- Travel for five nights aboard the Palace on Wheels, a train that evokes the splendor of the maharajas and travels to places not easily accessible by road.
- In the company of a National Geographic expert, explore fascinating UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Humayun’s Tomb and the Hill Forts of Rajasthan.
- Experience the exquisite Taj Mahal at both sunrise and sunset, and photograph this iconic wonder under changing light.
- Get a glimpse into daily life on a walk through Bharatpur village, and enjoy a private performance by a sitar musician in Agra.
Step aboard the Palace on Wheels and set off on an unforgettable rail journey to the fabled cities of Rajasthan. Venture into majestic forts and palaces, visit the immense Amber Fort high above Jaipur, and watch the sunset light up the Taj Mahal. Experience one of India’s celebrated festivals or fairs on each departure and immerse yourself in the colors and rhythms of India’s captivating culture.
Each departure follows a similar itinerary to the one shown below but will include a different festival or celebration.
Arrive in Delhi at any time and check in to our hotel.
Set out on a tour of New Delhi, the capital established by the British in 1911, and see the India Gate and Parliament buildings. Then delve into Old Delhi, a patchwork of eight different cities built by a succession of rulers and a center of Muslim India between the 13th and 19th centuries. Explore Humayun's Tomb, a milestone in the history of Mughal architecture, and Gandhi Smriti, a museum honoring Mahatma Gandhi. This evening, gather for a special welcome reception and dinner.
Travel from Delhi to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, and spend the next day exploring on foot. Known as the "Pink City" for its rose-colored buildings, Jaipur is protected by high fortifications and multiple gates. Stroll through a local bazaar before visiting Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of the Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building where the delicate latticework and honeycombed windows were originally designed to allow ladies of the court to watch life on the streets below. Ascend to the hilltop Amber Fort, a 16th- and 17th-century complex. Explore its exquisite and well-preserved palaces, temples, gardens, and pavilions. After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of the City Palace, a vast complex with a museum housing rare manuscripts, paintings, and an armory. Visit the 18th-century royal observatory known as Jantar Mantar and examine a variety of precise astronomical tools. This evening, board the Palace on Wheels and settle into your cabin.
Set out on a morning game drive in Ranthambhore National Park in search of the elusive tiger as well as hyenas, jackals, and foxes. After lunch back on the train, arrive in the city of Chittaurgarh. Trace a turbulent history of siege, valor, and sacrifice at Chittaurgarh Fort, one of the largest forts in India. Later this afternoon, meet villagers on a walk within the hilltop fortified walls and stop for tea at sunset.
Known as the City of Lakes, Udaipur is most celebrated for its fairy-tale marble palaces, which appear to emerge from the waters of Lake Pichola. Venture into a spectacular labyrinth of courtyards within the City Palace, a soaring creation of marble and granite perched on the lake's edge. This palace complex, the largest in Rajasthan, blends medieval, European, and Chinese architecture and is richly decorated with inlaid mirror-work, mosaics, and frescoes. Cruise by the Lake Palace Hotel on an afternoon boat ride on Lake Pichola.
Today the train carries us into the heart of the Thar Desert to magical Jaisalmer, founded by Rawal Jaisal in A.D. 1156. Rising above the city, the imposing turrets and bastions of the golden sandstone fort conceal a lively town within. Explore this magnificent fort and discover the havelis, once the mansions of wealthy merchants, decorated with elaborate facades. In the late afternoon, ride a camel across the sand dunes of the Thar Desert and stop for a traditional tea. Enjoy dinner off the train this evening while watching a performance by traditional folk dancers.
Jodhpur's blue-hued old city lies at the foot of the massive Mehrangarh Fort, perched on a rocky outcrop some 120 meters high. Visit the 15th-century fort with stunning views of the city, elaborately mirrored rooms, and a museum with a spectacular collection of miniature paintings, ivory artifacts, and weapons. Delve into the narrow streets of the old city with its blue hued buildings, clock tower, and people shopping at the Sardar Bazaar. Enjoy lunch before returning to the Palace on Wheels for the final leg of our rail journey.
Disembark the train in Bharatpur and head into the wetlands of Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a renowned bird sanctuary. Search for egrets, flamingos, and many other bird species and wildlife. Then stop at a hotel near the park for a cooking demonstration and lunch. Take a guided walk around Bharatpur village before heading Agra. This evening, visit the iconic Taj Mahal at sunset.
Rise early this morning to see the Taj Mahal's marble sparkle in the dawn light. Constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is often described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. After lunch, explore Agra Fort's courtyards, mosques, and private chambers, which bring to life the story of the Mughal Empire. Pay a visit to a marble inlay workshop to see how the intricate stonework of the Taj Mahal was created. This evening, gather for a festive farewell dinner.
After breakfast, pay a visit to a local orphanage if you wish. Then drive to Delhi and relax in day rooms at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Later, transfer to the airport for your flight home.
- Khajuraho Extension5 days from $3,450
Post-Trip, 5 Days
After traveling aboard the Palace on Wheels, explore the sacred sites of Khajuraho and Varanasi. Discover the magnificent carved temples of the Chandela Rajputs, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the holy city of Vanarasi, situated on the banks of the Ganges river, witness intimate Hindu rituals that are part of everyday life. Cruise along the Ganges at sunrise and visit the ancient Buddhist monuments of Sarnath.
After breakfast on the final day of the main expedition, take the express train from Agra to Jhansi. Continue on to Khajuraho by private van, stopping for lunch along the way. Arrive in Khajuraho and spend the evening at your leisure before enjoying dinner at our hotel.
This morning, set out to discover the magnificent temples of the Chandela Rajputs, who ruled the area from the 10th to 12th centuries. Marvel at elaborate and intricate carvings as we explore the western group of the Khajuraho temples.
Spend the morning exploring the eastern group of the Khajuraho temples before taking an early afternoon flight to Varanasi. Situated on the banks of the Ganges River, Varanasi is a pilgrimage site for Hindus and a center for learning. Transfer to the hotel and enjoy free time to relax before this evening’s dinner.
Begin the day with a sunrise boat cruise on the sacred Ganges River to observe morning rituals and prayers. Visit Sarnath, where Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment and delivered his first sermon in Deer Park. Discover the old city by rickshaw and see the evening Aarti before one last dinner together.
This morning, visit one of India’s leading academic institutions, Banaras Hindu University, established in 1916 to promote the study of Sanskrit literature and preserve Hindu culture. Visit Bharat Kala Bhawan, a museum on the university campus with a fine collection of miniature paintings and sculptures from the 1st to 15th centuries. Transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight to Delhi. Relax in day rooms at the hotel before boarding your return flight home.