12 days

The Ganges, Taj & Raj

The Ganges, Taj & Raj

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Taj Mahal

The Ganges at Varanasi

Delhi

Train travel - a quintessentially Indian experience

600-year-old Karauli

Jaipur’s Amber Fort

Alwar

Trip rating
  • From Mughal to colonial to up-to-the-minute action, few cities can rival Delhi for vibrancy and contrasts. Varanasi meanwhile remains the most traditional and holy of Hindu cities. The ghat steps lining the Ganges River come alive at dawn as Hindu pilgrims, many from far away, perform rituals at sunrise - a mesmerising spectacle on our dawn river cruise. At Agra we visit one of the world’s most famous and beautiful monuments, the Taj Mahal, before continuing to the eerie abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. We are hosted by the descendents of Rajput royals at Karauli. Rajasthan's capital, the dynamic Pink City of Jaipur is all colour and action, and centres on the huge Amber Fort. We get away from the bustle to explore Sawarda and Alwar, two hidden gems in Rajasthan, where experience the region's magic in relative seclusion.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Delhi

    Upon arrival we are met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. Our airport representative will be waiting for us in the arrival hall, located after passing out of the customs area and beyond the travel desks and exchange counters. Look out for the Peregrine signboard. The drive from the airport to the hotel is around 45 minutes. Most flights arrive in Delhi in the late evening, so there is nothing arranged for this day. If you have arrived early, you will be briefed with sightseeing options.

    Hotel Florence or similar

    Day 2 - Delhi - Varanasi

    Around breakfast time we have a briefing to outline our holiday itinerary and also cover many aspects of travelling in India. Please bring your passport and travel insurance documents to this meeting. Dependant on flight times, we generally try for a morning flight, we jump on a short flight and head to Varanasi. As the sacred Ganges River flows from the snow-clad Himalaya into the vast plains, half way between Delhi and Calcutta it curves into a gentle crescent and therein lies Varanasi. Also known as Benares, this spiritual place is the oldest and the holiest of all pilgrim places of India and undoubtedly the venerated city of Hinduism. We arrive in Varanasi in the afternoon, where we check into our hotel and freshen up. We then we visit the ruined monasteries of Sarnath, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon. This is a holy spot and a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists from all around the world. A bodhi tree is present and represents the fact that Buddha did some of his preaching from beneath this particular type of tree. Spotted deer are kept in an enclosure, reflecting the presence of this animal in the story of the original Lord Buddha - Siddhârtha Gautama.

    Hotel Florence or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Varanasi - overnight train

    (Train journey: approx 13 hours) We get up before dawn and make our way down to the river. We then partake in a boat ride at sunrise on the Ganges and watch Hindu rituals being enacted along the banks of the river as people pray, wash and cremate their dead. Our tour leader also takes us through the back lanes of the Old City where we experience the peculiar lifestyle that this ancient city is famous for. We enjoy a further free day to explore this spiritual place before catching an overnight train to Agra.

    Hotel Meraden Grand or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Agra

    After our overnight train we arrive in the city of Agra to visit India's most famous sight - the majestic Taj Mahal. This amazing 17th century marble mausoleum was built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his second wife, who died giving birth. Started in 1631 the project was completed in 1648 and employed a workforce of over 20,000 people. Construction materials were brought from all over India with the marble from Rajasthan transported by over 1000 elephants. The rest of our time in Agra is free, but we have the option to also visit the nearby Agra Fort - a huge complex built of red sandstone by Akbar in 1565 and partially converted into a palace during the time of Shah Jahan.

    Hotel Utkarsh Vilas or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Karauli

    (Driving time: approx 4 hours) From Agra we make our first stop at the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri. This magnificent ghost town was capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585. Built during the reign of Emperor Akbhar it was abandoned shortly after his death due to a lack of available water. Our final destination today is Karauli, a 600-year-old city founded by Yaduvanshi Rajput kings - descendents of Lord Krishna. The main temple of Karauli is dedicated to Lord Krishna. We stay for two nights at a sprawling palace belonging to the family that once ruled Karauli. Bhanwar Vilas Palace was built as a royal residence in 1938 by Maharaja Ganesh Pal Deo Bahadur when he was the ruler of Karauli. The palace is designed in a colonial style and the interiors are furnished in Art Deco period furniture. Our stay here is sure to be a memorable one.

    Bhanwar Vilas Palace or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Karauli

    Today we explore the City Palace, which dates back 500 years. The fort and the palace was the official residence of the royal family of Karauli till 1938. This amazing structure features impressive archways and interconnecting rooms, many of them colourfully painted with frescoes. Many of the buildings in Karauli feature distinctive pale red sandstone in their construction. We then enjoy a camel cart ride to the step well, the old city and surrounding countryside. Along the way we are sure to be greeted by hordes of local kids, waving at us as we ride by. We also explore an organic dairy, various farms and a campus school being run by the former royal family. It is a memorable experience being in a part of the country that sees very few tourists. Everything seems to have an air of authenticity about it as we join in with the local people as they go by with their everyday life.

    Bhanwar Vilas Palace or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7-8 - Jaipur

    (Driving time: approx 4 hours) After breakfast we travel by road to Jaipur - the colourful capital of the state of Rajasthan as well as being a vibrant and exciting town on its own right. Here, traditionally dressed Rajput men wearing colourful turbans and sporting magnificent moustaches make their way through crowded streets packed with cars, camel carts, rickshaws, trucks and bicycles. The City Palace is an amazing complex with various courtyards and connecting buildings as well as fascinating museums displaying royal costumes and weaponry. Part of the palace is closed to visitors as it is still the residence of the royal family. The most memorable features of our visit are sure to include the impressively colourful gates the courtyard known as Pitan Niwas Chowk and the incredible moustaches worn by the palace guards. Our guide will also take us to the Old Bazaar and Hawa Mahal, better known as the Palace of the Wind. This five-storey façade with its pink, honeycombed sandstone windows is one of Jaipur's best-known landmarks. In the evening we can dine at one of the many fine restaurants in the city (optional). On our second day in Jaipur we travel 11 kilometres out to the stunning medieval Amber Fort. This fort was built in 1592 by Maharajah Man Singh and is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Several hours are needed to explore this huge fortification.

    Mahal Khandela or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 9 - Sawarda

    (Driving time: approx 1 hour) We continue our journey and drive for one hour to Sawarda, a small fort that is still residence to the nobles of Sawarda, who belong to the Khangarot clan - an offshoot of the Jaipur royal family. The fort houses two small temples, gardens and interesting frescoed rooms. The expression ‘hidden gem’ has become a cliché in the world of travel today but it is very much true of Sawarda. Until we discovered it, it saw no tourists and even now, it’s virtually only Peregrine groups that visit Sawarda. Exploring the village is a great deal of fun, and we have been very careful to ensure that tourism does not have a negative effect on the village. We take a walk and visit an interesting old Sikh temple where one of the manuscripts of Gurbani, written by the founder of the Sikh religion, is still kept. We visit the families of village workers such as potters and ironsmiths and get a glimpse into traditional Indian village life. It’s wonderful to wander through the alley ways and soak up the ambience of this lovely village.

    Sawarda Palace or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 10 - Alwar/Sariska National Park

    (Driving time: approx 4 hours) We drive to the village of Dhawala, near a township known as Alwar. Our accommodation is at Alwar Bagh, a country resort built in a heritage style amidst greenery in a lush and pollution-free environment. The world-famous Sariska National Park is only 19 kilometres away, surrounded by the picturesque Aravali Hills. We go on safari in search of some of the beautiful and endangered wildlife that are protected in this reserve. This national park was also declared a ‘tiger reserve’, which makes it part of Project Tiger that was set up in response to the alarming decline in numbers of these extremely rare and magnificent big cats. The park also contains several historical structures including a 17th century fort. Sariska is one of the few forested areas in the Aravalli Hills and has a good population of sambar deer, chital or axis deer, chinkara, wild boar, nilgai and leopard, as well as a wide variety of birds including various species of parakeets, storks, pheasants, orioles, eagles, owls and of course the national bird of India – the peacock.)

    Ummaid Bagh Resorts or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - Delhi

    (Driving time approximately 5-6 hours) After breakfast we are driven back to Delhi, where we arrive in the late afternoon. We can enjoy an optional group dinner in a nearby restaurant to celebrate our completed adventure.

    Hotel Florence or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 12 - Delhi

    Your trip ends in Delhi this morning after breakfast. Check out time is 12 noon. If your flight leaves in the evening you may wish to book additional accommodation so you have a room until departure. Most flights leave Delhi in the evening and your tour leader can assist you with transfers to the airport. These are not included, but can be booked through us or your travel agent.

    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Peregrine tour leader, local guides, arrival transfer, transport including train and plane, sightseeing and entrance fees.

    Not Included

    • International flights, airport departure taxes, airport departure transfer, visas, insurance, other meals including all lunches and dinners, any optional tours and activities during free time, excess baggage charges, tips, items of a personal nature and camera fees (some places that we visit charge additional fees if you are entering with a camera or camcorder - your guide will advise on these and they can be paid for locally).
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    The Ganges, Taj & Raj

    Ulrich - Australia, 6 Jan, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    An unforgettable experience!

    The Ganges, Taj & Raj

    Sabine - Australia, 6 Jan, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    It was an amazing and unforgettable experience!

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PIGR
Group size 4 - 15
Start City: Delhi
End City: Delhi

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