Discover the romance of the golden triangle and the sacred ganges as you explore India.
More than many other destinations, India seems to remain a mystery to most travelers. Evocative and enigmatic. Colorful and cacophonous. Passionate and palpable. India is filled with wondrous sights, fascinating history and exotic culture. There’s perhaps no better way to explore India’s heritage and landscape than the “India’s Golden Triangle and the Sacred Ganges” land and cruise itinerary with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.
Historic Stops as you Explore India
A 13-day trip from New Delhi to Kolkata, this six-day land tour and seven-day river cruise includes the highlights of both regions in sophisticated luxury hotels and aboard the well-appointed 56-passenger Ganges Voyager II. The combination of the national capital, the magic of the Taj Mahal and spectacular landscapes, along with the tranquility of a cruise down the spiritual Ganges River, awakens the senses and touches the heart on this bucket list trip.
Your adventure begins at the heartbeat of the Golden Triangle in New Delhi, India’s sprawling capital city, with more than 17 million people. Inhabited for more than 2,500 years, New Delhi has been built, destroyed and rebuilt numerous times over the centuries and controlled by various conquerors, all of whom left their mark. The result is an eclectic mix of ancient and modern, sacred and secular — all explored during a complimentary city excursion.
Discover the architecture from the impressive Mughal Empire at Humayun’s Tomb and visit the Raj Ghat memorial, which pays respect to the father of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi. With free time, possibilities to explore India include a trip to the Red Fort, the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, Jama Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques whose courtyard alone can hold up to 25,000 people, or the National Museum, filled with more than 5,000 years of India’s arts and artifacts. Shoppers can enjoy the pungent spices and food delicacies in the narrow alleyways of Chandni Chowk in the walled city or the modern-day shops at bustling Connaught Place.
Iconic Indian Architecture
You’ll also spend time in Agra, a former capital of the Mughal Empire.The city is perhaps best known for the exquisite Taj Mahal, a stunning tribute of the love between Shah Jahan and his third wife. After she died giving birth to their 14th child, the grieving shah gathered some 20,000 craftsmen and other workers to build her a mausoleum. The resulting memorial is India’s most famous building, with massive white dome and minarets, towering finials, intricate carvings, elegant calligraphy, elaborate inlays, reflecting pools and lush garden — all within the sprawling 42-acre complex. With Uniworld’s itinerary, tour participants enjoy a return visit to the Taj Mahal the following morning to see the white marble monument basking in the rosy light of sunrise.
The final stop on the Golden Triangle itinerary is the “Pink City” of Jaipur, so named for the trademark architectural color throughout the city. Here you’ll visit the opulent City Palace, the royal residence that houses an impressive array of palaces, halls and gardens. It’s also home to a museum that displays ornate clothing worn by the royals, rich carpets, period weaponry and other paraphernalia of royal life.
Tours of Jaipur also typically include a visit to Jantar Mantar, a UNESCO World Heritage site devoted to astronomy. Featuring nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, these tools allowed astronomers to study the heavens and the stars with the naked eye. Spend free time in the colorful bazaars filled with traditional crafts, native clothing, hand-printed textiles, carpets, jewelry and pottery.
Ganges River Discoveries
After busy days unearthing the Golden Triangle’s history, slow down and explore India through its people on the Ganges River, or — more specifically — one of the three branches of the Ganges: the Hooghly (Jalangi and Bhagirathi are the others). Although there are temples and colonial buildings, the real attractions here are the people and personal interactions often experienced on the fabled cruise.
After a flight from Jaipur to Kolkata, Uniworld guests board the Ganges Voyager II get comfortably situated in their floating home. Kolkata’s treasures include Mother Teresa’s home and tomb, including her simply furnished room, a small museum devoted to her accomplishments and her Nobel Peace Prize. Kolkata’s busy city center is where the British Raj ruled from 1858-1947 and it features many classic British colonial structures.
Kalna, “Temple City,” is the first port you’ll visit. Here you can board a trishaw — a pedal-powered three-wheeled rickshaw — and explore the streets, visiting some of the most stunning examples of Hindu temples on the continent. You’ll also have time to shop through the colorful market. Save some rupees for the following day, though, when you visit the artisan village of Matiari. Nestled along the banks of the river, Matiari is home to brass-working craftsman who have been making vases, lamps, figurines and platters with the same materials and techniques that have been used for over a century.
Day nine brings a stop at two Bengali towns filled with architectural wonders. First, it may be impossible not to marvel at the massive neoclassical Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad, with its 114 rooms and 1,000 doors. Then, enjoy a horse-drawn buggy to equally impressive Katra Mosque. After lunch and a sail down the river to the town of Baranagar, passengers get to experience the detailed terracotta carvings on 18th-century temples and learn about one of the Raj’s most enduring legacies in India — the game of cricket.
As the ship turns back towards Kolkata past lush agricultural fields, the next stop is in one of the world’s most spiritual places, Mayapur. Home of the international Hare Krishna movement and considered a pilgrimage site, Mayapur’s temple complex and colorful bazaar is truly a sight to behold. The new Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, funded in part by Alfred Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford, is currently under construction.
The final day on the Ganges features a ferryboat ride to Bandel, a former Portuguese settlement with India’s oldest Christian church and an imambara — a congregation hall, mosque, school and courtyard used as a shelter for Shia pilgrims. Afterwards, stop at a former French outpost and explore the unique blend of French colonial and Indian architecture of Chandannagar. Once back onboard, the ship heads back to Kolkata for a final night and the end of an incredible Indian adventure.
Explore India from land and water and fully immerse in its culture and beauty. Call 800-750-5386 to book an unforgettable Uniworld river cruise today!