Day 12. Arrive Agra
This morning we arrive in Agra and drive to our hotel. We’ll visit the Agra Fort this afternoon; built by Akbar the Great, the fort stands in an imposing position on a bend in the Yamuna River with wonderful views of the Taj Mahal further along its banks. The fort contains some stunning and very intricate designs. Later you may wish to visit the Taj Mahal (optional) or visit the exquisite Itimad-ud-Daulah known as the ‘Baby Taj’.
Day 13. In Agra; visit the Taj Mahal; drive to Jaipur via Fatehpur Sikri
We visit the Taj Mahal, the world’s most perfect and poetic building, at sunrise. Over 300 years have elapsed since its construction, yet it stands today, largely unscarred by age, its beauty and symmetry seemingly beyond man, time & space. Created by Shah Jahan as a funerary monument to his favourite wife Mumtaz, it took 22 years to build (1630-52). The Great Moghul lies beside his beloved under the white marble dome. Inlaid with precious gems, the building cost a fortune and later Shah Jahan moved his capital to Delhi before being overthrown by his son, Aurangzeb.
We head west this morning, to the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri. Founded in 1569 and abandoned scarcely 16 years later, it is a perfectly intact example of Akbar’s imperial court. Among the many noteworthy buildings is the 5 storied Panch Mahal, probably a pleasure pavilion for the ladies of the harem. In the centre of the courtyard is the Pachisi Board where the emperor played a game like chess with dancing slave girls as pieces. Perhaps the finest structure of all is the lotus shaped carved central pillar of the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), its extraordinary capital supporting a vaulted roof.
We then continue to Jaipur and check into our hotel. Sometimes called the ‘Pink City’, Jaipur was first painted terracotta pink by Maharajah Sawai Ram Singh to celebrate the visit of Prince Albert in 1853.
Day 14. In Jaipur
We’ll visit the lavish and well preserved City Palace with its fine collection of textiles, costumes and armoury and the Palace of the Winds with its famous 5-storied facade which has been the subject of countless Indian posters. Jai Singh, the great Maharajah astronomer built his extraordinary (and very accurate) star-gazing Observatory (Jantra) here right opposite the City Palace. This afternoon is left free for further personal exploration of this fascinating city.
Day 15. In Jaipur; train to Delhi
The morning is spent in Jaipur before catching a train to Delhi. You may wish to take an excursion (optional) to nearby hill fortress of Amber, which contains an amazing chamber of mirrors and affords spectacular views across the surrounding plains in the late afternoon.
Day 16. In Delhi
This morning we plan a tour of Old Delhi – to include the Jami Masjid mosque and view of the Red Fort, ending in the bustling Chandni Chowk Bazaar, a jamboree of deafening barter and the true hub of the Old part of the city. In the afternoon we take a city tour of New Delhi, which will include Lok Sabha (Parliament), India Gate, the Rajpath, Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutb Minar Victory Tower
Day 17. Tour ends Delhi - Boo Hoo, time to go home !
© Gary Bennett