Tour India from north to south, taking in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Cochin and more, with sights including the Ganges, the Taj Mahal and the Great Meenaskhi Temple as you discover India’s history and culture on this magical tour
A spectacular tour encompassing the choicest destinations across north and southern India reveals the contrasts of this vast and diverse continent. Discover the wealth of history and fine examples of decorative Mughal architecture in the north, while southern India boasts lovely countryside and vast temple complexes, their rulers preferring to invest in religious structures rather than palaces…
Fly overnight to Delhi.
Transfer to the locally rated 4-star Eros Hotel, New Delhi for a two-night stay. The Eros Hotel enjoys views over the Lotus Temple and the city. There are three restaurants offering Indian, Chinese and international cuisine, a tea lounge, a bakery, and a lounge and bar. Facilities also include an outdoor pool, a spa (treatments extra charge) and a fitness centre. All 218 air-conditioned bedrooms have a television, telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities, hairdryer, and Wi-Fi (extra charge). D
Discover both Old and New Delhi on an included full-day tour. The British captured this ancient city in 1803 making it the capital of India in 1911. The architect Sir Edwin Lutyens was subsequently commissioned to design a new city with spacious tree-lined avenues punctuated with distinctive architecture. During your tour you’ll see New Delhi, which is also home to the mausoleum of emperor Humayun, and India Gate – an iconic national monument built to commemorate the sacrifice of Indian soldiers during World War I. In Old Delhi lies the Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi’s mortal remains were cremated, the Jama Masjid – India’s largest mosque – and the commercial area of Chandni Chowk – one of the city’s oldest markets. B, D
Fly from Delhi to Varanasi for a two-night stay at the locally rated 4-star Hotel Madin. In the evening attend a mesmerising Aarti ceremony. The ancient city of Varanasi lies on the banks of the River Ganges, regarded as sacred in Hinduism. The ritual of Aarti takes place daily and includes the use of lighted ceremonial lamps, as well as incense and flowers. Sometimes referred to as the ceremony of light, this moving ritual is undertaken by ‘pandits’ beside the Ganges, when devotional lit oil lamps balanced on a leaf are often set afloat on the river by spectators.
The Hotel Madin is situated on the outskirts of the city. Facilities include a restaurant, rooftop restaurant, coffee shop, bar, swimming pool, gym and spa (charges apply). Each of the 85 air-conditioned rooms has a television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe, iron and ironing board, hairdryer and complimentary Wi-Fi. B, D
This morning cruise past the ghats – stepped areas that lead down into the water – where you can witness people in quiet reflection or bathing. You'll also pass cremation ghats where ashes are sprinkled onto the Ganges in accordance with the Hindu belief known as ‘moksha’ that the ashes of a deceased placed into the Ganges at Vatanasi will escape of the cycle of reincarnation. This afternoon, visit Sarnath, renowned as the place where Buddha preached for the first time. By the 3rd century AD it had become a holy centre, which was subsequently ransacked by the Turks in the 12th century. As a result religious buildings established by the Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century were attacked and the site left to languish. The Dhamekh Stupa, decorated with 5th-century carvings remains, and is said to mark the place from where Buddha gave his first Sermon. B, D
Fly to Khajuraho. Stay overnight at the locally rated 3-star Clarks Khajuraho. This afternoon visit the Western Group of Temples at the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments. Built during the 9th century by the Chandella dynasty the temples here belong to two different religions – Hinduism and Jainism. Only around a quarter of the original 80 temples remain but the sculpted reliefs on those that do are regarded as masterpieces of Indian art. In addition to the erotic carvings which the temples are perhaps best known for (and a small fraction that depict more taboo subjects), other carvings show subjects including domestic life, mythical animals, and deities.
Clarks Khajuraho is set within 18 acres of landscaped gardens. Facilities include a multi-cuisine restaurant, a bar and coffee lounge and a pool bar serving drinks and snacks (extra charge), a swimming pool, tennis and badminton courts. All 104 air-conditioned rooms have a television, telephone, minibar, and tea and coffee-making facilities. B, D
Drive to Jhansi via Orchha. One of India’s better-kept secrets, Orchha was founded in the 16th century and was once the capital of Bundela. Its atmospheric fort complex protects beautiful temples and palaces that lie largely empty. Upon arrival at Jhansi, you’ll board a train and continue your journey to Agra, where you’ll spend two nights at the locally rated 4-star Courtyard by Marriott.
The hotel is situated close to the Taj Mahal and facilities include a restaurant, bar/lounge, outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, and spa (charges apply). Each of the 189 air-conditioned rooms is equipped with a television, telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities, hairdryer, iron and ironing board and hairdryer. B, D
Start your day by visiting what is regarded as one of the seven new wonders of the world and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 17th century Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his late wife. Constructed in white marble, it took around 22 years and over 20,000 workers and craftsmen brought together from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy, to complete it. Set off this morning to visit this beautiful building around sunrise, returning for breakfast at your hotel. This afternoon, visit Agra Fort, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally planned as an impregnable military structure, the fort acquired all the elegance and majesty of an imperial palace. Situated three kilometres upstream of the Taj Mahal on the right bank of the Yamuna, it took eight years to complete. Enclosed within walls two-and-a-half kilometres long, it was the city of the Mughal rulers, within which lay palaces, halls and mosques. B, D
Drive to Jaipur, stopping en route in Abhaneri to see the thousand-year-old Chand Baori stepwell. Admire this little-known and fascinating archaeological site with its maze-like appearance, elegant symmetry and architecture. Built to collect and store water with countless staircases rising through its 13 storeys, to make it accessible.
Stay two nights in Jaipur at the the locally rated 4-star Jaipur Marriott. The hotel is situated within the commercial area of the city. Facilities include a restaurant, bar and coffee house, outdoor pool, fitness centre, sauna and spa (charges apply). Each of the 342 rooms has a telephone, television, safe, ironing facilities and hairdryer. B, D
Your day starts with a visit to the Amber Fort which lies outside the city. Once the ancient capital of the Rajput Empire, the fort houses earlier palaces built by Raja Man Singh, in comparison to those built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Jai Singh II. In the short time span of just a few decades, the Mughal influence permeated the Rajput court and can be seen in the splendid and ornate halls of audiences, residential palaces and gardens. Of special interest is Shish Mahal, the delightful palace of mirrors – where all the walls and the ceiling are embedded with glittering mirrors. You'll be taken to the palace in an open jeep as the climb is steep.
This afternoon tour the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, India’s first planned city and capital of the state of Rajasthan. With its palaces, fortresses, buzzing streets and fascinating history discover some of the city’s highlights. Look out for the Hawa Mahal – built in 1799 with its enchanting pink geometrical facade. See the City Palace and the observatory of Jantar Mantar next door, or glance up to catch sight of the Iswari Minaret. Perhaps join an optional cooking demonstration before dinner. B, D
Transfer to Udaipur, enjoying lunch en route. Spend two-nights at the locally rated 4-star Ananta Spa & Resort, situated ten kilometres from the city centre within attractive grounds. Facilities include a restaurant, bar/lounge, outdoor pool, fitness centre and spa (charges apply). Each of the 160 air-conditioned rooms has a television, telephone, safe, tea and coffee-making facilities, iron and hairdryer. B, L, D
Udaipur is set beside Lake Pichola and is a graceful city of palaces, ghats and temples, founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559. An included morning city tour will reveal City Palace which encompasses a series of restored palaces resplendent with mosaic glass work and frescoes. You’ll also visit Jagdish Temple, whose carved columns are a fine example of the Indo-Aryan style, and Sahelion Ki Bari gardens, an oasis of lotus pools and marble pavilions that were created for a princess’s handmaidens as part of her dowry! Afterwards, enjoy an included cruise across Lake Pichola. The lake, which was created in 1362, is home to the 18th-century Jag Niwas, an island palace that seems to levitate on the lake’s surface. Please note, the boat trip will only be possible if the lake is deep enough! Also, as Jag Niwas is a hotel, you won't be able to go inside the palace. B, D
Fly to Cochin and stay for two nights at the locally rated 4-star Crowne Plaza. Cochin occupies a vast natural harbour on the Arabian Sea coast. It was once the centre of the Indian spice trade, and a wealth of fortifications and palaces highlight the city's history. This centuries-old cosmopolitan city first attracted Arab, Phoenician and Chinese spice traders, and later the Dutch and British established colonies here. In addition to its historic Fort Kochi area, the city is also home to a Dutch Palace, a Jewish quarter and is noted for its elaborate Chinese fishing nets which you may see strung out along the tip of the peninsula on teak wood and bamboo poles.
The Crowne Plaza is situated on the outskirts of the city and facilities include a restaurant, bar/lounge, swimming pool, fitness centre, complimentary Wi-Fi and spa (charges apply). Each of the 269 air-conditioned rooms has a telephone, television, tea and coffee-making facilities, ironing facilities and complimentary Wi-Fi. B, D
Today a coastal drive takes you to the historic Fort Kochi area with its range of architectural styles and where you’ll also see the 16th-century Santa Cruz Basilica and the church of St Francis, the oldest European church in India. This evening, look forward to enjoying a Kathakali dance performance, a form of Indian classical dance and story telling, in which participants wear distinctive make up and elaborate costumes. B, D
Board a houseboat for a cruise from Aleppey to Kumarakom through a maze of beautiful backwaters in the Kerala countryside. At Kumarakom visit the village, part of Kerala's rice bowl. Here the locals still work the paddy fields and coconut groves, fish, collect lime shells, and weave.
After enjoying lunch, check in to the locally rated 4-star The Zuri for a two-night stay, on the shores of Lake Vembanadu. Facilities include two restaurants, outdoor swimming pool, two bar/lounges and a swim-up bar, health club (charges apply) and free Wi-Fi in public areas. Each of the 72 air-conditioned rooms has a television, tea and coffee-making facilities, iron and ironing board, and hairdryer. B, L, D
Enjoy today at leisure, to relax or perhaps join an optional visit to Kumbalangi village. B, D
Transfer to Pollachi where you will stay two nights at the locally rated 4-star Coco Lagoon. The town of Pollachi lies in the Coimbatore district and is well known for its markets as well as agriculture. Situated close to the foothills of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Western Ghats mountain range which run along India’s west coast, Pollachi is also popular with the film industry as a filming location.
The Coco Lagoon is set within attractive grounds. Facilities include a restaurant, cafe, an outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi in public areas. Each of the 32 air conditioned rooms has a television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe, hairdryer and complimentary Wi-Fi. B, D
Experience ancient traditions, rustic villages and green coconut fields on a trip to an organic farm, where you can learn about the organic methods used and its sustainability. Afterwards continue to a village known for its handloom weaving tradition where beautiful fabrics are created using traditional methods. B, L, D
Transfer to Madurai before checking in to the locally rated 4-star Heritage Madurai hotel, situated in the historical district. Facilities include two restaurants, bar/lounge, coffee shop, outdoor pool, fitness facilities and spa (extra charge). Each of the 120 air-conditioned rooms has a telephone, television, safe, tea and coffee-making facilities, hairdryer and complimentary Wi-Fi. B, D
Join a morning sightseeing tour of Madurai, taking in the colourful and fragrant flower market. Look out for local jasmine which has been granted a geographical indication mark to protect local growers with some 490 tonnes of the flowers grown here annually. You’ll also see the Great Meenaskhi Temple. This temple complex with its landscape of extraordinary towers and the temple with some 33,000 sculptures, is one of India’s most important sites. You’ll also see the impressive Tirumala Nayak Palace with its grand throne chamber, stunning dome and stone horses flanking the entrance.
After a free afternoon, witness a divine procession during the final prayer of the day at the Temple. B, D
Fly to Chennai and drive to Mahabalipuram. This former fishing village, now dubbed the gateway to Southern India, was the site of the first British settlement in India – Fort St George – in 1640. The city grew up around it, and in the face of repeated attacks by the French, it developed into an important naval port. The city's oldest buildings date back to the 7th century, but there are numerous old colonial buildings that reflect the influence of the British until 1947.
Spend two nights at the the locally rated 4-star Intercontinental Hotel which lies along the coast from Mahabalipuram, overlooking the Indian Ocean. Faciltiies include two restaurants, bar/lounge, outdoor swimming pool, outdoor tennis court, sauna and spa (charges apply). Each of the 106 air-conditioned rooms has a telephone, television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe, ironing facilities, and complimentary Wi-Fi. B, D
Join a tour of the beautiful beach resort which is known for its striking rock sculptures. Dating to the Pallavas dynasty (630-728AD), these intricately carved works form a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are regarded as temples and cave sanctuaries. The pièce de résistance is the ‘Descent of the Ganges’, depicting gods, goddesses and animals, carved on two adjoining boulders. B, D
Transfer to Chennai airport before an overnight flight back to the UK. B
23 nights in hotels and 1 in flight
51 meals: 23 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 19 dinners
21 nights in hotels and 2 in flight (Feb 2019 departure)
44 meals: 21 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 21 dinners (Feb 2019 departure)
Excursions and visits
Feb 2019 departures only includes the above plus:
Departures from March 2019 onwards also includes:
Saga Holidays have been creating holidays exclusively for over 50s for more than 60 years, with incredible destinations, memorable experiences and fantastic value at the heart of what they do.
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