Desert Palaces and Ganges

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Desert Palaces and Ganges

from £1,249
Duration: 13 days
Countries: India
An exciting two week tour that takes in Jaipur, the legendary Taj Mahal, the incredible carved temples of Khajuraho and the colourful city of Varanasi, right on the banks of the holy Ganges.

Desert Palaces and Ganges

Day 1: Delhi
Saturday. Upon arrival into Delhi, you'll be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax or independently explore this bustling capital. Overnight - Delhi

Day 2: Old Delhi & New
This morning, our welcome meeting takes place. Afterwards we head out on a full day sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi. Tonight, we enjoy a namaste dinner at an Indian restaurant. Overnight - Delhi (B, D)

Days 3 - 4: Amber Fort on Elephant back
Delhi - Jaipur. This morning we drive to Jaipur, the bustling capital of the state of Rajasthan. After checking into our hotel we enjoy a tour of the City Palace and Jantar Mantar - an old yet cleverly designed space observatory.

On day 4 early-risers can opt for a morning hot air balloon ride over Jaipur, and sail over hilltop forts, regal palaces, sleepy villages, and stone carved temples. Then we travel beyond Jaipur to the stunning 16th century Amber Fort - a sprawling Rajput creation which hugs the hill on which it was built and overlooks the dusty plains below. We enjoy a stately elephant ride up to the fort and tour the fort’s well-preserved interior and grounds. Before returning to Jaipur we visit a cotton weaving house to see a demonstration of fabric dyeing and block printing. Spend the evening at leisure. Overnight - Jaipur (B:2)

Day 5: Abhaneri Stepwells & Rural India
Jaipur - Abhaneri - Bharatpur. Departing Jaipur we stop in the village of Abhaneri to see Chand Baori, which is the largest and deepest step well in the world. This incredible well has a staggering 3500 steps and is 13 stories deep. Then we gain an insight into local village life, visiting Adarsh Vidya Mandir local school (if open), where we operate our ‘Change for Children’ programme. After hotel check in at Bharatpur and time to freshen up we visit Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we’ll enjoy a leisurely bicycle rickshaw ride through the park. Overnight - Bharatpur (B, D)

Day 6: Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal
Bharatpur - Agra. En route to Agra, we visit Fatehpur Sikri, former imperial capital of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Built between 1569 and 1585, it has been deserted for more than four centuries, by all accounts abandoned in 1600 due to a meagre supply of water. In Agra, we visit the impressive Agra Fort before touring the legendary Taj Mahal. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who tragically died in childbirth in 1631, the Taj Mahal is described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love and remains one of India’s most enduring symbols. Overnight - Agra (B)

Day 7: Orchha's temples & Palaces
Agra - Orchha. Today, we travel by express train to Jhansi and drive onward to Orchha. Situated on the banks of the River Betwa, Orchha is set amongst a wonderful complex of well-preserved 16th century temples and palaces. Overnight - Orchha (B)

Day 8: Khajuraho - the Chandela dynasty
Orchha - Khajuraho. Travelling south-east we arrive in Khajuraho which is renowned for its magnificent Hindu and Jain temples which were built during the Chandela dynasty from 950-1050 AD. The intricate stone carved temples are famous for their erotic sculptures, although why they were built still remains a mystery. In fact the Chandelas appear to have forgotten about the temples soon after they were completed and it wasn't until they were rediscovered by the British that these exquisite masterpieces were fully appreciated in India. We will have plenty of time to see the various erotic acts from the famous Kama Sutra depicted on the monolithic Khajuraho temples for ourselves as we explore the site. Adding to the beauty, these amazing temples subtly change hue as the day progresses, passing from a warm pink at sunrise to white under the midday sun and back to pink at sunset. Overnight - Khajuraho (B)

Day 9: Varanasi
Khajuraho - Varanasi. We offer a jeep safari in Panna NP this morning, please see our wildlife safari bolt on for details. This afternoon we bid farewell to Khajuraho and fly east to Varanasi. Perhaps the holiest city in India, Varanasi, also known as Benares or the city of Shiva, is also one of the oldest cities on earth. Sitting on the banks of the holy River Ganges, Varanasi has been a centre of learning for more than 2000 years and it's an important Hindu pilgrimage site. Overnight - Varanasi (B)

Day 10: Boat ride on the Ganges
This morning, we enjoy a sunrise boat ride on the holy Ganges river where we’ll view the ancient religious tradition of ritual cleansing that takes place on the many riverbank ghats (riverside steps). Later, we embark on a tour of the city. At sunset consider re-visiting the ghats for the evening pilgrimage, which is different to the dawn ritual. Overnight - Varanasi (B)

Day 11: Holi Varanasi
Varanasi - Delhi. Today, take the opportunity to independently explore more of Varanasi. Early this evening we return to Delhi by overnight train (option to fly to Delhi available, see below). Overnight - Train (B)

Day 12: Explore Delhi your own way
Breakfast upon arrival into Delhi and hotel check in. Today is a chance to further explore the capital at your leisure or a chance to pick up those last minute souvenirs. Overnight - Delhi (B)

Day 13: Delhi
Thursday. Hotel check out and included onward departure transfer to airport. Happy travels! (B)

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Further Details

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Price details:

from £1,249


Call 0333 333 9923 to enquire or book


12 breakfasts, 2 dinners (including Namaste Dinner in Delhi)
1 night overnight train (2nd class air-conditioned, semi - enclosed cabin)
Bicycle rickshaw ride in Keoladeo Ghana National Park
Economy class flight - Khajuraho to Varanasi
All relevant transfers and transportation
Touring of Delhi, Jaipur, Chand Baori Step Well, Agra, Orchha, Khajuraho and Varanasi
Specialist guides at local sights
11 nights - 3-4 star and heritage hotels
Elephant ride to Amber Fort - Jaipur
Sunrise boat cruise on the holy Ganges - Varanasi
Taj Mahal, Jaipur City Palace and Jantar Mantar entrance fees.
Airport arrival and departure transfers on day 1 and day 13
English speaking Indian tour leader for groups of 6 or more
Selected entrance fees

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