DAY 1: Delhi
Today we begin our tour in India’s capital city, Delhi. Start the afternoon by exploring the tomb of the 2nd Mughal king Humayun. Completed in 1572 this is one of the many buildings that inspired the Taj Mahal. The main tomb building is made from red sandstone with a white marble dome. The tomb complex also contains Persian style gardens that had never been seen before in India. Next stroll through the gardens surrounding India gate, the memorial for soldiers from the British Indian Army who died between 1914 and 1921 in the Afghan war and the First World War. Over 13 thousand soldiers names are inscribed into the stone of the gate making this a very moving place despite the busy location. Finish the day by seeing some of the government buildings including the Indian presidents house.
DAY 2: Jaipur
Today we drive to the pink city of Jaipur. The city was first established in 1727 and was India’s first planned city. In the evening we visit the Birla Temple built by the well known Birla family to worship Lord Vishnu and his wife Goddess Lakshmi. The temple is built purely from white marble and contains an array of delicate carvings. This is an oasis of calm in a busy city.
DAY 3: Jaipur
Today we have a full days sightseeing in Jaipur. First we enter into the old city and head to see the spectacular “Hawa Mahal” or wind palace with its many intricately designed windows,this is a major landmark of Jaipur. From here we take a short walk to Jantr Mantr, one of the best observatories in India containing a collection of instruments made from marble and brass. Next we visit the city palace museum which is still the residence of the current maharajah and royal family of Jaipur. The museum houses a wide selection of artefacts and uniforms allowing an insight into life long ago. The palace is also home to the beautiful mosaic peacock gate in the entertainment hall. We finish off the day by driving to the Amer fort just outside Jaipur. The fort was built in the 16th century from red sandstone and marble. Situated on the top of a hill the fort commands stunning views of the surrounding countryside and also over the lake below
DAY 4: Ranthambore
Today we drive to Ranthambore national park which was first established as a game sanctuary in 1955, it went on to become one of the project tiger reserves in 1973. The park is one of the best places to spot the elusive tiger in its natural habitat. There is also a wealth of other wildlife here including leopards, wild boar and mongoose as well as a huge variety of birds, including the rare brown faced owl, and many plant species. This evening we will have a game drive in the park.
DAY 5: Ranthambore
This morning we have an early morning game drive to see what wildlife we can spot and to search for tigers as they are most active around this time and in the evening. We will have breakfast when we return followed by some free time. In the evening we will go on another game drive to further explore Ranthambore and watch the wildlife.
Tonight we board the overnight train to Varanasi.
DAY 6: Agra
Today we drive to the city of Agra situated on the banks of the holy Yamuna river. On the way we stop at Fatehpur Sikri to see the grand mosque and tallest gateway (buland darwaza) which is 55 metres high. The mosque was completed in the late 16th century and was designed to hold 10 thousand worshippers. Agra is famous all over the world for being home to many historic sights most notably the majestic Taj Mahal. The afternoon is free to relax and explore the city.
DAY 7: Agra
Early morning visit to the magnificent Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was built by the emperor Shah Jahan in the late 17th century in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The building is made from white marble inlaid with precious and semi precious stones. In the afternoon we visit Agra fort, another stunning example of Mughal architecture, built by emperor Akbar in 1565. This evening we take the overnight train to Katni.
DAY 8: Bandhavgarh
Arrive early morning in Katni and drive to Bandhavgarh national park. The park is situated on the Northern edge of the Satpura mountain range and is very lush due to its tropical climate. There is a wealth of wildlife here including striped hyena, the sloth bear and the more elusive leopards and tigers. There are also over 250 species of birds so there is always something to see. In the evening we take a game drive into the park.
DAY 9: Bandhavgarh
This morning we have an early morning game drive to see what wildlife we can spot and to search for tigers. We will have breakfast when we return followed by some free time. In the evening we will go on another game drive to further explore Bandhavgarh and watch the many different species of wildlife in their natural habitat.
DAY 10: Bandhavgarh / Kanha
This morning we take another early morning game drive into the national park. After breakfast we drive to Kanha national park. Kanha is known as one of the most well maintained national parks in Asia and was first established in 1955 becoming part of the Kanha tiger reserve in 1974 under project tiger. The beautiful bamboo forest and grass covered meadows of Kanha are said to have inspired the jungle book written by Rudyard Kipling.
DAY 11: Kanha
Today we take a morning and an evening game drive into the national park. The park is home to a number of different animals including tigers, bison, barking deer, hyena and mongoose. We can also see the rare hard ground swamp deer that were saved from near extinction by Kanha. There are also a large variety of bird species to discover here including storks, pond herons, green pigeons and ring doves.
DAY 12: Kanha
This morning we take an early morning game drive to further explore Kanha national park. After this we will have breakfast and then return to Katni where we catch the overnight train back to Delhi.
DAY 13: Delhi
Arrive in Delhi in the early morning and take some time to relax in the hotel. In the afternoon we visit the Jama mosque built by emperor Shah Jahan and completed in 1656. This is the best known mosque in India and was built to hold 25 thousand worshippers in its courtyard. After we go to Raj Ghat the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi father of the nation. The gardens here contain a black marble platform which marks the spot where Gandhi was cremated and there is an eternal flame kept alight at one end. Later we spend some time in the old city of Delhi and explore the many narrow winding streets there.
Tonight we will have a final group dinner to mark the end of the trip.