Perfect for travelers who would like a bit of nature between city tours, this extensive journey into Rajasthan hits cultural highlights while adding two days in a national park. First, take a walking tour through Delhi before heading off to the home of the Taj Mahal, and enjoy the beauty of Ranthambore National Park before heading on to majestic Jaipur and spiritual Varanasi. You'll explore some of the most intriguing cities in India, immerse yourself in the region's architectural marvels, and see wild tigers.

Highlights

  • Soak up the sights and sounds in Delhi's new and old districts
  • Watch a sunset at the Taj Mahal
  • See tigers on safari in Ranthambore National Park
  • Explore the grounds of the former imperial capital Fatehpur Sikri
  • Take a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi Delhi
Day 2 Guided Tour of Delhi Delhi
Day 3 Walking Tour of Agra Agra
Day 4 Taj Mahal - Agra Fort Agra
Day 5 Agra - Ranthambore National Park Ranthambore
Day 6 Safari in Ranthambore National Park Ranthambore
Day 7 Heritage Walking Tour of Jaipur Jaipur
Day 8 Day-Trip to Amber Fort Jaipur
Day 9 Jaipur Temple Tour - Varanasi Varanasi
Day 10 Boat Ride on the Ganges Varanasi
Day 11 Depart Varanasi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi

View of Delhi skyline
View of Delhi skyline

When you land at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel. After you get settled, you can spend some time enjoying the Indian capital. As you explore, you'll begin to notice the influence of the Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Mughals, and the British—all of whom contributed to this city's history. You'll have the evening free to have dinner on your own and relax after your flight.

Day 2: Guided Tour of Delhi

Lotus Temple in New Delhi
Lotus Temple in New Delhi

Today, you'll go on a sightseeing tour of Delhi's new and old districts. Your tour will start at the Red Fort, which was constructed out of red sandstone from the Yamuna River in Old Delhi. You'll continue on to Raj Ghat, a black marble memorial with an eternal flame that honors the life of Mahatma Gandhi. 

Further along at the shopping area known as Chandni Chowk, you'll come upon a bustling bazaar which is considered one of South Asia's largest markets. Here, you can shop the stalls and enjoy a rickshaw ride before continuing on to India Gate (a memorial honoring the soldiers who died in World War I), Rashtrapati Bhavan, and Parliament House.

After you tour these sites, you can learn more about Indian art and architecture at Lakshmi Narayan Temple. For a break from the busy city, you'll visit 12th-century Qutab Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by a lush garden. At the end of your city tour, you'll be able to have a leisurely lunch at a local restaurant.

You'll have the evening free to explore and have dinner on your own.

Day 3: Walking Tour of Agra

The Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal

This morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel in Delhi and drive you 133 miles (215 km) south to Agra, the home of the magnificent Taj Mahal. Once you arrive in Agra and check in at your hotel, you'll go on a heritage walk and learn more about the city which draws much of its character from the rule of the Mughal period, during which the Taj Mahal was constructed. 

After your walk, you'll be able to have high tea before you continue on with a visit to the ancient village of Kachhpura, the Humayun Mosque, and a local school. In the early evening, you'll have a chance to watch the sunset back at the Taj Mahal.

Day 4: Taj Mahal - Agra Fort

The Agra Fort
Agra Fort

Today, you'll return to the Taj Mahal as the sun rises and explore its grounds. On this tour, you'll learn about its construction and architectural details, like the fact that it took 22 years and 20,000 men to build, while its white marble was quarried 200 miles away and carried by a fleet of 1,000 elephants. The monument was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

In the afternoon, you'll visit the Agra Fort, an outstanding example of Mughal architecture on the Yamuna River, which was the seat and stronghold of the Mughal Empire for multiple generations. After you see the fort, a driver will take you back to your hotel, and you'll have the evening free.

Day 5: Agra - Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park

Today, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transport you 167 miles (270 km) west to Ranthambore, with a stop along the way to visit Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is a city that was built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and then abandoned 15 years later, allegedly due to water scarcity. It is now a top tourist destination, and you can visit its graceful buildings and learn about how its decoration infuses architectural influences from Islamic, Hindu, and Jain design traditions.

Once you reach Ranthambore, you'll begin exploring one of the finest tiger reserves in India, which covers 254 square miles (410 square km) and runs between two mountain ranges, the Aravalli to the Vindhya. You'll have time in the evening to relax at your hotel and perhaps visit the nearby Jain temples, which are known for their gilded paintings.

Day 6: Safari in Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore Safari Park
A group on safari in Ranthambore National Park

After breakfast this morning, you'll set out on a daylong safari ride through Ranthambore. This former royal hunting ground is now a protected home for tigers, leopards, and marsh crocodiles. Keep your camera ready, as you never know when one of these amazing animals might cross your path. You can also see the park's beautiful water lilies and the Ganesh Mandir temple. When you're done exploring the park, a driver will return you to your hotel for the evening.

Day 7: Heritage Walking Tour of Jaipur

Jaipur
A view of a sunset over Jaipur

Today, you'll leave the majestic natural wonders of the national park behind. A driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you 93 miles (151 km) north to Jaipur, a city founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727. Jaipur is uniquely organized according to the nine divisions of the universe through nine different sectors, and the architecture combines Mughal and Jain influences. As much of the city was painted pink in 1853, it is known as the "Pink City."

After you arrive and check in at your hotel, you'll go on a 2.5-hour heritage walk around the city where you can also taste traditional foods like pakora, aloo tikki, samosas, and sweets from some of the city’s most popular street food vendors. You'll also observe jewelers, silversmiths, gold, and silver foil makers in their workshops. After the walk, you'll have the rest of the evening free.

Day 8: Day-Trip to Amber Fort

The Jaipur City Palace
The Jaipur City Palace

Today, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the ancient Rajput capital of Amer, 7 miles (11 km) outside of the city. Here, you'll see the Amber Fort—a fortified palace that was constructed by Raja Man Singh. During your tour, you'll visit Diwan-i-Am (the hall of public audience), Shila Devi TempleJai Mandir (the hall of victory) with its inlaid panels and a mirrored ceiling, and Sukh Niwas. After you explore, you can also take an elephant ride on the grounds of the fort. 

In the afternoon, you'll return to Jaipur to see the City Palace of Jaipur, which occupies a seventh of the city's total area, the Jantar Mantar astronomy instruments and observatory, and the famous pink Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). 

Day 9: Jaipur Temple Tour - Varanasi

Jaipur
A gate in Jaipur

In the morning, you'll get to experience the spiritual side of Jaipur and learn more about its architecture as you visit some of its colorful temples during another walking tour. After you finish your walking tour, a driver will take you to the airport for your 1.5-hour flight to Varanasi. Once you arrive in Varanasi, a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel.

Day 10: Boat Ride on the Ganges River

By the riverbank in Varanasi
On the bank of the Ganges in Varanasi

Today, you'll be immersed in one of the most unique cities on the planet, and you can learn about the cycles of life and Hindu traditions and rituals on the Ganges River—the holiest body of water in India. You'll take an early morning boat ride on the Ganges to see bathing ghats and cremation sites that are visited by pilgrims from all over India. 

Later in the day, you'll be able to go see the Viswanath Temple (also called Golden Temple due to its gold plated towers) that is dedicated to Shiva, the Bharat Mata Temple, the Durga Temple, and the Tulsi Manas Temple which is engraved with scenes and verses from the Hindi version of the Ramayana. After your temple tour, a driver will take you six miles (10 km) outside of Varanasi to Sarnath, a significant sight for Buddhist pilgrims, as it is considered to be the place of Buddha's first sermon.

A driver will return you to your hotel at the end of the day, and you'll have the evening free.

Day 11: Depart Varanasi

View of Varanasi
View of Varanasi

It's time to say goodbye to India! After your final morning in Varanasi, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport (VNS) for your flight home.

Map

Map of Traditions & Wildlife of the Golden Triangle:  Taj Mahal, Ranthambore, Jaipur, & More - 11 Days
Map of Traditions & Wildlife of the Golden Triangle: Taj Mahal, Ranthambore, Jaipur, & More - 11 Days