From Delhi, the Taj Mahal & the cities of the Raj, we'll focus on the art, architecture & history of this fascinating, sometimes contradictory land. This gay India tour has an abundance of famous temples, palaces, and forts. Take a leisurely pace, and relax in five-star luxury.
In Delhi we are swept away to another time and another place. Dotted with hundreds of landmarks, India’s modern capital of Delhi is also a very ancient city. From the beautifully carved 12th century Qutab Minar to the parliament house with its Victorian and 20th-century influences, Delhi’s architectural gems transcend time.
We will visit Agra and tour the famous icon of India, the Taj Mahal. We’ll also visit the Agra Fort with its 65-foot-tall walls and maze of temples, halls, gardens, and mosques.
We’ll spend two days around Jaipur, the lovely “pink city” with its broad avenues and harmonious architecture. In most years our tour coincides with the Holi Festival of Colors.
We will also stop in Udaipur, considered by many to be the most beautiful city in all of India. Our elegant hotel overlooks the magnificent Lake Pichola and Aravalli Mountains. It is famous for its service and style reminiscent of a bygone age. Our tour ends back in Delhi, from which you can fly home.
For those with more time to travel, consider our extension in the multi-cultural capital city of Nepal: Kathmandu. And if you are able to stay a few more days, join us on our trip to the Hindi pilgrimage destination of Varanasi and the ancient temples of Khajuraho within India.
If you prefer a more active experience in India, including hiking for unique views of the Taj Mahal, biking through a bird sanctuary and small villages, along with rafting and yoga in the Himalayan foothills, check out our India Gay Adventure Tour.
• Explore Delhi with its vast and rich history.
• Watch sunrise illuminate the Taj Mahal.
• See the dreamy "pink city" of Jaipur and its famous seven gates.
• Visit the romantic and lovely city of Udaipur built around Lake Pichola.
• Relax after a day of touring at sumptuous five-star hotels.
• See Mughal history come alive before your eyes.
• Glimpse the daily lives of a variety of Indians during exclusive village and family visits.
• Discover India, a land of overwhelming sensations
• Enjoy a post-tour extension to the ancient Hindu center of Varanasi (April 3 to 6, 2021).
• Experience Kathmandu and fly by Mount Everest on our Nepal post-tour extension (April 6 to 10, 2021).
Day 1 -
Upon arrival in Mumbai, a guide will meet you at the airport, and escort you to our elegant hotel.
There are no activities or meals planned for today.
You can rest in your sumptuous quarters, take a walk to shake off the jet lag, hit the pool or relax and rest for our India adventure.
Day 2 -
After a leisurely breakfast, we will be taken on a specially curated full-day "Queer Tour". Queer’s Day Out is a unique experience – which includes a full day of flirting with various aspects that frame Queer lives of persons in the city. It will start with the question ‘What makes Bombay Queer?’ and will involve journeys to various spots across South Bombay to find the answer, while experiencing the dynamic Queer culture of Bombay. Or as Queer folk here call it—Bomgay!
Mumbai was bought by Catherine of Braganza of Portugal as dowry to her marriage with Charles II of England. Mumbai is India’s most vibrant city, the largest port and the hub of trade and finance. The ebullience of her spirit, captured by the throbbing beat of Bollywood, draws millions here to realize their dream. The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies.
Tonight we will enjoy our welcome dinner.
Day 3 -
This morning we will enjoy a city tour of the gateway to India. We will proceed to the Prince of Wales Museum – gothic and Moorish architecture in a striking confluence of styles that came to be known as Indo Saracenic. It boasts of a significant collection of Indus valley artifacts some of them dating back to more than 5000 years. Most impressive are the miniature paintings – nearly 2000 of them – from various stylistic schools of India.
On our way to the airport for our flight to Udaipur later today, we will stop at the Dhobi Ghats. This is a huge open-air laundry, which makes interesting viewing. Continue to Mani Bhawan (Gandhi Memorial), the house where the Father of the Nation stayed on his early visits to the city. The room, in which Gandhi stayed, preserved as it was, and the scenes of Gandhi’s life in photographs and models are of special interest.
Welcome to Udaipur, one of the most romantic places in India, situated around the shimmering clear blue lakes which whispers the mood of a bygone era. Founded in 1567 by Maharana Udai Singh on the advice of a sage, Udaipur was the last of the numerous Mewar capitals. Our hotel is nestled in the Aravali Hills, the 18th century Palace in the village of Delwara, which forms one of the three main passes into the valley of Udaipur.
The Palace is ready for visitors after years of restoration and rebuilding. The Fort palace was conceived as a place where the past meets the future. This all-suite luxury hotel comprising of 39 suites with an emphasis on design and detail, using local marbles and semi-precious stones. The contemporary design showcased within this spectacular heritage property, complemented by personalized and intimate service, creates a new image of India for the 21st century.
Day 4 -
The city acquires its scenic beauty from the three lakes, Pichola, Fateh Sagar, and Udai Sagar, which make it a lovely oasis in the desert. Full of enchanting tales, Udaipur has a remarkable past, with episodes of heroism and splendor. Our home base as we explore this city will be one of the exquisite palace hotels overlooking Lake Pichola.
We will visit the vast City Palace, the largest in the state of Rajasthan. It is comprised of 11 smaller palaces whose walls stretch for more than a mile along the shore of Lake Pichola and display magnificent works of marble and granite, as well as peacock mosaics. Nearby we’ll see the Jagdish Temple (1651), one of the largest and most popular Vishnu temples in northern India, then drive around Fateh Sager Lake and see the Sahelion Ki Badi (Queen’s resort).
After lunch, we’ll wander through the hustle and bustle of the old market, including locations where the James Bond film Octopussy was filmed.
In the late afternoon, we’ll slow down for a boat ride on the placid waters of Lake Pichola, during which we can witness evening rituals on the bathing ghats (steps leading into the lake), and watch the sunset against the backdrop of the magnificent palaces. Then we will enjoy our Farewell Dinner together in a special setting that captures the spirit of this ancient land.
Day 5 -
Today we will fly to Delhi! India’s capital and a major gateway into the country, contemporary Delhi is truly a cosmopolitan city that juxtaposes modern and traditional with a graciousness that is her very own unique heritage.
We will explore the fascinating and sometimes fast-paced city of Delhi, starting with a visit to Akshardham Temple. Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham, is known as the world’s largest comprehensive Hindu temple, displays the soul of Indian culture, civilization, traditions, and spirituality. The Akshardham experience is an enlightening journey through India’s glorious art, values, and contributions for the progress, happiness, and harmony of mankind. The rest of the day will be yours to explore or relax.
Day 6 -
Today begins with a full-day tour of Old and New Delhi. We will start with a visit to the Jama Masjid, one of Asia’s largest mosques. It was built in red sandstone and marble by more than 5000 artisans. Next, we will visit Chandni Chowk, Asia’s largest wholesale market, a massive area packed with shops, bazaars, and people. We will get a view of the Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a massive structure built with red sandstone and a magnificent symbol of Mughal elegance and design. We won’t forget about checking out the Raj Ghat, a simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.
Then we’ll head towards New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. We’ll visit the 16th century Humayun’s Tomb, the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, an outstanding monument in the Indo-Persian style and a precursor of the Taj Mahal. The tour to Imperial Delhi will also include a drive past India Gate, the 42 m high War Memorial Arch, the Parliament House, the Secretariat buildings and the Vice Regal Palace, now the official residence of the President of India.
Day 7 -
We have timed our tour so that we may celebrate the Holi Festival of Colors in Delhi. Holi is considered to be the day of friendship when in keeping with the spirit of the day, people forget petty enmities and renew their friendship.
It’s also the day when people toss powder of various bright colors on their friends to celebrate the day. (You are welcome to observe from a safe vantage point, or jump into the middle of the celebrations!).
Day 8 -
Today after a leisurely breakfast, we take a 2-3 hour drive to Agra, which was established in 1475 by Badal Singh and came into its own when Sikander Lodhi of the Lodhi dynasty chose it for his capital because of its proximity to the Yamuna River.
In the mid-16th and early-17th centuries, Agra witnessed a frenzied building activity and it was during this time that the symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, was built. The buildings made during this era were purely in the contemporary Mughal style and of very high quality. Besides the monuments, Agra is known for the masterpieces of craftsmen recreating the glory of the Mughal period and for the Mughlai cuisine, the aroma of which fills the narrow lanes of Agra.
This evening will be at your leisure.
Day 9 -
We will awaken early this morning for a sunrise visit to the monument, so we can personally witness the changing hues reflecting the gradually brighter sunlight. This mythic structure with its history of romance and survival from the ravages of various marauders threatens to underwhelm visitors who have lived in the shadow of its hype. But its symmetry, its purity, its whiteness, the elegance of its curves, and the majesty of its size and silhouette can still surprise and astound visitors. It is easy to understand why it was selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Later in the day, we will also visit the Agra Fort, which evolved during the reigns of three Mughal Emperors. Here we can witness the contrast of the stern red sandstone citadel raised by Akbar with the lavishly beautiful shimmering white palaces built by Shah Jahan. We will also visit Itmad-Ud-Daulah, a 17th-century Mughal mausoleum. The Tomb of I’timad-Ud-Daulah is also known as Baby Taj and often regarded as a draft of the Taj Mahal. It is the first tomb in India that is entirely made out of marble. Along with the main building, the structure consists of numerous outbuildings and beautiful gardens.
Day 10 -
Today we will continue our journey, as we make our way to Jaipur, with a stop along the way at Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best-preserved examples of Mughal architecture in India. Some of the must-visit monuments in Fatehpur Sikri are Buland Darwaza, Diwan-i-Khas- Hall, Panch Mahal, Tomb of Salim Chisti, the Palace of Jodha Bai and Diwan-i-Aam.
We will continue our drive to the colorful city of Jaipur. Jaipur is called the Pink City because most of its buildings are of sandstone. It was chosen by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (1693-1743) for his capital, and it is still the vibrant capital of the desert state of Rajasthan. Surrounded on all sides by rugged hills, crowned with forts and enclosed by embattled walls, Jaipur is a must-see for travelers to India.
Day 11 -
This morning we will take a day trip through the countryside north of Jaipur to visit the Amber Fort (also called Amer Fort), which was the ancient capital of the state until 1728. With its honey-colored fortress-palace in the Aravalli Hills which can be reached by an elephant, Amber Fort has been described as the sleeping beauty of Rajasthan. The somber exterior belies the richness of the royal apartments, which open on to striking views of a gorge.
The Old City, the actual Pink City, is a great place to wander around. Maharaja Man Singh II had the whole city painted pink when the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visited Jaipur in 1876. Today, every home within the old city is obliged by law to maintain this facade. Fabulous, tall houses with latticed windows line the narrow streets of the old city, their rose-pink color lending enchantment to a scene which is almost magical at sunset.
On our afternoon tour, we will visit the Maharaja’s walled City Palace (1732 AD), which occupies one-seventh of the city’s area. Our next stop is the observatory of Jantar Mantar, which literally means “instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens,” and are the oldest astronomical instruments in India. Each has a specific purpose and still gives an accurate reading. We finish our tour with our guide leading us through lively city markets, including the Johari Bazaar.
We’ll return to the serene hills near Amber Fort for a special treat – an elephant safari! We’ll start with a welcome drink for us, and food for the elephants, then one or two of us will climb onto each elephant. We will slowly follow a picturesque route with a local tribal guide, passing by villages, fields, the medieval fortress, and monuments, until we reach our camp in the middle of the forest, where we stop for lunch.
Day 12 -
Will will enjoy a half-day tour of Jaipur before our evening flight to Delhi. Visiting Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh ll in the 18th century. The Maharajah, a scientist as well as an astronomer, had the principles of Euclid translated into Sanskrit. One of the most remarkable sites in Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar, has fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses and tracking stars and planets.
Just next to the observatory is the City Palace. Built within the fortified area of the original city, it has one of the finest monumental entrances in India. The Palace is now principally a museum housing a collection of great treasures. This includes miniature paintings, carpets, royal garments and other interesting objects from Jaipur’s intriguing past. The former royal family retains a part of the palace for their personal use.
The tour officially ends with our arrival in Delhi late this evening. Those with evening international flights can stay at the airport and check-in for their flights. We also have nearby rooms (with a transfer) available for anyone with a flight departing during later at night or the next day.
For those participants who have a little more time to spend in India, we are offering a three-night extension including a night in Delhi, and two nights in Varanasi.
Varanasi (once called Benares) is visited daily by thousands of Hindi pilgrims who come to bathe in the sacred Ganges River. During our tour we will see many of the ghats (bathing sites) from both the shore and from a boat, and we will also visit nearby Sarnath, where Siddharth Gautama, the original Buddha, gave his first sermon.
Please note that due to the limited transportation options to these cities, our itinerary is subject to change, but we will ensure that you are able to experience the highlights of these two historic cities.
Days 13 - 14 -
Varanasi (formerly called Benares) is situated on the banks of the holy Ganges River and is presided over by Lord Shiva. It is called the Eternal City and is distinguished by the many "ghats" along the riverside. (A ghat is a broad flight of steps that provides access to the water, especially for bathing).
From time immemorial Varanasi has been a seat of learning and an important religious center for Hindus. It is also one of the most sacred places of pilgrimage, being visited by millions of people every year. In addition to its role in Hinduism, Varanasi also holds an important place in Buddhism, since Buddha's first sermon was given nearby.
Day 15 -
On our last day, we will fly back to Delhi in the afternoon. Since many flights to North America and Europe depart around midnight, no overnight hotel is included for this night. However, we will have a day room available at a hotel near Delhi Airport so you can freshen up for the flight home.
For those flying out the following day or later, please let us know if you would like to add additional hotel nights.
For those able to continue after Varanasi, we are also offering a 4-night extension (1 night in Delhi and 3 nights in Kathmandu).
Day 15 -
We’ll spend tonight at our hotel in Delhi to rest from our India tour and Varanasi Extension.
Day 16 -
Your flight from Delhi to Kathmandu is included in the tour price. (Since there are many flights from Kathmandu to destinations other than India, the flight from Kathmandu will be on your own.)
We will transfer to our deluxe hotel in this picturesque city, where you will have the evening to relax and recover from your long journey.
Day 17 -
Early risers may enjoy an optional dawn flight tour of Mount Everest (weather permitting). We will see some of the world’s highest peaks, and glimpse the Roof of the World, the Tibetan Plateau. After returning to our hotel for breakfast, we will then tour Kathmandu. We will explore the riches of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of this historic capital and its surrounding region.
Enjoy a rickshaw ride past ancient temples and traditional markets. Our senses will be delighted by the exotic sights and sounds. We will see the Buddhist shrine of Swyambhunath Stupa, the Royal Palace, and Patan, with its Golden Gate and Temple of Taleju.
Day 18 -
Today we drive 10 miles east to visit the elegant city of Bhaktapur. Renowned for its Durbar Square of magnificent temples, sculptures, and palaces.
The National Art Gallery is housed within the Palace of 55 Windows. We will also see Tamaudhi Square with its five-roofed Nyatoapola temple and Dattatreya Square. Continue on to the mile-high town of Dhulikhel, which offers one of the best vantage points in the region for seeing the Himalaya range.
Day 19 -
In the morning, subject to weather conditions, you’ll be awakened early to watch from our hotel as the sunrise slowly illuminates the nearby mountain peaks.
We’ll be transferred to the Kathmandu airport for flights to your next destination (departure flights from Kathmandu not included in Extension price).