Tigers, Temples and Distant Palaces of Central India

20 days from £4680 per person

Visiting India's central states is a hugely rewarding experience. Rich culture, spectacular scenery, exceptional wildlife and a strong tribal heritage combine to make travel worthwhile to parts of an India few ever get to see. After admiring Kolkata's architecture, travel by air to Raipur in the heart of Chhattisgarh. Truly 'off the beaten track', spend three fascinating days in Kanker home to a number of different tribal groups. From Kanker, travel overland via the wonderful national parks of Kanha and Bandhavgarh to the temples of Khajuraho, ending by the Ganges in atmospheric Varanasi.

Journey Highlights

Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, grew from 1690 as a base for the East India Company. This huge urban area still harbours lovely colonial buildings and green, open parkland.

Kanha Tiger Reserve was created as a National Park in 1955 and stretches over 940 square kilometres. The park has a significant number of tigers and many other rare species.

The spiritual capital of India, the ghats in Varanasi are constantly in use by pilgrims performing ritual ablutions in the sacred river Ganges. Temples, markets and people fill the city.

Day 1 Depart the UK

Today depart the UK on the Emirates flight to Dubai. (N)

Day 2 Arrive Kolkata

Arrive into Dubai and connect onto the Emirates flight to Kolkata. Once in Kolkata you will be met and transferred to the Oberoi Grand Hotel where you will stay for three nights. Kolkata is the heart of Eastern India. One of the forward-thinking intellectual capitals of India, the city has long been noted for its wonderful architectural landmarks—many of which date from the period of the British Raj. Kolkata is also known as the ‘soul of India’, one of the most populous urban areas on earth and an intensely human city. (N)

Day 3 Kolkata
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Day 4 Kolkata

Over the next two days explore Kolkata with your guide. Places of interest include St John's Church which has a memorial to the city's founder Job Charnock, the Writers Building which is now the seat of government, South Park Cemetery and the silver-domed General Post Office. Also visit the imposing white marble Victoria Memorial, built in 1921 and today a treasure trove of Raj relics. End the day at the excellent Indian Museum, the largest museum in the country which was established in 1814. (B)

Day 5 Kolkata to Raipur – by air

Fly to Raipur and stay overnight at the VW Canyon Hotel. Raipur is the state capital of Chhattisgarh which is one of the least populated and urbanized regions of the Indian peninsula. Predominately rural, Chhattisgarh's infrastructure is limited and the tourism industry in its infancy. A fertile region of farmland and swathes of untouched forest, Chhattisgarh also has a wealth of mineral deposits and a strong tribal culture. (B)

Day 6 Raipur to Kanker – 140kms

Leaving Raipur, drive to Kanker and Kanker Palace for a three night stay. Built by the British in the early 20th century, Kanker combines its colonial heritage with over seven-hundred years of Indian royal history. The charming accommodation is located in one wing of the palace and the host during your stay is owner Maharajkumar Surya Pratap Deo, a descendant of the ruling Chandravansh family. (B/L/D)

Day 7 Kanker
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Day 8 Kanker

Over the next two days explore Kanker and the surrounding countryside with your hosts. Nestled alongside a bend of the Dudh River, this pretty town with its fine colonial buildings and bustling market-place is set in the heart of a region inhabited by the Gond, Muria, Maria and Halba tribes. A focal point for the local tribal groups, Kanker is where many come to sell their wares and, as such, is the perfect base from which to experience their unique society and customs which underpin their traditional way of life. (B/L/D)

Day 9 Kanker to Kanha – 360kms

Leaving Kanker drive via the 1930s Kawardha Palace to Kanha National Park and stay for three nights at Shergarh or upgrade to Taj Banjaar Tola. One of India's most scenic reserves, Kanha's landscape is characterised by deciduous hardwood forest, bamboo and rolling grassland and it is this varied environment which has contributed to the wide range of wildlife and birdlife which call the park home. (B/L/D)

Day 10 Kanha
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Day 11 Kanha

Set within a section of the Satpura Range, over the next two days explore the park on morning and evening safaris. Kanha is home to tiger, bison, leopard, jackal, wild boar, sambar, Indian swamp deer and blackbuck as well as a rich variety of birdlife where over 230 different species have now been recorded. (B/L/D)

Day 12 Kanha to Bandhavgarh – 280kms

After breakfast leave Kanha and continue by road to Bandhavgarh National Park. Stay for three nights at Kings Lodge or upgrade to the Samode Safari Lodge or Taj Mahua Kothi. Bandhavgarh is a beautiful reserve set within the heart of the Vindhyachal mountain range. Predominately sal and mixed forest, there are also areas of meadow and grassland as well as numerous small streams that flow through the park. (B/L/D)

Day 13 Bandhavgarh
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Day 14 Bandhavgarh

Over the next two days explore the reserve in the company of an expert naturalist. Bandhavgarh has one of the highest densities of tiger, leopard, sloth bear, sambar, chital, barking deer, gaur and nilgai in India. The park is also home to rich and varied birdlife with hornbill, crested serpent eagle, partridge, variable hawk eagle and parakeet among the many different species it is possible to see. (B/L/D)

Day 15 Bandhavgarh to Khajuraho – 270kms

After an early morning safari drive leave Bandhavgarh and begin your journey through the Madhya Pradesh country to the temple town of Khajuraho. Stay for two nights in Khajuraho at the comfortable Chandela Hotel. (B)

Day 16 Khajuraho

The temples of Khajuraho are among the most famous in India and fully justify their billing. Over the course of the 11th and 12th centuries the Chandela dynasty created the most sublime examples of erotic sculpture in India, if not the world. An exceptionally well maintained UNESCO World Heritage Site, spend a full day in the company of a guide exploring the different temples and marvelling at their astonishing beauty. (B)

Day 17 Khajuraho to Varanasi – by air

Today transfer to Khajuraho Airport to catch the onward flight to Varanasi where you will stay two nights at the Suryauday Haveli or upgrade to the Taj Nadesar Palace. Situated on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, Varanasi has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for over 2,000 years and is one of the oldest surviving cities in the world. An assault on the senses, few places compare to Varanasi making any visit here an undoubted highlight of the country. Later this evening make your way to ghats and watch the beautiful evening aarti religious ceremonies take place. (B)

Day 18 Varanasi

Early this morning take ride on a small rowing boat on the River Ganges to silently view the sunrise and witness the pilgrims who gather to perform their daily religious rituals on the riverbank in the lifting mist. This truly is a magical experience. As the sun rises, take a guided walk through the heart of the old city lanes and in the afternoon visit the evocative ruined city of Sarnath where Buddha first preached his message of enlightenment 2,500 years ago. (B)

Day 19 Varanasi to Delhi – by air

Today transfer to Varanasi Airport in good time to catch the afternoon flight to Delhi. On your arrival you will be met and transferred to the Radisson Blu Airport Hotel which is ideally located close to the international airport and where you will stay overnight. (B)

Day 20 Delhi to the UK

Today transfer back to Delhi Airport to catch the Emirates flight to Dubai. On your arrival connect onto the onwards Emirates flight to the UK. (B)

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

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...

Bandhavgarh National Park

The atmospheric Kings Lodge is situated in Rancha Village, set in a 14 hectare estate between the Sal forested hills of Bandhavgarh National P...

Kolkata

Superbly located in the centre of Kolkata, this luxurious Oberoi hotel enjoys an idyllic setting within easy reach of the cultural landmarks, bustlin...

Bandhavgarh National Park

The Samode Safari Lodge is perfectly located on the edge of the Bandhavgarh National Park for those wishing to encounter the iconic tiger in the Band...

Kanha National Park

The Shergarh Tented camp in Kanha is located in the lush forest hills of Madhya Pradesh. Known as India’s rural and tribal heartland, it is situate...

Varanasi

The Suryauday Haveli is a fort-style mansion which dates back to the 20th century. The Suryauday is a perfect choice for those looking to experience...

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Domestic flights
  • Private car with English speaking driver
  • Sightseeing with local English speaking guides
  • Wildlife viewing with local naturalist
  • 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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