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Itinerary

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Tour Itinerary

Experience the real India on this comfortable introduction to the cultures of the north and the natural beauty of the south. Travelling from Delhi to Kovalam, see what India has to offer on a 22-day adventure. The country's highlights and hidden jewels are revealed against a backdrop of green through the Western Ghats and in the vibrant towns of Rajasthan. Visit India's bustling cities contrasted with the quiet repose of tiny fishing villages, along with tea gardens, tribal homes and colonial enclaves. This wonderful introduction to India includes lavish palaces, vibrant bazaars, and the incomparable Taj Mahal, so take time to discover its beating heart.

  1. Day 1
    Delhi
    Namaste! Welcome to India. Your adventure begins in Delhi, where you’ll have a complimentary airport transfer to the hotel. Tonight, meet your group and trip leader at a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, get out and explore at your own pace. Filled with historical sites from different eras, museums, galleries and endless bazaars, this thriving capital has plenty to do and see. Maybe head to the Red Fort or the Lotus Temple, get a photo at India Gate or explore the World Heritage-listed Humayun’s Tomb. Later, why not get your new group together for a welcome meeting and sample of this country’s famed food.
  2. Day 2
    Varanasi
    Early this morning, you’ll take a train to Varanasi. This holy city is awash with shrines and temples and is the ultimate destination for Hindu pilgrims who travel from far and wide to experience the spirituality of this haven. When you arrive this afternoon, you’ll head out on a walking tour of the Old City, through narrow laneways packed with stalls and shops, past the dhobi wallahs and the endless temples that echo with bells and permeate the aroma of incense. This evening, soak up the unique atmosphere with a candle flower ceremony at dusk. A beautiful ritual to witness, you’ll watch on as locals give offerings of small candles cradled by leaves and flowers to the Goddess Ganga – then float the glowing hand-made pieces down the river as the sun sets in the background.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  3. Day 3
    Varanasi
    Today starts early, but it’s very much worth it – you’ll take a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges, where you can watch the light gradually illuminate the many ghats and temples along the river. After, there’s the option to take a trip to nearby Sarnath – one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. The site is where Buddha preached his message of the path to enlightenment and features a number of stupas and museums to explore. Your afternoon is free to spend how you wish – maybe explore the laneways and alleys behind the ghats or pick up some keepsakes from the array of excellent local silk. For dinner, you’ll enjoy a group meal of vegetarian thali at a local restaurant. A thali is a popular style of serving food in India, offering a selection of dishes, sides and condiments on a single large plate.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  4. Day 4
    Delhi
    This morning, take a flight back to India’s buzzing capital. When you arrive, check in to your accommodation, freshen up and then enjoy a free afternoon to spend how you wish. Maybe visit Swaminarayan Akshardham, set on a vast 100 acres of gardens. Maybe just go searching for the perfect street food snack or go on a photo-taking walk.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  5. Day 5
    Jaipur
    Today you’ll head to Jaipur, Rajasthan's capital, by private vehicle. Arrive in the Pink City and discover its trademark pink hues on a walking tour with a local guide. Navigate crowded streets packed with cars, camel carts, rickshaws, trucks and bicycles, past traditionally dressed Rajput men wearing colourful turbans and sporting magnificent moustaches. Make a photo stop at India's most photographed building after the Taj Mahal – the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds'. You will also have the option of visiting Jantar Mantar – an observatory filled with instruments to track the stars, built by the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Jai Singh. Tonight, maybe continue to indulge in the wonders of Indian culture by watching a Bollywood blockbuster – an elaborate combination of action, romance, drama and music, at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  6. Day 6
    Jaipur
    An optional early morning hot air balloon experience is the perfect way to start the day – wake early for a breathtaking overhead view of the Pink City bathed in early morning light. Later, climb the twisting roads of the Aravalli Hills and round the final bend to see the massive Amber Fort loom into view. You’ll head on a walking tour to explore the Amber Fort with a local guide – the legacy of a fallen empire, the opulent palace is a superb example of Rajput architecture and is packed with elaborate rooms of lavish murals, frescoed arches, and delicate jali work. Don’t miss the sparkling Mirror Palace, covered floor-to-ceiling in thousands of reflective tiles, the hall becomes a dazzling fantasy with the light of a single match. The afternoon is free to explore more of Jaipur that you might have missed yesterday. This evening, meet your group and leader for a special cooking class in a local home for dinner. You’ll learn the secrets, flavours and spices of traditional specialities from your welcoming hosts and then feast on your creations.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  7. Day 7
    Agra
    Leave the Pink City behind and travel by private vehicle to Agra. Along the way, stop at Chand Baori stepwell – built over 1000 years ago, this is one of the largest stepwells in India. The architectural wonder was once a gathering place for locals and royals alike. The series of narrow steps creates a beautiful pattern that leads to a body of water below. When you arrive in Agra, you’ll visit one of the finest forts in India – Agra Fort. Enter the dark red sandstone stronghold of the fort, part fortress, part palace and part prison, and search through throne rooms and tiny but incredibly decorated mosques. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please. Maybe ask your leader for the best dinner spots for a local feed.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  8. Day 8
    Delhi
    This morning is a real treat – bright and early, you’ll pay a visit to the spectacular Taj Mahal, one of the famed Seven Wonders of the World. Best known as a monument to love and loss, the 17th-century wonder is a beautiful example of Mughal architecture and is surrounded by trimmed English gardens. Take your time here, snap your bucket list photos and take in the majesty of one of the most famous buildings in the world. After, you’ll take an express train journey to Delhi. When you arrive, maybe head to the legendary Connaught Place for some souvenir shopping or take the chance to rest and recharge. This evening, maybe head out for a streetside chaat or ask your leader for the best spot for aloo kulche and chole (flatbread with a spiced mashed potato filling served with chickpea curry) with a side of pickles (and a mango lassi if the spice gets a bit much).
    Meals:   Breakfast
  9. Day 9
    Delhi
    After breakfast this morning, your leader will take you to the city’s historic heart with a guided walking tour of Old Delhi. Set off on the city's modern metro system, then get a taste of India's famed public transport with an optional cycle rickshaw ride through chaotic streets, such as the famous Chandni Chowk. Visit the Jama Masjid – Delhi's oldest mosque and one of its most impressive buildings, then visit the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion. After a jam-packed morning of sightseeing adventures, rest your feet and refuel over a lunch of local favourites. The rest of the day is free for further exploration – maybe wander around Humayun's Tomb, the first garden tomb in India built in 1570, if you haven’t already. Tonight, why not head out to a farewell dinner with your group and hit the nightlife of Delhi to celebrate a trip well-travelled.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  10. Day 10
    Chennai
    Today, take a flight from Delhi to Chennai to join the second stage of your trip. This flight is unaccompanied, but your leader will provide you all the details, plus where to meet a representative on arrival in Chennai to be transferred to your accommodation. Chennai – previously known as Madras – is South India’s largest, and the perfect place to dive straight into the culture, religion and cuisine of the region. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers and your new Indian leader.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  11. Day 11
    Mamallapuram – Puducherry
    From Chennai, drive along the scenic East Coast Road to the fishing village of Mamallapuram. Join a local guide for a tour around the town’s laidback beaches and temples, keeping an eye out for the sculptures and carvings dotted around the place. Visit the incredible 8th-century Shore Temple and its mandapams (carved pillars) to pay your respects to the deity Shiva. Continue onto Puducherry (Pondicherry) in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner at a restaurant in the White Town area of the city. Known for its French colonial-era villas and leafy streets, a post-dinner stroll along the beachfront promenade is a lovely way to end your day.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  12. Day 12
    Puducherry
    Explore Puducherry, which was under French rule until 1954, and the European style of the town extends from beautiful colonial architecture right down to the uniforms of the police. Enjoy a walking tour to see local temples, the French Quarter, and the spiritual community of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The rest of the day and evening is free. Puducherry’s food scene is truly unique, as Indian classics have a distinctly French spin on them – be sure to ask your leader for tips on the best places to grab dinner this evening.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  13. Day 13
    Karaikudi
    Drive to Karaikudi today. On arrival, check into your heritage property accommodation, an elegantly decorated mansion built in 1902. After settling in, take a walk around the village with your leader to learn about the lives of the local communities. Along the way, you’ll stop off to admire havelis – these old mansions were ornately decorated as a display of wealth, and many remain around this region today. 
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  14. Day 14
    Madurai
    Continue on to Madurai. Here you will wander through the colourful markets and bazaars, then visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple in the city’s centre. Still in use today, this ancient temple is a maze of lamp-lit corridors leading to shrines where traditional rituals take place, including the remarkable thousand pillar hall. You might also like to explore the National Gandhi Museum (optional), dedicated to the life and achievements of the 'Father of the Nation' and the leader of India's fight for independence. Your evening is then free to spend as you please.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  15. Day 15
    Madurai
    The day is yours for your own explorations of one of India’s oldest cities. Madurai has a wealth of treasures to uncover, from buzzing bazaars and tailors’ markets to roadside stalls selling cold glasses of jigarthanda and savoury idli rice cakes. Perhaps visit the Art Museum to see a superb collection of carvings, or check out the Tirumalai Nayak Palace. Be sure to ask your leader where to find local favourites like crispy dosa, fluffy idiyappam and sweet halwa.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  16. Day 16
    Periyar
    Drive through rubber and pineapple plantations to Thekkady. Your accommodation here is on the outskirts of Periyar National Park, perched lakeside in the ranges of the Western Ghats. The sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, which was formed as a result of a dam that was built in 1895. It ambles through the contours of the wooded hills and is a permanent source of water for local wildlife. This afternoon, take a tour of a local spice plantation. Here you’ll gain insight on the plant life, spices, herbs, fruits and flowers of the region, and how they are used in Ayurvedic medicine. Find out how the spices are grown, harvested, dried and prepared. Later in the day, you may like to attend a demonstration of Indian martial arts (kalaripayattu) at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  17. Day 17
    Periyar
    In the morning, take a guided nature walk in the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (approximately 3 hours). If you’re lucky, you could spot tiger tracks, spotted deer, Indian elephants and gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. You may also have the chance to see Bonnet macaques and the Malabar giant squirrel, a species native to India. In the afternoon, unwind with an optional ayurvedic massage or just relax in this scenic setting. Be welcomed into a local home this evening, for a dinner cooked with fragrant local produce by a palate that is finely tuned to the pepper, cloves and cinnamon that are prevalent in many Keralan dishes. Sure to be a highlight of your trip, don't forget to ask for tips on how to recreate these delicious dishes in your own home.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  18. Day 18
    Kochi
    In the morning, drive to Kochi, aka Cochin. Today is a long driving day, but your journey will be broken up with plenty of stops, and the fantastic scenery is sure to keep your occupied. Kochi is a veritable melting pot of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. On arrival, you may like to stretch your legs and wander along the beach at sunset.
    Meals:   Breakfast
  19. Day 19
    Kochi
    Visit the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese before the Dutch renovated it. Then check out the oldest functioning Jewish synagogue in India, the Paradesi Synagogue. For lunch today, you’ll meet a local expert and learn all about Satvik Bhojan, the ayurvedic diet. Take part in a cooking demonstration using the methods and recipes discussed, then enjoy the dishes for lunch. In the evening witness a classic Kathakali performance, a dramatic dance that combines storytelling with physical technique.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  20. Day 20
    Kerala Backwaters
    Drive from Kochi to Kumarkom to your resort along the riverside. This sleepy village is quintessential Kerala backwaters, with its shady palm trees, winding waterways and traditional houseboats. On arrival, get out on the water and take a short cruise around the backwaters. Sail under palm trees and weave in between the rice fields while you see local residents going about their daily lives in this unique and tranquil environment. Dinner tonight is at a women-run restaurant, serving up fish curries, dal and idli. This venue is a favourite for its excellent local flavours and for the training and employment opportunities it provides to local women.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  21. Day 21
    Kovalam
    In the morning, drive to Kovalam via Kerala’s capital, Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram). Kovalam was once a quiet coastal village known for its export of fresh fish and coconuts, but is now one of India’s more popular beach resorts. Visit the ancient temple of Attukal Bhagavathy in the afternoon. If you have free time, explore the old signaling station of Anchuthengu Fort or the 16th-century Koyikkal Palace. Head out with the group for a farewell meal together tonight – the local cuisine is known for its use of coconuts, curry leaves and fresh seafood, so dig in while you have the chance.
    Meals:   Breakfast   Dinner
  22. Day 22
    Kovalam
    Your trip comes to an end after breakfast and you’re free to leave the accommodation at any time.
    Meals:   Breakfast

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Inclusions

  • Complimentary Arrival Transfer
  • Varanasi - Leader-led Old City walking tour
  • Varanasi - Sunset candle flower ceremony
  • Varanasi - Sunrise Ganges boat trip
  • Jaipur - Orientation walk with a local guide
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort
  • Jaipur - Cooking class in a local home
  • Abhaneri - Chand Baori stepwell
  • Agra - Agra Fort
  • Agra - Taj Mahal
  • Delhi - Leader-led Old Delhi walking & rickshaw tour
  • Delhi - Visit to the Jama Masjid Mosque
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Mamallapuram - Shore Temples guided tour
  • Puducherry - Leader-led French Quarter walking tour
  • Karaikudi - Havelis
  • Karaikudi - Leader-led village walk
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple guided tour
  • Madurai - Leader-led walking tour
  • Periyar - Spice plantation visit
  • Periyar - Guided nature walk
  • Periyar - Home-cooked meal
  • Kochi - Leader-led Fort Kochi walking tour
  • Kochi - Kathakali performance
  • Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
  • Kochi - Dutch Palace
  • Kochi - Ferry to Mattancherry
  • Kochi - Ayurvedic cooking demonstration with lunch
  • Kumarakom - Backwaters boating excursion
  • Kovalam - Leader-led walking tour

Meals
21 Breakfast(s) Included
2 Lunch(es) Included
7 Dinner(s) Included

Style: Comfort

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Accommodations

Hotel (19 nights), Resort (2 nights)

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Questions & Answers

Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?

Each person is allowed one "check-in," and one "carry-on." Remember to take all valuables with you as "carry-on", because electronic equipment, cameras, laptops, jewelry, business documents and money are not covered by the airlines' liability, so always carry them aboard with you.

Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?

Airfare from your point of origin to and from the trip is not included in the land price.

Intrepid Tours Customer Reviews

Overall Rating
4
Accommodations
3.6
Itinerary
4.2
Professional Staff
4.4
Repeat with Operator
4.1
Value for Money
3.7

Ratings based off 210 reviews about Intrepid Tours - currently showing 9 reviews with comments only

Intrepid is awesome. Our guide was superb. Everything went smoothly!

Our tour guide was wonderful. She was knowledgeable, fun, energetic, and made our week run very smoothly. The trip itself was fantastic! We saw a lot and the islands are absolutely beautiful. Great food, great new friends made on the tour, and would absolutely book with Intrepid again.

Intrepid tour is great company. Will use this company again.

The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.

The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations

Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.

Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.

Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.

Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.

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