Experience the magic of northern India on this amazing 16-day trip from Delhi to Kolkata. Visit the Golden Triangle and Rajasthan, before following the holy Ganges River as it flows through Uttar Pradesh to Varanasi. From sunrise boat trips to breathtaking sunsets, ancient palaces, religious rituals, historic hotspots, and the chance to visit some of India's most incredible and influential cities, this trip has it all.

Highlights

  • Explore the bustling streets and markets in Old Delhi
  • Marvel at the fortresses and palaces of the Rajasthani Royals
  • See the world-famous Taj Mahal at sunrise and sunset
  • Take a boat trip along the Ganges to see the pilgrims
  • Visit the birthplace of the British Empire, Kolkata

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Delhi Delhi
Day 2 Visit Old Delhi & Overnight Train to Udaipur Luxury Train
Day 3 Udaipur City Tour & Sunset Boat Cruise Udaipur
Day 4 Udaipur to Deogarh Deogarh
Day 5 Deogarh to Pushkar pushkar
Day 6 Pushkar to Jaipur Jaipur
Day 7 Jaipur Sightseeing Tour Jaipur
Day 8 Jaipur to Agra via Fatehpur Sikri Agra
Day 9 Taj Mahal & Agra City Tour Agra
Day 10 Agra to Lucknow Lucknow
Day 11 Lucknow to Allahabad Allahabad
Day 12 Allahabad to Varanasi via Chunar Varanasi
Day 13 Sunrise River Trip on the Ganges & Tour of Varanasi Varanasi
Day 14 Sightseeing in Varanasi & Sarnath, Overnight Train to Kolkata Luxury Train
Day 15 Kolkata City Tour Kolkata
Day 16 Departure from Kolkata Kolkata

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Delhi

We pick you up from Delhi Airport, where your tour begins
We pick you up from Delhi Airport, where your tour begins

Welcome to India!  We'll meet you at the airport in Delhi and take you to your hotel in the bustling capital city, where we will go through all the details, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with all the information you need for your trip.

The rest of the day is yours to relax, explore, or do as you please.

Day 2: Visit Old Delhi & Overnight Train to Udaipur

Visit 17th-century Jamal Masjid, one of India's largest mosques
Visit 17th-century Jamal Masjid, one of India's largest mosques

You'll begin your trip with a city tour through the historic capital, Old Dehli. One of the oldest existing cities in the world, you'll learn all about the fascinating history of magical India as you pass down narrow alleyways past ancient monuments and wander through bustling bazaars.

The tour begins with a quick stop at the awe-inspiring Red Fort before visiting the 17th-century Jama Masjid mosque and heading to the lively Chandni Chowk market to take an exhilarating rickshaw ride through what was once the center of this historic city. Finish up the tour with a trip to Raj Ghat, the sober memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the 'father of India'.

Following the tour, head to the railway station and board the overnight train to Udaipur.

Travel time: 12 hours
Travel distance: 419 miles (674 km)

Day 3: Udaipur City Tour & Sunset Boat Cruise

Udaipur's City Palace viewed from Lake Pichola
Udaipur's City Palace viewed from Lake Pichola

Known as the 'Pearl of Rajasthan', the 'City of Sunrise', and 'Venice of the East', Udaipur is said to be one of the most romantic cities in India. Your driver will be waiting to pick you up and take you to your hotel, where you'll have a few hours to rest before going on a sightseeing tour of this magical city. Start off with a visit to the spectacular City Palace Museum.  Famous for its intricate carvings and beautiful gardens overlooking Lake Pichola, Udaipur's 18th-century City Palace is actually constructed of several different palaces, some of which have been converted into hotels, and one which is still home to the current Maharaja. 

You will also visit the 18th-century Saheliyon-ki-Bari—the Courtyard of the Maidens—built as a gift from Maharana Sangram Singh to his queen and the ladies of the court to provide a green escape from the hot dry weather and the political intrigues of court. After visiting the palace and the gardens, swing by the Jagdish temple, which was built in 1651, and is said to be the largest and most beautiful temple in Udaipur. 

You're free to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing or exploring before going on a sunset boat trip on Lake Pichola to enjoy the best views of Udaipur's hills, palaces, historic buildings, and bathing ghats (stairs).

Day 4: Udaipur to Deogarh

Watch the set over the Aravalli mountains in Rajasthan
Watch the set over the Aravalli mountains in Rajasthan

After a leisurely breakfast, say goodbye to the beautiful city of Udaipur and take a two to three-hour drive to the historic town of Deogarh in the heart of Rajasthan.  Up in the Aravalli mountains and surrounded by Bhil villages,  Deogarh's culture and climate is very different from the rest of Rajasthan, with colorful festivals and celebrations, and much cooler weather. 

This afternoon, you have a few hours free to relax or explore at your leisure. At sunset, go for a walk around the local area and see the beautiful 17th-century Deogarh Mahal illuminated against the starry night sky.

Travel time: 2-3 hours
Travel distance: 80 miles (130 km)

Day 5: Deogarh to Pushkar

The banks of Pushkar holy lake are a famous bathing spot for pilgrims
The banks of Pushkar holy lake are a famous bathing spot for pilgrims

Today, leave the mountains behind as you make your way to Pushkar, a beautiful spiritual town located on the edge of the Thar Desert. An important Hindu pilgrimage spot, Pushkar is well known for its Brahma Temple—the only one of its kind in India—and its famous camel fair, which takes place every November.

The drive to Pushkar should take around three to four hours, passing through some of Rajasthan's most beautiful scenery, with rolling hills, lakes, and arid landscapes. Once you arrive, check into your hotel and then go on a city tour to the Brahma Temple and the Sacred Lake, which is the perfect spot for sunset. After a stroll through the local bazaar, the evening is yours to do as you please.

Travel time: 3-4 hours
Travel distance:  100 miles (160 km)

Day 6: Pushkar to Jaipur

Explore Jaipur's lively downtown street markets and spice bazaars
Explore Jaipur's lively downtown street markets and spice bazaars

After breakfast, make your way from Pushkar to the colorful capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur. Jaipur is also known as the Pink City because, in 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh painted the entire city pink—a color traditionally associated with hospitality—in honor of the visiting Prince of Wales.

The journey from Pushkar to Jaipur should take around two to three hours. Once you arrive, check into the hotel and then head downtown to visit a local spice market to sample some local Rajasthani spices and traditional flavors.

Travel time: 2-3 hours
Travel distance: 93 miles (150 km)

Day 7: Jaipur Sightseeing Tour

Check out the beautiful views from Amer Fort in Jaipur
Check out the beautiful views from Amer Fort in Jaipur

Start your tour of the Pink City with a stop off at the 18th-century Hawa Mahal—the Palace of the Winds—a unique and imposing five-story pink sandstone structure that was built to allow the royal ladies to watch street processions and festivities through its 953 tiny windows without being seen by the people below.

Continue onto the ancient capital, Amer, with the iconic UNESCO World Heritage-listed Amer Fort. Also known as the Amber Fort, this imposing hilltop fortress was built as the royal residence over a thousand years ago, and is famous for its iconic Indian-Muslim design and spectacular views of the city and lake below. Explore the Sheesh Mahal—mirrored palace—and the Jai Mandir—hall of glory—before finding a spot to people watch and bask in the historic opulence.

After exploring the fort, head back to Jaipur, where you'll visit the City Palace. The palace became the royal residence in 1727 when Jai Singh II relocated the capital here from Amer. It is still home to the royal family today. After a short tour through the palace and a quick visit to the armory to admire the extensive weapons collection, you'll end your tour with a trip to Jantar Mantar, Jai Singh II's giant 18th-century Solar Observatory and astronomical treasure house.

Day 8: Jaipur to Agra via Fatehpur Sikri

Explore the abandoned Mughal capital, Fatehpur Sikri
Explore the abandoned Mughal capital, Fatehpur Sikri

Today, leave Rajasthan for Agra, home of the magnificent Taj Mahal. En-route, take a quick stop to explore the historic abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri. As you wander around the ancient royal residence and beautiful red sandstone buildings, it will feel like you've taken a step back to the 16th century, when this city was once the short-lived capital of the Mughal Empire. 

Go on a quick tour through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed walled city, stopping to explore the impressive Panch Mahal palace,  the Buland Darwaza (Gate of Victory), the Tomb of Salim Chisti, and the Jama Masjid mosque. Once you arrive in Agra, you'll have the evening to relax before waking up early to visit the legendary Taj Mahal for sunrise.

Travel time: 4-5 hours
Travel distance:  150 miles (240 km)

Day 9: Taj Mahal & Agra City Tour

The Taj Mahal is even more magical bathed in the sunrise light
The Taj Mahal is even more magical bathed in the sunrise light

Wake up early to visit one of India's most iconic monuments—the Taj Mahal—at sunrise. One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this breathtaking building took an estimated 20,000 craftsmen and 1,000 elephants 22 years to complete. It is arguably the world's most famous monument to love, built by the ruler of the Mughal Empire, Shah Jahan, in honor of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, after she passed away in childbirth in 1631.

Dawn is one of the best times to visit the Taj Mahal, where you can watch as the rising sun illuminates the stunning white marble fresco of this fully symmetrical architectural marvel. After a tour of the monument, head back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast, before continuing on with our city tour around Agra.

The second stop on your Agra city tour is the massive Agra Fort. Although overshadowed by the Taj Mahal, this palatial red-sandstone and marble fortress was built by Emperor Ackbar in 1565 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Hindu and Mughal architecture.  It is also where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son for eight years after he usurped him from the throne. 

After exploring the Fort, head to the Itmad–Ud–Daulah, also known as Baby Taj. Completed three years before construction started on the Taj Mahal, this mausoleum is set in a large cruciform garden, crisscrossed by water courses and walkways.  In the evening, visit Mehtab Bagh—also known as the Moonlight Garden—where the symmetrical gardens are designed to line up perfectly with the Taj Mahal across the river.

Day 10: Agra to Lucknow

Visit Bara Imambara in Lucknow
Visit Bara Imambara in Lucknow

Continue your journey through Uttar Pradesh with a visit to the capital city, Lucknow, a five to six-hour drive east from Agra. In the afternoon, head out to explore the bazaars, chowks, and street stalls of this city which was once at the heart of North Indian culture.

You can choose whether to visit the Hazrat Gunj, the fashionable shopping area, Aminabad, the city's oldest and most traditional market, the Sunday market (Nakhas), or the Chowk area, which is great for bargain-hunting and people watching. If you are keen on pottery, then don't miss the markets at Chinhat, where you will be able to find anything your heart desires. Lucknow is also famous for its delicious desserts, with some sweet shops in the old city dating back to the 1850s.

Alternatively, you can also opt to visit a Nawab for tea. This unique experience will have you meeting a direct descendent of Nawab, Nawab Sahib, in his home in a small family museum and talking to him about the history of the Nawabs of Awadh, who ruled Lucknow in the 18th and 19th centuries before the British rule. You can ask him anything you like about the history of the family and the city.

Travel time: 5-6 hours
Travel distance:  205 miles (330 km)

Day 11: Lucknow to Allahabad

Hindu Pilgrims bathing in the confluence of the three holy rivers
Hindu Pilgrims bathing in the confluence of the three holy rivers

After breakfast, take a quick tour around the highlights of Lucknow, beginning with a visit to Bara Imambara—a stunning Shia Muslim shrine that was built without using any pillars—and Rumi Darwaza, one of the finest examples of historic architecture in the Awadh style, before settling in for the five-hour drive to Allahabad.

This afternoon, go on a late-afternoon boat trip to Sangam—the meeting point of the three rivers—the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati, and one of the four sites of Kumbh Mela—a major Hindu pilgrimage and one of the biggest religious festivals in the world. Where the brown waters of the Ganges meet the green waters of the Yamuna, and all along the ghats—stairs—and the beaches of the rivers, you will see priests on small platforms performing their sacred rituals to complete the puja and assist devotees in their ablutions in the shallow waters.

Travel time:  5 hours
Travel distance:  124 miles (200 km)

Day 12: Allahabad to Varanasi via Chunar

We arrive into the holy city of Varanasi by boat
Arrive into the holy city of Varanasi by boat

Today, make your way from Allahabad to Varanasi. Along the way, stop off at the fascinating Medieval Fort of Chunar on the banks of the Ganges River, which is said to date back to 56 BCE, when it was built by the legendary Maharaja Vikramaditya, the King of Ujjain.

After the visit, take a river trip along the Ganges towards Varanasi. Your boat trip ends at the Asi Ghat in Varanasi, where your driver will meet you and bring you to the last little way to the hotel. Hindu legend says that Varanasi—once also known as Banaras—was founded by Shiva, and it is one of the holiest sites in Hinduism. It is one of the oldest living cities in the world, the founding place of Buddhism, an important site in Sikhism and Jainism, and has been a cultural and theological hub throughout history.

The evening is free for you to relax or wander through the streets one of the holiest and most fascinating and historic cities in all of India.

Travel time: 5 hours
Travel distance: 96 miles (155km)

Day 13: Sunrise River Trip on the Ganges & Tour of Varanasi

Watch the Hindu Pilgrims bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges
Watch the Hindu Pilgrims bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges

Just before dawn, take a boat trip out on the Ganges to witness the amazing spectacle of events on the Ghats—the steps leading down to the river. Every day, thousands of Hindu pilgrims and devotees make their way to Varanasi to offer prayers, meditate, and purify themselves by taking a dip in the holy river. Here, you will see life and death together, and perhaps even capture a glimpse of a Hindu cremation on the banks of the river as you cruise past.

After the boat ride, set off on foot to explore the inner city. Walking around the streets is one of the best ways to explore the city, and offers us a unique insight into the life of the people here and the surroundings, which have changed very little over the last few centuries. After the walking tour, drive out to the Banaras Hindu University, visit the Indian art museum Bharat Kala Bhawan, and Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple. If time allows, you can also visit the Durga Temple (monkey temple), Tulasi Manas Temple, and the Bharat Mata Temple (Mother India Temple).

At dusk, witness the mystical Aarti Ceremony, where a crowd of pilgrims gathers on the ghats to sing mesmerizing religious songs, meditations, lighted lamps, and offerings to the Ganges. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the perfect way to end your time in one of the holiest cities on earth.

Day 14: Sightseeing in Varanasi & Sarnath, Overnight Train to Kolkata

Explore the local side of Varanasi on a walking tour
Explore the local side of Varanasi on a walking tour

Following a leisurely breakfast, drive to Sarnath, where the Buddha is believed to have founded Buddhism when he gave his first sermon in 528 BCE, and where Emperor Ashoka—also known as Ashoka the Great—built monasteries and stupas during his reign of the Maurya Dynasty from 268 to 232 BCE.  You will visit Deer Park where Gautama Buddha gave his first teachings and the Sarnath Museum to see the historic objects and sculptures that were found on the site.

After that, return to the hotel in Varanasi and relax for a few hours before taking the overnight train to Kolkata. Whilst you wait for the train, you can opt to join a local off-the-beaten-track walking tour to see a different side of Varanasi.

Travel time: 10.5 hours
Travel distance: 422 miles (680 km)

Day 15 & 16: Kolkata City Tour - Depart

Kolkata lies at the crossroads between old and new India
Kolkata lies at the crossroads between old and new India

In the morning, you will meet your driver at the railway station and make your way to the hotel in Kolkata.  The home of the late Mother Teresa and the birthplace of an empire, Kolkata has been equal parts a playground for the rich and a haven for the destitute, a wellspring of creative energy, and a center for Marxist agitation. It is one of India's most unique and fascinating cities, where old mansions drip with moss, and memorials pay tribute to Queen Victoria.

After having a few hours to rest, embark on a city tour. Starting off in Dalhousie Square, you will visit Raj Bhavan, the High Court, the GPO, the Town Hall, the Writer's Building, and other important colonial buildings including the Victoria Memorial.

You will also see another side of the city, with visits to the Jain Temple, Kali Temple, Mother Teresa’s Orphanage & Howrah Bridge, Kumhartoli (The Potter’s Village), Marble Palace, the Indian Museum, and St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, before ending your tour of the city with an evening visit to the Hoogle River.

The next day, head to Kolkata International Airport for your onward journey. Enjoy the last glimpses of India from the window as you drive through this historic city, with a plethora of pictures and magical memories that will last a lifetime.