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Spend over three weeks discovering the sights, sounds and flavours of India. From Delhi to Hyderabad and via the ethereal beauty of Rajasthan, experience the best street food in Delhi, the beautiful sight of the Taj Mahal in Agra, the delightful taste of Rajasthan's traditional cuisine in Jaipur and Udaipur, the colours of India's markets and bazaars and how to cook up delicious regional Indian dishes in a number of inspiring cooking classes. Relax on Goa's beaches, see Jaipur's breathtaking Palace of the Wind, explore the vibrant food scene of Mumbai and spend time in rural Rajasthan living it up in a 17th-century fort. Wander around a tea farm in Periyar, take to the water on a houseboat in the Kerala backwaters and enjoy cooking demonstrations in Madurai and Kochi. Finish in one of India's most iconic cities, Hyderabad, famed for its inimitable Biryani. You will relish every bit of this sensory trip through the heart of southern India. This unforgettable journey into the cultural and gastronomic heart of North & South India will satisfy every appetite.
Day 1: Delhi
Namaste! Welcome to India. Delhi is an excitingly chaotic capital city – filled with historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars, there’s plenty to see, do, and eat. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Afterwards, celebrate the start of a memorable food adventure with a short stroll to a local restaurant. Here you'll enjoy your first taste of North Indian flavours over a delicious – and completely vegetarian – feast. Perhaps partake in a kulfi falooda (ice cream-style dessert) after dinner from a hole-in-the-wall place, considered one of the top-spots for kulfi in Delhi.
Day 2: Delhi
This morning venture out to Old Delhi, wandering through alleyways for an authentic Delhi street food breakfast. Keep your eye out for the local chai wallah, renowned for his delicious milky tea. Next, jump on the city's metro system and head to Jama Masjid – Delhi's oldest mosque. While Hinduism is the dominant religion in Delhi, there is also a significant Sikh population, so continue the religious theme over a vegetarian lunch at a local Sikh temple. After lunch, tour Chandni Chowk – one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi. Visit the spice warehouses in the back alleys of Khari Baoli and meet a seller to hear them talk spice mixes for the market. Visit the Gali Paranthe Wali (lane of parathas), which has been in operation since the 1870s. Parathas are one of the most popular unleavened flat breads in Punjabi North Indian cuisine, so taste some delicious variations with fillings like potatoes, cauliflower and cottage cheese. Tonight, you’ve got the option to visit a local family for a home-cooked meal. This provides an insight into the day-to-day life of Delhites, so find out some secret recipes, get involved in the meal or just chat with your welcoming hosts.
Day 3: Agra
Get your first experience of Indian train with an air-conditioned ride to Agra (approximately 3 hours). Famed for the evocative Taj Mahal, Agra is a city of fascinating history, rich in Mughal heritage, lush gardens and exquisite structures. Agra is also home to one of the finest looking forts in India – Agra Fort. Enter the dark red sandstone stronghold and search through throne rooms and tiny but ornate mosques. For lunch, join a Mughlai cooking demonstration. Meet a passionate cook, who'll teach you how to prepare classics such as malai ki sabzi (vegetables cooked with cream) and onion paratha (flatbread stuffed with onions and potato) – obviously depending on the season. Afterwards, head to the Taj Mahal, wandering the grounds and taking in the changing vistas as day turns to evening – a truly unforgettable experience. For dinner, you could book in to a chaat crawl – a savoury snack, like fried potatoes or samosa broken into pieces with chutney, typically served from roadside stalls or carts. Fast food: Indian style.
Day 4: Jaipur
Drive to the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur (approximately 5 hours). Jaipur was designed by royalty and has delighted visitors for centuries with its pink-hued buildings, wonderful bazaars, and rainbow of bright colours dancing along hectic streets. Stop at India's most photographed building after the Taj Mahal – the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds’. Here, royal maidens once watched the streets below through the fabulous jali (lattice screens) which hid them from prying male eyes. Today, snake charmers and fortune-tellers ply their trade below the same hideaway. Visit the oldest chai wallah in the city along your way, cool down with a delicious kulfi and marvel at the sheer range of produce on display at the markets. In the evening, you may wish to check out the extravagance of a Bollywood blockbuster, with all the Hollywood-style elements of action, romance, drama and music (sometimes all rolled into one), at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema. Your leader will also have plenty of dinner suggestions.
Day 5: Jaipur
Travel out to the old capital of Amber and explore the hilltop complex known as the Amber Fort. Set in stunning surroundings overlooking Maota Lake, this opulent palace is the legacy of a fallen empire and a superb example of Rajput architecture. One of its most spectacular buildings is the Sheesh Mahal. With its walls completely covered with tiny mirrors, the hall becomes a dazzling fantasy with the light of a single match. For lunch, try a local favourite – kachori. Kachoris are deep fried bread stuffed with vegetables and lentils and are one of the most sought-after snacks in north India. If sweets are your thing, try the mawa kachori – dried fruit and mawa (milk solids) stuffed kachori, deep-fried and coated in sugar syrup. Later on, you will learn the secrets of Rajasthani cuisine in a hands-on cooking class, sitting down to a sumptuous dinner of all you have prepared.
Day 6: Bijaipur
Leave the city behind and drive approximately 6 hours to a local heritage stay located in the Vindhyanchal Hills in the Mewar region of south-central Rajasthan – a great opportunity to learn about rural life and culinary customs. You’ll also stop en route to enjoy lunch with a local family. Your accommodation for the next two nights will be at 16th-century Castle Bijaipur – now a heritage hotel with domes, arched windows and doorways, all within the original fortified walls. Enjoy the palace’s blend of colonial and Mughal architecture as you relax by the pool or in the gardens, pampered by Mewar hospitality.
Day 7: Bijaipur
Today you’ll jump in a jeep and explore the surrounding farming communities. This is a major agricultural area and, depending on the season, you will pass through fields growing wheat, corn, maize, lentils, aubergine, spinach, fenugreek, okra, green chilies, tomatoes, potatoes, gourd, onion and garlic. Some of India’s known spices, such as turmeric and cumin, are also grown here. In the late afternoon, return to your heritage stay and join the estate's chef to discover how these ingredients are used in Rajhasthani cooking. Savour the results over a delicious dinner in the palace grounds with your small group – a truly special experience.
Day 8: Udaipur
Travel to Udaipur (approximately 4 hours’ drive). Udaipur is known for its Hindu temples and palaces but there are also some small but renowned Jain temples in the city. Jainism is a minority religion in India and is considered among the most rigorous spiritually motivated diets in India. Once you’ve arrived, enjoy a street food snack tasting and lunch in the Old City. Tonight, you’ll have a free evening for dinner. Udaipur has several delicious rooftop restaurants, so climb some stairs, choose a restaurant and settle in to watch the sun set over one of the city’s shimmering central lakes.
Day 9: Udaipur
Udaipur, also known as the 'City of Lakes', is built around the shores of Lake Pichola and full of fascinating temples, ornate palaces and impressive 'havelis' (merchant homes). Take some time to discover its winding streets and shops full of traditional Rajasthani wares. Visit the City Palace – one of the largest royal palaces in India – and check out the unbelievable treasures within, from vivid murals to antiques and royal utensils. The rest of the day is free for your own exploration.
Day 10: Udaipur – Overnight Train
Begin today at the local market to collect ingredients for a cooking class, where you will learn how to prepare a traditional north Indian thali meal. A thali comprises of several dishes served on one large plate, and vary depending on which region the thali is prepared in. As you’re in Udaipur, you will make a vegetarian thali. Typical dishes include rice, dahl, vegetables, roti, papad (deep-fried flat bread), curd (yoghurt), small amounts of chutney or pickle, and a sweet dish to top it off. After all that cooking, enjoy the fruits of your labour for lunch. Afterwards, transfer by private vehicle to the Abu Road train station (approximately 3 hours). Tonight, you’ll board an overnight train bound for one of India's great cities – captivating Mumbai (approximately 16 hours). The train will depart late evening and arrive after midday tomorrow.
Day 11: Mumbai
Arrive in Mumbai after your overnight train, reaching your hotel by mid-afternoon. Known as Bombay until its name change in 1995, Mumbai is India's commercial capital and largest city. Some would say that Mumbai is also the food capital of India. This is the heart of Marathi cuisine; however, you will also find huge culinary diversity that celebrates regional cuisines from across the country. In the late afternoon, wander down Marine Drive to Chowpatty Beach. Enjoy the sunset and snack on bhel puri (tangy puffed rice and vegetable chaat), pav bhaji (a thick vegetable curry served with bread) and other renowned Mumbai street foods.
Day 12: Mumbai
Time for some sightseeing and soaking up the atmosphere of this incredible metropolis. Marvel at the remarkable Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat. At 140 years old, it's Mumbai's oldest laundry and, with over 1000 troughs, it is also the world’s largest open-air, human-powered one. Next, take in some of the key landmarks including the impressive World Heritage Site and historic railway station of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. For lunch, seek out a restaurant known for serving Parsi cuisine, whose community is largely concentrated in Mumbai. The Parsi peoples are descendants of Zoroastrians who are believed to have immigrated from Persia to India in the 10th century. Drop past Mumbai’s bustling Crawford Markets, and then the rest of the afternoon and the evening are free for your own food adventures. Perhaps take high tea at the iconic Taj Hotel, or stake out one of the myriad fabulous restaurants in this city which cater for all budgets – your group leader will have plenty of suggestions.
Day 13: Goa
Take a flight from Mumbai to Goa (approximately 1 hour), arriving in the early afternoon. The locals say that time moves more slowly in Goa, so this is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a bit of tranquillity in an often-frenetic country. Tinged with a Portuguese flavour, the state of Goa is blessed with lovely beaches, rich traditions, World Heritage-listed buildings and mouth-watering food. Goa's dense forested areas and favourable climate also make it a perfect location to grow the spices liberally used in its cuisine. TIn the late afternoon, visit a local spice farm that uses organic methods of cultivation. For the daring, try a taste of feni – a spirit made from either coconut or the juice of the cashew apple, much-loved in this region. In the evening, perhaps enjoy a meal at one of the shacks that line the beach. Goa is renowned for its seafood, and variations of a fish curry with coconut and served with rice has become a regional classic.
Day 14: Goa
In the morning, join a passionate cook who has lived in Goa all her life. Take a guided tour through the markets and get to know the building blocks of Portuguese-tinged Goan cuisine, followed by a final hands-on cooking class. Learn to prepare meals such as hot pork vindaloo or chicken xacuti and enjoy a laid-back Goan lunch. The afternoon is free for some shopping, perhaps a visit to Panaji, or simply some time to relax on the beach. Tonight, savour a group meal of seafood and spicy curry and reminisce on your Indian food finds.
Day 15: Kochi
Namaste! Welcome to India. A fusion of modernity and tradition, the vibrant colours and diverse cultures of India are truly captivating. Be at one with bustling cities and feel the touch of the land’s spirituality. Your adventure will begin with a 6 pm welcome meeting in the hotel. Your trip begins in Kochi, or Cochin as it was formerly known, which is spread over several islands and has a diverse feel from Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and British influences. The city boasts the oldest church in India as well as Vasco de Gama’s final resting place. Get to know your local leader and fellow travellers with dinner featuring the local cuisine.
Day 16: Kochi
Today, take in some of Kochi’s most interesting sights. Visit the Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace), which was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese and later claimed by the Dutch in 1663. The Dutch developed the existing palace before presenting it to the rajas of Cochin. Interestingly Kochi is also home to a Jewish community that has roots going back as far as AD1000, and you’ll see the Jewish synagogue in the city. Built in 1568, the Pardesi Synagogue is one of the oldest existing synagogues in India. In the afternoon visit a traditional 1940s Kerala home located in the heart of Fort Kochi and enjoy a cooking class. Among the dishes you’ll learn to prepare will be a Keralan classic – fish curry. Sit down and indulge in a feast with new friends.
Day 17: Kerala Backwaters Homestay
Transfer by private vehicle to a homestay on the banks of the Kerala backwaters (approximately 2 hours). Swaying palm trees, lush rice paddies, winding waterways, Ayurvedic massage and welcoming locals all await on this amazing Kerala backwaters homestay. Take a pole boat ride through the community taking in the lush colours and scenes of daily life along the water’s banks. In the evening, join your hosts for a home-cooked dinner and pick up the trick to whipping up payasam – a delicious sweet and milky dessert.
Day 18: Periyar
Rise early and drive past rubber and pineapple plantations and thick jungle to the spice plantation town of Thekkady (approximately 4 hours). Thekkady is the gateway to Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve, perched high in the ranges of the Western Ghats. Thekkady proudly celebrates the food traditions of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and the town and its neighbouring villages are highly regarded for their spice cultivation. Prepare for a fragrant tour of a spice plantation and discover some of the many varieties grown here, from ginger, cardamom and vanilla, to pepper, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. In the late afternoon, head out to the home of a former rickshaw driver turned cooking teacher. The class will be conducted in an open courtyard with a small barbecue, where some of the cooking will take place. In this class you will also learn the secret to preparing porotta – a layered flatbread typical to parts of Southern India.
Day 19: Periyar
This morning, venture into the acclaimed Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary for a guided nature walk. The sanctuary surrounds a lake which was formed as 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. Wildlife encounters are never guaranteed, but if luck is on your side you may see some Indian elephants, deer, tigers or gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. You are more likely to see Bonnet macaques who are often found near the entrance to the reserve, or the Malabar giant squirrel – a species native to India. From here, learn about the essential tea traditions of the region with a plantation visit and tour with a local grower before enjoying a cup or two! In your free time this evening, you could enjoy an optional ayurvedic massage or attend an exciting demonstration of Indian martial arts (kalaripayattu) at the Kadathanadan Kalari Centre.
Day 20: Kandukathan
Drive on to Kandukathan (approximately 6 hours), famous for its unique architecture and salt trade, arriving around midday. Settle in at your accommodation – an impressive mansion built in 1902 by prosperous merchants who used construction materials, decorative items and furnishings imported from East Asian countries and Europe. Relax, go for a swim in the swimming pool, then get ready for a real treat – a masterclass in Chettinad cuisine. Chettinad cuisine is distinct to the Chettiars, a successful trading community who built a reputation for ‘eating like kings’. This regional cuisine in revered throughout India and is well regarded for its liberal use of spice, replacing chilli with pepper to impart a subtle heat to dishes. Chettinad cuisine also incorporates seafood, chicken and lamb, although Chettiars do not eat beef and pork. In the hall of the mansion, learn to prepare famous Chettinad dishes including the signature chicken drumstick curry accompanied by mint chutney, and follow it with a sumptuous feast in the open-air courtyard.
Day 21: Madurai
Today travel by private transport to Madurai (approximately 2 hours). Crammed full of bazaars, temples, small industries, pilgrims, cycle-rickshaws, beggars and street markets, Madurai showcases southern India at its colourful and lively best. The city is recognised as the centre of Dravidian culture, with its main attraction the famous Shree Meenaksh Temple in the heart of the old town. Take some time to explore this ancient and still active temple, which is a labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors that lead to shrines where some mysterious and interesting rituals are performed. The cuisine of the state of Tamil Nadu is also highly regarded and it is believed that the English word curry is derived from the Tamil word 'kari'. Characterised by the use of rice, legumes and lentils, the food of Tamil Nadu also has a number of regional variants, of which Madurai is a great example. Discover its signature flavours on a street food tour. Travel the city from east to west, past markets and temples, and get the inside scoop on the best street food the city has to offer. You’ll have the opportunity to sample delicacies such as peppercorn semolina, lentils and hand-churned ice cream made with sarsaparilla and seaweed. Finish up at a famous masala dosa spot, which is so popular it only opens for 4 hours a day!
Day 22: Hyderabad
Take a morning flight from Madurai to Hyderabad (approximately 2.5 hours). Hyderabad is the capital of southern India’s Telangana state, and is home to many upscale restaurants and shops. It is also one of India’s top food destinations where the cooking traditions of the princely state of the Nizams lives on. Take a leader-led orientation walk of the Old Town, and then embark on a delicious street food crawl in the evening with your group. Keep your eye out for the renowned biryani of Hyderabad – considered by many to be the country’s best, Lukhmi – the local samosas, often made with mutton filling, and Haleem – a savoury spiced stew. Dessert traditions thrive here too, namely Qubani ka Meetha – a Hyderabadi original featuring dried apricots cooked to a syrup and garnished with almonds and sweet cream.
Day 23: Hyderabad
This morning, take a trip outside of Hyderabad and head to Golconda Fort. This impressive fort once protected an ancient city at the centre of a diamond empire. Explore the mosques and the grand mud walls that once surrounded the city – the work of Kakatiya Kings from the 12th century. Once arrived back in the city, the afternoon is free for you to continue to explore but be sure to regroup with your fellow travellers for an included dinner, featuring the famous Hyderabadi Biryani.
Day 24: Hyderabad
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave your accommodation at any time. That doesn’t mean your southern Indian adventure has to come to an end! If you would like to spend more time in Hyderabad, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
- Real Food Adventure Welcome Dinner
- Delhi - Old Delhi walking & rickshaw tour
- Delhi - Street Food Breakfast
- Delhi - Jama Masjid
- Delhi - Lunch at a Sikh Temple
- Agra - Taj Mahal
- Agra - Mughlai Cooking Demonstration
- Jaipur - Amber Fort
- Jaipur - traditional Kachori lunch
- Jaipur - Rajasthani Cooking Class and Dinner
- Bijaipur - Village tour
- Castle Bijaipur - Rajasthani Desert Cooking Demonstration and Dinner
- Udaipur - City Palace
- Udaipur - Thali Cooking Class
- Mumbai - Chowpatty Beach
- Mumbai - Chowpatti Beach Street Food Crawl
- Goa - Spice farm tour including lunch
- Goa - Goan Market Tour and Cooking Class
- Kochi - Cooking Class & dinner
- Kochi - Dutch Palace
- Kochi - Jewish Synagogue
- Kerala Backwaters - Pole boat ride
- Periyar - Spice plantation visit
- Periyar - Guided nature walk
- Karaikudi - Village walk
- Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple guided tour
- Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple
- Madurai - Walking tour
- Hyderabad - Orientation walk
- Hyderabad - Street food crawl
- Hyderabad - Golconda fort
21 Breakfast(s) Included
11 Lunch(es) Included
10 Dinner(s) Included
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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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