Indian Indulgence

10 or 20 Days: Delhi > Cochin

  • Delhi
  • Agra
  • Jaipur
  • Narendranagar
  • Cochin
  • Thekkady
  • Alleppey
  • Kumarakom

Indian Indulgence

Trip Code: AITII

Prices are valid until 30 September 2015 except for the Christmas / New Year period, February and certain festival dates. Please contact us for up to date prices.

Option 1 – North India: from AU$5,945 per person twin share

Included:

  • Accommodation in twin / double room with breakfast at hotels listed below
  • Dinners at Ananda in the Himalayas
  • Air-conditioned Toyota Innova vehicle for all touring, transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • English speaking local guides in Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Jaipur
  • Elephant ride (one way) at Amber Fort, Jaipur
  • Entry fees to monuments
  • At Ananda: 1 session each of following spa experiences: Wild Rose Salt Scrub; Swedish Massage; Reflexology; Himalayan Honey and Rose Facial; Ananda Touch; and personalised yoga session and Yoga Nidra (per room)
  • Assistance on arrival and departure at airports
  • 24 hour support through our local representative offices
  • Complimentary mineral water in the vehicle
  • All land and vehicle taxes

Not included:

  • Camera fees at sightseeing places
  • Meals other than those specifically mentioned as included
  • Activities other than those specifically mentioned as included
  • Tips, porterage and personal expenses
  • Visa Fees
  • Flights (subject to availability): Jaipur to Delhi; Delhi to Dehrandun; and Dehrandun to Delhi – approximately AU$285 per person

Hotels:

Delhi: The Grand

Agra: The Gateway

Jaipur: Trident Jaipur

Narendranagar: Ananda in the Himalayas

Option 2 – South India: from AUD$2,965 per person twin share

Included:

  • Accommodation in twin / double room with breakfast at hotels listed below
  • All meals on board the houseboat
  • 24 hour support through our local representative offices
  • Complimentary mineral water in the vehicle
  • Air-conditioned Toyota Innova vehicle for all touring, transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • English speaking local guides in Cochin and Thekkady
  • Kathakali dance performance at Cochin
  • Spice plantation walk at Thekkady
  • 1 Ayurvedic treatment or massage per day while at Zuri
  • Entry fees to monuments
  • Assistance on arrival and departure at airports
  • All land and vehicle taxes

Not included:

  • Camera fees at sightseeing places
  • Meals other than those specifically mentioned as included
  • Activities other than those specifically mentioned as included
  • Tips, porterage and personal expenses
  • Visa Fees
  • Flight (subject to availability): Delhi to Cochin – approximately AU$155 per person

Hotels:

Cochin: Eighth Bastion

Thekkady: Shalimar Spice Garden

Alleppey: Palma Verde Houseboat

Marari: The Zuri Kumarakom

 

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  • Introduction

    This tour offers an opportunity to dip a toe – and much more – into the vast array of healing and rejuvenating therapies available in two of India’s most spectacular destination spa properties, whilst touring major sights of the north and south.

     

    The north India component of the tour travels through the popular ‘Golden Triangle’ of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, before heading into the mountains to Ananda in the Himalayas – the foremost wellness property in north India, offering a wide range of spa and massage treatments.

    The south India component covers the highlights of Kerala such as Cochin, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and a night on a houseboat, before finishing with four nights at The Zuri, a luxurious resort offering spa and wellness treatments in a range of styles.

    The tour can be taken as a 20-day package, covering the north and south of India or as a 10-day package covering one or the other. Both components include a small amount of touring for the first five nights, followed by four nights at Ananda in the Himalaya or The Zuri in Kerala.

    For those who are interested in a more in depth wellness experience, or treatment for a particular condition or illness, individually tailored spa and ayurvedic packages can be arranged at these and other health resorts.

  • Day 1 Delhi

    You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. India’s capital, Delhi is a sprawling metropolis of seven cities dating from the 12th century. A fascinating juxtaposition of medieval and modern architecture and cultures, it has a host of sights and experiences to offer visitors – from 16th and 17th century Mughal architecture and crowded bazaars – to the ordered planned city of the British Raj – to the high rise city of Gurgaon, with its tall buildings and large shopping complexes.

  • Day 2 Delhi

    Spend today exploring Delhi with a local guide, who will tailor sightseeing according to your interests – architecture, history, temples, mosques, galleries, museums, cuisine, etc.

    You may like to begin with an early morning rickshaw ride through thecity’s chaotic historic heart – Shajahanabad (Old Delhi) designed in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan. A maze of houses, shops, temples, and bazaars contained within crumbling sandstone walls and ornamental gateways, this is an endlessly intriguing area of narrow souk-like laneways leading off its main street, Chandni Chowk. Sitting above the marketplace of Chandni Chowk is the magnificent Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. You can climb the minarets – a hundred or so sandstone steps – for views of the city.

    For a change of pace, you could head to the Lodi Gardens, it pathways dotted with 15th century tombs one of which is Delhi’s most famous – Humayun’s tomb. Dating from 1565, it is said to have been the inspiration for the Taj Mahal; an elegant red and white structure, its gardens and waterways are a symbol of paradise.

    A drive through New Delhi, known as ‘Lutyens Delhi’ brings you to the British Raj period of India’s history. The broad, tree lined avenues and spacious bungalows, the palatial Rashtrapati Bhawan (President’s House), Parliament House and the imposing India Gate, give you a sharply contrasting view to Shahjahanabad. [Image: Lucido22].

  • Day 3 Agra

    Depart Delhi this morning for the 4 to 5 hour drive to Agra. Although an ancient city – Agra is mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata – its golden age began with the Mughals; it was the capital of the Mughal Empire under three of its emperors, each leaving his mark in the form of magnificent buildings – most notably Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

    This afternoon visit the Taj Mahal. Although known to us through countless photographs, films, etc, nothing can prepare you for the first breathtaking sight of this sublimely beautiful monument as you step through the mausoleum’s enormous arched entrance gate. Built by Shan Jahan in memory of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, the complex was constructed by some 20,000 workers over a period of twenty-two years and is today counted amongst the Seven Wonders of the World. It is a particularly stunning sight at sunset. (If you are here on a full moon night, a moonlight visit can be arranged).

     

  • Day 4 Jaipur

    Depart Agra this morning for the 5-hour drive to Jaipur, with a stop en route at to visit the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri.

    Built in 1569 by Akbar, Fatehpur Sikri served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585. Abandoned a few years after completion – possibly due to water shortages – it is today one of the best-preserved collections of Indian Mughal architecture in India. Carved entirely from red sandstone, the imperial complex comprises magnificent, architecturally fascinating and finely proportioned royal palaces, harem, courtyards, pavilions, a mosque, private quarters and other utility buildings. One of its loveliest buildings is the white marble dargah (tomb) of Salim Chisti; a glowing pearl set amid the surrounding red sandstone structures, it features exquisitely carved screens.

    From Fatehpur Sikri continue your journey to Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital known as the ‘Pink City’. Founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, Jaipur was the first city in India to be planned according to the principles laid down in “Vastu Shastra,” an ancient Indian treatise on architecture. The result of this was wide, straight streets, arranged in sectors according to the people who lived there and the occupations they practised. This focus on space and order was a revolution in town planning in Indian cities at the time.

     

  • Day 5 Jaipur

    Spend today with a local guide, who will tailor sightseeing to your interests.

    You may like to begin with a visit to the spectacular Amber Fort. The ancient capital of the erstwhile Jaipur state, its construction began in the 16th century and it was subsequently added on to by successive rulers. A beautiful complex of red sandstone and marble palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens and temples, there are a number of sites to explore here. These include: the Hall of Public Audience, on a raised platform with 27 colonnades; the Hall of Private Audience, displaying floral glass inlays and alabaster relief work; the Mirror Palace, covered in mirror mosaics and coloured glass; and the Pleasure Palace, which features perforations in the marble walls and channels where water was piped to cool the rooms.

    You could also take a tour of the City Palace. Built between 1729 and 1732, this is another complex of several palaces, pavilions, courtyards, gardens and temples. Its museums include a textiles and costume museum, which gives an insight into not only the immense wealth and status of the royal family, but also the superb level of craftsmanship employed in Jaipur. The Hall of Public Audience houses a wonderful collection of miniature paintings, carpets, manuscripts, and photographs. And the Armoury contains a selection of exquisitely crafted (though vicious-looking) daggers and swords, some of which belonged to the Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan.

    Other sights of interest in Jaipur include the Jantar Mantar (observatory), the largest and best preserved of five observatories constructed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, and the landmark Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds, a five-storey structure in red and pink sandstone, constructed in 1799.

  • Day 6 Narendranagar

    Transfer to the airport for a flight to Delhi and connecting flight to Dehradun. You will be met on arrival and driven 40 minutes to Narendranagar and your accommodation here, the superb ‘destination spa’, Ananda in the Himalayas. Check in on arrival and remainder of the day at leisure.

    Built on a Maharaja’s 40-hectare palace estate, Ananda (which means ‘bliss and contentment’ in Sanskrit) is set against the pristine and peaceful background of the Himalayas. A four-night stay here provides an excellent introduction to the spa’s wide range of integrated ancient and contemporary therapies and treatments and its delicious cuisine, as well as providing opportunities to enjoy interesting activities in and around the resort.

  • Day 7 Narendranagar

    Day at leisure. Explore this outstanding Spa and its extensive array of body and beauty treatments, integrating the ancient Indian systems of Ayurveda, yoga and meditation with the more contemporary Western spa approach.

    Enjoy the cuisine here, which features delicious Indian, Asian and Western dishes created with fresh natural ingredients. Menus can be personalised according to the spa doctor’s recommendations (though, if you wish to eat chocolate and drink alcohol, you may!).

  • Day 8 Narendranagar

    Day at leisure. In addition to spa therapies there are a host of facilities and internal / external activities available to you here, including a gym, steam/sauna, and mini golf course. Yoga, meditation, Vedanta lectures, cooking classes and cultural activities are offered.

  • Day 9 Narendranagar

    Day at leisure. If you are feeling energetic, guided treks, nature walks, bird watching, white water rafting, safaris at Rajaji National Park and excursions to Rishikesh and Haridwar can be organized.

  • Day 10 Delhi

    This morning make the return drive to Dehradun airport to board a flight to Delhi. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Remainder of the day at leisure.

  • Day 11 Cochin

    Transfer to the airport for your flight to Cochin. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel.

    Known as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’, Kochi was an important spice-trading centre from the 14th century for Arabs and Chinese. The Portuguese arrived in 1503, making it the first of the European colonies in colonial India. In 1663, Kochi fell to the Dutch, and 132 years later, to the British. Each of these foreign influences left their mark, resulting in a distinctly Indo-European culture, most evident in the architecture.

    This evening attend a spectacular Kathakali performance. Combining facets of ballet, opera, masque and pantomime, this is Kerala’s classical dance-drama form, depicting ideas and stories from the Indian epics. You may like to arrive early in order to observe the artists being made up; an art in itself, this is considered to be as important as the dance-drama performance. [Image: Joseph Morris].

  • Day 12 Cochin

    Take a tour of Cochin this morning, beginning at the Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555. When the Dutch claimed Kochi in 1663, they renovated the palace and it became known as the Dutch Palace. Its small museum contains a collection of costumes, family portraits, palanquins and other interesting items. The Palace walls feature a number of beautiful murals executed in the tradition of Hindu temple art.

    Adjacent to the palace is the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568. This simple building has marvellously rich interiors. Glorious Belgian chandeliers hang from the ceiling and the beautiful blue-and-white Cantonese ceramic floor tiles were each individually hand-painted, so no two are alike. Old Torah scrolls are kept behind the gilded doors of the holy tabernacle.

    St Francis Church, constructed in 1503, is one of the oldest churches in India. Built by the Portuguese, it was originally Roman Catholic, but became a Protestant church with the arrival of the Dutch and an Anglican church after the British occupation. Vasco da Gama was buried in its churchyard in 1524 and is still memorialized here with a tombstone (although his body was later moved to Lisbon).

    After visiting St Francis Church stroll across to see the Chinese fishing nets along the shores. Comprising cantilevered nets, set up on teak and bamboo poles, they are the physical remnants of Fort Kochi’s ancient trade with the Far East. They are still in use today. [Image: Mark Hills].

  • Day 13 Thekkady

    Depart Cochin this morning for the 5-hour drive to Thekkady. A lovely journey, it takes you through bustling towns in the plains and rubber plantations on the foothills to undulating tea gardens on the mountains. Your hotel here, Shalimar Spice Garden, is superbly sited nestled in a valley in the low hills of the Southern Ghats, surrounded by tropical jungle. Accommodation comprises private thatched teak-clad huts dotted amongst the lush foliage of coffee, cardamom and other spices plants. Check in on arrival and remainder of the day at leisure.

     

  • Day 14 Thekkady

    As its name suggests, the resort has an abundance of exotic trees and myriad spices. This morning take a leisurely guided ‘spice plantation walk’ around the property – an enjoyable and educational experience. The coffee you drink and the pepper and cardamom you taste at the restaurant (as well as some of the ayurvedic remedies used) are fresh ground from these spice plantations.

    Remainder of the day free to relax and enjoy your accommodation. You may like to avail yourself of the resort’s excellent Ayurveda and Yoga Centre’s facilities where massage therapies for rejuvenation and general well being are available, or simply laze by the swimming pool. Alternatively, if wildlife is of interest, the hotel can organise excursions of various kinds into the nearby Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. [Image: Melanurya].

  • Day 15 Alleppey

    This morning drive 3½ hours to Alleppey jetty, where you will board a houseboat for an overnight stay.

    Kerala’s famous backwaters are a vast network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets lying parallel to the Malabar Coast. A labyrinthine system of more than 900 kilometres of waterways, it covers virtually half the length of the state, stretching from Cochin, the northern gateway, to Kollam the backwaters’ southernmost town.

    A houseboat cruise takes you into the heart of Keralan country life and enables you to explore the beauty of its unique backwaters in an ‘up close and personal’ way. Your crew will ensure that you have a comfortable voyage filled with simple pleasures, exotic sights and delicious food, including local fish and prawns. A languidly paced cruise along the backwaters is a highlight of south India for many.

  • Day 16 Kumarakom

    Disembark the houseboat after breakfast and transfer (1 hour) to Kumarakom and your accommodation here, The Zuri. A 7-hectare paradise located on the banks of the vast Vembanad Lake, it is set amongst mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves, interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals. This is a perfect environment in which to indulge in the array of body/mind treatments on offer here.

  • Day 17 Kumarakom

    Day at leisure. The resort has extensive spa and wellness facilities and offers a range of massage styles including Ayurvedic (Indian) treatments, Oriental and Western style treatments including massage, beauty treatments, aromatherapy, reflexology, and Shiatsu.

  • Day 18 Kumarakom

    Day at leisure. In addition to spa and wellness facilities, the resort has a lovely meditation and yoga pavilion on an island in the lagoon and a large swimming pool – with water–spouting elephant sculptures.

  • Day 19 Kumarakom

    Day at leisure.

  • Day 20 Cochin

    Depart for the 1½ hour drive to Cochin airport and fly to onwards destination.

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