Travelling to India is a tradition continuing from the past 5000 years. India World Heritage Site Tour is the inheritor of the same tradition, following the timeless heritage that binds the country together. The country is a repository of many world heritage sites that draw tourists from the world over. Visiting these sites not only enriches the tourist knowledge of the country rich and illustrious past, but also develops a sensitized belonging about the world heritage sites that need to be conserved for future generations.
India World Heritage Site Tour is an attempt to cover the most of the country’s great historical and cultural attractions in a single go. This prized trip trails through the splendid monuments, forts, caves, temples, rock shelters, churches and ruined complexes during the course of 21 days and covers the most of the iconic heritage wonders of India.
Day 01. Arrive Delhi
Upon arrival in Delhi, India meet Incredible India Tour representative for an assisted transfer to the hotel for overnight stay.
Delhi, as we all know has witnessed the rise and fall of many empires and is a scintillating city as far as the world heritage sites are concerned. The city currently hosts three world heritage sites, namely Qutub Minar, Humayun Tomb and Red Fort. In the beginning of this hearty trip through the lanes of Delhi, it will be an ultimate endeavour to visit these three prominent bastions of heritage in the city. The first day is at leisure, or you may say a preparation for an enriching journey that holds up for the next 20 days. Overnight in Delhi.
Day 02. Delhi
In the 3000 years of existence; Delhi has seen a lot of happening activities in the history. From the Indraprastha of Mahabharata to the Mughal capital of Dehli, the city has evolved with the changing times. This journey of time in Delhi has left to it a legacy of historical monuments, tombs, medieval palaces, bustling bazaars and much more as the share of its heritage.
The first morning in Delhi begins with the visit to the first world heritage site of the tour, i.e. Red Fort. Ruling the Old Delhi with its everlasting character, this 17th century red sandstone fortress is a stunning example of Mughal architecture. Built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad, the new capital by the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan; this fort reflects a rich fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu architecture traditions. The inclusion of pleasure pavilions and gardens later influenced the architecture of the later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan.
Next in this heritage trail is the discovery of Jama Masjid, which is the great red sandstone and white marble mosque built by Shah Jahan. This perfect proportionate mosque was completed in 1656 at a cost of one million rupees at that time. It was envisioned to be the largest in the world and still is the largest in India.
Followed by this is a visit to the Raj Ghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. Here, he was cremated and the memorial herein has the simple square black marble platform inscribed with his last words "Hey Ram". (Red Fort is closed on Mondays)
Next in the series is a prestigious experience of driving past through New Delhi’s prestigious governmental buildings. These feature Parliament House and the President of India’s house. Also visit India Gate, dedicated to the 70,000 Indian soldiers who died during the First World War.
Later in the afternoon visit the second world heritage site of Humayun's Tomb. This was the only dedication in the history of India built by a wife for her deceased husband. Queen Haji Begum in the 16th century built this tomb mausoleum as per the early Mughal architecture principles. Believed to have inspired the Taj Mahal, this tomb’s sombre and Persian-style elegance is an iconic contribution of Mughals in shaping the heritage of the land.
The last visit world heritage site to visit during Delhi’s city tour is the Qutub Minar, the first Islamic minaret in India. Built in the early 13th century, this 72.5 m high red sandstone minaret heralds as the city’s oldest monument to be recognized as a world heritage site. After this busy day with the heritage of Delhi, return to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 03. Delhi – Jaipur
Early morning, check out Delhi and board the Shatabdi Express for Jaipur, the flamboyant royal capital of Rajasthan. Heritage wise, this 400 year old city is new on the bloc of recognized world heritage sites with the recent inclusion of its craggy hill top fort of Amber. Upon arrival here, check in the hotel and begin an escapade towards the star attraction of Jaipur, Amber Fort. Located on the city outskirts, Amber is a fantastically preserved fort still echoing the resonance of the royal Rajput era. Option to avail an Elephant ride to reach the fort is also available. There are many things to do in Amber Fort. One can admire the pleasure gardens, the palace of the mirrors or Sheesh Mahal, Ganesh Pol during a royal visit there. Next in the city is the photographic session at Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds. Post lunch; don’t miss out an opportunity to visit the City Palace. Half of it is still a royal palace. Also visit the museum here.
Waiting to explore more… Mark a visit to the bustling bazaars of Jaipur. Return in time to the hotel for dinner and retire early in anticipation of visiting the most iconic monument in India in Agra.
Day 04. Jaipur – Agra
Check out Jaipur early morning and head towards Agra. Enroute visit the fifth world heritage site wonder of Fatehpur Sikri. Built by the Emperor Akbar in the second half of the 16th century, this city marked the shifting of his capital from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri (the City of Victory). This arrangement was worthwhile till the time the empire started experiencing scarcity of water, shortly after which the settlement was again moved back to Agra. But that didn’t stop Fatehpur Sikri to excel out as one of the shining structures of the Mughal era. The complex also has a shrine dedicated to Sufi Saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, who prophesized the birth of the Mughal heir. Post sightseeing of this world heritage wonder, drive towards Agra & check in at the hotel.
Agra was the Mughal city that served as its capital for five generations in continuity. During this period, Agra flourished in terms of architectural gems. The heritage tour of Agra will concentrate on unfurling the rich heritage of this powerful city. Afternoon is free at leisure in the city of Taj. Or a leisure walk can be taken in this heritage city. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 05. Agra
After breakfast, begin the tryst with Taj Mahal, the sixth world heritage site in the series. This is the star attraction of visiting India, not just for the grand and commanding prowess of the monument, not even for being heart-wrenching expression of gloom, but for the emotional connection it establishes with every visitor at the first sight.
Located on the banks of River Yamuna, Taj Mahal is undoubtedly one of the most visited attractions of India. The tomb monument is grand, but the way with which the monument came into existence is equally grand. The grief stricken emperor commissioned the building of the tomb in 1631 AD it consumed 20 long years and the toil of 20,000 labourers to realize the vision of the Emperor which resulted in Taj Mahal.
After the visit to the monument is over, next in the series is another heritage marvel, Red Fort of Agra. The seventh world heritage site was built by the great Emperor Akbar in 1565 AD to establish his capital in Agra. The fortified complex had a number of exquisite buildings in its store, including the iconic Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khaas, Musamman Burj, etc which depict the skilled vision of the emperor.
Post lunch, visit Sikandra. This is not recognized as the world heritage site, but that doesn’t mean that the site is not worthy of being addressed as the heritage wonder. Here the Tomb of Akbar the Great rests in peace over 119 acres of area. The emperor began building this tomb during his lifetime and his successive emperor and son Jahangir completed it. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 06. Agra - Jhansi (By Train) – Khajuraho (Approx.172 Kms / 03 ½ hrs)
Bid adieu to the city of love as you board the Shatabdi Express at 07.55 hrs to Jhansi. From here, a drive to Khajuraho takes you to the seventh world heritage site in the form of Group of temples at Khajuraho. Built during 10 & 11th century by the Chandela Rajput Rulers, Khajuraho depicts the brilliance of the medieval Indian architecture. Of 85 temples, only 25 of India's most celebrated temples here stand in glory.
Upon arrival here, check in the hotel for overnight stay.
After some rest, start the temple visit with Eastern Group of temples. The temples in this group are mainly dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. Visit the Parsvanatha Temple, the Adinatha Temple and the Santinatha Temple. Next in the series is the visit to the Western Temple Group consisting of a group of artistic temples built in sandstone. This is the largest temple group and certainly the star attraction of Khajuraho visit. The surreal charm comes here in this complex comes alive with the presence of apsaras and other known erotic sculpture. During the walk along the heritage temples, visit Varaha Temple, Lakshmana Temple, Vishwanath Temple, Jagdambi Devi Temple. Also visit the grandest and the artistically the most perfect temple in the series, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple. Built between 1025 and 1050 it represents Chandella art in its finest state. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 07. Khajuraho - Orchha (Approx. 178 Kms / 04 ½ hrs)
After breakfast, check out Khajuraho for a drive to Orchha. This is a medieval ghost village that was once the capital of the Bundela Rajas. Located alongside the banks of River Betwa, this village is an architectural gem, showcasing the ruined remains of ornate Rajput palace fort, temples, and riverside tombs or Chhattris. The palaces here offer impressive views of the countryside from the height.
The fort here displays a unique specimen of connected royal buildings erected at different times. Raj Mahal and Jahangir Mahal are the most famous. Raj Mahal with its Hall of Private Audience and Public Audience and royal chambers lures your heart at the first sight.
The 17th century temples are still in use and worshipped by thousands of devotees. After this enriching visit to the forgotten town of Orchha, return to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 08. Orchha - Jhansi (Approx. 16 Kms / ½ hr) / Bhopal (Train)
Check out Orchha after breakfast and drive to Jhansi Railway Station where you will board the train to Bhopal. (10.56 hrs / 14.05 hrs) In noon, reach Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh.
This heart of Madhya Pradesh hosts access to two world heritage sites, namely Sanchi and Bhimbetka. The heritage of Bhopal also consists of fine old mosques and palaces that still bear the aristocratic impressions of its former rulers. Upon arrival here, check in the hotel for overnight stay.
After some rest, begin an excursion to Bhimbetka (47 km south of Bhopal). This eighth world heritage site is known for prehistoric rock paintings inside the caves. Also known as the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, these caves have the largest collection of primitive rock art in India.
According to UNESCO, Bhimbetka is closely associated with a hunting and gathering economy as portrayed on the cave rocks. Spread over the fringe of seven Vindhyan hills, these caves are believed to be primitive shelters of the early man.
After visit of Bhimbetka Caves, drive back to Bhopal for dinner and overnight in the hotel.
Day 09. Bhopal
After breakfast, begin the peaceful journey today to the ninth world heritage site in the series at Sanchi. Located 46 km away from Bhopal, Sanchi is a spiritual site known for its numerous stupas representing the rise and spread of Buddhism in India. Till date the largest Buddhist site in India, the Group of Monuments at Sanchi is more related to Emperor Ashoka, the beloved of the god rather than the life of the Buddha. It was the Mauryan Emperor who commissioned the stupa here and built many pillars. Built in brick, this site also hosts the Great Stupa which is one of the oldest and best preserved stupas in India. This hemispherical dome shaped stupa and its panels are inscribed with many drawings that depict the life of Buddha. It is believed that the stupa is built over enshrined relics of Lord Buddha and is seen with great reverence among Buddhists. The gateways or toranas also form a splendid highlight of this site. Four toranas (8.5 m high) adorn the stupa. After the peaceful and enlightening excursion is over, return to the hotel for dinner and overnight check out for Aurangabad. Board the overnight train from Bhopal for Aurangabad.
Day 10. Bhopal - Aurangabad (Train)
Arrive Aurangabad late morning. Upon arrival, check in the hotel. Aurangabad is the gateway city to two ancient world heritage marvels, Ajanta and Ellora Caves. Named on Aurangzeb, the last mighty emperor of Mughal dynasty, the city hosts the repertoire of ancient and medieval heritage including forts, caves, tombs and other landmarks. The splendid heritage forms the major pull why tourists turn towards Aurangabad.
After placing the first step on this heritage strewn land, tourists get to discover the splendour of tenth heritage site in the series, Ellora Caves. An epitome of rock-cut brilliance, these caves demonstrate the architectural acumen of the carvers.
Located 30 km from Aurangabad on Charnadari Hills, the heritage cave complex depicts a fusion of religions in the form of ancient temples, monasteries, chaityas and viharas hewn out of the mountainside. In all, there are 34 caves out of which 12 are Buddhist, 17 are Hindu and the remaining 5 are dedicated to Jainism.
All the caves at Ellora face the west and are best seen during the noon time. After the enlightening excursion to the caves is over, return to the comforts of the hotel for dinner and overnight stay. Note – Ellora Caves remain closed on Tuesdays
Day 11. Aurangabad
After breakfast, dedicate a full day towards revisiting the eleventh heritage site of Ajanta Caves. This ancient rock cut cave complex is a heritage marvel owing to the presence of illustrious carvings and paintings dedicated to Buddhism. Located 100 km away from Aurangabad, this world heritage site comprises of 30 caves, of which five are chaitya-grihas or prayer halls. The remaining 25 are the monasteries. Dinner & Overnight in the Hotel.
Note – Ajanta Caves remain closed on Mondays.
Day 12. Aurangabad / Mumbai (By Flight)
After early breakfast, check out Aurangabad for scheduled transfer to the airport and board the flight to Mumbai.
Mumbai is the metropolitan and commercial capital of India. Located on the western harbour of Arabian Sea, this city is known for its diversified heritage. On the one hand, the city takes the traveller through the many faces of Lord Shiva at recognized world heritage site of Elephanta caves and on the other inspires him at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station.
On arrival here, transfer to the Hotel. After check in, begin a Mumbai city tour with a visit to the most famous landmark, Gateway of India. This is a 26 meters high archway built to honour the visit of George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Next spot in the series is a visit to Marine Drive named as the Queen's Necklace. Later visit Prince of Wales Museum (closed on Mondays) modeled on the structure of Bijapur’s Gol Gumbaz. The museum houses a superb collection of paintings and sculpture. Dinner & overnight in the hotel.
Day 13. Mumbai
After breakfast, begin the excursion to the eleventh world heritage, The Elephanta Island in the tour. Located nine nautical miles from the Gateway of India, Elephanta caves are a popular cave excursion owing to its cultural and historical importance. The eighth century cave complex features numerous rock cut temples dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva. Note. Elephanta Caves remain closed on Monday
The day holds another excursion to the twelfth world heritage wonder of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) formerly Victoria Terminus. A marvellous masterpiece based on the Victorian Gothic revival architecture, this is counted amongst the most outstanding and celebrated railway stations in the world. Rest of the day is free at leisure. Dinner & Overnight in Mumbai.
Day 14. Mumbai / Goa / Badami
Check out Mumbai to board a flight to Goa. On arrival in Goa, start the drive to Badami. Brought into existence by the Chalukyas, this sleepy town served as the empire’s capital that directed most of the peninsular India between the 4th and 8th centuries.
Located at a rugged ravine, this site is famous for rock cut and other structural temples based on Dravidian architecture. On arrival here, transfer to the hotel for dinner & overnight stay.
Day 15. Badami
After breakfast, begin exploring Badami’s almond hued cave temples. Located on a red sandstone cliff, these cave temples are dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. The cave temples here illustrate the formative phase of Chalukyan architecture.
Next in the series is Aihole that served as the first Chalukyan capital, prior to Badami
Pattadakal, the thirteenth world heritage wonder in the India World Heritage Site Tour is considered the cradle of Hindu Temple architecture. In its heydays, this site served as the official coronation site for its patrons. Presently, the site hosts the collection of temples that are a cross between both the North Indian and South Indian styles of temple architecture. Dinner & Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 16. Badami / Hospet (Approx. 180 kms / 4 hrs)
Check out Badami for a drive towards Hospet. The site’s significance is evident for its propinquity to the World Heritage Site of Hampi. Upon arrival, check in the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 17. Hospet – Hampi
Post breakfast drive towards Hampi, the fourteenth world heritage site. This magnificent state of victory is an open house repository of ruined remains. Located on the southern banks of Tungabhadra River, this site is evocative of the vestiges of the Vijayanagara Empire in the form of huge boulders and stones etched sculptures. Return to Hospet for overnight.
Day 18. Hospet / Goa (Approx.350 Km)
After breakfast, check out Karnataka’s heritage strewn land for a drive to Goa.
The name Goa evokes the holiday spree with its perfect amalgam of beaches, beauty and bewitching appeal. But there’s more to Goa than just beaches. There is an undulated share of heritage that brings a tourist to the fifteenth world heritage site in Goa i.e. the Convents and Churches of Goa. On arrival, transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Day 19. Goa
After a leisurely breakfast, enjoy the heritage sightseeing of Goa. Begin experiencing Goa the rare way through its soothing quaint side in its Convents and Churches. Visit Basilica of Bom Jesus where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are preserved.
Se Cathedral, dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, is the next attraction of Goa’s heritage
Church and Convent of St. Cajetan, the next church in Old Goa is shaped like a Greek cross.
Afternoon is free at leisure. Dinner & Overnight in the Hotel.
Day 20. Goa
In the end of exploring 15 world heritage site attractions of India, spend some time in testimony of India’s best kept beaches in Goa. Dinner and Overnight in Goa.
Day 21. Goa / Mumbai (Flight)After leisurely breakfast, transfer to the Airport to board the flight to Mumbai. On arrival in Mumbai Airport, board the flight to onward destination.