With its vivid colors and glittering heritage, fascinating cities, and beautiful countryside from lush green oases to the Thar desert, North India is like nowhere else on earth. This 15-day trip will take you to some of the north's top destinations, including the palaces and temples of Jaipur, Udaipur, and Jodphur, the Taj Mahal—the world's most famous monument to love—and one of the holiest cities in the world, Varanasi, before winding up in the bustling metropolis of Mumbai.

Highlights

  • Take an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the heart of Old Delhi
  • Visit some of India's most magical forts, palaces, and temples
  • Go on a sunrise boat cruise along the Ganges in Varanasi
  • Learn all about Bollywood, from the silent era to the modern age

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival Delhi transfer to Hotel Delhi
Day 2 Delhi Full Day Sightseeing Delhi
Day 3 Flight to Varanasi Varanasi
Day 4 Varanasi Sightseeing, Overnight Train to Agra Luxury Train
Day 5 Arrival in Agra, Visit the Taj Mahal Agra
Day 6 Agra Sightseeing Tour Agra
Day 7 Agra to Jaipur via Fatehpur Sikri Jaipur
Day 8 Jaipur Sightseeing Jaipur
Day 9 Jaipur to Jodhpur Jodhpur
Day 10 Jodhpur City Tour Jodhpur
Day 11 Jodhpur to Udaipur via Ranakpur Udaipur
Day 12 Udaipur Sightseeing & Sunset Boat Cruise Udaipur
Day 13 Flight to Mumbai, City Tour Mumbai
Day 14 Elephanta caves & Mumbai Bollywood Tour Mumbai
Day 15 Departure from Mumbai  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Delhi transfer to Hotel

Welcome to Delhi, one of the oldest living cities in the world!
Welcome to Delhi, one of the oldest living cities in the world!

Welcome to India! Upon arrival, we will meet you at the airport in Delhi and transfer you to the hotel. Once you have checked into your accommodation, we will go through any information you need for your trip and answer any questions you have about this fascinating country, city, or the tour itself!

The rest of your day is yours to relax, venture into the neighborhood and explore one of the world's oldest and most fascinating cities, or do as you please before going on a sightseeing tour in the morning.

Day 2: Delhi Full Day Sightseeing

The breathtaking Humayun's Tomb is said to be a prototype of the Taj Mahal
The breathtaking Humayun's Tomb is said to be a prototype of the Taj Mahal

Nestled in the heart of the city, Lodhi Gardens is a great place to begin your tour of Delhi this morning. Admire the royal tombs and ancient verandas in the perfectly manicured gardens and take a wander through this lush green oasis, before continuing your sightseeing venture with a visit to the 16th-century Humayun's Tomb—said to be an early inspiration for the Taj Mahal—and Qtub Minar, a 12th-century UNESCO World Heritage site with a soaring tower that is over 239.5feet (73 meters) high, some royal Mughal tombs, and an iron pillar that is over 2,000 years old.

Following that, make your way to Raj Ghat—the historic memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the 'father of our nation'—and into New Delhi, where you'll take a drive along the Rajpath passage past the colonial-era Presidential Palace and government buildings on the way to India Gate. This impressive stone archway was built to honor the tens of thousands of Indian soldiers who died fighting for the British Indian Army in the First World War and was designed by the famous British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Day 3: Flight to Varanasi

Witness devotees performing rituals on the banks of the Ganges at sunset
Witness devotees performing rituals on the banks of the Ganges at sunset

This morning, leave Delhi on a flight bound for Varanasi. One of the seven holiest cities in India, the city of Varanasi on the banks of the River Ganges, is the center of the Hindu universe and is next to the birthplace of Buddhism. It is always bustling with pilgrims, wandering holy men (Sadhus), religious elders, and visitors thronging through the narrow lanes and vibrant temples, and crowding on the ghats (bathing stairs) of the Ganges River.

This afternoon, feel free to wander around and go exploring, relax in the hotel, or find a quiet corner to sit and drink chai and people watch. Around sunset, head to the ghats to witness the incredible evening aarti (prayer) performed on the ghats. 

Travel time: 1.5 hours flight
Travel distance: 510 miles (820 km)

Day 4: Varanasi Sightseeing, Overnight Train to Agra

Go on a sunrise boat trip along the Ganges
Go on a sunrise boat trip along the Ganges

Just before dawn, go on a boat trip out on the Ganges to witness the amazing stream of events on the ghats, the steps leading down to the river, where every day, thousands of pilgrims and devotees come to bathe in the purifying waters of the river and meditate on its shores. The boat ride takes you past several Ghats of Varanasi and offers you a glimpse of the city at its religious best.

Return to the hotel for breakfast and a little leisure time, before driving to nearby Sarnath, one of the four most sacred places in Buddhism, and the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon after achieving enlightenment. Visit the ruins at Deer Park and Sarnath Museum, which has over 6,382 historic artifacts and sculptures including Ashoka's Lion Capital which is said to be over 2250 years old.

Spend the evening wandering around the city and relaxing before making your way to the railway station to board the express overnight train to Agra.

Travel time: 11.5 hours
Travel distance: 373 miles (600 km)

Day 5: Arrival in Agra, Visit the Taj Mahal

Visit the Taj Mahal at sunset to see the changing colors of this beautiful white marble monument
Visit the Taj Mahal at sunset to see the changing colors of this beautiful white marble monument

Your train arrives at Agra railway station early in the morning, where your driver will meet you and take you to the hotel. The morning is free for you to relax, go exploring, or enjoy your own activities. Although these days it is better known as a tourist hotspot, Agra was once an exciting center of science, art, culture, and commerce, and the capital of the Mughal emperors, Akbar, Shah Jehan, and Jehangir. The city reached its peak between the years of 1556 and 1658 and is most famous for its magnificent monument to love, the Taj Mahal.

This afternoon, you'll catch your first glimpse of this dramatic building, which took 22 years and 20,000 craftsmen to complete. Commissioned in 1631 by the 5th Mughal Emperor, Shah Jehan in honor of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth, the Taj Mahal stands as a beautiful memorial to the everlasting nature of love. You'll visit the monument at sunset, where the descending sun reflects on the pure white marble with its delicate inlays and intricate carvings. 

The evening is free to explore the local bazaars of Agra.

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Day 6: Agra Sightseeing Tour

Our sightseeing tour of Agra includes a visit to the beautiful Agra Fort
Your sightseeing tour includes a visit to the beautiful Agra Fort

After breakfast, set off on a half-day sightseeing tour of Agra. The tour starts with a visit to Agra Fort to admire the unique blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture, red sandstone, and white marble. Built on the site of a historic fort on the banks of the Yamuna River by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1565, this building was the main residence of the Mughal royals up until 1638 when the capital was moved from Agra to Delhi. You'll visit the Shish Mahal, or The Glass Palace, which was built by Shah Jahan in 1631, and features a glasswork mosaic on the walls and ceilings, the Muthamman Burj,  Jahangir's Hauz bathing tank, and Shah Jahan's white marble Shahjahani Mahal.

After exploring the fort, make your way to Itmad Ud Daulah, also known as the Baby Taj. This Mughal mausoleum is a geometric and symmetric white-marble structure, which was commissioned by the wife of Jahangir in honor of her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, who was the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal in her honor. Explore this beautiful tomb with its intricate craftsmanship and inlays studded with thousands of semi-precious stones, before returning to the hotel.

At sunset, you'll visit the famous Mehtab Bagh—Moonlight Garden—to admire the setting sun over the Taj Mahal and admire the reflection of what is arguably India's most iconic building in the Yamuna River.

Day 7: Agra to Jaipur via Fatehpur Sikri

Visit the abandoned royal capital, Fatehpur Sikri
Explore the abandoned royal capital, Fatehpur Sikri

This morning, you have the option to stay in bed and relax or wake up early to visit the Taj Mahal to see the changing colors of the sunrise reflected in the marble of this impressive monument.

After that, have breakfast before leaving Agra to make your way to the historic abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, which was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. This impressive and well-preserved citadel served as his political capital for 14 years before being abandoned in 1585 when the city ran out of water. Spend a few hours admiring the red sandstone frescos and through the deserted streets, visiting the Diwan-i-Am, the Diwan-i-Khaas, and Jodhabai's Palace.

Then, continue the journey to Jaipur, the Pink City and the colorful capital of Rajasthan. With its rich cultural heritage and colorful past, it is one of the most important heritage cities in India. The city was established in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the then ruler of Amer. Also known as 'The City of Victory', Jaipur was the first planned city of its time with imposing forts, dazzling palaces, beautiful gardens, lakes, and markets.

Upon arrival, check-in to the hotel and spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring the colorful bazaars in the downtown area.

Travel Time: 4-5 hours
Travel Distance: 152 miles (244 km)

Day 8: Jaipur Sightseeing

We start our sightseeing tour of Jaipur with a trip to the impressive Amer Fort
Start your sightseeing tour of Jaipur with a trip to the impressive Amer Fort

Start the day with a visit to the ancient capital, Amer, seven miles (11 km) from Jaipur. Famous for its massive Amer Fort—also known as the Amber Fort, Amer was the ancient capital of the Kachhawaha dynasty for nearly seven centuries before Jai Singh II moved the capital to Jaipur.  You will spend the morning exploring the historic palace with its dazzling architecture and learning about the different styles through the ages as well as enjoying the amazing views from the top.

After that, make your way to the City Palace, which has been the home of the Jaipur royal family since 1727 and has some beautiful halls and palaces, along with historic galleries and museums, including an impressive collection of arms and armor dating back through the ages.

Next, visit Jantar Mantar, a Solar Observatory built by Jai Singh II—the founder of Jaipur and a keen astronomist—in the 18th century.  You will also visit the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), a five-storied facade of pink sandstone which was built in the year 1799 to allow royal ladies to watch processions and other the festivities on the road through its 953 ‘jharokas’ or small windows without being seen by the public. 

Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure to explore, relax, and wander through the bazaars and street markets of this amazing city.

Day 9: Jaipur to Jodhpur

Visit Jaswant Thadar in Jodhpur, Rajasthan's second largest city
Jaswant Thada is one of Jodhpur's best spots for sunset

Say goodbye to the Pink City and hello to the Blue City as you make your way from Jaipur to Jodhpur—the second-largest city in Rajasthan. Close to the Thar Desert, this beautiful city was built by the powerful Rajput chief Rao Jodha in 1459, and is as famous for its historic palaces, forts, and temples, as it is for its culture. In fact, it's said to be the cultural capital of Rajasthan. It's also known for its blue houses, which are said to have been painted this color to help keep them cool and to keep away the dreaded mosquitoes.

The drive should take 6-7 hours, but you'll cross through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Rajasthan. The driver will make a few short stops along the way so you can stretch your legs and get food and drinks before arriving in the city in the afternoon. Once you've checked into your hotel, you're free to relax, explore the neighborhood or head downtown to the old city center.

Travel Time: 6-7 hours
Travel Distance: 222 miles (358 km)

Day 10: Jodhpur City Tour

Enjoy the beautiful views of Jodhpur from Mehrangarh Fort
Enjoy the beautiful views of Jodhpur from Mehrangarh Fort

After breakfast, visit the Mehrangarh Fort (Majestic Fort), one of the most impressive and formidable structures in India. An architectural marvel, this fort was built in 1459 on a big hill to showcase the splendor and bravery of the royal families. Take a tour of the historic building, including the splendid palace with intricately carved lattice windows overlooking the blue city below.

After that, you'll head to Jaswant Thada—a beautiful cluster of royal cenotaphs in white marble built in the year 1899 CE in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. Inside the main cenotaph are the portraits of various Jodhpur rulers. If you have time, we also recommend checking out the historic clock tower, the Ghanta Ghar.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to spend at leisure.

Day 11: Jodhpur to Udaipur via Ranakpur

Visit the beautiful Jain Temple in Ranakpur
Visit the beautiful Jain Temple in Ranakpur

Settle in for a long travel day today as you make your way from Jaipur to the 'Pearl of Rajasthan', Udaipur. En route, you'll stop in the small town of Ranakpur, home of one of the biggest and most beautiful Jain temple complexes in India and one of the five most important pilgrimage sites of Jainism, the Chaturmukha Dharana Vihara, or the Ranakpur Jain Temple. Dating back to 1389, when construction first started, the temple is said to have taken 2,785 men fifty years to complete, although the exact date of completion is still speculated.

Take a tour through the Chaturmukha temple (the four-faced temple), which is dedicated to the first tirthankara of Jainism, Adinatha. This majestic white marble structure is located on the top of a hill, with 1,444 unique intricately carved pillars, twenty-nine halls, and eighty domes.

Continue on to the beautiful lakeside town of Udaipur. Known as the 'Pearl of Rajasthan', the 'City of Sunrise' and 'Venice of the East', Udaipur is regarded by both Indians and foreign tourists as the most romantic city in India. Upon arrival, head to the hotel to check in and relax, before making your way to Lake Pichola to watch a beautiful sunset over the hills, palaces, temples, bathing ghats (stairs), and embankments. 

Travel Time: 6-7 hours
Travel Distance:  168 miles (270 km)

Day 12: Udaipur Sightseeing & Sunset Boat Cruise

The city of Udaipur is best viewed from the waters of Lake Pichola
The city of Udaipur is best viewed from the waters of Lake Pichola

Start off your day with a visit to Udaipur's spectacular City Palace. This fascinating collection of buildings is actually comprised of several different palaces built by various Maharanas (Warrior Kings) and completed in the year 1725.  These days, some of them have been converted into hotels, and one is still home to the current Maharaja. The palace is famous for its intricate and detailed carvings, filigreed balconies, and ornate cupola-topped towers, as well as its amazing gardens overlooking the beautiful Lake Pichola. 

After that, make your way to the 17th century Indo-Aryan Jagdish Temple—the largest and most beautiful temple in all of Udaipur—before visiting the Sahelion Ki Bari, or the Garden of Maids of Honor. Built by Maharana Sangram Singh for the ladies of the Queen's court, this ornamental garden features pools, fountains, pagodas, and pavilions, and would have provided a cool green escape from the hot dry weather and the politics in the palace.

Spend the rest of the afternoon, relaxing, wandering the streets, or shopping in the beautiful bazaars, before going on a sunset boat cruise on the romantic waters of Lake Pichola.

Day 13: Flight to Mumbai, City Tour

The bustling metropolis of Mumbai is full of impressive buildings like the Taj Hotel
The bustling metropolis of Mumbai is full of impressive buildings like the Taj Hotel

Today, you'll head to the airport and board a flight to Mumbai. The financial, commercial, and entertainment hub of India, Mumbai was originally built on an archipelago of seven islands, which were first settled over 2,000 years ago. Since then, Mumbai has been home to fishermen, tradesmen, craftsmen, Buddhists, Hindus, and ruled by indigenous dynasties, Buddhist emperors,  Muslim governors, kings, the British, and the Portuguese, which has lent itself to its rich architecture and fascinating history.

Once you arrive, make your way to the hotel and check in before heading out to explore! Discover the different neighborhoods that make it so charming, including Colaba with Victoria Station and the Gateway of India, the Haji Ali mosque on a spit in the middle of the bay and Banganga, a former basin attached to the complex of Walkeshwar temple.

In the evening, we recommend a stroll along the waterfront, visiting the neighborhoods of Bandra or Juhu Beach, or enjoying the popular entertainment on Chowpatty Beach.

Day 14: Elephanta caves & Mumbai Bollywood Tour

Take a boat trip over to the amazing Elephanta Caves
Take a boat trip over to the amazing Elephanta Caves

Spend your last full day in India exploring the amazing Elephanta Caves and learning about Bollywood on an amazing tour through the studios, before going to the city's most famous movie theater for an evening showing.

Start your day of adventures with a boat trip out to the amazing UNESCO World Heritage-listed Elephanta Island, 6 miles (10 km) off the coast of Mumbai. These fascinating caves were built sometime during the 5th and 7th centuries, and feature amazing rock-cut stone statues dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva and sculptures that show the fusion of Buddhist and Hindu ideologies and iconography.

After spending half a day exploring the caves, temples, and sanctuaries on this historical island, head back to the mainland to join a Bollywood tour. Learn all about the origins and evolution of the Indian film industry from the silent era to the present day, before enjoying a special dance performance by Bollywood dancers and witnessing the live filming of a TV show or a TV advert. 

After that, head back into the city to watch a Bollywood movie being screened at a famous theatre, the Mumbai Way.

Day 15: Departure from Mumbai

Say goodbye to Mumbai as you begin your onward journey
Say goodbye to Mumbai as you begin your onward journey

After breakfast, check out of the hotel. Depending on the time of your flight, you can spend the day doing some last-minute sightseeing or shopping before boarding your transfer to the airport or train station to begin your onward journey.