Venture off to Old Delhi for a visit to Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000. Visit one of the most spectacular pieces of Mughal Architecture, the Lal Quila or the Red Fort. Built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648, the Red Fort has walls extending up to 1.3 miles in length with the height varying from 59 feet on the river side to 108 feet on the city side. Old Delhi is also home to the Raj Ghat, the memorial site and last resting place of Mahatma Gandhi who was cremated here on January 31, 1950 following his assassination the day before. The memorial stone is a simple square platform made of black stone, where a commemorative ceremony takes place every Friday.
Next, drive past the Red Fort, once the most opulent fort and palace of the Mughal Empire. The main entrance to the fort is the Lahore Gate, named so for facing towards Lahore in Pakistan. Delhi Gate is similar to Lahore but grander in design and the gate was used by the emperor every Friday for ceremonial processions to the Jama Masjid.
Qutub Minar is another interesting visit, whose superb buildings date from the onset of Islamic rule in India. The Qutub Minar itself is a soaring 240-ft high tower of victory that was started in 1193, immediately after the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom in Delhi. At its base is Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid (Might of Islam Mosque), India’s first. An inscription over the mosque’s eastern gate provocatively informs that it was built with material obtained from demolishing 27 “idolatrous” (read Hindu) temples. A 23-ft high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque and it’s said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it, your wish will be unfulfilled; however, the pillar is now protected by a fence.
Visit Humayun’s Tomb, built in the mid-16th century by the senior wife of the second Mughal emperor – the first significant example of Mughal architecture in India, and one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The elements of its design are echoed in the later Taj Mahal. It comprises a squat building with high arched entrances topped by a bulbous dome and surrounded by formal gardens. Found at the gardens are the red-and-white sandstone and black-and-yellow marble tomb of Humayun’s wife and, somewhat surprisingly, the tomb of Humayun’s barber. Overnight at the CROWNE PLAZA NEW DELHI OKHLA.
Jungle safaris are conducted by jeep. It is advisable to go on every possible safari, because a tiger sighting is never guaranteed and no sighting is the same. In addition, Bandhavgarh is famous for the archaeological remains of the Kalchuri period that have been found here. Baghela Museum houses the private collection of the Maharajah of Rewa and the stuffed body of Mohan, the first tiger found in the park in 1951. In addition, there is a unique collection of military weapons and other hunting materials on display.
Rustic ambience is the main attraction of the Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge, which is themed after a typical Indian village. The lodge comprises 15 spacious mud huts with thatched roofs, an inner courtyard, and a 4-room house with basic modern facilities, including attached bath, running hot and cold water showers, toilet and comfortable furniture. A large thatched dining room serves Indian and Continental cuisine. The estate has a meadow that attracts deer after sunset. One can take a convenient walk in the reserve’s forest for bird watching, as the entire place is flourishing with fruit-trees. As darkness falls, in the peace and tranquility of the night and under the wonderful canopy of stars, you can hear various animals call, including the alarm call of the deer, the howling of jackals or the occasional roar of a tiger. Overnights at BANDHAVGARH JUNGLE LODGE. http://www.bandhavgarhjunglelodge.com/about-us.html
The temples are now a world heritage site and belong not just to India but to the world and are some of the best-preserved monuments of this antiquity. Most of the temples are built of sandstone in varying shades of buff, pink or pale yellow, and each belongs to a different sect – the Shiva, Vaishnava or Jaina Sects. However, they are often indistinguishable from one another to the untrained eye. The roofs are a series of graded peaks that resemble a mountain range and in all probability, represent the possibility of higher levels of spiritual attainment. Erotic scenes represent a relatively small part of the carvings but sensuous eroticism prevails throughout all of the sculptures. In general, lower indulgences appear lower on the temple while the deities appear near the top. The goddesses and gods represent the many manifestations of the divine Shakti and Shiva, the female and male principles, the Yin and the Yang. The divine sculptures in these temples are a tribute to life itself, embodying everything that is sublime and spontaneous about it. Popularly known as the 10th century temples, they represent a time frame when Khajuraho art was at its zenith.
Situated close to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Temples, the hotel offers a relaxing atmosphere and all the modern amenities. Relax at the spa, enjoy a delicious meal at the restaurant and a cool drink at the bar, access the business center, or just catch up with your email with the free Wi-Fi in all the public areas. Overnight at the RADISSON HOTEL KHAJURAHO. https://www.radisson.com/khajuraho-hotel-in/indkhaj/
Arrive in Agra this evening where you are transferred to your hotel for the next two nights. The Double Tree by Hilton Agra is located in the heart of the city center and offers panoramic views of the Taj Mahal from the pool area. Enjoy modern comfort in your garden, pool or city view room, and fine dining in one of the four stylish food and beverage outlets offering cuisines from around the globe. In the evening, enjoy live music and cultural performances in the inviting courtyard. The hotel offers a 24-hour fitness center and a sparkling outdoor pool, as well as a spa. Overnight at the DOUBLE TREE BY HILTON AGRA. http://doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/india/doubletree-by-hilton-hotel-agra-AGRDTDI/index.html
Though the heritage of Agra is linked with the Mughal dynasty, numerous other rulers also contributed to the rich past of this city. Modern Agra was founded by Sikandar Lodhi (Lodhi Dynasty) in the 16th century. Babur (founder of the Mughal dynasty) also stayed for some time in Agra and introduced the concept of square Persian-styled gardens here. Emperor Akbar, his grandson, built the Agra Fort and the city of Fatehpur Sikri in gratitude for the appearance of an heir after his wife bore him a son. Agra came to its own when Shahjahan ascended to the throne of the Empire. He marked the zenith of Mughal architecture when he built the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife, whom he affectionately named Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace). In his later years, Shahjahan shifted his capital to the new city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi and ruled from there. Shahjahan was dethroned in 1658 by his son, Aurangzeb who imprisoned him in the Agra Fort. Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Agra till his death. After the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire could not touch its peak and many regional kingdoms emerged. The post-Mughal era of Agra saw the rule of the Jats, Marathas and finally the British taking over the city.
The afternoon is at leisure or you can witness inlay work of precious and semi precious stone into the marble. Overnight at the DOUBLE TREE BY HILTON AGRA.
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