From the heart of modern India in New Delhi and Mumbai to the ghats of the holy city of Varanasi, this itinerary covers the classic cities of North India showcasing history, architecture, religion, nature and the subtle nuances of diverse cultural distinction that India is known for.
An ideal introduction for the first time visitor to India spanning five states and the capital – New Delhi – much of whose heritage from the British Raj is now symbolic of the world’s largest democracy.
Deep dive into Hindu mythology, philosophy and spirituality in the city of light – Kashi, an ancient seat of learning with a legacy that goes back to more than 3000 years on the banks of the holy Ganga followed by the tour in Khajuraho to explorer the 9th and 10th century temples that are widely regarded as being the pinnacle of expressive north Indian temple architecture.
While the Pink City of Jaipur offers a glimpse of the aristocratic Rajasthani culture, Agra is synonymous with the romance of the magnificent Taj Mahal. Relish a bit of the countryside as you transverse through the cities.
End the journey in Mumbai, India’s financial capital and home to Bollywood, the biggest film industry in the world. Spend time in knowing how this bustling cosmopolitan city is a melting pot of diverse Indian cultures.
- 12 night guided vacation
- 12 night accommodation
- 2 nights in Delhi: Taj Palace (5*) – Superior Room or similar
- 2 nights in Varanasi: Radisson (5*) – Superior Room or similar
- 1 night in Khajuraho: Radisson (4*) – Deluxe room or similar
- 1 night in Agra: Taj Hotel & Convention Centre (5*) – Superior Room or similar
- 2 nights in Jaipur: Trident (5*) – Deluxe Garden View Room or similar
- 2 nights in Udaipur: Trident (5*) – Deluxe Garden View Room or similar
- 2 nights in Mumbai: Vivanta by Taj President (5*) – Superior room or similar
- Daily breakfast
- Domestic flights as per itinerary: Delhi-Varanasi-Khajuraho & Udaipur-Mumbai
- Train ticket Jhansi-Agra in air-conditioned chair car compartment
- Private transfers from/to hotels, cities and airports
- English speaking local guides during sightseeing tours
- One rickshaw ride in Old Delhi
- Shared Boat ride on River Ganges in Varanasi
- Sound and light show in Kharjuraho
- One Jeep ride at Amber Fort
- One shared boat ride in Lake Pichola
- Visit to Elephanta Caves on ferry
- Entrance fees to sights – as per itinerary
|Valid until September 30, 2023*||from $4155|
|Single Occupancy||add from $1050|
Not included: International airfare and airport taxes – Gratuities to hotel personnel, guides and drivers – Beverages – Optional excursions – Visa for India – Camera fees for certain sites
DAY 1: DELHI – ARRIVAL
Welcome to India! Arrive in Delhi T3 terminal. Upon arrival you will be required to clear immigration and customs; after you clear customs you will be welcomed by our representative holding a sign with your names on it. You will then be escorted to your hotel for check in. Due to flight schedules, you will probably arrive at the hotel after midnight local time. You may want to travel a day early to ease the effects of jet lag and relax a bit before your India tour begins. Delhi is India’s capital and a major gateway to the country. Perhaps there is no other capital city in the world so steeped in history and legend as the Indian capital Delhi. It was the magnet, which drew the Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Mughals and the British, all of whom contributed to its glorious but turbulent past. The fascination with Delhi was such that even though it was abandoned many times, its rulers returned to it again and again rebuilding it at least seven times. Today, the twin cities of Old and New Delhi still intrigue Indians and tourists alike as the cultural and political capital of the largest democracy in the world.
Accommodation: Taj Palace (5*) – Superior Room or similar
DAY 2: DELHI (B)
Start your guided exploration of Delhi, India’s capital city that sports a rich history spanning over 2,000 years. Arrive in Old Delhi and drive past the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Red Fort. To truly experience the delightful chaos of the city, hop on a cycle rickshaw for an exciting ride through its narrow lanes. The Old City walls wrap around Chandni Chowk, an ancient market that continues to thrive to this day. Take in the electrifying energy around you; expose your senses to the enticing colors and exotic scents of cardamom and allspice, and watch local men sip their tea at deliciously fragrant chai stands.Next visit Jama Masjid – the largest mosque in India built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century and surrounded by multiple entrances that all lead to the apex of the main worshiping deck. You will continue to Raj Ghat, the memorial of Gandhi, built at the site of his cremation on the banks of the Yamuna River.Continue to Raj Ghat, the memorial to Gandhi, built at the site of his cremation on the banks of the Yamuna River.Later visit the Sikh temple, Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, second most important Sikh shrine in India and learn about the history of this religion. Sikhism is known for their focus on humanitarian works and this visit will be incomplete if you don’t visit their community kitchen (Langar) where thousands of worshippers are fed round the clock. Every day they serve chapati (bread) and lentil (dal), supplemented with vegetables to the devotees/community. While at the Sikh temple, visit the Community Kitchen where food is being prepared keeping all hygiene and safety measures in mind and served free of cost all day and night to thousands of people!! You may also volunteer to make a chapatti or curry for the devotees. Later, drive past Sansad Bhawan (the Parliament House), Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President’s House) and Government buildings. Prior to independence this was the viceroy’s residence. Take a photo stop at India Gate – a stone arch of triumph raised in honor of the Indian soldiers martyred in the campaigns of WWI.
In New Delhi, you will visit Qutub Minar. At 72.5 meters, the Qutab Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world. Surrounding the building are many fine examples of Indian artwork dating back to 1193.
Accommodation: Taj Palace (5*) – Superior Room or similar
DAY 3: DELHI – VARANASI (B)
This morning, assisted transfer to airport and fly to Varanasi. On arrival, assisted transfer to the hotel and check-in for your stay. The “eternal city”, Varanasi or Benares, is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India, and the Ganges, which flows through the city, is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. For the Satpious Hindu, the city has always been a special place, and it is considered a particularly auspicious place to die, ensuring an instant routing to Heaven. In the afternoon proceed for a tour to the historic ritual bathing site called Dashaswamedh, or the ten-horse sacrifice Ghat, the perfect way to conclude this walking city tour. Later in the evening, watch the illuminated Aarti ceremony that is performed at Dasahwamedh Ghat. The presiding priests stand on a wooden Chauki in the water. To the chant of Sanskrit mantras, and the clash of cymbals and drums, the river is worshipped with flowers, incense, sandalwood, milk and vermilion.
Accommodation: Radisson (5*) – Superior Room or similar
DAY 4: VARANASI (B)
Early this morning (5:30 am), drive to Daswamedh Ghat and watch the wonderful colors of the sunrise as you meander along the sacred Ganges River in a boat. As part of their pilgrimage rites, the faithful walk down steps into the river to perform their religious ablutions. Watching the people worshipping at the ghats is an extraordinary experience. You may also witness a funeral pyre, an essential part of the traditional Hindu funeral ceremony.Stop off at a few of the many Hindu temples that line the Ganges River, each dedicated to a different deity and return to your hotel for breakfast.Post breakfast visit some of the other important sites in the city with your guide. Stroll along the fascinating lanes and colorful bazaars full of shops selling, among many other things, the world-famous Benaras silks. Continue on to Benares Hindu University, one of the most revered institutions for higher learning in India.In the afternoon, take an excursion to the Buddhist city of Sarnath, just outside Varanasi. The place Buddha chose to deliver his first sermon, Sarnath is as holy to the Buddhists as Varanasi is to the Hindus. Explore the ruins of a once flourishing Buddhist monastery and look around a museum with an interesting collection of Buddhist art and sculpture. The Ashoka pillar of Sarnath is the National emblem of India.Accommodation: Radisson (5*) – Superior Room or similar
DAY 5: VARANASI – KHAJURAHO (B)
Morning, assisted transfer to airport and fly Khajuraho. On arrival, assisted transfer to the hotel and check in for your stay.
Khajuraho was built by the Chandela dynasty, which rose to power in Central India between the 10th and 11th centuries and is home to some 25 odd temples depicting the different facets of life, including the erotic. These erotic carvings on some panels have given rise to much speculation since Khajuraho’s rediscovery by a British officer in 1838. To preserve it for posterity, Khajuraho has been declared a World Heritage Site and is among the prominent destinations on the world tourism map.
In the afternoon, you will proceed to visit the western group of temples. Among the western group of temples, the most famous is the Kandariya Mahadev temple, 32 meters high with a fantastic range of sculptures including sensuous themes. Other temples include the Chaunsat Yogini, which is a granite temple, the Devi Jagdambe temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess, the Chitragupta temple, dedicated to Surya the Sun God, etc.Late evening, witness the sound and light show which portrays the life and times of the great Chandela Kings and tells the story of the exclusive temples from the 10th century to the present day. The 50-minute fascinating show is held in every evening at the temple where technicolor floodlights sweep across the temples as Indian classical music soundtracks a history of Khajuraho narrated by the ’master sculptor’.
Accommodation: Radisson (4*) – Deluxe room or similar
DAY 6: KHAJURAHO – JHANSI – AGRA (B)
This morning, drive through the craggy and remote hills of Bundelkhand to Jhansi in-time to connect your train to Agra. Stop enroute for a guided visit of the beautiful medieval town of Orchha. Visit the multi-tiered Jahangiri Mahal (1606), built by a Rajput king in honour of his Mughal overlord, the Emperor Jahangir. See some of the best preserved Mughal period frescoes, palaces and pleasure pavilions, as well as the great Rama temple and bustling town marketplace, which is still the haunt of wandering holy men, fakirs and meditating Sadhu priests. Continue drive to Jhansi and board the train for Agra. Assistance on arrival at Agra station and transfer to the hotel.
On arrival, check in for your stay.Agra – Once a small village on the banks of the Yamuna, it was transformed by two great Mughal monarchs, Akbar and his grandson Shah Jehan into the second capital of the Mughal Empire – Dar-ul-Khilafat, or ‘seat of the Emperor’ in the 16th & 17th century. A world of contrasting edifices of red sandstone and white marble, narrow galleys, bustling streets and small buggies, Agra retains the irresistible charm that made this the favorite city of the Mughals.
Accommodation: Taj Hotel & Convention Centre (5*) – Superior Room or similar
DAY 7: AGRA – FATEHPUR SIKRI – JAIPUR (B)
Rise early to catch the first rays of dawn gleaming on the Taj Mahal, a certain sight that you would trade for. A masterpiece that now stands as a symbol of love to the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has captivated the hearts and minds of travelers for centuries. Commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal who passed away during childbirth, the iconic mausoleum rises above a wellmanicured garden and its interiors display elaborate inlay work of precious and semi-precious stones.Return to the hotel for breakfast and drive for Jaipur. Stop enroute to visit Fatehpur Sikri (37 Kms southwest of Agra) – the deserted red sandstone city that was built by Emperor Akbar as his capital. Ponder the mysterious desertion of this capital city that was dramatically abandoned a few years after it was built. It was a veritable fairy tale city and its ’ruins’ are still in a pristine condition.Continue to Jaipur, reaching in the evening. On arrival, check in for your stay.Jaipur – Also known as the ‘Pink City’, for the abundance of pink plastered stone used to build its massive forts, magnificent palaces and exquisite temples. The city built in 1727 A.D by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II followed a grid system, which made it the only planned city of its time. A young Bengali architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya designed the city in accordance with Shilp Shastra – an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture. There is far more to the city than just its famous monuments and to get a complete experience of Jaipur, uncover the mysteries of the bazaars and visit silversmiths, turban sellers and traditional markets.
Accommodation: Trident (5*) – Deluxe Garden View Room or similar
DAY 8: JAIPUR (B)
Morning, drive on for about half an hour to the outskirts of the city to visit the magnificent Amber fort – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Maota Lake. Once on top, stroll through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Most fascinating, perhaps, is the Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) where a single lamplight is reflected in the numerous mirrors, lighting up the entire room.After this visit, you will be attending a workshop on traditional authentic carving and hand block printing demonstration to learn this age-old textile craft of Jaipur. In this tour, you will be visiting Anokhi textile Museum followed by a hand on experience on block printing to create your own souvenir.
Return to the city, with a photo-stop at Hawa Mahal (the Palace of Winds). Five stories in height, and built of red and pink sandstone highlighted with white quicklime, it is thought that the women of the royal harem used the many casements to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen.
End the tour with a fascinating walk in the old city. Mingle and talk with the locals whilst observing some of the regions culinary delight and try out some famous Indian snacks. Observe local artisans in their workshops; jewelers and silversmiths, gold and silver foil makers. The iconic Hawa Mahal also called the Palace of the winds is the meeting – point at which this walk begins.
After the tour, return to the hotel and remaining day is at your leisure.
There are optional excursions available. Please click on the tabs for more detail.
DAY 9: JAIPUR – UDAIPUR (B)
This morning, drive to the city of lakes – Udaipur.
Stop enroute for a guided visit at Ranakpur Temples. Ranakpur is one of the five important pilgrim centers for the Jain community. The whole including the extraordinary array of 1144 pillars each distinct in design, carved ceilings, and arches decorated with friezes depicting scenes from the lives of the Jain saints is fascinating.
Continue your drive to Udaipur and on arrival, check in for your stay.
Udaipur: Set on the shores of Lake Pichola and surrounded by hills, Udaipur grew in complete contrast to the harsh deserts of the rest of Rajasthan. From the late 16th century, peace brought about an era of renaissance in the arts and encouraged the building of beautiful palaces around the lake, culminating in the City Palace, one of the largest palace complexes in the world. The lake itself is a romantic setting surrounding the gleaming white Lake Palace and the Jag Mandir, a refuge of the rebel Mughal prince, Shah Jahan, soon to be the creator of the incomparable Taj Mahal.
Accommodation: Trident (5*) – Deluxe Garden View Room or similar
Accommodation: Trident (5*) – Deluxe Garden View Room or similar
Morning, assisted transfer to the airport and fly to Mumbai.
On arrival, assisted transfer to the hotel and check in for your stay.
Mumbai is a city of dreams, the glamour of the movie world, the razors edge of the skyscrapers to the mainland of the harbour, people here come from diverse ethnic backgrounds yet nurture the dream of success, their undying spirit adds colour and flavour to this multicultural city. A throbbing, cosmopolitan metropolis, it still retains the glory of the past, the colonial legacy that coexists with the Maratha influence. Still considered as the heart of business India, Mumbai houses the country’s vibrant Stock Exchange. The Gateway of India is almost literally a symbol of entry into the country by sea or air.
This afternoon, explore the main sights of Mumbai starting with visit of Prince of Wales Museum. Built in gothic and Moorish architecture, it boasts of a significant collection of Indus valley artefacts some of them dating back to more than 5000 years. Most impressive are the miniature paintings – nearly 2000 of them, from various stylistic schools of India. Drive along Marine Drive, the sea – Front Boulevard, also known as the Queen’s Necklace as in the evening, the streetlights on this U-shaped road light up, the view from south Bombay’s skyscrapers or from the exclusive residential area, is that of a Queen’s Necklace. Next, visit the dhobi ghats (photo-stop), the massive outdoor laundry site where dhobhi wallahs (laundry workers) beat, wring, iron and code millions of pieces of laundry daily. End the tour with a visit to Mani Bhawan – a memorial dedicated to the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi.
DAY 12: MUMBAI (B)
This morning, take a ferry from main land to Elephanta island to explore these ancient Hindu & Buddhist caves. The rock cut Elephanta Caves, which date back to the mid-fifth to 6th century CE, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site accessible only by a ferry ride from the Gateway of India. The 7-metre-high “Sadashiva” is the pièce de résistance of the Elephanta Caves. This awe-inspiring piece of carving is similar to ones in the Ellora Caves of Aurangabad. One can also find Buddhist mounds and stupas on the island.
Return to main land by noon. Relax at the hotel or take a stroll along the Colaba Causeway; the everyday carnival at the market here is a shopping experience like no other in Mumbai.
Accommodation: Vivanta by Taj President (5*) – Superior room or similar
There are optional excursions available. Please click on the tabs for more details
DAY 13 MUMBAI – DEPARTURE (B)
You will be transferred to the airport depending on your onward flight.
Hotel check out time is 12 noon.
DAY 8: JAIPUR
Visit the 18th century City Palace, now a fascinating museum housing some of the treasures of Jaipur’s princely past. The former royal family retains a part of the palace for their personal use.
Supplement cost: $ 55 per person on minimum 2 paying pax
Dinner with local noble family:
Rajasthan is known for its unique cuisine style. In the evening, enjoy a special cooking session followed by a home hosted meal with a local noble family at their beautiful haveli. This session will give you an excellent opportunity to try your hands on local cuisine with simple steps which you may follow back at home to create “Indian magic”. The highlight of this evening is the interaction with the family that will give you an insight on contemporary India and the ancient India during the conversation over dinner.
Supplement cost: $ 95 per person (minimum 2 Pax)
Visit Mumbai at Dawn (early morning before breakfast): Start early morning for a unique experience to see the bustling city of Mumbai at dawn. You will get a peek into the underbelly of the city and insights into what makes this magnificent city tick. From seeing hundreds of newspaper vendors sort out newspapers of 7 different languages, experiencing one-of-its-kind fish auction of 20 tonnes of fish, to seeing an ‘only green’ herb market sprawled across a popular bridge.
From watching the milkmen drive past with canisters, the melee of colour at the flower markets, to experiencing the clamour and chaos of the arrival of over 100 tonnes of vegetables, fruits and meat – you will witness the mercurial character of Mumbai, like none other. What’s interesting is that when you walk the same lanes a few hours later, you wouldn’t find any evidence of the morning’s hustle bustle.
Supplement cost: $ 165 per person on minimum 2 paying pax
Guests travelling from the continent of North America to India will need E-visas.
For complete details, please visit https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html