Meaning “central region” in native Hindi, Madhya Pradesh is an insular seat of India’s rich religious, artistic, and even prehistoric past. Ancient temples – featuring some of the world’s most breathtaking stone carvings – stand alongside other major historical sites sure to pique the interest of history buffs, photo enthusiasts, and general sightseers alike. But while your visit to Madhya Pradesh is sure to be a richly stimulating experience for all the senses, you can count on a distinct lack of one thing: bustling tourist crowds. Your trip will include visits to temples and ruins, such as those of an ancient Rajuput royal kingdom, as well as guided tours of tucked-away metropolitan sites like the central market in Old Bhopal City – known as the “City of Lakes” and one of the greenest cities in India. Feel as though you’ve stepped back in time, and away from the road most traveled, on this 10-day trip from Delhi to Mumbai through the highlights of Madhya Pradesh.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.
A guide and private car awaits you at the Indira Gandhi International Airport for transfer to your hotel. Choose between the elegant Leela Palace or classic Oberoi. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please in the capital city. We recommend a stop through the Rajpath ceremonial boulevard, which lies just a short walk from the hotel adjacent to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president’s residence. Meaning “King’s Way” in Hindi, the ceremonial boulevard is lined on both sides by foliage and is the site of the epic spectacle of the Republic Day parade each year on January 26. Regardless of how you choose to spend your leisure time, Delhi’s abundance of museums, parks, culinary offerings, and bazaars means there will be something to please everyone.
Board a morning flight to Khajuraho, nestled in the gorgeous Vindhya Mountains and renowned for its ornately decorated temples. After a private transfer to the hotel and a brief respite to freshen up, the rest of the day will be spent touring the famed Khajuraho Temples. Built between 950 to 1050 CE, the temple’s sculptures are especially of note, and while they are widely known for incorporating erotic themes of the Kama Sutra, in reality the carvings are arranged to express central ideas of Hinduism, as well as general themes of human life. The architecture of the temples is also of interest, as all are laid out in an intricate grid format.
Spend the morning driving from Khajuraho to the ancient town of Orchha on the banks of the Betwa River. After arrival and check-in at the hotel, spend the afternoon touring the many temples, forts, and palaces that Orchha has to offer. The striking spires and domes of the city’s temples stand in stark contrast to the river’s peaceful waters. The city’s many temples include the Chaturbhuj Temple, which is built on a massive platform of stone and incorporates the dual features of a religious structure combined with a royal palace.
Embark on a three-hour drive to Gwalior with an en-route stop at Datia Fort, an awe-inspiring five-story castle that is sure to be an architectural highlight of your visit to India. The fort, which bears the remarkable distinction of being built entirely out of stone and wood without a single piece of iron incorporated, holds a large courtyard within its four distinct wings. The building is also deservedly famous for the artwork and aesthetic pieces it contains. These works include dazzling ceiling paintings and monumental tombs. In the afternoon, arrive in Gwalior, well known for its Fort, popularly called "the Gibraltar of India" which you will explore tomorrow.
Start off your day of exploration with a visit to the Gwalior Fort and its accompanying museum. This fort dates to roughly the 6th Century CE and almost seems to have become one with the rugged, ancient sandstone outcropping upon which it lies. Pay special attention to the archeological artifacts housed in the museum; many are extremely rare and date back to the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE. This afternoon, you’ll pay a visit to Jai Vilas Palace and the nearby tombs of Muhammad Ghaus and Tansen. The Jai Vilas Palace, also commonly known as the Jai Vilas Mahal, is an opulent example of fine European architecture with its use of Italian, Corinthian, and Tuscan styles.
Primarily a travel day, you’ll have this morning to spend at your leisure in the hotel or around the city. A short early afternoon flight and two-hour transfer will then have you in beautiful Maheshwar, known for its unique, colorful saris and its fabric tradition. Like other cities on your route through Madhya Pradesh, Maheshwar also bears the distinction of having been an imperial capital; its many temples attest to this fact. In the evening, you’ll unwind in your luxurious accommodations at the Ahilya. We recommend sampling the outstanding, authentic Indian cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant.
This morning, you’ll depart by car on a day trip to heritage-rich Mandu. Here, you’ll explore several UNESCO world heritage sites, including the ruins of a medieval kingdom that was under Rajput rule. In modern times, Rajputs still regard themselves as descendants of these warrior monarchs who above all else valued ancestral pride and honor. A delicious, fresh picnic lunch will be provided, and you’ll have the chance to see some of the world’s most incredible specimens of the African baobab tree. The baobab reaches great heights wherever it grows, and several of the ones you’ll see at Mandu tower over verdant palace grounds in an awe-inspiring fashion.
Today you’ll depart on a roughly five-and-a-half-hour drive to Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal is a city with a distinct Mughal presence – a historic Indian empire that was founded and ruled by a Muslim dynasty – and is chock full of old mosques and bazaars. From a modern perspective, the city has become somewhat of a seat for the arts, complete with an impressive multi-use complex, Bharat Bhavan, which was completed in 1982 and designed by internationally renowned architect Charles Correa. In the evening upon arrival, we suggest relaxing and indulging in an expert massage at the Jehan Numa hotel’s Chakra Spa.
This morning, you’ll rise early for a short drive to the hilltop Buddhist complex of Sanchi to take in a stellar view as the colors of sunrise fill the sky around Bhopal. You’ll also tour the Udayagiri caves before lunch, which contain some of the oldest surviving pieces of Hindu temple art depicting religious iconography. Additionally, the site is an archaeologist’s dream as the caves also house a string of rock shelters, petroglyphs, water systems, and fortifications, among other features of interest. Return to Bhopal proper and you’ll set out on a guided tour of Old Bhopal City and its central market. This is a busy scene in which old and new collide, as they often do in Bhopal, as rickshaws and motorbikes weave their way through streets lined by historic stone buildings. We recommend sampling some of the excellent street cuisine offered by market vendors.
The final day of your trip promises a guided tour of one of India’s most amazing archaeological attractions: the Bhimbetka Caves. To look upon the Bhimbetka rock paintings, which include scenes of dancing, hunting, agriculture, and more, is to catch a glimpse of our earliest human ancestors and their ways of life. The earliest of these paintings date back roughly 30,000 years, and scientists have determined it to be likely that some of the shelters were inhabited by Homo Erectus more than 100,000 years ago. Following the tour, you’ll take an evening flight to Mumbai and connect to an onward 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.
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.
Orchha Palace invites guests to experience modern luxury in an elegant property evocative of Bundela dynasty royalty. The 100 rooms are decorated with contemporary interiors and furnished with air-conditioning, tea/coffee maker, mini fridge, complimentary WiFi, and 24-hour in-room dining. The main restaurant offers local, Indian, and international cuisines with both indoor and outdoor seating. There is a Chinese restaurant on the first floor offering an extensive selection of dishes. The 12-acre property also features a convention center with three grand halls, ideal place for meetings and banquets. Other facilities include a swimming pool, spa, and fitness center.
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.
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.
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.
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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