Golden Triangle & Southern India - 16 days
Kick off in Delhi, both old and new, explore the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra and the stunning Pink City of Jaipur. Fly south to Chennai and head from the west to east coast of southern India, exploring magnificent temples and former colonial towns en route. End your tour in the beautiful port city of Kochi.
Join our Welcome Meeting this morning before our sightseeing tour of India’s capital begins. In Old Delhi we visit the UNESCO-listed Humayun’s Tomb and Jama Masjid - India’s largest and oldest mosque. Continue to the site of Gandhi’s cremation at Raj Ghat and enjoy a thrilling rickshaw ride around the Chandni Chowk bazaar, one of the oldest markets in the city. In New Delhi we’ll see the Rajpath - formerly known as The Kings Way, and the India Gate monument. This evening we enjoy a Namaste dinner at the hotel.
Overnight: Delhi | Breakfast, Dinner
Delhi - Agra. Say goodbye to Delhi today as we travel to Agra, the former capital of the Mughal Empire. We explore behind the fortified walls of striking Agra Fort and then continue to the legendary Taj Mahal - India’s most iconic site. Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned this great monument in the 17th century and it took 20,000 workers to build the site, which is dedicated to the memory of the Emperor’s beloved wife. The Taj Mahal is perhaps the greatest monument to love ever built and we enjoy a guided tour of the site before continuing to our hotel for the evening.
Overnight: Agra | Breakfast
The princely state of Karauli
Agra - Karauli. Early this morning we visit Fatehpur Sikri, a Mughal city that was abandoned more than 400 years ago due to a lack of water. Later, we drive to the Palace Bhanwar Vilas in the state of Karauli. The current Maharaja and his family still live at the site but much of it has been transformed into a heritage hotel. Enjoy free time to explore the palace grounds and if we’re lucky we may be able to join a tour given by the princess herself. We visit the City Palace, which is being lovingly restored by the Maharaja and there is the option to attend the evening Aarti (prayer).
Overnight: Karauli | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Karauli - Jaipur. Today we pay a visit to a local school to meet the children and their teachers. We operate our Change for Children programme here and you may wish to bring some educational gifts with you from home (see trip notes) to donate to the school. After our visit we drive to the Pink City of Jaipur for an afternoon of free time. Perhaps see a Bollywood movie at the famous Raj Mandir cinema, which is extremely popular with visitors.
Overnight: Jaipur | Breakfast
There is an opportunity early this morning to join our Balloon Over Jaipur add-on. Sail with the wind over lofty palaces, hill-top forts and temples in a hot air balloon. We then travel by jeep to the nearby Amber Fort. This 16th century fortress is extremely well preserved, and we’ll tour each of the four levels of the site, which sits beside the shimmering Maota Lake. On our way back to the city we stop to visit a local cotton weaving house. Later, enjoy a tour of the beautiful City Palace and the UNESCO-listed Jantar Mantar space observatory, home to the world’s largest stone sundial.
Overnight: Jaipur | Breakfast
Delhi - Chennai - Mahabalipuram. Today you fly to Chennai where we will meet you and transfer you to our hotel in Mahabalipuram. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore as you please. Perhaps visit the giant Krishna’s Butterball - a colossal boulder perched on the top of a slope, which look like it could roll down at any moment.
Overnight: Mahabalipuram | Breakfast
This morning we explore some of the numerous temples in Kanchipuram, split into two sections. Discover some of the beautiful northern Shiva temples and the southern temples dedicated to Vishnu. After our visit we return to Mahabalipuram for a guided tour. Explore the famous Shore Temple, which sits on the shore of the stunning Bay of Bengal. Continue to the largest bas-relief carving in the world at the intricate Arjuna’s Penance and the famous Five Rathas. These five 7th century temples were each carved from individual rocks and lay hidden under sand for hundreds of years until the British rediscovered them 200 years ago.
Overnight: Mahabalipuram | Breakfast
Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry. Today we say goodbye to Mahabalipuram and travel to the former colonial city of Pondicherry. The city was under French control until 1954 and the influence can still be seen in the architecture of the old town. We explore highlights of the city including the beautiful red and white Sacred Heart Basilica and we take a stroll on Pondicherry Beach. Overnight - Pondicherry.
Overnight: Pondicherry | Breakfast
Temples & Tanjore
Pondicherry - Tanjore. Today we travel to Tanjore and make several stops en route. Discover one of the oldest temples in Southern India as we visit Natraja Temple in Chidambaram. Continue to the UNESCO-listed Airavateswara Temple, a popular Hindu pilgrimage destination. There are several impressive stone carvings at this site that we can see before we arrive in Tanjore for an evening at leisure.
Overnight: Tanjore | Breakfast
Tanjore sightseeing & evening Aarti Ceremony
Tanjore - Madurai. Tanjore is an ancient fortified town with a glorious history dating back more than 1,500 years. Enjoy a guided tour of the town today and see highlights including the enormous Brihadishwara Temple. The temple is more than 1,000 years old and it is thought that the dome on top was hauled into place using similar methods to the ancient Egyptians in the construction of the Pyramids of Giza. After our tour we drive to Madurai and check in to our hotel. This evening we attend an Aarti Ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple. Candles will be lit and songs will be sung in honour of the gods.
Overnight: Madurai | Breakfast
Today we explore Madurai on a guided tour and take in highlights including the 17th century Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. Gaze at the giant circular pillars in the courtyard of this famous palace before we continue to the rock cut temple of Thirupparankunram Murugan. According to a famous Hindu legend, this is where Murugan slayed the demon Surapadman. Our final stop is the Meenakshi Temple for a second time, so that we can appreciate the striking temple in full daylight. We then explore the vibrant local bazaar before the evening is free to relax or explore as you please.
Overnight: Madurai | Breakfast
Rock Fort Temple
Madurai - Trichy - Kochi. Today we travel to Trichy and explore the stunning Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, a beautiful temple located on an island - this is one of the most famous sites in Southern India. We continue to the iconic Rock Fort Temple, which is perched on a hill-top overlooking Trichy. The Pallavas were the first to build a temple here then the Nayaks recognised its strategic position and transformed it into a fortress, which has been the site of many historic battles.
After our tour concludes, we transfer to the train station and board our overnight train to Kochi. It's recommended to brings snacks and supplies for the journey and the following morning.
Overnight: Overnight Sleeper Train | Breakfast
Sunday. Our tour comes to an end today with an included transfer to the airport.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates can be guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Jaypee Siddharth Hotel, Delhi
The luxurious Jaypee Siddharth is a stunning property located just five kilometres from the New Delhi Railway Station. Guestrooms are exquisitely decorated with a blend of cream and brown tones and benefit from air conditioning and complimentary WiFi. If you have free time, guests can indulge in one of the rejuvenating treatments available at the spa, take a dip in the outdoor pool or work up an appetite in the gym. A range of cuisines are served in the various restaurants found within the hotel complex.
Hotel Jivitesh, Delhi
The Jivitesh Hotel is centrally located in the heart of Karol Bagh, a popular neighbourhood of Delhi renowned for its excellent shops and vibrant street markets. The Jivitesh offers comfortable and spacious guest rooms, with modern amenities such as free WiFi, and you can be assured of a warm welcome and excellent customer service from the hotel staff. Enjoy authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine at the hotel's restaurant and take a refreshing dip in the outdoor swimming pool after a day of sightseeing in the capital.
Vivanta by Taj Dwarka, Delhi
Vivanta by Taj Dwarka is a modern, luxury hotel located in Dwarka, on the outskirts of New Delhi, just a 15-minute drive from the airport. Spread over 7 acres, this striking hotel has a unique angular design and offers 250 luxurious rooms and suites. All tastes are catered for at the hotel's multi-cuisine restaurant, while the Indus Express restaurant serves mouth-watering Punjabi cuisine. Head to the popular Tipple bar for a delicious array of heady cocktails or relax by the poolside with a refreshing smoothie from the Celsuis Pool Bar. The nearby Sector 21 Metro station provides direct access to the heart of the city and after a day of sightseeing you can cool off with a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool or relax in the sauna and massage parlour.
Seven Hills Tower, Agra
The modern and stylish Seven Hills Tower hotel boasts a range of facilities and services designed to ensure the quality of each traveller's stay. The spacious guestrooms are elegantly decorated with neutral colours and fabrics covered with traditional patterns and all have excellent ensuite facilities. Guests can enjoy a dip in the rooftop pool or laze on the sun loungers before heading to the equally lofty restaurant for some mouth-watering Mughlai cuisine. The al fresco dining area offers beautiul views of the Taj Mahal, perfect for enjoying a sunset drink.
Bhanwar Vilas Palace, Karauli
Built in 1938, this stunning property is the residence of the Maharaja (181st in the Royal Dynasty) and Maharani of Karauli. Both the architecture and furniture have been designed in fitting with colonial styles and the property offers a fantastic insight into the history and elegance of a bygone era. Rooms are split between deluxe rooms and luxury suites, each including a range of modern amenities such as a mini bar, a well-appointed ensuite and a plush king-sized bed. In the evenings, guests can tuck into an array of regional specialties as well as cuisine from around the world in the hotel's restaurant. The hotel is just 7km from the nearest train station.
Mandawa Haveli, Jaipur
Made of pink and red sandstone, the beautiful heritage-style Mandawa Haveli is a fine example of typical Rajasthani architecture. All rooms are well appointed with intricately carved wooden beds and king-size royal portraits, with modern amenities such as free WiFi and ensuite bathrooms. Spend an evening dining on continental, Indian or Rajasthani cuisine on the outdoor terrace or request a private, candlelit dinner on the rooftop under a star-studded sky. Well located in the heart of Jaipur city on Sansar Chandra Road, this hotel is just a few minute’s drive from the Palace of the Winds.
MGM Eastwood , Mahabalipuram
Sprawled across 3 acres of lush landscaped gardens and swaying palm fronds, this resort features quaint pathways leading to its spacious guestrooms. Once inside, you’ll find the rooms are well-equipped with modern amenities, including free WiFi and 24-hour room service. Other dining options include the Virundhu Restaurant, which offers all-day dining on a selection of continental, Indian and Oriental fare. The azure blue swimming pool is also particularly inviting and the perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon cooling off.
Hotel Atithi, Pondicherry
With its great selection of facilities, this modern hotel has marked itself one of the finest hotels in Pondicherry. Each room is fully equipped with all the essential amenities, with the added perks of 24-hour room service and free WiFi. Guests can enjoy the in-house gym, rejuvenating spa and an outdoor pool offering amazing views over the city. There are plenty of options when it comes to dining, with a lounge bar, two multi-cuisine restaurants and a fun-filled rooftop bar. If that wasn’t enough, Hotel Atithi is also well-located close to many of the top attractions in this heritage city.
Hotel Sangam, Thanjavur
Set among the historic temples of Thanjavur, Hotel Sangam offers you a peaceful and comfortable stay. Its guestrooms are spacious and feature modern interiors with large windows allowing for plenty of natural light. Enjoy local and international cuisine at the Thillana Restaurant, where you’ll find both guests and locals alike, or opt for a light snack and cool beer in the Layam Bar. An outdoor pool serves the perfect place to kick back and relax after a day of sightseeing. And you can always expect a warm greeting from staff, who are more than happy to share their knowledge of the area.
GRT Regency, Madurai
The GRT Regency is a modern, tastefully designed hotel with comfortable rooms that have been elegantly decorated with just a splash of colour. The hotel has extensive business and conferencing facilities as well as a modern gym and health centre to ensure that visitors want for nothing during their stay. Dining options are allow guests to choose from a range of different cuisines including traditional Indian and international. The hotel is only 2 km from the city centre and 3 km from the railway station.
Casino Hotel, Kochi
Casino Hotel is a modern hotel located on Willingdon island, set in tropical gardens it is a beautiful blend of art deco and colonial Indian architectural styles. With a large pool and and spacious comfortable rooms this hotel offers a fantastic experience when in Kochi. Casino Hotel boasts 2 restaurants, a 24-hour health club as well as free wifi in public areas.
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