapurum to Pondicherry
After breakfast we leave Mahabs for a relatively (by Indian standards) short 100km or 2 hour drive to the french colony of Pondicherry. While enroute we will stop for a visit to Auroville, and discover the harmonious community inspired by “The Mother” as a place where people can come together, regardless of nationality, belief or colour, to live a meaningful life.
Next we will continue onto Pondicherry, set on a the Bay of Bengal, Pondicherry enjoys a wonderful beach life, with French Colonial influences felt everywhere from the architecture to the language as many Indian’s still speak French today. You will have the remainder of the day/evening to enjoy at your leisure.
Day 17 Pondicherry to Tanjore
After breakfast this morning we depart for a long drive (about 200kms or 5 hours) to Tanjore, a bustling market town in one of the main rice-growing regions of Tamil Nadu, Tanjore was once the capital of the Chola empire and, although many buildings from that period no longer survive, the town is still full of lovely temples. Enroute we will stop and visit Dharasuram temple which was built in memory of the White elephant – AIRAVATH from the gods family. Upon our arrival into Tanjor we will proceed to the hotel where you can freshen up and relax for the remainder of the day as the time is yours to spend as you wish.
Day 18 Tanjore to Madurai
After breakfast we depart for a city tour of Tanjore or the garden city before we leave for Madurai, the drive is only 160kms but will take a leisurely 4 hours as first explore Tanjore, visiting the Brihadeshvara Temple, which is over 1000 years old and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, evoking the power of the Chola Kings as it towers over the town. As we continue on to Madurai, one of the oldest cities in South India, dating back some 2500 years, sprawls along the banks of the River Vaigai. Upon our arrival we can either check into the hotel or perhaps even wander through the streets, enjoying the markets and open-air kitchens and colourful bazaars. The evening is at your leisure.
Day 19 A day in Madurai
After breakfast we will proceed just outside the hotel for a human rickshaw tour of the city. Watch with amazement as your Wallah navigates these teeming streets, passing through banana and vegetable markets and watch the locals haggling over prices and quality. You will stop to admire the 17th-century Thirumalai Nayak Palace, a fusion of classical Indian and European styles; and spend time in the Gandhi Museum which charts India’s freedom struggle. Gandhi Memorial Museum Don’t visit Madurai without exploring the maze of rooms in the Gandhi Memorial Museum dedicated to India’s struggle for independence. Housed in the magnificent historic Tamukkam Palace, dating back to 1670, peruse the excellent ‘India fights for freedom’ exhibition and the gallery dedicated to Gandhi’s life. We will return to the hotel in time to freshen up, maybe do some errands, relax, have a cold drink and some lunch before we head back out onto the streest to enjoy a sound and light show in both English and Tamil at the Thirumalai Nayak Palace return back to the hotel for the remainded of the evening at your leisure.
Day 20 Madurai to Periyar
After breakfast we will enjoy a long drive (about 5 hours or 165kms) to Periyar, located in the Cardamom Hills and home to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a lush reserve filled with tea and spice plantations situated in Tamil Nadu on the border to Kerala. After we check into our hotel and have some time to freshen up we will take a locally guided plantation tour. Renowned for their spice plantations, the aromatic Cardamom Hills are filled with plants which are yours to explore and learn about their uses in the preparation of local cuisine as well as for their medicinal properties. While at the plantation you can choose to have a ride on an elephant, to get the best view of the stunning scenery or enjoy the opportunity to bathe the elephants at the local reserve. This evening we are invited to a local home where we will watch and participate (if you choose) in preparing our dinner consisting of traditional favourites and using only the freshest of ingredients.
Day 21 Periyar to Kumarakom
We awake early this morning and set out on an adventure to the reserve to get the best chance of spotting indiginous animals in their natural habitat. Hopefully we will get a glimpse of an elephant, deer, wild boar, mongoose and colourful birds on a dawn walk, or if your luck is ripe perhaps even a leopard or tiger. You will be escorted by a local and experienced guide whom will show you the best places for game viewing. We will return to the hotel for breakfast and afterwards depart for Kumarakom, a cluster of tiny islands surrounded by a labyrinth of tropical waterways. Upon arrival into Kumarakom, check into your resort hotel and the remainder of the day and evening is yours to enjoy.
Day 22 Kmarakom at leisure
Today is completely at your leisure, awake as you please, and spend your time as you please. We can recommend a local canoe trip, or perhaps just a leisurely day on your own away from the group just enjoying the tranquil setting and greenspace. Spend your time at leisure on the tranquil resort.
Day 23 Kumarakom to Cochin
After breakfast we depart for Cochin, the 90km trip should only take about 2 hours and once we arrive into this European influenced town, you will be taken aback by it’s beauty, picturesquely located on a number of islands squeezed between the Arabian Sea and the Kerala backwaters. The maritime history of Cochin is reflected in its blend of Dutch, Portuguese and British architecture. This afternoon we will enjoy a walking tour through the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin, filled with merchant houses and old warehouses cramming the waterfront and narrow streets, taking in the Church of St Francis, the oldest European church in India, and the highly decorated Santa Cruz Basilica. All the while admiring the colourful murals, which depict the Ramayana, in the 16th century Dutch Palace. Perhaps we will stop enroute to do some shopping in the spice markets before visiting the Chinese fish nets which adorn the shoreline of Fort Cochin. We will return to the hotel in preperation for this evenings event, a Kathakali performance. The epic Ramayana comes to life during the traditional Keralan dance, where the characters use larger than life gestures, wear outrageous costumes and dramatic make up. After the performance we will stop for a farewell dinner before returning to the hotel for the last evening.
Day 24 Cochin onwards to destinations unknown
After breakfast this morning we will check out of the hotel for our last drive together to the Cochin airport as you board your onward flight to destinations unknown.
The Tour Package Includes:
- All airport transfers along with meet and greet
- 23 Nights accommodation based on twin/double sharing
- All porterage throughout the tour
- Services of an English speaking Tour Manager
- Private, AC vehicle
- Daily Breakfasts, some lunches and dinners along the way
- All sightseeing tours as per the itinerary
- All entrance fees into temples & monuments as per the itinerary
- Rickshaw ride in Jaipur
- Demonstrations as per the itinerary
- Elephant ride in Jaipur or alternative
- Pooja ceremony on the Ghat in Pushkar
- Camel ride in Jaisalmer or alternative
- Dinner in the Desert
- Boat ride on Lake Pichola, Udaipur
- Flight from Delhi to Chennai
- Bicycle Rickshaw tour in Madurai
- Entrance fee to the Kathakali dance show
- Guided Plantation tour in Periyar
- All presently applicable land taxes
For departures in:
$3,999.00USD per person based on twin sharing
For December departure:
$4,399.00USD per person based on twin sharing