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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Rooms have unique features from handmade heritage floor tiles and antique bedside lamps, Royal Suites boast private terraces with outdoor seating, and exclusive villas offer private plunge pools. Dining options include multi-national cuisine at all-day restaurant Silver Saloon, a collection of Indian and international spirits at Bada Bar, and alfresco casual fare and coffee at The Courts. Guests are welcome to take a heritage tour of the historic hotel grounds. Other facilities and amenities include Jiva Spa, 24-hour fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour on-call medical care, 24-hour in-room dining and complimentary wireless internet access.
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. Spacious suites come with private patio to better enjoy the temple views. Panna, the 24-hour restaurant, serves multi-national cuisine while drinks can be had at the cosy Mahua Bar and pastries at the Lalit Boulangerie. Private dining such as candlelit dinner poolside with live music can be arranged for special occasions. Other facilities and amenities include spa, an outdoor pool with live flute music during the day, evening puppet show at Panna restaurant’s outdoor patio, jogging track, morning yoga sessions, four-hole putting green, table tennis, cricket, and bicycles for hire.
The Nadesar Palace lies nestled in the heart of vibrant Varanasi among mango orchards, marigold and jasmine fields. Built by the East India Company and acquired by Maharaja Prabhu Narain Singh in the 19th century, the property is named after goddess Nadesari, whose shrine is located in front of the palace. All accommodation at the boutique yet opulent Nadesar Palace, which includes just 10 luxuriously appointed Heritage Rooms, Heritage Suites and Royal Suites, is generously scaled with large windows overlooking the gardens and spacious bathrooms in cool white marble. There is a restaurant serving local cuisine and satvik fare, which is said to bring calmness, intelligence, strength, health, happiness and longevity. Fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals and grains form the main ingredients of satvik food. The grounds are just 13 miles from Varanasi’s airport (VNS).
Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, and daily breakfasts. 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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