Places Covered: New Delhi – Agra (2nights) – Orchha (1night) – Khajuraho (1night) – Varanasi (3 nights) – Bodh Gaya (2nights) – New Delhi (1night)
No. of days: 10nights/11days
Day 1: New Delhi – Agra: Arrive in New Delhi and straight away drive to Agra. Check into a hotel on arrival in Agra. After some relaxation, go and visit Akbar’s Tomb. Akbar was, in a true sense, the consolidator of Mughal rules in India.
Day 2: Agra: After an early breakfast start what people really come for in Agra and what has made it famous in the world; a visit to the new world wonder – the Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Made in white marble, it is an amazing experience to take a tour of Taj Mahal.
After a tour of Taj Mahal go and visit Red Fort, a fort initially built by Akbar, but where subsequent additions were made by other Mughal rulers. You can very much understand how Mughal administration was run within and from the Fort.
Go and visit a marble workshop in the city. The city does not have marble rocks but it does have craftsmen who are experts in working on marble. Have dinner at one of the restaurants. Overnight in Agra.
Day 3: Agra – Orchha: Start after an early breakfast. Drive to the railway station and take a train ride of two hours to reach Jhanshi. From Jhansi drive to Orchha; a drive of just over half an hour. Check into a hotel or resort on arrival in Orchha.
Orchha is situated in Tikamgarh District of Madhya Pradesh. Established in 1531 by the Bundela ruler Rudra Pratap Singh, Orchha is situated on the banks of River Betwa. Visit Orchha Palace. It has quite a few noticeable buildings. Jahangir Mahal, Ram Raja Temple and Chaturbhuja Temple are some of such monuments.
There are several cenotaphs (called Chhatris) in Orchha dotting the vicinity of the Fort and Betwa River. Have dinner at your hotel. Overnight in Orchha.
Day 4: Orchha – Khajuraho: Check out after breakfast and drive to Khajuraho; a drive of a little more than four hours. Check into a hotel on arrival in Khajuraho.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Khajuraho has over 20 temples which have withstood the weathering over the years. Khajuraho is well known world over for these very temples. Exterior walls of some of these temples have carvings showing sexual pleasures – something which has always generated curiosity among the travelers. Temples in Khajuraho are in three different groups – Western Group of Temples, Eastern Group of Temples and Southern Group of Temples. Western Group of Temples is the most famous temple complex. Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is the largest of the remaining temples at Western Group of Temples.
Watch the Light & Sound show in the evening. Return to the hotel after seeing these temples and the Light & Sound show. Have dinner. Overnight in Khajuraho.
Day 5: Khajuraho – Varanasi: Get up very early and visit Panna National Park. This is some 20km from Khajuraho. Go for the morning safari. However, if you are not up for a forest safari, go for a tour of the temples again in the early morning when the sun rises.
Return to the hotel, have breakfast and get ready to check out from the hotel. Drive to the airport and catch flight to Varanasi. Check into a hotel on arrival in Varanasi. Go and visit the banks of the River Ganges. Enjoy the amazing evening aarti performed on the banks of the River Ganges.
Have dinner in the evening. Overnight in Varanasi.
Day 6: Varanasi: Get up early in the morning and after breakfast go to the banks of River Ganges. Take a boat and cover all the ghats slowly, looking at the different temples and old buildings all along. Keep special focus on some of the most famous ghats – Dasaswamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Harischandra Ghat, Assi Ghat,Shivala Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat, Darbhanga Ghat, Ahilyabai Ghat and Kedar Ghat. Visit the famous Kashi Viswanath Temple (open to Hindus only) and have a look at Manikarnika crematorium. Close to Manikarnika Ghat is the Nepali Temple, a temple known for its unique Nepalese architectural style.
Return to the banks and explore the network of narrow lanes of Varanasi. Try out the traditional thandai. You can also try some traditional food items in the small old restaurants located in these lanes. Later, move on to see the traditional art of making Banarsi sarees – something which is a gift for all new brides. You can buy one if you want to.
Go on to visit Goddess Durga Temple, where locals visit in big numbers and you can see lots of monkeys roaming around getting fed by the locals. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple and Tulasi Manas temples are also quite famous temples, located nearby.
Return and visit the ghats again and watch the serene aarti ceremony. Have dinner at one of the restaurants. Overnight in Varanasi.
Day 7: Varanasi: After breakfast, drive to Sarnath, around 10km from Varanasi City. Sarnath is the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon in a Deer Park. This is why Sarnath is a much revered in Buddhism.
There are several Buddhist monuments and edifices at Sarnath. Besides the Deer Park, the monuments include Dhameka Stupa, Ashokan Pillar, Ashokan Lion Capital (the national emblem of India) and Mulagandhakuti Vihara. Archaeological Museum, though a small museum, is worth visiting. Also spend some time at the Tibetan Temple, located alongside the Deer Park.
Later return from Sarnath and visit Banaras Hindu University. This is a famous university of India with a history of its own. Also visit the Indian art museum Bharat Kala Bhawan and New Kashi Vishwnath Temple.
Return towards the evening and visit the ghats yet again to see the evening aarti ceremony. Have dinner at one of the restaurants. Overnight in Varanasi.
Day 8: Varanasi – Bodh Gaya: Check out after breakfast in the morning. Drive for around six hours to Bodh Gaya, a historic place where it is believed Buddha attained the supreme enlightenment meditating under the Bodhi tree. Check into a hotel on arrival in Bodh Gaya.
Have lunch at your hotel. Afterwards, go on to visit Mahabodhi Temple, the historic temple built to pay respects to the place where Buddha attained enlightenment. Its origin is said to be more than 1500 years old. Have a look at the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha meditated. The tree existing now is said to be at the same place where original tree existed before. Muchalinda Lake is just close by the main temple. Go there and feed thousands of catfish in the lake.
Walk down to visit Great Buddha Statue, an 82 meter high Buddha statue in dhyanmudra. There are temples built by the Buddhist followers of countries like Thailand, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Japan, Nepal and others. These temples are built in typical architectural styles of their own countries. Thai Monastery, Royal Bhutan Monastery and Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple are some of the best ones to go and explore.
Return to the hotel and have dinner. Overnight in Bodh Gaya.
Day 9: Bodh Gaya – Nalanda – Rajgir – Bodh Gaya: Have an early morning breakfast and embark on a tour of Nalanda and Rajgir. Nalanda is a drive of a little more than two hours. Nalanda is famous for its university ruins. The ruins show how impressive old Nalanda University might have been and how it attracted students from far off places. Take a guided tour of these ruins and understand the life of students during those times. Understand the intricacies how management of such a huge university was done.
Later, go and visit Nalanda Archaeological Museum. It has a good collection of ancient manuscripts and Buddhist statues.
From Nalanda drive to Rajgir – a drive of just half an hour. Rajgir, called Rajgriha in ancient times, was the capital of Magadh kingdom under Bimbisara and Ajatshatru. Surrounded by seven hills, Rajgir is a must visit for anyone interested in learning about the glorious history.
Ruins of Ajatshatru can be seen and so can be the prison where he imprisoned his father Bimbisara. Other places to see in Rajgir are Saptaparni Cave and Jarasandh Akhara. Saptarni cave is supposed to be the place where the First Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa. And, Jarasandh Akhara is said to be the place where mythological legend Bhima had a duel with the Magadh ruler Jarasandh.
Ride on the unique single ropeway to reach Viswashanti Stupa, built on the top of a hillock. Return to the hotel in Bodhgaya. Have dinner. Overnight in Bodh Gaya.
Day 10: Bodh Gaya – Patna – New Delhi: Check out from the hotel in Bodh Gaya after an early breakfast and drive to Patna – a drive of around four hours. Drive to the airport and catch a flight to New Delhi. Transfer to a hotel on arrival in Delhi. Have dinner at the hotel. Overnight in New Delhi.
Day 11: New Delhi – Onward Destination: Check out from the hotel after a sumptuous breakfast. Embark on a full day sightseeing of New Delhi. Start with Qutab Minar and other ancient and medieval period monuments surrounding it. Together they have also been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Qutab Minar is some 73m high and a symbol of the Delhi Sultanate period. Other famous monuments in the Qutab Minar complex include the Iron Pillar of Delhi, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Alai Darwaza, the Tomb of Iltutmish, Alai Minar, and Ala-ud-din’s Madrasa and tomb.
Afterwards, go and visit India Gate, a war memorial dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives during First World War and Third Anglo-Afghan War. Take a visit to Rajpath, a memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. Afterwards, visit Jama Masjid, a mosque built by Shah Jahan in the mid 17th century. Take a paddle rickshaw ride in the old city. See the narrow lanes where business is still carried out in big volumes. Get a fair idea of how things were during the Mughal and later during British period. There are Sikh temples and Jainese temples as well in Old city. Explore them.
Go for a sightseeing of Red Fort after a delicious lunch at one of the restaurants in Old City. Red Fort was the place from where Shah Jahan ruled. This was the place where Nadir Shah invaded and killed so many people. Have a look at the different monuments within the Fort.
Towards the evening, enjoy the light and sound show.
Have a nice dinner at one of the restaurants. Drive to the airport and catch flight back to your home or to your desired destination.