This 23 day tour departs from Johannesburg on 13 March 2007 and flies via Mumbai to New Delhi. Two days will be spent in this city to allow time for sightseeing in the Old and New Delhi. The group will then travel by air to Varanasi, the Eternal City and holiest of Hindu cities, situated on the sacred River Ganges. It is here that a cruise down the Ganges at dawn has been organised to view the ghats from where the devotees perform their holy rituals, while attempting to attain Nirvana. There is also a halfday tour of Sarnath, where Bhudda first preached his message of enlightenment twenty five centuries ago.
A short flight takes the group from Varanasi to Khajuraho where the legendary temples built by the Chandela Rajputs in the 10th century will be visited. These temples have been declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO and have become famous for their erotic sculptures. Travelling by road, the itinerary proceedsby road to Orchha to catch the Shatabdi Express to Agra. This train is one of the fastest trains in India.
In Agra the group will visit the breathtaking Taj Mahal at sunrise and again at sunset in order to experience the changing colours of this incredible monument, built in 1630 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal.
From Agra, the itinerary continues overland to the Pink City and capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur for two nights. Built in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, Jaipur displays a remarkable harmony and architectural splendour visible in its fairy-tale palaces and rugged fortresses.
Moving deeper into Rajasthan, the tour proceeds to Bikaner, the city of camels. Bikaner was an important city on the great caravan trade route during the medieval period.
Travelling overland through the Thar Desert, two nights will be spent in Jaisalmer. This city rises from the desert like a golden mirage and is a visual delight.
Founded in 1459, Jodhpur, situated on the edge of the desert, is strewn with forts and palaces that go back to the 15th century which give it a touch of medieval majesty.
From Jodhpur its back to Delhi for a night before moving on to the Jim Corbett National Park, situated at the base of the Himalayas. This sanctuary is part of Project Tiger and supports a variety of vegetation making it the ideal habitat for the tiger and its prey. 4×4 Jeep and elephant back safaris are included.
The tour then flies to the hill resort of Srinigar in the Himalayan state of Kashmir for three relaxing days, one of which will be spent on a legendary houseboat on Dal Lake. The Valley of Kashmir in which Srinagar is located is also referred to as being “Heaven on Earth. Here a visit to the Moghul styled gardens situated on the lake and an excursion to Gulmarg, located at an altitude of 2 700 m and also known as “Meadow of Flowers” is included.
From Kashmir, its back to Delhi for connecting flights back to Johannesburg via Mumbai on 04 April.