A customized india itinerary with banyan tours
India is a country full of distinctive destinations. As one of the most diverse countries in the world, landscapes vary from the snowbound Himalayas of the north to the tropical beaches in the south. In between, you’ll find lush jungles, vast deserts, and most important of all, the River Ganges, which flows through the heart of the entire country.
Visiting India is all about the story – the lores, mythology, the opulent forts and palaces; the intricately carved temples; remote rituals, performing arts, and traditional arts and crafts. The extraordinary range of cuisines and stunning vistas all come together to create a book of vibrant pictures and a lifetime of memories.
India offers something special and exciting for every traveler for any occasion from family getaways and honeymoons to spiritual journeys and rich experiences for culture-seekers. Today we are featuring two sample itineraries from our friends at Banyan Tours. Activities, outings, and hotels can be tailored to your interests for the most personal and authentic experience of this Far East destination.
Itinerary #1 • Northern India • 12-14 days on the ground
Perfect for the first-time visitor, Rajasthan (Jaipur, Udaipur, and Jodhpur), Agra and Varanasi provide a fantastic overview of India’s diversity.
Journeys begin in Delhi, the capital of India and home to 16 million people. Learn of the city’s storied past: the strategic location of the city made it an attractive location for invading armies, and it served as the capital for many great empires that ruled India. Driving through the city you will see ruins from previous capitals, the earliest dating back to the 12th century.
From Delhi, you will travel to Varanasi - known as the spiritual heart of India and one of seven holy cities. Travelers have the opportunity to experience the city’s unique transformation throughout the course of a day. The morning is vibrant when the Ghats (steps) along the river are teeming with people worshipping in the morning sun, practicing yoga, bathing or doing laundry. At dusk, the river is calmer, and the day ends with a beautiful aarti (fire) ceremony. For the intrepid traveler, there is a night walk through the narrow lanes of the Old City, past shrines and sacred ponds, and past the great cremation ground where one can hear the dark practices of the Aghors.
Next, fly to Agra where you will be awestruck by the serenity and beauty of the Taj Mahal. Then continue to Ranthambore National Park where you search for the magnificent and elusive royal Bengal tiger in the dense Indian jungle.
No journey through Rajasthan is complete without exploring and shopping for textiles in the Pink City of Jaipur, seeing the romantic lakes and palaces of Udaipur and exploring the rugged beauty of Jodhpur just on the edge of the Indian desert. Some of the highlights include private tours of forts and palaces, discovering local artistry and performing arts, spending time with elephants, and enjoying gorgeous sunsets in the desert.
Delhi: Oberoi, Leela Palace
Varanasi: Brijrama Palace and Taj Nadesar palace
Agra: Oberoi Amarvilas
Ranthambore National Park: Aman I Khas, Sujan Sherbagh
Jaipur: Taj Rambagh Palace, Sujan Rajmahal Palace
Oberoi: Rajvilas, Samode Haveli (boutique)
Udaipur: Oberoi Udaivilas, Taj Lake Palace
Jodhpur: Taj Umaid Bhavan Palace, Raas (boutique)
Itinerary #2 • Southern India • 12-14 days on the ground
Perfect for travelers returning to India or who want to dive deeper into the country’s history and culture.
The Southern Indian Peninsula is flanked by the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. In between the coasts lies an astonishing diversity of towering colorful temples, tropical rainforests, lost empires and a handful of UNESCO world heritage sites. Southern Indian history predates that of northern India, making the heritage of this region the bedrock of the country. Journeys to Southern India can begin in either Mumbai, Hyderabad or Chennai.
Chennai, formerly known as Madras, was once a collection of fishing villages. The fourth largest city in India, Chennai is considered to be the keeper of South Indian artistic, religious and culinary traditions.
Next, travelers will visit Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to 400 ancient monuments and Hindu temples.
Next is the former French colony of Pondicherry, followed by a drive through the beautiful valley of the Kaveri River to the heart of Tamil Nadu. This area is abundant in temple architecture, most dating back to the 9th to 13th centuries.
Over the next four days, you will visit Thanjavur and Madurai and see awe-inspiring temples, ancient rituals, and witness some of the oldest art and performing arts in India.
Then you will head to Kerala- the southernmost state in India. Search for Asian elephants in Periyar National Park before a visit to the spice and tea plantations. Explore the famous series of canals of the Kerala backwaters by way of small boats, visiting areas tourists rarely visit.
Take a couple of days to rejuvenate at a spa and then continue to the harbor town of Cochin where Jewish, British, Dutch and the Portuguese all influenced the architecture, cuisine and culture of the city.
You will end in the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai. Known as India’s most dynamic city, Mumbai illustrates the many paradoxes of India. Some 18 million people inhabit this teeming metropolis - from billionaire tycoons to homeless pavement dwellers. While it is India’s financial capital with one of the busiest ports in India, Mumbai is also home to Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry.
Alternatively, end your journey in Hyderabad. Founded in 1591 by Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah, an enlightened poet, scholar and patron of arts, his kingdom flourished as the center of trade for pearls, diamonds and horses. Today, the famous Kohinoor, one of the world’s largest cut diamonds, sits in the crown worn by British royalty. Hyderabad is famous for its beautiful monuments and mosques with many of them still in existence. The city has a mix of customs in addition to Hindu ones reflective of the country’s influence from the Arabs, Persians, and Turks. This unique culture dates back to the Nizams, who were considered to be the richest men in the world, who married into the Turkish royal family.
Chennai: The Leela, Taj Coromandel
Pondicherry: Palais De Mahe
Madurai: Vivanta by Taj; Courtyard by Marriott
Periyar National Park: Spice Village; Anavisalam
Backwater Spa: Carnoustie Ayurveda and Wellness Resort
Cochin: Brunton Boatyard, Malabar House
Mumbai: Taj Mahal Palace, the Oberoi
Hyderabad: Taj Falaknuma Palace
No matter which itinerary you choose to follow or which region you explore, you will no doubt leave India with memories of the rich heritage of this ancient land.