Northern India contains many highlights that one associates with this fascinating country. From the hustle and bustle of the capital, New Delhi, we travel to Varanasi, the holy city on the Ganges River. Visiting Agra enables us to experience the incomparable Taj Mahal before we head to remote Tordi Garh and then the beautiful 'pink city' of Jaipur, where we explore the magnificent Amber Fort and the Palace of the Winds. Our next stops involve sampling the rural delight of Nimaj, exploring the majestic Meherangarh Fort in Jodhpur and discovering the splendours of Udaipur before returning to Delhi.
North India Highlights
This journey showcases the memorable diversity of India.
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.
Delhi - overnight train
Our tour leader takes us into the old city's market area known as Chandni Chowk, as well as Connaught Place - the commercial heart of New Delhi. The rest of the day is free for relaxing or doing some further sightseeing on our own. In the evening we catch our overnight sleeper train bound for Varanasi.
Varanasi - overnight train
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. After our time in Varanasi we board another overnight sleeper train and head back westward to Agra.
Agra is 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.
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. After a 4 hour bus trip from Agra, we are met by jeeps and drive a couple of hours through beautiful countryside to Tordi. Very few travelers 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.
This morning we travel by jeep 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.
Early this morning we take a five-hour local bus ride to the village of Nimaj, arriving there in the afternoon. We stay at the Nimaj Bagh, an orchard run by the erstwhile nobles of Nimaj. Our leader will take us around in the surrounding villages where we meet the local Gujjars (cattle breeders) and other communities. The village of Nimaj is where we will get closest to the locals and have ample opportunities to interact with them and learn about their way of life.
This morning we take the three-hour ride on a private air-conditioned coach to Jodhpur and arrive there around midday. This city lies at the edge of the Thar Desert and is dominated by the imposing Meherangarh Fort, which sits atop a sheer rocky ridge in the middle of town. We visit the fort, which is run by the current Maharaja of Jodhpur, as well as the bustling Sardar Market. It’s a great place to explore with several alleyways leading off to various bazaars selling fruits, vegetables, spices, textiles and handicrafts.
Udaipur - overnight train
A six-hour hour local bus journey takes us to Udaipur. Sometimes known as the 'Venice of the East', this beautiful city built around the shores of Lake Pichola is full of fascinating temples, ornate palaces and impressive 'havelis'. The charming setting of the Lake Palace on Jagwinas Island is unforgettable. During our stay we visit the Jagdish Temple, an Indo-Aryan temple containing a black stone image of Vishnu as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe. We also visit the City Palace, surmounted by balconies, towers and cupolas, where there are excellent views of the city and lakeside from the upper terraces. There are many other options available for sightseeing and our tour leader will be happy to assist in arranging these. From Udaipur we board an overnight sleeper train bound for Delhi.
Our time in Delhi is free for relaxing or doing some further sightseeing on our own. Red Fort and the impressive Jama Masjid (Great Mosque) are two of the city's most notable landmarks, whilst Raj Ghat is a monument that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. In the final evening we have the opportunity to head out for a final group dinner (optional) before saying our goodbyes.
Our trip ends today around breakfast time. If you wish to stay on in Delhi, please pre-book your post-tour accommodation before you commence your travels. Delhi has many interesting museums and monuments. If you are interested in historical and cultural matters, it is recommended that you to extend your stay and visit some of these places. Humayun's Tomb and Safdarjang's Tomb are other great examples of Mughal architecture and design. 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.
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