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WGUC Trips

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

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Magic of Northern India Daily Itinerary

Thursday, October 19 - Depart from Cincinnati on American Airlines to New Delhi, India.

Friday, October 20 - ARRIVE IN NEW DELHI, INDIA - Arrive in Delhi late this evening. Following immigration and customs clearance, a Jetair Tour staff member will meet and assist you in getting settled at your hotel, The Oberoi Delhi, where you can freshen up, rest or just get a good nights sleep.

Saturday, October 21 - NEW DELHI - New Delhi, the capital and the third largest city of India, is a fusion of the ancient and the modern rich with culture, architecture and human diversity and filled with history, monuments, museums, galleries, and gardens. Comprised of two contrasting yet harmonious parts, Old Delhi and New Delhi, the city is a travel hub of Northern India. Reflecting the city's Mughal past, Old Delhi takes you through a labyrinth of streets filled with formidable mosques, monuments and forts. You will also discover lively and colorful bazaars that sell all sorts of goods at mind-boggling prices amidst a barely controlled chaos.

After a traditional Indian breakfast you'll take a tour of Old Delhi, beginning with a visit to Humayun's Tomb. You will then drive past the Raj Ghat, the site of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation, before arriving at the imposing Red Fort, once the capital of Delhi. You will then take a short bicycle rickshaw ride through the bustling and congested lanes and bazaar of Chandini Chowk to the Jama Masjid, considered to be the largest mosque in India. Your tour will conclude with a visit to Qutub Minar - which is the tallest minaret in India also know as the Tower of Victory.

The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure or for independent activities.

This evening you will proceed to Sri Ram Centre/India Habitat Centre to hear authentic Indian music. Indian classical music is based on the ragas ("colors"), which are scales and melodies that provide the foundation for a performance. Unlike western classical music that is deterministic, Indian classical music allows for a much greater degree of "personalization" of the performance, almost to the level of jazz-like improvisation. Thus, each performance of a raga is different. The goal of the raga is to create a trance-like state, to impart a mood of ecstasy.

Sunday, October 22 - NEW DELHI - JAIPUR - Following some tea early this morning, you will go to Bharat Thakur's studio to experience Artistic Yoga. Afterwards, you'll return to the hotel for breakfast.

This morning's tour will take you to the India Gate, built to commemorate the 70,000 soldiers who died in World War I. You'll also see Raisina Hill, the site of the Viceroy's palatial house, which is now the home of the President of India. Following this you will see the Government Secretariat, and Parliament House.

This afternoon you will see some of rural India as you drive to Jaipur. It is a 5-hour drive and will include a rest stop. Your hotel in Jaipur will be the Jai Mahal.

Jaipur, the vibrant capital of Rajasthan, is popularly known as the 'Pink City' because of its pink-colored buildings. It sits on a dry lakebed in a somewhat arid landscape surrounded by forts and palaces. Jaipur offers a combination of splendid sightseeing and shopping opportunities.

Monday, October 23 - JAIPUR - After a cup of tea, there will be an opportunity for another yoga session prior to breakfast.

Following breakfast, you will go to the Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal, also known as the Palace of Winds. You will be transported up to the fortress palace on elephant! Once at the palace you can stroll through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Many of the rooms have delightful wall paintings, with precious stones and mirrors inlaid in the walls. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) where a single lamp is replicated by mirrors into thousands of twinkling reflections. Jeeps will help you descend from the fort. Following this visit you will visit a Government School in Jaipur to see how elementary education is conducted in India and have a chance to interact with the students and some members of the faculty.

The afternoon will be at leisure to explore the myriad shopping opportunities. If Jaipur is a dream city for those with an eye for history and romance, it is also a shopper's paradise.

Shopping: Jaipur is the centre for India's jewelry industry. It is India's most important source for precious and semi precious stones like Ruby, Emerald, Garnets, Agate, Amethyst, Topaz, Lapis lazuli, Carnelian, etc. In this tour, Jaipur is the best destination for a wide range of handicrafts and jewelry.

Tuesday, October 24 - JAIPUR - Following a cup of tea, there will be an opportunity for another yoga session prior to breakfast.

This morning you will visit the Jantar Mantar Observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh. It is one the largest and best preserved astronomical sites in the world with a collection of instruments chiseled out of stone. Later this morning you'll visit the City Palace. The palace museum houses collections of rare manuscripts, costumes, carpets, miniature paintings and armory. You will then proceed to Jaipur's Old Quarters for a walking tour of the bazaar with its vibrant colors and exotic shops.

Later this afternoon you will proceed to visit the Galta Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple. Galta is a pretty little pilgrim spot located just outside of Jaipur. This is the sacred spot where one sage Galav is supposed to have lived and meditated. As such the place is visited mainly for its temples. The Temple of Galtaji, which lies in a picturesque gorge amid low hills, is a huge complex. It is built of pink stone, with a profusion of pavilions with rounded roofs. The walls and pillars have exquisite carvings and paintings. The whole complex is so beautiful that it is more of a visual treat than a place for worship. The temple, however, has a large daily attendance.

Wednesday, October 25 - JAIPUR- JODHPUR - You will have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and free time this morning.

Later this afternoon you will take an Indian Air Lines flight to Jodhpur. Your hotel in Jodphur will be the Taj Hari Mahal.

There will be city tour beginning with Jaaswant Thada. This imposing cluster of white marble royal cenotaphs was built in 1899 AD in memory of Maharaja Jasawant Singh II. It houses portraits of successive rulers. Next, you will visit the Mehrangarh Fort, set on a high hill. Standing guard to the city below, it overlooks the rugged and rocky terrain and houses a palace, intricately adorned with long carved panels and latticed windows exquisitely wrought from red sandstone. The apartments within - the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana weave their own magic with a rich varied collection of palanquins, howdas, royal cradles, miniature paintings of various schools, folk music instruments, costumes, furniture and an impressive armory. The display of cannons on the ramparts near Chamunda Temple is among the most rare in India. Lastly you will visit Mandore Gardens - The ancient capital of Marwar. At the foot of the hills, amidst gardens, commemorative cenotephs line the silent city. A shrine, reputedly of 300 million Gods, contains the life size statues of local deities and heroes.

Thursday, October 26 - JODHPUR - Early this morning, you will proceed to the old part of the city and take a brief walk to Rangrez Ka Mohla where you will see the art of tie and dye. The technique of tie and dye or 'knot printing' involves tying of fabric in accordance with the overall design scheme, before the process of dyeing. Fabric is tied in small and big knots so that the color does not penetrate the tied areas. This process leads to the creation of colorful, concentric circles, and oblong rectangles in all shapes and sizes. It is amazing to see the designs unfold as soon as the fabric is washed and the knots are untied. Return to your hotel in time for breakfast.

Later this morning you will go on a cultural safari by jeep. You will visit various traditional community villages, such as the Bishnoi. There men wear their traditional attire and women are clad with ancestral silver jewelry. You will have a chance to interact with people living in the area and share and understand their world. The Bhishnois have been known as the protectors of nature for five centuries and are arguably the world's first ecologists, responsible for the survival of species such as the black-buck antelope. The semi-nomadic Raika are the shepherds of Marwar whose brilliant crimson and marigold costumes would put modern designers to shame. During this sojourn you will see the traditional art of block printing which is a 500-year-old tradition. Hand-held wood blocks are carefully cut to enable patterns in different colors to be printed. After a brief drive you will have lunch at Fort Chanwa at Luni. You then return to the hotel.

The rest of the afternoon will be free to simply relax or you could venture out for independent activities.

One of the highlights of any visit to Rajasthan is to see how people have converted their stark landscape into a mosaic of vivid colors. Jodhpur is affectionately referred to as "The Blue City" because of the indigo-colored houses in the old town. These can be best seen from the ramparts of the mighty Meherangarh. Traditionally, blue signified the home of a Brahmin, but these days, non-Brahmins have also taken on the practice. You will take a walk through the old part of Jodhpur and Ghas Mandi that houses some old traditional mansions.

Shopping: The usual Rajasthani handicrafts are available here, but Jodhpur specializes in antiques. You will be hard pressed though to find any bargains! The tie and dye fabric, embroidered 'jutis' or slippers in suede or velvet are found in this city. It was from here that the popularly worn baggy, tight horse riding trousers - "Jodhpurs", took their name.

Friday, October 27 - JODHPUR - UDAIPUR - This morning you will drive to Udaipur. It is a 7-hour drive from Jodhpur. On the way there we will stop at the Ranakpur Temples and have lunch at Fateh Bagh, a wonderful reconstructed haveli. Your hotel in Udaipur will be the Taj Lake Palace.

Ranakpur Temples is one of the five holy places of the Jain community. The most important temple is dedicated to Rashabhji. It is an immense 48.000 sq. ft and has 29 halls and 1444 pillars, all distinctively carved.

The city of Dawn, Udaipur is a lovely city surrounded by azure water lakes, hemmed in by the lush hills of the Aravalis. A vision in white, drenched in romance and beauty -- Udaipur is a fascinating blend of lights, sounds and experiences - an inspiration for the imagination of poets, painters and writers.

Saturday, October 28 - UDAIPUR - This morning your tour will begin with the City Palace, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. Crenellated walls surround this white marble architectural marvel, standing majestically on a hill. You will then proceed for a walk through the Old City. You will conclude with a visit to Sahelion ki bari, or garden of the Maids of Honor. It was designed to commemorate a group of forty-eight young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry. The garden set below the embankment of the Fateh Sagar lake have beautiful lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant shaped fountains.

Following lunch at the Crystal Gallery Restaurant at Fateh Prakash Palace, you will have the remaining day at leisure to simply enjoy the environs of your hotel or for independent activities.

Shopping: Mughal miniatures from the land of the royalty are famous for their intricate work. A specialty of Rajasthan, Phad is painted in bold colors. Pichvai, the cloth painting used as a backdrop in temples is also made in Rajasthan. Cloth has been traditionally used as the base for painting beautiful themes on them. India has been known the world over for its artistic pursuits evident in the various types of painting styles. The styles and varieties in paintings from India are as diverse as the nation itself.

Sunday, October 29 - UDAIPUR - PUSHKAR - This morning you will drive to Pushkar, a 5 1/2 hour trip. Your "hotel" in Pushkar will be Camp Thar. You will reside in plush, luxurious tents (that include bathrooms) to enhance this enchanting experience.

The most famous temple in Pushkar is the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma (the creator of the universe according to Hindu mythology) in the entire country. You can identify it by its red spire and by the image of a hans (the goose considered sacred to Lord Brahma). This marble temple is decorated with silver coins and there is a silver turtle on the floor of the temple.

Pushkar gets into a carnival mood during the Pushkar Fair or Pushkar Mela. Traditionally a camel trading event, the Pushkar Mela has grown to become an international tourist attraction. Held every year during the holy occasion of Karthik Purnima, or full moon night in November, the Pushkar Mela is a vibrant kaleidoscope of images and colors.

From the time of your arrival you will explore the fair on your own to see hundreds of camels patiently resting on the sand dunes, as their owners bargain over their prices. There are also many cultural events held during the Pushkar Fair. The camel Beauty Pageant features camels that are elaborately decorated with ornamental saddles and back cloths decorated with mirrors, cowrie shells and colorful embroidery. Tug of war contests between people and camels, camel dancing events, and 'Laado Oonth' where as many people as possible try to ride a camel are part of the fun and games. There are also performances by folk musicians and dancers at the Pushkar Fair. You will experience the vibrant cultural heritage of Rajasthan including traditional textiles and handicrafts. You can shop for silver jewelry and colorful Rajasthani clothes decorated with embroidery and mirror work.

Camel carts will be available for 2 hours to take you from the fair back to your "hotel".

Monday, October 30 - PUSHKAR - Today you will explore the labyrinth of alleyways packed with merchants and performers, exquisitely embroidered shirts, hand woven shawls, rugs, carvings, embroidered leather bags and ethnic silver jewelry. You'll also enjoy musical and dance performances.

Camel carts will be available for 3 hours this morning and afternoon to take you back to camp.

Tuesday, October 31 - PUSHKAR - RANTHAMBORE - This morning you will drive to Ranthambore a six-hour drive. You will stay at the Dev Vilas.

The Ranthambore National Park sprawls over an estimated area of 400 sq kms. Steep crags embrace a network of lakes and rivers. The forest is the typically dry deciduous type, with dhak, being the most prominent tree. As a result of stringent conservation efforts, tigers, the prime asset of the park, have become more and more active during the day. More than in any other park or sanctuary in India, tigers are easily spotted here in daylight. They can be seen lolling around lazily in the sun or feverishly hunting down sambar around the lakes. Apart from tigers, the park also has its share of panthers. They are to be found on the outskirts of the park due to the inevitable conflicts with the tiger population. The other permanent residents of the park include marsh crocodiles, hyenas, jungle cats and sloth bears. The birdwatchers among you may see black storks, quail, Bonelli's eagles, spur fowls, crested serpent eagles and painted storks.

Late afternoon you will venture back into the park to track the glorious tiger.

Wednesday, November 1 - RANTHAMBORE - Get ready for an early morning game drive into the park and return in time for breakfast. The rest of the morning is at leisure. You can take a nature walk or a visit to the Ranthambore Fort, built in the 10th century.

This afternoon game viewing will be available.

Thursday, November 2 - RANTHAMBORE - BHARATPUR - AGRA - Following an early breakfast, jeeps will transfer you to Sawaimadhopur station in time to board your train Jan Shatabdi for Bharatpur. Upon arrival you will visit the renowned Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. You will have a 1-hour visit at the sanctuary traveling by cycle rickshaw.

Bharatpur is renowned for its World Heritage listed Bird Sanctuary. It is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world inundated with over 400 species of water birds. Exotic migratory birds from Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet as well as Siberian cranes, and bareheaded geese from China, come here in July/August to spend the winters in warmer climate and they breed till October/November. Other birds to be seen are cormorants, spoonbills, storks, egrets, herons, pelicans, ibis and herons. The raised paths camouflaged by babul trees make their viewing easier.

After an early lunch at "The Bagh" a delightful resort amidst an orchard, you'll begin your trip to Agra - 3 hours from Bharatpur. The trip will be broken up with a visit to Fatehpur Sikri.

Fatehpur Sikri. is the deserted capital of the former Mughal Emperor Akbar. It was built as his capital but abandoned only 15 years later, supposedly due to a shortage of water. In many ways it is one of the most impressive and romantic legacies of the Mughal dynasty. Within the walls you will see some very interesting buildings that remain in excellent condition 400 years later.

Upon reaching Agra you will proceed directly to visit the incomparable Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage. Agra, with its laid-back lifestyle and its immense wealth of architecture, handicrafts and jewelry, is amongst the most remarkable cities of the world. In terms of ambience it is still associated with its Mughal period led by Babur, who arrived in 1526. Agra grew in prominence, and under the rule of Akbar, it became a leading centre of art, science, commerce and culture. Your hotel in Agra will be the Amar Vilas.

Friday, November 3 - AGRA - NEW DELHI - This morning you will visit the Agra Fort, one of the most outstanding examples of Mughal architecture. This was the seat of Mughal rule and administration and the present structure owes its origin to Akbar who erected the walls and gates and the first buildings on the western banks of Yamuna River.

Later this afternoon you will drive to Delhi, a 5-hour drive. Upon arrival you will be transferred to an airport hotel where you will have time to freshen up and have dinner. Later tonight you will be escorted to the international airport and assisted with your check-in formalities for your homeward flight.

Shopping: Agra is a famous centre for marble carving that draws its inspiration from the Taj Mahal. Some of the common marble carvings of Agra include miniature carving of the Taj Mahal, vases, and lamps. Marble inlays on trinket boxes, marble curios and semi-precious stone inlay are added attractions. For the craftsmen in this trade the actual tools used remain much the same as those used in the Mughal period. A design, be it a floral or geometrical motif is cut out on a brass sheet. This is then placed on marble, drawn, and then the marble is carved out. Slices of precious and semi-precious stones, which have in the meantime been shaped and polished, are then laid into the marble with adhesive. After it has dried, the surface and edges are polished to give a shiny finish.

Saturday, November 4 - DEPART NEW DELHI - Early this morning you will depart New Delhi for Cincinnati.

To ensure your reservation please print, complete, sign and mail the reservation form with your credit card number or check for $750.00 per person payable to WGUC to:

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

Total cost of the trip is $6,645 per person, based on double occupancy, including a $300 contribution to WGUC. An initial deposit of $750 is required. Cost does not include: approximately $225 airline taxes, fuel surcharges and security fees -- to be finalized two months prior to departure; $109 visa application

Optional pre-tour extension: $1,295 per person, based upon double occupancy. Tips and gratuities are not included. An initial deposit of $350 is required.

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

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