Day 1 - Welcome to Delhi
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted and escorted to our luxury hotel; the elegant Leela Palace is ideally located in the prestigious, city-center diplomatic enclave.
Day 2 - Delhi... New + Old #WHS#
After a lavish buffet breakfast, join our engaging native-born guide for a full-day tour of India’s vibrant and endlessly fascinating capital. Focusing this morning on the sights and sounds of Old Delhi, you’ll begin with Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. Then hop aboard a traditional pedicab - a delightful way to immerse in the colors and rhythms of the city. Hop off at the bustling and fragrant Spice Market and explore among the many vendors as our expert guide offers insight into India’s enduring cultural and culinary traditions. Visit the 19th-century home of the beloved Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib before learning about India’s cultural diversity at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the largest Sikh temple in the city.
In the afternoon, you’ll continue your exploration with the historic landmarks of New Delhi. Marvel at the India Gate – built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War – and continue along the elegant Rajpath past Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Viceroy’s residence and now the official home of the President of India. See the imposing House of Parliament, and then explore much earlier chapters of history at two UNESCO World Heritage Sites beginning with Humayun’s Tomb; built in the 16th century, its elegant design shows Persian influences and inspired several architectural innovations that culminated in the Taj Mahal. At Qutab Minar, you’ll discover the tallest brick minaret in the world – a graceful, fluted, tapering tower completed in the 14th century with beautiful terra cotta embellishments and balconies.
This evening’s congenial welcome dinner features fine Indian cuisine accompanied by wine and beer. Meals B+D
Day 3 - Onward to Jaipur
Check out after breakfast and embark on the scenic drive into Rajasthan, one of India’s most historic and culturally rich states. On arrival in Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, you’ll check in to the fabulous Oberoi Rajvilas; built around an 18th-century Shiva Temple, our luxury resort features lavish Mughal flourishes and 32 acres of lush gardens.
As the afternoon wanes, you’ll enjoy a guided stroll through the vibrant and colorful bazaars of Old Jaipur as they come alive with the setting sun. The city is famed for its skilled artisans and you’ll find wonderful ateliers and shops specializing in textiles, metalwork, jewelry, wood carvings and the famous blue pottery of Jaipur. Those who wish can even get a Henna tattoo, a traditional way to adorn the body without any pain or permanent commitment! Toast your arrival in India’s Pink City at this evening’s dinner. Meals B+D
Day 4 - India’s fabled Pink City #WHS#
Founded in the 11th century and beautifully constructed from yellow and pink sandstone and gleaming white marble, the spectacular Amber Fort just outside of town stands in testament to the once-powerful and never-conquered Rajput Kingdom. Entering through the towering Sun Gate, your fascinating guided tour reveals lavish courtyards, beautifully decorated halls and the dazzling Chamber of Mirrors.
Back in the city, you’ll see Hawa Mahal, the oft-photographed Palace of Winds. Built at the end of the 18th century and comprised of delicately latticed windows, its ingenious design allowed women of royal families to remain concealed while they observed the hustle and bustle of the street below. At the City Palace Museum, our knowledgeable guide will enhance your tour of its extensive and carefully curated collection including miniature paintings, ancient weapons and traditional Rajasthani royal costumes. You’ll also visit Jantar Mantar, an observatory built in 1726. You’re sure to be astounded by these architectural stone instruments – skillfully designed and constructed to measure time, predict eclipses and track the movements of the stars and planets; the largest instrument stands 90 feet tall and all are amazing
This evening’s elegant dinner features the fine regional cuisine of Rajasthan, accompanied by wine and beer. Meals B+L+D
Day 5 - Travel to Agra
Venture off the beaten to the village of Abhaneri to visit Harshat Mata Temple. Though much of the temple is now in ruins, this thousand-year-old treasure endures as testament to the importance of Harshat Mata, the ancient Goddess of Joy. Nearby is Chand Baori, a 1,000-year-old step well. With the earliest such wells dating back to the 6th century and once found throughout Rajasthan here on the edge of the foreboding Thar Desert, these ancient wells were crucial for storing water during the extremely dry months that follow the torrential seasonal monsoons. With 3,500 steps and 13 levels that descend nearly 65 feet, Chand Baori is one of India’s deepest and most beautifully carved step-wells.
Then continue your journey to Agra and check in to the luxurious Oberoi Amarvilas where your elegant guestroom features dark teak furniture, fine Indian textiles – and breathtaking views of the Taj Mahal! Meals B+L+D
Day 6 - The Taj Mahal + Agra Fort #WHS#
Arise early this morning for a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal as the crisp light of early morning strikes the iridescent and translucent façade of this iconic landmark. Stand in awe as our expert guide shares the dramatic tale of its construction by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Completed in 1652, skilled craftsmen from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and some 20,000 laborers worked for 17 years to build this edifice. Marble was brought from Makrana near Jodhpur and precious stones of onyx, amethyst, malachite, lapis lazuli, turquoise, jade, crystal and mother of pearl were carried from Persia, Russia, Afghanistan, Tibet and China.
In the afternoon, you’ll tour the impressive Agra Fort. Behind the impressive 1.5-mile long fortress walls that surround the complex, you’ll discover lovely grounds, mosques, audience halls and fairytale palaces. Dating back to the 16th century and reflecting elements of both Hindu and Islamic architectural styles, this fort is more aptly described as a magnificent, walled palatial city.
As the sun dips towards the horizon, we’ll take you across the Yamuna River to Mehtab Bagh. Most visitors don’t know to come here, but this lovely Mughal garden located on the river banks across from the Taj Mahal offers some of the most captivating views sunset views of this monument to love. This evening, you’ll enjoy fine Mughlai cuisine accompanied by wine and beer. Meals B+D
Day 7 - Orchha + Khajuraho
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the rail station to board the Shatabdi Express train to Jhansi. On arrival, you’ll explore the medieval city of Orchha where you’ll find several magnificent temples and palaces of the Bundela Dynasty, many embellished with gracefully hanging balconies, beautiful tile work of turquoise and marble, and countless windows with delicately carved stone screens.
After lunch, continue your journey to Khajuraho, set amidst the forested plains that lie at the heart of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. On arrival, check in to the luxurious Lalit Hotel where your stylish guestroom offers inspiring views of the historic Western Group of Khajuraho’s fabled temples. Take some time to refresh before this evening’s dinner – accompanied as always by wine and beer. Meals B+L+D
Day 8 - Khajuraho + Varanasi #WHS#
This morning, you’ll tour the celebrated 10th-century temples of Khajuraho. Built during the mighty Chandela Dynasty, these structures are notable for the perfect balance they strike between architecture and sculpture. Your tour begins with the Eastern Group where you’ll visit two historic Jain temples, both decorated with beautifully sculpted figures.
The Western Group of temples are entirely Hindu and comprise the largest and best known of Khajuraho’s monuments. Most are built of hard river sandstone which comes from the Ken River 13 miles away. Erected on high masonry platforms, they are embellished with detailed carvings which depict the Purvasins (Divine ladies) engaged in everyday human activities. Despite their renown all over the world, less than 10% of these carvings can be deemed to be actually erotic in nature. Among the ones you’ll visit this morning in the Western Group is Kandariya Mahadeva, hailed as one of India’s greatest achievements. After sightseeing, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to Varanasi. On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the 5-star Taj Ganges Hotel. Meals B+D
Day 9 - Ancient Varanasi
Arise early this morning and journey to the banks of the Ganges for a guided boat excursion on this sacred river. In the soft golden light of dawn, you’ll witness thousands of devotees descending to these holy waters for purification – a powerfully moving ritual that has played out daily for centuries. Accompanied by the evocative melodies of our skilled flutist, this sunrise experience will be one that you will long treasure and remember. Return to your hotel for breakfast and enjoy a relaxing morning.
In the afternoon, rejoin your guide for an excursion to Sarnath, the revered spot where Buddha gave his first sermon. The museum here is one of the most important in India; it features a spectacular collection of carvings that span more than a millennium, from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. This evening, you’ll experience the Aarti Ceremony, an ancient and mesmerizing Hindu ritual of light and devotion. Meals B+D
Day 10 - Onward to Nepal
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to Nepal, via Delhi. On arrival in Kathmandu, you’ll be met and escorted to the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Our 5-star resort is set on 37 landscaped acres with wonderful views of the Himalayas. Meals B
Day 11 - Colorful Kathmandu
This morning’s guided sightseeing begins in Durbar Square, where the Kingdom’s erstwhile rulers were crowned. It remains the heart of Kathmandu’s historic city center and it’s a great place to begin your exploration. Most of what you’ll see today dates back 300 to 400 years, but some buildings like the medieval Kasthamandap Temple, constructed in the 12th century, are hundreds of years older.
Overlooking Durbar Square, Hanuman Dhoka is the ancient royal quarter of the city. Spread over 5 acres, its name is derived from the stone image of Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God that sits near one of the main entrances. With most of the buildings and structures dating back to the 12th through 18th centuries, the complex is comprised of numerous courtyards, temples and palace buildings awaiting your exploration. Touring the site offers a great introduction to the history of the Malla Dynasty that ruled the Kathmandu Valley from 1201 to 1769. Also near Durbar Square, you’ll visit Mahadev Parvati Temple with its richly ornamented windows and façade.
Outside the city center on the opposite banks of the Bagmati River, you’ll visit the once independent city-state of Patan. Patan was one of the three ancient royal kingdoms in the Kathmandu Valley and here you’ll discover splendid Buddhist and Hindu temples, many ornamented with wood and stone carvings, fine statues, and ornate architectural details. Meals B
Day 12 - Kathmandu Valley #WHS#
After breakfast, journey into the timeless Kathmandu Valley to explore ancient Bhadgaon, another one of the three kingdoms of medieval Nepal. In the town’s main square, you’ll see architectural treasures like the Lion Gate and the Palace of 55 Windows. Then visit Boudhanath, the largest stupa in Nepal and venerated by both Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhists. Before returning to your hotel, stop along the banks of the picturesque Bagmati River to see Pashupatinath Temple; dedicated to Lord Shiva this is one of the holiest Hindu shrines in the world. This evening’s farewell dinner features fine Nepalese cuisine accompanied by wine and beer. Meals B+D
Day 13 - Return to Delhi
Fly back to Delhi where our tour ends for your connection to your onward flight. Meals B