Delhi - Varanasi - Agra - Jaipur - Delhi - Dharamshala - Amritsar - Himalayan Foothills - Delhi 20days/19nights
The Spiritual Journey Through India takes you from the Ganges to the Golden Temple and includes many of India’s most incredible spiritual sights alongside the colourful wonders of Rajasthan and the beauty of the Himalayas. Begin in India’s cosmopolitan capital Delhi a microcosm of all her religions. You’ll then fly to holy Varanasi on the banks of river Ganges to witness the effervescent fervour of India’s most spiritual city. Continue to Agra, to visit the breath-taking Taj Mahal, then head to the vibrant ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, where you can visit the Galta monkey temple. You’ll then board a flight up to Dharamshala, the abode of the Dalai Lama and home of the Tibetan government in exile. Continue your Spiritual Journey through India to Amritsar, home to the shimmering Golden Temple the sacred heart of the Sikh religion. The final stop to your Spiritual Journey through India is the award-winning Ananda Spa in the Himalayas, where you can immerse yourself in a wellness programme and enjoy the rejuvenating crisp mountain air.
Your luxury private tour through India begins on arrival in Delhi, where you will be met by a member of our team at the airport and chauffeured to The Claridges, an elegant and afforable character property with an enviable location and a lovely pool. Depending on your arrival flight time, enjoy a stroll through verdant Lodi Gardens or exploring the boutiques of Khan Market or simply relax to shake off the jetlag.
Board a direct flight to Varanasi this morning. Upon arrival, you’ll be chauffeured to Jukaso Ganges, a comfortable heritage hotel on the banks of the Ganges River. Should you prefer a hotel away from the river, we recommend the Taj Gateway or Taj Nadesar Palace. In the early evening, you’ll be met by your guide for a boat trip along the Ganges where you can watch the dramatic ancient Ganga Arti Ceremony aboard your private boat, where thousands gather together for evening worship. Varanasi also known as Kashi 'the city of lights' after the golden luminescence of the temples and ghats is at its best in the evening with holy chants, pilgrims floating lamps and the fragrance of incense.
Rise early for a sunrise boat ride along the Ganges the river of life, where guests can see the 84 ghats or hillocks in all their glory, spotting pilgrims bathing, funeral processions and Hindu religious ceremonies. Later on, wander through the tangle of lanes of Varanasi’s Old City and shop for stunning brocade textiles. Other highlights include a visit to the holy Buddhist site of Sarnath, where Buddha has said to have given his first sermon and a tour of the iconic Benaras Hindu University, built in 1916 in the Indo-Gothic style of architecture.
This morning, board a direct flight to Agra. Your chauffeur will meet you at the airport and drive you to Trident, Agra. Built-in local red stone, the hotel features 135 elegant rooms and suites with beautifully landscaped gardens. Agra is deprived of affordable hotels with character and given the service and clenliness of the Trident although it feels like a corporate property it is certainly a highly recommended option. In the afternoon, visit the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, which was built as a monument to eternal love by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife who dies giving birth to their 14th child. Marvel at the interiors which have several different colored stones crushed and inlaid in the floral details on the marble walls and gateways. The Taj Mahal is known for reflecting pastel colored hues with the play of sunlight on its surfaces throughout the day. The afternoon visit is special as it radiates an orangey pink as the sun goes down.
Please note: you can start this journey on any day however the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.
After a delicious breakfast, begin your privately-guided tour of Agra, taking in another Mughal masterpiece Agra Fort, a palatial red-sandstone and marble fortress along the Yamuna River which was constructed by Emperor Akbar in 1565. Then visit Itmad-ud-daulah, nicknamed the ‘baby Taj’, the exquisite white marble tomb of a Persian nobleman Mizra Ghiyas Beg, which features particularly fine carved jalis.
Travel by road for several scenic hours to Rajasthan’s vibrant capital, the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur. A member of our team will greet you at your hotel, Samode Haveli, the elegant 300-year-old mansion of the Samode royal family bulit for the Prime minister of Jaipur in the 20th century now one of the most popular heritage hotels in central Jaipur. It has 39 grand rooms, decorated in Rajasthani style. In the evening, guests can enjoy traditional Rajasthani dishes in the glorious dining room, lined with chandeliers or in the central courtyard with its lemon trees and geometric courtyard is perhaps the most serene corner of Jaipur. Relax and unwind near the swimming pool which is encircles with dahlia-and jasmine-filled paths.
Led by a local expert, you’ll begin your city tour of Jaipur by making your way on elephant back to the splendid 17th-century Amber Fort. Thereafter, exploring the City Palace and its private rooms then continue on for a photo-stop at the stunning Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) and a visit to the Jantar Mantar observatory. Take the afternoon to walk the colorful bazaars of Jaipur to discover its art and handicrafts such as puppets, blue pottery a wide range of textiles, jewellery emporiums and much more.
Spend the morning at leisure – relax at the hotel, alternatively head out into Jaipur for some last-minute shopping. In the afternoon, you’ll return to Delhi and check into Maidens. Run by Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, this charming heritage hotel features 55 spacious rooms, boasting high ceilings and classic furniture. There great restaurant options, too, with exquisite Indian cuisine in The Curzon Room and al-fresco dining on The Garden Terrace.
Discover the myriad of sights in Old and New Delhi including the 17th- century Jama Masjid, Qutb Minar and Humayun’s Tomb which is thought to have inspired the Taj Mahal. Finish the day with an exciting cycle-rickshaw ride through the bustling alleyways of Chandni Chowk’s souk-like bazaars, including Khari Baoli, Asia’s largest spice market. Other highlights include India Gate, Connaught Place, and the Lotus Temple.
This morning you’ll board a flight to the hill station of Dharamsala. Home to His Holiness Dalai Lama, the town has a strong Tibetan influence –red-robed monks are a common sight. It was one of the 80 hill stations set up by the British during the Raj and now home to the Dalai Lama as a result of the Chinese invasion the Tibetan government was exiled and now resides here with its spiritual head the Dalai Lama. Dharamsala has a strong Tibetean culture and is a great place to discover its religious beliefs. Upon landing, your guide will take you to the Norbulingka Institute, a colorful center for Tibetan culture. There is also a stunning Tibetan temple. In the evening, check into delightful Chonor House, right opposite the Dalai Lama’s residence. A small property and although basic its location is perfect being right opposite the Dalai lama's residence. It has a decor with Tibetean influence which gives an authentic feel of being in Dharamsala.
Today you’ll be led by a local expert to discover the highlights of Dharamsala and McLeodganj. Start with visiting the Tsuglagkhang Temple before continuing on to the Dalai Lama’s residence, the Tibet Museum, and the Namgyal Monastery. You may also like to visit the brooding Gothic church of St-John-in-the-Wilderness, one of the few remaining traces in McLeodganj’s from the days of being a British hill station.
Return to the Norbulingka Institute for a full day workshop in traditional Tibetan wood painting. A special technique of embossing, Tibetan wood painting is traditionally used to decorate furniture and the walls of temples. Under the supervision of a Norbulingka master artist, each participant is given their own beautiful product to work on, which they can then take home at the end of the day.
A scenic drive today will take you to Amritsar, founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru. Upon arrival, relax at Ranjit’s Svaasa, a 250-year old haveli, now a charming family-run heritage boutique hotel. Alternatively, there’s the Hyatt with all the usual five-star facilities. In the late evening, you’ll be met by your guide to explore the spectacular Golden Temple the spiritual and temporal place of the Sikh religion. At night visit the temple by the star lit sky to watch the ‘Putting to Bed ‘ceremony, the daily ritual of putting the Holy Scripture to bed.
This morning, return with your guide to the Golden Temple to see it in all its glory in the day light, Sikhism's holiest shrine, for a more thorough exploration. Watch the traditional lanagr where everyone regardless of their religious back ground is invited to eat together. You can see the kitchens which are mass manufacturing traditional north Indian dishes to feed the thousands of visitors everyday. Later, pay a visit to Jallianwala Bagh, a memorial to more than 1,000 demonstrators killed or injured when the British opened fire on them in 1919. End the day in Wagah, a village divided in two at Partition of India and pakistan, where the daily closure of the border takes place with a grand ceremony. The armies of both nations with their regimental commands and the audience waving their respective national flags, whilst watching the cross over until the gates are sealed until the next day.
Board a direct flight to Dehradun. On arrival, your chauffeur will drive you to Ananda, an award-winning luxury destination spa resort at the Himalayan foothills, near the holy town of Rishikesh. Located in a 100-acre Maharaja’s Palace Estate, Ananda is surrounded by graceful Sal forests and overlooks the spiritual town of Rishikesh and the Ganges river valley. Ananda, one of the best luxury wellness retreats in India, integrates traditional Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta with international wellness experiences, fitness and healthy organic cuisine to restore balance and harmonize energy.
The next three days will be spent immersed in one of Ananda’s wellness programmes. Guided by a team of expert ayurvedic doctors, skilled therapists, nutritionists and spa cuisine chefs, each programme is tailor-made to suit guests’ individual health goals. Programmes include stress management, weight loss, detox, rejuvenation and fitness. There are also plenty of activities, including white water rafting and thrilling mountain treks.
Please note Programmes at Ananda range from three to 14 nights. Should you wish to do a longer programme, we would be delighted to arrange this.
After a delicious healthy breakfast, you’ll be chauffeured back down the mountain in time to board a direct flight from Dehradun to Delhi. On arrival, you’ll check back into The Claridges. Should you wish to explore the capital further, we can offer some exciting ideas or enjoy the remainder of your day with your feet up at your luxury hotel – The Claridges’ in-house Indian restaurant Dhaba makes for a great last night celebration.
Today, your luxury private tour ends. Transfer to Delhi airport in time for your onward flight.
This tour is purely a suggested itinerary for what your trip to India could include. Treat our spiritual Journey through India tour as inspiration. Each trip designed by Rajasthan Tours is created uniquely for you, working to your budget and interests with an absolute commitment to quality.
The price shown includes hotels on double or twin sharing basis, breakfast, sightseeing, transfers, internal flights or trains, private guides, monument entrances, activities and excursions and chauffeur-driven car. On request, we can include international flights, too. In other words, we take the work off you to allow you to enjoy the most memorable holiday experience. The price is a guide and subject to change based on hotels, dates of travel and number of people travelling. During the low season (April to September), the costs are significantly less yet this season remains a great time to travel with smaller crowds and more affordable rates. During the high season, particularly over Christmas and New Year, prices are higher however there are lots of great festivals and the weather is excellent.