Hamburg * Berlin * Hannover * Bremen * Dresden * München
Ashrams at the river Ganges, luxuary Palaces in the colourful Rajasthan and the faszinating Mountains of the Himalaya on the abentures way to the old Kingdom City of Leh. In Goa beaches like in Paradies.
Itinerary: Flight Frankfurt-Dehli, transfer by bus to hotel. City tours in New and Old Dehli. Cross-country: from Srinagar - Kargil - Leh, Dehli - Agra - Fatepur Sikri - Pushkar - Jaipur and back to Dehli. By plane: Dehli - Srinagar - Leh - Srinagar - Dehli, Jaipur - Bombay - Goa, Goa - Bombay. All transfers to airports by bus or cab. By jeep in Ladakh to: refugee camp Choglamsar, Shankar Gompa, Stock, Shey Tiksey Hemis. Flight Bombay-Frankfurt
Accommodations: One night on plane, two nights at hotel in New Dehli, two nights on house boats in Srinagar, one night at hotel by the river in Kargil, four nights in guest houses in Leh, three nights on house boats in Srinagar, one night at hotel in New Dehli, one night at hotel in Agra, two nights at hotel on the lake in Pushkar, two nights at hotel in Jaipur, four nights at beach resort Colva in Goa, one night at hotel at the airport in Bombay.
Meals: For your meals you should expect to spend approx. $10 per day
Tour Escort: Tour coordinator
Extra: Entrance fees, food, drinks, additional excursions by boat, jeep, bike, etc.
Climate: Spring and fall: day 68-104 degrees, night 40-84 degrees, water 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Currency: US$ 1 = 15.2 Indian Rupees
Visa: A tourist visa for US-citizens is required for India
Vaccinations: We strongly advise you to get hepatitis, tetanus, and malaria vaccinations
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The Ageless Land of Spice
The enormous contrasts of this trip are the sum total of all the experiences we have won on our earlier journeys through India. The stillness of the Kashmir Valley that nestles up against the Ladakh region. The exotic, colorful Rajasthan, with its great fortifications and palaces, the dream beaches of Goa.
We guarantee you an unforgettable vacation.
After a long flight from Frankfurt, we arrive in Delhi. We'll need these two days to get used to the massive change in time and culture. In New Delhi, we will have accommodations in a cozy guest house. This part of the city is filled with modern skyscrapers and government offices that tower and sprawl over the city. New Delhi stands in direct contrast to Old Delhi, the former capital of the Great Mogul, with its stunning "Red Fort" and its beautiful palatial pavilions and bustling bazaars.
After Delhi, we will fly to Srinagar, the Water City in the heart of the Kashmir Valley. Srinagar spreads out over both banks of the winding Yelum River, the shores of Lake Dal, and the nearby islands and canals. It seems that everything here floats. There's even a floating post office! It's no coincidence that wealthy Indians choose Srinagar for their honeymoons. If our overnight stay on the fantastic houseboats (some would call then "floating villas") doesn't let you in on their secret, the 10,000 foot high mountains reflected in the lotus-covered lake will. We've found that the most pleasant way to discover the city and its waterways is to sink into the soft cushion of a Shikara (a small wooden gondola) and be rowed out to the morning market, where the farmers offer their products from floating stalls. Beware!
These merchants, who pedal their wares from houseboat to houseboat, have all been able to refine very persuasive tactics over the years!! Obviously, our stay in Kashmir will not be limited to the waterways. In Srinagar, there are several attractive bazaars, important mosques such as the Jama Masija, some fascinating paper-mache factories, and, possibly, the tomb of Christ. By this point, we should be feeling quite rested and relaxed -- more than ready for the next part of our trip!
For seven days, we'll travel on a bus normally used on the Srinagar-Leh public bus route. This will give us a lot of flexibility to determine when, where, and for how long we care to stop. The bus drivers on this route are real acrobats who have to deal with a route which many have kindly called "adventuresome." The first stretch will take us two days to complete. First, we'll pass through the Sind Valley with its lush vegetation and tumbling mountain streams. On our way to Sonamarg, we'll pass through mountainous countryside not unlike Switzerland. The steep incline will lead us to the third-highest pass on the route, the 11,000-foot-high Zoji pass. Here, things will get exciting -- especially for bus drivers -- as the road is unpaved. The countryside also takes a dramatic turn to barren, mountainous terrain.
By evening, we will have reached Kargil (9,000 ft.), where we will spend the night in a hotel next to a rushing river. Early next morning, we start out on our journey across the Wakla Valley, some 20 miles east of Kargil, to Mulbekh. This is religious border between Islam and Buddhism. The monumental Buddha Maitruya has been chiseled out of the high cliff. A small temple lies at its feet. We'll continue our trip through the breathtaking landscape near the 12,500-foot-high Namika-La Pass, and then over the highest of the three passes, the Fotu-La (13,300 feet). At the highest point of the trip, we will have the most beautiful sight of our journey: one of the oldest buildings in Ladakh, the Lamayuru Monastery. This monastery stands in solitary splendor on a ridge overlooking the eerie volcanic landscape. Green, blue, violet and reddish rock formations, ocher-colored lime deposits, and a steel-blue sky make this one of the most breathtaking vistas in the world.
We'll soon be following the Indus River to Leh, the second highest city in the world. We should arrive at our simple (but very romantically situated) accommodations in Leh by nightfall. Once you get accustomed to the altitude (11,300 ft.), we'll go on some very interesting excursions. The fertile Indus Valley, as well as in the smaller oasis-filled valleys, is home to many Lamaist monasteries. Our bus will take us to the Shey, Ticksey Hemis, and Stock monasteries. We can also visit the Tibetan refugee camp in Choglamsar or go to the Shankar Gompa to experience the monks' morning prayer ritual. We'll stay in Leh for at least three days, giving you more than enough time to see all of the most important attractions of this region. The return journey will take only 1 1/2 days (the bus travels much faster downhill!). Weather permitting, we'll fly from Leh over the Himalayas back to Srinagar. It's only thirty minutes. Soon, we'll be sitting on the veranda of our comfortable houseboats, seeing the colors reflected in the water seen with quite new eyes.
This will end the first stage of our trip. We fly back to Delhi, the starting point for the Rajasthan tour.
After traveling from Delhi via Mathura to Agra, we will come face-to-face with the magnificent Taj Mahal. This stunning palace surpasses all expectations. Shah Jahan used the immense wealth of his great kingdom to build a tomb of snow-white marble for his favorite wife. The tombs on the opposite river bank are less well-known, but also of a seductive and enchanting beauty. The "Red Fort" of Agra was built before the one in Delhi, but is no less magnificent.
After an overnight stay in Agra, we'll travel via Fatepur Sikri, the Dead City, to Pushkar. Fatepur Sikri is special for its fairytale-like palace. Hindu pilgrims go to Pushkar. It lies picturesquely on the edge of the Tharr Desert and the shore of a charming lake. On these shores you can see the holy Ghat bathing areas and, if you take a look behind the town walls, you will find a whole slew of temples and colorful bazaars. We will stay at the Pushkar Hotel, right on the lake and surrounded by mountains.
After two nights, we'll carry on to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur, called The Pink City because of the color of its old section, is encircled by great walls and gateways. The most significant sights are the Palace of the Winds and the City Palace, inhabited today by the Maharajah family. We can make our way up to the old palace Fortress of Amber in a uniquely Indian way...by elephant!! The Fortress of Amber overlooks a small lake and the ruins of the former capital. The charm, however, does not lie only in the palaces. The people are the real stars here. The men proudly present themselves with colorful turbans and most of them wear long moustaches. The women wear equally colorful robes, heavy jewelry, and small mirrors from head to toe. We'll spend another two nights in a hotel in the middle of the old town before we continue on with the third stage of our journey.
From Jaipur, we will fly via Bombay to the most beautiful beach on Goa, Colva Beach. We'll be staying at a great beach resort that's like a small castle, and we'll have 3 1/2 days to let the precious ambiance of the Arabian Sea sink in. The palm lined beach seems to go on forever...with just a few fishing villages to break the view. If you like, you can rent bicycles for a leisurely tour of the countryside. Or you can inexpensively rent a motorcycle for a day and travel across the former Portuguese province to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls -- a final tropical adventure!
It won't be easy to return to the Western culture! We will fly back
from Goa to Bombay, where we'll stay the night before catching our
flight to Frankfurt.
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