Classical India - A Journey from Mumbai to Agra

18 days from £3980 per person

As one of the world's great nations, India has an unrivalled historic tradition with this itinerary exploring the ages of Indian history through religion, architecture and people. Leaving the Victorian grandeur of Mumbai, journey to central India, home to the cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora, the 'lost city' of Mandu and the ancient Buddhist remains at Sanchi close to Bhopal. Continuing north, visit beautiful Orchha and the dramatic forts at Datia and Gwalior before driving to Agra and its famed sites. Conclude the journey in Old and New Delhi, the modern-day capital of India.

Journey Highlights

Ajanta and Ellora Caves near Aurangabad are ancient cave systems with Buddhist, Hindu and Jain paintings, sculptures and writings, showing religious harmony.

Maheshwar lies on the north bank of the wide Narmada River and is a prosperous centre of weaving. Ahilya Fort offers a friendly and relaxed stay in an 18th century property.

Historic Gwalior city and colourfully tiled fort have been ruled over by many Indian kingdoms and was the site of a major rebellion against the British in 1857.

Day 1 Depart the UK

Today depart the UK on the British Airways flight to Mumbai. (N)

Day 2 Mumbai

Arrive into Mumbai in the early hours and transfer to the Abode Mumbai. Alternatively upgrade to the Vivanta by Taj - President Hotel or the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. One of the world's great cities, later today explore the city with your guide. Close to the hotel is the Gateway of India built to commemorate the visit of King George V in 1911 and the excellent Prince of Wales Museum. From here stroll through the historic Colaba district to admire the impressive Gothic Victorian architecture before continuing to Malabar Hill for far-reaching views over the city. End the day at the colourful Dhobi ghats where traditional laundryman collect, wash and return the city's linen. (N)

Day 3 Mumbai to Aurangabad – by air

Fly to Aurangabad and stay for two nights at the Vivanta by Taj - Aurangabad Hotel. Established in 1610 AD as Khadke, the city later changed its name to Aurangabad in honour of last great Mughal ruler Aurangzeb who built a new citadel in the town in 1692. A popular base from which to visit the nearby cave complexes of Ellora and Ajanta, this afternoon visit the city. Places of interest include the Jama Masjid and the Bibi-Ka-Maqbara mausoleum, a late 17th century monument inspired by the Taj Mahal. (B)

Day 4 Aurangabad - Visit the Ellora Caves

Closer to Aurangabad than Ajanta, the Ellora caves are located on an ancient trade route between Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh and the western coast of India. Set into the base of a hill the caves contain elaborate carvings of gods and goddesses and represent three of the main faiths of ancient India—Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. On the return to Aurangabad visit the 11th century Daulatabad Fort, explore the formidable defences and take in the far-reaching views. (B)

Day 5 Aurangabad to Burhanpur – 220kms

This morning leave Aurangabad and drive to Ajanta. Here visit the caves which precede those at Ellora and date from the 1st century BC. Rediscovered in 1819, these Buddhist caves contain some of the finest examples of Indian painting and have been compared to the frescoes of Assisi, Sienna and Florence. Later continue on to the small town of Burhanpur where you will stay overnight at the simple Ambar Hotel. (B)

Day 6 Burhanpur to Maheshwar – 180kms

Today drive to the small town of Maheshwar and stay three nights at the delightful Ahilya Fort. One of central India's best kept secrets, a stay at Ahilya Fort is something to be remembered. Largely constructed in the late 17th century, this converted fortress has changed little and continues to hold a commanding position high above the banks of the sacred Narmada River. Rooms are comfortable and charmingly furnished and there are many nooks and crannies to explore. (B/L/D)

Day 7 Maheshwar

Explore the fort and walk down to riverside and beautiful ghats to witness the timeless daily rituals of the local villagers. The town is revered by followers of Lord Shiva and there are numerous shrines and temples that line the river's bank. Maheshwar is also known for its Maheshwar saris and are a thriving local industry. (B/L/D)

Day 8 Maheshwar – visit Mandu

Today visit Mandu. Perched in a dominant position astride part of the Vindhya ranges, Mandu is an architectural masterpiece of understated Islamic style with many fine buildings spread over the site. With a history dating back to the early 6th century AD, Mandu's heyday was during the medieval period under the Pathan sultans whose rule ushered in a period of peace and prosperity. Rightly famed for its Islamic architecture, explore Mandu's many palaces, mosques and mausoleums. (B/L/D)

Day 9 Maheshwar to Bhopal – 270kms

After breakfast drive to Bhopal and stay for two nights at the historic Jehan Numa Palace Hotel. Alternatively upgrade to the Jehan Numa Retreat. Capital of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal's mix of parks and palaces is in direct contrast to the frenetic old city's large mosques and bustling narrow alleyways. Prior to independence Bhopal was ruled by a succession of forward-thinking Muslim women and the city quickly modernised with the establishment of an early postal system and comprehensive rail network. (B)

Day 10 Bhopal – visit Sanchi

Today visit Sanchi. This is the oldest surviving Buddhist sanctuary in India and was once the principal centre for Buddhism in the country. Sanchi is defined by its Great Stupa, arguably India's finest Buddhist structure and one of the subcontinent's oldest remaining religious monuments. The stupa sits at the heart of an evocative complex of temples and monasteries all of which are in different states of repair. (B)

Day 11 Bhopal to Jhansi – by train 
Jhansi to Orchha – 15kms

Morning sightseeing in Bhopal in an around Imam Square, the heart of royal Bhopal. Highlights include the Taj-ul-Masjid mosque, Moti Masjid and Shaukat Mahal. Later travel by train to Jhansi and then the short distance by road to Orchha and the Amar Mahal for a two night stay. A deserted medieval town, now a sleepy village, Orchha is home to numerous photogenic ruins and is an architectural masterpiece. (B/D)

Day 12 Orchha

Today explore Orchha. The ruins here spread from the pretty Betwa River and cover a large area. Visit palaces in different states of repair, tumbledown temples, derelict havelis and imposing cenotaphs. Largely constructed during the 16th and 17th centuries, the finest buildings here were erected under the tutelage of Bir Singh Deo and highlights include the Raj Mahal, Rai Praveen Mahal and Jahangir Mahal. (B/D)

Day 13 Orchha to Gwalior – 120kms
via Datia

Leaving Orchha, drive to nearby Datia and visit the fine Rajput palace. From here continue north to Gwalior and stay for two nights at the charming Usha Kiran Palace, a former guesthouse of the Maharaja. Gwalior is best known for its vast fort which towers above the city. In the afternoon visit part of the grand Jai Vilas Palace which remains the ancestral home of Scindia royal family. (B)

Day 14 Gwalior to Agra – 120kms

This morning visit the spectacular fort. Passed through a succession of Muslim, Rajput, Mughal and Afghan hands after the 1857 mutiny the fort was taken into British control. The fort houses a number of interesting temples as well as the impressive is the Man Mandir Palace. Later continue on to Agra, one of Uttar Pradesh's largest cities and home to home to three magnificent buildings—Agra Fort, the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula and the Taj Mahal. Stay for two nights at the ITC Mughal Hotel. (B)

Day 15 Agra

Agra was once one of the world's majestic cities and this today visit the imposing Agra Fort, established by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565, and the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daula. No stay in Agra is complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal, arguably the greatest monument to love, built by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz. The Taj Mahal is a building world renowned for its beauty and the craftsmanship is outstanding. (B)

Day 16 Agra to Delhi – 200kms
via Sikandra

Today leave Agra and continue by road to Delhi stopping en-route at Sikandra, site of Akbar's tomb. Once back in Delhi stay for two nights at Le Meridien New Delhi. Alternatively upgrade to the Claridges Hotel. Delhi is India's capital and a city of two halves. Old Delhi – the heart of Muslim India between the 17th and 19th centuries – is an historic district of grand mosques, majestic forts and crumbling monuments. In contrast New Delhi, with its large government buildings, wide tree-lined avenues and pretty white-washed bungalows was purpose-built in the 1930s by the British as a colonial capital and remains the epicentre of Indian political power. (B)

Day 17 Delhi

After breakfast commence a morning tour of Old Delhi with your guide to explore the area's dense network of bustling alleyways, homes, bazaars and mosques visiting famous Chandni Chowk market, the beautiful Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and Rajghat. In the afternoon continue to New Delhi which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is today home to Rashtrapati Bhawan, the official residence of the Indian President, Rajpath and the imposing India Gate. (B)

Day 18 Delhi to the UK 

Today transfer back to Delhi Airport to catch the British Airways flight non-stop to the UK. (B)

KEY: N = No meals B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner

Maheshwar

The majestic and magnificent Ahilya Fort stands high on a cliff-top and commands uninterrupted views of the Narmada River and ghats below. The 250 ye...

Delhi

Claridges is a grand and iconic hotel in New Dehli. Built in 1952, this elegant hotel is set within delightful landscaped gardens in the business dis...

Delhi

The Imperial Hotel is located on the prestigious Queen's Way, now known as Janpath, and is a stone's throw away from Connaught Place, a fashionable s...

Agra

The ITC Mughal Hotel is a comfortable, modern hotel in the historic city of Agra. There are 35 acres of lush landscaped gardens and the hotel is i...

Agra

Lying in view of the Taj Mahal, the Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel reflects the romantic grandeur of this great monum...

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Domestic flights
  • Train travel as specified
  • Private car with English speaking driver
  • Sightseeing with local English speaking guides
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature

Guide to Price

The price above is a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and season. If you wish to travel alone we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements and will provide a proposal on request

What To Do Next?

We can design a unique journey to suit you as our tours are totally tailor made. By combining your own ideas with our knowledge and experience we can help you to create your own unique journey tailored exactly to your requirements Once you have formulated your ideas, or if you require some advice, please call us or simply request a quotation

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