Essence of India: A Global Perspective on Ecology & Culture

Oct. 10-22, 2025
Price: $8,795 per person plus airfare  
OSU exclusive land program with Holbrook Travel
OSU Ambassador - Dr. Sunil Khanna with a minimum of 12 travelers 

Oct. 6-12, pre-tour extension to Bhutan.

Brochure | Book online | Information on the Bhutan extension

India delights the imagination with layers of civilization that date back 7,000 years. Its historical influences manifest in a cultural blend of temples, royal palaces, forts and street bazaars. It is saturated with colors, entrancing music, rich cuisine and wild habitats of amazing biodiversity. Discover it all on this comprehensive journey that marries the iconic cities of the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) with an unforgettable safari in search of the elusive Bengal tiger in Ranthambore, one of India’s premier national parks. Learn about the country’s many cultural groups, the role of conservation within local communities, the obstacles tigers face for survival and India’s changing role on the global stage.

From its dynastic origins to the Mughal era to the British Raj, explore India’s endless transformations on this diverse expedition with the OSU Alumni Association!

OSU LECTURER - Dr. Sunil Khanna

Sunil Khanna is a professor of the College of Health and the Robert & Sara Rothschild Endowed Chair in Global Health at Oregon State University. Dr. Khanna received a doctoral degree in Biological Anthropology and Human Genetics from University of Delhi, India and a doctoral degree in Cultural Anthropology from Syracuse University. He is internationally known as an expert in the areas of biocultural medical anthropology and anthropological demography. His research broadly involves examining the relationship between culture and health. His research is documented in his book "Family Building Strategies in India," published in 2009.


October 10 - In flight

October 11 - Delhi

Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. (Check-in begins at 2 p.m.) Delhi is a sprawling metropolis encompassing a blend of the past and present, said to have been destroyed and rebuilt seven times during the reign of different royal dynasties.

October 12 - Delhi
This morning is at leisure to rest following the late evening arrivals. After lunch and a program orientation at the hotel, venture into Old Delhi, with a focus on the magnificence of the Jama Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques. View Delhi’s largest monument, the Red Fort, whose thick red sandstone walls and turrets rise above a wide, dry moat. Then take a pedi-cab ride through the busy bazaars and narrow streets of Chandni Chowk shopping area. Each lane specializes in a commodity: spices, jewelers and silversmiths, even sequins, buttons, lace and wedding finery.

October 13 - DelhiThis morning, continue exploring the capital, with stops at Vijay Chowk, a public square with views of the surrounding colonial architecture; Humayun's Tomb, a 16th century mausoleum; Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, one of the earliest Indian temples to have no caste restrictions; Gandhi Smriti, a museum dedicated to the life of Mahatma Gandhi; and Bangla Sahib, a prominent Sikh temple. Enjoy lunch on your own at a local restaurant. This afternoon, visit a non-profit organization to experience a deep cultural connection with some of the people of Delhi.

October 14 - Agra
After breakfast, board a comfortable, air-conditioned coach for the drive to Agra. En route, visit Fatehpur Sikri (“City of Victory”). Built as a capital and palace by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the late 16th century, the city was later abandoned but is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its red sandstone buildings. Arrive in Agra, check in, and have lunch. In the afternoon, take a guided tour of Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by Emperor Akbar between 1567 and 1573, the fort encompasses an enormous complex of courtly buildings. Later, enjoy impressive views overlooking the Taj Mahal during high tea at Taj Khema.

October 15 - Agra
Early this morning, visit the Taj Mahal, perhaps India’s most iconic site. The Taj is a white marble mausoleum commissioned in 1632 AD by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj is noted for its stunning design, from perfect symmetry to intricately carved screens and elegant domes. Return to the hotel for breakfast, then visit the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah. An exquisite example of Mughal-era craftsmanship, it was the first of its kind to be made of white inlaid marble. Next, see a demonstration of pietra dura—artwork made from small decorative stones—at a local workshop. In the evening, attend "Mohabbat The Taj Show," a musical extravaganza that depicts the love story saga between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal.  

October - Ranthambore
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Ranthambore. Check in on arrival, with a late-lunch at the hotel. Make an afternoon trek to the Ranthambore Fort, a forested Rajput fort over 1,000 years old. The base of the fort is a very good place for bird watching; you can see parakeets, doves, flycatchers and peacocks, along with a large troop of langur monkeys. This is also the best place to see the painted spurfowl. A walk to the Ganesh temple on top offers great views of the park's landscape.

October 17 - Ranthambore
Rise before dawn and set out on an early morning wildlife viewing drive in search of tigers and other wildlife, accompanied by a local park naturalist. Ranthambore National Park spreads over 150 square miles of dry deciduous forest in southeast Rajasthan. It is one of the finest natural tiger habitats in the world. Watch for wildlife like sambar and chital deer, rhesus macaque and langur monkeys, Indian wild boar, striped hyenas and marsh crocodiles. Return to the hotel for breakfast. This afternoon, embark on another wildlife viewing drive, arriving back at the lodge after sunset. 

October 18 - Ranthambore
After breakfast visit Dastkar Kendra, a grassroots NGO providing an alternate source of income to village women through the promotion of local crafts. You’ll have the opportunity to see the artisans at work and also shop for local art and clothing. All profits go directly to the local village women. Have lunch at the hotel. Embark on another wildlife viewing drive this afternoon accompanied by local park naturalist, returning to the hotel after sunset.

October 19 - Jaipur
After breakfast at the hotel, check out and drive to the “Pink City,” Jaipur (approx. 3.5 hours). Your sightseeing today includes the old walled city, labyrinthine bazaars, opulent palaces and historical sites. Observe the outside of the Hawa Mahal, the "Palace of Winds," erected in 1799. In the heart of Jaipur is the huge City Palace complex, home also to formal gardens and the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, which contains a collection of his personal possessions. End the day at Jantar Mantar, a royal open-air observatory built by 18th century astronomer King Jai Singh. The complex houses multiple structures, each with a specialized function for astronomic calculations. Dinner tonight will involve a cooking demonstration in the home of Jaipuri residents. 

October 20 - Jaipur
This morning, take a guided excursion to the Amber Fort. Formerly the capital of the ruling family of Jaipur, the fort's exterior reflects Indo-Islamic architecture. On the interior, one of its most striking features is the Hall of Mirrors. When the palace was occupied by royalty, the hall could be lit at night by a single candle reflected in thousands of tiny mirrors.

On your way to lunch at a local restaurant, stop and admire the picturesque 18th century Jal Mahal, or "Water Palace" in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake. Dinner is a traditional bush barbecue at a camp on the outskirts of the city, featuring “Rhythm with the Elephants” (weather permitting). During this special activity, you’ll have the chance to feed, bathe and walk in the wilderness with the property’s resident rescued elephants. The walk comes to an end at the camp, where you will be treated to a buffet dinner. Many of the vegetables are grown organically on the local farm. Today is the Diwali Festival of Lights, so be prepared for joyful holiday celebrations throughout the city. Jaipur’s Diwali festivities are considered among the best in the country, and many landmarks and monuments are decorated with lights for this major cultural event.

October 21 - Dehi
Drive to Delhi; enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to take advantage of the hotel amenities and spa. This evening, celebrate with a farewell dinner banquet.

October 22 - Depart 
Transfer to the airport in time to board flights back to the U.S. Many flights will depart Delhi in the early morning hours.

This journey mainly entails walking in urban and rural areas over mostly flat paths that also have some cobbled or uneven surfaces and stairs. Safari drives may be bumpy.



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