As one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism, the holy city of Varanasi is a magnet for more than a million pilgrims from around the world who come annually to worship, meditate, and bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges River. With your private guide, stroll through ancient alleys and past golden temples and ashrams, and watch the slanting sun rise over haunting riverside ghats. At the World Heritage Site of Khajuraho, discover some of India’s most famous temples, a showcase of sculpture reflecting the celebration of human activity in everyday life. Accommodations throughout are in garden-set hotels, oases of comfort after an active day of exploring.
Delhi / Varanasi
From Delhi, airport transfer to fly to Varanasi in eastern Uttar Pradesh for an afternoon tour of this vibrant city, the “timeless soul of India,” with its ancient alleys, golden temples, ashrams, and riverside ghats. In the evening, witness the aarthi light ceremony along the Ganges. Overnight at hotel...Meals on your own
In the early morning, enjoy a boat trip on the Ganges in the hope of seeing pilgrims making their devotions against the backdrop of centuries-old temples—one of the most famous sights in India. The river, believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals, is fronted by numerous ghats, a series of steps leading to the water that are used by bathers and pilgrims. It is considered auspicious to die in Varanasi and some devout Hindus move here at the end of their lives and have their ashes scattered in the holy waters of the Ganges. After breakfast, visit some of the city’s famous temples. In the afternoon, explore Sarnath, with its clusters of temples and ruins that attract Buddhist pilgrims from around the world. At Sarnath stands the famous Ashoka Pillar, whose lion capital has been adopted by the Republic of India as its state emblem. Optional visit to the lively Chowk Bazaar, where everything from fresh naan to opulent silk fabrics to silver jewelry is sold. Overnight at hotel...B
Varanasi / Khajuraho
Fly to Khajuraho in northern Madhya Pradesh. Khajuraho, a World Heritage Site, is home to the most famous of India’s temples, known for their remarkable erotic sculptures. Only about 20 temples survive from the 85 that were originally built, but they are among the finest in India. Enjoy an afternoon tour of the Western Hindu and Jain temples, with their pleasing and graceful depictions of deities, heavenly nymphs, mythical beasts, other figures and animals, and sensuous erotic art carved in the sandstone and granite faces. Overnight at hotel...B
Khajuraho / Delhi
After touring the Eastern temples, transfer to the airport for the flight to Delhi.