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Across the Heart of India

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Product Code : AGORA52

Traveling across central India from Mumbai on the Arabian Sea to Aurangabad a superb base to visit Ellora & Ajanta, to Hyderabad blessed with an extraordinary wealth of historic monuments, to Puri a low-key beach resort, to Kolkata a colonial city with many British monuments to Bodhgaya where Buddha achieved enlightenment, to Varanasi the spiritual capital of India & one of the oldest cities on earth, to Lucknow famous for its manners & hospitality to Khajuraho famous for sensuous moods of its temples, to Orchha graceful chhatris, to Agra immortal beauty of the Taj Mahal, to Jaipur royal Rajput citadel & to Delhi with many monuments of Mughals Era.

Day 1: Arrive Mumbai

On arrival at airport assistance & transfer to hotel (Standard hotel check in time 12pm, early check in subject to room availability). Rest time free to relax and personal activities. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 2: Mumbai

Breakfast at hotel, morning excursion to Elephanta Caves (Monday closed). A flight of 100 steps takes you to the top of the hill where caves are located. Afterwards cruise back to Gateway of India. 

Later city of Mumbai, drive pass Marine Drive one of the most beautifully laid boulevards in the city, CST & Parliament House. Visit The Gateway of India an arch-monument built to commemorate the landing of King-Emperor George V & Queen-Empress Mary in December 1911 at Apollo Bunder. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay, a grade I Heritage Building of the city counted amongst one of the most prominent museums of India. The complex exhibits a myriad collection of ancient artefacts, artwork and sculptors of the country which give a unique insight into our past. Kala Ghoda Art Precinct area that stretches from the Regal Circle at the Southern end of Mahatma Gandhi Road, up to the Mumbai University at the northern end, flanked by the Oval Maidan to the west and the Lion Gate to the east. Its curious name, meaning Black Horse, can be traced back to a bronze equestrian statue of King Edward VII that existed there during the colonial era. Dhobhi Ghat to see the city famous open air laundry in action. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 3: Mumbai - Aurangabad (flight)

Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Aurangabad. Arrival transfer to hotel. Visit Bibi ka Maqbara built in 1678 is a sons loving tribute to his mother, Panchakki which discharged water on the wheel to power the flourmill and grind grain for the pilgrims & Aurangabad Caves artificial caves that were dug out of soft rock during the 6th & 7th century. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 4: Aurangabad - Ajanja - Aurangabad (210kms round)

Breakfast at hotel, excursion to Ajanta (Monday closed). The Buddhist Caves of Ajanta were discovered by the British officers in 1819 while hunting tiger. Ajanta Caves were first mentioned in the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang who visited India between AD 629 and 645. The Caves at Ajanta are older than those at Ellora which date from about 200 BC to 650 AD. Thirty beautiful Buddhist Caves with mesmerizing sculptures and paintings depicting Buddha`s life as well the lives of the Buddha in his previous births. Five of these Caves are Chaityas (Place of worship) while the other twenty-five are Viharas (monasteries). Ajanta Caves are divided in two categories based on two schools of Buddhist thought - Hinayana Caves and Mahayana Caves. Drive back to Aurangabad for overnight stay. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 5: Aurangabad - Hyderabad (flight)

Breakfast at hotel. Excursion to visit the Ellora Caves (Tuesday closed), a UNESCO World Heritage Site from about 200 BC. to 650 AD. There are 34 monasteries and temples at Ellora, belonging to the three different religions Buddhism, Hinduism & Jainism. Grishneshwar Temple one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. On way back visit Daulatabad Fort one of the most powerful forts of the medieval Deccan. Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Hyderabad. Arrival transfer to hotel check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 6: Hyderabad

Breakfast at hotel. City tour of Hyderabad, explore 400 year old metropolitan city teeming with bustling bazaars & Muslim monuments. Visit Golconda Fort renowned for its diamond mines that have given the world famous Kohinoor and Darya-i-noor diamonds. The ancient fort complex of Golconda will charm you with its history, tinged with legends and anecdotes. Qutub Shahi Tombs a group of small and big mosques and tombs built by the rulers of the Qutub Shah dynasty on a raised platform and have a dome-shaped structure. Charminar built in 1591 by Quli Qutub Shah is an identifying landmark of Hyderabad. It is also famous for the market that sprawls around it called Laad Bazaar. Salar Jung Museum (Friday closed) a treat for tourists famous for being the third largest museum in the country, having the largest antiques collection dating back to the first century. Chowmahalla Palace (Friday closed) the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty where the Nizams entertained their official guests and royal visitors. Birla Mandir made of pure white Rajasthani marble the temple beauty leaves you awestruck. Also drive pass Hussain Sagar Lake one of the largest man made lake renowned for its monolith of Lord Buddha placed right at the center of the lake. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 7: Hyderabad - Bhubaneswar (flight) - Puri (75kms)

Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Bhubaneswar. 

On arrival meet your driver & guide and proceed for city tour. Visit Lingaraja Temple, the 11th century temple described as fusion of dream & reality, a rare masterpiece, and one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temple. Every inch of the 55 m-high Lingaraja temple is covered with elaborate carvings. Sculpture & architecture fused elegantly to create a perfect harmony. Mukteshwara Temple, build in 7th-8th century AD, one of the most ornate temples in Bhubaneswar. The intricate carvings of the deities stand testimony to the influence of Hindu, Buddha & Jain style of architecture. The carvings on the roof are specially striking. Parashurameshwara Temple, a small but richly decorated shrine of Shiva that was built in the 7th century. It is one of the best examples of the Orissa style of temple architecture. Also visit Dhauli, where Mauryan Emperor Ashoka the Great renounced bloody warfare & embraced the teachings of Buddha after victory over kingdom of Kalinga. Visit Peace Pagoda known as Shanti Stupa built in early 1970 by Japanese. Also visit two ancient rock edicts, today eclipsed by the presence of the Pagoda dating from 260 BC they outline Ashoka`s detailed instructions to his administrators to rule with gentleness & fairness. Udaigiri & Khandgiri caves, largest Buddhist Complex in Orissa. These hills provide some solid examples of Jain & Buddhist art of the 2nd Century BC. There are monasteries, Chaitya & Stupas that represent a vibrant culture that flourished in these hills. Arrive Puri check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 8: Puri 

Breakfast at hotel. Excursion to visit Chilika Lake the second largest brackish water lagoon in the world after the New Caledonian barrier reef. A pleasant boat ride amidst the colourful migratory birds and the quaint water. Drive back to Puri & visit The Konark Sun Temple, a 13th century Temple in the form of the chariot with 24 wheels, heavily decorated with symbolic stone carvings and led by a team of six horses. It was constructed from oxidizing weathered ferruginous-coloured sandstone by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is one of the most renowned temples in India and is a World Heritage Site as a cultural property under categories (i). Also visit Pipili applique work village, Raghurajpur artisan village, Ramchandi temple, Chandrabhaga beach & Lord Jagannath temple. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 9: Puri – Bhubaneswar (60kms) / Kolkata (flight)

Breakfast at hotel, Transfer to Bhubaneswar airport to board flight for Kolkata. 

On arrival at Kolkata airport assistance & transfer to hotel. Rest time free to relax and personal activities. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 10: Kolkata

Breakfast at hotel, city tour of Kolkata. Visit Fort William one of most enduring Raj-era edifices built during the early years of the Bengal Presidency of British India, on the eastern banks of the River Hooghly. Victoria Memorial the immaculate white memorial bounded by verdant greenery and broad roads dedicated to Queen Victoria. Inside the memorial there is a museum where you can see the dresses of the queen as well as different kinds of weapons used during that era. Netaji Bhawan a building maintained as a memorial and research center to the life of the Indian nationalist Netaji`s Subhas Chandra Bose. The house, built by Bose`s father in 1909, is owned and managed by the Netaji Research Bureau and includes a museum, archives and library. Howrah Bridge one of the most popular bridges of India, built on the river Hooghly. It is one of the major Kolkata attractions and people from different part of the country come here especially to witness this amazingly structured bridge. Dakshineswar Kali Temple one of the major pilgrimage center dedicated to Goddess Kali. Located on the bank of River Hoogly, the temple compound maintains a large courtyard with rooms along the boundary walls, twelve shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, a bathing ghat on the river and a shrine dedicated to Rani Rashmoni. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 11: Kolkata - Patna (flight) - Bodhgaya 

Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Patna. At Patna airport meet your driver and guide and proceed to Bodhgaya via visiting Nalanda, established in the 5th century CE was an ancient Mahavihara, a revered Buddhist monastery which also served as a renowned center of learning, in the ancient kingdom of Magadha. The ancient university of Nalanda obtained significant fame, prestige and relevance during ancient times, and rose to legendary status due to its contribution to the emergence of India as a great power around the fourth century. At its peak the school attracted scholars and students from near and far, with some traveling from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. Next drive to visit Rajgir, a spiritual town with natural serenity amongst the dense forests, mysterious caves and springs. Rajgir houses many religious shrine dedicated to Buddhism & Jainism. Both lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir have said to spent time here giving it huge spiritual and religious importance. One can visit various ruins, temples and sites here and also spend some time indulging in its refreshing calmness. Among notable places in the area are the tranquil Vulture`s Peak (Gijjhakuta), where the Buddha meditated, and the Sattapanni Cave, where the First Council was organized after the Buddha`s passing. Arrive Bodhgaya check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 12: Bodhgaya 

Breakfast at hotel, visit Mahabodhi Temple an UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 54mts tall temple has been renovated over the years. It enshrines a large golden Buddha, and is encompassed by an ancient railing, dating back to 100 BC. Bodhi Tree: where Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, and the Vajrasana or throne, where Buddha sat. Tibetan Monastery, housing the Maitreya Buddha (future Buddha). Also see the Burmese Temple, Chinese Temple and Monastery, Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan, Thai Temple and Monastery, and many more. Rest time to relax, evening attend temple aarti. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 13: Bodhgaya - Varanasi (250kms)

Breakfast at hotel, drive to Varanasi check in at hotel. Evening attend Holy Ganga Aarti, a magical ritual held every evening at sunset on the banks of the Holy Ganges. The entire Ghat gets illuminated with a divine light that can be felt strongly. The magnificent ritual involves huge brass lamps lit with oil and the priests chant the holy mantras that reverberate in the entire location. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 14: Varanasi 

Early morning boat ride & ghat visit along the Ganges and catch the scene of devotees bathing and praying in the sacred water. Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges. The city has 88 ghats, most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while two ghats are used exclusively as cremation sites. The ghats are frequented by the people which include early morning bathers, priests, people practicing meditation and yoga, students and tourists as well. 

Breakfast at hotel. Later city tour visit Banaras Hindu University. With 5.3 sq kms campus and 30, 000 residing students it is the largest residential university in the continent. Bharat Mata Temple built in 1936 houses a relief map of undivided India, carved out of marble. Tulsi Manas Mandir one of the most famous temples in Varanasi. The temple has beautiful images of Lord Rama, Mother Sita, Lakshman and Lord Hanuman. The walls of temple are adorned with verses from Ramcharitmanas, the Hindi version of the epic Ramayana. Continue to Sarnath, it was here Lord Buddha preached his first sermon after attaining the Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. The great Dhamekh Stupa and glistening pillar established by Emperor Ashoka in 273-232 B.C. stand testimony to the importance the place enjoyed at that time. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 15: Varanasi - Ayodhya - Lucknow (340kms)

Breakfast at hotel, drive to Lucknow, enroute visit Lord Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Temple believed to have been the birthplace of the Hindu deity, Lord Ram. According to the Indian epic Ramayan, Ram, Lord Vishnu's seventh manifestation, is said to have grown up along Ayodhya's river Sarayu. The Ram Janmabhoomi is a highly revered site for Hindu devotees. Hanuman Garhi a 10th-century hilltop temple dedicated to the Hindu God, Hanuman. It is one of the most important temples in Ayodhya as Hindu believe it is customary to visit Hanuman Garhi before visiting the Ram Temple. If time permit and as per your interest you can visit several other religious and historical places which include Jain Temple, Birla Temple, Gulab Bari, & Kanak Bhawan. On arrival check in & overnight at hotel.

 

Day 16: Lucknow

Breakfast at hotel, city tour of Lucknow. Visit Bara Imambara. The construction of Bara Imambara was started in 1784 by Asaf-ud-Daulas, in a year of a devastating famine, to provide employment to people in the region for almost a decade while the famine lasted. British Residency Complex a group of several buildings which served as the residence for the British Resident General who was a representative in the court of the Nawab. The Residency is located in the heart of the city, in the vicinity of other monuments like Shaheed Smarak, Tehri Kothi and High Court Building. The Rumi Darwaza, sixty feet tall an imposing gateway was built under the patronage of Nawab Asaf-Ud-daula in 1784. It is an example of Awadhi architecture, modeled after the Sublime Porte in Istanbul. It used to mark the entrance to Old Lucknow City, but as the city grew and expanded, it was later used as an entrance to a palace which was later demolished by the British insurgents. Rest time to walk in Hazratganj, the downtown area situated in the heart of Lucknow. In addition to bazaars, it also contains shopping complexes, restaurants, hotels, theaters and offices. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 17: Lucknow – Khajuraho (310kms)

Breakfast at hotel, drive to Khajuraho, check in at hotel. Later visit well maintained UNESCO World Heritage Site, exploring eastern, western & southern group of temples adorned by erotic and sensuous carvings. The architecture of these temples depict the erotic forms of love, the carvings on the walls display passion in the most sensuous yet aesthetic ways. Built between 950 to 1050 AD by Chandela dynasty the temples of Khajuraho are India`s unique gift to the world, representing, as they do, a paean to life, to love, to joy, perfect in execution and sublime in expression. Of the 85 original temples, 22 have survived till today to constitute one of the world`s great artistic wonders. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 18: Khajuraho - Panna National Park (45kms) 

Breakfast at hotel, drive to Panna National Park check in at hotel. Afternoon gypsy safari in the tiger reserve. 
The park is located where the tropical and subtropical forest belts are found. River Ken runs through this relatively dry national park providing water to the wildlife throughout the year. Many rare species and endangered species can be spotted in this park. You can spot the majestic tiger, the ghariyal - a huge reptile found only in the Indian subcontinent, Indian wolf, four-horned antelope, sloth bear pangolin, rusty spotted cat, leopard, carcal and a variety of flora and fauna. There are six species of vulture found in this parkLunch, dinner & Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 19: Panna National Park 

Breakfast at hotel, Morning and afternoon game drive jeep safari in Panna National Park. Visit magnificent Pandav Falls inside the parkLunch, dinner & Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 20: Panna National Park – Orchha (200kms)

Breakfast at hotel, drive to Orchha check in at hotel. Later city tour of Orchha a historical town known for its grand palaces, intricately carved temples adorned with classic mural paintings, frescos and cenotaphs that were constructed to commemorate the Bundela rulers. Visit the Orchha Fort complex, which houses a large number of ancient monuments. These are Raja Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, a temple, gardens and pavilions. Chaturbhuj Temple a multi-storied structure noted for having one of the tallest Vimana among Hindu temples. Chattris (Cenotaphs) situated on the banks of Betwa river, are magnificent royal tombs of the Maharajas, placed on a platform and supported by the pillars. Visit the Orchha Fort complex, which houses a large number of ancient monuments. These are Raja Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, a temple, gardens and pavilions. Chaturbhuj Temple a multi-storied structure noted for having one of the tallest Vimana among Hindu temples. Chattris (Cenotaphs) situated on the banks of Betwa river, are magnificent royal tombs of the Maharajas, placed on a platform and supported by the pillars. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 21: Orchha - Gwalior - Agra (220kms)

Breakfast at hotel, drive to Agra enroute visit Gwalior Fort, situated on top of a hill is one of the best fortresses of India, known for its great architecture and rich past. The fort complex includes several temples, palaces and water tanks. Siddhachal Caves and Gopachal rock-cut Jain monuments are the two areas, complete with thousands of Jain Tirthankar idols defaced during the Mughal invasion. Teli Ka Mandir and Sas-Bahu Ka Mandir are the two architecturally rich Hindu temples here. Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhor is another holy place built inside the fort complex. Man Mandir Palace, Gujari Mahal, Assi Khamba Ki Baoli, and Suraj Kund are other important monuments found in the complex. Jai Vilas Palace has the largest carpet in the world and two most massive chandeliers in the world that weight close to 3.5 tonnes. Arrive Agra check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 22: Agra - Fatehpur Sikri - Abhaneri - Jaipur (245kms)

Sunrise visit Taj Mahal an ivory-white marble mausoleum commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. 

Return to hotel for breakfast. Visit Agra Fort the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638. And Itmad-ud-Daula Tomb commissioned by Nur Jahan for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. Later drive to Jaipur via visiting Fatehpur Sikri an abandoned predominately a red sandstone construction sprawling over a huge area. See the graceful buildings including Diwan-E-Khas hall, Jodha Bai Palace, Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal & Buland Darwaza. Next stop to visit Abhaneri a small village popular for India`s deepest, largest and amazing step well & a Hindu Temple. Continue drive to Jaipur check in at hotel. Evening explore the local market of Pink City. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 23: Jaipur 

Breakfast at hotel, city tour of Jaipur the first planned city of India. Established in 1727 by Jai Singh II, the king of Amber when he shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and an increasing water scarcity. Noted architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya used the established principles of Vastu Shastra to build the city. In 1876, the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur and the entire Jaipur city was painted in pink the symbolic colors of hospitality to welcome him. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh and Garh Ganesh Temple. In morning visit Amber Fort followed by Jaigarh Fort. Later visit City Palace, Observatory, Hawa Mahal, Sisodia Rani Garden & Birla temple. Explore the famous bazaars of Pink City with its rich history and heritage exudes an amazing mix of royalty and art. Overnight at hotel.

 

Day 24: Jaipur - Delhi (265kms)

Breakfast at hotel. Morning to visit the place of your interest or relax in your hotel. Later drive to Delhi check in and overnight at hotel.

 

Day 25: Delhi

Breakfast at hotel, city tour of Delhi. In Old Delhi visit the majestic Red Fort (closed on Monday) the residence of the Mughal emperor for nearly 200 years until 1857. Jama Masjid one of the largest mosques in the world built by Shah Jahan. Cycle Rickshaw ride in Chandni chowk & Khari Baoli Spice Market a busy shopping area with markets full of spices, dried fruit, silver jewelry and vivid saris, while the narrow side streets are crowded with tiny shops selling essential oils, stationery and traditional Indian sweets. Raj Gath the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi where he was cremated after his assassination. 
In New Delhi visit Humayun Tomb the first garden-tomb in Indian subcontinent and an early example of Mughal architecture commissioned by Humayun`s first wife Empress Bega Begum in 1569-70. Qutab Minar a 73-metres tall minaret that forms part of the Qutb complex a fine examples of Afghan architecture. Lotus Temple a Bahai House of Worship notable for its flowerlike shape. Also drive pass President House, Parliament & India Gate etc. 

Later As per flight schedule, transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination (standard hotel check out time 11 AM.

Assistance at all airports.

24 Nights' accommodation in selected price category hotels.

Daily breakfast at hotels. Any other meal (lunch/ dinner) if clearly mentioned in the itinerary).

Private air-conditioned deluxe car for airport transfer, sightseeing and excursion as per program.

English speaking tour guide on sightseeing days (local guide in each city), as per program.

3 Time gypsy safari in Panna National Park with naturalist.

Monument entrances and activities charges mentioned in the itinerary.

Bottled drinking water in car.

Government taxes.

 

Hotels used or similar 

Mumbai x 2 nights
3* - Hotel Suba Palace/ BW Hotel Sahil
4* - Sun-N-Sand Hotel/ Fariyas Hotel
5* - Trident Hotel/ ITC Grand Central

Aurangabad x 2 nights
3* - Keys Hotel The Aures/ Aurangabad Gymkhana Club
4* - Ambassador Ajanta / VITS Hotel
5* - WelcomHotel Rama International / Lemon Tree Hotel

Hyderabad x 2 nights
3* - Aditya Park/ Lemon Tree Hotel
4* - Lemon Tree Hotel/ Fortune Park Vallabha
5* - ITC Kakatiya, a Luxury Collection/ Trident Hotel

Puri x 2 nights
3* - Toshali Sands/ Blue Lily Beach Resort
4* - The Hans Coco Palms/ The Chariot Resort & spa
5* - Mayfair Waves

Kolkata x 2 night
3* - Regenta Orko's/ The Fern Residency
4* - The Peerless Inn/ The Fern Residency
5* - ITC Sonar, a Luxury Collection/ The Lalit Great Eastern

Bodhgaya x 2 night
3* - Hotel Taj Darbar/ Hotel Mahamaya
4* & 5* - The Royal Residency/ Lotus Nikko Hotel

Varanasi x 2 nights
3* - Meraden Grand/ Amaya Hotel
4* - Rivatas by Ideal/ Palace On Ganges
5* - Radisson Hotel/ Gateway Hotel Taj

Lucknow x 2 nights
3* - Sapna Clarks Inn/ Hotel Lineage
4* - Lemon Tree Hotel/ La Place Sarovar Portico
5* - Renaissance Hotel/ Hyatt Regency

Khajuraho x 1 night
3* - Ramada/Clarks Hotel
4* - Ramada/Clarks Hotel
5* - Radisson Hotel/ Hotel Chandela

Panna National Park x 2 nights
3* - Greetoe Resorts
4* - Tuli Tiger Corridor/ Pench Jungle Camp
5* - Sarai at Toria/ Pugdundee Safaris Pench Tree Lodge

Orchha x 1 night
3* & 4* - Orchha Resort/ Amar Mahal 
5* - Orchha Palace and Convention Centrerchha x 1 night

Agra x 1 nights
3* - Howard Plaza the Fern/ Atulyaa Taj
4* - Radission Hotel/ Crystal Sarovar Premier
5* - Trident Hotel/ Courtyard by Marriott

Jaipur x 2 nights
3* - Redfox Hotel/ Park Ocean
4* - Fortune Select Metropolitan/ Lemon Tree Premier
5* - ITC Rajputana/ Hilton Jaipur

Delhi x 1 nights
3* - Madhuban Hotel/ Meridian Plaza
4* - The Royal Plaza/ Country Inn & Suite Saket
5* - Le Meridien/ The Claridges

Mumbai - Aurangabad - Hyderabad - Bhubaneshawar - Kolkata - Patna flight fare approx INR 25, 500 per person in economy class.

Camera charges at monuments.

Meals other than mentioned in day plan.

Expenses of personal nature like liquor, laundry, tips, telephone, fax, internet etc. 

Gratuities & optional activities.

Anything not mentioned in inclusions.