Delhi - the old, the new, the intense. Stroll through the sweet fragrance of Phool Mandi (flower market). Walk the city's savory patch in a lattice of imperial monuments - with ancient Shajahanabad; a ubiquitous rickshaw ride in the bursting thoroughfares of Chandi Chowk; a leap in time at the Gandhi Smriti; Qawwalis by Sufi musicians at Nizamuddin (the ancient Muslim urban village). Blaze the culture trail with a visit to the Hauz Khas Designer village; and sail through quick-flourishing art in Gurgaon.
Court the flushed pink toy town of Jaipur in its bazaars filled with gems, block print textiles, and traditional Jaipur blue pottery. Stroll the dusty pink medieval by lanes enjoying the riot of colors - bright turbans and women draped in cheerful lehengas; tour the communities of artisans. Graze the Aravalli mountains on a hot-air balloon safari. Experience some blue blood dining with the royals, lodging at remodeled palaces; and warm banter and bonhomie with locals in remote villages.
Enroute a stopover at the red sandstone magnificence of Fatehpur Sikri; cherish the pearly white monument of love, the Taj Mahal; visit baby Taj, Agra's true gem.
Mumbai is everything for everyone. Begin this classic anomaly of slums and skyscrapers with the Gateway of India; ferry across to the Elephanta Cave stone sculptures of Hindu Gods; treasure hunt in Chor Bazaar (thieves market); and breakfast on the turf. Go where Mumbai began, its whimsical fishing villages; drift through the exploding art scene through Colaba art district; partake in Bollywood on-set production; watch the bubbling suds of the massive open air laundromat at Dhobi Ghaat. Drive four hours north to the wine trails of Nashik - a swig of the frontier class "drink-now" Indian wines. Stop by the World Heritage Site Ajanta and Ellora Caves in Aurangabad for spell-binding sculptures carved by Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain monks.
Experience quintessential Varanasi: watch the cycle of life unfolding in the sacred Ganges water; the pilgrims waist deep in water; on a private boat, witness early morning pujas. Get away from the waters to the local villages and ancient universities; wax eloquent with the silk weavers; slump into a musical reverie at a local musician's home; take a detour to Saranath, spot of Buddha's first sermon. Trace your fingers through the scintillating temple sculptures of myths and erotic acts at Khajuraho; listen to their stories come alive; enjoy some extraordinary game drives; and cozy up in a stone jungle lodge.