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Local life & everyday culture

Step into the world’s most colourful, most exciting and most exotic culture on a tour that takes you beyond the famous sights.

Inspired by the movies and TV shows that unveiled the bustle and cacophony and the sheer delight of daily life in India to the world, this very special Small-Group Tour combines great sights with opportunities to step behind the curtain. Explore Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala, meet local families, shop in colourful markets, and taste some of the many different flavours and styles of Indian food, all while staying in some delightful heritage and home-stay hotels. Enjoy the company of like-minded travellers as you delve into the culture, cuisine, transport and lifestyle of the world’s most fascinating country.

What does this price include?

  • 14 nights' bed and breakfast accommodation at hotels in Delhi (2 nights), Jaipur (4), Udaipur (3), Kochi (3) and Mararikulam (2), plus one night on the aircraft
  • Five lunches and 12 dinners
  • Return flights to India
  • Internal flights from Udaipur to Mumbai and Mumbai to Kochi
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel and transfers throughout
  • Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager

Your Itinerary

  • Fly overnight from the UK to Delhi via Abu Dhabi.

  • Your Tour Manager will be waiting to meet you when you arrive in Delhi this morning, and you'll be transferred from the airport to your family-run hotel in the heart of New Delhi. After the chance to freshen up, join your fellow guests for lunch, and then spend the afternoon and evening relaxing, in preparation for the exciting days to come.

  • Today begins with a contrasting morning, first visiting the sacred Gandhi Smriti, the house in which Mahatma Gandhi spent his last days and where he was assassinated in January 1948. Its striking memorial and museum pays tribute to the Father of the Nation and sets the scene for your stay. You'll then visit the nearby National Railway Museum, which celebrates the history of the sub-continent’s most revered form of transport, and showcases several historic locomotives.

    After an enjoyable included lunch at the colourful Chor Bizarre restaurant, you’ll explore the vibrant Old City. See the historic Red Fort, visit Jama Masjid Mosque and Raj Ghat (Gandhi’s cremation site close to the Yamuna River). You’ll also enjoy an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of old Chandni Chowk. Later explore the grandeur of New Delhi, built by the British Raj to reflect the glories of the Empire. Highlights will include the historic India Gate war memorial and the vast boulevard of the Rajpath.

    To complete a fascinating day, you’ll enjoy a pre-dinner walking tour in the company of a local guide, taking in the colour and bustle of the famous bazaar and food market, and learning the secrets of Delhi’s famous cuisine, before you retire to the hotel.

  • Today you'll have the opportunity to join an optional excursion to Agra - site of the exquisite, incomparable Taj Mahal. On it, you'll catch the early morning Gaitman Express to the fabled City of Love, and be met on arrival by a local guide who will take you on a visit to the Taj Mahal. After an included lunch, visit the royal pavilions, palaces and courtyards of majestic Agra Fort before continuing by coach or car to Jaipur, enjoying tea en-route at a local restaurant.

    Those not taking the Agra optional excursion will travel to Jaipur by coach, and meet the family who will be your Jaipur hosts before rejoin the rest of the group for dinner and your first night in the Pink City of Jaipur.

  • Start your day with an optional yoga session, organised by your hosts. After breakfast, climb aboard a Jeep and head out, first to Amber and its 16th-century hill-top fort. Prepare to be amazed at the décor in the various Royal Halls, and by the stupendous views from the fort’s ramparts.

    After an included lunch at a typical restaurant frequented by local families, you’ll continue your tour in Jaipur, where your first stop will be the museums and ancient astronomical observatory (Jantar Mantar) of the City Palace complex. You’ll also see the ornate windows and screened balconies of the 18th-century Hawa Mahal (the Palace of the Winds), behind which the royal women could look out over the city and watch important processions while remaining hidden from the world in purdah.

    Later, an opportunity to learn about the colourful world of Bollywood dancing will be followed by a fascinating evening, during which you'll enjoy dinner, and your hosts will introduce you to the art of masala tea, and share some of the secrets of the family’s generations-old cookery book.

  • Spend a fascinating day, joining members of the family to travel by tuk-tuk or cycle rickshaw to the local market, and getting to know more about the local culture and foods – especially spices.

    This afternoon, you'll also have the chance to join an optional excursion to Elefantastic, a conservation sanctuary that's home to some of these most extraordinary animals. Here you will have the chance to get up close and personal with some of the rescued elephants, whose intelligence and sensitivity never fail to amaze.

    The evening will be spent with the family, preparing a meal from the morning’s purchases and learning a how to make lassi (India's national yoghurt-based drink).

  • Rest and relax poolside at your hotel today, or perhaps explore the nearby bazaars of Old Jaipur. Later, enjoy an intimate tour of the heritage districts of the city – location for some Marigold Hotel scenes – and take the opportunity to witness a sacred Aarti ceremony at a local temple, this evening, before enjoying dinner at the hotel.

  • Today you’ll journey across the Land of the Kings, Rajasthan, its landscape studded with exotic temples and lavishly decorated mansions (havelis). In the afternoon you'll arrive in Udaipur for a three-night stay in the City of Lakes. Here, against a background of rolling hills, the waters of Lake Pichola are home to two exquisite marble palaces. Dinner will be served at the hotel, and you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a tuk-tuk ride around the city's the evening illuminations followed by a "night at the movies" with your guide at a Bollywood picture house.

  • 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 for a guided tour of the main sights – the majestic, 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.

  • Today we head out of the city to visit the (possibly familiar) Ravla Khempur hotel and its surroundings - setting for the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies and actually a castle hotel with a celebrated stables.

    Enjoy lunch in "on location" here, then join a local resident for a walking tour of the surrounding village, where some scenes from the movie were shot, before returning to Udaipur. After dinner (payable locally), why not mark your final night here with an evening of traditional dance, music and puppetry in the splendid grounds of the Bagore-ki-Haveli, beside Lake Pichola?

  • Bid farewell to your Udaipur hosts, and journey to the airport for the early-morning flight, via Mumbai, to Kochi. Once you arrive in this ancient seaport, once better known as Cochin., you'll transfer to your hotel, in the heart of the historic Fort Cochin area.

    This evening you'll have the chance to dress up smart and enjoy dinner at the historic Le Colonial hotel, setting for The Real Marigold Hotel TV series.

  • Today, once again travelling by tuk-tuk, you’ll enjoy an included guided tour of historic Kochi, including "Dutch" Mattancherry Palace with its exquisite murals, the ancient Jewish synagogue and enchanting Fort Cochin, where the famous Chinese fishing nets are one of India’s most photographed sights, and where historic St Francis Church overlooks a village green straight from a genteel English scene.

    The afternoon will be spent exploring Fort Cochin’s colourful fish market, joining a local family to purchase the fish and vegetables that will be prepared, cooked and served this evening.

  • Spend this morning getting to know the customs and culture of Keralan life. Meet local fishermen as they land their catch in the early morning, encounter coir (coconut fibre) yarn processors and mat weavers, and enjoy breakfast at a beautiful farmhouse with your local family.

    Spend the afternoon with your hotel hosts or relaxing poolside. This evening, enjoy the experience of a traditional Kathakali dance performance, a colourful spectacle combining elaborate costumes and make-up, traditional music and stories from ancient literature.

  • Travel the short distance to Alleppey, today. Visit a local temple, and spend more time with a local family preparing and enjoying a traditional lunch, before you board a traditional, thatch-roofed kettuvallam houseboat, to cruise lazily through a labyrinth of canals and waterways, lined with coconut groves and rice fields, and dotted with temples.

    After a wonderful cruise, disembark to begin the short journey to your final hotel - a beach resort at Marari, where you’ll enjoy a two-night stay.

  • Round off your wonderful holiday with relaxing day spent exploring the local village, or perhaps just lazing by the pool or beach. Why not enjoy the rejuvenating benefits of an Ayurvedic massage before a farewell dinner with your new found friends and travelling companions brings the opportunity to relive the many wonderful memories and unique experiences of the holiday?

  • Make an early start – a packed breakfast will be provided – and journey to Cochin International Airport to board your flight home via Abu Dhabi.

    You'll arrive back in the UK in the evening of the same day.

Prices

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Don't miss out on these fantastic prices!

Hotels

India's Marigold Hotel Experience Touring Hotels

You will be staying in a series of comfortable hotels that are conveniently located for your tour itinerary.

Tour Extensions

(2 Available)

India - Marigold Hotel Experience with Goa Extension
Enjoy the company of like-minded travellers as you delve into the culture and lifestyle - Market visits, cooking experiences and meeting local families in Jaipur and Kochi - Tuk-tuk, cycle rickshaw and Jeep rides
  • 4 customer rating
  • 19 days from: £0pp
India - Marigold Hotel Experience with Marari Beach Extension
Meeting local families in Jaipur and Kochi - The extraordinary sights of Old and New Delhi - Touring the locations of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
  • 19 days from: £2438pp

Further Information

  • The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.

  • Passengers travelling on the 1st November 2019 and 6th November 2020 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Please book any treatments you'd like to enjoy at your final hotel in advance.

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