Luxury Palaces Tour of India - 15 Days

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Day 1. Delhi

Overnight – The Imperial Delhi

Most flights arrive either in the evening or at night, and we strongly recommend that our guests consider arriving at least a day earlier. Meet your assigned representative from VIP Arrival Services as you exit the jet bridge from your plane at Delhi Airport. You are privately escorted through the complete arrival process, including immigration, baggage claim, and customs.

  • VIP Jet Bridge Arrival & Transfer
Street Musician at Jaipur
Next you will be greeted by your Connoisseur Guide and driven to your historic luxury hotel and assisted with your check-in to your beautiful suite if it is 3 pm or later. Everything about the Imperial Delhi oozes historical colonial charm, tastefully updated to offer all modern conveniences. The collection of historic photography and art that is spread throughout the hotel is one of the finest anywhere in India.

Day 2. Delhi

Overnight – The Imperial Delhi

Recommended Morning Visit – India’s National Museum. This short museum visit will enhance your understanding of the unique experiences that await you. There are a plethora of exhibits and artifacts and a comprehensive tour would take a few days. We recommend a short walk with your guide through the Pre-History Gallery’s Harrapan Collection. Its displays from the Indus Valley Civilization, and you will be amazed by the sophistication of the exhibits of pottery, tools, coins, jewelry and other artifacts that range from 10,000 BC to 1000 BC. Please let us know if you prefer a more comprehensive tour.

Begin your exploration of Delhi with a short drive through some of Lutyens’ historic New Delhi. You will stop for a view of the exterior of the massive and awe-inspiring Rashtrapati Bhawan, home to India’s President. Nearby is the India Gate, a War Memorial to the 84,000 British Indian Army soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War, and Indian casualties in other wars. You will learn a little about the magnificent structure, which is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Continue your exploration after another short drive to the magnificent tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, one of Delhi’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites for excellent reasons. Completed in the year 1562, the massive tomb’s perfect symmetry is quite magical to behold, and its unique beauty is enhanced by the surrounding manicured gardens. Your guide will reveal fascinating aspects of the structure as you walk around the tomb.

You have the option to break for lunch at this point. There are multiple dining options nearby, including at your hotel.

  • Qutab Minar – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Humayun’s Tomb – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Historic Lutyen’s New Delhi
  • Langar Ritual at Historic Sikh Temple
  • Lodi Art District (Incredible Street Art)
  • Measurements by Tailor
Humayun Tomb

Next you will be driven to the Qutab Minar Complex. The large campus has a number of interesting ruins from different epochs in Indian History, all towered over by the Qutab Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built as a symbol of victory in a legendary battle, the awe-inspiring 12th Century Qutab Minar is 240 feet high and is still the tallest brick-built minaret on our planet.

The Minar’s massive size, and the scale and beauty of its seemingly sculpted exterior are hard to describe in words. The intricate carvings and inlaid calligraphy on its curved sides add to the effect and create an unmatched visual experience.

Within the Qutab complex, amidst the ruins of the once spectacular Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque, stands the legendary 2500-year-old Iron Pillar. The pillar stands 23 feet and 8 inches tall, weighs about 7000 pounds, and has inscriptions that are still legible to a great extent. This massive cast iron structure is said to have been moved from its distant cave shelter to Delhi around the 12th century.

Very near your hotel is the Lodi Art District and this will be your last experience today. The quality of the street art found here will both surprise and delight you. The subject matter includes a focus on women, and ranges from colorful visualizations by international artists to unique perspectives of everyday life in Delhi and India. Here is a Google Arts and Culture presentation on the Lodi Art District –

Day 3. Delhi

Overnight – The Imperial Delhi

We recommend a start around 9 :45 AM to avoid traffic. You are driven to ancient Old Delhi this morning. Experience a walk through the ancient Chandni Chowk Bazaar, home to the world’s largest spice market. The cacophony of sounds which have echoed through the centuries, the cries of hawkers and the animated bargaining, along with the incredible colors and the diverse smells emanating from the street food stalls and spice markets combine to make for an experience that is unique to this ancient bazaar.

Next up is an e-rickshaw ride through a part of the bazaar, ending at the Jama Masjid (1650 A.D.), the largest mosque in India. The Masjid is a magnificent example of Mughal architecture and is constructed of red sandstone and white marble. It is an active place of worship and its courtyard can hold 25,000 worshippers. Bare legs and shoulders are not permitted inside the mosque and we include sarongs for those who need them.

After this you can drive to the century plus old Maidens Hotel for lunch, where you can dine in their small multicuisine restaurant, or choose a set menu at the historic Curzon Room.

  • Red Fort – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Jama Masjid – Ancient Mosque
  • Ancient Bazaar & Spice Market Walk
Jama Masjid

After lunch you will stop at the incredible Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site described by the World Heritage Convention as “representing the zenith of Mughal creativity”. The massive sandstone walls of the octagonal Red Fort range from 59 to 108 feet, and the 1.5 mile long span is made even more imposing by turrets and bastions at multiple strategic spots. You can experience how the emperors lived and ruled, how the noblemen ran the kingdom, how the women’s section operated with the support of eunuchs, how food, water, and waste were handled, and much more with your guide.

The Red Fort and the afore-visited Jama Masjid were built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who created the Taj Mahal. The now nearby Yamuna River ran directly on one side of the forted city, and the bazaar and the mosque lay on the other side, surrounded by a city full of residences for the common people. One of the world’s largest populations flourished here during the two and a half century long reign of the Mughal Dynasty in Delhi’s Red Fort.

Day 4. Delhi – Agra.

(Overnight – Oberoi Amarvilas)

A note for photography enthusiasts: Although we include a sunrise and a sunset visit to the Taj Mahal, you may want to ask us to change the timing of one or both because the best photos are usually during the day. For five days a month, before, during, and after the full moon, a separate limited availability moonlight visit can also be added with prior notice.

You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel after breakfast and you will be driven to Agra on a 3 to 3.5 hour journey. After exiting sprawling greater Delhi, you will be driving along lush farmland and villages on one of India’s best elevated tollways.

Upon arrival at Agra you will experience the predecessor of the Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, the Agra Fort. This UNESCO World Heritage Site Forted City was built in 1565 by India’s greatest Mughal ruler, Emperor Akbar, and much was then copied in Delhi’s larger Red Fort about 7 decades later by his grandson, the visionary builder Shah Jahan. There are unique views of the Taj Mahal from a section of the fort, including from the room where Akbar’s great-grandson Aurangzeb imprisoned his father Shah Jahan during the end of his life.

You are driven to your gorgeous luxury resort in time for a late lunch, which you can enjoy before or after checking-in.

Sunset at Taj Mahal – Enjoy a late afternoon visit to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the incomparable Taj Mahal. The world’s greatest monument dedicated to love is obviously a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was completed by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 A.D. as a memorial to his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal.

You can admire the magnificent Taj Mahal in detail, and your guide will suggest spots to watch the setting sun’s rays play on the facade of the world’s finest monument. Return to your gorgeous resort that is a very short walk or drive away.

  • Sunrise & Sunset at Taj Mahal
  • Agra Fort – UNESCO W.H. Site
  • Agra’s Colorful Kinari Bazaar

Day 5. Agra – Jaipur.

(Overnight – Rambagh Palace)

Enjoy a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal. Morning is the best time to experience it during most of the year, except for some years during which morning fog in late December and most of January. Since it is more expensive for Indian tourists to enter at this early hour the massive monument and its surrounding Mughal gardens have a lot fewer visitors.

  • Morning Wildlife Private Jeep Safari
  • Drive to Jaipur. Try Indian Garments
  • Special Candlelit Palace Dinner

As the rising sun’s rays illuminate the precious stones inlaid in the marble they will gleam momentarily and change colors. Return to your resort in time for breakfast and time to freshen-up. You can enjoy a late lunch after arrival at your palace in Jaipur today, or have your Agra resort pack a to-go snack for the drive. You are assisted with your check-out from your resort and then you are driven to the Chand Baori stepwell at Abhaneri, located just off the highway to Jaipur.

The massive 10th century Chand Baori stepwell is one of the most impressive in all of India and is situatedted next to a charming Rajasthani village. The depth of the stepwell is that of a modern 7 story building, and there are stairs (no longer accessible to visitors) leading down to the bottom from three of the 100 foot plus wide (35 meters) sides, creating symmetry and beauty to the ancient structure. It highlights this article about Indian Stepwells –

Continue on the drive to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Jaipur. Upon arrival at Jaipur, you are assisted with your check-in at the Maharaja’s former residence, the Rambagh Palace. Jaipur’s most magnificent lodging is located next to the Rambagh Golf Course (Jaipur’s finest), and tee time and more can be reserved with your tour.

Either tonight or another Jaipur night, we recommend dinner at an incredibly charming and atmospheric venue. The unique Steam Bar & Restaurant on the Rambagh Palace grounds is comprised of a lovingly restored 19th century narrow-gauge steam train and a recreated colonial era railway station – you can eat in the train compartments or on the authentic colonial era platform next to the train.

Day 6. Jaipur

Overnight – Rambagh Palace

Begin your exploration of the walled pink city of Jaipur. You will start with a stroll through the fascinating main bazaar in the heart of the pink city and watch the locals as they shop for pretty much everything a consumer can possibly want. This atmospheric and crowded bazaar has multiple layers that have developed over centuries.

On the pedestrian walks there are a couple of layers of street vendors and carts, usually offering fresh produce or cheap everyday essentials. Behind them the brick-and-mortar stores sell their wares and are mostly found in bazaar sections where others offer the same products. Everything under the sun has a section in this gargantuan web of a bazaar, which includes thousands of byzantine alleys leading into inner courtyard shops that only the locals know about.

A short walk or drive will bring you to the most photographed of Jaipur’s monuments, the enchanting Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind). This intriguing facade was built in 1799 so that the ladies of the court could use its unique windows and observe the bustling bazaar without being visible to the people on the streets.

Lunch today is when you are ready – there are multiple dining options, including your palace hotel. For an interesting meal within the Pink City bazaar area, we recommend the excellent cafe at the tiny boutique hotel, The Johri. Locally sourced fresh organic vegetarian cuisine is served here, and the Indian chaat items are recommended.

  • Amer Fort – UNESCO W.H. Site
  • Galtaji (Monkey Temple) Temples
Hawa Mahal

One of the wonders you will visit today is the Jantar Mantar (UNESCO World Heritage Site), an amazing stone observatory that was built by the founder of Jaipur in 1728. Beloved Sawai Raja Jai Singh was passionate about architecture, mathematics and astronomy, and had five stone Jantar Mantar astronomical observatories built in India, all of which allow calculations by the naked eye. The most impressive of these is at Jaipur, where a massive stone sun dial that is accurate to within 2 seconds.

Located next to Jantar Mantar is your next experience, City Palace, the royal residence. Members of the family still occupy a part of the palace complex that is closed to the public. You will enter through grand painted entrances and unique courtyards and experience how Jaipur royalty lived and worked over the last 2 plus centuries, and the beautiful artwork and other trappings they surrounded themselves with. You can visit your choice of the palace’s small museums that include displays of local armor, miniature paintings, and a large and impressive collection of ancient royal garments and accoutrements.

Optional activity: Jaipur is India’s shopping mecca for all sorts of exquisite hand-crafted items, including fabrics, carpets, pottery and jewelry, and those who are interested in shopping can have Guide serve as a personal shopper.

Day 7. Jaipur.

(Overnight – Rambagh Palace)

You first experience this morning will be at the exterior of the Albert Hall Museum to admire the gorgeous Indo-Saracenic architecture. The building was completed in 1887 by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob and the extremely ornate structure was built out of marble and stone by Rajasthan’s unmatched craftsmen. Its exterior walls are painted with depictions of ancient civilizations. Rudyard Kipling (himself the son of a museum curator) on a visit was so impressed that he wrote “it is now a rebuke to all other museums in India from Calcutta downwards”.

We recommend that you also explore the exhibits inside the Albert Hall Museum. It is Rajasthan’s State Museum and is designed to reflect Rajput design and color. Explore the sections that interest you, picking from many fascinating collections of historic craftsmanship such as pottery, jewelry, weavings, sculptures, paintings, to a collection of coins spanning many eras of India’s long history.

From the Albert Hall you are driven into Jaipur’s Aravalli Hills to the ancient Hindu pilgrimage site of Galtaji. The 15th Century group of temples here are sometimes called the Monkey Temple because of a large troop of monkeys makes their home in this part of the hills. They jump into and swim around the main pond with reckless abandon and their social behavior and grooming rituals can be fascinating to watch.

The picturesque complex of temples has seven ponds that are fed by springs on the surrounding hilltops. You can explore inside the beautiful pink stone Galtaji Temple, and there are other ancient temples in the complex for those interested. The Rajasthani architecture makes them very different from most temples in North India. A bit of an uphill hike can bring you to the hilltop Sun Temple.

  • Qutab Minar – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Humayun’s Tomb – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Historic Lutyen’s New Delhi
  • Langar Ritual at Historic Sikh Temple
  • Lodi Art District (Incredible Street Art)
  • Measurements by Tailor
Amer Fort and Palace

You will have multiple options for lunch today and your guide will help you decide. Your last and best experience in Jaipur is the awe-inspiring Amber Fort and Palace complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 16th century complex sprawls over a number of hills and their valleys, with rolling defensive walls surrounding the hills around it. This forted Royal City was home to the current Jaipur Royal Family for about a century and a half.

The massive citadel is visually stunning from the ground with just the façade of the visible walls, towers, gardens, and ramparts as they conform to the contours of the hills. Inside the citadel the views only improve, but now, changing the scale, it is time to admire the intricacy and creativity in the breathtakingly beautiful displays in chambers and hallways that you will experience. You can experience how the king lived and ruled, how the noblemen ran the kingdom, how the proud Rajasthani Queens ran the women’s section, how food, water, and waste were handled, and much more with your guide.

Day 8. Jaipur – Narlai

(Overnight – Rawla Narlai)

This day includes historic and basic lodging at a three-century old hunting lodge.
We can remove it and drive directly to Udaipur, shortening this exploration by a day.

Join your guide and chauffeur and you are now driven to historic Rawla Narlai, a 17th century Royal Hunting Lodge located right in the middle of a wonderful and authentic Rajasthani Village. Rawla means Royal Palace, Narlai is the name of the village. Most of so-called rural tourism sites receive a constant stream of visitors and available experiences are at least partially staged. With almost 6000 residents, 16th Century Narlai is a colorful and fairly prosperous Rajasthani village, and the people are genuine and warm villagers.

The ancient royal lodge has been meticulously restored by its owners, the Royal Family of Jodhpur, and calling it boutique would be a vast understatement. There are two wings – one being the original 17th Century hunting lodge, and a more modern wing that was built around 20 years ago. Near the lodge and visible from various vantage points is a massive ancient volcanic granite boulder called Elephant Hill, with a historic small Hindu Temple at its peak, and many caves carved into its facade.

Please note that the lodge is a unique rural historical experience and is not a luxury or even upscale hotel. The rooms have been made as comfortable as possible, but it is a centuries old structure and the rooms do not have many conveniences and do not get much natural light. Service is very earnest and sincere, and the simple fresh cuisine served is mostly sourced from their own organic farms and orchards.

After checking in and a slightly late lunch, you will enjoy an extended walk through the large village to get an introduction to the lives of the simple but proud Rajasthani villagers. There will be young boys and girls herding goats, sheep, and cows around the area, and many other experiences that are only found in rural Rajasthan. There will also be multiple opportunities to view various indigenous activities. if you communicate with the villagers through your expert Guide, their simplicity, warmth, and hospitality will captivate you.

Ancient Stepwell Dinner Experience: After sunset you will be assisted in climbing aboard a traditional bullock cart (you can choose to be driven instead) and transported through the dark countryside to a charming 16th Century stepwell. Your magical dinner will be at the stepwell, accompanied by live local folk music and accented by hundreds of oil lamps adorning the steps of the stepwell. As you enjoy a multi-course dinner the oil lamps and countless stars will illuminate this amazing night.

  • Rural Drive to Narlai Village
  • Village Exploration & Interaction
  • Village Bullock Cart Ride
  • Magical Stepwell Candlelit Dinner

Day 9. Narlai – Udaipur

(Overnight – The Taj Lake Palace)

Unless you ask us to change your Narlai itinerary, you will have an option between two activities this morning, or you can choose to relax and sleep in. Couples and family/friends can temporarily separate to enjoy the activity of their preference – your preferences are needed at the time of reservation.

The first option is to accompany one of the lodge stewards (they do this daily in the fairly early morning) up the 756 ancient hand carved steps that lead to the peak of Elephant Hill. At the top you can enjoy the spectacular views and visit the small Hindu Temple. Your lodge steward will carry a hot beverage and snacks for your refreshment at the top of the boulder.

The other option is to board one of the lodge’s jeeps with their naturalist and head into the surrounding jungle in search of leopards, who are known to be elusive animals. Leopard sightings have been fairly common around Narlai in the last few years, although it is not a National Park. The ride is bumpy as you are traversing rough terrain.

In both cases you will return to the lodge to have a late breakfast and then you can enjoy your fascinating surroundings for a little while. You will be assisted with your check out just before noon and then you will proceed for the drive to Udaipur with a stop enroute. A very short scenic drive will bring you to one of India’s lesser-known architectural marvels, the 15th Century Ranakpur Jain Temple, which is an active place of worship.

  • Leopard Safari Or Boulder Hike
  • Incredible 15th Century Jain Temple
  • Scenic Drive to Udaipur
Large Male Leopard

The main temple’s twenty-nine halls are supported by fourteen hundred and forty-four massive yet intricately carved marble pillars, and no two are of the same design. There is an abundance of intricate sculptures and friezes and the enormous scale of the monument and the exquisite details of its design have to be experienced to be believed.

After this you will continue on with your journey to Udaipur. This is one of the most picturesque drives in all of India and as you go through the Aravalli hills there will be photo opportunities of village life and livestock, including camels. The rolling landscape and the charm of the rural countryside may make you ask for frequent stops during this 2-to-2.5-hour journey.

Arrive at magical Udaipur in the early evening and you are driven to a jetty from where you are assisted in boarding the palace boat, and then you will enjoy the short cruise to your historic luxury palace hotel. Located in the middle of Udaipur’s most famous lake, the Taj Lake Palace gained worldwide recognition in the 1983 James Bond film, Octopussy, and was soon renovated into an ultra-luxury hotel. You are in a beautiful suite with lake views.

Day 10. Udaipur

(Overnight – The Taj Lake Palace)

Head out for the City Palace a little early this morning – the palace complex has an hour every morning where a small upcharge results in fewer visitors. The fabled City Palace Complex contains multiple old palaces and other structures, and the lavish opulence of the interiors and antique furnishings even exceeds what you experienced in the Jaipur palaces.

You will explore beautifully decorated chambers and hallways, bright stained-glass windows, expansive inlaid marble balconies, and the unique peacock courtyard. The exploration includes a tour of the amazing Crystal Gallery which houses the world’s largest collection of priceless crystal, including the crystal fountains in the courtyards.

Next is laid back Udaipur, one of India’s best places to explore on foot and your guide will take you for walks (you have the option to drive) in small local bazaars and other interesting parts. You can also enjoy a slightly bumpy (there are no shock absorbers) three-wheeler scooter ride through the streets, returning to your hotel in the early afternoon.

  • Exquisitely sculpted mirrors
  • Inlaid marble balconies
  • Lake Pichola
  • Monsoon Palace

In the midafternoon you are driven to visit the Monsoon Palace, a small hilltop structure that offers amazing views of the picturesque city of Udaipur and its lakes and palaces. For hiking enthusiasts, part or all of the way up or down the hill can be an exhilarating walk. The road is part of a state protected sanctuary and you will come across colorful villagers leaving the jungle after gathering firewood.

Enjoy a private sunset cruise on captivating Lake Pichola in one of your resort’s boats, a fitting activity for your last night in magical Udaipur. Additional days at Udaipur are highly recommended both by us and previous guests and can be added on request.

Day 11. Udaipur – Mumbai.

(Overnight – The Taj Mahal Palace)

Your guide and chauffeur driven vehicle are available to you from 9 AM and you can check out at any time before noon. We recommend a slightly early lunch or snack in the late morning. In the early afternoon you are driven to the fairly distant airport and assisted in boarding your mid-afternoon business class flight to Mumbai.

At Mumbai your gorgeous historic hotel has an enviable location, across the street from the Gateway of India and the ocean. The legendary palace part of the hotel started construction at the end of the 19th century, and was completed in December 1902, well before the Gateway of India monument that it faces. Your suite in the Palace Wing includes Taj Club facilities and its associated benefits.

  • locals sit on the seaside promenade
Gateway of India

The area around your hotel is where middle class residents of Mumbai come in the evenings to enjoy the ocean breeze and socialize. It is a great place to walk on your own, as locals sit on the seaside promenade and street vendors hawk their wares to them, from street food to toys to foot massages! You can safely and comfortably explore the surroundings of your Mumbai lodging until the late evening.

Day 12. Mumbai.

(Overnight – The Taj Mahal Palace)

A guided city tour of historical Mumbai begins across the street from your hotel at The Gateway of India, situated overlooking Mumbai’s harbor. This structure was built to commemorate King George & Queen Mary’s visit in 1905.

After this a short drive takes you to the impressive Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is by far the most impressive structure that the British built in India, and the Italian Gothic architecture and design is a delight to behold. It also happens to be one of the world’s busiest railway stations, making for quite a unique experience. Architecture and design lovers will want to spend some time here, including inside the massive and crowded structure.

  • Historic Flora Fountain
  • Prince of Wales Museum
  • Dhobi Ghat
  • Marine Drive
  • Hanging Gardens
Partial Shivaji Terminus at night

From here you will enjoy a walk with stops every few minutes to admire historic attractions while being surrounded by local residents going about their daily activities. The next 2 to 3 hours can be an experience where you will walk just under 2 miles, stopping frequently at the multitude of attractions, or you can ask to be driven for most, or all, of the stretch.

You will admire the historic Flora Fountain, and then, passing historic Horniman’s Circle and Mumbai Town Hall, you will stop to enjoy a brief tour inside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, which was known as the Prince of Wales Museum until very recently. This is Mumbai’s premier museum, designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, and includes sections of paintings, archeology, and natural history.

Even if you are not into museums, a short exploration is recommended, or you can just admire the architecture from outside. We now recommend that you take a very short walk and break for an informal lunch at the iconic Leopold Café, a popular establishment that opened in 1871 and was one of the targets during the 2008 Mumbai terrorism attack.

After lunch you will drive to Mumbai’s main Dhobi Ghat where you will observe the Dhobi’s doing Mumbai’s laundry by flogging the clothes on stone in the same manner that they have for more than a century. Over 100,000 pieces are laundered every day and hung to dry on seemingly unending clotheslines, then ironed, and delivered to far reaching areas of Mumbai. The profession is passed on from generation to generation.

Continue your exploration by driving further on Marine Drive and go up Malabar Hill where the Hanging Gardens provide a panoramic view of the city and bay. In the middle of the afternoon, avoiding the infamous Mumbai rush hour traffic, you are driven back to your hotel to enjoy its surroundings, views, and extensive facilities.

Day 13. Mumbai – Varanasi.

(Overnight – Taj Nadesar Palace)

Join your guide for the drive to Mumbai Airport and the flight to Varanasi. Food and soft drinks are served in business class, and you can also decide to eat something soon after arrival at Varanasi.

Your first stop at Varanasi will be Sarnath, a major Buddhism Site. The massive Dhamekh Stupa is located exactly where the Buddha preached his first sermons to his five disciples. A smaller Stupa at this spot is said to be one of the eight places where the Buddha’s ashes were placed, and 2300 years ago Emperor Ashoka, who is credited with the spread of Buddhism in the world, expanded the structure to many times its original size.

  • Historic Flora Fountain
  • Prince of Wales Museum
  • Dhobi Ghat
  • Marine Drive
  • Hanging Gardens
Dhamekha Stupa
Currently the Stupa is 143 feet high and has a 92-foot diameter, and is said to have been more than twice this size 1500 years ago. Sarnath was where the first Buddhist Sangha was formed and the area is home to a number of other ancient Buddhist monuments that you will drive by and can stop at if you want. A highlight of the visit to Sarnath is the tiny Archaeological Museum as its collection is highlighted by the spectacular “Lion Capital of Ashoka”, the 4 headed stone lion that is India’s national emblem. From Sarnath you will head to your Palace Hotel, which is the only luxury lodging in Varanasi. Set in 27 acres of gardens and organic farmland in the really crowded city, calling the small Nadesar Palace ‘boutique’ is a vast understatement. Built by the East India Company in the 18th century, it was taken over by the local Royal Family in the late 19th Century and served as a guest house for British and other Royalty during visits to India. Two of the can’t miss experiences in Varanasi are the sunset and sunrise cruises on the Ganga. They are both on your agenda tomorrow, so we recommend an early night if you want to enjoy the amazing sunrise experience on the Ghats.

Day 14. Mumbai.

(Overnight – Taj Nadesar Palace)

Join your guide and drive to the holy river where you will board your private boat. It is a surreal experience to arrive at the Ghats (The wide steps leading to the Ganga) just before dawn and witness the eons old scene – devout Hindu’s are waiting at the holier Ghats to greet the rising sun by immersing themselves in the Ganga, while others on the wide riverbank steps meditate or practice yoga.

Your boat offers an excellent view of all the activity – women immersing themselves into the Ganga discreetly while still wearing their sarees and ascetics waist deep in the water offering prayers as they pour holy water over themselves. It is a great opportunity to experience some of Hinduisms ancient and iconic rituals, such as the ritualistic prayers as a recently deceased Hindu’s ashes are immersed in the river, while nearby another Brahmin priest orchestrates the naming ceremony of a newborn.

  • Historic Flora Fountain
  • Prince of Wales Museum
  • Dhobi Ghat
  • Marine Drive
  • Hanging Gardens
Aarti Ceremony

Return to your palace for a slightly late breakfast. Acceptable dining options are very limited in Varanasi and we recommend lunch at the palace before you venture out to ancient Varanasi in the early afternoon. You can opt to begin the afternoon with a walk through the narrow lanes and alleys to discover a way of life that has not changed much over the past few millennia. This walk will end at the Ghats on the holy river.

Or you can begin your walk on the Ghats – it is a lot less crowded on these Ghats before the evening ceremony and sunset rituals, and this allows for a close-up look as pilgrims and locals go about their rituals and related activities. You can also opt for a guided walk on part of Varanasi’s main cremation ghat. You will pass this Ghat with its eternal pyres during your cruises and your guide will answer your questions about the funeral rituals.

Your walk ends with you boarding your private boat for a cruise along the river to experience all its evening activities, after which your boat will take a break for you to watch the sunset Ganga Aarti ceremony. You will have a fairly close-up view of the ceremony that takes place on the crowded Dashashwamedh Ghat, the holiest place on the river, and you can add your own to the hundreds of clay lamps floating down the holy river.

Day 15. Varanasi – Delhi – International Flight.

You are assisted with your check-out from your palace in the mid-morning and driven to Varanasi airport where you will be assisted in boarding your flight to Delhi. Arrive at Delhi Airport and you are assisted in connecting with your VIP Departure Services Rep, if your flight departs this evening. If your flight is at night or in the morning, we recommend an additional night’s hotel stay and transfer services.
Bid Farewell to your Connoisseur Guide at this time.

  • Historic Flora Fountain
  • Prince of Wales Museum
  • Dhobi Ghat
  • Marine Drive
  • Hanging Gardens

Lodging Details

Destinations Lodgings
The Imperial – Viceroy Suite
Oberoi Amarvilas – Premier Balcony Room with Taj View
Rambagh Palace – Historical Suite
Rawla Narlai – Grand Heritage Room
Taj Lake Palace - Historical Lake View Suite
Taj Mahal Palace – Executive Suite Palace Wing
Taj Nadesar Palace – Historical Suite   


  • Daily breakfast at all the hotels except for Arrival Day
  • Accompanying Connoisseur Guide to assist you during your on-tour flights & drives
  • Sunrise and sunset boat cruises on the holy river in Varanasi
  • Sunrise and Sunset visits to the Taj Mahal
  • E-Rickshaw Ride in Old Delhi
  • Three Wheeler scooter ride through the streets of Udaipur
  • Special Stepwell Dinner Experience at your Royal Hunting Lodge at Narlai
  • A Supplement to include Lunches and Dinners is available but not recommended
  • Hotel check-in is at 3pm and checkout is at noon for almost all the hotels
  • All transfers and sightseeing by personal luxury vehicle
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi in all vehicles, except for remote regions
  • All currently applicable taxes.


  • International Travel
  • Expenses of a personal nature like tips, laundry, telephone calls, etc.
  • Meals other than those specified above
  • Travel insurance, visa etc.
  • Camera fees


1st October – 20th December, 2023 / 5th January – 15th  April , 2024

Occupancy Rooms/Suites On Tour Flights Cost
Double Occupancy
$16,900* Per Person
$1042* Per Person
Single Occupancy

Inquire about this Journey

This Exclusive Journey has very limited availability and online reservations are not possible. Some of the included luxury boutique resorts are very small and the few enhanced room/suite types we use can be sold out months in advance. Yes, even in 2022! Please fill out the Inquiry Form to see if your choice of dates is available.

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