Hyderabad · Jaipur · udaipur · leopard safari · jodhpur · delhi · agra 

FEBRUARY 20 to MARCH 5, 2018 ITINERARY

14 DAYS from $12,999

Overload your senses – feel your spirit – Restructure your basic assumptions. This tour will touch your soul. Our 14-day India adventure of discovery takes you on a journey of more than just a destination, but perhaps even of yourself. Long after you leave you will be gently haunted by memories of a place, a person, even a sound, or the smells of tea, jasmine blossoms, and incense. This is not your average tour of India: this is Zoom India!

Day One ~ Arrive in Hyderabad

Arrive at Hyderabad International Airport.  After clearing customs and immigrations formalities you will be met by a Zoom representative outside the customs gate who will escort you to your hotel.

 Established in 1591 AD, Hyderabad has been the kingdom of the Nizams, avid patrons of culture and craft. Long been a global center for diamond and pearl trade, today Hyderabad is an important information technology hub of India. The city is truly the perfect blend of historic charm and modern brilliance.

At the hotel, a traditional Indian welcome of aart- tikka- garland will be accorded.  Check-in at your hotel.  

Evening: Welcome Dinner and Cocktails at a surprise location

Accommodations: Taj Falaknuma Palace
Meals Included: Welcome Dinner

 

Day Two ~ Hyderabad

Breakfast at the hotel. 

This morning visit Golconda Fort. This tour will trace the history of the Qutb Shahi dynasty which ruled Hyderabad between 1518 and 1687 AD. The narrative will include stories of the rulers of this dynasty with a special emphasis on the love story between Mohd Quli Qutb Shah and Bhagmati. You will hear the story of Aurangazeb’s long and frustrating siege of the Golconda Fort which ended in his narrow victory.

The Golconda Fort, originally built by the Kakatiya Rulers has amazingly advanced acoustics systems that were used for signaling approaching enemy as well as for detecting conspiracies being hatched in palace corners! The Fort also is unique in the use of the natural boulders (that date back to a billion years), distinctive of the Deccan plateau, as foundation stones for the structure. The Fort was once a walled city to a large population. It has some   very interesting features; a 900 year old temple in close proximity to almost as old a mosque, reflective of the healthy intermingling of different cultures of those time, an old prison that was used to imprison a Ram devotee, who converted the space into a temple, carving images with his hands and composing songs that are sung even today, spaces that were naturally air-cooled, remnants of a fairly evolved water supply system.

The climb up the Fort would be a sometimes steep, sometimes easy climb of about 360 steps and has excellent views of the Qutb Shahi tombs just outside the Fort area, the Charminar in the distance and the rest of the city’s landscape.

Continue to the Qutub Shahi Tombs that are probably the most magnificent of the tombs in the city. Built by the Qutb Shahi rulers prior to their death, each ensured that their tomb is better than their ancestors! This intense competition of course resulted in a more than happy situation for us today when we are able to stare at awe at their magnificence. The elaborate architecture in the hammams (or bath) is reflective of the rituals that were followed before the burial of the kings. Walk around the complex where you feel dwarfed by the immense proportions and hear stories of the kings who ruled this region, the negotiations that they carried out with the invaders and the intrigues and politics that were such an integral part of those times!

Culminate your tour at Suraiya’s home-workshop where you can watch skilled weavers working on textiles. The looms are focused on the revival of Persian brocades, specifically Mashru, Himroo, Jamavar and Paithani. 

Afternoon at leisure at the hotel - pool/ spa etc.

Optional: Visit Salar Jung Museum that houses part of the huge collection of Salar Jung, one of the Nizam’s prime ministers, and his ancestors. A well-travelled man of wealth, he bought whatever took his fancy from both East and West including Indian jade, miniatures, furniture, lacquer-work, Mughal opaque glassware, fabrics, bronze, Buddhist and Hindu sculpture, manuscripts and weapons.

Accommodations: Taj Falaknuma Palace
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 

Day Three ~ Hyderabad
Breakfast at the hotel. 

Morning put on your apron and get ready for an exciting Hyderabadi cooking session with the Executive Chef of the Palace.

This evening visit Paigah Tombs. During the Nizam’s rule, the family next in nobility to the rulers was the Paigah Family. The Paigahs were a family second in nobility only to the Nizam’s family. Apart from playing an important role in the politics of the region, they also left behind their marks in the palaces they built for themselves. Some of them have been converted into clubs, resorts and other important buildings. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, they also built some magnificent tombs. The Paigah tombs have a unique architectural style with a combination of Turkish, Mughal, Persian and Rajasthani style of architecture. 

Later walk around Charminar area and the old city. No place can give you a glimpse of Hyderabadi life like the Charminar area can. It is a brilliant mosaic of history, culture, modernity, crafts, business and old world charm -‐ a perfect slice of this city's life. Walk through Laad Bazar and get dazzled by the shiny lac bangles that Hyderabad is known for, take the by-‐lanes and meet the craftsmen who create ‘bling’, one at a time. Walk into the chaos of fluttering pigeons in the Mecca Masjid courtyard to the simplicity of the Nizam’s tombs.

This evening you will return to the hotel and proceed on a Heritage Tour of the Palace you are staying in - The Falaknuma Palace.

Accommodations: Taj Falaknuma Palace
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day Four ~ Hyderabad to Jaipur
Breakfast at the hotel.

This morning transfer to Hyderabad airport in time for your flight to Jaipur.

Jaipur: The city was first intended to be called ‘Sawai Jaipur’, named after the boy Prince who commissioned it - Maharaja Jai Singh II - a warrior, astronomer and politician who reigned over the Mughals from 1699 to 1743. Today's Jaipur is pink, visually described as the city shaded with the autumn colors of sunset. Although originally the walls were render set and pigmented the color of red sandstone, Jaipur's universal coat of pink only came in 1876 to coincide with the visit of the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII). Almost the entire city was given a coat of pink paint, thus giving it the name the ‘Pink City’.

Upon arrival an Zoom Vacations representative will meet you at Jaipur airport and transfer to your hotel Taj Rambagh Palace.

Afternoon at leisure at the hotel - pool/ spa etc.

In the evening drive to Amber Fort to witness the sound & light show. The well-organized sound and light show here is a fascinating attraction of the Amber Fort, with its rocky walls provided with an energetic backdrop for the light- effects. Made exciting by repeating of the various stories and legends of the Rajput Kings attended by harmonious folk music. They tell you the story of Rajputs’ and explain and the attractive narration takes you through the memory lane of Amber, describing its traditions and the grand lifestyle of the royal family. 

Later visit Amber Fort. Tour the chambers and hallways of the palace. Amber Fort is famous for the excellence of its design and decoration. Within the complex is Ganesh Pol, an imposing gateway painted with the images of the elephant-headed god, Ganesh. The merging of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles is captured in the Sukh Niwas and Jas Mandir apartments, and the Charbagh garden with its perfectly proportioned landscaping. Pierced screen windows offer views from different vantage points & shimmering mirrors encrust walls of Sheesh Mahal.

Dinner will be arranged at a special location at the Amber Fort.

Later return to your hotel.

Accommodations: The Taj Rambagh Palace
Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

 

Day Five ~ Jaipur
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Morning city tour of Jaipur visiting City Palace museum that has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, armory of Mughal and Rajput weaponry. The museum also has an art gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works that were acquired by Sawai Jai Singh II in order to fulfill his passion for astronomy. Also visit Jantar Mantar Observatory built between 1728 and 1734 – it houses precise instruments for measuring “the harmony of heavens” each instrument serves a particular function and gives an accurate reading. 

Photo stop at Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds). This beautiful façade is probably the most-photographed in Jaipur, with its ornately carved windows designed so the ladies of the palace could look out onto the streets unobserved. 

Afternoon at leisure at the hotel - pool/ spa etc.

Optionally, a shopping tour can be arranged. 

Accommodations: The Taj Rambagh Palace
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast

 

Day Six ~ Jaipur to Udaipur
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

After breakfast, this morning transfer to Jaipur airport in time for your flight to Udaipur.

Udaipur, the city combines real beauty with a picturesque association of a great and glorious past. It stands in a valley, amidst green hills on the banks of the wide, steel blue Lake Pichola. On little islands in the lake, from the water's edge, rising marble palaces of pure white that glistens like fairy castles. Crowning the ridge in which the city clusters, along the shore of the lake is the palace of the Maharana. Possibly no city in Rajasthan is quite as romantic as Udaipur and is replete with fantastic hill top fortresses, exotic fairy tale palaces and gripping legends of medieval chivalry and heroism.

Upon arrival a Zoom Vacations representative will meet you at Udaipur airport.

From airport drive to the fascinating Eklingji temple complex. Eklingji, the town has in all about 70 temples including the famous Eklingji Shiva temple. The original structure of the temple was built in 734 A.D. The temple has a beautiful rustic architecture with distinctly carved tower. The temple also has beautiful and heavy silver doors. On entering the main hall, you are greeted by a mesmerizing fragrance and a silver image of ‘Nandi’. There are two more Nandi’s in the temple; one made of black stone and the other of brass. Shiva is worshipped here in the form of a four faced black marble image.

Later transfer to your hotel Taj Lake Palace.

Rest of the day at leisure at the hotel - pool/ spa etc.

Accommodations: Taj Lake Palace
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast

 

Day Seven ~ Udaipur
Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning city tour of Udaipur visiting City Palace, a conglomeration of buildings added by various Maharanas, the palace manages to retain a surprising uniformity of design. The entrance is through Hathii Pol (elephant gate) along the main street of the old city, past the Jagdish Temple. The paintings, mosaics, intricately carved ‘chhatris’ and of course the architecturally brilliant facade all contribute in making a visit to the City Palace a truly memorable experience. 

Continue to Crystal Gallery that houses a rare collection of Osler's crystal ordered from England by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1877. Culminate the tour at the Maharana’s Vintage & Classic car collection. On display are the magnificent Rolls Royce, 1939 Cadillac open convertibles, rare Mercedes models, 1936 Vauxhall among others.

Afternoon at leisure at the hotel - pool/ spa etc.

Accommodations: Taj Lake Palace
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast and Lunch

 

Day Eight ~ Udaipur to Jawai
Buffet Breakfast at leisure in hotel

After breakfast drive to Jawai covering a distance of 175kms in approx. 3 hours.

En route visit Ranakpur Jain Temple (opens at 12 Noon). Surrounded by the Aravalli hills and located on the banks of 'Magai' river this grand and gigantic four-facet structure was built between the late 14th to mid-15th centuries. The present structure of the temple came into being after 50 years of hard work by various artisans and sculptors. The temple is dedicated to 'Lord Adinath'. Light colour marble has been used for the construction of this grand temple which rises majestically from the slope of a hill with its distinctive domes. The temple has over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail and no two pillars in the temple are the same. It is also said that it is impossible to count the pillars. So with countless pillars and each different from one another, you are bound to be baffled by the beauty of this unique temple. 

Lunch will be arranged at the Mountbatten Lodge. 

Continue your drive to Jawai. Upon arrival check-in at the Jawai Leopard Camp.

Dinner will be arranged at the camp.

Accommodations: Jawai Leopard Camp- Tent  
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day Nine ~ Jawai
Breakfast at the camp

Morning game drive with an expert naturalist - go in the search of the leopards. Safari will be arranged in open 4X4 jeeps with trained trackers and guides.

Afternoon game drive.

Breakfast, lunch & dinner will be at the camp.

Accommodations: Jawai Leopard Camp- Tent  
Meals Included: Buffet Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day Ten ~ Jawai to Jodhpur
Breakfast at the camp

After breakfast drive to Jodhpur covering a distance of 175kms in approx. 3 hours.

Jodhpur: The second largest city of Rajasthan, Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief belonging to the Rathore clan. Jodhpur is also known as the "Sun City" for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year and the "Blue City" because most of its houses in the old city are painted indigo.

Upon arrival check-in at your hotel Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace.

Afternoon visit one of the largest forts of the country, the majestic Mehrangarh fort. The fort is famous for its expansive courtyards, intricate carvings and multi-storeyed palaces. Our next stop will be near the fort, on the banks of a lake, the Jaswant Thada. This is the memorial of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. Made of gleaming white marble on a platform of red sandstone this monument is worth a visit. 

From here we head to the heart of Jodhpur, the old city. The clock tower is a popular landmark in the old city. Also the narrow alleys of Sardar Market are worth exploring. It is a great place to walk around at leisure. You are sure to find some colorful clothing, silver trinkets and handicrafts. 

Accommodations: The Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace
Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Eleven ~ Jodhpur and the Holi festival
Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Today we participate in the festival of colors – Holi with the Royal Family of Jodhpur. A special lunch will be arranged at the same venue.

Holi is a spring festival, a celebration of love, frolic, and colors. The celebration is a free-for-all carnival of colors, where participants play, chase and color each other with dry powder and colored water, with some carrying water guns and colored water-filled balloons for their water fight! People visit family, friends and foes to throw color on each other, laugh and chit-chat, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. 

Afternoon at leisure at the hotel - pool/ spa etc.

Accommodations: The Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

 

Day Twelve ~ Jodhpur to Delhi
Optional - Yoga activity for the early risers / meet the master perfumer of the Royal house of the Marwar.

Breakfast at leisure in hotel

Morning is at leisure.

By 12 noon transfer to Jodhpur airport in time for your flight to Delhi.

Upon arrival an Zoom Vacations representative will meet you at Delhi airport and transfer to your hotel Taj Palace.

Delhi, the city consists of two parts - Old & New Delhi. Old Delhi was the capital of Muslim India between 17th and 19th century and has many mosques, monuments and forts. New Delhi, the imperial city was created by the British as the capital of India. In 1911, Edwin Lutyens, the most renowned English architect of the day, was chosen to design New Delhi which flaunts a surprising number of impressive monuments related to its conquests by the Mughals, Turks, Persians and ultimately the British. Lutyens designed some of the most striking landmarks including a lovely broad avenue lined with stately residences and lavish neoclassical creations that lead up to the magnificent Presidential Palace and Parliament buildings.

Accommodations: The Taj Palace, Luxury room
Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Day Thirteen ~ Delhi to Agra, and back to Delhi
Breakfast at the hotel

Morning transfer to railway station in time to board the train for Agra.

Departure: Delhi: 08:10 hrs.*Gatimaan Express

Arrive: Agra: 09:50 hrs.(Air-conditioned Class)

*Current schedule timings, subject to change

Agra - Two great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and Shah Jahan, transformed the little village of Agra into a befitting second capital of the Mughal Empire - giving it the name Dar-ul-Khilafat {seat of the Emperor}. Today, a visitor to Agra is caught up in a world of contrasting edifices of red sandstone and white marble, narrow lanes and quaint buggies, and that irresistible charm that this favourite city of the Mughals still retains.  It is not surprising, that modern Agra still reflects its Mughal heritage most conspicuously. 

Upon arrival a Zoom  Vacations representative will meet you at Agra railway station and proceed to visit Agra Fort: An imposing structure with walls of red sandstone, almost two miles long and contains palaces, audience halls and mosques. The fort presents a good sampling of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles. It was built by the third Mughal Emperor, Akbar. Subsequent additions were made to the fort by his son Jahangir and grandson Shah Jehan. 

We will also visit Taj Mahal - With its incredible lacy white grandeur and loveliness the Taj Mahal is perhaps the most perfect architectural monument in the world. Emperor Shahjehan constructed this incomparable monument in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is the most extravagant monument ever built for love. The Taj Mahal is amazingly graceful from almost any angle and it is the close up detail, which is really astounding. Please note: The Taj Mahal remains closed on Friday.

By 4:00 PM drive back to Delhi covering a distance of 210kms in approx. 4 hours.

Optional dinner at one of the best restaurants in Delhi.

Accommodations: The Taj Palace, Luxury room
Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Day Fourteen ~ Delhi, and then depart for home or onward to our Maldives extension
Breakfast at the hotel

Begin your day with an exploration starting in Old Delhi, visiting the Jama Masjid, the royal mosque built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan in 1656. It is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in the world and is constructed in red sandstone and white marble. The main prayer hall has a seating capacity of more than 20,000 worshippers. 

Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, the spine of Old Delhi. Jahanara Begum, the daughter of Shah Jahan designed this commercial place in 1648. 

Drive past to Red fort. Built in red sand stone by Shah Jahan in 1648, this magnificent monument is laid out along the river Yamuna as an irregular octagon. 

Drive through the majestic boulevards of New Delhi. The Rashtrapati Bhawan (Presidential Palace) is where the Viceroy once lived and now is the official residence of the President of India. It is an imposing structure with 340 rooms, constructed high up on Raisina Hill. View India Gate, a war memorial arch built in honor of 90,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I

This afternoon visit Humayun’s Tomb, the first great example of Mughal architecture in India, it developed to become the hallmark of the Mughal Dynasty.  The squat building of white marble and red sandstone, with a dome and high arched entrances, surrounded by formal gardens, is generally regarded as a prototype of the famed Taj Mahal of Agra. Humayun’s wife is buried in the red-and-white sandstone, black-and yellow marble tomb. 

Next on the itinerary is Qutub Minar, a soaring tower of victory, 72.5 meter high with five distinct stories. The construction of this minaret commenced in 1193 and was completed in 1368. Built on the foundation of a Hindu temple, many elements of the construction reflect their Hindu and Jain origins. Within the complex, there are myriad monuments that combine both Islamic calligraphy and Hindu motifs.

Later transfer to Delhi International airport in time for your homebound flight or for our Maldives extension

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Air: International and domestic airfare not included.  However, Zoom Vacations will arrange all necessary internal flights.

Passports: Your valid passport should have at least two blank visa pages and should be valid for at least six months after your planned departure from the country you are visiting. 
Note: Passport pages titled "Endorsement Pages" are not visa pages.

Visas: Please note that travelers to India need to have a Indian Visa in advance of your trip in order to enter India. For more information, go to http://www.in.ckgs.us

While Zoom Vacations will assist when possible, please note that passport, visa, and vaccination requirements vary from country to country and are the sole responsibility of the traveler. If you are a US resident, you may click here for more information on passport, visa, and vaccination requirements for various countries.

*Land only Introductory rate, based on double occupancy. Prices are subject to change. Need a roommate? Zoom Vacations® is happy to match you with someone, at no additional charge. Or, you may pay a single supplement and go as a single.

Please read Terms and Conditions prior to booking.

For more information on entry and exit requirements, see here.