Exotic India

Exotic India

An epic journey across some of North and Central India’s finest cultural destinations. Forts and palaces, ancient temples and timeless rituals on the banks of the Holy Ganges combine perfectly with ‘off-the-beaten-track’ gems.

Immerse yourself in the rich history, cultures, spirituality and cuisines of North India, travelling through the centuries from ancient Varanasi to myriad dynasties in Delhi, Mughal Agra, and the post-Mughal kingdoms of Gwalior, Jhansi and Lucknow, with reminders of India’s First War of Independence (or the Indian Mutiny) and the last hurrah of the British Empire in New Delhi.

13 DAYS
FROM £2625
Solo Only
Themes:
Activity Levels
Moderate
WHAT'S INCLUDED
  • Activities and excursions as specified
  • Entrance fees/tickets for the above
  • In-destination transfers & transport
  • Accommodation & Meals as specified
  • English speaking guides
  • 24/7 support while you travel

Explore this itinerary

Day 0: Depart from UK

The tour begins in Delhi on Day 1.

We recommend that you fly to Delhi on the following flights, from London Heathrow.

Air India flight AI166, departs LHR 2145, arrives Delhi 1035 (next day)

Virgin Atlantic VS300, departs LHR 2005, arrives Delhi 0930 (next day).

If you are travelling from another airport, or taking other flights, please ensure they arrive by 1030 on Day 1 of the tour.

Note that International flights are not included in the tour price. We can book flights for you on request.

None
Day 1: Delhi

Arrive in Delhi at 0930 hrs by flight VS300 or by AI166 at 1035 hrs, where, you’ll be met by our representative and the group will transfer to your hotel.

After lunch, in the afternoon we shall start our tour with a visit to the World Heritage site of Qutub Minar, followed by the grandest of early Mughal monuments in India, Humayun’s Tomb.

Dinner
Day 2: Old Delhi

Today, we marvel at the glory days of Mughals in Old Delhi (Shahjahanbad), starting with an early visit to Jama Masjid, the grand mosque. Climb one of the minarets of the mosque for a truly spectacular bird’s eye view (if open to public)

Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the busy Chandni Chowk markets, where the street food has something for everyone – lip-smacking kebabs, paranthas and mithais.

During the afternoon, you’ll visit a traditional family-owned perfumery to observe the medieval art of making natural perfumes.

Meet a Kabootar-baaz and learn all about the intricacies of the sport of pigeon racing from the rooftops of Old Delhi for a truly unique cultural experience to end your day. Then drive along the wide treelined boulevards of New Delhi.

Step out of Old Delhi to the heart of New Delhi on a ride on the Delhi Metro. Around dusk, visit India Gate for an evening walk around India Gate.

Breakfast
Day 3: Agra

After an early breakfast drive to Agra (04.5 hours) via Yamuna Expressway.

Visit Agra Fort, followed by a short walk around old bazaars of Agra and visit to Agra’s grand mosque, Jama Masjid.

To gain insight on Agra’s living arts and distinctive cuisines, see some of Agra’s speciality foods being prepared – the sweet ‘Petha’, the savoury ‘Dal Moth’ (Agra’s tangy version of Bombay mix).

The mausoleum of Itmad-ud-daulah (often called ‘Baby Taj’) is perfectly formed, and profusely decorated in marble inlays.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4: Taj Mahal

Fall in love with the Taj Mahal at sunrise. An early morning start to beat the crowds is the best way to appreciate its sublime beauty. No matter how many times one has seen the photos, the experience is truly memorable. Watch marble inlay artisans at a marble workshop.

After breakfast back at hotel, visit Agra’s flower market.

Later, drive to Gwalior (3hrs) and check into your hotel.

After lunch, a half day guided tour of Gwalior includes the magnificent Gwalior Fort and the JaiVilas Palace, the seat of the royal family of Scindias during the British era.

Gwalior’s spectacular fort is perhaps one of the most romantic forts of India. Inside are palaces and temples, and the rampart has spectacular views of the city. The Gujari Mahal museum holds the famous 10th century Salabhanjika – the bust of a celestial nymph dubbed ‘India’s Mona Lisa’ for her enigmatic expression.

Breakfast
Day 5: Orchha

Drive south to Orchha, stopping at Datia and Jhansi.

Datia’s (1.5hrs drive) resplendent seven storeyed, 17th century palace is an excellent representation of Indo-Islamic architecture.

Later, drive (45m) south to Jhansi Fort, a hill-top stronghold of the Chandela Kings from 11th -17th century. The fort passed to the hands of the British East India Company in 1853, where in 1857 soldiers of the 12th Bengal Infantry mutinied and seized the fort.

The previously dethroned Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmi Bai, tried to take control but in 1858 the British recaptured the town after a very tough battle in which she lost her life.

Notable sights in Jhansi Fort are temples, and the ‘Strong Lightning’ cannon used in the battles of 1857.

Drive (30m) to arrive at the riverside Orchha in the evening, hopefully in time to visit Ram Raja temple at sunset.

Breakfast
Day 6: Orchha-Khajuraho

Orchha was founded as the capital of the Rajput state of Bundelkhand by Raja Rudra Pratap in 1501, and its citadel was built on a rock island in the Betwa river. Later, Orchha’s fortunes declined and it was eventually abandoned in 1783, but the romantic remains of the grand palaces, temples and riverside cenotaphs are perfect for a morning’s exploration.

After lunch, drive to Khajuraho (3 hrs) and check into your hotel.

In the evening, enjoy the son-et-luminaire show narrating the history of the Chandela rulers and of the 10th-11th century temples.

Breakfast
Day 7: Khajuraho

Enjoy a full day’s guided tour of the Khajuraho’s temples.

Khajuraho is famous for its graceful sculptures of mythological figures and deities, but of course, the majority of visitors visit for the profusion of erotic sculpture, sensuous in nature and intricate in detail.

The 25 remaining temples are divided amongst the Western, Eastern and Southern groups.

Breakfast
Day 8: Panna National Park

After breakfast, drive to Panna and visit to Raneh Fall and Pandav Fall on the way.

After a nice lunch at Ken River Lodge, enjoy an afternoon jeep safari by exclusive jeep in Panna National Park, looking for tigers and leopards.

Drive back to Khajuraho after your safari and relax in your hotel.

Breakfast
Day 9: Varanasi

Enjoy a relaxed morning at leisure.

Later, transfer to the airport to catch the flight to Varanasi (1430-1525).

After checking into your hotel, in the evening return to Dashashwamedh Ghat for the quintessential Varanasi experience of the grand Ganga Aarti (prayers) where priests in splendid ceremonial dress swirl blazing oil lamps in an intense and gloriously photogenic spectacle and a rising crescendo of chants, drumbeats, ringing bells that makes your spine tingle.

Breakfast
Day 10: Varanasi

Start your day early with a dawn boat trip on the Ganges from where you have the best vantage point to observe the timeless ghats at their magical misty best.

The sights and sounds of religious rituals, chanting of devotees and the ringing of temple bells helps one understand why Rudyard Kipling called Varanasi “the greatest spectacle in India”.

Explore the city’s narrow lanes, temples and daily life on a short guided walk.

Return to your hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, visit the Buddhist site of Sarnath for a guided tour.

Breakfast
Day 11: Lucknow

After breakfast drive to Lucknow (5hrs), and check at your hotel.

Start exploring Lucknow with a visit to the battle-scarred former British Residency.

This evening, enjoy a food walk around the old market streets visiting the town’s legendary establishments serving grilled meats and delicately spiced curries.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12: Lucknow

Lucknow is an underrated gem with a vast collection of regal monuments from the glory days of Avadh’s Nawabs. The court of Avadh emerged to political and cultural prominence as creative talent moved from Delhi’s fading Mughal courts for better prospects.

Explore the rich architectural heritage of the Nawabs on a tour that includes the opulent Bara Imambara and the Hussainabad Imambara, or ‘Palace of Lights’, venues that hosted banquets, dance and musical performances for the opulent court.

In the afternoon, join a heritage tour of Lucknow’s bazaars for a final treat on this grand tour. Shop around for souvenirs, or just enjoy the street food delicacies on offer at every step.

Breakfast
Day 13: Lucknow-Delhi

The morning is free at leisure.

Catch the late afternoon flight to Delhi (1705-1820).

Arriving in Delhi, drive to your hotel for a short refresh, and enjoy a group farewell dinner, recounting and reflecting on experiences with your fellow travellers.

After dinner, the group will be transferred to Delhi’s International Airport at 2200 hrs to bring the tour to an end.

We recommend that you fly back to London on the following early morning flights:

Air India flight AI161, departs Delhi 0245, arrives LHR 0730.

Virgin Atlantic VS303, departs Delhi 0205, arrives LHR 0720.

If you are flying on other flights, and require an extra night’s stay in a hotel, we can arrange the extension for you.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 0: Depart from UK

The tour begins in Delhi on Day 1.

We recommend that you fly to Delhi on the following flights, from London Heathrow.

Air India flight AI166, departs LHR 2145, arrives Delhi 1035 (next day)

Virgin Atlantic VS300, departs LHR 2005, arrives Delhi 0930 (next day).

If you are travelling from another airport, or taking other flights, please ensure they arrive by 1030 on Day 1 of the tour.

Note that International flights are not included in the tour price. We can book flights for you on request.

None
Day 1: Delhi

Arrive in Delhi at 0930 hrs by flight VS300 or by AI166 at 1035 hrs, where, you’ll be met by our representative and the group will transfer to your hotel.

After lunch, in the afternoon we shall start our tour with a visit to the World Heritage site of Qutub Minar, followed by the grandest of early Mughal monuments in India, Humayun’s Tomb.

Dinner
Day 2: Old Delhi

Today, we marvel at the glory days of Mughals in Old Delhi (Shahjahanbad), starting with an early visit to Jama Masjid, the grand mosque. Climb one of the minarets of the mosque for a truly spectacular bird’s eye view (if open to public)

Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the busy Chandni Chowk markets, where the street food has something for everyone – lip-smacking kebabs, paranthas and mithais.

During the afternoon, you’ll visit a traditional family-owned perfumery to observe the medieval art of making natural perfumes.

Meet a Kabootar-baaz and learn all about the intricacies of the sport of pigeon racing from the rooftops of Old Delhi for a truly unique cultural experience to end your day. Then drive along the wide treelined boulevards of New Delhi.

Step out of Old Delhi to the heart of New Delhi on a ride on the Delhi Metro. Around dusk, visit India Gate for an evening walk around India Gate.

Breakfast
Day 3: Agra

After an early breakfast drive to Agra (04.5 hours) via Yamuna Expressway.

Visit Agra Fort, followed by a short walk around old bazaars of Agra and visit to Agra’s grand mosque, Jama Masjid.

To gain insight on Agra’s living arts and distinctive cuisines, see some of Agra’s speciality foods being prepared – the sweet ‘Petha’, the savoury ‘Dal Moth’ (Agra’s tangy version of Bombay mix).

The mausoleum of Itmad-ud-daulah (often called ‘Baby Taj’) is perfectly formed, and profusely decorated in marble inlays.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4: Taj Mahal

Fall in love with the Taj Mahal at sunrise. An early morning start to beat the crowds is the best way to appreciate its sublime beauty. No matter how many times one has seen the photos, the experience is truly memorable. Watch marble inlay artisans at a marble workshop.

After breakfast back at hotel, visit Agra’s flower market.

Later, drive to Gwalior (3hrs) and check into your hotel.

After lunch, a half day guided tour of Gwalior includes the magnificent Gwalior Fort and the JaiVilas Palace, the seat of the royal family of Scindias during the British era.

Gwalior’s spectacular fort is perhaps one of the most romantic forts of India. Inside are palaces and temples, and the rampart has spectacular views of the city. The Gujari Mahal museum holds the famous 10th century Salabhanjika – the bust of a celestial nymph dubbed ‘India’s Mona Lisa’ for her enigmatic expression.

Breakfast
Day 5: Orchha

Drive south to Orchha, stopping at Datia and Jhansi.

Datia’s (1.5hrs drive) resplendent seven storeyed, 17th century palace is an excellent representation of Indo-Islamic architecture.

Later, drive (45m) south to Jhansi Fort, a hill-top stronghold of the Chandela Kings from 11th -17th century. The fort passed to the hands of the British East India Company in 1853, where in 1857 soldiers of the 12th Bengal Infantry mutinied and seized the fort.

The previously dethroned Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmi Bai, tried to take control but in 1858 the British recaptured the town after a very tough battle in which she lost her life.

Notable sights in Jhansi Fort are temples, and the ‘Strong Lightning’ cannon used in the battles of 1857.

Drive (30m) to arrive at the riverside Orchha in the evening, hopefully in time to visit Ram Raja temple at sunset.

Breakfast
Day 6: Orchha-Khajuraho

Orchha was founded as the capital of the Rajput state of Bundelkhand by Raja Rudra Pratap in 1501, and its citadel was built on a rock island in the Betwa river. Later, Orchha’s fortunes declined and it was eventually abandoned in 1783, but the romantic remains of the grand palaces, temples and riverside cenotaphs are perfect for a morning’s exploration.

After lunch, drive to Khajuraho (3 hrs) and check into your hotel.

In the evening, enjoy the son-et-luminaire show narrating the history of the Chandela rulers and of the 10th-11th century temples.

Breakfast
Day 7: Khajuraho

Enjoy a full day’s guided tour of the Khajuraho’s temples.

Khajuraho is famous for its graceful sculptures of mythological figures and deities, but of course, the majority of visitors visit for the profusion of erotic sculpture, sensuous in nature and intricate in detail.

The 25 remaining temples are divided amongst the Western, Eastern and Southern groups.

Breakfast
Day 8: Panna National Park

After breakfast, drive to Panna and visit to Raneh Fall and Pandav Fall on the way.

After a nice lunch at Ken River Lodge, enjoy an afternoon jeep safari by exclusive jeep in Panna National Park, looking for tigers and leopards.

Drive back to Khajuraho after your safari and relax in your hotel.

Breakfast
Day 9: Varanasi

Enjoy a relaxed morning at leisure.

Later, transfer to the airport to catch the flight to Varanasi (1430-1525).

After checking into your hotel, in the evening return to Dashashwamedh Ghat for the quintessential Varanasi experience of the grand Ganga Aarti (prayers) where priests in splendid ceremonial dress swirl blazing oil lamps in an intense and gloriously photogenic spectacle and a rising crescendo of chants, drumbeats, ringing bells that makes your spine tingle.

Breakfast
Day 10: Varanasi

Start your day early with a dawn boat trip on the Ganges from where you have the best vantage point to observe the timeless ghats at their magical misty best.

The sights and sounds of religious rituals, chanting of devotees and the ringing of temple bells helps one understand why Rudyard Kipling called Varanasi “the greatest spectacle in India”.

Explore the city’s narrow lanes, temples and daily life on a short guided walk.

Return to your hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, visit the Buddhist site of Sarnath for a guided tour.

Breakfast
Day 11: Lucknow

After breakfast drive to Lucknow (5hrs), and check at your hotel.

Start exploring Lucknow with a visit to the battle-scarred former British Residency.

This evening, enjoy a food walk around the old market streets visiting the town’s legendary establishments serving grilled meats and delicately spiced curries.

Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12: Lucknow

Lucknow is an underrated gem with a vast collection of regal monuments from the glory days of Avadh’s Nawabs. The court of Avadh emerged to political and cultural prominence as creative talent moved from Delhi’s fading Mughal courts for better prospects.

Explore the rich architectural heritage of the Nawabs on a tour that includes the opulent Bara Imambara and the Hussainabad Imambara, or ‘Palace of Lights’, venues that hosted banquets, dance and musical performances for the opulent court.

In the afternoon, join a heritage tour of Lucknow’s bazaars for a final treat on this grand tour. Shop around for souvenirs, or just enjoy the street food delicacies on offer at every step.

Breakfast
Day 13: Lucknow-Delhi

The morning is free at leisure.

Catch the late afternoon flight to Delhi (1705-1820).

Arriving in Delhi, drive to your hotel for a short refresh, and enjoy a group farewell dinner, recounting and reflecting on experiences with your fellow travellers.

After dinner, the group will be transferred to Delhi’s International Airport at 2200 hrs to bring the tour to an end.

We recommend that you fly back to London on the following early morning flights:

Air India flight AI161, departs Delhi 0245, arrives LHR 0730.

Virgin Atlantic VS303, departs Delhi 0205, arrives LHR 0720.

If you are flying on other flights, and require an extra night’s stay in a hotel, we can arrange the extension for you.

Breakfast, Dinner

Departure Dates & Prices

The per person prices are based on a personal room throughout the tour, and exclude international flights. A deposit is required to reserve a place.

For further information, or to book any of our tours, please contact us.

Nov 7, 2024
£2625 per person
Available
Feb 27, 2025
£2625 per person
Available

Dates don't work? Don't fancy joining a group?
All our group tours can be tailored as private itineraries.

Our prices do not include international flights unless explicitly stated.

The price shown is per person, based on two people travelling and sharing a room, outside peak periods. Prices may vary depending on the time of travel, and single supplements may apply.

Our Accommodation Ratings

Opulent: Exceptional, unashamedly the best of sheer luxury. (£££££)

Luxury: Outstanding levels of 5* comfort, hospitality and facilities. (££££)

Premium: Excellent levels of comfort and hospitality and a wide range of facilities. (£££)

Mid-Range: Good levels of comfort and hospitality, with a reasonable range of facilities. (££)

Simple: Clean and simple, no frills. Often in areas of natural beauty or near wildlife reserves. (£)