The Bhopal Shatabdi
Trip Code: AITBPS
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This unique India Unbound itinerary takes you from Delhi to Bhopal on the Bhopal Shatabdi, one of India’s air-conditioned ‘superfast’ trains. A 700 kms, 16 day journey, it allows you to cover an interesting cross-section of India in a hop-on, hop-off format.
Enjoy chai with local passengers as the countryside rolls by during short journeys of up to 3 hours. At each stop a local guide provides transfers and assists with activities and sightseeing.
Beginning in Delhi, the itinerary covers greatly varied locations: Mathura, one of India’s seven sacred cities; Agra, home of the Taj Mahal; Gwalior, known for its magnificent fort; and Orchha, with its fabulous Mughal heritage sites. It ends in Bhopal, a city of grand mosques and vibrant markets. Included are side trips to Sanchi, one of India’s best preserved and most extensive Buddhist sites and Satpura National Park, which offers a range of wildlife experiences. [Image: Jasleen Kaur].
Day 1 Delhi
On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check-in. Delhi, India’s capital and a sprawling city of more than 16 million people – half of whom appear to have come to the airport for your arrival – is a colourful, busy, chaotic city packed with museums, art galleries, historic sites, shops and bazaars. It would take a lifetime to discover all that is the ‘Immortal City’ of Delhi.
Day 2 Delhi
Spend today sightseeing. Firstly, head to Old Delhi; visit Jama Masjid, India’s greatest mosque; take a cycle-rickshaw ride through crowded bazaars to the famous shopping street of Chandni Chowk; and visit Raj Ghat, the simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.
Afterwards, continue on to New Delhi, including the stately government buildings and Presidential Palace; visit the modern Ba’hai temple; end the day at the towering minaret of Qutab Minar.
Day 3 Mathura
Early morning transfer to the station to board the Bhopal Shatabdi for the 1 ¼ hour journey to Mathura. One of India’s seven sacred cities, Mathura is revered as the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Spend today sightseeing and at sunset make your way to Vishram Ghat to witness the aarthi ceremony a beautiful sight for visitors and a sacred ceremony for Hindus, in which hundreds of candles are floated on the river. [Image: jurvetson].
Day 4 Agra
The city stirs before dawn when thousands of pilgrims come down to the ghats to offer early morning prayers. Wake early to view the sunrise over the river and experience the city coming to life.
Afterwards board the train for the short journey to Agra. Agra became a center for learning, arts, commerce and religion during the golden age of the Mughals. [Image: Christian Haugen].
Day 5 Agra
Rise at dawn in order to enjoy the sight of the magnificent Taj Mahal by the early morning light. After seeing the Taj with an expert local guide, who will explain all the intricacies, history and myth of this amazing monument, return to your hotel for breakfast. Later, visit Agra Fort, which is an architectural wonder in its own right. [Image: Rachel Hendrick].
Day 6 Gwalior
Transfer to the station for the 1 ¼ hour journey to Gwalior. One of the lesser visited cities on the Gangetic plain, Gwalior’s magnificent fort soars high above this laid back city. You will be met on arrival at the station and transfer to your hotel, a restored palace of the former royal family. [Image: Nagarjun].
Day 7 Gwalior
This is a chance for you to experience India away from her well-known cities and sights. Spend the morning exploring Gwalior’s magnificent Fort. Stretching for almost 3 kilometres atop a 100 metre high sandstone and basalt hill, its 10 metre high walls enclose a number of lovely temples, palaces and step wells.
Attend the sound and light show held in the open air amphitheatre of the fort this evening. [Image: Purblind].
Day 8 Orchha
After breakfast transfer to the station for the 1 hour journey to Jhansi. You will be met on arrival and make the short – 30 minutes – transfer to Orchha which is located on a rocky island on the Betwa River. Dominated by a series of magnificent 17th century temples, this is one of India’s most fabulous Mughal heritage sites.
Day 9 Orchha
Spend this morning sightseeing. The soaring spires of Ram Raja Temple and the well-preserved murals of the Lakshmi Naraya Temple are especially worth a visit, as are the 14 beautiful Chhattris (cenotaphs) which are lined up on the River Betwa.
This afternoon enjoy activities in and around the village, such as a short walk to the nearby village of Ganj.
Day 10 Bhopal
Transfer to the station for the 3 hour journey to Bhopal. Arrive early afternoon and check in to your home for the next three nights – a 19th century palace nestled on the slopes of Shamla Hill. Set in five acres of lush green lawns and bougainvillea, it gives a taste of the royal living, luxury and extravagance that was once the sole preserve of Nawabs. [Image: Ambuj Saxena].
Day 11 Bhopal
Bhopal is a city of grand mosques and vibrant markets. Spend this morning in the fascinating Muslim dominated old city. Begin by experiencing the dawn azan (call to prayer) at pink-washed Taj-ul-Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques.
After breakfast, visit Jami Masjid with its gold spiked minarets, and Moti Masjid, ‘Pearl Mosque’, before wandering through the colourful and crowded Chowk (bazaar). [Image: Carol Mitchell].
Day 12 Bhopal
Just 46 kilometres from Bhopal is the small village of Sanchi – the location of one of India’s best preserved and most extensive Buddhist sites. Dating from the 3rd century BC, when its ‘Great Stupa’ was commissioned by Emperor Ashoka, the complex of buildings shows the development of Buddhist art over a period spanning more than 1,000 years. Spend the morning exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 13 Satpura
After breakfast begin the 4 hour drive to Satpura. Your accommodation here is a beautifully designed conservation and wildlife focused lodge located close to the Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve. Spread over 30 acres of striking forest cover, it affords an opportunity to explore true wilderness without the crowds.
Spend the afternoon settling in – relax on the deck of your individual cottage and enjoy the peace and quiet and the forest views.
Day 14 Satpura
There are a range of wildlife experiences on offer here, including nature walks and treks as well as jeep or motorboat safaris – or you may prefer to head out into the jungle on elephant-back. Spend today enjoying some of these options, in particular, the unique and thrilling experience of walking inside the park (this is one of the few parks in India that allows this, most others require you to stay in a vehicle).
Day 15 Satpura
You may like to take a break from wildlife today and enjoy an escorted walk or drive through some of the small nearby local villages, viewing their unique architectural features and handicrafts, and gaining an insight into the central Indian village lifestyle.
Ending your stay here with a leisurely evening boat cruise (perfect for bird watching) is a lovely experience.
Day 16 Bhopal
Return to Bhopal today. From here transfer to the airport for a flight to Delhi or Mumbai for connecting flights home or to another Indian destination.
Alternatively, you may return to Delhi on the Bhopal Shatabdi, in which case you have a choice of making the journey during the day or overnight and arriving in Delhi the following morning. [Image: Adamina].
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