I’ve just returned from a Titan 40th Anniversary trip with Jet Airways. We were travelling in India's Golden Triangle with Ranthambore national park tour. The order of the itinerary differs from the tour that features in the Titan brochure, although we did visit all of the same hotels and destinations.
Overnight flight from Heathrow to Delhi
We arrived in Delhi first thing in the morning and received a very warm welcome from our Indian guide Abhi, our driver Mr Singh and his bus boy, with marigold garlands as we took our seats on the coach. We transferred to our hotel, the Grand New Delhi, checked in, had time for a quick change and freshen up, and then set off on our first tour.
We drove across Delhi to the Qutub Minar which is a UNESCO world heritage site and is the largest minaret in the world made of bricks. The first thing that strikes you in India is the noise and the chaos! The constant beeping of horns, cows wandering around in the middle of a busy road, tuk-tuks speeding along, crammed full of people. I absolutely loved it. So different from anything we ever experience in this country.
After our visit to the minaret we returned to the hotel and our first dinner which was a delicious buffet of different types of curry, followed by desserts. Before my visit I had been concerned about the food, but I can honestly say that I really enjoyed everything we were offered. Most of the meals were buffet style, so you can pick and choose. I had read that there were certain foods to avoid, in order to evade the dreaded 'Delhi Belly', so I did abide by this advice and am pleased to say that I didn’t have any problems whatsoever. I know this could potentially put people off visiting India, but if you put preventative measures in place you’ll be fine!
- No salad or fruit (except bananas you peel yourself)
- No meat
- No fruit juice, ice cubes or ice cream
- Only bottled water with the seal intact, including brushing teeth
This meant a lot of vegetarian curries, naan bread and rice, plus one hotel did a pasta dish and we had a pizza one evening. Curry for 10 days, while delicious, got a bit wearing, and I won't be having an Indian takeaway for a little while! But well worth it to avoid becoming unwell.
I had a great first day! Jet lag did set in a little for everyone when on the coach tour of Delhi, but after a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, all was fine!
After an early start and a lovely breakfast, we visited Old Delhi, the capital built by Shahjahan. We visited India Gate the World War One memorial arch and also the memorial to Gandhi.
Then we started the 250 km drive to Jaipur, which took approximately 5 hours. We arrived at our hotel, The Lalit Jaipur, which was to be our home for the next 2 nights. Jaipur is beautiful and fascinating! It is known as the pink city as all of the buildings are painted in a pink/ochre colour.
After breakfast we visited the Amber Fort, which is a classic romantic Rajhastani Fort Palace. The interior of the palace is beautiful, including the famous Sheesh Mahal, a room with all of the walls and ceiling completely covered in glittering mirror pieces, which were specially imported from Belgium.
In the afternoon we had a sightseeing tour of the city, including the outside of the beautiful Palace of the Winds, known as Hawa Mahal in India. It was built out of red and pink sandstone in 1799, and was part of the women's section of the enormous city palace.
An early start to drive from Jaipur to Ranthambore, taking around 4 hours. On arrival we checked into our hotel, the Ranthambore Regency, our home for 2 nights. We received another wonderful welcome and a lovely lunch, and then had a few hours at leisure around the pool, which was very relaxing. We also had dinner at the hotel and an early night, in preparation for our first safari early the next morning.
Very early start this morning to maximise our chances of seeing as much wildlife as possible! We drove off in our open roofed canter, which is a large safari vehicle which can seat approximately 25 people.
Ranthambore is the best place to spot wild tigers in Rajasthan. Comprising 1,344 square km of wild jungle scrub, hemmed in by rocky ridges, seeing a tiger is partly a matter of luck! As we had travelled in September (the end of the monsoon season in India), we were not particularly expecting to see any tigers, as, because of the rain, the dense foliage would screen any potential wildlife sightings. However, we were very lucky and along strolled the majestic beast!!
We were so excited and so happy to see a tiger in its natural habitat. I actually found it quite an emotional moment!
After all of the excitement we returned to the hotel for lunch and then went out for our afternoon safari. This time we were not fortunate enough to see any more tigers, however, we did see antelopes, gazelles, monkeys, boar and various species of exotic birdlife.
Back to the hotel to freshen up in time for dinner, before which we were treated to some traditional Indian entertainment and dancing.
Ranthambore to Bharatpur by train, and Bharatpur to Agra by coach. We got up early and were given a packed breakfast to take on the train with us. The train journey was not what I had imagined. It was quite civilised and there was air conditioning in the carriages!
Going by train gave us a different experience and cut down the journey time immensely. One bit of advice I would offer is to take an overnight bag. Your main suitcases will be transported to Agra, so you’ll need something to carry toiletries and other clothes for the 24 hours without your case. Having no cases was a good idea, as I'm not sure how easy it would have been to be dragging 20 kilos of luggage on and off the train!
On arrival in Bharatpur we were met by Mr Singh, and on the way to Agra we visited the city of Fatehpur Sikri, another UNESCO world heritage centre. Built by the emperor Akbarin in 1569, the city was abandoned after just 14 years due to scarcity of water.
We checked into the Radisson Blu Agra, our home for the next 2 nights. After checking in we travelled the short journey to the world-famous Taj Mahal. This was built by Shah Jahan in 1560, in memory of his queen Mumtaz Mahal, to enshrine her mortal remains.
Words cannot express how I felt when I saw this architectural marvel! The Taj is so beautiful and an amazing sight. It was an extremely moving moment for me. Very, very busy there, but this did not detract at all from the beauty of this truly fantastic place. Everyone needs to go!
After breakfast we visited Agra Fort. Several of the buildings are made of pure marble with beautiful carvings. To cool the rooms, the walls are hollow and filled with running water. The balconies of these buildings gave a lovely clear view of the Taj Mahal and Yamuna River flowing next to it.
Early start for our 4 hour journey back to Delhi along the relatively new motorway, which, was an absolute joy after the other roads! On arrival in Delhi, we visited Humayun’s tomb, another UNESCO world heritage site, and the first example of the Persian-inspired Mughal architecture in India.
After the tour we checked in to the beautiful Roseate House, close to the airport, ready for our flight home the following day. We had a few hours at leisure to either enjoy the rooftop pool or wander around the surrounding shops. After our free time we had a lovely last dinner in the hotel’s à la carte restaurant.
We were transferred to the airport for our flight home with Jet Airways.
This Titan tour is a fantastic introduction to the amazing sights and sounds of India, combining the three cities of the Golden Triangle with a couple of days searching for the elusive Bengal tigers in Ranthambore National Park. Our guide was amazing, and his knowledge was extensive. Our bus driver and bus boy were great too!
I had the most amazing time and would definitely love to go back and experience more of India, perhaps on Titan's Splendours of India, Wild India or Majesty Of Southern India tours. There are many departure dates and solo tours are also available.
Highlights of India - Taj Mahal Tour
7 night tour
From only £1,495pp
Various departure dates in 2019, 2020 & 2021
This introductory small group tour to northern India takes you on a fascinating journey of discovery, visiting many of the country’s most iconic sights.
Includes flights from London, transfers and a mixed meal plan
15 night tour
Various departure dates in 2019, 2020, 2021
Embark on an incredible journey from north to south as you experience the very best of India’s culture, heritage and wildlife on this captivating small group tour.
Includes flights from London, transfers and a mixed meal plan