The Spirit of India

Get to know the many colours and cultures of India on our incredible Spirit of India tour. On this 13 night itinerary, you will not only experience the best of India’s Golden Triangle - in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur - but discover age-old rituals in Varanasi, spectacular Hindu carvings in Khajuraho and cultural heritage in Lucknow.

From the mesmerising mayhem of Delhi to the architectural wonders of Agra and the pink palaces of Jaipur, India’s Golden Triangle offers an abundance of astonishing sights and experiences. Wind down from explorations in luxurious hotels; spend evenings feasting on sumptuous Indian cuisine. Soak in unforgettable moments aboard a boat on the River Ganges in Varanasi or witnessing the sun set behind the domes of the Taj Mahal in Agra. Each day brings new adventure and excitement.

Our Spirit of India tour is perfect for those interested in learning about the diversity of India’s heritage. You’ll embark on a fascinating journey through ancient India, discovering extraordinary architecture and monuments from a variety of dynasties and historical periods. Expect to gain unique insights and visit locations typically left off tourist routes; in the temples of Khajuraho, the great tombs of Lucknow, the turreted palaces of Ghalior.

Led by expert guides and harnessing decades of travel expertise, our India itineraries are a brilliant way to truly discover the magic that is India. Join us on a discovery of India’s spirit and soul. Expect to return home with unforgettable memories.

Duration
14 days
Options
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
The Taj Mahal

Trip highlights

  • Experience one of the world’s greatest feats of architecture at the Taj Mahal
  • Glide across the River Ganges on a boat ride in Varanasi

Arriving in Delhi, you’ll be met at the airport and taken to your hotel, the Taj Palace Hotel. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you like.  

Suggested Accommodation

  • Taj Palace Hotel

After breakfast, you’ll be picked up and driven around Delhi for a day tour that really allows you to get to know this fascinating Indian city.

Old Delhi introduces you to ancient Mughal grandeur. Built by the emperor Shah Jehan in 1648 as the capital of his empire, Old Delhi is home to a wealth of spectacular buildings. Contemplate the mastership of the red sandstone Jama Mosque; gaze up at the historic Red Fort; visit India’s most elegant mosque, Jama Masjid; ponder the poignant Mahatma Gandhi’s shrine, Raj Ghat.

Explore British colonial architecture in New Delhi, the early 20th century British capital. Highlights include the sprawling President’s residence, Rashtrapati Bhavan, and flanking Secretariat buildings, and the memorial arch, India Gate, commemorating those slain in WWI and the Indo-Afghan War.

Further intrigue can be found at the exquisite garden tomb, Humayun’s Tomb, built in 1565 AD by the widow of the second Mughal emperor, Haji Begum. The Delhi tour finishes at one of the city’s most iconic monuments, Qutab Minar, and the beautiful Lakshmi Narayan temple, offering insights into the city’s Hindu heritage.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Taj Palace Hotel

You’ll be picked up from the hotel after breakfast and a transfer will take you from Delhi to Jaipur (five - six hour drive). Arriving in Jaipur, Rajhasthan’s iconic Pink City, you’ll check in to your hotel, either the ITC Rajputana or le Meridien. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, relaxing at the hotel or taking to the streets for a wander.

Suggested Accommodation

  • ITC Rajputana or le Meridien

Today, you’ll explore one of India’s most picturesque cities. The day begins in style at the incredible Amber Fort, a sprawling sandstone masterpiece offering beautiful views over the landscape. Roam the decadent interiors, including the plethora of intricate miniature paintings, gem and mirror embellished walls and famous Sheesh Mahal mirror room, inside the Hall of Victory. Moving on to the Palace of Winds, gaze up at the painted tiers of the Hawa Mahal palace - built in 1799 as an extension to the Royal City Palace.

The afternoon in Jaipur continues with more royal splendour. The Maharaja’s City Palace, still used in part by Jaipur’s Royal family, has a bounty of spectacular architecture and artistry to explore. Covering almost one-seventh of the city’s area, roam the vast complex of courtyards, landscaped gardens and ornate buildings. The day ends at Jantar Mantar, the world’s largest stone and marble crafted observatory. Here, you’ll find enormous astronomical instruments, some still in working condition.

Suggested Accommodation

  • ITC Rajputana or le Meridien

A final breakfast in the Pink City and the tour moves on to Agra (four - five hour drive). On the way, you’ll stop at Fatehpur Sikri, a mystical deserted city near Agra. Built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 as his capital, the city was used for 14 years, before being deserted due to an insufficient water supply. This ghost-town is remarkably well-preserved, and you will have time to wander the multitude of beautiful buildings, from the towering Buland Darwaza to the five-level Panch Mahal, once Akbar’s pleasure palace.

Later on, the tour will continue the rest of the journey to Agra, where you will check in to your hotel. For your time in Agra, you will be staying at either the ITC Mughal or the Taj Hotel and Convention. Both excellent hotels offering every comfort for your stay in the city.

Suggested Accommodation

  • ITC Mughal or the Taj Hotel and Convention

Arising early in the morning, you will take to one of India’s - and the world’s - most famous and fantastical monuments. The Taj Mahal promises to exceed all expectations, and sunrise is an unbelievably breathtaking time to experience this architectural marvel. An edifice that took 20,000 craftsmen from across the globe and 17 years to complete, learn about the Taj Mahal and its history on a guided tour.

The afternoon sees another of Agra’s iconic landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage site: Agra Fort. A historical fort, this was the main residence of the Mughal Dynasty until 1658, when the capital was moved to Delhi. Behind the imposing red sandstone battlements, gain insights into the grandeur of the Mughals. 

End the day as you began it, with spectacular views of the Taj Mahal - this time from the landscaped lawns of Mehtab Bagh, with the golden rays of sunset.
ITC Mughal or Taj Hotel and Convention

Suggested Accommodation

  • ITC Mughal or Taj Hotel and Convention

This morning, you will board a train from Agra to Gwalior. Having been picked up and transferred to your accommodation - a superior suite at the Taj Usha Kiran - the Spirit of India tour will continue with an afternoon exploring Gwalior.

Gwalior is known for its intricately carved palaces and temples, and towering sandstone Fort. Gwalior Fort is one of the oldest in India, built by the Tomar King, Man Singh. Man Singh also crafted the Man Mandir - a six-tiered palace decorated with perforated screens, beautiful mosaics and mouldings in Hindu profusion - and the Gurjari Mahal, a turreted palace of stone, now an archaeological museum. Inside the Fort, explore the mosque and 11th-century temples. Outside, find the tomb of Muhammed Ghaus, a Mughal saint, and the tomb of Tansen, Akbar’s famed court musician.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Taj Usha Kiran

Today, the tour moves on from Gwalior to Jhansi. Jhansi is a beautiful and historic Indian city, nestled on the banks of the Pahuji River. Once you arrive, you will be driven to Khajuraho, via Orchha.

Orchha is a treasure trove of palaces and temples; a medieval town built by Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries and retaining much of its original splendour. Highlights include the elaborate Jehangir Mahal, exquisite interiors of the Raj Mahal and the unusual Ram Raja Temple - a palace turned temple.

Later on, the drive continues to Khajuraho (three hours). In Khajuraho, you will stay at the luxurious Lalit Temple View hotel. Khajuraho is a UNESCO World Heritage site, dating back to 950 AD, once the capital of the Chandela Kings. Only 22 of the original 85 temples remain, covered in hundreds of spectacular sculptures and carvings. The sculptures depict a galaxy of gods and goddesses, beasts and serpents. The most famous include the Kandariya Mahadev, the Chaturbhuj, the Praswanath and the Ghantai.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Lalit Temple View

During this morning, you will visit the complex of the Western Group of Temples in Khajuraho, including one of the largest and most notable - the Kandariya Mahadeo Temple - dedicated to Lord Shiva. Roam the Chausat Yogini Jain Temple, dedicated to the 64 “Yoginis” or attendants of Goddess Kali. Visit the ornate Chitragupta or Bharatiji Temple, with a stunning sculpture of Lord Vishnu in his 11-headed form.

In the afternoon, a transfer will take you to Khajuraho airport, where you will board a flight to Varanasi. In Varanasi, you’ll be staying at the Ramada Plaza, offering every comfort for your time in the city.

For your first evening in Varanasi, you will visit a ghat by the Ganges River to witness a beautiful Aarti ceremony. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this fascinating Indian city and soak in the chanting, candle light and aromas of incense.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Ramada Plaza

Arising early, you’ll board a boat for a cruise along the Ganges. Enjoy new perspectives of Varanasi, observing the fascinating bathing and cremation rituals that happen all along the riverfront each day. The boat will take you to Manikarnika Ghat and back. Disembarking, a tour guide will lead you on a brief walking tour through Varanasi’s tangle of narrow lanes. Amongst other sights, you will visit the glittering Golden Temple and the famous Durga Temple.

After breakfast, the day continues with an excursion to Sarnath, near to Varanasi. Here, Buddha preached his first sermon to five disciples at the Deer Park, enshrining his teaching into laws. The Dhamek Stupa marks a once resplendent monastery complex, settlement to the first monk communities of the 3rd century BC. Learn about the Buddha’s life in the wall paintings of a new monastery near the Stupa. Sarnath is home to an interesting archaeological museum which has preserved the famous Sarnath pillar - the capital of which forms India’s national emblem.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Ramada Plaza

This morning, a transfer will take you to Varanasi railway station to board a train for Lucknow. Once you arrive, you will be taken to your hotel - the Taj Mahal. The rest of the day is free for you to spend as you like. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • The Taj Mahal

Following breakfast, the exploration of Lucknow begins. Lucknow is the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, sprinkled in beautiful Islamic and British Raj-era buildings. The city found eminence as the home of the Nawabs - a people characterised by courtly manners, poetry, music and fine cuisine. Today, Lucknow retains much of this cultural charm; a vibrant and multicultural city, famed for its sumptuous food.

Your tour will take you to some of the city’s most prominent sights, including the striking Rama Darwaza (Turkish Gate), the enormous Bara Immambara tomb complex, the stunning Husainabad Immambara mausoleum and the Asafud-daula Immambara - each reflecting traditional Awadhi (Nawab) architecture. Within the red walls of the Picture Gallery, find life-size oil paintings of the Nawabs. More history awaits at the white-washed Chattar Manzil Palace, Moti Mahal Palace and British Raj Residency complex, the site of the Mutiny in 1857.

Suggested Accommodation

  • The Taj Mahal

Today, you will be driven to Lucknow airport to board a flight to Delhi. Once you are in Delhi, you will check in to your suite at the Taj Palace Hotel and have the rest of the day for relaxation. Wander the city or simply recharge at your hotel before your flight the following day.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Taj Palace Hotel

The final day of the Spirit of India tour. A transfer will take you to Delhi airport to board an onward or return flight.

Included

  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis for a total of 13 nights
  • Meals - Room with daily breakfast everywhere
  • 2 Bottles of mineral water (500 ml) per person per day
  • Assistance & Porterages - Meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports, hotels, railway stations by le passage to India representative and porterages at the airport, railway stations (1 standard baggage per person included)
  • Transport - Services using AC transport throughout
  • Guide - English speaking local guide for sightseeing of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Khajuraho & Varanasi
  • Trains - Agra, Gwalior & Gwalior, Jhansi by AC Chair Car in an express train. Varanasi , Lucknow train ticket in 2 AC Tier
  • Jeep ride at Amber Fort, Jaipur
  • Early morning boat ride on the River Ganges in Varanasi
  • Service tax of 5% currently applicable on all package tours
  • International airfare

Not included

  • Expenses of personal nature such as table drinks, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, tips to drivers, local guides, and hotel staff
  • Visa costs