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14 day tour from £1275
Depart the UK in the evening on a direct overnight flight to Delhi.
On arrival in Delhi we transfer to the Maidens Hotel or similar for two nights. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Our sightseeing begins today with the wide avenues of New Delhi. Much of the area’s most prominent buildings were designed by the influential British architect Edwin Lutyens. Also visit the impressive Humayun's Tomb, an example of early Mughal architecture surrounded by spacious gardens.
We move on to the bustling streets of Old Delhi home of the largest mosque in India, the Jama Masjid, before taking a rickshaw ride along the main street of Chandni Chowk for a totally fresh perspective of this exciting city.
Today we drive to the exciting and colourful city of Jaipur, where we stay two nights at the elegant Samode Haveli, a 19th century former royal mansion with frescoed walls and ceilings, or similar.
This morning we head to the hilltop fort of Amber on the outskirts of Jaipur. It is possible to ride an elephant up to the fort, subject to availability of elephants.
Returning to the city we visit the City Palace with its museums and the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, an elaborate 5 storey facade. We also visit the Jantar Mantar Observatory, built in the 18th century to map and gain further understanding of our galaxy and solar system.
We drive to Agra today, stopping on the way at Fatehpur Sikri. Built in the 16th century this city was abandoned after only 14 years of habitation due to a lack of water. The complex of temples and palaces is well preserved and a fine example of Mughul architecture. In Agra we stay at The Gateway Hotel or similar for two nights.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most spectacular buildings in the world. Our sightseeing today also takes us to the Red Fort which, like the Taj, is set on the banks of the Yamuna River.
A characteristically Indian experience – a train journey from Agra to Jhansi – this morning, followed by a drive to Khajuraho visiting Orchha, where we stop for a leisurely excursion of the 16th century temples which dot the landscape and the three palaces of the region. In Khajuraho we stay at the Radisson Jass Hotel, close to the Chandela Temples, or similar.
The huge temple complex at Khajuraho, famous for its erotic sculpture, was built over the course of an entire century by the Chandela Dynasty. We visit the temples this morning before taking a short flight to Varanasi, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and, for Hindus, one of the holiest. Here we stay at the Gateway Hotel Ganges, a modern hotel set in lush gardens, or similar. We witness the ceremonial Aarti this evening on the ghats of the Ganges.
A peaceful early morning boat ride on the Ganges gives us the chance to see devotees at prayer at the waters' edge. As the sun rises the ghats become ever more crowded and colourful. The afternoon is spent visiting Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first public discourse and now home to many magnificent stupas and monasteries.
A train journey brings us to Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. Stay at the elegant Vivanta by Taj for two nights, a first class hotel lying on the banks of the Gomti River, or similar. The afternoon is free to explore or relax.
This morning we visit the Residency, a large collection of buildings built for the British Resident General in the Raj era and later on the site of the infamous siege of 1857.
We also visit the Dilkusha Gardens, the Rumi Darwaja gateway and La Martinière School, built by the Frenchman Claude Martin. Our tour also takes us to the impressive tombs of the Imambaras and the city's colourful bazaars.
We take a flight to Delhi today, and stay at the Bamyan Hotel or similar for our final night in India. The evening is at leisure.
Fly back to the UK today, arriving early in the evening.