WAFA 2020 and Palaces & Gardens of India's Golden Triangle

9 Days

From £1995pp

Held once every three years, the World Association of Flower Arrangers (WAFA) showpiece event has established itself as the premier event for anyone with an interest in flower arranging and floral art. Previous shows have been based in Dublin and Barbados and in 2020 it moves to the vibrant city of Jaipur in India, giving us the opportunity to combine our day at the show with visits to some of India’s most iconic locations and sumptuous gardens.

We begin in Delhi, where we will have the rare opportunity to visit the Mughal gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly Viceroy House), which are only ever open in February; enjoy the teeming bazaar and explore the Lodi Gardens, which have elements of early Mughal garden design and were later developed into a flower garden by the wife of the Governor-General. From here we transfer to Agra, where we will visit the gardens at Agra Fort and Mehtab Bagh and, of course, the Taj Mahal – an unmissable sight.

We also explore the magnificent Amber Fort, the fascinating step well at Abhaneri, the elegant gardens of Rambagh Palace and the many sights of Jaipur itself.

The Show itself will include flower-arranging demonstrations and lectures along with magnificent displays of floral art created by professional, amateur and novice flower arrangers from all around the world and promises to be a particularly colourful and enthusiastically hosted affair.

This holiday will be an absolute feast for the senses, in colour, scent and sound.

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Friday 21 February 2020

We depart this evening on an overnight flight from London Heathrow to Delhi. Regional flight connections and flight upgrades are available on request.

Saturday 22 February 2020

We are due to arrive this morning in the capital city of Delhi. Following Immigration and Customs clearance, we will be met by our local representative and transferred to our comfortable hotel, located in the heart of city.

In the afternoon, we visit the Lodi Gardens, an oasis of shaded calm with a fine collection of tropical shrubs and trees as well as a number of monuments of the Lodhi Sultanate. The area was used as a burial for Delhi's (pre-Mughal) Sayyid and Lodi rulers. Mohammad Shar's tomb (1450) can be seen as a precursor for the architecture of Humayun's tomb while Sikander Lodhi's tomb (1571) is set within a walled enclosure and clearly related to Humayun's tomb garden. The domed mausoleums appear to have been sited in an open landscape, rather as the Ancient Greeks placed temples. The building of monumental tombs runs against the principles of Islam and it is probable that Delhi's Turkish Sultans brought the idea from Persia to India. Lodi Gardens are therefore a good place to reflect on the origins of Mughal garden design. They were later developed beautifully into a floral garden by Lady Willingdon, the wife of a former Governor-General of India and again re-landscaped in 1968 and now feature nearly 200 species of trees and 40 species of flowers.

We return to our hotel where we will enjoy a welcome dinner.

Sunday 23 February 2020

A morning tour of Old Delhi starts with a visit to the 400-year-old Jama Mosque, the largest in India, followed by a cycle rickshaw ride (for those who wish) through the teeming bazaar in Chandni Chowk. Our final stop in Old Delhi is at Raj Ghat, the cremation ground of Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to independence in 1947.

Moving on to New Delhi, which was inaugurated as India’s new capital city in 1931, we visit Humayun’s Tomb. Built in 1560, the tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s senior widow thus inaugurating a series of grand Mughal Tombs, introducing the concept of the char bagh (four garden) system, with the main mausoleum in the centre of the garden, with paved walkways dividing the garden into four parts. This makes the garden into a setting for a building, rather than a place to be enjoyed from a pavilion. The garden symbolizes the emperor's place in paradise.

Our tour concludes with a visit to the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of President of India, formerly known as Viceroy House, which was designed by Edwin Lutyens. As such the gardens feature both Mughal and English landscaping styles and feature a great variety of flowers. These include Rose, Petrea, Bougainvillea and Grape Vines; Jasmine, Rhyncospermum, Tecoma Grandiflora, Bignonia Vanista, Adenoclyma, Echitice and Parana Paniculata. There is also a collection of Bonsais, one of the best in the country.

Dinner is served back at our hotel.

Monday 24 February 2020

Following breakfast today we transfer to the railway station for an early morning ride on the Gatiman Express train to Agra (journey time is approximately one hour and 40 minutes). On arrival we will check in to our hotel and then visit the magnificent Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the finest Mughal forts in India. Built in the 11th century, an era marked by invasions and battles, this red stone-fortified castle was also the site of India’s Rebellion of 1857 and is set among ancient gardens.

We continue to Mehtab Bagh (Moonlit Garden), on the east bank of Yamuna River. Mehtab Bagh is one of the eleven Mughal-built gardens along the Yamuna offering wonderful views of the Taj Mahal. The park was set up by Emperor Babur, long before the Taj Mahal was built. The park has been restored to its original grandeur with the replanting of trees, plants and herbage to match the original Mughal Gardens, replicating the riverside gardens brought to India from Central Asia. Guava, Maulshri, Kaner, Hibiscus, Neem, Bahuinia, Ashoka, Jamun and citrus fruits are among the plants we will see.

We return to our hotel, where dinner is served this evening.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Today features one of the undoubted highlights of the holiday, our visit to the enchanting Taj Mahal, an epitome of love built in marble by Emperor Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. On the death of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, Mughal emperor Shahjehan employed a labour force of 20,000 men to build her this extravagant memorial, over a period of 17 years. The beautiful Persian styled gardens are an integral part of the Taj Mahal, based on the concept of a paradise garden, which is divided into four parts, with two marble canals studded with fountains crossing in the centre. In each quarter portion, there are 16 flowerbeds that have been divided by stone-paved raised pathways, with Cypress and fruit-bearing trees lining the sides. The symmetry with which the whole garden has been organized offers a clear view of the mausoleum from any spot.

Following our visit we transfer to Jaipur, pausing at Abhaneri to visit the Chand Baori, a step well built over a thousand years ago and an outstanding example of its kind – it featured in a recent episode of Michael Portillo’s Great Indian Railway Journeys. Step wells, or tank gardens as they are also known, are designed to tackle the scarcity of water in this arid region, collecting, cooling and conserving water in a well at the bottom. The water then has to be carried to the surface, hence the 3,500 narrow steps arranged in perfect symmetry, which descend 20m to the well.

On arrival in Jaipur we check into our hotel. Dinner is served in the evening.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Following breakfast we take an excursion to the magnificent Amber Fort, with a photo stop en route at Hawa Mahal, otherwise known as the ‘Palace of Winds’. Amber was once known as Dhundar and was ruled by the Kachhwahas from the 11th to the 16th century, until the capital was moved from here to Jaipur. Raja Man Singh built this fort in 1592 AD and Raja Jai Sigh I expanded and renovated it later. While many such old structures have been either destroyed or replaced by other things, this fort has stood against all the tests of time and invasions. Miniatures painted on the walls depict hunting and war scenes and precious stones and mirrors are embedded into the plaster. Inside the Jag Mandir is the famed Sheesh Mahal - a room with all the four walls and ceiling completely embedded with glittering mirror pieces, which were specially imported from Belgium. Please note access to the fort is by Jeep.

Next we visit the Maharaja's City Palace, the Royal residence of which a part is converted into a museum. A small portion is still used by the Royal family of Jaipur. Built in the style of a fortified campus, the palace covers almost one-seventh in area of the city. One of the major attractions in the museum is the portion known as Armoury Museum housing an impressive array of weaponry: pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers, once used by the royal families of Jaipur.

We conclude with a visit to the gardens of Rambagh Palace - renowned for their elegance and exotic foliage that attract a variety of exotic birds. Even today, peacocks preen on the lawns, and flocks of migratory birds continue to visit the gardens. The front lawns of Rambagh Palace are abloom with Ashok, Bougainvillea and Lantana Trees. The Oriental Garden is inspired by Chinese motifs and designs. The Mughal Garden has an expansive range of flowers. Lunch is included today.

We return to our hotel in Jaipur, where dinner is served in the evening.

Thursday 27 February 2020

Enjoy your breakfast. Today is devoted to WAFA 2020, as we transfer to the exhibition hall hosting this spectacular event. The Show will include flower-arranging demonstrations and lectures along with magnificent displays of floral art created by professional, amateur and novice flower arrangers from all around the world. We have all day to wander among the exhibits and meet people from all over the world with a shared interest in floral art. There will also be an opportunity to sign up for talks and demonstrations – full details to be announced in due course.

We return to our hotel in Jaipur, where dinner is served in the evening.

Friday 28 February 2020

This morning, following breakfast, you have the option of returning to WAFA 2020 (admission not included) or shopping and sightseeing in Jaipur at your leisure. At an agreed time we will assemble and depart by coach for Delhi, spending the night at an airport hotel, with dinner served in the evening.

Saturday 29 February 2020

Following breakfast we will be transferred to the International airport in time to check in for our return flight to London Heathrow. On arrival the group will disperse or make onward connections.

Included in the price

  • Seven nights’ accommodation on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis – two nights at the Meridien Hotel, Delhi; one night at the Trident Hotel, Agra; three nights at the Jaipur Marriott Hotel and one night at the Pride Plaza Aerocity, Delhi (all hotels subject to change). Upgrade to the 5-star Jaimahal Palace Jaipur available on request
  • Scheduled return flights London Heathrow to Delhi. Regional flight connections, flight upgrades and overnight accommodation before or after the tour available at a supplement.
  • Visits to Lodi Gardens, Humayun’s Tomb, Jama Mosque, Raj Ghat and Rashtrapati Bhavan (Delhi); Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, Mehtab Garden, Chand Baori (Agra/Abhaneri); Amber Fort, Rambagh Palace Garden and City Palace (Jaipur)
  • Entrance to WAFA 2020 (one day)
  • All travel within India, including travel by air-conditioned coach and chair class express train between Delhi and Agra
  • Bottled water and porterage
  • Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager and a local tour escort throughout

Not included (per person)

  • Single room supplement £525.00 
  • Insurance Prices TBA

Please note a reasonable level of fitness and mobility is required to get the most out of this holiday. If you would like to spend more time in India, we can offer extensions – please contact our office to discuss your requirements and we can provide you with a quotation.

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21/02/2020 from £1995pp

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