Working with our travel partner, Collette, Reader’s Digest is offering a 14-day tour of India uncovering the mystery, the beauty, the vibrant energy and the breath-taking buildings of India.

The endless vitality of India makes it a must-see during the lifetime of any keen traveller; no subcontinent is so packed full of energy, colour and spice. From the magic of Varanasi’s holy waters to the dawn wonders of Agra’s Taj Mahal or a sunrise game drive in Ranthambore, India offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy many diverse experiences and unforgettable moments.

“India boasts the mystery and the majesty of ten countries in one”

As vast as it is vibrant, and inspiring as it is intriguing, India boasts the mystery and the majesty of ten countries in one. No wonder travellers often come back, time and again. One could spend months or years exploring this country’s widely varying regions, immersing oneself in its rich culture and heady views, but if you’ve only got two weeks to spare then this tour offers a fabulous insight into some of India’s highlights (along with the option to add on a short trip to India’s gorgeous South or even hop across to Nepal or Dubai).


New Delhi is not the same as (old) Delhi. New Delhi is a territory within Deli. New Delhi is the capital and the seat of the government.

Spice lovers unite! New Delhi’s Khari Baoli Market is the largest wholesale spice market in Asia, and some say even the world.

Around 20% of New Delhi’s landmass is covered by forest – especially impressive for a capital city – making it one of the greenest cities in the world.

There can be few places on earth quite as frenetic, exciting and full of life as Delhi – a city that consists of eleven districts, one of which is known as New Delhi – the country’s capital. Sit back in a rickshaw (a charming two-wheeled passenger cart, India’s traditional mode of transportation) and enjoy an exhilarating sightseeing tour through the narrow streets, curbside shops and food stalls of Old Delhi. It’s a crowded and energetic place where cows roam the roads as freely as people and is well complemented by a trip to the more cosmopolitan neighbouring area of New Delhi, seat of India’s central government since 1931. Here you can gaze at the five-storey Qutb Minar, tallest brick minaret in the world, which forms one part of the Qutb complex, UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other architectural highlights are New Delhi’s India Gate war memorial in the East of the City and the president’s home (Rashtrapati Bhawan) in the West with its huge Mughal Gardens.

“cruise through Lake Pichola by boat, allowing your eyes to feast upon successive delicious views of this impressive, stately part of the world”

Not much more than an hour’s flight from Delhi is Udaipur (also known as ‘The Venice Of The East’), a place full of palaces and forts that’s often referred to as the gateway to Rajasthan. Perhaps the best way to see this city is by water; cruise through Lake Pichola by boat, allowing your eyes to feast upon successive delicious views of this impressive, stately part of the world.


Jaipur is nicknamed ‘the pink city’ because the buildings in the walled historic part of the city were all painted terracotta pink in 1876 when the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) came to visit. Since pink was considered the colour of hospitality, the ruler at the time decreed that the whole city be painted pink to welcome these royal guests.

Jaipur holds an annual literary festival that is one of the biggest in India. Every year it brings academics and literati to the city and is generally regarded as the largest free event of this kind in the world.

When it was founded in 1727, Jaipur became the first planned city in the whole of India.

Breathtaking buildings and an all pervasive sense of history are also on the menu in the nearby city of Jaipur, whose huge City Palace complex features a vast 18th century design, intricately-constructed courtyards and doorways as well as beautiful gardens. This palace is also conveniently situated near another of Jaipur’s renowned monuments, the extraordinary observatory site of, Jantar Mantar (literally translating from Sanskrit as ‘calculating instrument’).

“Culinary aficionados shouldn’t miss the cooking demonstrations and local cuisine at the Dastkar Ranthambore Project”

Wildlife lovers should be sure to include a trip to Ranthambore National Park. Here you can hear all about the efforts made by Project Tiger’s to look after this mighty beast, before heading off for a game drive in search of the elusive big cat (as well as crocodiles, hyenas, bears and sloths). Culinary aficionados shouldn’t miss the cooking demonstrations and local cuisine at the Dastkar Ranthambore Project, launched in 1981 by six women with the intention of protecting traditional local artisans.


Varanasi, which rises up from the banks of the Ganges, is regarded as India’s holiest city, and many people consider it to be one of the holiest cities in the world. People come here in pilgrimage to wash away their sins in the river’s holy waters.

Varanasi’s name comes from the merging of the names of the two rivers that join here – Varuna and Asi – but it’s nickname is ‘the spiritual capital of India.’

Varanasi is home to a rather eccentric custom: frog marriage, a ritual that’s undertaken in worship of the rain god on the Dashashwamedh Ghat (some steps) by the Ganges. The nuptials take place during the rainy season and involve a priest blessing the supposed wedding of two frogs who are then released into the river.

One of India’s most infamous landmarks, the ivory coloured mausoleum, Taj Mahal, can be found a train ride away from here in the city of Agra. Agra is also home to an impressive fort, previously theseat of the Mughal empire. Commissioned by the Emperor Shah Jahan to be built after the death of his wife, this extraordinary 17th century building (another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World) took over twenty years to create and involved the manpower and skill of literally thousands of craftsmen. To get the most out of your visit, be there at sunrise when the first of the day’s light gleams against the marble, rendering it truly exquisite.

“Varanasi is an other-worldly city that will light up your imagination for a long while after you’ve left it”

If there was one place in India that didn’t just capture visitor’s hearts but also their souls it would be the mystical city of Varanasi, the internationally famous pilgrimage hub situated just by the western bank of the River Ganges. Teeming with people, boats and colour, Varanasi is an other-worldly city that will light up your imagination for a long while after you’ve left it. Sit and contemplate life from a riverboat as you watch the ritual cleansings in the ‘ghats’ (steps by the banks) or take a city tour, enjoying the Banaras Hindum University and the Bharat Mata (‘Mother India’) Temple before visiting Sarnath where Buddha supposedly gave his first sermon in the 6th century B.C. There’s a reason why the Hindu’s call this place the city of light; even the most fleeting visit to Varanasi can stay, bright, in your imagination long after you’ve returned home.

DAY 1-2

Day 1

Arrive in Delhi, India’s historic and vibrant capital city.

Day 2

Set off on a sightseeing tour of Old Delhi, exploring its narrow streets and sites by rickshaw, including Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. Then onto New Delhi, visiting Qutub Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world, the India Gate war memorial, the Parliament and the palatial Rashtrapati Bhawan – the President’s residence.

DAY 3-4

Day 3

We fly to Udaipur, the gateway to Rajasthan. Settle into your hotel, a carefully restored palace perched on a hill.

Day 4

After breakfast, choose between a relaxing yoga class, or enjoy a morning walking tour of Udaipur. Later, we visit the exquisite City Palace, and then on to the Sahelion-ki-Bari, the ‘Garden of the Maids of Honour’. Enjoy an evening cruise along Lake Pichola with views of the Jag Mandir and the City Palaces.

DAY 5-6

Day 5

Drive through the countryside to the “Pink City” of Jaipur. After lunch, stop at Hawa Mahal, home to a former Maharaja, then head to the gardens and courtyards of the City Palace, and marvel at Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built in 1726.

Day 6

Board a vintage jeep and ascend the majestic Amber Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Activities include a visit to a local school, a turban and safari tying class over lunch, a stroll through a flower market, a henna tattoo and bindi demonstration, with a home-hosted dinner in the evening.

DAY 7-8

Day 7

We travel to Ranthambore National Park, to see India’s magnificent wildlife from an open top vehicle, and learn about conservation efforts from the team at Project Tiger.

Day 8

Up before breakfast for a game drive, then onto two local projects: the Ranthambore School of Art, which recruits students from neighboring villages and trains them to be self-sufficient artists, and Dastkar Ranthambore Project, founded to protect India’s traditional artisans. Dive into the local cuisine with an interactive cooking demonstration followed by dinner.

DAY 9-10

Day 9

Take the early morning train to Bharatpur, where we disembark and head to the city of Agra for lunch.

Day 10

We visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise, to witness the first rays of sun glistening on the white marble of one of the wonders of the world. Later, we visit Agra Fort, the seat of the Mughal Empire.

DAY 11-12

Day 11

Board your train for Jhansi and continue to Orchha for a relaxing lunch, before arriving in Khajuraho for the night.

Day 12

Visit the Chandel Temple complex, which includes some of the finest examples of temple architecture in northern India. We fly to Varanasi, and that evening we witness the awe-inspiring illuminated Ganga Aarti ceremony on the Ghats – the banks of the river.

DAY 13-14

Day 13

We cruise along the River Ganges, passing Ghats where people ritually cleanse themselves. We take a city tour of Varanasi, including the Benaras Hindu University and Bharat Mata Temple, and continue to Sarnath where Siddarth Gautama, later known as Buddha, gave his first sermon. After a discussion of Hindu philosophy, enjoy a farewell dinner with your fellow travellers.

Day 14

Our tour of India concludes. Enjoy a morning at leisure before flying back to Delhi, prior to your onward flight home.


Reader’s Digest only recommends the very best tours, which is why we are working with Collette – boasting a century of travel experience and strong family ownership, Collette focusses on helping you get the very best curated experience when you travel.

If you want to find out more about the MYSTERIES OF INDIA TOUR then you can request a no-obligation quote below or call 0800 804 8373 to speak to a travel adviser.

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