Arrive New Delhi
Tour begins: Leela Palace Hotel, New Delhi. A transfer is included from Indira Gandhi International Airport to your landmark hotel, Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi, renowned for gracious service in the heart of the city. Due to flight schedules, you will probably arrive at the hotel after midnight local time. You may want to travel a day early to ease the effects of jet lag and relax a bit before Tauck's India tour begins - just mention this at the time of booking; Tauck can book your international flights for travel originating in the U.S. and can arrange an extra night at Leela Palace Hotel.
Explore New Delhi, where old & new converge
Discover the contrasts of Delhi with a local guide on a drive through the Secretariat buildings, Parliament House, Presidential Palace and the iconic India Gate, a colossal monument inspired by the Arc d'Triomphe in Paris. See the ancient Qutb Minar Victory Tower - the tallest minaret in India, surrounded by medieval ruins - and Humayun's Tomb, modeled on the vision of a garden of paradise. At Gandhi Smriti, visit the home where Mahatma Gandhi was staying when his life was ended by an assassin; the house and its tranquil grounds are now a museum and Ghandi's room is preserved as it was in his lifetime. Join us this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.
Delving into the past in Old Delhi
Explore Old Delhi's labyrinthine streets for a compelling look at 17th-century mansions, mosques and temples. Visit the massive 16th-century Red Fort - once the residence of Mughal emperors, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and Raj Ghat, the memorial set on the site of Gandhi's cremation. The rest of the day is free to spend as you wish.
Rituals on the River Ganges in Varanasi
Your flight to Varanasi takes you to the city traversed by the River Ganges; considered the spiritual capital of India, Varanasi is home to numerous religious sites that have been welcoming pilgrims as far back as 6 BC. With a guide, visit the ruins, temple and museum at Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first sermon, and the National Museum. The River Ganges not only supports the highest density of humans in the world but is considered sacred by Hindus; witness the fascinating activity along the river's ghats (stairs that line the banks) - from purification rituals to laundry; it is a moving and memorable experience.
Sunrise Ganges cruise and off to Agra and the Taj Mahal
Rise early for a cruise on the River Ganges to view the Varanasi sunrise ceremonies, then fly to Agra for a two-night stay and tomorrow's visit to one of the world's most famous and recognizable buildings, the Taj Mahal. An incredible domed mausoleum complex of white marble, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to memorialize and house the tomb of his beloved third wife and completed in 1653, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture - and yes, you'll have a view of it from your room in your award-winning luxury hotel, The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra.
Wonders in Agra - the Taj Mahal & Agra Fort
You'll see it first from your hotel, enjoying a privileged location next to the mesmerizing Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture. Your guided visit to the Taj Mahal this morning reveals the love story behind the white marble wonder, as well as the unique design and relief work in marble and inlay with precious and semi precious stones that make it a monument apart. Sightseeing continues at the 16th-century Red Fort of Agra, near the gardens of the Taj Mahal. This red sandstone fortress encompasses the imperial city of the Mughal rulers, home to fairy-tale palaces and two very beautiful mosques made of pure marble. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this red sandstone city is remarkably preserved today. Dine at a choice of hotel restaurants tonight.
Enjoy the royal treatment in Jaipur
Drive to Jaipur for a two-night stay in a luxury Oberoi hotel, arriving in time for lunch. This afternoon, join us for a guided visit to the magnificent City Palace Museum; inside are exhibits of historic royal costumes that include exquisite Pashmina shawls and silk saris. At the Jantar Mantar Observatory, discover astronomical skills that impress with the accuracy of instruments dating to the early 18th century. A special Maharajah evening includes entertainment, music and dance.
Jaipur's glittering palaces & pavilions
The massive gateways, pavilions and palaces of Jaipur's Amber Fort are an interesting blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture, set against rugged hills. Inside forbidding walls meant to protect its 16th-century occupants, discover a palace whose walls are covered with paintings, carvings, precious stones and mirrors. Following a guided tour and lunch at the Raj Palace, you'll have the rest of the day to explore Jaipur as you wish.
Fly to Udaipur
A flight from Jaipur to Udaipur today is rewarded with a three-night stay at your luxury Oberoi hotel, nestled along the banks of Lake Pichola and spread over fifty acres, which includes a twenty-acre wildlife sanctuary with deer and wild boar. Consistently voted among the top luxury hotels in the world, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur is a destination experience unrivaled anywhere - while Udaipur itself is a Rajasthan city of palaces and lakes, often called the "Venice of the East" and the "Most Romantic City in India." Dinner is at your leisure in your hotel, named India's best hotel by Condé Nast Traveler and 4th in the world's top 100 hotels.
Lake Pichola cruise & Udaipur's temples & palaces
A leisurely cruise on Lake Pichola sets the stage for an Udaipur sightseeing tour with our local guide. Visit the 18th-century fountain gardens of Saheliyon Ki Bari, and the Jagdish Mandir Temple. View the City Palace, a labyrinth of richly decorated courtyards, frescoed galleries, and marble temples that was once home to the Maharajah of Udaipur. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, then join us for a demonstration in the art of donning a sari and a turban before dinner at Royal Repast, a restaurant owned by descendants of the Bedla clan who have played a significant role in the affairs of the Udaipur State. Such was the faith of the Maharana of Udaipur that the Bedlas served as Prime Ministers, valued advisors, commander in chief of armed forces and hosted all the dignitaries visiting Udaipur as state guests.
Udaipur's markets & the city at leisure
Today's sightseeing begins in Udaipur with an auto-rickshaw ride around the city's bustling spice and vegetable markets, for an insightful glimpse into everyday life in Udaipur. In the vegetable markets, women in brightly colored saris sit amongst the stalls, surrounded by baskets brimming with their fresh and equally colorful produce, while burlap bags or metal pans entice with a kaleidoscopic array of curries and spices. The rest of the day and evening are free to explore more of this "City of Lakes" as you wish. Due to its many picturesque locations, Udaipur has supplied scenic backdrops to many a film or television show over the years; portions of movies including Darjeeling Limited, Opening Night, Heat and Dust, Octopussy and Gandhi, plus the TV miniseries The Jewel in the Crown, were filmed here. Enjoy dinner at the hotel tonight.
Fly to Dehli for your journey home
Fly to Delhi; transfer to the Trident, Gurgaon, close to the Indira Gandhi International Airport, where rooms are reserved for your comfort. Tour ends: Delhi. Most international flights depart early the next day.