Nov 1st: Depart from origin
. You can ask us to include international flights - we offer discounted consolidator fares (First, Business & Economy) on the best airlines and we know the best routes and travel routings, including seasonal advantages.
Nov 2nd: 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.
Nov 3rd: Delhi
. Start your exploration
of India with a guided city tour of Old Delhi. You will be introduced to the other members of your group and your Tour Director prior to beginning this excursion. 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 AD), 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 that 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. 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 that surrounds 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 ft 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 over 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 (all currently undergoing restoration) 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, a golden domed Sikh Temple (Bangla Sahib Gurudwara), & the Birla Temple. The last part of this excursion is a drive through Connaught Place, which is New Delhi’s downtown.
Nov 4th: Delhi – Varanasi.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and driven to the airport.You
are assisted with boarding the mid-morning flight to Varanasi. 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.
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 and oil lamp ceremony 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.
Nov 5th: Varanasi – Khajuraho.
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.
Return to your hotel
to freshen up and pack.
Late morning -
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and driven to the airport.
You are assisted in boarding the flight to Khajuraho. You are greeted at the Khajuraho airport and driven to your hotel where you are assisted with your check-in.
Start your guided tour
of the famed temples, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These magnificent examples of Hindu religious art were constructed about a thousand years ago. Thousands of extremely detailed rock sculptures adorn the facades of these temples and the subject matter includes some very explicit erotic scenes. The sophisticated design and building techniques that were used in the creation of these temples and the detailed artistry of the sculptures cannot be described in words – you have to experience them personally to grasp their impact. You have the option (no charge) of attending the sound and light show at the temples in the evening – it is hard to understand and not impressive by western standards.
Nov 6th: Khajuraho - Agra.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel in the morning and then driven to Orcha. There is a break for a late lunch (included) on arrival at Orcha. After lunch you will enjoy an exploration of the magnificent ruins at Orcha. The archeological treasures of Orcha were built between four and five centuries ago by Hindu kings that ruled this area. After your exploration of the ruins you are driven to nearby Jhansi and assisted in boarding the express train to Agra. Your Tour Director assists you in getting seated in your assigned seats and gets your luggage ported to the appropriate location above your seats. Your Tour Director provides you with a detailed itinerary of the trains schedule so as to make you comfortable with every step of the journey. Refreshments are served by Indian Railways during this journey – we recommend that you refrain from consuming these, except for the bottled water. You are greeted at the railway station in Agra and driven to your hotel where you are assisted with your check-in.
Agra’s artists are famous
for their creations in inlaid marble.
Nov 7th: Agra. You now start your exploration
of Agra with a half day city tour of the magnificent monuments of this city. As you exit your hotel you will be greeted with a short folk music and dance performance by a local artist troupe. The exploration of Agra includes 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 your exploration of the tomb 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.
There is a break for lunch
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.
Nov 8th: Agra – Ranthambore.
You can either sleep in or chose to enjoy either of these two optional excursions - a sunrise visit to Mehtab Bagh (no charge), which is a 500 year old Mughal garden located across from the Taj Mahal on the other side of the Yamuna River; or a sunrise visit the Taj Mahal (entry fee, personal guide and vehicle surcharge applies). If you select either of the latter options, you will return to your hotel to freshen up after the excursion. We recommend that you consider getting a packed lunch from the hotel for your journey. The dining/rest stopover during the journey offers limited choices.
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, 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 Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore National Park). The second half of this drive is through rural Rajasthan and there are multiple photo opportunities of the colorful villagers as they go about their daily activities. You will also encounter many camels and other livestock on this drive.
You are greeted on arrival at your jungle lodge and 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.
Nov 9th: Ranthambore.
Covering an area of 410 sq. km, Ranthambore National Park runs along
the eastern spur of the Aravali mountain range until it meets with the Vindhya ranges. Ranthambore used to be the private hunting ground of the rulers of Jaipur. In 1972 it was declared a Sanctuary and was brought under the Project Tiger Conservation platform. Dry deciduous forest covers most of the park, and the vegetation is lush around the many small lakes and ponds. The open grasslands that are the tiger’s favorite terrain account for much of the land on the higher slopes. This varied flora supports a large number of animals including a variety of deer, the sloth bear, the shy caracal, leopards and of course, the tiger.
Enjoy wildlife safaris
in to the park in the morning and evening.
In between safaris, you have the option of a guided visit to the Ranthambore Fort.
This excursion does have a fairly steep climb – approximately 700 feet of stairs. The massive Fort is one of the finest examples of the ancient Hindu concept of “Vana-Durg”, or a fort protected by a jungle. The history of this Fort (originally built in 944 AD) is a chronicle full of tales of blood and valor. Successively occupied by the Muslims, Rajputs and Mughals, the insides of the fort today lie partly in ruins. There are superb views of the park to be had from the ramparts. There is an ancient temple located in the fort and it attracts a continuous stream of pilgrims from the surrounding villages. A little note of caution – a large number of aggressive langur’s (South Asian monkeys) have made the Fort area their home and it is not advisable to have shiny objects and food visible in your hands as you tour the fort, as it will be snatched away.
Nov 10th: Ranthambore – Jaipur.
Enjoy your last safari into Ranthambore in the morning. Return to your hotel after the safari and enjoy your breakfast. You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and then you are driven to Jaipur.
The first half of this drive is also through rural Rajasthan and there are multiple photo opportunities. Sawai Madhopur itself (the community located next to Ranthambore) is a rural small town and you will drive through it to get a glimpse of life here before you head for Jaipur. You are assisted with your check in at your hotel at Jaipur.
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 miniature paintings, costumes, and armory.
– You can either choose to enjoy your hotel this evening, or select from one of these two escorted excursions. You can visit the home of a Rajasthani Nobleman and enjoy a traditional dinner with members of the family, or you can enjoy a dinner and Rajasthani cultural show that includes regional dance, music and acrobatic performances.
Jaipur is famous
for its carpets, jewelry & handicrafts.
Nov 11th: Jaipur.
Start your day with an excursion to Amber Fort & Palace, located 12 kilometers from the center of the 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” to “Return to the valley beneath the Fort and proceed back to the Pink City”
There is a break for lunch.
– you are at leisure with your Tour Director, vehicle and chauffeur, who are available to you until 7 pm. This is a good time to shop for Rajasthani specialties if you are so inclined. There are other options that your Tour Director can offer you.
Nov 12th: Jaipur – Pushkar. Drive to Pushkar
in the morning. Arrive at Pushkar in the mid-morning and check in to your Luxury Tent or Cottage. Participate in Pushkar Camel Fair festivities (Cattle Fair).
Our Tour Directors
will guide you to various activities and events around the Fair, and are available to assist you with your individual needs should any arise.
- Tour the Fair camp grounds to view the cattle. Experience the trading activity with the cattle, which is at its peak.
Nov 13th: Pushkar.
Participate in Pushkar Camel Fair festivities (Cattle Fair), including the camel race which is currently scheduled for this morning (subject to change).
Our Tour Directors
will guide you to various activities and events around the Fair, and are available to assist you with your individual needs should any arise.
- Tour the Fair camp grounds to view the cattle, and this is a good day to explore the small town of Pushkar and its monuments.
Nov 14th: Pushkar – Jodhpur.
You are assisted with your check-out from your desert resort in the morning and then you proceed on the drive to Jodhpur Arrive at Jodhpur and you are assisted with your check-in to your hotel.
There is a break
- Proceed on a half day city tour of Jodhpur. The tour begins from the fifteenth century Mehrangarh Fort. This formidable hilltop fort is arguably the most awe inspiring in Rajasthan, a land of impressive hilltop forts and palaces. Entry to the massive fort is through a series of seven great gates, with the main entrance being the huge Lohapol, which literally means Iron Gate. Next to this gate there are 15 hand prints in the wall, the Sati Marks of Maharaja Man Singh’s widows. These hand prints were etched into the wall by the queens just prior to them throwing themselves upon his funeral pyre in 1843, as the besieged fort was about to be conquered. Inside the fort is a collection of some of the finest palaces and galleries, including, Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Sukh Mahal (Pleasure Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Elephant Howdah Gallery, Palanquin Gallery, the Armory, the Turban Gallery, and the Folk Music Gallery. The Daulat Khana houses one of the world’s finest collections of Mughal Art.
On your way back to your hotel you will stop for a tour of Jaswant Thada, a marble cenotaph built in 1899 as a memorial to Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.
Nov 15th: Jodhpur – Udaipur.
You are assisted with your
check out and you proceed on the drive to Ranakpur.
Arrive at Ranakpur around noon and enjoy a guided excursion to the awe-inspiring Jain Temple Complex. You will be amazed by the famous 15th Century marble temple that is still an active place of worship. The main temple’s twenty nine halls are supported by fourteen hundred and forty four massive yet intricately carved marble pillars, and no two are of the same design. There is an abundance of exquisite sculptures and friezes and the enormous scale of the monument and the exquisite details of its design have to be experienced to be believed.
Lunch is included
at Ranakpur this afternoon.
Continue on the drive to Udaipur after lunch. This is one of the most picturesque drives in all of India. As you go through the Aravali hills there will be photo opportunities of village life and livestock, including many camels. Arrive at Udaipur in the late afternoon/early evening and you are assisted with your check-in to your hotel.
Udaipur is famous
for its artists and paintings, including exquisite miniatures.
Nov 16th: Udaipur.
Proceed for a city tour, including a tour of the fabled City Palace. At this Palace complex, explore the beautifully decorated rooms with thousands of exquisite,
handcrafted mirrors that cover the walls,the ancient ivory doors that are a dark reminder of royalty’s passion for hunting, the brightly colored glass windows, expansive inlaid marble balconies and the unique peacock courtyard. Enjoy a private tour of the amazing Crystal Gallery which houses the world’s largest collection of priceless crystal. Marvel at pieces like the complete bedroom furniture set in crystal, discovered recently in a store room in the palace. There are amazing views to be had from this structure, especially of Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace hotel and Jag Mandir.
After your tour of the City Palace you will visit the historical Sahelion-ki-bari gardens and the local Museum.
Late afternoon/Early evening
: Enjoy a cruise on Lake Pichola and visit the historical and beautiful monuments at Jag Mandir Island (if available – the royal family at Udaipur will occasionally rent out the island for large celebrations and on those occasions the island cannot be visited by tourists). Bid farewell to your North India Tour Director this evening.
Nov 17th: Udaipur - Mumbai.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and then you are driven to the airport where you are assisted with boarding your morning flight to Mumbai. On arrival at Mumbai
you are greeted by your Travel Facilitator and chauffeur.
Proceed for 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 this excursion.
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.
Nov 18th: 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.
Nov 19th: 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. There 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 this 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.
Nov 20th: 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.
Nov 21st: 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.
Nov 22nd: 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.
Nov 23rd: Backwaters Cruise – Thekkady (Periyar National Park).
Disembark from your houseboat in the morning and enjoy the fascinating drive through the Western Ghats as you to head for Thekkady.
This is one of the most beautiful drives in all of South India. Arrive at Thekkady and you are assisted with your check-in to your scenic nature resort. You are now in the heart of spice country, and, if you breathe deeply, the air carries a faint aroma that will delight you.
There is a break
for a late lunch.
This is the heart of spice country and the pleasant, mild aroma from the surrounding plantations will fascinate you when you arrive.
Periyar is located around a picturesque artificial lake that was formed in 1895 by building a dam on the Periyar River. The terrain is hilly and the elevation of the park ranges from a few hundred feet to about 6000 feet above sea level. The lake occupies the valleys of the thickly forested hills, serving as a permanent source of water for wildlife in the Park. Although it falls under “Project Tiger”, the main attractions of the park are definitely elephants.
Periyar is home to just under a thousand elephants and also over 60 other mammal species including tigers, bison, deer, wild boar, and wild dog. There are over 300 species of birds, and even 160 species of butterflies. Prominent among the birds are Cormorants, Kingfishers, Darters, the great Malabar Hornbill, and the racket-tailed Drongoes. Unlike Ranthambore, your chances of seeing a tiger in this park are extremely slim.
Thekkady is a great stopover on this itinerary for a variety of reasons, only one of them being the National Park. The Spice plantations are another reason to stop here, as is the fact that this rural area happens to be located in one of the most picturesque parts of the Western Ghats.
– visit a neighboring spice plantation where an experienced naturalist will guide you through scores of different spice plants and illustrate their medicinal and gastronomical properties.
Nov 24th: Thekkady (Periyar).
Start your day with a drive up to Lake Periyar and embark on a lake cruise on the spectacular lake. Periyar is a manmade lake that was created by the building of a dam in 1895. The scenery is both gorgeous and surreal, as ancient tree stumps still protrude from the waters of the 26 sq kilometer lake. Although Lake Periyar is officially a Tiger Reserve, chances of you seeing a big cat here are almost non-existent. What is very common is to see elephant herds as they come to the lake to drink, or as they traverse the terraced hills surrounding the lake. Wild boars are also a common sight.
There is a break
for Lunch after the cruise.
- visit a scenic village that lies hidden in the valley behind the mountains of Periyar Tiger Reserve. You will travel in a bullock cart. The village is rich in bird diversity and has diverse agricultural crops such as mango, tamarind, onion, sunflower, jasmine and dozens of other fruits and vegetables. The village is very scenic and the experience is fascinating, especially when your guide starts to interpret how farming has woven itself inextricably with the culture and the life of the natives. Return to your resort in the evening.
Nov 25th: Thekkady - Madurai.
In the morning you are at leisure to experience the flora (and other attractions) of your nature resort. The resort staff will be happy to give you a guided tour of the variety of plants and trees there, as well as their organic gardens. Upon request you can spend time with the chefs who will give you insights into the preparation of the delightful local cuisine that they offer. There is also a great Ayurvedic Spa that you can try – advance reservations are recommended.
You are assisted with your check out and then you drive to Madurai.
Arrive at Madurai
where you are assisted with your check in to your hotel.
Over 2500 years old, Madurai is the second largest city of Tamil Nadu. It is an important cultural and commercial centre. It was once the seat of Tamil learning and still the place where the Tamil language is spoken in its purest form. The city is planned in the shape of a lotus. Incongruously, modern Madurai is a burgeoning industrial centre, even though the vast stretches of paddy fields, dusty roads and crowded bazaars make it seems like an overgrown village.
- attend the ancient & impressive evening “Palli Arai” ceremony at the mammoth Sree Meenakshi Temple Complex with your guide. This elaborate and ritualistic ceremony has been written up in many international publications.
Nov 26th: Madurai.
Proceed for a guided city tour of Madurai. The main attraction of Madurai is the great Sree Meenakshi Temple. This awe-imposing monument is the finest example of Dravidian temple architecture on this planet.Its Hall of a Thousand Pillars is a fabulous collection of elaborately sculpted and painted deities as well as other creatures from Hindu religious annals. The temple is always a beehive of activity as pilgrims from all over India come to seek the blessings of Meenakshi (Goddess Parvati) & Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) and is filled with worshippers at all hours of the day. You will witness Hindu priests performing various ceremonies in different parts of the temple complex as you explore this huge structure, including religious aspects of traditional weddings. According to Tamil belief the temple has existed for about 2000 years, but this current structure is a mere four centuries old (the previous majestic temple was destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 14th century). The massive complex includes 14 magnificent Gopurams that jut into the sky from different parts of the temple. These Gopurams have thousands of elaborate sculptures carved into them and these have been colorfully painted. The most significant of these Gopurams are the two golden towers dedicated to the two main deities, the tallest one reaches 170 feet.
After you leave the temple you are driven to nearby Thirumalai Nayak Palace. Constructed in 1636 AD by an Italian architect, the palace is an interesting confluence of Dravidian, Islamic & European architectural styles.
You are at leisure
for the balance e of the afternoon with your Tour Director and chauffeur.
Nov 27th: Madurai – Karaikudi (Chettinad).
You are assisted with your check-out in the morning and then you proceed on the drive to nearby Karaikudi. There is a stop
along the way for a tour of an old fashioned brick kiln, and you can try your hand at forming the bricks. Arrive at Karaikudi and you are assisted with your check-in at your boutique lodging.
There is a break
for lunch (included).
enjoy a guided exploration
of Chettinad. Karaikudi is the capital of the Chettinad region, a fascinating rural area made up of 76 villages and small towns. This region has enjoyed a relatively affluent lifestyle for centuries and this is reflected in some unique and amazing architecture, as well as culture. Visit one of the famous Mansions of Chettinad, where wide open spaces are enhanced by generous use of Burma teak and marble, and the ambiance created puts most modern mansions to shame. Also enjoy a brief visit a local temple, which also has differences when compared to most Tamil temples.
Nov 28th: Chettinad – Tanjore - Trichy – Mahabalipuram.
You are assisted with your check-out and then you proceed on the two hour drive to Tanjore. The Great Living Chola Temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and your day will start with a guided visit to the most amazing example of these, the Brihadishwara
. This awe-inspiring Temple Complex is constructed solely of granite, a material so hard that no architect today, with all our current technology, would even dream of building
a structure with the incredible detail and mammoth scale of the Brihadishwara. These are just a few of the reasons why this monument is one of India’s most treasured architectural achievements.
This ancient temple’s crown
is a massive granite monolithic cupola. This temple was built by the great King Rajaraja Chola. Construction commenced in 1003 AD and the height of the main structure is 216 feet, which means that the 80 ton cupola had to be raised about 200 feet and placed at the top of the structure. The temple itself is decorated with carved panels depicting mythological events. An immense Nandi (the Bull) stands in front of the main shrine – carved out of a single piece of granite and measuring 16 feet long & 13 feet high. The incredible detail and complexity of the carvings is matched by the vibrant colors and talented artistry of the elaborate frescoes inside the structures. The colors used are said to have lasted this long because they were achieved by locating stones in those natural shades and grinding those stones to a paste.
After your exploration of the Brihadishwara there will be a break for lunch that is included.
you will proceed on the short drive to Trichy. Arrive at Trichy & you will stop for a photo opportunity at the ancient Tiruchirapali Rock Fort & Temple Complex. The complex is perched on an immense boulder that is 256 feet high. This boulder is one of the largest such formations on our planet and is also one of the oldest at 3.8 million years of age. The Vinayak temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesh and built in 580 AD, is located at the very summit. An ascent to the top is not included as you have to climb 437 steps that have been cut into the rock itself, and it takes a lot of time to climb up and then return. At the base of the boulder is the Manikka Vinayakar temple, a large and impressive Hindu house of worship and you a brief exploration of this is included. There is also a tank and a pavilion which are used during the float festivals of the temples. Among all these temples you will find an 18th century Church that was built by Reverend Schwartz, a Danish Priest who was part of the British occupying garrisons.
The next stop is
the spectacular island temple complex of Srirangam, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This complex covers 156 acres and is one of the largest religious complexes in the world. Although this temple is mentioned in Tamil mythology as having existed for many millennia, archeological studies of the current structure date it back to the 10th century AD. It is surrounded by 7 concentric walled courtyards that add up to over 6 miles of walls. There are 21 magnificent Gopurams (Tower gateways) and there are festivals celebrated in this complex on about 322 days every year. Within the temple there are many impressive shrines as well as a colorful mix of flower markets, restaurants and other stores catering to the worshippers. Non-Hindu’s are not allowed past the 6th wall and thus cannot enter the gold crowned inner sanctum. If you are feeling a little ‘templed’ out at this point of your discovery of India, you may want to pass up on this part of your itinerary as Srirangam’s design and other attributes have quite a bit in common with the Sree Meenakshi Temple at Madurai.
There is a break
for refreshments or an early dinner.
you are driven to the Trichy airport and assisted in boarding the late evening flight to Chennai. You are greeted at the Chennai airport and then driven to Mahabalipuram where you are assisted with your check-in to your ocean front resort.
Nov 29th: Mahabalipuram.
Start your day at 11 am 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.
Nov 30th: Mahabalipuram.
Enjoy a guided excursion to Kanchipuram
. If you are feeling “templed out” by this time, you may want to not take this excursion. You can, on your own, enjoy your resort or the neighboring fishing community and bazaar. 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 India. 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.
Dec 1st: 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
Dec 2nd: Arrive at your next destination