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Travel through Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur

  • 10/17/2019 - 11/02/2019
  • 17 Days

See what makes India mystical and spiritual while traveling through the classic Golden Triangle: bustling Delhi, famed Agra, and grand Jaipur.  Tour the important sights of both Old and New Delhi and enjoy a rickshaw ride through colorful Chandni Chowk market. Explore the “pink city” of Jaipur, and see Amber Fort and experience a home-hosted dinner with a multi-generational Rajasthan family. Take game drives in Ranthambore National Park, once a royal hunting ground, with its picturesque ruins of forts and palaces, in search of elusive Bengal tigers and other wildlife. Enjoy a camel cart safari in pastoral Kalakho to meet Meena tribespeople in their homes. Travel to Agra, stopping at the impressive 3,500-step Chand Baori step well. Marvel at the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal as well as Agra Fort. Absorb the beauty of the sacred Ganges in Hinduism’s holiest city, Varanasi, and visit nearby Sarnath, one of Buddhism’s holiest sites.

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Architectural highlights

  • Marvel at India’s largest mosque, the red sandstone and marble Jama Masjid.
  • Take in Shahpura Haveli, a 300-year-old Rajput fort and palace complex with extensive courtyards, staircases, and arches that typify Indo-Saracenic architecture.
  • Enjoy Hawa Mahal, the elaborately carved “Palace of the Winds,” whose pink sandstone façade allowed the ladies of the court to view the streets of the city from behind its 953 small windows.
  • Discover the architectural marvel, the Chand Baori step well.
  • Explore the Taj Mahal, the magnificent tomb of white marble built by Emperor Shah Jahan.
  • Visit Birla Mandir, the Hindu temple made of pure white marble.

 

More highlights

  • Go in search of Bengal tigers and other animals at Ranthambore National Park.
  • Awe at Varanasi, Hinduism’s holiest city and a center of learning, civilization, and religion since time immemorial.
  • Enjoy Sarnath, where after achieving enlightenment, the Buddha delivered his first sermon and founded the Sangha, the first monastic community, in the sixth century BCE.

 

Also included

  • An experienced Tour Director, in addition to the Architectural Adventures Educational Expert.
  • Entrance fees for all included visits
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip
  • Gratuities for local guides, bus drivers, porters, airport, hotel and restaurant staff
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person

 

What to expect

  • Appropriate for people in good health with overall good mobility
  • Traveler should be comfortable participating in a full day of sightseeing
  • Activities range from light to moderate intensity at an easy pace, but with lengthy walks, sometimes on uneven terrain, and climbing on stairs

 

Not included

Airfare and air departure taxes and fees if purchasing a land-only package; passport/visa fees not specified; meals not specified in the itinerary; food and beverages not part of the included meals; personal items and expenses; gratuities to tour director, gratuities other than specified; travel and trip cancellation insurance; airline baggage fees and excess baggage fees; pre or post-tour extension; optional sightseeing; communication charges; other items not specifically mentioned in the itinerary or as included.

Prices, itinerary, accommodations and experts subject to change.

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Architectural Adventures tours are managed by professional tour operators retained as independent contractors by The American Institute of Architects. To read Architectural Adventures full Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer visit architecturaladventures.org/travel-terms. To read the tour-specific terms and conditions from our tour operator Odysseys Unlimited visit architecturaladventures.org/odysseys.  

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Itinerary

Overview

Begin your journey

Depart from your preferred airport and fly to Delhi, India.
Overview

Arrive in Delhi

Travel to Delhi and transfer to the hotel.
Overview

Discover Old Delhi

Following a late morning briefing, encounter walled Old Delhi, the capital of Muslim India between the 12th and 19th centuries. See Raj Ghat, the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial consisting of a simple black marble slab honoring the political and spiritual leader of India’s independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi. Learn more about Gandhi at the Gandhi Smriti. Drive past Lal Qila, the Mughal, Indo-Islamic Red Fort complex of palaces and UNESCO World Heritage site. Towering over Old Delhi and facing west towards the Holy city of Mecca, marvel at India’s largest mosque, the red sandstone and marble Jama Masjid, completed in 1656 as the last monument commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal. Three sides of the mosque are covered by open arched colonnades, featuring a tower-like archway in the center. The roof of the mosque is capped with three marble domes with alternating striping in black and white marble. In the heart of Old Delhi, walk through and explore the bustling and colorful Chandni Chowk market where spices, dried fruit, silver jewelry, and bright saris are offered. Enjoy a welcome dinner tonight.
Overview

Historic Delhi

See famed Qutb Minar, a minaret that forms a part of the Qutb complex. Sultan Qutb al-Din Aibak laid the foundation for the monument after defeating the last Hindu Kingdom in 1200 CE. With a height of 240 feet, this red stone tower ranks as the highest brick minaret in the world. Pass by India Gate, the majestic 137-foot-high arch that stands over an eternal flame to honor the 90,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting alongside the British during World War I and the Afghan wars. Visit a Sikh temple (gurdwara).
Overview

Indo-Saracenic architecture

Travel southwest by motor coach to Jaipur, one of the great cities of the Rajput—an Indian cultural caste associated with warriorhood and great courage in battle. En route to Jaipur, stop for lunch at Shahpura Haveli, a 300-year-old Rajput fort and palace complex with extensive courtyards, staircases, and arches that typify Indo-Saracenic architecture.
Overview

Jaipur, the pink city

Jaipur was the home of India’s legendary Hindu warriors, whose historic forts, palaces, and gardens lend a timeless quality to this storied region. Called the “pink city” for its buildings of rose-hued sandstone, Jaipur today retains the exquisite symmetry of its original construction, as well as the eight historic gates that protected the city centuries ago. Stop at Hawa Mahal, the elaborately carved “Palace of the Winds,” whose pink sandstone façade allowed the ladies of the court to view the streets of the city from behind its 953 small windows. Continue on to Amber Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the Kachhawah Rajputs as their capital from 1037 to 1728 and considered the pinnacle of Rajput architecture. Tour the unoccupied citadel, approaching by jeep to admire the fresco-covered portal, the impressive room of mirrors, walls of jewel-encrusted marble, and the royal apartments offering beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. Look around Jantar Mantar, the incredible open-air Royal Observatory housing oversized astronomical instruments and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and City Palace, the former residence of the Maharajas of Jaipur, built in the shape of the city itself and now converted to a museum that houses the rulers’ magnificent art collections.
Overview

Everyday life in Sanganer

Jaipur was the home of India’s legendary Hindu warriors, whose historic forts, palaces, and gardens lend a timeless quality to this storied region. Called the “pink city” for its buildings of rose-hued sandstone, Jaipur today retains the exquisite symmetry of its original construction, as well as the eight historic gates that protected the city centuries ago. Stop at Hawa Mahal, the elaborately carved “Palace of the Winds,” whose pink sandstone façade allowed the ladies of the court to view the streets of the city from behind its 953 small windows. Continue on to Amber Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the Kachhawah Rajputs as their capital from 1037 to 1728 and considered the pinnacle of Rajput architecture. Tour the unoccupied citadel, approaching by jeep to admire the fresco-covered portal, the impressive room of mirrors, walls of jewel-encrusted marble, and the royal apartments offering beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. Look around Jantar Mantar, the incredible open-air Royal Observatory housing oversized astronomical instruments and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and City Palace, the former residence of the Maharajas of Jaipur, built in the shape of the city itself and now converted to a museum that houses the rulers’ magnificent art collections.
Overview

Travel to Ranthambore

Leave Jaipur and enter Ranthambore National Park. Bordering the outer fringes of the Thar Desert and the former hunting grounds of the Maharajah of Jaipur, Ranthambore is now a 512-square-mile nature preserve that is home to diverse plant life; historic ruins; and hundreds of species of birds, reptiles, mammals, and of course, Bengal tigers.

Please note that road conditions in and around Ranthambore are poor; about two hours of the drive will be on bumpy or unpaved roads. Additionally, the canters (open, 20-seat vans) which are used for game drives provide minimal shock absorption: be prepared for very bumpy drives. This afternoon, take a game drive through the park, whose mission is to help preserve and protect the endangered Bengals.
Overview

Game drives in Ranthambore

Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives, and hopefully spot tigers and leopards. One of India’s best known national parks, Ranthambore, belongs to India’s groundbreaking Project Tiger, dedicated to preserving and protecting the once plentiful Royal Bengal tigers that roamed the land. Now threatened by poachers, illegal logging, and encroaching civilization, India’s tiger population has decreased precipitously; it is believed that just 67 tigers currently live in Ranthambore. Nationally, Project Tiger has seen the Bengal population rise to about 2,500 at latest count in 2016 from the 1,800 counted when the project launched in 1973. Additionally, explore the picturesque ruins of old fortifications and the thousand-year-old Ranthambore Fort, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the way back to the lodge, visit an organization called Dhonk, which works with members of the Mogya tribe, a traditional hunting community. Here, see tiger conservation in action as families who once relied on poaching the big cats now have an alternative means of earning income through crafts and artwork.
Overview

See surrounding villages by camel

Embark to Kalakho, stopping along the way to visit with children at a roadside school. Set out on a camel safari (on camel cart) through the surrounding villages to meet the local Meena tribes people who live in mud huts decorated inside with floral and animal designs. Largely an agricultural people, the Meena have maintained much of their traditional culture and customs.
Overview

Abhaneri’s Chand Baori step well

Travel to the village of Abhaneri to witness an architectural marvel: the Chand Baori step well. To overcome the perpetual issue of water scarcity during summer months, inhabitants of northern India began constructing unique step wells in the 6th century CE to collect this precious resource. An estimated 3,000 of these baori once gave villagers multiple routes of access to the pools of water below and provided a gathering place with respite from the heat. The 9th-century ruler King Chand built this astounding structure with 3,500 symmetrical steps descending three of its sides 13 stories to the 100-foot-deep well. Ruins of an elaborately sculpted temple dedicated to Harshat Mata, Goddess of Joy and Happiness, stand opposite the step well. See the ancient Mughal stronghold of Agra, and the Itimad-ud-Daulah, often called the “Baby Taj,” the two-story marble mausoleum that inspired the Taj Mahal.
Overview

Explore the Taj Mahal

Savor a travel highlight and embark on a tour of the Taj Mahal, the magnificent tomb of white marble built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who had implored her husband to build a monument symbolizing their undying love for each other. Some 20,000 laborers and artisans from around the world spent 22 years constructing what became Mumtaz’s mausoleum. Notice the Taj Mahal’s striking examples of pietra dura, a decorative art in which craftsmen embed precisely cut semi-precious stones in marble to form dazzling patterns. Visit the imposing Red Fort of Agra comprising fairytale palaces, two beautiful mosques, audience halls, pavilions, courtyards, and gardens all surrounded by a massive wall, a moat, and yet another wall. Enjoy the Hall of Public Audience and the Royal Pavilions. A creative, architectural, and strategic masterpiece, the Fort is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In a cruel twist, Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal and whose grandfather built the original Agra Fort, was imprisoned here at the end of his life by his own son in a room looking out on the Taj Mahal down the river.
Overview

Varanasi, Hinduism’s holiest city

The group will board a flight to Varanasi, Hinduism’s holiest city and a center of learning, civilization, and religion since time immemorial. Lacking in important architecture, elaborate palaces, and ancient fortresses, Varanasi nonetheless exudes an allure and mystique unlike any other Indian city, thanks to its role as a sacred place of pilgrimage.
Overview

Enlightenment in Sarnath

Visit nearby Sarnath, where after achieving enlightenment, the Buddha delivered his first sermon and founded the Sangha, the first monastic community, in the sixth century BCE. A Turkish invasion at the end of the 12th century CE left the city in ruins; it lay forgotten until the 19th century when excavation and restoration efforts began. One of Buddhism’s four holiest sites, Sarnath draws pilgrims from the world over. See some of the temples and stupas, and tour Sarnath Museum, housing a superb collection of Buddhist artifacts from excavations. Highlights include a statue of the Buddha turning the wheel of law, and the celebrated Lion Capital of Emperor Ashoka, a sculpture of four lions that once topped a column erected during the emperor’s reign, which dates to 250 BCE. The national emblem of India since the country’s independence, the Lion Capital’s image appears on all Indian currency, passports, official seals, and government buildings. Attend a traditional aarti offering ceremony while cruising along the Ganges. Watch as devout Hindus offer their lit lamps to the deities.
Overview

Varanasi and the sacred river

Return to the Ganges, where Hindu pilgrims perform their time-honored rites along the ghats (steps) leading to the sacred river. Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges at least once in a lifetime is both a duty and a privilege; it can help lead to the forgiveness of sin and the attainment of salvation. Visit several of the important ghats by boat and experience the spiritual mystique of these hallowed waters. Arrive at the home, and music school, of a famous sitar player and enjoy a private classical sitar performance. Tonight, celebrate this journey at a farewell dinner with fellow guests.
Overview

Varanasi/Delhi

Fly to Delhi, and then transfer to the hotel, which is conveniently located near the airport.
Overview

Depart India

Transfer to the airport in Delhi for your flight home.
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