(Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Mumbai)
Let your spirit soar as you watch the banks of the Ganges illuminated by a pilgrimage of candle light as huge crowds of the local faithful offer fire to their Hindu deities in a spectacular Aarti Ceremony.
You’ll view this very special event from aboard your evening cruise in a stirring introduction to the deep tide of spirituality that runs throughout this soulful country. Back on shore, you’ll visit the Buddhist ruins of Sarnath that date back to 200 B.C. and tour the colonial heritage and ancient Hindu legacy that fills Delhi with its unique character. In Agra, discover the Taj Mahal via an insightful private tour, and view the 16th-century remains of the Mughal Empire in the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri. In Udaipur, walk among the grand gardens, fountains, pools and marble elephants built for 48 ladies-in-waiting and gaze upon the elaborate treasures of the Crystal Gallery at Fateh Prakash Palace. You’ll also visit Mehrangarh Fort constructed 400 feet above Jodhpur and gain entrance to the former Mumbai residence of Mahatma Gandhi.
You’ll not only get an inside view of the grandeur of the many ancient palaces of India on this immersive tour, but you’ll also live like modern-day royalty at a collection of first rate hotels. From actual restored palaces on the banks of the Ganges and Lake Pichola, to seaside architectural masterpieces, all the opulence and grandeur of India’s old-world empires is reflected in these stunning world-class hotels. Of course, a team of experienced guides and a fleet of private chauffeurs will ensure you travel in style at all times.
Enjoy a personalized vacation that best suits your needs, developed by one of our experienced destination experts. Relax during your trip with our 24/7 support and expert local guidance.
Relax and enjoy an airport transfer in a private vehicle, with driver, and English-speaking assistant.
Spend the day on a privately guided full day tour of Old and New Delhi which boasts spectacular monuments and holy sites. The city of New Delhi was designed in the typically British colonial style, with tree-lined avenues and colonial bungalows. This tour takes you to the Laxminarayan Temple, a modern Hindu temple, and the famous Gate of India, which is a 42-meter high War Memorial Arch. On route you drive past the Parliament House, the secretariat buildings and the Vice Regal Palace that is now the official residence of the President of India. Visit the Red Fort which was the palace for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's new capital, Shahjahanabad, when he moved his capital from Agra to bring prestige to his reign. Its wall is 1.5 miles long, and varies in height from 60 to 110 feet. At 72.5 meters, the Qutab Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world. Surrounding the building are many fine examples of Indian artwork dating back to 1193. Afterwards view the Humayun's tomb, which is a complex of buildings of Mughal architecture dating to the Slave Dynasty (1268-1287 AD). The complex is a World Heritage Site and the first example of this type of Mughal architecture in India. This style of mausoleum is similar to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Enjoy your flight from Delhi to Varanasi. The flight duration is approximately 90 minutes.
From your hotel, a private vehicle, with driver, and English speaking guide, will transfer you to the airport for your flight.
Take a private guided tour of Sarnath. Located 5 miles from Varanasi, the site is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by Buddha himself for pilgrimage. Amongst the ruins is the Dharmekh Stupa, an impressive 128-foot high, and 93-diameter large structure. It was constructed by the Emperor Ashoka in 249 BCE. There are also several other Buddhist erections that were added between the 3rd and the 11th century BC.
The Aarti Ceremony is a Hindu ritual where light or fire is offered to the deities. Each Lamp wick is soaked in ghee or purified butter and lit, whilst songs of praise are sung in front of the deities. "Aa", means "towards", and "Rati" can be translated to "the highest love for God" in Sanskrit. Almost all the Hindu worship rituals involve the ceremony of Aarti. Perhaps the first mentioning of the Ceremony of Aarti in India can be found in the Rig Veda, which is considered to be the earliest scripture of Hinduism. This evening Aarti Ceremony is an absolutely wonderful sight from the Ganges River. This tour includes a boat ride to experience the magical ceremony from the water.
Glide along the famous and holy Ganges waterway in a private boat accompanied by an expert guide. The Ganga Ghats at Varanasi attract tourists and pilgrims of all ages for the opportunity to take a dip in the holy Ganges, which is believed to absolve one's sins. Pilgrims and tourists alike can be seen swimming and bathing immediately next to the funeral pyres of the riverside temples. This is a somewhat surreal experience and only for those with a strong constitution.
Enjoy your flight from Varanasi to Delhi today. The flight duration is approximately 90 minutes.
Meet your driver for a private transfer to Agra. The drive will take approximately 4 hours.
Today your guide will pick you up from your hotel for a private tour of Taj Mahal, the most beautiful monument built by the Mughals, the Muslim rulers of India. Taj Mahal is built entirely of white marble. Its stunning architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and sunset. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his dear wife and queen Mumtaz Mahal. Also visit Agra Fort, built of red sandstone and marble. This great monument of red sandstone dominating a bend in the river Yamuna, two kilometers northwest of Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughals during 1565-1571.
Enjoy a traditional ride on a Tonga (horse drawn carriage).
Transfer to Jaipur with private vehicle and driver. On the way, visit ancient ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri. Built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, the "City of Victory" was the capital of the Mughal Empire for only some 10 years. The complex of monuments and temples, all in a uniform architectural style, includes one of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid.
From its creation in 1727, the royal families and nobles of Jaipur patronized the craftsmen and artisans of the city. These traditions continue to this day and as a result modern day Jaipur is considered by many as the craft capital of India. Traditional methods are still used to produce many valuable and highly prized items. Using skills passed down through generations, artisans and master craftsmen can be seen in the areas of Ghat Darwaza and Vishveshwar ji. On this fascinating evening walk mingle and talk with the locals whilst sampling some of the region's culinary delights; try pakoras, aloo tiki, samosa and ladoo from some of the city’s most popular street food vendors. Observe local artisans in their workshops; jewelers and silversmiths, gold painters and tie dying experts. The iconic Hawa Mahal also called the Palace of the Winds is the meeting point at which this two and a half hour walk begins.
Spend the day today in the company of a knowledgeable English speaking guide as you tour the Amber Fort and City Palace of Jaipur, the iconic Observatory and the Hawa Mahal. The magnificent Amber Fort was established in 1592, and remained the citadel of the Kachhawaha rulers right until they moved their capital to Jaipur in 1727. Maharaja Man Singh I created this imposing monument on the remains of an ancient 11th century fort. Since the first half of the 18th century, the City Palace has been the abode to the rulers of Jaipur. The sprawling expanse of the breathtaking palace is a superb harmony of Rajput and Mughal architecture. Part of the palace has been converted into a museum, open to the public, while a section - Chandra Mahal - still remains the home of today’s maharaja. The Observatory of Jaipur is inscribed on the World Heritage List as "an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period". Within it, the Jantar Mantar is a collection of massive astronomical instruments, built of local stone and marble. Each instrument carries an astronomical scale marked on the marble inner lining, and bronze tablets were also employed. Built in 1799, the whimsical Hawa Mahal - Palace of Winds - which adjoins the Palace has become quite the city icon, with its ornate facade in pale pink, tiered baroque like build, projecting ‘jharokha’ windows and balconies with perforated screens. These were designed so that the mysterious veiled ladies of the harem could look down upon the colourful and bustling bazaars below, remaining hidden themselves. Overlooking busy streets, it offers great views of the city. We feel the Amber Fort is best reached by car, but an optional elephant ride is available should you prefer (cost not included).
Meet your driver for a transfer from Jaipur to Udaipur. The drive takes approximately 6.5 hours.
Today visit the majestic white City Palace built in granite and marble. The palace complex is surrounded by crenellated fort walls, and overlooks Pichola Lake. The Garden of the Maids of Honor is well laid out with extensive lawns and shady walks. Constructed for forty eight young ladies-in-waiting sent to the royal house as part of the dowry, the garden has many fountains in its four delightful pools, chiseled kiosks and marble elephants. The Crystal Gallery in the Fateh Prakash Palace features a breath taking collection of crystals including tables, sofa sets, a dining table, dressers, fountains, beds, and an exquisite jewel studded carpet.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in the company of your guide.
Today travel to Eklingji, located about twelve miles north of Udaipur, featuring a complex of 108 ancient temples, carved from sandstone and marble. The main temple was built in 734 AD to propagate the blessings of Lord Shiva. Afterwards continue on to Nagda, known for its 10th century temples. The Jain temple of Adbudji is essentially ruined, but it still displays interesting architecture. Visit the Sas Bahu temple that has fine intricate carvings. There are also some small temples submerged in the nearby lake.
This morning meet your driver for a private transfer to Jodhpur covering distance of 270 kilometers. Enroute visit Ranakpur Jain temple. Ranakpur boasts some of the most exquisite Jain temples in the country famous for their intricate friezes and sculptures. It is one of the holiest Jain sites in India. Nestled on the banks of the river Maghai and sequestered by mountains, Ranakpur's beauty is accentuated by its seclusion. The main Chaumukha (four faced) temple was built in 1439 and is dedicated to the first Enlightened One, Adinatha Rishabdeva. An inscription in it traces its origin to the reign of Rana Kumbha. Erected on a raised platform, it is surrounded by 66 subsidiary shrines. It has 1444 beautifully carved pillars, of which no two are alike.
Let your guide take you on a tour of the most magnificent building in Jodhpur, Mehrangarh Fort, constructed in 1459. The fort is situated on a lofty height of 400 feet above the city and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its territorial boundaries, there are several palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. Jaswant Thada lies to the left of the Mehrangarh fort complex. It is a royal cenotaph made up of white marble. It was built to commemorate Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Umaid Bhawan Palace is built of marble and pink sandstone. An excursion to Bishnoi Village, provides you with an impresion of village life in Rajasthan.
Experience an enchanting desert oasis during your tours to Osian in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. See the rich architectural heritage of Jodhpur and feel the rustic cultural fiesta of Osian. Visit the Sun Temple, Sachia Mata Temple, Harihara I Temple, Kali Temple and the grand Jain temples that add to the historic flavor of your Osian tour. The Harihara I Temple enchants you with its exquisite sculptures and frescoes depicting Lord Krishna frolicking with Radha.
An airport transfer with private vehicle, driver, and English-speaking assistant is provided.
Enjoy your flight from Jodphur to Mumbai. The flight duration is approximately two hours.
You will be welcomed at the Mumbai Airport by an English speaking representative and transferred to your accommodation by private vehicle and driver.
The Prince of Wales Museum is a magnificent structure, built in a confluence of Gothic and Moorish styles, and crowned by a sparkling white dome. It boasts a noble collection of ancient Indus Valley artifacts dating back to 2000 BC, plus some priceless Tibetan and Nepali Art. Afterwards visit Dhobi Ghat, where hundreds of Mumbai's traditional washer folk collect dirty laundry, wash it, and return it neatly pressed, all for a very small fee. Mani Bhavan is the old Mumbai residence of Mahatma Gandhi. It's a pretty, two-storied structure that now houses a reference library with over 2000 books, a photo exhibition of the Mahatma's life, and well preserved memorabilia.
This full day tour of Mumabi is the best way to experience the city at your own pace. The tour covers all the must-see places on any traveler’s itinerary including visits to the Gateway of India, St. Thomas Cathedral, Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay University and the Oval Maidan, Town Hall, Victoria Terminus, Crawford Market, Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach, Mani Bhavan the home of Gandhi, Malabar Hill and the Hanging Gardens and finally Dhobi Ghat.
A cruise through Mumbai Harbor brings you to the rock-cut cave temples on Elephanta Island. In 1987, the caves were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rock-cut temple complex covers an area of 60,000 square feet consisting of a main chamber, two lateral ones, courtyards and subsidiary shrines. The site of these magnificent caves contains beautiful reliefs, sculptures, and a temple to the Hindu god Shiva.
Khyber is Mumbai's famed restaurant for Mughlai cuisine. The opulent decor includes original paintings by some of India's most famous artists. Please note that drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic are not included.
At the heart of New Delhi, lies, arguably, the most distinguished address in India's capital. On Number One Mansingh Road stands a tribute to timeless hospitality and service, The Taj Mahal Hotel. It complements the broad boulevards and leafy splendour of Delhi's chief architect, Edwin Lutyens. Indeed, it is the one address, visiting dignitaries and heads of state prefer, given its stateliness and security, its original culinary innovations, and the air of quiet, restrained luxury that permeates every aspect of a visitor's stay. Central to The Taj Mahal Hotel's prominence is its old-world grace and charm, blended effortlessly with contemporary comforts and amenities. In its unique blend of warmth and welcome and assiduous attention to service, The Taj Mahal Hotel is a true ambassador of the Taj hospitality experience.
Quite like a gracious hostess epitomizing the elements of an exquisite art; Taj Palace effortlessly wears the mantle of being one of the finest hotels in New Delhi. Commanding 6 plush acres of New Delhi’s prestigious diplomatic enclave, Taj Palace is the favored destination of distinguished world travelers, head of states and international conferences. Located in the very heart of the Indian capital, the location and unrivalled service are quintessentially Taj. The hotel is only a few minutes’ drive from both the airport and the city center and is near to most of the embassies in New Delhi.
Nadesar Palace is situated in one of the oldest living cities of the world, on the banks of the river Ganges. Nadesar Palace has hosted royalty, statesmen and celebrities since 1835. The name Nadesar is derived from the Goddess Nadesari, whose shrine is located in the front of the Palace. Set amidst verdant gardens, mango orchards, marigold and jasmine fields, Nadesar Palace is a haven of peace and tranquility. Works of art from the Maharaja’s collection decorate the walls of the Palace’s 10 luxurious suites. Embellished with original pieces of furniture refurbished to recreate the atmosphere of a bygone era, the décor of the rooms is intended to evoke the colours of marigolds, jasmines, and pale pink lotuses that are offered to the holy Ganges.
The Oberoi Amarvilas is located 600 meters from the Taj Mahal and all rooms, suites, lobby, bar and lounge offer breathtaking views of the monument. Indulge with your own private view of the greatest monument of love. Wake up to the glorious sight of the Taj Mahal, bathed by the first rays of dawn. Richly detailed interiors are perfectly complemented by a choice of international and Indian cuisine. The hotel offers a range of activities to relax and recharge, including a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool and luxury retail arcade. Rejuvenate at the full service Oberoi Spa, or get in touch with your inner self with a yoga session.
Rambagh Palace has been home to generations of royals. Built in 1835 Rambagh was converted into a palace in 1925 and became the residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur. The ‘Jewel of Jaipur’ as it is fondly called, remained the home of the Jaipur royal family until 1957, when it was first converted into a luxury hotel by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II. But it wasn’t until 1972 that Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces took over the reins. It is now the ‘jewel in the crown’ among the authentic palaces of the Taj in India. In the finest tradition of Rajput hospitality, the Rambagh Palace offers its guests a taste of royal living – a luxury and extravagance that was once the sole preserve of kings.The Rambagh Palace Hotel features on Conde Nast Traveller USA's Gold List 2012, as well as the 2012 T+L US Top 500 World's Best Hotels List, the Asia Category, with a score of 92.34, was the first runner up in the second edition of the T+L India's Best Awards 2013 in the category of Best Heritage Hotel, India and judged the #1 Luxury Hotel in India by Lonely Planet in 2012.
The Taj Lake Palace, located in the middle of Lake Pichola is a dream of white marble and mosaic glistening in the moonlight, very reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. Conceived in romance, the palace was built in 1746 by Maharana Jagat Singh II, 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar – believed to be descendants of the Sun God. Set against the backdrop of the majestic Aravalli Mountains on one side of the lake, and lofty palaces on the other, the Taj Lake Palace spreads across a four-acre island – an almost surreal vision in marble. From casual, all-day dining to formal, fine dining, guests can look forward to a wide array of delectable culinary delights and refreshing beverages. Guests can treat themselves to a wide range of relaxing and rejuvenating activities.
This landmark Art Deco-style palace is five km (3 miles) from Jodhpur International Airport and 10 km (6.5 miles) from Mehrangarh Fort. Umaid Bhawan Palace offers an indoor pool, full-service spa, and steam room, and serves a complimentary Continental breakfast daily. In addition to available wireless Internet access, guestrooms feature balconies, CD and DVD players, and in-room safes.
The history of Mumbai and The Taj Mahal Palace are dramatically intertwined. The hotel is Mumbai’s first harbour landmark (built 21 years before the Gateway of India) and the site of the first licensed bar in the city. For more than a century, the Taj has played an intrinsic part in the life of the city, hosting Maharajas, dignitaries and eminent personalities from across the globe. Today it is a Leading Hotel of the World and favourite destination for discerning business travellers. A treasure-trove of invaluable memorabilia, there is a story to tell behind every pillar, a landmark deal in every boardroom, and a storied celebration under every awning. Come be a part of the legend.
India & Area
Jim Allard ,
December 09, 2014
"Sunita Singh did an outstanding job
Overall an excellent trip, well carried out.
The drivers in Delhi and overland from Agra to Udaipur made a great impression. Both were accomplished and accommodating. Access to transport in Delhi and Mumbai on our leisure days was noted and appreciated.
Guides in Delhi, Agra and Udaipur were standouts. The transfer reps all did an excellent job particularly since, on a number of occasions, they were there in the middle of the night.
All accommodations except for Mumbai were excellent. Memories of the culture of India ranks first but a close second in our minds will be the palace hotels.
The Leela Palace offers a peaceful and intimate refuge from the bustle of Delhi. Our reaction to the Nadesar was that it was the best hotel ever. Little did we realize each subsequent hotel in Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur would top that, except for the last in Mumbai.
We were there at an important moment in India's development and the various viewpoints in different cities reflects the promise and challenges facing the country.
Some thought the shock of Varanasi could be better absorbed later in the itinerary, however, the geography preempts that alternative.
Always room for improvement so we would offer the following
Biggest disappointment was the Taj Tower in Mumbai. Small rooms that could be anywhere on the planet. Better choice would be the old wing which matches up better with the overall experience.
Not all of the guides were understandable. They all seemed intelligent and knowledgable but were lacking in delivery of a dialogue. Some speak in a droning monologue that is difficult to follow and includes blinding detail that is soon forgotten.
Two glitches that were remedied: The pickup of the van in Agra had an impossible seating arrangement but that was corrected overnight to our complete satisfaction. The Lake Palace Rooms in Udaipur were initially a problem. One room was lovely but the other two were substandard, although the hotel said they were in the same class. Basically, the better room had the bathroom and closet along the full wall while the substandard alternative used only half the wall resulting in a minute closet, no shower, a single sink and no window. They initially stated that there was nothing better but within an hour the duty manager had found two adjacent rooms on another floor that had the double sinks, separate claw bath and shower overlooking the lake as well as better closet space. They graciously moved us while we were at dinner on the rooftop.
Finally there is always the gouging at shops where the guides get a commission. At a couple of stops this seemed egregious but we are all seasoned travellers and work around that annoyance.
Some of the others may wish to add to these comments but those are my thoughts.
Good memories, thanks"
India & Area
December 08, 2014
"Seamless first class organization and management of our tour.
Sunita Singh did an outstanding job setting up all our accommodations, guides and internal transport."
India & Area
November 28, 2014
"My Husband and I recently traveled to India the had the most amazing experience..
India is a remarkable country. it is the oldest civilization in the world and we were constantly marveling at the continuity of the culture over the millenniums.
We highly recommend that you book your India trip with the Kensington Tours INDIA Specialist, Senior Sales Consultant Sunita Singh who has lived in India & travelled extensively within the country and neighboring countries.
The entire trip was well planned and ran without a hitch. The guides were excellent, well educated, very knowledgable and extremely solicitous of us. A special recommendation to our driver Rakesh (spelling?) who negotiated the roads and sometimes heavy and interesting traffic with skill and good humor.
This was a private tour comprising of my husband and I. We were most impressed with the way the trip was organized and with the quality and care shown by every Kensington representative along the way.
We visited all the important destinations which exceeded our expectations. A wonderful aspect of traveling in this manner was that our guides were able to take us off the beaten path and we experienced local India in this way.
Our travels took us to Delhi, Varanasi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, the temples in Ranakpur and Agra. Varanasi was the highlight of the vacation. It is such a spiritual and special place and well worth the detour. The hotels were all 5 star plus and luxurious. We especially loved The Lake Palace in Udaipur and the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur. The Oberoi in Agra was also amazing.
It was a treat and a privilege to travel through Rajasthan in this way. India is such a special country to visit."
India & Area
Mike Simon ,
May 06, 2014
"Kensington planned a wonderful fascinating itinerary for us. All of the guides were so accommodating and flexible, wanting to be sure we were being cared for. India can be a difficult place in which to travel without the proper drivers and guides. Kensington's staff was all top notch."
India & Area
Jim & Gayle Stinson ,
April 21, 2014
"Our individualized, private trip to India was just fabulous. Thanks to all for a trip of a lifetime!"
India & Area
Sharleen Dickson ,
April 21, 2014
"The driver and guides were excellent!"
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