- Visit the world-famous Taj Mahal at sunrise
- Learn about Lucknow's food scene and sample local delicacies
- Explore Old Delhi and go on a street food tour
- Enjoy a meal while floating along the River Ganges
|Arrive in Delhi, Lodi Garden Guided Walk
|Old & New Delhi Sightseeing Tours, Street Food Tour
|Transfer to Agra, Agra Fort Sightseeing, Enjoy Peshawari Cuisine
|Taj Mahal Sunrise Visit, Transfer to Lucknow, Culinary Walking Tour
|Explore Lucknow, Cooking Class & Dinner With Nawab
|Transfer to Varanasi, Evening Aarti (Prayer Ceremony), River Boat Dinner
|Sunrise River Trip & Historic Ghats Walk, Street Food Walk, Visit Sarnath
|Transfer to Delhi, Sightseeing Tour
Day 1: Arrive in Delhi, Lodi Garden Guided Walk
Welcome to India! Your guide will meet you at Indira Gandhi International Airport with a traditional swagat (welcome), and you'll be taken to your hotel in New Delhi. To acclimatize to life in India's capital and to stretch your legs after your flight, you'll go on a guided walk of Lodi Garden. The 90-acre (36 ha) scenic garden is one of the city's most popular parks and is home to many varieties of trees and birds, as well as 15th-century tombs and mosques. After your stroll, enjoy a cup of chai (sweet, strong milky tea) with the locals at a tea shop in its center. Delhi's iconic monument, India Gate, is close to the gardens.
Day 2: Guided Old & New Delhi Tour, Street Food Tour
Your sightseeing today starts in Old Delhi, the city's historic heart, where the Mughals once ruled from the ramparts of the majestic Red Fort. You'll visit the Jama Masjid, an extensive 17th-century mosque, and will take an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the bustling Chandni Chowk market, which was the center of the city in Mughal times and is often referred to as the food capital of India. Enjoy a street food tour in Old Delhi, beginning at the Paranthe Wali Gali restaurant with mouth-watering paranthas (flatbreads) stuffed with spiced vegetable fillings, washed down with a lassi (a yogurt-based drink).
Then follow your guide through the narrow alleys of Chandni Chowk, tasting dishes such as paneer tikki (patties made with Indian cottage cheese), samosas, and chaat, which will be made of a mixture of potatoes, crispy fried bread, and spices. After this, you'll head to New Delhi, where you'll visit Raj Ghat (Mahatma Gandhi's memorial) and drive past the Presidential Palace and Secretariat Buildings and along the impressive Rajpath avenue to India Gate. If there's time, you'll also see Humayun's Tomb, said to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal, and the exquisite 236-foot-tall (72 m) Qutub Minar (Victory Tower).
Day 3: Transfer to Agra, Agra Fort Sightseeing, Enjoy Peshawari Cuisine
In the morning, you'll travel with a private driver to Agra. After checking in at your hotel, you'll have some time to relax. The city of Agra grew in prominence under the rule of the Mughal Empire from the 16th century. Akbar, one of the great Mughal emperors, reigned over one of the most memorable periods in the city's history when it became a leading center of art, science, commerce, and culture.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Taj Mahal Sunrise Visit, Transfer to Lucknow, Culinary Walking Tour
At sunrise, you'll visit one of India's top monuments, the Taj Mahal, and can watch the sun hit the building's marble exterior, bathing it in buttery shades of gold. Shah Jahan built the 17th-century mausoleum for his Empress, Mumtaz Mahal, and it's thought to have taken more than 20,000 artisans, led by legendary architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori, 22 years to complete. After touring the monument, you'll return to your hotel for breakfast. Then, you'll be driven to Lucknow.
Day 5: Explore Lucknow, Cooking Class & Dinner with Nawab
As well as having a famous culinary scene, Lucknow has many must-visit monuments and buildings, and this morning you'll take a tour of the city, visiting its beautiful historical sites. You'll learn about the Indian Uprising of 1857 at the former British Residency. You'll also visit Bara Imambara, an amazing Shiite tomb complex built without any pillars, and then Rumi Darwaza, a huge entrance gate and a fine example of Awadh architecture. This was the entrance to the romantic city of the Nawabs, the rulers of the Kingdom of Awadh, from 1732 to 1856.In the late afternoon, you'll meet with a descendant of Lucknow's Nawabs at a palace. You will get the opportunity to talk about the family's culture, tradition, and, of course, lifestyle, plus changes that have occurred over the centuries. You'll talk with Nawab Sahib on a range of topics, including history, craft, and cuisine, at his home in his small family museum. You'll then watch highly-skilled chefs prepare a meal and learn about the techniques used in this variety of Lucknawi cuisine. Afterward, you'll sit down to enjoy a sumptuous dinner with the royal family, who will be dressed in their traditional attire.
Day 6: Transfer to Varanasi, Evening Aarti (Prayer Ceremony), River Boat Dinner
After breakfast, you'll travel to Varanasi, passing through the countryside and lush green meadows. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel to check in and relax. Varanasi is a fascinating holy Hindu city that sprawls along the River Ganges. It has an array of shrines, temples and palaces rising in several tiers from the water's edge. In the evening, you'll ride in a rickshaw to Dashashwamedh Ghat to witness the spectacular Ganga Aarti, a powerful spiritual ritual and prayer ceremony performed at dusk by several priests with the sound of Sanskrit mantras, drums, bells, and cymbals on the banks of the River Ganges.Afterward, you'll dine on a traditional boat while floating along the River Ganges. Relax in your boat while passing various historic ghats (steps leading down to the River Ganges), such as the Dashashwamedh Ghat, Chausatti Ghat, Assi Ghat, plus many more, while enjoying the comforting river breeze. Each ghat on the west riverbank encapsulates the antiquity of the city of Varanasi. You'll enjoy a regal vegetarian dinner with a wide range of mouth-watering delicacies by the onboard chefs.
Day 7: Sunrise River Trip & Historic Ghats Walk, Street Food Walk, Visit Sarnath
Just before dawn, you'll take a boat trip on the River Ganges to witness the amazing spectacle of events on the ghats. Every day, people in their thousands make their way to Varanasi's ghats to offer prayers, meditate, and purify themselves by taking a dip in the holy river. You'll travel past several of the steps and will gain an insight into how important religion is in the city. You may even see a Hindu cremation on the banks of the river. You'll be able to walk around the historical ghats too.After your boat ride, walk through the busy streets of a local market to try some famous milk products such as lassi, thandai (a milk drink with spices, nuts, seeds, and rose petals), and pedas (an Indian sweet made with milk solids, sugar, and cardamom powder). Your tasting will end with a sweet banarasi mitha paan made with betel leaves and nuts. In the afternoon, you'll be driven to Sarnath, an important place for Buddhism, as it's where the Buddha preached his first sermon. You'll visit the place of this sermon, Dhamekh Stupa, then Sarnath Museum, and a Buddhist temple.
Day 8: Transfer to Delhi, Sightseeing Tour
After a leisurely breakfast, you'll be transferred to Varanasi Airport to board a flight to Delhi. On arrival, you'll go to your hotel. You can either relax in Delhi today and explore at your own pace or join an optional tour around the local sites.
Day 9: Depart Delhi
Today is the last day of your tour, so enjoy your final time in Delhi before you're transferred to Indira Gandhi International Airport to board your flight for your onward destination. Until next time!