India is a country full of contrasts, smells, tastes, colors. A totally different country from all the others! It is not an easy country; you either love it or hate it, here there is no middle ground, was always what I‘ve heard about this country that has so much, but so much to offer!
I believe that all the people should travel to India at least once in life, wander through crazy Delhi streets, walk around the battle of the Hindu Holi festival, admire the Taj Mahal, sleep under the stars in the desert and feel the energy of Ganges River in the morning. Get into to a train to travel aimlessly, ride an autorickshaw, talk with the local people, watch a Bollywood film, taste street food and not stop drinking the delicious and traditional chai.
- Feel the dawn in Ganges River in Varanasi;
- Get lost in the chaotic streets of Old Delhi;
- Admire Taj Mahal, the greatest symbol of love and/or madness of the world;
- Discover Portuguese history in Goa.
Day 1 - Arrival in Varanasisee
Welcome to India, more specifically to the city of Varanasi.
The great hindu city of Varanasi, also known as Banaras, extends along the Ganges River where, every day, thousands of pilgrims and residents practice ablution rituals.
Known by devotees as Kashi, or the "City of Light", founded by Shiva, Varanasi is a city with over 3000 years! However, its religious life remains from the sixth century BC, being in the centre of the hindu universe.
The ancient hindu scriptures, or Puranas, say the sighting, the name and touch the Ganges cleanses from all sin and a swim in these waters, it is a heavenly blessing. For this reason, Ganga Aarti ceremony in honor of the Ganges River is held every day, shortly after the sun setting in Dasaswamedh Ghat.
After you are properly installed and rested from all the flying hours, we have a meet scheduled for 18 hours. Where are we going? Precisely to Dasaswamedh Ghat!
Day 2 - Varanasisee
The day here begins early, with the first rays of light. We take this opportunity to take a boat ride on the Ganges River or Mother Ganga as the locals affectionately call it. This is a great time to observe the daily life of these people who, dressed in colorful costumes and jugs in hand, head to the river stairs to bathe, practice yoga, make offerings or even pray.
Varanasi has more than 100 ghats, or stairs, along the river, each one with its color. Punctuated by temples and shrines, the ghats perpetuate the continuous cycle of hindu religious practices. It is between them that we walk, highlighting the Manikarnika Ghat, where cremations are done in a complex rite of passage.
Varanasi is among the holiest of all tirthas, or "place of passage," which allows access of devotees to the divine and that gods and goddesses come down to earth. Anyone who dies in Varanasi immediately reaches moksha, or enlightenment. Widows and the elderly, come here to live his last days, finding shelter in temples, surviving on the alms of the faithful.
Day 3 - Varanasisee
Today, after a relaxing yoga class and breakfast, the morning is free for you to get wrapped by the extraordinary atmosphere of this city, that will stay with you forever.
In the mid-afternoon, we’ll have our first train experience in India. Our destination is Agra, and we’ll arrive in about 12 hours.
Day 4 - Agrasee
After the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Mongol imperial court resided at Agra. The city flourished thus attracting artisans from Persia, Central Asia and other parts of India. These participated in building strong luxurious palaces, gardens and mausoleums, being the Taj Mahal the greatest reference of all.
One of the wonders of the modern world, the Taj Mahal was built by Mongol Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife who died in 1631. For this reason, it is considered the symbol of love.
The gates open 6:30 a.m. and at that time we will be there to feel the first light of day in its gardens. This is the best time to visit because the light is still soft and isn’t yet full of visitors.
Less than3 Km from the Taj Mahal we have the Agra Fort, built by Emperor Akbar. It's there that we stroll after the morning mirage.
Day 5 - Jaipursee
Early in the morning we catch the train to Jaipur. This trip will be in the sleeper class, the perfect place to see how the Indians live the train ride and interact with them.
Jaipur is the largest city and the capital of the state of Rajasthan, also known as "Pink City" due to its reddish colour of its buildings.
The day we’ll be passed in the city centre. We visit Hawa Mahal or "Palace of Winds" whose pink ornate facade is symbol of the city. We continue our discovery heading to the Museum City Palace. This has been the address of the Kings of Jaipur from the first half of the eighteenth century.
Between monuments we lost ourselves in the fascinating labyrinth of bazaars for some shopping and delight with the Indian cuisine.
Day 6 - Jaipursee
In the morning we go to Amber, a town at 7 km from Jaipur, to visit the Fort with the same name. Amber palace-fortress was a citadel of Kachlawaha Kings until the year of 1727, when the capital moved to Jaipur, known for its unique style, mixing Muslim culture with Hindu one.
The afternoon, and before getting tinto one more train journeys that will take us to Jaisalmer, is free for you to explore a llitle bit more the city by yourself.
Day 7 - Jaisalmersee
We arrive to Jaisalmer mid-morning, being hosted inside the fort, with a privileged view of the city.
Jaisalmer, in the heart of Thar desert, was founded in the twelfth century by Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput King. Also known as the "golden city" thanks to its golden walls, sand-colored rising in the Thar, see in its havelis the most remarkable examples of stone architecture of Rajasthan. Its inhabitants known for red and orange turbans parade through the streets with honey pale facades covered with lattice and floral designs.
Today we have the opportunity to visit the Jaisalmer Fort, a real sand castle, rising on the sandy plain like a mirage of passed times and stroll through the city streets.
Day 8 - Jaisalmersee
Today is totally free. You can take a rest with an incredible view over the city, go shopping in the small streets of the fort, hang out with local people or enjoy one of the many other activities that the city has to offer .
Day 9 - Jaisalmer, Jodhpursee
In the afternoon, another train journey, another city in Rajasthan. This time, we go to Jodhpur, where arrive already at night.
Day 10 - Jodhpursee
Jodhpur, the blue city of Rajasthan, was founded by Rao Jodha in 1459, the Rathore ruler of Marwar kingdom.
In the morning we visit the Umaid Bhavan Palace, built in pink sandstone and marble-cream by Maharaja Umaid Singh, supposedly to give work to his starving subjects. Its construction began in 1929, employed 3,000 men and took 15 years to be complete.
After lunch, in a slow pace, we discover the Sardar Bazaar streets, concentrated around the Clock Tower that dates from 1912. The bazaar is a fascinating area to explore, whose shops sell spices, jewelry, textiles, puppets, articles from camel hair and tasty sweet cartridges.
The majestic Mehrangarh Fort, which dominates the city's landscape rising imposingly on a rocky elevation of 125 meters, is the attraction that follows. Right on time for the sunset, on top of the fort, we have a panoramic view of the blue dotted city.
Originally the blue color designated the residence of a higher caste and resulting from the addition of lime to the indigo colour, serving to ward off insects and keep houses cool. Over time the "fashion" cought up and most of the buildings have this colour.
At night we’ll catch the train that will take to our next destination and the capital of the country, Delhi.
Day 11 - Delhisee
We arrive New Delhi early in the morning. Still, noise, pollution, people and more people, are the first impressions that we get. However, the Indian capital, the third largest city of India, is a city full of history, life and good food, that we will be able to witness.
Hosted in the epicenter of Old Delhi, it is the same as saying that we are in the midst of madness and disorganization, completely organized, of Indians. Between people and more people, cars, bikes, rickshaws and autorickshaws we arrive to the Red Fort, built in the seventeenth century, after moving the kingdom capital from Agra to Delhi. Then we stumble upon dozens of autorickshaws, catch a "ride" from one and we will go, through the crowd, to the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in the country! From here we continue along streets and alleys, always in the middle of one of the biggest attractions of India, the people. You can see everything, street butchers, barbers at any corner or even someone with swabs on hand looking for customers, many colors, turbans and beards.
After our first lunch in the capital, we take the opportunity to stroll through the peaceful and full of history, parks and gardens, that the city has. The Humayun's Tomb, which was nothing less than one of the inspirations to build the famous Taj Mahal, the Lodi Gardens one of the gardens with better energy in the city, are points of obligatory passage. There, we can see indians playing sports, dating couples and families under the trees having picnics.
In the evening, after one more delicious dinner, we stroll along the India Gate, just before we go back to our rooms for a well-deserved night's rest.
Day 12 - Goasee
In the morning we catch a flight to Goa.
Once arrived, with our bodies asking for beach and rest, it is time to make use of the swimwear and go to spend the late afternoon at one of the many beaches along the coast of the smallest Indian state.
Day 13 - Goasee
Wake up early and late bedtime is the motto of today we'll find out Portugal on indian lands.
Goa, the smallest and richest indian state, is in the story since 2200 A.C. Disputed by various empires in many bloody battles, was definitely conquered from the Muslims by the Portuguese on November of 1510, under Afonso de Albuquerque command. After 450 years of Portuguese colonization, on 18th of November of 1961, Indian troops invaded and took Goa.
More than 50 years have passed but nevertheless, it is still possible to see a large Portuguese presence, even in their final days, according to locals. A curious fact is that, even nowadays, someone who was born in Goa is entitled to ask the Portuguese passport.
We start the day early to explore the neighborhood of Fontainhas in Panjim city, where we are hosted. It's known by one of the most typical neighborhoods where the buildings, names and even some food recalls Portugal. Then we walk to the Imaculada Conceição Church in the city center, built in 1541 is one of the ex-libris of the town. In the afternoon, Mr. Francisco, a Goan with a Portuguese soul, give us a ride and that takes us to visit the main Portuguese legacy. The first stop is one of the most important buildings: the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Considered one of the seven Portuguese wonders of the world, its construction was completed in 1605. Inside, lies the body of St. Francis Xavier, also known as the apostle of the East, place of pilgrimage. Across the road we have the Sé de Santa Catarina, built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese against the muslim army. After a few stops knowing villages and towns with Portuguese legacy and engaging with the locals, it's time to have lunch by the sea.
The afternoon is spent between the Church of S. Caetano, the chapel of St. Catarina, the Church of S. Francisco and the Aguada Fort.
Day 14 - Return from Goasee
With the Portuguese history in Indian lands, ends our adventure.
Depending your flight time, you will be transferred to the airport.
Good flight and Namaste!
What is included?
- Days: 14
- Accommodation: 8 nights in guesthouse, 2 nights in hostel, 3 nights in train cabin
- Transports: 5 train journeys, 1 domestic flight, 1 private shuttle ride, all the transfers on the dates of the program
- 3 Meals: 3 breakfasts
- Activities: All the activities mentioned on the itinerary
- Travel insurance on the dates of the program
- Monitoring and guidance throughout the journey by Fábio Inácio
- Groups: 5 (minimum), 11 (maximum)
What is not included?
- International airfare
- Visa: 60USD
- Single supplement: 100€
- Tuk- tuk trips
- Unspecified meals
- Extra activities
- Unspecified visits
- Expenses of personal nature