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Ancient India: A historical Journey through Central India

17 days from £4,450 per person

Central India is home to the country’s most ancient cultural sites. This hugely underrated region is regularly visited by the Ampersand team, and loved by us all due to the richness of the area’s historical sites, stunning natural landscapes, impressive wildlife and low-key atmospheric hotels. With forts, temples and heritage hotels galore, central India is the place to go for those looking to recapture the magic of Rajasthan as it was several decades ago; often you will have sites to yourselves and life runs at a slower and incredibly charming pace.

This itinerary has been designed to showcase the rich wonders of this region and will appeal to those who love India for its diverse history, majestic architecture, vast vistas and natural wonders, and wish to tour a little off the beaten track, but in comfort and style. Highlights include the Buddhist stupa of Sanchi, India’s oldest extant built structure known for its exquisitely carved railings depicting the life of the Buddha, and the Bhimbetka Caves, which are home to cave paintings estimated to be over 30,000 years old. The erotic temples of Khajuraho are unforgettable, as are the dreamy domes of the Orchha, and the now abandoned Bundelkhand capital is best enjoyed at sunset or while kayaking down the Betwa River.

This itinerary isn’t all about culture and history however; while at Panna National Park enjoy scenic boat rides on the River Ken at sunrise, trek through the forest to an ancient fort for a picnic lunch, enjoy game drives through the tiger sanctuary and relax with sundowners by an open fire. Ahilya Fort is the perfect place to take stock and relax at the end of the trip. Located on the banks of the Narmada River, a stay here gives you an insight into untouched rural life; watch while villagers carve lingas out of clay on the ghats, explore the archaeological site of Mandu and spend your days lazily floating down the river and enjoying the view.

This holiday is purely a suggested itinerary. It can be booked as is, or alternatively used as a starting point for creating your own perfect tailor-made tour of central India

We'd recommend booking this trip between either January to April or October to December. This will allow you to experience all that India has to offer. If you'd like to see some similar itineraries, take a look at our Active, Honeymoon or Safari collections.


Itinerary details

17 days from £4,450 per person

  • Day 1 - In transit.
    Fly London to Delhi
  • Day 2 - The Imperial Hotel - Delhi
    Arrive Delhi. Meeting on arrival and private transfer to the hotel. Afternoon visit to Agrasen ki Baoli stepwell.
  • Day 3 - Sarai at Toria - Khajuraho
    Fly to Khajuraho via Varanasi. Arrive and private transfer to the hotel.
  • Day 4 - Sarai at Toria - Khajuraho
    Morning boat ride on Ken River. Afternoon explore Khajuraho Temples.
  • Day 5 - Sarai at Toria - Khajuraho
    Morning game drive through the Panna National Park. Afternoon visit to Ajaygarh Fort.
  • Day 6 - Amar Mahal - Orchha
    Drive to Orchha via Dhubela (200 Kms – 4 hours drive). Afternoon explore Orchha Temples.
  • Day 7 - Usha Kiran Palace - Gwalior
    Morning kayaking on Betwa River. Drive to Gwalior en route visiting Datia. (130 Kms – 3 hours drive).
  • Day 8 - Usha Kiran Palace - Gwalior
    Morning visit of Gwalior Fort. Afternoon visit to Palace and museum.
  • Day 9 - Jehan Numa Retreat - Bhopal
    Transfer to the Gwalior Railway station to board train to Bhopal. Arrive Bhopal and private transfer to the hotel.
  • Day 10 - Jehan Numa Retreat - Bhopal
    Sunrise visit to Sanchi. Afternoon excursion to Udayagiri Caves.
  • Day 11 - Jehan Numa Retreat - Bhopal
    Morning visit to Bhimbetka Caves. Afternoon tour of Bhopal.
  • Day 12 - Ahilya Fort - Maheshwar
    Drive to Maheshwar (280 Kms – 5 hours). Arrive and check in at the hotel.
  • Day 13 - Ahilya Fort - Maheshwar
    Full day at leisure.
  • Day 14 - Ahilya Fort - Maheshwar
    Morning excursion to Mandu. Afternoon at leisure.
  • Day 15 - Ahilya Fort - Maheshwar
    Full day at leisure.
  • Day 16 - The Taj Mahal Palace - Mumbai
    Morning drive to Vadodara airport (2.5 hours drive) to board flight for Mumbai. Arrive and private transfer to the hotel. Afternoon excursion to Elephanta Caves.
  • Day 17 - In transit.
    Fly Mumbai to London.
NORTH INDIA - Ahilya Fort NORTH INDIA - Ahilya Fort
Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 21 Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 21
Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 22 Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 22
Orchha North India 3 Orchha North India 3
Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh North India (1) Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh North India (1)
Orchha North India (1) Orchha North India (1)
Gwalior Fort Madhya Pradesh North India 2 Gwalior Fort Madhya Pradesh North India 2
Gwalior Fort Madhya Pradesh North India 1 Gwalior Fort Madhya Pradesh North India 1
Bhopal Madhya Pradesh North India 1 Bhopal Madhya Pradesh North India 1
Bhopal Madhya Pradesh North India 2 Bhopal Madhya Pradesh North India 2
Sanchi Madhya Pradesh North India 2 Sanchi Madhya Pradesh North India 2
Sanchi Madhya Pradesh North India 1 Sanchi Madhya Pradesh North India 1
Bhimbetka Caves Madhya Pradesh North India 3 Bhimbetka Caves Madhya Pradesh North India 3
Bhimbetka Caves Madhya Pradesh North India 4 Bhimbetka Caves Madhya Pradesh North India 4
Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 4 Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 4
Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 11 Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 11
Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 9 Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 9
Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 6 Ahilya Fort Maheshwar North India 6
Elephanta Caves Mumbai North India Elephanta Caves Mumbai North India
Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai North India 5 Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai North India 5
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
Bill Bryson

Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India

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