Rail Journey Through India

  • 13-day trip including a five-night journey aboard the legendary Palace On Wheels
  • Discover the highlights of Rajasthan, as well as Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, and the Taj Mahal.

Expedition Details


Step aboard the Palace on Wheels and set off on an unforgettable rail journey to the fabled cities of Rajasthan. Venture into majestic forts and palaces, visit the immense Amber Fort high above Jaipur, and watch the sunset light up the Taj Mahal. Experience one of India’s celebrated festivals or fairs on each departure and immerse yourself in the colors and rhythms of India’s captivating culture.

Trip Highlights

    • Travel for five nights aboard the Palace on Wheels, a train designed in the style of a bygone era, evoking the splendor of the maharajas.
    • Explore six UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Fatehpur Sikri and the incomparable Taj Mahal.
    • Search for tigers in Ranthambhore National Park, and spot rare birds and other wildlife in Keoladeo Ghana National Park.
    • Take a sunset camel safari among the evocative dunes of the Thar Desert.

Itinerary - 13 Days

Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Delhi, India

Depart on an overnight flight to Delhi and check into our hotel upon arrival.
The Taj Mahal Hotel

Day 3 — Delhi

Set out on a tour of New Delhi, the capital established by the British in 1911, and see the India Gate and Parliament buildings. Then delve into Old Delhi, a patchwork of eight different cities built by a succession of rulers and a center of Muslim India between the 13th and 19th centuries. Explore Humayun's Tomb, a milestone in the history of Mughal architecture, and Gandi Smriti, a museum honoring Mahatma Gandhi. This evening gather for a special welcome reception and dinner.
The Taj Mahal Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Jaipur

Travel from Delhi to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Known as the "Pink City" for its rose-colored buildings, Jaipur is protected by high fortifications and multiple gates. The afternoon is free to explore Jaipur or relax and enjoy the landscaped Moghul gardens of the Jai Mahal Palace Hotel, a masterpiece of the Indo Saracenic style of architecture dating back to 1745.
Jai Mahal Palace (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Jaipur

Begin the day with a stop to photograph Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building where the delicate latticework and honeycombed windows were originally designed to allow ladies of the court to watch life on the streets below. Next, visit Amber Fort, a 16th- and 17th-century hilltop complex. Explore its exquisite and well-preserved palaces, temples, gardens, and pavilions. Enjoy a guided tour of the City Palace, a vast complex with a museum housing rare manuscripts, paintings, and an armory. Visit the 18th-century royal observatory known as Jantar Mantar and examine a variety of precise astronomical tools. This evening, settle into your cabin on board the Palace on Wheels.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Ranthambhore National Park/Chittaurgarh

Set out on a morning game drive in Ranthambhore National Park in search of the elusive tiger as well as hyenas, jackals, and foxes. After lunch back on the train, arrive in the city of Chittaurgarh. Trace a turbulent history of siege, valor, and sacrifice at Chittaurgarh Fort, one of the largest forts in India.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Udaipur

Known as the City of Lakes, Udaipur is most celebrated for the fairy-tale marble palaces that appear to rise from the waters of Lake Pichola. Venture into a spectacular labyrinth of courtyards within the City Palace, a soaring creation of marble and granite perched on the lake's edge. This palace complex, the largest in Rajasthan, blends medieval, European, and Chinese architecture and is richly decorated with inlaid mirror-work, mosaics, and frescoes. Cruise by the Lake Palace Hotel on an afternoon boat ride on Lake Pichola.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Jaisalmer

Today the train carries us into the heart of the Thar Desert to magical Jaisalmer, founded by Rawal Jaisal in A.D. 1156. Rising above the city, the imposing turrets and bastions of the golden sandstone fort conceal a lively town within. Explore this magnificent fort and discover the havelis, once the mansions of wealthy merchants, decorated with elaborate facades. Later, ride a camel across the sand dunes of Sam and stop for a traditional tea in the desert. This evening, experience Diwali, the Festival of Lights, with fireworks lighting the sky for one of the biggest Hindu celebrations in India. Lakshmi Puja is performed in the evening with people exchanging gifts and lighting candles around their houses to seek divine blessings from the Goddess of Wealth.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Jodhpur

Jodhpur's blue-hued old city lies at the foot of massive Mehrangarh Fort, perched on a rocky outcrop some 120 meters high. Visit the 15th-century fort with stunning views of the city, elaborately mirrored rooms, and a museum with a spectacular collection of miniature paintings, ivory artifacts, and weapons. Take auto rickshaws into the narrow streets of the old city with its blue hued buildings, clock tower, and people shopping at the Sardar Bazaar. Enjoy lunch before returning to the Palace on Wheels for the final leg of our rail journey.
Palace on Wheels (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Keoladeo Ghana National Park/Agra

Disembark the train in Bharatpur and head into the wetlands of Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a renowned bird sanctuary. Search for egrets, flamingos, and many other bird species and wildlife. Then stop at a hotel near the park for a cooking demonstration and lunch. Take a guided walk around Bharatpur village before heading to Fatehpur Sikri, the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1569 to 1585, where elegant carved sandstone palaces remain incredibly well-preserved. Continue to Agra this evening.
ITC Mughal (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Agra

Rise early this morning to see the Taj Mahal's marble sparkle in the dawn's light. Constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is often described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. After lunch, explore Agra Fort's courtyards, mosques, and private chambers, which bring to life the story of the Mughal Empire. Pay a visit to a marble inlay workshop to see how the intricate stonework of the Taj Mahal was created. This evening, visit the iconic Taj Mahal at sunset before gathering for a festive farewell dinner.
ITC Mughal (B,L,D)

Days 12 & 13 — Agra/Delhi/U.S.

After breakfast, those who are interested can make a special visit to a local orphanage. Then drive to Delhi and relax in day rooms at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Later, transfer to the airport for your overnight flight, arriving home the next day.
Day rooms at The Taj Mahal Hotel (B,L,D)

Optional Extension

Related Trips

National Geographic Expert

Sarina Singh

Sarina SinghSarina Singh is the senior author of the bestselling Lonely Planet guidebook to India and a contributing writer for National Geographic Traveler magazine. An Australian who lived for five years in India, she has written for 50 Lonely Planet titles, including the acclaimed Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait Islands guidebook, and has been a high-profile monthly columnist for Lonely Planet Magazine. Sarina’s writing and photography have also appeared in numerous other publications, such as Britain’s Sunday Times and the U.K. edition of Condé Nast Traveller, and have aired worldwide on the BBC, ABC, and elsewhere. She is often interviewed for her travel expertise and has been profiled by a variety of publishers including BBC Travel, The Review, the Times of Oman, Progress Leader, and Le Quotidien. Sarina has written and directed an award-nominated documentary film which premiered at the acclaimed Melbourne International Film Festival before screening on television in Australia and Europe.

Sarina will join the following departure:

Jan 17 - 29, 2016



  • Jan 17 - 29, 2016 ALT
  • Feb 28 - Mar 11, 2016 ALT
  • Oct 23 - Nov 04, 2016
  • Nov 06 - 18, 2016 ALT

ALT indicates a departure that has a slightly different itinerary than the one shown on this page. Click the ALT icon to see the day-to-day itinerary.

In order to allow time for attending festivals, we will fly instead of drive from Delhi to Jaipur on the November 2016 departure.

The itinerary shown describes the October 23, 2016 departure, which includes the Diwali festival in Jaisalmer. Festivals or special activities on other departures include the following:

  • Cultural exchange in Samode in January 2016
  • Maha Shivaratri festival on the February 2016 departure
  • Pushkar Camel Fair on the November 2016 departure
  • Expedition Cost

    Oct 2015 - Mar 2016


    Oct - Nov 2016


    Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $3,100 for October 2015-March 2016 departures and $3,350 for October-November 2016 departures.

    International airfare to/from Delhi is not included in the expedition cost. For the November 2016 departure, the additional group flight from Delhi to Jaipur begins at $260 (subject to change).

    Featured Expedition Moment

    What To Expect

    This is an active trip that involves walking up to two miles a day, climbing stairs (often without handrails), and walking on crowded streets with uneven footing. Participants should be physically fit. Those who are prone to motion sickness may be uncomfortable on the train or during drives on bumpy roads. This expedition is not suitable for anyone with a serious medical condition or limited mobility.