Road Scholar : Home
A Spiritual and Cultural Journey: India’s Golden Triangle and Holy Ganges River

Program Number: 21644RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/22/2016 - 3/14/2016; 9/11/2016 - 10/2/2016; 1/9/2017 - 1/30/2017; 2/6/2017 - 2/27/2017; 3/6/2017 - 3/27/2017;
Duration: 21 nights
Location: India
Price starting at: $4,849.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats; History & Culture
Meals: 55; 19 Breakfasts, 19 Lunches, 17 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Fat; Low Salt    

Experience the treasures of India’s “Golden Triangle” — Delhi, Agra and Jaipur — with outstanding local experts. Then board a modern riverboat to discover the Ganges River. To Hindus, the Ganges is more than a waterway — it is a goddess, the physical manifestation of the sacred. Delve into the spiritual meaning of this river on a voyage to its holiest places plus experience its vital importance in day-to-day life.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; uneven walkways and stairs.

Some dates sail on the riverboat "Rajmahal" while others sail on the "Sukapha". Please see the day-by-day itinerary for details.

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Delhi, 2 nights; Agra, 1 night; Jaipur, 2 nights; Delhi, 1 night; Varanasi, 3 nights; Bodh Gaya, 1 night; aboard vessel, 6 nights; Kolkata, 3 nights; departure.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-3: Arrival Delhi (India):

Take a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi, the walled section of the city that was established in 1639. Continue to New Delhi to visit Gandhi Smriti, the home where Gandhi spent the last days of his life, which has today been transformed into a museum. Lodging: Five-star New Delhi hotel.

Day 4: Coach to Agra:

View the sun set over the Taj Mahal then, early the next morning, return to the Taj for a closer look, exploring the exquisite grounds and entering the highly decorated inside chamber. Discover another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the lavish Agra Fort. Lodging: Four-star hotel surrounded by gardens.

Examine the fascinating astronomical devices of Jantar Mantar, built at the behest of an 18th-century maharaja. Interact with students at a local secondary school supported by Road Scholar. Lodging: Four-star hotel overlooking Man Sagar Lake.

Days 7-10: Coach to Delhi / flight to Varanasi:

Experience Varanasi, the oldest city in India and the holiest in Hinduism. During boat excursions on the Ganges, observe people carrying out rituals at the ghats — 84 stepped embankments, each with its own significance. Lodging: Four-star hotel.

Days 11-12: Coach to Bodh Gaya / coach to Patna to embark Rajmahal:.

Journey to Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha obtained Enlightenment after three days and nights of meditating under the Bodhi Tree. Lodging: Comfortable hotel

Day 13: Patna:

Explore this city including its magnificent Gurdwara, one of the holiest places of worship for Sikhs. As you set sail, pass the East India Company’s old opium warehouses.

Day 14: Barh:

Go ashore for an excursion to Nalanda. This great center of learning, active from the 5th through 12th centuries, attracted scholars from as far away as China and Greece.

Day 15: Monghyr:

Discover Monghyr Fort, a majestic riverside fortress occupied by several different empires. Sail to the village of Sultanganj, an ancient Hindu pilgrimage site.

Day 16: Bhagalpur:

In this town renowned for its fine silk, visit a weaving village and the mansion of an East India Company magistrate. See the idyllic riverside temples of Bateshwar.

Day 17: Rajmahal:

Venture into the emerald hills of Rajmahal to find the ruins of ancient palaces, fortresses and mosques partially hidden by vegetation.

Days 18-22: Farakka / disembark / train to Kolkata / departure on overnight flight to the U.S.A.:

Leave the Ganges behind as you board a train to Kolkata (or Calcutta). Discover the Belur Math temple, which fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic architectural styles. Visit Mother Teresa’s mission and learn about her work. Lodging: Historic five-star hotel.


An intimate river boat, the Sukapha was built in Calcutta in 2006. This 131-foot long vessel was modeled after her sister-ship, the Charaidew, and boasts and atmosphere of friendly comfort and charm. The steel hulled, twin engine ship holds just 24 passengers in 12 cabins and is manned by an English-speaking expert crew of 11 members. The spacious cabins each have a window, and range from 185-227 square feet, including ensuite facilities.


As a consequence of its size, the history of India is an amalgamation of its individual territories. The natural wealth of India’s territories lured a succession of traders and foreign influences to it, each leaving their imprint on the nation, however faint or localized. Thus, Chinese fishing nets in Kerala are a throwback to that country's ancient maritime trade, while in the north, ancient terracotta figurines bear distinctly Grecian traces.

Air conditioned double or single cabin on upper deck with ensuite bathroom and shower facilities. Cabins are approximately 185-227 sq. ft in size, with picture window. Cabins include a hair dryer and in-room safe.
Meals and Lodgings
   The Suryaa New Delhi
  Delhi, India 2 nights
   Trident Hotel Agra
  Agra, India 1 night
   Trident Hotel Jaipur
  Jaipur, India 2 nights
   Holiday Inn, Aerocity
  Delhi, India 1 night
   Radisson Hotel Varanasi
  Varanasi, India 3 nights
   The Royal Residency, Bodh Gaya
  Bodh Gaya, India 1 night
   ABN Sukhapa
  Aboard the ABN Sukapha, India 6 nights
   The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
  Kolkata, India 3 nights
 The Suryaa New Delhi
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: The Suryaa New Delhi is located in the heart of New Delhi, a mere 35 minute drive from the International Airport & adjacent to Delhi's business districts - Nehru Place, Pragati Maidan-International Trade Fair venue, Okhla & Noida Export Promotion Zone. Located in the heart of the city and close to the district center-Jasola, Mohan Cooperative, Apollo Hospital, Nehru Place and Ashram. The hotel's elegant spread of rooms and suites with spectacular views are bound to take your breath away.
  Contact info: New Friends Colony
New Delhi,  110 025 India
phone: +911126835070
  Room amenities: Aesthetically designed with modern furnishings and minimalistic interiors. There are 244 well-appointed and elegantly designed rooms with the following features: Mini Bar (chargeable) Tea/Coffee Maker In room electronic safe Spacious bathrooms High speed internet and wi-fi (chargeable) Ergonomic work desk 32"Plasma LCD TV
  Facility amenities: 6 restaurants Laundry/Dry Cleaning Multi-lingual Staff Concierge Services Barber/Hair Stylist Business Center Currency Exchange Gift Shop Room Service Health Club Health Spa/Massage Outdoor Pool Hot Tub Safe Deposit Box Doctor on call
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: n/a Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for more information.

 Trident Hotel Agra
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: The Trident Hotel Agra, set amidst beautiful gardens, fountains, landscaped central courtyards, is built of red stone reminiscent of the Mughal era. The Hotel is literally, a stone's throw away from one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. The hotel features 135 tastefully decorated rooms and suites which overlook the central courtyard and gardens.
  Contact info: Fatehabad Rd.
Agra,  282 001 India
phone: +91 562 223 5000
  Room amenities: Central A/C Wired and wireless internet access (chargeable) Direct Dial Telephone Tea & Coffee Maker 24 hr. Room Service Flat screen LCD TV Electronic Safe Hairdryer Voltage 110-220 Iron and ironing board Minibar (chargeable)
  Facility amenities: Bar Restaurant Coffee Shop Fitness Center Outdoor Swimming Pool Jogging Track Business Center Currency Exchange Laundry Service Wired and wireless internet access (chargeable) Travel Desk Doctor on call Spa
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Trident Hotel Jaipur
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: Situated near the renowned Amber Fort and overlooking the Mansagar Lake. The rose coloured facade of the hotel is reminiscent of traditional Rajasthani architecture. The hotel has 132 rooms and suites tastefully appointed, the rooms are well lit and airy and offer all the modern amenities.
  Contact info: Amber Fort Road
Opposite Jal Mahal
Jaipur Rajasthan,  302 002 India
phone: +91 141 267 0101
  Room amenities: The rooms blend convenience and classic charm with discreet technology. Central A/C Wired and wireless internet access (chargeable) Dual Line Telephone Tea & Coffee Maker 24 Hr. Room Service Electronic in room Safe Hairdryer Voltage 110-220 Iron and ironing board LCD TV Minibar (chargeable) En suite bathrooms with luxury amenities
  Facility amenities: Bar Restaurant Fitness Center Outdoor Swimming Pool Business Center Currency Exchange Laundry Service Wired and wireless internet access (chargeable) Travel desk Doctor on call Conceirge Spa
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Holiday Inn, Aerocity
Type: Hotel
  Description: The hotel is 10 minutes drive from the international airport, the hotel offers easy access to the Delhi Metro.
  Contact info: Asset Area 12 Hospitality District Aero City
New Delhi,  110037 India
phone: +91 11 42222000
  Room amenities: Your contemporary guestroom starting at 32 sq. m features a 37 inch LED TV, an iPod docking station, a media hub & triple glazed windows for a peaceful sleep experience. The rooms are quiet and peaceful with a choice of soft and firm pillows. Other amenities include: Ergonomic work area Minibar Tea/coffee maker Iron & ironing board Phone with voice mail Standard internet service (free for all guests) Wireless internet available in standard rooms Wired internet available in standard rooms Bathrobe Hairdryer Individually controlled air conditioning
  Facility amenities: Dining Options feature Indian and International favorites at Viva, pub favorites & an extensive beverage selection at The Hangar and pastries at Viva Deli. Spa & Salon 24 hour fitness center Outdoor Swimming Pool 24 hour room service Free internet access Round the clock travel desk Free wi-fi Dry cleaning pickup/laundry Concierge services Safety deposit box available at Front Desk Business Services (24 hour travel desk, photocopying, vax) Gift Shop
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Radisson has 116 hotel rooms in Varanasi, including 2 elegantly designed suites, 14 Business Class Rooms and 100 Superior Rooms. All of our guest rooms offer turndown service and a wide range of amenities. Ideal for both business and leisure travellers, the Radisson in the Cantonment Varanasi area is located in the heart of the city's illustrious business district and less than 45 minutes from Varanasi International Airport. The Radisson provides easy access to top attractions like Kashi Vishwanath, Ganga Ghats and many other temples
  Contact info: The Mall Cantonment, Varanasi
U.P. 221002
221 002,   India
phone: +91 54 2250 1515
  Room amenities: Newspaper delivered to the room - daily Digital safe in each room Broadband High Speed Internet access (complimentary) Mini-bar (chargeable) Telephone with voicemail and direct dial Satellite television Hair dryer 40" LCD flat screen TV Coffeemaker with coffee and tea (complimentary) Iron/Ironing Board
  Facility amenities: High-Speed Internet Access Multiple dining outlets-2 restaurants, bar, casual tea/coffee lounge, poolside barbecue Spa Fitness Center Outdoor Pool Full service business center fully equipped with computers that offer broadband internet access, photocopier, fax machine, & scanner Travel desk and transportation services 3 hour express laundry service Foreign currency exchange Gift Shop Non smoking atmosphere
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 The Royal Residency, Bodh Gaya
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: A symbolic project elegantly erected on 3 acres of land in the best environment with 62 centrally air-conditioned Twin bed rooms and 5 Suites, caters to the diversified needs of tourists. The hotel has all modern facilities. All rooms are with attached bath rooms in it with shower, bath tubs, running hot and cold water, individual room temperature control, direct dial telephone facilities both domestic and international.
  Ship Information: .
  Contact info: Domuhan Road, Bodh Gaya
Bihar,  824231 India
phone: +91 (0) 631-220-1156
  Room amenities: AC and attached bathroom
  Facility amenities: One Bar Money Exchange Shopping Arcade 24 hour room service Laundry/ dry cleaning service Doctor -on-call Japanese community bath separately for ladies and gents Multi-cuisine centrally air-conditioned restaurant 'Amara pali' & Bar Travel assistance Car hire service
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 ABN Sukhapa
Type: Riverboat
  Description: The ABN Sukapha was built in Assam in October 2006 with maximum group size of 24 with 12 cabins all on the upper deck. It has a small SPA. Her 12 cabins are equally roomy and we have retained the much appreciated comfortable chairs by the picture windows for relaxing in privacy. The spacious salon has French windows opening onto a front balcony deck and the dining room has glass doors down each side with specially commissioned furniture and locally-woven soft furnishings. The large sundeck offers the opportunity to relax on comfortable cane rattan chairs and sunloungers.
  Ship Information: 38m long twin-engine steel hulled passenger boat with 12 cabins total all on the upper deck. The ship has 3 decks total.
  Contact info: 3rd Floor, Dirang Arcade, GNB Road, Chandmari
Guwahati,  781003 India
phone: +xxx
  Room amenities: • Cabins with individual climate control • En suite shower/WC with Biotique toiletries • Generous cupboard space and under-bed storage • Hair dryer in each cabin • In-room electronic safe • Large sliding glass windows
  Facility amenities: Bar/salon, Dining Hall, Sundeck, Staircase
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata fondly referred as the 'Grande Dame of Chowringhee' offers the ultimate classical residence in the City of Joy. This heritage hotel’s neo-classical facade and grand pillared entrance mark a successful fusion of classical Victorian and traditional Indian style and reflect the city’s colonial history. Standing stately for over 125 years, The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata combines classic architecture and charm with state of the art amenities and facilities, offering guests an oasis of tranquility amidst the bustling city. The hotel is located in the main business and shopping district of Kolkata (Park Street, BBD Bag, and Chowringhee) and is in walking distance from most corporate and government offices. It is also conveniently located close to major convention centers, legislative offices, banks, Consulates, Deputy High Commissions, Chambers of Commerce and clubs. This ideal location makes the hotel a perfect base for the business and the leisure traveler.
  Ship Information: .
  Contact info: 15, Jawaharlal Nehru Road
Kolkata,  700013 India
phone: +91 .33.2249.2323
  Room amenities: Each room is tastefully furnished upholstered with colonial style prints, carpeted with plush wall to wall carpets and equipped with modern facilities. Bathrooms are fitted with a full length bathtub and variable pressure shower. Bedside and desk drawer plug points 32" LCD TV with USB ports DVD & CD Player Satellite television Wired & wireless broadband internet access (chargeable) Electronic safe Dual line telephones with voice mail Mini bar (chargeable) A well appointed bathroom with a basket of Ayurvedic toiletries Tea and coffee-making facilities Hair dryer 100% cotton bathrobes and towels
  Facility amenities: 3 restaurants- La Terrasse- multi-cuisine fine dining, Baan Thai-award winning Thai delicacies, Chowringhee Bar Wireless Internet access in all rooms and public areas State of the art 24-hour Business Centre Full service Oberoi Spa Fitness Centre 24 hour in room dining 24 hour Concierge Doctor on call Outdoor swimming pool Beauty parlour 24 Hour laundry service Currency exchange
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: TBA Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for additional price.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Day 2 in Delhi in the evening at the program hotel. You will be staying at The Suryaa Hotel, New Delhi that night. You will be staying at The Suryaa New Delhi that night.
  End of Program:
Day 21 after lunch in Kolkata at the program hotel. You will be staying at The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata the night before. You will be staying at The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. None.
  Parking availability:
Driving in India is not recommended.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Delhi
  Transportation to site: Taxi from New Delhi airport to hotel is available. Airports Authority of India in coordination with Delhi Traffic Police is now providing 'Prepaid Taxi Service' for arriving passengers at Domestic and International Terminals to ensure safe travel up to their destination. Approved rate of fare for various locations in the city are displayed inside the counter. Prepaid taxi counters are located outside customs hall in concessionaire area and outside Arrival Visitors Lounge (West Wing). Payment is made in advance at counters and coupons are issued. Pickup points are located just outside the terminals. No reliable public bus or subway transport available. Please note that the transfer from the airport takes about 40 to 50 minutes. Private arrival and departure transfers -at an additional cost- may be arranged in advance by calling Road Scholar Travel Services 1800-241-1404.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Kolkata
  Transportation from site: You may also want to inquire with the concierge at The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata about alternative transportation services from the hotel to the airport. Private arrival and departure transfers -at an additional cost- may be arranged in advance by calling Road Scholar Travel Services 1-800-241-1404.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: In Transit to Program
(Monday, February 22)
 Depart From: Depart from North America on overnight flights to India. Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information

Day 2: Arrival Delhi, Check In, Dinner
(Tuesday, February 23)

Note: Group flight arrival is usually in the late afternoon. By the time you go through immigration and transfer to your program hotel, it could be between 6-7pm at the earliest.

 Arrive To: Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). See the “Travel Information” section regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see “Ground Transportation to First Location.”
 Afternoon: Late afternoon or evening arrivals in Delhi. Upon arrival at the hotel, check in and get your room assignment.
 Dinner: Light dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure, relax after a very long day of travel.
Accommodations: The Suryaa New Delhi
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Old Delhi, Rickshaw ride, New Delhi, Gandhi Smriti
(Wednesday, February 24)

Note: The bicycle rickshaw ride is through an extremely crowded market. Many steps at Jama Mosque. Shoes and socks are not permitted in Jama Masjid; gowns are provided by the mosque

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Begin the morning with program orientation. The Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. Explore Qutub Minar, a great masterpiece of Mughal architecture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has survived the ravages of time impressively. Discover New Delhi. Drive past India Gate and Government buildings.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we'll depart for a field trip into Old Delhi. Driving past the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort, gain an appreciation for this symbol of Mughal power and pomp. Arriving at Jama Masjid, we’ll explore the largest Muslim mosque in India.

The adventure continues as we ride bicycle rickshaws around the heart of Chandini Chowk — named for the silver merchants — while the drivers navigate narrow alleyways and the bustle of people.

We’ll conclude at the Raj Ghat, the cremation ground of Mahatma Gandhi.
 Dinner: At the Hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: The Suryaa New Delhi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Delhi, Coach to Agra, Sunset with a view of the Taj Mahal
(Thursday, February 25)

Note: The drive from Delhi to Agra is approximately 4 hours. Both the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort involve a lot of walking and some uneven steps.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: After checking out of the hotel , we will board our motorcoach and depart for Agra. En route, the Group Leader will provide an overview of Indian history.
 Lunch: At the hotel in Agra.
 Afternoon: After lunch, check into the hotel. Then in the late afternoon, visit the Taj Mahal.As the UNESCO World Heritage Convention states, “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 favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage.” The building is unique due to its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, and medium of construction and ornamentation.
 Dinner: At the Hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Trident Hotel Agra
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna River, Agra Fort, Coach to Jaipur
(Friday, February 26)

Note: The drive from Agra to Jaipur is approximately 5-6 hours with stops along the way.

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: After breakfast, our next field trip is to the Agra Fort. Originally planned as an impregnable military structure by Akbar, the Agra Fort, over a period of time, acquired all the elegance, lavishness and majesty of an imperial palace.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Continue to Jaipur. En route, participate in a presentation on the caste system, given by your Group Leader. Upon arrival check into your hotel and relax until dinner.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Trident Hotel Jaipur
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Jaipur, School Visit, Jantar Mantar
(Saturday, February 27)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Explore a local village of Jaipur and visit a secondary school supported by Road Scholar with opportunities to interact with the students there. (Note: School visit is subject to School Holidays.)
 Lunch: Early family hosted lunch near the school.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we will visit the City Palace, still the Maharaja's residence but largely given over to a museum containing rare manuscripts, fine specimens of Rajput and Mughal paintings, royal apparel and an armory.

We will conclude the afternoon at Jantar Mantar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by city founder Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, between 1727-1734, the Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved in India.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Trident Hotel Jaipur
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Amber Fort, Transfer to Delhi,
(Sunday, February 28)

Note: Amber Fort will require walking on uneven stones and some steps. The drive from Jaipur to Delhi is approximately 6-7 hours depending on traffic.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Check out of the hotel and depart for Amber Fort. Discover the 11th century Amber Fort (pronounced Amer), situated about six miles north of Jaipur and established as the original capital of Rajasthan, six centuries before the construction of Jaipur. Amber Fort is an example of Rajput architecture with its terraces and ramparts reflected in the Maota Lake below. The interiors of the fort have various royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, mirror and glass work complemented by exquisite wall paintings.
 Lunch: En route.
 Afternoon: Transfer back to Delhi and check into the hotel. Note: flight to Varanasi departs around 10:30am therefore this overnight in Delhi is required.
 Dinner: This meal has been excluded fro the program cost ans is on your own to enjoy what you like.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn, Aerocity
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Fly Delhi to Varanasi, Time to relax
(Monday, February 29)

Note: Varanasi is a very intense place. Please be prepared for lots of crowds, smoke from cremations along the Ganges River and narrow winding streets in the old part of town.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Depart for the airport and fly to Varanasi. Upon arrival in Varanasi, we will collect luggage and board the coach to the hotel.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: Check into your hotel. Join your Group Leader for a walking discovery of the cantonment area and learn a little about Colonial times in Varanasi.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: University Varanasi, Morning Boat ride, Heritage Walk, Aarti Ceremony
(Tuesday, March 1)

Note: Today you will be getting in and out of small boats, walking along cobblestones on narrow streets, and walking about .5 miles (one way) to get to the ghats for the Aarti Ceremony in busy crowded streets. You will be taking a Rickshaw ride part of the way. It will be about a 30 minute ride.

 Breakfast: Before breakfast, begin with an early morning boat ride on the Ganges River to see the early morning rituals on the ghats along the Ganges. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
 Morning: After breakfast, continue to Bharat Mata Temple, the Mother Temple, and take a heritage walk through Varanasi to visit the Ashrams, visit a local home and enjoy a cup of tea. Then participate in a presentation on Varanasi a Cradle of Culture.
 Lunch: At the hotel or at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some free time in the early afternoon. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Then in the late afternoon, witness an "Aarti" ceremony while enjoying a boat ride on the Ganges. Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities. Aartis also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when lamps are being offered.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Varanasi, Boat Ride, Old City Discovery, Aarti Ceremony
(Wednesday, March 2)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Depart for Banaras Hindu University, the largest Hindu University in India. Engage with the university students there and learn about their goals and aspirations. Learn about Varanasi – The city of Education.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Then continue to Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his first Sermon after he obtained enlightenment. Discover the Sarnath Museum and Deer Park, the location where he gave his sermon.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Reminder: Pack for tomorrow's trip.
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel Varanasi
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Coach to Bodh Gaya
(Thursday, March 3)

Note: The drive from Varanasi to Bodh Gaya is approximately 6-7 hours with stops along the way.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We'll check out and begin your journey to another holy site in India: Bodh Gaya. Bodh Gaya is where Siddhartha Gautama obtained enlightenment. The Group Leader will give a presentation on the Life of the Buddha.
 Lunch: En route.
 Afternoon: In the late afternoon arrive in Bodh Gaya and check into your hotel with some time to relax. Explore the Mahabodhi Temple, constructed with the main intention of making it a monument and not a receptacle for the relics of Buddha. Inside the Temple there is a colossal image of the Buddha in the "touching the ground pose", bhumisparsha mudra. This image is said to be 1700 years old and is facing east exactly at the place where the Buddha in meditation with his back to the Bodhi Tree was enlightened. Continue to the Bodhi Tree, the place where Gautama obtained enlightenment. Since 1953, Bodh Gaya has been developed as an international place of pilgrimage. Buddhists from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan and Japan have established monasteries and temples within easy walking distance of the Mahabodhi compound. The site of the enlightenment now attracts Buddhists and visitors from all over the world.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: The Royal Residency, Bodh Gaya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Bodh Gaya Discovery, Transfer to Patna, Board ship
(Friday, March 4)

Note: The drive from Bodh Gaya to Patna is about 6 hours.

 Breakfast: Wake up early and experience the spiritual nature of Bodh Gaya during the silence of the morning. Then return to the hotel to have breakfast.
 Morning: We'll check out and depart to Patna.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant or on board the boat. Will depend on transfer time.
 Afternoon: Board the vessel and get settled into your cabins.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Patna City Discovery, Cruise to Barh
(Saturday, March 5)

Note: Please take a scarf to cover your head at the Sikh Temple.

 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning explore the town of Patna, visiting the extraordinary 18th century Gola Ghar granary, the great Sikh temple with an opportunity to visit the soup kitchen.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon the boat cruises past the Old East India Company Opium warehouses and moors for the evening at Barh. Learn about the Opium Trade in India in a presentation by the Group Leader.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Nalanda, Pawapuri Jain Temple
(Sunday, March 6)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Today, explore the excavated great Buddhist monastery and stupa at Nalanda and the adjoining Archaeological Museum, which house the Nalanda University seal, sculptures and other remains found on the site. Nalanda was an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India from the fifth century CE to 1197 CE.
 Lunch: Picnic Lunch in Nalanda.
 Afternoon: Then continue to the picturesque Pawapuri Jain Temple in the middle of a lake. Return to the boat in the evening and cruise down to the great bridge at Mokameh, where earlier the naturalist Jim Corbett spent his working life overseeing the ferry crossing. Presentation by Group Leader on the Holy Ganges River.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Cruise to Monghyr, Pirpahar Hill, Cruise to Sultanganj
(Monday, March 7)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Today cruise down to Monghyr. Monghyr possesses a fine Mughal fort, as well as an East India Company Cemetery, now with villagers living amongst the tombs. Explore the Pirpahar Hill, crowned by a fine old mansion, Mughal Fort houses a number of religious and historic monuments and the Sitakund hot springs. Then re board the boat.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, cruise downstream to anchor near Jahangira Island at Sultanganj, a place of great antiquity. Explore Sultanjanj, a place of pilgrimage with early Hindu carvings in the rock.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Bhagalpur, Silk Weaving, Bateshwar
(Tuesday, March 8)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning cruise to Bhagalpur, along a stretch of the river where Gangetic Dolphins may be seen. Bhagalpur is a center of silk production. Here, discover the elegant 18th century mansion built by Augustus Cleveland as well as a silk-weaving village.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: Continue cruising past the island shrine at Colganj, where both Buddhist and Hindu cave temples are situated, and once a center of the murderous Thug sect. Close to here, visit idyllic Bateshwar with 6th century Hindu carvings and the nearby ruins of an 8th century Buddhist stupa and monastery at Vikramshila. Anchor for the night near the confluence of the Kosi River, coming down from Nepal. Then participate in a presentation by your Group Leader on the Thug Sect.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Rajmahal Palaces, Forts & Mosques, Farakka Barrage
(Wednesday, March 9)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning, explore Rajmahal. Rajmahal is one of those places, so common in India, which is not featured in any guidebook and yet offers both interesting and atmospheric sites. Once known as Akbarnagar, the town was founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar as his eastern capital. Shah Jehan, builder of the Taj Mahal, spent much of his youth here. There are remains of palaces, forts and mosques submerged in vegetation which you shall explore before continuing on down to the great Farakka Barrage.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: Cruise downstream this afternoon towards Farakka.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: ABN Sukhapa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18: Disembark, Transfer to Kolkata
(Thursday, March 10)

Note: The train ride is approximately 6 hours.

 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Disembark the boat early and take a coach to the train station in Farakka. Train ride is approximately 6 hours.
 Lunch: Late lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Upon arrival in Kolkata, transfer to your hotel for check in. Then take a guided walk through one of the markets, located near the hotel.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure, relax in your room after a long day of travel.
Accommodations: The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 19: Kolkata, Victoria Monument, Indian Museum, Eden's Garden
(Friday, March 11)

Note: There will be a lot of walking at Eden's Garden.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: This morning, explore the Victoria Memorial. Then continue to the Indian Museum, the earliest and the largest multipurpose Museum not only in the Indian subcontinent but also in the Asia-Pacific region. Continue your discovery of Kolkata with a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Spend the Afternoon learning about Mother Teresa and her mission in India. Visit the Mission of Charity Foundation and gain a deeper understanding of this unique woman and her cause. Later visit Eden Gardens, the famous cricket ground (subject to permit).
 Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Accommodations: The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 20: Bengali Kolkata
(Saturday, March 12)

Note: Today’s visit is by metro, tram and coach. When visiting he Jain Temple, shoes will need to be removed, you may want to bring an extra pair of socks.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Experience Bengali Kolkata with a visit to the Jain Temple (NOTE: Shoes need to be removed in the Temple). Continue to explore Kumortuli, a Potters colony where large Hindu Gods are created by the community there. Then explore the Shobhabazar (also spelled Sovabazar) and Tagore’s House and Museum.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure, take this opportunity for personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure, pack for your departure tomorrow.
Accommodations: The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 21: Belur Math, Program Condludes
(Sunday, March 13)

Note: You will need to remove your shoes at the visit to the Belur Math temple in the morning. Program Ends after lunch. Group flight is in the early evening with a 4-5 hour layover in Delhi.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: This morning, discover Belur Math, a temple notable for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions. NOTE: You will need to remove your shoes at this temple.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Program ends after lunch. This afternoon is free until your departure flight from Kolkata which is usually in the early evening. For those taking the group flight, you will have a 4-5 hour layover in Delhi. (subject to change).

If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 22: Program Concludes
(Monday, March 14)
 Arrive To: Arrival home.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Fine Balance

Author: Rohinton Mistry

Description: Set in 1975 in an unnamed Indian "city by the sea," this tender novel follows the intermingled fortunes of a Parsi widow, her boarder and two tailors. A Booker Prize finalist.

A Free Man

Author: Aman Sethi

Description: Sethi conjures Mohammed Ashraf and his indelible group of day laborer friends in the Old Delhi Railway Station in this searing portrait of life -- and injustice -- in contemporary India.

A Princess Remembers, The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur

Author: Devi Gayatri

Description: The memoirs of an extraordinary life. Widow of the Maharaja of Jaipur, member of parliament and a genuinely fascinating character, Gayatri recalls growing up in the palace compound, marrying the Maharaja, her political triumphs and work on behalf of education in India.

Birds of India

Author: Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp

Description: Thoroughly revised, with 73 new plates and many others updated or repainted, the second edition of the masterful Birds of India now features all maps and text opposite the plates for quicker and easier reference.

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

Author: William Dalrymple

Description: Dalrymple infectiously interweaves his own experiences over a year in Delhi with its art, architecture, history and literature.

Culture Smart! India

Author: Becky Stephen

Description: A concise, well-illustrated guide to both social and business customs in India.

Eyewitness Guide Delhi, Agra and Jaipur

Author: Anuradha Chaturvedi (Editor)

Description: With chapters on Taj Mahal, Amber Fort Palace, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Red Fort and dozens of other highlights for the traveler, this compact, gorgeously illustrated guide to Delhi and its environs features 900 color photographs, maps and site plans.

Gandhi, An Autobiography, or the Story of My Experiments with Truth

Author: Mohandas K. Gandhi

Description: There is no substitute for reading Gandhi in his own simple, direct prose. A highly recommended glimpse into the personality and life of this remarkable figure.

Hindu Art and Architecture

Author: George Michell

Description: An excellent survey of Hindu art and architecture, explaining the meaning and construction of principal images and buildings, as well as the development of Hinduism and the corpus of myths that have influenced its artistic tradition.

In Spite of the Gods

Author: Edward Luce

Description: Luce tackles the challenges and reality of the world's largest democracy with insight and balance in this portrait of a nation in transition.


Author: Stanley Wolpert

Description: Wolpert's reflections on India -- its religion and philosophy, its art, culture and politics -- make for a literate, succinct primer.

India Adventure Map

Author: National Geographic Society

Description: The most detailed shaded relief map (at a scale of 1:2,100,000) of India available.

India, A Sacred Geography

Author: Diana L. Eck

Description: Professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard, Diana Eck turns her interest in temples and places of pilgrimage into a celebration of the diversity of popular religious traditions in India in this richly rewarding travelogue.

India, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: Chandrahas Choudhury (Editor)

Description: Each of these 14 stories evokes place and landscape, providing an excellent introduction both to contemporary writers and to India's diverse cultures and history.

Indian Art

Author: Vidya Dehejia

Description: A beautifully illustrated, very readable history of Indian art and architecture. It considers the religious and intellectual contexts of three thousand years of Indian art, including the modern era.

Kaleidoscope City, A Year in Varanasi

Author: Piers Moore Ede

Description: Whether he is attending Ramalila -- the city's annual performance of the Ramayana, talking to members of the caste who man the cremation ghats along the Ganges or simply searching for the best mithai, or sweet, in town, Ede presents a vibrant, kaleidoscopic portrait of contemporary Varanasi.

Lonely Planet India Phrasebook

Author: Omkar Koul

Description: A handy, palm-sized guide to pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.

Midnight's Children

Author: Salman Rushdie

Description: Crowned Best of the Booker in 2008, Rushdie's greatest novel is a madcap, comic take on the birth of modern India in all its splendid and unexpected manifestations.

Mughal India, Splendours of the Peacock Throne

Author: Valerie Berinstain, Paul Bahn (Translator)

Description: This illustrated pocket guide presents the history, culture and splendor of the Mughal court and its celebrated architecture in hundreds of archival photographs and drawings.

Nine Lives, In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

Author: William Dalrymple

Description: From Sufi dervish and Buddhist monk to outcast and temple worshiper: nine people, nine lives, all captured by Dalrymple as he journeys throughout India in search of remarkable individuals transformed by religion. At turns bemusing, dazzling and heart-wrenching, this is his first travel book in 15 years.

Slowly Down the Ganges

Author: Eric Newby

Description: In 1963, the author and his wife set out an 1,200-mile voyage down the Ganges River. The title could apply as easily to the ruminative attitude Newby takes towards his journey as to the many mishaps which bedevil the quest.

Taj Mahal

Author: Giles Tillotson, Mary Beard (Editor)

Description: An enlightening pocket guide to the myth, meaning and legends of the celebrated tomb, "the queen of architecture."

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