Adventure through the heart of North India and Rajasthan

Rose-hued cities, time-worn desert forts and holy rivers – North India is the subcontintent’s showpiece, a place where ancient ruins punctuate peaceful countryside and everyday life is a riot of color and noise. From the gleaming walls of the Taj Mahal to Delhi’s chaotic streets, India’s energy will leave you giddy with excitement and sporting a smile that’s wider than the Ganges. Spiritual, yet never afraid to entertain – the sites of North India are as alive as a crowded laneway, as vast as the Thar Desert sands, as humbling as a Varanesi dawn and as intricate as the Amber Fort. So give your senses a well-earned kick and delve into a North Indian adventure that ticks all the boxes.

Start
New Delhi, India
Finish
New Delhi, India
Countries
India
Themes
Explorer
Code
HHSYC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
373kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Be blown away by the pace of modern Delhi
  • Watch pilgrims perform rituals on the banks of the Ganges
  • Float along India’s holiest river
  • Try to spot tigers in Bandhavgarh National Park
  • Be privy to a traditional Puja prayer ceremony in Orchha
  • Enjoy a local homestay in the heart of rural India
  • Marvel at the stunning architecture of the Taj Mahal
  • Scan the skies for colorful birds in the Keoladeo Sanctuary
  • Be romanced by India’s ‘Pink City’
  • Squint at the towering desert fort of Jaisalmer from atop a camel

Itinerary

The labyrinthine streets and lively markets of Old Delhi are a perfect introduction to India. Wonder at the tall brick minaret of Qutub Minar and visit Delhi's oldest mosque, Jama Masjid – an architectural delight that can hold 25,000 people.
Travel on the modern metro system, then get a taste of India's famed public transport with an option for a cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets, such as the famous Chandni Chowk. Make a visit to the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion
Take a train to Agra and visit the fascinating Red Fort, learning of its history and admiring its architecture. Then experience India's most famous building, the Taj Mahal, and marvel at its beauty that is more marvellous than any picture can depict.
Soak up the small-town charm of relatively tourist-free Chanderi. Explore ancient rock paintings, Jain temples and peaceful mosques before sitting down to a tasty dinner with a local family.
Wander the streets of Chanderi on a guided walk, meet friendly locals and enjoy the tranquility that India can often offer.
Enjoy a guided walk around the temples and palaces that dot the picturesque Orchha countryside. See the stunning Orchha Palace, and experience an evening puja ceremony at the Ram Raja Temple. Visit a community-run papermaking plant where local tribeswomen craft paper from recycled clothing and wood pulp.
Visit Taragram, one of Intrepid's Responsible Tourism projects. Take the chance to experience the local flavours at a cooking demonstration by our local friends.
Time for a guided village walk in Alipura before enjoying a group dinner at Alipura Palace.
Explore Khajuraho's stunning 1,000-year-old temples - infamous for their explicit carvings depicting the entire Kama Sutra
Visit a local Hindu family for a home-cooked vegetarian meal and gain an insight into the life of middle-class Indians.
Hop into a jeep and safari through the wilds of the Bandhavgarh National Park. Tigers live here in relative abundance so keep a look out for these magnificent creatures. At night, sleep soundly in a jungle resort.
Enjoy a National Park jeep safari to search out more wildlife before boarding an overnight train for the hour journey to Varanasi.
Discover India's spiritual heart. Take a boat on the Ganges, ramble along the ghats and attend a sunset-candle flower ceremony.
A sunrise boat ride on the Ganges is an Indian highlight, watch the sunrise and the pilgrims gather on the river banks of this mighty river.
Return to the colourful and chaotic streets of Delhi.
If you have extra time in Delhi, check out an optional Urban Adventure.
For many travellers, a hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over the city on the morning of day six between September and June. For additional information, please see the important notes section of the Essential Trip Information. Visit Jaipur's Royal City Palace and/or one of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur. At about 2.30 pm, we’ll visit the Amber Fort. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Entering the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is also a particularly memorable experience.
In the morning, head to Mandawa by private vehicle (approximately 3.5 hours). A remote town in the centre of the Shekhawati region, this was once a trading outpost on the ancient caravan routes from China and the Middle East. Enjoy a guided tour of Mandawa's ornate havelis (private residences), with some of them crumbling at the foundations and others well preserved. There’s plenty of time to explore this thriving market town and its surrounds before spending the night in a beautifully restored haveli.
Take the four-hour journey to Bikaner via a combination of private jeeps and buses. Once an important staging post on the great caravan routes, the city still contains many bazaars, palaces and a historic fort within its impressive walls. Visit Junagarh Fort, which was built by Raja Rai Singh, the sixth ruler of Bikaner (AD1571 to 1612). In the evening, travel to a nearby farmhouse and enjoy an evening of traditional Rajasthani food, music and dance.
After an early morning walking tour of Bikaner, spend free time exploring bazaars before visiting the city’s famous ‘Rat Temple’. Travel out to the 600-year-old rat kingdom of Karni Mata Temple, which is believed to be home to the reincarnated followers of the Hindu goddess, Durga. Locals believe that it's particularly favourable if one of these rats takes a shine to you and scurries over your bare feet. For the squeamish, just stand still or view from afar.
Catch an early morning local train from Bikaner to Jaisalmer, which may take up to six hours. We travel in general class, where seating is unallocated and carriages are fan-cooled only. Stock up on plenty of food and water beforehand, as temperatures can get fairly warm on this long trip. The standard of the train is pretty basic, but it can be a fantastic way of meeting the locals and like-minded travellers. Once there perhaps explore the markets, ornately carved houses and museum before the sun goes down.
Head back into Jaisalmer by camel in the morning and enjoy a free day. The city is one of the oldest Rajasthan capitals and dates as far back as AD1156, so it’s teeming with history. Perhaps explore the Jain Temple, the Jaisalmer havelis or Folklore Museum. With imposing parapets and towers at every turn, the Old Town is full of intricate stonewalls that lead to the havelis. These private mansions once homed Jaisalmer’s nobility and resemble small palaces. Tonight we sleep in a haveli-converted hotel; a comfortable base after a long day.
In the morning, travel to Jodhpur by private vehicle and local bus (approximately 5.5. hours). The city is known for its antique shops and the best lassi in India. Enjoy an orientation walking tour around the ‘Old City’ and visit Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in India. It’s built around a clock tower amid spice and vegetable markets, juice sellers and sari materials. This is a great place to test your haggling skills. The evening is then free to do as you wish.
This morning explore the colossal Mehrangarh Fort and take in the views from its ramparts, which dominate the city's skyline. Afterwards, possibly visit the nearby Bishnoi villages where you’ll find a welcoming, nature-loving community. Perhaps take a village safari tour, where you’ll come across wildlife and learn why the Bishnoi are so protective of their land. This evening, board an overnight train to Delhi for a comfortable trip of around 11 hours.

Notes: Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and are a great way to travel long distances so maximum time can be spent in each place. Beds are padded berths and sheets, pillow and a blanket are provided, but you may prefer to bring your own sleeping sheet. Please be aware that you may be sharing with locals in a same gender/mixed gender situation.
Arrive at the Delhi train station early in the morning. There are no activities planned for today and you’re free to depart once we’ve arrived. Train delays can occur so please don’t be surprised if we’re late. Due to potential delays, we recommend booking any international flights for after 2 pm today.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
5 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners
Transport
Auto rickshaw, Camel, Cycle rickshaw, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Train
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night), Deluxe permanent tent (2 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights), Heritage Property (5 nights), Hotel (9 nights), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights), Resort (1 night)
Included activities
  • Agra - Agra Fort
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
  • Bandhavgarh - National Park morning safari
  • Bandhavgarh - National Park Safari
  • Bikaner - Junagarh Fort
  • Bikaner - Karni Mata Rat Temple
  • Chanderi - Guided village walk
  • Chanderi - Home cooked dinner & family visit
  • Chanderi - Traditional music performance
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Old Delhi Walking Tour
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
  • Jodhpur - City walk
  • Jodhpur - Meherangarh Fort
  • Khajuraho - Home-cooked lunch & family visit
  • Khajuraho - Kama Sutra temples
  • Mandawa - Haveli tour
  • Orchha - Orchha Palace
  • Orchha - Ram Raja Temple puja (prayer) ceremony
  • Orchha - Taragram visit
  • Orientation Walk of Jaisalmer
  • Varanasi - Sunrise Boat Ride
  • Varanasi - Sunset Candle Flower Ceremony
  • Village walk & palace dinner

Dates

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Important notes

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our North India Adventure trips score an average of 4.6 out of 5 based on 5 reviews in the last year.

North India Adventure , November 2015

North India Adventure , October 2015