Heart of India

Destinations Covered : Delhi - Jaipur - Ranthambore National Park - Agra - Khajuraho - Sarnath - Delhi

Price : On Request

Durations 15 D / 14 N

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Day1: Arrival India, Delhi

Guests will arrive at the Delhi where they will meet their trip leader at the airport and take them to their hotel.

Day2: Explore the Old Delhi

After breakfast guests will gather with their fellow travelers for a briefing by their Trip Leader.

Start your discoveries this afternoon in Delhi by visiting Old Delhi. Even when Bombay and Madras were mere trading posts and Calcutta a village of mud huts, Delhi had been the seat of an empire for 500 years. Through the centuries, eight cities have been built on this site, by Hindu, Mughal and British rulers—with each adding their own flavor.

In the old part of Delhi, guests will visit Raj Ghat, a beautifully serene monument. This is where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated, and they will see an impressive shrine to India's best-known statesman. Next, after visiting the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, they will take a short ride by rickshaw through the crowded lanes of the Chandni Chowk bazaar. Tonight, enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day3: Explore the New Delhi

After breakfast, we head out to see the highlights of New Delhi.

The British laid out the broad, tree-lined avenues and neat street grid of New Delhi (in contrast to the narrow alleyways of the old part of the city). Guests will begin their explorations by visiting Qutab Minar, a spectacular example of Indo-Islamic architecture topped by a 234-foot-high tower. Begun in the twelfth century, this is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and the symbol of New Delhi. After lunch been served at a local restaurant, guests will continue their tour of the former "Imperial City" which continues to serve as the center of government for the world's largest democracy. They will see the buildings of India's Parliament and (from the outside) the residence of India's President, a palatial building called Rashtrapati Bhavan. Nearby they will see the India Gate, where a popular park surrounds a memorial to Indian soldiers who served Great Britain in World War I and Britain's 19th-century war in Afghanistan.

Guests will have the latter part of the afternoon at leisure. This evening they will enjoy dinner on their own.

Day4: Fly to Jaipur

After breakfast guests will fly to Jaipur which is also known as the “Pink City” for the rosy hue of its sandstone buildings. It is one of the vibrant states of Rajasthan. . Upon arrival they will be served lunch at a local restaurant before checking into the hotel and enjoying a walking tour of Jaipur’s walled Old City. Tonight guests will gather for dinner at a local restaurant.

Day5: Jaipur – Jantar Mantar and city palace

An optional hot air balloon ride may be offered this morning (weather permitting). Rise early to enjoy a bird's-eye view of Jaipur and its surroundings.

This morning, guests will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Jaipur. Next guests will see the Jantar Mantar, a remarkable astronomical and astrological observatory built in the 18th century. The giant sundials here are still accurate to two-tenths of a second. Then they will go on to the City Palace Museum, filled with an array of textiles, arms, carpets, paintings and manuscripts. They will complete their tour with an optional visit to a fabric block-printing center to learn more about the textiles that are so representative of this area. Lunch will be served in one of the local restaurant. Guests are free in the afternoon.

Dinner is on your own this evening.

Day6: Jaipur – Palace of winds, Amber Fort and home hosted food

Guests will begin today's discoveries with a view of the exterior of Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). This is actually not a palace, but rather a façade of 956 delicate, honeycombed sandstone windows used by the ladies of the palace to watch the outside world without being seen.

Next, they will explore Jaipur's Amber (pronounced "am-er," with a silent "b") Fort-Palace. The Fort is a stunning and well-preserved 16th-century structure, built on four levels.

Among its many splendors is the Sheesh Mahal, a small room whose ceiling, covered with tiny mirrors, looks like a sky filled with brilliant stars. Here, in Rajput times, a dancing girl held candles during a dance of love for her Maharaja. Guests will make their way back down the hill and return to Jaipur.

After lunch on by own at the hotel, their afternoon is free. A home hosted dinner is set for the guests.

Day7: Ranthambore National Park and Ranthambore Fort

After breakfast, guests will leave Jaipur and drive through the rural countryside and into the low Vindhya mountain range. The drive is about five hours in length along bumpy roads.

Our destination is Ranthambore National Park. Located near the town of Sawai Madhopur, the park is one of the eleven sites chosen for Project Tiger, India's national tiger conservation program, the largest such effort in the world. The park comprises more than a hundred square miles of deciduous forest and several large lakes, and until 1970 it was a hunting preserve of the maharajas. After the guests visit, they will arrive at the hotel in time for lunch. Please note: As Ranthambore National Park is closed in August and September they will visit the Sawai Mansingh Animal Sanctuary instead during those months.

In the afternoon, they can join an optional tour to the Ranthambore Fort, a spectacular fortress built more than 1,000 years ago on a rocky outcrop with stunning views. Today it sits in the middle of the Ranthambore sanctuary. Guests will ride in an open four-wheel drive vehicle (known locally as a canter), and then hike to the fort, a huge structure with a fascinating history and fine craftsmanship in its interiors.

Dinner is included at our hotel this evening, along with a presentation on the local wildlife they will see tomorrow.

Day8: Ranthambore National Park

In the early morning, when nocturnal animals may still be active, guests will head out for game-viewing before breakfast. Once again, the mode of transportation is a canter, a safari truck. They may see all the great Indian species: sambar, nilgai, the shy chinkara and chital, and the always cunning Langur monkey.

Guests will return to the hotel for breakfast and the rest of the morning at leisure. Following an included lunch in the hotel, they will regroup for a second safari expedition. Though it is rare, we may see the Royal Bengal tiger, usually sleeping by day in the tall grass. A recent census showed 26 tigers in the reserve. They will also see lakes that hold crocodiles and a wide variety of water birds in season. More than 450 bird species frequent this area, from crested serpent eagles to painted storks. Dinner is included at the hotel this evening.

Day9: Ranthambore Community

After breakfast, guests will stroll into a local village to visit with the students at a primary school (when in session) that Holidays to Treasure (HTT) proudly supports through donations from Grand Circle Foundation.

Then they will continue their Day in the Life of this village, meeting local people and seeing their houses and way of life. Next they will visit a cooperative where women are trained to make handcrafts. Guests will learn about this enterprise from one of the women involved, with the opportunity to purchase its products.

After lunch, they will begin their drive (totaling approximately four hours on a bumpy road) to our village camp retreat. They will check in upon arrival.

Our campsite is nestled among small plots of land used by local farmers to grow a rich diversity of crops. Often, villagers will stop by to pay us a visit, or farmers will take a break from their work to share a laugh. Especially enchanting are the mustard blooms, which, in season, resemble thousands of buttercups waving in the breeze.

Dinner is prepared especially for the guests by our camp cook, who uses the freshest locally grown organic ingredients. After dinner they will relax around the campfire and enjoy being entertained by local dancers who proudly perform cultural Indian dances for them.

Day10: Overland to Agra

As the guests continue to explore India, they will experience the vast rural countryside of India as they ride toward Agra. En route, our Trip Leader entertains them with a discussion of the history of the Mughals.

They will break up today's long drive with a stop at Abhaneri to view an ancient baolis, essentially a step-well or waterway built to provide a constant water supply to local inhabitants.

After lunch in Bharatpur, guests will continue to Agra, where they will check into their hotel and enjoy time at leisure. Dinner tonight is by own.

Day11: Taj Mahal and Agra Fort

Today the guests will rise early to view a sight unlike any other in the entire world: early morning at the Taj Mahal. Please note: If this day falls on a Friday, guests will visit the Taj Mahal on the evening of Day 11 instead.

This grand edifice, built by Shah Jahan from 1631 to 1653 to enshrine the remains of his Queen Mumtaz Mahal, took 20,000 workers to build. They will walk into the inner chambers of this renowned "Monument to Love," and seek out several vantage points to see the magnificent play of light. The semi-translucent white marble is inlaid with thousands of semi-precious stones in beautiful patterns and the building has four identical facades, a perfect exercise in symmetry. It's truly a wonder of the world!

Later in the morning guests will also visit the sprawling Agra Fort on the bank of the Yamuna River. This immense fort and palace were the seat of power for four generations of Mughal emperors; they ruled all of northern India from the early 16th century until the consolidation by British colonial rule in the early 1800s. Agra Fort's architecture is an almost perfect fusion between military might and lavish beauty.

Guests will return to the hotel to enjoy the afternoon at leisure, and later they will gather for an included dinner this evening.

Day12: Train to Jhansi and Overland to Khajuraho

To enjoy and make the most of this very long, overland, travel day, guests will need to approach it with curiosity, an adventurous spirit, and a healthy sense of humor.

They will begin their journey early this morning, as they will board a train for an approximately two-hour ride to Jhansi, a center of Bundela civilization. Upon arriving at the railway station in Jhansi, they will transfer to the coach and continue overland for a half-hour drive to Orcha. After lunch they will continue overland via coach on the long (four-and-a-half-hour drive) and bumpy road to Khajuraho.

Although remote and very quiet today, in the tenth century Khajuraho was the center of the thriving civilization of the Chandelas. The magnificent group of temples (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was built between the ninth and tenth centuries by the Chandela Dynasty, which dominated Central India at the time.

Guests will check in, and enjoy their dinner at hotel in the evening.

Day13: View erotic carvings of the Chandelas, Fly to Varanasi and Ganges Evening Ceremony & Boat ride

After breakfast been served at the hotel, guests will visit the east and west temple complexes that the Chandelas constructed. The erotic stone carvings here have come to symbolize the important role of love andprana energy in Hindu thought. British archaeologists excavated these intricate stone carvings during colonial times, when they scandalized post-Victorian English sensibilities. Guests will have time for lunch before transferring to the airport for a 40-minute flight to Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu cities. Known as Benares during British times, Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a written history dating back more than 4,000 years. It has an intense, almost palpable atmosphere of spiritual devotion, a feeling of an unending religious festival. Hundreds of temples propitiate the thousands of deities in the Hindu pantheon. Pilgrims from every part of this vast nation crowd the narrow streets and the riverside ghats.

This evening, guests will also witness the aarti ceremony on the Ganges. As the day comes to a close, they will travel to the bathing ghats located alongside the sacred River Ganges. People flock in large numbers every day to bathe and worship in the temples built beside the riverbank. Feel the timelessness of Varanasi as the sun sets and as the temple priests perform aarti, the sacred light ceremony, on the banks of Mother Ganga. The aarti performance is best viewed while having a boat ride on the river. After the pujaceremony is completed, dinner will be on own this evening.

Day14: Sunrise Ganges cruise, visit to Bharat Mata temple and Sarnath

At sunrise, when the temples are bathed in soft light, guests will board a small boat for a cruise on the Ganges. From the boat they will witness to the everyday life in the holiest of cities, as the people arrive at the ghats at dawn to take a ritual dip, perform yoga asanas, wash clothes and offer flowers and incense to the river.

They can also photograph riverside temples and bathing ghats in a rich, golden dawn light. Photography of the cremation ghats, however, is not permitted. They will see devotees performing their daily religious rites. At stone steps on the river's edge, they will join their hosts in a pilgrimage: for them, the heart of their faith and for the guests a superlative cultural experience. Guests will continue their guided walking tour of the local temples before returning to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, they will visit the unique Bharat Mata (Mother India) temple, dedicated not to gods and goddesses, but to Mother India herself. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, this relatively modern temple houses an intricate bas relief map of the Indian subcontinent, carved entirely from white marble.

Later, they will drive to the nearby ancient Buddhist learning center of Sarnath. Here, Gautama Buddha preached his first sermon to his disciples, as portrayed in Bernardo Bertolucci's film Little Buddha. Guests will then visit the Sarnath Museum, (except on Fridays, when the museum is closed) which houses some of the great treasures of Indian Buddhist art, including Ashoka's Lion Capital—the National Emblem of India—and the beautiful Teaching Buddha, among the most beautiful sculptures in the world. Here guests can explore and photograph excavated Buddhist stupas and pillars unearthed during the British archaeological explorations in 1836 and also have the opportunity to visit a silk-weaving workshop.

This evening guests will enjoy a Farewell Dinner with their traveling companions.

Day15: Yoga & meditation class and Fly to Delhi

This morning guests have the chance to begin the day with a relaxing yoga and meditation class before breakfast at the hotel. Learn basic yoga exercises and breathing techniques from a local expert.

After lunch by own, they will be transferred to the airport to board a flight to Delhi, where they will stay tonight. Guests will enjoy an included dinner at the hotel this evening.

Hotel Details:

City Hotel Name Category No. of Nights
New Delhi Surya Hotel 4 Star 03
Jaipur Park Prime Jaipur 4 Star 03
Agra Jaypee Palace 4 Star 02
Ranthambore Nahargarh Fort 5 Star 03
Khajuraho Radisson Blu 4 Star 02
Varanasi Radisson Blu 4 Star 02

The above cost includes:

  • Round trip international flights New York – New Delhi, New Delhi – New York
  • Airline taxes and fuel surcharges
  • 17 night accommodations
  • All transfer and sightseeing per itinerary in modern air – conditioned vehicles
  • 33meals: 14 breakfast, 9 lunches, 10 dinners
  • Bottled water provided during sightseeing excursions
  • Services of English – speaking tour managers throughout
  • Comprehensive, guided sightseeing and entrance fees per itinerary
  • Active itinerary with unique cultural features

The above cost does not include:

  • Any personal expenses such as laundry bills, telephone bills, alcoholic beverages and airport tax.
  • Any other cost that is not mentioned in the itinerary & inclusions.
  • Tips and other such cost, which is to be paid to the drivers, guides, porters etc.
  • The cost is based on current fuel prices, taxes and other statutory levies. In case of any increase in the same or any other inputs, we reserve the right to amend the price accordingly.
  • The cost is based on current exchange rates. In case of more than 4% difference in exchange rates (at the time of operation of the tour) we reserve the right to adjust prices accordingly.