Day 1 UK - Delhi
Today, you'll fly to Delhi on an overnight flight.
Day 2 DelhiArrive in Delhi where you'll have free time to explore at your leisure. This evening we will gather at the hotel to meet our travelling companions over a welcome dinner and drinks.
Meals included: D
Day 3 Delhi - Dholpur
This morning we will explore Lutyens Delhi, followed by a visit to the Agrasen ki Baori stepwell. We'll then head to Rajasthan, where we'll stay in a charming, sleepy little town called Dholpur, packed with historical forts and monuments. Rajasthan is thought to be the setting of 'Mowgli's Brothers', a short story penned by Rudyard Kipling. But first, we'll travel to Agra, where we'll realise many a dream as we make our pilgrimage to the wonderful Taj Mahal, described by Kipling as 'an embodiment of all things pure'. This beautiful white marble mausoleum was painstakingly built over 22 years by Emperor Shah Jahan to celebrate and honour Mumtaz Mahal, his beloved wife who tragically died in childbirth. It is a symbol of eternal love, and we'll share a magical moment when we see it at dusk when it transforms from sparkling white to blush pink. Whilst in Agra you will have the chance to try one of the most iconic foods of the city. Petha is a soft candy and is prepared from white pumpkin or ash gourd (winter melon), mixed with nuts to give its unique flavour.
We'll also visit the Agra Fort, just across the Yamuna River. Created by several rulers of the Mughal Dynasty, the fort was transformed into a glittering palace by Shah Jahan. Many years later, the Fort became a gilded cell, where he was imprisoned for eight years when his son Aurangzeb overthrew him in 1658.Meals included: B
Day 4 Dholpur - at Leisure
After breakfast together, we'll drive to Chambal and explore the rich heritage held within its valley. Join your fellow travellers on an optional excursion where you can catch your first sight of a majestic Sarus crane or graceful Ganges River dolphins leaping in the air on an exciting river cruise. We'll sail along the Chambal River with a trained naturalist who will teach us about the river's wildlife. You might spot turtles enjoying the sun, and keep a lookout for gharial and mugger crocodiles. Expert boatsmen will carefully take us near the wildlife without disturbing the animals.
If you choose to spend today at leisure, your hotel features a swimming pool, indoor/outdoor games, a library, shopping arcade and horse-riding facilities. It's also well placed for a day of exploration if you prefer. Close by you can discover a stepwell, an ancient water storage system, and the ruins of the Shergarh fort.
Day 5 Dolpur - Orchha
We've got a fantastic day ahead of us. After breakfast, we'll drive to laid-back Orchha, which lies on the Betwa River. Flying a little more under the radar compared to its neighbour Khajuraho with its erotic sculptures, Orchha has a relaxed vibe and plenty of medieval charm. En route, we'll make a stop at Gwalior, an imposing sandstone fort set atop a picturesque hilltop overlooking the city.
Reminiscent of a bygone royal era, Orchha is a feast for the senses, dotted with vibrant ochre palaces and ancient forts. We'll indulge in some sightseeing, absorbing the town's famous sacred temples. These surviving relics were built by the Bundela rulers in the 16th and 17th century.
Next, we'll visit the ornate, multi-storey palace of Jahangir Mahal. The expansive 136-room citadel boasts eight elegant domes, walls adorned with intricate panels and stylish hanging terraces. Built by Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor, he named the palace after his son, Jahangir, and mainly used it for his Rajput royal wives. We'll take photos under the beautiful arches and marvel at the glorious palace, carved from a single piece of stone.
Next, we'll make our way to the magnificent Ram Raja temple, enclosed within the grand square. Up to 3,000 Hindu worshippers pray here every day. As the only temple in India that features Lord Rama as a king, it's said that those who look at his left toe will have their wishes come true. We might even experience an invigorating arti ceremony, where light is offered to deities within the temple.
Day 6 Orchha - Panna National Park
We'll make our way through Central India to Panna today. First, we'll stop at the Khajuraho temples within India's Vindhya Mountain Range. According to local legend, gods and deities - including Shiva the destroyer - enjoyed praying here.
The temples were creatively built by mighty warrior kings from the Chandela dynasty. However, the temples are well-known around the world for their intricate carvings featuring erotic poses from the Kama Sutra, of which only 22 of the original 85 carvings have survived. We'll tour the monuments and will have plenty of opportunities for photos.
When we arrive in Panna, we'll get some much-needed rest as we'll be up bright and early tomorrow for our morning safari in Panna National Park.
Day 7 Panna National Park
Today's the day to truly immerse yourself in pristine natural beauty and imagine you're in Kipling's 'Just So Stories'. We'll set off for tranquil Panna National Park for an exhilarating game drive. Wait in breathtaking awe for a glimpse of a leopard running through the wilderness and rolling savannah grasslands.
From the safety and comfort of our Jeep, we could easily spot any or all of the following, big cats, antelopes, hyenas, sloths, deer, monkeys, wild dogs and over 300 species of bird. Pinch yourself as you listen to the sounds of the jungle and take in the lush backdrop of 550 square kilometres of stunning scenery. Plunging gorges, cascading waterfalls and rolling savannah grasslands await you.
In the afternoon, we'll have plenty of time at leisure to unwind at our hotel.
Day 8 Panna National Park - Bandhavgarh National Park
Today, we've got a long but very enjoyable drive ahead of us that really gives us an insight into the remoteness and peaceful tranquillity of Central India.
Hopefully, we'll be rewarded tomorrow, when we visit Bandhavgarh National Park in search of an elusive Bengal tiger. Upon arrival, we'll check into our hotel and get some sleep, as we've got a big day ahead of us.
Day 9 Bandhavgarh National Park
A dizzying array of wildlife awaits us in Bandhvagarh National Park. Boasting the highest population of tigers in India, this is perhaps your best chance to see one in its natural habitat.
Although we'll hope to see an elusive Bengal tiger, it's not all about the big cats here. You're likely to spot a grazing great gaur – an Indian bison. When we get to more open swathes of wilderness, look out for nilgai, a fascinating species of Asian antelope, and barking deer roaming free across the land. A plethora of bird species also call the park home. You're certain to take some amazing photographs and make memories you'll treasure forever.
The lush green landscape is framed with steep, 800-metre-high cliffs and dotted with deep valleys. At the highest point, we'll find the park's namesake Bandhavgarh Fort, standing proudly over an auburn forest floor and a mottled canopy of trees. The fort is considered to be over 2,000 years old. Scattered around the park there are also numerous caves shrouded in mystery and housing shrines and ancient Sanskrit inscriptions.
On arrival back at our hotel, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing with your fellow travellers.
Day 10 Bandhavgarh National Park - Kanha National Park
We're really getting into the swing of jungle life now, and after breakfast, we'll journey by road to Kanha. Relax as you admire Central India's superb scenery and when we arrive, we'll enjoy a leisurely day exploring our new surroundings.
Tomorrow, we're off in pursuit of the King of the Jungle once more - majestic tigers await you in Kanha National Park, where 'The Jungle Book' comes to life.
Day 11 Kanha National Park
Today, fans of Rudyard Kipling's iconic childhood stories are in for a real treat. Arguably India's most impressive wildlife reserve, Kanha National Park is widely considered to be the inspiration for 'The Jungle Book'. This thrilling park is also known as the Kanha Tiger Reserve, so you're likely to see your very own Shere Khan here. We're going on morning and afternoon safaris where we'll look out for royal Bengal tiger footprints and listen for their magnificent roars.
Amongst the 950 square kilometres of peaceful rivers and lush rolling hills, we might spot pythons slithering through the grass like vengeful Kaa, wolves reminiscent of those who raised Mowgli and sloth bears just like Baloo. Get up close and imagine yourself in the 'Just So Stories', with savannah that stretches as far as the eye can see.
Although Kipling never visited Kanha, he was enthralled by his friends' photographs and the writers who travelled to the Seoni region – we'll see for ourselves how the park inspired every page. When we've soaked up the evocative atmosphere, we'll retreat to our hotel for a delightful evening meal together.
Day 12 Kanha National Park - Mumbai
As we return to reality, we're off to Rudyard Kipling's birthplace, the bustling, modern metropolis of Mumbai. A cosmopolitan melting pot, it's the perfect contrast of old and new. Lapped by the Arabian Sea, Mumbai – or Bombay, as Kipling would have known it – lies on the coast of Western India. Here, shiny, towering offices and apartment blocks jostle with the colonial Gothic architecture of times gone by.
We'll be welcomed by the Gateway to India's looming arch over the seaside harbour. This evening maybe take a stroll around the port to take in the original Art Deco cinemas and visit the sublime Taj Palace Hotel in all its architectural glory.
Day 13 Mumbai - UK
This morning, we'll transfer you to Nagpur airport for your flight back to the UK.Meals included: B
Additional InformationPlease note: Due to the nature of these holidays, other travellers will join or leave the tour at different times.