1 Arrive Kochi
On arrival in India, be met and transferred to your hotel. 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 see 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 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. Enjoy a seafood dinner 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. 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. 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 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 re-boarding your train where your odyssey continues tonight. (B/L/D)
Arrive in Palitana today, an important place of pilgrimage for the followers of the Jain religion. After breakfast ascend the hilltop to discover 900 ornate Jain temples and learn from a local monk how this strictly vegetarian and pacifist religion shares many similarities with Buddhism. (B/L/D)
9 Sasan Gir
Arrive early this morning in Sasan Gir and make your way to Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you will be joined by an expert local guide on a wildlife safari for your chance to see the rare Asiatic lion. Outside of Africa, this is the only place in the world that wild lions can be found. Enjoy a traditional dance performance at the Gir Gateway Hotel before making your way to the 4th-century Somnath Temple for a spectacular sunset. (B/L/D)
10 Little Rann of Kutch
Today the marshy salt desert of the Little Rann of Kutch awaits. This giant white expanse is a bird-lover’s paradise. Join a desert safari, visiting the Wild Ass Sanctuary, before lunch at the Rann Riders Safari Resort. Later, learn about the region’s unique cultures on a village tour before returning to your train for dinner. (B/L/D)
11 Modhera, Patan
The 8th-century fortified town of Patan awaits your exploration today and after breakfast begin with a visit to the spectacular Sun Temple of Modhera. Next visit the World Heritage-listed Rani Ki Vav or Queen’s Stepwell, an inverted subterranean temple and well complex constructed in the 11th century. Later visit a traditional Gujarat home to learn about the region’s revered patterned silk sari royal history. Stay Two Nights: Crowne Plaza Kochi (B/L/D)
Your train rolls into Nashik as the sun rises this morning and after breakfast disembark to explore the ancient Pandavleni Caves, a group of 24 Buddhist cave temples carved out of the cliff-face between the first century BC and third century AD. Later savour local wine and lunch at the Grover Zampa vineyards before re-boarding your train. (B/L/D)
13 Mumbai, Disembark Deccan Odyssey, Jaipur
Bid farewell to the Deccan Odyssey after it reaches Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway station in Mumbai. This marks the end of your unforgettable Gujarat tour. Transfer to the airport for your included flight to Jaipur. Stay Three Nights:
Jaipur, Taj Jai Mahal Palace (B/D) Freedom of Choice:
- Choose from a range of dining options at your hotel for dinner this evening. Perhaps enjoy a sumptuous and traditional Indian meal at Cinnamon, or indulge in some Italian cuisine and dine al fresco at Giardino.
Today explore Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, including a visit to the Amber Fort, City Palace and the 18th-century World Heritage-listed observatory, Jantar Mantar, home to a collection of architectural astronomical instruments. After lunch visit the bustling local market. Tonight, enjoy a special Signature Experience. (B/L/D) Signature Experiences:
- Dine with an aristocratic family and experience an evening of royalty and tradition as you get an insight into their lives. Sample a range of Rajasthani cuisines and enjoy a first-hand narration of the family’s ancestry.
This morning choose to take an optional hot air balloon ride (at your own expense) to take in the view over Jaipur as the sun rises. After breakfast, explore more of Jaipur and choose from a range of Freedom of Choice Sightseeing options. Tonight, enjoy a spectacular light and sound show at Amber Fort. Stay:
Oberoi Mumbai Hotel (B/D) Freedom of Choice:
- You might like to take a tour of Jaipur’s bustling bazaars, or head out on a heritage walk to learn more about the city’s intricate old temples and painted havelis. Alternatively, set off on an excursion to the small village of Sanganer, famous for its handmade crafts and beautiful blue pottery. If a day of relaxation is calling, pamper yourself with a spa treatment at your hotel.
16 Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park
Spend the morning travelling to Ranthambore, home to one of India’s best tiger reserves. After checking in to your hotel, explore the local village and learn more about the local way of life. Pay a visit to the Dastkar Centre and see the crafting skills being practiced by local women. Stay Two Nights: Ranthambore, Oberoi Vanyavilas (B/D)
17 Ranthambore National Park
The forests surrounding the Ranthambore Fort were once the private hunting ground of the Maharajas of Jaipur. Today, Ranthambore National Park is one of India’s best tiger reserves. Accompanied by a naturalist, you will head out into the dense jungle on morning and afternoon game drives, in search of the elusive tiger. Along with the popular resident tigers, you might be lucky enough to also see leopards, hyenas, jackals, sloth bears and Indian wild boar. (B/D)
18 Ranthambore, Bharatpur, Agra
Today, travel by train to Bharatpur. From here you will travel on to Agra, home to the magnificent Taj Mahal. Enroute to Agra, visit Akbar’s abandoned capital, Fatehpur Sikri. The city was built in the 16th century under Emperor Akbar and is home to a number of impressive monuments and temples. This afternoon, see the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Built in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife, the marble mausoleum took at least 20,000 people 22 years to build and is a sight to behold. Later, return to your hotel for dinner. Stay:
Agra, Oberoi Amarvilas (B/D) Signature Experiences:
- Enjoy a champagne reception and guided tour of the Kohinoor Gem Museum, home to an exquisite collection of Mughal artefacts. See the exclusive selection of rubies, emeralds and sapphire as an expert guides you through the museum.
19 New Delhi
After breakfast, visit the magnificent Agra Fort, one of the finest Mughal forts in India, built by Emperor Akbar in 1565. 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. Travel on to Delhi where you will choose from a range of dining options for dinner. Stay Two Nights:
Delhi, Taj Palace Hotel (B/L/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.
20 New Delhi
A tour of Old Delhi begins with a rickshaw tour through Chandni Chowk’s labyrinth of tiny lanes. Experience the aromas before visiting India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid. After lunch, it’s time to explore New Delhi, where you’ll see Parliament House and Humayun’s Tomb. Tonight, enjoy a dinner fit for a Maharajah 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. 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, 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. (B/D)
23 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.