Classic North & South India

35 Days: Delhi > Cochin

  • Delhi
  • Varanasi
  • Khajuraho
  • Orchha
  • Agra
  • Karauli
  • Jaipur
  • Pushkar
  • Jojawa
  • Udaipur
  • Pondicherry
  • Kumbakonam
  • Chettinad
  • Madurai
  • Periyar
  • Pala
  • Alleppey
  • Kumarakom
  • Marari
  • Cochin

Classic North and South India

Trip code: AITBNS

Prices are valid until 30 September 2016, excluding the Christmas / New Year period.

Please contact us for a detailed itinerary and current prices.

Option 1 – B&B’s, homestays and heritage hotels: from AU$11,660 per person

Hotels:

Delhi:  Thikana

Varanasi: Rashmi Guest House

Khajuraho: Taj Chandela

Orchha: Amar Mahal

Agra:  Mansingh Palace

Karauli: Bhanwar Vilas Palace

Jaipur:  Khandela Haveli

Pushkar: Hotel Pushkar Palace

Jojawar: Rawla Jojawar

Udaipur: Jagat Niwas Palace

Pondicherry: La Villa Shanti

Kumbakonam: Paradise Resort

Chettinad: Saratha Vilas

Madurai: GRT Regency

Periyar: Hotel Tree Top

Pala: Kalaketty Estate

Alleppey: Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat

Kumarakom: Philipkutty’s Farm

Marari: Marari Villas

Cochin: Tissa’s Inn

Option 2 – four and five star hotels/resorts and heritage hotels: from AU$13,760 per person

Hotels:

Delhi: The Royal Plaza

Varanasi: Jukaso Ganges

Khajuraho: Taj Chandela

Orchha: Amar Mahal

Agra: The Gateway Hotel

Karauli: Bhanwar Vilas Palace

Jaipur: Samode Haveli

Pushkar: Hotel Pushkar Palace

Jojawar: Rawla Jojawar

Udaipur: Trident Hotel

Pondicherry: Palais de Mahe

Kumbakonam: Mantra Veppathur

Chettinad: Visalam

Madurai: The Gateway

Periyar: Spice Village

Pala: Kalaketty Estate

Alleppey: Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat

Kumarakom: Philipkutty’s Farm

Marari: Marari Beach Resort

Cochin: Eighth Bastion

Included:

  • Accommodation based on 2 people sharing a double room with breakfast
  • All meals at Kalaketty Estate, the Houseboat and Philipkutty’s Farm
  • Air-conditioned Toyota Innova with English speaking driver for all transfers, touring and sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • Train tickets in best available class for Jhansi to Agra
  • English speaking local guides in Delhi, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Orchha, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, Pushkar, Udaipur, Pondicherry, Gangaikondacholapuram, Tanjore, Madurai and Cochin
  • Entrance fees to monuments in each city
  • In Delhi: cycle rickshaw ride
  • In Varanasi: evening and morning boat rides on the Ganges; walking tour
  • In Khajuraho: entry ticket for sound and light show
  • In Karauli: jeep safari and camel cart ride
  • In Jaipur: elephant ride to Amber Fort
  • In Jojawar: jeep safari and local train ride
  • In Udaipur: sunset boat ride on Lake Pichola
  • In Periyar: spice plantation guided walk
  • In Cochin: Kathakali dance performance
  • Assistance on arrival and departure at airports and train stations
  • 24 hour support through our local representative offices
  • Complimentary mineral water in the vehicles
  • All land and vehicle taxes

Not included:

  • Camera fees at sightseeing places
  • Activities other than those specifically mentioned as included
  • Meals other than those mentioned as included
  • Tips, porterage and personal expenses
  • Visa Fees
  • Flights: Delhi to Varanasi; Varanasi to Khajuraho; and Udaipur to Delhi to Chennai – approximately AU$430 per person

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  • Introduction

    This extensive itinerary aims to capture the essence of North and South India, highlighting the rich diversity of languages, religions, cultural identities and landscapes.

    Included in the journey are many uniquely Indian sights and experiences: the sacred city of Varanasi; the erotic temples of Khajuraho; the Mughal glories of the Taj Mahal; the great palaces of Rajasthan; the vibrant and colourful temple towns of Tamil Nadu; and the palm-fringed beaches and backwaters of tropical Kerala.

    From the hustle and bustle of teeming cities to tranquil havens in the countryside, this trip covers the well-known highlights of North and South India while also taking in lesser known places with their slower way of life. It provides opportunities to appreciate a variety of everyday, uniquely Indian experiences, with plenty of time to explore according to your interests and at your own pace.

  • Day 1 Delhi

    On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check-in. Delhi, India’s capital and a city of more than 16 million people – half of whom appear to have come to the airport for your arrival – is a colourful, busy, chaotic city packed with museums, art galleries, historic sites, shops and bazaars. It would take a lifetime to discover all that is Delhi.

  • Day 2 Delhi

    Spend today sightseeing. Firstly, head to Old Delhi, a mix of ancient monuments and modern commerce. Visit Jama Masjid, India’s greatest mosque; take a cycle-rickshaw ride through crowded bazaars to the famous shopping street of Chandni Chowk; and visit Raj Ghat, the simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.

    Afterwards, continue on to New Delhi, including the stately government buildings and Presidential Palace; visit the modern Ba’hai temple; end the day at the towering minaret of Qutab Minar.

  • Day 3 Varanasi

    Board a flight to Varanasi today. Being one of the most sacred places for Hindus to visit, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Varanasi has a distinctly ancient and religious feel.

    In the late afternoon take a guided boat ride to view the evening ‘Aarthi’ ceremony from the river, where priests and many devotees gather to perform a beautiful candle-lit puja (Hindu ritual).

  • Day 4 Varanasi

    Take a guided walking tour of the old town this morning. Ancient, narrow lane ways – many leading down to the ghats or steps that descend into the water of the Ganges – are crammed with homes, games of cricket, cows, temples and shops selling rich brocade silks, brassware and also all the articles essential for worship at numerous little shrines.

  • Day 5 Khajuraho

    In Varanasi, life and various activities revolve around the river. The city stirs before dawn when thousands of pilgrims come down to the ghats to offer early morning prayers.  A local guide will take you for a dawn boat ride on the Ganges, enjoying a spectacular view of sunrise over the river, and the sight of the city coming to life.

    Return to the hotel for breakfast before transferring to the airport for a flight to Khajuraho.

    The famously erotic temples of Khajuraho are one of India’s gifts to the world; beautiful physical manifestations of the images conjured up by the Karma Sutra.

    Spend this afternoon exploring some of the significant monuments. In the evening there might be an opportunity to attend a sound and light show at the temple complex.

     

  • Day 6 Orchha

    Begin the 4 hour journey to Orchha, a deserted royal citadel on a rocky island on the Betwa River.  The city is dominated by a series of magnificent 17th century temples which are still in use today and are visited regularly by thousands of devotees.

    This afternoon pay visits to the soaring spires of Ram Raja Temple, the well-preserved murals of the Lakshmi Naraya Temple and the fourteen beautiful cenotaphs  lined up along the river.

  • Day 7 Agra

    Transfer to the station to board a train to Agra. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the hotel.  Afternoon free.

    Four hundred years ago, two great Mughal  monarchs transformed the village of Agra into a city befitting the glory of the mighty Mughal Empire, one of them building a monument unrivalled for beauty – the Taj Mahal.

     

  • Day 8 Agra

    You have the option to rise at dawn in order to enjoy the sight of the magnificent Taj Mahal by the early morning light (alternatively you can visit later in the morning at your leisure).  After seeing the Taj with an expert local guide, who will explain all the intricacies, history and myth of this amazing monument, return to your hotel for breakfast.

    Later, visit Agra Fort, which is an architectural wonder in its own right. [Image: Christian Haugen].

  • Day 9 Karauli

    Depart Agra for the 5 hour drive to the small town of Karauli, with a visit en route to the deserted red sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri. Built by Emperor Akbar as his capital in the late 16th century, it was abandoned promptly after completion, leaving it in a particularly well-preserved state.

  • Day 10 Karauli

    This morning, take a jeep safari to the nearby rugged Kaila Devi Game Sanctuary with its beautiful scenery and assorted wildlife, stopping on the way to visit the popular temple of Kaila Devi.

    In the afternoon take a camel cart ride through the nearby village with its handicraft shops selling lacquer work, bangles, wooden toys, bamboo items, and  traditional sweets.

  • Day 11 Jaipur

    After breakfast begin the 4 to 5 hour drive to Jaipur.  The capital and ‘pink city’ of Rajasthan, Jaipur is a friendly, busy town, with its palaces and bazaars full of jewellery, textiles and folk-based arts and handicrafts.

    Check in to your hotel on arrival  and remainder of the day free to relax and enjoy the heritage accommodation, or take a walk through the nearby colourful bazaars.

  • Day 12 Jaipur

    Spend today sightseeing with a local guide, with visits to Amber Fort, the photogenic Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), the still inhabited City Palace, and Maharaja Jai Singh’s astronomy park.

    In the afternoon, there is the option to visit to the famous Raj Mandir cinema to catch a Bollywood film, or to go shopping in the local bazaars, where bargaining is as much a part of the fun as the purchase. [Image: Christian Haugen].

  • Day 13 Pushkar

    Drive 3 hours to Pushkar, a city blessed with a variety of religious and cultural threads. In a search for his abode on earth, Lord Brahma – believed by Hindus to be the creator of the world – performed the supremely spiritual ‘Vedic Yagna’ in Pushkar. As a result, the main temple – one amongst 500 here – is one of the few Brahma temples in the world, making it a special place of pilgrimage for Hindus. [Image: jasonrufus].

  • Day 14 Jojawa

    After breakfast begin the 4-hour drive to the small village of Jojawar – a hidden gem in the countryside – and Rawala Jojawar heritage hotel.

    In the late afternoon embark on a jeep safari to the homesteads of the Rabaris, an ethnic camel herding group, and into farms and through villages where time seems to have stood still.

     

  • Day 15 Udaipur

    Take a one-hour local train ride this morning. It climbs, through beautiful forests, from the station at the start of the hill section up to the highest station in the Aravallis – the Kambli Ghat.

    Later in the morning begin the 4-hour drive to Udaipur, a lovely historic city, situated on a lake and hemmed in by the lush Aravalli hills. The city’s palaces, gardens, ghats, temples and painted houses match the beauty of the setting.

    On arrival check into your hotel and remainder of the afternoon free. Udaipur is a pleasant place for an evening sunset stroll and dinner at a restaurant overlooking the lake.

     

  • Day 16 Udaipur

    Built along three lakes and ringed by green hills, Udaipur has been called a ‘Venice of the East’. This morning take a city tour including visits to the City Palace – a majestic architectural marvel towering over Lake Pichola – and the 350-year-old Jagdish temple.

    Afternoon free to wander Udaipur or enjoy your heritage hotel. In the late afternoon enjoy a sunset boat-cruise on the waters of placid Lake Pichola. [Image: verseguru].

  • Day 17 Pondicherry

    Transfer to the airport for your flight to Chennai. You will be met on arrival and driven directly to Pondicherry, which has a fascinating history closely tied to the French and their imperial aspirations in India. The French connection has survived Pondicherry’s union with the Indian republic through language, food and the many visitors and residents of French origin.

  • Day 18 Pondicherry

    Full day to explore Pondicherry, with a walking tour of the heritage quarter and a visit to the paper and incense making units of the Aurobindo ashram. Shopping and eating are highlights of Pondicherry, with high-quality French-influenced restaurants and shops in abundance.

    In the afternoon there is the option to visit Auroville, a UN sponsored ‘utopian society’. Evening free to enjoy the festival atmosphere of the promenade at sunset. [Image: Aurobindo Ashram].

  • Day 19 Kumbakonam

    After breakfast depart Pondicherry for the 4-hour drive to Kumbakonam. Stop en route at the tiny village of Gangaikondacholapuram, to visit its magnificent temple, built by a Chola emperor to celebrate his conquests.

    Your accommodation at Kumbakonam is set amidst coconut, teak and mango groves, and built in the style of a traditional home, giving glimpses of south Indian lifestyle, heritage and culture.

  • Day 20 Chettinad

    Depart this morning for Chettinad, with a stop en route at the incredible Brihadishwara temple in Tanjore; this World Heritage listed structure is considered the crowning glory of Chola temple architecture.

    The Chettinad district, once made wealthy by teak traders and financiers, is famous for its ornate 18th century mansions embellished with marble and teak. Some of these have been restored into hotels, including the property where you will stay.

  • Day 21 Chettinad

    Spend today visiting some of the small towns in this area, viewing their more significant buildings. Pay a visit to ‘antique street’, which has several shops selling bits and pieces that have come from some of the local buildings.

    You may like to have a wander at dusk through the small town of Kanadukathan – some of the fading mansions are quite beautiful and sad in the late afternoon light. [Image: legends2k].

  • Day 22 Madurai

    Drive to Madurai, with its cityscape dominated by the towering gopurams or entrance gates to the Meenakshi temple, the city’s focal point.

    Enjoy exploring on foot – perhaps with a stop for a cup of chai at a local tea stall.  Madurai is small enough to just wander from your hotel without fear of getting lost, especially as many of the roads lead to the famous ‘fish-eyed goddess’ Meenakshi temple. [Image: ttaravind].

  • Day 23 Madurai

    Explore Madurai today. Visit the sprawling Meenakshi temple, one of India’s most awe-inspiring temples, where weddings, worship and commerce take place side by side. There is a good chance you will see the temple elephant ‘at work’, blessing people and being garlanded. Also visit Nayak Palace, the Gandhi Museum, and the busy tailors’ market, which is great for sharpening your bargaining skills.

  • Day 24 Periyar

    Set out this morning on the 4 hour drive up the steep ‘ghat road’ to Thekkady and the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. The park is situated high in the Western Ghat mountain range, on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

    In the afternoon tour a spice plantation with a guide to see how well known spices such as cardamom, cloves, pepper and nutmeg grow.

  • Day 25 Pala

    After breakfast, begin the 3-hour drive into the foothills of the Western Ghat mountain range, which runs like a spine through south India, to the town of Pala.

    Your accommodation here is at a secluded, palatial and peaceful family home set deep in the coffee, tea and spice plantations of the Keralan midlands. Afternoon free to relax and enjoy this lush tropical setting.

  • Day 26 Pala

    A full day to explore your surroundings at the property. You can take a walk through the spice garden and into the rubber plantation with your hosts, who will show you how rubber is tapped. There may be an opportunity to see elephants at work. Otherwise take it easy and enjoy an ayurvedic massage, view a cooking demonstration and enjoy the unique home style Syrian Catholic food cooked here.

  • Day 27 Alleppey

    This morning drive to Alleppey jetty, where you board a ‘kettuvallum’ – a rice barge converted into a houseboat, traditionally constructed without nails, using only coir (coconut) rope. Lunch will be served shortly after you board; spend the afternoon cruising through the small canals and lagoons around Alleppey – the cane deck chairs make a perfect spot for sitting back and observing life in this unique environment.  Overnight on board the air-conditioned houseboat.

  • Day 28 Kumarakom

    After breakfast, disembark the houseboat at Kumarakom and your accommodation here, Philipkutty’s Farm. This is a reclaimed property typical of the Kuttanad or backwater region (the farm is approximately 2 metres below the lake level). It is made up of ridges and canals, with all the planting done on the ridges. Remainder of the day at leisure.

    There are a number of activities on offer here such as bird watching, swimming and fishing; you could take a bicycle ride through the countryside or a walk in the village and the market, across in the mainland. If sightseeing is of interest, visit the St Mary’s parish church at Vechoor, which dates back five hundred years, or some of the local temples. Take a cooking class or call in to the Ayurvedic Centre opposite the property for a consultation.

     

  • Day 29 Marari

    After a leisurely breakfast, make the short transfer to the Marari beach area and your resort home for the next two nights. The food here is superb, with an emphasis on fresh seafood – the catch of the day; most of the fruits and vegetables come from the resort’s own organic garden.

    Day free to enjoy your peaceful surroundings.

     

  • Day 30 Marari

    You can spend your time here relaxing and exploring in a number of ways: take a yoga class; have an ayurvedic massage; take long walks or bicycle rides; wander through the  local village; play a game of beach volleyball or tennis; take a cookery class; or simply laze on the beach or by the resort’s swimming pool.

  • Day 31 Cochin

    Drive one hour to Cochin this morning. The Fort Kochi area of the city has been in the hands of the Dutch, British, Portuguese and Chinese – each having influenced the history and appearance of the area in subtle yet unmistakable ways.

    Check in to your hotel on arrival and remainder of the day at leisure. With virtually no traffic, it’s the perfect place to explore by foot – perhaps taking afternoon tea in one of the restored colonial buildings by the waterfront.

  • Day 32 Cochin

    Explore historic Fort Kochi this morning, including visits to the Dutch Palace, St Francis Church and the iconic Chinese fishing nets. The quiet streets around here are filled with shops and restaurants, while a short auto-rickshaw ride away is Jewtown, which is full of antique shops and cafes.

    In the evening attend a Kathakali dance performance, where heavily made up and elaborately dressed artists play out the Hindu epics.

  • Day 33 Cochin

    Transfer to the airport for your flight to another Indian destination or return international flight home.

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