Discover India, a diverse country filled with a long history, a variety of languages, amazing monuments, and a rich cultural heritage. On this vacation, visit some of its most famous sights and experience some of its fascinating rituals. Of course, you’ll visit the Taj Mahal, built by Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife. Built from 1631-1648 AD, he employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen as well as a labor force of 20,000. You’ll get the chance to see this amazing structure plus Agra Fort, the 16th-century red sandstone fortress where Moghul rulers lived. In 1876, Jaipur was painted pink to welcome Prince Albert and Queen Elizabeth II, and it has been known as the “Pink City” ever since. Here, visit the Amber Fort, built in 1592 with white marble and red sandstone. The remarkable structures are just part of India’s appeal. You’ll also enjoy a rickshaw ride through a colorful local bazaar, a cooking demonstration of Indian food, and a home-hosted meal with an Indian noble family. If you’re interested in the different religions in India, you’ll get a chance to learn more. Visit Sarnath, the “Cradle of Buddhism,” where Buddha first spoke of his philosophy. In Varanasi, board a boat to watch the Hindu’s devotional bathing in the Ganges. Observe hundreds of pilgrims gathered at the river’s edge—some practicing yoga, others meditating, and others bathing fully clothed. These are just a few of the many highlights offered on this marvelous trip. You’ll also visit Mumbai, home to “Bollywood,” and Cochin, where you’ll take a cruise on the backwaters of Kerala to witness life along the scenic and serene waterways. If you’re a traveler looking for a new adventure, this is the vacation for you!
Day #1 Arrive in Mumbai, India. Your hotel room is available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Day #2 Mumbai. Today, enjoy sightseeing in Mumbai, a multicultural metropolis with a colorful history. This vibrant city is now India’s premier seaport, center of culture and industry, and home to “Bollywood.” Start at the GATEWAY OF INDIA, Mumbai’s most famous monument commemorating the visit of Queen Mary. Then, drive along Marine Drive—a seafront promenade—and see a traditional DHOBI GHAT. You will also visit the HANGING GARDENS and MANI BHAVAN (former residence of Mahatma Gandhi). (B)
Day #3 Mumbai-Cochin. Today, fly to Cochin, the “Gateway to Kerala.” Located on the Arabian Sea in Kerala, India’s southernmost state, Cochin is the perfect starting point to explore the region’s natural beauty. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. (B)
Day #4 Cochin. Today’s sightseeing includes the CHINESE FISHING NETS that are the livelihood of many fishermen in the area. You will also visit ST. THOMAS CHURCH, the HILL PALACE MUSEUM, DUTCH PALACE, and will walk through the Jewish quarter. The afternoon is at leisure. (B)
Day #5 Cochin. Enjoy an unforgettable full-day CRUISE in the backwaters of Kerala. Explore and witness local life along these serene waterways surrounded by lush palm trees and paddy fields. (B,L)
Day #6 Cochin-Delhi. Fly via Mumbai to Delhi, India’s capital city. Enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. (B)
Day #7 Delhi. The morning is at your leisure to rest before meeting your traveling companions and Tour Director for sightseeing in the afternoon. Your Local Guide will show you the sights of “Old Delhi.” Start with a visit to the JAMA MOSQUE followed by a [LF] RICKSHAW RIDE through Chandni Chowk, a colorful local bazaar. Tonight your Tour Director hosts a lavish welcome dinner, including a COOKING DEMONSTRATION followed by a talk on Indian cuisine. (B,D)
Day #8 Delhi. This morning’s sightseeing will focus on “New Delhi.” Visit the INDIRA GANDHI MEMORIAL MUSEUM and Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948. Then, visit HUMAYUN’S TOMB and Qutab Minar followed by the grand government buildings, the President’s House, and Parliament House. The afternoon is at leisure. Consider an optional visit to three famous temples for an introduction to India’s most popular religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Your Tour Director has suggestions for other activities. (B)
Day #9 Delhi-Varanasi. Fly to Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu pilgrim cities, which is situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Sightseeing today visits SARNATH, the “Cradle of Buddhism,” where Buddha first spoke of his philosophy. For a truly memorable experience, join tonight’s optional tour: a rickshaw ride through the bustling streets of this unique city followed by a sunset cruise on the Ganges. Here you will witness fascinating religious rituals being performed—a truly unique experience. (B)
Day #10 Varanasi-Khajuraho. Around dawn, board a [LF] BOAT to watch a striking religious ritual—the Hindus’ devotional bathing in the Ganges. You’ll observe hundreds of pilgrims gathered at the river’s edge, some practicing yoga, others meditating, and still others bathing fully clothed. A late-morning flight takes you to Khajuraho, where sightseeing focuses on the mysterious TEMPLES, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that have been isolated for centuries. Art historians have long puzzled over myths and legends in an attempt to understand the bizarre combination of prolific religious and erotic temples. (B)
Day #11 Khajuraho-Orchha-Jhansi-Agra. Today, enjoy the scenery as you pass through rural areas en route to Orchha. Upon arrival, visit the impressive MEDIEVAL PALACE COMPLEX, once the capital of a locally powerful Rajput kingdom. Later, arrive in Jhansi to board your train to Agra, where much of the city’s impressive past is still evident today in the majesty of her buildings. (B)
Day #12 Agra. Start your day with a sunrise visit to the incomparable TAJ MAHAL, an extravagant marble monument to love. The Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan built it as a memorial to his beloved wife, who died during childbirth. To add to this memorable experience, you’ll also travel by tongas (horse-drawn carriage) during your visit. Later, visit AGRA FORT, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by the Moghul Emperor Akbar, this impressive fortress of red sandstone conceals the imperial city of the Moghul rulers and its many palaces. (B,D)
Day #13 Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Jaipur. This morning, visit FATEHPUR SIKRI (City of Victory) en route to Jaipur. In 1876, the city was painted pink to welcome Prince Albert and Queen Elizabeth II and it has been known as the “Pink City” ever since. Tonight, enjoy a SARI- and TURBAN-TYING LESSON followed by a [LF] HOME-HOSTED DINNER with an Indian noble family. (B,D)
Day #14 Jaipur. Today, visit the amazing AMBER FORT, built entirely of white marble and red sandstone. Tour the interior with its intricate mosaics, carvings, paintings, and mirror works. Then, visit the CITY PALACE and the adjoining MUSEUM, which houses a collection of rare manuscripts. You will also stop at the famous HAWA MAHAL (Palace of the Winds). In the late afternoon, take a [LF] WALKING TOUR through a local market, known for its arts and crafts, including jewelry, enamel work, hand-painted fabrics, and stone sculptures. (B,D)
Day #15 Jaipur-Jodhpur. This morning, head west to Jodhpur. This afternoon, visit the massive MEHRANGARH FORT, which sits 393 feet above the surrounding plains. The view will reveal why Jodhpur is known as the “Blue City.” Next, visit JASWANT THADA, a stunning white marble cenotaph built to commemorate Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. (B,L)
Day #16 Jodhpur-Udaipur. Enjoy time at leisure this morning before flying to Udaipur, the “City of Lakes.” This evening, CRUISE on Lake Pichola (water levels permitting), with a short visit to the island palace of JAG MANDIR. (B,D)
Day #17 Udaipur. Your full-day sightseeing starts this morning with a visit to EKLINGJI TEMPLE, dedicated to Shiva, the guardian deity of Mewar, followed by the JAIN TEMPLES OF NAGDA that date back to the 11th century. This afternoon, discover the massive granite and marble CITY PALACE with its courtyards, pavilions, terraces, and narrow corridors. Then, visit the adjacent CRYSTAL GALLERY before wrapping up your sightseeing at SAHELION KI BARI. Tonight, your Tour Director will host a festive farewell dinner to celebrate an unforgettable journey through India. (B,D)
Day #18 Udaipur-Delhi. Enjoy the morning at leisure in Udaipur. Later, return to Delhi. (B)
Day #19 Delhi. Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. (B) NOTE: Some flights depart Delhi very early in the morning. In these cases, breakfast is not included and you will have to depart for the airport late in the evening on Day 18 or just after midnight on Day 19.