Multi-Day Tour | Escorted, Independent, Private

India - Central India, Tribal India and a River Cruise (20 days)

Banyan Tours & Travels - India

Delhi, India To Kolkata, India

Valid for Departures: 01 Oct 2019 - 15 Apr 2020


Day 1
Delhi, India
The Imperial New Delhi None

Arrive Delhi. You are met as you exit the aircraft and you are assisted with immigration and baggage collection. You will transfer to your hotel


The capital of India, Delhi is home to 16 million people, making it the third largest city in India. The strategic location of the city made it an attractive location for invading armies, and it served as the capital for many great empires that ruled India. Many of these Empires built significant monuments, and whilst the Mughal and the British are the most visible, while driving through the city you will see ruins from previous capitals, the earliest dating back to the 12th century.

Day 2
Delhi, India
Bhopal, India
Jehanuma Retreat (Cottage) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You will transfer to the station and you will board the Shatabdi Express departing at 06:00 and arriving in Bhopal at 2:05 PM. You are met and transferred to your hotel. Seats will be reserved in the first class compartment


Founded in the 11th century, Bhopal was largely ruled by a Muslim dynasty, whose rule was marked by the famous “Begums of Bhopal”, women of enormous courage and character who ruled during this period. Bhopal is two distinct cities. North of the lake is the old city, a fascinating area of mosques and crowded bazaars whiles the south of the two lakes, stretches the modern city, wide roads, shopping complexes, hotels and restaurants

Day 3
Bhopal, India
Sanchi, India
Jehanuma Retreat (Cottage) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today you visit Sanchi. The tranquil hill here contains one of India’s best preserved and most extensive Buddhist sites. Between the 3rd century BC and the 7th century AD this was a thriving Buddhist site of monasteries and stupas. Sanchi is an excellent illustration of Buddhist art over a period of 1000 years. Despite the Buddha himself never visiting this site, It survived as one of the most important Buddhist sites for followers of the religion.

Day 4
Bhopal, India
Jehanuma Retreat (Cottage) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Rising early today you visit another of the archeological treasures of this area. Bhimbetka Hill has South Asia’s richest collection of pre-historic paintings. The site was discovered in 1957. A dense deciduous forest was the cover for over 1000 shelters, occupied from the early Stone Age to the late Stone Age. The most striking remains here are the paintings covering the walls and ceilings in over 500 shelters.

Later you will tour Bhopal, a city of starkly contrasting cityscapes. In the north is the Muslim dominated old city, a fascinating area of mosques and crowded bazaars and in the south are the lakes and the wide roads of modern Bhopal.

You will also stop at the excellent Museum of Man where you follow the mythological trail through recreated tribal dwellings to the more conventional Museum to get a taste of India’s 450 tribes, their art and their culture.

Day 5
Bhopal, India
Maheshwar, India
Ahilya Fort (River view room) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast you will drive to Maheshwar, the drive taking five hours.


Lying on the banks of the Narmada River, the picturesque town of Maheshwar is an important Hindu pilgrimage center. It was the 18th century capital of the Holkar rulers and is close associated with Ahilyabhai Holkar, one of the few female rulers in princely India. She ruled between 1767 and 1795 after the death of her husband, and during that period played a major role in the revival of Hinduism, commissioning several Hindu temples at major pilgrim sites including Varanasi

Day 6
Maheshwar, India
Ahilya Fort (River View) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The majestic 250 year old Ahilya Fort sits on the edge of a cliff, high above the mighty Narmada River, surrounded by the beautiful and unexploited town of Maheshwar. The views over the river and the Ghats are exceptional.

Replete with myths and legends, Ahilya Fort offers you the chance to get off the tourist trail, and explore on your own, at a leisurely pace. You can walk along the Ghats amongst the pilgrims, people doing laundry and families who gather here for a “day out”, for the Narmada is considered a holy river, and this is place pilgrimage.

During the day you can stroll along the Ghats, through the town to the school; visit the workshops of the Rewa Society, whose lady handloom weavers produce some of the finest saris and cloths in India. Or just sit on one of the balconies and enjoy the superb views and the sounds from the surrounding temples.

Day 7
Maheshwar, India
Mandu, India
Ahilya Fort (River View) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today visit Mandu. The drive to Mandu passes some spectacular scenery as you reach the northern limits of the Western Ghats. Perched on a ridge in the Vindhya Mountains, enclosed by a winding parapet and surrounded by thickly wooded ravines, is a collection of palaces, mosques, lakes and pleasure pavilions built between 1400 AD and 1529 AD.

In terms of Islamic provincial architecture, Mandu has some of the best examples. Lacking the elaborate ornamentation of the later Mughal rulers, Mandu came under Muslim rule in the early 14th century when it was annexed by the Khaljis of Delhi. At that time, Mandu was renamed Shadiabad or City of Joy. The site spreads of 23 sq km but the key sites are clustered in two groups – the royal enclave and the village group

Day 8
Raipur, India
Maheshwar, India
Hyatt (Deluxe) Breakfast, Lunch

You will drive to Indore airport, an hour and a half from Maheshwar and you will depart for Raipur by Indigo Airlines (3:20 PM/4:20 PM). Tonight you will stay overnight in Raipur.

Day 9
Raipur, India
Kanker, India
Kanker Palace (Two Palace Wing Rooms) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You will three and a half hours to Kanker arriving in time for lunch

Your princely hosts and guides are Suyra Pratap Deo (known as Jolly) and younger brother Ashwini (known as Jai) of the Kanker royal family.


Bastar was once a substantial State and for long India’s largest administrative district at well over 25,000sq. miles. The majority of its people are till tribal with a unique though rapidly disappearing lifestyle. These in many ways are the “forgotten” people of India, who live on the edge and fight to preserve their traditional lifestyles, though they have one of the most progressive systems of bringing up their children – with both boys and girls living in a mixed dormitory for most of their lives.

Kanker’s family atmosphere is at all times informal, offering a rare chance for visitors to enter into the spirit and tradition of an Indian household, albeit one with exceptional history and tradition to sustain it. In the evening you will have local music and dance entertainment before dinner at the Palace.

This afternoon you take a forest walk to see the prehistoric rock paintings and visit the potters’ village

Day 10
Kanker, India
Kanker Palace (Two Palace Wing Rooms) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast at the Palace, you and your Palace guides climb the beautiful forested Keshkal Ghat twenty miles south of Kanker which marks the border of Bastar 500m above the plain. You will first visit a Muria tribal village near Bahigaon. Approached through a teak and Sal forest, the village has a lovely idyllic setting. You can walk around the village with your guide, and if invited into a home, you can visit and take photographs.

The tribes of central India are mostly Animist, and of particular interest is the temple to “Anga”, the god worshipped by the tribe. During this visit you will be introduced to the village head, the medicine man and the priest, the three elders who are of great importance. You will hear the story of the “Anga” and see many abandoned in the forest in the “Anga Graveyard”. Here again is another variation of the Hindu religion.

Day 11
Raipur, India
Kolkata, India
Kanker, India
The Oberoi Grand Breakfast, Lunch

You have a free day today to enjoy the palace. After lunch you drive to the airport and depart by Indigo Airline 6E 252 (5:05 PM/6:25 PM) for Kolkata. You are met on arrival and you will transfer to your hotel.


Kolkata or Calcutta as it used to be known grew from an obscure village on the banks of the Hughly River to become the capital of the Great Britain’s Indian empire until it moved to Delhi. “What Bengal does today, India does tomorrow”. Sadly this adage is no longer true. At one time, Calcutta was the proud intellectual and cultural capital of India. Its inhabitants made outstanding contributions to art, medicine, science and social reform. Kolkata had an elected communist government for over 30 years.

Day 12
Kolkata, India
The Oberoi Grand Breakfast, Dinner

You have a late start to you day starting at 2 PM. This morning the visit takes you to North and Central Calcutta, an area rich in diversity. It houses the Neveh Shalome Synagogue and the Meghen David Synagogue. The Beth-el Synagogue is the oldest of the three. Further down is the Armenian Church, begun by Armenian traders and the oldest Church in the city. There is still a small Armenian community in the city. Continuing towards North Kolkata you will pass by the Parsi Fire temple and the Chinese Sea Ip Temple and the Nakhoda Mosque, the largest mosque in the in the city.

You will have Dinner at 6 Ballygunge Place, a stylish restaurant housed in a private residence. The restaurant specializes in Bengali cuisine.

Day 13
Kolkata, India
The Oberoi Grand Breakfast, Lunch

You start your visit early this morning meeting your guide at 7 AM. The walk titled Bringing the Goddess to Earth, follows the Hoogly River.From the wrestlers who exercise on its soft clay to the boatmen who ferry people across, from the flower sellers who need the water to keep their produce fresh to the boys who throw magnets and retrieve coin offerings from its bed the river is many thing to many things to many people. The walk is a visual treat from the flower market to the clay idol makers’ den, Kumartulli, from the Howrah Bridge to the cremation ghats – it’s the buzz of life.

You return to the hotel and later you will you will have lunch at one of the cities club. Clubs are an integral part of life in Kolkata, introduced by the British. They ranged from sports clubs to those that were purely social in nature. The tradition of “members only” clubs continued after the British departed, and these are still very much the center of social life in the city. You will have lunch today at the Tollygunge Club, its British era club house, 18 hole golf course, swimming pool and manicured lawns a popular weekend gathering place for families

After lunch you will take a boat across the Hughly Bridge River and you visit the temple of Dakhineshwar, one Bengal’s most popular pilgrimage spots. The temple was built in 1855 by a wealthy widow. The temple is dedicated to Bhabatarini, an incarnation of the goddess Kali. Within the compound, spread along the river bank are 12 smaller temples, each dedicated to the god Shiva and each one crowded with pilgrims performing rituals. From here you continue to Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. You will arrive here in time for the evening “aarti”.

Day 14
MV Mahabaahu, India
Kolkata, India
Guwahati, India
MV Mahabaahu (Cabin with a private balcony) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You will transfer to the airport and you will depart by Jet Airways (10:30 AM/11:40 PM) to Guwahati.

From the airport you drive to Kamakhya, one the most important pilgrimage destination in India. The present structure with its typically Assamese shaped behive Shikara dates to the 17th century the original having been destroyed Muslim invaders. Kamakhya is believed to have special energy and powers associated with creations and in accordance with tantric beliefs day a goat is sacrificed here every and offered to the goddess.

From the Temple you drive towards Pandu Port where an Assamese welcome aboard the MV Mahabaahu awaits us. After the essential safety briefing and a short presentation on the Peacock Island that is famous for its highly endangered Golden Langur, you check into our cabins.

You have the option of going up to the open deck to enjoy the first sail and scan the river for a fleeting sight of the Gangetic Dolphins. You visit the Peacock Island and return to MV Mahabaahu where we enjoy a talk on 'Kamakhya and the Occult in Assam'

This evening you meet in the Soma Lounge followed by the ‘Kamrup Swaagat Bhoj’—a sit down welcome dinner completes the day.

Day 15
MV Mahabaahu, India
MV Mahabaahu (Cabin with a private balcony) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You have the option of Yoga on an island or on the deck for an hour and move on to breakfast, while MV Mahabaahu lifts anchor and heads on towards an island that is occupied predominantly by a Bangla speaking Muslim community who are involved in extensive farming. After a visit to this village we return to the ship for lunch and sail towards the Peacock Island that is home to some Golden Langurs.

The rest of the day is spent sailing and you can enjoy the scenery along the river. You will listen to a talk on tribal life, and tonight you will have cocktails and a barbecue on a sand bank.

Day 16
MV Mahabaahu, India
MV Mahabaahu (Cabin with a private balcony) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You sail early today and in the morning will listen to a talk on Tea and Jute. The boat will anchor at Silghat and you will disembark after lunch to visit a tea plantation and factory

Assam is the tea bowl of India, an industry dominated by the British for many years. We will drive to Tea Estate for an afternoon of visiting the plantations, the factory, having lunch in a traditional Assamese lunch in a plantation bungalow with a family who have been involved in the plantation for several generations.

Later today you will visit a Jute mill. As this industry revives after years of lying dormant, the mill which employs 600 local workers processes the jute fibre and produces gunny bags which are used for the local market

Tonight you will be entertained by a performance of the Bihu Tribal dances on board the ship

Day 17
Kaziranga National Park, India
MV Mahabaahu (Cabin with a private balcony) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Rising very early today you will drive to Kaziranga National Park arriving in time for the early morning elephant safari.

You return to the boat for lunch and a lazy afternoon as the boat sails to Bhishwanath Ghat. You will gather later for a talk on “Silk in Assam”

Late afternoon you will take tenders to the charming village of weavers. This lovely and picturesque Assamese village makes a lovely visit as you wander through the hamlet, bordered by rich tropical foliage and the Bhramaputra forming the backdrop

Day 18
Mahabaahu, India
MV Mahabaahu (Cabin with a private balcony) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The morning is spent on the boat as it sails up the river towards the Eastern range of the Kaziranga National Park.

In the morning you listen to a talk on the Bhramaputra and life along the river bank

Late afternoon you take a boat safari to the Eastern range of the Kaziranga National Park, to the confluence of the Dhansiri and Brahmaputra rivers. The shores are high but one can see roof turtles on protruding drift wood, water lizards, otters, elephants, wild buffaloes, rhinos, darters, herons, pied kingfishers, white throated kingfishers, serpent eagles and many more.

You return to the ship and you have time at leisure or you can watch a cooking demonstration by the chef and a beach side barbecue and cocktails

Day 19
Mahabaahu, India
MV Mahabaahu (Cabin with a private balcony) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After Yoga, as we have breakfast, we sail towards the Mishing Village and further on to Majuli, a cosmos of Assamese culture where various philosophies co-exist and thrive. After breakfast, we enjoy a talk on 'Majuli' the seat of Vaishnav culture’. Thereafter we set off in our tenders to a Mishing Village.

You will disembark and you will take tenders to a settlement. The Mishing live on the bank of the river in Chang ghars, a house with a raised platform and the women are expert weavers.

MV Mahabaahu leaves behind the Mishing village and after lunch, we enjoy a talk on ‘Sibsagar and the Ahom civilization’ followed by a visit to Majuli Island.

We return to the ship and we prepare for a Traditional Assamese evening

Day 20
Jorhat, India
Kolkata, India
Swiss Hote (Deluxe) Breakfast

At leisure you will disembark and drive 40 minutes to Jorhat airport. You will depart for Kolkata). You are met and transferred to your hotel until your later transfer to the international airport

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Banyan Tours & Travels was established in 1996. The objective was to provide travellers to India the highest standard in luxury travel arrangements. Banyan is widely recognized as one of the truly specialist companies in India, with the knowledge and understanding of how to deliver the perfect holiday. Consistently. We enjoy extremely high levels of client satisfaction, especially from those who operate the most demanding programmes in India.

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By: anonymous

Reviewed on: 04 Feb 2017

We loved our tour guide, Shivraj, and everything about Banyan. They took very good care of us.
Travel Advisor:  Valerie Ann Wilson



Reviewed on: 05 Apr 2018

We were blown away by the hospitality and commitment to detail that Banyan Tours showed us throughout our travels!
Travel Advisor:  Laura Bassett

India and Bhutan

By: tam

Reviewed on: 17 Nov 2018

Top drawer...thoughtful...consistently reliable from city to city
Travel Advisor:  Georgia Schley Ritchie

Banyan knows India

By: India

Reviewed on: 20 Feb 2019

Banyan did an exceptional job everything went off without a hitch. Guides were exceptional! Drivers were as well and vehicles were clean well stocked and just the right size for our small group. I would have preferred not to have one night stops with such a busy schedule it is very limiting but I understand it serves to make the trip longer. I worked recommend Banyan to anyone traveling to India!
Travel Advisor:  Georgia Schley Ritchie

India 2019

By: Stewfrue

Reviewed on: 20 Feb 2019

Banyan provided a well organized and seamless journey through India. We saw and participated in things that were unique and life-changing. I would definitely recommend Banyan Tours.
Travel Advisor:  Georgia Schley Ritchie