Example Itinerary

Celebrating Dev Deepawali and Other Gems of Madhya Pradesh

Duration
12 days / 11 nights
Price Per Person
Destinations
India

Madhya Pradesh is a cornerstone of India’s rich religious, artistic, and even prehistoric past. This 12-day trip will see you enjoying numerous stops throughout the region at a variety of heritage-filled cities and UNESCO world heritage sites. Designed for visitors who have potentially been to India before and want to dig deeper into its vibrant culture, the itinerary features a healthy mixture of guided tours and opportunities to break away for independent exploration, should you desire. You can even do a charity city walk as organized by a local Indian non-profit. Visitors whose travel plans coincide with the Dev Deepawali celebration, typically celebrated in early November, are truly in for a treat with the opportunity to experience this holiday marking the Hindu gods’ descent to Earth to bathe in the Ganges River. Fireworks fill the skies, oil lamps light the night, and homes are covered with colorful designs as a procession of elaborately decorated deities make their rounds through the streets. It’s truly a sight worth seeing.

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.

Highlights

  • Udayagiri Caves: These twenty rock-cut caves that are among the most important archaeological sites in India and contain fascinating sculptures and reliefs.
  • Maharaj Bada: A humming marketplace which contains two bazaars – Sarafa and Topi – that are famous for handloom fabrics, handicrafts, jewelry, leather items, and much more.
  • Festival Insight: The chance to experience firsthand one of the world’s most stunning celebrations in the Dev Deepawali, with guided experiences in Varanasi aimed at showing you various aspects of the festival.

Day-by-Day

Day 1

New Delhi

Upon arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, take a private transfer to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Nearby attractions in Delhi include the Rajpath ceremonial boulevard, a long thoroughfare filled with green space that comes to an end at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president’s residence. Other nearby destinations include beautiful parks and gardens like the Lodhi Garden, the Mughal Garden, and the Garden of Five Senses, along with numerous temples, religious buildings, and markets. For dinner, we suggest sampling the gourmet cuisine at the hotel restaurant.

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Stunning Décor: The rooms and suites are painstakingly decorated to stunning effect, with elements spanning from handcrafted tapestries to the Presidential Suite’s gold leaf ceilings.

Accommodations: Even the smallest guestrooms at The Leela New Delhi are larger than the rooms at all other hotels throughout the capital, not to mention The Leela’s 4,800 square foot Presidential Suite.

Service: No problem is too small for the hotel’s lauded, professional butler service, available 24-hours a day.

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The Leela Palace Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: With stunning views of Delhi Golf Course and Humayun’s Tomb, a World Heritage Site, this hotel is located within lush vegetation in the heart of New Delhi.

History: The capital’s first luxury hotel, this hotel opened in 1965 and has been an iconic landmark ever since.

Service: From dining to the world-class spa to organizing unique tours and excursions, the dedicated staff at the hotel cater to every guest’s needs. For more discerning business travelers, there is an extra level of service offered in Business Travel Plus.

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The Oberoi, New Delhi Preferred Hotel

Day 2

Bhopal

A chock full second day of touring around Delhi beckons, with stops at locations such as the Chadni Chowk, or “Moonlight Square,” and the tomb of Mughal emperor Humayun, which in many ways appears similar to a luxurious royal palace. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this day is an optional guided Old Delhi Walk with Salaam Baalak Trust, an Indian non-profit and non-governmental organization.The group helps children living on the streets of Delhi by organizing various support programs for them. As you stroll through the streets of Paharganj with your guide, you will have the opportunity to see city life through the eyes of a true native while also knowing you are contributing to an excellent cause. In the evening, fly onward to Bhopal.

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About

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.

This accommodation has been personally vetted by the Remote Lands team and is the best available in the area. More information on this property is available on the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page.

Bhopal
Bhopal

Day 3

Bhopal

This morning, you’ll embark on a short drive to the hilltop Buddhist complex of Sanchi and the nearby Udayagiri Caves for a full day trip. The complex is known for its Great Stupa – an architectural phenomenon of great significance and beauty. Upon heading for the caves, you’ll drop down from the hill to the caves’ tranquil setting near the Betwa River. The caves are especially worth the trip for those interested in religious iconography and art. The many shrines, carvings, and reliefs housed within the caves are inscribed with a good deal of information and represent a classic example of early human scholarship.

Day 4

Maheshwar

Spend the morning touring Old Bhopal City and its central market. Here, rickshaws and motorbikes weave their way through streets lined by historic stone buildings in a bustling collision of old and new. We recommend sampling some of the excellent street cuisine offered by market vendors, such as delicious meat curries and kebabs. Travel onward to Maheshwar, a five and a half hour drive, where you will check in and spend the rest of the evening unwinding. We suggest sampling the authentic Indian cuisine at the Ahilya Fort hotel’s restaurant.

Hotel Options
About

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.

This accommodation has been personally vetted by the Remote Lands team and is the best available in the area. More information on this property is available on the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page.

Maheshwar
Maheshwar

Day 5

Maheshwar

The only full leisure day of the trip, you’ll have the opportunity to independently tour Maheshwar as you see fit. Suggested activities include a walk along ancient ghats below the fort and independently touring the temples and town near the fort. Maheshwar is famed for its thriving fabric tradition and its richly colored saris; a stroll through the surrounding area is sure to take you past some of the natives practicing handloom weaving. Finally, at either sunrise or sunset, opt to participate in a cruise with tea or cocktails and a picnic at Bakawa, which is famous for its handcrafted lingams.

Day 6

Maheshwar

This morning, set out on a day trip to heritage-rich Mandu. Here, you’ll explore several UNESCO world heritage sites, including the ruins of a medieval Rajput kingdom. Rajputs are still a prominent group in India today and regard themselves as descendants of warrior monarchs who valued ancestral pride and honor. Following a fresh picnic lunch, you’ll have the chance to see some of the Earth’s most incredible specimens of the African baobab tree – a true testament to the early intrepid spirit, as these trees were likely transplanted from their native African habitat. The baobab reaches great heights wherever it grows, and several of those growing in Mandu tower over verdant palace grounds in a regal fashion.

Maheshwar
Maheshwar

Day 7

Gwalior

Today is primarily a travel day and begins with a private two-hour transfer to the Indore Airport. Following your afternoon flight to Gwalior, transfer and check-in at the Taj Usha Kiran Palace hotel. This five-star hotel sets a high standard in luxury and service and has been around since 1902, when it was constructed as a home for visitors of the Prince of Wales. We suggest trying its delicious dining offerings – the Silver Saloon, Bada Bar, and The Courts – which are especially diverse and will provide a welcome, satisfying end to a busy day of transit.

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About

Sitting atop a lush 9-acre property, the Taj Usha Kiran Palace is a historical property built in 1880 by the Maharaj and has hosted royalty and dignitaries through its years.  Now a hotel under management of the Taj Hotels group, the palace still exemplifies the aesthetic spirit of Gwalior and evokes the royal grandeur of the past with its ancient stone carvings, delicate filigree work, lavish interiors furnished with plush carpets, mother-of-pearl mosaics, and canopied beds.

This accommodation has been personally vetted by the Remote Lands team and is the best available in the area. More information on this property is available on the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page.

Day 8

Gwalior

A full day of touring awaits you today, with planned stops at the Gwalior Fort and museum and an afternoon visit to Jai Vilas Palace and the tomb of Muhammad Ghaus and Tansen. The Jai Vilas Palace, also commonly known as the Jai Vilas Mahal, is an example of fine European architecture with its use of Italian, Corinthian, and Tuscan styles. An influential Muslim saint and a prominent figure of north Indian classical music, respectively, Muhammad Ghaus and Tansen number among the most important historical figures in Indian history. Tansen is buried in the same mausoleum complex as Muhammad Ghaus, who was in fact his Sufi master.

Gwalior
Gwalior

Day 9

Khajuraho

Transfer to the train station and take the Shatabdi Express for a roughly one-hour trip to Jhansi. Drive onward to Orccha then dive into a tour of several of the town’s temples and palaces; among these are the Chaturbhuj Temple and the the Jahangir Mahal, which is regarded as an immensely beautiful example of Mughal architecture. In the late afternoon, you’ll continue on to a final private transfer headed for Khajuraho, which will take approximately three and a half hours. Khajuraho is a small town famed for its group of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples.

Hotel Options
About

The Lalit Temple View is the most well-placed hotel in the city, located close to the airport and overlooking the western group of the UNESCO-designated Khajuraho temples. The 47 rooms and suites are furnished with modern touches and warm parquet flooring, each offering stunning panoramic views of the temples.

This accommodation has been personally vetted by the Remote Lands team and is the best available in the area. More information on this property is available on the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page.

Day 10

Varanasi

This morning explore the eastern and western groups of temples in Khajuraho. Next, take a short early afternoon flight of just under an hour to the sacred city of Varanasi. In the late afternoon, take a rickshaw ride from Sanskrit University and a drive to Godowlia Chowk, the busiest market in town and a culinary hub of authentic Indian cuisine. Your chances to experience the cultural spectacle that is the Dev Deepawali celebration will really begin tonight with a walk to Ghats to attend the Ganga Aarti ceremony. The main rituals are performed in the evening by the Ganga river. Patriotic songs are sung, millions of candles and sky lamps are lit, awards and wreaths are presented, and chanting endures through the night.

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: This property provides a tranquil haven amid mango orchards and marigold trees in the middle of Varanasi.

History: Nadesar Palace has been hosting royalty and VIPs since 1835, with all rooms faithfully restored to their original grandeur.

Service: Palace butlers are on hand to serve meals, assist with enquiries and provide information on both Varanasi and the palace.

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Nadesar Palace Preferred Hotel
Varanasi
Varanasi

Day 11

Varanasi

The final full day of your trip is almost entirely centered on continuing to tour the city and experience the sights and sounds accompanying the Dev Deepawali. After a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, you’ll visit an Akhara facility and witness individuals practicing a sacred, spiritual form of martial arts. As you stroll through the city, you will see that houses are decorated with oil lamps and colored designs on their front doors during the Dev Deepawali festivities. Walk through the Ghats and visit the illustrious Kashi Vishwanath temple. One of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva, the Kashi Vishwanath holds particular fascination in that it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history. When touring the temple, be sure to inquire about the numerous legends and stories behind the building’s many breathtaking shrines. Visitors who opt to go on this trip outside of the seasonal time of the Dev Deepawali may also choose to take evening tea at the Ramnagar Fort to finish out their day.

Day 12

Departure

On the final morning of your trip, you’ll pay a visit to Sarnath, located near the confluence of the Ganges and Varuna rivers, where the Buddha is said to have first taught the Dharma after achieving enlightenment. This city is considered a highly important Buddhist pilgrimage site. An afternoon flight to Delhi will then deliver you to your connecting flight home.

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