Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, India

Central India’s Cultural Highlights



12 Days

Prices Start from

$4,973pp (ex. flights)

This holiday idea to Central India has been designed to combine some of the most evocative and memorable experiences from the religious ceremonies in Varanasi to the perfectly preserved temples of Khajuraho. 

For those who have visited Rajasthan and Kerala before, Central India should be next. This is one of our favourite parts of India, offering emotive rituals, romantic temples and palaces, exceptional wildlife and glorious boutique hotels. This itinerary can be extended to include a longer stay at one of the wildlife reserves, thereby offering a rich insight into the fauna that inhabits this region.

Included as Standard

Airport VIP meet and greet, a bottle of wine on arrival, a spa treatment, a dedicated member of our team available 24/7, an upgrade at one of your chosen hotels and cars with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Morning on the Ghats, Varanasi, India 1

Discover Varanasi

Experience religious rituals and ceremonies on the edge of the holy River Ganges.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India 2

Marvel at the Taj

Visit the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra, a beautiful monument to love.

Chatri of Bundela kings, Orchha, India 3

Explore Orchha

Spend time wandering around Orchha, a dreamy, isolated town full of fantastically romantic stone palaces, temples, towers and gateways.

Temple, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India 4

Visit Khajuraho

Wander around the immaculate temple complexes of Khajuraho and see the unusual and erotic temple carvings.

How this journey makes a positive impact

During this holiday, all the guides employed are from the local area that you are visiting, thus supporting the local economy. We use accommodation that has a strong environmental and community awareness and has developed or is developing a clear eco-policy.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1-2


  • Day 3

    Delhi - Varanasi

    Fly from Delhi to Varanasi

  • Day 4


  • Day 5

    Varanasi - Agra

    Take the train to Agra

  • Day 6

    Agra - Gwalior

    Take the train to Gwalior

  • Day 7

    Gwalior - Orchha

    Take a train to Jhansi and drive to Orchha

  • Day 8


  • Day 9

    Orchha - Khajuraho

    Drive from Orchha to Khajuraho

  • Day 10


  • Day 11

    Khajuraho - Delhi

    Fly Khajuraho to Delhi

  • Day 12


    Depart Delhi

Day 1-2


Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi, India

Spend a few days in Delhi. Explore the sights of Old and New Delhi with your own private guide. Travel in a private air-conditioned vehicle to UNESCO World Heritage sites including Jama Masjid, Qutub Minar, and Humayun’s Tomb. You’ll also visit Raj Ghat—a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, Parliament House, and Chandni Chowk.

Day 3

Delhi - Varanasi

Day 4


Morning on the Ghats, Varanasi, India

Two nights in Varanasi provides plenty of time to experience this emotive city. Wake early to board a small, private boat on which you gently float down the Ganges River. Watch life on the river’s edge unfold. Attend an evening religious ceremony on the Ganges ghats. Discover the old town with our expert guide to accompany you.

Day 5

Varanasi - Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Visit the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra, an everlasting monument to love. You will also see some of the other famous sites e.g. the baby Taj.


Day 6

Agra - Gwalior

Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, India

Gwalior is a hidden gem, a fun train ride from Agra. The fort at Gwalior dominates the landscape and is a superbly well kept and uncrowded place to include in your journey. Stay the night in the characterful, heritage Taj Usha Kiran Hotel, an experience in itself.

Day 7

Gwalior - Orchha

Day 8


Royal cenotaphs of Orchha, Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India

Explore Orchha, a dreamy, isolated town full of fantastically romantic stone palaces, temples, towers and gateways. The vibe is relaxed and gentle, more akin to village life than a town filled to the brim with ancient wonders.

Day 9

Orchha - Khajuraho

Day 10


Temple, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India

Wander around the immaculate temple complexes of Khajuraho and see the unusual and erotic temple carvings.  Consider adding more days in this area in order to visit close-by Panna National Park, for a tiger safari.

Day 11

Khajuraho - Delhi

Day 12


Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More Details

Sadhu Praying at the Ghats, Varanasi, India
Varanasi, India
Ganges River, Varanasi, India
Varanasi, India

Varanasi and the River Ganges

If you are ready for it, Varanasi may just become your favourite place in India, if not, certainly the most memorable. A short flight from Delhi, Varanasi is the spiritual capital 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. With our specialist guide to navigate and accompany you, you will take a morning boat ride, walk the ghats and visit the evening religious rituals. You will leave the city having had the most extraordinary experience.

Downtown, Agra, India
Agra, India

The Taj Mahal and Beyond

Not quite considered Central India, but the perfect inclusion on this journey to the centre, a visit to Agra to see the Taj Mahal never fails to impress. The Taj Mahal is one of the most hyped historical sites on the planet that genuinely delivers. Whilst its piece de resistance is undoubtedly this iridescent-white tribute to love, Agra contains a number of other magnificent structures. Accompanied by our guide, stroll through Agra fort and examine the private and public rooms which are coated in intricately sculpted white marble. Visit local craftsmen to see how the exquisitely precise ‘pietra dura’ inlay work is still done. You will also visit other viewpoints around the city from which you can see the Taj Mahal.

Gwalior Fort, Gwalior, India
Gwalior, India

The Gem of Gwalior

Strangely left off many an itinerary, Gwalior is an absolute gem with its grandiose fort dominating the city skyline. An entire day could be spent exploring this enormous structure with few tourists to share it with. Our specialist in Gwalior is a fantastic story-teller and will accompany you around the fort, bringing it all to life. 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.

Temples, Orchha, India
Orchha, India

The Magic of Orchha

Dreamy, isolated and marooned on a bend of the Betwa River, Orchha is a fantastically romantic cluster of stone palaces, temples, towers and gateways surrounded by acres of bright green jungle.

During your visit, you’ll appreciate the extent of Orchha’s remarkable architecture. Explore some of the significant buildings with your guide. Of particular note are the lively paintings still visible on the interior walls of buildings such as the Laxminarayan Temple. There are numerous royal cenotaphs, formal gardens and fountains as well as a 17th-century fort and palace on an island reached by a causeway. Orchha is also conducive to wandering around in your own time, to enjoy the atmosphere of its quaint shops, cafes and bakeries.

Khajuraho, India
Khajuraho, India

Erotic Temple Carvings

Khajuraho is a bit of a surprise. Clean and quiet with exceptionally well-maintained temples and gardens make this town a relaxing place to explore. Meander around the erotically carved temple complexes with our local guide, a high caste Brahmin who is incredibly well connected and a superb story-teller. He’ll explain what the architects and artisans were trying to achieve through their carving work and why.

We suggest staying outside the town of Khajuraho at Sarai at Toria. This peaceful spot sits on the Ken River and offers lovely views, superb birdlife and the most relaxing early morning boat ride you can imagine.

Tiger, India
Tiger, India

Tigers of Panna National Park

Although not included in this holiday idea, Central India is prime tiger country with some of the best tiger reserves. Extend your time near Khajuraho and go on safari in Panna National Park.  The park is renowned for its thriving tiger population.

You will stay at Sarai at Toria, owned and run by one of India’s leading tiger conservationists. Spend time with Ragu discussing tiger conservation and how engaging with the local communities had a positive impact on tiger populations.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Sarai at Toria £££££

  • India
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Sarai at Toria’s offers a home-from-home environment, situated on a beautiful riverside site, close to the UNESCO heritage site of Khajuraho and Panna National Park. This comfortable, riverside retreat has impeccable sustainability credentials and is owned and run by passionate conservationists, Dr Raghu Chundawat and Joanna Van Gruisen. The eight independent cottages are set in a lovely garden bordered by the Ken River. In a country renowned for delicious food, Sarai at Toria offers some of the best home-cooked food you will find in India, with many of the ingredients grown on the property’s farm.

View Property

Taj Usha Kiran Palace Hotel £££££

  • India
  • Forts and Palaces

Usha Kiran Palace, Gwalior is a 40 room heritage hotel managed by the Taj Group and is the best place to stay in Gwalior. Usha Kiran Palace Hotel is a real surprise. Old world charm and utter authenticity make it a memorable experience and well worth including in an itinerary to Central India.

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Nadesar Palace £££££

  • India
  • Forts and Palaces

History soaked Taj Nadesar Palace has been hosting guests since its inception in 1835. A former palace, now a micro boutique historic hotel, with only 10 rooms complimented by 32 acres of landscaped grounds set in a residential neighbourhood. To stay here is a taste of colonial luxury. The Taj team of staff have won the hearts of all their visitors and nothing is too much trouble.

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Oberoi Amarvilas £££££

  • India
  • City

Oberoi Amarvilas is situated just 650 yards from the Taj Mahal.  This is the closest hotel to the Taj and has the best views. They need to be seen to be believed.  We don’t really need to say anymore. This is the place to be if your only reason to visit Agra is to marvel at the astonishing site that is the Taj Mahal.

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A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
From $4,973 Per person

When to travel

India in January

January is a very popular time to travel to India, due to mild temperatures and very little rainfall. The climate varies across India from snow in the Northern States to the Southern regions experiencing daily sunshine – perfect for an escape to Kerala’s beaches.

India in February

During peak season, February is an ideal month to travel to India, experiencing all regions of the country from Rajasthan in the North to Karnataka in the South.

India in March

Temperatures begin to rise with March typically being the last month of the peak season. A significant month for religious, Hindu festivals, March can become busy in some regions however also a perfect time to travel to experience Indian culture and wildlife.

India in April

With temperatures starting to rise, regions in Northern India start to become more accessible with excellent opportunities to discover hiking trails and the wildlife of these regions. Temperatures can sometimes exceed 40°C, with high levels of humidity in Southern India.

India in May

From May to September, Monsoon rains affect the North and Central states of India with daily rainfall and thunderstorms. During the Monsoon season, it is best to experience high altitude regions and avoid beach resorts.

India in June

Most regions of India will experience the Monsoon season in June alongside high daily temperatures and high levels of humidity. Whilst, not a popular time to travel, experience the mountainous regions as opposed to Central India to experience slightly cooler temperatures at the start of the month.

India in July

At the peak of the Monsoon season, most of the country experiences frequent, heavy rainfall. Whilst travel plans may be interrupted due to the climate, it is a great time to visit India to experience the national parks and the great outdoors.

India in August

As the Monsoon continues, the climate is very similar to that of June and July. Whilst not a suitable time to travel to India’s Southern beaches, other Northern Regions are popular with locals for hiking and outdoor pursuits.

India in September

As the final month of the Monsoon season, rainfall will be less frequent with the occasional sunny spell showcasing the lush, green vegetation that has flourished during the heavy rains.

India in October

As the monsoon rains have finished, humidity levels remain high and the peak travel season begins. During the month of October, there are lots of religious festivals, including Diwali, where some regions may become busier with domestic tourists.

India in November

As one of the best times to visit the country, November brings comfortable temperatures for sightseeing with the monsoon rains dying out from October. As the temperatures drop, however, Northern India and the Himalayas will become less accessible.

India in December

In December, temperatures and climate will be dependant on the region. In the Southern States, India will see a pleasant and mild climate, ideal for sightseeing, whereas, in Northern India and mountainous regions, snow and cold temperatures are likely.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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