1 Arrive Kochi
On arrival in India, be met and transferred to your hotel. Known as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’, Kochi has been luring wanderers and traders for over 600 years, discover why. Stay Two Nights: Kochi, Le Meridien
Explore the quaint Fort Kochi area on a guided tour. Stroll through the history-filled streets of Jewtown, before visiting the ornate Paradesi Synagogue. Later uncover the promenade and seeing the cantilevered Chinese Fishing Nets brought to the region by Chinese fishermen in the 14th century. Head to St Francis Church, built in 1516 and learn about the fascinating Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial history of Kochi. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travellers. (B/L/D) Signature Experiences:
- Delight in a traditional Kathakali dance performance.
3 Kochi, Kumarakom
After breakfast, travel to Kumarakom. Enroute, you will experience the traditional ways of life at the Kumbalanghi Village. Check into your hotel and enjoy lunch, after which you have the opportunity to choose from a number of Freedom of Choice sightseeing options. Stay Two Nights:
Kumarakom Lake Resort (B/L) Freedom of Choice:
- You may choose to learn the secrets of preparing a traditional Keralan meal during a cooking demonstration. Alternatively, you may partake in a lecture on the 5,000-year-old Indian health practice of Ayurveda, ‘a balance between body, mind, spirit, and social wellbeing’ and relax with a massage.
This morning, you may choose to participate in a yoga class. Later, enjoy a cruise on the backwaters of Kerala which offer an unhurried, laid back travel experience along picturesque lagoons and canals. This was once the most important and economical means of transport and trade in Kerala, used to ferry rice and spices. This is an endless string of interconnected waterways stretching along the Malabar Coast. Calmly glide through the beautiful Vembanad Lake, on board a majestic house boat, past a cluster of islands rich with vigour and beauty. Tonight, enjoy a delicious seafood dinner later this evening. (B/L/D) Signature Experiences:
- Discover the traditional martial art of India, Kalaripayattu, which originated in Kerala. Learn how it is one of the oldest martial arts traditions in the world, but is gaining modern popularity after featuring in Bollywood movies.
5 Kumarakom, Kochi, Mumbai
This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Mumbai, a city considered to be the most modern in India. Mumbai is famously the financial, commercial and entertainment capital of India and the home of India’s colourful Bollywood movie scene. After settling in to your centrally located hotel enjoy dinner tonight in your luxurious sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai outside. Stay:
Mumbai, Taj Mahal Palace (B/D) Signature Experiences:
- Learn how traditional and modern dance forms blend beautifully as you take part in a Bollywood dance lesson.
6 Mumbai, Embark Deccan Odyssey
Rise early today to learn about the Koli fisher-folk at the Khar Danda Koliwada indoor fish market. Explore the city formerly known as Bombay, the most populous in India with an estimated population of over 20 million people. Visit the India Gate, Hanging Gardens, Kamla Nehru Park, Mani Bhawan and Dhobi Ghat. This afternoon, transfer to the World Heritage-listed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, and board the Deccan Odyssey for Welcome Drinks before enjoying dinner on board. Stay Seven Nights: Deccan Odyssey (B/L/D)
This morning awake in Vadodara and after breakfast explore the World-Heritage listed Champaner Pavagadh Archaeological Park, the only Islamic pre-Mughal city in India that remains unchanged. The site is endowed with rich architecture that show influences from Hindu, Muslim and Jain religions. After lunch visit the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum and enjoy a traditional Indian high tea at the royal Laxmi Vilas Palace. Enjoy a special folk performance before reboarding your train where your odyssey continues tonight. (B/L/D)
Wake up to breakfast overlooking the Aravali Ranges as your train rolls into Udaipur, India’s ‘City of Lakes’ also known as the ‘Venice of the East’. Udaipur was famously referred to as ‘the most romantic spot on the continent of India’ in 1829 by Colonel James Tod, of the East India Company. Nowadays Udaipur is known as the centre for performing arts and crafts. Today join a guided tour including the elaborate City Palace, situated on the east bank of Lake Pichola. This palatial complex was constructed over some 400 years, with contributions from several rulers and shows architectural influences from Rajasthani, Mughal, Medieval, European and Chinese cultures. Enjoy a boat ride on the lake affording spectacular views of the Palace and other significant buildings surrounding the lake, before lunch back on board your train. This afternoon explore the Old Town by foot, a perfect opportunity to purchase unique handicrafts from the market including puppets, cloth lanterns, jewellery, wooden boxes, among others. (B/L/D)
This morning you are spoilt for choice in Jodhpur, the Sun City of Rajasthan. The former capital of the Marwar kingdom, is a beautiful city with the Thar Desert as an epic backdrop. Jodhpur houses some amazing temples, forts and palaces which you will be given the opportunity to see. Enjoy a morning at leisure to explore the ‘Blue City’. After lunch prepare to explore the mighty Mehrangarh Fort set on a rocky hill that rises 400 feet above the surrounding plain. Explore one of India’s largest forts, including the fascinating museum that houses royal palanquins, armoury, paintings, costumes, personal belongings of the family of Rao Jodha who built this impressive fort in 1459. Your walking tour takes you to the Turban Gallery and past the Old Clock Tower market and striking havelis. Dinner tonight is a royal affair, a Marwar barbecue held in the maharajah courtyard at the fort. (B/L/D)
10 Agra, Taj Mahal
Arrive today in Agra, home to some of the most magnificent architectural gems that were built by Mughal emperors during their reign. Start your discovery of this incredible city with a visit to the impressive Agra Fort, one of the finest Mughal forts in India. The fort has served as both a military point and a royal residence in the past and is one of the city’s most historic sites. Next, it’s on to the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, this white marble mausoleum is festooned with precious and semi-precious stones. After lunch pay a visit to a local market, popular for Mughal-style ornaments with intricate marble-inlay work and carvings. Reboard the Deccan Odyssey for dinner as tonight you travel towards Ranthambore National Park. (B/L/D) Signature Experiences:
- Enjoy a champagne reception and guided tour of the Kohinoor Gem Museum, home to an exquisite collection of Mughal artefacts.
11 Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore National Park
Following breakfast embark on a morning village walking tour in Sawai Madhopur where you will see the town’s many interesting temples. Lunch back on board brims with anticipation as you prepare for a safari to one of India’s best tiger reserves, Ranthambore National Park. Along with the popular resident tigers, you might be lucky enough to also see leopards, hyenas, jackals, sloth bears, Indian wild boar, Indian porcupines, long-eared hedgehogs and mongoose. The park is also home to a large diversity of birdlife and many fascinating reptiles including crocodiles, tortoise, and Indian chameleon among others. Later, enjoy high tea at a royal wilderness lodge set deep within the park. (B/L/D)
Today explore the pink city of Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital. Pay a visit to the incredible Amber Fort and admire its striking architecture. The fort is divided up into four main parts, each with its own courtyard. Continue to the City Palace, an iconic pink complex of gardens and buildings. Later, discover a world of fascinating geometric devices at the 18th-century World Heritage-listed observatory, Jantar Mantar, which is home to a collection of architectural astronomical instruments. After lunch visit the bustling local market to get your hands on some souvenirs. (B/L/D)
13 Disembark Deccan Odyssey, New Delhi
Bid farewell to the Deccan Odyssey and its crew as you disembark for the final time this morning. A tour of Old Delhi begins with an exploration of the labyrinth of tiny lanes of Shahjahanabad in a cycle-rickshaw. Later, visit the highly decorative Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. An impressive example of Mughal architecture, the marble and red sandstone mosque can house up to 25,000 people and is a sight to behold. After lunch, transfer to your centrally located hotel and enjoy the afternoon at leisure, perhaps visiting the nearby Central Park. Stay Two Nights:
Delhi, Taj Palace Hotel (B/D) Freedom of Choice:
- Choose from a range of dining options at your hotel for dinner this evening. Perhaps dine at the Orient Express restaurant for some European cuisine, or Spicy Duck, which brings a little taste of China to the heart of India. If you aren’t quite sure, head to the atmospheric Capital Kitchen and choose from a range of Indian, Asian and Western classics.
14 New Delhi
This morning, visit the home of a local family to enjoy a cooking demonstration followed by lunch. After lunch, drive past Rashtrapati Bhawan, the official residence of the President of India, and visit India Gate. Later, drive to the iconic Humayun’s Tomb, one of the most experimental and innovative monuments of its time. Influenced by Persian designs and built by Persian and Indian craftsmen, this architectural movement would culminate in the construction of the Taj Mahal. Tonight, enjoy a delicious dinner at the Masala Library restaurant. (B/L/D)
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Varanasi. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel in the heart of the city. Enjoy an evening prayer cruise along the Ganges, and see a spectacular fire-lit Aarti ceremony. Then, on a guided tour explore the Old City of Varanasi. Here, colourful dwellings sprout from the banks of the Ganges as local villagers, traders and merchants still gather on the steps of the river bank just as their ancestors did. Later, dine at your hotel and enjoy free time this evening. Stay Two Nights: Varanasi, Taj Gateway Hotel (B/D)
On a cruise along the Ganges float past the burning ghats (steps) where ceremonial cremations are carried out in the ancient, traditional way. In Varanasi, you’ll gain an insight into the spiritual heart of modern-day India on a visit to Sarnath, an important Buddhist centre. Stay Seven Nights: Deccan Odyssey (B/D)
17 Depart New Delhi
This morning, choose from a range of sightseeing options. Later, transfer to the airport for your included flight to Delhi to connect with your onward flight. (B) Freedom of Choice:
- Take part in a yoga session on the banks of the Ganges River. Alternatively, you might want to learn about Indian traditional music as you meet a local guru.