North India Trip – 10 Days
If you are planning to visit India for the first time, there is no better option than this golden triangle with the add of the most ancient spiritual city in the world, Varanasi… This special itinerary, comprising the three famous cities of India-Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, is designed to offer the main tourist attractions and the best responsible tourism projects of Northern India.
It is the perfect choice for your first trip to India, because it brings together the best experiences of Northern India in a 10 days tour.
The itinerary will overwhelm you with all the Indian wonders: the grand and fascinating architectures, the deep religious sense, the human and cultural variety. The amazing magic of an Indian adventure is condensed into a very introspective journey, from which many people return changed.
The journey will begin in Delhi, the capital: here you will have the chance to visit the heart of the old city, the ancient district of Paharganj, with an exceptional tourist guide from a local NGO that helps street kids, taking care of their education, job training and access to health services. Next stop will be Nawalgarh, a small and less known town, with refined Havelis, and a colorful and lively bazaar. Here you will stay in an eco-lodge involved in several activities, which support development projects for the local community.
Then you will visit Jaipur, as knonw as the pink city, the largest city in Rajasthan, and the city of Agra with the famous Taj Mahal. At this point you will visit the city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges, which is considered the home of the god Shiva. It is also one of the Shakti Peethas (places of worship of the goddess Shakti) and hosts one of the twelve Jyotirlinga (shrines in honor of Shiva) of India, making it one of the fundamental pilgrimage sites for Hindus. The city also has a great historical meaning, with its over 3000 years. The silk produced here is famous all over the world, as gold and silver threads are inserted inside the complex interweaving of the fabric: an inevitable purchase for shoppers and at the same time an asset of great artistic value. The tour of North India at this point ends by returning to Delhi for the international flight.
Registration can be requested for group travel or for self-travel. For group travel, registration is not binding. Upon reaching the minimum number of members necessary for the formation of the group, usually 4 or 6 people, you will be asked for confirmation of booking and payment of a deposit.
1° DAY: VISIT TO DELHI
Arrival at Delhi airport. Transfer to hotel for some rest. Around 10 am after breakfast you
will start your guided tour of Old Delhi. In particular, you will visit the Red Fort (visit only from outside), a UNESCO World Heritage since 2007, built in 1639 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (the creator of the Taj Mahal), the the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, where an ancient copy of the holy Quran written on Deer skin is preserved. Visit small lanes of this part of the city such as Chawri Bazar, one of the busiest street of Old Delhi. Later visit Raj Ghat, the site of Mahatma Ghandi cremation. After lunch you will visit new Delhi with its Government buildings such as the India Gate, an arch erected in memory of the Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during World War I, and the Parliament House. In the late afternoon we will continue the visit with the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, one of the most prominent Sikh gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship in India, known as the “Sarovar.” Then trasfer to the hotel. Overnight in Delhi (D)
2° DAY: TRANSFER TO NAWALGARH
Delhi – Nawalgarh
Around 10 a.m. will start the visit of the poor district of Paharganj, in Old Delhi, led by special tour guide from a local NGO, which saves street kids, giving them education and job training. This experience aims to show the tragic reality of street kids, watching the world from their perspective. A former street kid will walk you trought the streets of the district of Paharganj and the areas around the train station. This gives you the unique opportunity to visit the city with exceptional guides. In the afternoon transfer by car to Nawalgarh (about 5 hours), in the Sekhawati region of Rajasthan. Here you can stroll and choose among 200 well preserved Havelis to visit (ancient and sumptuous Indian residences). The wonderful Havelis frescoes are true works of art. Overnight in Nawalgarh. (D)
3° DAY: VISIT TO NAWALGARH
After breakfast you will visit the most beautiful Havelis of Nawalgarh. Free time for lunch and later in the afternoon camel ride through the Nawalgarh countryside to Dundlod. Visit the village and return to the hotel. In the evening dinner will be accompanied by a small concert of Indian classical music performed by local musicians. Overnight in Nawalgarh. (B, L, D).
4° DAY: TRANSFER TO JAIPUR
Nawalgarh – Jaipur
After breakfast, a cooking class will be held by a member of the eco-lodge family and you will prepare lunch. In the afternoon, transfer by car to Jaipur (about 3 and a half hours), the largest city in Rajasthan and symbol of magnificence and abundance. The city was founded in 1727 by Jai Singh II and it was the first Indian city with a reticular planimetry. Jaipur was the capital under the reign of the Kachwaha clan and it is an ideal tourist destination. Overnight in Jaipur (B, L).
5° DAY: VISIT TO JAIPUR
After breakfast, visit to the Hawa Mahal along the road to Amber Fort. Transport by jeep to the castle. After lunch, visit to the Anokhi museum, which shows how important craftsmanship is for the rural economy of India. In the afternoon, visit to the Royal Palace and the ancient city; places full of charm, culture and architecture, with splendid fortresses, majestic palaces, peaceful temples and beautiful Havelis (ancient noble residences). The “Pink City” can boasts of a refined craftsmanship and a spectacular goldsmith tradition, which enhance its uniqueness. Lush gardens and flower beds add serenity to the landscape. All together these ingredients create a picturesque environment that fascinates every visitor. Walking throught the streets of this unique city makes it easier to understand local history and culture. Overnight in Jaipur. (B)
6° DAY: TRANSFER TO AGRA
Jaipur – Agra
After breakfast transfer to Agra by highway (about 4 hours). Arrival in Agra and lunch in a small restaurant supported by a local NGO that helps women victims of acid attacks. After lunch visit old Agra. You wll explore the old city on a 3-hour walking tour led by a local guide who shows you daily life away from the typical tourist attractions. Learn about Agra’s history, architecture, and traditions as you discover the old market and its surroundings. The first stop will be the Jama Masjid, a big mosque opposite to Agra Fort. You will continue walking along the narrow lanes of old Agra, meeting a local family living in the area. Later you will visit the ancient Manka Meshwar temple (Shiva temple), followed by the wholesale spice market, Rawatpara, where you can find Agra petha, a candy made from ash gourd. You will also experience the bustle at the shoe mandi in Johri Bazar, the only street of Ayurvedic doctors, the paan (betel leaf), and the food street of Seth Gali. In the evening participation to a cultural show of Kalakriti, which shows the love story of Emperor Shajahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz. Overnight in Agra (B, L)
7° DAY: TRANSFER TO VARANASI
Agra – Delhi – Varanasi
Visit to the Taj Mahal (closed on friday) early in the morning (around 6 a.m.). It is one of the most famous and visited monuments of India, built at the behest of the Mughal emperor Shahjahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The majestic white marble building is now a universal symbol of love and romance and it is also one of the seven wonders of the world. It was built in 1653 (symbolically remembered in the 16 gardens and 53 fountains) and it took 16 years of work and the commitment of thousands of artisans.
In the afternoon transfer to Delhi airport (about 4 hours) and internal flight to Varanasi. Once in Varanasi, transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Varanasi (B)
8° DAY: VISIT VARANASI
After breakfast, guided tour of the sacred city with its many attractions, ancient temples such as Kashi Vishwanath, Kal Bhairava, Durga Kund and Annapoorna. Varanasi is also an important center of art, crafts, education and culture. There are the Benares main Ghats, or bleachers leading to the Ganges, many of which are used for ritual ablutions, others for cremations. Often the bleachers are associated with a legend or a mythological episode; others are private. The most important steps for cremations is the Manikarnika Ghat, known as Mahasmasana, included in the sightseeing tour. It is believed that burning bodies in these special places is the right way to achieve Moksha, salvation. In the evening, you will see the famous religious ritual of the Ganga Aarti Puja, which takes place every day at sunset at the Dasaswamedh Ghat, near the Kashi Vishwanath temple and is a very choreographic ceremony. It is performed on a stage by a group of young Pandits, wrapped in saffron tunics, who hold the ceremonial dishes in front of them. Overnight in Varanasi. (B)
9° DAY: VISIT TO SARNATH
After breakfast, time to discover the Ghats (stairways) that dot the Ganges. In the afternoon, visit the Buddhist city of Sarnath, located 13km northeast of Varanasi, near the confluence of the Gomati River in the Ganges in Utta Pradesh. Sarnath Deer Park is the place where Gautama Buddha first taught Dharma. Today it is one of the 4 key points of the Buddhist community (with Bodhgaya, Kushinagar and Lumbini in Nepal) and attracts believers from all over the world, especially on the day of Purnima (or Buddha’s birthday), when life is celebrated, the death and enlightenment of Buddha. Overnight in Varanasi. (B)
10° DAY: Return home
Varanasi – Delhi
In the morning, internal flight to Delhi airport and departure with international flight.
The whole itinerary has been designed to promote direct or indirect benefits for local communities, environmental conservation and protection of cultural heritages. When possible we have selected traditional accommodations sensible to social and environmental issues, following general principles and practices of responsible tourism.
North India is full of contradictions, here extreme richness and poverty coexist. On the one hand magnificent Havelis and ancient buildings transformed into luxury hotels, and on the other people who have nothing.
The selection of accommodation facilities is very important and cannot disregard respect for traditional local architecture; in this way the monetary flow deriving from tourism contributes to the protection of historic buildings. The economic impact of tourism makes it possible to renovate and preserve some of the palaces, fortresses and historic residences, which otherwise would be abandoned or destroyed; with a responsible tourism tour, local communities and NGOs can also benefit from it.
This tour combines famous tourist destinations and lesser-known places in order to distribute in a fairer way the economic flow produced.
Moreover, staying in traditional places rich in history, allows you to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the place, making it possible to create an authentic encounter with the local communities.
Local NGOs and voluntary associations will show tourists the reality of their country, through their daily activities. The NGO you will meet in Delhi supports street kids, recovering them from the street and turning them into tourist guides; poor and exploited children are a huge issue of the indian capital and hearing about their personal experiences, about the alternative life they have managed to build thanks to the NGO, will help the visitors to understand this particulka aspect of indian society. They will show you the reception centers and the projects undertaken by the organization, which for years has been providing assistance, education and professional training to these children.
The eco-lodge selected in Nawalgarh is involved in responsible tourism activities and financially supports various community development projects. In Agra there will be a visit to a fair-trade cafe that supports women victims of acid attacks and a responsible tour that explains the history of the Taj Mahal.
Often hotels and restaurants exhibit artists from the region, but without creating real contact with the artist himself. During our tour, instead, it will be possible to visit their homes; in this way the tourist will have the opportunity to better understand their art and their culture, while the artist will not have to compromise, retaining his decision-making power.
Our contribution to these communities ensures the maintenance and strengthening of their autonomy; the possibility to improve their skills and create a network of artists covering all of Rajasthan, in order to expand the benefits drawn from Responsible Tourism. We organize workshops to learn not only their traditional crafts, but also to better understand their social context. We also propose a Responsible Shopping, buying products directly from artisans, without any intermediary making profits, often unreasonable, at the expense of producers. Likewise, we encourage home-stays, so that the economic benefits go directly to the communities.
Moreover, your contribution of 70 euros will support development projects in favour of one of the most marginalized tribal communities of India, Kattunayakan community from Nilgiri district (Tamil Nadu and Kerala). These projects aim to preserve biological and cultural diversity and
to promote the formal education of children.
It is advised to follow a conduct which respects local culture to avoid any hassles or unwanted troubles along your journey. In particular, avoid displays of affection (such as hugging, kissing etc) in public places, as this behaviour is not appreciated by local people. Some tribal community, especially old villagers, are particularly sensitive to photographs. It is always better to ask permission before taking any picture in villages or local markets.
It is recommended to follow a dress code while travelling in India for two main reasons: the first one is to avoid hurting local people; the second one is to protect yourself from the unstable weather conditions. One more thing to keep in mind is the mosquito problem, keeping your arms and legs covered will provide more protection (however, don’t forget to bring with you mosquito repellents). Furthermore, temples, churches, synagogues, monasteries and mosques are places of worship and visitors are required to wear appropriate clothing. Access may be prohibited to men and women wearing skirts or shorts and sleeveless shirts.
Another useful advise is to get onto India’s time zone even before your arrival; trying to eat and sleep according to local time. If you arrive in India early in the morning, trying to stay awake will help the body’s internal clock reset.
A conscious approach to travel requires a considerable capacity and willingness to adapt and adjust to the local environment and culture. If you wish to travel with us we request you to be open enough to experience local culture, religion and traditions without bias and pre-conceived ideas you might have before the departure and which belong to our Western cultural way of thinking. Exploring with fresh eyes, with patience and openness, you will be able to access the real essence of North India cultural heritage through the places and people you are going to meet; if you are ready to do this effort you will really enjoy the beauty of a completely different cultural tradition, the extraordinary of the nature, the solemnity of temples and palaces, the holiness of the waters of countless rivers and oceans that flow through this magic land.
We selected beautiful and traditional heritages resorts with excellent facilities throughout the tour. All the hotels have been selected carefully according to criteria of social and environmental impacts.
Private vehicles o mini-buses with AC according to the number of participants for all the itinerary. Internal flight Delhi – Varanasi is included.
The best time to visit northern India (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal) is from October to March. Rajasthan instead has a dry climate all year round, with sporadic monsoon storms between July and August, usually intense and short. Maximum temperatures ( between 26° and 36° degrees Celsius) are recorded betweem October and March. Monsoons occur mainly from May to September.