Indian life beyond the sights
Join us on a Small Group Tour of India inspired by the movies and TV shows that have revealed the bustle and cacophony of everyday life in India. As well as seeing the great sights of Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala, you'll meet local families, shop in colourful markets and enjoy the vibrant flavours of regional Indian food - all while staying in some delightful heritage and home-stay hotels.
WHAT DOES THE PRICE INCLUDE?
Day One: Fly to India
Fly overnight from the UK to Delhi.
Day Two: Day at leisure
Your Tour Manager will be waiting to meet you when you arrive in Delhi this morning, before we head into the heart of New Delhi and our first family-run hotel. Freshen up, then join your fellow guests for lunch in a local restaurant. Spend the afternoon and evening relaxing in anticipation of the for the exciting days ahead, before dinner at the hotel.
Day Three: Included Delhi tour
Today begins with a visit to the Gandhi Smriti, the house in which Mahatma Gandhi spent his last days. From there we'll head to the National Railway Museum, which celebrates the history of India's favourite form of transport. We'll also explore New Delhi. Built by the British Raj to reflect the glories of Empire, its highlights include the die-straight expanse of the Rajpath that sweeps from the Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly Viceroy's House) to the India Gate war memorial.
After an included lunch at the colourful Chor Bazar restaurant, we'll continue our tour of Old Delhi. See the historic Red Fort, Jama Masjid Mosque and Raj Ghat (Gandhi's cremation site close to the Yamuna River). Take an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, and round off your day with a pre-dinner guided walking tour of Chandni Chowk bazaars and food markets, learning about Old Delhi's food scene, before you retire to the hotel.
Day Four: Optional Agra and Taj Mahal tour
Today, we'll leave Delhi and travel to the Pink City of Jaipur by comfortable mini-coach. You'll spend four nights here in a family-run, 'homestay' that will serve as your Jaipur base. Meet the family who will be your hosts and enjoy your first dinner at the hotel.
Day Five: Included Amber and Jaipur Jeep tour
Start your day with an optional yoga session, organised by your hosts. After breakfast, climb aboard a Jeep and head out to explore. Prepare to be amazed by the intricate decoration, and stupendous rampart views, at Amber Fort, before we head to a typical local restaurant for an included lunch.
After lunch, we'll continue to Jaipur to explore the ancient astronomical observatory (Jantar Mantar) and museums of the City Palace complex and the innumerable windows and screened balconies of the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds).
Later, you'll have an opportunity to learn about the colourful world of Bollywood dancing before your hosts explain the techniques behind the perfect cup of masala tea, share the secrets of their family cookbook and serve dinner at the hotel.
Day Six: Relax in Jaipur
Relax in Jaipur, today, exploring the local markets or simply curling up with a good book by the hotel pool.
Day Seven: Optional elephant conservation tour
Spend today travelling by tuk-tuk or cycle rickshaw to the local market with your hosts, and getting to know the local culture and cuisine. In the afternoon you'll also have the chance to visit Elefantastic, a conservation sanctuary, where you will have the chance to meet some of the rescued elephants that live there.
This evening, help the family preparing a meal from the morning's purchases and learn how to make lassi (India's national yoghurt-based drink).
Day Eight: Coach travel from Jaipur to Udaipur
Today you'll journey across Rajasthan, its landscape studded with exotic temples and lavishly decorated mansions (havelis). Call at historic, fortified Chittorgarh on your way to the sublime City of Lakes, Udaipur. Here, against a background of rolling hills, the waters of Lake Pichola are home itself to two exquisite marble palaces, both overlooked by the majesty of the City Palace.
This evening, you'll have the chance to take a tuk-tuk ride around Udaipur's evening illuminations and enjoy a night at the movies with your guide at a Bollywood picture house.
Day Nine: Included Udaipur city tour
Early this morning you'll be able to join your guide for a cycle ride through Udaipur, pedalling through the awakening streets to see the 'real' city's market traders and local craftsmen at work.
After breakfast back at the hotel, we'll head out on a guided tour of Udaipur's main sights - the dome-turreted City Palace, Jagdish Temple and the Saheliyon-ki-Bari - the beautiful Gardens of the Royal Ladies.
An afternoon tour, once again by tuk-tuk, takes in colourful local markets and temples, before your wonderful day draws to a close with an evening cruise on Lake Pichola and dinner overlooking the majestic City Palace.
Day 10: Included Best Exotic Marigold Hotel location tour
Today we head out of the city to the possibly familiar surroundings of the Ravla Khempur. This fortified mansion is now an equestrian hotel with a celebrated stables, and was the used as 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' in both movies.
Enjoy lunch at the Ravla Khempur, then join a local resident for a walking tour of the village (another filming location) before returning to Udaipur. Why not mark your final night here with an evening of traditional dance, music and puppetry beside Lake Pichola in the grounds of the Bagore-ki-Haveli?
Day 11: Fly to Kochi
Say goodbye to your Udaipur hosts, and head to the airport to catch an early morning flight to Kochi via Mumbai.
Your hotel here lies in the heart of the historic Fort Cochin area of ancient trading seaport. Rest and relax there, then enjoy dinner at the historic Le Colonial hotel, setting for The Real Marigold Hotel TV series.
Day 12: Keralan culture and Kochi city tour
Spend today getting to know the customs and culture of Keralan life. Meet local fishermen as they land their catch early this morning, see mat weavers and coconut yarn makers at work, and eat breakfast in a beautiful backwater farmhouse with your local family. Criss-cross the beautiful countryside by tuk-tuk and canoe, and this afternoon, join your guide to continue exploring on the same buses and ferries that the locals use.
You'll also enjoy an included guided tour of Cochin (as Kochi is also called). See Mattancherry's Dutch Palace, the 16th-century Paradesi Synagogue and Fort Cochin's famous Chinese fishing nets - which have become are one of India's most photographed sights. Explore Fort Cochin's colourful fish market, joining a local family to purchase the fish and vegetables that will be prepared, cooked and served as your dinner this evening.
Day 13: Explore Keralan culture
Spend another day at leisure to rejuvenate and then head out as evening falls to experience a traditional Kathakali performance combining dance, costume, ancient literature, music and painting.
Day 14: Included kettuvallam houseboat cruise
Today begins with a short journey to Alleppey, and a visit to a small temple. Join a local family, to prepare and eat a traditional lunch, then board a thatch-roofed 'kettuvallam' houseboat to cruise lazily through a labyrinth of canals and waterways lined with coconut groves and rice fields, and dotted with tiny islands.
After the cruise we'll continue to your final hotel, in the relaxed beach resort at Marari.
Day 15: Day at leisure
Round off your wonderful tour of India with a relaxing day spent exploring the local village and school, enjoying the rejuvenating benefits of an Ayurvedic massage (at extra cost), or perhaps just lazing by the pool or on the beach. Later, join your travelling companions and new-found friends to relive your wonderful memories and unique experiences over dinner.
Day 16: Fly back to the UK
We'll have an early start, today, (a packed breakfast will be provided) as we transfer to Cochin International Airport to begin our journey home, flying first to Mumbai, and then on to the UK.
We'll arrive back in the UK this evening, at the end of a wonderful Indian holiday.
Hotel transfer times
The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.
Diwali - India's Festival of Lights
Passengers travelling on the 2nd November 2018 and 1st November 2019 departures will have the chance to celebrate Diwali, a major Hindu festival marked by family gatherings, and by decorative displays of candles and lamps shining from rooftops and doorsteps, in windows, and all around temple buildings.
Holi - India's Festival of Colours and Love
Passengers travelling on the 15th March 2019 and 6th March 2020 departures will be able to join the joyful crowds throwing coloured powder into the air in celebration of Krishna and the beginning of spring.
Taj Mahal restoration work
The white marble of the Taj Mahal is being gradually cleaned in a process that will take up to four years. Parts of the monument's surface may be covered during this process though your visit and access to the main dome is not likely to be restricted.
Passports and visas
British citizens require machine-readable passports when travelling overseas. Your passport must contain two blank pages and be valid for 180 days after your return date from India. A visa is also required for entry to India. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent out about eight weeks before departure. British CITIZENS and some other European nationals satisfying certain conditions may use the online e-Tourist Visa application process at a cost of $100 (US) per person. Other British passport holders, who are not British CITIZENS, must apply for a full visa which costs £112. You may also, at extra cost, use the services of CIBT, our recommended visa handling partner, who will handle the whole process for you. Note that all travellers of Pakistani descent, regardless of citizenship, will generally be subject to more detailed processing by the Indian authorities, which can take up to four months from application.
Foreign Office Travel Advice
Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.
On your flight
All outbound flights leave in the evening and land at your destination the next day. All return flights leave in the morning and land in the UK on the same day. On-board meals will usually include dinner and breakfast on outbound flights, and lunch and a snack on the flight home. Drinks are complimentary.
If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.
You are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.
The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made. In many developing countries access is sometimes not as easy as at home. Should you have walking difficulties, getting around monuments and attractions may be harder and, in some cases, impossible. Should you have any concerns whatsoever please do contact us prior to travel.
Requirements and advice can vary over time, and from person to person, so please contact your GP about eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or any other preventive measures.
Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.
Changes to your hotels
Should circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.
In developing countries road networks are continually being improved and expanded, which can mean that, from time to time, roadworks and rough road surfaces can extend journey times. Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads.