Chow down on some chivda (a crunchy cereal snack), lose yourself in the labyrinth of lanes, but whatever you do don't disrespect a cow. In a country of 1.2 billion, prepare for an overwhelming face slap of culture and diversity that is sure to stir the soul. Cities contrast between the rich and poor, old and new. It may seem challenging at first, but the people, food and culture make it an utterly captivating destination. Plunge head first into an experience like no other.
* The majesty and story of the Taj Mahal is a big part of India's allure, and never disappoints
* Explore the arches, gardens and the unforgettable Hall of Mirrors in the impressive Amber Fort with a local guide
* Watching the sunrise on the holy Ganges River in Varanasi can be somewhat of a spiritual experience. This thought-provoking part of the journey invigorates even the weariest of travellers
* The village of Tordi Garh is a place few travellers get to see. Spend a night in a Heritage-listed palace in this peaceful town
* Travelling across India wouldn't be complete without a journey on a sleeper train. With padded bunks and vendors selling chai and samosas, they're a quintessential Indian experience and perfect for catching up on sleep while on the move
* End your adventure in big, bold, busy Delhi, full of historic sights and hidden gems
➕ Day 1 Delhi
Namaste! Welcome to India. Your adventure begins with a group meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. There's an optional group dinner after the meeting, which is a great way to get to know your fellow travellers.
➕ Day 2 Delhi - Overnight train
In the morning, set off on the city's modern metro system to explore the sights and sounds of Old Delhi on a walking tour. Inch your way through the streets around Chandni Chowk marketplace in a cycle rickshaw. Perhaps visit the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest and India's largest mosque, and then stop by the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple). In the evening, board an overnight sleeper train bound for Varanasi (approximately 13 hours).
➕ Day 3 Varanasi
On arrival into Varanasi this morning, check in to your hotel and freshen up before heading out on a guided walking tour of the Old City. Set along the banks of the holy Ganges River and considered to be India's spiritual home, millions of pilgrims descend on Varanasi every year. It's a unique experience to navigate through Varanasi's crowded alleyways.
➕ Day 4 Varanasi
Early in the morning, take a boat ride down the Ganges to watch the sun rise. Witness the rituals of life and death taking place along the riverbank, as people bathe and pray in the water. Be prepared for potentially confronting sights and smells, as this is also where families come to cremate deceased loved ones. The rest of the day is free to explore.
➕ Day 5 Varanasi - Overnight train
Today continue to discover Varanasi. Varanasi is home to India's silk-making industry, so maybe investigate the many silk markets dotted around the city. If you have time, head to the outskirts of the city and visit Sarnath, which is one of the most sacred places in the Buddhist religion. In the evening, board a 13-hour sleeper train to Agra.
➕ Day 6 Agra
After arrival in Agra, head out for a tour of the Taj Mahal. This elaborate mausoleum was built in the 1640s as a memorial to the wife of Emperor Shah Jahan. Take an auto-rickshaw sightseeing tour of the city and enjoy an optional visit to Agra Fort. This 16th-century fortress was built to enclose the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. In the evening, perhaps try Agra's delicious signature curry - butter chicken.
➕ Day 7 Tordi Garh
Today drive through idyllic countryside to Tordi Garh, a village that few travellers venture to. The journey will take around eight hours in total by private vehicle. Once there, meet the locals, visit the old village temple and wander through the markets. Tonight, the group will stay in heritage accommodation, which was once a palace for the town's nobility. Dinner is included during out stay here - enjoy!
➕ Day 8 Jaipur
This morning travel by private vehicle for around three hours to Rajasthan's colourful capital of Jaipur. Once settled, take a walk through the 'Pink City'. Use the rest of the day to explore more on your own, perhaps visiting Jaipur's ornate Royal City Palace. Your accommodation for tonight will be in another family-run heritage hotel.
➕ Day 9 Jaipur
For many travellers, an optional hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over the city between September and June. For additional information, please see the 'Important Notes' section of these trip notes. In the afternoon today, visit the hilltop Amber Fort, an excellent example of Rajput architecture, and see the red stone palace of the Hawa Mahal (The Palace of the Winds).
➕ Day 10 Delhi
Early this morning, catch a day train back to Delhi. Use the rest of your final day to wander around the city, getting to know the parts you haven't seen yet. Perhaps pay a visit to Humayun's Tomb, the 12th-century Qutub Minar or the historic Red Fort. In the evening, you might like to head out for a final dinner with the travel group.
➕ Day 11 Delhi
The trip comes to an end this morning. There are no activities planned for today and you're free to leave the accommodation at any time. If you wish to stay on longer, perhaps try one of our Urban Adventure day tours, such as the Culture Vulture Urban Adventure or the City Food Crawl.
Dates and Prices