- Calcutta, Ganges Valley, Madhya Pradesh Parks: Alternative India
- Private 4x4 safaris in Panna & Bandhavgarh parks, on the trail of tigers
- A private visit to the Calcutta & Varanasi temples; attend a ceremony on the banks of the Ganges
- All our usual additional services are included, such as our local Concierge and fast-track airport services
Contact one of our India specialists 020 3958 6120
YOUR TRAVEL TO THE HEART OF DEEPEST INDIA
LOGISTICSSeveral plane journeys to cover longer distances; other trips are by private car with a driver. Tours and safaris are conducted in private groups and in the company of private guides. The selected accommodation is some of the best in the region and is an integral part of the journey.
TIGER TRACKING SAFARISAlong a trail through a thick forest, so well described in the Jungle Book, you'll arrive at the lodge at dusk, a stylish refuge hidden in the middle of the jungle. From the bedroom, you can see some black gazelles drinking at the nearby watering hole. Dinner is served under a century-old tree lit with lamps as night falls. The next morning, depart before dawn to go out tracking tigers in a private 4x4. As you drive, you'll hear red cockerels start to crow for all they're worth while families of monkeys pass from tree to tree. Your guide will point out wildlife as you go along, from spotted marsh deer to twisted-horned antelopes and dholes (Asian wild dogs). And fingers crossed you'll spot that most majestic of wild beasts - the tiger, crouching sleepily beneath a bush. If you don't get a chance to see the Bengal tiger, you can console yourself with leopards, deer, reptiles, wolves and other multicoloured birds.
Flight to Calcutta
Overnight flight, arriving the next day.
You'll be transferred privately to the heart of the city, close to the great Maiden Park, for two nights at The Oberoi Grand. A legendary hotel in Calcutta, it is considered the most beautiful establishment in the city. Added to the charm is The Oberoi hotel's touch: luxurious rooms, impeccable service, and a beautiful swimming pool.
Included in the itinerary - A one-day private tour exploring Calcutta's colonial past, with a guide and driver who speaks your language. A cultural city par excellence, it is home to charming houses of yesteryear, elegant monuments, and grand buildings. You'll also visit the Jain Pareshnath Temple, built by one of Calcutta's great jewellers, whch covered with semi-precious stones and small mirrors; the Kumartuli district, where Hindu idols are created and seen at festivals; the Tagore House, which is an unusually shaped dwelling that includes a ballroom, a theatre and an Indian music centre; and the Marble Palace, designed by a French architect and home to a private zoo. In the afternoon, head to the India Museum, the first major museum built in this part of the world, and then to the College Street Book Market, where intellectual book lovers and students meet.
Calcutta - Varanasi
Private transport to the airport and flight to Varanasi. You'll be transported to the heart of the city for a two-night stay at the Nadesar Palace, a small palace renovated into a prestigious hotel by the Taj group, on a vast estate planted with fruit trees.
Included in the itinerary - Discovering the Varanasi bazaar followed, at dusk, by a Ganga Aarti ceremony, a religious ritual using fire as an offering to the Goddess Ganga, a spectacular sight which you'll witness from a private boat. Young Brahmans, during a very codified ritual around small earthenware lamps (dipa), incense sticks (dhupa) and rose petals (pushpa), pay tribute to the Ganges.
Included the itinerary - Tour of the ghats with a private guide. These are riverside steps leading down into the water, where Hindu worshippers perform water-related rituals, such as cleansing ceremonies and various offerings. In Varanasi, more than eighty ghats have been built on the banks of the Ganges. Dashashwamedh Ghat is the oldest and Manikarnika Ghat is the city's great cremation centre (Shiva would whisper the prayer of passage in the ear of the dead).
Varanasi - Khajuraho
Private airport transfer and flight to Khajuraho. The village, which was the ancient religious capital during the Chandela era, was in turn abandoned and then swallowed up by the surrounding jungle and still houses twenty-two temples built according to the four cardinal points of the compass.
Included the itinerary - Half-day private tour of the temples, with a private guide and a driver. The first tour, in the eastern region, includes four Jain temples within a surrounding wall. Three other Hindu temples are scattered across the ancient village of Khajuraho. Continue the tour to the southern part where the Duladeo and Chaturbhuja temples are located.
Stay overnight in a modern hotel surrounded by beautiful verdant gardens. The rooms are comfortable and some have views of the temple tops.
Khajuraho - Panna
Included in the itinerary - A second half-day private tour of the temples, again with a guide and driver. The western part of the city is home to the main temples. The one in Lakshmana, dedicated to Vishnu, built around 950, houses a sacred image of Vaikuntha-Vishnou from Tibet. Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, built in the years 1025-1050, is dedicated to Shiva who, in her ascetic form, meditates in a cave. It is 100ft tall and the largest of the site in terms of size and ornamentation with almost 900 yellow sandstone statues.
After the visit, you'll journey east to Panna National Park in the heart of Madhya Pradesh. Overnight stay at Pashan Garh, an exceptional refuge near the park gates in the Vindhya Hills. The private cottages in the heart of the 172-acre private jungle are superb, inspired by the region's stone architecture and with refined and cosy interiors, discreet luxury and modern comfort. You can dine by candlelight, in the heart of the jungle, by the lit pool, or in the seclusion of its private verandah. The organic garden supplies much of the food here, so the cuisine is fresh and seasonal. Special mention should be made of the friendly and professional staff.
Panna - Bandhavgarh
Included in the itinerary - Half a day of private safari in Panna Park, a magnificent wildlife sanctuary that includes a tiger conservation project. Other species that can be observed here include crocodiles in the Ken River, which crosses the reserve from one side to the other, as well as leopards, deer, antelopes, reptiles, wolves, monkeys and many multicoloured birds.
The second leg of the safari is in Bandhavgarh, which you'll be privately transported to. Accommodation for two nights in a peaceful and refined ecolodge, which fits perfectly into its environment: the Samode Safari Lodge. The rooms - villas - are South African-inspired but feel perfectly in-keeping with the surroundings. The service is impeccable, the cuisine excellent, and the naturalist guides are passionate about their work.
Included in the itinerary - half-day private safari in Bandhavgarh Park, which has one of the highest population densities of tigers in India. This national park extends to over 173 square miles and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. While Bandhavgarh is known for its tigers, it is also home to panthers, Indian bison, deer, bears, hyenas, and monkeys.
Bandhavgarh - Delhi
Private airport transport and flight to Delhi. Another private transfer to the new business district and overnight accommodation at The Oberoi Gurgaon. A truly peaceful setting, away from the bustling city; luxurious accommodation with a modern charm of its own, where the vast swimming pool and service are exceptional.
Delhi - Return flight
Early transport to the airport to catch your flight home.
A la carte
With one more day - Chandernagor and the French East India Company trading posts
This is the first of the trading posts opened in India in the 17th century by the Compagnie Française des Indes Orientales and resulted from the merging of three villages on the banks of the Ganges. The first French people settled here in 1673, and the trading post was returned to India in 1951. Discover the Church of the Sacred Heart and colonial architecture of its various monuments; walk on the Strand and visit the Institut de Chandernagore which preserves this French colonial heritage with correspondence, period weapons, maps, furniture, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and even a copy of the first French newspaper published in Chandernagor. The day's trip is accompanied by a private guide.
Optional - From Calcutta
Add on - the Andaman Islands
Hidden in the heart of the Bay of Bengal, 600 miles from the coast, the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago forms a rosary of about 600 islands, some 40 of which are inhabited. Despite the echo of India, which can still be heard in the territory's capital of Port Blair, the archipelago has more of an African vibe the further from India you go. Two hours further offshore, Havelock Island offers a true Robinson Crusoe experience; the island is lined with mangroves and swaying palms which give way to white sandy beaches and emerald waters. The island's ecosystem - above and below water - is quite simply exceptional, possessing some of the most well-preserved primary forests and reefs on the planet. It's a dream for divers and those looking for some peace and quiet. It is only recently, without any existing hotel infrastructure, that the island has gained some exceptional accommodation.
Optional - From Delhi
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