Central India Trails-16 days
Places covered: Delhi, Agra, Gwalior, Orchha, Khajuraho, Pandav Falls, Panna, Allahabad, Varanasi, Sarnath, Bodhgaya & Nalanda
Day 1 Delhi Arrival:
Upon arrival at Delhi airport, you will be welcomed by Concept Voyages' representative and transferred to hotel. Free day at leisure for adjusting yourself to the local time zone. Evening visit the Sound and Light Show at Red Fort, which tells the story of rise and fall of the Mughal Empire in India. After watching the magnificient sound and light show that recites the story of rise and fall of Mughal empire in India, you will be transferred back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 2 Delhi sightseeing tour:
After breakfast proceed for a full day city tour of New Delhi, visiting Qutub Minar standing tall 72.5 metres high (237.8 ft) built by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi is a mammoth work of architectural brilliance that kissed the sky was finished in 1193. Later visit Humayun's Tomb - built by the emperor's grieving widow, Haji Begum, in 1565 AD. Constructed in red sandstone and ornamented marks the beginning of a new tradition of ornate style, which culminated in the Taj Mahal of Agra. Visit Raj Ghat- the final resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, who was instrumental in freeing India from British rule by non-violent methods. Visit International Doll's Museum-a museum of dolls from all over the country. You get to see the costumes and art from all over India, as well as some nice crafts. A quick trip to Purana Qila- Ruins of the 16th century fort city of Shergarh, this complex sits on top of what is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata epic. Evening visit Bahá'í Lotus Temple-Shaped like a lotus bud with 27 petals, this stunning temple suspended above milky-blue ponds is surely one of the most magnificent monuments ever made from concrete. a Late night trip to India Gate will complete your sightseeing. India Gate was built as a memorial to commemorate the 70,000 India soldiers killed in World War I, it is 160 feet high with an arch of 138 feet. Built in sandstone, the arch also houses the Eternal Flame, a gesture in memory of the Indian soldiers who laid their lives in the 1971 war. Return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 3 Delhi to Agra (230 kms/ 2-3 hrs):
After breakfast, checkout from Delhi hotel and depart for Agra. Check in the designated hotel. Visit to the famous Taj Mahal which is said to be sheer poetry in marble, majesty and magnificence, unrivalled. The monumental labour of love of a great ruler Shah Jaham for his beloved queen Mumtaz Begum. Visit the Agra Fort - The tall fortified walls protect the remains of age-old Moghul architectural brilliance that transcends you into a whimsical land. The fort encompasses many wondrous palaces, capacious audience halls, and two spectacular mosques. Visit the Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah is a Mughal mausoleum often described as a "jewel box", sometimes called the "Baby Tāj". Later visit Emperor Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandara-This mausoleum is situated on the out skirts of the Agra City. Return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 4 Agra-Gwalior (120kms/2 hrs):
After breakfast, start journey to Gwalior. Gwalior is known for it rich contribution to the history of India. Strategic events and times; from vedic ages to the Indian Rebellion of 1857 to the British Raj, Gwalior has emerged as a prominent place making it an important archaeological as well as historical site. Visit Tansen's tomb. Tansen was the great Indian musician and among the Navaratnas (nine jewels) at the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Apart from being an ancient monument, the site also serves as the venue for the annual Tansen music festival in December. Visit Gwalior Fort. Gwalior Fort positioned at a height of 100m above the main town of Gwalior, this staggering citadel dominates the skyline of the place and is acknowledged as the most impregnable fort in the whole of Central and Northern India. Built by Raja Man Singh Tomar, in the 15th century, its beauty has earned it the epithet of "The Pearl amongst Fortresses of India" by the Mughal ruler 'Babur'. The fort is girdled by sandstone walls and stretches over an area of 3 sq km. It houses three temples, six palaces and a large number of water tanks. You can choose to enjoy the sound and light show at Gwalior Fort in the evening. Return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 5 Gwalior to Orchha (121 kms/ 3 hrs):
After breakfast, checkout from hotel and depart for Orchha. The medieval city of Orchha seems to have frozen in time, its palaces and temples still retaining their original grandeur. Orchha had the distinction of being the capital of one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms of Central India. Visit Orchha Fort Complex which houses, Raj Mahal with plain exteriors, crowned by chhatris, give way to interiors with exquisite murals, boldly colourful on a variety of religious themes. Then visit Jehangir Mahal built in 17th century to commemorate the visit of Mughal emperor Jehangir to Orchha. Its strong lines are counterbalanced by delicate chhatris and trellis work, the whole conveying an effect of extraordinary richness. Later visit Rai Parveen Mahal-which was the home for poetess and musician Rai Parveen, a beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani (1672- 76) and was sent to Delhi on the orders of the Emperor Akbar, who was captivated by her. Also visit Chaturbhuj Temple, built upon a massive stone platform and reached by a steep flight of steps. Visit Laxminarayan Temple, a flagstone path links this temple with the Ram Raja Temple. The style is an interesting synthesis of fort and temple moulds. The interiors contain the most exquisite of Orchha's wall paintings. Covering the walls and ceiling of three halls, these murals are vibrant compositions and cover a variety of spiritual and secular subjects. They are in excellent state of preservation, with the colours retaining their vivid quality. Also visit the Cenotaphs of Orchha. There are 14 Chhatris or Memorials to the rulers of Orchha, grouped along the Kanchan Ghat of the river Betwa on the south end of town. You can climb up to the roof for views of the river.Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 6 Orchha-Khajurajo (173 kms / 2 hrs 45 mins):
After enjoying sumptuous breakfast, checkout from Orchha hotel, you will be transferred to Khajuraho by private car. In the temple architecture of India, the Khajuraho complex remains unique. One thousand years ago, under the generous and artistic patronage of the Chandela Rajput kings of Central India, 85 temples, magnificent in form and richly carved, came up on one site, near the village of Khajuraho. The amazingly short span of 100 years, from 950 AD - 1050 AD, saw the completion of all the temples, in an inspired burst of creativity. Today, of the original 85, only 22 have survived the ravages of time; these remain as a collective paean to life, to joy and to creativity; to the ultimate fusion of man with his creator. Evening enjoy Sound and light show at Khajuraho Temples. This fascinating Son-et-Lumière spectacle evokes the life and times of the great Chandela Kings and traces the story of the unique temples from the 10th Century to the present day. Return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 7 Khajuraho sightseeing:
After breakfast, visit Khajuraho temple complex again in daylight to enjoy the amazing architecture. Afternoon visit State Museum of Tribal and Folk Art. A fine collection of masterpieces of tribal and folk art and artifacts from all over Madhya Pradesh is on display at the Chandela Cultural Complex. The tradition of tribal and folk arts and crafts has evolved over centuries. It represents the best of Indian culture and tradition and its synthesis with foreign cultures that came through trade and invasions. The State Museum has more than 500 representative items of terracotta, metal craft, woodcraft, tribal and folk paintings, tattoos, jewellery and masks. Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 8 Khajuraho-Panna via Pandav Falls (44 kms / 1 hr 20 mins):
After breakfast depart for Panna National Park. Enroute visit Pandav Falls and caves. Pandav Falls about 30 metres (98 ft) high, and are located on a tributary of the Ken River. The waterfall gets its name from a local legend that in times gone by the five exiled Pandava brothers of the epic poem Mahabharata visited this region. Overnight stay at Panna.
Day 9 Panna Jungle Safari:
Depart for a morning Jungle Safari in Panna National Park. Return back to hotel for breakfast. Afternoon free at leisure to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of Panna National Park. Located in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, Panna National Park is situated in the Vindhya hills along the tranquil Ken River, one of the cleanest rivers in the world. The park itself is a vast plateau dominated by lush tropical forests, deep ravines, cascading waterfalls and thick teak forests. Panna is home to the majestic tiger as well as leopards, wolves, hyenas, jackals and the sloth bear. The reserve is also well known for sightings of nilgai, sambar, chital, wild boar and the gharial crocodile. The park is also home to more than 200 species of birds including the bar-headed goose, the honey buzzard, the king vulture and the blossom-headed parakeet. Depart for afternoon safari by jeep. Return back to hotel for a delicious dinner and overnight stay.
Day 10 Panna to Allahabad (247 kms / 4 hrs):
After breakfast, checkout from Panna and depart for Allahabad by road. Allahabad, also known as Prayag. Allahabad is the home for Triveni Sangam, the "confluence" of two physical rivers Ganges, Yamuna, and the invisible or mythical River Saraswati. Allahabad Fort was built by Emperor Ashoka but repaired by Emperor Akbar in 1583. The fort stands on the banks of the Yamuna near the confluence with the river Ganges. Visit the All Saints Cathedral, a fine example of 13th-century Gothic style buildings in Asia built by the British during their rule in India. Visit Khusro Bagh, a large walled Mughal Garden, which is an exquisite example of Mughal architecture. Later visit Thornhill Mayne Memorial-a public library situated at Alfred Park. Designed by Richard Roskell Bayne and completed in 1878, it is a remarkable example of Gothic Style. Overnight stay at Allahabad.
Day 11 Allahabad to Varanasi (121 kms / 1 hrs 50 mins):
After breakfast checkout from hotel and depart for Varanasi the holy city of Hindus located on the banks of River Ganga. Visit Sarnath is a city located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges and the Gomati rivers. Chaukhandi Stupa in Sarnath is the first monument one encounters as one enters Sarnath. It is a lofty mound of brick - work whose square edifice is surrounded by a Octagonal tower. Originally said to be built by Emperor Ashoka, The Great. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath. Watch Ganga Aarti at Dasaswamedh ghat by taking a rickshaw ride, close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, which is one of the prime attractions of Varanasi. It starts just after sunset, with a bunch of young men choreographing to the chantings, holding the lamps. Return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 12 Varanasi sightseeing:
Early morning take a boat ride on River Ganga to watch the cremation rituals performed at the most holy site of Manikarnika Ghat on the banks of the River. It is believed that Lord Shiva himself will release the mortal souls from bondage here. The Ramnagar Fort is a fortification in Ramnagar, Varanasi, India. It is located near the Ganges River on its eastern bank, opposite to the Tulsi Ghat. The structure was built in 1750 by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh with cream coloured chunar sandstone. It is in typical Mughal style of architecture with carved balconies, open courtyards, and pavilions.Return back to hotel for breakfast. Later visit Kasi Viswanath Temple, Benaras Hindu University, Bharat Mata Mandir. Return back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 13 Varanasi to Bodhgaya (255 kms / 2 hrs 25 mins):
Morning after breakfast proceed to Bodhgaya in evening visit to Mahabodhi Temple. Bodhgaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous for being the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Bodhimandala). The name Bodh Gaya did not come into use until the 18th century AD. Historically, it was known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi. The main monastery of Bodh Gaya used to be called the Bodhimanda-vihāra (Pali). Now it is called the Mahabodhi Temple. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight stay at Bodhgaya.
Day 14 Bodhgaya sightseeing:
After breakfast depart for visiting various temples made by different Buddhist countries (Thai Temple, Korean Temple, Japanese Temple) later in the afternoon visit to Sujata Village- the place where Lord Buddha had milk offered by Lady Sujata before getting enlightenment. Dongiswari caves is place where Siddhartha spent years in severe penance as an ascetic until he was finally emaciated and skeletal. Overnight stay at Bodhgaya.
Day 15 Bodhgaya to Nalanda excursion (92 kms / 1 hr 45 mins)-Patna (80 kms / 2 hrs):
After breakfast, depart for a day excursion to Nalanda. Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahavira, large Buddhist monastery in ancient Magadha kingdom (now Bihar). The site is located about 95 kilometres southeast of Patna, and was a religious centre of learning from the fifth century CE to c. 1197 CE. At its peak, the school attracted scholars and students from as far away as Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. It was ransacked and destroyed by an army of the Muslim Mamluk Dynasty under Bakhtiyar Khilji in c. 1197 CE. The Archaeological Survey of India maintains a museum near the ruins for the benefit of visitors. The museum exhibits the antiquities that have been unearthed at Nalanda as well as from nearby Rajgir. Out of 13,463 items, only 349 are on display in four galleries. Drive to Patna for overnight stay.
Day 16 Patna departure:
After breakfast, checkout from hotel and depart for Patna airport to board connecting to your home.
End of tour.