Combine a tour of the famous Golden Triangle with the exuberant festivities of Holi – India’s most dazzling celebration, and the vibrant Festival of Jaipur, a colourful display of local culture through its people, with folk dancers, melodious music, and exciting traditional competitions.
Holi is the festival of freedom from social norms. Colors and ‘gulal’ are showered on the people dressed up in white clothes and the whole community seems to merge into one big fraternity under the guise of colors, without any distinction of caste, creed, color or sex. Children with ‘pichkaris’ (big syringes to squirt colored water) and faces smeared with color look adorable. People exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Celebrated in the month of Phalgun according to the Hindu calendar, ‘Holi’ is the thanksgiving festival of India, where people offer ‘hola’ or prayer to the Almighty for good harvest and a bountiful season. Holi has a theme of universal brotherhood and the holy bonfires that are burnt on the previous night remind us of the value of true faith and devotion in God.
Jaipur is one of the three prominent destinations in the famed Golden Triangle tour along with Delhi and Agra. The Pink City is steeped in history with its numerous forts, temples and palaces that tell stories of a glorious past dotting the city. A visit here is highly recommended for an insight in to royal culture, heritage, tradition and hospitality.
The history of Bharatpur dates back to the epic age, when the Matsya Kingdom flourished here in the 5th century BC the matsya were allies of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. According to tradition the name of Bharatpur is traced to Bharat, the brother of lord Rama of Ayodhya whose other brother Laxman was given the high place of family deity of the ruling family of Bharatpur. His name also appears in the state seals and coat-of-arms. An erstwhile duck hunting ground for Lord Curzon, Bharatpur today is the site of one of the most well known bird sanctuaries in India. Years of colourful Jat rule have also bestowed the place with a rich historic legacy.
Thursday 13th March 2014. Arrive Delhi, Free afternoon and evening.
This morning, our welcome meeting takes place. We’ll then enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Delhi. Tonight, we enjoy a Namaste Dinner a specialty North India Cuisine.
Delhi – Jaipur. Today, we drive to Jaipur. Affectionately known as the Pink City as Maharaja Ram Singh had all of the Old City painted a welcoming pink in 1876 to herald a visit by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), it is also the bustling capital of the state of Rajasthan. We enjoy a tour of the City Palace and Jantar Mantar – an old yet cleverly designed space observatory. Later visit a block printing and cotton trading workshop and learn about the interesting local craft.
Optional to see the pink city from high above with our early morning hot air balloon flight. After we travel beyond Jaipur to the stunning 16th century Amber Fort – a sprawling Rajput concoction which hugs the hill on which it was built and overlooks the hot plains below. We enjoy a stately elephant ride to the fort proper and tour the fort’s well-preserved interior and grounds. After we stop at a cotton weaving house to see a demonstration of fabric dyeing and block printing before returning to Jaipur, evening at leisure.
This afternoon it’s festival time and we will not be missing the action! Every year the Jaipur Festival sees the open air Rambagh Polo Ground burst to life in a kaleidoscope of colour, showcasing the local culture of Rajasthan, as lively folk dancers in vibrant clothing and skilled musicians set the scene for the celebrations. Join in the festivities and mingle with the locals, try your hand at turban tying or by testing your strength in a game of tug of war. If you really want to get into the spirit of things enter into the Matka Race, and try to arrive first at the finish line without dropping the earthen pot balancing on top of your head.
Jaipur – Bharatpur. It’s an early start today as the Holi festivities bring thousands of devotees out onto the streets in dazzling colour and good cheer.
Celebrated all over India since ancient times, Holi is an annual festival which takes place on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna. Originally Holi was an agricultural festival celebrating the arrival of spring. In keeping with this tradition people now choose to celebrate the occasion by throwing brightly coloured spices or herbal powders into the air – symbolically they are ridding the gloom of winter and rejoicing in the colours and liveliness of spring.
Today the central ritual of Holi incorporates the applying and throwing of coloured water and powders on friends and family which gives the holiday its modern name ‘the Festival of Colour’. This ritual is also believed to be based on events in Hindu mythology relating to Prahlad worshipping the god Vishnu and being set ablaze with his wicked aunt Holika. As the fire was lit Holika asked for forgiveness and Prahlad decreed that she would be remembered every year at Holi. Holi is also associated with Krishna’s playful splashing of the maids with water, but most of all it celebrates the coming of spring and the vibrancy of colour that the season brings.
After hotel check out and time for lunch, you can pull up a chair and watch the Holi celebrations taking place out on the lawn. For those wanting to get involved we’ll be providing white kurta pyjamas for you to wear and organic colors for you to throw. In this game of cat and mouse, stealth and the art of surprise will serve you well. After a bombardment of powder bombs and shower of water in every imaginable colour we’ll hatch an escape plan to Keoladeo Ghana National Park for a late afternoon bicycle rickshaw ride and bird watching.
Bharatpur – Agra. En route to Agra, we visit Fatehpur Sikri, former imperial capital of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Built between 1569 and 1585, it has been deserted for more than four centuries, by all accounts abandoned in 1600 due to a meager supply of water. In Agra, we visit the impressive Agra Fort before touring the legendary Taj Mahal and witnessing a glorious golden sunset. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who tragically died in childbirth in 1631, the Taj Mahal in Agra is described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love and remains one of India’s most enduring symbols.
Agra – Delhi. After breakfast we return to Delhi, the latter part of the afternoon is free for you to relax or independently explore more of Delhi.
Thursday 20 March 2014, Fly to your destinations.