12 days

The Spirit of India

The Spirit of India

Khajuraho Monument Complex

Jaipur’s Amber Fort

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Taj Mahal

Delhi

Alwar

The Ganges at Varanasi

Trip rating
  • Visit India and explore the highlights of the north on this adventure tour from Delhi to Varanasi. Discover the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, witness the Mughal splendours of Delhi and Agra, and soak up the ambience of holy Varanasi. This wonderful introduction to the magic of India includes lavish palaces, vibrant bazaars, Kama Sutra temple carvings, Bollywood blockbusters and the incomparable Taj Mahal. Packed with highlights and hidden gems, take time to discover the beating heart of India.

    Why we love it

    • Visit India and explore the highlights of the north on this adventure tour from Delhi to Varanasi.
    • Discover the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, witness the Mughal splendours of Delhi and Agra, and soak up the ambience of holy Varanasi.
    • This wonderful introduction to the magic of India includes lavish palaces, vibrant bazaars, Kama Sutra temple carvings, Bollywood blockbusters and the incomparable Taj Mahal.
    • Packed with highlights and hidden gems, take time to discover the beating heart of India.

    Itinerary

    Day 1-2 - Delhi

    • Upon arrival you will be collected at the airport by one of our transfer representatives. Your Indian adventure will begin with an important meeting at 6pm. You will find details of the meeting venue at the hotel reception.
    • Keep in mind that you will need your next of kin and insurance details with you at this meeting.
    • If you arrive early, you will have the opportunity to explore India’s capital - a bustling, exciting and often chaotic hub, filled with fascinating historical sites, galleries, museums and incredible bazaars.
    • There are a number of sites worth seeing in your free time. The 1570 Mughal masterpiece of Humayun’s Tomb is a World Heritage-listed site. It was the first garden tomb in India.
    • The tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar was crafted in the 1100s; it is a fascinating site to explore. You may also like to visit the mighty Red Fort of Delhi. This part-palace, part-fort has hosted a variety of guests ranging from British soldiers to royal families.
    • Your group leader will take you on an organised sightseeing trip through Old Delhi via the city’s modern metro, you will then have the chance to test India’s iconic cycle rickshaw with an adventure through the chaotic streets, including Chandni Chowk.
    • You will also see the oldest mosque in Delhi, Jama Masjid, an impressive structure, before visiting the Sikh Temple, Sheeshganj Gurudwara.
    Hotel Taj Princess or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3-4 - Delhi - Jaipur

    • You will travel by express train into Rajasthan and on to its capital, Jaipur today.
    • Here, traditionally dressed Rajput men wearing colourful turbans and sporting magnificent moustaches will make their way through crowded streets packed with cars, camel carts, rickshaws, trucks, and bicycles. You will also find bustling, brightly coloured bazaars filled with handcrafted textiles, folk art, and semi-precious stones, the local specialty. You will walk amidst the wonderful madness and discover the city for yourself. Jaipur is a favourite among travellers.
    • You will then 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.
    • You will also stop for photos of the Hawa, or Palace of The Winds, which is the most photographed structure in India after the Taj Mahal.
    • You will also see one of five astronomical observatories built by the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Jai Singh.
    • Continue to indulge in the wonders of Indian culture by watching a Bollywood blockbuster - a vivid combination of action romance, drama and music, at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema.
    Bissau Palace Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Agra

    • Today you will journey across the plains of Rajasthan by private vehicle to reach Agra (approximately 6 hours). Agra is home to one of the world's most recognisable monuments, the Taj Mahal.
    • You will be taken on a cycle rickshaw tour of the city, a wonderful way to uncover the best of Agra. (Please note that in the case of an unreasonably hot, or cold, foggy day, the cycle rickshaw tour will be replaced with a battery-powered rickshaw tour.)
    • Next you will visit the spectacular Taj Mahal - a masterpiece of glistening marble set amid picturesque, formal gardens. 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 Taj has been described as a 'teardrop on the face of eternity' (by writer Rabindranath Tagore).
    • You will also visit the nearby Agra Fort - a huge complex built originally as a military structure of red sandstone by Akbar in 1565, and partially converted into a palace during the time of Shah Jahan.
    Raj Mahal Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6-7 - Orchha

    • From the majestic Taj, you will travel by express train to Madhya Pradesh (approximately 3.5 hours). Upon arrival in Jhansi, you will be collected by automatic rickshaws and carried through traditional rural Indian landscapes to reach the beautiful town of Orchha. Here you will have the opportunity to uncover a very different side of India (approximately 45 minutes).
    • You will make a stop at Taragram on the way to Orchha, one of our Responsible Tourism Projects. Taragram is a paper making factory that enables local tribal women to work outside the realm usually afforded to them. The paper is crafted from wood pulp and recycled clothing.
    • Orchha is lovely town on the banks of the Betwa River. Initially a hunting area, Orchha has changed very little over the centuries. As the capital of Bundela, it was bestowed with a myriad of beautiful temples and palaces that belie its insignificant size.
    • You will visit the Orchha Palace that was built by Bir Sing Deo for his friend Jehangir, who was a great Mughal ruler.
    • Lastly, you will have the opportunity to be immersed in the flavours of the district’s culture with a cooking demonstration by the town’s local people.
    Bundelkhand Riverside or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Khajuraho

    • Today you will explore Khajuraho, a place famed for its incredible 1000-year-old temples, untouched by foreign invaders for centuries thanks to Khajuraho’s remote location, far from any major historical or modern centres.
    • The temples are especially reputed for their explicit carvings that illustrate the entire Kama Sutra.
    • Built during the Chandela Dynasty 1,000 years ago, over a 100 to 150 year period, these temples have become a source of great perplexity for Indians and foreigners alike. The British only rediscovered the temples in the late 19th century.
    • The reason behind their existence and more interestingly, the inspiration for the intricate, erotic carvings is open to wide interpretation. Some argue that the carvings, all located on the exterior of the temples, signified the act of leaving sexual desires behind upon entering the holy temples, while others think them descriptive learning tools for young boys in the area about life beyond religion.
    • You will go on a tour of the western temple complex.
    • You will also have the opportunity to see a performance at the famous classical dance festival that occurs here.
    • Before leaving the town you will visit the home of a local Hindu family, where you will enjoy a home-cooked meal and be immersed in the life of middle-class Indians.
    Usha Bundela or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 9-10 - Varanasi

    • From the wondrous temples of Khajuraho, you will take a short flight to the spiritual centre of Varanasi. At certain times of year this flight could be delayed due to heavy fog.
    • Varanasi is awash with shrines and temples, it is the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims; devotees travel from far and wide to experience this spiritual centre. Varanasi is not known for its cleanliness, but it is recognised as one of India’s most inspiring cities. You will be overwhelmed with sensory wonder. From the labyrinth of narrow laneways packed with stalls and shops, and the dhobi wallahs and burning ghats, to the endless temples that echo with bells and chimes and the pungent aroma of incense. You will also bare witness to pilgrims performing ancient bathing rituals and ceremonies.
    • The day will start early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, where you will pass a multitude of temples and ghats.
    • In the evening you will witness the majestic atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony, while you cruise the Ganges at sunset. Traditional musicians will serenade you; this is a truly unforgettable experience.
    Hotel Hindustan International or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11-12 - Delhi

    • You will have a free morning to explore Varanasi. You may like to wander through the ghats, or do some last minute shopping in the incredible bazaars.
    • You will then fly to Delhi (approximately 1.5 hours), where your adventure will come to an end.
    • There will be an (optional) group farewell dinner organised for those interested.
    • Beyond this, there will be no further activities planned, so you can arrange to depart at your leisure.
    Hotel Taj Princess or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine’s expert English-speaking local tour leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
    • Authentic accommodation includes: 2 nights Heritage properties, 9 nights comfortable hotels
    • Meals 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners.
    • Old Delhi walking tour and Sikh Temple
    • Agra including the Taj Mahal and Red Fort
    • Jaipur including Amber Fort and city walking tour
    • Orchha including a scrumptious cooking class and the stunning Orchha Palace
    • 2 nights Orchha Heritage Property.
    • Varanasi sunrise boat ride and sunset flower ceremony
    • Morning boat ride on the Ganges.
    • Free time to explore Delhi, Varanasi and Agra.
    • Flight from Khajuraho to Varanasi and from Varanasi to Delhi.
    • Arrival transfer.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Airport departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • Excess baggage charges
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
    • 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)

    Safety Information

    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

    Festivals: Holi and Diwali
    Travelling in India and Nepal during the Holi festival, a lunar festival generally held in March each year, can at times be dangerous - a lot of locals participate in consumption of intoxicating substances. The day has been associated with physical violence and danger. Your leader/guide will be advising you and your group on what places to avoid on this day and it may even be necessary for us to alter your itinerary for the day to avoid putting you or our group leader/guide in high risk situation.

    Travelling during the Hindu festival Diwali (a lunar festival generally held from mid October to mid November every year) can also be dangerous. During this time there are many displays of fireworks in the streets. It can be very noisy for several days and there is also a lot of pollution caused by the fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid any dangerous areas to avoid putting the group at risk.

    Petty theft and personal safety
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    Traffic and driving on the other side of the road
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

  • 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 Spirit of India

    Pam - South Africa, 27 Mar, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    I booked through Intrepid travel. I loved the tour and found all the places we visited fascinating, information from our tour guide and guides at the places visited was good. It was an amazing, hectic experience. I will definitely do another trip through Intrepid/Peregrine.

    The Spirit of India

    Keith - Australia, 29 Jan, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    The places we visited were all interesting. What added greatly to that interest was the information of our tour guide and the local/historical knowledge of the the specialised local guides. The trip was confronting but important in developing a greater cultural/historical awareness. Again and again there was the WOW factor as we explored ancient places and became familiar with their history and story. A great and, in some ways, a sobering experience. It left me with a deep sense of my own privileged existence in a country like Australia.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PISI
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Delhi
End City: Delhi

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