India: Beyond the Golden Triangle

Departures: India

India: Beyond the Golden Triangle

On this journey you’ll not only experience the color, chaos and beauty of Northern India’s most iconic sights, cities and parks, our local guides take you beyond the photo stops to truly understand the layers of culture and tradition that make India such a fascinating contrast of ancient and modern. You’ll also spend three full days near Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve, complete with a daily morning jeep safari into the park.

Beneficiary

We believe that to travel responsibly, a portion of our tour cost should benefit the communities we visit. For this trip, our donation will go to a non-profit organization we support that is having a very positive impact in India: PATH—whose work addresses critical healthcare issues in India, with a focus on the health of women and children.

Pricing

Starting at $2990*

For more information and to get started, contact us at How to Book.

Itinerary

Recommended January – March

Day 1-2

Depart Home — Delhi

Depart home for your flight to Delhi. Note that due to time changes and airline routes, your flight may span two or three days. Upon arrival, be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel for check-in.

In the late afternoon, your introduction to Delhi begins in Mehrauli with a visit to Qutab Minar, the once Hindu holy city that was conquered by Mughal invadors in the 12th century. The ‘Minar’ or victory tower, remains the tallest brick minaret in the world and a symbol of Muslim India. Hear stories of the nine cities of Delhi as you visit a 16th-century mosque and the stepwells of Mehrauli. Visit the now-ruined Mughal palace and end the evening at Delhi’s 800-year-old Sufi Shrine.

 

Day 3

DELHI

After breakfast your guide will transport you to the grandeur and subsequent ruin of the Mughal Empire, located in the 7th city of Old Delhi. Take a rickshaw ride past the colorful shops and wholesale markets of Chandni Chowk. Walk through spice and jewelry markets past Havelis (Royal Mansions) that were built centuries ago. In new Delhi, visit the city’s most prominent Sikh Temple which feeds 10,000 people daily, serving rich and poor alike.

Spend the evening with the Sufis and Djinns (spirits) said to inhabit the 14th-century Ferozshah Kotla Fort. Meander lanes where the mundane and mystical blend seamlessly among vendors selling flowers and fragrances, and where the music and incense of Sufi mystics fill the air.

Day 4

DELHI—AGRA

Morning drive to Agra (3.5 hours). After checking into your hotel, visit Agra Fort, a massive structure with 70-foot high, 1.5-mile long walls encompassing an astounding collection of well-preserved buildings, mostly built during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan.

Your sunset visit to the world famous Taj Mahal first begins within Agra Fort, across the Yamuna River from where you’ll get your first view of the Taj. Continue on to the white marble memorial, build by Shah Jahan after the death of his much-beloved wife. This monument took 22 years to complete. Apart from its stunning design and perfect symmetry, the Taj is renown for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and inlay work of semi-precious stones.

Day 5

AGRA—KHAJURAHO

Rise early to enjoy a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal and appreciate this magnificent structure in a different light before the daytime crowds arrive. Return to your hotel for breakfast.

Check out of your hotel and transfer to Agra airport for your flight to Khajuraho. Arrive Khajuraho where you’ll be met and driven to your eco-lodge located on the tranquil River Ken, near Panna National Park. Remainder of the day is at leisure to enjoy your peaceful surroundings.

Day 6

PANNA NATIONAL PARK

This morning take a wildlife safari into the tiger reserve. With the River Ken running through it, the park is home to lush jungle with deep ravines, cascading waterfalls and thick teak forests. More than 200 species of birds can be viewed here, sloth bear, deer, wild dog, and if you’re lucky, tiger, leopard and other large cats.

Afternoon at leisure or you may choose from bird walks on site or in nearby forest and wetland areas, or a peaceful evening boat ride on the pristine Ken river.

Day 7

PANNA NATIONAL PARK & KHAJURAHO

Early morning wake-up call with the sounds of birds calling, and coffee or tea delivered to your room. As soon as dawn breaks, leave on Jeep safari when the animals are most active, accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest park guide.

This afternoon, drive to visit the stunning temples of Khajuraho. The divine sculptures and murals within the temple complex depict the life and times of the Chandela Rajput clan, who ruled several kingdoms in north India and built these temples between 900-1130 AD. This World Heritage site is renown for its many erotic temple carvings.

Day 8

PANNA NATIONAL PARK

Enjoy another early morning safari into the park. Afternoon at leisure to visit the nearby village, take a birding walk or simply relax.

Day 9

KHAJURAHO — VARANASI

After a morning safari and breakfast, drive to Khajuraho airport to connect with a  flight to Varanasi. Upon arrival our representative will meet you and take you to your hotel for check in.

Varanasi, known to the devout as Kashi, is said to have been founded by Shiva, Lord of the Universe. One of the oldest living cities in the world, it is also the most important pilgrimage site  in India for Hindus. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges, the city has been a center of learning and civilization for over 2,000 years.

Day 10

VARANASI

Rise before dawn to experience Banaras by boat. As the sun rises you will see pilgrims who flock to the riverside for morning worship. Along the way you will hear the history of the ghats and their patronage by the Maharaja’s who built them. The adventure ends with a short walking tour around Tulsi ghat’s hidden sun temple.

This afternoon, continue on a southern temples & sacred ponds walk through the mystical landscape of poets, temples and holy ponds near Assi ghat, the southernmost embankment of the holy Ganga river. Walk in the footsteps of 16th-century Banaras poet and mystic Pandit Goswami Tulsidas. Learn about the history and culture of Varanasi while visiting the Southern temple established by Tulsidas. The walk ends with a special darshan, meaning ‘taking sight’ of a hidden sun temple behind his home.

Evening visit to the Ganges for an Aarti (prayer) ceremony. Take a rickshaw ride through the bustling streets of this unique city followed by a sunset cruise on the Ganges. Here you will witness striking religious rituals being performed—a truly unique experience.

Day 11

VARANASI

After breakfast, visit the northern bazaars and hidden alleys of Varanasi with your guide, an area of few tourists. Wind your way through the bazaars in the northern gullis of the old city leading directly through the sacred zone and the city’s oldest section where residents have lived and worked for millennia.

The remainder of the day is at leisure or you may choose to take an optional evening walk through the city.  See  the great cremation grounds of Shiva – where the land of the living mixes with the houses and funeral pyres of the dead.

Day 12

VARANASI — DELHI — HOME

Say goodbye to magical India! After breakfast, transfer to Varanasi airport for your flight to Delhi. You’ll be met at the airport in Delhi and transferred to your airport hotel where you can relax until it’s time to depart. Late night transfer to Delhi international airport for your flight home.

Extend Your Stay

India fascinates and is a rich country for exploration. Extend your stay with a trip to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, explore Rajasthan through a music festival or immerse yourself in the National Parks in Madhya Pradesh to see more amazing wildlife.

For pricing and hotel information, contact us at How to Book. The specifics of this itinerary are subject to change based on local conditions at the discretion of Ponte Travels.

• Rates shown are per person, double occupancy. Airfare not included.