2015 India Itinerary

Day 1

U.S. / En Route
 
Fly independently to Delhi, India. (Meals Aloft)
 

Day 2

Delhi
 
We arrive in Delhi in the late evening, meet our guide and transfer to the Taj Palace, our home for the first two nights of our India tour. (Meals Aloft)
 

Day 3

Delhi
 
We enjoy a full day of sightseeing round both Old and New Delhi. We begin this morning in Old Delhi including Raj Ghat and Shanti Vana - the cremation sites of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India and drive past Red Fort and Chandni Chowk. Following lunch we visit New Delhi, designed by Sir Lutyens, New Delhi became political capital of India in 1911. Our afternoon includes Qutub Minar, built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibek in 1199, Humayun's Tomb and India Gate (War Memorial Arch). We’ll drive past President's House, Parliament House, Government Secretariat Buildings and Connaught Place, New Delhi’s main shopping center. (B,L,D)
 

Days 4-6

Delhi / Jabalpur or Raipur / Kanha National Park 
 
Board our flight to either Jabalpur or Raipur (based on best flight schedule) and continue on to Kanha National Park. Kanha is one of India's signature wildlife areas and often described as a model of wildlife conservation. The Sal forests, grasslands, flat-topped hills and streams here are home to a rich variety of wildlife and nearly 300 species of birds. We explore the park in open 4X4 jeeps in search of barasingha deer, Indian gaur, sambar deer, chital, wild boar, gray jackal, wild dog and troops of langurs. We keep an eye out for the park’s greatest prize of the India tiger safari: the Bengal Tiger. In addition to Bengal tiger, with luck we may even see leopard and sloth bear. Listen to the sounds of the jungle, an experience both exciting and chilling. While relaxing at the lodge, you may hear the alarm calls of deer or an occasional roar of the Bengal tiger. During our three nights at Kanha Jungle Lodge, we enjoy stargazing and cooking demonstrations using the lodge’s organically grown produce. (B,L,D Daily)
 

Day 7

Kanha / Bandhavgarh National Park 
 
After breakfast we drive to the renowned Bandhavgarh National Park. The park is made up of rocky hills, lush deciduous forests, marshes and stretches of meadows. It is considered the best place in the world to observe wild tiger. Tonight we enjoy an outdoor barbeque dinner cooked over an open flame. Spend three nights at Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge. (B,L,D)
 

Days 8 & 9

Bandhavgarh National Park
 
Morning and afternoon excursions are the ideal opportunity to search for Bandhavgarh's tigers and spot some of the park's 250 species of birds, including the vibrant peacock, breeding pairs of sarus cranes, paradise fly-catcher, Malabar pied hornbill and orange headed ground thrush. While exploring the dense sal and bamboo forests, your naturalist may point out blue bull, leopard, wild boar, gaur, chital, sambar, chinkara, barking deer and bear. (B,L,D Daily)
 

Day 10

Bandhavgarh / Khajuraho 
 
After one last tiger safari, drive to Khajuraho, passing through the villages and countryside of Madhya Pradesh. Tonight dinner is at the Taj Gateway Chandela, where we spend the night. (B,L,D)
 

Day 11

Khajuraho / Varanasi 
 
Visit the amazing temples adorned with vivid erotic stone carvings dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. Built by the Chandela kings between 950 AD and 1050 AD., the most important temples within the complex are Chaunset Yogini, dedicated to goddess Kali. Kandariya Mahadev, and Chitragupta — or Bharatji — home to an image of an 11-headed Vishnu. Visit the Eastern group of temples, where we tour Parasvanath Temple, Khajuraho’s only surviving Jain temple. After lunch, fly to Varanasi. Check into the Taj Gateway Hotel Ganges, Varanasi before an evening rickshaw ride. Venture to the banks of the Ganges, one of India’s holiest places, to witness the ceremonial Aarti, a Hindu ritual. (B,L,D)
 

Day 12

Varanasi 
 
Historic Varanasi is one of the world's oldest living cities, being contemporary with the ancient cities of Nineveh and Thebes. For those who want an in-depth look into the fascinating Hindu religion, there is no better place to explore than Varanasi. Our India tour travels also the banks of the Ganges, where we see devotees taking to the river for ritual bathing and to throw the ashes of their loved ones into the holy water. Tour the city itself, visiting Bharat Mata, Durga temple and Benares Hindu University, one of the largest residential universities in the world. This afternoon, tour the sacred Buddhist site of Sarnath, where Lord Buddha gave first sermon after attaining enlightenment. Wrap-up our day with excursions to Dhamaekha Stupa, Moolgandha Kuti Vihar and the Sarnath Museum, which houses a rich collection of Indian antiques. (B,L,D)
 

Day 13

Varanasi / Agra
 
After a morning trip to the Dasaswamedh Ghat, board boats for a sunrise ride on the Ganges. From the middle of the river, our small group watches as thousands of Hindu faithful come to the riverbank to bathe and pray, while in the background, temples and palaces rise in tiers from the water’s edge. Stroll through the cobblestone streets along the banks of Ganga. As shops open, the area almost buzzes with activity. Fly to Agra, and spend the afternoon exploring Agra Fort and the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah. Spend tonight at the ITC Mughal. (B,L,D)
 

Day 14

Agra / Fatehpur Sikri / Samode 
 
This morning we visit the spectacular Taj Mahal, a touchstone site that fully lives up to its reputation as one of the most glorious monuments in the world. Built by Moghul Shah Jahan for his beloved wife the project took 22 years to complete. Continue to Fatehpur Sikri (Victory City). Once the Mughal capital, this walled city is a blend of Hindu and Islamic styles of architecture. See the graceful buildings including the Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal and other palaces. Drive to the sleepy village of Samode and spend two nights in the 18th century palace which dominates the hilltop. (B,L,D)
 

Day 15

Samode: Jaipur
 
Today we drive to Jaipur, capital of the state of Rajasthan. It is known as the “Pink City” because of the reddish color applied to the old city walls and palace as a symbol of welcome to a visiting Prince. A labyrinth of fascinating bazaars, opulent palaces and historic sights, tradition and modernity exist side by side. Built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the notable astronomer, this city is 260 years old. Explore the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), Maharaja's City Palace and the Observatory. Discover the Amber Fort, Rajasthan's ancient capital. We continue to Sheesh Mahal or the Hall of Victory, glittering with mirrors. Return to Samode, where the afternoon is free to explore the village. (B,L,D)
 

Day 16

Samode / Delhi / En Route
 
Spend a morning exploring the nearby village of Samode, renowned for the printed cloth and glass bangles produced by local artisans. Drive to Delhi. Dayrooms are available at the Radisson Blu Plaza before meeting your independent flights home. (B,L,D)
 

Day 17

Arrive
 
Meet your connecting flights home. (Meals Aloft)