1 Delhi, A Rich Melting Pot.
Welcome to vibrant India! A delightful melting pot of old and new, you'll start in dynamic Delhi, with its bustling backstreets, rich history and wealth of colours. On arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport, you will be greeted with a traditional floral garland and transferred to your hotel, the elegant Taj Mahal Hotel, situated in the heart of the leafy boulevards of Lutyens. At 19:00, join your Travelling Concierge and fellow travellers for your Welcome Dinner. (DW) Stay: Taj Mahal, New Delhi.
2 Delhi Sightseeing.
In the morning you'll be taken to Old Delhi, driving past the Red Fort, the main residence of the Mughal dynasty until 1856. View this magnificent building from outside, before heading on a guided tour of Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. Explore Delhi Your Way. Meet a well-known chef for a local foodie walk in Old Deli, where you'll witness the creation of Delhi's famous street food snacks.
Alternatively, visit Qutub Minar, a UNESCO world Heritage Site, and enjoy lunch. Explore the winding streets of lively Chandni Chowk in local fashion, via an exhilarating rickshaw ride. In the afternoon, visit a Sikh temple and its community kitchen, a place preparing and serving free vegetarian meals to locals, travellers and those in need. Later, drive past the impressive President Palace, India gate and Parliament House. (B/L)
3 An Agra Adventure.
In the morning, you'll begin your journey to Agra. The main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty, this historical fort is made up of a number of impressive buildings, including the Sheesh Mahal or 'glass palace' and the The Muthamman Burj. It may not hold the same fame as the nearby Taj Mahal, but it is no less impressive. Stay in and enjoy your hotel's invigorating facilities or head on a Mughal heritage walk, where you'll get to meet locals and learn more about their life and the history of the area in the shadow of the Taj Mahal. (B/DW) Stay: Taj Hotel and Convention Centre, Agra.
4 The Taj Mahal and Ranthambore.
At sunrise, visit the illustrious phenomenon that is the Taj Mahal, a monument of love and flawless architectural creation, built by an emperor in memory of his beloved queen. After breakfast at your hotel, you'll begin your journey to Bharatpur, where you will be served lunch at the lavish Laxmi Niwas Palace. Later, transfer to Bharatpur Junction train station, where you'll board a train to Sawai Madhopur. On arrival you'll be transferred to your hotel, Nahargarh Ranthambhore. Built in the style of a traditional Rajput hunting palace, this dreamy venue is nestled in the foothills of the Aravalli Range, near the Ranthambore National Park. Head to your imperial rooms before joining your fellow travellers for Dinner with Wine. (B/L/DW) Stay: Nahargarh Ranthambhore.
5 In Search of Tigers In Ranthambore.
Start with an early morning journey into the former private hunting grounds of the maharajahs of Jaipur, in search of the elusive tiger. More commonly seen in the dry, deciduous forest are the wild boars, monkeys, spotted deer and antelopes, but if you are ever going to witness tigers in their natural habitat, this is the place. Return to your resort for breakfast and a day at leisure. At dusk, enjoy another foray into the national park with an expert naturalist. Besides the wildlife, there are also lakes, ruins of palaces, traditional Chhatri, old fortifications and a majestic 1,000-year-old fort within the park. (B/L/DW)
6 Jaipur, The Pink City.
Travel through the rural countryside where flat, green fields are abundant with brightly coloured flowers. Your destination is the stunning Rajasthan capital of Jaipur. More affectionately known as the Pink City, this pretty destination owes its name to a visit from Queen Victoria in 1876, when all its buildings were painted pink as a sign of hospitality.
Later, ascend by jeep to Amber Fort, with its royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, mirrors, glass and exquisite paintings. Today you'll experience India's spiritual majesty, with a special blessing ceremony at Amber Fort. Your Highlight Dinner will be served at the opulent 1135 A. D, with its royal interior, traditional music and breathtaking sunset views. (B/L/DW) Stay: Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur.
7 Jaipur Sightseeing.
Your morning is free to enjoy the facilities at your hotel. Perhaps book a treatment at its spa, or take a dip in its outdoor pool, brightly decorated by the red and yellow printed sunbeds that surround it. After lunch see the Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds, and visit Jantar Mantar, the observatory, constructed between 1727 and 1734 by Maharajah Jai Singh II. During the tour you will visit the flower and spice market, filled with colours and smells to ignite the senses. Enjoy a locally inspired high tea in a private living room of the Maharaja, within Jaipur's City Palace. This VIP experience is exclusive to Luxury Gold Guests.
In the evening, meet the ladies of Pink City Rickshaw, a company dedicated to supporting the employment of women from low income households. Listen as they recount stories of their lives from growing up in the slums to proudly developing their skills to be part of this inspiring opportunity. Delight in their enthusiasm and knowledge as they take you on a city tour of Jaipur. Experience a delightful Highlight Dinner at Suvarna Mahal Restaurant in Rambagh Palace. With its high ceilings, gilded mirrors and spectacular frescoes, the restaurant embodies rich heritage and delight in royal cuisines from the princely states of India. (B/DW)
8 Fly to Kochi Via Mumbai.
In the morning, board your flight to Mumbai and onto Kochi. On arrival, transfer to your sophisticated hotel which offers panoramic backwater view or city view. (B/DW) Stay: Grand Hyatt, Bolgatty, Kochi.
9 Kochi Sightseeing, Cooking School and Kathakali.
Sightseeing of Kochi shows you the oldest Jewish synagogue in the commonwealth. Next, witness the renowned mythological murals of Mattancherry Palace, built in 1557 by the Portuguese. Stop by India's oldest European-built Church of St. Francis to see the tombstone of Vasco de Gama, interred here before his remains were returned back to Lisbon. Meet a local cookery instructor as she demonstrates traditional Kerala home recipes. Then feast on some of the delicious treats during our included lunch. In the evening, you will attend a performance of traditional Kathakali dance. (B/L)
10 Kumarakom and The Alleppey Backwaters.
Journey to Alleppey jetty for a full day cruising the tranquil backwaters. Enjoy lunch on-board as you drift past picturesque villages, lush green paddy fields and a coconut plantation. Disembark at Kumarakom Lake Resort and check in to your luxury hotel for an evening at leisure. (B/L) Stay: Kumarakom Lake Resort.
11 Kumarakom and Vaikom Village.
For those who want to rise early in the morning, there is an included bird watching tour at Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. Set within lush acres of woodland, become acquainted with the vast variety of migratory birds that flock to the Himalayas. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Guided by boat, explore the narrow canals of Vaikom village, one of the oldest townships in Kerala and with many spots untouched by modernity. Gain insight into the life at the village and try your skills at weaving from wild pineapple leaves or coconut husks, before sharing lunch at a local's home. This afternoon, why not treat yourself to an Ayurveda treatment at the hotel? (B/L)
12 Relaxing Kumarakom.
Today is yours to Experience Kumarakom Your Way. Choose between harmonising your mind and body in a yoga class or for those wanting to unwind, indulge in a rejuvenating massage. In the evening, indulge in a delicious seafood dinner. (B/DW)
13 Magical Mumbai.
Journey to Kochi for your flight to the vibrant city of Mumbai. Transfer to your hotel for time at leisure. Perhaps relax and enjoy the comforts of your deluxe hotel. Originally a collection of seven islands, the modern city of Mumbai came into being during the mid-eighteenth century by reclaiming land from the sea. As well as being the financial capital of India, Mumbai is also home to Bollywood, one of the largest centres of film production in the world. (B) Stay: The Oberoi, Mumbai.
14 Mumbai Sightseeing.
Your exploration of the city includes visiting the Gateway of India, the Prince of Wales Museum, Jehangir Art Gallery, Crawford Market. Meet the superheroes of the city; you get to know the intricate details of the magnificent tiffin service which has been in existence since almost 130 years! In the afternoon, enjoy the view of the city skyline on your cruise to Elephanta Island, the glorious abode of Lord Shiva.
Visit the complex of ancient cave temples listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The massive entrance hall, supported by large pillars, houses the Mahesamurti, an enormous three-faced statue of Shiva. In the evening, raise a glass to your adventures, with your newfound friends during a delightful Celebration Dinner. (B/DW)
15 Depart Mumbai.
Your luxurious journey comes to an end with transfers to Mumbai Airport for your onward flights. (B)