Taj Mahal Express

Delhi, Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri & Agra plus Ranthambore optional extension

This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our new Taj Mahal Express tour.

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal Express tour itinerary
Taj Mahal Express tour itinerary
India has become one of the world's hottest destinations for savvy travelers, and we've got just the right tour—at just the right price—so you can check out this incredible country. Our Taj Mahal Express will take you to the "Golden Triangle" of India, from fascinating and exotic Delhi, to Agra and the Taj Mahal, the world's most famous and lovely monument to love, to Jaipur, the "pink city", full of gorgeous, lavish mansions and palaces. In addition, an optional extension to Ranthambore provides a special opportunity to see the Royal Bengal Tigers. At this price, you can't afford to miss the chance to see India for yourself!

Itinerary at a Glance

Taj Mahal Express
Day Destinations
1 Depart USA
2 Delhi
3 Delhi
4 Delhi & Jaipur
5 Jaipur
6 Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri & Agra
7 Agra & Taj Mahal
8 Agra & Delhi
9 Depart India
Ranthambore Extension
8 Delhi
9 Delhi & Ranthambore
10 Ranthambore
11 Delhi
12 Depart India

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Depart USA. Your exotic journey to India begins today as you depart from New York for Delhi via Air India.

Day 2: Delhi. Late evening arrival in Delhi, India's capital. Following customs and immigration formalities, you'll meet our representatives and transfer to your centrally located hotel in the heart of New Delhi. The Lalit New Delhi

Rickshaw driver, old Delhi Day 3: Old & New Delhi. After buffet breakfast at the hotel, board your coach to explore Old and New Delhi. Sprawling on the banks of the river Yamuna, bustling Delhi typifies the soul of India, where many layers of civilizations have flourished for more than 3,000 years. History tells of at least eight different cities established here, but Delhi's past is so ancient that the story of its origin derives more from mythology than written history. Tody, it is a city truly full of fascinating contrasts, where by day, temples are packed with the devout, and by night, hotel discos are packed with the affluent.

Laxmi Narayan Temple Begin at the modern Laxmi Narayan Temple, built in honour of the Hindu goddess of wealth, Laxmi, and of her consort, Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Hindu Trinity. Popularly known as the Birla Temple for the noted industrialist family which built it, Laxmi Naryan Temple was one of the first major Hindu places of worship open to the lower caste Harijans (untouchables). Mahatma Gandhi made entry of Harijans one of the conditions for inaugurating the temple.

Mahatma Gandhi Continue to Raj Ghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, built at the site of his cremation on the banks of the Yamuna River. Drive past the magnificent Red Fort, built in 1648 as a symbol of Mughal's power.

Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque), Delhi Then, on to the Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque. Completed in 1656 after six years of work by 5,000 laborers, the red sandstone and marble mosque is considered one of the loveliest houses of worship in the world. Ascend one of the minarets for a sweeping view over the streets of old Delhi.

This afternoon, enjoy a special, welcome lunch with a local Indian family. After lunch, you will visit New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. Whereas the walled old city is all tradition in all its facets, New Delhi is a city trying to live up to the best of 21st century standards.

Qutb Minar & ruins, Delhi Your tour begins with a visit to the Qutub Minar, the world's tallest free standing minaret at 72.5 m (238 ft), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower, made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an, is a wonderful example of Indo-Islamic architecture. Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced construction in 1193, but it took additional two additional rulers and nearly two centuries to complete. At its foot lies the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, the first mosque in India, erected in the 12th century from materials salvaged from 27 demolished Hindu and Jain shrines. Here you'll also find the Iron Pillar, a curiosity thought to date from 5th century A.D., which has never rusted.

India Gate, Delhi Continue to the India Gate, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The 42 meter high structure is a war memorial for the Indian soldiers who died in World War I and the Afghan Wars. Burning in a shrine under the arch is the Amar Jawan Jyoti (the flame of the immortal warrior), which marks the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Proceed to the Parliament building and the Rastrapathi Bhawan, the President's residence. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Chandra Mahal, part of the City palace, Jaipur Day 4: Delhi & Jaipur. After breakfast, board your touring coach for Jaipur, the Pink City. This capital of the state of Rajasthan is India's first and perhaps best planned city, full of beauty and color. Here you find invincible forts, magnificent palaces and gardens, serene lakes, and wide tree-lined streets. Except for the busy traffic of bicycles, cars and buses, little seems to have changed since 1727, when Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II designed and built the city.

Family in Jaipur  Photo by C. Clark
Family in Jaipur   Photo by C. Clark
Your hotel is centrally located for strolling, sightseeing and shopping. After check-in, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. We recommend a stroll through the colorful streets and bazaars, where you can enjoy the colorful display of women's dresses and turbans of men, adding to the sense of timeless charm and wonder of this lovely and fascinating city. Ramada Jaipur Breakfast provided.

Palace of Winds, Jaipur Day 5: Jaipur. This morning, visit Jaipur's most famous monument, the Palace of Winds, or Hawa Mahal. With a beehive like structure, the Mahal is an interplay of red and pink sand stone, painstakingly outlined with white borders and motifs, which served as an elaborate latticed facade behind which the cloistered ladies of the court used to watch the daily goings-on in the street below.

Amber Fort, Jaipur Continue to the imposing Amber Fort, begun in the 17th century by Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar's most successful General. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenulated walls lattice the surrounding area. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power.

Elepant, Amber Fort, Jaipur Ascend to the fortress by jeep or elephant (if available) to view the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls, many of them hung with magnificent paintings and inlaid with precious stones and mirrors. In the Sheesh Mahal—Hall of Mirrors—a single lamp is reflected in the many mirrors, lighting the entire room.

Jaipur palace guards  Photo by Willem Proos
Jaipur palace guards  Photo by Willem Proos
This afternoon, return to Jaipur. Highlights of this afternoon's touring include the City Palace, an overwhelming complex of exquisite palaces, gardens and courtyards, decorative art and carved doorways. The City Palace Museum houses armor, costumes, carpets, miniature paintings and rare manuscripts.

Hands painted with henna Enjoy the remainder of the day to wander about the local markets, where you will find lovely silver jewelry, handicrafts, hand-woven carpets, hot snacks, and roadside mehndiwala (henna painters) who will paint women's hands in the local tradition. Breakfast provided.

Main gate of Fatehpur Sikri Day 6: Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri & Agra. After buffet breakfast at the hotel, drive to Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted red sandstone city built by the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar as his capital and palace in the late 16th century. It was abandoned soon after it was built when the local wells went dry and it remains today in much the same condition that it was over 300 years ago. It is complete with palaces and mosques and used to be a town larger than London when it was originally constructed. Now it is an extraordinary place to explore, with its buildings in near perfect condition.

Taj Mahal & Yamuna River from Agra Fort Continue your drive to Agra, where the Mughals, who were great rulers as well as great builders, created their greatest architectural wonders. There are many wonderful monuments in Agra, such as the massive but elegant Agra Fort, the Itimad-ud-daulah's tomb, but the greatest of all is the Taj Mahal, considered a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, and the world's most famous monument to love. Arrive in Agra and proceed to your deluxe, centrally located hotel for check-in. Jaypee Palace Hotel Breakfast provided.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India Day 7: Agra & Taj Mahal. This morning you'll rise early to enjoy an awesome view of the Taj Mahal at sunrise. This incredible place is everything that has been said about it and more. Taking 22 years and 20,000 men to build, the white marble was quarried 200 miles away and was transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Built in the mid 17th Century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is truly one of the wonders of the world. Though the Taj appears to be amazingly perfect from almost any angle, it is the close-up marble inlay work which is really astounding. You will have ample time to view and be mesmerized by this outstanding piece of architecture. Return to your hotel after the sunrise tour for buffet breakfast.

Agra Fort ramparts

Agra Fort ramparts After breakfast, visit the Agra Fort, the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations and yet another example of impressive Mughal architecture. The present structure owes its origins to Akbar who erected the walls and gates and the first buildings on the eastern banks of Yamuna River. Shah Jehan added the impressive quarters and the mosque while Aurangzeb added the outer ramparts.

Indian girls This afternoon, lose yourself in the local marble and leather markets where you should do your best to bargain for the marble products and high quality leather wallets. Be sure to visit the "Petra Dura Workshop" where you'll find beautiful marble inlay that is among the most renowned of India's handicrafts. During your visit enjoy an opportunity to watch as artisans create fine quality marble inlay pieces. Breakfast provided.

Indian cuisine Day 8: Agra & Delhi. After breakfast you'll drive back to Delhi, where you'll have the afternoon at leisure to explore on your own. Tonight, you're our guests for a festive farewell dinner at a popular Delhi restaurant. Later, transfer to the airport for your return flight. (Passengers taking the Ranthambore extension overnight in Delhi.)

Day 9: Delhi/USA. Early this morning bid farewell. Your memorable journey ends today when you arrive in New York.

Ranthambore Optional Extension

Why not take advantage of your already included airfare and add a fascinating optional extension to Ranthambore, home to the Royal Bengal Tigers? Includes transportation between Delhi and Ranthambore, 2 nights in Ranthambore with a full touring program, all meals in Ranthambore, and transfers.

Day 8: Delhi. After breakfast you'll drive back to Delhi, where you'll have the afternoon at leisure to explore on your own. Tonight, you are our guests for a festive farewell dinner at a popular Delhi restaurant. Lalit New Delhi Breakfast & dinner provided.

Canter vehicle Day 9: Delhi & Ranthambore. This morning, enjoy a relaxing breakfast at the hotel and the morning at leisure. After lunch on your own, transfer to the railway station to board train for Sawai Madhopur in the state of Rajasthan. Upon arrival at Sawai Madhopur, transfer to your hotel by canter vehicle for check-in.

Aravali Range, Ranthambore National Park  Photo by Anvil_R
Aravali Range, Ranthambore National Park   Photo by Anvil_R

Temple ruins, Ranthambore Sawai Madhopur is our gateway to the nearby Ranthambore National Park, home to the abandoned Ranthambore Fort, which once served as the private grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur.

Bengal Tiger, Ranthambore National Park For decades, stringent conservation efforts have protected the forests around the fort. As a result, the majestic Royal Bengal tigers, as well as plenty of other wildlife, thrive here and can be easily spotted in daylight. Dev Vilas or Taj Sawai Madhopur Lodge Breakfast & dinner provided.

Cormorant laden trees, Ranthambore Day 10: Ranthambore. Today, to take advantage of the best hours for wildlife-viewing, you will take two safari drives—one in the morning and another in afternoon. Set out very early in the morning for your first safari drive through the park. You'll discover that Ranthambore is truly a nature-lover's paradise. It is considered one of the best places in the world to see tigers in their natural habitat.

Langur Monkies, Ranthambore fort The park also has a large population of jackal, sambar, leopard, marsh-crocodile, jungle cat, mongoose, and hyena. Abundant bird life, including Bonelli's eagle, the crested eagle, Great Indian horned owl, gray partridges, and much more, can also be found here. After the drive, return to the hotel for breakfast and morning at leisure. This afternoon, enjoy more tiger-sighting on your afternoon safari drive through the park. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Rajasthani girls Day 11: Delhi. After an early buffet breakfast, bid farewell to Ranthambore as you transfer to the railway station to board your train to Delhi. Upon arrival, you will be transported to a hotel where you will have a day room to freshen up and rest. Later this evening you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight. Breakfast provided.

Day 12: Delhi/USA. Early this morning bid farewell to India. Your memorable journey ends today when you arrive in New York.

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