varanasi ganges ghats temples

Sunrise on the Ganges River in Varanasi

India is full of mystery and magic, and nowhere is this more evident than in the holy city of Varanasi. Western visitors have come here since the Middle Ages to marvel at the scene of devotees, seekers, pilgrims, and cremations along the river.

Photo by Moustafellou/IML / ageFotostock

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Passage to India

A Cultural and Natural History Pilgrimage
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 27 days
Arrive: Kolkata, India
Depart: Mumbai, India
Lodging: 26 nights in deluxe hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Overland travel and cultural exploration


  • Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Udaipur, Rajasthan’s medieval fortress-cities
  • Holy city of Varanasi, with boat rides at dawn and sunset
  • Ajanta and Ellora, with their treasury of Buddhist cave art
  • Legendary Taj Mahal

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

This journey carves a full arc across northern India, taking in thousands of years of history and a myriad of fascinating cultures along the way. We explore the tranquil pilgrimage town of Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha gained enlightenment, and discover the Hindu holy city of Varanasi as we boat along the Ganges at dawn, watching spectacular Hindu prayer rituals. Heading to the desert cities of Rajasthan—Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Udaipur—we visit medieval forts, airy palaces of marble and onyx, and vibrant bazaars. The erotic 10th century temples of Khajuraho are also on our journey as well as the Taj Mahal in Agra at full moon and sunrise. For our grand finale, we savor Ajanta and Ellora, two World Heritage Sites that preserve a treasury of art in monumental cave sanctuaries dating to the 5th century. Join us to encounter an array of peoples of different faiths, watch temple rituals dating back thousands of years, sample tangy cuisines, listen to local music, watch folk dances, and experience the wonder that is Mother India.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-8
Kolkata / Bodh Gaya / Varanasi / Khajuraho

We fly from Kolkata (Calcutta) to explore the ancient Buddhist pilgrim town of Bodh Gaya then take the train to Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world, to explore along the Ganges. At Khajuraho, we view magnificent temples that are among the most creative examples of Indian architecture.

Days 9-13
Taj Mahal / Ramthambore National Park

With both moonlight and sunrise excursions, we take in the glory of the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, then explore Ranthambore, former hunting preserve of the maharajahs of Jaipur, where we set out for a day of gameviewing, on the lookout for wild boar, grey langur, and marsh crocodiles.

Days 14-21
Jaipur / Jodhpur / Jaisalmer / Udaipur

We explore the famed "pink city" of Jaipur, with its splendid City Palace, then drive to ancient Jodhpur, dubbed the Blue City for the indigo color-wash of its old town houses. Jodhpur brings us the vibrancy of Rajasthan on a princely scale, and in Jaisalmer, a romantic and unspoiled gem of a city that dates to 1156 AD, we visit mansions of golden sandstone decorated with intricately carved wood. Our last stop in Rajasthan is Udaipur, a dream of India come true with its marble palaces rising from a deep blue lake.

Days 22-27
Ellora and Ajanta

We visit Ellora, with its amazing wealth of rock-cut caves full of 7th century religious art and sculptures, and the marvelous Ajanta caves to see the full spectrum of Buddhist development in India in a swirling profusion of murals, among the finest works of religious art in existence. Our last stop is the World Heritage Site of Elephanta, inspired by the worship of Shiva. We depart from Mumbai on Day 27.

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated 2, easy to moderate, according to our trip grading system. It is a vehicle-based cultural and wildlife adventure. Accommodations are in hotels and lodges. Although this is not a difficult trip, please remember that overland travel in India can be an adventure. The essential requirements are flexibility, a sense of humor, curiosity, enthusiasm about new peoples and places, and an openness to the unexpected.

Explanation of Trip Levels