From Kipling’s Jungle to the Banks of the Ganges
From 1264 $ per person
We begin this trip by visiting Ranthambore National Park. After this we go on to the Taj Mahal, the peaceful and holy village of Orchha, the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho’s temples and the tiger reserve at Panna. Thanks to the vast scale of the country, Indian wildlife has enjoyed a natural form of protection since time immemorial. The animal world is extremely rich, with no fewer than 500 sorts of mammal and 2000 species of bird, some of which are only found in India.
We then board on a small sailing boat, and in the company of our boatmen, spend the next 4 days floating downriver as the Ganga River meanders slowly to Varanasi. During this journey we take the opportunity whenever we can to set off on foot to discover isolated villages or simply sit back and gaze at the passing scenes of rural life. Come the evening the magical sight of our bivouacs on the deserted beaches of the river provides a perfect contrast to the hustle and bustle of the day, when Hindus come to perform their ablutions.
The boats take us right into Varanasi. The ghats here in the City of Light, one of the oldest towns in the world, are the ideal place to appreciate the special, intimate relationship which ties the people of India to this river.
This moving and unconventional trip, which may at times lack creature comforts, swings between unspoilt nature and man made splendour and is designed for those who want to discover the reality of the rural side of India which provides such a strong contrast to life in the teeming cities.
From $1264 per participant, based on 2 participants.
> Transfers and ground transports (private vehicle with and English speaking driver)
> Flights and/or trains as mentioned in the program
> Accommodation: twin/double room in hotels
PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
> International flights and airport taxes
> Entrance fees for temples, monuments and museums mentioned in the program
> Optional activities
> Repatriation fees, should they be required
> Meals (except if mentioned in detailed itinerary) > Drinks and personal expenses
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Day 1: Arrive in Delhi
Airport pickup and settle into hotel in central Delhi.
Day 2: Delhi - Ranthambore
Morning transfer to Delhi station for train to Ranthambore National Park. Pickup and settle into hotel. Night in hotel.
Day 3: Visit Ranthambore reserve
Early morning departure by jeep, as this is the best moment to see the animals. This is the largest national park in Rajasthan and is home to numerous wild animals, such as the crocodiles who inhabit the lakes, birds, sambars, monkeys and, of course, tigers. In the afternoon there is another safari through the jungle. Night in hotel.
Day 4: Ranthambore - Agra - [6/7 hours - 280 km]
Set off for Agra by road. On the way we stop in the ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri, 40 km west of Agra. This former capital built by emperor Akbar in 1659 was later abandoned through lack of water. We explore the graceful buildings of this noble town, which include Jama Masjid, the tomb of Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal and other palaces. We then resume our journey to Agra. Transfer and night in hotel.
Day 5: Agra - Orchha - [5 hours - 180km]
Dawn visit of the fabulous Taj Mahal, the monument to passion and wonder of the world built by Moghul emperor Shah Jahan in 1631 to leave an eternal reminder of his love for queen Mumtaz Mahal. Tour of the Red Fort. Set off for Gwalior (2 hours) in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which remains very rural and traditional. Visit Gwalior Fort and continue on to Datia. Explore the Hindu temples and travel the short distance on to Orchha, a peaceful village nestling on the banks of the river Betwa, with the splendid ruins of its Moghul era palace and its numerous temples, including the Raj Mahal and the Jehangir Mahal, crowning achievements of Indian architecture. Night in hotel
Day 6: Orchha
Explore Orchha all day. From Betwa river to Laxmi Temple, enjoy the unique ambiance in this little town of Madhya Pradesh.Night in hotel.
Day 7: Orchha - Khajuraho - [5 hours - 190 km]
Canoe ride on the Betwa river and walk round the Orchha temples. In the afternoon drive to Khajuraho, renowned for the erotic sculptures in its temples which are set in lush vegetation. Night in hotel.
Day 8: Khajuraho - Panna tiger reserve - [30 min - 30 km]
Morning visit to the temples, pinnacles of Hindu temple art and, without doubt, some of the most beautiful sculptures of the subcontinent. Short trip on to Panna. Settle into lodge. Afternoon drive through the reserve by jeep with an (English speaking) naturalist as guide. The vast virgin forests of Panna are home to a large number and range of fauna, including tigers, leopards, bears, spotted deer, hyenas, antelopes, crocodiles and over 300 species of bird. Night in lodge.
Day 9: Panna tiger reserve - Allahabad - [4/5 hours - 160km]
Morning boat trip on the magnificent Ken River to spot crocodiles. In the afternoon we shall drive northeast to Allahabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Allahabad is situated at the holy confluence of three great rivers (Ganga River, Yamuna, Saraswati) and every 12 years is host to the Kumbha Mela, the largest congregation of pilgrims on earth. This last took place in 2001, with over 12 million people in attendance. Settle into and spend night in hotel.
Day 10: Allahabad - Sitamarhi - [5/7 hours boat ride on the Ganga River]
Short, very early morning drive to Sitamarhi, a holy village on the banks of the Ganga River with a temple, which is the site of a pilgrimage. Here you find your boatmen awaiting you on their converted sailing vessels, each of which takes four people.
Day 11: Sitamarhi - Patauli - [5/7 hours by boat on the Ganga River]
Dawn departure after breakfast. Arrive in Patauli. Visit surroundings and spend night near village.
Day 12: Patauli - Chunar - [5-7 hours by boat on the Ganga River]
Dawn departure after breakfast. Arrive in Chunar. Visit fortress and spend night near village.
Day 13: Chunar - Varanasi - [5-7 hours by boat on the Ganga River]
The last day of the cruise brings you to the ghats of Varanasi (also called Benares or Kashi) which you reach at the end of the day. Arriving by river in the City of Light is an unforgettable experience. From far off you are able to make out the first colourful homes standing out against the ochre colour of the ghats. The unchanging scene of the ghats slowly comes into focus. You disembark on Assi Ghat and settle into a hotel on the river bank. Night in hotel.
Day 14: Varanasi - Delhi - [Night Train]
Explore Varanasi by strolling along the ghats where pilgrims come to perform their different rites. Walk through the Chowk, the old town of Varanasi near the golden temple and Aurangzeb’s great mosque, threading through a labyrinth of colourful lanes full of small shops. At the end of the day transfer to the station and board the night train (AC couchette) to Delhi.
Day 15: Delhi
Station pickup and settle into hotel in centre of Delhi. Visit Delhi. With its old islamic centre, Delhi abounds with fascinating monuments. We visit the colourful area of Chandni Chowk which curls round the great mosque (the biggest in India), the Red Fort, Qutb Minar, the ’axis of the world’ and Humayun’s Tomb. Transfer to airport during the evening. Shanti Travel says ’au revoir’.