23
Days All India Tour (I-23)

Delhi - Agra - Jaipur - Mumbai- Bangalore- Mysore - Cochin (Kochi)- Periyar (Thekkady) - Madurai - Tanjore - Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram - Kanchipuram - Chennai - Kolkata - Varanasi (Banaras) - Delhi

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Day 01:- Arrive in Delhi.

On your arrival in Delhi, you will be met by our representative and transferred to hotel. Delhi was the capital of Indraprastha and capital of the Pandavas during the Mahabharata. This magnificent city has been inhabited from the 6th century BC and has been a capital of many kingdoms. Delhi's culture has been influenced by its different rulers and the city is full of beautiful monuments. The Mughal rulers influenced the food habits of the residents and Mughlai cuisine originated here. Due to the proximity of different states, all festivals are celebrated here. Old Delhi is a maze of small lanes and old buildings and New Delhi has large road with huge buildings. Delhi is the capital of India and is the hub for politics. Rest of your day is at leisure. Overnight in Delhi.

Your morning tour starts with Old Delhi, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1639 AD. You will visit the Raj Ghat where father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. You will be visiting the museum that was built to commemorate him. You will be driven past the iconic Red Fort and Chandni Chowk, a very popular and a busy market in Old Delhi to the next stop - Jama Masjid, one of the iconic, historic and largest mosques in India - built by Shah Jahan. A rickshaw ride in Chandni Chowk could be quite interesting as this part of the city is quite crowded as it is full of shops. These numerous shops sell delicious mouth-watering food, clothes, jewels, household, etc. and are virtually a shopper's paradise.

In the afternoon, you will visit Qutub Minar, touted as India’s largest Minaret. Qutub Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in 1192 by Turk ruler Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak. You will then move forward to Humayun’s tomb, yet another UNESCO world heritage site. Your next stop is India Gate, built in memory of the Unknown Soldier. You will be driven past the Parliament House, President’s House and other Government Secretarial Buildings, to your final destination which will be Lakshminarayan Temple, a temple dedicated to Lakshmi and Lord Narayana. Overnight in Delhi.

This morning you will drive to Agra. Agra the former capital of Hindustan is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna. Agra is a major tourist destination of India and a part of the Golden Triangle tourist circuit along with Delhi and Jaipur. Agra also known as Akbarabad went through its peak during the time of Mughals and was the capital of under the Mughal rulers Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjehan. In the visit of Agra, you will be taken to Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. This beautiful building is elegantly built with white marble by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between the years 1631 to 1648 and it was built in the memory of his favorite beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Standing majestically on banks of Yamuna River, this breathtaking, immensely beautiful monument is a synonymous to romance and love.

Your next stop Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for its architectural structure and was built in the 16th century during the Mughal Empire. This place comprises of several fairy-tale palaces like Khas Mahal and Jahangir Palace. Over here you will also get a chance to see Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas, which are also known as private audience hall and public audience hall. Afternoon can be spent visiting more places of interest or shopping. Agra is famous for inlaid marble work and handicrafts made of marble, wood and metal. The transport is at your disposal with-in the city limits. TAJ MAHAL IS CLOSED ON FRIDAYS. Overnight in Agra.

This morning, you will be transferred from Agra to Jaipur visiting Fatehpur Sikri on the way. Fatehpur Sikri built by Emperor Akbar in the 16th century holds exceptional testimony to Mughal civilization and is one of well-known UNESCO World heritage site of India and has various historical monuments. You will visit the Jama Masjid, followed by the Tomb of Salim Chishti, the five storied Panch Mahal and Buland Darwaza a graceful monument and stupendous piece of beautiful architectures. It is central portico with a total of three arched entrances and is locally known as Horseshoe gate. You will visit the other graceful buildings of this place such as Ibadat Khana, Mariam-uz-Zamani’s palace, Naubat Khana and Birbal’s house.

After the visit of Fatehpur Sikri, you will be driven to Jaipur. Jaipur, also known as the pink city is the capital of Rajasthan. Many captivating palaces are present here having breathtaking design and architecture. In the 18th century Prince of Wales had visited Jaipur and the entire city was painted in pink color and due to these pink buildings the city is known as the pink city. Origin of Jaipur lie 260 years back. It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh and Jaipur got its name from this king. The rest of the day could be spent visiting the Jaipur bazaars or walking down the crowded colorful streets. The transport is at your disposal with-in the city limits. Overnight in Jaipur.

The morning journey starts from Amer fort also known as Amer Palace, the earlier capital of Jaipur. This magnificent fort was constructed in red sand-stone and marble by Raja Man Singh and is divided into four sections each with a courtyard. The main entrance gate is Surajpol having a fascinating architecture. Near the Ganesh Gate, there is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Sila Devi. The Diwan-e-Aam - Hall of public audience, Diwan-e-Khas - hall of private audience, Sheesh Mahal - palace of mirrors and Sukh Niwas are quite beautiful. At the Sukh Niwas, a pleasant climate is created by winds that blow over a water cascade. You could ascend the fort by walking up the steps or on an elephant's back or in jeeps.

In Jaipur you will be taken to Maharaja City Palace, a royal palace with seven storey as well as Jantar Mantar, the observatory. This wonderful observatory attracts mathematicians as well as astronomers from the whole world. City palace is perfect blend of all three excellent styles (Mughal, Rajput and European). Another palace, Hawa Mahal is popular all over the world for its magnificent architecture. You will be taken through Pink Rose Garden as well business centers of Jaipur. A tour of Jaipur is not complete without shopping. Jaipur is famous for clothes, carpets, precious and semi-precious stones and jewelry and various handicrafts made of wood, metals, etc. and also for silk paintings and miniatures. The transport is at your disposal with-in the city limits. Overnight in Jaipur.

You will be transferred to the Jaipur airport to board the flight for Mumbai. On arrival in Mumbai, you will be transferred to your hotel. Mumbai earlier called “Bombay” is the finance capital of India and consist of seven islands such as Colaba, Old Women’s Island, Mazagaon, Parel, Matunga-Sion and Mahim. Mumbai influxes a huge number of tourists from across the world throughout the year for the purpose of pilgrimage, sightseeing or simply for an employment opportunity. It gets described as the city of peopling shrouded in wealth as well as people rolling in extremely poverty, where one can see highly posh area like Juhu and Cuffparade along with Asia’s biggest slum area like Dharavi. Overnight in Mumbai.

This morning you will be visiting this Bollywood city. Your morning city tour of Mumbai will take you to the Hanging Gardens located on the beautiful slopes of the Malabar Hills as well as Kamla Nehru Park offering a marvelous and panoramic view of the Chowpatty Beach as well as the Marine Drive. You will continue your tour and taken to Mani Bhawan, Prince of the Wales Museum, Gateway of India and Dhobi-Ghat and will drive through Marine Drive, Flora Fountain and Crawford market. Afternoon is at leisure. Or, you could take an optional tour of Elephanta Caves. The Caves on Elephanta Island located in the Arabian Sea; about 10 km from the Mumbai Harbor are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves dating back to the 5th to the 8th century AD are divided into five Hindu caves dedicated to Shiva and two Buddhist caves. The caves are closed on Monday and can be reached by boat from Gateway of India. Overnight in Mumbai.

Today you will be transferred to airport to board flight from Mumbai to Bangalore. On arrival in Bangalore, you will be driven directly from the Bangalore airport to Mysore, also called as Mysooru. Mysore is known as the city of palaces and quite famous for its Dussehra festival, was the capital of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom. Mysore was ruled by the Wadiyars except for some time in the 18th century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan ruled this place. The Wadiyars were responsible for the cultural growth of the city, due to which Mysore is called the Cultural capital of Karnataka. Overnight in Mysore.

The morning city tour of Mysore will take you to the Mysore palace that was originally built by the Maharaja of Mysore in the year 1911-1912. The palace is of harmonious synthesis of the Hindu and Saracenic styles of architecture having archways, domes, turrets, colonnades and sculptures. Visit the art gallery. Drive to the Chamundi hill to visit the Chamundeshwari Temple. From the hill itself you will get a panoramic view of the city of Mysore. On your way back to Mysore, visit the Nandi bull. Afternoon is free in Mysore or you could visit the Krishnarajasagar dam and the Brindavan Gardens. Mysore is a good place for buying the famous "Mysore silk". Overnight in Mysore.

Today you will be transferred to Bangalore airport in time for your Kochi flight. On your arrival in Kochi you will be transferred to your hotel. Kochi earlier known as Cochin is referred as the Queen of Arabian Sea. Kochi has remained the popular centre in across the world for the trade of spices for number of centuries. The name of the city comes from Malayalam term “Kochazhi” that actually means small lagoon. Kochi was put on the world map by Vasco-de-Gama. The Arabs, Portuguese, British, Dutch, all have left their impression on the history of Kochi. After Mumbai, Kochi is probably the second most important city on the west coast of India. In the evening, you could visit a Kathakali dance show. Overnight in Kochi.

During the morning city tour of Kochi, you will be taken to some of the renowned spots of Cochin that will include the Portuguese churches, mosques and temples along with the Jewish synagogue. You will be taken to watch the Chinese style fishing nets which are mostly seen in Kerala. It holds around 10m of height and consists of cantilever along with an outstretched net that is suspended in the sea and one huge stone suspended on other end with ropes for the counterweights. Every installation of this fishing-net gets operated by group of six fishermen. You have a free time in the afternoon. You could visit the other popular destinations of Kochi like Kochi Fort, Hill Palace, Marine Drive, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi International Marina, Cherai Beach, etc. Overnight in Kochi.

In the morning, you are transferred from Kochi to Periyar National Park also known as Thekkady. Rest of the day is at leisure for game viewing. Periyar is famous as an Elephant and Tiger Reserve and shelters various animals like Bengal Tiger, Indian elephant, wild boar, sambar, tiger, leopard, wild dog, langur, monkeys, etc. It has an abundance of birds and plants. A boat ride in the Periyar Lake gives you the possibility of watching the different animals. The Park is surrounded by various plantation regions for coffee, tea, etc. and a visit to these plantations is a worth. If time permits, you could make a soft trek to the nearby areas. You have free time for selecting any of the above activities. Overnight in Periyar.

This morning you will be transferred by road from Periyar animal sanctuary to Madurai. Madurai is one of the oldest living cities in the world and the recorded history dates back to 3rd century BC. Madurai comes from the word Madhura which means sweetness. The people of Madurai celebrate many festivals and one of the important festivals is the annual 10 days Chittirai festival. Rani Mangamma's palace has been converted into Gandhi Memorial Museum and houses the blood-stained garment worn by Mahatma Gandhi when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. Mahatma Gandhi had adopted the loin cloth as his mode of dress after seeing agricultural laborers in Madurai wearing it. Meenakshi Temple is in the list of nominees of the "New Seven Wonders of the World". Overnight in Madurai.

The entire morning is for a tour of Madurai. Madurai sight-seeing includes Meenakshi Temple, Tirumala Nayak Palace, Alagar Hills and Tirupara Kundran Rock temple. The Meenakshi Temple complex is one of the largest and oldest in India. The temple was built 2000 years ago and was expanded Thirumalai Nayak. This is a temple of Lord Siva and his wife Meenakshi. The temple has a Hall of Thousand Pillars with every pillar showing life like features. The outermost corridors have musical pillars of stones which when tapped, produce different musical notes. Thirumalai Nayak Palace was built in 1636 by the king Thirumalai Nayak and is famous for its domes and arches. Afternoon is at leisure in Madurai the temple town. Overnight in Madurai.

You will be transferred in the morning from Madurai to Tanjore which is also known as Thanjavur. Thanjavur was the capital of the Chola dynasty. Tanjore is famous for the Tanjore paintings and Bharatanatyam a form of classical dance which originated from this land. The Brihadeeswara Shiva Temple which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by King Raja Raja Chola in the 11th century AD. The temple is capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single granite block weighing 80 tons which was taken to the top with the help of a 6 km long ramp, an old technique used by the Egyptians for building pyramids. The walls are covered with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods. The other places of interest are the Thanjavur Maratha Palace constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur, the Saraswati Mahal Library with more than 30,000 manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper and the Raja Raja Chola art gallery with a huge collection of stone and bronze idols dating back from the 9th to the 12th centuries. Overnight in Thanjavur.

You will be transferred in the morning from Tanjore to Pondicherry by road. Puducherry, earlier known as Pondicherry or Pondy was acquired by the French in 1674 and has colonial buildings, churches, temples, and statues. The systematic well planned French style avenues, preserves and gives a look of the colonial ambiance. Puducherry has a number of well preserved heritage buildings and monuments. Promenade Beach, Paradise Beach, Auroville Beach and Serenity Beach are the well known beaches of Puducherry. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is globally quite popular. Auroville is a universal town where people from all nationalities live together in harmony and peace. The Lord Ganesha Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple is a quite visited Hindu Temple. Overnight in Pondicherry.

After a morning tour of Puducherry, you will check out from your hotel and proceed to Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram also known as Mamallapuram or Mamallapattana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historic town and seaport. It was also known by the ancient mariners as the city of "Seven Pagodas". Out of the Seven Pagodas, only the Shore Temple survives. Mahabalipuram was a bustling seaport and the traders went to countries of South East Asia from here. It was an important port for the Pallavas and most of the monuments portray events from the Mahabharata and date back from the 7th to the 9th century. In an ancient text, this place was noted as Sea Mountain where ships rode at anchor bent to the point of breaking laden with goods. Overnight in Mahabalipuram.

Your morning tour of Mahabalipuram takes you through the cave temples and mandapams cut in the rocks showing depiction of incidents from Hindu legends, epics and mythology. The temples were built during the rule of Narasimhavarman and Rajasimhavarman. The city was mostly developed by Narasimhavarman. The bas relief Arjuna's Penance with life size images carved on the rock wall is the largest Bas-relief in the world. The five chariots are carved out of a single rock. The twin structure of the Shore Temple is one of the oldest in South India and is worth visiting. The Shore Temple built from dressed stone has bas reliefs, one 100 ft long and 45 ft. high, carved out of granite. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight in Mahabalipuram.

You will be transferred from Mahabalipuram to Kanchipuram by road for visiting the various temples. Kanchipuram was the ancient capital of the Pallavas and was the town of a 1000 temples. Kanchipuram sight-seeing takes you through some of the known temples such as Shiva temple from the 7th century, Ekambareswara temple, Sri Kailasanathar Temple from the 8th century, the Sri Vardaraja Perumal Temple, the Sri Kamakshiamman Temple, etc. Kanchipuram is a paradise for the shoppers as it offers the world famous Kanchipuram silk and saris. After the visits, you will continue by road to Chennai. Overnight in Chennai.

The name Chennai was derived from Chennaipattanam, built by the English in 1639. The earlier name of Chennai was a short from of Chennai pattinam a fishing village. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu and is the largest industrial and commercial center of South India and also an important centre for Carnatic music. The city is also famous for the Tamil movies and known as Tollywood. Chennai came into prominence because of the British who defended the town against several attacks from the French and converted it to a major naval port. Chennai has numerous places of interest and beautiful museums.

This morning you will be taken around Chennai for visiting the various places of interest. The Government Museum of 1857 is one of the oldest museums of India and has 46 galleries and different sections for Archaeology, Zoology, Geology, Bronze, etc. The Museum is closed on Fridays and other public holidays. The Bronze Gallery with its beautiful statues going back to a thousand years is worth visiting. San Thome Basilica from the 16th century was built by the Portuguese and later in the 19th century was rebuilt the British as a church. Drive through the Flower and Fruit market, High court, Marina Beach, and other places of interest. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight is in Chennai.

Today you will be taken to Chennai airport to board a flight to Kolkata. On arrival in Kolkata, also known as Calcutta you will be transferred to your hotel. Kolkata is an important commercial and cultural point in East India. In the 17th century, the Nawab of Bengal granted the East India Company a trading license. Kolkata was the Capital of India till 1911, under the British rule after which the Capital was shifted to Delhi. Kolkata is also called as the City of Joy and also the Cultural Capital of India. The Bengalis of Kolkata are known to be educated, cultured and soft spoken. If time permits, optionally you could visit Mother Teresa's Mission. Mother Teresa who won the Nobel Prize in 1979 was a Macedonian and founded the Missionaries of Charity which is active world over. Members have to promise to chastity, poverty and obedience and give "Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor". Do not forget to try the different sweets made of milk and cheese which Kolkata is famous for. Overnight in Kolkata.

The morning Kolkata sight-seeing will take you the most important Jain Temple dedicated to Parasvanath, the 23rd Jain Tirthankara. Devout Jains from all parts of India flock to the Temple precincts all round the year. The complex consists of four temples inside of it. The deity of Lord Sitalnathji is seated in the sanctum sanctorum, and his diamond-studded forehead is a major attraction. You will continue with your tour visiting the Victoria Memorial which is one of India's most beautiful monuments built between 1906 and 1921 in white marble. The memorial was the inspiration of Lord Curzon, who in 1901, felt that his lately departed Queen Empress, required a suitable monument to her memory. It houses paintings, manuscripts, and other objects of historic value in its Museum and Art Gallery (Closed on Mondays & National Holidays)

You will drive past Howrah Bridge, Dalhousie Square, Fort Williams, Secretariat Building and Old Court House Street. Dalhousie Square named in the memory of Lord Dalhousie who was the Governor General of India from 1847 to 1856. But it was renamed as BBD Bagh (Binoy, Badal, and Dinesh) three patriotic sons of Bengal who attained martyrdom during India's struggle for independence. The Dalhousie Square is surrounded by some of Kolkata's most enduring Raj-era monuments like the magnificent GPO (General Post Office), the regal Raj Bhawan, the Town Hall, the St. John's Church and the Gothic style Writer's Building. In terms of heritage, no other city square is as rich as Dalhousie Square. You will check-out from the hotel at 1200 hrs. Later you will be transferred to railway station to board the train for Varanasi. Overnight is on board the train.

On your arrival in Varanasi in the morning you will be transferred to your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Or a stroll in the busy bazaars of Varanasi also called Benaras or Banaras or Kashi will be quite interesting. Varanasi is said to be the oldest living city in the world, dating back to 5000 years. It has been the cultural and spiritual capital of North India for years. The belief of Hindus is that death in Varanasi leads to salvation. Varanasi is also known as the holy city of India or the city of temples, or the city of learning and also as the oldest living city on earth. You could also opt for an excursion of Sarnath. The evening Arti at the River Ganges Ghats is also worth watching. Overnight in Varanasi.

Today you will have an early morning boat excursion on the river Ganges. This morning, you will be taken to the River Ganges for a boat ride. Two of the most renowned ghats, Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats, which are frequented by hundreds of devotees. These two ghats are quite famous not only for taking a holy dip, but also for cremation purposes. It is strongly believed by Hindus that whoever dies in Varanasi and gets cremated on bank of river Ganga achieves salvation, thereby releasing him form this birth cycle. You may witness numerous funeral pyres burning around in these ghats. Check-out from the hotel is 1200 hrs noon. Later you will be transferred to the Varanasi airport in time for your Delhi flight. You will connect from Delhi to your onward/return flight. Accommodation is not included in Delhi.

End of your All India Special Holiday Package.