India Encompassed

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Discover ancient forts and temples, revel in the beauty of Agra's Taj Mahal, sail the Ganges in venerable Varanasi, stay with the locals in the Kerala backwaters, smell spices at a plantation in the Cardamom Hills

Tour description provided by G Adventures

From the beautiful symmetry of the Taj Mahal to the unforgettable backwaters of Kerala, this comprehensive Indian journey is a photographer's delight. Sail along the sacred Ganges River in Varanasi and explore Abhaneri’s carved stepwells in the North before flying south to search for tigers in the wild and exotic spices in relaxed hill stations. With an intriguing combination of included activities and free time, city streets and rural spirit, you're sure to gain an understanding of the people and some insight into this fascinating land.


Day 1 Delhi
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included through the G Adventures-supported Women on Wheels project. Included Activities: Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting Transport: Women on Wheels Transfer
Day 2 Delhi
In the morning enjoy a city tour by local streetkids, a G Adventures-supported project. Later, visit Delhi’s famous Jama Masjid (Great Mosque) and climb the minaret for a bird’s eye view of the Old City. Walk through Chandni Chowk, one of India’s oldest and busiest markets, and learn the history of the Sikh religion at the important Gurdwara, (Sikh place of worship) Gurdwara SisGanj. Stop for photos at the colourful spice market before finishing at the Victorian Connaught Place, one of the most prominent architectural remnants of British rule. Included Activities: Guided Walking Tour with New Delhi Streetkids Project Jama Masjid Visit Gurdwara Sis Ganj Visit Delhi Spice Market Connaught Place Visit Chandni Chowk Visit
Day 3 Delhi/Jaipur
Drive to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and start exploring. Opt to visit the Jantar Mantar, or Royal Observatory. Don't miss the opprtunity to see a Bollywood film at the famous Art Deco Raj Mandir cinema. Transport: Private Vehicle (5.00-6.00 hours, 260km)
Day 4 Jaipur
Head out to visit the ruined city of Amber, the former capital of Jaipur state. Stop and take a photo of the Hawa Mahal palace complex, elaborate formal gardens, and a small lake. Included Activities: Amber Fort Visit
Day 5 Jaipur/Tordi Sāgar (1L, 1D)
Travel to the rural village of Tordi Sagar. Walk with a local resident through the markets, potters, iron smiths, temples, and farms and get a taste of the complexity of rural India. Go on a camel cart ride to the dunes or opt to take a jeep safari in the surrounding region. Visit hamlets around the village, ancient stepwells, or watch a stunning sunset on the reservoir. Included Activities: Tordi Sagar Local Village Tour Tordi Sagar Camel Cart Ride Transport: Private Vehicle (2.00-3.00 hours, 100km)
Day 6 Tordi/Āgra (1B)
Opt for an early morning hike to the old fortress before continuing on towards Agra. Visit Abhaneri, known for its beautiful baoris (stepwells) and the famous Harshat Mata temple. Arrive to Agra, a city that is best known as the site of India’s most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal. Included Activities: Abhaneri Stepwell Visit Transport: Private Vehicle (6.00-7.00 hours, 250km)
Day 7 Āgra
Visit the sparkling Taj Mahal for sunrise then stick around to explore (if the light is better around sunset, we may visit later in the day instead). Later, visit the walled city of Agra Fort by cycle-rickshaw and the I'timad-ud-Daulah, or the Baby Taj. Included Activities: Taj Mahal Visit Agra Fort Visit Baby Taj Visit Transport: Visit the Agra Fort by human-powered cycle-rickshaw. Cycle rickshaw
Day 8 Āgra/Alīpura
Leave early and travel along typically rough Indian roads to Alipura, a friendly village which will be our base for two days. Here, stay in a heritage property with time to wander the town and interact with locals. Transport: Train (2.50 hour(s)) Private Vehicle (3.50 hour(s))
Day 9 Alīpura
Travel 1.5 hrs to Khajuraho, one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Learn the history of these world-famous temples on a guided tour and enjoy a taste of a little erotica from the Middle Ages. After, opt to visit a nearby waterfall (seasonal), watch an evening dance performance, or see a sound and light show within the temple complex itself. Included Activities: Khajuraho Temples Guided Tour Transport: Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours, 96km) Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours, 96km)
Day 10 Alīpura/Orchha
En route to Orchha, visit a unique paper making plant, set up to assist tribal women from the area. All the paper is made from recycled clothing and wood pulp. Continue on to Orchha and enjoy an orientation tour of this small town. Set on the banks of the Betwa River, it is the perfect antidote to the chaos of India’s cities. Later, attend an evening puja ceremony at the Ram Raja Temple. Included Activities: Tarragram Visit Puja Ceremony Transport: Private Vehicle (2.50-3.00 hours, 96km)
Day 11 Orchha/Varanasi
Visit the Orchha Palace complex and enjoy free time before the overnight train to Varanasi. Opt for a local cooking class with a family. Included Activities: Orchha Palace Visit Transport: Private Vehicle (1.00 hour(s), 20km) Overnight train (beds) (13.00 hour(s))
Day 12 Varanasi
Disembark the train in legendary Varanasi, the quintessential Indian holy city where millions of Hindus visit for pilgrimage, to worship, to mourn, or to die. There is time here to shop, wander, and absorb the atmosphere of this unique city, while optional activities include the monasteries and ruins of nearby Sarnath, the site of the Buddha's first sermon. Included Activities: Evening Ganges Boat Tour
Day 13 Varanasi
Watch the sunrise from a boat along the Ganges. Enjoy free time in this holy city. Included Activities: Morning Ganges Boat Tour
Day 14 Varanasi/Delhi
Cut out the travel time with an afternoon flight back to Delhi. Transport: Flight
Day 15 Delhi/Kochi (1B)
Transfer to the airport and fly to Kochi. In the evening, there will be a welcome meeting for new travellers joining the group. Additional Notes: You may have one CEO for the North and one for the South. In this case you will be transferred to the airport in Delhi and fly unescorted to Kochi -- either on your own or with any other travellers who are continuing on for the south portion of the tour. Upon arrival to Kochi, there is free time to relax until the welcome meeting in the evening. Transport: Plane (3.00-3.50 hours)
Day 16 Kochi
Enjoy an early morning orientation tour of Fort Kochi. Enjoy free time to explore before an evening performance of kathakali, a form of traditional dancing from Kerala. Included Activities: Orientation Walk Kathakali Dance
Day 17 Kochi/Kalpetta
Take a morning train followed by a scenic drive to reach Kalpetta, in the Wayanad district. Transport: Train (4.00 hour(s)) Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s))
Day 18 Kalpetta
Here, we go on nature trails in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and visit the Edakkal Caves, which are believed to have been a shelter of neolithic people. Included Activities: Wayanad Nature Walk
Day 19 Kalpetta/Mudumalai
We leave the hills for the plains, and stop for the night at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. Spend part of the afternoon on a short safari and spot the variety of wildlife within the park. Included Activities: Mudumalai Jeep Safari Transport: Private Vehicle (3.00-4.00 hours)
Day 20 Mudumalai/Mysore
Imagine life as a Maharaja on a guided tour of the Mysore Palace. Later, join the throngs of pilgrims at Chamundi Hills, with its temple on top, and Nandi the Bull (ridden by the Hindu god Shiva) a short walk below. In your free time, visit the Devaraja fruit and vegetable market or join a yoga class at one of the many local institutes. Opt to drive to Somnathpur, home to one of the most famous Hoysala Temples in India. Included Activities: Chamundi Temple Visit Mysore Palace Visit Transport: Private Vehicle (2.00-4.00 hours)
Day 21 Mysore/Māmallapuram
Arrive by train to Chennai before continuing south for a short ride to the small village of Mamallapuram. Visit the 7th century Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Included Activities: Shore Temple Visit Transport: Enjoy a scenic ride to the east coast aboard Indian's vast rail system. Play cards, meet your fellow passengers or let the landscapes soak in. Train (8.00 hour(s)) Private Vehicle (1.00-1.50 hours)
Day 22 Māmallapuram
Free time to explore Mamallapuram.
Day 23 Māmallapuram/Puducherry
In the morning, drive to Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry), formerly the the largest French Colony in India and an important trading town. There is a strong French influence in the city's layout, with wide boulevards and French-style houses, but the city is undoubtedly Indian. Included Activities: Orientation Walk Transport: Private Vehicle (2.00-2.50 hours)
Day 24 Puducherry/Madurai
Travel inland to Madurai, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Transport: Private Vehicle (6.00-7.00 hours)
Day 25 Madurai
After visiting the temple complex, opt to visit the handicraft shops or duck into the cool shade of the covered, stone tailor’s market where, for a few rupees, rows of expert tailors will whip you up a custom shirt in minutes, all done on antique foot-pump sewing machines. In the late evening, opt to visit the Meenakshi Temple again for a glimpse of the nighttime rituals. Included Activities: Cycle-Rickshaw Tour Meenakshi Temple Visit
Day 26 Madurai/Periyār Sanctuary (1D)
Thekkady, adjacent to Periyar National Park, is the spice capital of India. On arrival, enjoy a guided tour of the spice plantations and a tea factory. Opt for a boat ride on the Periyar Lake. Included Activities: Cardamom Hills Spice Plantation Tour Transport: Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s))
Day 27 Periyār Sanctuary/Kerala Backwaters (1L, 1D)
Travel down to the backwaters from Thekkady to catch a private boat for the short journey to the village homestay. In the afternoon, explore the island with a local person to observe the different facets of local life — it's a great opportunity to meet and talk with the people who live in this unique location. Just before sunset, hop on a small country boat and journey along with the locals to enjoy sunset on the winding backwaters. Additional Notes: For this homestay, you will only need to take a small overnight bag. Your main bags will be transferred directly to the hotel in Kochi. Included Activities: Kerala Backwaters Homestay Transport: Private Vehicle (4.00-5.50 hours, 145km) Boat (0.25 hour(s))
Day 28 Kerala Backwaters/Kochi (1B)
The morning is spent enjoying the last of our host family's hospitality. Learn to cook some of the wonderful food, watch the toddy tappers at work, or wander around the village and explore more of the life on the backwaters. Depart the homestay and travel back to Kochi. The trip ends on arrival to Kochi in the early afternoon. Included Activities: Departure Day (Activities) Transport: Boat (1.50 hour(s)) Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s))