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India holiday package - Boat trip in Varanasi

A Taste of India

Route (train): Delhi - Jaipur - Taj Mahal - Orchha - Khajuraho - Varanasi - Delhi

Route (flight): Delhi - Jaipur - Agra - Delhi - Varanasi - Delhi

This India suggested itinerary is perfect for anyone tied down to two weeks annual leave. It includes several highlights of North India. After a night in Delhi, you'll be transferred to the 'pink city' of Jaipur with its bazaars, old city, palaces and the mighty Amber Fort perched on the surrounding hills. You'll then continue via Galta Monkey Temple, the wetlands of Bharatpur, and the deserted ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri to Agra. After a sunrise trip to the very atmospheric and iconic Taj Mahal, you'll head to the holy city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges. En route you'll have a relaxing stay in the peaceful riverside town of Orchha and a night in Khajuraho famous for it's ancient temples adorned with erotic carvings.

To find out more, simply give us a call on 01273 322044. If you've got slightly more time during your India trip, try one of our other suggested itineraries to India. Alternatively, if you would prefer to build your own India trip, take a look at our range of bite-sized India trips.
Duration 12 days / 11 nights - travelling by train
11 days / 10 nights - travelling by plane

Departs daily


Comfortable hotels with local character. General comfort level 3 (see accommodation page)


£898 per person - Both based on 2 people sharing a private trip


Accommodation with breakfast, transport and tours as described. 


Private car and train/flight


International flights and local entrance fees

Day 1: Arrival in Delhi

When you arrive in Delhi at the beginning of your India itinerary, you’ll be collected by private car. Your driver will take you directly to your hotel. You stay in a comfortable hotel, with modern facilities, in Central Delhi, an ideal base to explore both the spice markets of Chandi Chowk and the modern bars of Connaught Place. Street stalls, shops and restaurants are nearby. Here, you can catch your breath and rest after your flight. All our Delhi hotels have comfortable rooms with private en-suite bathrooms and breakfast included. 

Although there's nothing planned for you today, if you have time you might want to visit the impressive Qutab Minar complex and Humayun's Tomb, both World Heritage Sites. The Qutab Minar has a 5-storey, 72-metre victory tower of red sandstone. Humayun's Tomb is a grand sandstone mausoleum in proper Mughal style. The Taj Mahal, built much later, follows a similar style of architecture.
India holiday practise- Delhi Traffic
India holiday package - Charming family run hotel

Day 2: Delhi - Jaipur

Today you'll be transferred to Jaipur by air-conditioned car, which takes around 5 hours. The 'pink city' is a good introduction to Rajasthan. In fact it is the colourful capital of Rajasthan state. During your two nights here, you can relax, acclimatise and explore. There is so much to see in this elegant and astonishing city that you could spend days here without getting bored. Jaipur centre is a colourful mix of saris, sadhus, holy cows, spice markets, street vendors, camel carts, elephants, beggars, traffic, temples, forts and palaces.

During the Jaipur part of your India suggested itinerary you’ll stay in a friendly family run hotel where the owners will always make you feel welcome. Breakfast is served in the peaceful courtyard area. The rooms here are tastefully furnished in traditional Indian-style and some have four-poster beds. The hotel has a swimming pool for refreshing dips.

Day 3: Jaipur - City tour

On day three of your India itinerary, you’ll take a guided tour of this remarkable city, visiting the City Palace, the Observatory and the fairy-tale Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal). In the afternoon, you’ll visit the imposing Amber Fort that lies just outside the city limits. From the battlements of the Amber Fort, you’ll have a wonderful view of the rocky hills and the smaller walls and forts constructed by the Rajputs and the Mughals in the area.

The City Palace and the Palace of the Winds both stand in the ancient quarter of the city. The City Palace contains a beautiful museum with fascinating collections. If you see the flag flying, it means that the Maharaja is in residence. The Palace of the Winds is a world-famous, pyramid-shaped building with dozens of windows. This is where the women of the royal harem could watch the processions in the street below, unseen by the masses.
India holiday package - Amber Fort
India holiday package - Galta

Day 4: Jaipur - Galta - Bharatpur - Fatehpur Sikri - Agra

This morning, you'll leave Jaipur and head east towards Galta, an optional stop on your India itinerary. The Monkey Temple here is a pilgrimage site that attracts flocks of devotees. The stream is reputed to be water from the River Ganges, although this is geographically impossible. People bathe and sing on the steps (ghats) that lead down into the pools. Their voices echo through the rocky gorge, which opens into a wider valley dotted with temples overrun with monkeys. 

After Galta, you’ll continue your India itinerary as you drive for another three hours before arriving in Bharatpur. This is a fascinating waterworld, criss-crossed by pathways that your cycle rickshaw driver can take you along. Maharajas of the historic Singh family used this region as their hunting grounds. If you like, you can stretch your legs here and see some of the wildlife and birdlife attracted by the wetlands.
There are hundreds of rare birds in the Bharatpur wetlands, one of the lesser known North India highlights, such as the rare Siberian crane. Currently, there are several tigers here, originally from Ranthambore National Park, which prey on the waterfowl and wildlife. It’s unlikely that you’ll see this in action, but keep your eyes peeled all the same.

A few miles later, you’ll come to stunning Fatehpur Sikri. The great ruler Akbar set up his capital here, and built a grand city, but after only 40 years the water supply became too difficult to maintain in this dry area, so all of the inhabitants packed up and moved on. They left behind a phenomenal collection of grand temples and palaces, with the ruins of old houses standing between them. Now it is an atmospheric ghost city, full of green parrots and monkeys. 

After visiting Fatehpur Sikri, this India itinerary will take you on a drive to Agra, where you’ll arrive at your hotel in Agra. The hotel will be comfortable, with a restaurant and a swimming pool.
India holiday package- Bharatpur Wetlands
India holiday package- Taj Mahal

Day 5: Agra - Taj Mahal

You'll have breakfast this morning or head off very early for a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal and eat later. You’ll be taken to the Taj Mahal by your driver and a guide. This is sure to be a real highlight of your India itinerary. The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a token of his love for his deceased wife, and is undoubtedly the most romantic mausoleum in the world.

After this, you’ll head for Agra Fort. This huge but restrained structure seems to be immersed in a dreamy atmosphere when it’s bathed in the golden light of late afternoon, which slants through the pillars and galleries. From its majestic walls and through its arches, you can see the Taj Mahal, just as Shah Jahan would have done centuries ago, when he was imprisoned here by his son. You'll then return to your hotel and the rest of the day is completely free.

Day 6: Agra - Orchha

We've arranged your private transfer to Agra Station. Your train leaves at about 8am on its way to Jhansi. After about 2½ hours (give or take a little in India), you’ll arrive in Jhansi and you’ll be collected at the station by your driver, who will take you to Orchha (about 16 km away).

Orchha is a charming small town of only 9000 residents and it is one of the few places in India that you can easily explore on foot without being approached by beggars or touts. The town is renowned for its breathtaking Ram Raja Temple, Chaturbhuj Temple and Lakshmi Narayan Temple. It is also set on the banks of the beautiful Betwa river. In the afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore the town at your own pace or just relax at your hotel. There are limited options for cafes and restaurants so you may want to enjoy an evening meal at your hotel.
India holiday package - Orchha Riverside Ruins
India holiday package- Orchha Streets

Day 7: Orchha - Free time

Today you are free to explore Orchha at your leisure or just relax in the lovely surroundings of your hotel. The swimming pool is great for refreshing dips if it's hot. Perhaps take a walk down to the ruined chhatris (cenotaphs to Orchha's rulers of old) by the river where vultures roost at sundown. If you head across the small stone bridge across the river (water levels permitting) the view of Orchha looking back across the rocks and water is really beautiful. In the centre of town there is a wider granite bridge that takes you across a tributary to three abandoned 17th century palaces in various stages of repair. If you climb up to the higher levels you are rewarded with some great views. This small town has a village atmosphere where homes are brightly painted and goats and cattle wander the quiet streets. Orchha only gets busy when pilgrims come to town to visit the temples.

If you're short on time, and don't mind a fast paced trip, we can reduce your time in Orchha to one night. Just let your India Travel Specialist know.

Day 8: Orchha - Khajuraho

The next stop en route from Agra to Varanasi is another tranquil town that is much better known and famous for a series of impressive temples; Khajuraho. Many tourists pass through this UNESCO World Heritage Site to take a tour of the Khajuraho temples. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the western temples of Khajuraho accompanied by a local guide, principally known for their erotic scenes as depicted in the Kama Sutra. The Khajuraho temples are about 1000 years old and they are still in incredibly good condition, even though there are only 22 of the original 85 temples still left. The jungle engulfed some of the temples and even though the villagers maintained them as best as they could they were considered 'lost and then found' by an Englishman in the 19th century, but this is debatable! The many intricate carvings that cover the Khajuraho temples depict all kinds of scenes from daily life and your guide will explain the history that surrounds them. You’ll stay in a comfortable hotel with a pool, set in quiet grounds.
India holiday package- Khajuraho Temples
India holiday package- Varanasi life

Day 9: Khajuraho - Varanasi

It's an early hours departure today so you'll need to skip breakfast or ask the hotel the night before to prepare a packed breakfast for you. Your driver will take you to the station at Satna to pick up the train to Varanasi. The train is a sleeper service so you may need to get horizontal for the first stretch of the journey before the lower beds are stowed away and turned into seating for the remains of the journey.

The train arrives in Varanasi just after 4pm and there will be a transfer waiting to take you straight to your hotel. The evening is free for you to do as you wish. You can walk down to the ghats and take an atmospheric evening stroll along the Ganges or enjoy your evening meal on the roof terrace at your hotel.

Day 10: Varanasi - Ganges Boat Trip

Today you will get up early in the morning for your private Ganges boat trip. At dawn this a particularly atmospheric experience. The Ganges is flanked by a series of ghats – broad stone staircases leading down to the water – that stretch for many miles along the rivers edge. You can stroll along the traffic-free ghats, and attend the evening prayer ceremony on the main ghat where flower candles are set afloat on the river. This 'puja' ceremony, as well as ritual bathing, takes place at dawn too and you can take this all in from your boat trip. After your boat trip a local guide will take you on a heritage walk of the old city. For the rest of the day you can explore at your own pace.

Life and death rub shoulders here like nowhere else on earth, and the experience is very absorbing. Watching a cremation take place on the ‘burning ghats’ during this India trip is something that you will remember forever. Next to the cremation ghats, you’ll find kids playing, holy men smoking, cows nosing through rubbish, and women beating laundry on the rocks.
India holiday package- Ganges Boat trip
India holiday package- Delhi Parliment

Day 11: Varanasi - Delhi

Today you will be transferred to Varanasi airport for your domestic flight back to Delhi. If you are on a budget and would rather take the train we can also book a sleeper train ride for you between Varanasi and Delhi in 2nd class A/C sleeper carriages. Take a look at our train travel information page for some more detail.

Depending on your flight schedule you can use today to see some of the many sights of Delhi. Such as the crowded, narrow lanes of Chandi Chowk, the stately Humayan’s Tomb, the greenery of Lodi Gardens, the impressive parliment buildings and the moving and informative Gandhi Museum. You'll be back in one of our well-maintained hotel in Central Delhi, with comfortable rooms and modern facilities. The hotel is near to both the alleyways and spice bazaars of Old Delhi and the spacious shopping emporiums of Connaught Place can be reached easily on the metro or by taxi.

Day 12: Departure from Delhi

We can add an extra night in Varanasi for you to slow the pace or an extra night in Delhi before you head home. Just speak to your Travel Specialist on 01273 322044.

Your India itinerary ends after breakfast this morning. When the time comes, you'll head for the airport to check in for your flight back to the UK, or if you are staying on in India your Travel Specialist can discuss further options and ways of extending this suggested itinerary.

Make sure you allow a minimum of three hours to check in for your international flights.
India holiday package- Delhi Cow
India holiday package- Domestic flights

By plane

If you choose to do the plane version of this itinerary, your trip will differ slightly from the one above. On day 6 you will return to Delhi for the night instead of heading to Orchha. The following day you will fly to Varanasi (missing out Orchha and Khajuraho) but we will extend your stay in Varanasi to three nights instead of two.

Your trip will then continue as normal and you will fly back to Delhi and spend your last night there. This version of the itinerary is 11 days and 10 nights long.

A peek at Our Standard Accommodation (click to enlarge)

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