Itinerary Highlights
  • Calcutta, Ganges Valley, Madhya Pradesh Parks: Alternative India
  • Private 4x4 safaris in Panna & Bandhavgarh parks, on the trail of tigers
  • A private visit to the Calcutta & Varanasi temples; attend a ceremony on the banks of the Ganges
  • All our usual additional services are included, such as our local Concierge and fast-track airport services

Contact one of our India specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120

YOUR TRAVEL TO THE HEART OF DEEPEST INDIA

First, Calcutta on the Bay of Bengal. Vibrant and captivating, this city preserves the memory of the Indian Empire. Walk in the footsteps of the colonial past, visit the ancient palaces of the Babus – Bengali merchants – and stroll through the booksellers' district. A short hop and you're in Varanasi, the heart of the Ganges Valley. Varanasi has a slightly different feel to the rest of India. You'll see Sadhus (holy men) reciting mantras and others sitting cross-legged; necklaces of fresh flowers on the necks of cows; stone basins and altars laden with offerings; pervading smells of incense; statues adorned with red drapes; four-armed goddesses drawn on the walls of houses - and what a sight the ghats mountain range makes, seen from the Ganges.
Another flight, and you're in Khajuraho, a group of Hindu and Jain temples in the Chhatarpur district, iconic for their erotic statues and carvings. Finally, make your way to another treasure, Madhya Pradesh with its tiger reserves: Panna and Bandhavgarh. These two national parks are home to the largest population of Bengal tigers in the world. Your private safari is a special opportunity to track these big cats and along the way spot deer, monkeys, reptiles, and birds of all kinds.

LOGISTICS

Several plane journeys to cover longer distances; other trips are by private car with a driver. Tours and safaris are conducted in private groups and in the company of private guides. The selected accommodation is some of the best in the region and is an integral part of the journey.

TIGER TRACKING SAFARIS

Along a trail through a thick forest, so well described in the Jungle Book, you'll arrive at the lodge at dusk, a stylish refuge hidden in the middle of the jungle. From the bedroom, you can see some black gazelles drinking at the nearby watering hole. Dinner is served under a century-old tree lit with lamps as night falls. The next morning, depart before dawn to go out tracking tigers in a private 4x4. As you drive, you'll hear red cockerels start to crow for all they're worth while families of monkeys pass from tree to tree. Your guide will point out wildlife as you go along, from spotted marsh deer to twisted-horned antelopes and dholes (Asian wild dogs). And fingers crossed you'll spot that most majestic of wild beasts - the tiger, crouching sleepily beneath a bush. If you don't get a chance to see the Bengal tiger, you can console yourself with leopards, deer, reptiles, wolves and other multicoloured birds.

Route

Everything is 100% tailored to you
DAY 1

Flight to Calcutta

Overnight flight, arriving the next day.

DAY 2

Calcutta

You'll be transferred privately to the heart of the city, close to the great Maiden Park, for two nights at The Oberoi Grand. A legendary hotel in Calcutta, it is considered the most beautiful establishment in the city. Added to the charm is The Oberoi hotel's touch: luxurious rooms, impeccable service, and a beautiful swimming pool.

DAY 3

Calcutta

Included in the itinerary - A one-day private tour exploring Calcutta's colonial past, with a guide and driver who speaks your language. A cultural city par excellence, it is home to charming houses of yesteryear, elegant monuments, and grand buildings. You'll also visit the Jain Pareshnath Temple, built by one of Calcutta's great jewellers, whch covered with semi-precious stones and small mirrors; the Kumartuli district, where Hindu idols are created and seen at festivals; the Tagore House, which is an unusually shaped dwelling that includes a ballroom, a theatre and an Indian music centre; and the Marble Palace, designed by a French architect and home to a private zoo. In the afternoon, head to the India Museum, the first major museum built in this part of the world, and then to the College Street Book Market, where intellectual book lovers and students meet.

DAY 4

Calcutta - Varanasi

Private transport to the airport and flight to Varanasi. You'll be transported to the heart of the city for a two-night stay at the Nadesar Palace, a small palace renovated into a prestigious hotel by the Taj group, on a vast estate planted with fruit trees.
Included in the itinerary - Discovering the Varanasi bazaar followed, at dusk, by a Ganga Aarti ceremony, a religious ritual using fire as an offering to the Goddess Ganga, a spectacular sight which you'll witness 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.

DAY 5

Benares

Included the itinerary - Tour of the ghats with a private guide. These are riverside steps leading down into the water, where Hindu worshippers perform water-related rituals, such as cleansing ceremonies and various offerings. In Varanasi, more than eighty ghats have been built on the banks of the Ganges. Dashashwamedh Ghat is the oldest and Manikarnika Ghat is the city's great cremation centre (Shiva would whisper the prayer of passage in the ear of the dead).

DAY 6

Varanasi - Khajuraho

Private airport transfer and flight 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 the itinerary - Half-day private tour of the temples, with a private guide and a driver. The first tour, in the eastern region, includes four Jain temples within a surrounding wall. Three other Hindu temples are scattered across the ancient village of Khajuraho. Continue the tour to the southern part where the Duladeo and Chaturbhuja temples are located.
Stay overnight in a modern hotel surrounded by beautiful verdant gardens. The rooms are comfortable and some have views of the temple tops.

DAY 7

Khajuraho - Panna

Included in the itinerary - A second half-day private tour of the temples, again with a guide and driver. The western part of the city is home to 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 in the years 1025-1050, is dedicated to Shiva who, in her ascetic form, meditates in a cave. It is 100ft tall and the largest of the site in terms of size and ornamentation with almost 900 yellow sandstone statues.
After the visit, you'll journey east to Panna National Park in the heart of Madhya Pradesh. Overnight stay at Pashan Garh, an exceptional refuge near the park gates in the Vindhya Hills. The private cottages in the heart of the 172-acre private jungle are superb, inspired by the region's stone architecture and with refined and cosy interiors, discreet luxury and modern comfort. You can dine by candlelight, in the heart of the jungle, by the lit pool, or in the seclusion of its private verandah. The organic garden supplies much of the food here, so the cuisine is fresh and seasonal. Special mention should be made of the friendly and professional staff.

DAY 8

Panna - Bandhavgarh

Included in the itinerary - Half a day of private safari in Panna Park, a magnificent wildlife sanctuary that includes a tiger conservation project. Other species that can be observed here include crocodiles in the Ken River, which crosses the reserve from one side to the other, as well as leopards, deer, antelopes, reptiles, wolves, monkeys and many multicoloured birds.
The second leg of the safari is in Bandhavgarh, which you'll be privately transported to. Accommodation for two nights in a peaceful and refined ecolodge, which fits perfectly into its environment: the Samode Safari Lodge. The rooms - villas - are South African-inspired but feel perfectly in-keeping with the surroundings. The service is impeccable, the cuisine excellent, and the naturalist guides are passionate about their work.

DAY 9

Bandhavgarh

Included in the itinerary - half-day private safari in Bandhavgarh Park, which has one of the highest population densities of tigers in India. This national park extends to over 173 square miles and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. While Bandhavgarh is known for its tigers, it is also home to panthers, Indian bison, deer, bears, hyenas, and monkeys.

DAY 10

Bandhavgarh - Delhi

Private airport transport and flight to Delhi. Another private transfer to the new business district and overnight accommodation at The Oberoi Gurgaon. A truly peaceful setting, away from the bustling city; luxurious accommodation with a modern charm of its own, where the vast swimming pool and service are exceptional.

DAY 11

Delhi - Return flight

Early transport to the airport to catch your flight home.

A la carte

With one more day - Chandernagor and the French East India Company trading posts

This is the first of the trading posts opened in India in the 17th century by the Compagnie Française des Indes Orientales and resulted from the merging of three villages on the banks of the Ganges. The first French people settled here in 1673, and the trading post was returned to India in 1951. Discover the Church of the Sacred Heart and colonial architecture of its various monuments; walk on the Strand and visit the Institut de Chandernagore which preserves this French colonial heritage with correspondence, period weapons, maps, furniture, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and even a copy of the first French newspaper published in Chandernagor. The day's trip is accompanied by a private guide.
Optional - From Calcutta

Add on - the Andaman Islands

Hidden in the heart of the Bay of Bengal, 600 miles from the coast, the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago forms a rosary of about 600 islands, some 40 of which are inhabited. Despite the echo of India, which can still be heard in the territory's capital of Port Blair, the archipelago has more of an African vibe the further from India you go. Two hours further offshore, Havelock Island offers a true Robinson Crusoe experience; the island is lined with mangroves and swaying palms which give way to white sandy beaches and emerald waters. The island's ecosystem - above and below water - is quite simply exceptional, possessing some of the most well-preserved primary forests and reefs on the planet. It's a dream for divers and those looking for some peace and quiet. It is only recently, without any existing hotel infrastructure, that the island has gained some exceptional accommodation.
Optional - From Delhi

A Rough Idea of Price

Dependent on season, accommodation and activities
The estimated cost for this trip is £6,800 to £8,600 per person*. This trip is tailor-made to your exact specifications so prices will fluctuate. The cost varies according to several factors, including the level of servi
  • International flight to Calcutta, return from Delhi, by scheduled airline
  • Domestic flights Calcutta-Varanasi, Varanasi-Khajuraho and Bandhavgarh-Delhi
  • Airline taxes and fuel surcharge
  • Private transfers airports/hotels/airports
  • We will organise a private vehicle with a driver for one day in Calcutta, two days between Khajuraho and Panna, and half a day between Panna and Bandhavgarh
  • Two-night stay in Calcutta at The Oberoi Grand in a double room with breakfast included
  • Two-night stay at the Nadesar Palace in Varanasi, in a double room with breakfast included
  • Overnight stay in Khajuraho at The Lalit Temple View in a double room with garden view and breakfast included
  • Overnight stay in Panna at Pashan Garh, in a Luxury Stone Cottage and full board
  • Two-night stay in Bandhavgarh at the Samode Safari Lodge, in a double villa and breakfast included
  • Overnight stay in Delhi at The Oberoi Gurgaon in a double room with breakfast included
  • Private day tour of Calcutta, with a private guide
  • A trip to the Benares bazaar followed by a private boat tour on the Ganges to attend an Arti ceremony
  • Private boat ride and walk in Varanasi, on the Ganges and along the Ghats
  • Two half-day private tours of Khajuraho temples, with a private guide
  • Two private 4x4 safaris in Panna National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park, with private naturalist guides
  • All our usual additional services are included,
  • such as our local Concierge and fast-track airport services
  • A few of the benefits of travelling with us
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    Contact one of our India specialists