Sacred India

India

Culture

Uncover the religious diversity of India

14 days £2,995 pp This is the price per person for a private tour (based on 2 people travelling) excluding international flights. Contact us for pricing for other group sizes including individuals.
Dates & Prices

Intro

NEW TOUR!

Take a trip through the great religious centres of India. Explore Mumbai and learn about Zoroastrian culture and their sobering Tower of Silence. Head to the city of Varanasi, sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. Take a boat at sunrise and see Hindus bathe in the holy river Ganges. In Lucknow, marvel at the grand Bara Imambara mosque and the Islamic culture that permeates this city. Fly to Amritsar, site of the inspiring Golden Temple and the centre of Sikhism. Finally, drive to Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas, home of the Dalai Lama and where Buddhism flourishes.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Boat ride on the holy river Ganges
  • Marvel at the Golden Temple
  • Buddhist culture in Dharamsala
  • Explore the heritage sites

Places Visited

Mumbai - Varanasi - Sarnath - Lucknow - Amritsar - Dharamsala - Mcleodganj - Delhi

What's Included

Airport transfers
Domestic flights
Ground transport with driver
English-speaking guides
Accommodation
Breakfasts and some meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
Itinerary
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Day 1 : Arrival

Arrive in Mumbai, where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. Overnight in Mumbai.

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Mumbai

After breakfast enjoy a guided walking tour of Mumbai, learning more about the religious diversity of this fascinating city. Overnight in Mumbai.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Mumbai is the most populous city in India, the economical and commercial centre of the country and the home of Bollywood, the Hindi film industry. Mumbai's most famous site is the Gateway of India, a 26-metre-high arch built to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary in India in 1911. Other important landmarks include the Marine Drive boulevard, known as the 'Queen's Necklace' due to its resemblance to a pearl necklace when viewed at night from above; Dhobi Ghat, the world’s largest open air laundry; Crawford Market, the largest market in Mumbai,  named after  the first Municipal Commissioner of the city, Arthur Crawford; and the Victoria Terminus railway station, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The latter is famous for its blend of Gothic Revival and traditional Mughal architectural styles, and was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. In 1996 it was renamed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, after the founder of the Maratha Empire.

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Day 3 : Mumbai - Varanasi

Transfer to the airport to board your flight to Varanasi. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel, after which you will be given time to freshen up and relax. In the afternoon you will be taken on a walking tour around the Ghats of the Ganges. Witness the "Aarti" ceremony by boat in the evening. Overnight in Varanasi.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Varanasi is regarded as the spiritual capital of India, signifying the crossing between the physical and spiritual worlds, and regularly attracts pilgrims to bathe in the sacred waters of the River Ganges. The Ghats leading into the river are colourful, full of character and a have an unrivaled spiritual atmosphere. Every evening at sunset, Varanasi stages the 'Aarti ceremony' where Pilgrims gather on the banks of the Ganges and offer fire to Lord Shiva & the river. 

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Day 4 : Varanasi - Sarnath - Varanasi

Depart on a morning boat cruise along the River Ganges to observe the local way of life. Later, continue on an excursion to Sarnath. Return to Varanasi for overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Sarnath is considered the most beautiful Buddhist pilgrimage, naturally preaching tranquility and peace. Sarnath Temple or Dhamekh Stupa attracts pilgrims from all over the world as it is where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after achieving enlightenment. It was built around 500 AD, although some parts are thought to be even older.

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Day 5 : Varanasi - Lucknow

Today you will be transferred to Lucknow. In the evening, enjoy a walk around Hazratganj, the Victorian-style market. Overnight in Lucknow.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Lucknow, the Golden City of the East, is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh in India. A multicultural city, it flourished as the cultural and artistic capital of North India in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is typically associated with legendary ‘nawabi’ hospitality, the British Raj, leisurely lifestyles and world-renowned cuisine. The rich Awadhi cuisine of Lucknow was made popular by the Nawab of Awadh who, to deal with food shortage, ordered his men to cook in huge handis (vessels) to feed the hungry. This eventually led to a style of cooking called ‘dum’ – the art of sealing ingredients in large handis and cooking over a slow fire.

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Day 6 : Lucknow

After breakfast, proceed on a guided city tour of Lucknow. The tour will take in many of the city's most impressive sights, such as Bara Imambara, the British Residency and the Clock Tower. Overnight in Lucknow. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Bara Imambara is one of the most famous monuments in Lucknow, built by the fourth Nawab of Awadh known as Asaf-ud-Daula, as part of a relief project in response to the 1784 famine. The central hall of Bara Imambara is said to be the largest arched hall in the world, measuring 50 metres long and 15 metres high. The unique construction of interlocking bricks means there are no girders or beams. The roof stands steady till date without any pillars to support it. Today, the central hall is an important place of worship for Muslims. 

The British Residency served as a refuge for approximately 3000 British inhabitants throughout the 1857 uprising. Lucknow was the centre of all British activities during the siege and the Residency became the monopolistic centre of the British for almost 90 days. Within the walls are the graves of around 2000 British soldiers who died in the 1857 revolt. On November 17th, the British troops defeated the Indian forces and recaptured the city. Today, the British Residency of Lucknow serves as a government office. 

Constructed in 1887, the Hussainabad Clock Tower, the tallest Clock Tower in India, is one of the finest examples of British Architecture in the country. The 221-foot tall structure was erected by Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider to mark the arrival of Sir George Couper, 1st Lieutenant Governor of United Province of Avadh in the year 1887.

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Day 7 : Lucknow - Amristar

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Amritsar. In the afternoon, proceed to visit the Wagah Border to witness the changing of the guard ceremony. Watch the Palki Sahib ceremony at the Golden Temple. Overnight in Amritsar.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Amritsar boasts the famous Golden Temple, located in the heart of the city. Amritsar is at the epicentre of the Sikh faith, where the Golden Temple is the holiest of Sikh shrines. For Sikhs it is both a display of Punjab's wealth and an important pilgrimage. People from all faiths gather at the Golden Temple, a tribute to the traditions of a faith whose holy book is a compilation of the writings of men of different faiths. 

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Day 8 : Amritsar

After breakfast, enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Amritsar. In the evening explore the local markets and sample some local delicacies. Overnight in Amritsar.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 9 : Amristar - Dharamsala

Depart for Dharamsala. Upon arrival, the rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy at your leisure. Overnight in Dharamsala.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Dharamsala is situated in the upper reaches of the Kangra Valley and surrounded by dense coniferous forest. The hill-station town is best known as the home of the exiled Dalai Lama and the centre of the Tibetan exile world in India. The town is a centre for Tibetan arts and crafts, boasting several art galleries and an annual international film festival. The Dalai Lama temple and other Buddhist monasteries are set in beautiful and serene surroundings.

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Day 10 : Dharamsala - Mcleodganj - Dharamsala

Drive to Mcleodganj to experience Tibetan culture. Visit Tsuglagkhang complex, Namgyal monastery, the Tibetan museum and Norbulingka Institute. Return to Dharamsala for overnight.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Mcleodganj, named after Sir Donald Friell McLeod ('ganj' is a common Hindi word for 'neighbourhood'), is a suburb of Dharamsala with a large Tibetan population. It is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, as well as the Dalai Lama.

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Day 11 : Dharamsala

Visit the Tibetan Library and Archives, Nechung monastery and 'Men Tsee Khang', the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute. Overnight in Dharamsala.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 12 : Dharamsala - Delhi

After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board your flight to Delhi. You will have time to relax until the evening, when you will proceed on a guided tour of New Delhi. Overnight in Delhi.

Meal plan: Breakfast

India’s capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the vast spiraling skyscrapers, the remnants of a bygone era in the form of its many monuments, stand as silent reminders of the region’s ancient legacy. The first impression for any visitor travelling in from the airport is of a specious, garden city, tree-lined with a number of beautiful parks.

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Day 13 : Delhi

Today you will be taken on a guided tour of Old Delhi. Overnight in Delhi.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The walled city of Old Delhi, which includes the Lal Qila or Red Fort of Delhi, was established in 1650 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The Spice Bazaar, or Khari Baoli, is a street in Old Delhi known for its wholesale grocery and is one of Asia’s largest wholesale spice markets selling all kinds of spices, nuts and herbs. Operating since the 17th century, the market is situated close to the historic Delhi Red Fort. Learn about the spices on sale and smell their aromas. One of Delhi's most interesting buildings is the Jama Masjid (mosque), which is surrounded by traditional businesses that showcase centuries’ old arts and crafts. There is also a marvellous old-fashioned shop where you can test Indian perfume from cut-glass bottles. You will saunter through the main bridal street of Old Delhi, Kinari Bazaar, with its dazzling display of embroidered silk wedding saris.
 


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Day 14 : Departure

Breakfast. Transfer to airport for onward flight.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Extensions

Kolkata & Sunderbans (6 days)

Discover colonial Kolkata and the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve

Hill Stations & Mountains

Escape the city and unwind among some of the most breathtaking mountain and hill scapes the world has to offer.

City Extensions (1-4 days)

Visit the must-see sights and the hidden depths of India's most vibrant cities.

Beaches (1-7 days)

After exploring the busy cities, there's no better place to relax than one of India's paradisiacal beaches

Treks & Walks (1-12 days)

Himalayan treks, village walks and more

The Golden Triangle (5 days)

Marvel at India's most incredible forts and palaces

Himalayan Extension: Ladakh to Kashmir (5 days)

Travel across the spectacular Himalayan Highway

Kolkata & Darjeeling Snapshot (7 days)

Ideal extension to Bhutan

Wildlife of Madagascar, India & Borneo (29 days)

Spot lemurs, tigers & orangutans

Indian Odyssey (29 days)

Experience the best of North and South India

Highlights of the Subcontinent (22 days)

Discover iconic sights of India, Nepal & Bhutan

Wildlife of India & Borneo (21 days)

Get under the skin of Asia's two best wildlife spots.

Monks, Tribes & Rhinos (20 days)

Himalayan mountains, unseen tribes & amazing wildlife

Hill stations to the Himalayas (20 days)

Travel through the Himalayan foothills via Shimla & Amritsar to Ladakh

Classic Bhutan & Assam Cruise (18 days)

Experience Bhutan's rich culture, colonial Kolkata and rural life in Assam

Essential India & China (17 days)

Visit the two most populous countries on Earth.

Glimpse of India & Nepal (16 days)

Golden Triangle and the Himalayas

Essential India & Sri Lanka (16 days)

India's Golden Triangle & the best of Sri Lanka.

Textiles & Artisans of Gujarat & Rajasthan (16 days)

Nomadic tribes, traditional textiles, crafts & Mewar Festival

Nagaland: Festival of the Headhunters (15 days)

Aoling Festival, wildlife in Assam & natural beauty of Manipur

Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival (15 days)

Wildlife, tribes & rural life in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur

Taste of South India (15 days)

Experience the flavours and exotic spices of South India

Kerala Calling (15 days)

Tropical mountains, tea & spice plantations, and backwaters

Rajasthan Explorer & Pushkar Camel Fair (15 days)

Fort cities, rural villages & camel fair

Big Six of India (15 days)

Spot tigers, lions, leopards, buffalo, rhino & elephants

Tribal Orissa & Chhattisgarh (14 days)

Distinct tribal cultures, unique temples & traditional textiles

Spirit of South India (14 days)

Temple towns of Tamil Nadu to backwaters of Kerala

Kerala & Karnataka Explorer (14 days)

Idyllic backwaters, tropical forests & ancient temple towns

Taj, Tigers & Temples (14 days)

Perfect mix of classic sights and off-beat places for first-timers to India

Hampi and Beyond (14 days)

Discover Karnataka's stone temples, wildlife and coffee farms

Tribes of North East India (14 days)

Remote tribal cultures in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam & Nagaland

Sacred India (14 days)

Uncover the religious diversity of India

Delicacies of North India (14 days)

Discover the huge diversity of North India's cuisine

Big Cats of India (14 days)

Experience the thrill of the Indian jungle ...

Best of Bengal & Sikkim (14 days)

Colonial Kolkata, Darjeeling toy train & Buddhism

Wildlife of North East India (14 days)

Diverse wildlife in Assam and the Sunderbans

Heart of India (14 days)

Lucknow, Varanasi & the wonders of Madhya Pradesh

Kashmir, Ladakh & The Hemis Festival (14 days)

Experience dramatic Himalayan scenery, Islamic & Buddhist cultures

Kerala - Trekking the Western Ghats (13 days)

Explore this UNESCO biodiversity hotspot on foot

Markha Valley Trek (12 days)

Set foot in Ladakh's hidden Himalayan valleys

Treasures of Gujarat (12 days)

Villages, temples, salt flats & the world's last Asiatic lions

Glimpse of India (11 days)

Golden Triangle, tigers & exotic Goa

Classic Kerala (10 days)

Tea, spices, backwaters & beaches

Essential Rajasthan (10 days)

Discover the forts, palaces, villages and desert of Rajasthan

Living Bridges of Meghalaya (7 days)

Waterfalls, hills and living bridges in North East India

Reviews

I would highly recommend Travel the Unknown to anyone visiting India. The service we received both prior to, during and following our travels was always timely and excellent. We were able to customize our trip to our liking and to enjoy a wide variety of activities. The guides in every location were outstanding! Honestly. Having travelled through much of the world I can truly say that we have never been more impressed with the quality of the guides arranged for us in each location, as well as the service we received. Similarly, the hotels were excellent and allowed us to live very comfortably while, at the same time, enjoy an authentic Indian experience. If you haven`t already booked your trip with Travel the Unknown, then either do so now....or at least give them a chance to show you what they can offer.

Tracey & Gary , Tailormade India

The Sacred India/tailormade trip lived up to my expectations, and provided a stimulating and immersive experience of India, notably the Hindu aspects of Indian society. Varanasi was a wonderful experience, the evening Aarti festival, the dawn river trip, and the tour around the alleyways of the old city were outstanding. The Khajuraho temples were beautiful, in a wonderful parkland setting. I was pleased that there were things happening almost all the time. The food was good, especially in Varanasi and the Varanasi guide especially was excellent. He had a real feel for the area and the philosophy of the place

Malcolm Copley , Sacred India, India

I have been on 3 tailor made trips with Travel The Unknown and have found them to be knowledgeable and reliable. We`ve stayed in some wonderful places and have had some unusual and satisfying experiences that go beyond the standard tours.

Joan Edmunds (USA) , Tailormade India

For our first visit to India we couldn't have chosen any better. Our 'Sacred India' tour will leave us with many wonderful long-lasting memories. Everything worked like clockwork and we had some truly inspiring guides, many of whom had the most impressive knowledge and interest in what they were showing us and were only too keen to pass that on. On top of that, Travel the Unknown chose some lovely places for us to stay.

Alexandra Praill & Peter Denly , Sacred India, India

What an excellent service! Rahul adapted, extended and improved our trip so many times without a qualm and we ended up with the trip of a lifetime. The destinations are unusual and interesting but everything has been checked out by the team and works brilliantly. I can`t wait to do another trip.

Penelope Smith , Assam & Nagaland Hornbill Festival, India

A really well planned trip. We experienced life in Northeast India in just the way we wanted to. We loved the game reserves and saw a rock python which thrilled our guides as it is even rarer than the tiger! We visited villages and were able to interact with local people and loved the busy markets in Delhi and Calcutta. A special highlight was the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland; shown to us by our very own Naga guide Kezo. Kezo accompanied us for 15 days of our trip and ensured that we had many very special experiences - even taking us to the home of one of his Aunts where we spent a couple of hours sitting by the bonfire chatting.

Ann Holgate , Tailormade India

I`m sure I could not have found a better operator for the type of complicated Indian tour I wanted to undertake on a limited budget. India is an intimidating country to visit, and I suspect that some operators look down on the first time visitor, or disparage their requirements. Travel the Unknown, by contrast, helped me all the way, and their local guides were superb.

Andrew Martin , Tailormade North East India

Thank you for organising our holiday in Kerala. I certainly wouldn`t have had the time or the knowledge to put together such a trip. Munnar was my favourite and the accommodation throughout was excellent.

Vik , Kerala Calling, India

The tour was an amazing experience for our first visit to India. The country, its people and its cuisine were friendly,delightful, colourful and exceeded all our expectations. Travel the Unknown have put together a superb unique package that we have no hesitation in recommending to anyone with an interest in food and culture.

Elaine & Neil Smith , Delicacies of North India, India

This was my first experience of using Travel the Unknown having enjoyed small group adventure holidays for many years. I was attracted to the company because it seeks out the more unusual and lesser known areas of a country and I was not disappointed by my visit to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. There is a clear contrast between the people and the scenery of these two regions and we saw very few western tourists particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. The tour was well organised with plenty to see and do.

Keith Lewis , Monks, Tribes & Rhinos, India

A fantastic trip to Arunachal Pradesh. Very well organised exactly to our requirements. Superb local guide. Would recommend this trip. Hazel and James.

Hazel Frost , Tailormade North East India

This trip was very well put together and ticked all the boxes that we had requested. The accommodation throughout the tour was of a high standard and our experiences in the national parks was wonderful spotting many different animals including tigers, leopards, sloth bears, lions, jungle cat plus countless number of birds. Thank you Rahul for tailoring this trip to our requirements.

Nigel & Margaret Turner , Tailormade India Wildlife & Birding tour
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