Over the course of Madhya Pradesh’s rich history, it has it has been home to Hindu kings, Muslim sultanates, and Buddhist believers alike. All of these groups have left cultural marvels behind that still dot the lush landscapes of this central Indian state, and this 13-day trip gives you an excellent opportunity to explore them all. Discover towering sandstone forts, ornate Hindu temples, and ancient Buddhist stupas with pictorials that narrate the religion’s teaching through painstakingly crafted stonework. You will even get a chance to observe early cave drawings made tens of thousands of years ago by early humans. Madhya Pradesh is known as the “Heart of India” and promises not only insight into the cultural heritage of India, but also into that of humanity itself.This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.
Upon arriving at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, a guide will be waiting to greet you for the private transfer to your hotel. You have the rest of the day to relax and unwind from your flight, but if you want to get out and stretch your legs, there is plenty to see. We recommend checking out the nearby Rajpath ceremonial boulevard. It features many important Indian landmarks such as the India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan, a memorial in honor of Indian soldiers fallen in the First World War and the residence of India's president, respectively.
Today you have a full day of sightseeing ahead of you that starts with a tour around Old Delhi. You’ll see Agrasen ki Baoli, a 197-foot-long, 49-foot-wide step well attributed to the legendary king Agrasen that roughly dates back to the 14th Century, Humayun's Tomb, the beautiful first garden-tomb complex on the Indian subcontinent that dates back to 1547 CE, and Gandhi Smriti, the shrine in commemoration of Gandhi himself. This afternoon you’ll make your way to Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets of Old Delhi. While here, take the opportunity to taste authentic jalebi from the 'Old Famous Jalebi Wala,' an institution which has been around since 1884. The nearby 17th Century Jama Masjid mosque is within the immediate vicinity.
After a morning flight to Jabalpur, you’ll check into your hotel and then set out for a sightseeing tour of the city. Explore heritage-rich colonial architecture left over from the days of British rule and meander through scenic Old Jabalpur. Come evening, you will head to Gwari Ghat, just outside the city, to experience a traditional Aarti ceremony. Sanskrit for "remover of darkness," this ancient Hindu ritual of offering takes place along the scenic Narmada River.
Take a day trip to Bhedaghat, which is about 50 minutes outside of Jabalpur. This land is famous for its Marble Rocks, where the river has carved through the soft marble to produce a gorge of nearly 5 miles in length. The first stop here is the famed Chaunsath Yogini temple. One of only four major extant temples that contain carvings of the 64 yogini, this beautiful temple dates back to the 10th Century CE. Following the temple visit, take a boat ride directly through the stunning Marble Rocks Gorge. Afterward, you will be transferred back to the city for a chance to explore the Rani Durgavati Museum. This museum is dedicated to the memory of the Queen Durgavati and houses an expansive collection of sculptures, inscriptions, and other prehistoric relics.
This morning you’ll be transferred to Sanchi by road, a trip that takes about five hours. Sanchi is home to the Sanchi Stupa, one of the oldest stone structures in India that date back to the 3rd Century BCE. It was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka and built on a hill atop relics of the Buddha. In the 1st Century BCE, four elaborately carved stone gateways were added, which pictorially express the story of the Buddha’s journey and central themes of the Buddhist religion. After spending some time exploring the Great Stupa, you will then complete your journey to Bhopal, which takes an additional hour. After arriving, you will check in to your hotel and have an opportunity to relax.
After breakfast, take a short ride to visit the Bhimbetka rock shelters. This UNESCO world heritage site contains some of the earliest evidence of human life on the Indian subcontinent. There are shelters with evidence indicating they were inhabited by Homo Erectus more than 100,000 years ago and prehistoric cave paintings depicting animals, dance rituals, and hunting excursions that are estimated to have been produced 30,000 years ago. You will also visit the nearby religious town of Bhojpur to see its famous, incomplete temple to Shiva, Bhojesvar Temple. The structure features intricate stone carvings, a massive lingam, and – on account of its abandonment before construction was completed – blueprints that were engraved in nearby stones shed a light on 11th Century Indian building techniques. For the afternoon, you will return to Bhopal and take a heritage tour through Old Bhopal City, meandering your way through its narrow lanes past hand-embroidered goods and on to the old market that is filled with all manner of curious finds.
Drive onward to Maheshwar by road. It’s a 5.5-hour drive, but the scenery along the way is beautiful and the Ahilya Fort hotel awaits your arrival. Maheshwar is a beautiful city known for its unique, colorful saris and its fabric tradition. Maheshwar also bears the distinction of having been an imperial capital; its many temples and examples of regal architecture and design attest to this. Located along the banks of the sacred Narmada River, the Ahilya Fort is a renovated 18th Century fort-turned-hotel and former royal palace featuring traditional hammered metal decor and ornate wood-carved arches. Upon arrival you can freshen up, dine al fresco, and look out across beautiful vistas of Madhya Pradesh.
Omkareshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to the God Shiva, one of 12 revered "Jyotirlinga" shrines of Shiva, and is about an hour and a half away from the Ahilya Fort by road. This morning you will set out to visit this ancient pilgrimage site. Omkareshwar is also located along the holy Narmada River, and it has been around for more than a millennium. Although fiercely persecuted during certain periods of history, a great many of the original, ancient relics remain here, and even to this day the temple persists as a living community. Upon entering the temple, vendors circulate distributing Bilwa patras, flowers, and sweets for people who wish to worship Shiva. Even aside from the religious and archaeological appeal, the architecture and scenery alone are worth the trip. Before nightfall, you will have returned to the comfort of your hotel in Maheshwar.
You'll take another day trip to Mandu today. It's a two-hour drive both ways and is home to a number of beautiful sites. You'll stroll through the tentative UNESCO heritage sites that include such landmarks as the rock-cut caves from the 11th Century, the early Indo-Islamic architecture at Dilawar Khan's Mosque, and the massive 15th Century meeting hall Hindola Mahal. In total, there are 61 protected monuments in the town, along with a host of other archaeological remnants, including the ruins of the Rajput kingdom and scenic African baobab trees that have found their way into the heart of India likely as a result of human devices. A picnic meal will then cap this day of sightseeing before you head back to your hotel.
After a morning drive to Dhar that lasts an hour and a half, you will check into your hotel before setting out to tour the Dhar Fort. This historic sandstone fortress is situated atop a small hill and dominates the landscape of the town. It is thought to have been built by Muhammad bin Tughluq (1325-1351), the Sultan of Delhi, and within its walls is a pillared porch that dates to the Mughal period and a deep rock-cut cistern that likely dates back to long before the currently standing fort. The fort also houses a museum containing medieval temple artifacts. The surrounding fields and dairy farm within the vicinity are also worth exploring.
Today set out for Kathiwara, a remote sanctuary where you can unwind at the end of your journey. En route, make a stop at the Bagh to visit its scenic caves. These caves are actually manmade and are an outstanding example of Indian rock-cut architecture. Dating back to the 5th Century CE, five of these caves now remain while four have since collapsed. Within the caves are masterful mural paintings filled with Buddhist motifs. Continue to Kathiwara, where you’ll check into the hotel, a plush mansion full of old world charm, and have some time to freshen up and unwind.
Spend the day exploring the vast grounds around the hotel. Take a guided tour through the tribal settlements of Muljhipura and Juna Kathiwada. Along the way you will have the opportunity to peek into local homes that have walls adorned with ritualistic Pithora paintings. Next, you will have some time to visit a hand block printing facility where you will get to practice this art yourself. This is followed by a trip to a local potter’s studio. After admiring the master’s animal figurines, you’ll have the opportunity to sit at the potter’s wheel and make some works of your own, should you desire. Set out for a guided trek through the dense Kathiwada forest, which works its way to the Jholia Waterfall and finally the Ratanmaal plateau, which features stunning views and is a sanctuary for sloth bears and leopards.
Today depart for Vadodara airport (2.5 hours), where you will fly to Mumbai and connect to your homeward-bound flight.
Located near the heart of Chanakyapuri, the city’s diplomatic enclave, the Leela Palace New Delhi is a five-star luxury hotel in the Indian capital. Its 260 rooms and suites combine traditional Indian opulence with sleek contemporary decor and amenities in typical Leela luxury. Dining options include the striking glass-house Qube,offering an eclectic global menu and show kitchens, overlooking the Leela’s gardens; Jamavar for traditional Rajasthani and north Indian cuisine; and new outposts of the acclaimed restaurants Le Cirque (French and Italian) and Megu (Japanese). The Library, meanwhile, is a sophisticated retreat for cocktails, fine whiskeys, cigars, and a collection of first-edition books. The ESPA spa offers a range of Western, Oriental and Ayurvedic-influenced health and beauty treatments, as well as a café, a state-of-the-art fitness studio, relaxation lounge, finishing studio, roof terrace, and sauna, steam and drench rooms. The Leela is approximately a 30-minute drive from Indira Gandhi International airport (DEL).
A symbol and staple of elegant Indian hospitality, The Oberoi, New Delhi is a ultra-luxe urban oasis of sophistication and world-class service. An iconic landmark in the New Delhi skyline, this historic hotel enjoys sweeping views of the Delhi Golf Course and Humayun’s Tomb, overlooking crystal blue waters, palm trees and a spectacular white, marble lotus fountain in the glamorous entrance. With incredible restaurants offering up delicious cuisine from around the world, a wide variety of spacious and luxurious suites and a world-class spa, The Oberoi is more than just a hotel - it’s a destination. As an added bonus, for the most discerning of business guests, many suites offer private office spaces and meeting rooms, in addition to the extra level of service offered in Business Travel Plus.
The Narmada Jackson’s Hotel, Jabalpur, dates back to the colonial British Raj era in the nineteenth century and boasts heritage and royal elegance alongside modern facilities and amenities. All rooms and suites are spacious and appointed with contemporary furnishings of complimentary WiFi, mini bar and fridge, tea/coffee maker, LCD television, and 24-hour room service. The ‘Back in Time’ restaurant offers a variety of Indian, Chinese, and continental favorites, the 19th Century is a bar and lounge where guests are invited to lounge and sip drinks, while Asanzo’s Fast Food Eatery serves snacks and meals in casual dining setting. Other facilities and amenities include a fitness center, hairdresser’s, and 24-hour front desk. The airport is a quick 15 minute drive away.
Situated near the famed Van Vihar National Park, guests of the Jehan Numa Retreat find themselves nestled amongst resplendent natural beauty and opulent luxury. 28 rooms are scattered among 6 residential clusters separated by plant partitions to create a feeling of privacy out on the courtyards and sun decks. The huts preserve the aesthetic legacy of the region and are lavishly furnished with such modern amenities as air condition, en-suite bathrooms, fully stocked mini-bars, LCD televisions, and wireless Internet access. The resort features two enchanting restaurants. One offers local dishes such kebabs and curries while the other caters to international tastes with a range of global cuisines and an exceptional wine list. The retreat invites relaxation with an open-air swimming pool and its signature Chakra Spa. The resort is located near many exciting sightseeing destinations such as the Sanchi Stupas, Bhopal Lake, and Bhimbetka Caves. Bird watching, golfing, and cycling excursions are available for interested guests.
Along the banks of the sacred Narmada River deep in the heart of India lies the opulent Ahilya Fort. Occupying 6 buildings, the renovated 18th-century fort and former royal palace is minutes away from famous Rajarajeshwara Temple by foot. The room’s interiors feature such aesthetic elements as traditional hammered metal decor and ornate wood-carved arches along with such modern amenities as mini fridges and tea and coffee making facilities; upgraded rooms offer air-conditioning, sitting areas, and even balconies that look over the river. The facilities house private gardens, intimate tent spaces, an outdoor pool, and a treatment room where guests can enjoy Maheshwari massages. The hotel’s restaurant serves Indian and International cuisine prepared with ingredients sourced from a local organic garden. The hotel is pet friendly and Wi-Fi equipped.
Originally built in 1865 as a British guest house for state VIPs, Jhira Bagh Palace is a heritage building that has hosted many dignitaries throughout its history. In 1943, the palace received a facelift inspired by art-Deco and Bauhaus trends of the time, updating its facade, though its vaulted roofs, sunlit courtyards, and old wooden stairs and banisters still speak volumes of its architectural grandeur. Jihra Bagh Palace has only 15 rooms and suites, each with double-height ceilings, spacious bathrooms, and unique theme-based decor reflecting a variety of architecture styles such as Victorian, Art Deco, and Indian royalty. All suites feature air-conditioning, period decor, and a verandah. The property has an on-site dining hall where multi-national cuisine is served. Dishes are prepared fresh at the Palace kitchen where only organic ingredients grown at the property’s farm or supplied for the dairy are used. Other facilities include a nearby children’s park, library, laundry and dry cleaning services, swimming pool, and games room with billiard table and table tennis. Jhira Bagh Palace is set on one hundred acres of gardens, farmland and wilderness and on outskirts of Dhar, approximately 1 hour from the airport.
The Kathiwada Raaj Mahal is originally a royal hunting lodge built in 1895 that has been refashioned into a luxurious modern retreat. The integrity of the heritage structure remains intact and exhibit exemplary Indian materials and workmanship throughout its modern interiors. The 11-room property is studded with ancient memorabilia, photographs and modern art, while each room has its own unique identity and spectacular views of the countryside. Six of the suites feature private balconies while the exclusive imperial suite comes with a private entrance. Located in the middle of dense forest surrounding by the Vindhya Range of hills, the property is an ideal getaway where guests can take guided treks through the jungles and tribal settlements, see a sloth bear and leopard sanctuary, engage in hand block printing and pottery, experience farming practices, and participate in a variety of fitness and wellness programs. All meals are at set times and locations on property.
Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation with daily breakfast, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including lunches, dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
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