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, and immerse yourself in the colors and rhythms of India's captivating culture. 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.

Trip Highlights

    • Travel 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 for rare birds and other wildlife in Keoladeo 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 the soaring minaret of Qutb Minar. 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 in Rajasthan. Known as the "Pink City" for its rose-colored buildings, Jaipur is protected by high fortifications and multiple gates. Stroll through a local bazaar before visiting Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building with delicate latticework and honeycombed windows.
Jai Mahal Palace (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Jaipur

Begin the day with 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 the Jantar Mantar, and examine a variety of precise astronomical tools. In the afternoon, visit the hilltop Amber Fort and explore its exquisite and well-preserved palaces, temples, gardens, and pavilions. Settle into your cabin on board the Palace on Wheels, and tonight, experience Diwali, the Festival of Lights. India glows during this important Hindu celebration: ceramic lamps burn brightly, colored paper lanterns are hung, and fireworks light up the sky in a dazzling display.
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.
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.
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 and learn about its colorful history. We’ll enjoy lunch in Jodhpur 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 after an early breakfast 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 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. 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, pay a visit to a local orphanage if you wish. 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

David Silverberg

David   SilverbergGeographer David Scott Silverberg has worked on the Indian subcontinent for more than two dozen years, conducting research funded in part by National Geographic grants. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, has served as executive director for research at EarthWatch, and helped launch Americorps's environmental programs. In India, David designs, manages, and teaches regional studies programs for American universities with a focus on cultural and environmental sustainability.

David will join the following departure:

Oct 26 - Nov 07, 2014

SEE OTHER EXPERTS »

Dates

2014
  • Oct 19 - 31, 2014
  • Oct 26 - Nov 07, 2014 ALT
  • Dec 21, 2014 - Jan 02, 2015 ALT (waitlist only)
2015
  • Feb 08 - 20, 2015 ALT
  • Mar 01 - 13, 2015 ALT
  • Oct 18 - 30, 2015 ALT
  • Nov 08 - 20, 2015 ALT
2016
  • Feb 28 - Mar 11, 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 October 26, 2014 and March 2015 departures.

The itinerary shown describes the October 19, 2014 departure, which includes the Diwali festival. Festivals or celebrations on other departures include the following:

  • Pushkar Camel Fair on the October 26, 2014 departure
  • Christmas in Jaipur and New Year’s Eve in Agra in December 2014
  • Mahashivaratri festival in February 2015 and March 2016
  • Holi and Elephant festivals in March 2015
  • Dussehra festival in October 2015
  • Diwali festival in November 2015
  • Expedition Cost

    Oct 2014 - Mar 2015

    $10,995

    Oct 2015 - Mar 2016

    $11,595

    Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $2,920 from Oct 2014 - March 2015 and $3,100 from Oct 2015 - March 2016.

    On the December departure, there is an additional holiday surcharge of $1,000 per person.

    International airfare to/from Delhi is not included in the expedition cost. For the Oct. 26, 2014 and Mar. 1, 2015 departures, the additional group flight from Delhi to Jaipur begins at $265 (subject to change).

    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.