Sacred Places; Mighty Forts; Tiger Tiger

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Sacred Places; Mighty Forts; Tiger Tiger

Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, Khajuraho and Varanasi:  11 days

Aarti, Ganges River

Mon, Day 1: Jodhpur – Jaipur Train (4 ½ hrs)

Transfer to Jodhpur railway station for an early morning train to Jaipur, the Pink City. Met upon arrival by your private car and driver and transferred to the hotel (2 night stay). Late afternoon guided visits to City Palace and Astronomical Observatory (Jantar Mantar). Jaipur is a buzzy city full of hustle and bustle on the streets where cycle rickshaws, auto-rickshaws (tuk-tuk) and camel carts jostle for position.

Jaipur City council is busy building a metro to take some pressure off the roads; due to open early 2014.

Observatory & City Palace - JAIPUR

Observatory & City Palace – JAIPUR

Hotel – 2 nights

Meals – B

Tue, Day 2: Jaipur & the Amber Fort

After breakfast, head off to the Amber Fort and climb aboard your elephant in the same way the rulers of Rajasthan used to travel. The guide will show you around before returning to the Pink City. This afternoon visit the Heritage Bollywood Cinema known as “Raj Mandir” to see a “Bollywood Special” and catch up on some contemporary culture! These movies are longer than Hollywood’s equivalent but you can come out early if you need to. Alternatively, you could visit the Albert Hall Museum, the Sisodia gardens, or even have a look at some Step Wells (the guide is available and you can decide on the day).

The Amber Fort

The Amber Fort

Wed, Day 3:       Jaipur – Ranthambore Train (2 hrs)

A relaxed start to the day; driven to the station for the mid-morning departure for Ranthambore. Met upon arrival and taken to your lodge for a 2-night stay. After lunch, set off for your first game drive (shared Jeep).

Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park (400 Km²) is one of India’s premier tiger parks with a good chance of seeing a tiger. Apart from the big cat, sloth bear, leopard, jungle cat, jackals, hyena, wild boar, crocodile, various antelope and a huge variety of birds, butterflies and reptiles call this home.

Hotel – 2 nights

Meals – FB

Thu, Day 4: Ranthambore

Early morning and late afternoon game drives in shared Jeep. In the free time between the game drives you have the option to visit a local school or visit Ranthambore Fort, the second largest fort of India, which has magnificent views of the park. The fort is a bit “jungle book” these days and in a poor state of repair, King Louis would be right at home!

Star of the show: Bengal Tiger

Star of the show: Bengal Tiger

Fri, Day 5:            Ranthambore – Bharatpur Train (2 hrs)

Early morning departure (with a packed breakfast to eat on the train) and catch the train to Bharatpur – the city of birds. On arrival you’ll be met and driven to the hotel. After lunch the guide will show you around the UNESCO World Heritage Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, and even for non-birders this is a lovely spot to explore and relax in after the rickety-clickety train journey.

Hotel – 1 night

Meals – FB.

Sat, Day 6:           Drive Bharatpur to Agra (2 hrs) – en-route visit Fatehpur Sikri

A change of travelling style this morning: your private car and driver will collect you after breakfast and set off for Agra. The abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri lies along the way and there’s time to wander around this bizarre city. Drive on to Agra and take a guided visit to the Taj Mahal at Sunset, a marvel in marble!

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

Hotel – 1 night

Meals – B.

Sun, Day 7:          Agra to Khajuraho (2 ½ hrs train & 3 hrs car)

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to railway station to catch the train to Jhansi. Your driver will meet you in Jhansi and set off into rural India to reach the remarkable temple complex of Khajuraho. You can visit the famous (and highly erotic) temple complexes of Khajuraho this afternoon and again tomorrow morning. We recommend you hire a sit-up-and-beg bicycle and explore the ruins following the network of tiny footpaths and go at your own pace in this very rural, quiet place.

Khajuraho Temples

Khajuraho Temples

Hotel – 1 night

Meals – B

Mon, Day 8:        Khajuraho – Varanasi (Flight)

Free time this morning to visit the temple complex; around mid-day you will be driven to the airport to board the flight to the city of Benaras (also known as Varanasi) which sits at the confluence of the Ganges, Varuna and Asi rivers. This evening the guide will accompany you to the bank of the Ganges to witness an Aarti Ceremony, which is a puja (religious rite) carried out by Hindu people. It’s a lovely, peaceful ceremony to see and particularly moving to watch the light from wicks, soaked in ghee and camphor as they float slowly away on the current.

Hotel – 1 night

Meals – B

Aarti, Ganges River

Aarti, Ganges River

Tue, Day 9:          Varanasi – full day sightseeing

A sunrise trip on the Ganges is not to be missed (but wrap up warm). Later visit Sarnath, the deer park where the Buddha taught.  Explore Varanasi’s streets and bazaars on foot.

The Ghats on the south bank of the Ganges

The Ghats on the south bank of the Ganges

Hotel – 1 night

Meals – B

Wed, Day 10:     Varanasi – Delhi (flight)

This morning is free to snatch up any last minute Varanasi bargains. Transf to the airport for the flight to Delhi. Free afternoon in Delhi. Tonight’s accommodation is a family home stay and where you could also try your hand at some Indian cooking.

Home stay – 1 night

Meals – B & D.

Thu, Day 11: Return home or onward travel.

After breakfast the private car and driver will run you to the airport, or railway station, for onward or homebound  travel.

Meals – B

Included in the price

All transport in private car.

Domestic flights: Khajuraho/Varanasi –  1345/1445 – Economy

Varanasi/Delhi – 1550/1705 – Economy

Trains (Air con): Jodhpur/Jaipur – 0610/1050

Jaipur/Ranthambore – 1105/1315

Ranthambore/Bharatpur – 0705/0923

Agra/Jhansi – 0817/1040

Safaris: 3 game drives in shared Jeep at Ranthambore National Park.

Entrance fees:   Jaipur: City Palace, Observatory, Amber Fort & Elephant Ride.

Ranthambore: Park Entrance fee for three games drives.Bharatpur: Park entrance fee for one visit.

Agra: Taj Mahal & Agra Fort.

Khajuraho: Temple Complexes.

Varanasi: Boat ride, Sarnath, Ghats, Aarti ceremony

English speaking Guides at the following locations: Jaipur, Agra, Khajuraho, Varanasi, Ranthambore and Bharatpur Parks.

IMPORTANT:Ranthambore National Park is closed from July 1st to September 30th (Monsoon season).