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Best of India Tour Packages begins with an arrival in Mumbai. Meeting and assistance upon arrival at Mumbai and transfer to the hotel – Sun N Sand Traditional welcome with garlands as our representative welcomes you aboard your deluxe car. During the ride to your hotel, our representative would introduce India, as well as some common Indian customs and courtesies. ‘Namaste’ and welcome to India or as we say ‘atithi devo bhava’ (the guest is an incarnation of God). OVERNIGHT: SUN N SAND HOTEL – (SUPERIOR ROOM)
After breakfast transfer to the airport to connect your flight to Cochin, a fascinating 4* hotel replete with character. The sea food restaurant here is a tremendous place in case you are fond of eating fish. The restaurant is open sided and the manager walks up to you with a cart of fish (dead, mercifully !). You make the pick and he cooks. The food here would be WOW stuff !. Cooked in typical Kerala style and marinated with coconut and mild herbs, the food leaves a refreshing tingle on your taste buds !
Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to the hotel Casino
A special treat awaits us this evening as we proceed to witness the strength and vigor of Kathakali dance drama, as it enacts episodes from great Indian epics. The extremely stylized gestures, the elaborate make-up, the masks and the splendid costumes of these all-male dancers, recreates an incomparable sense of pageantry.
OVERNIGHT: CASINO HOTEL (STANDARD ROOM)
Morning we proceed for the sightseeing tour.
An ancient harbor town, Cochin reflects the influence of the many foreign traders who visited the city. The Jewish synagogue, one of the oldest in India, is set in the heart of the area known as “Jew Town” surrounded by an aromatic spice market, and interesting shops selling antiques. The synagogue is decorated with blue ceramic Chinese tiles, each distinct in their design. The pictures on the tiles relate the tale of the romance between a wealthy mandarin. We spend time in the surrounding markets and walk to the Mattancherry Palace, which was commissioned by the Portuguese for the raja of Kochi in exchange for trading rights. The palace is two storeys high and is built in the traditional Kerala style known as nalukattu (four buildings). The palace exhibits memorabilia from the raja of Kochi’ collection, but it is best known for its outstanding murals painted on the wooden walls. The royal bedroom has ceilings and walls covered with forty-five 16th century paintings illustrating the Ramayana. Afternoon at leisure for independent activities
OVERNIGHT: CASINO HOTEL (STANDARD ROOM)
Today after a relaxed morning we drive to Kumarakom. Upon arrival, check in to Coconut Lagoon which has rightly carved its place among the top 10 heritage resorts of the world. The resort is on a small island and can be reached only by boat. The accommodation consists of individual cottages built in the traditional Kerala style, relying heavily on wood and some with private pools. Rest of the day at leisure for independent activities You have the option for participating in Cookery demonstration of the Resort.
OVERNIGHT: COCONUT LAGOON (MANSIONS)
Day is free for independent activities. Today you can also enjoy the optional ayurvedic body massage at the resort. You could also choose to explore the surrounding tribal villages. You could also to visit the adjacent Kumarakom Bird sanctuary, situated on the banks of the Vembanand Lake is known for its varied avian population. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres, is a favorite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist’s paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teal, waterfowl, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian stork that live there in flocks are a fascination for visitors. The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarokom sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands. The main attractions are local birds like the water fowl, cuckoo, owl, egret, heron and the water duck, as well as the migratory Siberian cranes.Parrots, teal, larks, flycatchers, wood beetle, and other birds are seen here during their respective migratory seasons. OVERNIGHT: COCONUT LAGOON (MANSIONS)
Today we drive to MARARIKULAM.
The Marari Beach is a Brand New Hotel built in the style of an traditional fishing village with thatched villas that have been designed to be in keeping with the local village style. The 400 sq.ft spacious villas are all air-conditioned with twin or double beds, mini bar, coffee making facilities and delightfully furnished veranda with ceiling fan. The bathrooms are spacious and modern, built in traditional Kerala style with an open-air courtyard, complete with a banana or Pappaya tree.
OVERNIGHT: MARAI BEACH RESORT (STANDARD ROOM)
Full day at leisure for your independent activities You may hike into local villages or hire bikes to cycle along the beach or ride along the countryside. OVERNIGHT: MARAI BEACH RESORT (STANDARD ROOM)
Morning at leisure for independent activities Afternoon transfer to Cochin airport in time to board flight to Mumbai to make your onward connection to Delhi Meeting & assistance upon arrival and transfer to your hotel The Connaught OVERNIGHT: THE CONNAUGHT HOTEL (STANDARD ROOM)
Morning we proceed for the sightseeing tour of Old Delhi. This morning you head out to the Old Delhi. Old Delhi came into prominence when Shah Jahan moved his capital from Agra to Delhi. The Red Fort that dominates this area is the landmark. Built in the mid 17th century by Shah Jahan, it was plundered by the marauding armies of Nadir Shah and later by British soliders. After visiting the fort, we arrive at the 300 year old chandni chowk market. A maze of lanes crowded with shops selling an extra ordinary variety of items and food, the noise and crowds are a quite essential part of any Indian market. We explore the market on a cycle rickshaw, our path leading us through lanes, each dedicated to a particular item, rather like a departmental stores. Leather wear, clothes, bridal wear, jewelry, and of course the aromatic popular street where food ranging from deep fried sweet meats to Paranthas – a bread stuffed with a variety of vegetables.
From here we continue to the Jama Masjid or Friday Mosque. This is India’s largest mosque designed by Shah Jahan and was his last architectural legacy. Originally it was called Masjid-I-Jahanum, which means “mosque commanding a view of the world”. It is well worth climbing to the top of the southern minaret for an unrivalled view of Old and New Delhi. In complete contrast to the noise and crowds of Old Delhi is Raj Ghat, a simle and stunning memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the main architect of India’s independence.
Afternoon we visit The New Delhi – which is a blend of ancient and pre independence India. The Qutub Minar, the tapering monument begun in 1199 was built to symbolize the supremacy of Islam. This structure was eventually the proto type of all minars or towers in India. A pivot of faith, justice and righteousness, its name carried the message of its founder Qutub -ud-din’s own achievements and the inscriptions say that the tower was erected to cast the shadow of God over the East and West. We also visit the Humayun’s Tomb which was built by the mother of emperor Akbar. This is the earliest example of Mughal architecture in India.
OVERNIGHT: THE CONNAUGHT HOTEL (STANDARD ROOM)
Morning we drive to the City of Taj Mahal.
Much of the city’s impressive past lives in evidence even today, in the haunting presence inside the monuments, the majesty of the buildings, the exquisite arts and crafts and not to forget, the lure of an exceptional cuisine… all, cherished as priceless legacies of a nostalgic past. The older city of Agra has impressively retained much of its resplendent history… captivating every visitor with fond memories to take back home. Today, luxury and modern convenience also exist adjacent to tradition – luxury hotels, shopping malls and plazas, wide avenues and a superb choice of venues for recreation, business, sports, pleasure, education and the arts. Upon arrival check in to your hotel.
After lunch we visit the Massive Agra Fort – Designed and built by Akbar in 1565 A.D., the fort is surrounded by a 70 foot high wall. It houses the beautiful Pearl Mosque and numerous palaces including the Jahangiri Mahal, Diwan-i-khas, Diwan-i-Am and Moti Masjid. The fort has four gates and is enclosed by a double barricaded wall of red sand stone. Many buildings were constructed within the fort of which very few remain till date. One of the most significant is the Jahangiri Mahal built by Akbar for his wife Jodha Bai.
The Mahal is reached through an impressive gateway and its inner courtyard consists of beautiful halls, profuse carvings on stone, exquisitely carved heavy brackets, piers and cross beams. Most of the panels in the eastern hall are decorated with the Persian styled stucco paintings in gold and blue. It is believed that a century later, most of the structure were dismantled by Shahjahan and were replaced with white marble pavilions covered with intricate inlay work. Of which the most prominent ones are – the Diwan-i-khas, the Mausam Burj and the Shaha Burj. Away from the waterfront he built the Moti Masjid and the Diwan-i-Am.
Taj Mahal changes its mood with the seasons and the different times of the day. At dusk, the marble has a delicate bloom in shell pink, turning to a soft pearly grey at dusk. On the full moon nights, the silver light makes it float away against the star sprangled sky. Monsoon clouds give it a moody blue tint and it appears and disappears like a mirage in the drifting mists of winter. It can be solid and earth bound, fragile and ethereal, white, amber, grey and gold. The many faces of the Taj Mahal displays the seductive power of architecture and jewellery as both are reflected in the Taj Mahal. It is one of the most flawless architectural creation in the world. We will visit this monument of love at Sun-set.
OVERNIGHT: HOWARD PARK PLAZA (STANDARD ROOM)
Morning drive to Jaipur en-route visiting Fatehpur Sikri An emperor builds a magnificent city as an act of gratitude to a penniless saint, makes it the capital of his empire and then for inexplicable reason abandons it. Fatehpur Sikri is a city that a emperor forgot. After just fourteen years of life, the palaces of Akbar great city of victory fell silent. Its echoing corridors still seen to wait for the king to return. The hill top city lies 37 kms from Agra. This deserted city has two distinct complexes. The first comprises the royal enclosure of the palace, the harem and official buildings and the second is the dargarh of a saint, with a mosque and lofty gateways. To wander among the red sandstone courtyard of Fatehpur Sikri is to travel back in the time when Mughal emperor Akbar rode through the gateway after a triumpant campaign, o be welcomed by his delighted subjects and the royal courts. Its reflects the many faceted character of the man who inspired it. The ruthless empire builder who enjoyed all the trapping of power and as liberal enlightened man who took a passionate instant in every aspect of life, be it religion, literature or the painting of miniatures.
Morning drive to Agra enroute visiting Fatehpur Sikri Upon arrival, check into Shahpura House.
Afternoon is designed for escorted walks with our guide in Jaipur’s shady animated streets – or for independent discovery. The city is best explored on foot and only the inquisitive visitor willing to go into the rastaas (streets) and galis (lanes) will feel the spirit of the city. Jaipur’s colorful bazaars tantalize the eye with enamelled blue pottery, exquisite gem-studded jewelry, engraved brass work, traditional block-printed fabrics and brightly patterned dhurrie rugs together with traditional crafts and miniature painting. OVERNIGHT: SHAHPURA HOUSE (STANDARD ROOM)
In the morning we visit the fort palace at Amber, its forbidding exterior belying a bejeweled interior whose richness reflects the sumptuous styles of the surrounding Mughal courts. We will approach the fort on elephant back. Our tour of this architectural delight includes the Diwan-I-Am or hall of public Audience, an open pavilion with cream marble pillars supporting an unusual striped canopy shaped ceiling with a portico with double red sandstone pillars; the Ganesh Pol which separates the private and public areas is decorated with mosaic and painted decorations; the Diwan I Khas or Hall of Private Audience has a curved Bengali roof and has marble pillars and a painted ceiling. The Hall of Mirrors, the pleasure palaces inlaid with ivory and sandalwood reflect the Mughal influence, whilst the baradari the 12 arched pavilion reflect both Mughal and Hindu influences.
Afternoon we stop at the city palace, a series of open courtyards, simple stables and buildings leading to the richly decorated royal rooms of the Chandra Mahal. The museum within the palace house a fabulous collection of textiles, carpets, manuscripts and costumes from the personal collection of the royal family; the Jantar Mantar, the ancient observatory, is the creation of the scholar king Sawai Jai Singh. The name literally means “Instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens”. An attractive and fascinating place, there are extraordinary shaped stone monoliths faced with marble, which are accurate even today. Adjoining are structures, which depict the 12 zodiac signs that enable instant readings to be made. We end our day at the colorful market dominated by the elegant tapering Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds. Nine storey high, decorated with delicately carved niches and balconies, this pink sandstone façade served as a concrete “purdah” or screen for ladies of the royal harem, who would watch the activities of the city from a position of privacy.
OVERNIGHT: SHAHPURA HOUSE (STANDARD ROOM)
Morning drive to the Delhi airport in time to board flight for Srinagar. Srinagar is located in the heart of the Kashmir valley at an altitude of 1,730 m above sea level, spread on both sides of the river Jhelum. The Dal and Nagin lakes enhance its picturesque setting, while the changing play of the seasons and the salubrious climate ensures that the city is equally attractive to visitors around the year. ts waterways with their own quaint lifestyle, the unique Houseboat, the blossoming gardens, water sports activities, shopping for lovingly handcrafted souvenirs and the nearby resorts make it a cherished spot among those looking for a memorable holiday. Meeting and assistance on arrival at Srinagar airport and transfer to the Houseboat on Dal Lake. Rest of the day at leisure for independent activities.
OVERNIGHT: LUXURY HOUSEBOAT – (B, L, D)
Morning we proceed for the sightseeing tour of the city. The larger and more elaborate pleasure garden of the Mughals is the Shalimar Bagh, four kms away. Laid out by Emperor Jahangir for Nur Jahan, this garden is also divided into four terraces and has a water channel running down its centre. On the topmost terrace is the pavilion reserved for the royal visitors. Supported by stunning black marble pillars, the pavilion had tiny niches that were used to keep fragrant flowers in the day and light up the pavilion with lamps at night.
We will also visit the important mosques of Srinagar is the large Jamia Masjid built in 1674. The mosque has thick wooden pillars, each made from an entire deodar tree. One of the oldest mosques in Kashmir, the foundation of the building was said to have been laid as far back as 1398 by Sultan Sikandar. To the southeast is the Rozahbal Mosque, for some esoteric and strange reason known as the ‘tomb of Jesus’. Across the River Jhelum lies the Pattar Masjid, built in 1623 for the Empress Nur Jahan. The mosque was later renamed as the Shahi Masjid. Evening enjoy the Shikara ride on Dal Lake to enjoy the beauty that God has graced this city which is often compared to Venice. You will gat a view of some very interesting places around the lake.
OVERNIGHT: LUXURY HOUSEBOAT – (B, L, D)
Morning we drive to Gulmarg.
Literally a meadow of flowers, Gulmarg is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Kashmir valley. A two-hour drive from Srinagar, down roads lined with towering poplars and you arrive at the luxuriant resort with breathtaking views of the splendid mountains and unspoilt expanses of green or white, depending on the season. Crowded with tourists in winter who come for skiing and winter sports or just to enjoy the snow, Gulmarg also has a good golf course. Upon arrival check into the hotel.
Gulmarg offer plenty of options for nature walks and mild treks along amazing scenes of natural beauty. We would explore the magic of the place. OVERNIGHT: HOTEL MT. VIEW – (B, L, D)
Full day at leisure for independent activities and walks. Optional trekking and horse ridding on request at the hotel can be made. Gulmarg like most regions of Kashmir offer opportunities for Pony rides too. You would be helped to undertake pony rides if you wish to. A Cable Car Ride: Enjoy a fun-filled ride of a most unusual kind on Gulmarg’s newly constructed gondola lift from high above Gulmarg, through pine-clad slopes, is exhilarating. A Cable Car (Gandola) is installed which is great hit with tourists and it takes tourist’s upto Kongdori. The sky-car ride across 5 km and reaching an altitude of 13,500 ft, the highest in the world.
OVERNIGHT: HOTEL MT. VIEW- (B, L, D)
Morning we drive to Pahalgham.
After breakfast we proceed for full day excursion to Pahalgam.
At an altitude of 2,130m and about 95-km from Srinagar, Pahalgam is probably the most popular hill resort in the Kashmir valley. Since it is rather lower than Gulmarg the nighttime temperatures do not drop so low and it has the further advantage of the beautiful Lidder River running right through the town. Pahalgam is situated at the junction of the Aru and Sheshnag Rivers and surrounded by soaring, fir-covered mountains with bare, snow-capped peaks rising behind them. The Aru flows down from the Kolahoi glacier beyond Lidderwat while the Sheshnag from glaciers along the great Himalayan. At the confluence of the streams flowing from the river Lidder and Sheshnag Lake, Pahalgam was once a humble shepherd’s village with breathtaking views. Now it Kashmir’s premier resort, cool even during the height of summer.
Upon arrival check into the hotel Highland.
OVERNIGHT: HOTEL HIGHLAND – (B, L, D)
This morning we trek to Aru. The little village of Aru is actually the first stage from Pahalgam on the trek to Lidderwat and the Kolahoi glacier. It makes an interesting day walk from Pahalgam, following the Lidder river for Pahalgam, following the Lidder river for 11-km upstream. The main track, which also can be taken by car, is on the left bank of the river. At Aru one will often find the Gujars, living in their log huts with their flocks of sheep and goats, en route to the higher sheep and goats, en route to the higher pastures for the summer. One of course does not have to trek the full way, but, we can return after an hour if we wish to.
OVERNIGHT: HOTEL HIGHLAND – (B, L, D)
Morning free for leisure and independent activities. Late afternoon ride back to Srinagar On arrival check in to the Luxury Houseboat.
OVERNIGHT: LUXURY HOUSEBOAT – (B, L, D)
Afternoon transfer to the hotel in time to board flight for Delhi Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to the Hotel.
OVERNIGHT: THE CONNAUGHT HOTEL – (STANDARD ROOM) (B, L, D)
Today transfer to the International airport in time to board flight back home