Multi-Day Tour | Escorted, Independent, Private

India - Not The Golden Triangle! (14 days)

Banyan Tours & Travels - India

Mumbai, India To Amritsar, India

Valid for Departures Now Through: 22 Feb 2019

Itinerary

DAY LOCATION(S) HOTEL MEALS DESCRIPTION
Day 1
Mumbai, India
Taj Santa Cruz (Luxury) Breakfast

Arrive Mumbai. You are met as you exit the aircraft and you will be assisted with immigration and custom formalities. The greeter will take you to the Banyan Tours staff in the arrival hall and he will transfer you to the hotel.

MUMBAI

Formerly known as Bombay, it originally consisted of seven swampy islands when the Portuguese acquired it in 1554. In 1661 Bom Bahia (the Good Bay) came to the British Crown as part of the dowry of Catherine Braganza when she married Charles II. The British leased these “useless malarial islands” to the British East India Company who realized its potential as a natural harbor, and Mumbai grew to its present stature. The state capital of Maharashtra, Mumbai is India’s most dynamic, cosmopolitan and crowded city. The country’s financial capital and its busiest port, this city is home to the world’s biggest cinema industry, popularly known as “Bollywood”. Some 18 million people from billionaires’ tycoons to homeless pavement dwellers live in this teeming metropolis.

Day 2
Ahmedabad, India
House of MG (Grand Suite) Breakfast

You are transferred to the airport and you will depart for Ahmedabad by Go Air (7:00 AM/8:55 AM). You are met and transferred to your hotel.

AHMEDABAD

The former capital of the western state of Gujarat, was founded in 1411 by Ahmad Shah I, the king of Gujarat. With a long tradition in craftsmanship first under the Gujarati Sultans and then the Mughals, Ahmedabad was one of the most brilliant cities in India. Its jewelers and goldsmith are still renowned, as are its artisans specializing in a wide variety of skills ranging from copper and brass work to carvings done on bone and wood.

At 1 PM you will meet your guide and you depart for an excursion to Lothal, an hour and a half drive from Ahmedabad. The ancient city of Lothal which flourished in 2000 BC is one of the two ancient Harrapan sites in Gujarat. Lothal which means the “land of the dead” was supposed to have been a major shipbuilding centre and trading port over 4000 years ago. You return to Ahmedabad early evening.

Day 3
Ahmedabad, India
House of MG (Grand Suite) Breakfast

At 7 AM you will depart for Nal Sarovar a distance of one and a half hours from Ahmedabad. A 120 sq km of wetlands, it was declared a bird sanctuary in 1968. It is home mainly to a large number of migratory birds who come here to nest between the months of November to February. You return to Ahmedabad in time for lunch.

In the afternoon you will start at the Sabarmati Ashram from where Mahatma Gandhi launched his final struggle for independence. Hriday Kunj, his simple cottage, has been maintained much as he left it. From here you will visit the extraordinary Adalaj Vav, a stepwell and one of the finest of its kind, revealing a combination of Hindu, Islamic and Jain styles. The stepwell descends over 100 ft., down four floors to the water. Each floor is cooler than the one above and decorated with ornately carved pillars, niches, and large octagonal landings. This served as a resting place for travellers and is believed to have been built by Queen Rupabai.

Day 4
Ahmedabad, India
House of MG (Grand Suite) Breakfast

You start the day at 7 AM with a walk around the bustling, industrial, and interesting Old Quarter of Ahmedabad which is best visited early in the morning. Although most of the old city walls no longer exist, many of the monuments remain. These are striking examples of Indo- Islamic architectural styles as well as that of provincial Gujarat. The religious buildings illustrate traditional architectural skills, while the havelies (a traditional house) have beautifully decorated wooden facades. For a person interested in architecture, this is a very special visit. The walk also introduces one to local life in the city as you watch temple rituals, and ake a rickshaw ride through the vegetable and fruit markets.

after breakfast, you will visit the Calico Museum. This was formerly the Calico Mills one of the oldest textile manufacturing units in the city. The collection started when Vikram Sarabhai collected pieces of textiles to inspire his designers. This collection is now open to the public. The museum has separate sections devoted to religious and secular textiles.

Later you will drive two hours to the beautiful sun temple at Modhera, built in 1026 AD. It is only one of three in India, and was built so that during the equinox the sun shone on the idol of Surya, the sun god. The temple’s 52 pillars are exquisitely carved with episodes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, while the interiors has panels showing the deity Shiva in his various manifestations

Day 5
Ahmedabad, India
Jodhpur, India
Raas (Luxury Room) Breakfast

At 5:00 AM you will transfer to the airport and will depart for Mumbai today taking AI 614 (7:20 AM/8:40 AM) and you will connect with AI 645 (9:45 AM/11:20 AM). You are met and transferred to your hotel.

JODHPUR

The Kingdom of Jodhpur was established by the powerful Rathor clan who claim ancestry as far back as 470 AD. In the mid 15th century, Rao Jodha, the ruler of Marwar, abandoned his old capital and built a new fort on the rocky cliffs of what is now Jodhpur. According to legend, in the process of building the fort, he displaced a hermit who was meditating on the site. The hermit placed a curse on the descendents of Rao Jodha saying they would be plagued by famine every year. This is the reason the locals claim that the area has drought every three or four years. The gigantic Umaid Bhawan Palace was built as a result of a project initiated by the Royal family during a famine to provide employment.

You have time at leisure until 5 PM when you transfer to the fort for your after hour’s private visit

Of all the forts in Rajasthan, very few compae to majesty of the Meherangarh Fort. The fort is divided into three sections – the public areas, the Maharajas palaces, and the zenana, or queens’ palaces. The zenana is decorated with exquisite sandstone filigree work. Within the fort is the museum which among its varied exhibits has an excellent collection of royal palanquins and the howdah section which has perhaps the finest collection of old ornate elephant howdahs in the world.

You will have a private curated tour of the fort, led by Karni Singh the curator of the collection.

Day 6
Jodhpur, India
Raas (Luxury Room) Breakfast

In the morning you will start your tour of tour the blue city at 9:30 AM, the heritage walk taking you past lovely architectural features, shrines, small craft workshops and examples of folk art. This is a part of Jodhpur which is largely untouched and retains its atmosphere as a stop on the trade route through the desert.

You can also browse in the little shops of Sadr Bazaar. You can shop for Jodhpur’s famous glass bangles, rugged leather mojri slippers made usually from camel leather, the vivid tie and dye fabric; beautiful mirror worked fabric; and embroidered bedcovers and cushion covers which have been sourced from the neighboring state of Gujarat.

You could wander through the new Stepwell Square with the stunning mid 18th century stepwell as the centre piece. All around the square are lovely boutiques including Royal Blue, Via Jodhpur, Hot Pink, spice shops and the Stepwell Cafe.

Day 7
Jodhpur, India
Jaisalmer, India
Suryagarh (Pavilion Room) Breakfast, Lunch

Leaving at 9 AM, you drive through the heart of the Indian desert to the remote fortified town of Jaisalmer.

AISALMER

A remote outpost in the Indian Desert, Jaisalmer was founded in the 12th century and was a flourishing trade center, strategically located on the busy caravan trade route of Afghanistan and Central Asia. Its earlier rulers grew rich looting gems, silk and opium for the caravans, but by the 16th century, Jaisalmer had become a peaceful town, whose wealthy traders and rulers spent their money on making this austere desert town architecturally striking and built magnificent palaces and mansions, all of which survive today. Built of the local golden sandstone, they are the most striking examples of Rajasthani stonemason art

This afternoon you will visit the charming desert town of Jaisalmer. This classic desert fort, a World Heritage site, built of sandstone, reflects the nuances of the sun through the day – looking almost tawny during the day and softening to an almost honey gold at sunset. This fascinating play of colour inspired one of India’s leading film directors to make a world renowned film called “Sonar Kela” or The Golden Fort. Much of the town lives within the ramparts, making this a kind of living museum. The Fort encloses palaces decorated with delicate jali or lattice worked screens, carved doors and flora carvings, and elaborately carved 12th to 16th century Jain temples and the Jain Bhandars or store houses.

Day 8
Jaisalmer, India
Suryagarh (Pavilion Room) Breakfast

You continue exploring Jaisalmer today driving 25 kms to the edge of Jaisalmer to the restored Jain temples at Lodurva. The site was a major town before the building of Jaisalmer. You will also stop at Amar Sagar, one of the many small temples that dot the environ around Jaisalmer.

You return to the city and you will visit the Havelies of Jaisalmer which are exceptional. Similar in style to the homes of Venetian merchants, the havelies were the mansions of wealthy traders. The houses are decorated with beautifully carved facades, jali screens and oriel windows. Each Haveli has an inner courtyard surrounded by richly decorated apartments.

Day 9
Jaisalmer, India
Bikaner, India
Lakshmi Niwas Palace (Palace Room) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You leave at leisure, and you may want to spend some time in the morning strolling through the lanes of the Fort. Your travels today once again take you through the vast lands of the Indian desert to the walled city of Bikaner.

BIKANER

Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner were the three great Desert Kingdoms of Rajasthan which prospered because of its strategic location on the overland caravan route to Central Asia and China. The city was founded by Rao Bika, the younger son of Rao Jodha, the ruler of Jodhpur. The best known of the Bikaner rulers was Maharaja Ganga Singh who personally led his camel corps through several British campaigns (the Indian Army is the only armed force to have a camel corps) and was one of the signatories of the Versailles Peace Treaty, representing the Indian Princes.

Day 10
Bikaner, India
Lakshmi Niwas Palace (Palace Room) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Bikaner is still a medieval walled desert town. The Junagarh Fort is one of the most interesting forts and one of the best preserved in Rajasthan. Built on the plains instead of on top of a hill like the majority of Rajput citadels, the complex of sumptuously decorated palaces were built by different rulers over the centuries. The Museum is housed in the Diwan-I-Am, the hall of public audiences. Among the eclectic exhibits are a collection of exotic Rajput weaponry, royal costumes, hookahs, bric-a-brac, and somewhat bizarrely a World War I biplane. From here you will walk through the old walled city will reveal the beautiful old havelies or mansions of the wealthy traders. Of the temples, the two most ornate are the 14th century Sandeshwar Jain Temple which has interiors decorated with enamel and gold leaf frescos; and the Bhandeshwar Temple decorated with carved wooden columns decorated with motifs of dancing maidens.

Just south east of Bikaner is the camel breeding farm. You will visit in the late afternoon when the camels return from grazing. The farm breeds nearly half the camels found in India, including those used in the camel regiment of the Indian army

OR

You may want to visit the Karni Mata Temple. Karni Mata was a female Hindu sage and is worshiped as the incarnation of the goddess Durga by her followers. The Karni Mata temple at Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner, in its present form was completed in the early 20th century in the late Mughal style by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner. In the main shrine, the image of the goddess is placed with holy things at her feet. Surrounded by rats, Karni Mata Temple attracts numerous tourists and pilgrims throughout the year, due to its unique presiding beings. The thousands of rats make the temples a unique site to visit, but it is smelly and in places dirty. It is worth visiting, even if only viewing it from the outside.

Day 11
Bikaner, India
Mandawa, India
Vivaana (Royal Room) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After an early breakfast you will drive to the Shekhavati region of northern Rajasthan. The region is stunning for its collection of painted havelies, great mansions decorated with art at great costs and then abandoned.

The Painted Havelies of Shekhawati

The ancestral homes of some India’s leading industrial families can be seen in the many little towns of Shekhavati. The merchants of Shekhavati, a feudatory of Jaipur until 1491, built themselves palatial havelies, inns and temples and employed a bevy of craftspeople to decorate their domains. Here we will find a veritable open-air art museum. With the help of fresco painters, the local merchants transformed their houses into a luxury of art. Thus, Shekhavati contains a feast of wall paintings in town after town, village after village; an abundance of art unmatched in the world.

You will stop on the way and you will visit Fatehgarh, Nawalgarh, to see the grand Poddar Haveli known for its frescos. Among the other havlies you stop at Jhunjunu and Mukundgarh.

Day 12
Mandawa, India
Delhi, India
The Oberoi, Gurgaon Breakfast, Lunch

You will continue to explore the Shekhavati region later driving to Delhi and staying at the Oberoi Gurgaon.

Day 13
Delhi, India
Amritsar, India
Taj Swarna (Luxury) Breakfast

You will transfer to the airport and you will depart for Amritsar by Indigo Airlines (12:05 PM/1:30 PM). You are met and transferred to your hotel.

MRITSAR

Founded in 1877, Amritsar (city of Nectar) is the holiest places for the followers of the Sikh region and the site of the spectacular Golden Temple. For every Sikh it is important to visit the temple and bathe in the holy pool at the center, at least once in their lifetime. Amritsar also is the site of the one of the many tragedies that began the Indian Mutiny of 1857

This evening you will drive to the border of Indian and Pakistan to watch lowering of the flags at sunset. Accompanied to the sound of bugles and with much pomp and ceremony by the respective armies, the whole event is lustily cheered on by onlookers on either side.

In the evening you may want to visit the Golden Temple to see the ceremony when the holy book is ceremoniously returned to its resting place for the night.

Day 14
Amritsar, India
Delhi, India
None Breakfast

After breakfast you will be taken to the Golden Temple. The Sikhs, which means “disciples”, are one of the country’s most recognizable groups and the Golden Temple is the holiest of all their shrines. Plated in gilt and gold, and heavily decorated, the temple is stunning at all times of the day. For every Sikh it is important to visit the temple and bathe in the tank at least once in their lifetime. It is an intensely spiritual experience. One side of the tank represents 63 Hindu pilgrim places. You will follow in the path of the pilgrims, observing the many rituals performed, including the mandatory dip in the pool of water, no matter how cold it may be.

You will finally end in the community kitchen. The Sikhs believe that everyone, regardless of their station in life, should do “sevak” or rendering social services. This resulted in the “Langar” or community Kitchen, where every member of the religion considers it an honor to come and put it a couple of hours cooking thousands of Indian breads, making huge vat loads of curry to feed local pilgrims and the under privileged. You will join in the making of bread and stirring the enormous vats, as part of doing “sevak” while visiting this holy site.

You may also like to visit the newly opened Partition Museum, the first of its kind and chronicles the partition of India in 1947 and is housed in the Town hall

You will return to Delhi today by Jet Indigo Airline (4:55 PM/6:10 PM). You are transferred to your group hotel.

Tour Features

Experience(s)

  • Culture, History & Arts
  • Family Vacations
  • Food & Wine
  • Sightseeing
  • Walking & Biking
  • Wildlife & Nature

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About Us

Banyan Tours & Travels was established in 1996. The objective was to provide travellers to India the highest standard in luxury travel arrangements. Banyan is widely recognized as one of the truly specialist companies in India, with the knowledge and understanding of how to deliver the perfect holiday. Consistently. We enjoy extremely high levels of client satisfaction, especially from those who operate the most demanding programmes in India.

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By: anonymous


Reviewed on: 04 Feb 2017

We loved our tour guide, Shivraj, and everything about Banyan. They took very good care of us.
Travel Advisor:  Valerie Ann Wilson

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By: LRW


Reviewed on: 05 Apr 2018

We were blown away by the hospitality and commitment to detail that Banyan Tours showed us throughout our travels!
Travel Advisor:  Laura Bassett