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 our travel facilitator or Tour Director, and then 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 the travel facilitator or Tour Director hands over travel documents such as your air tickets and hotel vouchers to you.
Day 2: Delhi.
You start your day with a brief stop at Raj Ghat
(Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial & cremation site). You then travel the
very short distance to two of India’s most impressive Mughal era monuments - the amazing Red Fort
(A World Heritage Site) and the impressive Jama Masjid
(India’s largest mosque). After touring these two monuments and exploring the ancient bazaar at Chandni Chowk
(including a rickshaw ride through its crowded, narrow alleys), you will drive to Central Delhi to begin your culinary crusade at the Pindi Restaurant. The buttered naans (leavened Indian bread) are freshly baked and flavored with aniseed. They will melt in your mouth and are a perfect accompaniment to the large variety of curries available here.
An essential is the popular tandoori specialty - Tandoori Chicken. It is marinated and then cooked to perfection in a clay oven. We recommend the popular local desert called Seviyan (vermicelli cooked with milk and sugar).
After your lunch
, head across town to the other end of Delhi and embark on an exploration of Delhi’s monuments ranging from the medieval period to the magnificent architectural legacy of India’s British rulers.
Arrive at the incredible Qutab Minar
and explore the 72.5 m (287 feet) high tower. It was built as a symbol of victory by Qutub-ud-din-Aibak at the end of the
12th century. In the vicinity of the Qutab Minar stands the almost mythical Ashoka Pillar
. It is amazing how this large 5th century Iron Pillar has not rusted at all in 1600 years, despite the vagaries of Delhi’s weather!
Head back towards Delhi’s center and drive through the Diplomatic Enclave. Arrive at “Lutyens Delhi
” includes the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan
, designed and built by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens in 1931. It is the State residence of the President of India
and has over 350 rooms.
Close to Rashtrapati Bhavan is the Parliament House
, a domed almost circular structure almost a kilometer in circumference, where the bicameral legislature of India meets for its sessions.
Drive down the awe inspiring wide Victorian era pathway that leads from the Rashtrapati Bhawan to the famous India Gate
, a solemn war memorial constructed in honor of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. It houses an eternal flame in their honor.
After exploring the India Gate area
you drive in to neighboring Connaught Place and treat yourself to your next delicious Indian meal. The Delhi Durbar Restaurant design and ambiance evoke memories of a Mughal court. Indulge your palate and choose from a wide variety of succulent vegetable, chicken and lamb delicacies to be found here.
We believe that at the end of this day all five of your senses will have been stimulated more then you had anticipated. We hope that the other four senses mirror the extreme satisfaction that your taste buds will have experienced.
Day 3: Delhi - Agra.
Board the early morning (6 am) Express train - two hour journey - to Agra. Begin your day with a detailed tour of the original red sandstone fort of North India - the Agra Fort
- built by Emperor Akbar in 1565 A.D. and elaborately embellished by his successors with beautiful monuments.
Visit Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s tomb
and admire the exquisite marble tomb made by Empress Nur Jahan for her father. Ornamented with marble lattice screens and intricate ‘Pietra Dura’ - marble inlay work - it is eloquent testimony of a daughter’s love.
By now you would have worked up an appetite
which will be satisfied at the Taj Khema restaurant - a stone’s throw from the Taj Mahal. As you relish the delicious Kormas, rich mutton or chicken curries (flavored with saffron and nuts), you may find yourself imagining that you have traveled back in time and are sharing one of the Emperors royal feasts!
Help yourself liberally from a platter of ‘pullao’ or aromatic rice, garnished with tender green peas or cumin seeds or onions or….the choices are endless.
An absolute must of every Avadhi meal is its impressive variety of ‘kebabs’ or bite sized mutton and chicken preparations made from finely minced meat to which ground spices are added before cooking, or chicken pieces variously marinated and then cooked to a tender succulence.
Replete with ‘royal’ cuisine, it would only be fitting to venture forth once more to explore some more marvels of Mughal architecture.
Now proceed for your exploration
of the world’s greatest monument to love - the Taj Mahal
(A World Heritage Site). No matter how many pictures you've seen (or glowing descriptions you've read), your first sight of the Taj will leave you speechless. We will not attempt to describe the incredible beauty of the monument, nor the ambiance of its surroundings - better writers and poets have tried and failed. As you explore the intricacies of design and construction, and the massive scale at which these intricacies were achieved, you'll wonder how the creators of the Taj Mahal attained a level of skill and talent (and access to materials) that surpasses anything in modern design.
Savor the moment
for a while and experience the amazing spectacle of the sun setting on its facade, as it plays with the colors and hues of the millions of beautiful precious stones that are inlayed in the marble.
Day 4: Agra - Ranthambore.
You have the option (no charge) of a sunrise visit to Mehtab Bagh, which is a 500 year old Mughal garden located across from the Taj Mahal on the other side of the Yamuna River. You also have the option of visiting the Taj Mahal again for a sunrise visit (entry fee surcharge applies). If you select either of the two options, you will return to your hotel to freshen up after the visit.
You are assisted
with your check-out from your hotel and then you are driven to Fatehpur Sikri.
Enjoy a guided exploration of this beautiful uninhabited city. It was built by Emperor Akbar between 1570 and 1585 and is constructed primarily out of red sandstone. The Emperor moved his capital from Agra to this city and then 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.
Proceed on the drive to
Ranthambore National Park. The second half of this drive is through rural areas where you will have multiple photo opportunities of villagers engrossed in their daily activities, as well as their dwellings and livestock. You are greeted on arrival at your jungle lodge and are assisted with your check-in.
Since 2006, Easy Tours of India
has tracked the percentage of tiger sightings for our guests in Ranthambore National Park. Over 85% of our guests have had tiger sightings during this period, with many of them getting multiple sightings.
Day 5: Ranthambore.
The day starts with an early morning safari into the wilderness of Ranthambore.
Renowned for its magnificent Bengal Tigers
, Ranthambore National Park is one of the finest tiger Sanctuaries in the country. Other wildlife you may spot includes:
Leopards - Asiatic deer - flying foxes - sloth bears - jackals - monitor lizards - macaques - the elusive caracal - blue bull - the snub nosed crocodile - jungle cats - four horned antelope and large herds of spotted deer near the three major watering holes in the Park.
It is also a bird watcher’s paradise
. With over 260 avian species, you get to see jacanas - painted stork - black stork - crested serpent eagle - the great Indian horned owl - Bonelli’s eagle - quail - partridge - paradise flycatcher - spur fowl -parakeets - spoonbills - kingfishers - geese and white necked stork among others.
Perhaps the most brilliant of all the fowl is the amazingly plumaged peacock, the National Bird of India. If you are fortunate, you may get to see a male dance and have another lifelong memory to take with you.
Upon your return
to your Lodge you get an opportunity to relax and freshen up.
Your adventure in the fresh air of the jungle should have you ready for lunch. You may want to try one of the mutton specialties along with the delicious Dal Panchmeli (a mix of five types of lentils cooked together) and seasoned with a mouth-watering blend of mild spices and ghee (clarified butter). Accompanying it might be a local delicacy like Murg ka Mokul (shredded fried chicken cooked in yoghurt & spices & flavored with saffron and almonds) and an assortment of freshly prepared Indian breads.
After lunch, you will return to the jungle
for another safari. At the end of this safari, you may want to explore the ruins of the 10th century jungle fort (Ranthambhore Fort
) which dominates the hills above the park and after which the Park has been named.
Epitomizing the ancient Hindu concept of Vana-Durg
(a fort protected by a jungle), the Ranthambhore Fort was a citadel of power vital for the control of various trade routes. Built in 944 A.D. and chronicling numerous tales of valor in its history, this is still an imposing structure.
Tour its many old ruins including the palaces - temples - cenotaphs - houses and step-wells. There is an ancient functioning Hindu temple at one end of the Fort complex which is still considered a sacred pilgrimage destination by the villagers in the surrounding areas. Perched atop a cliff overlooking the Park, the Fort affords superb views of the Park and has been a silent witness to history over the last millennium.
Among the more fascinating features of Ranthambhore (and there are many of those) are some ancient Banyan trees mentioned in a few of the religious texts of India. With their gnarled roots stretching down deep into the earth, some of them are over 800 years old.
On this evening you will dine while swapping tales about your experiences on the safari. Savor the succulent chicken and mutton kebabs, the fresh Indian breads, along with other delicious Rajasthani accompaniments.
Day 6: Ranthambore - Jaipur.
Enjoy your last safari into Ranthambore in the morning.
Check out of your hotel
and drive to Jaipur. Arrive at Jaipur and check into your hotel.
a delicious Rajasthani lunch on arrival at Jaipur. Tuck into and savor the many unique flavors of a ‘Thali’ - a round platter in which a cross-section of delicious culinary favorites are presented for you to sample and enjoy.
Begin your explorations
with the superbly designed City Palace
in the heart of the Pink City
. As you listen to the tales of heroism, chivalry and sacrifice, and you view the impressive memorabilia of costumes, armory and miniature paintings in its many museums, you may find yourself transported back to a time when Rajput Kings ruled this land, to a time of magnificent palaces, historic battles, and royal romances.
Explore monuments built by the amazing Raja Jai Singh - the astronomer king of Jaipur - he built the magnificent stone Observatory Jantar Mantar
in 1728 A.D. Another ruler, Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, built the intriguing façade of the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds)
in 1799 A.D.
Day 7: Jaipur.
Start your day with a Jaipuri Swadbhara Naashta - the literal translation is delicious breakfast - or (as with any other day) with a hearty western breakfast.
Proceed for an excursion to Amber Fort & Palace,
where you can choose between ascending the ramparts of the Palace on a brightly caparisoned elephant (like the Kings who ruled here) or by a more sedate 4WD vehicle. The Fort was originally built by Raja Mansingh and is one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture. Visit the chambers and hallways of the Palace which are famous for their design and decorations.
There is a break for lunch
. Enjoy a unique Rajasthani lunch at a specialty restaurant.
- you are at leisure with your guide and chauffeur, who are available to you till 5 pm. This is a good time to shop for Rajasthani specialties if you are so inclined. There are enough other options that your guide/chauffeur can offer you.
A guided tour of the palace and other monuments in the area is included. Drive back to Jaipur in the late afternoon.
- drive to a dinner theatre where you will enjoy a colorful cultural show and a dinner that allows you to sample a diverse cross section of the local cuisine.
Day 8: Jaipur - Udaipur.
Fly to Udaipur in the morning. Arrive at Udaipur and proceed for a city tour, including a tour of the City Palace
. At this Palace complex, explore the gorgeous rooms with mirrored walls and ivory doors, windows with colored glass, inlaid marble balconies and the peacock courtyard. The amazing “Crystal Gallery
” at the Palace is unmatched in this world. You also visit the lovely Sahelion-ki-bari gardens and the local Museum.
As your mind absorbs the decadent display of wealth
that it has just experienced, it is time to subject your palate to similarly lavish cuisine. Enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants in the Palaces that surround you, and where an entourage of royal cooks
is busy preparing Mewari cuisine to titillate your taste buds. Choose from a mouth-watering array of local dishes, maybe settling for the delicious Gutte ka Saag - crusty gram flour dumplings cooked in a spicy onion based gravy twanging with cumin and ginger; savor the thick golden-brown Dal Mewari - special flavored Mewari lentils and Makki Pullao - rice garnished with tasty corn dumplings.
Other options include Flaky fish wrapped in a green mint and coriander chutney, a tender mutton curry shimmering in tomato gravy & a succulent chicken curry innovatively teamed with sweet corn. End your meal with the famous Malai Ghevar - a spongy wedge made of refined flour and clarified butter, moistened with a splash of condensed milk and covered with the obligatory silver wrap.
- cruise on Lake Pichola
and visit Jag Mandir
(subject to it being open). After your cruise on Lake Pichola you head to the delightful royal garden known as Sahelion-Ki-Bari
(Garden of the Maidens). Its lotus pool, a sitting room decorated with paintings and glass mosaics, and a profusion of colorful flowerbeds, lawns, pools and fountains, all serve as reminders of Udaipur’s glorious past. Udaipur is famous
for its artists and paintings, including exquisite miniatures.
Day 9: Udaipur.
Start the day with a drive to Ranakpur
. Tour the famous 15th Century Jain Temples
, located 90 km's north of Udaipur. The temples 29 halls are supported by 1444 intricately carved pillars, and no two are of the same design. There is an abundance of exquisite sculptures and friezes.
A buffet lunch is provided at Ranakpur
Return to Udaipur in the afternoon.
It is now time to end your explorations of Rajasthan
, albeit with a delicious foray into some more unique Mewari cuisine. Safed Maans - lamb chunks cooked to a tender succulence in yoghurt and almond-coconut paste - is a sure winner. When combined with a rich pullao (rice garnished liberally with nuts and raisins) & Dana Methi Kishmish - a delicious fenugreek, raisin and yoghurt preparation, you will find it hard to accommodate any of the delicious dessert options afterwards.
Day 10: Udaipur - Mumbai.
Board the morning flight to Mumbai. Arrive at Mumbai and proceed for a Mumbai City tour. The tour begins at the “Prince of Wales Museum“, built to commemorate King George V first visit to India in 1905. Designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, the museum has sections of art, paintings, archeological
exhibits, and natural history. Across the road is the Modern Art Gallery which is a must for any connoisseur of art, we make a brief stop here. Continue the tour to visit “The Gateway of India”, Mumbai’s foremost landmark overlooking the harbor. This structure was conceived following the visit of King George V in 1911 and officially opened in 1924. A drive up to the Malabar Hill, to the hanging gardens, gives a panoramic view the city and the "Queens Necklace", a road called Marine Drive. You then drive through the Flora Fountain and Fort area, where you can view the Gothic and Victorian style buildings. Visit the Victoria Terminus (now known as Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus) India’s finest Gothic building and a bustling Railway Station. Continue on your drive around Horniman Circle and visit the Town Hall, right besides the docks of Mumbai.
Check in to your hotel
in the late afternoon.
Day 11: Mumbai - Aurangabad.
Board the early morning flight to Aurangabad. Arrive at Aurangabad and proceed for half day guided excursion to Ellora. Explore the magnificently
sculptured caves of Ellora. These caves illustrate a resurgence of Hinduism, reflected by the creation of these 17 caves with Hindu themes, sculpture, and art; including Cave 16, the awe-inspiring "Kailash Temple". Like all of the other Cave temples, this one was created out of one rock. However, the significance of that fact changes when you put it in perspective of this enormous structure.
Check into your Hotel
after the tour of Ellora.
Tonight you will enjoy Maharashtrian cuisine dinner
at your hotel. Maharashtrian (or Marathi) cuisine covers a wide range from being extremely mild to very spicy dishes. Wheat, rice, jowar (sorghum), vegetables, lentils and fruit form important components of Maharashtrian diet.
Day 12: Aurangabad.
Full day guided excursion to Ajanta. Buddhist monks and other 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 elaborate and 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. Ajanta's incredible paintings are even more amazing considering that the color and texture you're admiring today was created by artists about two thousand years ago.(You will carry packed lunch from your hotel)
Day 13: Aurangabad - Cochin (Kochi).
Board the morning flight to Mumbai. Connect with the flight to Cochin. Arrive at Cochin and check in to your hotel. Enjoy a traditional Keralan breakfast this morning, with a choice between a Dosa or an Idli, both of which come with Sambar. Sambar is a delicious vegetable
gravy that is a popular dish all over India, but in Cochin, you’ll find that the Sambar is unusually sweet. This is the result of the base being made from coconut cream. You can find Sambar on the menu at every meal, but if you have it for breakfast, have it along side famous Keralan coffee. Accompanying the local cuisine will be a selection of fresh local fruits.
Kerala is the perfect place to grow pineapples, mangos, and several other fruits. You can’t find these ingredients any fresher; most of your food was picked that very day. Coconut will be found in many recipes while you are here. After all, Kerala means “Land of Coconut." With that said, coconut will not be the only fruit you’ll find melting in your mouth.
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. Enjoy lunch at one of the local restaurants, where you will be served a selection of fresh local seafood.
After lunch you will
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.
The dinner buffet
is included at your hotel this evening, and will include a great selection of both local and western cuisine.
Day 14: Cochin - Backwaters cruise.
Check out from hotel and visit the Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays & Saturdays) built in 1568.
the tour, drive to Alleppey in the morning & board your houseboat. Relax and have a great time till the next morning as you cruise the amazing backwaters. While on the boat, your personal chef will see to your every need, all while cooking a decadent dish of traditional Keralan cuisine. This, only following an array of appetizers consisting of Banana Fry, Onion Pakkavada and Potato Bujjy.
The curries prepared for you are quintessential of the area, and are spiced sophisticatedly and abundantly. Your taste buds will morn your departure, and will never forget a lunch of Aviyal or sweet curd. The captivating city of Cochin is a destination your eyes and stomach will never forget.
Day 15: Kumarakom - Cochin.
Disembark from your boat at Kumarakom. You are at leisure at Kumarakom till after lunch. Enjoy the beautiful, lush lakeside environment and have a nice buffet lunch (included)
at one of the resorts.
Afternoon - Drive
back to Cochin and check in to your hotel.
Day 16: Cochin - Chennai - Mahabalipuram.
Check out of your hotel and proceed to the airport. Board the early afternoon flight to Chennai. Arrive at Chennai and have lunch at one of the famous restaurants.
After lunch, proceed for a half day city tour - duration about four hours. The tour begins from the St. Mary’s Church, built between 1678 and 1680, this was the first English Church in Chennai. Next you will visit the Saint Thomas Cathedral, 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. Later visit the Kapaleeshwarar Temple, an ancient Shiva Temple and a great example of Dravidian temple architecture. You’ll also visit the 8th century Parathasarathy Temple which is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Visit the National Art Gallery & Museum and explore the beautiful temple friezes, the bronze gallery, and the Archeological section. End the tour with a drive by the High Court, Fort St. George, and the Tamil film studios that come second only to Bollywood as they churn out hundreds of movies a year.
In the evening
you drive to Mahabalipuram, which is an ancient coastal port located south of Chennai. Arrive at Mahabalipuram and check in to your resort.
Day 17: Mahabalipuram - Kanchipuram excursion.
In the morning proceed for an excursion to Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram is known as the golden city of a thousand temples and is one of the seven sacred cities of India. Its many gopurams (temple domes) can be seen from a long way away. After a tour of Kanchipuram, you will drive back to Mahabalipuram.
There is a break for lunch.
In the afternoon
you will tour the world famous 6th century Shore Temples. This city was the second capital and main sea port of the Pallava Kings of Kanchipuram, the first Tamil dynasty after the fall of the Gupta Empire. The whole of Mahablipuram is a fabulous open-air museum of sculpture in living rock, monolithic shrines, and man made hard rock caves with magnificent sculptures inside them. Here you will also find the world’s largest bas relief in rock. On the neighboring beach you will explore the famous temples of the Rathas, the Penance of Bhagirath, the Shore Temple and the eight Mandapams.
You will have buffet dinner at one of the famous multicuisine restaurant.
Day 18: Chennai - Varanasi.
Board the early morning flight to Delhi. Connect with the flight to Varanasi. Check in at your hotel. A city tour - duration about
three hours - This includes visits to the numerous temples that dot the banks of the holy river. You will be able to walk through the narrow lanes and stop by the bazaars to have a look at, among other things, glorious examples of one of the world’s finest material - Banaras silks.
Sunset cruise on the Ganga
- cruise on the Ganga at sunset and have a grandstand view of the ancient prayer and oil lamp ceremonies, as hundreds of lamps are sent floating on the holy river as the sun sets.
Tonight you will enjoy a Thali meal for dinner.
Day 19: Varanasi - Delhi - International Flight.
Early morning boat cruise on the river Ganges
- duration about two hours - The best time to visit the Ghats is dawn when pilgrims take their morning dip. The most famous Ghat is the Dasadwamedh Ghat from where we begin this tour. Enjoy the boat ride while looking out for the people on the Ghats - the women bathing discreetly in their sarees, the young men displaying prowess in yogic postures, & the Brahmin priests offering prayers.
Return to the hotel
to check out. Drive to the airport and board your flight to Delhi. Arrive at Delhi/Mumbai and you are greeted at the airport by your personal chauffeur. You are provided with a personal vehicle for yourself (if Single traveler), for both of you (If Couple or Two people) or for your family (if a family is traveling). Do any last minute shopping and sightseeing that you feel you may have left for the end. Enjoy a diverse sampling of South Indian delicacies today at the original Sagar Ratna restaurant at the Ashok Hotel.
Your vehicle and chauffeur
stay with you till your (usually late evening) assisted check in at the airport.
Our services end
at Delhi airport.