India Visa and Itinerary

The idea for our India visit came about when my father, who has been diagnosed with cancer, was told of a doctor in New Delhi who apparently had a treatment to cure cancer. A friend of my father’s had been to the same doctor was now cleared of cancer.

So when my father pitched in the idea that we should all go together as a family to India, everyone said yes. When we found out how easy it was to get the visa, others jumped on board, namely my father’s youngest brother and his wife, and my two aunts (my mother’s sisters), in addition to my parents and my sister. So all eight of us submitted our passports to another one of my father’s friends in Islamabad, who ensured we get the right visa.

Thankfully, and with hearts full of gratitude, we all got our passports back with the Indian visa. In a moment of further gratitude, we were blessed with the non-reporting visa, which means that none of us have to go report to the police station of our movements in India. Apparently, those with reporting visas have to go report to a police station every day, and this can take up a chunk of your time.

In another moment of gratitude, we also saw that our visa was valid for: Gurgaon, Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur and Agra. So instead of the limit of three cities, we were allowed to visit more cities. And it was a three months visa, so all of us could actually go back again (my mom and aunt actually did go back a month later!)

My dad and I immediately got down to the planning of our itinerary. We searched out the hotels (all bookings made on booking.com), talked to a friend in India who arranged transportation for us, and all the places we should visit. Excitedly, I got down to booking all the hotels and attractions and sent out the itinerary to everyone in the group. We actually added Amritsar, Fatehpur Sikri and Ajmer Sharif to our plans.

The icing on the cake for me was that I would be celebrating my birthday in Agra and at Jaipur!

India Visit

Day 1    May 6th           Amritsar & Delhi

  • Gather at Nisar Road at 10am. Depart Lahore for Wagah border.
  • Expect 1 hour wait at immigration at Indian Border. It may take longer if you are suspicious looking.
  • A bus will be waiting for us at the Indian border to take us to Amritsar.  (30 minutes drive). Listening to Veer Zaara songs is allowed.
  • Amritsar  
    • Home to the Harmandir Sahib (referred to as the “Golden Temple” in the western media), the spiritual and cultural center for the Sikh religion.
    • The main commercial activities include tourism, carpets and fabrics, farm produce, handicrafts, service trades, and light engineering. The city is known for its rich cuisine and culture
    • Some famous people from Amritsar include Jeetendra, Rajesh Khanna, Akshay Kumar among many others. 
  • Drive straight to Golden Temple.
    • Golden Temple was built by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjun, in the 16th Century. In 1604
    •  There are four doors to get into the Golden Temple, which symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions
    • The holiest text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib is always present inside the Gurdwara
    • 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship, so expect a lot of people!
    • The Golden Temple runs one of the largest free kitchens in the world, serving 100,000 people on average daily. The meal consists of flat bread and lentil soup
    • While entering the Temple, we will have to show respect by removing our shoes and dipping our feet into a pool of water. Also, we will need to cover our heads (caps will be provided) to show respect.
  • Lunch and then have rest of afternoon to explore the city.
  • Go to Airport by 1930 for flight to Delhi on Spice Jet.  Depart 2055. Arrival 2215.
    • All meals on board have been pre-booked. Feel free to share or exchange should you not like your particular meal.
  • Go straight to The Lalit Hotel, New Delhi, which is a 5 star hotel at Connaught Place.

Day 2 + Day 3 + Day 4           May 7th, 8th, 9th            Delhi

  • New Delhi, capital of India, is the second most populous city in the world (over 22 million) so expect a lot of people all around you.
  • It is also the second wealthiest city in India, after Mumbai.
  • We will be in a very central location at Connaught Place, which has all the major shops, restaurants, coffee shops etc.
  • Since we have three days, there is a lot to explore in the city. These options include:
    • The India Gate
    • Qutb Minar- very similar to our Hiran Minar
    • Jama Masjid- Very similar to our Badshahi Mosque
    • Laal Qila (Red Fort)- very similar to our Lahore Fort
    • Chandni Chowk: Please remove any perceptions you have of this place. It is nothing like the Chandni Chowk of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum.
    • Lotus Temple: shaped like giant lotus, built by the Baha’is.
    • Akshardham Temple: largest Hindu temple set in a large complex with Imax, food court and gardens.
    • Connaught Place: the hippest place in Delhi, complete with shops, restaurants, parks etc
  • Mode of transportation is varied in Delhi- so feel free to use whatever suits you most.
    • Hop On Hop Off Buses
    • Taxis
    • Metro rail (very modern and efficient)

Day 5  May 10th          Delhi to Agra

  • Leave Delhi for Agra in the morning. It will take us approximately 3 hours by car (230kms). This may take longer if we encounter random holy cows blocking our path on the roads as we will not be allowed to honk at the cows.
  • Check in at Radisson Taj Hotel, which is a 5 star hotel, close to Taj Mahal.
  • Visit Taj Mahal! It is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor ShahJahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz. 
  • Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles
  • Make sure to get lots of picture on the famous “Diana” bench! (Solo shots are highly encouraged for those of who have no partner).
  • Return to hotel for rest.
  • Attend the Sound and Light show in the evening, which details the history of Taj Mahal. Show starts at 1915.
  • Dinner at hotel and spend night (thinking about how wildly in love Emperor Shah Jahan must have been to make such a magnificent “mahal” for his third wife Mumtaz putting all men to shame )

Day 6  May 11th          Agra to Jaipur

  • Leave Agra for Jaipur. It will take us approximately 4 hours by car (235kms)
  • Check in at Trident Jaipur Hotel, which is a 5 star hotel. All rooms will be lake-facing view.
  • Jaipur is capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan in Northern India
    • Has numerous Forts and Temples
    • Jaipur cuisine is some of the best in the world. Typical dishes include Dal Baati Churma, Missi Roti. Sweet dishes include Ghevar, Feeni, Gajak, Chauguni ke laddu, Moong Thal.
  • Visit the world famous Jaipur Lake Palace, have lunch.
  • This is a great opportunity for all the jewelry enthusiasts to check out some traditional Jaipur jewelry (costume and real!)
  • Explore the rest of the city in afternoon.
  • Dinner at hotel and spend night.
  • Don’t forget to wish Mansour on his birthday!

Day 7  May 12th        Jaipur to Udaipur

  • Leave Jaipur for Udaipur. It will take us approximately 6 hours by car (419kms). So please be prepared for a long drive.  We may make random stop to take pictures in villages, roadside tea cafes, locals etc  
  • Check in at The Lalit Laxmi Villas Palace, with all rooms facing the lake.
  • Rest and dinner in evening
  • Don’t forget to wish Nadira on her birthday!

Day 8 May 13th        Udaipur

  • Spend all day in Udaipur
  • Apart from its history, culture, and scenic locations, Udaipur is also known for its Rajput-era palaces.
  • The world famous Lake Palace covers an entire island in the Pichola Lake. Many of the palaces have been converted into luxury hotels. It is often called the “Venice of the East”, and is also nicknamed the “Lake City” or “City of Lakes.”
  • Udaipur palaces have been featured in many Hollywood and Bollywood movies, so if we are lucky, we may spot some famous people.
  • Local handicrafts are very popular in Udaipur.

Day 9  May 14th          Udaipur to Amritsar

  • Leave Udaipur for Amritsar by plane.  
  • Arrive airport by 7am. Depart 0810am. Arrival 12:40pm. We fly Jet Airways. This flight is via Delhi so there will be some waiting time at Delhi.
  • Ideal time to do any last minute shopping in Amritsar (you will know by now how much of that Haldiram’s mithai you want so badly!)
  • Leave Amritsar for Lahore border.

General Notes:

  1. The above itinerary is a rough guideline for our trip.
  2. Weather will be in the mid 30s and may hit the 40s Centigrade in day time. So dress cool!
  3. New Delhi is rampant with pickpockets, so please keep all cash safely in wallets, handbags.
  4. It is advisable to not dress very touristy, despite the fact that we will stand out from the crowd anyways!
  5. All hotels have free wifi so bring along your laptops or ipads should you wish to, in case you would like to “check-in” and post pictures on Facebook to let your friends know where you are.
  6. India is 30 minutes ahead of Pakistan, for those who want to be reachable or unreachable to people in Pakistan.
  7. We will likely get a mini-van which will seat all 8 of us for our travel from Delhi to Agra and onwards. These seats will not be pre-allocated.
  8. You are allowed 15kgs as check in luggage on the flight, with an extra 10kgs allowed as on board luggage.
  9. Last but not the least, remember to have LOTS of fun (you will not be allowed to be bored!) and explore new places, try out different foods, buy something unique and learn something new about yourself!

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