Unique Gems of India Itinerary

17 Days 16 Nights

Itinerary Overview

On this Unique Gems of India Tour, explore India’s unrivaled historic tradition through religion, architecture, and its people. Leaving the Victorian grandeur of Mumbai, journey to central India, home to the cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora, the lost city of Mandu, and the ancient Buddhist remains at Sanchi near Bhopal. Continuing north, visit beautiful Orchha, the Khajuraho temples adorned by erotic sculptures and artistic carvings, ending on a spiritual note at Varanasi, the oldest living city in the world.

Day 1 Mumbai

Namaste and welcome to India!

Arrive in Mumbai, and after immigration, baggage, and customs, exit the arrival halls. A Geringer Global Travel representative will greet you with a placard bearing your name.

Transfer to the hotel.

Hotel: Trident Nariman Point Hotel
Day 2 Mumbai

After breakfast, enjoy a specially customized “Five Senses Tour” with a local expert. This is a day-long tour that gives you five different experiences for an immersive perspective of the city. Mumbai is not just about historic sights, but also about people and their culture.

Lunch is at a local restaurant.

Dinner is at Trishna, known for its seafood cooked in South Indian coastal flavors.

Hotel: Trident Nariman Point Hotel
Day 3 Aurangabad

At dawn, take the Mumbai by Dawn tour. Mumbai by Dawn is a unique offering, where you see the bustling city of Mumbai wake up. Peek into the underbelly of the city and gain insights into what makes this magnificent city tick. From seeing hundreds of newspaper vendors sort out newspapers of 7 different languages, experiencing one of its kind fish auction of 20 tons of fish, to seeing an ‘only green’ herb market sprawled across a popular bridge, from watching the milkmen drive past with canisters, the melee of color at the flower markets to experiencing the clamor and chaos of the arrival of over 100 tons of vegetables, fruits and meat, Mumbai by Dawn truly defines the mercurial character of Mumbai like none other.

Return to the hotel for breakfast and lunch.

After lunch, check out of the hotel and transfer to Mumbai Airport for the flight to Aurangabad.

Arrive Aurangabad and transfer to the hotel.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Vivanta by Taj Hotel
Day 4 Aurangabad

After breakfast, enjoy a full day excursion to the Ajanta Caves. The caves, famous for
their temple architecture and many delicately drawn murals, are located in a 76 m high horseshoe-shaped escarpment overlooking the Waghora (Tiger) River. The Ajanta Caves are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Lunch is at a local restaurant in Ajanta.

After the excursion, return to the hotel.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Vivanta by Taj Hotel
Day 5 Mumbai

After breakfast, check out of the hotel for a half-day excursion to the Ellora Caves. They are one of the largest rock cut Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temple caves in the world. Ellora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lunch will be at a local restaurant in Ellora.

After lunch, transfer to Aurangabad Airport for the flight to Mumbai.

Arrive Mumbai and transfer to the airport hotel.

Dinner is at Le Cirque Signature.

Hotel: Leela Hotel
Day 6 Maheshwar

After breakfast, transfer to Mumbai airport for the flight to Indore. On arrival in Indore, transfer to Maheshwar (approx. 2 hours). Maheshwar is a town of great antiquity, situated on the banks of the sacred Narmada River, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The history of Maheshwar goes back some 4000 years. The city came under Akbar’s rule in 1601. He built the present fort. In 1741, the Mughal rule came to an end and in 1766, Maharani Ahilya Bai, the queen of the Holkar Dynasty, made Maheshwar her capital.

On arrival, check into the hotel.

Lunch will be at the hotel.

In the afternoon, visit Rehwa Society, a non – profit organization, with an objective to revive the ancient hand-weaving craft of Meshwar. Adjoining this center is the Ahilya School, which was started for the weaver’s children.

Late afternoon, enjoy a boat ride to Baneshwar Temple that is about 1000 years old. The ancient text referred to this temple as the center of the universe. Watch the sun set as you glide down the Narmada River on a hand-poled boat to the temple. Enjoy a cup of tea and release diyas as an offering to the river.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Ahilya Fort Hotel
Day 7 Maheshwar

After breakfast, a 75 minutes’ drive takes you to Mandu, an ancient fort city. Mandu has great examples of Islamic architecture that pre – dates the arrival of the Mughals.

Return to the hotel for lunch and dinner.

Hotel: Ahilya Fort Hotel
Day 8 Maheshwar

After breakfast, visit Bakawa Village an hour from the hotel. In order to get to the village, you will need to drive, take an ox cart through Pitambali village, and a boat that crosses the Narmada River. The village is famous for making and exporting Narmadeshwar Shivalings across the world.

Packed lunch will be provided.

Return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure.

In the evening, enjoy a cocktail hour under the stars on the Narmada River. Your traditional wooden boat will be hand-paddled up the river through hundreds of flickering lamps and you will be serenaded by local musicians.

Hotel: Ahilya Fort Hotel
Day 9 Bhopal

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to Bhopal (approx. 5.5 hours). En route, visit Indore. Visit Lal Bagh Palace, once the residence of the Maharaja, now houses a museum and cultural center. Exhibits include sporting trophies, coins, miniatures, sculptures, and paintings. Tour New Palace and visit Kanch Mandir, a Jain temple, with interiors decorated with thousands of mirrors, ceramic tiles, cut-glass chandeliers, and Chinese lamps. There are about 50 murals, with glass beads and raised figures creating a three-dimensional effect.

Lunch will be at a local restaurant in Indore.

After sightseeing, continue with your drive to Bhopal.

On arrival, check into the hotel.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Jehan Numa Palace Hotel
Day 10 Bhopal

After breakfast, visit the Bhimbetka Caves located south of Bhopal (approx 1.5 hours each way). Located in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains, the Bhimbetka Caves are an archaeological site that spans the prehistoric Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, as well as the Historic period. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of seven hills and over 750 rock caves over a 10 – kilometer area.

Return to the hotel for lunch and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Jehan Numa Palace Hotel
Day 11 Bhopal

After breakfast, take an excursion to Sanchi Stupa, one of the oldest stone structures in India. It was originally commissioned by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. Close to the stupa are the Udayagiri Caves from the early years of the 5th century CE. They contain some of the oldest surviving Hindu temples and iconography in India.

Return to the hotel for lunch.

After lunch, set out for a half-day city tour of Bhopal. Visit Taj – ul – Masjid, known as the ‘The Crown of Mosques’. It is a gorgeous mosque that was built by Bhopal’s third female ruler, Shah Jahan Begum, who wanted to create the largest mosque in the world. Visit Bharat Bhawan, a multi-arts complex and museum, established and funded by the Government of Madhya Pradesh, to create an interactive experience combining verbal, visual, and performing arts. The main entrance of this building is marked by a series of terraced gardens that can be seen cascading down to the Upper Lake.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Jehan Numa Palace Hotel
Day 12 Orchha

After breakfast, transfer to Bhopal Railway Station for a train to Jhansi. Arrive at Jhansi and drive to the medieval town of Orchha.

Check into the hotel and enjoy lunch.

After lunch, set out for a tour of Orchha.

Inside Orchha Fort, visit Jahangir Mahal, a three-storied structure, whose front wall is covered with turquoise tiles. Also located in the fort are Raj Mahal, noted for its fine murals, and Rai Praveen Mahala Palace in a dilapidated state. The temples in Orchha are worth a visit due to their unique architecture are Ram Raja Temple, Laxmi Narain Temple, and Chaturbhuj Temple.

Join the evening aarti ceremony at the temple with other devotees.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: Amar Mahal Hotel
Day 13 Khajuraho

After breakfast, check out and drive to Khajuraho (approx 4.5 hours).

On arrival, check into the hotel and enjoy lunch.

After lunch, set out to visit the Western Group of Temples of Khajuraho, a UNESCO Heritage Site. The western complex houses the most important temple, Kandariya Mahadeo. It is the largest temple at 31 meters and the most ornate Hindu temple in the medieval temple complex. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

In the evening, enjoy the light and show held on the lawn of the temple complex.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: The Lalit Temple View Hotel
Day 14 Khajuraho

After breakfast, visit the Eastern Group of Temples, a UNESCO Heritage Site. It showcases the passion, art, culture, and lifestyle of the people of the Chandela Dynasty. The temples are a mix of Jain and Hindu temples with intricate carvings.

Visit the Archaeological Museum which gives an insight into the royal past of India.

Return to the hotel for lunch.

Tour Mehalwar Village to experience rural life.

Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: The Lalit Temple View Hotel
Day 15 Varanasi

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to Khajuraho airport for the flight to Varanasi.

On arrival in Varanasi, transfer to the hotel.

Check into the hotel and enjoy lunch.

After lunch, take an excursion to Sarnath, a major Buddhist center in the world. After achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya, Buddha delivered his first sermon here. Visit Sarnath Museum which has an excellent collection of artifacts related to the Mauryan, Guptan, and the Kushana era.

For dinner, enjoy a Satvik Thali at Varuna Restaurant.

After dinner, take the Death and Rebirth Night Walk. This walk explores the mystical experience of life and beyond in Varanasi at Mahashramstana, the great cremation ground of Shiva.

Hotel: Taj Ganges Hotel
Day 16 Varanasi

Early this morning, take a boat ride on the Ganges River to view the sunrise and to observe the Hindu way of life along the banks of the Ganges River. Observe people bathing in the river performing rituals.

Return to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, explore the city. Visit the Bharat Mata Temple, with its big marble relief map of India, the Durga Temple, and the modern marble Tulsi Manas Temple, whose walls are engraved with scenes and verses from the Ramcharitmanas, the Hindi version of the Ramayana.

Tour the outside of the New Viswanath Temple, one of the tallest in India (non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple), Benares Hindu University and its museum, and the mosque of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Lunch is at the multicuisine restaurant, EastWest, at the Radisson Hotel.

After lunch, have an insider’s look at the symbiotic life of the riverside people of Varanasi on this specially customized Bengali Tola Riverside Walk. Winding through the streets and onto the riverside, this walk ends up on Bengali Tola, the street of the Bengalis. Visit the hidden Mother Goddess Kali Shrine and view life along the riverside.

In the evening, witness the illuminating aarti ceremony from a boat. Aarti is the final ritual of the day when thousands of locals and pilgrims gather together to offer their prayers to the Mother Ganges.

Dinner is at Darbhanga at the Brijrama Palace Hotel.

Hotel: Taj Ganges Hotel
Day 17 Mumbai - Departure

After breakfast, transfer to Varanasi Airport for the flight to Mumbai. On arrival in Mumbai, check into the airport hotel, the Leela Mumbai, where a day use room is booked.

Dinner is at Jamavar, known for its authentic north and south Indian fine dining.

Late night assisted transfer to Mumbai International Airport to connect for your flight home.