Taj Mahal Express

Delhi, Jaipur & Agra plus Nepal & Mumbai optional extensions

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

Taj Mahal, Agra 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. An optional extension to mysterious Nepal is also available. At this price, you can't afford to miss the chance to see India for yourself!

Detailed Itinerary

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

Day 2: Delhi. Evening arrival in India's capital. You'll be escorted to your first class hotel. Lalit New Delhi

Main iwan of the Taj Mahal Day 3: Delhi & Agra. After a good night's sleep and breakfast, drive to Agra, an ancient city that came into prominence in Medieval times under the Mughal rulers and was once the capital of a sprawling Mughal kingdom that covered much of southeast Asia.

The highlight of your day is a visit to the fabled, perfectly proportioned Taj Mahal, considered the finest example of Mughal architecture. This white marble mausoleum, surrounded by immaculate gardens, was built by Emperor Shah Jahan to enshrine the mortal remains of his beloved Queen, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. Building began around 1632 and took over twenty years to complete, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen. As you get closer, you'll see that the white marble surface is covered with floral patterns and beauitful calligraphy made of inlaid jasper. Even today, it remains one of the most breathtaking buildings in the world. Clarks Shiraz Hotel Breakfast provided.

Agra Fort ramparts

Musamman Burj, Agra Fort Day 4: Agra. Enjoy the day at leisure to explore Agra. You will be offered several interesting optional tours, including a visit to the splendid Agra Fort. Though often eclipsed by the Taj Mahal, this sprawling fortress, more accurately described as a massive walled palatial city, is magnificent in its own right, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Taj Mahal & Yamuna River from Agra Fort You'll get terrific views over the River Yamuna and the Taj Mahal from the Musamman Burj, a beautiful multi-storied octagonal tower made of white marble. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal, it was here that the emperor was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb, from which he watched the completion of the Taj Mahal that he had started.

Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb (Baby Taj), Agra Other optional tours include Itmad-Ud-Daulah, known as the "Baby Taj", the first Mughal structure totally built from marble; and Sikandra, the sandstone and marble tomb of Akbar which blends Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Christian motifs and styles, and other interesting sites. Breakfast provided.

Fatehpur Sikri, India Day 5: Agra, Fatehpur Sikri & Jaipur. After breakfast, depart Agra for Fatehpur Sikri, the once-glittering capital later abandoned due to scarcity of water. You'll marvel at the well-preserved buildings and red sandstone palaces. Later, continue to Jaipur and check into your hotel. Hotel Mansingh Breakfast provided.

Ascending Amber Fort on an elephant Day 6: Jaipur. This morning's tour takes you to the imposing Amber Fort, ancient capital of Rajasthan. You'll have a chance to ride an elephant (or a jeep, if elephant riding isn't your thing) up the steep hill to the where the Amber Fort is perched, its magnificent ramparts & watchtowers commanding an excellent view of the surrounding mountains and the lake below.

Snake charmer at Amber Fort The ornate and sprawling structure was initially a palace complex within the original Amber Fort, now known as Jaigarh Fort, on the hill above, to which it is connected through fortified passages. Within the palace lies the famous Jai Mandir (Temple) with its world renowned Sheesh Mahal, a hall full of tiny inlaid mirrors.

Spice merchant, Jaipur This afternoon, explore the markets and lanes of Jaipur on your own, where you can buy spices or haggle for one of the beautiful, hand-woven wool carpets. Or take an optional tour to some of the famous pink sandstone buildings for which this city is known, including the City Palace Museum, housing the magnificent art collections of the Maharajas of Jaiputo. Breakfast provided.

Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque), Delhi Day 7: Jaipur & Delhi.  After breakfast you'll drive back to Delhi. This afternoon, explore Delhi on your own or take an optional tour that includes the imposing 12th century Qutb Minar tower, the Birla Temple and the India Gate, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque, and the magnificent Red Fort, built in 1648 as a symbol of Mughal's power.

Rajasthani girls Tonight, you are our guests for a festive farewell dinner at a popular Delhi restaurant. Lalit New Delhi Breakfast & dinner provided.

Day 8: Delhi/USA. Early this morning bid farewell. Your memorable journey ends today when you arrive in New York.

Nepal Extension

Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal Why not take advantage of your already included airfare and add a fascinating optional extension to mysterious Nepal? The Nepal Extension includes flights from Delhi to Kathmandu, 3 nights in Kathmandu with a full touring program, transfers, and buffet breakfast daily.

Day 8: Delhi/Kathmandu. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Kathmandu. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel, conveniently located for exploring and shopping. Afternoon at leisure. Hyatt Regency Hotel Breakfast provided.

Bhadgaon, Nepal
Bhadgaon, Nepal
Day 9: Kathmandu. Morning excursion to Bhadgaon, a Newar city founded in the 9th century. Visit the ancient copper gateway, Durbar Square the royal Residential quarter of Bhupatindra Malla, famous five storey temple of Nyatapola in pagoda style and other temples. Later visit Bodhnath, a 2500-year-old Buddhist stupa, or holy place, for Buddhist pilgrims from Tibet. Also visit Pashupatinath temple area. Breakfast provided.

Markets, Nepal Day 10: Kathmandu. Morning city tour visiting the Durbar Square, Hanuman Dhoka the ancient royal residential quarter, Mahadev and Parvati temple, Machhender Bahl-Holy place for the Buddhists and Hindus, temple house of Kumari, the virgin or the living Goddess. Walk around the local Bazaars. Breakfast provided.

Mt. Everest, Nepal Day 11: Kathmandu, Mt. Everest Tour & Delhi. This morning you will have an opportunity to experience an optional Mt. Everest scenic flight over the breathtaking Himalayas (weather permitting). Or, enjoy the morning at leisure in Kathmandu to shop and explore independently.

Little girl wearing a Tika during a Kathmandu festival Transfer to the airport this afternoon for your flight to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Airport area hotel. Breakfast provided.

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

Mumbai extension with visit to Dharavi

Since the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" swept into theaters around the world, everyone is talking about Dharavi, the part of Mumbai that forms the backdrop for the film. But there's plenty more to see in India's bustling, vibrant financial and cultural heart. Take advantage of your already-included airfare and add a stop in Mumbai after your India tour. You can also add the Mumbai extension after the Nepal extension.

Mumbai skyline at dusk Day 8: Delhi/Mumbai. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Mumbai. You will be met on arrival and transfer to your hotel, conveniently located for exploring and shopping. Trident Nariman Point or Taj President Hotel Breakfast provided.

Your exact schedule for this day, including flight details, will be determined at the time that we book your Air India flights from Delhi to Mumbai.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, Mumbai Day 9: Mumbai. Enjoy a full day in Mumbai to discover the city at your own pace. Your hotel is conveniently located for independent exploration. Or, take advantage of several special optional tours. Breakfast provided.

Group of auto rickshaws (tuks tuks), Mumbai  Photo by Ag�ncia Brasil
Group of auto rickshaws (tuks tuks), Mumbai   Photo by Ag�ncia Brasil
Day 10: Mumbai/Evening Departure. Another full day is yours to continue your discovery of Mumbai. Explore on your own or take optional tours. Later this evening, transfer to the airport to board your overnight, non-stop flight back to the USA.Breakfast provided.

(Please note that check-out time is approximately 11am. You can arrange to store your luggage at the hotel while you explore Mumbai.)

Bollywood movie set, Mumbai Day 11: New York. Arrive in New York with memories of incredible India that will last a lifetime.

Optional Tours in India

To take full advantage of your visit to India, we offer these optional tours to other "must see" sites. These are not "seat in coach" tours that pick up passengers in various hotels. All the optional tours are operated for Friendly Planet groups only. The special package price is available when booked and prepaid prior to departure. If you don't want to book the entire package, individual optional tours will be available once you arrive in India.

  • Half day tour in Agra, including the Agra Fort, It-mad-ud-Daulah and Sikandra
  • Half day tour in Jaipur including the Hawa Mahal, the City Palace and the Jantar Mantar
  • Half day tour of Old & New Delhi, including the Red Fort, Qutb Minar and the India Gate

Optionals Package Price, per person: $85 if booked and prepaid before departure.** Our optional tours package includes the following sites in Agra, Jaipur and Delhi.

**We regret that we cannot accept bookings for the pre-paid optional tours package within 75 days from departure or after final payment has been received.

Agra Optional Tours

Agra Fort ramparts Agra Fort
Built by Emperor Akbar on the west bank of the river Yamuna and beautified with palaces and gardens by Jehangir, Agra Fort dominates the center of the city. The crescent-shaped fort with its 20-meter high, 2.4-km outer walls contains a maze of buildings that form a small city within a city. One can enter the fort only through the Amar Singh Gate.

Itmad-Ud-Daulah (Baby Taj), Agra Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb
To the north of the fort, on the opposite bank of the Yamuna lies the tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, built in memory of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, Jehangir's wazir. Also known as the "Baby Taj," it was the first Mughal structure totally built from marble and first to make extensive use of pietra dura, a form of exquisitely detailed stone inlay work, for which it is also nicknamed the "Jewel Box." The place is the least visited of Agra's three great monuments.

Interior of Akbar's tomb, Sikandra Sikandra
In the center of a peaceful garden at Sikandra, 4 km north-west of Agra, lies the sandstone and marble tomb of Akbar. The mausoleum represents Akbar's philosophy and secular outlook blending Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Christian motifs and styles.

Jama Masjid
Built in 1648 AD, in memory of Sheikh Salim Chisthi and his grandson Islam Khan by Jehanara Begum, Shah Jahan's daughter, the masjid has a wonderful assimilation of Iranian architecture. The building with its rectangular open forecourt, has no minarets but its sandstone domes have a striking marble patterning.

Jaipur Optional Tours

Palace of Winds, Jaipur Hawa Mahal (The Palace of Winds)
A Pandora's box of wonders, Jaipur's signature building, the Hawa Mahal, a multi-layered palace, was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. Famous for it's beehive like structure, the Mahal is an interplay of red and pink sand stone, carefully and painstakingly outlined with white borders and motifs. The palaces and forts of yesteryears, which were witness to the royal processions and splendors are now living monuments, accepted quite naturally into the lifestyle of the people of the "Pink City".

Jaipur City Palace Jaipur City Palace
A delightful blend of Mughal and traditional Rajasthani architecture, the city palace sprawls over one- seventh of the area in the walled city. The City Palace complex houses several palatial structures in the heart of the old city and occupies a large area divided into a series of courtyards, gardens and buildings. It houses the Chandra Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum. The former Maharaja still lives in part of the palace.

Jantar Mantar Observatory Jantar Mantar (The Observatory)
At the entrance to the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, the 'Yantralaya' of Sawai Jai Singh II, the last great classical astronomer of India. This is the largest of five observatories founded by him in 1716 AD. The others are at Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura & Varanasi. Its massive masonry instruments are of an extraordinary precision & can still be used to measure local time, the sun's declination, azimuth & altitude, the declination of fixed stars & planets also to determine the time of an eclipse of the sun.

Delhi Optional Tours

Rickshaw driver, old Delhi Delhi, Old & New
Sprawling on the banks of the river Yamuna, bustling Delhi, the capital of India, 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.

Ruins of Purana Qila (Old Fort), Delhi  Photo by Kaiser Tufail
Ruins of Purana Qila (Old Fort), Delhi   Photo by Kaiser Tufail
According to legend, Delhi was preceded by Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandava kingdom. The Hindu epic poem Mahabharata tells how the five Pandava brothers founded the city in the desert with the help of Krishna and Arjuna and made it a "second heaven." Indraprastha was situated on a large mound overlooking the Yamuna river, where Delhi's Old Fort stands. The Hindu monarch Raja Dhilu is said to have founded Delhi nearby.

North Block, Government Offices, Delhi  Photo by Nimrod Bar
North Block, Government Offices, Delhi   Photo by Nimrod Bar
Since those early days many dynasties and rulers flourished on its soil. Through the ages, different rulers and cultures have left their mark on Delhi in the form of numerous architectural gems of great historical and social value. The legacy of that past survives in the many monuments left behind by the regents, each a chronicle of the glory of its time and an imprint of the character of the ruler.

Central Park in Connaught Place, Delhi  Photo by Sumita Roy
Central Park in Connaught Place, Delhi   Photo by Sumita Roy
Today, the city is a curious blend of the modern and traditional, a collection of ancient ruins, modern skyscrapers, colorful markets, beautiful gardens and wide tree-lined avenues. You'll see evidence of Mughal passion of landscaping and architectural excellence merged with influences of the British colonists, including the beautiful circular Connaught Place, its Georgian architecture modeled after the Royal Crescent in Bath, England. More important, however, Delhi blends within its folds the great cultural variety of India; an unceasing range of activity, a million ways of saying "You are Welcome".

Following are some of the major sites covered in our optional Delhi tour.

Red Fort, Delhi The Red Fort
The Mughal king Shah Jahan transferred the capital from Agra to Delhi, making the the Red Fort the administrative center. Built of red sandstone and completed in 1648, the fort is laid out along the river Yamuna as an irregular octagon and surrounded by a wall of about 2.4 km in circumference. The fort has two main entrances, the Delhi Gate and the Lahori Gate, which faces the famed Chandni Chowk market. The Fort has Diwan-e-am, and Diwan-e-Khas where the king would grant audience to the public and would grant audience to important people respectively. Another attraction is Light and Sound show held in the evenings.

Qutb Minar & ruins, Delhi Qutb Minar
This magnificent structure in the southern part of the capital is the world's tallest free standing minaret at 72.5 m (238 ft). 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. The minaret, made of fluted red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur'an, was built from the ruins of hundreds of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples, and is surrounded by several other ancient and medieval structures, known as Qutb complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you'll find the Iron Pillar, a curiosity thought to date from 5th century A.D., which has never rusted.

India Gate, Delhi India Gate
Straight down the road from the Presidential Palace (Rashtrapati Bhavan) is India Gate. Designed by Lutyens and reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the 42 meter high structure is a war memorial in honor of soldiers who died during the second World War. The structure has an eternal flame (Amar Jawan Jyoti) to honor the memory of the unknown soldiers.

Mumbai Optional Tours

* Optional tours in Mumbai are not available for pre-purchase. These tours can be booked and paid upon arrival in Mumbai.

Cuffe Parade, downtown South Mumbai Mumbai City Tour
This half day tour will acquaint you with some of the major points of interest in Mumbai. Begin the tour in South Mumbai with a drive up Malabar Hill, a lovely upscale area with spectacular views of the city. Visit the Jain Temples, built of marble and dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara (one who achieves enlightenment through asceticism) and the beautiful Hanging Gardens, built over Bombay's reservoir.

Mahatma Gandhi Among other sites, your tour includes a visit to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (Mani Bhawan), a simple and charming museum that was once the house of Gandhi's friend Jhaveri. It was here that Gandhi lived on his visits to Mumbai between 1917 and 1934 and initiated several of his nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience movements. Gandhi's room, including his books and belongings, are on display. (Closed on Mondays. Other sites of interest in Mumbai will be substituted on Mondays.) ($45 per person)

Carvings, Elephanta caves  Photo by Pratheepps
Carvings, Elephanta caves   Photo by Pratheepps
Elephanta Island
From the Gateway of India, Mumbai's most striking monument, you'll take a motor launch 9 nautical miles to Elephanta Island. After climbing 100 steps to the top of the hill, you'll find a series of beautifully sculpted basalt rock-cut temples, adorned with intricate sculputures and dedicated to the god Shiva. The caves are believed to have been created between 450 and 750 AD, when the island was known as Gharapuri, the Fortress City, later renamed Elephanta by the Portuguese due to a large stone Elephant near the shore. The island is a World Heritage Site and an archaeological wonder not to be missed. (Does not operate on Mondays, when the caves are closed.) ($55 per person)

Dharavi slum economy  Photo by Marcus Fornell
Dharavi slum economy   Photo by Marcus Fornell
Dharavi Optional Tour
It's difficult to describe Dharavi in a few words. After the success of Slumdog Millionaire, it has become a familiar name to millions of people around the world, but one has to experience it to understand it. Made up of ramshackle, corrugated tin sheds covering less than a square mile, Dharavi is neverless known as Asia's largest slum, home to between 600,000 and a million people.

Boys in the Dharavi slum  Photo by Wen-Yan King
Boys in the Dharavi slum   Photo by Wen-Yan King
Thousands of small businesses and industries operate here, producing nearly $1 billion a year in commerce. Besides the traditional pottery and textile industries, there is a large recycling industry, processing waste from other parts of Mumbai, plus an estimated 15,000 single-room factories creating products exported around the world.

The tour is not just about observing. Our guides, who all speak very good English and have a wide knowledge of the area, will explain the industry and talk about the people including the issues that they face. You are encouraged to ask questions! (This tour operates only in the afternoons.) ($60 per person)

Destination FAQs

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about travel to India, click here.

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about travel to Nepal, click here.

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