Day One: Fly to Delhi
Board your overnight flight from the UK to Delhi - the teeming, colourful, enthralling heart of India, where the ancient and modern worlds collide.
Day Two: Enjoy a guided tour of New 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 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. You'll also see the impressive the ruins of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and the ornate Qutb Minar tower before returning to your hotel for dinner.
Day Three: Explore Delhi and travel to Jaipur
Today we'll explore the grandeur of Delhi's Old City. Discover the historic Red Fort, the Jama Masjid Mosque and Raj Ghat, Gandhi's cremation site. You'll also have time for an exhilarating rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk's narrow lanes before we leave the Indian capital and travel to the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, this afternoon.
Day Four: Visit Amber Fort and tour Jaipur
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. This evening, enjoy the special experience of dinner with a Rajasthani family in their welcoming home.
Day Five: Travel east to Karauli
Today you’ll journey across Rajasthan, through a landscape studded with exotic temples and lavishly decorated mansions (havelis) to the ancient city of Karauli. Here you’ll spend the night in a heritage hotel that was once the home of a maharaja, and take a camel-cart ride to the crumbling ruins of Karauli’s 17th-century City Palace. Back at your hotel, this evening, you'll be treated to a cookery demonstration by the hotel chefs before dinner is served.
Day Six: Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal
This morning we 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 Seven: Fly to Kochi
Today you'll return to Delhi. From there, you'll fly south to Kochi, on the shore of the Indian Ocean.
Day Eight: Tour Old Cochin and enjoy an evening dance performance
Another early morning start will be rewarded by the sight of the day’s catch being landed at local fishing village, a tuk-tuk drive and a tranquil canal crossing on a small boat as we make our way back to the hotel for lunch. This afternoon, discover Mattancherry Palace's exquisite murals, the ancient Jewish synagogue, and enchanting Fort Cochin, where Chinese fishing nets line the shore, on a guided tour of Cochin. And, this evening, experience a traditional Kathakali dance performance - a colourful spectacle that combines elaborate costumes with literature, music, painting and dance.
Day Nine: Learn about the tea and spice industry in Periyar
Journey into a lush landscape of tea and spice plantations as you head to Periyar, pausing for a colourful traditional lunch at welcoming Saddya Plantation. Arriving in Periyar we'll join our guide to explore the Spice Plantation, and learn about the mystery and history of the Indian tea and spice industry.
Day 10: Included Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary lake cruise
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 the sanctuary's heart before the evening culminates with a Keralan Kalaripayattu martial arts performance, followed by dinner back at the hotel.
Day 11: Enjoy a cruise on a traditional houseboat
Today 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. The houseboat chef will prepare a delicious traditional meal during your voyage, after which you'll transfer to your final hotel.
Day 12: Spend a day relaxing
Round off a wonderful holiday lazing by the hotel pool or on the lakeside. And later enjoy a farewell dinner with your newfound friends and travelling companions, and relive the many memories and experiences of the past two weeks.
Day 13: Travel home
Make an early start today (a packed breakfast will be provided) as we head to Cochin Airport for the return flight, via Mumbai or Delhi, back to the UK.