Destination: Delhi – Mathura – Agra – Gwalior – Khajuraho – Varanasi – Kolkata – Chennai – Tiruchirapalli – Thanjavur – Chennai
Duration :11 nights / 12days
India is world-famous for its rich and unique cultural heritage, which is as old as the world civilization. The country is home to well over 500 different kinds of museums in India and all of them have a special charm to them displaying amazing artifacts from the past.
It was the British, with their great love for preserving and displaying things, who introduced the notion of a museum to India. The first museum to be established was the Indian Museum in Kolkata, which beside the wonderful medieval Hindu sculptures, also has a great collection of early Buddhist art. This tour, put together by le passage to India, tries to include the best that India has to offer in terms of museums during the twelve day journey across the country.
The tour also takes you to Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, even though there is no museum it has been included as a convenient overnight halt from Mathura to Gwalior.
Day 01: Arrive Delhi
Arrival at Delhi. Meeting and assistance at the airport on arrival and transfer to the hotel.
Delhi: The capital city of modern India has behind it centuries of history, which has enriched its culture. Nowhere has tradition blended with modernity on a scale as evident in Delhi; age-old monuments stand check by jowl with ultra modern hi-rise buildings. Delhi has been the seat of power for centuries. Today old and new city combine to present a harmonious whole, offering the traveler elegant shops, broad laburnum lined avenues, sun warmed elegant forts and mosques that were once stronghold of Mughal powers and colorful bazaars. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 02: Delhi
After breakfast proceed to explore The National Museum.
Morning: The National Museum – It is the premier repository of antiquities. Built in 1960, it has an extraordinary collection representing the entire span of Indian civilization from pre-historic times. Its galleries include finds from the Indus Valley Civilization, superb sculptures in stone, and bronzes from the Chola period, the largest collection of miniature paintings in the world, manuscripts, a Buddhist Gallery, including relics of the Buddha from Piprahwa, the exquisite Jewellery Gallery, the Anthropological Gallery of tribal art; galleries devoted to decorative and applied arts, Maritime Heritage and Pre-Columbian art, and the Central Asian Antiquities, Gallery of Auriel Stein’s finds along the ancient Silk Route (the great murals however, are on display at the adjacent Archaeological Survey of India).
Afternoon: Half day sightseeing of New and Old Delhi. In New Delhi drive past the 12th century 230- feet high Qutab Minar, gracefully hand-carved for its entire height of 234ft, the mausoleum of emperor Humayun – a forerunner of the Mughal style of architecture, the imposing Lakshmi Narayan Temple, India Gate (memorial to the Indian army soldiers who died in the World War I), the Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly the viceroy’s residence) and the Parliament House. Later continue to Old Delhi. See the Red Fort – a marvel in red sandstone, the Raj Ghat – memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the Jama Masjid – the largest mosque in India. Spend some time in Chandni Chowk to savour the ambience of a crowded oriental bazaar. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 03: Depart Delhi (By road 147Kms / 3½Hrs)
Enroute stopover at Mathura (Continue by road 57Kms / 1.3Hrs) Arrive Agra After breakfast drive to Mathura. On arrival proceed directly to explore the Museum. Mathura: At Mathura, an ancient city dating back to 1500 B.C., visit the museum which has a collection of sculptures, terracotta, coins, bronze objects dating back from the 5th Century B.C. The 5th century A.D. statue of the standing Buddha can also be seen in the Museum. Also visit the Dwarkadheesh Temple and the Vishram Ghat where Aarti is performed every evening.
Continue journey to Agra. Meeting and assistance on arrival and check-in at the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 04: Agra
On the right bank of the River Yamuna, Agra reigns over a glorious past created by warriors as skilled in art and architecture as they were on the battlefield. Your tour of Agra city begins with a visit to the Agra Fort, a massive sandstone fortress started by Emperor Akbar in 1565 and completed by his grandson Emperor Shah Jehan.
After breakfast Proceed on to the stunningly beautiful Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. The construction of this building was started in 1631 and was completed in 1653.
Taj Mahal which is the seventh wonder of world built by Shahjahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz Mahal by the banks of river Yamuna. After her untimely death, Shahajahan had her mortal remains buried in this mausoleum. And after his own demise he was placed to rest next to his beloved queen in the same mausoleum The Taj has been called the most extravagant monument ever built for the sake of love. The great monument took almost 22 years to build and was completed in 1653. Around 20,000 workers from all over the country and central Asia were recruited to translate this dream into a reality (Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays). Also visit Sikandra, the tomb of Akbar and Dayalbagh for its various crafts and monuments. Overnight at the hotel.<
Day 05: Depart Agra (by road 117Kms / 2.7Hrs)
Arrive Gwalior After early breakfast drive to Gwalior. Meeting and assistance on arrival and check-in at the hotel. Later visit the Archaeological Museum. Archaeological Museum: The Archaeological Museum was established in 1922. On view are archaeological antiquities like sculpture, inscriptions, copper plates, inscribed seals, stone pillars and capitals, sati stones, metal images, terracotta and coins excavated from ancient sites like Pawaya (Padmavati), Besvagar (Vidisha). Ujjain (Ujjayini) and Maheshwar. Also displayed are copies of the frescoes and some paintings. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 06: Depart Gwalior (By road 275Kms / 6.3Hrs)
Arrive Khajuraho After breakfast drive to Khajuraho. Meeting and assistance on arrival at Khajuraho followed by check-in at the hotel. Proceed to explore the archeological museum.
Archaeological Museum: Khajuraho, once capital of the Chandela dynasty, is today known for its magnificent temples. In 1910, W E Jardine, the then political agent of Bundelkhand, displayed a collection of objects which he ha gathered from the temple complex, in an open air enclosure near the western group of temple. First called the Jardine Museum the name changes to Archaeological Museum in 1952. Most of the 2000 objects are masterpieces of Indian sculpture. The Nritta Ganesha, a colossal image depicts the elephant-headed god dancing while his attendants keep rhythm; a marvellous Hari-Hara representing the deity whose right half is Shiva and left Vishnu manifests the perfectly conceived unity of the to gods.
Other outstanding pieces are a huge Parvati, Shiva as Andhakasuravadhamurti where the deity is shown wielding his trishul on a demon, a seated Bhairava and sadashiva. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 07: Depart Khajuraho at 1330hrs (By flight 9W724)
Arrive Varanasi at 1410hrs Morning at leisure or after breakfast take a tour of the world famous Khajuraho temples. Later transfer to the airport to board flight to Varanasi. Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to the hotel. Rest of the evening at leisure. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 08: Depart Varanasi at 1700Hrs (By Train 3006 ASR Howrah Mail)
Arrive Kolkata at 0730hrs on Day 09 Enjoy an early morning boat ride on the river Ganges.
Later proceed to explore Sarnath, 10-Kms away from Varanasi, which bears testimony to its great past where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his disciples, expounding the principles of Buddhism.
Explore the Sarnath Museum: Sarnath has yielded a rich collection of sculptures, artifacts and edifices comprising numerous Buddha and Bodhisattva images and other ancient remains. Finest specimens of Buddhist art and other important remains have been housed at the museum.
The main attraction of the Sarnath Archaeological Museum is the superb Ashokan Pillar. It has four back-to-back lions, which has been adopted as the National symbol of India. Below this are representations of a lion, an elephant, horse and the bull.
While the single most famous exhibit of this museum is the lion capital, the Sarnath museum has a small but awe-inspiring collection of Buddhist artifacts. Among the things to see is a beautiful sculpture of the Buddha from the fifth century. Of other Buddhist remains there is an impressive and amazingly beautiful, life-size standing Bodhisattva and a delicate image of the Bodhisattva with a lotus and yet another bronze sculpture showing the Bodhisattva with multiple arms. The museum at Sarnath also houses an excellent collection of figures and sculptures from the Mauryan, the Kushana and the Gupta periods.
Return to Varanasi. Transfer to the railway station to board overnight train to Kolkata. Overnight on the train.
Day 09: Arrive Kolkata (By train at 0730Hrs)
Meeting and assistance on arrival at the station and transfer to the hotel. Begin your sightseeing by a visit to the Indian Museum.
Kolkata: It is a city of glaring contrasts: a curious blend of the old and the new, partly feudal, partly born out of growing urbanisation, partly un-definable. It is a medley of the east and the west, a graft of an European city imposed on the Asian scape that gives Calcutta its bewildering charm, confusion and excitement. Being just about 300 years old, Calcutta hardly has many great historical monuments. Perhaps, the oldest remembered is the site where the Kalighat Temple now stands.
Morning: Visit to the Indian Museum: The Indian Museum is India’s first and oldest museum. Originally part of the Asiatic Society, it opened to public in 1875. Here, in the Bharhut Room, Sunga art is dramatically represented by the railings and gateway the have been reassembled to form the outer wall encompassing a stupa. These are the remains of a Buddhist stupa discovered in 1873 in Bharhut, a village in Madhya Pradesh, Carved in red sandstone, quarried from the Vindhyas, it is believed to be similar in scale and design to the great Sanchi stupa. An inscription on a pillar of the gateway informs us that this was constructed in the 2nd century BC, during the Sunga period.
The railings are decorated with relics depicting both religious and secular themes. Some are figurative while others are narrative panes, illustrating scenes from the Jatakas and stories from the Buddha’s former lives. The 500 relics are claimed to be one of the most important remains of the post Mauryan period. Lables of the panels make them the earliest inscribed sculptures of India.
India’s best collection of Gandhara sculptures is here with a large number of Buddhist relics from the Mahayana period. The Numismatic Gallery is also one of the best in the country, displaying coins of great craftsmanship, ranging right from the 5th century BC punch marked coins, through the Gupta period to Mughal period.
Afternoon: A half day sightseeing tour of the city includes a visit to the Victoria Memorial, Calcutta’s most imposing and monumental dream in marble opened by the Prince of Wales in 1921 and often called the “Taj” of the British Raj. Also visit the St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the evening enjoy the Son-et-Lumiere (sound & light show) at the Victoria Memorial. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Depart Kolkata at 0830hrs (By flight 9W844)
Arrive Chennai at 1030hrs After breakfast transfer to the airport to board flight to Chennai. Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to the hotel.
Chennai: The gateway to the south and the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is also the seat of ancient civilization in India, with a rich heritage of fine arts, sculpture, and architecture. During colonial rule it became the capital of the Madras Presidency, one of the largest areas of India under British control. It was at this time that the city began its evolution into a great metropolitan center. Today, Chennai is a mix of colonial remnants and post-Independence modernities. Begin your tour in Chennai by exploring the State Museum.
Afternoon: The Government State Museum in Chennai is best known for two important collections: sculptures from Amaravati and its famed Bronze Gallery. The Amaravati collection has panels, pillars, carved railings and Buddha statues of milky white marble from a Buddhist stupa excavated at Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh. There are bronze sculptures from the later Pallava, Chola, Hoysala and Chalukya periods. Gods from the Hindu pantheon dominate and are classified under Saivite and Vaishnavite groups. Prominent among these are powerful Natarajas, Shiva performing the dance of creation, a Chola Ardhanarisvara, the Lord who is half woman, a 9th century Somaskanda from North Arcot district, a 10th century Chola group of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. Overnight at the hotel. –
Day 11: Depart Chennai at 1020hrs (By flight DN153)
Arrive Tiruchirapalli at 1120hrs After breakfast transfer to the airport to board flight to Tiruchirapalli. Meeting and assistance on arrival followed by drive to Thanjavur (Tanjore) (By road 58Kms / 1.5Hrs) to explore the Tanjore Royal Museum.
Tanjore Royal Museum: This museum is best known for its bronze sculpture collection, of rare artistic quality. It is, of course, impossible here to describe all the 400 or more pieces. But few outstanding works which, if you are lucky, will be in this museum and not found in exhibitions around the world. The Kalyanasundaramurti (Tiruvengadu district, early Chola), the images of Shiva and Parvati at the time of their marriage, is truly a masterpiece, one of India’s finest bronzes of all time. Drive back to Tiruchirapalli for overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 12: Depart Tiruchirapalli at 1135Hrs. (By flight DN154)
Arrive Chennai at 1245Hrs. After breakfast transfer to the airport to board flight to Chennai. Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to the hotel. Day free for leisure activities. Overnight at the hotel. Day 13: Depart Chennai
Transfer to the international airport to board flight back home or to onward destination. Optional Destinations Jaipur