ARRIVE MUMBAI, INDIA
Arrive in Mumbai, where you enjoy VIP arrival service and are met by an A&K representative and transferred to your hotel.
After a morning at leisure, set out with your private guide on a tour of Mumbai, viewing buildings from the British colonial era. Visit the Victoria Terminus, now known as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a UNESCO World Heritage building, and then view dazzling Marine Drive and Malabar Hill, noted for its attractive upscale residences. Also visit Mani Bhawan, a modest museum devoted to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum), to view its extensive collection of 18th- and 19th-century miniature paintings, carved ivory, and Nepalese and Tibetan art. Afterward, stop for photos at Dhobi Ghat, a colorful outdoor laundry, to capture a glimpse of everyday local life.
Set off on a one-hour boat ride across Mumbai Harbor to Elephanta Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ascend 120 steps to visit the island’s intricately carved cave temples dedicated to Shiva, the Hindu sun god. Later, fly to Udaipur, where you are met and transferred to your hotel overlooking Lake Pichola.
Today, tour Udaipur, starting with the impressive City Palace overlooking Lake Pichola. Enter through Hathi Pol (elephant gate) and pass the Jagdish Temple to view its paintings, mosaics, intricately carved chhatries (cenotaphs) and brilliant exterior. Continue to the Crystal Gallery, located in the Fateh Prakash Palace and housing a collection of crystal items, from fountains and vases to furniture and beds. Finish at Sahelion Ki Bari, the Garden of the Maids of Honor set along the shores of Lake Fateh Sagar. Enjoy your afternoon at leisure, before embarking this evening on a cruise on placid Lake Pichola. Take in stunning views of Udaipur and sail past Jag Mandir Palace. Built in 1622, this magnificent monument features domes, pillars and fountains, as well as a row of marble elephants that seem to be guarding the island.
After an early breakfast, fly to Jaipur. Upon arrival, set out on a privately guided tour of the “Pink City.” See the walled City Palace, a massive, sprawling mix of Rajput and Mughal architecture, complete with courtyards and gardens. Next door, explore the Jantar Mantar, an observatory with fascinating 18th-century instruments that include the Dhruva Yantra, which locates the position of the North Star and Zodiac signs. Finish with a stop at the pink-sandstone Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds. Perhaps Jaipur’s most famous building, this five-story palace was built in 1799 by Sawai Pratap Singh for the ladies of his royal harem. Next, check in to your hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.
This morning, visit Albert Hall, now the Central Museum, to view displays portraying Rajasthani village life through costumes, pottery, woodwork and brassware. Continue to the Anokhi Museum, located in a fully restored haveli (Mughal-era townhouse) and dedicated to the ancient arts of block and hand printing. Visit the majestic and massive Mughal-style Amber Fort, which overlooks Maota Lake. Built from red sandstone and marble, this ornately detailed UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the capital of the state of Jaipur. It is considered among the best hilltop forts in India, with beautifully decorated temples, ornate halls and powerful exteriors that seem to grow out of the rugged hills. After lunch, you may choose to visit a colorful local market with your guide, or spend time exploring the city on your own.
Rise early and drive to Agra, stopping en route for lunch followed by a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fatehpur Sikri, India’s royal ghost town. Once the capital of Emperor Akbar, it stands today as an unpopulated 16th-century city with palaces, mosques, tombs and courts, even hidden passageways. Continue to Agra and check in to your hotel. This evening, at sunset, visit Agra’s greatest treasure, the incomparable Taj Mahal, to watch the fading light bathe it in a warm orange glow.
Wake early, if you wish, and visit the Taj Mahal again, to see how the rising sun lends a warm tint to its marble face. Later, set out for Agra Fort, a 14th-century Mughal palace that blends defensive and decorative architecture. Proceed to Itmad-Ud-Daulah – also known as “Baby Taj" - a Persian-style tomb that rivals the Taj Mahal in architectural grace.
After a leisurely breakfast, set out overland approximately three hours to Delhi and, upon arrival, check in to your hotel. Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.
Today, explore this fascinating city. Turn your attention first to colorful Old Delhi, where you visit the largest mosque in India, the Jama Masjid, considered the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan with its three gateways, four towers, and two minarets striped with sandstone and marble. Enter the intoxicating chaos of Chandni Chowk shopping bazaar, which you explore on an exciting rickshaw ride. You also visit the sprawling Red Fort, so-named for its red sandstone walls. Shah Jahan, who also built the Taj Mahal, started construction of the massive fort, which ultimately played a role in his undoing when his own son imprisoned him here. Proceed to Raj Ghat, where a black marble platform marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948. After lunch at a local restaurant, set off on a tour of New Delhi, exploring its most treasured sites. Visit Humayun’s Tomb, a grand dynastic, 16th-century mausoleum topped by a bulbous dome and revered as the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. A remarkable example of Mughal architecture, Humayun’s Tomb would later influence the exceptional Taj Mahal. Stand before the Qutub Minar, a 13th-century Islamic tower that rises 238 feet above the Quwwatul-Islam Masjid, the first mosque in India. You also see the high stone arch of India Gate; the ceremonial boulevard of pond-flanked Rajpath; and the official residence of the President of India, the copper-domed Rashtrapati Bhawan.
This morning after breakfast, privately transfer to the airport and depart.