Arrive Delhi in the evening or night, depending on flight schedules. You’re greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Start your journey of Incredible India with a visit to the Old walled city in the morning. Drive pass the 17th century imposing Red Fort, take a traditional cycle rickshaw ride in the back streets & bazaars of Chandni Chowk (Closed on Sundays) selling an extraordinary variety of items like., dress material, spices, jewellery & perfumes and mouth-watering food delicacies. From here you visit the India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid. In complete contrast to the noise and crowds of Old Delhi, is Raj Ghat, a simple and stunning memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.
Afternoon: Explore New Delhi, which is a blend of ancient & pre-independence India. Visit the 12th century Qutub Minar; the exquisite Humayun’s Tomb, built in 1570 is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. Sightseeing will also include drive past the Lodhi Garden, Safdarjung’s tomb, the elegant government buildings designed in blend of Indian and European styles – the India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Presidential Palace.
Delhi / Agra
After breakast, proceed on the drive to Agra.
Arrive Agra in the afternoon and check in to your hotel.
Late Afternoon: Visit Agra Fort, it’s first red sandstone fort of North India was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar in the year 1565. Its royal audience halls, immense stone courtyards, marble mosque and the private royal chambers give us a glimpse of the grandeur and talent for combining defensive architecture with beauty and design of the Mughal Empire. From here visit the fabled Taj Mahal (Closed on Fridays), one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Taj Mahal was built in the year 1652 AD by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal. It took 22,000 skilled craftsmen 22 years to create this spectacular white marble mausoleum. You will stay at Taj Mahal until sunset to see the white marble reflect the nuances of the changing light from the sun.
Note: In case this day is a Friday, then Agra sightseeing will be re-arranged so that you visit Taj Mahal from inside when it’s open to visitors.
Agra / Jaipur
Taj MahalMughal Garden
Early Morning: You’re at leisure at your hotel with option (no extra charge) to visit the Mughal garden of Mehtab Bagh, which is located across from the Taj Mahal on the other side of the Yamuna River. Enjoy a walk and view the Taj Mahal from across the river at sunrise. Return to your hotel to freshen up & relax.
Check out from your hotel after breakfast and proceed on the drive to Jaipur.
On the way, stop at Fathepur Sikri, the deserted city. This one of the world’s most perfect ghost cities and a marvel of design and construction. It was conceived and bult by Emperor Akbar, one of the most enlightened rulers of his time. Built in 1571, it is a synthesis of the flourishing styles of the Persian courts and the prevailing Hindu Islamic trends. Today its pristine red sandstone buildings are as perfect as when they were first chiseled. The masterpiece of this remarkable monument is the Jewel House of the Diwan I Khas. Architecturally extraordinary, the four doorways lead into a single storey room where a huge central pillar carved to baroque richness, supports a seat reached by mid air walkways. After the tour, continue your journey to Jaipur.
Arrive Jaipur in the evening and check in to your hotel.
Hawa MahalAmber FortCity Palace
Morning: A visit to the Amber Fort. Its forbidding exterior belying a bejeweled interior whose richness reflects the sumptuous styles of the surrounding Mughal courts. An Elephant ride takes you up to the fort and Jeep/Car brings you down the fort (Both ways Jeep/Car ride option available).
Afternoon: Visit the City Palace, a series of open courtyards, simple stables and buildings leading to the richly decorated royal rooms. The museum within the palace house a fabulous collection of textiles, carpets, manuscripts and costumes from the personal collection of the royal family; Hawa Mahal, also known as the ‘Palace of Winds’ and the fascinating Jantar Mantar Observatory is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century.
Jaipur / Mumbai
Morning: Check out from your hotel and transfer to the airport to board your flight.
Arrive Mumbai in the late morning. You’re greeted at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Start your half day tour of Mumbai, which will include visit to the Prince of Wales Museum, the dome of glazed tiles giving it a very Persian and Central Asian flavor; the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (a World Heritage Site), formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture; the Heritage Fort district; Dhobi Ghat (open air laundromat) and Mani Bhawan (Mahatma Gandhi’s Mumbai home).
Mumbai / Cochin
Gateway of India
Morning: Take a motor ferry from the Gateway of India for an introduction to the Indo Saracenic architectural styles that influenced many of India’s monuments. From here we board a ferry for an hour journey across Mumbai harbor to the cave temples on Elephanta Island. Excavated during the 9th century, the caves are dedicated to the trinity of Indian deities Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva. Some of the sculptures were destroyed when the island was used as bivouac for the Portuguese who used the images for target practice.
Afternoon: You’re transferred to the Mumbai airport to board your flight.
Arrive Cochin in the evening and transfer to your hotel.
Jewish SynagogueMattancherry PalaceSt. Francis ChurchKathakali
Morning: An ancient harbor town, Cochin reflects the influence of the many foreign traders who visited the city. The Jewish synagogue, one of the oldest in India, is set in the heart of the area known as “Jew Town” surrounded by an aromatic spice market, and interesting shops selling antiques. The synagogue is decorated with blue ceramic Chinese tiles, each distinct in their design. The pictures on the tiles relate the tale of the romance between a wealthy mandarin. We spend time in the surrounding markets and walk to the Mattancherry Palace, which was commissioned by the Portuguese for the raja of Kochi in exchange for trading rights. The palace is two storeys high and is built in the traditional Kerala style known as nalukattu (four buildings). The palace exhibits memorabilia from the raja of Kochi’ collection, but it is best known for its outstanding murals painted on the wooden walls. The royal bedroom has ceilings and walls covered with forty-five 16th century paintings illustrating the Ramayana. From here visit the St. Francis Church, established by the Portuguese Franciscan friars in 1503. Vasco Da Gama was buried in the courtyard of this European church, one of the first built in India. Also visit the Chinese fishing nets (they are a great part of this tour), which is a more than a century old traditional form of catching fish and still in use.
Late Afternoon: Witness Kathakali dance performance in a theatre. Kathakali is a classical dance form that has its origins in Theyyam a ritual tribal dance of north Kerala and Kalaripayyattu the martial arts which goes back 1000 years. The dancers use dramatic costumes and exaggerated facial make up, and to accompaniment of drums and cymbals, use stylized movements to relate episodes from the Mahabharat and Ramayan. You will arrive early at the theatre to watch the dancers prepare for their performance.
Cochin / Backwaters
Morning: Check out from your hotel after breakfast and drive to Alleppey to board your houseboat for an overnight cruise.
A visit to Kerala is incomplete without a visit to the backwaters. A series of canals, which thread their way through the state to the sea, it allows you a glimpse of life in Kerala impossible to get from road transport. Along the way you will pass rice fields, tiny villages, boats transporting children to school and farmers transporting their produce to the market, and women completing household tasks such as laundry and washing utensils. You will disembark from the boat to wander in the villages and talk to the people. At night the boat will anchor mid stream, and your meals will be specially prepared by the crew from freshly bought produce.
Backwaters / Kumarakom
Late Morning: Disembark from your houseboat at Kumarakom and check in to your hotel.
You are at leisure on this day to enjoy Ayurvedic Spa facilities at your lakefront resort or explore the nearby villages (on your own) on the picturesque island of Kumarakom.
Kumarakom / Cochin
Kumarakom Bird SanctuaryVembanad Lake
Early Morning: You have option (no extra charges) to visit Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary to view the incredible birdlife of Vembanad Lake.
Check out from your hotel by noon. After early lunch, drive to the Cochin airport to board your return flight to Mumbai or Delhi (Airfare for last flight TBD depending on travel to Mumbai or Delhi).
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