Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book, a collection of stories published in 1894 about the “man-cub” Mowgli who grew up alongside animals in the wilds of India. For many people, these stories defined our idea of India as an exotic place, full of adventures amidst the dense foliage with predator and prey lurking around every corner. The reality nowadays is somewhat different. India is the 7th largest country on the planet, it has the 2nd largest population. Sadly, over-population has diminished natural landscapes and endangered wildlife, but the government of India is doing all it can to protect its rich and diverse wildlife in more than 120 national parks, 18 bio-reserves and 500 wildlife sanctuaries.
Toto Tours has organized many tours to India, but this is the first that will place primary focus on its wildlife. In addition to seeing rare animals in their natural environment, you will also experience the best of Indian heritage and culture. Around every corner another wonder of India’s kaleidoscopic richness reveals itself — Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, Mughal forts, British colonial architecture and the glorious Taj Mahal. We invite you to experience an adventure like no other!
Depart your home city today on an overnight international flight to Mumbai, India. The tour starts in Mumbai, and it ends in Delhi. The Mumbai International Airport has the three-letter code BOM, and the airport code for Delhi is DEL. Use these codes when researching flights from your home city. International flights typically arrive in India very late the following evening. Tour services begin in Mumbai with overnight accommodations on November 6. Let us know if you would like to book an additional night in Mumbai tonight so that you can have a full day of rest tomorrow before the tour starts. (Meals aloft)
Your flight will likely arrive late in the day. A driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to our hotel for an overnight stay. Touring begins tomorrow. (Meals Aloft)
Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of the sights in Mumbai. We start with the Gateway of India and Prince of Wales Museum, the largest Fine Art Museum in India. Continue to Rajabai Tower, a famous clock tower modeled after London’s Big Ben. We visit Flora Fountain, sprawling Crawford Market (noted for its Norman and Flemish architecture), Malabar Hill to see the famous “Queen’s Necklace” and the Hanging Gardens. Mani Bhavan (the Gandhi Museum) served as Gandhi’s Bombay headquarters and played a very prominent part in India’s unique struggle for freedom.
Next visit Haji Ali’s Dargah, one of India’s most famous and prestigious landmarks situated about 500 yards from the Mumbai shoreline in the middle of the Arabian Sea. Culminate the day at Dhobi Ghats, the public laundries which is a unique feature of Mumbai with row upon row of giant concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. Our Welcome Dinner is at Alibaba Restaurant tonight. Overnight in Mumbai. (Breakfast / Dinner included)
Transfer to the airport for our mid-morning flight to Nagpur, arriving just after noontime. A driver will meet us at the airport. After lunch we proceed to our lodge at Kanha National Park. It is one of India’s largest parks, covering almost 2000 kilometers of pristine Indian wilderness. It boasts a spectacular landscape of vast sal tree forests, interspersed with flourishing green meadows and beautiful stretches of lush bamboo growth. This national park is one of the first nine tiger reserves established with the initial launch of Project Tiger in 1973, aimed at protecting tigers and their ecosystems. Kanha is prime tiger wilderness, and it remains Project Tiger’s greatest success story. Today is a travel day with free time to enjoy our lodge. Our first visit to the park will be tomorrow. Overnight in Kanha. (All Meals)
Today we enjoy morning and afternoon safaris by jeep. There are numerous tiger reserves in India, but nowhere can you see these magnificent creatures as often and as regularly as in Kanha National Park. There are also herds of spotted deer to be seen with smaller herds of beautiful Antelope and Black Buck. With a little luck, you could also spot the timorous Barking Deer and the rare Barasingha (the Swamp Deer). Once there were only 66 of these in Kanha, but careful conservation and management raised their population to over 400. Spotting wild animals is always a matter of luck but Kanha is so rich in wildlife that the odds are tilted in your favor. There are 175 varieties of birds in Kanha, and visitors often catch glimpses of all the grazers, porcupine, Gray Langurs, mongoose, hyena, even a Leopard. (All Meals)
After another early-morning jeep safari, return to our lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, we drive to Bandhavgarh National Park. This was an ancient stronghold of many kings in a land with history dating back roughly 4000 years. This park, which was once the private game reserve of the ruling family of Rewa, holds the distinction of being the home of the last White Tiger in the wild. The park is dotted with many caves that have ancient rock paintings and carvings. Majestic Bandhavgarh Fort dominates the center of the park with its own history dating back thousands of years. Various temples with statues depicting incarnations of Lord Vishnu are inside the fort. We check in and enjoy dinner and overnight at our Bhandhavgarh lodge. (All Meals)
The entire day is scheduled for wildlife viewing. In addition to the Tiger, other important cats living in the forest here are the Leopard and Jungle Cat, as well as 3 types of antelope and many species of bat, deer, butterflies and birds. Set among the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh with an area of 168 square miles, the park contains a wide variety of habitats and a high density of game, including many tigers leading to its designation as a Project Tiger Reserve in 1993. (All Meals)
After breakfast drive to Khajuraho, a small town located in the heart of India and famous for its erotic temples. The Chandela rulers built these temples in a short span of 100 years from 950-1050 AD. Out of 85 temples, only 20 have survived the ravages of time. The temples belong to two different religions – Hinduism and Jainism. They are in three groups in an area of about 8 square miles. The western group is the largest and most important, while the group just east of the present Khajuraho village contain Brahmin and Jain shrines. The Southern group houses the Chaturbhuj Temple and the Eastern Temple. Enjoy a sound and light show at the temple complex this evening. (Breakfast / Dinner)
After breakfast drive to Orchha, which was the capital of the kingdom of the Bundella Rajputs from 1531 to 1783. We visit Jahangir Mahal Palace, an Indo-Persian style palace of the Mughul period and the Ram Raja Temple, built in the 17th century. We take lunch in Orchha before driving onward to Gwalior. We check in to our hotel, a former palace, in the late afternoon. Rich in history, this 120-year-old Usha Kiran Palace played host to the King of England and is now a heritage hotel. Set amidst 9 acres of beautifully landscaped lawns, this regal palace is outfitted with artistic stone carvings and delicate filigree work. (All Meals)
Gwalior’s tradition as a royal capital continued until the formation of present day India, with the Scindias having their dynastic seat here. The new city of Gwalior became, over the centuries, the cradle of great dynasties and with each, the city gained new dimensions from warrior kings, poets, musicians and saints, contributing to making it a capital renowned throughout the country. On a sightseeing tour this morning, we explore the 15th century Gwalior Fort, built on a sandstone precipice and overlooking the surrounding plains.
Afterwards we depart Gwalior and drive to Agra, famous as the home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Taj Mahal. The architectural splendor of the mausoleums, the fort and the palaces in Agra is a vivid reminder of the opulence of the legendary Mughal empire. We visit the Agra Fort and later the Itmad-ud-Daulah Tomb, an earlier version of the Taj Mahal. Time permitting, observe incredible marble-inlay craftsmen at work and see some of the other exquisite products produced here. Overnight in Agra. (Breakfast / Dinner)
We make a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal, a jewel of Muslim art. It is one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture, combining elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian styles. Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. We return to our hotel for breakfast, afterward checking out and driving to Fatephur Sikri, the deserted city. Built in 1571, it is one of the world’s most perfect ghost cities, with pristine red sandstone buildings as perfect as when they were first chiseled more than five centuries ago. We have plenty of time to explore the magnificent structures here before driving onward to Jaipur. We check in to our hotel upon arrival, and the evening is free. (All Meals)
Enjoy a very full and festive day of sightseeing. At the Amber Fort, we experience the thrill of riding on an elephant up to the main entrance. Amber is a classic, romantic Rajasthani Fort Palace, with a rustic exterior and a lavish interior. Miniatures painted on the walls depict hunting and war scenes as well as festivals. Precious stones and mirrors are embedded into the plaster. Inside the Fort visit the Jag Mandir or the Hall of Victory.
Later we tour the city of Jaipur, visiting the Maharaja’s City Palace, which has been converted in part into a museum. Visit the Jantar Mantar, which is the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world, built by Jai Singh from 1728 to 1734. We finish our tour with a stop at Hawa Mahal, the Palace of Winds, a honeycomb palace with 953 latticed windows overlooking the bazaar and busy streets of Jaipur. Toto Tours hosts a Farewell Dinner this evening at Nayaran Niwas Palace. Overnight in Jaipur. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Enjoy a free morning, relaxing around our hotel or exploring more of Jaipur. We check out of our hotel in late morning and depart around 12 noon for the drive to Delhi. On arrival, we check into day rooms at our hotel near the airport. You will have use of the room until 9:00 pm, when you will transfer to the international airport for your flight home. Those who have not seen Delhi on a previous visit can choose to extend one more day for a city tour. (Breakfast)
Enjoy a full-day sightseeing tour of Old & New Delhi. Start with a visit to the great Jama Masjid, the principal mosque of Old Delhi built in 1656. Take an exciting rickshaw ride through the old marketplace Chandi Chowk to see the Red Fort, built in the year 1648 (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Continuing our tour, we drive to New Delhi. We will see Raj Ghat, the simple black marble memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, and stop at the Ghandi Memorial Museum. Following lunch, we will view the India Gate (memorial built in 1931 to commemorate India’s fallen soldiers), the President’s House, and the soaring spire of the Lakshmi Narayan Temple. Visit Geeta Bhawan Hall where paintings depicting scenes from Indian mythology are displayed. Other attractions are the gardens and fountains inside the premises. Culminate the day at Qutub Minar, the tallest minaret in the world built in 1206. Return to the airport hotel in the evening. Your Day Room will be available until 9 pm. Dinner on your own. We provide your transfer to the International airport for flight home. Cost for this extra day and additional hotel stay – $300 per person double, $450 single.