If you’ve always dreamed of a trip to India but felt it was financially out of reach, tour operator World Spree has a deal for you. The Washington State company has created a 12-day ushered tour of India starting at only $1,499 that includes the round-trip flight on Air China, 5-star hotels, a jungle safari, 14 meals, all transportation in India, sightseeing and entrance fees, professional English-speaking guides and more included features than any other budget-priced tour. It sounds too good to be true, but it is.
Taj Mahal, tigers and temples
The trip starts in Delhi, which offers a view of Indian history from ancient settlement through the Mughal Empire and the British Raj to modern capital. From there you are taken by rickshaw through Old Delhi’s narrow alleys and bustling market, India’s largest mosque and a Humayun”s 16th-century garden-surrounded tomb. In New Delhi you’ll see the tree-lined avenues and impressive buildings Edwin Lutyens designed for the British, as well as Mahatma Gandhi’s former residence.
You will get up close and personal at Agra’s Taj Mahal, a white marble jewel of Mughal architecture and monument to romantic love built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. On the way to Ranthambore National Park, there’s a stop at the wonderfully-preserved 16th-century “ghost town” of Fatehpur Sikri and another at a park known for its rich bird life. Once a hunting ground for Jaipur’s rulers, Ranthambore offers a variety of native wildlife but, most important, it’s the place to track the Royal Bengal Tiger on a jungle safari. Morning and evening game drives will hopefully provide a sighting.
Hop on an elephant
Ever wanted to ride an elephant? Here’s your chance. In Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan known as “the pink city,” you’ll take an uphill ride on an elephant the grim Amber Fort, which hides an ornate 16th-century palace. In the Castle Kanota, where the royal family still resides, you will experience an Indian-style high tea. For those of you who must, there’s plenty of time for shopping in this city known for its fabrics and handiwork, as well as two optional excursions to the City Palace and the Birla Temple. The tour winds down with a return to Delhi and a farewell dinner. On the way home there’s an optional stopover in Beijing.
World Spree’s selection of hotels include the contemporary 5-star Crowne Plaza Gurgaon, located in a convenient and upscale area of Delhi; Agra’s Trident Hotel, close to the Taj Mahal and boasting landscaped gardens, water fountains and a selection of restaurants; the lakeside Ranthambore Kothi, built like a vintage British bungalow with modern rooms, gardens and swimming pool; and the magnificent Le Meridien Jaipur, which offers the beautiful Nirvana Spa.
All prices are based on a per person double occupancy and must be paid in cash-only. For more detailed information about the Incredible India tour, log onto www.worldspree.com, click “tour packages” and then “India.” World Spree’s toll-free telephone number is 1-866-652-5656.