Brendan’s Trip to India with Cox & Kings
India is one of those places that seems to be on everyones bucket list from stunning beaches to tiger safaris it really a country that some people will say has it all. We started our journey in the very impressive airport lounge in terminal 3 London Heathrow set to board on the 21.55 direct flight to Delhi Airport on premium economy.
After a relaxed 8 hour flight we landed on a Sunday morning in the buzzing city of Delhi and the start of my Indian adventure began. The roads in Delhi are an experience themselves with no sense of order, simply looking out your window provided enough to keep you entertained on the half hour journey from the airport to our first hotel the Taj Mahal Hotel. A lovely hotel in the middle of all the action, get your day off to the perfect start by going for a swim or a stroll around the gardens on offer. Our first taste of the temples India has to offer was a visit to Humayuns Tomb which was perfectly complimented by the beautiful gardens it was surrounded by making it a relaxed viewing of what really is a quite a magnificent piece of history situated in the heart of Delhi. Our next stop was a real experience as we visited a Sikh house of worship Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, now be prepared to do some accessorising as no shoes or socks can be worn inside the temple as well as having to wear a makeshift turban it really allows you to get right amongst the action and experience a ceremony the best way possible. Next stop was India Gate a huge war memorial located in the centre of the city which lights up at night time allowing you to really appreciate the sheer size of it, this was followed by a meal in a traditional local restaurant right next door to our hotel.
The next day we were back at Delhi airport to catch our short flight to Varanasi a place regarded the spiritual capital of India in which draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges Rivers sacred waters and perform funeral rites along the river bank. We arrived at the Radisson Hotel after a very interesting 40 minute transfer from the airport involving a lot of cows in the road and plenty of beeping! After a spot of lunch and a quick swim at the hotel we headed down to the river bank to where all the action was happening our method of transport this time was a rickshaw which really allows you to appreciate the mayhem of the roads with hundreds of mopeds, motorbikes, people, cows, pigs the lot buzzing about the place. Making our way through the small alleys and streets of Varanasi with a wide variation of shops and stalls to have a nosey at we found ourselves on the river bank ready to board our vessel for the evening. The best way to see Varanasi is from the river itself with hundreds of temples and Ghats hanging over the river providing a lot to look at most notably the traditional cremation area which takes place 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand of being buried on the Ganges. We stopped and viewed an evening Aarti ceremony in which Hindus gather on the river bank and have a little sing song which really is a relaxing and fulfilling experience. We then visited the historic Brijrama Palace for dinner, a hotel with amazing views of the Ganges and beautiful rooms with a lovely atmosphere giving it an authentic Indian feel, a real piece of paradise among the chaos of Varanasi. The next day saw us waking up at the crack of dawn and back on the river to catch the sunrise as well as to take in a Varanasi morning as people flock to the river for their morning wash in the Ganges. The afternoon we saw a different side to Varanasi, visiting Sarnath a much more relaxed are with some lovely museums, temples and gardens followed by an audience with some monks hearing about their religion and beliefs. In the evening we visited the Gateway Hotel a stunning hotel with loads of interesting history and some breath-taking rooms and gardens. Our Varanasi experience came to a close as we headed back to the airport for our flight back to Delhi and then on wards to Agra.
As we arrived in Agra we headed to the Oberoi Amarvilas and caught our first glimpse of the Taj Mahal, from our balcony!! This incredible hotel offers amazing views of the Taj from every room accompanied by a beautiful swimming pool area with plenty of staff waiting on you hand and foot for your every need. After settling in with a refreshing swim and some down time we headed to an evening Mohabbat-e-Taj show which gives you an insight of the history of the Taj Mahal in a colourful musical fashion really getting us in the mood for our morning visit to watch the sunrise over the Taj itself. You really have to experience the Taj Mahal in person to appreciate the beauty and detail thats gone into this outstanding part of history, surrounded by lush gardens and water works having a close up look at the Taj itself you can really see how much work has gone into perfecting the building. After a lot of photos from various different angles we headed back to the hotel for a beautiful breakfast and headed back out to see the Agra Fort and Itmad-ud-daulah two more examples of Indian architecture with an amazing history explained perfectly with great enthusiasm by our Cox and Kings tour guide really allowing you realise the pride Indians show in their history.
Ranthambore Tiger Safari
Our journey then brought us to what for me was the part I was looking forward to most the Tiger safari in Ranthambore! On route we visited Fatehpur Sikri a small city just west of Agra formed by a cluster of impressive red sandstone buildings creating an ancient city on top of a mountain providing great views of the surrounding areas. Again the thing that stood out most to me was the attention to detail with every pillar, post and wall carved to perfection with hidden pictures and patterns only visible to the naked eye. After this short pit stop the journey to Ranthambore continued through the Indian countryside. We arrived at our accommodation Dev Vilas a lovely hotel equipped with a pool and plenty of staff available to help also a big stand out was the food available being a very high standard. Most hotels in the area provide a combination of accommodation and safari so dont worry about looking at outside tours to the safari park as the hotel is ready available to organise this for you providing wake up calls and early morning tea before your game drives at the crack of dawn. A mere 10 minute drive in the morning brought us to the Ranthambore Park gates a lovely park with bucket loads of wildlife from spotted deer to crocodiles, taking in our first game drive looking for the elusive Bengal Tiger and believe it or not on our very first drive we spotted just that a beautiful sight as this young tiger cub sat sunbathing by a stream it then proceeded to circle our van coming to within a foot of us allowing us to get a close up look at one of the most magnificent creatures on the planet! We then headed back for lunch at the Regenta Resort just up the road from our hotel for lunch at this brand new hotel which provides bungalows and modern deluxe rooms with a lovely pool area and plenty of garden space to explore. Our second game drive was just as good again spotting the usual vast amounts of deer and antelopes followed by a sloth bear even rarer then the tiger, which closely followed appearing this time down the side of a small cliff, a real site to behold. As we returned to the hotel we were treated to a small presentation on all the wildlife wed seen that day along with others we didnt quite catch in which make Ranthambore the popular safari location that it has become.
Our trip was nearing an end as we set off back to Delhi this time experiencing a real Indian train ride (ticking off another form of transport on the trip). Getting back to our hotel the Eros Hotel situated right next to the shopping centre of Delhi with a lot of well-known shops on offer, this hotel provided us with some amazing views of the vast city of Delhi and provided a lovely breakfast before we left in the morning. We then set off to a local market which allowed us to stock up on souvenirs for a reasonable price after some bargaining with the people on the market stalls. Followed was a visit and dinner at the magnificent Imperial Hotel a 5 star luxury hotel, the attention to detail, the corridors filled with history and the beautiful pool area made this one of the best hotels I have ever come across you can really feel the hard work thats gone into making this hotel one of the most renowned in India, I cant recommend it highly enough! After a lovely dinner at the Imperial with great service throughout our final night came to a close with a 12 o clock flight home again with Virgin the following day on their impressive premium economy a perfect ending to an amazing trip, in which Cox & Kings provided two brilliant tour guides with an extensive knowledge of everything the trip had to offer as well as going that extra mile to make sure the customers on the trip were properly looked after, you really were in safe hands with Cox & Kings. As well as the great tour guides all the accommodation viewed and experienced provides you with great comfort with the staff in said hotels making sure your stay is one to remember helping you relax in between the travel and sightseeing.
If youre interested in taking a tour similar to Brendans then Aspen Travel is the place to book it, a long time ambassador of Cox & Kings we have the knowledge and experience to provide you with the perfect tour (private or group tours) for your needs and targets of what you want to get out of your holiday. So visit our site or feel free to call Brendan and the team on 0161 755 3081 today!