Taj Mahal Express & Diwali, Festival of Lights
Savor India's Golden Triangle: Delhi, Agra & the Taj Mahal, then celebrate Diwali in Jaipur; plus Nepal extension
|Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of no more than 16 likeminded travelers (and often much fewer), escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. (Some exceptions, including special promotional packaged, may accommodate up to 24.) More of these packages
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|24 travelers max
|Active, History & Culture, Festivals
|What to Expect
|This fast-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops. Travel safely and confidently with our new health & safety protocols.
|Find everything you need to know before you go, including information about passport & visa requirements, flights, luggage, and more.
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India has become one of the world's hottest destinations for savvy travelers, and we've got just the right Taj Mahal tour package—at just the right price—so you can check out this incredible country. Celebrate Diwali, the "Festival of Lights" on our special Taj Mahal Express tour that 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 lavish mansions and palaces. An optional extension to Nepal is also available. At this price, you can't afford to miss the chance to see India for yourself!
- Round-trip airfare from New York (JFK) including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees
- Intra-India ground transportation
- 6 nights at superior first class & deluxe hotels with private bath
- Full American buffet breakfast daily plus one lunch and two dinners
- Comprehensive guided touring program including all entrance fees to places visited
- Experienced English-speaking tour director
- Special discounted optional tours package
- Optional Nepal post-tour Extension
Why you'll love it
- Ride by bicycle rickshaw in Delhi
- See the glorious Taj Mahal in Agra
- Marvel at the Chand Baori stepwell in Abhaneri Village
- Celebrate Diwali in Jaipur at the Suryaa Villa with the Rajput family
Day 1: Depart USA
- Your exotic journey to India begins today as you depart the USA
Day 2: Arrive Delhi
2 nights Shangri-La Eros Hotel or similar, Delhi.
- Arrive in Delhi, India's captial. Following customs and immigration formalities, meet our representative and transfer to your hotel.
Day 3: Old & New Delhi
- Full day sightseeing tour of Old and New Delhi
- Ride by bicycle rickshaw to Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque
Full Day Itinerary: 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. Begin at the modern Laxmi Narayan Temple, built in honor 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).
Later, ride by bicycle rickshaw to 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.
Next, you'll marvel at the Qutab Minar, the world's tallest free standing minaret at 72.5 m (238 ft), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you'll also find the Iron Pillar, a curiosity thought to date from 5th century A.D., which has never rusted.
Sightseeing continues in New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. Drive past 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.
Day 4: Delhi & Agra
2 nights ITC Mughal or similar, Agra. Breakfast.
- After breakfast travel to the city of Agra
- Remainder of the day at leisure in Agra or take part in optional excursions
Full Day Itinerary: 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 covering much of southeast Asia. Check in at your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Optional Excursion: Mohabbat The Taj Cultural Show, $50 (purchased locally). This evening witness a live performance 'Mohabbat - The Taj Show' at Kalakriti. See how the love story between Emperor Shah Jahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal inspired the creation of one of the world wonders. *Note the performance is in Hindi, with headsets available in various languages.
*Show does not operate from May 1 - July 20 due to annual maintenance.
Day 5: Agra
- Rise early for a morning tour of the Taj Mahal
- Remainder of the day at leisure or take part in optional excursions
Full Day Itinerary: Rise early to enjoy a breathtaking morning tour of the Taj Mahal, truly one of the wonders of the world. Built in the 17th century by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj took 22 years and 20,000 men to build, its white marble quarried 200 miles away and transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Though the Taj is known for its stunning symmetry and balance, it is the close-up marble inlay work which is really astounding. You'll have ample time to explore this outstanding piece of architecture, and to wander the pristine gardens that surround it. *Departure from the hotel may be as early as 5:30am. Visit time may change depending on weather conditions.
Afterwards, return to the hotel for breakfast.
Optional Excursion: Agra Fort, $25. Visit the splendid Agra Fort, built by and inhabited by six successive generations of Mughal emperors—Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. 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. It was here that Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, and from the Musamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony, Jahan watched the continuing construction of his Taj Mahal until his death.
Optional Excursion: Mehtab Bagh, $20. Visit Mehtab Bagh around sunset to enjoy uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal. Emperor Shah Jahan who had the Taj Mahal built, felt that the best view of this mausoleum was from the Mehtab Bagh. The 25 acres crescent-shaped land laid in the 17th century is situated along the Bank of the river Yamuna.
Day 6: Agra, Abhaneri Village & Jaipur
2 nights ITC Rajputana or similar, Jaipur. Breakfast & lunch.
- Visit Abhaneri Village and see the Chand Baori stepwell
- Experience traditional bread making (chapati or naan)
- Learn the art of tying colorful turbans and sarees
- Continue to Jaipur and check into your hotel
Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast, depart for Abhaneri Village, a popular stop along the Agra-Jaipur road for the impressive Chand Baori stepwell and the Harshat Mata Temple. The Chand Baori is perhaps the region’s most visited stepwell and is one of the largest and deepest in all of India. These stepwells were created to harvest rain water and also provided the locals a place to cool off during the hottest summer months as the temperature is a few degrees cooler at the bottom of the well than at its surface. After some exploration, depart for Jaipur, stopping en route at the Umaid Lake Resort for an included lunch. At the resort, receive a cooking demonstration and experience making chapati or naan bread. Afterwards, learn the art of tying colorful turbans or sarees, and receive insights regarding their importance. Continue to Jaipur and check into your hotel.
Day 7: Jaipur & Diwali Celebration at Suryaa Villa
Breakfast & dinner.
- Morning tour of Jaipur including a brief stop at the Hawa Mahal and a visit to the Amber Fort, ancient capital of Rajasthan
- Afternoon at leisure to explore Jaipur
- This evening enjoy a special dinner celebration for Diwali, the "Festival of Lights"
Full Day Itinerary: This morning's tour starts with a brief photo stop at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds). Its beehive-like structure is an interplay of red and pink sand stone, painstakingly outlined with white borders and motifs. Behind this elaborate latticed facade, the cloistered ladies of the court could watch the daily goings-on in the street below.
Then, continue to the imposing Amber Fort, ancient capital of Rajasthan. The fort was begun in the 17th century by Maharaja Mansingh, Emperor Akbar's most successful general. Perched atop the Aravalli hills overlooking the Moat Lake, the fort's fortified battlements and crenellated walls spread over many acres. Ascend to the fortress by jeep to view the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls, many of them hung with magnificent paintings and inlaid with precious stones.
This afternoon, explore the markets and lanes of Jaipur on your own. Known as the Pink City, Jaipur is India's first and perhaps best planned city, full of beauty and color. Here you find 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.
This evening enjoy a special dinner celebration for Diwali, the "Festival of Lights". Join your fellow travelers and a traditional Indian family at Suryaa Villa, where the group is greeted by Thakur Surya Pratap Singh & his family in traditional Rajput attire. They will also provide traditional Turbans & Sarees to each group member. The Diwali festival celebrations begin with special Diwali Puja and prayer ceremony with the family followed by fireworks, rangoli, flower work decoration, henna (mehndi) and cultural folk dances followed by dinner with a noble Rajput family. It is an authentic experience and a great way to see traditional Indian Diwali celebration in action.
*Kindly note that you will see elephant rides offered around the Amber Fort. However, Friendly Planet Travel has made the compassionate decision to not include elephant rides in our itineraries, as the process to train these brilliant animals is not up to our ethical standards as it is painful and involves "breaking" so they don't pose a risk of attacking humans. In addition, elephant backbones are delicate and not meant to carry the weight of saddles and people. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Optional Excursion: Jaipur City Tour including the City Palace & Jantar Mantar Observatory, $30. Take an optional excursion to some of the city's famous pink sandstone buildings, including the City Palace Museum, housing the magnificent art collections of the Maharajas of Jaiputo. At the entrance to the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, the largest of five observatories founded by classical astronomer Sawai Jai Singh II nearly three centuries ago. Its 14 massive masonry instruments are extraordinarily precise and were used for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars' location as the earth orbits around the sun ascertaining the declinations of planets, and more.
Day 8: Jaipur & Depart Delhi
Breakfast & dinner.
- In the morning, depart for Delhi via motor-coach and transfer to the airport
- Enjoy an included dinner, then board your return flight home
- Passengers taking the optional Nepal extension will overnight in New Delhi at the Novotel New Delhi Aerocity, or similar. Continue on Day 9 of the extension itinerary below.
Day 9: Arrive USA
- Your memorable journey ends today when you arrive in the USA
Optional Excursions Package: $59
Save by pre-booking a discounted package of our most popular optional excursions:
- Itmad-Ud-Daulah (Day 4)
- Agra Fort (Day 5)
- Mehtab Bagh (Day 5)
- Jaipur City Tour including City Palace & Jantar Mantar Observatory (Day 7)
You can book these excursions individually in India. But you can save over $30 if you purchase this special package ahead of time—with or before your final payment. These are not "seat in coach" excursions that pick up passengers at various hotels; all are operated for Friendly Planet groups only.
Take advantage of your already included airfare and add an optional extension to mysterious Nepal. The Nepal Extension includes 1 night in Delhi, round trip flights from Delhi to Kathmandu, 3 nights in Kathmandu with a full touring program, transfers, buffet breakfast daily and a farewell dinner and performance. Passengers taking the Nepal Extension will return to the U.S. 4 days later than the return dates shown. Note: Due to the earthquake in April 2015, many of Nepal's stupas and other sites are under ongoing renovations.
Day 9: Delhi & Kathmandu, Nepal
3 nights Hyatt Regency Kathmandu or similar. Breakfast.
- Transfer to the airport to take a short flight to Kathmandu, Nepal
- You will be met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel
- Welcome drink will be served on arrival at your hotel
- Later, visit Boudhanath, one of the world’s largest stupas
Full Day Itinerary: Transfer to the airport for your flight to Kathmandu. Having cleared immigration, collect your luggage and pass through customs. Upon exiting the terminal you will be met and transferred to your hotel and a welcome drink will be served upon arrival. After check-in, take a walk with your guide to Boudhanath which is possibly the world's largest Buddhist stupa. Around the stupa a number of monasteries have sprung up including one that houses an enormous seated statue of Maitreya Buddha splendidly adorned.
Day 10: Kathmandu, Patan City & Swoyambhunath
- Optional morning flight over Mt. Everest
- After breakfast, travel to Patan City south of Kathmandu
- In the afternoon, visit the National Museum and Swoyambhunath, the ‘monkey temple’
Full Day Itinerary: This morning you will have an opportunity to experience an optional early morning scenic flight over Mt. Everest and the breathtaking Himalayas. After breakfast, visit Patan City located just south of Kathmandu in the Kathmandu Valley. The official name of the city is Lalitpur, meaning city of fine art. Walk from Kumaripati through the narrow streets, curios shops and bazaars. On the way, visit the Golden Temple and then go to Patan Durbar Square where you will see the sky piercing temple of Taleju.
In the afternoon, drive to Swoyambhunath. En route, make a stop at the National Museum to see a splendid collection of weapons and artifacts from ancient, medieval and modern Nepal. Continue to Swoyambhunath, also known as the "Monkey Temple" which is said to be over 2,000 years old and one of the world's most fabulous Buddhist temples. Situated on top of a high hill where legendary Manjushri discovered the lotus growing in the ancient Kathmandu Valley Lake, Swoyambhunath commands a superb view of the valley below.
Optional Excursion: Mt. Everest Flyover, $199 (purchased locally). Early this morning you will have an opportunity to experience an optional Mt. Everest scenic flight over the breathtaking Himalayas, weather permitting. This optional excursion must be purchased locally.
Day 11: Kathmandu & Bhaktapur
Breakfast & dinner.
- Enjoy a morning visit to Bhaktapur Durbar Square
- This afternoon visit Kathmandu Durbar Square at the heart of the old city
- In the evening, enjoy a Nepalese farewell dinner and performance
Full Day Itinerary: In the morning, drive to Bhaktapur Durbar Square, located in the center of Bhaktapur. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the valley and is home to some of the finest medieval arts of Nepal. Here you’ll see the Lion Gate, the Golden Gate, Nyatapola Temple and statues of the kings of Nepal.
In the afternoon, drive back to Kathmandu and visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, located in the heart of the old city. Visit Kumari temple, Taleju temple, Shiv Parvati temple, and Kal Bhairav. On a walk through a local bazaar, you will discover the true heart of Kathmandu in the sights, sounds and smells. This evening, join your fellow travelers for Nepalese farewell dinner and dance performance.
Day 12: Kathmandu & Depart Delhi
- Enjoy the morning at leisure in Kathmandu to shop and explore independently
- Transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi
- Bid farewell to India & Nepal as you board your overnight return flight to the USA
Day 13: Arrive USA
- Your memorable journey ends today when you arrive in the USA
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- What should I know before I go? We've compiled a comprehensive checklist, including information on how to pay your balance due, flights & transfers, packing & luggage, and more.
- Do I need a visa or other documents? Are there any entry requirements? Travel visas are required for this package. Please review the visa & entry requirements.
- Can I make changes to my trip? Want to upgrade your seats? Depart from another city? Stay a few extra days? Something else? Just ask!
- Can I bring my kids? Are there any age restrictions? To book this package, you must be 18 or older. Your traveling companions must be 12 or older at time of travel.
- Should I purchase travel insurance? Yes! We recommend you purchase travel insurance to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. For your convenience, we offer a plan provided by Travelex Insurance Services.
- What's the fine print? Review the terms & conditions for this package.
- What should I know about India? Check out our guide for practical travel tips, the best time to go, videos, and more.
- What should I know about Nepal? Check out our guide for practical travel tips, the best time to go, videos, and more.
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