Essence of India
The bustling city of New Delhi, majestic forts, the stunning marble of the Taj Mahal, and the birth place of Buddhism are just a few of the adventures that await your visit to Incredible India.
Essence of India
At a Glance
This itinerary includes private car and driver, in-country travel (trains and flights) all accommodations, eleven excursions and activities, and all breakfasts.
Airfare to New Delhi, lunches, dinners, and tips for guides, maids and our drivers are not included.
Why not? You can opt for customization.
Create your own adventure
- Car and driver, no guide, train from Varanasi to Agra.
- Car and driver, no guide, flight and driver from Varanasi to Agra.
- Car and driver, local (English speaking) Indian guide, train from Varanasi to Agra.
- Car and driver, local (English speaking) Indian guide, flight and driver from Varanasi to Agra.
- Car and driver, Kevin and Andi as personal guides, train from Varanasi to Agra.
- Car and driver, Kevin and Andi as personal guides, flight and driver from Varanasi to Agra.
* Ask us for pricing
Day 1 New Delhi
Upon arrival in New Delhi, your trip leader and experienced driver will be waiting to accompany you from the Indira Gandhi international airport to the hotel.
Feel free to spend the rest of the day exploring the historic city of New Delhi, or catching up on some rest.
Things to know before you visit any temple or Mosque:
- For both men and women: Islam requires modesty when entering any place of worship. Please wear long pants or a long skirt.
- For women, please do not show cleavage.
- Women must wear head scarves inside a mosque.
- No shoes are allowed inside temples or mosque. you may leave them outside, or carry them with you.
- There may be a 300 rupee (approx. $4.25) fee for cameras and cell phones.
Day 2 New Delhi
After a complimentary breakfast, your driver will take you on a full day of some of New Delhi’s must-see sights.
The day will begin at the historic Red Fort. Once the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty, the fort now features astonishing architecture, beautiful gardens and a number of museums.
Next, you will visit some of Delhi’s most intriguing places of worship. Including, Sikh, Jain and Hindu temples, as well as the Jama Masjid mosque, the largest mosque in India.
Later, visit the India Gate monument and drive by the presidents residence.
Red Fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi. The red sandstone fortification of the enormous Red Fort rises 33 meters (Over 108 feet). Built by the Mughals, in the 17th century, The Red Fort is one of the most remarkable structures present in modern day Delhi. Lahore Gate, the main gate, is one of the symbolic and emotional focal points of the modern Indian nation. Inside is a veritable treasure trove of buildings, including the Hall of Public Audiences, the white marble Hall of Private Audiences, Drum House, Royal Baths, Palace of Color and the Pearl Mosque. The vaulted arcade of Chatta Chowk, a bazaar selling tourist trinkets, leads into the huge fort compound.
Jain, Hindu and Sikh Temple
Most people think of Hinduism when they think of India, and it's clear to see why, with a population of 966 million Hindu in the country. However India is home to at least nine major religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and the Baha'i faith are also practiced in India. On our Kendi World Adventures Essence of India tour, we will visit three temples and learn more about the religions of Jain, Sikh and Hindu.
Jama Masjid Mosque
Although it is located on one of the oldest and busiest corners of Old Delhi, the Jama Masjid mosque feels like an island in a sea of chaos and noise outside its walls. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, its construction started in 1644 and completed in 1658. The largest mosque in India, the masjid contains a courtyard that can seat up to 25,000 devotees, three large gates, and four towering minarets. With a fusion of Hindu and Jain traditions reflecting from the carved pillars, this Islamic place of worship also reflects the typical architectural works of the Mughals. The floor of the mosque is covered with white and black marble and is ornamented to imitate the Muslim prayer mat. Count yourself lucky if your visit coincides with the timing of the heart-stopping adhan, the Islamic "call to prayer."
Day 3 New Delhi
Today is a free day in New Delhi. Just a short walk and you will be shopping at the nearby Main Bazaar or experience an auto rickshaw ride around the city. You can even take advantage of our personal car hire to experience more of the city in an air-conditioned car.
Some of our recommendations include:
- The National Gandhi museum (Gandhi Smriti). The last residence of Mahatma Gandhi and site of his execution.
- Lodi Gardens Over 90 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and archaeological site of many tombs and 15th century structures.
- Lotus Temple. A Baha’i House of Worship notable for its flowerlike shape.
- Rikhi Ram Instrument Co. The location where George Harrison and Ravi Shankar bought their hand-crafted sitars.
- Tuk Tuk (auto rickshaw) ride through Old Delhi. A thrilling experience through the hustle and bustle of the crowded streets of old Delhi
Day 4 Varanasi
Fly from New Delhi to Varanasi, the holiest city in India. There you will be met by a private driver and taken to your hotel to relax and unpack.
Just before sunset, your driver will meet you at your hotel and accompany you to the Dasaswamedh Ghat on the banks of the Ganges river. You will watch the Aarti ceremony from the perfect vantagepoint aboard an anchored boat on the Ganges river.
Performed every evening at sunset, the Aarti ceremony is a devotional ritual of fire offerings to the Maa Ganga, goddess of the holy river.
Varanasi is one of the oldest holy cities in the world and has spectacular architecture, numerous temples and various cultural ceremonies and traditions. One such ceremony is the traditional and holy performance of aarti. The aarti ceremony is performed as a devotion to the holy river in India also called “Maa Ganga”. It includes fire elements, chanting, flowers, and incense. The ceremony, which begins at sunset and lasts about 45 minutes, is performed by pandits (priests) dressed in traditional clothes. Ganga Aarti is held facing the holy river and circling brass lamps or diyas clockwise. It is believed that the lamps gain the deity power during the ceremony.
Day 5 Varanasi
An early morning wake-up call will prepare you for your sunrise boat tour on the Ganges river.
Watch as the city comes alive with pilgrims bathing and worshiping in the waters at the edge of the ghats. The sun reflects on the water like melted butter in the waves. Your helmsman will light candles placed on a bed of marigolds and rose petals for you to float on the current and offer a prayer for loved ones who have passed.
After breakfast back at the hotel, your driver will take you to the textile neighborhood where you can see the making of traditional sarees from dyeing of the cloth to hand painting and embroidery.
Then visit the historic Buddhist site of Sarnath. Located ten miles outside the city of Varanasi, Sarnath is believed to be the place where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence.
If you opted for the “train experience”, your driver will get you settled onto the overnight train from Varanasi to Agra
Sunrise Boat Tour on the Ganges River
Varanasi is unlike any other place on Earth. The city is considered to be over 3,000 years old –one of the oldest in the world– and it hugs the Ganges River, which is held sacred by nearly one billion Hindus. Sunrise is the perfect time for a boat ride on the Ganges river, when thousands of people stream into the ghats to bathe and make offerings. A single oarsman will glide you effortlessly across the water, past the holy ghats, including the burning ghat where the loyal come from the far reaches of India to assure the salvation of their deceased loved ones. Relax and enjoy the peaceful ride as the sun sprinkles diamonds of light across the ripples, or light a candle and say a prayer as you set it afloat atop a bed of marigolds and rose petals.
Your guide will take you through the labyrinth of streets and alley ways of Varanasi to see how the textiles are created. As you enter doorways along the way you will see how each step is mastered at different locations and shops. From the dyeing of the fabric, to weaving, painting and embroidery, each piece is lovingly created. You will have an opportunity at the end to purchase scarves, pillow covers, sarees, and much more. Don't worry, there will be no high pressure salesman.
Sarnath has the same importance for Buddhists, as Mecca has for the Muslims or the Golden Temple in Amritsar has for the Sikhs. Sarnath is, perhaps, the most significant of all Buddhist holy places. Sarnath is believed to be the place where the Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma and where the Buddhist Sangha first came into existence, thereby earning the title of “the birthplace of Buddhism.”
Day 6 Agra
If you opted for the flight from Varanasi, you will be taking a flight to New Delhi where you will be met by a driver who will then drive you the approximately three hours to Agra.
The rest of the day is for your leisure.
Day 7 Agra
Spend the day sightseeing around the city. Visit the Tomb of Akbar the Great, also known as The Baby Taj for its similar architecture.
Later, view the back side of the Taj from the Mehtab Bagh Gardens. Watch the sun go down as you marvel at the splendor of the tomb, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Tomb of Akbar the Great (Baby Taj)
While the Taj Mahal is the most visited attraction in Agra, and likely in all India, there are others less known that are absolutely a must visit during a stay in the city. One of those is the tomb of Akbar the Great. The tomb is famous for the glorious stone inlay decorations depicting cypress trees, wine glasses, and an amazing variety of geometrical arabesque. The marble work along with four small minarets at the four corners of the small tomb structure are reminiscent of the Taj Mahal, giving it the nickname “Baby Taj.”
There is no better way to get that first glimpse of the majestic Taj Mahal than from across the Yamuna river in the beautiful gardens of Mehtab Bagh. Stand at the site that was almost the Black Taj, a replica of his wife's Taj Mahal. The Back Taj was a dream of Shah Jahan that was never realized. Enjoy the sunset through the branches of the parks many trees before getting a good night's sleep for a day at "The Taj."
Day 8 Agra
The highlight of our Essence of India Tour — The TAJ MAHAL! Today is dedicated to experiencing the marvel of this historical and “oh so India” monument.
Take your time and get in all the pictures, history and, details of the Taj. Don’t forget to drink lots of water.
The Taj Mahal
The site every visitor to India longs to see--the incomparable Taj Mahal. The depth of love Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had for his wife Mumtaz shines through every piece of sparkling marble of this beautiful tomb. A guide will be provided to explain the history of this 17th century structure, and to act as your personal photographer to get those iconic pictures everyone dreams about.
Day 9 New Delhi
Drive back to New Delhi just in time to finish up your shopping, rest up before the long flight home, or take in some of the sites you missed on arrival
Day 10 New Delhi
Breakfast will be served depending on your departure time and a free shuttle will carry you from the hotel to the airport.