Can one call Varanasi an international city?

India: Holy Cities on the Ganges and Agra

Day 1: Departure to India

The journey begins: with your suitcases packed, you set off for Munich Airport to board your plane to Delhi in the evening. Shortly after midnight you will be welcomed there with a warm "Namaste" from your tour guide, who is looking forward to showing you his homeland over the next few weeks. First of all, it goes to the accommodation.
"The Suryaa New Delhi" is only about 20 kilometers from the airport in the New Friends Colony district. The comfortable rooms are decorated in warm colors and have dark wooden furniture. The hotel has a nice pool and a wellness area. In the in-house restaurants you can enjoy authentic Indian cuisine or international dishes with a great view of the city.
(Driving distance approx. 20 km, approx. 30-35 minutes)

Day 2: Welcome to Delhi

After a leisurely breakfast, embark on the adventure of India. Before you indulge in the hustle and bustle of the big city, it is once again more contemplative. You visit the "Sanshil Foundation for Welfare", a non-profit organization. True to the motto "helping people to help themselves", training and jobs are created here. For example, many women learn tailoring here. Find out more about everyday life and the situation of these women during a tour and a personal conversation.
Back in Delhi, you will quickly notice how your senses are being challenged by the city. First in Old Delhi, where your tour of discovery begins at the Mahatma Gandhi monument Raj Ghat and leads past the Red Fort to the lively Chandni Chowk bazaar. India's largest mosque, the Jama Masjid, with space for up to 25,000 worshipers and the onion-shaped domes is not far. India is also the land of diversity and so it goes afterwards to the Sikh temple Bangla Sahib. The meditative chants of the believers go back to the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak.
At lunch you will strengthen yourself for the second part of the sightseeing tour. During a walk through Hauz Khas you will experience the combination of historical buildings with the charm of old India and modern and urban Delhi with many restaurants, small boutiques and markets.
After so many impressions, it is time to pause for a moment and enjoy a champi, the traditional Indian head massage. Much from recent history and modern buildings can be found in New Delhi. On the way you will see, among other things, the India Gate, whose model is named Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Parliament building. In the evening, a dance and theater performance takes you through the history of Delhi. "The Suryaa New Delhi" is still your accommodation today. F / M / A
(Driving distance including exploration tour approx. 90 km, approx. 3-4 hours)

In the Sikh temple Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, in addition to the shoes, the socks must be taken off before entering.

Day 3: Flight to Varanasi

After breakfast it's again “Phir Milenge Delhi!” Goodbye Delhi! You'll fly to one of the oldest cities in India and the holiest city of Hinduism in about an hour and a half. When you arrive in Varanasi, you will be transferred to the hotel. The afternoon is yours. Enjoy the advantages of your accommodation or explore the city on your own. Later, learn about the narrow streets of Varanasi on a rickshaw ride and experience the hustle and bustle. Your journey ends at the ghats, the stairs that lead down into the river Ganges.
The Ganges is the holy river of the Hindus, according to the belief its waters cleanse of sin and promise absolution. The ashes of many dead are scattered here in the river. Death and life are closer together here than almost anywhere else. Mourning communities, playing children, praying monks and cows running freely in between form a mystical and unique spectacle and take you into a completely different world. Here you have the chance to experience and understand Hinduism in all its facets. You continue by boat, from where you can experience the very special atmosphere of the “Aarti of Ghats”. An evening ritual and the highlight of the first day. With a lot of fire, music and chants, this sacred ceremony is dedicated to the deity Shiva. Relax in the evening from these certainly impressive experiences of the day.
The "Rivatas By Ideal" in Varanasi is located in the immediate vicinity of restaurants and shops that invite you to take an evening stroll. But there is also a lot to offer in the modern city hotel itself: two restaurants, a bar, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool. You stay in elegantly furnished rooms that are decorated in light colors. The hotel's own restaurant "The Ocean" offers mainly international dishes, while traditional Indian specialties are served in the "Grill by the Ocean". The "Blue Bar" tempts you with cocktails, wines and soft drinks. Exactly the right thing to end an eventful day in a sociable way. FA

Day 4: The holiest city of Hinduism

You will no longer dream when you get on the boat again early this morning. Yesterday's spectacle was just so impressive that we didn't want to withhold the morning pilgrimage ceremony from you. Back on land you drive to an Akhada, this is how the traditional sports facilities for Indian wrestling are called. Here you can cheer for your favorite during a training match. Time for breakfast before you go to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple on the Ganges, one of the twelve holiest temples of Shiva.
Then you will be initiated into the secrets of lassi production, the traditional Indian yoghurt drink, which you can of course also taste. A little outside of Varanasi, you will then visit one of the four most important Buddhist pilgrimage destinations, Sarnath. This is where Buddha is said to have preached the Four Noble Truths for the first time and thus founded Buddhism. Back in Varanasi, stroll through the narrow streets of the winding old town to the river bank. The "Rivatas By Ideal" is still your accommodation today. F.
(Driving distance approx. 30 km, approx. 1-2 hours)

Day 5: Flight from Varanasi to Khajuraho

The first days in India were definitely intense, so relaxation is on the agenda this morning. With your Yoja teacher you can bring your body, mind and soul back into harmony and shake off any tiredness. After you have strengthened yourself at breakfast, you will fly to Khajuraho around noon in about an hour. Later in the day, the temple precinct, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is waiting to be explored by you. The 20 or so temples date from the Chandella dynasty and were built between 950 and 1120. For centuries the temple complex was well hidden under the thick leaves of the jungle until the British colonial rulers rediscovered it and described it as one of the most beautiful in all of India. The portrayal of the many female figures was viewed as extremely indecent at the time. The dance show in the evening is a bit more modest, the dancers with their colorful robes wonderfully bring the various cultural groups of the region to life.
The "Ramada Khajuraho" awaits you in the middle of the green. The air-conditioned rooms are rustically and comfortably furnished and decorated in a traditional style. The heart of your accommodation is the large pool, which invites you to linger. In addition, the house has a spacious, well-tended garden. Let yourself be pampered in the in-house restaurant with a variety of cuisine or enjoy a drink at the bar at the end of an eventful day. F / A

Day 6: By train to Agra

After breakfast you will be taken to Jhansi. Today you travel typically Indian, because the railroad is the means of transport of choice in India, the Indian Railways welcomes over 12.5 million passengers every day. For you, however, it is a little more comfortable and, above all, faster than for most locals, because you use the "Gatimaan Express". It is currently the fastest train in the country and will take you from Jhansi to Agra in less than three hours. You will cross different landscapes, see snapshots of everyday life in India and have the opportunity to test your Hindi knowledge on fellow travelers or to immerse yourself in your travel literature.
After arriving at the hotel, the evening is at your disposal. Maybe you use the time to take a first look at one of the absolute highlights of your trip - the Taj Mahal. A great foretaste of the coming day.
The "Taj Convention Center" is only a few kilometers away from the famous Taj Mahal and will fascinate you from the first second thanks to its location. The rooms are decorated in earth tones and have wooden floors. The hotel is decorated in an Indian style and has a fitness and spa area. The undisputed highlight of your accommodation is the infinity pool on the roof terrace, which gives you a breathtaking view of the Taj Mahal. In the spacious, modern restaurant, you will be pampered with typical Indian delicacies. F.
(Driving distance approx. 175 km, approx. 4-5 hours)

Young Indian woman

Day 7: Taj Mahal - how love overcomes death

At sunrise, the time has come: an electric vehicle will take you to an undeniable highlight of your trip to India. The Taj Mahal is everything you've heard, seen, and read about it and so much more. The best thing to do is to get your own picture of the famous tomb and landmark of India, which the Mughal Mughal Shah Jahan had built for his great love Mumtaz Mahal in the middle of the 17th century. Feel the magic that emanates from this fantastic structure made of white marble at sunrise. After breakfast, another highlight awaits you: the Red Fort in Agra, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The majestic complex, built in the shape of a crescent moon in 1570, was the seat and power center of the Mughal Empire for generations. We take a break and have lunch together in a small restaurant before leaving the city behind. The Indian wilderness is waiting for you.
From the "Ranthambore Regency" it is only a few minutes' drive to the entrance gate to Ranthambore National Park. Not only the beautifully landscaped garden, but also the swimming pool invite you to spend relaxing hours. You stay in comfortably furnished rooms. Regional specialties as well as Chinese and international cuisine are served in the in-house restaurant. The hotel is an ideal starting point for excursions through the national park. F / M / A
(Driving distance approx. 270 km, approx. 6-7 hours)

The visit to the Taj Mahal may not take place in the morning, but rather in the late morning. If it is very foggy in the morning, for example, you will have a much better view of the world-famous building later. In this case, your guide will adjust the program in Agra so that none of the listed sightseeing points are omitted.

Day 8: On the trail of the tiger in Ranthambore National Park

If you want to find out about the tiger, you have to get up early. Take this to heart and explore the Ranthambore National Park early in the morning on an extended safari in an open safari vehicle. The chance of seeing the king of the jungle in the wild is very good here. Leopards, crocodiles, jackals, axis deer and numerous species of birds are also at home here. At sunrise, the landscape with its lakes and dilapidated palaces is even more magical than it already is. Then return to your accommodation and enjoy a delicious breakfast. Your booty from the first safari for today: snapshots and loads of experiences.
Afterwards you visit the school “Adarsh ​​Manovikas Sansthan” in the village of Sherpur, a facility for mentally handicapped children and young people. A nice opportunity to get an impression of the everyday life of the schoolchildren and the teachers. Here you can, if you want, plant a tree. In the afternoon it is again beastly and you go stalking again. Now many animals come to the water holes to quench their thirst. Let's see who you meet there. The "Ranthambore Regency" is still your accommodation today. F / M / A
(Driving distance approx. 40 km, approx. 3 hours)

For the safaris in Ranthambore National Park, groups with 8 or more guests use exclusive open safari buses. For groups of less than 8 guests, jeeps or open safari buses are used; other international guests may also be present.
The national park is divided into ten zones. At the entrance gate, each vehicle is assigned a zone in order to distribute the visitors as evenly as possible. We ask for your understanding that we cannot influence the allocation. Of course we try to make sure that the safaris do not take place twice in the same zone. Due to regulatory measures by the park administration, the departure times of the safaris may differ. For the reservation we need your passport number, please send it to us immediately by email.

Option: If you want, and maybe even have a wedding, come along to Ranthambore Fortress. Within the fortress is a Ganesha temple to which thousands of wedding invitations are sent every day. This is intended to invite the favorite god of many Hindus to the festival. Get in line too and experience how belief and culture are lived in India. The price for the approximately 3-hour tour is 7 USD per person. The minimum number of participants is 3 and the maximum number of participants is 12. You will be accompanied by your German-speaking tour guide. Please book this excursion in advance with your tour guide the day before.

Day 9: Off to the pink city

After the day in the country, it will be colorful today. Or did you swap your glasses? No, everything here is really pink. In the afternoon you will reach Jaipur, which is also called the pink city because of the color of its houses and palaces. After a short break in the hotel, the tour of discovery begins. On foot you will meet local artisans, shopkeepers and priests and get to know the people of Jaipur and their traditions in a unique way. Take a look at the colorful temples along the way. You won't get lost today because the city was laid out in a square grid. A symbiosis of efficiency and mysticism.
The hotel "Ikaki Niwas" is located in a quiet area of ​​Jaipur and yet only a few kilometers away from the famous sights of the city. You will be warmly welcomed by the owner family and your hosts look forward to telling you more about the country and its people. The cozy rooms all have air conditioning. Start the day invigorated with a freshly prepared breakfast and end the evening on the large terrace by the pool. F.
(Driving distance approx. 170 km, approx. 4-5 hours)

Day 10: Trip to Amber

In the morning you go back a long way into the history of India. You will travel by jeep to the former capital Amber, which is enthroned on a rock, and the Amber Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013. There you will visit the Sheesh Mahal, also known as the Palace of Mirrors, an impressive structure with protective walls and numerous gates. There are so many mirrors hanging here that a single lamp is enough to illuminate the entire hall.
On the way back to Jaipur, a stop at the famous Hawa Mahal should of course not be missed. The architecturally unusual Palace of the Winds, built in 1799, testifies to the lavish lifestyle of the Rajput princes. The facade of the building made of pink and red sandstone is particularly impressive. It consists of 953 artistically designed windows and niches, which gave the harem ladies a view of the pageants that take place on religious festivals without being seen themselves.
Afterwards you will see the magnificent city palace and the historical observatory Jantar Mantar, before you let yourself be driven through the color frenzy of the market in a rickshaw. Today you are invited to the traditional Rajasthani dinner with an Indian family. Look forward to traditional food and an exciting insight into the life of your hosts. The "Ikaki Niwas" guest house is still your accommodation today. FA
(Driving distance approx. 70 km, approx. 2-3 hours)

Today you will be the guest of an Indian family who will go to great lengths to pamper you with local delicacies. The dishes are served traditionally, that is, you sit cross-legged in front of a small table. Ask for a chair if you feel uncomfortable or stressful on the floor. It is common to eat with your fingers without cutlery. Of course, cutlery will also be given to you on request. The family always tries to make it as pleasant as possible for you.Enjoy this unforgettable evening! With your visit you make a small contribution to the improvement of the living situation on site by the hosts generating an additional small income.

Option: Start the day with a hot air balloon ride over Amber and the surrounding villages and enjoy the fantastic views. The price for the 1-hour balloon ride is 190 USD per person, the minimum number of participants is 2 and the maximum number of participants is 8. The duration and course of the journey depend on the weather and wind conditions. The balloon ride will be accompanied by an English-speaking balloonist and it is possible that other international guests as well as you will take part. Please make a binding booking for this excursion with us no later than 6 weeks before the start of your trip.

Day 11: From Jaipur to the Venice of the East

The journey continues south, where you will reach Udaipur, idyllically situated on Lake Pichola, in the late afternoon. The city owes its nickname "Venice of the East" to its picturesque location by the lakes and the white-painted havelis and the pointed Shikhara temple towers. Located on the edge of the Aravalli Mountains, the green Udaipur looks like an oasis in the otherwise often barren Rajasthan. In the evening you have a wonderful view of what is perhaps the most romantic city in India from a boat. Enjoy the ride on the water and end the first evening in the hotel.
The "Mahendra Prakash" is a family-run hotel in Udaipur designed in the style of the Havelis. In a short time you can reach many of the city's sights and the picturesque Lake Pichola is only a 15-minute walk away. The rooms are traditionally furnished in a typical Rajasthan style. Relax by the pool or in the garden after an eventful day. You have a beautiful view of the city palace from the roof terrace. FA
(Driving distance approx. 70 km, approx. 2-3 hours)

Day 12: Udaipur: picturesque residential city

For a leisurely exploration of the labyrinthine old town, get on your bike today. Due to the altitude, the climate in Udaipur is usually very pleasant. In the early morning we start by bike at the Jagdish Temple, past the clock tower and the lively vegetable market, to Lake Pichola. You will notice that the leisurely bike ride gives you the opportunity to be right in the middle of it instead of just being there. After breakfast, take a closer look at the Jagdish Temple, built in the 16th century, with its numerous Vishnu representations and the impressive city palace. In the late afternoon you will have the opportunity to explore your favorite spots on your own. Did you find a great photo spot on the bike tour or would you like to delve deeper into the market bustle? The rest of the day is yours. The "Mahendra Prakash" is still your accommodation today. FA
(Driving distance approx. 70 km, approx. 2-3 hours)

Day 13: On the way to Mumbai

Are you ready for the final stop on this trip? Mumbai, the largest and certainly one of the most exciting cities in India, can be reached after an hour and a half flight around noon. The exploration of the multifaceted metropolis begins at the imposing Gateway of India, which was built as a reminder of the first visit by British monarchs in 1911. You can admire magnificent Victorian buildings past the Flora Fountain. Victoria Station is one of the impressive buildings from this era. We continue on Marine Drive. Colloquially it was referred to as the Queen's Chain, as the twinkling street lamps and the glitter of the sea reminded residents of particularly magnificent jewels. You stop at the Dhobi Ghat, the largest laundromat in the world. Over 5,000 people wash countless items of laundry by hand and then hang them to dry in the sun over never-ending ropes.
The Hilton Mumbai International Airport is just a 5-minute drive from the international airport. The rooms are decorated in noble brown tones and equipped with large beds. As soon as you step into the magnificent lobby, you will be amazed by the tasteful interior. Relax by the palm-fringed pool or enjoy traditional delicacies in the 24-hour restaurant. F.
(Driving distance approx. 70 km, approx. 2-3 hours)

Day 14: Mumbai and farewell to India

In the morning you take the ferry from the harbor to one of the highlights of Mumbai, the Elephanta Caves. After a short ascent you reach the cave temple from the 5th century, whose god sculptures are among the most important works of Hindu sculpture. They serve the worship of Shiva and are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back on the mainland you can use the time to buy the last souvenirs of this unforgettable trip. In the evening a room is available to you at the “Hilton Mumbai International Airport” to freshen up. At the subsequent farewell dinner you will have the opportunity to talk to your fellow travelers about the past few days. FA
(Driving distance approx. 60 km, approx. 2 hours)

To get to the Elephanta Caves you have to climb about 120 steps. Please speak to your guide beforehand if this could cause you discomfort.

15th day: back home

With lots of fond memories in your luggage, make yourself comfortable on the plane that will take you back to Germany.

B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner