Vast, diverse, deeply spiritual and utterly unforgettable, India is unlike anywhere else on earth – a melting pot of ethnicities and religions, a treasure trove of history and culture, and a curious mixture of chaos and serenity. Stretching across more than three million square kilometres, it encompasses a staggering array of landscapes, vistas and environs, and offers unparalleled travel experiences – from the beautiful beaches of Goa, to the compelling craziness of Kolkata, the sacred Ganges river banks of Varanasi, the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas in Kashmir and the ancient, exquisitely crafted temples dotted across the entire country. Not to mention the vibrant, friendly people, and the incredible cuisine.
Days 2 - 3
India’s largest city, Delhi, has been one of the country’s commercial and economic hubs for centuries and, as a result, is incredibly rich in culture and history. Made up of the ancient walled city of Old Delhi and the more modern sector, New Delhi, the city encompasses a staggering array of beautiful architecture, notable monuments and age-old temples, including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Red Fort, Qutab Minar and Humayun's Tomb. Other key attractions include the 17th century Chandni Chowk marketplace – still one of the city’s most popular retail centres today, particularly for jewellery and traditional Indian saris; the iconic Bahà’i Lotus Temple – an award-winning architectural gem; and the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque.
Days 3 - 4
Situated at the confluence of the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers, the sleepy town of Devprayag overlooks the starting point of the majestic Ganges River. It serves as a popular pilgrimage centre for Hindus. Standing at 830 metres above sea level, this sacred hamlet clings to the hillside amidst the steep slopes of the Himalayas and overlooks the emerald and turquoise waters of the rushing rivers. This holy town features narrow, labyrinthine lanes carved out of rock connecting colourful houses and ancient temples which dot the rugged landscape. Visitors can experience the 'sangam'- the confluence point- and enjoy a refreshing dip in the holy waters of the river, pay a visit to the sacred Raghunathji and Chandrabadani temples, and simply soak up the serenity and natural beauty of the area. Other popular activities include: rafting, hiking, biking, yoga, meditation, camping, rock climbing and fishing.
Days 4 - 6
Nestled in the mountains of northern India, on the banks of the mighty Ganges, Rishikesh is a holy town and spiritual centre for local and international pilgrims alike. Ashrams, yoga centres and temples make up the bulk of the buildings, with the revered Parmarth Niketan Ashram taking centre stage. Labelled as the World Capital of Yoga this is the place to visit if stretching your spine is top of your holiday to do list. A ritual not to be missed is the Ganga Satri ritual (pujah) that is performed on the steps of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram overlooking the river every evening at sunset.
Please be aware that Rishikesh is a completely 'dry' town, so no alcohol is available and only vegetarian food is permitted.
Days 6 - 7
An ancient and holy city south of Rishikesh, Hardiwar enjoys a picturesque position on the banks of the River Ganges. The town bustles with Hindus and renunciants who perform ritualistic bathing in the icy, fast-flowing waters of the Ganges to wash away their sins. The famous Har-ki-Pairi Ghat is a religious hub, where every evening a sea of floating candles and flowers are sent down the river as Hindu prayer offerings.
Please be aware that Haridwar is a completely 'dry' town, so no alcohol is available and only vegetarian food is permitted.
Days 7 - 9
An ancient and deeply sacred city, Varanasi rests along the banks of the holy River Ganges and encompasses a wealth of beautiful riverside temples, stately old forts and vibrant markets. It’s considered the spiritual capital of Hinduism, and it’s widely believed that dying here will bring salvation. As a result, the city is home to a multitude of ghats – stone steps leading to the river –some of which are used for bathing rituals and others as cremation sites. An early morning boat ride along the Ganges offers an excellent way to take in the ghats and the bustling activity centred on them.
Please be aware that no alcohol is available and only vegetarian food is permitted in all restaurants and hotels within close proximity to the Ganges.
Days 9 - 12
Located along the eastern bank of the Hooghly River in the lower Ganges Delta, Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. This 350-year-old metropolis is the heart and soul of eastern India with its crumbling colonial architecture, elegant gardens, countless temples and bustling bazaars. Celebrated as the birthplace of the early 20th-century Bengal Renaissance, Kolkata is a major centre for drama, art, film, theatre, literature, spirituality and music. Visitors can roam the streets and soak up the atmosphere of faded grandeur, or take a ride in a rickshaw to one of the many Indian restaurants serving mouth-watering Bengali cuisine. Must-see highlights include: the Victoria Memorial, with its east-meets-west architecture; the Indian Museum, with its range of rare artefacts; and the Kali Temple, an important pilgrimage centre for Hindus.
Sundarban National Park
Days 12 - 15
The Sundarbans ecosystem is a unique natural wonder of south Asia and the globe. The delta is spread over India and Bangladesh with an area of approximately 10,000 square kilometres and is enjoying the status of being largest halophytic mangrove forest in the world. It is a delta of the two great Indian River The Ganga and The Brahamputra which converges on the Bengal basin. The whole area is a kingdom of the famous Royal Bengal Tigers.
The Sundarban National Park is a tiger and biosphere reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in the state of West Bengal (India). The Sundarbans is named after the Sundari trees which are found in bulk in this area. The park was established as a national park on 4th May 1984 as earlier it was created as a wildlife sanctuary in 1977, designated as the core area of Sunderbans Tiger Reserve.