- Take a spiritual journey to the roots of Indian civilisation by visiting Gwalior, Orchha, Khajuraho, Lucknow and Benares
- Cross the Ganges Valley between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, from Jain temples to nababs palaces
- Guides and private drivers, mobile Wi-Fi, Concierge: our services
- Personalise your journey by attending a Sufi ceremony in Lucknow, and follow the Hindu pilgrimages to Orchha and Allahabad
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LARGE SITES AND CIVILISATIONS OF THE GANGES
YOUR TRIPTwo air transfers to cover longer distances; two train trips; other trips are by private car with a driver - a flexible and safe way to get from one place to another. Visits are private and accompanied by the guides. The accommodation has been chosen based on the warmness of its welcome, its excellent location and its ambience. Be it an ancient mansion in the heart of Chandni Chowk in Delhi, a haveli in Benares or a stylish five-star in Lucknow, we've chosen the best places to stay in each location. From the start of the journey to the end, you will have , your Original Travel app, the addresses you need recorded in your travel diary and the contact details of our local Concierge, who can be reached at any time from the local mobile phone you are given.
Flight to Delhi
Arriving in the evening, you will be met at the airport. Private transfer and accommodation for two nights in the heart of town, at a hotel nestled in the narrow alleys of Chandni Chowk. A beautifully carved facade, interior courtyard, arches and columns and mosaic floors are reminders of this beautiful building's lavish past. Rooms carefully reflect this heritage, but with a contemporary style.
Included in the itinerary - Private tour of Delhi with our guide and driver. Delhi is a maze of alleyways criss-crossed by motorcycles, cows, oxcarts and zigzagging rickshaws; at Chandni Chowk Market, tangles of katras, bazaar lanes, crowded with stalls on the ground - a wonderful sensory overload of exotic sights, smells and sounds. You visit the Friday Mosque which is the largest in the country - ten thousand worshippers can kneel there.
What to see and experience - Walk the Rajpath, the Royal Way, Delhi's 'Champs-Elysées' - complete with its 'arc de Triomphe', the totemic Indian Gate, and, on both sides, lawns, canals and fountains. Enjoy a lunch of grilled meat with hot onions at Karim's, opposite Jama Masjid Mosque: the same family has worked behind the stoves for four generations and it's considered to be an institution in the city.
Optional - The Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya mausoleum. At dusk, crowds of men, women and children pray sing and chant in front of the mosque.
Delhi - Gwalior
Early in the morning, a private transfer to the station and train to Gwalior - you are taken by our representative right to your seat, and greeted when your train arrives. In Gwalior, a car with driver is available for six days. Transfer to your hotel, where you will stay for three nights. In a large traditional garden sit a beautiful collection of historic buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries: pavilions, temples, cenotaphs and stables. The old pavilions have been renovated to provide hotel accommodation.
Included in your itinerary - A private visit to the Mitawali, Padawali and Bateshwar temples. Mitawali is an architectural wonder which inspired the Delhi Parliament, dedicated to the sixty-four Yogini goddesses. Padawali, a fortress built in the 18th century, is adorned with fascinating stone sculptures; its temple, which is dedicated to Shiva, is guarded by a lion and lioness. Bateshwar, surrounded by jungles and hills, is home to a collection of temples built between the eighth and tenth centuries, and shrines dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. The city of Bateshwar is particularly lively during its cattle fair, which takes place every November, and brings together a whole world of herders, horsemen, sadhus and even simple pilgrims from all over the region. Men and women are adorned in their finery - shimmering turbans and silk saris. Camels, Marwari horses and zebu cattle - tens of thousands of animals are traded or sold.
Included in your itinerary - A private tour of Gwalior. Exlore the citadel, a vast compound overlooking the city, contains many temples and palaces; the archaeological museum and its Hindu and Jain sculptures; and the Jai Vilas palace and museum, sometimes compared to the White House for its facade or the Palace of Versailles for its interior richness.
Gwalior - Orchha
Drive to Orchha. Your accommodation for the night is in an elegant hotel, whose architecture and decoration pay tribute to the way of life of the Bundelkhand rajas. The rooms are arranged in a style reminiscent of an Indian 'Belle Epoque' - carved wood, gold trims and floral ceilings. A real 21st century work of art.
Included in the itinerary - Orchha monuments with a guide. The palace is a marvel of Mughal military architecture, built in a high position to facilitate artillery firing, and with high gates to allow ancient India's panzers - the war elephants - to pass through. And on top of that, domes, balconies and chhatri (flags of honour)... The solid Raj Mahal is decorated with frescoes that celebrate the glory of the Bundela court. Along the Betwa River, the fourteen cenotaphs of the Orchha rajas make an impressive procession.
Orchha - Khajuraho
Drive to Khajuraho. The village, which was the ancient religious capital during the Chandela era, was in turn abandoned and then swallowed up by the surrounding jungle and still houses twenty-two temples built according to the four cardinal points of the compass.
Included in your itinerary - A half-day private visit to the temples. In the eastern section, you visit four Jain temples inside the compound, and three Hindu temples scattered throughout the ancient village of Khajuraho. Further south, you'll visit the Duladeo and Chaturbhuja Temples.
Stay overnight in a comfortable hotel near the temples, surrounded by a lovely garden and equipped with a pleasant swimming pool.
Khajuraho - Benares
Included in the itinerary - A half-day private visit to the temples. The western part of the city contains the main temples. The one in Lakshmana, dedicated to Vishnu, built around 950, houses a sacred image of Vaikuntha-Vishnou from Tibet. Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, built between 1025 and 1050, is dedicated to Shiva who, in her ascetic form, meditates in a cave. Almost 100ft high, it is the largest on the site in terms of both its size and its ornamentation, with nearly 900 sandstone statues.
After the visit, there is a private transfer to the airport for your flight to Benares. Take a private transfer to your accommodation for two nights, which is in a hotel on the banks of the Ganges, and can only be reached by boat. Its architecture is inspired by that of an Indian palace.
Included in your itinerary - Discovering the Benares bazaar. At dusk, you will then view the Ganga Arti Ceremony from a private boat. Young Brahmans, during a very codified ritual around small earthenware lamps (dipa), incense sticks (dhupa) and rose petals (pushpa), pay tribute to the Ganges. The faithful, sitting elbow to elbow on the edges of the ghat, attend the ceremony with reverence and seem detached from the surrounding chaos, as if in a bubble of spirituality.
At dawn, you will attend the pilgrim ritual bath on the river. Make offerings to the Ganges of hibiscus petals and yellow flower crowns surrounded by small oil lamps. The first shafts of light announce dawn on the river's right bank stretching across a desert of brown clay, and on the left bank across a flight of stairs flowing down to the river, with the coming and going of pilgrims in prayer, and street vendors. A crowd of women in orange, blue and green saris, go down to the river to swim. Later, men beat the laundry on the stones, and the drying fabrics describe multi-coloured geometric figures on the ground. It's a truly amazing sight to see daily life unfold along this sacred river.
Optional - A Hatha yoga session and an introduction to pranayama breathing techniques at the temple, ending with ritual worship at the temple; or a visit to the weavers' quarter - this area is renowned for the quality of its silk fabrics, including saris, considered the best in the country.
Benares - Lucknow
Private transfer to the station and train to Lucknow. You are taken by our representative right to your seat, and greeted when your train arrives.
Take your private transfer to your hotel when you'll stay for two nights - it's a beautiful property in the heart of a vast garden, a peaceful retreat away from the bustling city. The bright, spacious rooms are well-appointed. In the garden, there are palm trees and lawns, a swimming pool and sun loungers, or the keep active, head to the spa and fitness room. When it comes to food, enjoy freshly made dishes that celebrate Indian flavours from across the country.
Included in the itinerary - A foodie-lovers view of the city. A cultural and artistic centre, Lucknow is also home to Awadhi cuisine. Similar to those of Kashmir, Persia or Punjab, this cuisine is based on slow cooking that preserves the flavour of food, and on spices such as saffron and cardamom. Enjoy a walk around the city to sample some of the top specialities in various traditional restaurants on your is a private visit with a guide. Lucknow, an ancient city of Indian nababs, is characterised by its British heritage. You be able to explore the city on foot to understand its Victorian history, from the mutiny of 1857 to India's independence in 1947. You'll also discover the city of today and its lifestyle - it's one of the most pleasant cities in the country - as you stroll through its market and along its streets, stopping for a spot of Darjeeling tea.
Optional - A Sufi ceremony.
Lucknow - Delhi - Return flight
Private transfer to the airport and flight to Delhi. You have a few hours to rest and refresh in your hotel before your flight home. Then it's your overnight international flight back home, which will arrive the next day.
A la carte
BENARES - TISSERANDS DISTRICT
The Benares area is renowned for the quality of its silk fabrics and in particular its saris, a remnant of the Mughal era, is considered to be the best in the country. Visiting the weavers' district is like going back in time; you discover traditional weaving techniques and meet weavers who are trying to keep their skills alive in the age of the globalised market.
LUCKNOW - SUFI CEREMONY
India has one of the largest Muslim communities in the world. A mystical voice, Sufism is particularly striking. Dhikrs and qawwali - recitations of Allah's name and mystical songs: every Thursday, from dusk until dawn, the faith of the faithful is celebrated in music.
IF YOU HAVE A FEW EXTRA DAYS...
VIVAH PANCHAMI IN ORCHHA
Vivah Panchami is a Hindu pilgrimage celebrating the marriage of Lord Rama and the goddess Sita. Between November and December every year the small town of Orchha attracts crowds of the faithful from all over the region to the festivities. There are processions and dancing and you'll feel fully immersed in India's religious and spiritual culture.
KUMBH MELA TO ALLAHABAD
The largest Hindu pilgrimage takes place every three years in the holy towns of Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. During the Kumbh Mela, pilgrims come to the Ganges to immerse themselves and cleanse their sins. The pilgrimage, an extraordinary celebration, brings together millions of pilgrims from all over the Indian subcontinent.
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