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Passage through Central India

Duration:
17 days / 16 nights
Destinations:
Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Orchha, Bhopal, Indore, Maheshwar, Burhanpur, Ajanta, Aurangabad, Mumbai
Price Guide:

Price guide for this 17 day Central India Tour is £3450 based on two people travelling.

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Overview

Journey through the heart of India and discover a world of rich culture and natural beauty on this spectacular 'Passage through Central India Tour'. If some places look familiar, scenes from the BBC drama, 'A Suitable Boy' was filmed in places like Lucknow and Maheshwar.

Explore the iconic city of Mumbai as well as Lucknow and Bhopal, visit the mesmerising sacred locations of Varanasi and Ujjain, discover a host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites steeped in fascinating history and experience local life Maheswar with a visit to the Rehwa Society weaving centre and local school.

Passage through Central India Tour Includes:

  • Full day tours of Lucknow, Sanchi and Mumbai
  • Spectacular Ganga Aarti ceremony and Ganges boat trip in Varanasi
  • Tours of Khajuraho, Orchha, Bhopal, Ujjain, Mandu and Burhanpur
  • Engage with local people and school children in Maheshwar
  • Visits to the iconic Ajanta and Ellora Caves
  • Quality hotels including specially selected heritage and traditional accommodation which embraces the local environment
  • Train journey aboard the Shatabdi Express
  • Airport meet and greet service. Chauffeur driven air-conditioned car throughout the tour

Please remember all our private tours are designed to meet your exact requirements and this is just an example to help inspire you.

This tour can be combined with a range of options such as a tour of South India or a beach extension in Goa.

 

Passage Through Central India - 17 Days / 16 Nights

Journey through the heart of India and discover a world of rich culture and natural beauty on this spectacular 'Passage through Central India Tour'.

Explore the iconic city of Mumbai, as well as Lucknow and Bhopal, visit the mesmerising sacred locations of Varanasi and Ujjain, discover a host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites steeped in fascinating history, and experience local life in Maheshwar with a visit to the Rehwa Society weaving centre and local school.

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Day 1: Arrive Delhi

Upon arrival at Delhi International Airport, you will be welcomed by your Authentic India Tours representative and taken to your hotel for an overnight stay.

The rest of the day is free for you to relax and enjoy the facilities of your hotel and the surrounding area. If you would like to discover Delhi please speak to the Authentic India Tours team when booking your holiday and they can arrange an additional night's accommodation and city tour.

Accommodation: Pullman New Delhi Aerocity
Meals included: Breakfast

 

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Day 2: Delhi - Lucknow

This morning you will be transferred to Delhi Airport for a flight to Lucknow, where, upon arrival you will be meet and transferred to your hotel.

Sprinkled with exceptional Islamic and British Raj era architecture, Lucknow is also cramped full of fascinating bazaars and is famous throughout India for its food.  Despite not being on the main tourist trail, this capital of Uttar Pradesh, is well worth seeing with much to offer. Central Lucknow features wide boulevards, epic monuments and several parks and gardens that contribute to an atmosphere of faded grandeur. Lucknow is a bit of a hidden gem where you'll experience fewer tourists.

Approximate travel time: 1 hour flight plus travel time to and from airports

Accommodation: Taj Mahal, Lucknow
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 3: Lucknow

Today's full day tour of Lucknow, is a chance to appreciate the many splendours of the city and to enjoy a rich dose of history, culture and wonderful cuisine. You will discover some amazing sights such as La Martiniere, Sadat Ali & Begum Tombs, The Residency, Asfi (Bara) Imambara, Rumi Darwaza and Hussainabad (Chota) Imambara.

As evening approaches you may also opt for a stroll at the Chowk Market or explore Hazratganj, a lively downtown area of bazaars, shopping complexes, restaurants and theatres.

Accommodation: Taj Mahal, Lucknow
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 4: Lucknow - Varanasi

After an early breakfast it’s quite a drive to Varanasi. This is not only one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities, but is also one of the holiest for Hindus because it is dedicated to the God Shiva. Pilgrims come to the Ganges to wash away sins in the sacred waters, to cremate their loved ones, or simply to die, hoping for liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

In the evening, you will witness the spectacular Ganga Aarti, a ceremonial worship of River Ganges which encompasses a magical mix of sounds, sights and smells to engage all your senses.

Approximate travel time and distance: 7 hours, 320 kms

Accommodation: Suryauday Haveli, Varanasi
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 5: Varanasi

This morning it's an early start for a peaceful boat ride on the Ganges where you will see devotees offering prayers at the water's edge. There will also be time to visit some of the ancient temples by the river bank.

Then in the afternoon you will be taken on a sightseeing tour of Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first public discourse and now home to many magnificent stupas and monasteries.

Accommodation: Suryauday Haveli, Varanasi
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 6: Varanasi - Khajuraho

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Varanasi Airport to board your flight to Khajuraho where you'll be met on arrival at Khajuraho Airport and taken to your hotel.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the small town of Khajuraho houses the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculpture. In the evening a visit to the Kandariya Mahadev, the Chaturbhuj and the Paraswanath temple has been arranged. 

Approximate travel time and distance: 1 hour flight plus travel time to and from airports

Accommodation: Radisson Jass, Khajuraho

Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 7: Khajuraho - Orchha

Today's drive to Orchha, nestled on the banks of River Betwa, takes about 4-5 hrs. This sleepy hamlet is home to fascinating temples and palaces revealing tales of battles between kings.

On your sightseeing tour of this charming medieval town dotted with palaces and cenotaphs of the Bundela rulers from the 16th and 17th century, you will visit the Jehangir and Raj Mahal Palaces of the royal family and the Ram Raja temple.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours 30 mins, 190 kms

Accommodation: Orchha Palace, Orcha
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 8: Orchha - Jhansi - Bhopal

A short 30 minute transfer will take you to Jhansi Railway Station to board the Shatabdi Express to Bhopal. This comfortable air-conditioned train leaves Jhansi late morning and takes about 3 hours.

You will be met on arrival at Bhopal Station and transferred to your hotel.

In the evening there is a sightseeing tour of the Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. The city is split by a pair of lakes, and offers two starkly contrasting cityscapes. South of the lakes are the modern offices and shopping centres, whereas to the north is Bhopal's Muslim dominated old city, a labyrinthine of mosques and crowded bazaars. About a quarter of Bhopal’s population is Muslim, and the women in black niqabs are reminders of the four female Islamic rulers, known as the Begums of Bhopal, who developed the city in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Approximate travel time: 3 hour train journey plus travel time

Accommodation: Jehan Numa Palace, Bhopal 
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 9: Bhopal

After breakfast, it's another full day of sightseeing with a days excursion to Sanchi. 

Sanchi is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop at overlooking Sanchi Town. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India and was originally commissioned by the Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC.

Accommodation: Jehan Numa Palace, Bhopal
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 10: Bhopal - Indore

After breakfast, the drive to the holy town of Ujjain takes about 3 1/2 hours.

As you weave your way between pilgrims along the river ghats, make an offering at some of Ujjain's famous temples, and get lost in the old city's maze of alleyways, you’ll see why the enchanting town has been attracting traders and pilgrims for hundreds of years. An undeniable energy pulses through the sacred sites, which isn’t surprising, given this is one of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities and also one of the four cities that hosts the gigantic Kumbh Mela pilgrimage festival every 12 years.

Following the visit, your journey continues with an hours drive to Indore.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours 30 mins, 240 kms

Accommodation: Radisson Blu, Indore
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 11: Indore - Mandu - Maheshwar

This morning the drive to Maheshwar takes about 4 -5 hours with a visit to picturesque Mandu along the way. Perched on a lovely green plateau, the area is forested with baobab trees, which were transported on ancient trade routes from Africa.

Mandu is also home to some of India’s finest examples of Afghan architecture. The plateau is littered with World Heritage listed palaces, tombs, monuments and mosques. Some cling to the edge of ravines, others stand beside lakes, while Rupmati’s Pavilion, the most romantic of all, sits serenely on the edge of the plateau, overlooking the vast plains below. Little more than a one street village, Mandu is a great place to spend some time exploring grand and beautiful architecture in a relaxed rural setting.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 -5 hours, 130 kms

Accommodation: Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
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Day 12: Maheshwar

After quite a lot of travelling, today is a day of leisure and the chance to appreciate the sights of Maheshwar.

There is plenty to see and do, which can easily be reached on foot from your centrally located heritage hotel. The Rehwa Society for hand‐loom weaving and the Ahilya School supported by Rehwa, offers a fascinating insight into local life and traditions. There are also temples to explore and local markets to discover. In you fancy venturing a little further you can take a trip across the river to stroll through the village of Navdatodi, or enjoy a walk or cycle ride through the rural countryside. Or why not visit the hotel's organic farm, swim in the garden pool or play petanque with cannon balls!

Accommodation: Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
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Day 13: Maheshwar - Burhanpur

After breakfast your tour continues to the city of Burhanpur which is situated on the banks of the Tapti River.

This evenings sightseeing tour will introduce you to this historic city, which dates back to 1400 AD, and was once the capital of the Mughal Kingdom. An important outpost of the Mughals, Burhanpur was known as the gateway to southern India for its strategic location.

Ruled by Shah Jahan for an extensive period, it is one of the most beautiful symbols of Mughal architecture and grandeur. The magnificent mosques, tombs and palaces give you a sense of what Mughal life was like at its peak.

Approximate travel time and distance: 4 hours, 170 kms

Accommodation: Ambar and Holiday Resort, Burhanpur
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 14: Burhanpur - Ajanta - Aurangabad

After an early breakfast the drive to the Ajanta Caves takes about 3 hours.

The Ajanta Caves are a marvel of art and architectural splendour. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dating from the 2nd century BC to 600 AD is a series of caves, carved out of rock by Buddhist monks. The wall paintings and sculptures housed within the collection of 26 monasteries and four temples is an astonishing sight.

After the tour your journey continues to Aurangabad.

Approximate travel time and distance: 6 hours 220 kms

Accommodation: WelcomHotel Rama International, Aurangabad
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 15: Aurangabad - Mumbai

Your morning excursion today is a visit to the Ellora Caves, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The impressive rock hewn temples and monasteries of Ellora are the meeting point of Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. In total there are 34 elaborate cave temples to enjoy.

Later you will be transferred to Aurangabad Airport to board your short flight to Mumbai. You will be met on arrival at Mumbai Airport and transferred to your hotel.

Accommodation: Trident Hotel, Nariman Point Mumbai
Meals included: Breakfast
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Day 16 - Mumbai

This morning a boat trip from the Gateway of India will take you to explore the awe inspiring Elephanta Caves. A renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Elephanta Caves are one of Mumbai’s most spectacular temple sites, boasting a precious collection of Hindu temple art. The Elephanta Cave Temples date back to 600 AD and are named after the elephant statue that once stood near the island’s shore. On your return there will be views of the Mumbai skyline including the Gateway of India and the Taj Palace Hotel.

In the afternoon it is time to explore Mumbai with a sightseeing tour. This will include a visit to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum), the colourful Crawford Market and Dhobi Talao.

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Day 17 - Transfer to Mumbai Airport

In plenty of time you will be transferred to Mumbai Airport to board your return flight.

Alternatively, if you have time, you could spend a couple more days exploring Mumbai, add a South India Tour or you could enjoy a beach extension in relaxing Goa or visit an invigorating spa.

Accommodation

Hotel Pullman New Delhi Aerocity

If you're looking for the perfect place to rest before or after your flight, the Pullman New Delhi Aerocity is a fabulous choice. This modern hotel complex has top-of-the-range facilities, along with a luxury spa, swimming pool and gym. Try a range of cuisines and beverages in the numerous restaurants and bars, or head to the nearby shopping mall for some souvenirs.

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Taj Mahal, Lucknow

Enjoy a luxurious stay at the stately Taj Mahal, Lucknow, a beautiful hotel set in 20 acres of lavish lawns. This modern yet opulent accommodation is the perfect base for exploring Lucknow, and offers well-furnished comfortable rooms with modern furnishings. Relax and unwind in the colonial-inspired lounge bar, take a leisurely swim in the pool or try a range of cuisine in the restaurant or all-day cafe.

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Suryauday Haveli, Varanasi

Located on the Shivala Ghats, the Suryauday Haveli is a restored early 20th-century haveli reached by boat. The Haveli offers delicious vegetarian cuisine and complimentary morning yoga sessions. The roof terrace offers panoramic views of Varanasi and is the perfect place to relax with a drink and a snack to watch the sunset. 

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Radisson Jass, Khajuraho

Less than two kilometres away from the Western Group of Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies the Radisson Jass Khajuraho. The perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring, why not relax by or take a dip in the scenic outdoor pool, treat yourself to a massage or beauty treatment in the Temple Spa, or watch a puppet show in the recreation area.

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Orchha Palace, Madhya Pradesh

You can expect high quality accommodation and excellent service at the Orchha Palace and Convention Centre, featuring well-equipped, modern rooms. Start your day with a tasty free continental or buffet breakfast, and unwind after your sightseeing with a drink in the bar.

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Radisson Blu Hotel, Indore

Enjoy a relaxing stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel Indore, where you can benefit from modern rooms with great facilities in a serene neighbourhood location. The hotel offers a choice of four unique restaurants with a range of cuisine to choose from, along with live music and crafted cocktails in the bar.

There is also a tranquil spa, sparkling swimming pool and a fitness suite in this high-grade accommodation, whether you fancy a spot of rejuvenation or relaxation.

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Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar

The beautiful Ahilya Fort Hotel combines plenty of period character with modern facilities and amenities and is the perfect accommodation for exploring the temples and bustling village markets of Maheshwar.

The personal residence of the Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar in the 18th-century, the property was converted to a luxury hotel in 2000 and is set amongst 3 acres of courtyards, fountains and gardens that are perfect for reading or watching butterflies flutter by.

 

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Ambar and Holiday Resort, Burhanpur

Centrally located in Burhanpur, the Hotel Ambar and Holiday Resort is a charming and functional property. Outside, the garden doubles as a dining area perfect for an al fresco evening meal accompanied by live Indian music.

Expect a warm welcome, quirky touches and well-furnished rooms in air-conditioned cottages.

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WelcomHotel Rama International, Aurangabad

If you’re visiting vibrant Aurangabad, the Welcomhotel Rama International is a fabulous option if you’re looking for a well-equipped hotel in a beautiful setting. This welcoming accommodation is set in 13 acres of landscaped gardens and has gorgeous interiors reflecting the architecture of the nearby Ajanta and Ellora caves.

Dine on Indian, continental and oriental dishes in the in-house restaurant overlooking the gardens before retreating to your spacious room for a contented stay.

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The Trident Nariman Point, Mumbai

With stunning views of the promenade, ocean and the city skyline, the Trident Nariman Point is the perfect place to stay to discover Mumbai and its exciting surroundings. Spacious rooms with modern furnishings, a fantastic spa offering personalised treatments and a outdoor swimming pool with a view all await you. Dine in award-winning restaurants, have a lighter bite in the Veranda lounge or enjoy a drink in the Opium Den bar all in luxurious surroundings. 

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Destinations

Delhi

Busy, bustling and brimming with history, India’s capital city will leave a lasting impression. This city within cities is one of the three Golden Triangle destinations, and as a shopper’s paradise, history lover’s haven and foodie’s utopia, the delights of Delhi will appeal to everyone.

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Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Glorious historical monuments showcasing a mixture of British Raj–era and Islamic architecture, bustling bazaars and a cosmopolitan centre await you in lively Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. Be wowed by the enormous Bara Imambara with its corridor of mazes, admire the beautiful sculptures on the towering Turkish Gate, and see twinkling chandeliers at the Hussainabad Imambara or ‘palace of lights’. 

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Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Located on the River Ganges, Varanasi is a place of great religious significance, believed to be the location where Buddha founded Buddhism in 528 BC when he gave his first sermon, The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dharma. Many Hindus believe that dying here and being cremated along the river banks breaks the cycle of rebirth and achieves salvation.

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Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Khajuraho is the perfect destination to get your fix of culture and wildlife. Grab your binoculars and go tiger spotting in Panna National Park, visit the impressive Pandav Falls, or the incredible Western Group of Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its erotic sculptures.

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Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

Orchha is a fascinating temple town tucked away on the banks of the River Betwa. It really is a bit of a hidden gem where you'll find deserted temples, palaces, havelis and cenotaphs to meander around.

This historic town which is referred to as a medieval archaeological wonder was founded in the 16th century by the Bundela Rajput Chief, Rudra Pratap.

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Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

One of India’s greenest cities, Bhopal is home to the Van Vihar National Park, where you might see tigers, lions and leopards. Learn about local fossils, paintings and rare Jain sculptures in the State Museum or visit one of Asia’s largest mosques, the Taj-ul-Masjid.

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Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

There's plenty to explore in the ancient city of Ujjain, one of the seven sacred sites of Hinduism. Explore the maze of winding lanes to see shops selling sarees made using traditional textile printing or head to the observatory to see fascinating astrological instruments from the 18th century. Other attractions include the Chintaman Ganesh Temple, the Mangalnath Temple which the Tropic of Cancer passes through, and the enormous Kumbh Mela pilgrimage festival every twelve years.

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Mandu, Madhya Pradesh

Once famed as the “City of Joy”, the fortified town of Mandu lies in between Dhar, Indore and Bhopal. Built around the 6th century and once a grand destination, the town now lies in ruins but still has a wonderful vibe of exotic beauty and mystery.

Its group of monuments are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and include caves, temples, pavilions, mosques and tombs all waiting to be discovered.

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Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh

The temple town of Maheshwar lies on the banks of the river Narmada and is bursting with bustling ghats, colourful houses and saffron-clad pilgrims. This beautiful location is reminiscent of ancient India and often features in Bollywood and Tamil/ Kollywood movies and music videos.

Stock up on gorgeous products made from handwoven silk and head to the ghats at dusk to observe the evening prayer ceremonies.

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Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh

Once an important outpost and capital of the Mughal Kingdom, the historical city of Burhanpur on the banks of the Tapti River was called the gateway to southern India due to its strategic location. It was once ruled by Shah Jahan, who almost built the Taj Mahal here before settling on Agra.

It’s easy to imagine what Mughal life was like at its peak as you wander around the magnificent mosques, palace and tombs of this magical town.  

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Ajanta Caves, UNESCO World Heritage Site

The amazing Ajanta Caves are possibly the finest surviving picture galleries from the ancient world. These marvels of art and architecture were discovered in the early 19th century and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.  

The earliest caves date back to the 2nd century BC and were used as shelters by Buddhist monks during monsoon season. The beautiful religious art depicts Buddhist traditions, costumes of the period, and the past lives and rebirths of Buddha, along with rock-cut sculptures of Buddhist deities.

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Ellora Caves, UNESCO World Heritage Site

The impressive rock-hewn temples and monasteries of Ellora which were a meeting point of Buddhists, Jains and Hindus are a real must-see. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ellora Caves date back to the 6th century and contain a fantastic range of paintings, carvings and depictions of deities and idols between the 34 cave temples accessible to the public.

Explore the enormous Kailasa (cave number 16), which is naturally lit by sunlight and Vishvakarma (cave number 10) with its carvings of Buddhist and Hindu figures and a jolly scene of dancing dwarfs. Temple 32 has beautiful Jain carvings of lotus flowers.

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Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Ornate caves, an imitation Taj Mahal and beautiful silk sarees all await you in authentic Aurangabad. Once the capital of Maharashtra governed by Aurangzeb the last Mughal emperor, it is home to the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, also known as the ‘poor man’s Taj Mahal’. This impressive mausoleum has beautiful gardens with the Deccan hills in the background.

It’s worth the steep climb to visit Daulatabad Fort to see the remains of this once impenetrable fort that at one point housed the entire population of Delhi. Aurangabad is also perfectly located for visiting the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, and a centre for gorgeous sarees made locally from silk.

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Mumbai, Maharashtra

As the wealthiest city in India and home of Bollywood, cosmopolitan Mumbai is a hive of finance, commerce and traffic! There’s also plenty of culture nestled in amongst the fast-paced way of life, including the impressive Gateway of India, and the Elephanta Caves and Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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Pricing and Inclusions

The price guide for this Central India Tour is £3450 based on two people travelling.

The prices do not include flights.

Authentic India Tours is a member of ABTA and ATOL. All the holidays on this website are ABTA protected. If you would like us to arrange your holiday including flights we will be happy to provide a quote and your holiday will also be ATOL protected.

This is a private tour and can be tailor-made to meet your exact requirements. Prices will vary depending on the number of people, length of tour, accommodation & season. Reductions are normally available for groups of three or more. Some hotels operate an additional peak pricing rate during busy times which is normally from mid December to mid January. 

Please get in touch with your dates and we will be pleased to provide you with your personal itinerary and accurate quote.

Included with this tour are the following:

  • Meet and greet assistance on all arrivals and departures.
  • All internal road travel by a private chauffeur driven air-conditioned large car.
  • All scheduled sightseeing expenses including English speaking guides and entrance fees at monuments.
  • Economy class flight tickets for Delhi - Lucknow, Varanasi - Khajuraho and Aurangabad - Mumbai travel (Please note the luggage allowance on all domestic flights is only 15 kg per person. You have the option to buy an extra 5kg or 10kg as required).
  • Accommodation for 16 nights on double/twin sharing basis. 
  • Meal Plan: Ahilya Fort on Full Board; Bed & Breakfast elsewhere.
  • Mineral water on all days of travel.

Price does not include:

  • International flight tickets
  • Travel insurance and visa
  • Expenses of personal nature like laundry, tips, beverages etc
  • Meals other than mentioned in the above meal plan
  • Camera and video fees at national parks, museums & monuments

The prices given above are per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room. All prices were valid at the time of publication but they may be subject to change, based on your date of travel and local market fluctuations. You will be informed of any price differences prior to booking.

For further information or a quote based on your exact dates of travel, any alternative accommodation or a change to the itinerary, please call Authentic India Tours on 01792 315499 or email us at info@aitholidays.com