Temple Touring & Tiger Spotting
This 14-day trip will see you temple touring around Gwalior, Orchha and the UNESCO protected Khajuraho before changing the pace and tiger spotting (fingers crossed) in Panna and Bandhavgarh National Park. There will also be some time to enjoy city life in both Delhi and Mumbai.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Wander around the temples in UNESCO recognised Khajuraho
- Spot tigers in Bandhavgarh
- Enjoy a food tour in Mumbai with a local Parsee food critic
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When To Travel
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Day 1: Arrive
Once you have landed in Delhi and passed through immigration, you'll be met by one of our team and transferred to your hotel.
After checking in and freshening up you have the rest of the day to start exploring and getting your bearings in this bustling city. Our Concierge will be on hand to suggest places to see, and where to enjoy lunch.
Day 2: Discovering Delhi
Get up early today for a full-day exploring Delhi with your private guide and starting in the narrow lanes and thronged bazaars of Old Delhi. While wandering you can soak up the atmosphere and pay visits to some of the more major tourist attractions such as the famous Red Fort, the Jama Masjid with its tapering minarets and wonderful marble domes, and Chandni Chowk bazaar.
After a quick stop for lunch this afternoon you'll visit the contrasting New Delhi, all wide boulevards and formal parks. Visit sites such as Qutab Minar, Humayun's Tomb (which was built in the 16th century and is considered the forerunner of the Taj Mahal, architecturally) and the Parliament Building.
After a busy day exploring, make your way back to your hotel to freshen up before dinner. Our Concierge can suggest and book a restaurant.
Day 3: To Gwalior
Today enjoy a relaxed morning in Delhi before checking out. You will then be driven to the busy, bustling Delhi train station in good time to catch your train to Gwalior.
The journey is around three hours so settle in and enjoy your first glimpses of rural Indian life passing by the train window. When you reach Gwalior another of our ground team will be waiting to meet you and drive you to your nearby hotel. The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to relax.
Day 4: Exploring Gwalior
Spend today exploring your new surroundings with a guide. Start at Gwalior Fort, which is perched on top of a hilltop with great views. Next up is Gujari Mahal Palace, where there is an archaeology museum, and then Sas Bahu Ka Mandir where you'll find the remnants of the twin towers that made up the temple. Finally, end the tour at Jai Vilas Palace, which has a fascinating history, including the story of the installation of its two huge chandeliers. Apparently the architect parading several elephants on the roof to show it could take the weight of the chandeliers!
After your tour, finish up back at your hotel. Gwalior is renowned for its foodie culture, so our Concierge can recommend and book a table at one of the best local restaurants.
Day 5: To Orchha
It's back on the road today as you leave Gwalior behind and head to Orchha. The drive is about three-and-a-half-hours so get up early to make the most of the day.
When you arrive you'll have some time to settle into your new surroundings and then we have arranged a sightseeing tour of the city with a local guide. Orchha was once the capital of the Bundela Kingdom of the 16th and 17th centuries and you'll visit some of the rulers' majestic surviving monuments. The city is also home to the spectacular Fort complex, which includes the beautiful Jahangir Mahal citadel and the religious murals of the Raj Mahal.
Day 6: To Panna
Continue your Indian tour this morning as you move on to Panna, a drive of around five hours. Just before you arrive you'll stop to see the UNESCO-protected Khajuraho, where around 20 Hindu and Jain temples remain.
As you explore with your guide, take in the detailed sculpture work and carvings (many of them of an erotic nature) and learn more about the history of this extraordinary place.
After your fill of exploring, head back to the car to make the short drive into Panna where you'll be taken to your lodge on the edge of Panna Tiger Reserve.
Day 7: Panna Tiger Reserve
Rise early this morning to enjoy a shared morning 4x4 safari into the Panna Tiger Reserve. This little-known gem of a reserve, made up of long grasslands and dry forests, is a great place to spot some of India's varied wildlife. Birders should be particularly alert for birds of prey and lovers of four-legged creatures should be on the look out for tigers and leopards.
After the game drive, enjoy a few hours catching up on some R&R after a busy couple of days. Then, when the heat of the day starts to fade, head back out on the shared afternoon game drive to spot some more wildlife. When you get back dinner will be served at your lodge.
Day 8: Boating and onto Bandhavgarh
This morning, forgo the 4x4 safari for a few hours on the River Ken.
Another great spot for birders, the river is home to all manner of winged creatures including kingfishers, storks, ducks and eagle owls. For those who are less interested in the birding, the serenity of cruising along the peaceful waterways should definitely still be experienced.
When you get back on dry land, have something to eat and then meet your guide to hit the road headed to your lodge in Banhavgarh National Park. The journey is another relatively long one at five-and-a-half-hours.
Days 9-10: Bandhavgarh National Park
The next two days will be spent exploring Bandhavgarh National Park, where you'll find the highest density of tigers in the world, along with all manner of other wildlife. For the Attenborough fans among you, this was also the filming location for the tigers episode of the Dynasties series.
The park has a network of tracks meaning 4x4 safaris can be enjoyed twice daily. Join an expert driver-guide and a dedicated tracker to search for tigers, using the guide's knowledge of tiger alarm calls and habits to locate them. As well as tiger spotting opportunities while on safari, look out for panthers, wolves, hyenas, wild dogs, barking deer, sloth bears and 80 different species of butterfly.
Day 11: To Mumbai
After a few days enjoying the lush landscapes in Bandhavgarh, today head back to city life.
The journey to Mumbai begins with a four-hour drive to Jabalpur Airport. The flight time from here to Mumbai is just two hours so you'll be landing and met by one of our local Mumbai drivers in no time.
When you have been transferred to your hotel in the city centre and checked in the rest of the evening is yours to spend as you please. Our Concierge will be able to recommend and book a restaurant in this most fun of cities.
Day 12: Meandering in Mumbai
Spend a full day getting to grips with life in Mumbai today. Accompanied by a local guide who will collect you from your hotel in the morning, head out as the sun rises and the city wakes up.
As you explore in the early hours of the day you'll get a unique insight into the life of the locals by watching the newspaper delivery at Victoria Terminus station, fisherman coming to dock with their catches of the day at Sassoon Docks, and fruit and veg being set up on stalls at the Crawford Market.
After the tour you have a few hours at leisure before meeting another local guide for a foodie-focused tour. Your local guide is a Parsee food critic and they will take you to one of the Parsee (Indian Zoroastrian) communities to sample their distinctive cuisine and learn more about this people who originally came to India from Iran in the 10th century to escape persecution. Expect to head to bed full of new knowledge and importantly, lots of great food.
Day 13: More Mumbai
Start your last day with a trip to the Hindu temples at Elephanta Caves UNESCO site. Your guide will collect you for the hour-long journey across the harbour to the island home of the temples, which are carved out of the solid rock and reached by a gentle incline up 140 steps. Spend some time learning about the temples and their creation.
Back in central Mumbai this afternoon, visit Dharavi. One of the largest slums in Asia, the narrow lanes here are a hive of activity and entrepreneurship, with some of the leading fashion designers of the world sourcing their accessories from this area. As old as Mumbai and originally home to the Koli fisherfolk, today the economy in Dharavi is believed to be worth nearly £400 million and you'll hear about the communities many heart-warming rags to riches stories.
After exploring and meeting some of the locals, head back to your hotel to freshen up for a special last night dinner, which our Concierge can book for you.
Day 14: Home Time
Say goodbye to Mumbai and India today as you are transferred to the airport in good time for your flight home.
Frances is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.