Spotlight on India    *alt*

12 days, from £4450
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Northern India... Timeless cities... thousands of years of compelling history. Breathtaking architecture, like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. Dramatic, sun-drenched landscapes... a rich mix of local cultures and cuisines... and age-old spiritual traditions on the ghats along the River Ganges. From bustling Delhi to mystical Varanasi and the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, to Udaipur, the 'City of Lakes,' Tauck invites you to discover these treasures on our 12-day North India tours, perfect for travellers with less time to spend. Experience contrasting images of the capital, Delhi, old and new. Sail on the Ganges in Varanasi to witness holy men 'putting the river to sleep.' Travel to Agra to visit the famous Taj Mahal... which you can see from your hotel room! Celebrate India's culture and cuisine among Jaipur's pavilions and palaces at a special Maharajah evening in Jaipur. Spend three nights at The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, voted Travel + Leisure's 'World's Best Hotel." Throughout, you'll enjoy accommodations in some of the world's top-rated hotels... dine on local specialties... and discover the heart and soul of India on our popular North India tours!


 Day 1 Welcome to India!

Tauck's 12-day northern India tours begin at Leela Palace Hotel, New Delhi. A transfer is included from Indira Gandhi International Airport to your landmark hotel, Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi, renowned for gracious service in the heart of the city. Due to flight schedules, you will probably arrive at the hotel after midnight local time. You may want to travel a day early to ease the effects of jet lag and relax a bit before Tauck's India tour begins - just mention this at the time of booking; Tauck can book your international flights for travel originating in the U.S. and can arrange an extra night at Leela Palace Hotel.

 Day 2 New Delhi, where old & new converge

Explore India's capital city with an insider guide; a sightseeing excursion shows you the Secretariat buildings, Parliament House, Presidential Palace, and India Gate, commemorating Indian and British soldiers. Visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the five-story sandstone Qutb Minar Victory Tower, built over 8 centuries ago, and Humayun's Tomb, set in beautiful gardens. This Mughal creation popularized Persian-influenced architecture and was an inspiration for the Taj Mahal. After lunch, stop at the Gandhi Smriti Museum, paying tribute to the inspiring leader Mahatma Gandhi who forced change through non-violent protest. You'll have much to discuss this evening at the welcome cocktail reception and dinner.

 Day 3 Delving into the past in Old Delhi

Check out the colourful bazaars, sacred temples, 17th-century havelis (mansions) and colonial monuments in the winding streets of Old Delhi, the capital of Muslim India from the 12th through the 19th centuries. Visit the massive 16th-century Red Fort - once the residence of Mughal emperors, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and Raj Ghat, the memorial set on the site of Gandhi's cremation. The rest of the day is free to spend as you wish.

 Day 4 Rituals on the River Ganges in Varanasi

Fly to the ancient city of Varanasi, built on the banks of the sacred River Ganges. Since the 6th century BC, this city has been a key destination for pilgrims who seek blessing and purification in the river's holy waters. A sightseeing tour visits Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first sermon, and the National Museum, home to a priceless sculpture collection dating back to the 3rd century BC. Tonight, take a journey by boat along the River Ganges to witness ceremonies "putting the river to sleep." Amidst hundreds of lighted candles and flower offerings, tonight will be a special highlight of Tauck's India tours.

 Day 5 Sunrise Ganges cruise; Agra & the Taj Mahal

One of Tauck's most popular India tours continues as you rise early for a cruise on the River Ganges to view the Varanasi sunrise ceremonies, then fly to Agra for a two-night stay and tomorrow's visit to one of the world's most famous and recognizable buildings, the Taj Mahal. An incredible domed mausoleum complex of white marble, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to memorialize and house the tomb of his beloved third wife and completed in 1653, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture - and yes, you'll have a view of it from your room in your award-winning luxury hotel, The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra.

 Day 6 Wonders in Agra - the Taj Mahal & Agra Fort

Guests who wish may visit the Taj Mahal in time for sunrise - the gates open at sunrise. Those not going quite so early will join your Tauck Director a little later than sunrise (but still early morning) for a guided visit to the spectacular Taj Mahal, with time to explore on your own and take photographs. A guided tour of the massive red sandstone Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, follows. Inside, you'll get a very good look at medieval lifestyles of 16th- and 17th-century Mughal emperors. Dine as you please this evening from among a selection of your hotel's fine restaurants.

 Day 7 Enjoy the royal treatment in Jaipur

Travel to Jaipur for a two-night stay at The Oberoi Rajvilas, reflecting the gracious lifestyles of India's legendary Rajput princes. A sightseeing tour of Jaipur includes the City Palace Museum and the Jantar Mantar Observatory - a collection of architectural astronomical instruments for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars in their orbits, figuring out the declinations of planets and determining the celestial altitudes - all built by Maharajah Jai Singh II in the 18th century. Attend a special evening fit for Maharajah royalty tonight, celebrating India's cultural traditions, music, dance and cuisine.

 Day 8 Jaipur's glittering palaces and pavilions

A highlight of Tauck's India tours, today's sightseeing includes the many gems of Jaipur, from the massive gateways and pillared pavilions inside Amber Fort to a tour of Amber Palace, with its magnificent domes, massive ramparts and glittering hall of mirrors. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Jaipur, pursuing what interests you most.

 Day 9 On to romantic Udaipur

A flight from Jaipur to Udaipur today is rewarded with a three-night stay at your luxury Oberoi hotel, nestled along the banks of Lake Pichola and spread over fifty acres, which includes a twenty-acre wildlife sanctuary with deer and wild boar. Consistently voted among the top luxury hotels in the world, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur is a destination experience unrivaled anywhere - while Udaipur itself is a Rajasthan city of palaces and lakes, often called the "Venice of the East" and the 'Most Romantic City in India.' Dinner is at your leisure in your hotel, named India's best hotel by Conde Nast Traveller and 4th in the world's top 100 hotels.

 Day 10 Lake Pichola cruise & Udaipur's treasures

A leisurely cruise on Lake Pichola sets the stage for an Udaipur sightseeing tour with our local guide. Visit the 18th-century fountain gardens of Saheliyon Ki Bari, and the Jagdish Mandir Temple. View the City Palace, a labyrinth of richly decorated courtyards, frescoed galleries, and marble temples that was once home to the Maharajah of Udaipur. Spend the rest of the day at leisure and join us for a demonstration in the art of donning a sari and a turban at a "Royal Repast" dinner.

 Day 11 Optional balloon ride, Udaipur's markets and as you please

Early risers may choose to soar over amazing Udaipur on an optional hot air balloon ride* at dawn (an additional ?155 per person - ask at booking). Then, today's sightseeing begins in Udaipur with an auto-rickshaw ride around the city's bustling spice and vegetable markets, for an insightful glimpse into everyday life in Udaipur. In the vegetable markets, women in brightly colored saris sit amongst the stalls, surrounded by baskets brimming with their fresh and equally colourful produce, while burlap bags or metal pans entice with a kaleidoscopic array of curries and spices. The rest of the day and evening are free to explore more of this "City of Lakes" as you wish. Due to its many picturesque locations, Udaipur has supplied scenic backdrops to many a film or television show over the years; portions of movies including Darjeeling Limited, Opening Night, Heat and Dust, Octopussy and Gandhi, plus the TV miniseries The Jewel in the Crown, were filmed here. Enjoy dinner at the hotel tonight.

 Day 12 Fly to Delhi for your journey home

Fly back to Delhi today for your return home; transfer to the Trident, Gurgaon, close to the Indira Gandhi International Airport, where rooms are reserved for your comfort. Tauck's 12-day India tours end in Delhi. Most international flights depart early the next day.