Day 1: Arrive at Mumbai
(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: Mumbai
. Start your exploration
of India with a guided city tour of Mumbai. You will be introduced to the other members of your group and your Mumbai Tour Director prior to beginning
The tour begins at the Prince of Wales Museum, built to commemorate King George V’s first visit to India in 1905. Designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, the museum has sections of art, paintings, archeological exhibits and natural history. After the museum tour you will visit the famous ‘Dhobi Ghat’ & observe the age old tradition of the Dhobi’s doing Mumbai’s laundry!
There is a break for lunch.
Continue the tour
with a drive up to Malabar Hill, where the hanging gardens give a panoramic view of the city and the "Queen’s Necklace" (Marine Drive). The tour then takes a drive through the Flora Fountain and Fort area, where you can view the impressive Gothic and Victorian buildings that were constructed during the British ‘Raj’. Visit the Victoria Terminus (now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). It is India’s finest example of a Gothic architecture and one of the world’s busiest railway stations.
Drive around Horniman Circle and visit the Town Hall, right besides the docks of Mumbai. Visit the city’s signature landmark, “The Gateway of India”, situated overlooking Mumbai’s harbor. This structure was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai. You are then driven back to your hotel.
Day 3: Mumbai – Aurangabad.
You are assisted with an early morning check out of your hotel and then driven to the airport where you are assisted with boarding the early morning flight to Aurangabad. You are greeted upon arrival at the airport by your Aurangabad Tour Director.
Enjoy a full day guided
excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ajanta. Buddhist monks and local craftsmen began excavating, sculpting, and painting at Ajanta in the 2nd century BC. The incredible variety of paintings and sculpture were created in hard rock by using primitive yet ingenious lighting, tools, and materials. These 28 caves are a testimony to the devotion of the Buddhists, as well as the talents of their skilled craftsmen.
Of particular interest is the concept of “Vertical Excavation”. When your Easy Tours Guide passionately explains this concept and describes the processes, you will be awed by the achievements of the craftsmen. Although the caves themselves are very impressive in their design and volume of massive sculpturing and excavation, it is the art inside the caves that will take your breath away. The incredible artistry and colors of the paintings and sculptures is unique – such art has not been seen anywhere else, not just in India, but anywhere in the world. Ajanta's incredible paintings are even more impressive considering that the color and texture you're admiring today was created by artists about two thousand years ago.
After exploring the caves at Ajanta you drive to Aurangabad and your hotel.
Day 4: Aurangabad.
This morning you will proceed for a half day guided excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of
Ellora. We recommend that you consider taking advantage of the packed lunch that the hotel offers to its guest. Explore the magnificently sculptured cave temples and monasteries of Ellora. They are 34 ‘Caves’ at Ellora and any of them would individually be considered a significant attraction in most nations. They were built between 600 AD & 1000 AD and are devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
17 of these caves illustrate a resurgence of Hinduism in t his area, as reflected by their Hindu themes, sculpture, and art. The epitome of this is Cave 16, the awe-inspiring "Kailash Temple". It was finished during the 8th century and is supposed to evoke one of the abodes of Lord Shiva, Mount Kailash in the Himalayas.
The Kailash Temple
is notable for its immense scale; it is the most awe-inspiring of all of the amazing monuments at Ajanta Ellora. More than 200,000 tons of rock was excavated and six generations of craftsmen worked for a hundred and twenty years to create this masterpiece.
On your way back
to your hotel you can stop at Daulatabad Fort. This 14th century hilltop Fort is an impressive sight but what will amaze you is your guide’s illustration of the multiple ingenious architectural facets that were used to make it virtually impregnable. The once sloping sides of the massive stone hill were manually carved sheer on all sides so that no one could climb straight to the top.
Day 5: Aurangabad – Mumbai - Cochin.
You are assisted with an early morning check-out today and driven to the airport. You are assisted with boarding the morning flight to Mumbai. Connect with the flight to Cochin – your bags have been checked through. 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 South India Tour Director or 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.
After the dance performance
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 6: 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 one of the other days that you are in Cochin. 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.
Day 7: Cochin - Backwaters cruise.
You are assisted with your check-out by an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator and driven
to the backwaters. Arrive at Alleppey & you are assisted in boarding 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 8: Backwaters Cruise – Mahabalipuram (Chennai).
Disembark from your houseboat in the morning and enjoy the scenic drive to Cochin airport. You are assisted with boarding the early afternoon flight to Chennai. Upon arrival at Chennai 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); this was the first English Church in Chennai. After the church you visit the National Art Gallery & Museum and explore the beautiful temple friezes, the bronze gallery, and the Archaeological section. After the cathedral 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. You are then driven to your resort in nearby Mahabalipuram where you are assisted with your check in to your Ocean Front Resort.
Day 9: 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.
Day 10: Mahabalipuram.
Enjoy a guided excursion to Kanchipuram
. The ancient holy city of Kanchipuram is known as the ‘golden city of a thousand temples’ and is one of the seven sacred cities of Indi a. Its many Gopurams (temple domes) can be seen from a long ways away as you approach the city. Kanchipuram history can be traced back for about three millenniums and it was successively the capital of many South Indian dynasties. It was a great center of learning and great sages of the Buddhist and Jain faith originated here. The occupation of many residents of this city is silk weaving and Kanchi silk sarees are considered to be the finest on the planet – a visit to a silk weaving family’s home is part of the tour.
After touring Kanchipuram
you will return to your resort in nearby Mahabalipuram.
Day 11: 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.
An optional city tour (small surcharge applies) of Chennai is available for those that do not have to board a flight out in the morning. Experience India’s fourth largest city.
The tour of Chennai begins from St. Mary’s Church (built in 1678 – 80); this was the first English Church in Chennai. After the church you visit the National Art Gallery & Museum and explore the beautiful temple friezes, the bronze gallery, and the Archaeological section. After the cathedral 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.
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