WAFA India 2020 - A Floral & Cultural Adventure hosted by Michael Bowyer MBE and Tom Hodge
Our 18 night, 20 day Floral & Cultural Adventure programme has been designed by to suit both WAFA competitors and flower fans who wish to combine a visit to this spectacular highlight of the floral calendar with an evocative introduction to the wonders of Northern India. You will be travelling with NAFAS demonstrator Michael Bowyer MBE and Tom Hodge, a UK WAFA representative, who share a contagious passion for the region.
Below is a brief overview of this programme. We would be delighted to send you the full itinerary, either as a PDF or a printed brochure.
Our programme begins with two nights in the country’s cosmopolitan capital, Delhi; a city where traditional and modern sit side by side. You will visit the sites of Old Delhi, including the 17th century Jama Masjid Mosque, the winding lanes of Chandni Chowk market, the Red Fort and Raj Ghat, site of Ghandi’s cremation, before discovering the highlights of New Delhi. These include the Presidential Palace, one-time imperial residence of the British viceroys, the Mughal Garden with its famous floral carpet, India Gate Memorial, Parliament House and Humayun’s Tomb, a 16th century precursor to the Taj Mahal. We have also arranged a visit to Sunder Nursery, a wonderfully peaceful green space in the busy heart of New Delhi boasting a 16th century mausoleum decorated with exquisite geometric star patterns, inscriptions and intricate, incised plasterwork.
The tour then moves on to Agra, home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal. You will spend one night here so that you can see the Taj Mahal as the sun sets.
After Agra we move on to Ranthambhore, stopping at the ancient fortified city of Fatehpur Sikri, former capital of the Mughal Empire, en route. Much of the onward journey will be made on the Jan Shatabadi Express train so that you arrive at the wonderfully ornate 4* Hotel Nahargarh in time for supper.
The next day you will be treated to an exclusive Canter jungle safari in the Ranthambhore National Park. Once part of a royal Maharaja hunting lodge, this quintessentially Rajasthani wild life park is home to predators such as tigers and leopards, as well as jackals, sloth bears, crocodiles and the common Langaur monkey. The park also plays an important role in protecting its wildlife, particularly the tigers, and the rangers are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about Ranthambhore’s commitment to conservation.
Jaipur, the third city on this tour, is an exciting blend of busy markets, historic buildings and hidden temples, set against the majestic backdrop of Amber Fort. You will visit all the landmark sites, including Amber, the ancient capital of the Rajput Empire, the pink sandstone Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) and City Palace, still home to the last ruling Royal Family. Other highlights include a tour of the locations featured in the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its spin off TV series, block printing, carpet weaving and bangle making demonstrations and an early morning visit to the bustling – and fragrant – Jaipur Flower Market. Sacks filled with brilliantly coloured flower heads, aromatic spices and fresh vegetables are traded here and the air is full of the heady scent of roses, marigolds, coriander and mint.
Our itinerary also includes two full days at WAFA (we have arranged transport to and from the Diggi Palace), with two additional days for you to spend as you wish. WAFA competitors will need this time for set up, but those not taking part can choose between attending the opening day, exploring the surrounding area on one of our optional tours*, or simply relaxing at the hotel.
*We offer optional tours to the traditional village of Samode with its famous fort and haveli (a traditional town house or mansion built around a courtyard); the Hindu Birla Temple; the Museum and Royal Garden of Jaipur; Bagru, famous for its block printing, and the village of Pushkar, home to the renowned Brahma Temple set on one of India’s most sacred lakes. (Please note, these trips carry an additional cost.)
From Jaipur we fly to Chandigarh and take the Himalayan Toy Train to Shimla, the summer capital of the British. After a night at the Oberoi Cecil Heritage hotel, famous during the time of the British Raj for its fabulous ballroom dances and fashionable clientele, you will take a tour of the city. Sites include the Vice Regal Lodge and its begonia-filled botanical garden, a Hindu Temple containing shrines to many Hindu gods and Scandal Point. According to legend, this is where, in 1892, Bhupinder Singh, the then Maharaja of Patalia, eloped with the viceroy’s daughter.
We then drive on to the city of Chandigarh, stopping at the magnificent Rock Gardens and Zakir Rose Garden en route. Designed by the Swiss Modernist architect Le Corbusier after it was chosen as the new Punjabi capital following Partition, Chandigarh is a fascinating example of urban planning. You will see key sites such as the Secretariat and Legislative Assembly, the High Court, State Library and University Drive. You will spend the night at the 5* Taj Chandigarh
Our programme ends with two nights in Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple, the spiritual and cultural centre for the Sikh religion. You will pay two visits to this white marble temple with its golden dome; once in the morning to see the community kitchen (or langar) where volunteers feed 30,000 people each day, and again in the evening to witness the Palki Sahib ceremony in which the Granth Sahib (holy book) is taken to its resting place for the night in a palanquin garlanded with flowers.
Other sites in Amritsar include the the beautiful Ram Bagh Garden and the historic Jallianwala Bridge commemorating the hundreds of Indians killed or wounded by the British in this notorious massacre.
Delhi – you will spend two nights at the 5* Suryaa Hotel, close to the Iskcon Temple. The modern guest rooms are air-conditioned and sound proofed and amenities include a spa, pool, outdoor restaurant and poolside bar.
Agra – you will stay at the 4* Deluxe Clarks Shiraz, conveniently located close to the Taj Mahal. The modern guest rooms are all air-conditioned and facilities include an outdoor pool, spa and two rooftop restaurants offering wonderful views of the Taj Mahal.
Ranthambhore – you will spend two nights, with full board, at the 4* Hotel Nahargarh. Built to resemble a traditional hunting palace, it blends classic style with all luxuries of a modern hotel. The restaurant serves both local and global cuisine and there is a vast, formal Mughal garden to stroll in.
Jaipur – you will spend eight nights at Shahpura House, a Heritage hotel dating back to the days of the Maharaja that has been carefully restored to its original magnificence and is now managed by descendants of the Royal Family of Shahpura. Each of the 65 bedrooms is unique and many are decorated with frescoes and carved marble pillars in true Rajput style. Located in a residential area four kilometres from the city centre and boasting all mod cons, Shahpura House is also a luxurious refuge from the bustle of central Jaipur.
Shimla – you will spend two nights at the Heritage hotel Oberoi Cecil, famous during the days of the Raj for its fabulous dances and fashionable clientele. The comfortable guest rooms are decorated in authentic colonial style, while the restaurant is housed in what was the chicest ballroom in Shimla. There is also a spa, swimming pool and fitness centre.
Chandigarh – you will spend one night at the 5* Taj Chandigarh. This contemporary hotel has spacious guest rooms with views of either the city or the rose garden, a choice of four restaurants and leisure facilities including a spa and a pool.
Amritsar – you will spend two nights at the 4* Deluxe Holiday Inn, a modern hotel close to the Golden Temple with stylish, contemporary guest rooms, a gym, sauna and steam room. The hotel has two restaurants, one serving local Punjabi favourites and another specialising in Italian cuisine.
This tour is suitable for those competing in WAFA
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT FLIGHT UPGRADES:
- If you wish to add either Premium Economy or Upper Class upgrades to your Virgin Flights you must request these at the time of booking
- At booking, there is an additional deposit charge of £250pp - places are limited and we will be treating requests on a first-come-first-serve basis (if you are paying online we will contact you for the additional amount)
- Final costs for upgrades will be confirmed in April 2019 when they are published, should you wish to opt out of having an upgrade you can do so at this time
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- 18 nights HB
- 13 lunches
- Return flights from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic
- Services of a local Tour Manager will join you on arrival at Delhi
- Local transfers, internal flights and rail journeys along with associated entrance costs are included as described
- (This includes entrance to WAFA show)
- Travel disruption Insurance