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WGUC Trips

The Magic of Northern IndiaThe Magic of Northern India
Presented by WGUC & WVXU
October 19-November 4, 2006

Pre-Tour Extension
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Itinerary
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Optional Pre-Tour Extension:
The Holy Sites of India

October 15-20, 2006
Extension Itinerary
Extension Terms & Conditions

Sunday, October 15 - Depart from Cincinnati on American Airlines to New Delhi, India.

Monday, October 16 - NEW DELHI - Arrive in Delhi late this evening. Following immigration and customs clearance a Jetair Tour staff member will meet and assist you to your hotel, The Radisson Airport. There you can freshen up, rest or take a stroll around the hotel.

Tuesday, October 17 - NEW DELHI- KHAJURAHO - Have an Indian breakfast at the hotel.

This morning you will catch a flight on Jet Airways to Khajuraho. Your hotel will be the Taj Chandela.

Khajuraho, is the capital of the 12th -14th c. Chandela kings, who built some of India's most magnificent temples. Located in Madhya Pradesh, the temples are examples of the peak of the north Indian "nagara" style of architecture.

In the early afternoon enjoy a guided visit to the Chandela Temple Complex and see its famous temples built out of granite and sandstone. The Temples are adorned with exquisite sculpture that represents some of the finest examples of temple architecture in Northern India. After ruling for about 500 years, the Chandela dynasty fell to Islam and the religious center of Khjuraho was abandoned. Fortunately, because of their remote location the Temples were left unharmed. The intricately carved stone statues represent a galaxy of gods and goddesses, beasts and serpents, and erotic couples reflecting the joy of life and love. You'll also visit the temples of Kandariya Mahadeva, Catrabhuj, Parswanath of Parsvanath, and Ghantai.

The Kandariya Mahadeva is the best example of the Central Indian style of temple architecture. It is the largest of the Khajuraho temples and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located nearby is the Matangeshwara Temple, the only temple in which the deity Shiva is still worshipped everyday. The Devi Jagdamba temple is known for its erotic sculptures and houses Khajuraho's most talked-about image, the mithuna - the sensuously carved figures of amorous couples. The temples of Vishvanath and Nandi depict the marriage of Lord Shiva with Parvati.

Wednesday, October 18 - KHAJURAHO - VARANASI - The morning is free to catch up on sleep or continue exploring the temples on your own. In the early afternoon you'll take a Jet Airways flight to Varanasi. Lunch will be served on the flight. Upon arrival you will transfer to the hotel where you can rest or begin visiting the intriguing and mystical city of Varanasi. Your hotel will be the Taj Ganges.

Shopping: In India, Varanasi is most famous for silk weaving. Silk weaving started in Varanasi for producing saris, dhotis and chaddars for use in worship. Later, with the growth of trade and demand for silk fabrics it began to produce a variety of textiles in silk for personal uses. The specialty of the region is the heavy gold brocade that has an extra weft of rich gold thread running across the warp threads.

Thursday, October 19 - VARANASI - Your day begins with an enchanted pre-dawn boat ride on River Ganges. As your boat glides along the river, you will see Hindu pilgrims descending the wide steps (ghats) leading down to to the sacred river to perform a centuries old ritual. As the first rays of the sun illuminate the river, worshipers begin to immerse themselves in the holy waters as they salute the sun. You will see both the Bathing and the Cremation Ghats. The riverfront, as seen from a boat early in the morning, is a spiritually uplifting sight. This holy city is crowded with temples and its labyrinth of ancient streets are lined with stalls and shops, alive with throngs of people.

After the boat ride, you will visit the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple (Golden Temple), the most sacred of shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, the patron deity of Varanasi. Reconstructed in the 18th century, its gold plating on the "shikaras" or dome was a gift of the one-eyed Sikh king, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Also you'll visit the Bharat Mata Temple, inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi and dedicated to Mother India. It houses a relief map of India carved out of marble.

You will then return to the hotel for breakfast before taking a guided tour of Varanasi where you will see the Varanasi Hindu University, a great site of oriental learning -- a center of education in Sanskrit, Indian Art, culture and music, and the Durga (Goddess of Power) Temple, popularly known as the Monkey Temple because of the hundreds of monkeys cavorting in the courtyard.

After lunch it's on to Sarnath near Varanasi, one of the major pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. After achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya, Buddha, the "awakened or enlightened one" delivered his first sermon here to five disciples, enshrining the principles of his teaching into laws. Visit the interesting Archaeological Museum and see the famous Sarnath Pillar whose capital forms India's national emblem. Nearby a new Buddhist monastery has been built with major events of Buddha's life depicted in wall paintings.

In the evening join your guide to walk through the oldest and most famous narrow and winding lanes of the city, past the endless human panorama - pilgrims, worshipers, sadhus, children selling flowers and floating lights to place in the river - to arrive at the ghats at the Ganges to witness the Aarti Ceremony, a part of the evening pooja or prayers. During the ceremony deepas (oil lamps) are offered to Mother Ganga with thanks and devotion for the light of the sun and for her divine light. As the aarti fire ceremonies take place, bells are rung and chanting and singing provide a fascinating, magical and spiritual conclusion to the days end.

Friday, October 20 - VARANASI - NEW DEHLI - The morning will be at leisure.

Later this afternoon you will take a flight to New Delhi. There you will meet with the main group who will be beginning their tour. Your hotel will be the Oberoi Delhi.

Optional pre-tour extension: $1,295 per person, based upon double occupancy. Tips and gratuities are not included. To ensure your reservation for the pre-tour extension, please print, complete, sign and mail the reservation form with your credit card number or check for $350.00 per person payable to WGUC to:

WGUC
The Magic of Northern India
1223 Central Parkway
Cincinnati, OH 45214

For more information, call Len Sternberg at (513)419-7116.


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