Day 1: Arrive at Delhi
(most flights arrive either in the evening or at night). Our services begin here. You are greeted at the airport by an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator or your Tour Director, and ushered to a chauffeur driven vehicle. You are then driven to your hotel where you are assisted with your check-in. The next day's plans are briefly reviewed and you are presented with your welcome package. Among other things, this package includes a beautiful handcrafted journal for your explorations, travel documents such as your air tickets and hotel vouchers, as well as copies of documents (such as our General Travel Guide) that were sent to you earlier.
Day 2: Delhi
. Start your exploration
of India with a guided city tour of Old Delhi.
Drive, walk and ride through the ancient city's streets and alleys; explore crowded and colorful bazaars. This excursion includes an exploration of the Jama Masjid (1650 A.D.), the largest mosque in India. The Masjid (Mosque) is a magnificent example of Mughal architecture and is constructed of red sandstone and white marble. It is an active place of worship and its courtyard can hold 25,000 worshippers. You continue on to the amazing Red Fort that was finished a decade before the mosque. Both structures were built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who created the Taj Mahal. The great city
inside the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort offers visitors a large number of architectural and historical attractions; it was once known as the 8th wonder of the world. The Red Fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire for more than two hundred and fifty years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an amazing example of a blend of Persian, Indian and European architecture. You will also experience a fascinating rickshaw ride in the ancient alleys of the crowded and colorful bazaar at Chandni Chowk, followed by a walk through the ancient spice and street food market that is part of the bazaar. After these experiences a short drive will deliver you to an oasis of calm and serenity, which also happens to be your last destination in Old Delhi. The cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi (Raj Ghat) is a simple yet stirring memorial to the father of the nation. Lush lawns extend beyond the enclosure surrounding the black marble platform occupying the spot where the Mahatma was cremated. An eternal flame burns next to the platform.
There is a break
Afternoon - enjoy a city tour
of New Delhi. This excursion begins with the awe-inspiring Qutab Minar (1193 A.D.). This 239-foot tall medieval tower is a symbol of victory and a beautiful example of Persian architecture from that period. There is a winding stairway inside the tower that goes up all the way to the balcony at the very top of the tower - unfortunately they are no longer accessible for visitors. The Qutab Minar and its Monuments are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Within the Qutab complex
, amidst the ruins of the Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque, stands one of the legendary Ashoka Pillars. This large iron pillar has withstood the ravages of Delhi's weather (and recent pollution) and has not rusted in more than 1500 years. After the Qutab complex you will be driven to visit the magnificent tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun.
Delhi has such an abundance
of amazing monuments that this Tomb Complex (1562 A.D.) does not quite get the acclaim that it deserves. It is Delhi's third UNESCO World Heritage Site and its amazing architecture and the elaborate gardens will captivate you.
From the tomb
you will proceed on a drive to Lutyens' New Delhi. Time permitting, this drive will include photo opportunities at some of the following attractions - the exterior of the massive and awe-inspiring Rashtrapati Bhawan (known as Viceroy's House during the British era), Delhi's landmark structure India Gate, Bangla Sahib Gurudwara (a gold domed Sikh Temple), and the Birla Temple. The last part of this excursion is a drive through Connaught Place, which is New Delhi's downtown.
Day 3: Delhi - Agra.
You are assisted with your checkout from your hotel in the morning after an early breakfast and driven to Agra (about 3.5 hours) on North India's newest highway.
Start your exploration
of Agra with a visit to the famous tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah. This memorial was built by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir's queen as a memorial to her father. The tombs sheer beauty will surprise you - the only reason it does not get more accolades is because it shares the stage with the incomparable Taj Mahal. Like the Taj it has amazingly intricate 'Pietra Dura' inlay and lattice marble screens. The mausoleum rests in a walled garden with a view of the river Yamuna.
Constructed in the year 1628, most historians believe that its design provided the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. After exploring the tomb you are driven to your hotel and assisted with your check-in.
There is a break
you will visit the first red sandstone fort of North India, the Agra Fort. It was built in 1565 by India's greatest Mughal ruler, Emperor Akbar. Its royal audience halls, immense stone courtyards, marble mosque and the private royal chambers give us a glimpse of the grandeur of the Mughal Empire.
After the fort you will visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World
, the incomparable Taj Mahal. The world's greatest monument dedicated to love is obviously a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Taj Mahal was completed by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 AD as a memorial to his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal. This spectacular white marble mausoleum was created by about 22,000 skilled craftsmen and it took twenty two years to complete. When you experience the Taj Mahal with an Easy Tours Guide and have them provide unique insights into its innumerable facets, some of their passion for this masterpiece may rub off on you! Explore the amazing Taj and its surroundings until it is time to admire the sun's rays setting on the façade of the world's finest monument.
Agra's artists are famous
for their inlaid marble creations.
Day 4: Agra - Jaipur.
You are assisted with your checkout from your hotel after breakfast and then you are driven to Fatehpur Sikri
- a packed lunch is provided by your hotel. Enjoy a guided exploration of this beautiful uninhabited city. It was built by Emperor Akbar between 1570 and 1585 A.D. and is constructed primarily out of red sandstone. The Emperor moved his capital from Agra to this city and then, a few years later, abandoned it, returning back to Agra. Visit the tallest gateway in the world, the towering Bulund Darwaza (The Gate of Victory). In the northern part of the courtyard is the superb white marble tomb of Shaik Salim Chishti, built in 1570.
Continue on with
your journey to Jaipur. You are assisted with your check in at your hotel upon your arrival at Jaipur.
Dinner is at your hotel this evening.
Jaipur is famous
for its carpets, jewelry and handicrafts.
Day 5: Jaipur.
Start your day with an excursion to Amber Fort & Palace, located at a short distance from the walled city.
Just like the Emperors of a few centuries ago, enjoy the ascent up to the ramparts of the fort on top of a colorfully caparisoned elephant (jeeps are available instead of the elephants, if you so desire). The massive Fort complex was originally built by Raja Mansingh and is one of India's finest examples of Rajput architecture. Explore the chambers and hallways, which are famous for their exquisite designs and handcrafted embellishments. Return to the valley beneath the Fort on your elephant or jeep and proceed back to the Pink City.
There is a break for lunch
enjoy a city tour of the walled city of Jaipur, including the magnificent City Palace. Visit Jantar Mantar (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the magnificent stone observatory built by Raja Jai Singh in 1728. After the observatory comes a photo opportunity of the 'Hawa Mahal' (Palace of the Wind). This intriguing facade was built in 1799 so that the ladies of the court could use its unique windows and observe the bustling bazaar without being visible to the people on the streets. Continue the tour with an exploration of the City Palace, the former royal residence (a part of it is still occupied by the Royal family and is not accessible to the public), built in a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. This immense complex also houses a number of museums that offer a large and impressive collection of costumes, armory, and miniature paintings.
Day 6: Jaipur - Varanasi.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel in the early morning and driven to the airport.
You are assisted with
boarding the morning flight to Delhi. Connect with the flight to Varanasi - you will have checked your bags through. You are greeted at the Varanasi airport and driven to your hotel where you are assisted with your check-in.
- Experience a city tour of Varanasi that includes visits to some of the ancient temples that lie along the banks of the holy river. You will walk through the narrow lanes and through the crowded bazaars to discover a way of life that has not changed much over the past few millenniums. If this happened to be a Sunday, this activity will be switched with the Sarnath excursion scheduled for the next day.
Sunset cruise on the Ganga
- Two of the highlights of your time in Varanasi are the sunset and sunrise cruises on the Ganga. You can float your own oil lamps while you watch the ancient prayer at sunset. Your boat enables you to enjoy a great view of the hundreds of lamps as they are sent floating on the holy river.
Varanasi is famous
for silk weaving.
A Note about Hotels in Varanasi & Khajuraho: Whilst we believe these destinations are truly unique and rank among the most noteworthy in all of Asia, the Hotels in these cities do not offer the same world class luxury offered at most destinations in India. At Varanasi (with one notable and expensive exception that is seldom available as it only has 4 rooms & 6 suites) and Khajuraho the options are very few. Easy Tours routinely monitors these establishments for changes in service standards, and our preferred hotels represent the best options available in each destination. For guests that require luxury in all their lodging we recommend that you select one of our other tours that does not visit these destinations.
Day 7: Varanasi.
Start your day with an early morning boat cruise on the Ganga. The best time to visit the Ghats is dawn as that is when the pilgrims take their morning dip. It is also the ideal opportunity to experience some of Hinduisms ancient and iconic rituals. The most famous Ghat is the Dasadwamedh Ghat and that is where we begin this tour. You can simultaneously witness the ceremony of a recently deceased Hindu's ashes being immersed in the river while, nearby,
another Brahmin priest orchestrates the naming ceremony of a newborn. Just like the previous evening, your boat offers an excellent view of all the activity on the Ghats - women bathing discreetly while still wearing their sarees, priests offering prayers as they immerse themselves in the holy water, men that are oblivious to their surroundings as they practice yoga or meditate on the banks of the Ganga.
After your cruise on the Ganga, you will be driven through the city campus of Banaras Hindu University. With 20,000 resident students, this University is one of the largest residential universities on the planet and educates students of every religious denomination.
Return to your hotel
and there is a break for lunch.
Afternoon - enjoy a guided excursion
to neighboring Sarnath. Explore the monuments of this holy city, including the ancient Dhamekha Stupa that is located near the spot where the Buddha preached his first few sermons. This Stupa was constructed by Emperor Ashoka in 249 BCE. Sarnath was also where the first Sangha was formed and is home to a number of other Buddhist monuments that you will briefly visit, including the Chaukhandi Stupa and the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple. A highlight of the visit to Sarnath is the Archaeological Museum, with its small but impressive collection of local artifacts.
Day 8: Varanasi - Cochin.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and driven to the airport.
You are assisted in boarding the late morning flight to Mumbai. Connect with the flight to Cochin - you will have checked your bags through at Varanasi. Upon your arrival at Cochin you are greeted at the airport and ushered to your chauffeur driven vehicle. You are then driven to your hotel in Cochin and assisted with your check in.
- Your Easy Tours Facilitator will pick you up from your hotel and accompany you to a local theatre where you get to experience Kerala's ancient performing art, a Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali literally means the art of storytelling through dance and the dance form is an ancient forefather of many Asian dance forms.
Day 9: Cochin. Start your exploration
of the fascinating port city of Cochin and marvel in its culture and architecture, a result of centuries of various European influences combined with rich indigenous history. The guided tour begins from the Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays and Saturdays), which was built in 1568 and is still an active house of worship for the few remaining Jews in the area. If the synagogue is closed on this day the visit can be facilitated on the day before or the day after. Next to the synagogue is Cochin's ancient and colorful Jew Street with its antique stores and souvenir peddlers. There is evidence of a Jewish presence in Kochi from 70 AD. After the synagogue you visit the St. Francis Church, which was established by the Portuguese Franciscan friars in 1503. This is one of the first European churches built in India and the famed Vasco Da Gama was buried in its courtyard for a few years before his remains were returned to Portugal.
You now visit the most photogenic of Cochin's attractions, the Chinese fishing nets. Folklore will have it that these enormous nets (or at least their design) were brought here by famed Chinese Explorer Zhang He about 600 years ago. Local fishermen manipulate these massive nets with an ease that comes from centuries of practice - it is a vocation handed down by generations. The lowering and raising of the nets has a synchronicity and rhythm that is quite an amazing experience. Some of the nets are more than a century old as the fishermen patch them up and keep going. Finish your exploration with a short guided walk through Fort Kochi and experience the unique local culture and architecture - Fort Kochi is one of India's best cities to explore on foot. You will be driven back to your hotel after your walk.
In the evening
you are driven to an experience that is the highlight of many of our guests' time in Kerala. You will be hosted by a famous Keralan Chef and her family at their home. A delicious dinner will follow, and cooking lessons are included. At the end of dinner you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 10: Cochin - Backwaters cruise.
You are assisted with your check-out by an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator and driven to the backwaters. Arrive at Alleppey & board your houseboat.
Take our word for this
, your backwaters cruise will very likely become one of your most treasured travel memories. The incredible lushness of the vegetation around the fresh water canals, rivulets and lakes, the beauty of the water bodies themselves and the abundance of coconut trees and other exotic plants create a subtropical environment not found elsewhere on this planet. When you combine this with the opportunity to be part of a unique way of life that hasn't changed much for a few centuries, it results in most visitors' second highest rated experience in India (after the Taj Mahal). Relax and have a great time until the next morning as you cruise the amazing backwaters. The cook and other staff make sure that all your needs are taken care of, while serving you with delicious Kerala cuisine. You have the option of taking shore excursions at one or two of the tiny rural communities as you cruise by - the locals are very friendly and communicative.
Day 11: Backwaters cruise - Mahabalipuram.
Disembark from your houseboat in the morning and enjoy the scenic drive to Cochin airport. You are assisted with boarding the afternoon flight to Chennai. Upon your arrival at Chennai, you will proceed for a brief city tour of Chennai so as to experience India's third largest city. The tour of Chennai begins from St. Mary's Church (built in 1678 - 80), the first English Church in Chennai. After the church you will visit the National Art Gallery & Museum. The museum is famous for its large collection of temple friezes and the bronze gallery with its amazing collection of ancient lost wax sculptures. The Archaeological section is equally impressive, and, of particular interest (located next to the bronze gallery), is the small but fascinating collection of ancient coins that span twenty five hundred years of India's history. After the museum you continue on to visit the Saint Thomas Cathedral (originally built in 1504, then re-built in neo-gothic style in 1893), this Roman Catholic Church is said to house the remains of St. Thomas the Apostle. End the tour with a drive by the High Court, Fort St. George, and some Tamil Film studios. These studios are second only to Bollywood, producing hundreds of motion pictures every year.
Day 12: Mahabalipuram.
Start your day with a guided exploration of the ancient port of Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This laid back coastal town south of Chennai is world famous for its 8th century shore temple & other historical marvels. Mahabalipuram was the second capital of the Pallava Kings of Kanchipuram, the first Tamil dynasty after the fall of the Gupta Empire. The massive rock sculptures carved into softly sloping hills,
monolithic temples, ancient manmade caverns with incredible sculptures, and the world's largest bas-relief in stone, all combine to make Mahabalipuram a living museum.
Vying with this splendor is a beach and the picturesque Bay of Bengal. The famous Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) Temples, the Penance of Bhagirath (also known as Arjuna's Penance), the Shore Temple, the massive bas-relief Descent of the Ganges and the eight Mandapams (Shallow halls carved out of sheer rock) are all located within the small coastal community. A captivating sight can be experienced from the beach twice a day as the local fisherman head out in their colorful fishing boats early in the morning and then again when they return in the afternoon with their catch.
- You are at leisure to explore the ocean front resort and surroundings. The afternoon is a great time to walk 50 yards down the beach as this allows you to mingle with the local fishing community and their colorful wooden boats. You will see a variety of activities going on - many of the fishermen are returning from their days work and they are going through various processes of pulling their boats up on the beach and organizing their nets and other gear. The fish are stacked into plastic bins which are then weighed right there on the beach. Now the negotiating takes place. You will witness women repairing nets and a lot of other similar activity. Boats will be coming ashore and one of the larger boats will actually head out at this time of day. Photo opportunities abound, including the famed 8th century Shore Temple, from which you are only a stone's throw away. Bid farewell to your South India Tour Director this evening.
Day 13: Chennai - International Flight OR Mumbai/Delhi.
You are assisted with your check-out by noon and then driven to Chennai airport in time for your outbound flight. Board your international flight or your flight to Mumbai/Delhi.
As most international flights
depart in the evening, if you are boarding your international flight from Chennai a personal vehicle and chauffeur are available to you until your assisted check in at the airport.
If you are boarding a daytime flight
to Mumbai/Delhi (flight cost not included in Flight Supplement Quotation)
in order to connect with your international departure from that city, you will have two options. When Easy Tours makes your international travel arrangements, we are usually able to include this domestic flight as part of your international travel booking, thereby saving you money and enabling you to check your baggage through to your final destination.
If your international flight
departure is around three hours from your scheduled arrival time at the domestic terminal at Mumbai or Delhi, you will ask the airline staff to assist you in locating the shuttle that takes you to the international terminal.
If your international flight
departure is around four or more hours from your scheduled arrival time at the domestic terminal at Delhi or Mumbai, you are greeted at the Mumbai/Delhi airport by an Easy Tours Facilitator & your personal chauffeur. Your vehicle and chauffeur will stay with you until your assisted check in at the international terminal. This is a good time to do some last minute shopping and/or sightseeing if you are so inclined.
If your flight departs
early the next morning you may want us to arrange a room for you so you can rest.
Our services end