North India Tour for Women
Please see this and all tours at the new WanderTours site – featuring both women-only and co-ed tours!
Itinerary dates: October 25 – November 9, 2011
Tour Leader – Joslin Fritz
This 16-day women-only tour focuses on North India’s highlights including the Taj Mahal, the erotic temples of Khajuraho, the ghats of Varanasi, fantastic Diwali celebrations as well as a visit to the ancient temple complex at Bateshwar (during their historic animal fair)!
Read India FAQs and learn about what to expect in India.
See a sample list of hotels.
Watch this video of Varanasi.
View Beth’s photos of India.
See Beth’s recommended books on India.
October 25, 2011
Day 1 – Arrive in Delhi
On this first day, you’ll likely arrive at the New Delhi airport late in the evening, where you will be met by a driver and taken to the hotel. Overnight in Delhi.
October 26, 2011
Day 2 – Tour New Delhi
The tour will start with a tasty typical lunch at a local restaurant. The group will then spend the afternoon visiting some of Delhi’s most popular sights including Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India, and Humayun’s Tomb.
Along the way, you’ll stop at India Gate and Parliament and then visit the Bangla Sahib Sikh Temple. In the late afternoon, the group will enjoy some leisure time prior to dinner and Diwali festivities including a puja (prayer), games and music. Overnight in Delhi.
HIGHLIGHT! Diwali is India’s Festival of Lights and is widely celebrated with strings of lights hanging from buildings, homes and shops as well as many burning candles and lots of firecrackers. A private party will be held this evening for the group!
October 27, 2011
Day 3 – Delhi – Varanasi
After breakfast, the group will head to the airport for a short flight to Varanasi, where you will be met by the local guide and taken to your hotel.
During the morning, you’ll enjoy some leisure time for walking around this fascinating city prior to the group reconvening for lunch. In the afternoon, the group will tour temples along the ghats as well as enjoy a private musical performance by world-renowned musicians and dancers. In the evening, you’ll watch the special evening aarti (prayers). Overnight in Varanasi.
October 28, 2011
Day 4 – Varanasi and Sarnath
In the early morning, you’ll take a boat ride along the Ganges River to see the cremation ghats, witnessing the tradition of one of the world’s oldest and most important religions, Hinduism. You’ll then return to your hotel for breakfast and set out for more touring of Varanasi – exploring the bazaars with the opportunity to shop for silk in this city which is so famous for its cloth.
In the afternoon, the group will drive about 5 miles to Sarnath, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in the world. Here you will see the ruins of a once flourishing Buddhist monastery and visit a museum which houses an excellent collection of Buddhist art and sculptures found at the site. On the way back to Varanasi, you’ll stop for tea and discourse with a Tibetan monk. Overnight in Varanasi.
HIGHLIGHT! Deer Park in Sarnath is where Buddha preached his first sermon in 590 B.C. You’ll have a chance to wander through this complex and observe the many pilgrims who come here to worship Buddha.
October 29, 2011
Day 5 – Varanasi – Khajuraho
In the morning, the group will transfer to the airport for the flight to Khajuraho. After lunch, you’ll visit the spectacular temple complex which consists of both Hindu and Jain temples. This evening, you’ll enjoy a special dinner with a local family with the opportunity to see how they live and to inquire about their lifestyle. Overnight in Khajuraho.
HIGHLIGHT! The temples of Khajuraho have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in order to preserve the rich legacy of architecture. They are famous for their intricate sculptures and erotic carvings that are one of the outstanding achievements of Indian art.
October 30, 2011
Day 6 – Khajuraho and Orchha – Agra
In the early morning, the group will set out for more sightseeing, covering the Eastern and Southern groups of temples at Khajuraho. You’ll then depart by noon for nearby Orchha, stopping for lunch and sightseeing before driving another half hour to Jhansi where you will board the train for Agra. The train will take you on a leisurely ride to Agra, where you’ll arrive late in the evening. Overnight in Agra.
HIGHLIGHT! Orccha is a beautiful medieval town, once the capital of the Bundela Kings. Built along the banks of the river Betwa, it flows through rugged countryside and still retains the captivating air of a bygone era.
October 31, 2011
Day 7 – Agra – Chambal Area
The group will wake early to visit the Taj Mahal at sunrise. You’ll return to your hotel for breakfast and then enjoy a tour of sights around Agra. Depending on time, you may visit the formidable Agra Fort and the Jami Masjid, “Friday Mosque”, with the bustling Kinari market at its entrance. Venture just outside of the city to visit the town of Sikandra, where you’ll see Akbar’s Memorial, set in a peaceful garden at the entrance of the city.
In the afternoon, you’ll drive 1.5 hours to enjoy the natural beauty of the Chambal region. Overnight at Chambal Safari Lodge.
HIGHLIGHT! The Taj Mahal was built in the middle of the 17th century by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Mughals built many monumental buildings in their architectural style, which is a distinctive mix of Indian and Islamic styles, and Agra has some of the finest examples.
November 1, 2011
Day 8 – Chambal River and Bateshwar Temples
In the early morning, the group will travel about half an hour to the Chambal River where you will take a boat ride. The river is protected and no large cities border it so you will see a diverse variety of wildlife including many birds, gharials (marsh crocodiles) and river dolphins.
You’ll return to the lodge for breakfast and then either enjoy free time during the day to explore the lodge’s beautiful surroundings, visit the nearby village or relax in the garden before setting out in the late afternoon for a visit to nearby Bateshwar Temple. Dinner and overnight at Chambal Safari Lodge.
HIGHLIGHT! The Bateshwar Temples are dedicated to Shiva and located on the Yamuna River. The group will be there during the annual animal festival (the 2nd largest in the country!), where traders come with their horses, camels and cattle.
November 2, 2011
Day 9 – Chambal – Jaipur (via Fatehpur Sikri)
This will be another early morning so that you may return to the Chambal River. This time, however, you will ride a camel to Fort Ater, once at the forefront of numerous battles between the Rajputs, the Mughals and the Marathas. After returning to the lodge for breakfast, you’ll depart for Jaipur, and along the way, visit the magnificent old city of Fatehpur Sikri. The group will continue another 4 hours to Jaipur. Overnight in Jaipur.
HIGHLIGHT! Fatehpur Sikri was built and then abandoned just 15 years later due to scarcity of water. A sure highlight is viewing the graceful buildings including the Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chisti and Panch Mahal, all which are still well-preserved.
November 3, 2011
Day 10 – Jaipur
Today you will spend a full day touring Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, including the Amber Fort. This is a vibrant and bustling city, known as the Pink City, and is one of the most popular places in India for buyers from around the world to make purchases for export.
After lunch, you’ll tour the City Palace (still home to the Maharajah), the Palace of the Winds, and the open-air Jantar Mantar Observatory to see the vast astronomical instruments. Overnight in Jaipur.
HIGHLIGHT! In Jaipur, you’ll tour the impressive Amber Fort, situated on a ridge just outside the city. This is famous for the Shish Mahal, or palace of mirrors. If you like you can ride an elephant up to the fort.
November 4, 2011
Day 11 – Jaipur – Jodhpur
In the morning, the group will drive 6 hours to Jodhpur, the Gateway to Thar, as it is literally on the edge of the Thar Desert. Enjoy a tour of the Blue City – called so because of the painted buildings. You’ll tour the grand Mehrangarh Fort, the Jaswant Thada, Umaid Bhawan Palace and other sights depending on time. This city also has a booming handicrafts industry and there will be opportunities to browse for some souvenirs. Overnight in Jodhpur.
HIGHLIGHT! Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts in India. Situated 400 feet above the city, you can see its imposing walls from a distance. Once you’ve climbed up, you can look down upon the city to view the blue architecture stretching out along the horizon.
November 5, 2011
Day 12 – Jodhpur – Rohet Garh
After spending the morning in Jodhpur to see any sights which were missed yesterday, you’ll drive to nearby Rohet Garh, where you’ll have time to relax. Here, you will have the chance to enjoy lunch in the gardens and have a swim in the pool.
In the afternoon, the group will set out on a very special jeep safari to enjoy the wildlife and a visit to a Bishnoi village where you’ll observe a special opium ceremony that is a daily ritual of the locals. Afterward, you’ll enjoy dinner and some relaxing time back at the hotel, which features an open-air bar. Overnight in Rohet Garh.
November 6, 2011
Day 13 – Rohet Garh – Udaipur (via Ranakpur)
The group will depart for Udaipur, stopping to break up the 5 hour ride to visit the Jain temples at Ranakpur. The temple here is made of intricately sculpted white marble and is a marvelous feat of architecture. You’ll then continue to Udaipur where you will have the rest of the day to enjoy wandering the small streets of this (relatively) quiet town until gathering for dinner at a restaurant which overlooks the lake. Overnight in Udaipur.
HIGHLIGHT! The temple at Ranakpur was built in 1460 but is so well preserved and sparkling that it’s difficult to imagine it is so old. The main temple is supported on 1,444 pillars — none of which is similarly carved.
November 7, 2011
Day 14 – Udaipur
After breakfast the group will spend the morning touring Udaipur. You may have the chance to visit Jagdish Temple and the City Palace, which is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. You’ll also get to enjoy a cooling boat ride on Lake Pichola before you’ll have free time in the afternoon.
HIGHLIGHT! Udaipur is a charming lakeside town that has something for everyone. You can relax at a bakery, sit lakeside and watch a wedding or stroll the streets for shopping deals. Though it is busy, it tends to be far quieter than most Indian cities.
November 8, 2011
Day 15 – Cooking class and Free Day in Udaipur
The day is free except for a cooking class with a local woman, Shashi, who is known for her cooking skills as well as her life’s story. During this culinary extravaganza, you will learn to prepare many delicious Indian dishes.
The rest of the day is free to wander in this pleasant town until you are taken to the train station for your overnight train to Delhi. Overnight on board train.
HIGHLIGHT! Shashi is well-known for her cooking classes and will sure to be a highlight of the entire tour. Not only will time with her tickle your tastebuds, but you’ll enjoy talking with her throughout the class.
November 9, 2011
Day 16 – Delhi
After your overnight train ride, the group will be met at the station and taken to a day-use hotel for breakfast and a rest. You’ll then have a chance to tour Old Delhi including Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, and Jama Masjid, the country’s largest mosque.
You’ll also have the chance to wander in the bustling alleyways of Chandni Chowk, home to one of the most chaotic markets in the world. In the lanes outside it, one can find such gastronomical delights that rival the Mughal courts themselves. Spend the afternoon shopping in Dilli Haat Market, Connaught Place or Khan Market. Return to the hotel for a final evening dinner with a cultural program, before transferring to the airport for departure.
HIGHLIGHT! It’s befitting to end the tour wandering through Chandni Chowk, where you can find most anything you need in the winding streets. Take your time to take it all in and to pick up a few last-minute souvenirs!
Total cost: $4,725
Single supplement – $1,200 (approx. $80/night)
Interested in sharing? We do our best to pair up same-sex travelers so as to avoid the single supplement. However, priority is given to the first deposits received. If you’re interested in sharing – PLEASE send in deposit as soon as possible in order to take advantage of this benefit.
(Why a single supplement charge? See this about page for an explanation.)
Price includes: In-country transportation, hotels, guides and all meals.
Price does not include: Flights to Delhi, insurance, souvenirs, personal purchases (such as books and snacks) or beverages other than water, and tips.
This trip is limited to 15 people and requires an $800 deposit accepted on a first come, first served basis.
Please make payable and send check with registration form to:
PO Box 16102
Seattle, WA 98116
For questions, please contact Beth:
beth (at) wanderlustandlipstick (dot) com
Deposits and full payment may also be made with a credit/debit card through PayPal. Simply send payment to: beth (at) wanderlustandlipstick (dot) com.
Final payment is due August 26, 2011.
India Packing List (PDF)
Your tour leader, Joslin Fritz, has an extensive background in adventure travel and leading tours. Always on the lookout for her next challenge, she has tested her nerves and muscles in a variety of ways: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, white-water rafting in Chile, backpacking in Patagonia, maneuvering through Djemaa el-Fna market in Morocco, braving the public buses in Nepal, volunteering at a children’s home in India and bungee jumping over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
As a guide, she loves to get to know the participants and share the beauty of the destination with them.
Having extensively traveled in South America, Africa, Europe and Asia, India has always held a special place in her heart. The unique beats of the tablas, the vibrant colors of the saris, the juxtaposition of old traditions and new modernity in the country has kept her coming back. She looks forward to sharing her love of India – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the dal makhani – with this group.
A past participant on the WaL India tour said, “Joslin was absolutely fabulous! She taught me how to look at the glass half-full. Personality-wise Joslin has everything it takes for a guide!“
Her favorite song to sing at Karaoke is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, favorite poem is Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman, favorite flavor ice cream is mint chocolate chip, favorite podcast is ‘Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me’ on NPR and favorite place to travel is India.
Photo Credit: Khajuraho – Cool_Spark