Come face to face with some of India's most amazing wildlife on this 12-day tiger and temple tour through the heart of Central India. Start in Delhi, where you'll take a tour through one of the oldest living cities in the world, visit Agra for a sunrise trip to the Taj Mahal, stop by Gwalior to explore the ancient fort and wander through the faded palaces of the Lost City of Orchha, before traveling into the heart of tiger country to go on sunrise and sunset wildlife safaris through some of India's biggest and most beautiful national parks.

Highlights

  • Take an exhilarating rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk in Delhi
  • Watch the sun rise over the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra
  • Explore the ancient Jain temple rock carvings in Gwalior Fort
  • Marvel at the amazing sculptures & carvings of Khajuraho
  • Visit tribal villages whose way of life hasn't changed in centuries

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Delhi Delhi
Day 2 Delhi Sightseeing Tour Delhi
Day 3 Delhi to Agra Agra
Day 4 Sunrise at Taj Mahal, Agra to Gwalior Gwalior
Day 5 Gwalior to Orchha Orchha
Day 6 Orchha to Khajuraho Khajuraho
Day 7 Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh Bandhavgarh
Day 8 Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park Bandhavgarh
Day 9 Bandhavgarh to Kanha Kanha
Day 10 Kanha National Park Safari Kanha
Day 11 Kanha to Delhi via Jabalpur Delhi
Day 12 Departure from Delhi Delhi

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Delhi

Welcome to the bustling capital city of India

Welcome to Delhi! Upon arrival at the airport, you will meet your driver who will take you to your city center accommodation. The rest of the day is yours to spend however you wish. You could relax at the hotel after your journey, go for a stroll around the neighborhood to stretch your legs, or even do a spot of shopping or sightseeing in this vibrant metropolis.

Since it was first settled around the 8th century, Delhi has seen the rise and fall of many empires and dynasties, including the Mughals and the British, who transformed this historic city into the administrative capital of British India and one of the hubs of the British Empire. Tomorrow, you'll take a tour and uncover the different memorials and monuments each individual king and dynasty has left upon the architecture of this fascinating city.

Day 2: Delhi Sightseeing Tour

Swing by Hanuman's Tomb on your tour of Old Delhi
Swing by Hanuman's Tomb on your tour of Old Delhi

Kick-off your trip to India with a full-day sightseeing tour of Delhi, one of the world's oldest living cities. Your tour begins with a drive from your hotel to the center of Old Delhi, where you'll pass by ancient monuments, bustling bazaars, and colorful historic buildings, including the dramatic Red Fort,  the 17th-century royal residence of the Mughal Emperors. Stop off at the impressively symmetrical Jama Masjid, one of the biggest mosques in India, built in 1650 by Emperor Shah Jahan, who also built the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal, for which he is better known. This iconic mosque has three huge gates, two giant minarets, and three white domes, and overlooks a courtyard that can hold more than 25,000 people.

Next, swing by the famous Chandni Chowk market, where you can lose yourself in the narrow streets and colorful shops that sell everything from household items to silver and sarees. Take a thrilling rickshaw ride through the heart of the market as you make your way to Raj Ghat, the sober memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India.

After a quick break for lunch, it's time to explore New Delhi, once the administrative hub for British India. Take a drive along the Rajpath passage in front of the colonial-style government buildings, which were designed by the famous British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. From here, make your way to India Gate, a stone archway that was built as a memorial to the tens of thousands of Indian soldiers killed fighting for Britain in World War I. Beneath the gate burns an eternal flame to honor those who lost their lives.

Pass by the Presidential Palace, before rounding off your city tour with a visit to Humayun's Tomb. Said to be one of the predecessors for the Taj Mahal, this impressive monument is unique and beautiful in its own right and is surrounded by other equally as intricate tombs and memorials in a tranquil garden setting. If you have time, you'll also pay a visit to the gravity-defying ancient minaret of Qutab Minar. Return to your hotel where you're free to spend the rest of the evening at leisure before your journey to Agra in the morning.

Day 3: Delhi to Agra

Head to the river at sunset to capture your first glimpse of the Taj Mahal
Head to the Yamuna river at sunset to capture your first glimpse of the Taj Mahal

Check out from your hotel after breakfast and settle in for the 4-hour journey from Delhi to the ancient Mughal capital of Agra. The golden age for this historic city came in the 16th century when, under the reign of Emperor Akbar, it became a leading center of arts, culture, science, and commerce, bringing together intellectuals and artists from across India and the world.

These days, however, it's more famous as the home of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan's famous monument to love. Capture your first glimpses of this epic building from across the river today, first from the upper balcony of the impressive Agra Fort, with its beautiful white marble and red sandstone exterior and interior, and secondly from the banks of the Yamuna River, where you get amazing sunset views over this UNESCO World Heritage-listed wonder.

Today, you'll go on a guided tour of Agra Fort, where Shah Jahan was imprisoned for the last eight years of his life, destined to forever look at his impressive monument from across the river. After that, the afternoon is free for you to spend as you please. There are plenty of other monuments to see, such as the impressive Jama Masjid fort, and Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb. You could also visit the Mehtab Bagh or Moonlight Garden, with its perfectly manicured lawns and fountains designed to line up with the Taj Mahal's impressive symmetry.

Travel Time: 4 hours
Travel Distance: 136 miles (220 km)

Day 4: Sunrise at Taj Mahal, Agra to Gwalior

Visit the breathtaking Gwalior Palace
Take a tour of Gwalior Fort's palaces & ancient cave temples

Start the day with a sunrise visit to one of India's most breathtaking and magical monuments, the Taj Mahal. One of the world's most iconic buildings, the Taj Mahal took 20,000 craftsmen 22 years to build, from 1632 to 1653. Built in honor of Shah Jahan's late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, this grand architectural feat is finished in beautiful white marble with exquisite carvings and gemstone inlays. Wake up early to be out here for sunrise, where you can watch the sun rays change the colors of the marble from white to liquid gold.

Stop for breakfast, before beginning the 2-3 hour drive south from Agra to Gwalior. According to legend, this remote fort city was first founded in the 3rd century and was named after a holy man, who cured the local chieftain of leprosy. This afternoon, take a tour of the fortified town and the stunning Gwalior Fort, which is thought to have been built around the beginning of the sixth century CE.

Gwalior Fort is actually 1.2 square miles in size and encases several palaces, including the impressive Gurjari Mahal, which is now a museum, and the 15th century Man Mandir. The fort also encompasses the awe-inspiring Siddhachal Jain Temple Caves, which were carved out of the rocky hill that the fort stands on between the 7th and 15th centuries. The largest rock-cut statue is a super impressive 58-feet (17.6-meter) high idol of Bhagwan Adinatha.

You will also visit the 8th-century Teli ka Mandir Hindu temple in the oldest part of the fort. During its heyday, the fort's reservoirs would have been able to provide water for a 15,000-person army, the number required to secure the fort, but over the years the fort succumbed and came under the control of many invading armies, including the Muslim dynasties, the Delhi Sultanate, the Tomars, and the Mughals.

Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and exploring the city of Gwalior on your own, before retiring to your hotel for the night.

Travel Time: 2-3 hours
Travel Distance: 75 miles (120 km)

Day 5: Gwalior to Orchha

The fort in Orchha, the Lost City of India
Explore the abandoned city of Orchha, known as the Lost City of India

After breakfast, leave Gwalior for the 2-3 hour drive southeast to the Lost City of Orchha. Located on an island on the bend of the Betwa River, this gorgeous historic city looks down over its forested surroundings. Once the capital of an independent state, Orchha was founded in the 16th century and abandoned in the 18th century. Now, its evocative palaces, temples, and cenotaphs stand alongside a sleepy, laidback village.

The city complex itself is home to three beautiful palaces, the Raj Mahal, the Rai Parveen Mahal, and the Jahangir Mahal. Built by successive Maharajas, the individual palaces showcase the unique styles of their kings, and together, form an impressive architectural complex.

This afternoon, take a city tour of Orchha and explore the palaces with their delicate trellis work, screens, and statues, before making your way to visit the temples of Ram Raja and Chaturbhuj. 

Travel Time: 2-3 hours
Travel Distance: 80 miles (130 km)

Day 6: Orchha to Khajuraho

Take a tour of the intricate carvings and beautiful buildings of Khajuraho
Take a tour of the intricate carvings and beautiful buildings of Khajuraho

Settle in for a long drive this morning as you make your way from Orchha to Khajuraho, which is famous for its magnificent temples and exquisite erotic carvings. Once we arrive, you'll check into your hotel and freshen up before heading out on an afternoon temple tour.

One of the best examples of Indian Architecture, the Temples of Khajuraho were built over a hundred year period a thousand years ago, and offer a fascinating glimpse into life at the time, with their walls covered in intricate and sensuous carvings depicting everything from fictional creatures like griffins, nymphs, and beasts to demons in revolt and gods in the throes of passion. 

A UNESCO World Heritage site, there were once nearly 100 separate temples, each dedicated to a different deity. Now, only 20 remain, and they're considered some of the best and most detailed examples of erotic art and stone carving in the whole of India. After taking a guided tour through the Western Temples, return to the city where you'll spend the night before exploring more of these historically important temples in the morning.

Travel Time: 4-5 hours
Travel Distance: 100 miles (160 km)

Day 7: Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh

Spend the morning exploring more of Khajuraho's impressive temples
Spend the morning exploring more of Khajuraho's impressive temples

Before you leave Khajuraho and begin the journey out to Bandhavgarh National Park, make an early visit out to see the Eastern Khajuraho Temples see these historic world-famous carvings and ancient rocks illuminated by the morning light. 

After a short tour of the site, it's time to settle in for a long drive out to one of India's most famous national parks. The journey should take between five and six hours, including stops. Once you arrive, check into your hotel and relax. If you have time, you might be able to organize a sunset safari, where you can start your hunt for the park's most elusive residents, Bengal Tigers, along with wild boar, leopards, spotted deer, jackals, and sloth bears. 

Travel Time: 5-6 hours
Travel Distance: 143 miles (230 km)

Day 8: Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park

Take a safari drive through the park in search of the elusive Bengal tiger
Take a safari drive through the park in search of the elusive Bengal tiger

One of India's most popular national parks, Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968 and has one of the highest densities of tigers of all the national parks in India. It is also home to a small hilltop fort which was once the royal residence of the Baghel dynasty.

Start your day early with a guided sunrise safari game drive into the park in a 4WD open jeep. Keep your eyes peeled for tigers, as well as leopards, sloth bears, and many other birds and animals who call this natural sanctuary home. Your guides will also point out signs of historic human influence in the park, such as statues, temples, man-made ponds and wells.

Return to the hotel for lunch and a siesta, before meeting again in the mid-afternoon to head back out on an afternoon wildlife safari. This way, you'll be able to maximize your opportunities to see tigers, as well as enjoying the natural beauty of the park at different times of the day.

Day 9: Bandhavgarh to Kanha

Today, make your way to Kanha National Park
Today, make your way to Kanha National Park

After one last early morning game drive in Bandhavgarh National Park, return to your hotel to freshen up and have breakfast, before hitting the road again for the drive out to Kanha National Park, where you'll continue on your quest to see Bengal Tigers in the wild.

A National Park since 1955 and a Tiger Reserve since 1973, Kanha is the biggest National Park in India, encompassing over 580 square miles (940 km) of lush jungle, bamboo forests, meadows, and grassland. It is home to Chital and Sambar deer, along with leopards, sloth bears, and Barasingha (swamp deer), which have been brought back from near extinction.

Travel Time: 4-5 hours
Travel Distance: 134 miles (215 km)

Day 10: Kanha National Park Safari

Kanha National Park is home to many wild animals, like these deer
Kanha National Park is home to many wild animals, like these Chital deer

This morning, climb into a jeep and head out on a sunrise jungle excursion into the heart of Kanha National Park. As well as being India's biggest national park, it is also one of its most beautiful, with plenty of varied scenery and lots of wildlife who call it home.

Return to your hotel for lunch. This afternoon, opt to go on another safari or take a leisurely 3-hour guided walk through the villages of Kanha. Cross over the Banjar River and follow trails through the forest to Chhapri Villages, where you will visit several local tribes and admire their historic settlements, with impressive gatehouses and open courtyards. You can also visit local markets and see how they use bamboo from the forests to create unique artisan products.

From here, make your way to a nearby hill to watch the sun set over the park before returning to your hotel. 

Day 11: Kanha to Delhi via Jabalpur

Today's your last chance to see a Bengal Tiger before we return to Delhi
Today's your last chance to see a Bengal Tiger before we return to Delhi

Head out on one final wildlife safari through Kanha National Park this morning before returning to the concrete jungle of Delhi. Start your long journey back with a 3-4 hour drive through the countryside to Jabalpur, where you will board your afternoon flight back to the capital city.

Upon arrival, you will be met by your driver who will take you to your hotel. It's up to you how you want to spend your final night in India, with plenty of options including sampling the city's impressive dining and nightlife scene, going for a wander through a night bazaar, or just relaxing in your hotel before your onward journey tomorrow.

Travel Time: 3-4 hours drive + 1.5-hour flight

Travel Distance: 620 miles (995 km)

Day 12: Departure from Delhi

Your time has come to say goodbye to Delhi
Your time has come to say goodbye to Delhi

After an amazing 12-day adventure, your time has come to say goodbye to India. After breakfast, check out from your hotel and make your way to the airport.

Depending on the time of your flight you might be able to squeeze in a touch more sightseeing or souvenir shopping, or just spend the day relaxing and going through your photographs and memories of this once-in-a-lifetime trip before beginning your onward journey.

Map

Map of Tiger Lands of Central India: Delhi, Agra, Bandhavgarh, & Kanha - 12 Days
Map of Tiger Lands of Central India: Delhi, Agra, Bandhavgarh, & Kanha - 12 Days