trip
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2
Adventure touring
Activities
  • Adventure touring
  • Cultural exploration
  • Holi - Festival of colors
Accommodation
  • 8 nights in heritage hotel
  • 4 nights in confortable hotel
Meals
  • 12 Dinners
  • 12 Breakfasts

13 Days$2990USD

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COVID-19 safety measures
Read our Covid-19 travel policy and what we're doing to keep you safe

Remote adventures
means social distancing comes naturally

Small groups only
Guided group sizes are strictly limited to maximum 16 people, average of 8-10


 
 
Trip Code: AOA4

Trip highlights


  • Holi, the Hindu “Festival of Colors”
  • Taj Mahal and Agra Fort
  • Royal cities and traditional villages of Rajasthan
  • Udaipur's lake palaces
  • Sunrise over the River Ganges
  • Escorted by PhD specializing in Ancient Indian History

The adventure begins in the hustle and bustle of India’s capital, Delhi. You’ll be welcomed by your trip leader, an expert in ancient Indian history, who will help make sense of the labyrinth of streets and process the vivid sensory overload. After exploring the capital's many striking sights, it’s on to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. Next up is Jaipur, also known as the "Pink City," where we’ll wind our way in and out of bazaars, palaces, and havelis. While there, we'll join in the wildly colorful Holi festivities, the annual Hindu celebration of the arrival of spring. We'll continue on to Jodhpur, the "Blue City," overlooked by the soaring Mehrangarh Fort. Afterward, a jeep safari will bring us to the traditional village of Bishnoi, before we head to Udaipur, famous for its lake palaces. At the end of our time in Rajasthan, we'll fly to the holy city of Varanasi, where the rituals of life and death are carried out on the banks of the River Ganges.


Arrive in Delhi, where you’ll be met by our guide at the airport, check into our hotel, settle in, and relax. If you have the time and energy, you can start to explore this bustling and often chaotic capital. Comprised of the conspicuously contrasting Old and New Delhi, the city is home to a wide array of architecture and attractions (not to mention the Sulabh Museum of Toilets). If you plan to arrive a few days early to explore more of Delhi on your own, we're more than happy to arrange extra hotel nights and guides. You can wander the local markets and metro, check out Jantar Mantar and the Indira Gandhi Museum, and relax in the magical Lodi Gardens. In the evening, we’ll meet for a welcome briefing and have our first dinner together as a group.

Meals:  D

This morning, we'll take a leisurely breakfast and then set out on a sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi. We'll visit Delhi's most iconic sights: the Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Raj Ghat, Birla Temple, and India Gate. Lunch will be your choice, with recommendations from your guide. From there, we'll continue to Humayun’s Tomb, believed to have been designed in 1565 by the widow of Humayun, the second emperor of the Mughal Empire. Its design and layout are based on the description of Islamic paradise gardens, and inspired the Taj Mahal and other Mughal tombs. After that, take some time to look closely at Qutub Minar, whose walls are inscribed with intricately carved quotations from the Koran. It is one of the most pristine towers of the medieval world. We'll have dinner together and get some rest in advance of our drive to Agra.

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast at the hotel, we'll drive south to Agra (approximately 3.5 hours). Once we arrive in this legendary city, we'll check into our hotel and take a break for lunch. In the afternoon, we'll visit the magnificent and expansive Agra Fort. Its grand courtyards, royal pavilions, and palaces are fitting testimony to the 16th- and 17th-century reigns of Akbar the Great, his son Jahangir, and, later, Shah Jahan. At the time, Agra was capital of the Mughal Empire, and Mughal architecture experienced its golden age. We'll also explore Itimad-ud-Daulah, which goes by the nickname "Baby Taj." This small but incredibly intricate tomb was built before the Taj Mahal by Nur Jahan, queen of Jahangir, for her parents. At the end of a day that will leave you in awe, we'll dig into some local specialties. Agra is a great place to try kebabs, petha (pieces of white pumpkin dipped in sugar syrup), and gajak (a crumbly sweet made with sesame and jaggery). We'll turn in early to get plenty of sleep before tomorrow's spectacular morning.

Meals:  B,D

This morning, wake early to reach the Taj Mahal for sunrise. This is a sight you won't want to miss. The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan in the mid-17th century as a mausoleum for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. On the death of his beloved Mumtaz, in sorrowful extravagance, Shah Jahan built her this white marble memorial—the accumulated labor of 20,000 men over 17 years. No matter how many photos or videos you've already seen, gazing up at the soaring and strong yet simultaneously delicate structure for yourself will take your breath away. Afterward, we’ll return to the hotel for breakfast and begin the drive to Jaipur (approximately 6 hours). En route, we'll visit Fatehpur Sikri, a ghost city of red sandstone. Originally built by Akbar the Great in 1569, it was deserted 14 years later due to its failed water supply. Among its wonders is the Hall of Public Audience. Akbar, the emperor, treated this black-and-white-paved courtyard as a chessboard, with slave girls as figurines. We'll arrive in Jaipur in time for dinner.

Meals:  B,D

We’ll start the day with a relaxed breakfast at our hotel and enjoy a morning lecture and Q&A on Rajasthan history and culture. We’ll then set out for a morning adventure to the Amber Fort, a jaw-dropping, 1,100-year-old honey-colored fortress-palace in the Aravalli Hills just north of the center of the town of Amer. The fort’s somber sandstone exterior belies the richness of the royal apartments, which open onto striking views of a gorge. We’ll take in the renowned Jal Mandir temple with its dazzling Sheesh Mahal hall of mirrors and the Jal Mahal sitting in the center of the Man Sarobar lake. We’ll then wander Jaipur’s Old City, with its bazaars and the Hawa Mahal (the Palace of the Winds), a pink sandstone masterpiece. Taking a break for lunch, we’ll return to the hotel to change clothes in anticipation of a colorful afternoon. From here, we’ll join our guide and dive headfirst into Holi, a religious festival celebrated by Hindus that marks the arrival of spring. It's also considered a day to shake off conflict and regret, to forgive and forget. We’ll be surrounded by singing, dancing, drums, and other forms of revelry as bursts of powdered pigment are thrown into the air. Whether you actively participate in the festival or just watch from the sidelines, you’re sure to end up a Jackson Pollock painting. After washing the explosions of color off our faces and clothes, we’ll gather for dinner and another night at our Jaipur hotel.

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll set out for a morning visit of the City Palace complex, located in the heart of the old city. Once the royal residence of the King of Jaipur, the palace was built using a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal styles. It features carved arches, intricately crafted columns and two carved marble elephants that guard the entrance. From there, we’ll drive to Nagaur (approximately 5 hours). Upon arrival, we’ll settle into our hotel before an afternoon visit to Nagaur Fort. This fort, built in the 4th century, served a critical role over the course of centuries of warfare. If time permits, we’ll also visit Deepak Mahal, a stunning palace within the fort whose walls are ornamented in elaborate paintings. Returning to our hotel for dinner, we’ll have a chance to reflect on the history and magnitude of what we've seen together so far.

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll drive to Jodhpur (approximately 3 hours). Founded in 1459, Jodhpur is now the second-largest city in Rajasthan. It is often called the “Blue City” thanks to the particular hue of the buildings in the city's old district. In the afternoon, we’ll clamber into jeeps for an excursion to a local Bishnoi village. The Bishnoi, a Hindu sect, are a rural tribal group. These communities of potters, weavers, leather embroiderers, and camel herders have achieved acclaim for their religious conservationist beliefs. They are vegetarians, follow the principles of nonviolence, and reverently protect flora and fauna. In the evening, we’ll enjoy a vegetarian dinner in the village before returning to our Jodhpur hotel.

Meals:  B,D

In the morning, we'll take a spin around Jodhpur with a city tour that will bring us to the clock tower, Jaswant Thada, Chokelao Bagh, and Mehrangarh Fort. The clock tower is a prominent landmark and close to the vibrant Sadar Market. Halfway up the long road ascending toward Mehrangarh Fort, we'll encounter Jaswant Thada, the traditional cremation ground for past rulers of Jodhpur. Rising above the city is Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest and most breathtaking forts in India. Built in the mid-16th century, the vast fort complex holds multiple palaces, and now one of Rajasthan's most well curated museums. The story goes that Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur, asked a famous female Hindu warrior named Karni Mata to lay down the fort's first stone. At the foot of the fort, we'll find the Chokelao garden. Over 200 years old, it has been restored to its 18th-century appearance. In the afternoon, we'll continue on to Narlai (about 3 hours). Upon arrival, we'll settle into our hotel, have dinner, and rest at the end of a majestic, gold- and blue-hued day. Overnight Narlai

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast, it's on to Udaipur! We'll make a pitstop during the 3-hour drive to visit the Jain temples at Ranakpur. This cluster of temples, made of intricately sculpted white marble, is made up of more than a thousand pillars and dates back to 15th century. Udaipur is also known as the "City of Lakes," due to its orientation around a complex system of lakes. It's rare that you will ever be far from the water's edge. After checking into our hotel, take the evening to roam on your own, do some shopping in the local markets, and enjoy the beauty of the city. At night, the city is particularly picturesque, with light emanating from what look like floating palaces and reflecting on the surrounding waters. Over dinner, we can compare who saw more references to a particular 1983 James Bond movie that filmed certain scenes at several of Udaipur's palaces. Overnight Udaipur

Meals:  B,D

In the morning, we’ll enjoy a city tour of Udaipur, which will include the City Palace on the bank of Lake Pichola, and Saheliyon-ki-Bari, a garden built in the early 18th century for a queen and her many personal attendants. We’ll also visit Jag Mandir, a beautiful island palace on Lake Pichola. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore this stunning city on your own, or to take some time to relax before we regroup for dinner.

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll fly to Varanasi. Varanasi—also known as Benares, Banaras, or Kashi—is considered by many to be the spiritual capital of India. Located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, it has a 1,000-year history as a religious center. The city's great mosques and temples—there are more than 2,000—provide fascinating insight into Indian culture. During our two days, we’ll enjoy both guided tours and personal exploration. Depending on the timing of our arrival, we may have the opportunity in the afternoon to visit Sarnath, a nearby city home to the deer park where Lord Buddha preached his first discourse. Sarnath, the name of which derives from Saranganath, meaning “Lord of the Deer,” is one of the four holy sites in India that Buddha sanctioned for pilgrimage. We’ll take dinner together after our full day of travel and turn in for some well-earned rest before tomorrow’s special early rise.

Meals:  B,D

Rise early this morning to take in an unforgettable sunrise over the River Ganges. As we watch boats float by, we’ll be able to observe the long string of ghats where pilgrims bathe in the river, as well as the burning ghats where remains are cremated. We’ll visit the old city, which stands on the west bank of the sacred Ganges and extends from the ghats in a winding maze of narrow streets. Continuing through the city, we’ll see a range of temples, including Bharat Mata, which is dedicated to Mother India, Durga Temple with its hundreds of monkeys, and the white marble temple of Tulsi Mana. The city is also home to Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the largest residential university in all of Asia. Its student body of more than 35,000 includes all genders, castes, and religions. We’ll have a chance to visit part of the BHU campus, a prominent city fixture. After a long day, we’ll settle in for dinner and some well-earned relaxation.

Meals:  B,D

This morning we’ll enjoy our last breakfast together before saying farewell. We’ll help you transfer to either the airport or train station for your departure home or on to your next destination. Until the next adventure!

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • 12 breakfasts and 12 dinners
  • All lodging in double-accommodation rooms
  • Transfers to and from airports
  • Expert bilingual guides
  • Private transport and excursions
  • Sightseeing and site entrance fees as specified
  • Udaipur – Varanasi domestic flight
  • A full briefing packet for each explorer, including country information, final itinerary, logistical and contact information, recommended reading list, and packing list
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all the this unique destination has to offer

  • International airfares and departure taxes
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory)
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, phone calls, bottled mineral water, soft drinks, alcohol etc
  • Still/video camera fees at monuments

Departure dates


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Total Priceper person from

$2990USD

Options & Supplements*
    *Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Northern India's Colorful Cities, Villages, and Holi Festival with Atlas Obscura - Holi Festival 2019 trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.


Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Award Winning Adventures

Enhancing your journey with authentic experiences, genuine cultural exchange and real exploration are the focal points on all of our adventures. In 2019, we were crowned by our peers as the best in adventure travel at The Travel Awards in Sydney.

Thoughtful Travel

Responsible travel is at the heart of every program we offer as a fundamental and long held philosophy. When you book one of our 100% carbon offset adventures you’re supporting true sustainability in the protection of local communities, natural environments and wildlife.

Ultimate Value

 When you book one of our adventures, you will receive quality services at the best prices with plenty of inclusions. There are no hidden costs, single travellers don’t pay more and you’ll enjoy many ‘extra touches’ that ensure your holiday is excellent value for money.

Positive Impact Travel

By joining this trip you are directly supporting positive impact projects in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We’ve offset the carbon emitted by this trip by purchasing credits that support important projects that address the UN’s seventeen SDGs, like reducing poverty, affordable and clean energy, reducing hunger, clean water and climate action.

Proceeds from this adventure purchase carbon credits through the world’s largest and most awarded carbon project developer, South Pole, which are invested into projects accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources in developing countries.

Supported projects are based on internationally recognised standards and are third-party audited. They entail a series of positive impacts on the ground, which benefit local communities and ecosystems, that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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