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North India Highlights

Duration : 14 Nights and 13 Days

Destinations covered : Delhi - Varanasi - Khajuraho - Jaipur - Udaipur - Mumbai (Bombay) - Aurangabad - Ajanta - Ellora

Day 01 : Delhi

On day one of your North India Highlights tour, Holidays Points staff will welcome you on Delhi International Airport and transfer you to your hotel room.

Day 02 : Delhi

After breakfast, enjoy sightseeing of Rajghat – the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, Red Fort, India Gate and Qutab Minar. Enjoy rickshaw ride in Old Delhi. Red Fort is among the historically important forts of India. It was built by Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan in 1648. River Yamuna used to flow through a moat that ran across its ramparts, which used to work as a massive deterrent for foreign invaders. The fort assumes all important prominence on August 15 (Independence Day of India) every year when the Indian Prime Minister furls the national flag and addresses the nation from its ramparts. As its name itself suggests, the fort is made of red sandstone. Diwan-i-Aam, Moti Masjid and Hamam are the main attractions of Red Fort.

The ramparts of the fort have a perimeter of 2.4 km and its peak measures 33.5 m. About 75 percent area of the fort was demolished by the British during 1857 revolt, due to which it lost most of its elegance. However, Red Fort still remains crowd puller for Delhi. There are five entrances to the fort, but only two are open for public now. These entrances are known as Lahori Gate and Delhi Gate. Don't miss out the sound and light show which is shown here every night that depicts the history of Delhi and the freedom struggle of India. India Gate was built by the British in 1931 in the memory of 90,000 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives fighting the enemies during World War I. Names of all those soldiers are inscribed on its massive walls. An eternal flame, known as Amar Jawan Jyoti was lit here in 1971 in the memory of unknown soldiers who sacrificed their lives in Indo-Pak war.

India Gate becomes centre of attraction of public and the media on 26th January (Republic Day of India) every year when a massive parade of 3 wings of India's defense forces is held here and the President of India takes gun salutes and awards bravery medals to the armed forces warriors and other brave-hearts of public. There are colorful fountains and water channels with boat ride facility at India Gate that provide a delightful ambience to the visitors. It is one of the favorite picnic spots for locals and foreign travelers.

Qutab Minar was built in 1192 by Qutbuddin Aibak, who was viceroy of Mohammed Gori and belonged to the Slave Dynasty. It is a 5 storey structure and its total height is 72.5 m. There is a famous Iron Pillar inside Qutab Minar complex which hasn't gathered any rust in past 1500 years. It is believed that hugging the pillar will make one's wish come true. Hug the pillar and who knows, your wish might come true! Chandni Chowk is the area where you can feel the lifestyle of old Delhi residents. The area is a commercial hub and is bang opposite to Red Fort. It was developed by Jahanara Begum, the daughter of Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan. Effluent families of the time inhabited the area during Mogul period. A joy rickshaw ride in the narrow by lanes of Chandni Chowk will enthrall you a lot.

Day 03 : Delhi - Varanasi

Continue your North India highlights by leaving for Varanasi by morning flight. Check in your hotel in Sarnath, the spiritual center of Buddhism. Sarnath is an important Buddhist pilgrimage centre as lord Buddha preached his first sermon to five ascetics here after attaining enlightenment who then became his followers. Ashoka Pillar, Dhamek Stupa and Sarnath Museum are the main attractions of Sarnath. The Ashoka Pillar, when erected in 3rd century BC was 17m in height. The Lion Capital of Ahoka Pillar has been adopted as the official emblem of the Republic of India.

Dhamek Stupa has been built at the place where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon. The cylindrical stupa measures 28 m in diameter. It is made of red bricks and stone, and is considered the most remarkable structure of Sarnath. The Archaeological Museum of Sarnath has a rich collection of sculptures of Buddhist era.

Day 04 : Varanasi- Khajurao

Witness religious ceremonies of Hindus by boat ride in the Ganges river. North India highlights include Bharat Mata Temple, Well of Knowledge, Durga Temple (also known as Monkey Temple) and Vishwanath Temple. Varanasi is the popular Hindu pilgrimage site. Bharat Mata Temple is dedicated to Mother India. The temple is open to people of all faiths. There are more than 100 bathing Ghats in Varanasi that contain steps leading you down to the holy waters of river Ganges. Hindu devotees take dips in the holy waters of Ganges, which washes away their past sins. You will find a large number of people practicing Yoga at Ghats. Shop in local bazaars and fly to Khajuraho.

Day 05 : Khajurao- Agra

After breakfast, visit temples and the old village of Khajuraho. Drive to Jhansi and board train to Agra. Khajuraho is famous around the world for its exquisite range of Hindu and Jain temples. The small town is located in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh in north-central India. There were originally 85 temples in Khajuraho but now only 22 are left that are testimony to the grandeur of Chandela rulers.

The temples of Khajuraho are divided into 3 geographical parts - Western, Eastern and Southern. There are mythical and celestial figures on the temples that seem to have been taken over the living figures. The engravings on the temples contain full breasted women and men engrossed in sexual acts and foreplays. The temples are a tribute to womanhood and its myriad manifestations.

The temples were built in tenth and eleventh centuries, over a period of 200 years. The Khajuraho group of monuments has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. A sound and light show is held here every evening in the gardens of Western Group of Temples. Panna National Park and Ajyagarh are ideal locations for excursion which are near to Khajuraho.

Day 06 : Agra

Sunrise visit to Taj Mahal – the white marble epitome of love. Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the loving memory of his wife Mumtaj Mahal. Taj Mahal literally means "Crown of the Palaces." True to its name, it offers a visual delight to the visitors. Millions of people visit Taj Mahal every year from around the world. Its pure white marble was brought from Makrana in Rajasthan and Persia, the present day Iran.

The 35 m high marble dome of Taj Mahal is its most spectacular feature. It is decorated with lotus petals, which provide Accenture to its height. The four minarets of Taj Mahal have working balconies that give call to the faithfuls to offer prayers. Passages from Quran have been calligraphed throughout the Taj Mahal complex. The Charbagh Mogul Gardens of Taj Mahal symbolize the four flowing rivers of the Jannat , the Paradise.

Mortal remains of Shah Jahan and Mumtaj Mahal are laid in an octagonal chamber in Taj Mahal, where their souls are resting in peace. Taj Mahal has been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the World by UNESCO. Depart to Jaipur by car via Fateh Pur Sikri.

Day 07 : Jaipur

Have morning excursion to Amber Fort by elephant ride during day seven of your North India travel. Post lunch, visit Hawa Mahal – The Palace of Wind, Jantar Mantar observatory and the City Palace. Jaipur is the first planned city of India and is gateway to popular tourist destinations in Rajasthan. The sixteenth century Amber Fort is testimony to the glory of the Kachawaha Dynasty who ruled the region from 12th to 18th century. The architecture of the fort presents a beautiful blend of Hindu and Mogul architecture. The rugged forbidding exteriors and the romantic interiors of the fort give it a classic look. Maota Lake in the foreground presents a breathtaking view of the fort. The fort was constructed to provide a safe resting place to the warring armies. Jaleb Chowk, the main courtyard was the place where the armies were welcomed and the soldiers used to display their war earnings to the public. The fort is divided into four sections that contain Suraj Pol, the main gate, Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of Public Audience, Sukh Niwas, the pleasure place for the residents and the Zanana, the palace for women.

Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. The palace was built for the royal ladies so that they could watch the bazaars and street processions without themselves being seen by strangers. 900 niches, sandstone grills, semi-octagonal bays and finials provide its characteristic façade to the 50 feet high shield. The five storey palace resembles a honeycomb. It was the favorite resort of Maharaja Jai Singh. The rooftop of the fort provides a panoramic view of the nearby Amber Fort, Thar Desert and the bustling bazaars. Best time to watch Hawa Mahal is early morning, when it is bathed in golden sunrise hues. Jantar Mantar was built by Sawai Maharaja Jai Singh in 1733. It is the largest stone astronomical observatory in the world. The observatory has fourteen outsized astronomical instruments and has been listed in the world heritage site. Samrat Yantra, the largest sundial of the world is 27 m high. Its shadow moves 1 mm per second, which provides a memorable visual delight to the visitors.

Maharaja Jai Singh constructed four more such observatories in different parts of India including Delhi but the one at Jaipur is biggest among them all. Jantar Mantar is counted among the popular tourist destinations of Jaipur.

City Palace complex houses many grand buildings like Chandra Mahal, Mukut Mahal, Maharani's Palace, Badal Mahal and the Mubarak Mahal. The palace has seven storeys, each one of them being known by a particular name. Diwan-i-Khas, or the Hall of Private Audience still houses two silver vessels, which are reported to be the world's largest. Maharaja Jai Singh carried the holy Ganga water in them during his visit to England.

Day 08 : Jaipur - Udaipur

Board flight in early morning to Udaipur on eight day of your North India highlights. Post lunch; visit other North India highlights like Royal Palace, Eklinji Temple, Jagdish Temple, Shaelion ki Bari – the garden for ladies. Enjoy boat ride in evening in Lake Pichola during your travel to North India. Udaipur is located near Girwa valley. The city is dotted with serene lakes, beautiful gardens, fairytale water palaces and magnificent temples. Eklinji Temple is dedicated to the Mewar deity Eklinji . Coronation ceremonies of Mewar Maharanas (Kings) used to be held in the temple. The temple has beautiful niches and houses a massive marble statue of Lord Mahadev.

The aesthetically elegant Jagdish Temple was built in Indo-Aryan architectural style in 1652. It houses a black stone idol of Lord Jagannath. A brass image of Garuda - the mythological half bird - half man creature is placed in a separate shrine in the temple. Garuda is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, who is a form of Lord Jagannath. Lake Pichola is located in the backdrop of the overlooking City Palace. It is 3 miles long, 2 miles wide and is 30 feet deep at its deepest point. Maharan Udai Singh was amused with the enchanting beauty of its serene waters and developed it. The lake encompasses several islands and is enveloped by elevated hills, beautiful palaces and majestic temples. A smooth sail in the pristine blue waters of Lake Pichola is a must for anyone who visits Udaipur.

Day 09 : Udaipur- Mumbai

Visit Malabar Hill, Marine Drive, Hanging Gardens, Crawford Market, Jain Temple and Gandhi Museum. Malabar Hill is an up market residential area which provides spectacular views of the surrounding areas of Mumbai (Bombay). The hill is named after Malabari pirates of Kerala, who used it as a vantage point to spot their daily soft targets. Popular attractions of the area are the Hanging Gardens, Jain Temple, Kamla Nehru Park, Mahalaxmi Temple and Banganga Temple. Banganga Tank is supposed to be the place where Lord Rama shot a "ban" (arrow) when he was on his mission to rescue his wife Sita from Ravana, the kiing of Lanka. The terraced Hanging Gardens, also known as Ferozeshah Mehta Gardens, provide an awesome view of the Arabian Seas. The gardens have several animal shaped hedges. Perched atop Malabar Hill and close to the sea, the Hanging Gardens provide a visual delight by way of their beautifully laid array of flowers and fountains. The gardens are built over 3 reservoirs that provide 30 million gallons drinking water to Mumbai residents.

Mahalaxmi Temple is dedicated to the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. Navratri or Dussehra celebrations are held in the temple every year during September - October. The rocks behind the temple are a favorite hangout for picnickers and youngsters who stroll here to catch the cool sea breeze. Marine Drive is a C shaped six lane beautiful promenade which runs along the South Mumbai Coast. It was once known as the Queen's Necklace, due the prominence of dazzling street lights and bustling shops that shined like jewels of a necklace. The Drive is dotted with palm trees. Chowpatty Beach is at its northern end, which is famous for Bhelpuri, the local fast food, a must eat for visitors.

Most of the buildings on Marine Drive have art deco look and were built by wealthy Parsi communities. It is the favorite residential address for most celebrities of Mumbai. Real estate price in Marine Drive is fourth highest in the world. A number of events take place here throughout the year.

Day 10 : Mumbai

Enjoy your independence in the morning and relax. Later on, ferry to the world famous Elephant Caves, renowned for Buddhist cave paintings and architecture. The rock cut Elephanta Caves were built during seventh century. The cave complex is located on Elephanta island and has grand halls, courtyards and shrines that resonate with spiritual energy. There are rock cut statues of Buddha and Hindu deities in the caves. The two hills of the island have five rock cut caves and one Buddhist Stupa. Described to be the masterpiece of Gupta-Chalukayan art, the 20 feet high Trimurti icon contains 3 heads which represent creation, protection and destruction. The Trimurti is carved in relief and is prominently positioned at the back of the caves, facing the entrance.

Day 11 : Mumbai- Aurangabad

Visit Bibi Ka Maqbarah, built by Aurangzeb Alamgir the First. Bibi ka Muqbarah was built in 17th century by Prince Azam Shah as a tribute to his mother Rabia-ul-Daurani. The mausoleum measures 500 x 300 yards. Due to its striking resemblance to TaJ Mahal, it is also known as Taj of Deccan and Poor Man's Taj Mahal, as it is a poor copy of Taj Mahal. A typical Char Bagh Mogul Garden adorns the mausoleum. Mortal remains of Rabia-ul-Daurani are placed here at ground level in an octagonal marble screen that has beautiful lattice artwork.

Day 12 : Ajanta

One more important point of North India highlights is full day excursion of Ajanta caves. View the awe inspiring paintings related to the life of Buddha. Ajanta caves complex consists of 31 rock cut caves which were built over a period of one thousand years, dating back from 2nd century BC to 8th century AD. The sculptures and paintings of the caves depict the life and times of Buddha in finer details, and are considered to be the masterpieces of Buddhist and pictorial arts. The paintings on the walls of the caves are drawn from the Jataka tales. The paintings are fragmentary and some of them have decayed over a period of time. Paintings of the caves have been filled with "earth colors" and "vegetable colors" which were created by combining various minerals, plant extracts and stone dust. The sculptures have been covered with 'stucco', which was made by mixing conch, powered seashell, lime and other minerals. Stucoo provided lustrous fine finish to the sculptures, often resembling the gloss of a glass surface. Ajanta Caves have been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attract a large number of visitors and devotees every year.

Day 13 : Ellora

Have full day excursion of Ellora Caves. See Buddhist and Jain paintings crafted during VIIIth to Xth centuries. Visit the free standing monolithic Kailashnath Temple. The Ellora caves house many Buddhisht, Hindu and Jain sculptures which were created between 6th to 19 centuries AD. The caves were built during the period when Buddhism was declining and Brahmanism started it revival. The coexistence of the sculptures of 3 major religions of India in a single cave complex is a testimony to the changing faiths and spirit of tolerance of the people of India. The Buddhist caves are the earliest caves of the Ellora caves complex and have been carved out of the vertical face of the Charanandri Hills.

Cave number 1 to 12 are known as Buddhisht caves, cave number 13 to 29 are known as Hindu caves while cave numbers 30 to 32 are known as Jain caves. Cave 6 has two finest sculptures of Tara and Mahamayuri. Cave 10 has a statue of seated Buddha, carved at its far end and enthroning the front of the large Stupa. Cave 14 and 15 were former Buddhist caves and were later adopted by Hindus. Cave 15 has 5 sculptures of a total of 10 avatars of Hindu Vishnu deity, thus giving it its name as Das Avatara. Cave 16 contains the majestic Kailasa Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Cave number 32 is most notable among Jain caves. It has a sculpture of naked Gomatesvara, engrossed deeply in meditation in deep forest, so much so that vines have grown up on his body and reptiles crawl on it. Your North India travel ends here.

The North India Travel Package Includes
Hotel accommodation and breakfasts, English speaking guides, entrance fee to the monuments, ferry & rickshaw rides and assistance at all stations.

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