Visiting: Nepal, India
From the hubbub of Delhi, through the Mughal might and beauty of Rajasthan’s mythic cities and villages, to the luminous Taj Mahal and the ghats along the Ganges in Varanasi, the Indian leg of this immersive journey takes in the best of Maharaja India.
Maharajas & Mountains
Across the border and into Nepal, we go on safari on elephant-back in search of a wide range of wildlife before embarking on a short, but spectacular trek through the Annapurna range for some of the world’s most breathtaking mountain views.
Today is an arrival day and no activities are planned, so you may arrive at any time. If you are arriving early, please check the noticeboard in the foyer of the hotel for suggestions of things to see and do in Delhi. A pre-departure meeting takes place this evening at the hotel. Please also check the noticeboard for details of this meeting and for any other messages from your tour leader. Please also bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the meeting. Afterwards we have the opportunity to go out for an optional group dinner.
This morning we travel to Jaipur - the vibrant and colourful capital of Rajasthan. Here, traditionally dressed Rajput men wearing colourful turbans and sporting magnificent moustaches make their way through crowded streets packed with cars, camel carts, rickshaws, trucks and bicycles. On our second day in Jaipur we travel 11 kilometres out to the stunning medieval Amber Fort. This fort was built in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh and is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Several hours are needed to explore this huge fortification and we include the services of a local guide for our tour. Our tour leader also takes us to an area known as the Old Bazaar where the Hawa Mahal, better known as The Palace of the Winds, is situated. This five-storey façade with its pink, honeycombed sandstone windows is one of Jaipur's best-known landmarks. We also have ample free time in Jaipur and there are many interesting things to see and do; our tour leader will be happy to assist us with getting to some of these places.
One of the features of a Imaginative Traveller’s trip through Rajasthan is visits to small, out of the way villages. Tordi Garh is a small town that we have identified is a true ‘off the beaten track’ experience. We travel by jeeps through beautiful countryside en route to Tordi. Very few travellers have even heard of Tordi and even fewer visit it, because it’s hard to get to on your own. We explore the village, meeting potters, visiting an old village temple, walking though markets and meeting families on the way. Ruined temples and a fortress lie further afield and we enjoy a visit to these sites.
Our host is the owner of the palace at Tordi. He is a direct descendant of the feudal lord who built the palace in the 16th century. The accommodation has unforgettable ambience and charm and really makes the visit to Tordi a special highlight.
Agra - overnight train
We leave Tordi by jeep and then transfer on to a bus for the four-hour drive to Agra, home to India’s most famous site - the majestic Taj Mahal. After settling in we visit this amazing 17th century marble mausoleum, 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. Our tour leader can also help us arrange an optional visit to Agra Fort. After our time in Agra we board our overnight sleeper train and head eastward to Varanasi.
Regarded as the spiritual heart of India, Varanasi is the city of Shiva built on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Thousands of pilgrims flock to the great ghats to bathe in the holy waters - a ritual that is believed to wash away all sins. The city claims to be one of the oldest in the world and it’s a magical place where we are able to witness the rituals of life and death on the ghats, on an early morning boat ride. Our tour leader also takes us for a walk through the back lanes and crowded alleyways of this timeless city.
We continue our journey to the Nepalese border. It’s a long day of travelling (approximately 8 hours), but done in the relative comfort of our own vehicles with several rest stops. In the morning we cross into Nepal. After customs and immigration formalities are completed, our Indian tour leader will bid us farewell and hand us over to his Nepalese Indian counterpart. Our night stop, Lumbini, is the birthplace of Prince Siddharta Gautama - founder of the Buddhist religion. We visit the various temple complexes that have been constructed by Buddhists from Japan, China and Myanmar, as well as the ancient Ashoka Pillar and Maya Devi Temple. We spend the night in a lovely jungle camp - a great base for a walk or bike ride.
Chitwan National Park
In the early morning we leave Lumbini by private vehicle and travel across the plains to Chitwan National Park. We then descend to the village of Sauhara in the Terai, on the edge of the flat Chitwan jungle region at the base of the mighty Himalayan range. During our lodge stay we ride elephants into the jungle and, accompanied by a wildlife guide, go in search of Indian rhinoceros, sloth bear, deer and a multitude of different birds. Tiger sightings are very rare these days; however, luck may be on our side! We also have time at for some optional activities such as jeep and canoe safaris.
This morning we drive out from Chitwan National Park and descend to follow the Trisuli River Valley. On a clear morning, views of the Ganesh, Manaslu and Annapurna ranges can be seen as we head west to the town of Pokhara. After a driving journey of six hours, we arrive in the early afternoon and check into our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to wander around the shops or relax in one of the cafes by the lakeside. One optional activity worth considering is hiring a boat for a row out on the lake (Phewa Tal), which is the second largest in Nepal.
We take a short drive out of Pokhara and visit a Tibetan refugee camp before continuing on to Phedi, where we start our short trek. From here it is a steep climb up on to a high ridge, where we enjoy stunning views of the Annapurna Range. After lunch we visit a local school and enjoy the peaceful tranquillity of this region which sees no trekkers and very few tourists. We continue to the village of Hyenjakot, where we stay the night in a local hut as guests of the villagers. This is a great way of experiencing first-hand the hardy way of life led by these remarkable people is such a remote place. Weather permitting, we may also enjoy great sunset views.
After bidding our hosts farewell, we descend through terraced fields on the other side of the ridge and continue to enjoy great mountain views all the way down. We are met by jeeps and driven back to Pokhara in time for lunch and the rest of the afternoon is free to unwind. We have time to explore the lake and to enjoy the many excellent restaurants and cafes in this beautiful lakeside town. Your leader can advise you of sightseeing opportunities or you may just wish to relax and laze around the hotel swimming pool. The lakeside area has good shopping opportunities and internet cafés. Pokhara has an interesting old area as well as an elaborate Hindu temple and a Buddhist monastery. There are various small museums scattered around town including the International Mountain Museum, which is well worth a visit.
We catch a morning bus that journeys along the banks of the Trisuli River and join the Rajpath (Prithvi Highway), taking us to the rim of the Kathmandu Valley, before we descend again and enter Nepal's capital.
Our trip ends today around breakfast time. If you wish to stay on in Kathmandu, please pre-book your post-tour accommodation before you commence your travels.
While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
Key: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner