During the 2017 Holland America Grand Voyage our cruise hosts Henk and Lucia Barnhoorn embarked with 18 of our guests and a guide on an overland tour from Mumbai to the Taj Mahal.
Nothing tells the story of this majestic experience quite like a first hand experience! Here’s what they were able to see and enjoy during this tour.
After collecting everyone in the hotel, the group sets off for the airport to catch a flight to Delhi for the tour. The flight is roughly 3 ½ hours and can require some patience due to different customs and in this case a remodeling of the SriLankan Airline terminal.
Luckily in those moments, it’s nice to know you’re with friends you’ve made on this journey and guides who you can trust to get you where you’re going, plus ensure you have all the necessary permits for travel in to India.
Once you’ve landed in Delhi, there’s time to enjoy lunch and freshen up before beginning the fun of exploring.
First up was Humayun’s Tomb:
This tomb, built in 1570, is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
Next we enjoyed a tour of Lutyens’ Delhi. A beautiful area in New Delhi, India, named after British architect Edwin Lutyens, whose architectural design and buildings abound from when India was part of the British Empire in the 1920s and 1930s.
Of course after all of that, there’s nothing like retiring to the hotel and watching the sunset to dream about the adventures you’ll be having the next day.
In order to avoid the mass of people celebrating Holi, a colorful celebration of spring with powders tossed about, it was an earlier morning to make the four hour drive to Agra.
The first stop was Agra Fort, a palatial red-sandstone and marble fortress.
The fort is actually an entire complex of gardens, pavilions, and frescoed rooms, which have all been fully restored. Built as a military installation it was transformed it into a palace by the Shah.
Even today, 75% of the fort is used by the military and off-limits to the general public. But the places you can explore are mind boggling with the tiniest little details all considered from archways to frescos.
The day wasn’t yet complete; we went for our first view of the Taj Mahal. Seeing it at sunset was even more majestic and we hired a professional photographer to accompany our Cruise Specialists group for personal and group photos!Finally, for those not quite finished exploring, our guide included an extra stop at the Kohinoor Museum, where the owner from Kohinoor Jewelers, showed us his museum pieces with a private collection of his tapestries and jewels. The collection was owned by the previous wife of the Sultan estimated at 60 million dollars.
Today we made another stop at the Taj Mahal for more photos and exploration. We started at Mehtab Bagh, a site across the river, for a spectacular view of the Taj Mahal along the banks of Yamuna River This immense mausoleum of white marble, built from 1631 and 1648 by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.
After getting our fill, we started the drive to Jaipur, where we were greeted by the wonderful hotel with a private Cruise Specialists guests only lunch.
Then it was off to an afternoon visit of the City Palace and to the Observatory. The Jantar Mantar Observatory was built in 1792 with astronomical instruments that can be used by the naked eye.
It’s astounding to check the sundial and see its accuracy.
Our guide had a special surprise for our group at the City Palace; a wonderful afternoon tea, coffee and dessert were waiting to restore our energy as we begin touring this beautiful place.
The City Palace is a massive complex, it occupies nearly 1/7th of Jaipur, that is largely still used to house the royal family, but also contains a museum providing a lot of history and insight to the history of this area, along with the Jaigarh fort. You’ll see traditional paintings, architecture and learn more about the culture of this city.
Finally our day ended with a special Cruise Specialists dinner event! We had a private served dinner, outside, on the patio, with an amazing cast of dancing entertainers. It was a beautiful pleasant cool evening.
Before heading back to Mumbai, we had one more stop to make, the Amer Fort. Thanks to our wonderful guide, we took a jeep ride all the way to the top of the Fort.
This 4KM city was constructed from red sandstone and marble to create a four level palace with a courtyard overlooking the Maota Lake around 967. You’ll see a temple dedicated to Sila Devi, a goddess of the Chaitanya cult, cobbled paths and opulent courtyards leading to different areas of the palace.Finally it was time to spend the rest of our day traveling to catch a flight from Mumbai back to our glorious home aboard the ms Amsterdam! We do love these overland tours, but they also remind us why cruising is so fantastic! One room, no schlepping luggage and relaxing as we get from one point to the next.
Talk to Mary Ellsworth who will put her 25 years of experience to work creating your perfect vacation.
Photos courtesy of Henk and Lucia
Additional photo source