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Namaste! Welcome to India. We will meet you at the airport in Udaipur and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day yours to relax after your long flight.
After a leisurely breakfast and free morning, we take in the sites with a city tour, including the City Palace, Jagdish Temple, Sahelion-ki-bari Garden and Bharti Lok Kala Mandal cultural institution. This evening, enjoy a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola on a shared boat.
After a leisurely breakfast, you have a free morning to further explore the city. This afternoon we depart Udaipur and travel to Ranakpur, a small town tucked away in a remote valley and famed for its beautiful 14th century Jain temples.
This morning we visit the Jain Temple which was built under the reign of monarch Rana Kumbha in the 15th century. Its 1444 pillars are each made from one piece of marble and are beautifully decorated with elaborately carved sculptures, no two are alike! Later we continue our journey onto Jodhpur.
Today begins with a half day sightseeing tour of Jodhpur. Standing at the edge of the Thar Desert, the city is dominated by the massive Meherangarh fort which sits atop a sheer rocky ridge right in the middle of the town. The fort, still run by the Maharaja of Jodhpur is an impressive sight. Within the old city, which is surrounded by a 10km-long wall, are a tangle of streets and alleyways, bazaars and human traffic. This afternoon we travel by road to Jaisalmer.
Today enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Jaisalmer including the sandstone fort, an imposing sight towering magnificently over the city. Later this afternoon we will take you on an exciting camel safari on the Sam sand dunes. The evening is free and at your leisure to enjoy the city on your own.
After an early breakfast, we travel to the 14th century desert town of Bikaner. Once an important staging post on the great caravan routes, much of the atmospheric old town is still encircled by massive fortified walls. Within these walls are havelis, artisan shops and people going about their daily lives. We also visit the spectacular Junagarh Fort & museum, built between 1587 and 1593 during the rule of Rai Singh.
We continue onto Surajgarh in the semidesert Shekhawati region, now justly famous for it’s finely painted havelis. The largest mansions had as many as four courtyards and were up to six stories in height. Having houses of such grand scale prompted families to decorate the interior walls lavishly with Hindu related themes acknowledging mythology. We take a leisurely stroll through the local village and tour a wealthy merchant havali.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before travelling via road back to Delhi where you will board the 1630 Shatabdi Express to Amritsar. Upon arrival at 2235, our representative will be there to greet you and assist with your hotel transfer and a well deserved rest.
Amritsar is one of the Punjab’s principal cities. Today we visit the famous Golden Temple, the seat of the Sikh religion. Built in 1803 and made of marble, copper and pure leaf gold, the temple is an amazing architectural feat. This afternoon enjoy a visit to Wagah, the only border crossing between India and Pakistan, for the sunset ‘Retreat’ ceremony, where the changing of the guards & ceremonial lowering of the flags are performed with great pomp.
Today is free to venture out and explore Amritsar on your own. Amritsar is packed with great shopping, bustling markets and eateries, where you can sample some very unique dishes typical to the state of Punjab. This afternoon your train departs at 1655, arriving back into Delhi at 2305. Our representatives will be on hand to assist with your transfers.
Joining your group this morning, we explore both Old and New Delhi. The order of New Delhi is a huge contrast to the unorganised chaos of the Old City but both are just as appealing. Highlights will be the impressive Red Fort, Jama Masjid - India’s oldest and largest mosque, Raj Ghat - the site of Gandhi’s cremation and more.
This morning we drive to Jaipur, the bustling capital of the state of Rajasthan. Also known as the Pink City, Maharaja Ram Singh had all of the Old City painted a welcoming pink in 1876 to commemorate a visit by the Prince of Wales. We enjoy a tour of the City Palace and Jantar Mantar - an old yet cleverly designed space observatory.
This morning we visit the delicate pink, magnificent fort of Amber, a truly stunning example of Rajput architecture. Subject to Government regulations, we will arrive in style on an elephant! Rest of the day is free - why not go shopping the market for colourful papîer mache puppets and traditional jootis - the Rajasthani shoe of choice.
Today we drive to the small rural village of Perharsar. Walking the dusty village lanes, we gain an insight into local life and traditions. We stop in at a charming haveli with its small courtyard and lawned gardens. After hotel check in at Bharatpur, we visit Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy the sounds and smells on a delightful bicycle rickshaw ride through the park, famous for its abundant bird-life.
En route to Agra we visit Fatehpur Sikri, a former imperial capital of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Built between 1569 and 1585, it has been deserted for more than four centuries, abandoned in 1600 due to a meagre supply of water. In Agra, we approach the legendary Taj Mahal with a horse and cart ride. The is the most extravagant monument ever built for love, taking 22 years to complete. Later, we visit the impressive Agra Fort which covers a massive 94 acres.
Today we board the by express train to Jhansi and drive onward to Orchha. Situated on the banks of the River Betwa, Orchha is set amongst a wonderful complex of well-preserved 16th century temples and palaces.
Travelling south-east, we arrive in Khajuraho - home of the resplendent Hindu temples which were built over an 100 year burst of creative genius during the Chandela dynasty from 950-1050 AD. Famed above all for their delicate sensuality and forthright eroticism, how and why they were built still remains a mystery. The incredible skill of the artisans is evident throughout.
This morning there is an optional jeep safari in Panna National Park to try spot the elusive tigers and leopards that reside within. In the afternoon we bid farewell to Khajuraho and fly east to Varanasi. Perhaps the holiest city in India, Varanasi, also known as the city of Shiva, is one of the oldest cities on earth. Sitting on the banks of the holy River Ganges, it has been a centre of learning and civilisation for more than 2000 years and is a place of Hindu pilgrimage.
This morning, we rise early for a sunrise boat ride on the holy Ganges to witness the ancient religious tradition of ritual cleansing that takes place on the many riverbank ghats. We return to the hotel for breakfast before embarking on a tour this bustling city. At sunset consider re-visiting the ghats for the evening pilgramage, remarkably different from the dawn ritual and a truly magnificent experience.
Today is free to relax before our early evening transfer to Mughal Sarai rail station for our North East Express train to New Jalpaiguri.
On arrival this morning, we’ll be met to commence the 3 hour drive to Kalimpong. Kalimpong is a remote hill station, once part of Sikkim and meeting point on the trade route to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. Sitting amid beautiful mountain scenery, great views can be had of Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. The town possesses several important monasteries and you’ll have the day enjoy these and the local sight and sounds independently.
Leaving Kalimpong, we drive to Gangtok where the rest of the day is at leisure. Gangtok is the capital of Sikkim, a tiny Himalayan state known for its orchids, flowers and the heavy influence of Tibetan culture. Although rapidly developing, it is still full of charm thanks to its Buddhist past. Beyond the busy market areas, lie monastic complexes and striking countryside.
We visit the beautiful Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim’s largest and most active monastery which is located in a lower valley. We then tour Gangtok, taking in the Royal Monastery – Tsuklakhang, the Orchid Sanctuary and the Institute of Tibetology. Built in 1958, the Research Institute of Tibetology is world famous for its research activities on the language and culture of Tibet.
Leaving Gangtok, we drive to Darjeeling. Sitting at a spectacular altitude of 2124m with a backdrop of mighty snow-clad Himalayan peaks and surrounded by verdant tea plantations, Darjeeling has been a popular hill station since the British established it as an R&R centre for their troops in the mid 19th century.
We enjoy an early morning drive to Tiger Hill to catch the sunrise over the snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga. We continue onto the Ghoom Gompa monastery followed by city sightseeing and a visit to a tea estate. If you want to purchase Darjeeling’s most famous export, consider First Flush Super Fine Tippy Golden Flower Orange Pekoe 1. It’s Darjeeling’s finest!
After a free morning, you bid farewell to your group as we transfer you to Bagdogra Airport for your flight to Chennai. Upon arrival our representative will meet you and assist with your transfers. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
This morning's tour of Chennai includes a visit to St George Fort, built in 1653 and St Mary’s Church, the oldest British church in India and the local markets. This afternoon we transfer back to the airport for your flight to Madurai.
Madurai is a bustling city jam-packed with rickshawallas, pilgrims and traders and resembling a seemingly continuous bazaar. Today we embark on a full days sightseeing including the Sri Meenakshi Temple built in 1560, Flower Market,Gandhi Museum, and the city’s busy bazaars. This evening, you’ll witness a religious ceremony at a local temple.
Today we depart Madurai and travel to Tanjore. En route we stop in Trichy which has been ravaged by war through the centuries. A lasting legacy is the Rock Fort and its temples. Enjoy some exploration of the fort and temples. Also known as Thanjavur, Tanjore is an ancient fortified town, with a glorious history dating back more than 1500 years. Our city tour includes the enormous Brihadishwara Temple. Built by Raja Raja in 1010, this World Heritage protected temple has a dome weighing an estimated 80 tonnes which was hauled into place along an earth ramp in a manner similar to that used for the Egyptian pyramids.
After breakfast, we travel to Pondicherry, a former French colony which exudes a Mediterranean aura - whitewashed residences, ornamental gardens and excellent French-Indian restaurants. Many travellers come to visit the popular Sri Aurobindo Ashram, whose spiritual tenets combine yoga and modern science. Enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour which includes the enormous Brihadishwara Temple.
The morning is at your leisure before we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Kochi from Chennai. Upon arrival we will transfer you to your hotel to join the rest of your group for the Captivating Kerala tour. Kochi is long famed in the history books, offering refuge to Jews more than 2,500 years ago. The Portuguese founded the first European colony in Kochi in the 16th century. The Dutch quickly followed and eventually, the British. This evening we watch a Kathakali performance, the fascinating traditional dance form of Kerala.
This morning we enjoy a guided tour of historic Fort Kochi. We see the elegant Chinese fishing nets and explore the winding streets of the old town, visiting St Francis’ Church, Parsi Synagogue (exterior only) and a Dutch palace. After our sightseeing in Kochi we drive east to Munnar. Located at a lofty height of 1600m, this picturesque hill station offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hills carpeted with tea plantations.
This morning we’ll visit a tea plantation and museum, where we learn about the various stages of tea processing. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax and explore the local area.
Departing Munnar early, we drive to Alleppey and board a simply furnished private rice-boat in time for lunch. Our rice-boat journey takes us sedately along the enchanting palm-fringed backwaters, covering a distance of some 20 kms, during which time the boat glides past local villages and fascinating scenes of everyday rural life. Watch the beautiful sunset over the surrounding countryside and enjoy tasty meals prepared by the onboard chef using fresh local produce.
We disembark the houseboat at Kumarakom after a tasty breakfast. Perched sleepily amongst a tangle of lush tropical waterways known as the Keralan backwaters, Kumarakom is technically a cluster of islands on Lake Vembanad - one of Asia’s largest freshwater lakes. This is an ideal place to relax for the next two days and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There is a wonderful bird sanctuary spread across 14 acres, which is a favoured haunt of migratory birds and certainly worthy of a visit.
Free day to relax or venture out and explore independently.
Today you bid farewell to your group and fly from Kochi via Mumbai to Aurangabad, arriving in the evening. Our local representatives will be on hand to assist with your transfers and check in.
Today we spend a full day exploring the Ajanta Caves, nestling in an inner fold of the Sahyadri hills 100 kms from the city of Aurangabad. Formed in the shape of a mammoth horseshoe are the 30 rock-hewn caves. Dating from 2nd century B.C., the caves were discovered in 1819 by a group of British Offcers. Carved with little more than a hammer and chisel, it is believed these startling achievements took around 600 years to create. Ajanta, once the retreat of the Buddhist monastic orders, features several ‘Chaityas’ and Viharas, the exquisite paintings and sculptures of Buddha’s life belong to the Mahayana period.
In the morning head out to Ellora Caves, just 30 kms away from Aurangabad. Impressive in their own right, the rock-hewn temples and monasteries of Ellora are the meeting point of the Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. This afternoon enjoy an excursion to Daulatabad Fort, a labyrinthine structure that was once covered in Persian tiles.
This morning, we enjoy a city sightseeing tour of Aurangabad. The Pani Chakki is a late 17th century water mill that displays the engineering skills of Malik Ambar, the architect of Aurangabad City. The Bibi-ka-maqbara was built by Aurangzeb’s son as a tribute to his mother, Begum Rabia-ud-Durani. It is a replica of the Taj Mahal, and stands out as the only example of Mogul architecture on the Deccan Plateau. Also visit the Aurangabad Caves No. 7 & 8, caves from the Mahayana school of Buddhism. This afternoon we fly to Mumbai where the rest of the evening is at your leisure.
Enjoy a half day sightseeing tour one of the most highly populated cities in the world, accommodating approximately 18 million people! Highlights include the Prince of Wales Museum, Gateway of India, Marine drive, Mani Bhavan, Dhobi Talao, the Hanging Gardens and Crawford Market.
After breakfast we take the cruise to visit Elephanta caves, Mumbai's premier tourist attraction. The rock-cut temples on peaceful Elephanta Island are thought to have been carved between 450 and 750 AD. The main cave contains large sculpted panels, including an astonishing 18-foot depiction of Shiva. The rest of the day is free to explore on your own.
Today we bid you farewell with a transfer to Mumbai International Airport as you say goodbye to Incredible India!
Settled in the early 18th century by the French, Pondicherry on the Bay of Bengal in the state of Tamil ...