Wednesday 23 March 2016. Welcome to India! Upon arrival in Delhi you'll be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day can be spent at leisure exploring India's capital city.
Delhi - Anandpur Sahib. After breakfast we take the Shatabdi Express train north to Chandigarh, travelling through the state of Haryana which is blessed with lush green scenery and beautiful lakes and rivers. Upon arrival in Chandigarh we drive to Anandpur Sahib, the local town that hosts the famous Hola Mohalla festival
Hola Mohalla is an annual 3 day festival which occurs during the first lunar month of Chet, which usually falls in March and generally follows a day after the Hindu Festival of Holi. We spend the remains of day 2 and all of day 3 at the Holla Mohalla Festival, where we’ll watch the colourful festivities which include dramatic mock martial arts battles (or Gatka as they are more commonly known), daring displays of weaponry, archery and wrestling. There's music, poetry and prayers, singing and chanting. While food is served to pilgrims from all castes and creeds by women from the neighbouring villages, who set up langars (community kitchens). There are also exciting horse riding displays from the Nahib Sikh Army where the riders gallop bareback, performing tricks like riding astride two horses. One of the main attractions at the festival are the Nehangs - a prestigious armed sikh order who wear a striking blend of blue and orange, with twisted moustaches and staggeringly giant embellished turbans. The festival is a Mecca for keen photographers with all the amazing sights and vibrant colours on show.
Overnight: Anandpur Sahib | Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2
Anandpur Sahib - Chandigarh - Delhi. Today we travel back to Chandigarh and explore its wonderful Rock Garden which has unique sculptures made entirely from industrial and urban waste. We'll be able to see sculptures made out of mudguards and marbles, broken bangles and brake pads or even handle bars and hubcaps! After Rock Garden we head over to Sukhna Lake. This picturesque man made lake is three kilometres in length and it's popular with watersports fans and is a great place to relax and unwind. Early this evening we take the Kalka Shatabdi Express train bound for Delhi.
Overnight: Delhi | Breakfast
This morning, a Welcome Meeting takes place. We then enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi, taking in the Red Fort, Jama Masjid - India’s oldest and largest mosque and Raj Ghat - the site of Gandhi’s cremation in Old Delhi, and the Rajpath and India Gate in New Delhi. Tonight, we enjoy a group Namaste Dinner at a restaurant specialising in classic Indian cuisine.
Overnight: Delhi | Breakfast, Dinner
Delhi - Agra. Departing Delhi, we make our way to Agra, the erstwhile capital of the Mughal empire. Our first stop here is the impressive Agra Fort, which boasts some of India's finest Mughal buildings behind its fortified walls. Later we travel on to the legendary Taj Mahal. Built by the order of Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century in affectionate memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, the Taj Mahal is perhaps one of the most extravagant monuments to love ever built and has no peers.
Overnight: Agra | Breakfast
Agra - Jaipur. En route to Jaipur we visit the ghostly former Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri, which has been deserted for over four centuries after it was allegedly abandoned due to a lack of water Thanks to the very durable red sandstone from which it was built, Fatehpur Sikri still remains well-preserved and is a fascinating place to explore. Later we drive to Jaipur, the bustling capital of the state of Rajasthan. The rest of the day is free for you to spend at your own leisure.
Overnight: Jaipur | Breakfast
Very early this morning there is the opportunity to sail over the lofy hilltop forts and regal palaces of Jaipur in a hot air balloon, on our Balloon Over Jaipur Bolt-on. We then travel beyond Jaipur to the stunning 16th century Amber Fort where we enjoy a tour of the fort's well-preserved interior and grounds. Reaching the fort is an experience in itself, as we ride up the road in princely style aboard Indian elephants - subject to regulations and availability. Later we visit a cotton weaving house to see a demonstration of fabric dyeing and block printing before touring the City Palace and Jantar Mantar - an old yet cleverly designed space observatory.
Overnight: Jaipur | Breakfast
Jaipur - Alsisar. Today we drive to the semi-desert Shekhawati region, which lies in a triangular area between Delhi, Jaipur and Bikaner. The small towns in this region were once important trading posts, and today their legacy is carried on through the beautiful painted havelis that were constructed by wealthy merchants here in the 18th and 19th centuries. Later we enjoy a walk through a local village and time to relax.
Overnight: Alsisar | Breakfast, Dinner
Alsisar - Delhi. This morning we make a quick visit to the children and teachers at a local school in Alsisar where we operate our ‘Change for Children’ programme, before returning to Delhi. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is free for you to further explore the city. Opt for a meal in the heart of the city or simply relax and chat with group members at the hotel.
Overnight: Delhi | Breakfast
Saturday 02 Apr 2016. Touring arrangements come to an end after breakfast. Hotel check-out and included onward departure transfer to airport.
For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!
The modern and smart Almondz Hotel offers guests good sized well appointed rooms which all come with complimentary Wi-Fi. The in-house restaurant is highly recommended providing diners with delicious food and a friendly service. Please note that the majority of hotel rooms do not have windows.
The beautiful heritage style Mandawa Haveli is a fine example of typical Rajasthan architecture - set in terraced gardens with pretty courtyards. All rooms are well appointed with intricately carved wooden beds and king-size royal portraits. An evening spent enjoying a lavish Rajasthani dinner in front of a traditional folk dance is highly recommended. Well located in the heart of Jaipur city on Sansar Chandra Road, just a few minute’s drive from the Palace of the Winds.
Tipping is not a natural part of many Western cultures and many of us feel uncomfortable, or unsure, about when, or how much, to tip. However, in India, tipping makes up a significant part of many people's wages so it's important that we get it right. For this reason we've developed a very simple system to take all the hassle out of tipping. With our 'tipping made easy' policy, a nominal pre-determined amount is collected from all group tour participants to cover tips en route. This then saves you the hassle of when and how much to tip bellhops, luggage handlers, local guides and other support staff through the tour. Our 'tipping made easy' doesn't include a tip to your group tour leader. Naturally, though, the amount is up to you as tipping is an entirely personal gesture.