India-The Curry and Kebab Tour
The finest of India's cuisines is as rich and diverse as it's civilization. It is an art form that has been passed on through generations purely by word of mouth, from guru (teacher) to vidhyarthi (pupil) or from mother to daughter. The range assumes astonishing proportions when one takes into account regional variations. Very often the taste, colour, texture and appearance of the same delicacy changes from state to state. This tour is a celebration of fine Indian cuisine that will not only tantalise your taste buds, but it's also an ode to the history of India and its culture. This itinerary is focussed on giving you not only some great tasting food, but also an insightful and knowledgeable travel experience.
Includes: 13 nights in first class hotels Tour manager throughout Transfers Meals as noted Admissions as noted
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|Day 1||Mumbai||ARRIVE MUMBAI|
Arrive at Mumbai International Airport. After clearing customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will meet our representative after which you will be transferred to your hotel.
Bombay also known as Mumbai is the economic powerhouse of India. It is young, its lively and a confluence of varied cultural currents and cross currents have given Mumbai a unique position of the most multi-ethnic city of India. Mumbai is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million. Mumbai is also country's financial and commercial hub and has a principal port on the Arabian Sea. It is also the hub of Indian film industry, which has played a pivoted role in the development of cinematography. "Bollywood", as it is called, produces the second most number of pictures in the world every year, next only to Hollywood, U.S.A. Mumbai claims to be the world's largest production centre for films.
Morning, meet with your guide and take a tour of the Elephanta Caves. An hour away from Mumbai by ferry, the Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves located on Elephanta Island or Gharapuri (meaning the city of caves) in Mumbai Harbor. The island, located on an arm of the Arabian Sea, consists of two groups of caves - the first is a large group of 5 Hindu caves, the second, a smaller group of 2 Buddhist caves. The rock cut architecture of the caves has been dated to between the 5th and 8th centuries.
Return to the mainland and lunch at 'Jimmy Boy' - Mumbai's very own Parsi place for lunch to sample delectable Parsi Cuisine.
When the Parsis landed in India, Gujarat to be specific, little did they know that their culture and food would add a unique dimension to this eclectic country. Over the years, they not only endeavoured to better the lives of the local folks with philanthropic activities, but also created magic in their kitchen. They introduced India to some gastronomic delights, by combining the richness of Persian delicacies with quintessential Indian spices. The hearty cuisine consists of a balanced meal, which is infused with flavours ranging from sweet to sour to spicy. The most popular of it all, is the 'Lagan Nu Bhonu' or the lavish Parsi wedding meal. This three course meal comprises of fish, meat, vegetable lentils, among other things, to make it a balanced and nutritious meal. To round off this whirlwind of culinary flavors, they have a special treat called the 'Laganu Custard' - A tasty dessert which is India's answer to the Cre`me Brule. The distinct flavour added by the Parsis, be it culturally or with their food, makes this dwindling community a treasure trove of gastronomic pleasures. Since Mumbai boasts of the maximum number of Parsi population in the world, it comes as little surprise that the Parsi food is part of the coastal culinary adventure.
Afternoon, we drive towards the Mill area of Lalabaugh to the Lalbaugh Spice Market. At the market, we will walk into an aromatic world of Indian spices. Our tour director will explain different spices that go into making the perfect Indian curry. Learn about the origins of these spices, and observe how the whole spices bought by the customer - depending on the customer's blend of choice , the spices roasted in a big wok; crushed into a fine powder,. We will also talk about the textile mill culture in the city and how it is umbilical in making Mumbai the populous the most eclectic metropolis in India today.
We continue to the Bhaudaji Lad Museum - arguably, one of the finest contemporary and multi- awarded Museum in the city.
Bhau Daji Lad Museum showcases the culture of Mumbai and its people. The oldest Museum in the city celebrates all the old artisans that resided in Mumbai, and displays their work - It houses Ivory sculptures, carpenter works, paintings etc. It not only details the history of Mumbai, but also displays information and clay portraits of the people who inhabited Mumbai from other cities and countries, and made it their permanent home. This museum also houses the elephant of the famous Elephanta Island, and a miniature structure of the Parsi community's 'Tower of Silence' Comes as little surprise, that your Mumbai sojourn is incomplete if you haven't visited The Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
After an historic outing of the city, unwind at a Lounge/ bar to see the city come alive at night. We will get the opportunity to learn special cocktail recipes from the inhouse mixoligist. (B,D)
Dinner will be at a specialty restaurant/ home cooked meal.
Overnight in Mumbai
This morning we start on a special tour of an 800 year old village present right in the centre of the city - Worli Fishing Village. Here we will get the opportunity to understand and get interact with the Kolis - Fisherfolks and the original people of Mumbai.
Nestled in an area dotted by architectural wonders and towering sky-scrapers exists the quaint and picturesque Worli Fishing Village. An essential part of the seven villages that make the island city of Mumbai, this village is a quintessential settlement of the original inhabitants of Mumbai - the fishermen community. A walk through this village transports you to the land of stories, people, legends, and superstitions. Not much has changed since the time of the first settlement and this tour gives a window-seat view into the lives of the people, making this a walk in history.
We will have lunch at the Fishing village itself - on the Grounds.
Here, we will sample some mouth-watering Malvan delicacies prepared from fresh catch of fish. From Crispy fry's to fiery curries, this sojourn is going to bring the rustic, earthy flavours of Mumbai's fishing community alive.
Afternoon, walk around the Colaba Causeway area for some street shopping. Colaba is a haven for street shoppers and also for some designer shoppe.
Evening, we drive down for an authentic Konkan culinary treat at Konkan Cafe'.
The Konkan Region nestled between the Sahyadri Mountains and Arabian Sea, stretching from Alibag, Mumbai, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Goa, North Kanara, Udupi and Kasaragode. These areas are known for its beautiful coastline, temple architecture, silk and cotton weaving, leather art, and Konkani cuisine. This coast is lush with paddy fields and coconut laden palms. The sea is teeming with pomfret, jumbo prawns, kingfish, lobsters, mussels and clams.
The celebrated Chef at the restaurant will greet as we enter and share his secret recipe.
Overnight in Mumbai B,L,D)
Start early morning for a unique experience to see the bustling city of Mumbai at dawn. We get a peek into the underbelly of the city and insights into what makes this magnificent city tick.
From seeing hundreds of newspaper vendors sort out newspapers of 7 different languages, experiencing one-of-its-kind fish auction of 20 tonnes of fish, to seeing an 'only green' herb market sprawled across a popular bridge. From watching the milkmen drive past with canisters, the melee of colour at the flower markets, to experiencing the clamour and chaos of the arrival of over 100 tonnes of vegetables, fruits and meat - we will witness the mercurial character of Mumbai, like none other.
What's interesting is that when we walk the same lanes a few hours later, we wouldn't find any evidence of the morning's hustle bustle.
We will stop for breakfast at the Mysore Cafe' - famous for its Dosa's, Idlis and filter Coffee, the Cafe' has made a reputation for itself over the years. If you think of South Indian food in Mumbai - Mysore Cafe' is high up on the list. It's so clean and hygienic, we will see people of all socio economic strata sit beside each other and have a healthy breakfast. It comes as little surprise that this is our first culinary stop for the day- because south Indian breakfast has slowly but surely become the breakfast of India.
Return to the hotel and remainder of the morning is at leisure.
Noon, we will visit Mumbai's logistic men - the Dabbawalas or the Tiffin Boys. This unique lunch delivery service is quintessential Mumbai. These Six Sigma workers are a must see in Mumbai, this Tiffin Delivery system has many fans, including Prince Charles and Richard Branson.
We continue to Mathar Pakhadi - an Old East Indian Village and eat typical East Indian Food with a family in their 100 year old Ancestral home. From interesting bottled masala based curries, to interesting vegetarian and non-veg preparations.
After lunch, we will drive past the colonial buildings like High Court, Sessions Court, University and Museum Buildings, Tower of Silence and the beautiful Jain temple. Stopping enroute at the Fort area for a walk. Over two hundred years ago, Mumbai was a fortified city secured by a robust fort wall that covered a substantial part of South Mumbai with three gates. The Apollo Gate - that opened at Colaba, the Church Gate - that opened at the St. Thomas Cathedral and the Bazaar Gate - that opened to the Bazaars of erstwhile Bombay. The Mumbai fort was bought down in 1862 for sanitation reasons and to improve trade.
On this walk, we will see the lesser known Bazaar Gate and the remains of this Fort Wall, and be privy to Mumbai's unknown sights and sounds. You will also visit St. Thomas Cathedral - the first Anglican Church in Mumbai, St. Thomas Cathedral is an marriage of Byzantine and colonial-era architecture. The oldest English building in Mumbai, this war memorial has monuments on the walls inside the Cathedral that are a witness to the history of Bombay Presidency from early 18th century.
This evening, we drive to Girgaon Chowpatti, where among the melee of crowds, we will get to see various street food joints. From Pani Puri, Sev Puri, Golas to Pav Bhaji and Mumbai Sandwhich, Mumbai Street food has evolved over the years and is a great mirror into the effervescent and ever-changing culture of the city. You can sample few dishes to your liking.
From here, we drive to Mohammad Ali Road and Bohri Mohulla. The holy precinct of Mumbai Street Food, Mohammad Ali road is one of the most important stops on your culinary sojourn. While the stories of vegetarian street food and the influence of the mill culture adorn the backyard of Girgaon, Mohammad Ali Road and Bohri Mohulla have created an insignia of non-vegetarian street food. Skewered Kebabs, spicy curries and colourful sweets dot these areas aplenty.
We will walk in Bohri Mohulla, famous for its street food and try the spicy 'Boti and Seekh Kebabs'. We will also see the famous pickle seller who sells over 21 different types of pickle. Another feature is the Roti (Indian Flat Bread) seller, who exports Rotis to the Middle East daily. We also sample a quintessential Mumbai Delicacy called Barah Handi (A pot of 12 curries mixed together). We take a quick bite at Taj Ice-cream, an ice-cream parlour that has been making handmade ice-cream for over 80 years.
We then enter the famous hole-in-the-wall restaurant that most Mumbai boys swear by - Noor Mohammadi. Here we will have a tryst with Bollywood and try the 'Sanju Baba' chicken dish which is named after the Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt. Finally our last stop would be Minara Masjid, which is a sweet lover's dream come true. Colourful and flavourful, from deep fried Malpuas, to vibrant pedas; from delectable firnis to a classic called aflatoon, Minara has it all. The clamour, the energy and the vibrancy of this evening will leave us all mesmerized!
Overnight in Mumbai (B,L,D)
|Day 5||Kolkata||MUMBAI - KOLKATA|
Morning, transfer to the airport to board flight to Kolkata (Please note the luggage allowance on this flight is 15kg/33lb checked in baggage and 7kg/15lb hand luggage). Arrive Kolkata and transfer to the hotel your stay.
Kolkata - A city on the Hooghly, retains the aura of days long gone, weaving the past and the present, the intense and the fun loving into a charming fabric. Home to four Nobel laureates - Ronald Ross, Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen, Kolkata is the nerve centre of intellect and human values, where many modern movements began in art, cinema and theatre, science and industry. India's quest for freedom began here. Kolkata is the gateway to Eastern India. It's a city with a rich heritage, bustling streets and bewildering variety of facets.
Lunch will be at the hotel.
Afternoon we take a city tour visiting the Victoria Memorial, a huge white-marble structure and an enduring monument of the British Raj in India housing some interesting memorabilia. We see the temple of Kali - the demonic attribute of Parvathi at Kalighat and drive past by Fort William, the Eden Gardens and the Writers Building, all interesting relics of Colonial India.
We will stop by the Howrah Bridge, a miracle of engineering skill. This is a huge cantilever bridge supported by two piers 270 ft. high from the road level. The span of the bridge between the piers is 1,500 ft while the total distance between the two sheet anchors is 2,115 ft.
Evening, relax in the 'Chowringhee Bar' at the hotel. The ambience will be like New Orleans with the Jazz Guitaring of Kitto Curlton, playing especially for you. Enjoy the evening with drinks and snacks. Overnight in Kolkata (B,D)
This morning, we drive to Park street for an English breakfast at Flury's - a tearoom that will transport us back to the 1930s British India in a heartbeat.
Flury's is perhaps one of the few places where old world charm is still alive. Founded in 1927 by Mr and Mrs J Flurys, till today it remains the classiest tearoom serving the best of continental food in an atmosphere that makes you want to sit back and linger over cups of the finest Darjeeling Tea.
As the only tea room of the prosperous Britisher and the affluent Indian alike, the place is known far and wide for its exotic cakes, creamy pastries, rich puddings and perhaps the best Swiss chocolates outside the European continent, and in no small measure to the relaxed and cheerful atmosphere that it provided. During the breakfast, the manager of this restaurant will meet with you and share the history of this incredible tearoom.
After breakfast, we take a photo walk of the Dalhousie Square also known as BBD bagh area. Visit St. John's Church, the Govornor's palace from outside and the Magan David Synagougue, The walk will take you to Burra Bazar. Here we will trace the origins and remains of the varied communities that hung their boots and called Kolkata home and check why Chinese breakfast still rules Tiretta Bazar, where the Parisis are dwindling in numbers with each passing day and how the Armenians gave the city its oldest surviving Christian church while we pass the Anglo - Indians, the Muslims, the Marwaris and many more that made this city a great melting pot of diverse cultures.
Lunch will be at Arsalan restaurant, famous for Kolkata Biryani. The Kolkata Biryani is very similar to Kashmiri Biryani due to the Persian influence but very different from Lucknow biryani. Your tour guide will explain the basic difference between the biryani and the preparation. The meal will be accompanied by Kabab Chaps, Rizalas and Khambiri roti.
Afternoon, we will enjoy a relaxing sunset cruise on the River Hooghly. You will discover a hitherto unseen side of Kolkata, with a ring-side view of the myriad happenings on the river's 'Ghats'. This was the view that greeted many a nineteenth century adventurer as they stepped up to the Princep's Ghat. Sail past Belur Math, headquarters of The Ramakrishna Mission, as the city's two huge and famous bridges, Howrah and Vidyasagar Setu pass overhead.
Dinner is at Tero Parbon restaurant. This restaurant specializes in authentic "Ghoti" cuisine from West Bengal. The owner of the restaurant will meet as we enter and explain the different cuisines in Bengal and how Ghoti cuisine is different from East Bengal cuisine. He will also share few secret recipes which we can try at home. (B,L,D)
Overnight in Kolkata
Morning, we will do a bazar walk. Traditionally, each neighbourhood in Indian cities have the all important bazaar or market, catering to communities residing in the locality. We will visit one such oldest neighbourhood bazaars in the city. This locality comprises of Indian communities who settled in Calcutta from the Raj days - Gujaratis, Punjabis and Sikhs, and of course the Bengalis. It is a one stop super market offering almost anything one would require - groceries, household wares, jewellery, shoes, clothes, and a host of other merchandise and amenities.
We will end the walk on a sweet note. Sweet or 'mishti' as it is known, is much the ubiquitous Bengali way of life. In fact, certain famous confections are greatly sort after by a lot of people around India. Numerous sweet shops are situated in almost every locality in the city. On this walk, we shall visit one such locality confectionary shop to savour some of Bengal's sweet legacy.
After the walk, we visit a Tea connoisseur for a private Tea tasting session.
India is one of the largest producers and consumers of tea and therefore it is almost impossible to believe that this beverage was not a part of the Indian kitchen even as late at the 19th century. Some of the best teas in the world come from Darjeeling, the Himalayan region that is situated in the Northern part of the state of West Bengal. In order to understand more about the history of tea in India, we will visit the office of a Tea connoisseur. A talk on the origins, the industry and production of tea and we will end with a tea tasting session and sample some of the finest teas of this region.
Lunch is at Saturday Club - one of the oldest & premier social club in the city. More than a Century old, this club used to be a hub of 'Light Horse Regiment' who frequented this club.
The movie "Sea Wolves" is a 1980 war film starring Gregory Peck, Roger Moore and David Niven. The film is based on the book "Boarding Party" by James Leasor, which itself is based on a real incident which took place in the Second World War. The incident involved the Calcutta Light Horse's covert attack against a German merchant ship which had been transmitting information to U-boats from Mormugao Harbour in neutral Portugal's territory of Goa on 9 March 1943.
Today Light Horse Bar of Saturday Club displays many war memorabilia, a Victoria Cross and a Military Cross presented by the Calcutta Light Horse Regiment
Enjoy drink at the famous "light house bar" and lunch. Afternoon is at leisure.
Evening, dinner is at Eau Chew restaurant on Ganesh Chandra avenue. This restaurant is run by 4th generation Huang family and specializes in excellent home cooked Hakka Chinese food. We have made arrangements for an interaction with the owner - Josephine and her son Joel and talk about the Chinese food and the history of Chinese settlement in India.
Calcutta's large Chinese community once thrived and made their mark on the city. The first Chinese immigrant is said to have settled in Hooghly district around 17th century. In recent years, the community has shrunk in numbers although they have retained their influence over the city's cuisine in a very big way.
Overnight in Kolkata (B,L,D)
|Day 8||Lucknow||KOLKATA - LUCKNOW|
Morning, transfer to the airport to board flight for Lucknow (Please note the luggage allowance on this flight is 15kg/33lb checked in baggage and 7kg/15lb hand luggage).
Arrive Lucknow and transfer to the hotel for your stay.
Lucknow - 'The City of Nawabs' is an intriguing blend of old world charm, warm hospitality, courteous people, beautiful architecture and rich heritage. The city also is the centre for Chikan embroidery, renowned for its timeless grace and gossamer delicacy; it is a skill more than 2000 years old.
Lunch is at the hotel.
Afternoon, we will do a guided visit to the architectural marvel of age, La Martiniere College which was designed by the Frenchman Major-General Claude Martin as a palatial home. The Boys College is the only school in the world to have been awarded "Royal battle of honors" for its role in defense of Lucknow during the mutiny of 1857.
Later we drive to 'Chowk' the oldest market place of Lucknow to shop for the unique crafts of this Nawabi City. We walk in the by-lane of Chowk called 'Gol Darwaza' -the market place that is known to house the best of handicrafts and Chikan work. Chiken is a unique craft where the craftsman work delicately on unique styles and stitches on very light cotton fabric.
We continue the walk to the adjacent to Akbari Gate for a Culinary Walk. During the walk, we will get the opportunity to sample the best dishes from the Awadhi menu from the places, where they actually originated. We will sample the original Tundey Kebabs, Raheem's Nihari and Mobeen's Pasanda Kebabs. Observe the chef's at work in these small and dingy shops that serve mouth watering delicacies. Our culinary curator will explain the history and the recipe of each of these dishes.
End this meal with local "Paan" Betel leaf with areca nut. Paan is chewed as a palate cleanser and a breath freshener. It is offered to guests and visitors as a sign of hospitality and at the beginning of social events. It has a symbolic value at ceremonies and cultural events in India.
Overnight in Lucknow (B,L,D)
Today we embark upon a city tour of Lucknow. We will visit Lucknow Residency, a place where speechless walls are known to speak the tale of the 1857 mutiny. The sprawling British campus witnessed nothing less than 3000 deaths to keep the Union Jack flying. In the compound, we will see the trees, bullet sprinkled walls, unusable canons, worn out firearms that were witness to the mutiny. We also visit the graveyard of the named and unnamed soldiers who gave up their lives in the defense of The Residency.
We drive past Sadat Ali Tomb and the 'Chatar Manzil' - a part of this palace was built by a French architect, Claude Martin and visit 'Asifi Imambara, the gateway of world's most unique architecture. Built by Nawab Asif-ud-Daula', this monument has the world's biggest pillarless hall. Also see the 'Rumi Darwaza' or the Turkish Gate and the Asfi Mosque.
Later we will visit the Husainabad Complex - the Clock Tower is the highest Clock Tower in Asia and in some ways superior to its counterpart, 'Big Ben'. Today the clock stands motionless. We further enter the 'Babylon of East', the Husainabad Imambara - known for its beauty and pieces of de'cor. This was built in 1840 by Mohammad Ali Shah and is still considered to be a sacred address by the natives. See the beautiful chandeliers, silver seat, sandalwood de'cor and calligraphy on the walls.
Stop for lunch at a local restaurant, The Royal Cafe' and try out the fusion cuisine at this eatery that once served the American and the British soldiers during the world war times. Today this restaurant is extremely popular with the locals and tourists alike.
Evening, we visit a local Royalty in their family home for dinner. After a short introduction, we will get into an informal chat talking on diverse topics on Awadh ranging from Cuisine, Craft and Culture of this fabled city. This will be followed by an exclusive live interpreted Kathak dance performance. Kathak is one of the eight forms of Indian classical dance. This dance traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or the storytellers. Its form today contains traces of temple and ritual dances. From the 16th century onwards, it absorbed certain features of Persian dance while in Lucknow's courts of the Nawabs.
After the dance performance, we move to the kitchen and learn one secret recipe from the Awadhi menu. Most of the dishes and cooking style of Lucknow is inspired by the Mughals, who had spent some time in Persia after their defeat in the third battle of Panipat. What the Mughals introduced was Mughlai cooking, adapted from the Persian way of cooking. Awadhi cuisine includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights prepared in exotic spices and often garnished with dry fruits.
Overnight in Lucknow (B,L,D)
|Day 10||Delhi||LUCKNOW - DELHI|
Today, we celebrate the festival of colors - Holi.
Holi, the 'Festival of Colors' is celebrated in India to welcome the season of spring and end of winters. It is a two-day long festival celebrated with lot of gaiety all over India but special mention should be made of Holi of Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. On the eve of Holi, people gather to light a huge bonfire of the dried leaves and twigs. On the morning of the festival, people meet each other to apply dry and wet colors each other, play with water and eat sweets together. Holi is undoubtedly the most fun-filled and boisterous of Hindu festival. It's an occasion that brings in unadulterated joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and, of course, lots of bright colors
Morning, check out of the hotel and drive to house of a local family where we will get the opportunity to mix, mingle and celebrate this festival with the family and their friends.
Later transfer to the Lucknow airport to connect onward flight to Delhi (Please note the luggage allowance on this flight is 15kg/33lb checked in baggage and 7kg/15lb hand luggage).
On arrival, transfer to the hotel for your stay.
Delhi is India's capital and a major gateway to the country. Perhaps there is no other capital city in the world so steeped in history and legend as the Indian capital Delhi. It was the magnet, which drew the Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Mughals and the British, all of whom contributed to its glorious but turbulent past. The fascination with Delhi was such that even though it was abandoned many times, its rulers returned to it again and again rebuilding it at least seven times. Today, the twin cities of Old and New Delhi still intrigue Indians and tourists alike as the cultural and political capital of the largest democracy in the world.
Dinner is at the award winning Indian Accent located at The Manor hotel.
Indian food has been seeing a trend towards modernity and well known chefs are exploring options of creating modern dishes with indigenous products. Tonight, we will experience a special meal where celebrity chef Manish Mehrotra will rustle up an array of dishes that are his own interpretations of Indian dishes combined with flavours and techniques from across the world.
Overnight in Delhi (B,L,D)
Morning, we start on a full day guided tour of Delhi. We will first drive to "Old Delhi", the capital of Mughal dynasty between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Arrive Old Delhi and visit Jama Masjid - the largest mosque in India built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in year 1650 AD and completed in the year 1656 AD. From here we board our cycle rickshaws for a tour of Chandni Chowk (Silver Street). Here we will get a glimpse into an old world lifestyle slowly fading from Delhi. The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be felt in the Chandni Chowk's narrow lanes. While on the tour, we will stop at Khari Baoli, Asia's largest wholesale spice market. Operating since the 17th century, the market is situated close to the historic Delhi Red Fort.
We learn about the spices on sale and smell their aromas. The street is congested with shops on both sides selling spices, nuts and herbs. The overall appearance seems to be very chaotic but in reality it is very well managed! There will be great photo opportunities here!!!
From here, we make a quick visit to some of Old Delhi's best known eateries including the Paranthe Wali Gali, Giani's Kulfi Faluda, Natraj Dahi Bhalla, Akbar Pakwaan and Chole Kulche, as well as many hidden gems only known to locals. Watch each delight being made and then taste them.
We continue to Raj Ghat - a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, set within a beautiful park.
A vegetarian lunch will be at organized at Sagar Ratna.
Afternoon we will visit Dilli Haat. This market was established to provide a platform to craftsmen all over the country who were otherwise limited to their villages & towns. The purpose was to let the artisan sell their products directly to Indian & foreign buyers. There are fixed stalls representing many states.
Evening, we will visit our local host at their house for an interaction and meal.
Overnight in Delhi (B,L,D)
We start early this morning with a visit to the flower market. Enjoy riots of colors at the flower market in front of a lively Hindu temple. We continue to a prominent and magnificent "Gurudwara" the Sikh Temple buzzing with the morning Prayer activities. Every sikh temple across the world has 'langar' (free kitchen). Every day they serve chapati (bread) and lentil (dal), supplemented with vegetables to the devotees/ community.
While at the Sikh temple, we will visit the Community Kitchen where food is prepared and served free of cost all day and night to thousands of people!! We will get an opportunity to volunteer in the community kitchen. Prepare and serve a meal for people from all walks. Volunteering in the cooking, serving and cleaning process is a form of an active spiritual practice for devotees, but the service provided asks no religious affiliation of its recipients. This spirit of inclusion and equality is reinforced by the kitchen's adherence to vegetarianism, not because Sikhs are vegetarian, but because others who visit may be, and by serving no meat, they exclude nobody.
After an early lunch at the Sikh temple, return to the hotel for a short rest.
Late afternoon, we visit New Delhi. Drive past Sansad Bhawan (the Parliament House) and Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President's House) the one-time Imperial Residence of the British Viceroys governing India. Then proceed to India Gate for a photo stop. It's a memorial raised in honour of the Indian soldiers martyred during all the wars until now starting from World War I.
Later, proceed to visit Qutab Minar, the 12th century Tower of Victory built by a Slave King - Qutb-ud- din Aibak. The Qutb Minar is notable for being one of the earliest and most prominent examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. It is also listed as a UNESCO heritage site.
Dinner is at Chor Bizarre to sample Kashmiri Wazwan cuisine, prepared by one of Delhi's most experienced chefs. Chor Bizarre is the only Kashmiri Wazwan restaurant outside the Kashmir Valley and has access to the secrets of this particular type of cooking.
Return to the hotel after the dinner.
Overnight in Delhi (B,L,D)
|Day 13||Agra||DELHI - AGRA|
Morning, we drive to Agra. This is an interesting drive as we will be driving on our newest built expressway. We will drive past India only international standard Grand Prix track "Gautam Buddh circuit" and then vast expanses of agricultural fields dotting the sky. Comfort stops will be made enroute.
Arrive Agra by early afternoon and check in for your stay
Lunch is at the hotel.
Agra - Once a small village on the banks of the Yamuna, it was transformed by two great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and his grandson Shah Jehan into the second capital of the Mughal Empire - Dar-ul- Khilafat, or 'seat of the Emperor' in the 16th & 17th century. A world of contrasting edifices of red sandstone and white marble, narrow galleys, bustling streets and small buggies, Agra retains the irresistible charm that made this the favorite city of the Mughals.
Afternoon we visit Agra Fort - the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. Approachable by two imposing gates and constructed of red sandstone, the citadel was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar between the years 1565 and 1573. Encircled by a moat, this dramatic city within a city was the palace of three emperors, Akbar, Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb, each of whom made significant contributions to the wonderful architecture of the inner buildings - a combination of Persian (Islamic) and local Hindu styles.
Late afternoon we will have Hi Tea with local family and later proceed for Kachpura Heritage Walk. A narrow bridle path through agriculture fields near Mehtab Bagh will take us into the ancient village of Kachpura and Humayun's Mosque. The walk will end in Mehtab Bagh from where we will have the opportunity to watch the Taj Mahal during sunset from across the river.
In the evening we visit a marble inlay workshop to fully understand the beautiful precious gem stone calligraphy done on the Taj Mahal.
Dinner is at Peshwari - a specialty restaurant serving cuisine from North West Frontier region. The food is cooked in clay ovens or tandoor in the traditional style of the Indian North-West Frontier region. This style of cooking requires great expertise on the part of the chefs, since the meat is not accompanied by any sauce or gravy, but only pre-marinated and cooked before serving.
The celebrated Chef of this restaurant will meet us and talk about the cuisine and how it is different from Lucknowi or Hyderabadi cuisine.
Overnight in Agra (B,L,D)
|Day 14||Depart Delhi||AGRA - DELHI - DEPART DELHI|
Early morning, we visit Taj Mahal. It is fitting to see this extraordinary monument by the first light of day as its exemplary beauty is awe-inspiring and will create an unforgettable memory.
Said to be one of the most elegant and harmonious buildings in the world, Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in 1630 AD to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal. Taj Mahal manifests the wealth and luxury of Mughal art as seen in architecture and garden design, painting, and calligraphy. The 144 foot double dome of the Taj is capped with a finial and the four minarets each 131 ft high and crowned by an open octagonal pavilion highlight the perfect symmetry of the tomb.
Return to the hotel for breakfast.
After lunch, we drive towards Delhi arriving late in the afternoon. In time transfer to the airport to board the international flight home. (B,L)