Welcome to India and the big city bustle of Delhi! Your journey begins in this colourful capital city and is sure to be unlike anywhere you've been before, with contrasts at every turn. You'll find both the ancient and modern and the peaceful and chaotic here, with ancient relics of multiple bygone eras peacefully sit next to glistening shopping malls. Meanwhile, street stalls, rickshaws, animals and tourists all jostle for space in the narrow lanes of Old Delhi. After arriving and transferring to your hotel, you'll meet up with your Travel Director and fellow travellers to chat through the adventures to come on your India value tour. You'll then indulge in your first taste of Delhi's delicious foodie scene over a welcome dinner.
Kickstart your sightseeing tour through Delhi this morning in the maze of streets and vibrant bazaars of Old Delhi. Your local guide will lead the charge through this real slice of India, then head to the dazzling Red Fort, where you'll marvel at the striking red stone turrets built by Emperor Shah Jahan during his Mughal reign, which went on to serve as the residence of emperors for 200 years. The essential highlights keep coming as you visit the stunning red sandstone carved Jama Mosque, Delhi's largest mosque and a little pocket of peace. You'll have time to explore the mosque before hopping on board a cycle rickshaw to go weaving through the streets of Old Delhi. After your exciting ride, you'll move on to New Delhi to experience a different side to the city, driving past grand government buildings and leafy avenues. Your last stop of the day will be Humayun's Tomb, another ancient remnant of the Mughal reign. After an incredible day, you'll return to your hotel rich in memories, with the evening spent however you choose.
Today is all yours to explore Delhi your way and there are plenty of optional experiences to tailor your day to your own cultural curiosities. Keen to dive deeper into Delhi's rich history? Why not join our option trip to visit the towering minaret of the UNESCO listed site Qutub Minar followed by stretching your legs on a heritage walk in the Mehrauli region, one of seven ancient cities that make up present day Delhi. Can't get enough of India's delicious food? Why not join our food tour of old Delhi, where you'll discover Asia's largest spice markets and sample quirky treats like tasty pickles and edible silver, before enjoying dinner at a traditional haveli.
Leaving Delhi in our dust this morning, we'll continue our journey south to Rajasthan, the state of the maharajas, and a real favourite among travellers for its rich culture, buzzing cities and superb shopping, the perfect place to pick up some treasures to remember your India vacation. As you drive through the gates to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, the capital, prepare for the magic of seeing sights like camels slowly plodding beside your window as they pull their wooden carts through the city. After settling into your hotel, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore Jaipur your way. Perhaps get started in the heart of the Old City at the City Palace, an opulent complex of courtyards, gardens and a gorgeous blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Be sure to check out the four delicately painted doors of the Pritam Niwas Chowk, which represent the four seasons. Keen to dive into the shopping opportunities? Venture into the Old City chowks to find the textiles, gems and handicrafts that Jaipur is famous for. This evening, don't miss joining our optional visit to the Birla Temple to witness a moving Aarti ceremony, a sacred part of Hindu culture and the perfect way to end yet another incredible day.
You'll wake up happy about a full day of essential sightseeing that lies ahead. Our first stop will be the famous Amber Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage listed palace set on top of a hill, that was once the home of Rajput rulers. This regal retreat is sure to amaze as you wander around the glistening white marble and yellow and pink sandstone. We'll continue our sightseeing to another Jaipur icon, the Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of the Winds, an incredible five storied building. Check out the pretty latticed windows that were built to allow the royal ladies look out over the bustle of the city below. After some free time in the city for lunch, the rest of the day is free to explore anyway you like. Perhaps come along on our optional visit to Sanganer where you'll see first hand the incredible art of pottery making and block printing on cotton from local expert artisans.
Another day, another incredible city awaits and today's journey will bring you one step closer to the icon we've all been waiting for - the dazzling Taj Mahal. Along the way, we'll stop at a lesser-known treasure, the long deserted 'Ghost City'of Fatehpur Sikri, built in 1569, before fuelling up for lunch and making our way to our final destination of the day, Agra. After settling into your hotel, you'll have the rest of the day to explore your way. Perhaps you'd like to kickstart your Agra adventures by wandering around the vibrant chowks to sample some Indian sweets and shop for marble goods, or why not head to a rooftop bar for a refreshing drink and a view over the city. You could even choose to discover the epic love story behind the Taj Mahal… Bollywood style!
Rise and shine explorers, the famous Taj Mahal awaits today! But first, you've got a whole morning free to spend your way, so perhaps head out into the bustling chowk to sample Indian treats. Alternatively, you could join us on our optional experience to the famous Agra Fort, a bright red sandstone palace that dates back to 1565. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a triumph of Mughal craftsmanship, and you'll get to wander around the soaring turrets and elegant gardens, with views of the Taj in the distance. You'll finally get to visit the Taj Mahal this afternoon, for one of the best sunsets of your life. This grand mausoleum is so much more impressive in real life, and you'll stand in awe as you the setting sun washes over the glistening white marble, painting all shades of pink and gold. Built in 1632 as a tribute to the love Shah Jahan had for his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth, you can head inside to visit the tombs of Shah and Mumtaz. Rudyard Kipling once described the building as 'the embodiment of all things pure' and we're sure you'll agree as you snap a photo on the famous 'Diana seat'.
Today is full of incredible sights so be sure to pack your camera and your sense of adventure as you board the Bhopal Shatabdi Express bound for Jhansi. Kick back and relax as you stare out the window and watch the endless landscapes of rural India passing by along the way. We'll stop at the forgotten Rajput capital, Orchha, where you'll find wonderful Rajput architecture and ancient forts and palaces. Next up, we'll continue our journey to Khajuraho, home to the UNESCO listed relics of the same name. After arriving, the rest of your day is free to explore your way or rest up before our adventures in Khajuraho tomorrow!
Our first stop on today's adventures is the western group of temples at Khajuraho that date all the way back to the 12th century. The ancient temples are famed for their fascinating and intricate carvings that depict everything from erotic scenes to everyday life like farmers, musicians and potters. Whatever you discover in the temples, you're sure to leave with a story to tell, before heading to the airport to catch your flight to Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India. You'll dive straight into the holy atmosphere of the city, heading to the sacred waters of the Ganges River to take part in a traditional Aarti ceremony. You'll watch in awe as the Hindu priests light candles and chant for Mother Ganga, before releasing offerings of candles and flowers to float down the river at sunset.
Few experiences can move your soul like a sunrise boat ride along the banks of the sacred River Ganges, and that's exactly what you'll be doing this morning. Witness locals offering their morning prayers to Mother Ganga, bathing their buffalo and practicing their yoga moves as you drift along, with the rising sun painting the river in all shades of yellow and gold. Continue your morning sightseeing at the Kashi Vishwanath, Bharat Mata and Durga Mandir temples before refuelling over breakfast. Enjoy some downtime after a memorable morning, then later today, you might like to explore your way and weave through the maze of Old Town streets, or perhaps come along for our optional trip to Sarnath. It's said to be the spot where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment and we'll be soaking up some serious history here.
Head to the airport this morning to catch your flight back to Delhi, before making the most of the last day of your India tour package to shop for last minute souvenirs in the local markets, grab a rickshaw and soak up the atmosphere, or wander the colourful bazaars and watch the local life go by. Celebrate your final night in style this evening, and head out to an optional gourmet Indian feast with your fellow travellers to reminisce on all your incredible experiences over delicious food.
Your journey full of amazing experiences will stay with you as your India trip comes to an end today. We hope you're leaving India with big smiles and hearts full of memories of glittering palaces, sacred rituals on the Ganges and ancient temples and some of the most delicious meals of your life as you transfer to Delhi International Airport for your onward flight.