Tigers, Temples and the Taj
Explore India's magnificent temples and spiritual cities, and go in search of its beautiful tigers in Bandhavgarh National Park.
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- A private guide accompanying you from arrival to departure
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Private transfers and domestic flights
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
- Tiger safari in Bandhavgarh
- Boat ride along the River Ganges
- Sunrise and sunset visits to the Taj Mahal
- Visit the temples at Khajuraho
At a glance
India is home to some of the world’s most fascinating architecture, reflecting its rich culture and many faiths. Explore its multitude of temples, including the world-famous Taj Mahal, and get under the skin of the fascinating cities of Delhi and Varanasi. You’ll also go in search of majestic tigers in Bandhavgarh, a jewel of a national park that has what is believed to be the highest density of Bengal tigers in the country. To make your trip as relaxing as possible, you will be accompanied the whole way by your very own expert guide and assisted with all your transfers, check ins and flights.
Your Indian discovery starts in the bustling capital of Delhi, where you’ll get to explore the old and new quarters, each with their own identity. Marvel at the Qutb Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, and visit Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi’s first Mughal mausoleum while all the time experiencing the energy of this thriving metropolis.
It’s then out of the city and into the wild at Bandhavgarh National Park. You’ll spend two full days tracking these beautiful animals and exploring the park, filled with crumbling ruins, herds of deer and flocks of colourful birds. When you’re not out on game drives, your luxury safari lodge is the perfect place to relax with a book, take a dip in the pool or dine out under the stars. From national parks to national treasures, your next stop brings you to the magnificent temples of Khajuraho, famous for their intricate and erotic carvings.
Varanasi is India’s spiritual capital and described by Mark Twain as “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend”. The city sits on the banks of the mighty River Ganges and you’ll navigate its waters by boat, passing locals and pilgrims performing their ablutions. You’ll also discover the havelis and temples of the old city and learn about the historic and holy traditions of this remarkable place.
Your final stop on this epic exploration is Agra and the Taj Mahal, the world’s greatest symbol of love. You’ll visit at both sunrise and sunset to see this magnificent structure at its most beautiful and you’ll soon realise why it is one of the world’s most evocative sights.
Example Trip Itinerary
On exiting the aircraft, you will be met and assisted through the airport’s immigration and baggage reclaim.
Private transfer to your hotel in Delhi with guide
Accommodation in Delhi
- 40 rooms
- Two restaurants
- Cigar lounge
- Outdoor pool
- Tennis and squash courts
With its clean lines, crisp decor and modern take on Moghul architecture, The Lodhi is a cool and contemporary hotel in the heart of New Delhi. Despite being set within seven acres of grounds, the hotel has just 40 rooms giving it an intimate and exlusive feel. Rooms are elegantly styled in shades of dusky blue, grey and green and come with private balconies and plunge pools. Huge glass windows offer views out across Humayun’s Tomb and the Lodhi Gardens, from which the hotel takes its name. Sophisticated design touches prevail thoughout, from the light installations and sculptures to the gallery space in the foyer showcasing the work of contemporary Indian artists. The hotel’s restaurant, On the Waterfront, has a real buzz about it, with the ground floor overlooking a reflection pool and a glass pavillion for private parties. The Elan focuses on India’s diverse culinary traditions, and here you can same local delicacies from the north to the south. The library and cigar lounge are peaceful retreats in which to escape with a good book, while for those wanting to stretch their legs there is a 50m lap pool, three tennis courts, squash courts and a gym. Delhi Golf Club is also located opposite the hotel. After a day of sightseeing and exploring the city, relax in the tranquil spa which offers a range of traditional Indian treatments and therapies.
- 190 rooms and 43 suites
- Four restaurants
- Two bars
- Tea lounge
- Outdoor swimming pool
A driveway lined with tall palm trees leads to the grand white facade of The Imperial, one of Delhi’s most iconic hotels. Harking back to the days of the Raj, The Imperial is filled with old-world charm, its fascinating history a permanent presence. The opulence of colonial India is felt from the moment you enter; the high ceilings, crystal chandeliers and artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries giving a sense of grandeur. Rooms are beautifully styled with antique furniture, marble floors covered in Indian rugs, and photographs of iconic Indian landmarks and events on the walls. When the hotel opened its doors in the 30s, it became a meeting point for figures including Nehru, Ghandi, Jinnah and Lord Mountbatton who came to discuss the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. Photographs of the various battalions during the British Raj adorn the walls and the 1911 Restaurant is a celebration of the year Delhi became the new capital of India. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to eating and drinking, with four restaurants offering south east Asian, gourmet Indian and European cuisine. There is also a pastry shop and a tea lounge with a glass domed ceiling and tinkling fountain and the hotel’s two bars are some of the city’s most popular. An outdoor swimming pool is set within the verdant gardens of the hotel and there is a spa offering Ayurvedic therapies for when you want to simply drift away. Once you’ve recharged your batteries, head out and explore Delhi – you’re ideally located on Janpath, just moments from the renowned shopping district of Connaught Place and a short rickshaw ride from India Gate.
With a population of over 18 million, Delhi is an international metropolis. Perhaps daunting at first sight, a little exploring soon reveals a rich, diverse and fascinating culture. Throughout most of its history, it has served as the capital of various kingdoms and empires, captured and rebuilt time and time again. Every dynasty left its mark and as you start to explore, you’ll discover reminders and relics from this colossal game of pass the parcel.
As well as centuries worth of history to explore, Delhi is also one of the best places in India to shop, try the many different styles of food and experience the buzz of a city where its millions of inhabitants are going about their daily business. And if weaving your way in and out of the rickshaws and cyclists ever starts to get too much, turn the corner and you’ll find a tranquil garden or a quiet enclave in which to stop, gather your thoughts and recharge.
In complete contrast to the new city, the old city is a labyrinthine maze of lanes overhung by a tangled mass of electric wires. Within this chaos lies a semblance of order – each lane in this area is dedicated to a particular item, rather like a department store. There are lanes selling bangles, grocers, items used in weddings, silverware, clothes, spices and shoes. Sharing the same space are vendors with carts selling a variety of items, street side dentists, natural healers and cobblers. The old city has space for all professions. You will explore the old city in cycle rickshaws and will also walk along some of the more interesting alleys.
Explore New Delhi, an area within Delhi built as the seat of the British Indian government in the early twentieth century. Much of the design was by architect Edwins Lutyens, and thus it is referred to as Lutyens' Delhi, who invented his own order of classical architecture. There are grand buildings, such as Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly known as Viceroy’s House), as well as the Lutyens Bungalow Zone, a green area of residential buildings that has the most expensive real estate in India and possibly the world. You’ll also see Humayun's Tomb, built in 1570 as the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent.
Visit the immense Qutb Minar - at 72.5m (238 feet) in height, the tallest brick minaret in the world. The intricate tower was built in 1199AD to commemorate victory over the Rajput king, marking beginning of Muslim rule in India. Qutb Minar and the complex around it form the Qutb Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site the contains other structures in the complex include the Alai Gate, the Alai Minar, the Iron Pillar and the ruins of several earlier Jain temples.
You'll also see Humayun's Tomb, commissioned in 1569 by the Mugal Emperor's son Akbar as the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, starting a fashion that would culminate in the Taj Mahal.
Private transfer to Delhi airport with guide
Flight from Delhi to Jabalpur
Private transfer to Bandhavgarh National Park with guide
Accommodation in Bandhavgarh
- 12 kutiyas
- Outdoor pool
Nestled within 40 acres of forest sit the 12 kutiyas, or huts, of Mahua Kothi. Just ten minutes from the entrance of Bandhavgarh National Park, you’ll enjoy the feel of a traditional Indian village knowing that prime tiger spotting territory is on your doorstep. This camp is full of charm, each kutiya featuring traditional terracotta roofs and floors and their own private courtyards. They are modelled on traditional Indian homes and feature original homestead furniture and Indian handicrafts, while a colour scheme of burnt orange gives a natural warmth. There are plenty of touches that give this camp character, including a vegetable garden and an old bullock cart that doubles up as a table. Appreciate your surroundings from the outdoor pool, explore the forest by bike or choose to dine out under the stars.
- 12 private villas
- Lounge with viewing deck
- Outdoor pool
- Pool table
Samode Safari Lodge is bursting with old-world charm, nestled among the peace and quiet of the surrounding forest. When it is lit up at night with the twinkling of candles and hurricane lamps, there are few places more atmospheric in which to enjoy India’s rural beauty. The lounge is at the heart of the lodge, a beautiful space with wooden ceiling beams, exposed brick walls and two large wood burning fireplaces. The writing desks and photographs of the wildlife and scenery of Bandhavgarh make it easy to imagine explorers of days gone by returning after safari to write about their sightings of the majestic tigers that inhabit the park. The lounge leads out onto a wooden deck which looks out across the lodge and its 12 private villas. Each villa features a spacious lounge and a bedroom with a four poster bed, and is decorated with Indian artifacts, artwork and fabric. En-suite bathrooms come with a rolltop bath and a separate shower and there is also an outdoor bathing area with a sunken bath tub and shower, perfect for balmy summer evenings. A private verandah with daybeds and a table and chairs allows you to take in your beautiful surroundings and appreciate the peace and quiet. Cool off in the outdoor pool and Jacuzzi and relax on one of the cabanas, then head to the gym or unwind with a treatment in the tranquil spa. For those who want to explore, there is the option to cycle or go for nature walks along the trails near the lodge, or visit a local village for an insight into the culture and day-to-day lives. Dining at Samode is a real treat. Every day the menu and the location changes – one day you could be dining on the decking, surrounded by hurricane lamps, the next enjoying a barbecue around the campfire. There is also the option to dine in the privacy of your own villa.
Bandhavgarh National Park is one of India’s most popular national parks and hosts what is thought to be the highest densities of Bengal tiger in the country. Cave paintings and the ancient ruined fort from which the park takes its name are thought to be 2000 years old and the forests were long maintained as a preserve for the Maharajas and their guests. Habitats here range from rugged hills to wide open valleys splitting grasslands flanked by Sal forests and bamboo thickets. There is a rich biodiversity to be found, and along with tiger the park is home to leopard, sloth bear, dhole (Asian wild dog), the four-horned chousingha, immense gaur Indian bison, spotted deer, nilgai and even the occasional Indian wolf. There are also well over 150 bird species to spot, including pairs of graceful sarus cranes.
Private transfer to Khajuraho with guide
Private transfer to your hotel in Khajuraho with guide
Accommodation in Khajuraho
- Restaurant and bar
A short walk from the UNESCO world heritage site of Khajuraho and a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this boutique hotel offers world-class comfort and a taste of Indian culture. The 47 exquisitely designed rooms and suites combine old-world elegance and modern-day amenities. Enjoy views over the tranquil gardens or across the Western group of Temples, which are just 200 metres from the hotel. With an outdoor pool, limousine service, award-winning spa and fitness centre offering customised yoga classes, you are far from short on first-rate facilities. The hotel also has its own 24-hour multi-cuisine restaurant where guests can watch the chef prepare their food through the open kitchen, or enjoy a drink at the bar. The hotel is just minutes from the international airport and as well as the temples and there is the Raneh Waterfall, Pandav Waterfall and Panna National Park nearby.
The small town of Khajuraho is home to a remarkable collection of temples, famous for their erotic carvings. Built by the Chandella dynasty between 950 and 1050, the temples were abandoned after the demise of the regime at the hands of the Delhi Sultanate. They became swallowed by the surrounding jungle and lay hidden until they were rediscovered by the British in 1883. Although predominantly representing the Hindu faith, there are a number of temples dedicated to Jainism, and discovering the intricate details of each and every one is part of the fun of a visit here.
Today you will visit the most significant temples in this magnificent complex. The jewel of the western group is the Kandariya Mahadev temple which is known for its exquisite sculptural embellishments.
You will also visit the eastern group. The most remarkable among this temple group is the Parsvanatha temple build in AD 975 and known for its three exquisite sculptures of aspsaras - celestial nymphs in Hindu mythology. It is also known for its intricately carved ceiling pendants.
Private transfer to Khajuraho airport with guide
Flight from Khajuraho to Varanasi
Private transfer to your hotel in Varanasi with guide
Accommodation in Varanasi
- Ten rooms and suites
- Lap pool
- Four-hole mini golf course
Set among beautiful gardens, mango orchards and marigold and jasmine fields is Nadesar Palace, a 19th-century colonial palace and once a guest house for the officials of the East India Company. With just ten rooms, the hotel is grand yet intimate and is a real oasis of calm. The hotel is dedicated to and named after the Goddess Nadesari, and there is a shrine to the deity in front of the building. Inside, the walls are adorned with works of art from the Maharaja’s personal collection while the rooms are filled with antique furniture and decorated in the same hues as the flowers that are offered to the holy Ganges. A lap pool is set within perfectly manicured gardens and for those looking for ultimate relaxation, the spa offers a range of treatments inspired by India’s ancient healing techniques. Once you’ve built your energy reserves back up, take to the mini four-hole golf course. One of the joys of travelling to India is sampling the food. The restaurant, which harks back to the bygone era of the Raj, serves traditional Indian cuisine alongside more international dishes. Private dining experiences are available to make your stay extra special, including a poolside Indian barbecue that is cooked in front of you while you enjoy the mesmerising music of sitar and tabla players.
- 32 rooms
- Tea and coffee lounge
- Roof terrace
Set on the banks of the holy River Ganges on one of Varanasi’s 87 ghats is Brijrama Palace, an opulent hotel that is perfect for those that want to be close to the heart and soul of this deeply spiritual city. Built in the 18th century by the Royal House of Nagpur, the palace has been lovingly restored. Murals, hand-painted ceilings and beautiful carvings revealed during the restoration have brought it back to life, ensuring the building is in keeping with this most atmospheric of cities. The hotel is approached by boat, immediately giving you the sense you are entering somewhere special. The central courtyard is filled with plants and sculptures and surrounded by a series of ornate pillars and arches cut from sandstone. Barnasi silk and gold leaf is used throughout the hotel and rooms are furnished with wooden four poster beds and beautiful Indian fabrics. You’re ideally situated to explore the city, a stone’s throw from Dasashwamedh Ghat where the evening Ganga Aarti ceremony takes place. As people flock with their offerings, the river becomes a blanket of twinkling lights with oil lamps and flowers carried along the water. The restaurant serves delicious vegetarian cuisine while tea, freshly ground coffee and traditional thandai can be enjoyed outdoors. In the evening there is live classical music in the lounge. There are few places on earth quite like Varanasi, so make sure you set aside some time to head to the rooftop and soak up its incredible and unique atmosphere.
An ancient settlement on the banks of the Ganges, Varanasi is India’s spiritual capital and important among numerous faiths. Varanasi’s 84 ghats - stone embankments that step down into the river- are its most iconic sight. Most are crowded with pilgrims performing ritual ablutions in the river waters while a few are used solely for cremation. Sublime and sometimes shocking to visitors, the whole experience is utterly unforgettable.
The rest of city is home to some 23,000 temples, the sandstone Ramnagar Fort and numerous centres of education, philosophy, music and art. Small-scale industries and household production employ most of Varanasi’s residents and its winding alleyways are one of the best places to find fine silks, carpets and crafts.
This morning you will be taken for a boat ride on the River Ganges. After the boat ride you will meet a local expert on the ghats who will lead you on a private walking tour in the old city. On this walk you will see the back alleys, old havelis, temples, labyrinth of streets, street vendors and pilgrims that line the banks of the Ganges.
Head out of Varanasi to visit the sacred site of Sarnath. It is here that Buddha is believed to have set in motion what Buddhists call the Wheel of Dharma by delivering his first sermon to the five companions with whom he had sought enlightenment. Together with him, they formed the first sangha, or company of Buddhist monks. You'll explore the ancient stupas and make a visit to the small but excellent museum at the site.
Private transfer to Varanasi airport with guide
Flight from Varanasi - Agra
Agra and the Taj Mahal
Private transfer to your hotel in Agra
Accommodation in Agra and the Taj Mahal
- 102 rooms and suites
- Two restaurants
- Fitness centre
- Outdoor swimming pool
Just 600m from the magnificent Taj Mahal, The Oberoi Amarvilas allows guests to appreciate the beauty of this iconic monument at every moment. Enjoy watching the colours of the marble change throughout the day, from its rosy glow in the morning light to the golden tint as the sun begins to set. The hotel is approached via a driveway, lined with trees and lit with flaming torches at night. As you enter, step inside a Mughal-style quadrant with an arched passageway decorated with gold leaf frescoes, and cascading fountains. Hallways leading to the rooms and suites are lined with wooden blinds with hand-printed golf motifs, the walls adorned with Mughal coins and antique Indian fabrics. The rooms themselves are full of old-world charm with hand woven rugs and intricately decorated wooden furniture. Each one offers uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal with some of the suites featuring bathtubs that look out over the monument. The Esphahan restaurant specialises in Indian food with traditional curries and fluffy breads served on burnished metal plates. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee under the gold domed ceiling of the lounge or enjoy a drink and a game of backgammon in the bar. The spa is centred around a domed marble steam room and offers a range of treatments inspired by ancient Indian rituals. There is also a fully-equipped gym that looks out over the hotel’s pristine gardens and an outdoor pool, which is partly covered so you can take refuge in the shade.
- 233 rooms and suites
- Three restaurants and two bars
- Huge Kaya Kalp spa
- Tennis courts
Just 3km (1.9 miles) from the centre of Agra and closer still to the iconic Taj Mahal, the ITC Mughal is an award-winning modern take on Mughal architecture set across 35 acres of lush gardens. 233 modern rooms and expansive suites overlook the landscaped lawns and sparkling lake waters. Guests at the ITC Mughal are spoilt for choice when it comes to cuisine with fine dining at Taj Bano, authentic northwest Indian food at Peshawri and the more informal setting of the Mughal Pavilion. A real highlight of the ITC Mughal is its Kaya Kalp spa, a vast complex dedicated to revitalising the mind, body and soul with luxuriously appointed spa suites, royal baths and a Mughal hammam. As well as exploring the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and other remnants from the Mughal Empire, there’s plenty to keep guests busy at the hotel with tennis, badminton, a nature trail and recreational lounge.
It has graced the pages of books for centuries but nothing quite prepares you for seeing the Taj Mahal for the very fist time. The ultimate symbol of eternal love, this is one of India's most memorable and emotive sights. The Taj Mahal sits on the banks of the holy Yamuna River within 42 acres of beautiful gardens. The domed mausoleum sits 52m above the river bank, surrounded by minarets on all four sides. It is flanked by a mosque and a guest house, both made from red sandstone and mirror images of each other. There is no denying that the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is one of the main reasons people visit Agra. However, it’s well worth lingering to explore the city’s magnificent fort that lies just 3km to the west.
Visiting the Taj Mahal at sunset is a truly magical experience, as the light plays on the marble of the tomb and its reflection shimmers in the water. Heartbroken after the death of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, during the birth of their 14th child, Shah Jahan set about building the world’s most beautiful monument in her honour. It took a workforce of more than 20,000 men 22 years to build, painstakingly making sure every slab of marble, precious stone and stroke of calligraphy was perfect. It is undoubtedly one of the most impressive sights on earth and the world's greatest symbol of love.
As the light changes, so too does the colour of the Taj Mahal. One of the best times to visit is in the early hours when it is bathed in the ethereal glow of the morning light.
Private transfer to Delhi airport with guide
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Tigers, Temples and the Taj
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