Secret India Itinerary

16 Days 15 Nights

Itinerary Overview

Secret India Tour is a true immersion into the culture, heritage, history, and culinary delights of the areas visited. See untouched wildernesses, beautiful country sides, cities and villages, and some of India’s most revered sites and monuments.

Day 1 Delhi

Namaste and welcome to India!

Arrive Delhi, and after immigration, baggage, and customs, exit the arrival halls. A Geringer Global Travel representative will greet you with a placard bearing your name. Transfer to the hotel.

Hotel: Claridges Hotel
Day 2 Delhi

After breakfast, explore Old and New Delhi. While Old Delhi speaks volumes about India’s history, culture and traditions, New Delhi exhibits the picture of modern India.

Join a local expert for the Old Delhi tour on a specially customized cycle rickshaw. This tour is an extensive tour that covers 20 main sites that include palaces, mansions, elegant shrines, and colorful bazaars.

After the tour, drive past India Gate, the 42 m high War Memorial Arch, the Parliament House, the Secretariat Buildings, and the Vice Regal Palace, now the official residence of the President of India.

Lunch is at Olive Bar and Kitchen Restaurant.

After lunch, visit two of the important UNESCO World Heritage Sites of New Delhi. The first stop is Qutub Minar, the second tallest minaret in India. It is made of red stone and marble and is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur’an. Afterwards, visit the 16th century Humayun’s Tomb, the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent, an outstanding monument in the Indo-Persian style and a precursor of the Taj Mahal.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Claridges Hotel
Day 3 Samode

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to Samode (approx. 5 hours).

On arrival, check into Samode Palace Hotel. Visit the interior of the palace, the former home of a wealthy landowner, and the village of Samode.

Lunch is at the hotel.

After lunch, take a camel cart ride through the scenic countryside of Samode. Nestled within the beautiful Aravali Hills, this village is great for walking around, where you can see the beautiful havelis and forts. Explore the art, culture, and local handicrafts of Samode.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Samode Palace Hotel
Day 4 Samode

After breakfast, enjoy a full day exploration of Jaipur known as the Pink City. Surrounded by the Aravali Hills, Jaipur is the capital and largest city in India’s northern state of Rajasthan. This city is famed for being India’s first planned city featuring a multitude of pink terracotta buildings within the walled historic center.

Explore Amer Fort, that was the royal family’s former residence and one of the most charming forts of India.

Lunch is at Samode Haveli, a former residence of the rulers of Samode.

After lunch, explore the main highlights of the city. Jaipur’s distinctive appeal lies in its historical buildings, bustling bazaars, and its multi-colored turbaned locals. Visit the City Palace, a complex of gardens, courtyards, and decorative art. Walk to the adjacent Jantar Mantar Observatory. The observatory was designed by the Maharaja of Jaipur in the 18th century and is one of the five such astronomical wonders built by Sawai Jai Singh. It makes accurate predictions even to this day. Finally, have a photo stop at Hawa Mahal, the Palace of the Winds, which was used by women to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen.

Late afternoon, enjoy Hi Tea and an interesting session with Thakur Durga Singh Ji, the current custodian of Dera Mandawa. He is a keen observer of history, culture, religion, current affairs, and much more.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Samode Palace Hotel
Day 5 Agra

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and drive to Agra (approx. 5 hours). En route, visit Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city, built by Emperor Akbar as his capital. Ponder the mysterious desertion of this capital city that was dramatically abandoned a few years after it was built. It was a veritable fairy tale city and its ‘ruins’ are still in pristine condition.

On arrival in Agra, check into the hotel and enjoy lunch.

After lunch, visit the massive Agra Fort, the formal imperial residence of the Mughal Dynasty.

Dinner is at Peshawri Restaurant. Enjoy a lavish spread of delicious kebabs, tasty Indian breads, and the inimitable Dal Bukhara.

Hotel: Trident Agra Hotel
Day 6 Chambal Valley

Visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise. The Taj Mahal was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, in the 15th century as a memorial to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is an architectural masterpiece of exquisite craftsmanship and perfect proportions.

Return to the hotel for breakfast. Check out of the hotel and transfer to Chambal (approx. 1.5 hours). En route visit the Bateshwar Temples, a group of sandstone temples, built between the 8th and 10th century.

Check into the lodge in Chambal and enjoy lunch.

After lunch, take a jeep ride in the countryside between the Chambal and Yamuna Ravines to see sightings of the Blackbuck deer and numerous birds, including the Indian courser.

Enjoy a special interaction with the lodge’s hosts, Ram and Anu, who gave up their successful careers and returned to their ancestral farms in 1999. They have worked tirelessly since then to create an eco-friendly place to stay, raise awareness of the birds and wildlife of the Chambal Valley in order to protect them, and involve the local communities in sustainable eco-development schemes.

Dinner is at the lodge.

Hotel: Chambal Safari Lodge
Day 7 Chambal Valley

After breakfast, enjoy a boat safari with the resident naturalist. The gentle pace of the river safari is designed to provide spectacular sightings of gharials, muggers, and turtles basking in the sun, the many migratory and resident birds, and the Gangetic river dolphins.

Return to the lodge for lunch.

After lunch, take the Holipura Heritage Walk. The interactive walk through Holipura is conducted by a member of the village, culminating with refreshments at his home.

Dinner is at the lodge.

Hotel: Chambal Safari Lodge
Day 8 Lucknow

After breakfast, drive to the city of the Nawabs, Lucknow (approx. 4.5 hours).

On arrival in Lucknow, check into the hotel and enjoy lunch.

After lunch, visit the ‘Chowk’, the oldest marketplace of Lucknow to shop for unique crafts of this Nawabi city. Walk in the lanes of the Chowk, a place that is known to house the best of handicrafts and Chikan work.

Enjoy a culinary walk down the lane adjacent to Akbari Gate. Dinner will be a sampling of Awadhi dishes at famous eateries along the way.

Hotel: Taj Mahal Lucknow Hotel
Day 9 Lucknow

After breakfast, tour famous buildings like Asifi Imambara, Husainabad Imambara, Rumi Darwaza, and Asfi Mosque.

Lunch is at the Royal Café, that once served the American and the British soldiers during the second world war.

After lunch, visit Lucknow Residency, where speechless walls are known to speak the gruesome tale of the 1857 mutiny. The sprawling British campus witnessed nothing less than 3000 deaths to keep the Union Jack flying. Yet the British could not defend their domain and the buildings were lost to the high-spirited and enthusiastic Indians who fought until their last breath.

The evening is reserved for an Awadhi dinner workshop with the royal family’s chef. The chef will explain various dishes of Awadhi cooking. The session will be followed by dinner with the royal family at their residence.

Hotel: Taj Mahal Lucknow Hotel
Day 10 Varanasi

Check out of the hotel and transfer to Lucknow Railway Station for the train to Varanasi.

Breakfast will be a packed meal to enjoy on the train. (Intercity Express: 7:00am / 1:30pm)

On arrival in Varanasi, transfer to the hotel.

Check into the hotel and enjoy lunch.

After lunch, take an excursion to Sarnath, a major Buddhist center in the world. After achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya, Buddha delivered his first sermon here. Visit Sarnath Museum which has an excellent collection of artifacts related to the Mauryan, Guptan, and the Kushana era.

For dinner, enjoy a Satvik thali at Varuna Restaurant.

After dinner, take the Death and Rebirth Night Walk. This walk explores the mystical experience of life and beyond in Varanasi at Mahashramstana, the great cremation ground of Shiva.

Hotel: Taj Ganges Hotel
Day 11 Varanasi

Early this morning, take a boat ride on the Ganges River to view the sunrise and to observe the Hindu way of life along the banks of the Ganges River. Observe people bathing in the river performing rituals.

Return to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, explore the city. Visit the Bharat Mata Temple, with its big marble relief map of India, the Durga Temple, and the modern marble Tulsi Manas Temple, whose walls are engraved with scenes and verses from the Ramcharitmanas, the Hindi version of the Ramayana.

Tour the outside of the New Viswanath Temple, one of the tallest in India (non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple), Benares Hindu University and its museum, and the mosque of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Lunch is at the multicuisine restaurant, EastWest, at the Radisson Hotel.

After lunch, have an insider’s look at the symbiotic life of the riverside people of Varanasi on this specially customized Bengali Tola Riverside Walk. Winding through the streets and onto the riverside, this walk ends up on Bengali Tola, the street of the Bengalis. Visit the hidden Mother Goddess Kali Shrine and view life along the riverside.

In the evening, witness the illuminating aarti ceremony from a boat. Aarti is the final ritual of the day when thousands of locals and pilgrims gather together to offer their prayers to the Mother Ganges.

Dinner is at Darbhanga at Brijrama Palace Hotel.

Hotel: Taj Ganges Hotel
Day 12 Mumbai

After breakfast, transfer to Varanasi Airport for the flight to Mumbai. On arrival in Mumbai, transfer to the hotel.

Check into the hotel and enjoy lunch. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Dinner is at Trishna, known for its seafood cooked in South Indian coastal flavors.

Hotel: Trident Nariman Point Hotel
Day 13 Mumbai

At dawn, take the Mumbai by Dawn tour. See the bustling city of Mumbai wake up. Peek into the underbelly of the city and gain insights into what makes this magnificent city tick. From seeing hundreds of newspaper vendors sort out newspapers of 7 different languages, experiencing one of its kind fish auction of 20 tons of fish, to seeing an ‘only green’ herb market sprawled across a popular bridge, from watching the milkmen drive past with canisters, the melee of color at the flower markets to experiencing the clamor and chaos of the arrival of over 100 tons of vegetables, fruits and meat, Mumbai by Dawn truly defines the mercurial character of Mumbai like none other.

Return to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, enjoy a specially customized “Five Senses Tour” with a local expert. This is a day – long tour that gives you five different experiences for an immersive perspective of the city. Mumbai is not just about historic sights, but also about people and their culture.

Lunch is a Konkani Thali at a local restaurant.

Dinner is reserved at The Table Restaurant with its globally inspired cuisine with produce from its own farm.

Hotel: Trident Nariman Point Hotel
Day 14 Aurangabad

After breakfast, visit the Dharavi Slum with a local expert. Dharavi is one of Asia’s largest slums but is also the most bustling and economically proficient part of Mumbai with thousands of small – scale industries thriving in the area.

After lunch at the hotel, transfer to the airport to board the flight for Aurangabad. On arrival in Aurangabad, transfer to the hotel.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Vivanta by Taj Aurangabad Hotel
Day 15 Aurangabad

After breakfast, enjoy a full day excursion to the Ajanta Caves. The caves, famous for their temple architecture and many delicately drawn murals, are located in a 76 m high horseshoe-shaped escarpment overlooking the Waghora (Tiger) River. The Ajanta Caves are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Lunch is at a local restaurant in Ajanta.

After the excursion, return to your hotel.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Vivanta by Taj Aurangabad Hotel
Day 16 Mumbai – Departure Home

After breakfast, take a half-day excursion to the Ellora Caves. They are one of the largest rock cut Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temple caves in the world. Ellora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lunch is at the hotel.

Transfer to Aurangabad airport for the flight to Mumbai

On arrival in Mumbai, check into the Leela Mumbai Hotel where a day use room is booked.

Dinner is at Jamavar, known for its authentic north and South Indian fine dining.

Transfer to Mumbai International Airport to connect for your flight home.