Welcome to Delhi! On arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel in the city’s vibrant centre. After check-in, spend the afternoon exploring your new surroundings – Delhi offers an exhilarating blend of ancient tradition and modernity on every street.
After breakfast, head out to visit the bustling capital of Delhi. Visit the 300-year-old Chandni Chowk Market, a traditional Indian market with crowded shops, narrow streets, busy roads and an explosion of sounds and sights. Shop to your heart’s content here, indulging in clothes, trinkets and delicious street food before heading to Agrasen Ki Baoli, a spectacular historical stepwell showcasing how ancient citizens gathered water.
Next, head to Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, where an eternal flame burns continuously. Pay your respects to the main architect of India's independence. A prominent landmark of this area is the commanding Red Fort, a jaw-dropping fort built entirely of red sandstone.
In the afternoon, switch over to the modern side of Delhi with a visit to Qutub Minar, a 63-metre-high tower built to commemorate the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom by Qutb-al-Din Aibak. On your way to this victory tower, pass by the other prominent landmarks of Delhi such as India Gate (the ‘Arc de Triomphe of India'), the Presidential Palace and Parliament House.
Return to your accommodation and enjoy the evening at leisure.
Bid goodbye to Delhi as you head to the ‘Pink City of India’, Jaipur. An included coach transfer will transport you to this colourful city (approximately five hours' drive), where you will spend the afternoon at leisure.
This enchanting city carries a regal legacy, once being the seat of power for the royal family who reigned over the region. As you enter this captivating destination, prepare to be immersed in the rich history and cultural heritage.
After breakfast, head out on a city tour of Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and the land of royals. Begin your exciting tour at the Amber Fort, an ancient complex perched on a hill overlooking Maota Lake. It holds within its sturdy walls a princely palace made of white marble and red sandstone. Gaze at the stunning interiors of the palace, featuring painted miniatures depicting scenes of wars and royal life.
En route to the Amber Fort, enjoy a photo stop at the Palace of Winds, or Hawa Mahal. Capture Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark, a five-storey structure of red and pink sandstone with intricately designed exteriors.
In the afternoon, visit the City Palace, a beautiful fusion of Mughal and Rajput architecture, spread over one-seventh of Old Jaipur. While part of the palace has been converted into a museum housing age-old weapons and traditional Indian fabrics and costumes, a portion of it is still used by the royal family of Jaipur.
After breakfast, you will be transferred by private vehicle to Agra, home of the world’s most famous monument dedicated to love — the Taj Mahal. The journey takes approximately four hours, and an optional en-route excursion to Fatehpur Sikri, the short-lived capital of the Mughal Empire abandoned centuries ago for a lack of water, is available.
Check in to your accommodation and enjoy the evening at leisure.
- Fatehpur Sikri Tour (from A$44 per person).
Rise and shine early today to visit the marble wonder of the Taj Mahal at sunrise. One of the greatest architectural wonders of India, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a token of his undying love for his queen, Mumtaz Mahal, after she passed away. The marble mausoleum is so grand and elaborate that its construction took nearly 20 years, and the masons, calligraphers, painters and other artisans that worked on it were brought from around the world.
Return to the hotel for breakfast and then head to another Mughal remnant, the magnificent Agra Fort. Built by Akbar the Great, it was the main residence of the Mughal dynasty. Home to many dazzling structures such as Jahangir Mahal, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-Am and Moti Masjid, Agra Fort offers spectacular views of the Taj Mahal.
After an afternoon of relaxation in Agra, check out of the hotel for a transfer to either Agra or Delhi Railway Station to board an overnight train to the holy city of Varanasi.
Arrive in one of the holiest cities of India, Varanasi, and transfer to your hotel. Breakfast is not included today, but will be available for an additional surcharge.
In the evening, get set to witness the Ganga Aarti by the mighty River Ganges. Every evening as the sun sets, divine rituals are performed in the cities of Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi on the banks of the River Ganges. Hundreds of lamps are lit and moved in a circular fashion to the accompaniment of holy chants, songs and music in order to pay respect to Mother Ganga, the giver of life, and to purify the souls of the devotees. A truly unique sight, this experience is sure to be one of the most memorable moments of your trip.
It's an early morning start today with a scenic boat ride on the River Ganges. A principal attraction of Varanasi is the ‘ghats’, or riverfront steps leading to the banks of the river, a focal point for the life of the city. At dawn, the steps are abuzz with devotees performing morning rituals, offering prayers to the rising sun and taking a dip in the holy river. Sitting in the boat, gliding across the river, you get front-row views of this grand spectacle of Varanasi — with the rising sun reflecting off the shimmering waters of the River Ganges, this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Return to the hotel for breakfast before heading to Sarnath, the spot where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon. Discover one of the foremost Buddhist sites in India, with its innumerable Buddhist shrines and stupas. The great emperor Ashoka built many stupas here and also the famed Ashoka Pillar, which is adorned with four Asiatic lions and is now India’s national emblem. Visit the ruins of the age-old brick temple and breathtaking stupas, including the Dharmarajika, Dhamekh, Chaukhandi, and more. Then, unearth the many treasures of this religious site by visiting the Archaeological Museum, which boasts priceless artefacts from the third to the 12th centuries.
In the afternoon, make your way to Kashi Viswanath Temple, also known as the Golden Temple of India. Dedicated to the lord of the universe, Lord Shiva, it sports a bedazzling gold-plated tower. You will pass by some of the other famous attractions of Varanasi, including the Bharat Mata Mandir temple and Banaras Hindu University, one of the largest residential universities in Asia. Finally, transfer to the railway station to board your overnight sleeper train to Delhi.
Note: The morning boat ride is subject to weather conditions.
After arriving in Delhi, a representative will meet you at the railway station and transfer you to the airport for your onward flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. There will be a chance to have breakfast for an additional cost.
Welcome to Nepal! Upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu, you’ll be transferred to your hotel, where the rest of the evening is at your leisure. The city offers sights and sounds in spectacular abundance; we recommend soaking up as much as you can.
- Two-hour hotel room use to freshen up plus breakfast (from A$105 per person).
After breakfast, enjoy a tour of the city’s most notable and intriguing landmarks. Start at Kathmandu Durbar Square, famous for its exquisite architecture. The hub of Nepal's art and culture has more than 50 temples and centuries of fascinating history. Next, continue to Asan Bazaar, the oldest market in the city, famous for its incredible collection of vendors selling everything from spices to ritual ingredients.
Continue to the great stupa of Swayambhunath, said to be more than 2,500 years old, before moving to Patan Durbar Square, which has earned acclaim as one of the finest streetscapes in the world with its captivating blend of palace buildings, courtyards and pagodas. It’s here that the city’s artists and artisans practise their professions and sell their wares.
This morning, after breakfast, visit Bhaktapur, once the ancient capital of the valley and the gateway to trade with Tibet. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage-listed living museum of medieval art and architecture – stand in wonder at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, once the Royal Palace, and wander in the shadows of massive pagodas and storied temples. If you get a chance, don’t miss out on trying juju dhau, a local delicacy – fat-filled buffalo milk is boiled, stored in a warm clay pot, fermented and infused with local spices (cardamom is common). This ‘King of Yoghurt’ is rich, sweet and quintessentially Nepalese.
In the afternoon, drive to Nagarkot, a town famous for its spectacular views over the Himalayas. Look to the west and you’ll spot mighty Dhaulagiri; in the east, Everest stands proud. If the weather is good, catch the sunset from an outdoor vantage point – the views will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Awaken early to catch the sunrise over the Himalayas (weather permitting) and enjoy breakfast, before returning to Kathmandu to visit some of the region’s most magnificent temples.
Pashupatinath Temple is the oldest Hindu place of worship in the region, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. While it’s unknown exactly when the temple was built, legends abound surrounding its construction and purpose – the sprawling temple venerates Shiva as he is known in his aspect of Pashupati, lord of animals.
Continue to Boudhanath stupa, one of the largest spherical burial monuments in the country, famous for its gilded tower painted with the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha. Pilgrims and holy men practice ‘kora,’ a meditative practice that involves circumambulation anticlockwise around the structure while chanting or spinning prayer wheels, thought to generate luckiness and peace.
Enjoy the evening at your leisure.
After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your onward journey.