India’s turbulent history and spectacular cultural heritage only means one thing - exotic traditions, fascinating architecture and stunning artwork. Our tour includes carefully planned visits to many world famous sites, monuments and leading museums, which bring a comprehensive understanding of the intricate and cultural synthesis that has evolved between the country’s primary religious civilisations - Jain, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim.
- Explore and contrast Old and New Delhi, where the ancient and modern blend seamlessly together
- Experience the architectural magnificence of the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the modern world
- Discover Lucknow, where you’ll visit the exquisitely decorated Rumi Darwaza and enjoy the city’s famed cuisine
- Enjoy an early morning boat trip on the holiest of rivers in India, the Ganga – a memorable highlight of our tour
- View Khajuraho’s amazing sculptures and some of the world’s finest temple carvings, including the Kandariya Mahadev
If you wish to stay in India a little longer, we offer an optional five day excursion, giving you the chance to explore Udaipur. Please see details below Day 18 of this tour if travelling from the UK, or Day 17 of this tour if travelling from the US.
- Historic Churches
- Great Cities
- Cultural Excursion
Arrive in Delhi and transfer to our hotel for lunch. We take the rest of the day to relax after our flight, before enjoying our first dinner as a group.
We spend our first day in northern India with a sightseeing tour of New Delhi. We begin with the tallest minaret in the world made up of bricks, the Qutub Minar, built by Aibak in 1199 and then we discover why the architectural significance of Humayun’s Tomb makes it a proud sample of the Mughal era building techniques. We get closer to the Indian legacy and witness the journey of India, from a ruled country to a free democracy, by taking time to stop at places such as India Gate, the President’s Palace, Secretariat buildings and the Indian Parliament House.
Today it’s time to discover the richness of Old Delhi, starting with the grand red stone marvel, Lal Qila, known as the ‘Red Fort’. Continuing on to the Jama Masjid, built up by Emperor Shah Jahan, this mosque is decorated with plychrome stonework and contains a huge courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees. A visit to Birla House, a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi helps us to remember this ‘Father of the Nation’ ahead of an afternoon at the National Museum, rich with archaeological artefacts and art from the last 5,000 years. We also get the chance to experience a rickshaw ride in the markets of Old Delhi.
We fly to Lucknow this morning, the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. After free time at our hotel, we meet up in the late afternoon for a walking tour to discover some of the heritage of the city. We start from Gol Darwaaza, and as we wind our way through parts of the city we’ll experience it’s culture, people, and lifestyle before ending at the Akbari Gate, where we enjoy some of the famed cuisine for which the city is widely known.
We continue exploring Lucknow today, visiting the exquisitely decorated Rumi Darwaza, also known as the Turkish Gate. We also see the magnificent Bara, Husainabad and Asafuddaula Immambara’s, which reflect the quintessence of Awadhi architecture with its strong Persian influence. The Hussainabad Picture Gallery houses a collection of life-size oil paintings of the Nawabs of Oudh (1882 - 1885) and in the foreground is the British Style Clock Tower built in 1881. Our afternoon includes an insight into Chikankari (traditional hand embroidery).
After an early breakfast we board a train for Varanasi, arriving at lunchtime. After lunch together, we have free time in the afternoon to spend as we wish. This evening, we enjoy the mesmerizing spectacle of the sunset Aarti on the ghats (steps) of ‘The Ganga’.
What better way to start the day than with a boat cruise on the holiest of rivers to Indians - The Ganga. Our observation of the religious rituals being performed by the locals on the ghat is accompanied by live Sitar music. After breakfast at our hotel we visit Sarnath, one of the most revered Buddhist pilgrimage sites where Lord Buddha delivered the first sermon to his disciples, and the museum here has a rich collection of Buddhist sculptures. We also visit Bharat Kala Bhawan, which includes collections of archaeological material, paintings, textiles and costumes, decorative art, personal collections, Indian philately and literary and archival materials.
This morning we fly to Khajuraho. Out afternoon includes visits to the Southern Group of Temples — Duladeo Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, and Chaturbhuja Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the only temple in Khajuraho devoid of any erotic carvings. The Archaeological Museum has a small but well-presented collection of Khajuraho sculptures representing Brahmacnical Jaina, and Buddhist faiths in its five galleries.
Today is the turn of the Western and Eastern Group of Temples. The Kandariya Mahadev temple is the largest and most ornate Hindu temple in the medieval temple group, an artistically engraved shrine with several hundred images of women. The Chaunsath Yogini Temple built in the 10th century AD is dedicated to the 64 yoginis who accompany Goddess Kaali, and Chitragupta Temple or Bharat Ji Temple, is famous for the 11-headed impressive sculpture of Lord Vishnu. Our temple visits are completed with Vaaman, an intriguing shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, Lord Vamana.
We travel to Orchha this morning and during the journey, our Guide Lecturer will use this opportunity to deliver a lecture that will enhance out next visit. An old but beautiful town, it is home to a range or archaeological monuments. Inhabited by Bundela kinds and influenced by the old school Mugha architecture, the creative wisdom of palace and temples is commendable. Many of these structures were carved during the 16th and 17th century and still remain in good condition. Jahangir Mahal is a noted palace with royal cenotaphs and provides amazing scenes of surrounding locales. Our day finishes witnessing an Aarti (prayed) ceremony at Lord Raja Ram Temple.
After a leisurely breakfast, we drive to Gwalior visiting Datia Palace en route. Datia Palace stands tall in the historic city of Datia and is a great example of Indo-Islamic architectures. A blend of Rajputani and Mughal styles its exterior is adorned with arches, chhartris, oriel windows and the interior is decorated with Bundela paintings.
Our day starts with a city tour of Gwalior. The city is dominated by its hill-top fort, one of the most redoubtable in the world and within it are some marvels of medieval architecture. Next is the Jai Vilas Palace, a symbol of age-old Indian culture and opulence, preserved in the backdrop of modern-day India. Later, we board the Gatiman Express and travel to Agra.
A royal Mughal city, Agra has many monuments that epitomise the high point of Mughal architecture. The Taj Mahal is a mesmerizing example of architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty. An immense mausoleum in white marble, a tribute to eternal love, it was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Today’s visits also include the elegant garden mausoleum of Itimad-ud Daulah and Agra Fort, a walled palatial city built of red sandstone.
This morning we journey to Jaipur, the capital of India’s Rajasthan state and home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. En-route, we stop to visit Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city built by Emperor Akbar as his capital in the late 16th century to commemorate the birth of his son. We also take a brief stop at Abhaneri to see the Chand Baori. One of the largest stepwells in the world, it was build over a thousand years ago in the Abhaneri village of Rajasthan.
A short drive brings us to Amber and the magnificent fort that nestles on the rocky hill rising above Maota Lake — a symbol of power and perseverance. After a visit to the Anokhi Textile Museum, we return to Jaipur or ‘Pink City’ to explore the intricately carved marble Old City Palace, built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1728. Next we visit Jantar Mantar, one of five astronomical observatories built in north India between 1724 and 1730, it truly is a striking geometrical structure.
After spending the morning driving from Jaipur to Delhi, we check-in to our hotel for our final night. With free time this afternoon, choose to relax or explore more of the city. This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner together and look back on a truly diverse and memorable tour.
We depart from Delhi and transfer to the airport for our individual flights home.
Meals: Breakfast included
Day 18 – Return to Jaipur to fly to Udaipur
Day 19 – Visit Eklini and Nagda Temples, the City Palace, Jagdish Temple, a local market and take a boat ride on Pichola.
Day 20 – At leisure
Day 21 – Fly from Udaipur to Delhi – overnight in Delhi
Day 22 – Fly from Delhi to London
Included: 4 night’s accommodation, breakfast daily, flights from Jaipur to Udaipur & Udaipur to Delhi, transfers to/from airports, Local Guide (not the Guide Lecturer), all entrances for Day 19 and boat ride.
$1155 per person (single supplement $535) – January 2020 tour
$1595 per person (single supplement $865) – December 2020 tour
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - Most meals included
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
- Field Notes