Every year on the dark nights of Diwali the sound of firecrackers announces the celebration of India’s favorite festival. Homes are decorated, gifts are given, sweets are shared and thousands of lamps are lit to create a world of fantasy. Join us this year to celebrate Diwali – the festival of light on a tour of India’s famed golden triangle.
Diwali is one of the biggest festivals of Hindus, celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness in India. The festival is celebrated for five continuous days, where the third days is celebrated as the main Diwali festival or ‘Festival of lights’. Different colorful varieties of fireworks are always associated with this festival. On this auspicious day, people light up diyas and candles all around their house. They perform Laxmi Puja in the evening and seek divine blessings of Goddess of Wealth. The festival od Diwali is never complete without exchange of gifts. People present diwali gifts to all near and dear ones.
Jaipur, the pink city becomes lightened up with thousands of different kinds of earthen lamps. The market places are full with diyas in forms of various animals, birds, and cherished deities. All sorts of make-shift stalls suddenly spring out on the pavements and the bazaars bursts out with its spectacular decorations. Yes, markets in Jaipur are famous for their Diwali decorations and every year, the most well decorated market gets a prize. One of the best markets worth visiting is the Johari Bazar. Jaipur is also renowned all over the world for its gastronomical delights, and this is apparent during the Diwali season.
Agra is counted among one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Taj Mahal, which is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and most beautiful and fascinating masterpiece of mughal era is one of the best tourist places in Agra.
Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Arrive Delhi, Free afternoon and evening.
This morning, our Welcome Meeting takes place. We’ll then enjoy a half day sightseeing tour of Old Delhi, taking in the impressive Red Fort, Jama Masjid – India’s oldest and largest mosque, Raj Ghat – the site of Gandhi’s cremation and more. Tonight, we enjoy a Namaste Dinner, specializing in northern Indian cuisine.
Delhi – Jaipur. Today, we spend the morning visiting New Delhi, including India Gate, Qutub Minar and Connaught Square. This afternoon 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.
Very early this morning there is the opportunity to sail over the lofty hilltop forts and regal palaces of Jaipur in a hot air balloon, on our Balloon Over Jaipur Bolt-on. Then 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’ll ascend the road leading to the palace in princely style, aboard Indian elephants, – subject to regulations/availability as the elephants are limited to the number of trips that can make up the fort each day. Arriving at the top we’ll 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 touring of the City Palace, (watch out for snake charmers that dot our route) and Jantar Mantar – an old yet cleverly designed space observatory.
Jaipur – Abhaneri – Bharatpur. Departing Jaipur we stop in the village of Abhaneri to see Chand Baori, which is the largest and deepest step well in the world. This incredible well has a staggering 3500 steps and is 13 stories deep. Next, we discover local life, traditions and visit the village school (if open) where we operate our ‘Change for Children’ programme. After hotel check in at Bharatpur and time to freshen up we visit Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we’ll enjoy a leisurely bicycle rickshaw ride through the park.
Bharatpur – Agra. Happy Diwali! 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.
Most Indians are celebrating Diwali today and this evening we too will participate in the rituals and celebrations of the event. Our first stop of the evening is Mahadev Temple, a modern complex where we’ll witness the prayers and aarti (Hindu rituals of worship) being performed by the local devotes that gather in numbers on this special night. After learning a little more about the customs and rituals of Diwali we’ll spend a moment to gaze at the strings of colourful lights that that have been hung in the temple grounds for the occasion.
Of all the festivals celebrated in India, Diwali is by far the most glamorous and important. The five day celebration commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, from his fourteen years of exile and vanquishing the demon king Ravana. The people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, overwhelmed with joy illuminated the kingdom with earthen oil lamps and set firecrackers ablaze to welcome the return of their king
Now a day, Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil signifying the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Believing in good luck and good fortune associated with the events most Indian business communities choose to begin the financial year on the first day of Diwali.
Leaving the temple grounds we’ll make our way to at a lovely heritage property whose restaurant specialises in classic Indian cuisine for a special Diwali Dinner. As firecrackers light the balmy, autumn night sky we too continue to celebrate Diwali alongside the people of India.
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.
Saturday 25th October 2014. Goodbye India! Fly back home.