Discover both colourful cities and rural life in Rajasthan

Dive into India on this 11-day Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid, and discover a wide range of cultural highlights in a relatively short amount of time. From the spiritual centre of Varanasi to the chaotic capital of Delhi, this journey is perfect for travellers who want local guidance and unique included experiences without sacrificing the freedom to explore independently. Witness the beauty of the Taj Mahal, feel enlightened on a boat trip along the River Ganges and get the royal treatment during a 16th-century heritage stay. Bring an open mind and an open heart and plunge headfirst into this utterly captivating destination.


Start
Delhi, India
Finish
Delhi, India
Destination
India
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
HHRI
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • With so much going on in the chaotic capital of Delhi, a local leader is a must. Get to know the city with your leader helping you navigate.

  • Have your expectations smashed by the spectacular Taj Mahal during a guided tour that illuminates the building’s fascinating backstory.

  • Spend sunrise along the holy Ganges River in Varanasi, watching thousands of Hindu pilgrims bathe in the water as the sun soaks everything in warm light.

  • Tordi Garh is a place few travellers get to see, but you’ll stay in this rural Rajasthani village in style during a night at a 16th-century palace.

  • Travelling across India wouldn’t be complete without a journey on a sleeper train. With padded bunks for comfort and vendors selling chai and samosas, it’s a quintessential Indian experience.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid, made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local leader and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary has a mix of included activities and free time where your leader will offer suggestions you can take or leave. Please budget spending money for optional activities.

  • The regions visited on this trip can be extreme in temperature. It’s important to prepare for hot temperatures during the day and cooler climates in the evening. Rajasthan, in particular, can be very hot, especially in the summer. Light layers are the best way to tackle changeable weather.

  • Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. For temple visits on this trip, you will need to wear clothes that cover the arms and pants or skirts that go past the knees.

  • This trip involves some long train rides, including a couple of overnight trains. The train journey from Delhi to Varanasi is approximately 13 hours, while the trip from Varanasi to Agra takes 11 hours. Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned and a great way to travel long distances while still getting maximum time in each place. Beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing with locals of other genders. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage. Sleeper train journeys in and out of Varanasi can be subject to long delays because of weather conditions, including heavy rain or fog.

Itinerary

Honk-honk! Beep-beep! Welcome to Delhi, a fabulously chaotic capital city that will warm your heart and overwhelm your senses. The air is thick with the smell of spices and the sound of mayhem as vendors whip up masala chai on the sidestreets, locals barter at bazaars for the best bargain, bhangra music blasts from the alleyways and the honking horns of cycle-rickshaws resonate through vast crowds of colourful sari-clad women. With no activities planned until your welcome meeting at 6 pm, why not head out and explore the streets.
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. After the meeting, perhaps get to know your new travel buddies over an optional group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2700
  • Delhi - Home-Cooked Delhi Urban Adventure - INR4000
  • Delhi - Culture Vulture Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2500
  • Delhi - Delhi Food Walk Urban Adventure - INR3500
  • Delhi - Made in Delhi Shopping Tour Urban Adventure - INR4530
  • Delhi - Hidden Gems of Delhi Urban Adventure - INR6900
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The Urban Adventures listed here can be booked in advance through your booking agent or online at: urbanadventures.com/destination/delhi-tours
This morning, check out the sights and sounds of Old Delhi on a leader-led tour of this enchanting quarter of the capital. Take a ride on the city's modern metro system, get a taste of India's famed public transport with an optional cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets (such as the famous Chandni Chowk), perhaps make a visit to the Jama Masjid – Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings – then stop by the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion. In the evening, board an overnight sleeper train bound for Varanasi (approximately 13 hours).
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Delhi - Old Delhi tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
On arrival into Varanasi this morning, check in to your hotel and freshen up before heading out on a guided walking tour of the Old City. Set along the banks of the holy Ganges River, Varanasi is the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims who travel from far and wide to experience this spiritual city. Overflowing with temples, shrines and devotees, it might not be one of the world's cleanest cities but there’s no doubt it’s one of the most amazing. It’s a unique experience to navigate through Varanasi's maze of narrow alleyways packed full of small shops, stalls and lumbering cows. See pilgrims performing rituals unchanged for hundreds of years and pass chiming temples as wafts of incense fill the air.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Varanasi - Old City tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today’s an early start, but it’s completely worth it as you take a boat ride down the Ganges to watch the sun rise. Even if you're not the spiritual sort, you can't help but get goosebumps. Pass the many ghats (stairs leading to the water) and temples along the river, and watch thousands of Hindu pilgrims cleanse their sins in the holy water as the sun bathes the surrounds in glorious shades of amber and orange. Witness the rituals of life and death taking place along the riverbank and be prepared for potentially confronting sights and smells, as this is also where families come to cremate deceased loved ones. The rest of the day is free to explore.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip
Optional Activities
  • Varanasi - Banares Hindu University - INR250
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today there’s lots of free time to explore more of Varanasi before you get a unique slice of Indian life on board an overnight sleeper train bound for Agra (approximately 13 hours). You could take a trip to nearby Sarnath, one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations and the site where Buddha preached his message of the path to enlightenment. There’s also the crumbling 17th-century fort and palace on the eastern bank of the Ganges, Ram Nagar Fort. Varanasi is home to India’s silk-making industry, so maybe investigate the many silk markets dotted around the city, otherwise, take the chance to perfect your yoga in the ultimate chakra-balancing place.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Varanasi - Sarnath (entry) - INR250
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Agra might not be the prettiest city in the world, but the minute you check out its most famous site that won’t matter one bit – of course, we're talking about the glorious Taj Mahal, and you’ll head out for a guided tour of this elaborate monument on arrival. Afterwards, enjoy a free day to explore Agra's alternative highlights. An optional trip on a motorised rickshaw takes you to some of the city’s best monuments. If you’ve got the energy, head out to Agra Fort and stroll the palatial gardens of this red sandstone stronghold or check out Akbar's Mausoleum, a beautiful sandstone and marble tomb built for the greatest of the Mughal emperors. In the evening, perhaps try Agra’s delicious signature curry – butter chicken – or a meal at Sheroes Hangout, a cafe that supports acid attack survivors.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
Optional Activities
  • Agra - Sheroes Hangout Cafe (prices from) - INR500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Jump into private transport and drive through idyllic countryside to Tordi Garh, a village that few travellers venture to (approximately 8 hours). This remote and rarely visited village offers a fantastic glimpse of the real Rajasthan. Once there, meet the locals, visit the old village temple and wander through the markets, gaining an insight into everyday life in this peaceful community. Tonight you’ll sleep in heritage accommodation, a 16th-century palace with its owner as your host. Settle in, then savour delicious local flavours in tonight’s included dinner.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Journey to Jaipur, India's oh-so-pretty Pink City, by private vehicle (about 3 hours). You'll have plenty of free time here to haggle to your heart's content at the bazaars and backstreets where vendors sell a variety of textiles, precious and semi-precious gems and stunning blue pottery. Enjoy a guided walk on arrival to orientate yourself with the city, then perhaps drop by one of India’s finest palaces, the Royal City Palace. Food lovers will want to hit the streets for raj kachori chaat, a big fluffy chaat served with chutney, yoghurt, chilli and potato. Then cool off with a lassi at Jaipur's oldest and most famous lassi shop. Cinema buffs won't want to miss the chance to take in a Bollywood blockbuster at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema this evening. Your accommodation for tonight will be in another family-run heritage hotel.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - Walking & market tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
If you're keen for a different view of the Pink City, an optional early morning hot air balloon ride is a trip highlight for many visitors. For more information please see the Important Notes. Later in the morning, you’ll drop by Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), the impressive five-storey facade with pink and honeycombed windows is it the most photographed building in the country after the Taj Mahal. Then it’s out to the old capital of Amber and an exploration of the hilltop fort complex known as the Amber Fort. The rest of the day is free for you to spend as you like.
Accommodation
  • Heritage Property (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
Optional Activities
  • Jaipur - Balloon Safari - USD260
  • Jaipur - Bollywood Movie at Raj Mandir Cinema - INR400
  • Jaipur - City Palace - INR700
  • Jaipur - Jantar Mantar Observatory - INR200
  • Jaipur - Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind) entry - INR200
  • Jaipur - Rajasthan Artisan Village Tour Urban Adventure - INR6100
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, take a train ride back to India's capital (5 hours). This exciting city is overflowing with incredible historic sites, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars. Watch one of the world's greatest shows unfold as people, cars, rickshaws and cows all work together in a kind of organised chaos. Perhaps sit back with a chai and let it all soak in as you enjoy a free day to explore. Ask your expert leader for their top recommendations on how to make the most of your time here. This evening, enjoy an optional dinner with your group and toast to your adventures.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
  • Delhi - Qutub Minar - INR500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The trip comes to an end this morning and there are no further activities planned.
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Culture Vulture Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2500
  • Delhi - Delhi Food Walk Urban Adventure - INR3500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

1 dinner

Transport

Auto rickshaw, Cycle rickshaw, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Train, Public bus, Private vehicle, Jeep

Accommodation

heritage property (3 nights), Hotel (5 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Delhi - Old Delhi tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Varanasi - Old City tour
  • Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
  • Jaipur - Walking & market tour
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Indian Getaway trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available to purchase on this trip and is applicable for all nights with the exception of nights 3 & 5 (overnight train).
2. Hot air balloon flights are operated by Sky Waltz in Jaipur. Flights operate from September 1st to April 31st and last approximately 60 mins. Return transfers, tea and coffee plus light refreshments and a certificate of flight are included in the cost. You can register your interest and pay your tour leader at your joining meeting on day 1 of your trip. Payment must be made by cash in either INR/AUD/USD/GBP only and is USD 260pp (subject to change). Flights are subject to availability and weather conditions (tickets are fully refundable in case of bad weather).
3. Please note travelling during major festivals such as Holi and Diwali can, at times, cause disruption to the published itinerary.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

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