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INDIA 
The Mystical India - Itinerary
DATES & COST 

November 7 - 19, 2020
13 Days / 12 Nights

Tour starts and ends in Delhi

$5,760 per person / double occupancy
$1,620 optional single supplement
$300 additional night, including private airport transfer (single or double room)
Includes all fees and taxes

TOUR DIRECTOR 
TOUR MAP 

Click on the image to enlarge the map

This tour starts on Saturday, November 7, 2020 in Delhi, India.
We will be meeting for our welcome dinner at 7:00PM, so we recommend that your flight arrives no later than 4:00PM today.

Day 1: Arrival in Delhi 

On your arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), you will be met by a Sights and Soul representative, who will assist you through Immigration and introduce you to our chauffeur for your private transfer to our luxury hotel, a peaceful oasis in the center of the bustling Connaught Place area of New Delhi. We'll spend the day at leisure, resting after the long flight and taking advantage of the spa and other amenities offered by our beautiful hotel. In the evening, we'll meet the rest of the ladies to come together for our celebratory Welcome Dinner.
Meals: Dinner
Accommodations: Shangri-La Hotel, Delhi

Day 2: Delhi 

Delhi encapsulates two very different worlds, the ‘old’ and the ‘new’, each presenting deliciously different experiences. Spacious New Delhi was built as the imperial capital of the British India; the rambunctious Old Delhi served as the capital of Islamic India. Today, we'll get a chance to experience both, immersing ourselves in the city's fascinating history. We'll begin by visiting Humayun's Tomb which created a precedent for the future Mughal architecture of the Taj Mahal. Next, we'll proceed to the famous Qutub Minar, a soaring tower of victory built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, signifying the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. With five distinct floors, each marked by a projecting balcony and made of distinctive red sandstone, this is an imposing sight, made even more mysterious by the provocative inscription informing readers that it was built with materials obtained from demolishing '27 Hindu temples'. After a late lunch, we'll visit the Culture Gully to watch a Bollywood themed theater play about a gypsy prince, performed by well-known Bollywood actors. After the performance, we'll visit this architecturally innovative cultural center showcasing arts, crafts and cuisines from across the country.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations: Shangri-La Hotel, Delhi

Day 3: The city tour of Delhi 

Today, we'll continue our exploration of India's capital city, getting deeper into its complexities and intricacies. We'll start with a tour of the dramatic Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque and the long-standing symbol of Delhi. After a delightful lunch in a contemporary restaurant, we'll explore the Old Delhi, as we enjoy a rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of the ancient city and past its colorful bazaars. We'll admire the colonial architecture of the India Gate and Indian Parliament, and we'll top off the day with a visit to Mahatma Gandhi's memorial at Raj Ghat and the Indira Gandhi Memorial.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations: Shangri-La Hotel, Delhi

Day 4: Delhi to Udaipur 

After a sumptuous breakfast this morning, we'll transfer to the Delhi airport for our direct flight to Udaipur. With its dramatic setting and rich tapestry of lakeside palaces, forts, carefully restored stately residences, temples and gardens, Udaipur reflects the varied influences of centuries past. The erstwhile capital of the Kingdom of Mewar was founded in 1553 by Maharana Udai Singh, and today, from its magnificent palaces to its vibrant bazaars, this jewel of a city best represents the romance and allure of Rajasthan. We'll arrive in the City of Lakes framed by the Aravalli Mountains in the afternoon. We'll have some free time to relax on the hotel's meticulously maintained grounds, filled with African tulip trees and peacocks wandering freely around, before enjoying a fascinating astrology session conducted by renowned astrologer and palmist, then we'll end the day with an elegant dinner in the hotel's restaurant.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Trident Hotel, Udaipur

Day 5: Udaipur 

Sitting amidst several lakes, with the shimmering Lake Pichola, and surrounded by the ochre and purple ridges of Aravalli Hills stretching in every direction, Udaipur has a romantic setting arguably unmatched in all of India. Fantastical palaces, temples, havelis and countless narrow streets frozen in time are the counterpoint to the city’s natural surroundings. We'll start the day with a tour of the City Palace, the sprawling Maharana's palace blending Medieval, European and Chinese architecture, five stories high and decorated with endless balconies. After the tour, we'll enjoy a delightful lunch, followed by a relaxing boat ride on the ripple free Lake Pichola, past the stunningly romantic Lake Palace to visit the Jagmandir Island Palace. In the afternoon, we'll have some time to enjoy the bustle and color of the ancient bazaars and the town's lively arts scene, before attending the renowned Cultural Dance Program at Bagore ki Haveli in the evening.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations: Trident Hotel, Udaipur

Day 6: Udaipur to Jaipur 

This morning, we'll leave Udaipur and drive towards the pink city of Jaipur. En route, we'll stop in the town of Deogarh to meet with local royalty and enjoy a lavish lunch at the magnificent Deogarh Palace brought to fame during the Mewar royal era and whose traditional Indian architecture and decor tell a story of luxury and decadence going centuries back. In the afternoon, we'll arrive in Jaipur, the present capital of Rajasthan, nicknamed the City of Victory. The city was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, and is famous for its unusual pink colored building, the stately grid of the city streets, its lakeside palaces and impressive fortresses surrounded by glorious hilltops. After checking into our hotel, we'll relax over an authentic Indian dinner in the evening.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Trident Hotel, Jaipur

Day 7: Jaipur 

Today, we'll spend the full day touring the photogenic and historical city of Jaipur. We'll start by ascending on elephant back, to the Amber Fort, a dramatic hilltop fortress, surrounded by ramparts and filled with interior palaces, gardens and temples, retaining much of their pristine beauty and showcasing both Rajput and Mughal architecture. From here, we'll continue to the City Palace, a unique and arresting complex of royal pavilions, courtyards, gardens, and temples painted and decorated in amazing detail. After lunch, we'll continue to the Jantar Mantar complex, featuring the celebrated equinoctial sundial and the ancient solar instruments that precisely measure celestial data. In the afternoon, we'll get a chance to admire the Palace of Winds, or Hawa Mahal, built from the signature pink sandstone and brilliantly designed to keep cool during the hot summers, with a unique honeycomb-like façade of miniature windows, carved sandstone grills, finials and domes. The evening will be free and you may choose to spend time browsing some of India's best artisinal bazaars to enjoy the excellent shopping that Jaipur is known for, explore the city's museums and galleries or indulge in the Ayurvedic Spa at the hotel.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations: Trident Hotel, Jaipur

Day 8: Jaipur to Agra, Fatehpur Sikri 

In the morning, we'll leave Jaipur and drive to Agra, the city synonymous with the eternal love and the host to the stunning Taj Mahal. After entering the state of Uttar Pradesh, we'll stop to visit Fatehpur Sikri, an intricately decorated fortified ancient city, and one of the capitals of the Mughal Empire. Emperor Akbar visited the village of Sikri to consult a Sufi saint, who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. When the prophecy came true, the emperor built his new capital here, including a stunning mosque and three palaces for each of his favorite wives, one a Hindu, one a Muslim and one a Christian. We'll arrive in Agra in the afternoon and after settling in to our hotel, the remainder of the evening will be free to rest after today's journey.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 
Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton, Agra

Day 9: Agra: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Diwali celebrations 

This morning, we'll get to see what many consider to be the most perfect building in the world: the Taj Mahal. This dazzling white marble monument, inlaid with precious stones and shrouded in tales of romance and valor, "a solitary tear, suspended on the cheek of time," was built in 1630 by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a shrine to his queen Mumtaz Mahal. It melts the hearts of all who see it, especially at sunrise when it is bathed in the first rays of the sun. After seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise, we'll have breakfast at the hotel, then we'll set out to explore the intricately designed red Agra Fort, a fortified palace, containing mosques, assembly halls and the royal apartments, where Emperor Shahjahan was imprisoned by his son. In the afternoon, we'll visit a local orphanage to learn about its efforts with self-sustenance and how we can get involved. We'll get a chance to speak with the children and the caregivers, and provide the needy orphans with gifts and supplies. In the evening, we'll be guests of honor to an Indian family, who will share their daily routine with us. We'll meet the family members, learn about their daily life, then we'll be asked to help prepare tonight's dinner. Following the feast, we'll enjoy a demonstration of Saree draping, applications of delicate henna patterns and partake in the Diwali celebrations, an annual Hindu festival of lights, symbolizing "victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance".
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton, Agra

Day 10: Agra to Delhi to Varanasi 

This morning, we'll depart from Agra to Delhi Airport to take an afternoon flight to Varanasi, India's spiritual capital associated with mysticism, spiritualism, yoga, Sanskrit and Hindi languages. Varanasi's history is closely related to the River Ganges and its religious importance, and the city, by many considered to be the oldest in the world, has been a center of learning for over 3,000 years. After checking into our hotel, we'll have some free time to rest or to explore our new surroundings, before we relax over dinner at the hotel's restaurant, featuring an extensive selection of exotic super fruits, whole grains, vegetables, legumes along with anti-oxidant rich foods.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Gateway Hotel Ganges, Varanasi

Day 11: Varanasi, Ganges River and Sarnath  

Before sunrise, we'll set out from the hotel to enjoy a boat ride on the mystical Ganges River. During this deeply moving and spiritual experience, we'll be able to watch the faithful offer water to the Sun God and devotees take the dip in the holy Ganges. Afterwards, we'll visit the Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and considered one of the most important temples in the Hindu religion. After breakfast at the hotel, we'll proceed to Sarnath, where we'll explore the roots of Buddhism. This is where the Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his five disciples, and many stupas, viharas and monasteries were built here, as Sarnath became one of the greatest Buddhist learning centers. This is also where the famous Ashokan pillar was excavated from which the Lion Capital, the national emblem of India, was adopted. In the evening, we'll take another boat ride on the Ganges River, where, accompanied by musicians performing classical Indian music, we'll witness the evening Ganga Aarti prayers, the mesmerizing spiritual ritual performed at the famous Dashashwamedh Ghat leading to the river.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Gateway Hotel Ganges, Varanasi

Day 12: Yoga session, Varanasi to Delhi 

This morning, we'll take part in a traditional yoga and meditation session based on the Vedic heritage and spiritual teachings around the five points of yoga: posture, breathing, relaxation, meditation, and diet. Afterwards, we'll enjoy a healthy breakfast, before transferring to the Varanasi airport for our flight back to Delhi. We'll check-in at the airport hotel for our last night in India, and in the evening, we'll celebrate our Mystical Indian adventure with a festive Farewell Dinner.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations: Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport

Day 13: Departures 

After a delicious breakfast, you will have a private transfer from the hotel to the Delhi International Airport in accordance with your flight's departure time. 
Meals: Breakfast
 

This tour ends on Thursday, November 19, 2020 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL).

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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