18546
India/Nepal
Mystical Lands: The People and Culture of India and Nepal
Dive deep into the ancient cultures of India and Nepal as you learn about iconic landmarks, sacred temples, unique wildlife and the secret spices of traditional cuisines.
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Program No. 18546RJ
Length
17 days
Starts at
3,595
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17 days
16 nights
40 meals
14 B 12 L 14 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Delhi, Transfer to Hotel, Check-In, Dinner
Delhi
D
The Suryaa New Delhi

Afternoon: Upon your arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi (DEL), the Group Leader will meet you in the arrivals hall. After the group is assembled, you will be transferred to the hotel via motorcoach followed by check in. You will also be informed of the time and place for dinner this evening and our Orientation session, when you will learn more details of what is to come.

Dinner: Get your first taste of India as you enjoy dinner featuring Indian and Continental cuisine.

Evening: It has been a long travel day. Get a good night’s sleep to be ready for the excitement ahead as we get to know the land and people of India.

DAY
3
Orientation, New Delhi Field Trip, Official Welcome Dinner
Delhi
B,L,D
The Suryaa New Delhi

Activity note: Shoes and socks are not allowed in the Sikh temples & it is obligatory for men and women to cover their heads. Scarves are provided free by the Temple, your own full-size scarves are also allowed.

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: ORIENTATION: Immediately after breakfast, the program gets underway with our Orientation session. We will gather for a warm welcome and introductions, followed by an overview of the program. We will review the schedule and any changes; discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures and contact numbers for key staff; currency, language, time-keeping, and answer any questions. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to weather or other local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. FIELD TRIP: Start off with an overview of modern India and learn about the more recent history of this ancient land as our local expert leads you past India Gate, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, that commemorates Indian soldiers who died during World War I; Parliament, the nation’s supreme legislative body; and President House (Rashtrapati Bhavan), a huge complex that serves as the official residence of the President of India. Then continue to Delhi’s most important Sikh Temple, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. Dating from 1783, it is distinctive for its golden dome and dramatic setting on a pond whose waters are considered sacred by Sikhs.

Lunch: Today we dine at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: This afternoon, we encounter Qutub Minar, a masterpiece of Mughal architecture and one of the finest monuments in all of India, soaring up 237 feet. Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, began construction in 1192. The conical tower is an exquisite example of Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture. Qutub Minar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has survived the ravages of time impressively.

Dinner: Our official welcome dinner at the hotel provides more tastes of India with a menu of local cuisine and an optional, complimentary glass of wine/beer. (You may order more on your own.)

Evening: Take the rest of the evening to relax and make new Road Scholar friends.

DAY
4
Old Delhi Field Trip, Home Hosted Dinner
Delhi
B,L,D
The Suryaa New Delhi

Activity note: Rickshaw ride is through an extremely crowded market. Jama Mosque has a lot of steps. Shoes and shorts are not allowed into the Mosque. Gowns for ladies are provided by the mosque.

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: PRESENTATION: Begin the day by attending a lecture on "Relevance of Gandhi in Today's World" by a local expert at the hotel. FIELD TRIP: Then by coach we move on to explore Old Delhi led by a local expert. Then we drive past the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort, symbol of Mughal power and pomp, and Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. For a delightful change of pace, we will take rickshaw rides in Chandni Chowk, a centuries old market bazaar. The motorcoach will return to the hotel between approximately Noon-1:00pm.

Lunch: Lunch at Chor Bizarre.

Afternoon: FREE TIME: Take time to explore on your own, seeing and doing what is most interesting to you outside of our program schedule. Your group leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: CULTURAL IMMERSION: Home-hosted dinner. One of the special aspects of this program is the opportunity to meet and have dinner with local host families who are eager to share their hospitality and talk about their country. The group will be divided into smaller groups of 5-8 and will be transferred via a local travel service from and to the hotel. The families are part of India’s middle class and you can look forward to fascinating interactions that will tell you a great deal about the people. At the conclusion of the evening, we will return to the hotel.

Evening: Return to the hotel and relax.

DAY
5
Transfer to Jaipur
Jaipur
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Jaipur

Activity note: The drive from Delhi to Jaipur is approximately seven hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and board the motorcoach by 8:30am as we depart for Jaipur. En route, learn about “Royalty Synonymous to Rajashtan." The Rajputs, descendants of the ancient Aryan fighting caste and invaders who settled down and intermingled with them, gave Rajasthan its name and character.

Lunch: We will have lunch at a resort en route.

Afternoon: We arrive in Jaipur, the “Pink City” in the late afternoon when we will check into the hotel.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner featuring Indian and Continental cuisine with choice of entrée and an assortment of side dishes to complete your meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Amber Fort, City Palace, Jantar Mantar
Jaipur
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Jaipur

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We arrive at Amber (pronounced Amer) Fort, set in rugged hills about six miles from Jaipur. Construction of this ancient citadel of local rulers began in 1592. The formidable exterior of red sandstone and white marble with its terraces and ramparts is reflected in Maota Lake. The fabulous interiors are a blend of Hindu and Mughal art and architecture. These former royal halls are decorated with intricate ivory, mirror, and glass work complemented by exquisite wall paintings. Then we will have an opportunity to see and learn about Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). You will have time for photographs as we disembark and walk around this five-storied wonder, constructed from pink and red sandstone. It was built to give royal ladies views of life outside the palace since they never appeared in public. Hawa Mahal has a spectacular pyramidal façade and overhanging windows with latticed screens, domes, and spires.

Lunch: At the café inside the City Palace, enjoy a buffet lunch featuring local cuisine with bottled water, coffee, and tea.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP continues: We walk a short distance from the café to visit the City Palace. After City Palace, we will take a short walk to the Jantar Mantar Astronomical Observatory. During the early 1700s, the Maharajah of Jaipur ordered the construction of five astronomical observatories – known as Jantar Mantars (calculation instruments) in the region. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, “It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.” Onsite, a local expert will discuss the Science of Astronomy: An Important Part of India's Living Traditions.

Dinner: CULTURAL IMMERSION: Tonight we have a special treat, dinner for the group in the home of a noble Indian family. We will return to the hotel together at the end of the evening.

DAY
7
To Kalakho, Visit Local Village, Cultural Performance
Kalakho
B,L,D
Dera Village Retreat Kalakho

Activity note: Activity Notes The drive from Jaipur to Kalakho is approximately 3 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and board the motorcoach by 8:30am as we depart for Kalakho. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "If you want to experience the soul of India, then you must go to her villages." Kalakho is one of those villages. Surrounded by forests in the Aravalli Hills, we are off the standard tourist path. This is a place where old customs and traditions are maintained with festivals throughout the year that celebrate events significant to communities such as Brahmins, Rajputs, Mahajans, Jains and Kayasthas. The preferred mode of exploration for visitors is via camel-cart! Upon arrival check into the hotel.

Lunch: Lunch at the Retreat.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Climb aboard a camel (or camel carts, subject to availability) for a safari into a rural tribal village for a glimpse of village life. We will have an opportunity to interact with the villagers as they follow daily activities in their homes. Come back to the hotel. PERFORMANCE: Enjoy an authentic folk dance and musical performance after the match. Rajastan folk dances and accompanying music are lively and festive.

Dinner: Dinner at the Hotel.

Evening: It has been another full day, filled with new sights, sounds, and experiences, so take the evening to relax and prepare for what tomorrow brings.

DAY
8
Transfer to Agra, School Excur., Field Trip to Mehtab Bagh
Agra
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Agra

Activity note: The drive from Kalakho to Agra is approximately 4 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and board vehicles by 8:30am as you depart for Agra. Subject to Change: EXCURSION- On the way, stop at a local school for an opportunity to say hello to the children. On the way to Agra, you will also be stopping to see the Abhaneri Stepwell. Explore the small village of Abhaneri and one of India's deepest and largest stepwells. These unique steps were built in the 12th century as a water supply, as cool places of resort and for ritual cleansing before visiting the adjoining Harshita Mata temple.

Lunch: Upon arrival in Agra (approximately 1:00-2:00pm depending on traffic) we will have lunch at the hotel, followed by check-in.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Late afternoon, we board our motorcoach and head to Mehtab Bagh. This garden complex is aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite side of the Yamuna River. It was designed to be a “moon lit pleasure garden” (the translation of Mehtab Bagh) and the ideal spot for viewing the Taj. Over generations, it deteriorated badly and is now being restored. Recent excavations have uncovered a huge tank for 25 original fountains. Our field trip continues to the mausoleum of Itmad-ud-daula, the first in India made entirely of marble rather than red sandstone. Its fascinating history chronicles the “rag to riches” saga of a poor merchant who rose to become chief minister of the Mughal emperor. This elaborately carved tomb in the Islamic style — like a jewel box set in a tranquil garden on the banks of the Yamuna River — was an inspiration for the Taj Mahal years later. At the conclusion of the field trip, we return to the hotel via motorcoach.

Dinner: Enjoy a dinner featuring Indian and Continental cuisine with choice of entrée and an assortment of side dishes to complete your meal.

Evening: Enjoy a relaxing evening talking over the highlights of the day.

DAY
9
Sunrise at the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort Trip, Free Afternoon
Agra
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Agra

Breakfast: Breakfast will be after our field trip to the Taj Mahal as we return to the hotel for a buffet including Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Sunrise at the Taj Mahal. We rise very early and board the motorcoach for a unique experience of breathtaking beauty at this ultimate monument to romantic love. 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. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day. At the end of the experience, we return to the hotel for breakfast then depart on our next adventure. At the end of the experience, we return to the hotel for breakfast. FIELD TRIP: Agra Fort. The Red Fort of Agra, once a powerful fortress of red sandstone with 1.5 miles of enclosing walls, was the imperial city of Mughal rulers. Founded in 1565, it holds a number of fairy-tale palaces as well as two beautiful mosques of white marble. It was here that Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, was imprisoned after being overthrown by his son and where he died looking towards the Taj.

Lunch: Your lunch will be the tasty result of a cooking demonstration on regional cuisine.

Afternoon: FREE TIME: Enjoy some leisure time with new Road Scholar friends or set out to explore on your own. Your group leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner featuring Indian and Continental cuisine with choice of entrée and an assortment of side dishes to complete your meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Sikandra visit, Fly to Varanasi
Varanasi
B,L,D
Radisson Hotel Varanasi

Activity note: The drive from Agra to Delhi is approximately 4.5 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: After breakfast check out of the hotel and board the motor coach. Explore Sikandara, and Akbar's tomb, an important Mughal architectural masterpiece. It was built in 1605-1615 and is situated on 119 acres. Transfer to Delhi airport.

Lunch: Lunch at Delhi Airport.

Afternoon: Depart from Delhi Airport to Varanasi. Due to airport construction in Varanasi, the flight will arrive around 6pm. Upon arrival in Varanasi, transfer from the airport and check in to the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Evening: Recharge your batteries after a busy day of travel and discovery.

DAY
11
Ganges River, Sarnath UNESCO Site, Growth of Buddhism
Varanasi
B,L,D
Radisson Hotel Varanasi

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We begin the day very early with a morning boat ride on the Ganges River to observe people performing daily rituals, then see temples and ghats (steps leading down to the water) for which the city is well known. Mid-morning, we explore Sarnath, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site where tradition says Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. Set in well-maintained gardens, Sarnath's ruins are a pleasant place to stroll or meditate. The highlights are Asoka's pillar, the ruins of the Mulagandhakuti and the huge Dharmek Stupa. Farther to the east is the modern Mulagandhakuti Vihara with its beautiful wall paintings and, behind it, the Deer Park. LECTURE: A local professor will discuss the growth of Buddhism in India.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: CEREMONY: Later in the afternoon or early evening, during a boat cruise on the Ganges, you will be able to witness sacred Hindu religious rituals of “puja” and “aarti.” Puja refers to a variety of rites, one of which is aarti (also arti, arati), a ceremony in which light from little lamps with wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities. Aarti also refers to the songs sung in praise of the deity when lamps are being offered.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel offers more of the distinctive flavors of India.

Evening: The remainder of the evening is free. Share your favorite highlights of the day with new Road Scholar friends.

DAY
12
Fly to Nepal
Kathmandu
B,L,D
Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee

Breakfast: Early! Our breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Indian, Continental, and American breakfast options.

Morning: Early morning, transfer to Varanasi Airport to board flight for New Delhi. FLIGHT: Please note that the flight will go via Delhi en route to Kathmandu. The flight will have a layover in Delhi. Arrival in Kathmandu will be late night.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Delhi.

Afternoon: Afternoon: Board the motor coach and transfer to the airport. If time allows, enjoy an afternoon excursion in Delhi.

Dinner: Dinner at Delhi Airport.

Evening: Night: Flight arrives in Kathmandu- Immigration formalities (purchase visa on arrival ($25), payable in US dollars, and you will need 2 passport size photographs), collect own luggage and proceed to the hotel in Kathmandu (15 min. time difference)

DAY
13
Newari Art, Swayambhunath UNESCO Site, Contemp. Nepal Issues
Kathmandu
B,D
Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel offers world cuisine with Indian, Continental, and American options.

Morning: LECTURE: In the fascinating setting of a combination restaurant-art gallery, learn about the Newars, one of Nepal's many ethnic groups. Predominantly Buddhist, Newari artists are renowned throughout Asia for the high quality of their work. A local expert will discuss the impact of Newari art on other countries and cultures in this lush garden and traditional Rana home. FIELD TRIP: We visit Swayambhunath, the oldest Buddhist “stupa” — a place of meditation — established more than 2,500 years ago and also known as the Monkey Temple. Perched high on a hilltop, it commands a superb view of the entire Kathmandu Valley. Swayambhunath is also known as Sengu and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. FIELD TRIP: We transfer by coach then leave the vehicle and walk along to the Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu Durbar Square). With its old temples and palaces, Durbar Square epitomizes the religious and cultural life of the people. It is here that the kings of Nepal are crowned and their coronations solemnized. Highlights include Taleju Temple, built by King MahendraMalla in A.D. 1549; the Temple of KalBhairav, the god of destruction; Nautalle Durbar; Coronation Nasal Chowk; the GaddiBaithak; the statue of king PratapMallal the Big Drum; and the Jagannath Temple. (Please note that though we will visit Durbar Square, Nautalle Durbar and the Big Drums House were destroyed in the earthquake of April 2015.)

Lunch: Lunch on your own. Your Group Leader will give you options you can explore.

Afternoon: The coach will pick you up after lunch then will return you to the hotel. LECTURE: Learn about contemporary issues of Nepal from a local expert at the conference hall of the hotel.

Dinner: This evening enjoy a panoply of flavors at a newly reopened hotel restaurant featuring delectable dishes from across Asia including Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and of course, Chinese food.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Bhaktapur, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath Stupa, Nepali Culture
Kathmandu
B,L,D
Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel offers world cuisine with Indian, Continental, and American options.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Bhaktapur. Approximately 45 minutes away by coach, Bhaktapur sits at an elevation of 4,596 feet (1,401 meters). Its name means “city of devotees” as it will be apparent during our exploration. In Bhaktapur's Durbar Square, visit key sites beginning with the National Art Gallery containing ancient and medieval paintings belonging to Hindu and Buddhist schools depicting Tantrics of various periods. The Golden Gate, built by King RanjitMalla, is one of the most beautiful and richly carved specimens of its kind in the entire world, embellished with deities and monsters of marvelous intricacy. The Palace boasts 55 windows in a wood-carved balcony among the brick walls with their gracious settings and sculptural design. Nyatapola Temple stands on five terraced platforms with each terrace containing a pair of figures: two famous wrestlers, two elephants, two lions, two griffins, and the Baghini and Singini (tiger and the lion goddesses). (Please note that though none of the highlighted monuments received visible damage due to the earthquake, there are several temples -Temple of Jaganath, Watshala,Temple of Phasidega or Shilu Mahadev, and Betalpati - in the Square that have been destroyed.)

Lunch: Have lunch in Bhaktapur.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Pashupatinath is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the world. During the annual Shivaratri pilgrimage, thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva from Hindu communities around the world pay homage here. We will explore the temple led by our expert guide. We then proceed to Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in the world. Set in a Mandala design, it is built on a flat surface of various levels of terraces, painted in pastel colors and adorned with prayer flags. Altogether, 108 Buddha images and 147 insets of prayer wheels adorn the base of the huge circular edifice. The settlement of Boudhanath has the largest community of Tibetans — 12,000 in all.

Dinner: This evening we dine at a traditional Nepali restaurant with authentic local cuisine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
History of Nepal, Patan City, Home Hosted Dinner
Kathmandu
B,L,D
Crowne Plaza Hotel Kathmandu Soaltee

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel offers world cuisine with Indian, Continental, and American options.

Morning: LECTURE: History and Culture of Nepal. Learn more about this fascinating land and its people as someone from the university visits us for a presentation and discussion in the hotel conference hall. Visiting students of Tribhuvan University will tell you about their goals, aspirations and lives. FIELD TRIP: We board our coach for the approximately half-hour ride to Patan City, renowned for its fine arts. We explore Patan Durbar Square which is full of ancient palaces, temples and shrines noted for their exquisite carvings. Krishna Mandir, the only temple in Nepal having 21 spires and completely made of stone. Mahabouddha, a Buddhist temple made of clay bricks in which thousands of images of Lord Buddha are engraved. Patan displays the sacred art of Nepal in an illustrious architectural setting. (Please note that though several monuments and shrines have been damaged in Patan Durbar Square, the above mentioned sites remain intact.) We will also visit a traditional Nepali Village of the Newar clan, to see first-hand traditional ways of life that has changed little for generations.

Lunch: Patan Museum Café has been crafted to complement the superb period ambience achieved by the architects and builders of the Museum itself. Located in the inner courtyard of the Keshav Narayan Chowk in Patan Durbar, the café offers a mix of traditional and Western delicacies and light meals in a setting unparalleled in the Kathmandu Valley.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: After lunch, continue to explore the museum. In late afternoon, return to hotel for some free time and prepare for a special dinner affair.

Dinner: Enjoy the convivial atmosphere of cocktails and a farewell dinner in a private home hosted especially for Road Scholar guests.

Evening: Prepare for departure tomorrow afternoon.

DAY
16
Free Morning to Explore Kathmandu, Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Please note that all passengers who have bought air from Road Scholar on Air India and have a transit in New Delhi will get lounge vouchers.

Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel offers world cuisine with Indian, Continental, and American options.

Morning: FREE MORNING: Explore Kathmandu on your own, seeking out what is most interesting and appealing to you. Your group leader and local guide will be happy to offer suggestions. We then depart for the airport and for return flights home. Please refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Early afternoon depart for the airport for your flight home.

Evening: Flights home

DAY
17
Arrival North America
In Flight





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