Highlights of Northern India

Highlights of Northern India

550 Views
15 Days
From

$2420

$2353

Highlights of Northern India

15 Days Starting and ending in Delhi

Visiting: Delhi, Jaipur, Pushkar, ሀመር።, Ranthambore National Park, Agra, Chambal Garden, Bateshwar Group of Temple, Varanasi

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

DIH

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 16

Physical rating:

Medium, Moderate

Age range:

16-

Special diets catered:

Vegans, Vegetarians

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Small Group

Activities:

Sightseeing, Walking

From:
$2420
$2353 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$67
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Tour Overview

This trip is North India at its best. Going beyond the 'Golden Triangle' we search for Bengal Tigers in Ranthambore, take a boat trip down the Chambal River in search of endangered Gharial crocodiles and witness the spiritual evening aarti ceremony in Varanasi.



Ranthambore National Park - Search for Bengal tigers and other wildlife in India's most iconic national park

Bateshwar - Explore 40 Hindu temples that line the banks of the River Chambal

Golden Triangle - Discover Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, North India's historical hub

Highlights

  • Ranthambore National Park - Search for Bengal tigers and other wildlife in India's most iconic national park

  • Bateshwar - Explore 40 Hindu temples that line the banks of the River Chambal

  • Golden Triangle - Discover Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, North India's historical hub

Itinerary

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Day 1: Join Tour In Delhi; City Tour Of New Delhi
Location: Delhi
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: No Meals

Arrive in New Delhi, India's bustling capital which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the tall and modern skyscrapers, there are still the remnants of a bygone time with numerous monuments and temples.



For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 1.30pm for the welcome meeting and to take us on our afternoon city tour which will visit Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India and Humayun's Tomb dating from the Mughal Dynasty. We also drive past the imposing India Gate (war memorial arch), the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President's residence.



If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport (airport code DEL), which is 18km, around 40 minutes from our hotel.



Please note that if you wish to join the city tour today, you must arrive at the hotel by 1.30pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least one hour to clear the airport. From the airport to the hotel is around 45 minutes drive, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 12.00pm. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

Day 2: Walk Through Old Delhi's Narrow Lanes And Explore The Jama Masjid Mosque Before Travelling To Jaipur
Location: Jaipur
Accommodation: Hotel

Compared to New Delhi, the Old City is much closer to the image conjured up by Rudyard Kipling. This morning, we will travel to Old Delhi by metro and walk around the narrow, packed lanes of this fascinating part of the city, culminating with a jamboree of sounds at Chandni Chowk Bazaar. A short cycle rickshaw ride then takes us to the Jama Masjid mosque, a sublime example of Mughal architecture built by emperor Shah Jahan and a bit of an oasis in the midst of the city. Whilst in Old Delhi we will get to try some of the capital's street food treats straight from the stall sellers including aloo chaat (fried potato and spice mix) or paneer tikka (cottage cheese marinated in spices) along with freshly cooked breads such as parathas and rotis.



In the early afternoon we will drive to Jaipur by road, a journey which will take approximately five to six hours including comfort stops.

Day 3: Discover Jaipur's Hilltop Amber Fort, City Palace And Palace Of The Winds
Location: Jaipur
Accommodation: Hotel

The capital of the state of Rajasthan, Jaipur was India's first planned city and is considered by many to be one of the finest planned cities anywhere, the usual Indian urban chaos being replaced by wide streets and formal gardens. This morning we will visit the once mighty Rajput capital of Amber (traditionally known as Amer) and its magnificent fortress. Lying at the mouth of a rocky mountain gorge, overlooking Maotha Lake, the fort is a stunning creation of white marble and red sandstone that contains a dazzling mix of Hindu and Muslim ornamentation, including the breathtaking mirrored halls of the Sheesh Mahal. It was from these towering walls that the Kachchawahas ruled over their kingdom for some 7 centuries, until its importance was eclipsed by nearby Jaipur.



We will also take in the unique Hawa Mahal, the famous Palace of the Winds, whose extraordinary façade of red and pink sandstone towers some five storeys above the city streets. Built at the end of the 18th century its 935 windows were designed to allow the women of the harem to gaze out on the city scene below without themselves being seen, the openings also creating a refreshing breeze (hawa), which kept the palace cool even in the hot summer months.



We will spend some time exploring the lavish and well-preserved City Palace. Here, we will find a fine collection of textiles, costumes and armoury. Later this afternoon, we will visit the extraordinary Jantar Mantar - a star-gazing observatory built by Jai Singh, the great Maharajah-astronomer.

Day 4: Free Morning To Walk Around Jaipur's Markets Before Travelling To Pushkar
Location: Pushkar
Accommodation: Hotel

This morning has been left free to explore Jaipur in your own time. You may choose to visit one of the many bazaars which are bursting with delights, from marble statues to antique textiles; traditional print blocks to local musical instruments.



In the early afternoon we drive to Pushkar, known for its camel trading fair which happens each year in November. The town is also an attraction for many Hindus as its lake is believed to be the site where a lotus thrown by the creator god of Hinduism Brahma landed. On arrival we will take a short orientation tour around Pushkar lake and its waterside ghats (steps leading to a river or lake).

Day 5: Ride A Camel And Watch The Sunset From Savitri Temple
Location: ሀመር።
Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we travel by camel through the market place and up to the camel fair grounds. Travelling by camel captures the traditional means of desert travel allowing us to experience something of the remote life of the tribesmen and their families. Riding camels can be quite relaxing and sitting high up enables us to appreciate the surroundings. Many people find that they prefer to combine riding with periods of walking, so ensure that you have appropriate footwear. If you do not wish to take part in the camel safari your local guide can arrange for you to take a walking tour of Pushkar.



As the day starts drawing to an end we hike up into the nearby hills to visit the Savitri temple for sunset. Dedicated to Brahma's first wife, the temple lies at the end of a long series of steps that run behind the Brahma Temple and from its lofty vantage point the views out across the lake and the surrounding dunes offer a breathtaking setting from which to watch the sun setting over the city.

Day 6: Take A Jeep Safari In Ranthambore National Park
Location: Ranthambore National Park
Accommodation: Hotel

We start early this morning as our drive to Ranthambore will take about five hours. On arrival, we check in to our accommodation before setting off for an afternoon game drive, where we hope to have an opportunity to view tigers in the wild.



Ranthambore National Park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957, although it was still used as a hunting reserve until the early 1970s. It became part of the Project Tiger scheme in 1974 and, today, is home to over 40 of the remarkable beasts. We hope to see tigers roaming among the woodlands and cooling off in the lakes.



Aside from its more famous residents, the park is also home to sloth bear, langur, striped hyenas, marsh crocodiles, pythons and Ganga soft-shelled turtles. There is also the chance to spot a myriad of bird species, including crested hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, jacana, parakeet and white-breasted kingfishers. Aside from its rich wildlife, the park's beauty is also noteworthy. Once part of the magnificent jungles of Central India, it comprises of rivers, lakes and forests that nestle among a surrounding girdle of steep cliffs and rocky outcrops.

Day 7: Search For Tigers Before Travelling To The Abandoned City Of Fatehpur Sikri En Route To Agra
Location: Agra
Accommodation: Hotel

This morning, an early start affords us more chances to spot tigers on our second game drive in Ranthambore. The tigers are usually most active early in the morning, before the heat of the day forces them to take shelter.



After our safari we drive towards Agra and stop to visit the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. Founded in 1569 and, for a brief time the capital of the Mughals under Akbar the Great, the city was deserted just 16 years later following the political unrest. Today it remains a ghostly testament to the power of 16th century Mughal India and is a perfectly preserved example of an imperial court. Amongst the many treasures left in the city are the five storey Panch Mahal, believed to have been a pleasure pavilion for the ladies of the harem, and the stunning lotus shaped carved central pillar of the Diwan-i- Khas (Hall of Private Audience). The city also features a central courtyard that contains a pachisi board, where the emperor played an Indian equivalent of chess, using real slave girls as pieces.



Later we continue our drive towards Agra.

Day 8: Watch The Sunrise Over The Taj Mahal And Visit Agra Fort And The Baby Taj
Location: Agra
Accommodation: Hotel

An early start this morning as we visit one of the most universally recognised buildings on earth. The Taj Mahal was built by the emperor Shah Jahan to honour the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, and was once described by Rudyard Kipling as '…the embodiment of all things pure'. Built of marble and decorated with the most exquisite inlay work, it required the labours of 20,000 men and is estimated to have cost something in the region of 3 million rupees (at today's prices around $70 million) We visit at sunrise to watch the colours of the building changing as the sun slowly rises in the sky.

After returning to the hotel for breakfast we make our way to the imposing Agra Fort, whose grandeur and importance has seen it inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Built by Emperor Akbar and then embellished by his grandson, Shah Jahan, this was once a great city, with palaces, mosques and halls all lying behind the protective embrace of 20m high walls. We will also visit is the exquisite Itimad-ud-Daulah on the east bank of the river, a 17th century tomb built for the Emperor Jehangir's chief minister, also known as the Baby Taj.

Day 9: Drive To Chambal Sanctuary, Take An Afternoon Nature Walk
Location: Chambal Garden
Accommodation: Lodge

Leaving Agra this morning we drive for approximately two hours (excluding stops) until we reach Chambal Safari Lodge, a beautiful eco-lodge that lies amongst acres of sprawling plantation and farmland in the heart of the Chambal Valley. The lodge accommodation is simple but with everything we need to enjoy the surroundings including an extensive library filled with books detailing the various species of birds and mammals we hope to spot over the next few days. After settling in to our rooms we head out on a nature walk. Starting off in the grounds of the lodge we keep our eyes peeled for hornbills, babblers and barbets and as the sun goes down we can look out for fruit bats and several species of owls.



The Chambal Sanctuary is a wonderful natural location in an area rich with wildlife, but has very limited accommodation. For the majority of the year we will be staying in cottages at the Chambal Safari Lodge. However, there is a particularly busy period for the area around the time of the Bateshwar Festival which usually takes place at the end of October or early November. During this period the lodge supplements its rooms with tented accommodation. They have proper full sized beds, en suite facilities, hot and cold running water and carpeted floors. Please note that at this time of year we may be allocated this type of room.

Day 10: Search For Soft Shell Turtles And Explore The Temples At Bateshwar
Location: Bateshwar Group of Temple
Accommodation: Lodge

Taking to the water this morning we board small motor boats and explore the River Chambal. The boatmen are skilled at spotting soft shell turtles, gharials and sarus cranes from a great distance and knowing when to cut the boats engine so we can enjoy the wildlife without disturbing it. Back on dry land we drive to Bateshwar, a collection of 40 Hindu Temples set on the banks of the River Chambal. Originally more than 170 temples lined the river banks but many have crumbled over the years. We spend some time wandering through the temples and the small market as well as sitting to watch people bathing and washing clothes in the river. We transfer back to our lodge for the evening.

Day 11: Free Time To Relax At Chambal Before An Overnight Train To Varanasi
Location: Agra, Varanasi
Accommodation: Overnight Train

Today there is chance to relax in the morning and make the most of the peaceful setting of the lodge, or if there is a chance to take another river safari In the early afternoon we will drive to Agra where we board an overnight train to Varanasi. Indian sleeper trains are a fantastic experience and a great way to meet people as we travel. We make our bookings in second class air-conditioned sleepers, which have four beds in each compartment and all bedding provided. Whilst we try to ensure the group is all together, due to overwhelming demand and the system for booking train tickets in India, it may not always be possible to have everyone in the same carriage and some reservations may be in 3rd class. In such cases our Tour Leaders will help everyone to find their seats and ensure you get the most out of your journey. For overnight trains, each berth is separated by curtains and has 4/6 bunk beds. Bedding (sheet, blanket and pillow) is provided but you may wish to bring your own sleeping liner for added comfort. Train travel in India is safe and civilised but for added security whilst you sleep it may be a good idea to bring a bike lock for your bags. If you do not wish to carry one with you, your tour leader can help you to purchase one locally before your train journey.

Day 12: Explore Varanasi On A Walking Tour And Watch The Evening Ceremony On The River Banks
Location: Varanasi
Accommodation: Hotel

Arriving in the early morning we take a short transfer to our hotel. Varanasi (Benares) has been the centre of Hinduism since the dawn of history; its age is contemporary with Babylon and Thebes. Often known as 'Kashi' (City of Light) by Hindus it attracts over a million pilgrims each year - many of whom come to spend their last years here in the holy city. After breakfast and a freshen up we take an orientation walk around the narrow winding streets of the city. In the evening we make our way to the ghats to witness the evening aarti ceremony when the River Ganges is venerated with a display of light and sound.

Day 13: Visit Ancient Buddhist Temples At Sarnath. Take A Train To Delhi
Location: Delhi
Accommodation: Overnight Train

After breakfast we visit nearby Sarnath. Having gained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya the Buddha came to Sarnath to preach his first sermon. The city was at its peak in the 5th century, when it was a respected centre of religious activity, learning and art. Muslim invaders destroyed much of the city and today remains of several monasteries and stupas can be seen. In the afternoon time is free to enable you to explore the labyrinth of streets, bazaars and temples that line the banks of the river. In the early evening we take an overnight sleeper train back to Delhi.

Day 14: Free Time To Explore Delhi
Location: Delhi
Accommodation: Hotel

After arriving in Delhi we transfer to our hotel and check in. After breakfast and time to freshen up the day is left free for you to explore the capital city.

Day 15: Trip Ends In Delhi
Location: Delhi

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Delhi.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Delhi at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport (airport code DEL), which is around 45 minutes from the hotel.

What's Included

  • Train Tickets

  • Accommodation

    4 nights premium hotel

    3 nights simple hotel

    3 nights comfortable hotel

    2 nights comfortable lodge

    2 nights simple overnight train

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Meals – Breakfast Only

    Breakfast: 14

    Dinner: 3

  • Game Drives on Safari

What's Not Included

  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day

  • Tipping and Gratuities

Videos

Check out our Q&As

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    All customers that travel on a Explore group trip will be provided with a complimentary transfer, provided they arrive and depart into the designated airport or train station on the trip start and end dates. This is a great way to start your travels, offering you that little extra peace of mind and comfort in the knowledge that there will be someone at the airport or station waiting to take you t

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    Moderate

  • What is the standard of the hotels on this tour?

    4 nights premium hotel

    3 nights simple hotel

    3 nights comfortable hotel

    2 nights comfortable lodge

    2 nights simple overnight train

  • What is the maximum group size?

    16

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes, we would be delighted to book extra nights before the start or at the end of your trip, please let us know your requirements at the time of booking.

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    Yes

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

Paul  

Highlights of Northern India

We were a small group of 5 which made it a better

We were a small group of 5 which made it a better trip

Michael  

Highlights of Northern India

Our tour leader went out of his way to maximise th

Our tour leader went out of his way to maximise the value of our trip.

Wendy  

Highlights of Northern India

What a brilliant trip, my first to India. Even th

What a brilliant trip, my first to India. Even though we were on an organised tour it did feel like we saw the 'real' India. It will take me some time to process everything I saw and heard on the trip, and I mean that in aod life affirming way not in a bad way!

Louisa  

Highlights of Northern India

Our tour guide went above and beyond what was expe

Our tour guide went above and beyond what was expected of his role. He was a pleasure to be with and he ensured that the whole group felt included and had an excellent holiday

Sarah  

Highlights of Northern India

Anil’s attention to detail and organisation was am

Anil’s attention to detail and organisation was amazing and made a real difference, making it easier for all of us. He was also willing to organise extra activities to enhance our experience

Steve  

Highlights of Northern India

The extras the guide added were excellent e.g. cin

The extras the guide added were excellent e.g. cinema and having meal with local family on Dawali

Omolola  

Highlights of Northern India

I had the most amazing time and our group bonded r

I had the most amazing time and our group bonded really well which was in part due to our guide. I felt safe the whole trip and Indu made sure everyone in our group was catered for and understood the plans for the day. I would definitely recommend this trip

Richard  

Highlights of Northern India

Serendipity - for an extremely diverse group, we a

Serendipity - for an extremely diverse group, we allt on remarkably well and I'd be happy to travel with any of these people again!

John  

Highlights of Northern India

Although I have already stated how well Sorab, our

Although I have already stated how well Sorab, our guide, did his job I can not emphasis enough how much he made the trip so memorable. Also the other people on the trip made wonderful company, a small group of 8 meant we were able to be close to all the wonderful experiences Sorab was able to show us.Well done Explore

Bernard  

Highlights of Northern India

An experience not to be missed, a well organised t

An experience not to be missed, a well organised trip. Looking foreword to our next one!

Read all 10 reviews

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Oct 05, 2024 - Oct 19, 2024
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Jan 18, 2025 - Feb 01, 2025
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Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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