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New! India: the Taj Mahal and a Ganges River Cruise (2017)
Limited to 18 guests
Days: 14 | From: $8,995
Day 1: Arrive Delhi, India
Arrive in Delhi, India’s lively capital city, and transfer to your hotel.
Day 2: Delhi | City of Lost Empires
Delhi is at once ancient and intoxicating, spanning everything from crumbling ruins to spectacular, chaotic bazaars. In New Delhi, drive down sprawling parade routes past the grandeurfilled buildings of the colonial era, including the copper-domed Rashtrapati Bhawan, home to the President of India. Explore Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, a Sikh Temple, to learn about the role that devotees play in the community. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, savoring the flavorful food and the kinetic ambience. Later, visit Mughal-inspired Humayun’s Tomb, before your welcome dinner at your hotel.
The Oberoi, Gurgaon | Meals: B L D
Days 3-4: Agra | An Enduring Testament to Eternal Love
Today, travel to Agra, catching your first glimpse of the breathtaking Taj Mahal from the window of your luxurious hotel room. Then, visit the Taj Mahal in the late afternoon, as the setting sun bathes it in a soft orange glow. Return the next morning, when the rising sun lends a warm pink tint to its marble face. Visit the Agra Fort after breakfast. This afternoon, relax at your hotel or choose to travel to Fatehpur Sikri. Built in the 16th century and later abandoned, “ruined” Fatehpur Sikri is a fairy-tale ghost city of delicately carved red sandstone.
The Oberoi Amarvilás | Meals: B D (Day 3); B (Day 4)
Day 5: Kolkata | Colonial Capital
Today, drive to Delhi and then fly to Kolkata, India’s original capital. Starting in the 17th century, Kolkata served as a base for the famed East India Company — an enterprising group of merchants sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth I to establish trade between England and the East Indies. Their success set the stage for eventual British rule of India.
The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata | Meals: B L D
Day 6: Kolkata | Board ‘Ganges Voyager I’ or ‘Ganges Voyager II’
Today, join your expert local guide on an excursion to the home and tomb of Mother Teresa. Visit her personal room and tour her orphanage, Sishu Bhavan, where you may meet nuns who worked alongside the modern-day saint. Then, board your all-suite river cruise ship for a seven-night cruise along India’s holy river, the Ganges. Enjoy a welcome reception, dinner and cultural performance on board your ship.
Day 7: Cruising the Ganges | The Heritage of British India
Rise for an early morning city tour of Kolkata, former capital of British India and gateway to the Ganges. Take in panoramic views of well-preserved British colonial structures, such as the Writer’s Building, High Court, Raj Bhawan (Governor’s House), Reserve Bank of India and Dalhousie Square. Learn about the Black Hole of Calcutta, a guard house where dozens of captured soldiers of the East India Company perished under the rule of the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj al-Dawlah, an incident that helped usher in Great Britain’s colonization of India. Continue to St. John’s Church, and then to the recently renovated Victoria Memorial Museum, home to the largest collection of British colonial historical artifacts in India. Back on board, begin your voyage upstream, passing through areas where enterprising European settlers first established the East India Company. Later, visit the shore of Bandel to explore Hooghly Imambara, one of West Bengal’s most famous pilgrimage centers.
Day 8: Cruising the Ganges | Kingdom of Temples
This morning, set off on a rickshaw ride through Kalna, en route to the enchanting Rajbari complex — 108 temples that demonstrate the significance of the male and female forms in Hinduism. Discover the diverse Pratepeshwar Temple, where terra cotta plaques depict themes of Hindu epics and images of the supreme goddess, Durga. Other temples include the Lalji Temple, erected in 1739, the oldest in this fine collection of sacred spaces.
Day 9: Cruising the Ganges | Matiari and Plassey
Disembark this morning to explore a charming shore-side bazaar in Matiari, renowned for its exquisite handcrafted brass and copper pottery, made by local craftsmen using methods handed down through the generations. Then, sail upstream past the famed battlefield of Plassey, where Robert Clive of the East India Company defeated Siraj al-Dawlah and his French allies — a pivotal moment that marked the beginning of nearly 200 years of rule by the company throughout South Asia.
Day 10: Cruising the Ganges | Kushbagh to Murshidabad
Continue your cruise deep into the heartland of rural India. Pay a sunrise visit to the charming village of Kushbagh, and tour a well-preserved mosque complex built by Nawab Ali-Wardi- Khan, grandfather of Siraj al-Dawlah. Next, sail to the village of Baranagar, a lovely example of country life, and home to several 18th-century temples built by Rani Bhabani, a landholding female aristocrat. These enchanting brick temples are among the world’s finest examples of Bengal terra cotta art. Return to your river cruiser, which points south to follow the “Mother Ganga” downstream. Pass countryside villages filled with locals who appear at the shore to greet you. Further down the Ganges, arrive at Murshidabad, a hidden architectural gem filled with dramatic, whitewashed colonial-era structures. Disembark for a tour of Hazarduari Palace, built in the Greek Doric style and filled with colonial-era antiques, artwork and manuscripts. Then, ride by local buggy to the Katra mosque with its distinctive minarets. At night aboard your luxury river cruiser, dine on locally inspired fare, enjoy a cultural performance and take in the exotic, faraway air of the Ganges.
Day 11: Cruising the Ganges | Mayapur & Krishna Pilgrimage
After a restful morning observing life along the riverbanks, disembark to tour Mayapur, birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu — considered an incarnation of Lord Krishna — and home of the Krishna Consciousness Movement. Experience the fascinating culture of his followers and their ornate, colorfully decorated statues of Krishna. Learn about the new temple they are building, which has been compared to the Vatican in terms of its incredible size, covering 700,000 square feet, reaching 340 feet high and featuring a 75-foot-tall planetarium.
Day 12: Cruising the Ganges | Colonial Chandernagore
Awake in Chandernagore, a delightful little outpost of France in the heart of India. Originally a French colony trading post founded in 1673, it was established as a French settlement in 1688. Explore the French colonial buildings along the city’s promenade, including the former governor’s residence, which is now a museum. Later, tour the Sacred Heart Church of Chandernagore. Back on the ship, continue sailing downstream to Kolkata.
Days 13-14: Depart Delhi
Bid adieu to your luxury river ship when you disembark in Kolkata. Then, fly to Delhi and check in to your hotel for the evening. Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening, toasting your time in India together. Early the next morning, transfer to the airport to depart for home.
Dusit D2 New Delhi | Meals: B, D (Day 13); B (Day 14)
Luxury Small Group Journeys 2017
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