Immerse yourself in India's vibrant culture on this 16-day wildlife adventure. The capital city of New Delhi provides a window into both ancient and modern India, as seen by the numerous historic ruins visible around the city. In Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks, hike through rivers, stunning views of grassy plains, and protected habitats for endangered animals. Together with the resident naturalist, listen to and learn how to recognize the fascinating local flora and fauna. Visit Varanasi, the ultimate Hindu pilgrimage site for centuries, witness sparkling Aarti (prayer) ceremonies on the sacred Ganges River, and explore Jaipur, Agra, and the Taj Mahal before returning to New Delhi.
Explore the ruins of the Mughal capital, Old Delhi
Ride in a 4x4 safari jeep with a naturalist and forest guide
Visit Khajuraho's magnificent ancient temples
Witness religious rituals performed on the Ganges River in Varanasi
Visit the Amber Fort, an iconic monument in Jaipur
Delhi, the capital of India, is a city that offers a glimpse of both ancient and modern-day India. It is the third-largest city in India and one of the fastest-growing in Asia. This city is rich in culture, always changing with time but never hiding its splendid past. The various ancient ruins seen in the city are silent witnesses to its magnificent history.
After breakfast, explore the grandeur and subsequent ruin of the Mughal Empire. Tour of Old Delhi would entail visiting Jama Masjid - the largest mosque in India and driving past Red Fort, once the most opulent fort and palace of the Mughal Empire. Walkthrough streets and markets of this 17th-century imperial capital city of the Mughal empire were once royalty descended. Savor the fragrances of the boisterous Spice Markets, one of Asia's largest, and be dazzled by the glitter of India's largest Jewelry markets with a mix of walking and rickshaw rides. Discover hidden gems while exploring the narrow alleys and 350-yr old markets of the city built at the acme of the Mughal Empire, India's most glorious monarchy. Later enjoy the rickshaw ride in one of the busiest markets.
Day 3: New Delhi | Fly to Raipur | Kanha National Park
Early morning departure transfer to airport to board the flight for Jabalpur. Meet the representative upon arrival at Raipur airport and drive to Kanha. (200 kms/4 hrs).
KanhaNational Park: Set on The Chhota Nagpur Plateau in Madhya Pradesh, Kanha provides breathtaking vistas of grassy plains and strands sal forests. This 366 sq mile preserve saves two endangered species of Tiger and The Barasingha. One of the largest and most scenic National Parks in India, Kanha is an Ideal habitat for both tigers and their prey lushes of sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows, and ravines of Kanha shelter a significant population of rare species such as tiger, leopard, sloth bear, Barasingha, wild dog to name a few.
Spend the morning and lunch in safari in a 4x4 jeep accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest guide.
Stay with the family whose heritage dates back 3-generations in Tiger Conservation. Kailash Sankhala was the founder-director of Project Tiger, under which the inception of the Project Tiger Reserves in India took place. Their Grandchildren run and manage Kanha Jungle Lodge and own the travel company you are traveling to within India. Have first-hand opportunity to interact with them and spend an evening watching the Award-winning documentary TIGERLAND. Made by Discovery Channel and premiered at Sundance Film Festival, the film focus on two passionate people trying to save the Tiger. One of them is Kailash Sankhala.
Day 6: Kanha National Park | Bandhavgarh National Park
Spend the morning in safari in a 4x4 jeep accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest guide before going to Bandhavgarh National Park. (260 km, 6 hr drive)
Bandhavgarh National Park: Set amongst The Vindhya Hills in Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh consists of 168 sq miles of Sal & a mixed forest of bamboo, grassland, and a complex of deciduous forests. Bandhavgarh is home to more than 25 species of mammals, 250 species of birds and, 80 types of butterflies and reptiles. Apart from the tiger, the mammals living in the Bandhavgarh include panthers, wolves, hyenas, wild dogs, gaur, chital, sambhar, barking deer, sloth bears, and many more. Bandhavgarh has always been an excellent tiger habitat and is known for the highest density of tigers in the world.
As soon as dawn breaks, leave the Jungle Safari, accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest park guides in 4x 4 Jeeps. A local tracker and a professional guide from the lodge will interpret the sights and sounds of the jungle. For an experienced and trained guide, the Jungle is like an open book, and it makes the jungle come alive by reading tell-tale signs and listening to the sounds. Most animals, especially tigers, are creatures of habit. They have a regular patrolling pattern and, they are partial to their favorite haunts.
After the morning safari, drive to Khajuraho (230 Kms/5 ½ Hrs).
Khajuraho is famous for its ancient temples that depict some of the most admirable art in the world. The Chandela Dynasty built these temples between 950 and 1050 AD, representing meditation, spiritual teachings, kinfolk, wrestling, royalty, and, most importantly, sensual art.
The temples are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India because of their spectacular exhibits of magnificent sculptures and excellent building skills. The temples are divided into three groups based on their geographical location: Eastern, Western, and Southern. The sculptures of the Khajuraho temples are stunning, detailed, and expressive and will leave you speechless.
After breakfast at the hotel, visit the magnificent Jain and Hindu temples and intricate stone sculptures. Known as the Erotic temple, this craftsmanship exhibits images of gods and goddesses, celestial maidens and dancers, animals and musicians, all frozen in stone, many in the act of courtship. Khajuraho is a UNESCO World Heritage Site to preserve this collective glorification of life, love, and joy and reflects the spirit of creativity and human relationships of the Chandela period (9th & 10th century CE). The Eastern group of temples includes the Parasvanath Temple - the only Jain Temple surviving at Khajuraho with excellent sculptures on the outer walls of the Sanctum, the Javeri Temple dedicated to Vishnu, and other temples dedicated to Brahma, the Goddess Kali, the Visha Temple of Shiva, and the Bharatji Temple with a lovely image of 11 headed Vishnu.
After the temple visit, transfer to Khajuraho Airport for the flight to Varanasi.
Varanasi or Benaras (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi's Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages and believes to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.
In the evening, visit the Ganges for a glittering Aarti (prayer) ceremony and witness the ceremony as a shining beacon of devotion and bliss to the divinity in and around us. Witness this religious ritual is performed and a truly unique experience. The magical quality of the evening begins with a slow upriver float from Assi Ghat as the sun cascades across the city skyline. Aarti ceremony begins with lighting up the multi-tiered ceremonial brass lamps and a well-synchronized and rhythmic chanting of the holy mantras. While some priests blow the conch shells to sanctify the atmosphere, other priests begin waving the incense sticks to worship Mother Ganga.
The Subah or morning Banaras! Get up early at dawn with us for this boat journey. Spiritually enlightening and fantastic photogenic, Varanasi is at its brilliant best by the ghats, the long stretch of steps leading down to the water on the western bank of the Ganges. Observe the living traditions of one of the oldest religions. Ride a boat from Assi Ghat to Manikarnika ghat will be conducted to enjoy a beautiful & colorful view of the River Ganga in mellow light and watch pilgrims perform morning -a prayer to the rising sun. Be amazed by the color palette that surrounds you, like the red and golden color of the water of the Ganges, temples, ‘ashrams, and pavilions. Venture again down the Ghats as less crowded as the evening before, returning to Assi Ghat to witness the morning Aarti (prayer). Get back on the boat and cruise down to Kedar Mandir. As Varanasi wakes up, watch the many priests coming to the banks for their rituals and many children taking their morning baths.
Historical Walk – Southern Temples & Sacred Ponds Walk A walk through the mystical landscape of poets, sacred temples, holy ponds near Assi ghat, the southernmost embankment of the Holy Ganga river, and walk in the footsteps of 16th century Banaras poet and mystic PanditGoswamiTulsidas, translator of the sacred Ramanyana text. Listen to the history and unique culture of Varanasi while visiting the Southern temple established by Tulsidas! The walk ends with a special darshan, meaning (taking sight) of a hidden sun temple behind his home. In the late evening, walk through the city of learning & burning and see Banaras which is known as (Mahashamstana), the great cremation ground of Shiva.
After breakfast, prepare for an early morning yoga session at Ghat. Yoga presents a unique combination of physical, metaphysical, and supernatural elements. According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi liberates the soul from the human body to the ultimate. It is the Ganga Ghats of Varanasi that complement the concept of divinity. Experience early morning Yoga sessions on these Ghats by the yoga masters of Varanasi. Be ready to witness the liberating embrace of Mother Nature as you breathe the fresh early morning air and practice yoga which in itself is rejuvenating for the senses.
On-time departure transfer to the airport to board the flight for Jaipur.
Jaipur: The capital city of Rajasthan, also known as "Pink City" owes its name, its foundation, and planning to the great warrior astronomer Maharaja Jai Singh II. The city sits on a dry lakebed in a wild and somewhat arid landscape, surrounded by barren hills surmounted by fortresses and crenelated walls.
Gems of Jaipur City Tour: This morning, visit the magnificent Amber Fort, the most iconic monument of Jaipur. Experience traveling by Jeep on top of the hill where the fort is situated. House of many palaces, halls, gardens, and temples. Including Sheesh Mahal, this elaborate mirror Palace work adds to the grandeur of this historic fort, a visit to Amber is indeed well worth it.
After visiting the fort, take a royal grandeur tour of the city palace. This memorable City Palace tour is the residence of the present Royal family who has opened their gates to visitors and converted a part of their palace into a museum. This palace of Jaipur is full of brilliant architecture and intricately carved walls and pillars. Visit the beautiful Chandra Mahal or Chandra Niwas, the most commanding building in the City Palace complex. It is a seven-story building and, each floor has given a specific name such as the Sukh-Niwas, Ranga-Mandir, Pitam-Niwas,
Chabi-Niwas, Shri-Niwas and Mukut-Mandir or MukutMahal.
City Bazaars, Crafts & Cuisine Walk: Jaipur offers a dazzling immersion into the riches of traditional India. Since its foundation in 1727, the royal family and nobles of Jaipur had been patronized various craftsmen and artisans in Pink City. Many of these traditions continue, making modern-day Jaipur a favorable destination to witness India's rich Art & Craft. Traditional methods are still used to produce valuable and highly prized items.
After breakfast and drive to Agra (240 km/ 5 hrs). Hot Air Balloon Safari - (Optional): A Balloon Safari not only offers the opportunity to see India and its spectacular forts, hidden palaces, breathtaking terrain, and traditional local villages from a unique perspective but also the chance to meet the friendly people that make this country such a vibrant, energetic & diverse place. The balloon Safari will take you where no tour itinerary and, every flight is a new adventure. Hot air ballooning can take either morning or late afternoon as days are already unbearably hot. The balloon is launched from various places depending upon weather and wind direction.
Agra - Badal Singh established the city of Taj in 1475 AD. Agra finds mentioned in the Mahabharat as Agraban. In the mid-16th century and earlier 17th century AD, Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity and, it was during this time when the symbol of love Taj Mahal, was built.
Sunset visit to the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh (Garden):Taj Mahal looks stunning from its grand entry. But Emperor Shahjahan booked the best view of the Taj Mahal from a grassy, crescent-shaped flood plain across the river Yamuna known as Mehtab Bagh. It is believed that this garden was built originally by Babur and, later, Shahjahan transformed it into a moonlit pleasure garden profuse with white plaster pathways, breezy pavilions, pools, and fountains. However, plaster pathways, pools, and fountains are not visible.
Rise early for morning coffee and prepare for a truly spectacular sight, the legendary Taj Mahal at daybreak. It is often said that the Taj Mahal changes its colors by every minute depending upon the angle of sun rays and, it is best seen either by sunset or sunrise. However, sunrise is the best time for taking pictures of this monument under mild sunlight.
Taj Mahal - This architectural wonder is always the soul raison-de-etre for every tourist visiting Agra. Built by Shah Jahan, the Taj is white marble and a memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. This monument took 22 years to be completed and was designed and planned by Persian architect Ustad Isa. Apart from its stunning design balance and perfect symmetry, the Taj is noted particularly for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens, and some of the best inlay work ever seen.
Day 16: New Delhi | Return Home
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board the flight going home/onward journey.
We are so glad that we chose Adventure Life. The service is top-notch. Everything is well taken care of and we just have to print the documents and go. Franny even gave us timely updates on possible airport strike.