Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and Amritsar's Golden Temple

Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and Amritsar’s Golden Temple

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Departures from January to November 2015 Our extraordinary tour takes you to some of the most colourful and amazing places on the entire planet – from Amritsar’s Golden Temple to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, the gleaming white of the Taj Mahal, and the 'Blue City' of Jodhpur. Then there are the parched ochre dunes of the desert sands and the array of reds and yellows exploding from a classic Indian sunset across a city’s jumbled rooftops. India is all this and much more. It’s not just a country; it’s an entire continent crying out to be discovered and explored. You'll experience some of the world’s most spiritual sites - including the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, and the revered Hindu town of Pushkar with its unique Brahma temple, sacred lake and historic bathing ghats. Jaipur’s City Palace and the Palace of the Winds will amaze you with their grandeur, yet none compare with the Taj Mahal, that supremely beautiful and romantic masterpiece, truly one of the few wonders of the world. Another great and unmissable wonder is Agra’s 16th century awe-inspiring Red Fort. Once at the heart of the Moghul Empire, it’s a fitting overture to the many other magnificent citadels for which Rajasthan is rightly famous – especially the imposing and vast Mehrangarh Fort with its enchanting panoramic view over the 'Blue City’ of Jodhpur. Finally it’s on to Udaipur, nestling serenely in one of the world’s most naturally beautiful settings. Surrounded by a series of scenic hills and lakes, almost silhouetted against the clear blue sky, its multitude of intricately turreted and balconied palaces surround the lakeside - a perfect blend of man and nature in complete harmony and quintessential India at its most mysterious, romantic and thought-provoking. All this combined with the legendary Indian passion for service, ensures you will get the very best out of your visit to this fascinating and enchanting part of the world, returning home with some truly enchanting memories.

Highlights

  • Return direct scheduled flights from London Heathrow
  • Stay in hand-picked three, four and five-star hotels, travelling by air, train, boat, cycle rickshaw and tuk tuk!
  • Visit the extraordinary Golden Temple of Amritsar, the Sikh holy shrine and one of India's most awe-inspiring sights
  • Experience the breathtaking Taj Mahal, the simple purity of its white marble and exquisite workmanship of its inlay work
  • Tour the unique deserts, forts, palaces and temples of Rajasthan, arguably India's most colourful state
  • Visit Pushkar, city of Lord Brahma and setting of the renowned 'Camel Fair', one of Asia's most ancient and fascinating spectacles (special departures available)
  • Stay two nights at the Khimsar Fort, one of Rajasthan's best-known heritage hotels
  • Visit the 'Blue City' of Jodhpur with its vast and imposing fortress
  • Spend two nights in the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, with its teeming markets, amazing City Palace, remarkable 18th century Astronomical Observatory and iconic Palace of the Winds
  • Relax on a three night stay in beautiful Udaipur, India's most romantic city of lakes and palaces
  • Experience the fascinating 'Beating the Retreat' ceremony on the Indo-Pakistani border
  • See the poignant site of the Amritsar Massacre
  • Opportunity to upgrade to one of the world's most famous and photographed hotels - Udaipur's incredible five-star Lake Palace Hotel
  • Escorted by our experienced tour manager

Inclusions

  • Price Includes: Twelve nights accommodation in three, four and five-star hotels • Daily breakfast and four dinners • Scheduled flights to/from Delhi, domestic flights as described • All transfers • Guided tours of Amritsar, Agra and the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Amber Fort, Pushkar, Jodhpur and Mehrangarh Fort, visit to Nagaur Fort, Ranakpur temple, Udaipur city tour, Delhi city tour • Porterage of one item of luggage per person • The services of a Riviera tour manager
  • NOT INCLUDED: India visa.
  • Visa
  • ​All British passport holders require a visa for India. Please ensure that you have at least two empty pages in your passport and that your passport is valid for a minimum of 190 days from the time of submitting your visa application. At the time of departure you will be able to travel as long as both the passport and the visa are valid.
  • India visas: Single entry tourist visas cost £80 per person, plus a £10.20 service charge and a £2 consular fee and can be applied for in person or by post. 
  • Personal applications: to apply for an Indian visa please visit http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk where you can apply, pay online and schedule an appointment to submityour application in person at your nearest centre, dependent on your home address. 
  • Postal applications: you must either apply and pay online, print off the completed application form, payment confirmation and submit by post; or alternatively, you may apply online, print off the completed application and submit along with payment by postal order. Personal cheques are NOT accepted. In both cases you must submit your passport along with a self addressed stamped envelope and two, 2” passport photos to: Indian Visa application Centre (WEST LONDON), The Visa Centre, First Floor - Part A Block, 50 Salisbury Road, Hounslow, TW4 6JQ
  • Please note handwritten applications are no longer accepted. Full details of costs, application form and addresses can be found on http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk, email: info.in@vfshelpline.com or tel: 0905 7570045 (calls cost 95p per minute). Visa fees are subject to change without notice and non-refundable.
  • Health Matters
  • Whilst the travelling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that in visiting a number of historical sites, paths may be uneven and uphill and we often enjoy walking tours of the main sights. Therefore this holiday may not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility. In the tropics temperatures and humidity levels will also be quite high for most of the year. Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations required for India at least a month before departure.
  • To make the most of your trip, we recommend you check the Foreign Office website at www.fco.gov.uk/travel

Itinerary

Day 1

You check-in for your overnight flight direct to Delhi.

Day 2

On arrival we connect with the domestic flight (approx. one hour) to the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, arriving at approximately lunchtime. Our hotel for the next two nights is the new five-star Radisson. During the early evening we enter Amritsar for our first glimpse of the remarkable and beautifully floodlit Golden Temple, silhouetted against the dark sky with its rich golden glow shimmering in the surrounding waters.

Day 3

Gloriously romantic by night, the Golden Temple is also extraordinary and fascinating by day, with this magical building alluringly reflected in its huge sacred pool, surrounded by marble colonnaded arcades. Once inside, the richly gilded inlay work is a revelation - wood panels decorated with gold and silver plus ivory carvings, all under a brilliant dome containing 100kg of pure gold. In accordance with Sikh custom anyone is offered sustenance free of charge, with the resultant kitchens capable of feeding 6,000 people per hour – we see their huge vats of dhal (lentils) and an ancient machine producing a constant stream of hot chapattis! We also see the site of the Amritsar Massacre, where in 1919 a nationalist demonstration of unarmed locals was fired upon by the British authorities, without warning. This pivotal event had a profound effect on Gandhi, who then initiated his ultimately successful ‘civil disobedience’ campaign. In the afternoon we take the short drive to the nearby Bagh Border post with Pakistan. Over the years this has developed into a light-hearted, rather bizarre competition as to who has the most flamboyant marching style and vociferous supporters, with thousands coming to see this daily. It’s a typically Indian concoction, a blend of open-air theatre, party and military parade. Finally, both border gates are ceremoniously closed and the respective flags lowered for the night! A buffet dinner at your hotel is included tonight.

Day 4

We fly to Delhi, and after lunch we continue by road to Agra and the Taj Mahal, arriving late afternoon, staying one night at the centrally-located, four-star Taj Gateway.

Day 5

In the soft morning light, as the mist rises from the Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal seems to float, mirage-like, above the surrounding landscape. A combination of extraordinary beauty, symmetry and history makes this wonder of the world one of the planet’s most amazing monuments and you have plenty of time to admire it from all angles. Then, in stunning contrast, you visit the vast red sandstone 16th century Agra Fort, once the headquarters of the vast Moghul Empire. This afternoon we continue to Jaipur, staying two nights at the new five-star Radisson Blu, with its large pool and excellent dining options.

Day 6

Jaipur is a fascinating place, its pink-coloured buildings contrasting beautifully with the kaleidoscope of striking reds, saffrons and deep violets of hundreds of traditional saris whose countless sequins reflect the midday sun. Welcome to Rajasthan, India’s most colourful state!     Our first stop the Amber Fort, located in an amazingly scenic location in the nearby hills. Our tour includes sections reserved for the Maharaja’s wives and concubines and the amazing hall of mirrors. Next is the pink sandstone Palace of the Winds, an incredible honeycomb of windows from which the royal household’s ladies watched the street life and processions below. Next, we visit the City Palace, home to the present Maharaja of Jaipur, viewing the superb collection of formal robes, intricate carpets, fine paintings and an impressive armoury. Finally we see the outstanding 18th century Jantar Mantar open-air Observatory, an extremely accurate collection of early astronomical instruments.

Day 7

This morning we leave Jaipur and we experience one of India’s greatest institutions – the iconic railway system, we board the comfortable ‘chair class’ carriages of the Shatabdi Express, travelling to Ajmer. From here we drive to Pushkar, the sacred Hindu town, home to the world’s largest camel fair. A gathering of as many as 160,000 dealers and coinciding with the full-moon in November, business often takes a back seat to musicians, snake-charmers and dancers on hot coals. After checking into the three-star superior, family-run, Pushkar Resort, it’s time to explore the town. We visit its rare Brahma temple, the only place in the world where it is permitted to worship the creator-God of the Hindu religion, continuing through the small market to visit the sacred lake and bathing ghats at the town’s heart. A buffet dinner at your hotel is included tonight.

Day 8

Leaving Pushkar, we continue towards Nagaur Fort, a little-known fort-cum-palace complex displaying a unique merging of Rajput and Moghul architecture. With its 800-year history and careful restoration, it well deserves its UNESCO recognition. Driving through pleasant country roads, through an arid landscape of sand dunes, we are off the beaten track, surrounded by the rural India of ox carts and small villages before seeing the astonishing Khimsar Fort. Nothing prepares you for the sight of this grand, 16th century edifice of towers, domes and ramparts, in the same family for 21 generations, now a charming heritage hotel. The rooms are all different and spread out within the walls. There’s a bar, restaurant, tea room and spa, plus a lovely pool. Dinners are a real delight, either set out within the picturesque ruins of one of the buildings or along the battlement. Dinner is included tonight.

Day 9

Today we have a free day enjoying our peaceful surroundings, with the option of a jeep drive into the local ‘bush’ hopefully spotting blackbuck and bluebuck, two of the local antelope species, then a walk experiencing colourful village life. There’s plenty of time to relax or explore and enjoy this delightful hotel. Marvel at its extensive ramparts, stroll through the lush green gardens watching peacocks, before taking tea on the veranda. This afternoon perhaps enjoy a drive to the dunes and a short camel cart ride before halting at the desert’s edge to experience that magical moment when the sun sinks slowly in a fiery glow. This evening, there’s a delightful Kalbelia dance troupe, a typical Rajasthani puppet show and traditional musicians.

Day 10

This morning we take the short drive to Jodhpur, the ‘Blue City’, so named after the colourwash of its ‘old city’ which is totally dominated by the imposing Mehrangarh Fort towering above. Few sights can match this for pure grandeur, a gigantic mass of stonework seemingly growing from the huge hill on which it stands. Its museum houses Emperor Akbar’s sword, plus numerous howdahs and antique belongings of the Maharajas. This afternoon we walk through Jodhpur’s fascinating open-air Clocktower Market, crammed with orange and red turbaned vendors selling absolutely everything and a real photo opportunity. Tonight we stay at the four-star Taj Vivanta. 

Accommodation

Radisson Amritsar

Located close to the airport on the outskirts of Amritsar. There’s a Chinese restaurant, all-day dining with buffet service at the coffee shop, a bar and a large open-air pool, fitness area and spa....

Taj Gateway Agra

Managed by Taj Hotels and situated in the centre of town overlooking six acres of lush, well-tended gardens and an outdoor pool. The hotel has a lobby lounge, an all-day restaurant serving Indian &...

Marriott Jaipur

located about a 15 minute drive from the city centre a with comfortable bar serving tapas in the evenings and a large all-day dining venue offering Indian as well as International fare including...

Pushkar Resort

located in a quiet rural location just outside the town.  The one and two-storey bungalows are spread out over 15 acres of well-tended grounds and the property has a lovely open-air pool with plenty...

Khimsar Fort

Heritage-style hotel within an original 16th century Rajasthani fort. Spread out over 11 acres and encompassing walled courtyards, beautiful gardens and a lovely pool, there’s also a spa, bar, an...

Taj Vivanta Jodhpur

located a short drive from the centre of Jodhpur. The hotel has been built in the style of a Moghul Palace and has impressive high-ceilinged public areas, including a popular bar, the Latitudes...

Fateh Prakash Palace

This magnificent building with its beguiling history is perfectly positioned overlooking Lake Pichola and is a unique way to experience the extraordinary ambience of Udaipur. Breakfast is served on...

Taj Lake Palace

Available on upgrade only.  Acknowledged as one of the world’s most outstanding hotels, since it opened as a hotel in 1963 it has welcomed Royalty, world leaders and the cream of international...

Extra Information

Visa All British passport holders require a visa for India. Please note passports are required to be valid for a minimum of 190 days at the time of application for the visa and not at the time of travel/return from India.   India visa: a single entry tourist visa costs £30 per person, plus a £10.20 service charge and £2 consular fee. The duration of the visa is three months and is valid from the date of issue. We therefore recommend applying for the visa approximately two months before departure, to ensure it covers the full duration of your stay in India.    Visas can be applied for in person or by post: Personal applications: to apply for an Indian visa please visit http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk where you can apply, pay online and schedule an appointment to submit your application in person at your nearest centre, dependant on your home address. Postal applications: you must either apply and pay online, print off the completed application form, payment confirmation and submit by post; or alternatively, you may apply online, print off the completed application and submit along with payment by postal order. Personal cheques and handwritten applications are not accepted. In both cases you must submit your passport along with a self-addressed stamped envelope and two 2"x2" photos to the address below: Indian Visa Application Centre 1-3 Canalside Uxbridge Road Hayes Middlesex UB4 0JN   Completing the visa application form: full details of costs, the application form and relevant addresses can be found on http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk, email: info@vfshelpline.com or tel: 0905 7570045 (calls cost 95p per minute). The majority of the questions will be personal to you; however, we have listed below some frequently asked questions concerning the completing of the application form. Everything on the form marked with a red asterix is a mandatory field. UK Referee: 1 UK referee is required. Friends and family are acceptable, but cannot live at the same address as the applicant.  Indian Referee: 1 Indian referee is required, as detailed below: TWX (Travel World Experiences) Rectangle 1 - D3 District Centre 28-32 Ground Floor New Delhi  110017 India Tel: 0091 11 4379 9700 Processing times: these vary from application to application at the sole discretion of the High Commission of India and its Consulates in the UK and some applications may take longer than others to get processed. Here are some estimates of processing times under normal circumstances: Personal applications: in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh will take minimum 2 to 3 working days to be processed. Applications submitted in Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow will take a minimum of 5 to 7 working days (the same are for UK nationals only, though could vary from case to case). Postal applications: need a minimum of 10-15 working days to be processed. This does not include the period they are in transit to and from the High Commission or the Consulate General. Applications once posted cannot be withdrawn unless there is an emergency for which documentary evidence shall be required. VFS is not responsible for any delays in postal transit or loss in transit owing to third parties involved. Applications in the following cases may take longer (minimum 7-8 weeks or more) to be processed: - Non-UK passport holders residing in the UK for less than two years (minimum 15 working days) - Nationals or origin of Pakistan (minimum 7-8 weeks) - Nationals of Sri Lanka, China, Bangladesh, Afghanistan (minimum 15 working days) - Where clearance from India is mandatory In addition, if the High Commission or the Consulate General requires an applicant to attend an interview, the India Visa Application Centre will contact the applicant and inform the date and time of the interview accordingly.   Please note VFS is not involved in the process of assessment of visa applications. The assessment of visa applications is carried out by the High Commission of India or its Consulates, and the granting or refusal of India visas is at their sole discretion. The processing of your application is subject to the procedures and timescales of the Indian High Commission and Consulates, over which we have no control.   All visa fees are subject to change without notice and non-refundable.

  Cost per person: €2,839pp
  Number of nights: 13
  Dates available from: Oct 2017

Tour supplied in Partnership with:

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  Call:  01 905 6300