Destination Himalaya
Sanjay Saxena Conde Nast Top Travel Specialist for India, Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka
India, Tibet, Nepal & Sri Lanka

The Classic Essential tour of India

The jewel in the crown of the British Empire was not India, it was Rajasthan.  Rajasthan is the fabled land of the Maharajas of India and of the Rajputs for which it is named. In days of old, the Rajputs’ highly-evolved code of honor and chivalry probably rivaled that of the medieval European knights and Rajput people to this day take great pride in their ancestry. Their sense of etiquette and valor remains alive and well and you will undoubtedly be invited, as an honored guest, into a Rajput home.

This two week in-country itinerary explores the cultural heritage of India under the Rajput, Mughal and British influences before delving into ancient India with visits to the millennium old temples of Khajuraho and religious Benares (also known as Varanasi). Built on the banks of the holy river Ganga (Ganges), Varanasi is the "oldest" living city of the world and could well be thought of as the "Soul of India".

Outline Itinerary


Day 2: ARRIVE MUMBAI - Non-stop flights from the USA arrive tonight, while connecting flights arrive early morning hours of Day 3.  Met on arrival and escorted to your hotel.

Day 3: EXPLORING MUMBAI – Relaxed morning to get over jet lag.  Afternoon set out to explore Mumbai, with visits to Victoria Terminus and other colonial-era sites, Prince of Wales Museum and Gateway of India.  Special “Welcome Dinner” and stroll on the promenade along Marine Drive.

Day 4: TO AURANGABAD & EXPLORING ELLORA – Take the early morning flight to Aurangabad and drive to Ellora.  Visit the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave complex, which date back to the 6th Century C.E.  Highlight is the massive Kailasnatha Temple, carved from a singe rock formation.  Return to Auranagabad.

Day 5: EXPLORING AJANTA & TO UDAIPUR – This morning make the short journey to the World Heritage Site at Ajanta, beautifully situated in a rocky gorge on the Waghora River.  We will fully explore the caves with their exquisite murals, many of which depict the Buddhist Jataka Tales.  Return to Aurangabad for the flight to Udaipur.

Day 6: EXPLORING UDAIPUR - We have the day to explore the “City of Sunrise.”  Visits to the Jagdish Temple and City Palace complex, explore the bazaar and other sites in and around Udaipur, and take a sunset boat cruise on Lake Pichola.

Day 7: TO JAIPUR - In the morning we will fly to Jaipur, the “Pink City”.  This afternoon we will explore the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and Jaipur’s colorful bazaars.

Day 8: EXPLORING JAIPUR - Early morning excursion to Amber Fort.  Balance of the day at leisure.  In the evening we will have a special Rajasthani dinner with members of one of Jaipur’s noble families.

Day 9: TO KALAKHO VILLAGE AREA – Journey into the heart of rural Rajasthan and the agricultural village area of Kalakho.  Take a camel safari and meet and interact with the local villagers.

Day 10: TO AGRA - Today we will drive to Agra, en route visiting Fatepur Sikri. Watch the sunset on the Taj, one of the architectural wonders of the world and a World Heritage Site.

Day 11: EXPLORING AGRA - We have the day to explore the Mughal Capital.  After watching the sunrise on the Taj Mahal, we visit the Red Fort and Itmad ud Daula, among other sites.

Day 12: TO KHAJURAHO - Today you will experience the quintessential Indian mode of transport and take the early morning train to Jhansi.  We then drive to historic Orchha to have lunch and visit the Bundela temple site.  Continuing on we reach Khajuraho where, time permitting, we will visit the smaller temple complex.

Day 13: EXPLORING KHAJURAHO & TO VARANASI – We rise early this morning to explore the famous 10th Century Chandela temple complex, made famous for their erotic carvings.  Taking the early afternoon flight, we reach the ancient city of Varanasi the "Soul" of India.  With over 500 hundred temples, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the country.  This afternoon take a walking tour of the ghats followed by a sunset boat cruise on the sacred River Ganga.

Day 14: EXPLORING VARANASI - Witness devotees performing their morning religious rites on the “ghats” of the river, as we take a sunrise boat cruise up the Ganga. We then visit Sarnath, the site where Buddha gave his first sermon.  This evening we will have special dinner at a private home with a performance of classical music and dance.

Day 15: EXPLORING VARANASI & TO DELHI - We will have our morning in Varanasi and then fly on to Delhi where we will dine together for our sumptuous “Farewell Dinner” at one of Delhi’s finer restaurants.

Day 16: EXPLORING DELHI & DEPART TO USA - In the morning we visit sites in “Old” Delhi, followed by sites in “New” Delhi.  Late checkout (6:00 p.m.) at the hotel.  Transfers to international airport for return flight back to the USA.  Departures will leave Delhi late night Day 16 or early morning Day 17.


Suggested Extensions:

  • QuickEscapes – Kerala
    Take in some R&R in the calm and leisurely paced life on the backwaters of the Arabian Sea, enjoy the pristine beaches of Kerala and an Ayurvedic spa.

  • QuickEscapes – Mountains
    Visit the Hill Stations of Kalimpong and Darjeeling offering fabulous views of the high Himalaya.  Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu can all be viewed from Tiger Hill, above Darjeeling.

Other itineraries featuring North India:

Call us toll free at 1-800 MY INDIA (1-800-694-6342) or email us to request a detailed day-to-day itinerary.

Detail from Krishna Lila
World Heritage Sites of Elephanta Caves, Ajanta/Ellora Caves
Camel Safari, Elephant ride
Taj Mahal, Agra
Temples of Khajuraho
Varanasi and Sarnath
Bazaars of Jaipur & Delhi

It's Included:
Medical & evacuation insurance
All hotels, most meals, ground transportation, local guides and entrance fees

Departures (on demand):
October through February
Map of the tour

Land Cost (per person):
Standard 5 Star Hotels:
2 participants - $5485
3-4 participants - $5085
6 +participants - $4785

Luxury 5 Star Hotels:
2 participants - $7545
3-4 participants - $7145
6 +participants - $6885

A Sadhu (holy man)

Khajuraho temple

Samber deer
A main street in Delhi
Samber deer
Vegetable market, Jaipur
Samber deer
The Taj Mahal, Agra

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