Explore India's amazing diversity from lavish palaces in the north to the canal-laced nature sanctuaries in the south - featuring special cultural connections and accommodations at some of the world's most renowned hotels!
India, Past and Present, plays out in architectural wonders, royal feasts, ceremonies steeped in age-old traditions and opulent palaces, some reborn today as luxury Oberoi hotels unrivaled anywhere... Indulge in services and sights reserved for royalty as you explore New Delhi... experience sacred rituals of Varanasi on the river Ganges... find eternal love at the Taj Mahal and a fairy-tale city at the Red Fort of Agra... be mesmerized by Marahajah gems in Jaipur, a jeweled lake in Udaipur, the art of living in Kerala and Mumbai's multi-faceted modern-day metropolis.
Enjoy Taj Mahal views from your hotel, visit the Amber Fort, experience sacred rituals of Varanasi on the river Ganges... see the Marahajah gems in Jaipur, enjoy multiple-night stays at three hotels ranked among the "World's Best" hotels by Travel + Leisure readers - The Oberoi Udaivilas, The Oberoi Rajvilas and The Oberoi Amarvilas, a Maharajah evening in Jaipur featuring dinner and entertainment, exclusive visit to the home of a Keralan chef for a cooking demonstration and dinner, cruise on a traditional thatched-roofed rice boat, Kathakali and Mohiniattam dance performances & a martial arts demonstration, lesson in the art of dressing in a sari or turban
Day 1: Arrive New Delhi
Tour begins: 2:00 PM, The Leela Palace New Delhi. A transfer is included from Indira Gandhi International Airport to your luxury hotel, The Leela Palace New Delhi, renowned for gracious service in the heart of the city. Because most flights arrive late at night or very early in the morning, you may want to travel a day early to ease the effects of jet lag and relax a bit before Tauck's India tour begins - just mention this at the time of booking; Tauck can arrange an extra night at The Leela Palace New Delhi. Your trip begins this afternoon with a welcome briefing by your Tauck Director, followed by a guided orientation tour of New Delhi including a drive through of Vijay Chowk, with views of the Secretariat buildings, Parliament House, the Presidential Palace and the India Gate, commemorating Indian and British soldiers. Next, stop at the Gandhi Smriti Museum, paying tribute to the inspiring leader, Mahatma Gandhi, who forced change through non-violent protest, leading to an independent India in the late 1940s. You'll have much to discuss this evening at the welcome cocktail reception and dinner.
Day 2: Back in time in Old Delhi
You'll tour two UNESCO World Heritage Sites today as you explore the centuries-old history and culture of Old Delhi and environs. The first, which you'll visit this morning, is Humayun's Tomb, constructed for the Mughal Emperor Humayan and other members of his family in the 1570s, and set within beautiful gardens. The first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent and the first large structure of its kind built of red sandstone, this Mughal creation popularized Persian-influenced architecture in India, and was an inspiration for the Taj Mahal in Agra. After an orientation tour of Old Delhi followed by lunch, visit the five-story sandstone Qutb Minar Victory Tower, an imposing minaret built over eight centuries ago, part of one of the earliest surviving mosque complexes in India. Return to your hotel in New Delhi and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening as you please.
Day 3: Rituals on the River Ganges in Varanasi
Your flight to Varanasi takes you to the city traversed by the River Ganges; considered the spiritual capital of India, Varanasi is home to numerous religious sites that have been welcoming pilgrims as far back as 6 BC. With a guide, visit the ruins, temple and museum at Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first sermon, and the National Museum. The River Ganges not only supports the highest density of humans in the world but is considered sacred by Hindus; witness the fascinating activity along the river's ghats (stairs that line the banks) - from purification rituals to laundry; it is a moving and memorable experience.
Day 4: Ganges cruise & off to Agra & the Taj Mahal
Rise early for a cruise on the River Ganges to view the Varanasi sunrise ceremonies, then fly to Agra for a two-night stay and tomorrow's visit to one of the world's most famous and recognizable buildings, the Taj Mahal. An incredible domed mausoleum complex of white marble, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to memorialize and house the tomb of his beloved third wife and completed in 1653, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture - and yes, you'll have a view of it from your room in your award-winning luxury hotel, The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra.
Day 5: Wonders in Agra - the Taj Mahal & Agra Fort
You'll see it first from your hotel, enjoying a privileged location next to the mesmerizing Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture. Your guided visit to the Taj Mahal this morning reveals the love story behind the white marble wonder, as well as the unique design and relief work in marble and inlay with precious and semi precious stones that make it a monument apart. Sightseeing continues at the 16th-century Red Fort of Agra, near the gardens of the Taj Mahal. This red sandstone fortress encompasses the imperial city of the Mughal rulers, home to fairy-tale palaces and two very beautiful mosques made of pure marble. Spend the afternoon as you please; dine at a choice of hotel restaurants tonight.
Day 6: Enjoy the royal treatment in Jaipur
Drive to Jaipur for a two-night stay in a luxury Oberoi hotel, arriving in time for lunch. This afternoon, join us for a guided visit to the magnificent City Palace Museum; inside are exhibits of historic royal costumes that include exquisite Pashmina shawls and silk saris. At the Jantar Mantar Observatory, discover astronomical skills that impress with the accuracy of instruments dating to the early 18th century. A special Maharajah evening includes entertainment, music and dance.
Day 7: Jaipur's glittering palaces and pavilions of Amber Fort
The massive gateways, pavilions and palaces of Jaipur's Amber Fort are an interesting blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture, set against rugged hills. Inside forbidding walls meant to protect its 16th-century occupants, discover a palace whose walls are covered with paintings, carvings, precious stones and mirrors. Following a thali style lunch preceded by a puppet show at the Raj Palace, you'll have the rest of the day to explore Jaipur as you wish.
Day 8: Ballooning over Jaipur & on to Udaipur
Rise early and begin the day with a hot air balloon ride over Jaipur before breakfast. Enjoy some free time, a sari and turban demonstration and lunch at your Jaipur hotel before flying from Jaipur to Udaipur for a three-night stay at your luxury Oberoi hotel in Udaipur - nestled along the banks of Lake Pichola and spread over fifty acres, which includes a twenty-acre wildlife sanctuary with deer and wild boar. Consistently voted among the top luxury hotels in the world, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur is a destination experience unrivaled anywhere - while Udaipur itself is a Rajasthan city of palaces and lakes, often called the "Venice of the East" and the "Most Romantic City in India." Dinner is at your leisure in your hotel, named India's best hotel by Condé Nast Traveler and 4th in the world's top 100 hotels.
Day 9: Discovering Udaipur's treasures
An Udaipur sightseeing tour with your local guide includes a stop at the City Palace complex - a labyrinth of richly decorated courtyards, frescoed galleries, and marble temples overlooking a lake that was once the elegant home of the Maharajah of Udaipur - and, a short walk away, the Jagdish Mandir Temple, where music or chanting is heard throughout the day. Following lunch with a view of the lakeside palace, visit the 18th-century fountain gardens of Saheliyon Ki Bari, then enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Pichola. Join us tonight for a memorable Tauck Exclusive private dinner at Royal Repast, a restaurant owned by descendants of the Bedla clan who have played a significant role in the affairs of the Udaipur State - serving as Prime Ministers, valued advisors, commanders in chief of the armed forces and hosting all the dignitaries visiting Udaipur as state guests.
Day 10: Udaipur's markets & the city at leisure
Today's sightseeing begins in Udaipur with an auto-rickshaw ride around the city's bustling spice and vegetable markets, for an insightful glimpse into everyday life in Udaipur. In the vegetable markets, women in brightly colored saris sit amongst the stalls, surrounded by baskets brimming with their fresh and equally colorful produce, while burlap bags or metal pans entice with a kaleidoscopic array of curries and spices. The rest of the day is free to explore more of this "City of Lakes" as you wish. Due to its many picturesque locations, Udaipur has supplied scenic backdrops to many a film or television show over the years; portions of movies including Darjeeling Limited, Opening Night, Heat and Dust, Octopussy and Gandhi, plus the TV miniseries The Jewel in the Crown, were filmed here. Enjoy a demonstration in the art of donning a sari or a turban before dinner at your leisure at the hotel this evening.
Day 11: Fly to Kochi (Cochin) & a sunset cruise on the Arabian Sea
Fly to Kochi, a prosperous city on the scenic west coast of India, known as Cochin in colonial times, the center of the Indian spice trade for centuries. This seaside city has seen Arab, Chinese, British, Dutch and Portuguese rulers over time, each leaving their mark. Cruise its tropical inland waterways before setting off on a spectacular sunset cruise on the Arabian Sea. Prior to dinner tonight, enjoy a performance by traditional Kathakali dancers.
Day 12: Multicultural influences in Kochi & a chef-hosted dinner
A lecture focusing on the multicultural influences of Kerala history leads to a guided tour of Kochi and Fort Cochin, with their intriguing blends of European, Asian and Arabic architectural styles. Later, a chef's home-cooking demonstration delights with a dinner flavored with Keralan spices.
Day 13: Kerala houseboat cruise & Mohiniattam dancers
Travel through the small villages of coastal Kerala as you make your way to the picturesque island of Kumarakom in Lake Vembanad to continue your Tauck India tour with a two-night lakeside stay at Kumarakom Lake Resort. En route, board a thatched-roof rice boat that's been converted into a luxury houseboat for a cruise through Kerala's palm-fringed canals; this region is often referred to as another "Venice of the East." Tonight at your resort, you'll be treated to a program featuring dancers performing the classical Indian dance form known as Mohiniattam, dating to the 16th century.
Day 14: Kerala villages & Kumarakom resort leisure
After an exclusive morning walk for Tauck guests only in one of Kerala's villages, spend the entire afternoon enjoying the many activities and amenities offered by your beautiful lakefront resort. An unforgettable martial arts demonstration this evening is both educational and entertaining; there is no other ancient martial practice in the world that can compete with its training system and application techniques. Have dinner at your leisure at the resort.
Day 15: Fly to Mumbai and do some city sightseeing
Fly to Mumbai (known in earlier times as Bombay), India's financial powerhouse, a center of fashion and teeming humanity - surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea. Enjoy a brief tour of landmark sights en route to your hotel; dine tonight at your choice of selected restaurants.
Day 16: Treasures of Mumbai & a Heritage Walk
Explore Mumbai today, including the Gateway of India - erected by the British to commemorate the landing of the King and Queen in 1911 - and a Heritage Walk through some of the city's historic sites. Following lunch in Mumbai, head to the Dharavi district - one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, which figured prominently in the Oscar-winning 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire (featuring several child actors from this area) - for a walking tour of the neighborhood and its thriving small industries, with insights on its difficulties and challenges from your local guide. The rest of the afternoon and evening are free.
Day 17: Cruise to Elephanta Island
From the Gateway of India in Mumbai, take a boat cruise this morning to Elephanta Island (or Gharapuri, the "city of caves") with a local guide to explore the Elephanta Caves, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This series of rock-cut cave temples, most of which are dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, was hewn from solid basalt sometime between the fifth and seventh centuries AD. Return to your Oberoi hotel and spend the rest of the afternoon as you please in Mumbai. Join us this evening for a farewell cocktail reception and dinner at the hotel, as your incredible journey to India draws to a close.
Day 18: Journey Home
Tour ends: Mumbai (Bombay). Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from your hotel to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Most international flights depart between 2:00 and 3:00 AM; please allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
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Tauck has been a family run business since its first tour through New England in 1925. Spanning three generations and currently run by six family members, their 90 years of experience is clearly seen in more than 140 unique travel experiences.
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