Renowned for its loud colors and emblematic architecture, North India has drawn travelers for centuries to its palace- strewn cities and captivated the minds of storytellers for millennia.
On the holiness spectrum, North India encompasses several of the most important pilgrimage routes and religious centres in the Subcontinent, creating a holy crossroads for the country's main religions. Hindus crowd the river banks of Varanasi, wade through the waters of Lake Pushkar and marvel at the grandeur of Akshardham Temple. Buddhists come to meditate under the Buddha's tree of enlightenment at Bodhgaya's Mahabodhi Temple. Sikhs flood the hallways of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Muslims pray in the grand mosque of Jama Masjid of Delhi and the many sacred shrines of Rajasthan.
Along with its vigorous religious standing, North India has an extensive history that is crystalized by an array of architectural wonders and defined by longstanding social constructs and cultures. The Maurya Empire established its grounds as early as 326 BCE, followed by dozens of civilizations, ending with the British Indian Empire in 1947. Mughals -- the masterminds behind the most impressive buildings in northern India, left behind some of the most beautiful manmade constructs, including the Taj Mahal and Akbar's Palace in Fatehpur Sikri. Rajput clans built forts and colorful palaces along the route to the Thar desert, across the state of Rajasthan.
Although many powers have conquered India over millennia, none have proved immune to its capacity to reverse the current of colonization and to mold its subjugators. India's vastness and its deep-rooted cultural resilience effortlessly absorbs the influence of its foreign intruders and resolutely stands its own with an unwavering sense of tradition and identity.
Learn to see past the mayhem of Delhi and step into the past as you explore a city steeped in history, overflowing with modern life, overwhelmingly wild and colorful. Delhi's relentless rhythm is dominated by bazaars, amazing buildings, vast gardens and delicious cuisine. Take a boat ride around the massive Akshardham Temple of pink sandstone and white marble. Discover hidden alleyways of the Old City on a rickshaw, sharing the same space as street side dentists, natural healers and cobblers. Take in the beauty of Jamaa Masjid, the Friday Mosque that dominates the skyline. Stroll through Humayun’s Tomb, one of the earliest examples of a idyllic Mughal Garden. Our expert guides will take you on specialized architectural and food tours of Delhi, followed by some Ayurvedic pampering at your luxury boutique hotel.
Agra & The Taj Mahal
A journey to India is not complete without marveling the iconic Taj Mahal, rising from the morning haze in all its marble glory. Walk along the reflective pools and hallways of this architectural gem with an expert who will share its engineering secrets with you. This structure, which has captured the imagination of travelers for centuries, represents the immaculate love of a husband to his wife, and oddly stands out within the rather chaotic and charm-lacking town of Agra. Along with the most beautiful building on earth, Agra boasts the Red Fort, a magnificent 16th century fortress with high walls and a vast sandstone complex converted into a lavish palace by Shah Jahan. Stay overnight at the luxurious Oberoi Rajvilas for sweeping views of the sacred Yamuna River and the Taj Mahal in the background.
While staying at a quintessential Haveli (onetime royal palace) with peacock-blue hallways and magnolia-fringed Moghal gardens, experience the capital of the “Land of Kings”. Jaipur is a pink-washed city crystalized by age-old royalty studded with royal pavilions, ornate gardens and unicolored palace fronts that take your breath away with their intricate design and imposing size. Take on the busy craft bazaar with an expert shopper and meet masters of crafts in their workshops of traditional block printing, hand-spun khadi fabrics, and the almost-extinct jamdani weaving. Behind closed doors, stop by private ateliers of jewelry makers and metalwork artists who will show you their treasured pieces. Visit the craft-centered village of Bagru outside of Jaipur for the day to discover the origins of ancient traditions. Take your tastebuds on a culinary journey through a variety of dishes, served in street stalls and glamorous palaces.
Dominated by the tranquility of Lake Pichola hugging the Aravalli Hills, Udaipur is a city of pure charm with dazzling palaces, temples, traditional residences and countless narrow streets. Step into the vast world of Marwari cuisine and take a private cooking class with a local chef. Ride a boat on the shimmering lake while enjoying an exhilarating Ayurveda-inspired massage. Walk through the shimmering markets and enjoy a private Kathputli puppet show. Indulge as a Maharaja at the Taj Lake Palace, a floating white marble palace with exquisite interiors and breathtaking views.
Animal lovers cannot miss the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a tiger in the wild. Glamp out at the Aman-i-Khas or the Relais & Chateux Sher Bagh Camp in the Ranthambore National Park, just southeast of Jaipur. This wildlife sanctuary is known for its thriving tiger population thanks to conservation efforts. It is one of India’s best tiger reserves, with a chance to see other animals such as leopards, sloth bears, wild boar and chitals. The park also boasts over 300 bird species. Beyond the wildlife , this dense jungle is dotted with remnants of ancient temples, including a 10th century Mughal fort perched on a towering plain that once served as the hunting retreat of the maharajas of Jaipur.
A destination not fit for the light-hearted, Varanasi is one of the world's oldest continually inhabited cities and the holiest in Hinduism. Pilgrims crowd the banks of the Ganges, seeking spiritual purification from its sacred waters. Along these river fronts, temples stand high with candle covered steps receiving deceased loved ones hoping to be cremated in Varanasi - an act which is believed to liberate souls from the karmic cycle of life. The spiritual nexus hosts the yearly Maha Shivaratri festival, featuring an enormous Lord Shiva statue, strung with flowers and followed by thousands of bathing pilgrims. Meet with a scholar to learn about the religious context of Varanasi and visit nearby ashrams for a meditation workshop. Take a boat ride at sunset to hear the dozen bells and watch as fires start to light up the coast.
India's fairytale-blue city calls for travelers willing to get lost in its winding streets, stretching along the 16th century wall and leading to unexpected bursts of color, incense and temples. Anchored by its impressing Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur holds secret spaces exclusive to Naya Traveler, where private recitals take place within astonishingly detailed architectural marvels. Learn about the lesser-known Jain religion, one of the three most ancient Indian religious traditions still in existence and an integral part of South Asian religious belief and practice. Enjoy a charming boutique hotel experience with deliciously prepared homemade cuisine.
This crown-jewel of the Thar Desert in Western Rajasthan is as remote and beguiling as its name suggests. Jaisalmar is a golden city that rises from the dust with an impressive sandstone citadel. The cityscape is centered around the fort from a bygone era that cleverly conceals enchanting streets and alleyways. The traditional homes, havelis, of Jaisalmar are unique in the world, with their intricately carved windows. Take a private walking tour of the enclosed maze with a local expert guide to get a feel for the way of life that seemingly has little changed for centuries. Take on the Thar dunes on a camel ride at sunset for the ultimate experience.
Inspire Your Journey
The Spice Trail
While Rajasthan has captivated travelers’ minds with its emblematic palaces and their peacock blue hallways, the rich hues of its cuisine are an attraction in themselves. One must go beyond the fancy restaurants in Delhi, into the buzzing streets of Udaipur and Jodhpur where roadside dhabas sizzle with red hot spices. An expert food guide and chef will introduce you to the wide variety of Rajasthani dishes, starting with a cooking class where you learn to prepare the essential dishes of each region. Explore a food market with a local expert for an introduction into the world of Indian spices. Try homemade cuisine with a family and sample fragrant kachoris full of flavor paired with a cup of strong chai. Treat yourself to Rajasthani royal delicacies, often gold-coated and bright colored with an array of flavors. End your culinary journey in Rajasthan with a royal dinner at an old haveli mansion.
Remnants of the Mughals
Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are world renowned for being two of the richest Indian states when it comes to architectural marvels. The feats by Mughal rulers depict an intense history that traces back to the very beginning of the founding of the Indus Valley. Thread through the marvelous palaces, red forts and marble mausoleums with expert guides to unlock the engineering secrets of the time. At sunrise, meet with an architect at the Taj Mahal to learn about the complex making of this majestic building. In the Pink City, stroll through the colorful hallways of Jaipur’s royal havelis, the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Cross the Thar Desert, passing through the Blue City of Jodhpur, to reach the fortified town of Jaisalmer. The 12th century sandstone fort stands as a symbol of Rajasthan’s golden era, intricately carved windows, embellished doors and grand walls.
Threads & Motifs
The northern states of India have produced some of the most beautiful textiles and handcrafted art pieces in the world. Journey through these delicate arts of India’s Pink and Blue cities, led by a design artist who will take you back to the era of the Maharajas. Go shopping with a textile expert in the cloth market of Jaipur. Enjoy a private visit to a master craftsman’s block printing atelier and create your own pattern. Spend an afternoon at the Anokhi Museum, located in a magnificently restored haveli or mansion. This museum displays a varied selection of block printed textiles alongside images, tools and related objects – all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition.
Route of the pilgrims
Spirituality is the lifeline of India’s throbbing heart; a confluence of faith, tradition and prayer. Join the throngs of pious travelers on a pilgrim train to one of India’s most important spiritual hubs, for both Sufis and Hindus: Pushkar and Ajmer. Take in the quiet beauty of Lake Pushkar with a Brahman priest who will perform the blessing ritual of water. At dawn, hike to the top of a sacred hill to watch the sunrise over its dominant temple. Head down to Ajmer, only 30 minutes away, and a world of religious plenitude. Visit the world famous Chishti Dargah, where pilgrims of all faiths in India come to pay their respects with a basket of roses. Listen to like Qawwali music as your local guide translates the poetry. Meet with descendants of the Chishti Saint and discover a lifestyle that is fully centered on faith and spirituality.