Jewels of Northern India
Journey from Delhi to Mumbai to uncover the hidden jewels of northern India, from ornate temples and impressive fortresses to ancient rock-cut structures and colourful street markets.
Be immersed in India’s vibrant culture at one of the oldest markets in the heart of Old Delhi, with its bustling shops selling fragrant spices and dried fruits and marvel at the grand Mughal-era Red Fort, named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone.
Admire the stunning ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur and the magnificent Amber Palace, an extensive complex built with pale yellow and pink sandstone, and white marble. Explore the beautiful medieval town of Orchha and the stunning Hindu temples of Khajuraho, before visiting one of the holiest cities in India, Varanasi, and admiring the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal.
Finally, discover Mumbai’s colonial landmarks and marvel at the magnificent cave temples on Elephanta Island.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Arrive in Delhi in the evening on suggested flights. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including a private airport-hotel transfer, travel insurance (a condition of travel), accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
In the morning, enjoy a welcome briefing and talk by your tour leader Alex McKay before visiting Qutub Minar. The Qutub Minar was built by India’s first Islamic dynasty and remains the tallest brick minaret in the world with construction dating back to the late twelfth century.
After lunch, continue to the Lodhi Gardens, and take a leisurely stroll through the 36-hectare gardens. The Lodhi Gardens, named for the last dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate before the city was conquered by the Mughals, contain the tombs of many of the Sultans of Delhi from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Begin the morning with a visit to Old Delhi and explore the mighty Red Fort, the capital and residence of the Mughal emperors for almost 200 years up until 1856. Then, enjoy a rickshaw ride into the winding and narrow streets of Old Delhi and discover Chandni Chowk, a major shopping district alive with the smells and sights of spices, fruits and jewellery.
Continue to Connaught Place, with its iconic white pillars and colonial-style buildings. Built on the former location of the headquarters of the British Raj, the area is now an important business and commercial centre of the city, with a myriad of shops and emporiums.
This morning, travel from Delhi to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan state. Deriving its name from its founder, Raja Jai Singh II, the city of Jaipur was meticulously planned as a new royal capital when construction began in 1726. The houses of the old city are painted in shades of light carnation and terracotta, giving it the name the ‘Pink City’.
Arrive in Jaipur and discover Hawa Mahal, the ‘Palace of the Winds’, which was once used by the ladies of the court to watch the daily goings-on in the street below.
Check in to the hotel and enjoy a talk by Alex before dinner.
This morning, visit the impressive Amber Palace, one of the most magnificent palaces in India, sitting atop a hill located outside of Jaipur. Explore the Mughal-style architecture of its elegant halls and stately towers, where decorated elephants and snake charmers still display the centuries-old traditions of Rajasthan.
Continue to the City Palace, home to the present royal family of Jaipur. The Palace features a seven-story citadel with detailed handiworks of Mughal and Rajput architecture styles, an antique museum, vast courtyards, luxurious rooms, archways and perfectly manicured gardens.
This morning, travel from Jaipur to Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri was constructed by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1569 in gratitude to a local Sufi saint who had predicted the birth of three sons to the then-childless emperor. It served as the capital of the empire from 1571 to 1585, and its design – incorporating a mixture of Hindu, Persian and Islamic elements – is an expression of Akbar’s syncretic, even ecumenical, views on religion.
Continue to Agra, arriving in the late afternoon.
After a morning talk by Alex, explore Agra Fort, a sixteenth century walled city which was the official residence of the Mughal emperors before their capital was relocated from Agra to Delhi. The fort was also the site of a battle during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which resulted in the removal of control by the British East India Company and the imposition of direct control by Britain.
After lunch, discover the tomb of Akbar the Great, located on the outskirts of the Agra City, before visiting the Taj Mahal, arguably India’s most famous and treasured site. This mausoleum was constructed by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a final resting place for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. The emperor himself was buried alongside her following his own death some decades later.
Depart Agra to Orchha, visiting Gwalior Fort en route. Wander the two palaces and defensive structures known to date from at least the tenth century, although the inscriptions within may date to as early as the sixth century.
Arrive in the romantic town of Orchha in the late afternoon, nestled among wooded hills beside the fast-flowing Betwa River. It was once the capital of the Rajput Bundela kings, who have left palaces, temples, tombs and castles on a defensible island in the stream.
In the morning, discover the medieval sites of Orchha, including Chaturbhuj Temple that dominates the town and Orchha Fort complex, located on the island of the Betwa River.
After lunch, continue to Khajuraho, site of some of the best preserved and most spectacularly decorated Hindu temples in India.
Today, explore the magnificent sculpted temples of Khajuraho that stand testament to the artistic and architectural greatness of pre-Islamic India. Rediscovered by the British in the nineteenth century, the temples were originally built in the twelfth century and covered with sculptures of Gods, Goddesses, angels, celestial maidens and yogis, in an attempt to recreate the Hindu cosmos in stone.
Then, enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
This morning, depart Khajuraho and transfer to the ancient fortress of Kalingar, a strong and defensible place since prehistory, located on the hills of Bundelkhund. On this isolated and wild escarpment lie the scattered ruins of prehistoric megaliths, Buddhist monasteries, shrines to the Goddess, Hindu temples, Mughal palaces and even one small fort held by a contingent of the British during the 1857 Mutiny.
Continue to Chitrakoot, arriving in the late afternoon.
Today, travel to Varanasi, one of the holiest and most ancient cities of India. Nothing knits together the cultures and traditions of India like the holy River Ganges, and no city on the Ganges is more revered, or more fascinating and exotic, than sacred Varanasi. As ancient as Rome or Jerusalem, Varanasi preserves the rituals and timeless rhythms of Indian life in its streets and along its stone ghats that sink majestically from the riverbank into the water.
Enjoy an early morning boat ride on the Ganges to watch the pilgrims and priests, holy men and washerwomen start their day. Then, take a walking tour through the old city, visiting many of its famed shrines and monuments, including the mighty Vishwanath Mandir, the temple to Shiva, lord of transformation and the presiding deity of Varanasi.
After lunch, enjoy some time at leisure to explore Varanasi at your own pace.
Tonight, take part in the Vedic Aarti ceremony, in which lit butter candles are offered to deities in the hope of prosperity and good fortune.
Transfer to Varanasi Airport for a late morning flight to Mumbai (flight included in tour price), India’s largest city and once known as the key British port of Bombay.
In the afternoon, visit Mahalaxmi Temple, one of Mumbai’s most famous temples. Located at the seashore on the northern side of Malabar Hills, the shrine is dedicated to Goddess Mahalaxmi or the ‘Goddess of Wealth’.
Start the day with a boat ride to the magnificent island temples of Elephanta. Take a short walk down to the Gateway of India, built to commemorate the arrival of British royalty during the Raj, and departure point of the last British troops at the time of independence. From here, take a boat ride to Elephanta Island, the World Heritage listed site of a magnificent series of rock-cut temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner with Alex and fellow travellers.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
For those returning home today, make your way to Mumbai Airport for suggested flights to Australia or New Zealand. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including a private airport transfer, additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Final payment due
05 January 2024
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in 5-star hotels (or best available) with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including drinks with dinners
- Economy class flight from Varanasi to Mumbai (baggage allowance 20kg)
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Alex McKay
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, minibar, taxis etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Delhi – Imperial Hotel*****
Jaipur – Jai Mahal Hotel*****
Agra – ITC Mughal*****
Orchha – Orchha Palace***+
Khajuraho – Lalit Khajuraho*****
Chitrakoot – Hotel Bindiram****
Varanasi – Taj Ganges Hotel*****
Mumbai – Taj Mahal Palace*****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Tour code: AG2422
Fitness level: Above Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.
Suggested airline: Qantas/Singapore Airlines
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders require an ETA visa to visit India (to be completed online in advance of travel).
Download booking form here.