This itinerary to Central India features some of the most memorable and varied aspects of the country, from its tigers to its temples, its palaces, and its people.
- Known for some of the best wildlife parks in India - Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Satpura and Pench - any visit to Central India should include a few days on safari in search of the iconic and majestic tiger.
- Visit the holy city of Varanasi, situated on the edge of the River Ganges where religious rituals take place on the ghats daily.
- Wander around the immaculate temple complexes of Khajuraho and see the unusual and erotic temple carvings.
- Spend time exploring the magnificent Gwalior Fort and temples and palaces of Orchha.
- Visit the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra.
The journey begins in Delhi, the capital of India and entry point for most North or Central Indian Holidays. Spending a few days in the city is a wonderful introduction to this great country and its extensive and fascinating history.
An English-speaking guide who can eloquently and enthusiastically take you through the city is essential to start your journey off on the right foot. Barter in Old Delhi's spice markets, visit the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid Mosque. In New Delhi visit museums with antiquities and miniature painting collections. Learn more of India’s history at Birla house, Gandhi’s former home and now a modern testament to his life and principles or see Jantar Mantar, the amazing observatory built by astronomer Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1725.
If you are ready for it, Varanasi may just become your favourite place to visit in India, if not, certainly the most memorable. A short flight from Delhi, Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India and to quote Lonely Planet "one of the most blindingly colourful, unrelentingly chaotic, unapologetically indiscreet places on earth" but do not let this put you off. It is unbelievably photogenic, with the River Ganges pouring through its heart, considered in India the spiritual start and end for human life. Lining the river are a series of ghats (steps) taking you to the water’s edge where the intimate rituals of life and death take place in public. Varanasi can be overwhelming but with a Steppes' guide to navigate the city, walk you along the ghats and accompany you to the evening religious rituals, you will leave the city having had the most extraordinary experience.
Not quite considered Central India, but the perfect inclusion on the journey to the centre. A visit to Agra to see the Taj Mahal will never fail to impress and probably the most hyped historical site that genuinely delivers.
Strangely left off many an itinerary, Gwalior is an absolute gem with its grandiose fort dominating the city skyline. A entire day could be spent exploring this enormous structure with few tourists to share it with. The icing on the cake is a stay at the Taj Usha Kiran Palace Hotel, a beautiful heritage hotel with warm, friendly staff and a fabulous swimming pool.
As far as the eye can see there are temples, palaces, and monuments dotting the landscape. A place you could stay for a week due to its relaxed, laid back atmosphere, pretty markets and extensive historical buildings.
Khajuraho is a bit of a surprise. Clean and quiet with exceptionally well-maintained temples and gardens make it a relaxing reprieve. Meander around the erotically carved temple complexes with a Steppes local guide explaining what the architects and artisans were trying to achieve and why. We highly recommend staying outside the town as it offers a welcome contrast after the chaotic cities previously visited. Sarai at Toria sits on the Ken River and offers peace and tranquillity with lovely views, superb birdlife and the most relaxing early morning boat ride you can imagine.
For the grand finale stay for three nights at Taj Mahua Kothi Lodge in Bandhavgarh National Park. Although a long drive from Khajuraho on some fairly bumpy roads, it is well worth the journey. Arriving at the beautiful wilderness of Bandhavgarh, the kind and friendly staff at Taj Mahua Kothi will welcome you with a refreshing drink, the long drive forgotten. The setting of Bandhavgarh is impressive, with the ruins of the ancient fort providing a stunning backdrop. Bandhavgarh has a high density of tigers and sightings are regular along with a huge variety of other fauna.
For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.