Highlights of India & the Ganges River - 2017

Delhi • Jaipur • Agra • Kolkata • Ganges River Cruise
  • VISIT THE ANCIENT MOSQUE COMPLEX, A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE DATING TO THE 12TH CENTURY
  • VISIT THE DAZZLING TAJ MAHAL, A MAGNIFICENT AND MOVING TESTAMENT TO A MUGHAL EMPEROR'S LOVE
  • SHARE A DELICIOUS MEAL IN THE HOME OF A LOCAL FAMILY IN JAIPUR
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Luxury
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Base prices are factored using double-occupancy rooms; supplemental fees may apply for those traveling independently.
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Everyone with a desire to travel to India knows the country's history goes back millennia — quite fitting for a such a large country that's teeming with amazing cultural discoveries and diversity. India is spiritual and colorful, noisy and serene, mystical and majestic‚ and mesmerizing at every turn. This comprehensive journey — complete with a Ganges river cruise — is your opportunity to marvel at bustling Delhi, the "Pink City" of Jaipur, and Agra's unparalleled Taj Mahal. A highlight of your experience is bound to be your seven-night Ganges river cruise aboard the all-suite RV Ganges Voyager — a truly special experience, as Vantage is the first American cruise operator to offer such an exclusive charter itinerary. Hindus believe the Ganges is the most sacred and holy water in the world, and that simply touching it cleanses away all sins. Glimpse local life along this blessed river with excursions to towns, temples, and villages. It's truly a unique Asia river cruise and the ideal way to travel through India.

Throughout your journey, you have numerous opportunities to interact with the local people and get to know their way of life. As you travel across India, you'll ride a rickshaw, join a family for dinner in their home, visit local markets and bazaars, and much more. You'll also enjoy special events on board your Ganges cruise ship, including lectures, a musical performance, and a cooking demonstration. Don't miss this exciting land-and-river journey through India!

Itinerary at a Glance

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DAYS 1-2:

Depart home / Overnight flight / Delhi, India

We arrive in Delhi after an overnight flight. After clearing immigration and customs, you are met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the evening is at leisure, and dinner is on your own.

DAY 3:

Delhi

We begin our exploration of this enigmatic country with an excursion into New Delhi, driving past the grand President's Palace and the ancient and imposing India Gate. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit Qutab Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 240 feet, Qutab Minar is India’s second-tallest minaret and oldest mosque, a magnificent blend of red sandstone and marble. After admiring this towering treasure, we return to the hotel and get better acquainted at a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4:

Delhi

Today we take in the other side of Delhi – Old Delhi – on a fascinating excursion. We will see Raj Ghat, the memorial to peaceful crusader Mahatma Gandhi and the huge Jama Masjid mosque whose courtyard can hold 25,000 worshippers. Afterwards, we make a photo stop at the Red Fort, a sprawling vision of red sandstone. Cultural Discovery: Hop aboard a rickshaw for a ride among the colorful wares, fragrant spice-lined lanes, and narrow alleys of Chandni Chowk, the city’s oldest and busiest market. After lunch in a local restaurant, we visit a local carpet workshop. Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure and dinner on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 5:

Delhi / Jaipur

We drive to Jaipur, India’s “Pink City,” and check in to our hotel. Lunch is on your own, and the afternoon is at leisure. Cultural Discovery: This evening, prepare for a special dinner out as we are the guests of a local family in their home. Our visit affords the unique opportunity to meet an Indian family in the comfort of their home and share insights about our lives with them.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 6:

Jaipur

After breakfast, we set out for the Mughal-designed Amber Fort, stopping to view the remarkable Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) along the way. Its filigreed façade provided tiny windows through which women of the harem could watch the world go by without being seen. Cultural Discovery: Once we arrive at the Amber Fort, we set off on a fun Jeep ride and enjoy our exploration of this imposing, UNESCO-listed fort. Later, we visit a jewelry manufacturer for a gem-cutting demonstration. Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure with dinner on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 7:

Jaipur

If you wish, you can rise early to join an unforgettable hot-air balloon ride over the "Pink City" of Jaipur. After breakfast at the hotel, we visit the City Palace and the Royal Museum, where we admire paintings, ivory, carpets and crystal. Cultural Discoveries: Later, we visit the walled Maharaja's City Palace, a massive complex of ornate design, and enjoy an exclusive lunch at the City Palace. After, stroll through a local bazaar to witness the rich and vibrant heritage of Jaipur in the Old Quarter. Dinner is on your own tonight.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch
Optional Tour: Sunrise Balloon Over Jaipur

Sunrise Balloon Over Jaipur

  • Approximate Cost: $245 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 1-2 hours
  • Location: Jaipur, India
  • When: Early Morning

Rise early and join us on this thrilling excursion that shows you from the air why Jaipur is called the “Pink City.” You’ll rise before dawn for an early-morning pick up at your hotel, then proceed to the launch site. As you float into the pre-dawn air, you’ll have a spectacular view of Jaipur and its surroundings. You’ll silently drift high above Man Sagar Lake and its beautiful Water Palace that seemingly floats on its surface. Gaze down upon the countryside as it awakens from its slumber. And get a true sense of India from the air as its teeming streets spring to life far below. The cost of this optional tour includes roundtrip transfers from the hotel, a pre-flight briefing, and a flight of approximately one hour. After your magnificent balloon excursion, you’ll return to your hotel in time for breakfast.


DAY 8:

Jaipur / Agra

We rise early today and drive to Agra. After lunch at our hotel, we head out to explore Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is more of a walled city than a fortress. Its vast walls embody the power and wealth of the Mughal leaders who built it. After a tour of its interior, return to the hotel for an evening at leisure and dinner on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 9:

Agra

This morning, we visit India’s most iconic landmark, the magnificent Taj Mahal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, a splendid marble wonder, was built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. After time to take it all in, we return to our hotel for lunch on your own and an afternoon at leisure. Late this afternoon, you can join an optional "Taj at Sunset" tour. Dinner is at the hotel tonight.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner
Optional Tour: Taj Mahal at Sunset

Taj Mahal at Sunset

  • Approximate Cost: $45 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Agra, India
  • When: Early Evening

The tour starts with a visit to Itmad-ud-daulah, the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, an important official of the Mughal empire and grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the Taj Mahal was built. When Ghiyas Beg’s daughter Nur Jahan commissioned her father’s tomb, it was the first in Mughal India to be constructed of pure marble rather than sandstone and to feature the pietra dura inlay later used on the Taj walls. It is thus often called the “Baby Taj.”

At sunset, we move on to Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden), on the flood plains across the Yamuna River from the Taj. Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who created both the Taj Mahal and the garden, felt that the best view of his wife’s mausoleum was from here. At one time surrounded by sandstone-clad walls, crisscrossed by white stone walkways, and planted with fruit trees and narcissus, the bagh was nearly ruined by floods and neglect, but is today being restored, including replanting to match the original Mughal horticulture. Some of these plants produce bright flowers that shine in the moonlight. In these splendid surroundings, as you feast your eyes on the golden hues washing the Taj across the river, perhaps you, too, will feel Shah Jahan’s pride and undying love for his queen.


DAY 10:

Agra / Kolkata / Embark RV Ganges Voyager

Today we'll transfer to our luxury Ganges ship in Kolkata, one of the only private charters on this sacred river. We drive to the airport in Delhi and fly east to Kolkata. Upon arrival, we drive to the banks of the sacred Ganges, where the luxurious RV Ganges Voyager awaits to take us on a seven-night Ganges river cruise.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 11:

Kolkata / Bandel

Cultural Discovery: This morning, we visit Kolkata's Mother Teresa Orphanage – or Sishu Bhaban, Children’s Home – in the company of one of the sisters. We'll also enjoy a panoramic tour of the colonial area of the city, including a visit to the Victoria Memorial Museum.

After lunch onboard, we explore Bandel by boat. See Hoogly Imambara, one of the famous Shiya pilgrimage centers in West Bengal. We’ll marvel at its Victorian-era clock and Persian chandeliers illuminating the atmospheric passageways. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 12:

Kalna

This morning, we set out on a morning excursion to the Rajbari complex, where we find the highest concentration of temples in the region. One complex, the Nabakailas Temples, comprises 108 individual structures laid out in two concentric circles. Another features the Pratepeshwar Temple, enhanced by plaques that depict Hindu themes. After time to explore, return to the ship for a free afternoon. Cultural Discovery: Back on board, we hear more about the colonial period and its impact on contemporary India during an enlightening lecture. This evening, you will have the opportunity to watch a movie on board.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Matiari

Cultural Discovery: Early risers may join us for a stroll to a shoreside bazaar, overflowing with beautifully crafted brass and copper pots, platters and more. The techniques used to shape these pieces has been passed through generations. Cultural Discovery: After lunch on board, learn more about life in this region during a lecture on"The Ganges River: The Environmental Outlook and Socio-economic Impact of the Local Population." Later, learn to prepare some authentic dishes during a cooking demonstration.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 14:

Khushbagh / Baranagar/ Murshidabad

Early this morning, we set out to visit the charming village of Khushbagh, passing farms along the way to a well-preserved 18th-century mosque complex. Return to the ship for breakfast. Cultural Discovery: Later, we explore the village of Baranagar for a look at rural life. See several brick temples — considered among the best examples of Bengal terra cotta art. After lunch on board, head to historic Murshidabad, a hidden architectural gem poised along the Ganges. We’ll see dramatic whitewashed colonial-era structures throughout the city. Visit one of them — Hazarduari Palace, built by an English architect in mid-19th century in Greek Doric style. Cultural Discovery: This afternoon, hop a buggy for a ride to visit Katra Mosque, the region's oldest. Cultural Discovery: Back onboard this evening, enjoy a colorful West Bengal music and dance performance.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 15:

Mayapur

We enjoy a leisurely morning cruising the Ganges and watching daily life unfold along its banks. Later, we stop to visit the village of Mayapur, known as the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, born in 1486 and considered an incarnation of Lord Krishna. We meet some Krishna followers here and learn about their massive complex with its 700,000-square-foot temple and 75-foot domed planetarium.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 16:

Chandannagar

Explore Chandannagar, a former French colony that dates to 1673. We view the French colonial buildings along the promenade, such as the former French governor's residence that is now a museum. Then, visit the Sacred Heart Church and the historic French bakery that still bakes fresh baguettes daily.  Afterwards, we return to the ship for a Farewell Reception and Dinner. Cultural Discovery: We enjoy a colorful cultural performance after dinner. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAYS 17-18:

Kolkata / Disembark ship / Delhi / Return home arriving next day

Our river cruise on the timeless Ganges comes to a close as we return to Kolkata early this morning. Later, we disembark and transfer to the airport. Those joining the post-trip extension to Varanasi will board their flight to this Hindu holy city. Others will check in for their flight to Delhi and a late-night connecting flight home, arriving the next day.

Note: Land-only passengers will end the tour in Kolkata. After disembarkation, they will need to arrange for a flight from Kolkata back to their home city. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Lunch

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Tour Director or regional expert.

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