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9-Day India Golden Triangle with Varanasi

9-Day India Golden Triangle with Varanasi

By Nora OuUpdated Jan. 30, 2023
Explore India's Holiest City with an Ancient Spiritual Legacy

This 9-day tour of India's Golden Triangle and Varanasi is ideal for first-time visitors who want to explore the country's most iconic monuments and experience its holiest city with a spiritual and religious legacy of nearly 3,000 years.

On this journey, you will see the jewel-encrusted white marble Taj Mahal along with other incredible sights including teeming bazaars, immense forts, and colorful streets. You will also gain a deeper understanding of India's spirituality by observing daily life along the Ganges River, a holy river where many Hindu rituals are performed to cleanse all earthly sins and prepare for the soul's final journey to liberation.


  • Explore the legendary Old Delhi with its Mughal-built monuments and congested bazaars.
  • Observe the evening aarti ritual when worshipers pray and give offerings to the Ganges at dusk.
  • Enjoy a heritage walk along the Ganges River to have an insider's look at the local life.
  • Immerse yourself in the grandeur of Rajput royalty during your feature stay in Jaipur's heritage hotel.
  • Discover the vibrant pink city of Jaipur, whose historic architecture is as magnificent as the city's colorful streets.
  • Bask in the fascinating colors of the Taj Mahal and admire the art of its pietra dura mosaics.
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Suggested Route

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Itinerary in Detail

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Arrive in Delhi

Welcome to Delhi, India's capital, where the sounds are lively and the colors vibrant. When you arrive at the India Gandhi International Airport, you will be met by our representative and take a private car to your hotel.

Explore Old Delhi and Have an Authentic Culinary Experience

Your trip will begin by exploring the whirling streets of Old Delhi. Your day will start at the magnificent Red Fort where you will pass by this striking crimson rampart. Afterward, pay your respects at Jama Masjid, India's largest and grandest mosque built from sandstone and marble. The huge courtyard of the mosque can accommodate up to 20, 000 people during Friday prayers when it looks like a sea of worshipers.

Walk north to Chandni Chowk with its narrow alleys that contain a kaleidoscope of shops selling anything from jewelry to street food. You will take a rickshaw ride through the bustling lanes to absorb all the sights and sounds.

The rickshaw in Chandni Chowk market
Jama Masjid

Drive pass the India Gate, the Red Fort, the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Parliament House. Finish off the day with a visit to Humayun's tomb, the first great example of a Mughal garden tomb, and the Qutub Minar.

Have a cooking class
Discover the old Delhi in Chandni Chowk by a rickshaw
Delhi to Varanasi and Attend the Ganga Aarti

In the morning, fly from Delhi to Varanasi. Varanasi is situated on the west bank of the Ganges and is India's holiest city. This ancient city, where religion is an integral part of daily life, has drawn saints, poets, and pilgrims through the ages.

On arrival, take a private car to your hotel to relax for a few hours. In the late afternoon, take a boat ride on the Ganges River to witness pilgrims performing ancient rituals.

Colorful main ghat in varanasi

When the sun sets, you will head to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple to experience the highly choreographed Ganga Aarti ceremony.

The ceremony starts with the blowing of a conch shell to remove all the negative energy in the area. You will then see people start waving incense in the air and walk in circles around large lamps, all while chanting and playing music.

the Ganga Aarti ceremony
Witness the Ganga Aarti ceremony
A Boat Ride at Sunrise and Varanasi to Jaipur

The highlight of a trip to Varanasi is taking a boat ride at sunrise when the temples along the river are bathed in soft morning light.

During the boat ride, you will see the relationship between the local people and the river and watch them go about their daily activities. Here, people wash clothes, perform yoga, and give offerings of flowers.

a boat ride on Ganges River
Enjoy a morning boat ride on Ganges River

Then you will spend the rest of the morning admiring Sarnath. To Buddhists, Sarnath is as sacred as Varanasi is to Hindus. The Buddha came here to preach the Dharmachakra after gaining enlightenment in 528 BC.

In Sarnath, visit the Dhamekh Stupa which is built at the site where the Buddha is believed to have delivered his sermon to five disciples. Afterward, explore a superb collection of Buddhist artifacts in the Archaeological Museum.

The Dhamekh Stupa in Sarnath
To buddhists, sarnath is as sacred as varanasi is to hindus
The City Washed in Pink

Begin your morning exploring the opulent 16th-century Amber Fort. Mughal-era architecture greatly influenced the style of several buildings in the fort which can be seen in the ornately carved silver door, the elegant alabaster relief work, and glass inlay.

You will then be led through the magnificent Ganesh Pol, which is the gateway to three gorgeous palaces built around Aram Bagh, a Mughal-style garden. Relax in the garden and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

 the colorful gate in Amber Fort
Genesh Pol is a shimmering three-storeyed gateway

After spending some time at the Amber Fort, you will visit the central area of the 'pink city' of Jaipur. This area is home to the lovely Hawa Mahal which is a great place for photos in front of the building's beautiful pink windows.

Continue your visit by exploring the nearby Jantar Mantar Observatory, which has been described as 'the most realistic and logical landscape in stone', and then head to the City Palace Museum where you will have a splendid introduction to Jaipur's princely past and its rich history through local art.

the pick Hawa Mahal
Hawa mahal's ornate pink facade has become an iconic site
Jaipur to Agra with a Stop in Fatehpur Sikri

Rise early and head to Agra, En route, take time to visit Fatehpur Sikri, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a city predominantly made of red sandstone, Fatehpur Sikri was founded in the 16th century by Mughal Emperor Akbar. It is a great place to experience the history of this famous dynasty.

Continue driving to Agra. On arrival, spend the rest of the day relaxing at your hotel.

 the birds in Keoladeo Ghana National Park
Unlock the stories of Akbar's leadership in Fatehpur Sikri
Heritage of the Imperial Mughal Court

Admire the Taj Mahal during sunrise when the majesty of the world's most famous testament to love is best appreciated. Here, you will witness the shimmering morning light dance across the surface of this marble mausoleum.

While there, look out for the Taj Mahal's elaborate designs and exquisite craftsmanship. Here you will have the opportunity to see the art of pietra dura, an inlay technique of using highly polished colored stones to create images.

 the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is one of the world's most famous buildings

Next, you will visit the imposing complex of courtly buildings inside the Agra Fort. The marble hall of the Khas Mahal allows for splendid views of the Taj Mahal across the Yamuna River.

Have a Walk in the village near the Mehtab Bagh. Say hello to the local villagers and have a glimpse of their daily life. Enjopy a simple high tea in a villager's house End your day at the Mehtab Bagh for the sunset view of Taj Mahal.

 the red Agra Fort
Agra Fort is an imposing red sandstone rampart
Agra to Delhi

Before driving back to Delhi, you will visit the Itmad-ud-Daula (the baby Taj Mahal) and be impressed by the thousands of beautiful inlaid patterns.

 the Qutub Minar
Admire the thousands of beautiful inlaid patterns of Itmad-Ud-Daula
Delhi Departure

A private car will take you to the Indira Gandhi International Airport to catch your flight home.

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Hand-Picked Hotels

We have selected hotels with different styles and for different budgets. Let us know your preferences and we will help you find the right one.

We recommend experiencing palace hotels, heritage hotels, or nice resorts in order to get high-quality service and enrich your experience.

The courtyard of Maiden Hotel
Maidens Hotel New Delhi
An elegent room at Alsisar Haveli
Alsisar Haveli - a heritage hotel
The spa of the hotel in Agra
ITC Mughal, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Agra
hotel room of Madin Hotel
Hotel Madin

Our Service Includes:

9 days from
US$ 1,749
per person (based on 2 persons and 4-star hotels)
  • Private transfers and English-speaking tour guide
  • All guided sightseeing as detailed in the itinerary
  • 4-star accommodations for 8 nights
  • Flights and private transfers between cities mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • Governmental taxes

Tour code: ah-in-72

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