- Visit Mumbai's enigmatic Elephanta Caves
- See the world-famous Taj Mahal at sunrise
- Cruise Kerala's backwaters
- Enjoy the golden sands of Marari Beach
|Day 1||New Delhi||Delhi|
|Day 2||Sightseeing in New Delhi||Delhi|
|Day 3||Drive from New Delhi to Agra||Agra|
|Day 4||The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort||Agra|
|Day 5||Visit Fatehpur Sikri and Drive to Jaipur||Jaipur|
|Day 6||Sightseeing in Jaipur||Jaipur|
|Day 7||Fly from Jaipur to Mumbai||Mumbai|
|Day 8||Elephanta Caves and Sightseeing in Mumbai||Mumbai|
|Day 9||Fly from Mumbai to Cochin||Cochin|
|Day 10||Sightseeing in Cochin||Cochin|
|Day 11||Travel from Cochin to Mararikulam||Mararikulam|
|Day 12||Houseboat Lunch Cruise||Mararikulam|
|Day 13||Free Day Mararikulam||Mararikulam|
Day 1: New Delhi
Arrive in New Delhi, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. New Delhi, the capital of India, has a long and rich history and over the centuries has drawn to it the Mongols, Turks, Persians, Afghans, Mughals and the British, all of whom contributed to its storied but turbulent past.
Once you arrive at your hotel, you can relax and enjoy a free evening.
Day 2: Sightseeing in New Delhi
After breakfast, your guide will pick you up for a full-day sightseeing tour of Delhi.
You'll start at the Red Fort (closed on Mondays), a red sandstone marvel. In 1638, the Mughal king Shah Jahan decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi, and he began constructing the Red Fort on the bank of Old Delhi's Yamuna River.
Then, you'll drive past Raj Ghat. The Ghat is essentially a black marble platform that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated on January 31, 1948, a day after he was assassinated. An eternal flame burns at one end of the open-air memorial, and the road it is located on is officially called Mahatma Gandhi Road.
Next, you'll visit Jama Masjid, which was Old Delhi's central mosque in Shah Jahan's time. The Shah completed the mosque in 1656 and it is still one of the largest mosques in India today. The mosque's capacity is about 25,000 people, and around 5,000 laborers worked to build it.
Afterward, you'll go to Chandni Chowk, the city's most famous market. Old Delhi was once the city of Shahjahanabad, a fortified city under Mughal rule. Even today, the remains of this past can be seen at the Kashmiri Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Turkman Gate, Delhi Gate, and Feroz Shah Kotla. In those days, Chandni Chowk was the city's central market. Today, it's a massive area packed with stalls and people. You'll take a rickshaw ride in the market to get a different view of the hustle and bustle.
After the market, you'll visit New Delhi. You'll pass by the India Gate (a memorial to the Indian soldiers who died in WWI), the Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly the viceroy's residence) and the Parliament House. Then, you'll visit the imposing Lakshmi Naryan Temple, one of the famous Birla Temples in India, built in 1938 and dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi.
Finally, you'll visit the 12th century Qutab Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Minar of Delhi is surrounded by a lush green garden, which is pleasant to walk through. You'll also see the Ashoka Iron Pillar of Delhi—which has withstood the ravages of time and not rusted in 1500 years—and the mausoleum of Emperor Humayun.
Day 3: Drive from New Delhi to Agra
After breakfast, check out from hotel and drive to Agra. Agra is a city built by the Mughals. It is known for its many beautiful monuments, including the Taj Mahal, its most famous. But Agra is also home to the massive but elegant Agra Fort, the delicate Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, and Akbar’s deserted capital, Fatehpur Sikri. Once you arrive, check-in at your hotel.
In the late afternoon, you'll go for a tour of the Mughal Heritage Kachhpura Village that includes high tea. A narrow path through the fields near Mehtab Bagh will take you to the ancient village of Kachhpura, as well as Humayun’s Mosque. You'll walk through the village to see the Sanji art that has been painted on the walls by girls in the community youth program. Then, you'll continue to Humayun’s Mosque, an unusual mosque built by the Mughals.
Next, you'll see the village's central courtyard, where activities like street theater and henna tattooing take place. The walk ends in Mehtab Bagh, from where you'll be able to watch the sunset on the Taj Mahal.
You'll also have the option to go on an additional outing to the famous Mohabbat the Taj Show presented by the Sanskritik Natyashala, a saga depicting the love the Mughal Emperor Shajahan had for Mumtaj Mahal, his wife. The show is a great way to learn more about the Taj Mahal, which Shajahan built as a memorial for Mumtaj Mahal after she died in childbirth.
Day 4: The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort
Today, you'll go to the Taj Mahal as the sun rises and explore its grounds. On this tour, you'll learn about its construction and architectural details, like the fact that it took 22 years and 20,000 men to build, while its white marble was quarried 200 miles away and carried by a fleet of 1,000 elephants. The monument was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
In the afternoon, you'll visit the Agra Fort, an outstanding example of Mughal architecture on the Yamuna River, which was the seat and stronghold of the Mughal Empire for multiple generations.
Finally, you'll visit Itmad-ud-Daula, a tomb often referred to as the "Baby Taj Mahal." It's the tomb of Mir Gheyas Beg, who was a minister in the court of Shah Jahan, and is the oldest tomb in India made entirely of marble. If you take a bird's eye view of the monument, it looks like a jewel box set in a garden.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Visit Fatehpur Sikri and Drive to Jaipur
After breakfast, you'll check out of your hotel and head to Jaipur, with a stop at Fatehpur Sikri on the way. Fatehpur Sikri is a deserted fortified city that was built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 as his capital and abandoned 15 years later, allegedly due to the severe scarcity of water.
After Fatehpur Sikri, your driver will take you to Jaipur, which was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727. The city was painted pink in 1853 in honor of Prince Albert's visit. Once you arrive, you'll check in to your hotel and enjoy a free evening.
Day 6: Sightseeing in Jaipur
Today, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the ancient Rajput capital of Amer, 7 miles (11 km) outside of the city. Here, you'll see the Amber Fort—a fortified palace that was constructed by Raja Man Singh. During your tour, you'll visit Diwan-i-Am (the hall of public audience), Shila Devi Temple, Jai Mandir (the hall of victory) with its inlaid panels and a mirrored ceiling, and Sukh Niwas. After you explore, you can also take an elephant ride on the grounds of the fort.
In the afternoon, you'll return to Jaipur to see the City Palace of Jaipur, which occupies a seventh of the city's total area, the Jantar Mantar astronomy instruments and observatory, and the famous pink Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). You'll also be able to visit Galtaji Temple, which is also known as the monkey temple.
You can also choose between several add-on tours, including a hot air balloon ride; an elephant outing that includes feeding, riding, painting, feeding, and bathing the elephant; or a bicycle tour. You can also go on a food/heritage tour, take a cooking class with a local family, or visit nearby villages.
Day 7: Fly from Jaipur to Mumbai
After breakfast, you'll check out of your hotel and be driven to the Jaipur Airport to catch your flight to Mumbai.
Also called Bombay, Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra and is India's main economic hub. It's the fastest moving, most affluent, and most industrialized city in India.
Once you arrive, you'll be taken to your hotel, and you'll have a free evening to relax.
Day 8: Elephanta Caves and Sightseeing in Mumbai
After breakfast, your guide will take you to the Elephanta Caves an hour away from Mumbai by ferry. The caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there has been speculation about who carved them and when they were sculpted since at least the 19th century. Their exact origins are still a mystery.
The carvings narrate Hindu mythologies. Despite the damage much of the artwork has suffered, the caves are spectacular to visit, and stand in contrast to Mumbai's hectic streets.
To reach the caves, you'll take a ferry and then a tourist train to the entrance.
Later in the afternoon, you'll go on a tour of Mumbai. Stops include the Gateway of India, Mumbai's principal landmark, which was erected on the waterfront in 1924 to commemorate King George V's visit to this then-colony in 1911. You'll also drive past the Afghan Church and along Marine Drive, which is sometimes called the "Queen's Necklace" for the way the streetlights look like a string of pearls when seen from above at night. Then, you'll visit the Jain Temple and the Hanging Gardens—which offer spectacular views of the city—as well as Chowpatty, Kamala Nehru Park, and Mani Bhavan, where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai.
Finally, you'll drive past Haji Ali Mosque, a shrine to a Muslim saint built on an island off the coast that is connected to the mainland by a causeway.
Day 9: Fly from Mumbai to Cochin
After breakfast, you'll check out of your hotel and go to the airport to catch your flight to Cochin, in Kerala.
Kerala is sometimes called "God's Own Country" for its breathtaking landscapes and lush green scenery. Cochin, or Kochi, is on its southwest coast, overlooking the Arabian Sea. For centuries, Cochin has been the gathering place for merchants and tourists from many different nations and has successively been occupied by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British, each of whom left traces of their presence behind.
Once you arrive, you'll be taken to your hotel to check-in. You can spend the rest of the day exploring the city and relaxing, or if you prefer you can go on an optional tour to Kumbhalangi Village for lunch, where you can go boating, visit a crab farm, go coconut harvesting, and more.
Day 10: Sightseeing in Cochin
In the early morning, you'll visit Fisherman's Beach.
After breakfast, you'll go on a guided tour of Mattancherry, where you'll visit the Dutch Palace and the Jewish Synagogue.
You'll also explore Fort Kochi and see St. Francis Church, the Chinese fishing nets, and the Dutch Cemetery. Then, you'll walk down the beach to see Bishop's House Road, the Union Club building and the Santa Cruz Basilica. Finally, you'll head to the spice and vegetable market to enjoy the colorful sights and smells.
In the evening, you'll attend a Kathakali Dance and Kalaripattu Show at a local theater. Kathakali is the traditional dance form from Kerala and is recognized as one of India's four major classical dance styles. Kalarippayattu is Kerala's martial art form and is the oldest martial art in the world.
Day 11: Travel from Cochin to Mararikulam
After breakfast, you'll check out from your hotel and drive to Mararikulam, which takes about one to two hours. Located in Kerala's Alappuzha District, Marari Beach is lined with palm trees and covered in beautiful golden sand. The name Marari comes Mararikulum, the nearby fishing village located on the Arabian Coast. Once you arrive, you can check into your hotel and spend the rest of the day enjoying this idyllic spot.
Day 12: Houseboat Lunch Cruise
After breakfast, you'll set out on a houseboat cruise in the Kerala backwaters. These houseboats—or kettuvallam—are designed to navigate the backwaters' narrow canals, where you'll see lush green vegetation, small villages, and ancient temples surrounded by coconut groves. Lunch will be served on board.
Day 13: Free Day Mararikulam
Today, you'll have the day free to enjoy the beach and explore Mararikulam.
Day 14: Departure
Today, you'll check out of your hotel and drive back to Cochin to catch your flight to New Delhi. From there, you'll transfer to the International Airport to take your flight home. Safe travels!