American breakfast daily, 6 lunches, 5 dinners including a welcome dinner in Delhi and home-hosted dinner in Jaipur
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
ARRIVE IN MUMBAI. Welcome to Mumbai, a multicultural metropolis with a colorful history. This vibrant city is now India’s premier seaport, center of culture and industry, and home to “Bollywood.” Your hotel room is available for mid-afternoon check-in.
MUMBAI. This morning’s PRIVATE GUIDED TOUR includes the GATEWAY OF INDIA, Mumbai’s most famous monument, which commemorates a visit by Queen Mary. Then, drive along Marine Drive, a seafront promenade, and see a traditional Dhobi Ghat (an open-air laundromat). You will also visit the HANGING GARDENS, MANI BHAVAN (former residence of Mahatma Gandhi), and the MUMBAI MUSEUM (closed Mondays). The remainder of the day is at your leisure. (B,L)
MUMBAI–COCHIN. Fly to Cochin.
COCHIN. Your PRIVATE GUIDED TOUR starts with the Chinese Fishing Nets that are the livelihood of many fishermen in the area and a walk through the Jewish quarter. Next, visit the KERALA FOLKLORE MUSEUM which aims to preserve and educate people about the unique culture and heritage of South India. This afternoon, enjoy an unforgettable CRUISE on the backwaters of Kerala. Explore and witness local life along these serene waterways surrounded by lush palm trees and paddy fields. (B,L)
COCHIN–DELHI. Today, fly to Delhi.
DELHI. Today’s sightseeing starts with an orientation to see the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, India Gate, and the Presidential Palace. Afterward, take a [LF] RICKSHAW RIDE through Chandni Chowk, a captivating local bazaar. Here, ancient alleyways are lined with quaint shops selling all sorts of goods and souvenirs—from silver and saris to spices and electronics. After lunch in a local restaurant, enjoy a bit of leisure time. Tonight, your Tour Director hosts a lavish welcome dinner that includes a COOKING DEMONSTRATION and talk on Indian cuisine with a local chef. (B,L,D)
DELHI–AGRA. This morning, visit QUTUB MINAR, the world’s tallest brick minaret, dating back to the 11th century. Next, visit HUMAYUN’S TOMB and GURUDWARA BANGLA SAHIB, Delhi’s largest and most prominent Sikh gurudwara (house of worship). After lunch, drive to Agra and settle in for the evening. (B,L)
AGRA. Start your day with a sunrise visit to the incomparable TAJ MAHAL, an extravagant marble monument to love. Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan built it as a memorial to his beloved wife, who died during childbirth. Later, travel by TONGA (horse-drawn carriage) to AGRA FORT, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by the Moghul Emperor Akbar. This impressive fortress of red sandstone conceals the imperial city of the Moghul rulers and its many palaces.
AGRA–FATEHPUR SIKRI–RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK. Today, stop at FATEHPUR SIKRI (the City of Victory), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by Emperor Akbar in the 16th century it was the capital of the Mughal Empire for only some 10 years before it was completely abandoned due to the lack of adequate water. After lunch in Bharatpur, board a TRAIN bound for RANTHAMBORE NATIONAL PARK, one of the best places in India to spot the elusive Bengal tiger! (B,L,D)
RANTHAMBORE. Today, explore the park on MORNING & AFTERNOON GAME DRIVES in open-air, 4-wheel-drive safari vehicles. In addition to Bengal tigers, the park is home to leopard, sambar deer, sloth bears, marsh crocodiles, striped hyena, and more. Between game drives, enjoy free time to relax. (B,L,D)
RANTHAMBORE–JAIPUR. Rise early this morning for one last GAME DRIVE in this magical land. Then, travel to Jaipur. In 1876, the city was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales, and it has been known as the “Pink City” ever since. Tonight, enjoy a [LF] HOME-HOSTED DINNER with an Indian noble family, followed by a SARI- and TURBAN-TYING demonstration.
JAIPUR. Today, visit the amazing AMBER FORT, built entirely of white marble and red sandstone. Tour the interior with its intricate mosaics, carvings, paintings, and mirror works. This afternoon, visit the CITY PALACE and the adjoining MUSEUM, which houses a collection of rare manuscripts. Also, stop at JANTAR MANTAR and the famous HAWA MAHAL (Palace of the Winds). Tonight, your Tour Director hosts a festive farewell dinner to celebrate your journey through India.
JAIPUR–DELHI. Fly back to Delhi. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
DELHI–VARANASI. Today, fly to Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu pilgrim cities, situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. This evening, your PRIVATE GUIDED SIGHTSEEING witnesses the GANGA AARTI (spiritual worship) on the ghats (steps) leading down to the Ganges.
VARANASI. Around dawn, board a BOAT and watch a striking religious ritual—the Hindus’ devotional bathing in the Ganges. Observe hundreds of pilgrims gathered at the river’s edge, some practicing yoga, others meditating, and still others bathing fully clothed. Return to your hotel for breakfast and some free time. This afternoon, a PRIVATE GUIDED EXCURSION takes you to nearby SARNATH, the “Cradle of Buddhism,” where Buddha first spoke of his philosophy.
VARANASI–DELHI. Enjoy the morning at leisure before flying back to Delhi.
DELHI. Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.