Day 1: Overnight Flight
Discover India’s perfect synthesis of nature, spirituality, and regal legacy – an electric color wheel that breathes life into the senses and resurrects the spirit. Step by majestic step, begin your love affair with India’s splendors, and its mysteries.
Day 2: Delhi, India – Tour Begins
Delhi is the “City of Djinns” – place of the spirits. It is a frenetic paradise of contradiction, vitality, vibrancy and color. Experience everything this dynamic metropolis has to offer, from modern New Delhi to historic Old Delhi.
Day 3: Delhi
Cut through Old Delhi’s buzzing streets on a rickshaw – your mode of transportation for an exhilarating food tour. Down narrow streets and corridors, see plates bursting with color as you meet local vendors and taste some of the best food India has to offer. You’ll also pay a visit to a sacred Sikh temple that features a communal kitchen. Continue to Humayun’s Tomb, one of the best preserved Mughal monuments, and round out your tour at the India Gate war memorial, Parliament, and the President’s sprawling, palatial residence, Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Day 4: Delhi - Udaipur
The gateway to Rajasthan, Udaipur’s regal forts and palaces evoke fairy tale stories and exotic prose. On an evening cruise of Lake Pichola, views of City Palace dominate and the sight of the southern island reveals the glittering, three-storied palace of Jag Mandir. Your hotel, a restored historic palace, is perched on a hilltop overlooking the lake.
Day 5: Udaipur
As the dawn meets the day, it’s your choice! Join a local expert to learn the basic practices of yoga -OR- embark on a leisurely walking tour as the streets of Udaipur come to life. This afternoon, explore the City Palace and marvel at its windowless walls, domes, and tiered balconies. Follow the steps of royal ladies in the enchanting Sahelion-ki-Bari – “Garden of the Maids of Honor.” The remainder of the day is yours.
Day 6: Udaipur - Jaipur
A scenic drive through the countryside delivers you to Jaipur, the “Pink City.” Our first stop is at the 953-windowed façade of Hawa Mahal, the former home of a maharaja. Immerse yourself in the architectural glories of Jaipur as you stroll the heart of the Old City. Walk the perfumed aisles of a flower market where garlands are created for traditional Indian ceremonies. Not far away, marvel at the impeccable masonry at Jantar Mantar. This evening, discover the art of simple eating during a home-hosted cooking class. Shop for fresh ingredients with your host at a local market, then return to her home where the joys of cooking – and eating – are revealed over a magnificent vegetarian meal – a cornerstone of India’s gastronomic culture.
Day 7: Jaipur
Ascend to the top of the extensive palace complex of Amber Fort aboard a vintage jeep. This is India’s former seat of power, and a prelude to an incredible cultural experience in Jaipur. Break chipati with new friends during a visit to a local school* where children are thriving in a midday program supported by the Collette Foundation.
Day 8: Jaipur – Ranthambore National Park
The tiger is a creature of unending fascination in India. Seek them out in their natural habitat at Ranthambore National Park. Learn about Project Tiger’s conservation efforts and the impact the organization has had on the Ranthambore sanctuary. You’ll also meet a naturalist who’ll introduce you to India’s extensive wildlife. Surrounded by deep forests and scattered ruins, board a canter and watch for marsh crocodiles, sloth bears, hyenas, and of course, tigers.
Day 9: Ranthambore
The barking deer and the Indian gazelles come out to play in the early hours of the morning. Under the cover of exotic birdlife, follow the path of the desert cats as you go in search of the wildlife this sanctuary is known for. Then, it’s your choice! Return to your hotel to simply relax -OR- visit Ranthambore School of Art, which recruits students from neighboring villages and trains them to be self-sufficient artists.
Day 10: Ranthambore – Agra
The sound of your train’s engine is the only thing that cuts the still of the early morning. Through tunnels and around bends, follow the rails to Agra, a city rich with the splendors of the past.
Day 11: Agra
The Taj Mahal, a stunning vision in white marble and sandstone, was constructed as an expression of love by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Experience the romantic spirit of the Taj Mahal at sunrise, when the colors of the sky dance on the white marble façade and shimmer in its reflective pool. Later, visit Agra Fort, the seat of the Mughal Empire. Then enjoy lunch at Sheroes' Hangout – a café that empowers female survivors of shattering acid attacks, so that they may reclaim their lives, and livelihoods, through employment and sisterhood.
Day 12: Agra – Khajuraho
Aboard a public train this morning, make passage to Khajuraho. In the shadow of the Vindhya mountain range lies a city of stone – a place where India’s near-mythic aesthetic is forged into the stonework of dozens of temples.
Day 13: Khajuraho – Varanasi
Behold the Chandel Temple complex, where some of the finest examples of temple architecture in northern India reside. Then, fly to Varanasi – India’s holiest city with a palpable mystique. In Varanasi, spiritual energy radiates from the ground up. Sail along the River Ganges on a journey along the ghats, or banks, of the river. From the Dasaswamedh Ghat, experience the Ganga Aarti ceremony as it illuminates the night sky.
Day 14: Varanasi
Today we travel to Sarnath, where Siddarth Gautama, later known as Buddha, gave his first sermon in the 6th century B.C. Celebrate your passage through India alongside new friends at a farewell dinner.
Day 15: Varanasi - Delhi - Tour Ends
Enjoy a morning at leisure before flying back to Delhi, where a day room has been reserved for you to freshen up before your return flight home.