Uniworld India’s Golden Triangle & The Sacred Ganges River Cruise
Delve deep into India’s fascinating historical and religious heritage on India’s Golden Triangle & The Sacred Ganges River Cruise with Uniworld.
Complex and beguiling, India is a country unlike any other. Wondrous sights rich in romance and intrigue come alive in the “Golden Triangle”—Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. Delhi’s immense red sandstone marble tomb, commissioned by Emperor Humayun’s grief-stricken wife, will capture your heart, while Raj Ghat, a black granite memorial to the “Father of the Nation,” Mahatma Gandhi, will stir your soul. Jaipur’s Pink City and Agra’s Taj Mahal, a grand tribute to love, will leave you forever mesmerized.
Start your trip with five luxurious nights at three different award-winning Oberoi hotels. Enjoy a rare opportunity to see the Taj Mahal two times—once at sunrise and once at sunset. Once onboard, travel to villages lining the Ganges River that only a few people get to see each year and experience the new Wellness Program, centred around the destination’s ancient tradition and practice of yoga.
India’s Golden Triangle & The Sacred Ganges River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1: New Delhi
Arrive at New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport. If your cruise/ tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the Oberoi New Delhi hotel.
Day 2: New Delhi
India’s sprawling capital city is colorful, confounding and captivating. Your expertly led city tour provides an ideal first foray into this fascinating land. To cap your day taking in the sights of scenic New Delhi, relax this evening over a delicious dinner at the Oberoi.
INDIA’S CAPITAL CITY WITH RICKSHAW RIDE TO OLD DELHI
Travel down the broad boulevards of New Delhi, laid out early in the 20th century after the British moved the capital of the Raj from Kolkata to New Delhi and created a new administrative city just south of the old city. Sir Edwin Lutyens, a noted British architect, was given the task of designing this new city, which is still known as Lutyens’ Delhi; though the British are long gone, this area continues to house India’s government. The British were by no means the only conquerors to make New Delhi their capital. It was also the capital of the Mughal Empire for centuries, so it hosts spectacular examples of Mughal architecture, including Humayun’s Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Humayun’s Tomb, erected in 1570, was the first Mughal garden tomb in India (and a model for the Taj Mahal and Birla House). Your panoramic tour includes a look at the enormous fort where the emperors lived. The old phrase says that “Delhi belongs to the large-hearted,” and no one was larger hearted than Mahatma Gandhi, the founder of modern India, whose memorial, Raj Ghat, is also on the itinerary today.
You have some free time after your tour to explore this exciting city on your own—you’ll find goods from all over India in bustling Connaught Place, in case you want to indulge in some shopping, and the National Museum displays 5,000 years of India’s arts and artifacts. You may opt for the optional tour to Qutab Minar and the Jagannath Hindu Temple.
Day 3: New Delhi – Transfer to Agra
This morning you will check out of your New Delhi hotel and head south via motorcoach to Agra, the site of Shah Jahan’s best-known building project, the exquisite Taj Mahal. You’ll visit the Taj Mahal this afternoon and stay for sunset, as the monument’s changing colors draw comparisons to the shifting mood of the late Emperor’s wife.
MAJESTY AND GRACE—THE TAJ MAHAL AT SUNDOWN
Arrive this afternoon at the luxurious Oberoi Amarvilas. Relax over lunch there and then check into your room, where you will be delighted to discover that your room—indeed, every room—has a view of the Taj Mahal, your next destination for the day.
It’s easily the most famous building in India, and one of the most famous in the world, with its white domes and minarets floating serenely above the reflecting pools—and you will encounter it just as the setting sun bathes the white marble in a panoply of colors. It’s a monument to a love story between a great ruler, Shah Jahan, and a learned and powerful woman, his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. After she died giving birth to their 14th child, he gathered some 20,000 craftsmen to build her mausoleum, who endowed it with dazzling translucent marble carvings inlaid with precious and semiprecious stones. Step through the gate and into the symmetrical gardens, and experience one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Day 4: Agra – Transfer to Jaipur
Is the Taj Mahal best seen at sunset or sunrise? It’s an impossible question to answer, so Uniworld guests have the rare pleasure of experiencing both. Wake up early this morning to see the white marble monument aglow with the rosy tinge of dawn. You’ll spend your next two nights at the beautiful Oberoi Rajvilas. The luxury hotel sits on 32 acres of landscaped gardens and is built around an ancient Shiva temple.
EARLY MORNING AT THE TAJ MAHAL
Awake early in the morning for a return visit to the Taj Mahal, which will take on the rosy pink tints of sunrise as you arrive. The gates open as the sun lifts above the horizon, and you enter the exquisite precincts, which you may explore at your leisure.
You’ll return to your hotel for lunch before you head by motorcoach to the third city in the Golden Triangle, Jaipur. Capital of the state of Rajasthan, strewn with massive palaces, it was founded and carefully planned in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II (who gave the new city his name), so even the old part of the city is laid out on a grid. The Singh family’s influence is still felt in Jaipur, though all hereditary titles in India were discontinued in 1971.
Check into the romantic Oberoi Rajvilas, a luxurious oasis, and spend the afternoon relaxing at the hotel, enjoying the extensive, bird-filled gardens.
Day 5: Jaipur
Pink is the color of hospitality in Rajasthan, which gives you an idea of what to expect in the “Pink City” of Jaipur.
JAIPUR—RAJASTHAN’S PRINCELY CITY AND AMBER FORT
Today you’ll tour the Amber Palace, followed by a visit to another of Jai Singh II’s architectural projects, the Jantar Mantar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site devoted to astronomy. Each of the curious structures, called yantras, in this observatory without telescopes enabled court astronomers to study the heavens, measuring various celestial phenomena—eclipses, the position of stars—or the time of day. Some of these instruments are still used by astrologers to determine which days will be auspicious for weddings or other important events.
Take the afternoon to explore on your own: Shuttles will be available to carry you to and from the hotel to the major shopping district. Jaipur’s bazaars are famous for their traditional Rajasthani crafts—jewelry, pottery, hand-printed textiles and carpets—so go and enjoy the swirl of colors even if you aren’t interested in buying some souvenirs.
Day 6: Kolkata – Embark
Fly Jaipur to Kolkata and begin cruising the Ganges River. Settle into your beautifully appointed suite aboard the Ganges Voyager II in Kolkata.
Day 7: Kalna
Kalna, once an important trade port on the river, is best known today for the magnificent Hindu temples built by the maharajas of Bardhaman— which you’ll experience today. After marveling at the astonishing Rajbari temple complex, you may opt to walk with your guide through the colorful local market.
INDIA’S “TEMPLE CITY”
Stroll along the streets of Kalna as you head to the Rajbari temple complex. The Pratapeshwar Temple, built in 1849, is embellished with exceptional terra-cotta carvings depicting myths and rituals, as well as scenes of everyday life (see if you can spot the girl in typical Victorian dress with a violin among the hundreds of figures). Lalji, the oldest temple in the complex, dates to 1739; the three-storied structure is topped with 25 distinctive pinnacles. Next to it is Krishna Chandra, built in a similar style. Across the street you’ll find the amazing Naba Kailash, two concentric circles of intricately carved temples dedicated to Shiva. The inner circle is made up of 34 white temples symbolizing pure thought; the outer circle contains 74 temples symbolizing the everyday world.
Day 8: Matiari
Your ship serves as a time machine today, transporting you hundreds of years into the past, as we travel to the authentic artisan village of Matiari.
MATIARI MASTER CRAFTSMEN WITH AN INTRODUCTION TO BRASS
Artisans have been making ornamental brass objects— vases, lamps, figurines, platters—in Matiari for more than a century, so it’s no wonder that production is so well-organized and the craftsmen so skillful. Scrap metal is melted in the village foundry and pressed into new sheets of brass, which are then turned into various objects. Each craftsman specializes in a different step of the process, so one artisan might cut the metal, while another shapes it into a wide tray, and yet another etches an intricate pattern onto the surface. The sound of hammer on brass will fill the air as you stroll from workshop to workshop to see each step of the fascinating process.
Day 9: Murshidabad & Baranagar
Today’s adventures take you to a duo of Bengali towns—Murshidabad and Baranagar—each one boasting surprising and beautiful architectural monuments closely linked to the ruling families of the area.
VISIT TO MURSHIDABAD CITY, RIDE BY BUGGY TO KATRA MOSQUE AND VISIT TO BARANAGAR VILLAGE
Climb aboard a horse-drawn buggy for a ride to Katra Mosque, built in 1723 by the first nawab, Murshid Quli Khan, who gave his name to the town. The huge mosque was damaged by an earthquake in 1897, losing two of its four great towers, but it is still a remarkable sight.
Your visit continues in Murshidabad, long ago the capital of Bengal and an important administrative center during the Raj—a fact that comes clear as the ship rounds a bend in the river and you behold Hazarduari Palace. This massive neoclassical building was erected in the mid-19th century for British officials, who lived and had their offices in its 114 rooms. One might wonder why the architect, Colonel Duncan Macleod of the Bengal Corps, thought the building needed a thousand doors, but that’s how many it has—900 of them are real doors, and the remaining 100 are false. It is now a museum, which you will visit.
Return to the ship for lunch and cruise to the town of Baranagar, where Rani Bhabani built beautiful brick temples in the 18th century. Goats frolic among them now and vines attempt to take them over, but the terra-cotta carvings are considered among the best in Bengal and the temples are well-tended.
After your tour, if time and weather allow, you can learn a bit about one of the Raj’s enduring legacies in India: a passion for that most British of all games, cricket. It remains India’s favorite sport, and the national team, nicknamed the “Men in Blue,” has won the Cricket World Cup more than once. The game is played in schools, in fields, even on village streets; watch it in action and discover the meaning of terms like “long leg,” “fast bowler” and “run-out.”
Day 10: The Ganges, Khusbagh & Mayapur
One of the world’s most sacred bodies of water, the Ganges River flows through a myriad of small villages and highly populated cities throughout India and Bangladesh. Take in the remarkable scenery as you sail and be on the lookout for a rare sighting of the endangered Ganges river dolphin.
Also today, watch as a skilled practitioner of mehndi demonstrates how the intricate henna patterns are created, and discover the meanings of the traditional motifs.
Khusbagh, which literally translates to “Garden of Happiness,” is the garden-graveyard of the Nawabs of Bengal. Several historic rulers of this region, including Siraj ud-Daulah and Alivardi Khan, were laid to rest here. Take a walk through the village here, with a visit to see the mausoleum and the arcade verandah that surrounds it.
Day 11: Mayapur & Chandannagar
Few places of worship exist on such a head-spinning scale as what you will witness today in Mayapur, the center of the international Hare Krishna movement and home to the new Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, still under construction. Most students of history know a thing or two about the British colonial powers in India, but few are aware that the French had colonies here as well. You’ll visit this former French outpost today.
This evening, enjoy a Farewell dinner and take in a lively cultural dance performance, complete with music and dancing.
HARE KRISHNA COMPLEX AND TEMPLE OF THE VEDIC PLANETARIUM
As the ship comes into sight of Mayapur, look for the new Vedic temple currently under construction. Funded in part by Alfred Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford, the temple is designed to be larger than St. Paul’s Cathedral in London once completed. The new temple construction coincides with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Hare Krishna movement, whose founder was born in Mayapur. Millions of Hare Krishna devotees come from all over the world to this pilgrimage site; as you walk through Mayapur’s bazaar to the temple complex, you may well spot expatriates from America, Canada and Europe. Colorful parades of followers often weave through the streets, adding to the hustle and bustle of the lively, vivid scene. You’ll tour the existing temple complex, get a look at the new Vedic Planetarium and learn something about the beliefs of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.
INDIA’S FRENCH COLONIAL HERITAGE
“Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité.” These words, the famous slogan of the French Revolution, are inscribed on the gateposts of Chandannagar, a mark of the centuries the town was a French outpost in West Bengal. In fact, Chandannagar did not officially become part of India until 1952, so when you step ashore here you will find a mixture of French Colonial and Indian architecture. A broad, tree-lined riverfront promenade known as the Strand shows off the handsomest remaining French buildings, and a river winds its way through the town. Chandannagar actually earned its name from the crescent shape of the river, as the Hindi word “chand” translates to “moon.” Our visit to Chandannagar today includes the collection of rare French antiques held at the Dupleix palace, now a museum, and a stop at the 19th-century Church of the Sacred Heart.
Day 12: Kolkata
The city of Kolkata is synonymous with the enduring legacies of Mother Teresa and the colonial-era British Raj, both of which you will get better acquainted with today.
KOLKATA CITY TOUR—VISIT THE FLOWER MARKET, COLONIAL SITES AND KUMARTULI (POTTER’S COLONY)
Continue this morning with a panoramic tour of Kolkata’s city center. The first stop? A visit to the captivatingly colorful Flower Market. Located adjacent to the Howrah Bridge, this vibrant and bustling market is filled with vendors and buyers exchanging money for flowers to be used in festivals, rituals, weddings and more. Though teeming Kolkata is home to palaces and tenements, new developments and modern office buildings, grand hotels and parks, its historic architecture reflects its status as the longtime administrative heart of the British Raj. The colonial buildings still standing—and still in use—offer a blend of baroque and neoclassical styles that say much about British colonial taste. Perhaps the most surprising is the red-and-white façade of the Calcutta High Court building—a replica of the city hall in Ypres, Belgium. You’ll see it as well as the stately Palladian dome of Government House, the classical white columns of Town Hall, the red-brick Writers’ Building and the enormous General Post Office. Stop outside St. John’s for a photo op, the oldest Anglican church in the city, and the Victoria Memorial Museum—which was partly inspired by the Taj Mahal. Built as a tribute to Queen Victoria after her death, this huge white-marble structure houses an illuminating exhibition on the colonial era. From there, you’ll venture to Kumartuli, a traditional potters’ neighborhood that specializes in making intricate clay idols, for a look at this complex and fascinating time-honored tradition.
NGO “CALCUTTA RESCUE” VISIT – This afternoon, you’ll visit the local NGO Calcutta Rescue, which serves the area’s underprivileged children. They provide much-needed services at no cost to the neediest people of Kolkata and West Bengal—regardless of gender, age, caste or religion—through health clinics, schools, vocational training and preventative health programs. You’ll hear about the impact Calcutta Rescue has made over the last 30 years and get some insight on some of their current projects.
MOTHER TERESA’S HOME AND TOMB – She came to India in 1929, after growing up in Macedonia and joining a Loreto nunnery in Ireland, and two decades later she founded her own order, the Missionaries of Charity, devoted to the “salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor.” Visit the Mother House, where she lived and worked for decades; see her simply furnished room and the tiny museum devoted to her—her Nobel Peace Prize medal is on display, along with informative newspaper clippings and photos—and her tomb. It’s a modest and serene spot devoted to one of the most influential women ever to live in the city.
Day 13: Disembark in Kolkata
Your incredible India’s Golden Triangle & The Sacred Ganges adventure ends early this morning, as you disembark and transfer to the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport for your flight home or extend your journey with an optional extension to Varanasi.
Luxury, Boutique & Inclusive
The five-star Red Carnation Hotel Collection, serves as the inspiration for the Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. Its portfolio of boutique hotels are renowned for their interior design that is destination-inspired, gracious service, and thoughtfully chosen amenities—all of which offer a cosy, refined, and laid-back experience.
Likewise, their boutique river cruise ships are stylish floating hotels with inviting spaces, exquisite antiques, custom fabrics and original works of art.
Truly All Inclusive amenities:
• Unlimited premium spirits and wines
• Delicious, Five-Star, farm-to-table cuisine
• Your choice of Carefully Curated Excursions
• All Gratuities onboard
• Onboard Fitness Centre and Wellness Classes with a certified wellness instructor
• All scheduled Airport Transfers
• Bicycles and Nordic Walking Sticks for onshore use
• Shipwide Internet and Wi-Fi access
• Onboard Entertainment and Enrichment