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Religious Cities of North India Tours ( 10 Nights / 11 Days )


Religious Cities of North India: Rishikesh, Dharamsala & Amritsar

Places Covered: Delhi - Rishikesh - Chandigarh - Dharamsala - Amritsar - Delhi

From ancient times, people from all over the world have been drawn to India's magic - its fascinating religious and cultural heritage. A land that vibrates with myriad peoples, where ancient religious cities, cultural traditions, religious rituals, cuisine's, architectural amazement's, colours, sights, sounds, still reflect the social, religious and geographical diversity born out of centuries of social upheaval brought by the foreign invasions.

This tour takes you from the imperial city of Delhi to the home of the rishi's (religious sadhus) on the banks of the Ganga. Rishikesh in the foot hills of Uttar Pradesh. Into the State of Himachal Pradesh - Dharamshala or Little Tibet - the home of His holiness the Dalai Lama. Finally into Chandigarh the first planned city of Le Corbusier.

Day 01 Delhi
Flight to Delhi. Arrival in Delhi and transfer to the hotel. Check in time is 1200 hrs.

Day 02 Delhi

In Delhi's 3000 years of existence, seven cities stood where the present capital of India stands. Here you'll encounter a fascinating blend of the ancient and the contemporary - where government buildings, medieval palaces and bazaars exist besides a modern metropolis. Delhi is a city waiting to be explored.

After breakfast sightseeing of Old and New Delhi.

Visit the 7th city of Delhi, Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) which was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1639-48 AD) after he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi. Red Fort - the 17th century imposing fortress built in red sandstone is surrounded by a huge boundary wall 33m high. Inside are exquisite palaces and beautiful gardens.Opposite the Red Fort lies Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) made of red sandstone and white marble, completed in 1656. It is India's largest mosque where more than 20.000 people can kneel in prayer. Visit Raj Ghat on the banks of the river Yamuna, Mahatma Gandhi's Memorial, where he was cremated following his assassination in January 1948. The memorial lies in the midst of landscaped gardens and made of a simple square platform of black marble inscribed with his last words "Hey Ram". An eternal flame burns 24 hours.

Afternoon visit New Delhi.

Visit the Humayun's Tomb, built by his wife Haji Begum in the 16th. Century. An early example of Mughal architecture considered the predecessor of the Taj Mahal. The Qutub Minar - the landmark of Delhi, a huge tower of victory started in 1199 and completed in 1368. The minar is 72.5m high with a diameter at the base 14.4m and 2.7m at the top. Proceed to the Rashtrapati Bhawan once the Viceroy's residence is now the official residence of the President of India. Designed by Lutyens, it combines western and eastern styles - the dome reflects the Buddhist stupa, the chattris Hindu and the graceful colonnades very British. It has 340 rooms. The Government Buildings designed by Baker, are topped by baroque domes and decorated with lotus motifs and elephants, while the north and south gateways are Mughal in design. The northern building has an inscription with "Liberty will not descend to a people; a people must raise themselves to liberty. It is a blessing which must be earned before it can be enjoyed". The Parliament House, designed by Baker is 173m in diameter. Inside is the library and chambers for the council of state, chamber of princes and legislative assembly. The India Gate (42m), commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who died in the 1st world war. 13516 names of British and Indian soldiers killed in the Afghan War of 1919 are engraved on the arch and foundations. Under the arch, the Amar Jawan Jyoti commemorating Indian armed forces' losses in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Delhi.

IMP: Red Fort is Closed on Monday.

Day 03 Delhi/Rishikesh ( 246 Kms)

After breakfast leave for Rishikesh. A five hours drive brings you to Haridwar, one of the 7 holy cities of India. Hindu devotees come here from all parts of India. From sunrise pilgrims come to bathe at the ghat to cleanse themselves of their sins. You will notice holy men in their huts dispensing wisdom to the pilgrims, and wandering sadhus who have made make shift shelters under trees. Here you can watch priests performing spectacular Ganga arati at sunset. No non-vegetarian food and alcohol are allowed.

Continue your drive to Rishikesh for one hour. The Ganga at this point still an astonishingly clear water stream, links all the holy places of one of Hinduism's most sacred regions. Rishikesh stands on the banks of the river as it runs swiftly through the southernmost ranges of the Shiwaliks on its way to the plains. At Rishikesh the river begins to cut through the low foothills, which were once more densely forested than today. Those forests offered the prospect of quiet retreat, the original basis of the ashram ideal, but today the whole town has become heavily commercialised, full of ashrams, sadhus and visitors attending courses in yoga and meditation. According to a legend Laxman, brother of Lord Rama lived here. It is the starting point to the Hindu holy cities like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.

Upon arrival in Rishikesh, check-in to the hotel. Evening walk through the city with its many ashrams and temples. Over the holy river Ganga there is Laxman Jhula (hanging bridge) with 140m span, built in 1939.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Rishikesh.

Religious Cities of North India: Rishikesh, Dharamsala & Amritsar Day 04 Rishikesh
Free for independent activities.

Overnight at the hotel in Rishikesh.

Day 05 Rishikesh

Free for independent activities.

Overnight at the hotel in Rishikesh.

Day 06 Rishikesh/Chandigarh

After breakfast drive to Chandigarh. On arrival in Chandigarh check in at the hotel.

Chandigarh capital of the State of Punjab which is considered to be the land of golden harvests. The whole city has 48 blocks and modern buildings. Designed by the French architect Le Corbusier in the beginning of the 50s, Chandigarh is the first planned city of India and the capital of Haryana as well.

Overnight at the hotel in Chandigarh.

Day 07 Chandigarh/Dharamshala

After breakfast, a short sightseeing of Chandigarh. Visit the Rock Garden, the creation of Nek Chand who transformed his dream of building a temple to the Gods and Goddess' out of discarded items of everyday use like bottle tops, tin cans, etc. It is built up of an extraordinary collection of stones from the nearby Shiwaliks. These have been set along a maze of paths. The low archways make visitors bow to the gods who have blessed the park. The Rose Garden one of the largest in Asia is 25 ha contains over 1500 varieties of roses, well kept and worth visiting in spring. The Government Museum and Art Gallery (Monday closed) houses collection of stone sculptures dating back to the Gandhara period, miniature paintings and modern art, also prehistoric fossils and artifacts.

After sightseeing drive to Dharamshala.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 08 Dharamshala
Today begin with a visit to the Tibetan Namgyal Monastry known as little Lhasa, has huge gilded bronzes of the Buddha. You can see large number of animated monks debating and doing the morning prayer. Little children learning to worship Buddha. If you are lucky you may encounter the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama face to face. Kalahakra Temple has modern murals of mandalas. The temple is very important, as the practice of Kalachakra Tantra is instrumental in bringing world peace and harmony. The "St. John's Church", which was built by Britishers in 1860, has attractive stained glass windows. The bell was cast in London. The Viceroy Lord Elgin, who died in office, is buried here according to his wish, as it reminded him of his native Scotland. Also visit the "Thanka"-painting school as well as a school for wood carving work.

Rest of the day is free.

Overnight at the hotel in Dharamshala.

Day 09 Dharamshala/Amritsar

After breakfast drive to Amritsar. On arrival in Amritsar check in at the hotel.

Amritsar was founded by the fourth of the ten Gurus, Guru Ram Das in 1577. The world famous Golden Temple, Harmandir Sahib in which is enshrined the Holy Book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, is the centre of a 400-year-old pool in Amritsar.

Overnight at the hotel.

Religious Cities of North India: Rishikesh, Dharamsala & Amritsar Day 10 Amritsar/Delhi

After breakfast, half day sightseeing of Amritsar.

Visit Amritsar famous famous for Golden Temple. The name Amritsar is derived from Amrit meaning `Nectar' and Sar which means `Pool', which is the small, holy lake around which is built the Golden Temple. The holy book of the Sikhs "Guru Granth Sahib", is enshrined here. Next to the Golden Temple is the Akal Takht established by Guru Har Gobind Singh in the early 17 century. This is the supreme seat of Sikh temporal authority. Another edifice is a 9 storey tower built in memory of Baba Atal Rai decorated with frescos depiting the life of the founder of Sikhism - Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Near by is the Hindu Durgiana Temple dedicated to goddess Durga.

In the evening transfer to the railway station to connect Shatabdi Express train to Delhi ( 1705/2250 hrs - Operates daily except Monday). On arrival in Delhi transfer to the hotel.

Day 11 Delhi/Home

Transfer to the airport to connect International flight back home. Check out is 1200 hrs.

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