Days 1 & 2 New Delhi
Make your own way to Delhi, where we'll transfer you to your hotel.
New Delhi was created by the British as India's capital in 1911. We include a tour today which calls at Qutub Minar. The lifestyle in New Delhi is in stark contrast to that of Old Delhi and this becomes apparent as we drive through the diplomatic quarter. Opulent architecture lines the streets, with the official residence of the President and the Indian Gate as its crowning glory. Compare your experiences of the day and get to know your fellow travellers over dinner this evening.
Day 3 Khajuraho
Our exploration of India begins as we travel from Delhi to the ancient city of Khajuraho, home to world-famous temples, built during the Chandella dynasty.
This evening you have the opportunity to watch an optional Kandariya classical dance show.
Day 4 Agra
After an early breakfast, we'll visit the Khajuraho temples. Said to have been built in the 10th and 11th centuries, these beautiful temples are adorned with intricately carved sculptures of nymphs, musicians and erotic figures.
We'll then drive to the station in Jhansi and board a train for the scenic journey to Agra.
Day 5 Agra
This morning we head to the UNESCO-listed Agra Fort. This powerful fortress was the imperial city of the Mogul rulers and within its walls stand spectacular palaces and courtyards.
Later, we'll visit Mehtab Bagh, a centuries-old garden complex, on the opposite side of the river to the Taj Mahal. Be sure to remember your camera, as you'll get a splendid view of the world-famous monument from here.
Back at the hotel you've time to relax before the Mohabbat Taj Show, a saga of love, creates a fitting finale to our day.
Day 6 Ranthambore
The Taj Mahal was built by Emperor Shan Jahan as a symbol of his love for his wife, and today's visit at sunrise is sure to be a highlight of your holiday.
Later we'll travel by coach to Bharatpur, pausing at the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri on our way. Our journey continues by train to Sawai Madhopur, your gateway to Ranthambore National Park.
Day 7 Ranthambore
Ranthambore is considered to be one of the best game reserves in India. We'll experience the wildlife and look for the country's famous tigers on today's early morning safari. Enjoy some time to relax at the hotel, then join another included game drive this afternoon. During dinner this evening you will be presented with a local speciality Laal Maas, a traditional curry prepared in a sauce of yogurt and spices and a favourite dish amongst royalty.
Day 8 Jaipur
You've another chance to go in search of wildlife and tigers on today's optional early morning game drive. Breakfast will be served back at the hotel, and afterwards you can take a trip into a local village on a camel cart if you wish.
This afternoon we take to the road once more and drive through memorable scenery to Jaipur.
Day 9 Jaipur
Jaipur is home to the magnificent Amber Fort. We visit in the early morning, when we can enjoy cooler temperatures, fewer people and softer light as we explore the inner and outer workings of the fortress and its surroundings. A traditional lunch will be served in majestic surroundings as we dine with the family connected to the 17th century Sankotra Haveli. This is a special experience as we savour exceptional cuisine, wear traditional dress and learn first hand the history of one of India's most noted families. Jaipur is affectionately known as the 'pink city'. The buildings here were painted pink by Maharaja's decree to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities. A highlight is the City Palace, which we visit this afternoon. Whilst in Jaipur you will also be served a glass of Lassi, a blend of water, yogurt, spices and sometimes fruit. The drink, traditionally served in earthern pots to add an unique aroma, is topped with a thick layer of malai leaving you refreshed and surprisingly full!
Day 10 Varanasi
Today we take an early morning flight to Varanasi.
Situated on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, Varanasi is colourful, chaotic and one of Hinduism's holiest cities. To get the most out of your time here, you need to experience the city with an open mind. Its principal attraction is the bathing Ghats that line the west bank of the Ganges, where Hindus bathe in the water to cleanse themselves of sin.
This evening we offer the opportunity to watch a traditional aarti ceremony, which involves an offering of light, food, water and flowers to the deities. It is considered a fundamental part of the Hindu faith.
Day 11 Varanasi
We rise before the sun this morning to sail along the Ganges and see devout Hindus bathing and praying beneath the rising sun. We head back to the hotel for breakfast before enjoying a short tour of Varanasi.
This afternoon we visit the ruined city of Sarnath. This is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists as it was here that Buddha gave his first sermon.
Day 12 Delhi
After flying back to India's capital this morning, we'll head to Old Delhi for a tour. Established in the 17th century and today surrounded by the remains of the city walls, Old Delhi epitomises stereotypical India. Within its labyrinth of alleyways, and beneath simply constructed shelters, families raise their children and earn a living. Temples and mosques fill every available space and vibrant bazaars and tempting food stalls flood the narrow lanes with colour and heady scents. You'll also see Raj Ghat, the cremation grounds of Mahatma Gandhi and Humayun's Tomb.
Join your fellow travellers for a farewell dinner this evening.
Days 13 - 12 Depart Delhi
At the end of your tour, you can join your fellow travellers on a transfer to the airport or choose to make your own arrangements.
You can extend your holiday with this 3-night extension, staying at the Holiday Inn Amritsar for two nights (half board basis) and the Holiday Inn Aerocity in Delhi for 1 night (Bed and Breakfast basis). We include a tour of Amritsar and a visit to the Golden Temple. You'll also attend the Wagah border ceremony. Price is a supplement to the quoted holiday price. You will be accompanied by a Tour Manager.