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Delhi, the Taj Mahal, Tigers and the Beautiful South
OFFER ENDS 30TH SEPTEMBER*
Uncover the mystery and majesty of one of the world's oldest civilisations. From ancient cities and mighty temples to tropical backwaters plied by traditional 'houseboats', and from forested uplands dotted with colonial tea plantations to dusty plains and breathtaking temples, this wonderful Indian exploration has it all.
India Tour Itinerary
Board your overnight flight from the UK to Delhi - the teeming, colourful, enthralling heart of India, where the ancient and modern worlds collide.
Day One: Fly to Delhi
Arriving in Delhi you'll be met by your Tour Manager and transferred to your first hotel for an included lunch. Freshen up, then join a guided tour of Delhi's Old City. Discover the historic Red Fort, the Jama Masjid Mosque and Raj Ghat, Gandhi's cremation site. We also take you on an exhilarating rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk's narrow lanes.
Day Two: Enjoy a guided tour of India
Today we'll explore the grandeur of New Delhi, built by the British Raj to reflect the glories of the Empire. Highlights include the historic India Gate war memorial and the vast boulevard of the Rajpath.
Day Three: Explore New Delhi and travel to Jaipur
You'll also have time to see the impressive Agrasen ki Baoli stepwell, the ruins of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and the ornate Qutb Minar tower before you travel to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, this afternoon.
This morning we'll visit Amber for the chance to discover the opulent Royal Halls and sweeping rampart-top views of this 16th-century fort. In the afternoon, we'll tour Jaipur itself, exploring the City Palace complex with its museums and ancient observatory, and the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds', with its innumerable windows and screened balconies. Dinner tonight is with a local family in Jaipur.
Day Four: Visit Amber Fort and tour Jaipur
Ranthambhore National Park, one of the best examples of India's conservation programme, Project Tiger, is your base for the next two nights. Once here, rest and relax at your hotel, or join an afternoon optional excursion to Ranthambhore Fort, and take in the stupendous views of the park from its 600m-high vantage point.
Day Five: Travel to Ranthambhore National Park
Today you'll enjoy two open-air vehicle (canter) safaris through the Park. Scour the grasslands and waterways of this former hunting ground of princes, in the company of a knowledgeable naturalist guide, searching for signs of the famed, endangered 'Tigers of Ranthambhore' in their natural environment.
Day Six: Spot tigers in their natural habitat
Travel to Dholpur today, and enjoy a visit to the local village during the afternoon. Spend the night here, enjoying an evening cookery demonstration before dinner.
Day Seven: Travel to Dholpur and visit a local village for a cookery demonstration
An early morning cruise on the Chambal River offers the opportunity to spot crocodiles, turtles and birds diving for fish. Then, journey to Agra, the City of Love and home of the iconic Taj Mahal. See the royal pavilions, palaces and courtyards of majestic Agra Fort, and then enjoy your first visit to the exquisite Taj Mahal, bathed in glorious evening light, at sunset.
Day Eight: Enjoy a river cruise and visits to Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal
Today you'll return to Delhi. From there, you'll fly south to Kochi, on the shore of the Indian Ocean.
Day Nine: Fly to Kochi
Discover Mattancherry Palace's exquisite murals, the ancient Jewish synagogue, and enchanting Fort Cochin, where Chinese fishing nets line the shore, on this morning's guided tour of historic Cochin.
Day 10: Tour Cochin and enjoy an evening dance performance
This evening, experience a traditional Kathakali dance performance - a colourful spectacle that combines elaborate costumes with literature, music, painting and dance.
Rise early to see the fresh catches of fish being landed on fishermen's beach before a tuk-tuk drive through the fish market. After breakfast with a local family, we'll head to Alleppey and board a traditional, thatch-roofed 'Kettuvallam' houseboat for a lazy cruise along the labyrinthine canals and waterways that run between the region's coconut groves, rice fields, hidden temples and tiny islands.
Day 11: Enjoy a cruise on a traditional houseboat
This evening the houseboat chef, who will prepare a series of traditional meals during your voyage, will give a cooking demonstration, and you'll enjoy a guided walk through a traditional Keralan village.
Bid farewell to your floating home, and journey into a lush landscape of tea and spice plantations as you head to Periyar. Check in at your hotel, then join our guide and explore the Spice Plantation to learn about the mystery and history of the Indian tea and spice industry.
Day 12: Learn about the tea and spice industry in Periyar
See elephants and colourful birds - and just maybe rarely glimpsed tigers and leopards - on an optional, guided trek this morning through Periyar's Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is home to several species of endangered mammals and over 250 bird species. This afternoon, enjoy a relaxing boat ride on the lake at its heart.
Day 13: Visit Periyar's Wildlife Sanctuary
Journey east, into the province of Tamil Nadu, to spend the next two nights in Madurai, one of Asia's oldest cities. Soak up the atmosphere of this unforgettable metropolis, which is dominated by the vast Meenakshi Temple.
Day 14: Travel to Madurai
A guided sightseeing tour introduces the Old City of Madurai, today. The ornate facade, colonnades, shrines and towering gopurams (monumental gateways) of the Meenakshi Temple are the breathtaking highlight. Marvel at the continual round of ceremonies and devotions, and the lively markets that take place within the temple enclosure. We'll also visit the beautiful 17th-century palace of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal.
Day 15: Explore Madurai
This evening, head out from your hotel once more for a cycle-rickshaw ride through the streets and local markets of old Madurai.
Leaving the bustle of the city behind, you'll drive through increasingly dense forest to the hill-station at Munnar. Spend a night in this remnant of the glories of the Raj, with its verandas and manicured lawns, and enjoy visits to a working tea-plantation and the fascinating Tata Tea Museum.
Day 16: Travel to Munnar and visit a tea plantation
Spend your final morning relaxing, then journey back down to the shores of the Indian Ocean and back to Kochi for a final night in India.
Day 17: Return to Kochi
This morning we'll take a short flight to Mumbai, and connect with our flight back to the UK.
Day 18: Travel home