The Soul of India
Let the luscious beauty of India draw you in and transform you. This world class operator shows you the very best of the best in this carefully crafted experience.
India: Drink It In
Months, years, decades could profitably be spent exploring India’s 812 million richly varietal acres. But few of us have time to follow our bliss indefinitely, so this operator created The Soul of India to provide a thoughtful, succinctly paced, and delightful look at some of the continent’s most eye-brightening sights. We begin in Delhi, “always interesting to all mankind” as Ved Mehta quoted a taxi wallah as saying. Then we pay homage to the Taj, whose praises we sing throughout. We peacefully search for what is perhaps the most splendorous animal on earth in Ranthambore National Park, wander the glamorous Pink City of Jaipur, and witness intense spiritual devotion at Varanasi. We end in the supercity of Mumbai, a distillation of India’s incredible energy and ambition, its daily familiarity with and deep attachment to its many thousands of years of history.
Travel Curator’s Insights:
- • Experience some of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best hotels.
• See the Emperor of Beasts, the Royal Bengal tiger, in Ranthambore National Park.
• Travel with a world-class operator who offers 24/7 concierge service and some of the most fantastic insider access to sites across India.
From $19,450 per person
Policies and protocols provided before you book.
Departs Wednesdays in Jan - March, Sept - Dec 2023, 2024
Ask us for your preferred date range.
Departs Wednesdays in Jan - March, Sept - Dec 2023, 2024
Ask us for your preferred date range.
Trip Sustainability Awards
Committed to educating travelers on the best cultural and ecological practices.
Supports several local conservation efforts and takes travelers to the sites.
This operator pays for an African child's education for every guest.
Day 1: En Route to India
Days 2-4: In-depth Delhi, Old and New
“Charming, capricious, imperial” (as John Foster Fraser wrote), Delhi is one of the world’s most intriguing mega-cities. Based from the modern, centrally located Taj Mahal Hotel, we’ll visit the imposing war memorial India Gate as well as Humayun’s Tomb (an inspiration for the Taj Mahal of 73 years later).
With our Travel Director at helpful hand, we’ll wend Old Delhi’s twisting maze of streets and narrow, bustling, breathtakingly colourful byways, and visit India’s largest mosque, the imposing Jama Masjid and the nobly friendly Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, second most important shrine (after Amritsar’s Golden Temple) for India’s large and influential Sikh community.
Accommodation: Taj Mahal Hotel
Taj Mahal Hotel: Central to The Taj Mahal Hotel's prominence is its old-world grace and charm, blended effortlessly with contemporary comforts and amenities. Its close proximity to the seat of government, the city’s diplomatic corps, commercial hubs, cultural centers and iconic heritage wonders, has furthered the hotel’s reputation as the epicentre of the capital.
Days 5 & 6: Agra and the Taj, Humanity’s Greatest Artifact
There’s much more to Agra than the Taj Mahal. The Agra Fort is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture in its own right and the city itself is vivacious and engaging (which in India means extremely vivacious, exceptionally engaging). But “emeralds, rubies, and pearls…must pass away, yet still one solitary tear would hang on the cheek of time in the form of this white and gleaming Taj Mahal,” as India’s great laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote.
Heartliftingly, almost hallucinatorily beautiful, the Taj Mahal is one of the first artifacts we would present to aliens as proof of humanity’s worth. Our hotel, the universally admired Amarvilas, is a delight for those of us bewitched by the Taj: every window in the hotel looks out at the very nearby monument.
Amarvilas: Located just 600 metres from the Taj Mahal, the world’s most exquisite testimony to undying love, it is easy to rekindle romance at The Oberoi Amarvilas. The best hotel in Agra is inspired by Mughal palace designs; with fountains, terraced lawns, reflection pools and pavilions.
Days 7 & 8: In Peaceful Search of Nature’s Greatest Beast
We drive in the morning to Ranthambore and the exquisite and intimate Oberoi Vanyavilas, named India’s top luxury hotel in Travel+Leisure‘s 2017 World'S Best Hotels list. We come to subtly beautiful Ranthambore (thought by many to be the inspiration for Kipling’s unforgettable Jungle Book, of Mowgli and Bagheera fame) to see Panthera tigris tigris, an incandescent beast many consider the most impressive of Earth’s many trillions of sentient beings.
Our chances of life-sparking sightings are very good. We cruise the park under the guidance of our Travel Director and astute local guides, who can identify the park’s super feline denizens by name and number, and sense their presence by the jungly warning cries that everywhere accompany Shere Khan. Micato, nine-time winner of Travel+Leisure’s Number One Best Safari Operator award, has a natural affection for Panthera leo, the African lion. But we must admit that seeing Leo’s Indian cousin amble imperially in Ranthambore is an almost shockingly exciting experience.
Accommodation: Oberoi Vanyavilas
Oberoi Vanyavilas: The Oberoi Vanyavilas Wildlife Resort, the best 5 star hotel in Ranthambhore, offers luxury tented accommodation inspired by the opulent caravans of the royal families. A fine restaurant serving authentic Rajasthani and international cuisine. And spa experiences customised to suit your needs. All accompanied by hospitality that is genuine and sincere.
Days 9 to 11: Jaipur’s Palaces, Monuments, and Colourful Bustle
Residents of the entrancing Pink City are Parisian in their pride of place, and the city is the historic home of what is probably India’s most famous and flamboyantly rich ruling family. In fact, our three nights in Jaipur are spent in the Rambagh Palace, the fabulous former home of one of them, the great polo-playing, modernizing Maharajah Sawai Man Singh II.
Monuments to the wealth and monumental ambition of Jaipur’s Maharajah abound: grand City Palace, where members of the family still live; the Star Warsy observatory of Jantar Mantar, and huge yet lyrical Amber Fort, designed for protection in case of war (which never came) and
for royalty’s never-ending quest for luxury.
One morning we’ll lift off on a heart-stirring hot air balloon ride, flying high, then low over Jaipur’s awakening suburbs, waving to kids on the way to school, housewives putting up laundry, solemn old men on bicycles who break into big smiles as we waft overhead. We’ll explore Jaipur’s famous shopping bonanzas, and one evening we’ll get up close and personal with a winsome Elephas maximus at a private estate, helping bathe and taking a short walk alongside the beautiful beast, ending with a festive, open-air dinner.
Accommodation: Rambagh Palace
Rambagh Palace: Originally built in 1835, Rambagh Palace, has stepped gracefully through many royal transitions—from the home of the queen’s favourite handmaiden, to royal guesthouse and hunting lodge, and later as the residence of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II and his queen. Today, this jewel in the Taj’s crown offers 78 stunningly restored grand luxury rooms and suites in Jaipur which were the chambers of the former Maharaja.
Days 12 & 13: Holy Varanasi, Heart of the Hindu Universe
We fly to Varanasi in the morning, via Delhi. From our base at the Taj Ganges Veranasi (formerly known as the Gateway Ganges) we’ll venture out to the much-pilgrimaged site at Sarnath, where the Buddha went public for the first time after his enlightenment at nearby Bodh Gaya. But our focal point is Varanasi, in many ways the beating heart of the Hindu universe, perhaps the earth’s most supremely potent pilgrimage site. We’ll observe ancient rites on a quiet early morning boat ride on the sacred river Ganges, watching in the pink and gold light as devotees perform ritual sunrise baths and religious ceremonies, chant mantras, sing hymns, and go about the business of enlightenment. We’ll return at sunset, when tiny sacred lamps are ceremoniously lit during the ancient—and in the Indian way, very contemporary—aarti ceremony. Perhaps nowhere in India, or the world, is it possible to witness so clearly, colourfully, and intensely many thousands of years of unbroken dedication to spiritual exploration.
Accommodation: Taj Ganges Veranasi
Taj Ganges Veranasi: True to the city’s timeless spirit, this 5 star hotel in Varanasi shifts gears from urbane luxury to spiritual epiphanies without missing a beat. Whether you’re shopping for exquisite brocade fresh off weavers’ looms or entranced by the light and sound extravaganza of the sandhya aarti (offer of prayers) at Dashashwamedh Ghat, your experience of ethereal Varanasi will be defined by the warmth and opulence at Taj Ganges.
Days 14 & 15: The Astounding Mega-city of Mumbai
A world vanguard city, Mumbai is India’s unquestioned financial and commercial hub, a gleaming magnet for India’s millions of go-getting entrepreneurs: We’ll encounter the famous dabbawallahs of Churchgate Station, who prepare and deliver upwards of 175,000 lunches a day.
We may do some spirited bargaining at Chor Bazaar, or the Thieves Market, where everything and anything is available. We’ll roam the former Prince of Wales Museum, one of India’s premier art and history museums, and enjoy a leisurely walk through Colaba market near our lodgings, the exquisite Oberoi Mumbai, before dinner and our late night flights homeward.
Accommodation: Oberoi Mumbai
Oberoi Mumbai: The Oberoi, Mumbai is a striking example of modern architecture that lifts you up over Marine Drive to enjoy magnificent views of the ocean and 'Queen’s Necklace' lights along the shoreline. Only at the best 5 star hotel in Mumbai.
Day 16: Arrive Home
Brilliant at what they do, this operator will move the moon and stars to make sure you have an extraordinary experience in India. If you have any safety or comfort concerns, you can set them aside when you choose this trip.
Joy Martinello, Founder
What’s Included & Cancellation Policy: