12 days

The Spirit of India

The Spirit of India

The Ganges at Varanasi

Delhi

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Taj Mahal

Jaipur’s Amber Fort

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.

     

    IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

    Please note that due to ongoing construction works at Khajuraho Airport, many airlines have reduced the number of flights into and out of this airport. As a result we have had to reroute some trips between Khajuraho and Varanasi to an overnight train replacing the flight. Please be aware that while we will continue to do all we can to secure tickets on the limited flights available, this change may need to be made last minute to your itinerary. Your leader will notify you at the Group Meeting of any changes. All activities will continue to be included.

     

    TRIP CHANGES FOR 2016:

    From 1st May 2016 this trip will run on Tuesdays only.

    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 - Delhi

    • Welcome to India.
    • Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
    • Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
    • An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
    • India's capital is an exciting, busy, and often chaotic city but it's also one of the most interesting in the world with historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars!
    • There are plenty of things to see and do in free time. Visit the World Heritage-listed Mughal masterpiece of Humayun's Tomb. This was the first garden tomb in India, built way back in 1570. Wonder at the tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar, which was started back in the 1100s. Explore the mighty Red Fort of Delhi. Part palace and part fort, it plays an integral part in the history of the city with former residents ranging from royal families to British soldiers.
    • Optional Activities
    • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR260
    • Delhi - Qutb Minar - INR260
    • Delhi - Red Fort - INR250
    • Included Activities
    • Complimentary airport arrival transfer

    Day 2 - New Delhi

    • Join your group leader on an excursion into the sights and sounds of Old Delhi! Set off on the city's modern metro system, then get a taste of India's famed public transport with an option for a cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets, such as the famous Chandni Chowk. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion.
    • The rest of the day is free for further exploration or maybe join an Urban Adventure
    • Optional Activities
    • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR260
    • Delhi - Qutb Minar - INR260
    • Delhi - Red Fort - INR250
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Jaipur

    • You will travel by express train into Rajasthan and on to its capital, Jaipur, today (approx. 5 hours).
    • 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.
    • Take a walk to the city's crowded and colourful bazaars, which sell a wide variety of artisan goods. Semi-precious stones are the local speciality - be sure to wander by the stalls at least once.
    • Make a photos stop at India's most photographed building after the Taj Mahal, the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds'.
    • Go to Jaipur's Royal City Palace - one of India's finest - and spend time exploring the various rooms and apartments.
    • Included Activities
    • Jaipur - Walking tour
    • optional
    • Jaipur - City Palace - INR330
    • Jaipur - Observatory - INR220
    • Jaipur - Bollywood movie at the Raj Mandir Cinema - INR400
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Jaipur

    • For many travellers a hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over Jaipur on the morning of day 4 between Sep & Jun. For additional information please see the important notes section of your trip notes.
    • Visit Amber Fort, explore this magestic hillside fort and palace complex
    • Free time to explore more of Jaipur.
    • Included Activities
    • Amber Fort
    • Optional Activities
    • Balloon Safari - USD250
    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.
    • Included Activities
    • Agra - Taj Maha
    • lAgra - Agra Fort
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - 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.
    • This evening enjoy the Ram Raja Temple puja (prayer) ceremony
    • Included Activities
    • Orchha - Taragram visit
    • Orchha - Ram Raja Temple puja (prayer) ceremony
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Orchha

    • See the stunning Orchha Palace, built by Bir Sing Deo for his friend Jehangir, the great Mughal ruler.
    • Take the chance to experience the local flavours at a cooking demonstration by our local friends.
    • Included Activities
    • Orchha - Orchha Palace
    • Orchha - Cooking demonstration
    Breakfast

    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 1000 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.
    • Included Activities
    • Khajuraho - Kama Sutra temples
    • Khajuraho - Traditional dance performance
    • Khajuraho - Home-cooked lunch & family visit
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 9 - Varanasi

    • IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
    • Please note that due to ongoing construction works at Khajuraho Airport, many airlines have reduced the number of flights into and out of this airport. As a result we have had to reroute some trips between Khajuraho and Varanasi to an overnight train replacing the flight. Please be aware that while we will continue to do all we can to secure tickets on the limited flights available, this change may need to be made last minute to your itinerary. Your leader will notify you at the Group Meeting of any changes. All activities will continue to be included.
    • From the wondrous temples of Khajuraho, you will take a short flight to the spiritual centre of Varanasi.
    • 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.
    • Included Activities
    • Varanasi - Old city walking tour
    Breakfast

    Day 10 - Varanasi

    • Start early with a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, passing the many ghats and temples along the river.
    • optional trip to Sarnath or spend the day exploring the laneways and alleys behind the ghats.
    • Varanasi is home to an excellent silk industry and is a good place to pick up some wonderful examples.
    • Spend the evening soaking up the magical atmosphere of a candle flower ceremony, serenaded by traditional musicians on a Ganges river cruise as the sun sets.
    • Included Activities
    • Varanasi - Sunset candle flower ceremony
    • Varanasi - Sunrise boat ride
    • Optional Activities
    • Varanasi - Sarnath - INR250
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - Varanasi - 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)
    • There will be an (optional) group farewell dinner organised for those interested.
    • Hauz Khas village is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown - a chic artistic enclave set right next to the remnants of a historical site.
    • optional
    • Evening Urban Adventure - Delhi
    Breakfast

    Day 12 - Delhi

    • There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
    • There are still any number of activities and sites to visit in Delhi should you wish to extend your trip.
    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. *Please see Important Information
    • Arrival transfer.
    • Gratuities are included for the essential services only that you will receive as part of your tour package.

    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
    • Gratuities for your tour leader and non-essential services
    • 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!

    Women should exercise caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk. While the risk of an incident occurring on your trip is very low, below are some things you can do for your safety and peace of mind when travelling:

    -    Respect local dress codes and customs, perhaps dressing more conservatively than you do at home
    -    Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, unlit city streets and village lanes when alone at any time of day
    -    Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night
    -    If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports. Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. Some cities (including Delhi and Chennai) have special taxi services for women with women drivers
    -    If you’re being collected at the airport by a driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. When leaving your compartment on overnight trains (ie. going to the bathroom), ask a male travel companion to accompany you where possible

    Click here for more about women's safety when travelling in India.

    For further information and advice, visit:
    www.gov.uk/government/policies/supporting-british-nationals-overseas/supporting-pages/advice-for-women-travellers
    www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/women.html

  • 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
Style: Small Group

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