Spirituality and romance – two concepts that are synonymous with the popular conception of India. And not without ample cause, as you will discover on this tour that is designed for both the heart and the soul. Your journey begins at one of the holiest spots in India, Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges, followed by a visit to Khajuraho where temples adorned with stone carvings show you the more sensual side of traditional spirituality as a segue to the next segment of the trip. This portion will take you to the martial and aristocratic side of Rajasthan, remnants of an age of valour and glory and a look at India’s Mughal past in Delhi and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Along the way, there’s even a stopover at the Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary.
DelhiDays 1, & 2
In modern India’s ancient capital, you’ll survey the past with visits to the Red Fort, Jama Masjid mosque, with its marble domes and splendid minarets, Raj Ghat, the Ashoka Pillar and Chandni Chowk Bazaar, where craftsmen sell their wares. There will be ample opportunities for shopping, rest and recreation and venturing out on your own to soak in the many sights and sounds of this fascinating city.
VaranasiDays 3 & 4
In India, it is believed that, if you die in Varanasi, you will go straight to heaven. This sacred city is a confluence for pilgrims all over, anxious to wash away their sins in the holy Ganges river. Your visit to Varanasi will give you a glimpse of India’s spiritual heart as you observe riverside prayers and visit some of the city’s many temples and take a boat ride on the Ganges. You’ll also visit nearby Sarnath, another site that is redolent of the sacred, for it is here that the Buddha gained enlightenment.
Khajuraho Day 5
Khajuraho, small town in Uttar Pradesh, contains a large group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their sculptures. The 22 surviving temples are a treasure trove of Indian sculptural art with subjects including the many erotic depictions that have been variously interpreted as Tantric or spiritual in their deeper significance.
Agra Days 6 & 7
Once the capital of the Mughal Empire, Agra contains a wealth of architecture, jewellery and handicrafts. You’ll visit the stunning Agra Fort and also see the main point of your Agra visit, the immortal Taj Mahal, illuminated by night and in the sunset hours, with the golden rays of the setting sun washing over marble domes and turrets.
Ranthambore National ParkDays 7
Ranthambore National Park is named after the historic Ranthambore Fort, located within the park. The park hosts an impressive array of species, including the Tiger as well as Langurs, Sambars, Nilgais, Chitals, Wild Boars, Jackals, Foxes, and Sloth Bears and as over 300 bird species. You’ll stay in a former hunting lodge; roam around the safer parts of the grounds and spot wildlife on long drives through the park.
JaipurDays 8 & 9
On day, 8, you’ll drive from Ranthambore to Jaipur, passing numerous forts and palaces on the way, testimonials to the feudal past on your way.
Known as the ‘pink city’ ever since it was decked up in pink terracotta to welcome Prince Albert in 1876, Jaipur is a city with an aristocratic past. Take an elephant-back ride to the stalwart Amber Fort, visit the Hava Mahal, or ‘palace of the winds’, where the women of the court were sequestered, stargaze at the Janthar Manthar observatory and visit the City Palace. Other activities include an elephant safari through the surrounding countryside, visits to villages and a local school.
JodhpurDays 11 & 12
A royal capital in the heart of the Thar Desert, Jodhpur is called the Blue City because of the traditional blue-painted houses that surround Mehrangarh Fort, a majestic structure that Rudyard Kipling called ‘the work of angels and giants’. Other attractions include the colossal Umaid Bhawan Palace and local crafts including traditional blue glazed pottery and a visit to the spice bazaar.
Afer Jodupur, you’ll journey to the Aravalli hills to visit Narlai, a 300 year old village with a grand past. You’ll stay at the Rawla Narlai. Once a favourite hunting lodge of the Jodhpur royal family, this 17th century fortress is now a peaceful hotel centred around a beautiful garden alive with bougainvillea, with bedrooms furnished in Rajasthani style.
This village hosts a spectacular complex of 15th century Jain temples, including a magnificent marble temple. An absorbing stopover en route to your next destination.
UdaipurDays 14 & 15
'The city of lakes', once the capital of the Mewar kingdom, preserves its aristocratic past amidst a vibrant present. There are twelve gorgeous palaces to visit, many of which host impressive museums. Take a lake cruise for a spectacular view of the City Palace, go boating down the ghats, soak in the atmosphere of the Venice of India.
The last day of the trip will be spent en route to Delhi, where you will have time for an afternoon to yourself before catching your homebound flights.