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|Itinerary at a Glance
Taj Mahal Express
|4||Delhi & Agra|
|5||Agra & Taj Mahal|
|6||Agra, Fatehpur Sikri & Jaipur|
|8||Jaipur & Delhi|
|9||Delhi & Kathmandu|
|12||Kathmandu, Mt. Everest flight & Delhi|
|Style||Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departs||New York Kennedy (JFK), Chicago O'Hare (ORD) (flight schedule)|
|Highlights||Delhi, Agra, Jaipur. Laxmi Narayan temple, Taj Mahal, & Amber Fort. Optional extension to Nepal|
|Included in the Price||
|What to Expect||This fast-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.|
India has become one of the world's hottest destinations for savvy travelers, and we've got just the right tour—at just the right price—so you can check out this incredible country. Our Taj Mahal Express will take you to the "Golden Triangle" of India—from fascinating and exotic Delhi, to Agra and the Taj Mahal, the world's most famous and lovely monument to love, to Jaipur, the "pink city," full of lavish mansions and palaces. An optional extension to mysterious Nepal is also available. At this price, you can't afford to miss the chance to see India for yourself!
Though I could never expect perfection in any experience, I can say that for the price, the Taj Mahal Express was an excellent value. The experience in "Incredible India" exceeded my expectations in every way. I've been around the world a bit and this has been my favorite trip so far. I can't wait to book my next Friendly Planet trip.
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Day 2: Delhi. Arrive today in Delhi. Following customs and immigration formalities, you'll meet our representatives and transfer to your hotel. Accommodations: Shangri-La Eros Hotel
Day 3: Old & New Delhi. After buffet breakfast at the hotel, board your coach to explore Old and New Delhi. Sprawling on the banks of the river Yamuna, bustling Delhi typifies the soul of India, where many layers of civilizations have flourished for more than 3,000 years. History tells of at least eight different cities established here, but Delhi's past is so ancient that the story of its origin derives more from mythology than written history. Today, it is a city truly full of fascinating contrasts, where by day, temples are packed with the devout, and by night, hotel discos are packed with the affluent.
Begin at the modern Laxmi Narayan Temple, built in honor of the Hindu goddess of wealth, Laxmi, and of her consort, Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Hindu Trinity. Popularly known as the Birla Temple for the noted industrialist family which built it, Laxmi Naryan Temple was one of the first major Hindu places of worship open to the lower caste Harijans (untouchables).
Mahatma Gandhi made entry of Harijans one of the conditions for inaugurating the temple. Continue to Raj Ghat, the memorial to Gandhi, built at the site of his cremation on the banks of the Yamuna River. Drive past the magnificent Red Fort, built in 1648 as a symbol of Mughal's power.
Then, continue by bicycle rickshaw to Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque. Completed in 1656 after six years of work by 5,000 laborers, the red sandstone and marble mosque is considered one of the loveliest houses of worship in the world. Ascend one of the minarets for sweeping views over old Delhi.
Next, you'll marvel at the Qutab Minar, the world's tallest free standing minaret at 72.5 m (238 ft), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower, made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an, is a wonderful example of Indo-Islamic architecture. At its foot lies the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, the first mosque in India, erected in the 12th century from materials salvaged from 27 demolished Hindu and Jain shrines. Here you'll also find the Iron Pillar, a curiosity thought to date from 5th century A.D., which has never rusted.
Sightseeing continues in New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. You'll see the India Gate, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The 42 meter high structure is a war memorial for the Indian soldiers who died in World War I and the Afghan Wars. Burning in a shrine under the arch is the Amar Jawan Jyoti (the flame of the immortal warrior), which marks the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Proceed to the Parliament building and the Rastrapathi Bhawan, the President's residence. Breakfast provided.
Day 4: Delhi & Agra. After a good night's sleep and breakfast, drive to Agra, an ancient city that came into prominence in Medieval times under the Mughal rulers and was once the capital of a sprawling Mughal kingdom covering much of southeast Asia. Check-in at your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Accommodations: Trident Agra. Breakfast provided.
Day 5: Agra. This morning you'll rise early to enjoy an awesome sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal, truly one of the wonders of the world. Built in the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj took 22 years and 20,000 men to build, its white marble quarried 200 miles away and transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Though the Taj is known for its stunning symmetry and balance, it is the close-up marble inlay work which is really astounding. You'll have ample time to explore this outstanding piece of architecture, and to wander the pristine gardens that surround it.
Afterward, take advantage of special optional tours in Agra. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Visit the splendid Agra Fort, built by and inhabited by six successive generations of Mughal emperors—Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Though often eclipsed by the Taj Mahal, this sprawling fortress, more accurately described as a massive walled palatial city, is magnificent in its own right, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was here that Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, and from the Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony, Jahan watched the continuing construction of his Taj Mahal until his death. ($25 per person)
Optional Excursion: This tour takes you to Itmad-Ud-Daulah, known as the "Baby Taj", the first Mughal structure totally built from marble. In addition, visit the Sikandra, the sandstone and marble tomb of Akbar which blends Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Christian motifs and styles, and other interesting sites. ($25 per person).
Day 6: Agra, Fatehpur Sikri & Jaipur. After breakfast, depart for Fatehpur Sikri, the once-glittering capital built by Mughal emperor Akbar beginning in 1570. It was abandoned shortly after it was completed for lack of water and remains today a ghost town. Marvel at the well-preserved red sandstone palaces and buildings.
Later, continue to Jaipur, stopping en route at Barara Village, where you'll have a special opportunity to learn about rural Indian village life and interact with locals. Accommodations: Trident Jaipur. Breakfast provided.
Day 7: Jaipur. This morning's tour takes you to the imposing Amber Fort, ancient capital of Rajasthan. The fort was begun in the 17th century by Maharaja Mansingh, Emperor Akbar's most successful general. Perched atop the Aravalli hills overlooking the Moat Lake, the fort's fortified battlements and crenellated walls spread over many acres.
Ascend to the fortress by jeep or elephant (if available) to view the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls, many of them hung with magnificent paintings and inlaid with precious stones. In the Sheesh Mahal—Hall of Mirrors—a single lamp is reflected in a mosaic of thousands of mirror tiles, lighting the entire room.
En-route to the Amber Fort, stop and see the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds). Its beehive-like structure is an interplay of red and pink sand stone, painstakingly outlined with white borders and motifs. Behind this elaborate latticed facade, the cloistered ladies of the court could watch the daily goings-on in the street below.
This afternoon, explore the markets and lanes of Jaipur on your own. Known as the Pink City, Jaipur is India's first and perhaps best planned city, full of beauty and color. Here you find magnificent palaces and gardens, serene lakes, and wide tree-lined streets. Except for the busy traffic of bicycles, cars and buses, little seems to have changed since 1727, when Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II designed and built the city.
We recommend a stroll through the colorful streets and bazaars, where you can enjoy the colorful display of women's dresses and turbans of men, adding to the sense of timeless charm and wonder of this lovely and fascinating city. Buy spices or haggle for one of the beautiful, hand-woven wool carpets for which Jaipur is known. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Explore some of the city's famous pink sandstone buildings, including the City Palace Museum, housing the magnificent art collections of the Maharajas of Jaiputo. At the entrance to the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, the largest of five observatories founded by classical astronomer Sawai Jai Singh II nearly three centuries ago. Its 14 massive masonry instruments are extraordinarily precise and were used for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars' location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and more. ($30 per person)
Day 8: Jaipur & Delhi. After breakfast you'll drive back to Delhi. Tonight, you are our guests for a farewell dinner at the Radisson Blu Hotel New Dehli Dwarka. After dinner, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. Passengers taking the optional Nepal extension will overnight at the Radisson Blu Hotel New Delhi Dwarka; see extension itinerary below. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 9: Delhi/USA. Your memorable journey ends today when you arrive in New York.
Why not take advantage of your already included airfare and add a fascinating optional extension to mysterious Nepal? The Nepal Extension includes flights from Delhi to Kathmandu, 3 nights in Kathmandu with a full touring program, transfers, and buffet breakfast daily.
Day 9: Delhi & Kathmandu. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel, conveniently located for exploring and shopping. Afternoon at leisure. Accommodations: Hyatt Regency. Breakfast provided.
Day 10: Kathmandu. Today's sightseeing begins with an excursion to Bhadgaon, a Newar city founded in the 9th century. Visit the ancient copper gateway, Durbar Square the royal Residential quarter of Bhupatindra Malla, famous five storey temple of Nyatapola in pagoda style and other temples. Later visit Bodhnath, a 2500-year-old Buddhist stupa, or holy place, for Buddhist pilgrims from Tibet. Also visit Pashupatinath temple area. Breakfast provided.
Day 11: Kathmandu. This morning's city tour takes you to Durbar Square, Hanuman Dhoka, the ancient royal residential quarter, Mahadev and Parvati temple, Machhender Bahl, holy place for the Buddhists and Hindus, and the temple house of Kumari. Afterwards, enjoy time to stroll through the local bazaars. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner accompanied by a traditional Nepalese dance performance. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 12: Kathmandu, Mt. Everest optional flight & Delhi. Enjoy the morning at leisure in Kathmandu to shop and explore independently.
Optional Excursion: This morning you will have an opportunity to experience an optional Mt. Everest scenic flight over the breathtaking Himalayas (weather permitting). This optional excursion can only be purchased locally.
Transfer to the airport this afternoon for your flight to Delhi. Upon arrival at the Delhi International Airport, you will be met and escorted to the Eaton Smart Hotel’s T-Lounge located in Terminal 3 where you will enjoy an included buffet dinner and cocktails. Later this evening, bid farewell to India & Nepal as you board your flight to the USA. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 13: Delhi/USA. Early this morning bid farewell. Your memorable journey ends today when you arrive in New York.
To take full advantage of your visit to India, we offer a special discount package of optional excursions to other "must-see" sites. These are not "seat in coach" excursions that pick up passengers in various hotels—all our optional excursions are operated for Friendly Planet groups only.
Optional Excursions Package Includes:
Package Price: $59 per person if booked and prepaid before final payment. Save $21 per person compared to buying them separately!
If you prefer not to book in advance, the individual optional excursions will be available from your guide once you arrive in India, based on availability, at individual prices listed ($80 per person for all three). Other optional excursions, mentioned in our detailed itinerary above, will also be available to you locally, based on availability.
We regret that we cannot accept bookings for the pre-paid optional excursions package within 75 days from departure or after final payment has been received.
Want more? Extend your stay with our Nepal Optional Extension.
Our tours may look similar to others you've seen, but we invite you to shop & compare. There are important differences that make Friendly Planet tours the best you can find.
No Compromise on Quality: Despite our extraordinary prices, there are no compromises on our India tours. Throughout your tour you'll stay in Superior First Class & Deluxe, centrally located hotels that are noted for their amenities and service.
Incredible Pricing: Despite huge increases in the cost of services, we have managed to hold the line on our India tour prices without changing a single quality feature in this amazing trip. Our Taj Mahal Express includes new, valuable features. We've added another night in Delhi, additional touring and despite higher prices for hotels and other services in India. Incredible pricing? It's all in a day's work at Friendly Planet!
Included Features: Your transfers as well as important visits during a full day of guided touring in Delhi with included rickshaw ride through the bustling alleys and lanes of Delhi's oldest market, the Taj Mahal in Agra, Fatephur Sikri, a special visit to an authentic farming village with opportunitity to interact with residents, a tour of the Jaipur Amber fort with elephant or jeep ascent, are all included, not expensive extras as in other tours.
Credit Cards or Cash: There's no extra cost to charge your dream vacation to India. Whether you pay by check, money order or your favorite major credit card, your tour price on this tour is the same.
Free Comprehensive Destination Guide: To help you prepare for your trip, you will receive a free, comprehensive Friendly Planet India destination guide—a Friendly Planet exclusive—filled with plenty of helpful information about the destinations themselves (including history and other fascinating facts), weather, tipping, local customs, how to dress, plus insider shopping, nightlife and restaurant suggestions, organized by cuisine and cost.
Personal Service: Most important of all, the extra ingredient that makes our tours stand apart from others—the wonderful, personal attention you'll receive from our friendly staff in the USA and our representatives in India —is completely free of charge. Compare our India programs to others, feature for feature. You'll see for yourself that ours are the very best value for money you'll find anywhere.
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