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Essential India

Explore India's highlights in 15 unforgettable days

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Group Size: Avg 12, max 15

Trip code: AHEH

Duration: 15 days

15 day guided group tour of India
Watch sunrise or sunset at the Taj Mahal
Accommodation and transport included

Experience all the essential sights of India on this inspirational 15-day tour! Kick off in the hustle and bustle of Delhi, visit India’s ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur to see the amazing Amber Fort and head off the beaten track into rural villages and towns for a slice of authentic India. Be awed by the impressive Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, explore Agra, visit the famous Khajuraho Temples and float along the sacred Ganges River in the holy town of Varanasi. Fall in love with India on this 2-week adventure! 

Please note: This is an open-aged trip.

Trip highlights

  • Begin your Indian odyssey in Delhi and explore the stunning pink city of Jaipur, with its impressive Amber Fort and beautiful palaces
  • Explore rural India off the beaten track in charming Dhula Village, plus stay in amazing Orchha. 
  • Visit the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal at either sunrise or sunset and be blown away by this wonder of the world, plus explore Agra’s other highlights
  • Stay in friendly Alipura and enjoy a day trip to see the unique erotic carvings at the Khajuraho Temple Complex and even see a stunning light show
  • Experience the holy city of Varanasi and take both evening and sunrise boat rides on the majestic and sacred River Ganges, including a traditional candle and flower ceremony
What's included
  • 14 nights’ accommodation
  • 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
  • Walking tour with a guide from a New Delhi Streetkids Project
  • Guided tour of Old Delhi
  • Amber Fort tour (Jaipur)
  • Rajasthani rural village stay
  • Village cycling excursion (Dhula)
  • Abhaneri stepwells visit
  • Taj Mahal and I’timad-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj) entrance
  • Agra Fort entrance and guided tour
  • Orchha Palace complex visit
  • Western Temple complex entrance and guided visit (Khajuraho)
  • River Ganges boat trip at sunrise and sunset, including candle flower ceremony (Varanasi)
  • Internal flight
  • Arrival transfer
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
  • Tour guide throughout, local guides
  • 24 hour support
What's not included
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Meals (Allow USD345-450)
  • Optional trips and excursions
  • Return airport transfer
Further trip information

Day 1: Delhi

As there are no planned activities for today you are free to arrive in Delhi at any time. Take some time to discover Delhi at your leisure before meeting your group and guide at a welcome meeting at around 6p.m. There’s so much to see and do in Delhi you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Day 2: Delhi

Enjoy a unique city walking tour guided by a local young person from a streetkids project and get a different perspective on Delhi! Later, visit all the highlights of Old Delhi, including the famous Jama Masjid (Great Mosque), Chandni Chowk market, a Sikh place of worship, the spice market and Connaught Place.

Day 3: Delhi/Jaipur

A 5/6-hour drives takes you on to Jaipur, India’s “Pink City”. There are so many exciting things to do and see in Jaipur and you’ll have plenty of free time to discover all its delights at your own pace.

Day 4: Jaipur

Enjoy a guided tour of the amazing Amber Fort, which sits in the surrounding hills only 15km from Jaipur. Visit the beautiful buildings and gardens of Jaipur’s City Palace and museum and choose to make a brief stop-off at the Hawa Mahal, the ‘Palace of the Winds’ (extra 100INR per person).

Day 5: Jaipur/ Dhula Village (1D)

Experience a slice of rural life in Rajasthan today as you head off the beaten tourist trail into Dhula Village. Soak up the sights and sounds of authentic village life as you mix with the locals and cycle through stunning scenery on a village cycling excursion. When the sun sets, sit by the fire and gaze at the stars.

Day 6: Dhula Village/Agra (1B)

There’s the opportunity to take an early morning hike to the old fortress before you depart Dhula Village today. Visit the Abhaneri stepwells and stop at Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted former capital of the Mughal Empire, en route to the Muslim city of Agra.

Day 7: Agra

You will enjoy a guided visit to the iconic Taj Mahal today, either in the morning to see the sunrise or in the late afternoon to catch the sunset. The Taj Mahal is one of the most incredible buildings ever built and one of the wonders of the world! Hop on a cycle rickshaw and visit the Red Fort and the ‘Baby Taj’ to round off an amazing day in Agra.

Day 8: Agra/Alipura

Continue your adventures off the beaten track in India today! Take a 2-hour ride by private vehicle along rough, rural roads to the delightful village of Alipura. Enjoy some free time exploring this out-of-the-way spot and meet the locals.

Day 9: Alipura

Take a brilliant day trip today and travel the 1.5 hours from Alipura to take a guided tour of India’s largest medieval temple complex, the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, famous for their erotic kama sutra-style statues. Opt to see an awesome, dazzling sound and light show within the temple (extra cost of 250INR per person).

Day 10: Alipura/Orchha

Enjoy a day in the tranquil small town of Orchha. Visit a unique paper-making plant which was set up to assist local tribal women. In the evening you will visit the Ram Raja Temple for a traditional Hindu puja (prayer) ceremony.

Day 11: Orchha/Varanasi

Spend one final, full day in Orchha today. Join a local family for an optional 2/3hr cookery class and lunch (extra cost of 600INR per person). In the evening you will board an overnight sleeper-bed train (13 hours journey) to the amazing holy city of Varanasi.

Day 12: Varanasi

Your overnight train arrives in the pilgrimage city of Varanasi in the morning. Enjoy an orientation walk and wander through this unique city. Nearby is Sarnath, the site of Buddha’s first sermon, and you can take an optional trip there for 100INR per person. In the evening you will take an incredible boat tour on the river and participate in a traditional candle and flower ceremony.

Day 13: Varanasi

A sunrise boat tour on the extraordinary River Ganges kicks off your second day in Varanasi. Watching the sun climb into the sky from a boat on the river is an unforgettable experience! The rest of the day is free time for you to make the most of this holy city.

Day 14: Varanasi/Delhi

Do some last-minute sightseeing in Varanasi this morning before hopping on an inclusive, afternoon flight back to Delhi.

Day 15: Delhi

Your Essential India tour ends today in Delhi and you are free to depart at any time. Say goodbye to your new travelling buddies and guide and look back on two weeks of magical memories made in inspirational India! 

Booking options

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Arrival information

You should arrange your arrival into New Delhi Airport on day 1, in time to make a 6p.m. welcome meeting at your hotel. An arrival transfer to your accommodation is included.


Accommodation & meals

14 nights’ accommodation are included on this trip. This will usually be a combination of shared hotels/hostels, camping and overnight transport. 

Travelling overnight on trains in India offers a unique experience, but is more basic than train travel in the West and there is a risk of delay. There are no restaurant or buffet facilities on Indian railways, but on long distance trains an attendant will appear in your coach and ask you if you would like to order food. Regular stops are made at stations where food is also available and on some trains many vendors board the train selling chai, cold drinks and crisps and biscuits. We also recommend that you bring your own toilet paper and hand wash soap or liquid when travelling on the overnight train and a chain and padlock to secure your bags (readily available at all Indian stations).

1 breakfast and 1 dinner are also included on this tour. Please allow USD340-445 for meals not included.

Minimum age & eligibility

The minimum age to join this trip is 18. This fantastic trip is an open-aged experience that caters for a mix of younger and older travellers. This means that you may travel with people who are outside your own age group. Such a mix of ages creates a great group dynamic and enhances the travel experience, as you get to know a range of people with different stories to tell!

You will need to have a tourist visa in order to travel to India. Standard Indian visas are valid for 6 months and allow multiple entry. Visas MUST be obtained in advance, before leaving the UK. Please contact us for more details.

Before leaving the UK you should also make a trip to your GP in order to discuss your travel plans. As vaccination and medication requirements vary between different Indian regions, a detailed discussion of your travel plans and intended destinations is highly advised.

Physical Rating: Light. The activities on this trip are suitable for most fitness levels.

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