Discover ancient monuments and colonial grandeur as you tour India's greatest cities
Uncover India's exotic wonders in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Search for tigers in Ranthambhore National Park and spend two nights revelling in colonial splendour at a five-star luxury hotel in the historic Himalayan hill station of Shimla. Join us for a thrilling adventure on a tour of India filled with unforgettable sights - from the ancient stronghold of Amber Fort to the chaos of old Delhi and the unmistakeable, unparalleled sight of the Taj Mahal at sunset and sunrise.
Extend your holiday with a visit to Kerala. See Kochi’s famous Chinese fishing nets as well as enjoying a spice plantation visit and a houseboat cruise on the backwaters. You’ll also visit Periyar National Park for a chance to see the wildlife.
WHAT DOES THE PRICE INCLUDE?
Day One: Fly to India
Begin your Indian holiday with an overnight flight from the UK to Delhi.
Day Two: Included Delhi city tour
A coach will be waiting for you when you arrive in Delhi this morning, and will carry you to your hotel. After an included lunch, join your Tour Manager for a guided tour of Delhi. In the Old City you'll see the Red Fort (former home of the Murghal emperor), Jama Masjid Mosque and Raj Ghat, Gandhi's cremation site at Raj Ghat, and enjoy a rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk.
Crossing into New Delhi, you'll enter a colonial city filled with traces of the British Raj. Highlights here will include the historic India Gate war memorial, Parliament House and the broad monumental avenue of the Rajpath.
Day Three: Travel into the Himalayas
Head to Delhi airport to catch the short flight to Chandigarh. After lunch, we'll travel to Kandaghat in Himachal Pradesh where we'll board the train to Shimla. Relax as the 'toy train' winds its scenic way into the foothills of the Himalayas, along the narrow-gauge line opened by Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1903.
Shimla itself is a delightful city. Its mansions, lawns, and cricket pitches retain the colonial atmosphere you'd expect of a place that was once the summer capital of British India. And your two nights here, in the magnificent Oberoi Cecil Hotel, is sure to be a real highlight of your trip.
Day Four: Included Shimla hill-station tour
This morning we'll rejoin the 'toy train' for a short journey through the mountains to Tara Devi 's Hindu Temple. Enjoy lunch at Clark's Hotel, the first hotel of the now world famous Oberoi chain, before heading out for a guided tour of Shimla.
We'll visit the Viceregal Lodge, where the Partition of India was mapped out, stroll across the Ridge (the road-cum-square that's the centre of community activity in Shimla) and see the very English spires of Christ Church before joining the crowds at Scandal Point, Shimla's traditional meeting place, for an afternoon gossip.
Day Five: From Shimla to Jaipur
Today we'll retrace our steps, with a packed lunch en route, as we make our way down from Shimla to Chandigarh airport. After a short flight to Jaipur, the 'pink' city, we'll head to our next hotel and spend the rest of the day relaxing.
Day Six: From Shimla to Jaipur
Amber, the ancient Rajput capital, is dominated by the 16th-century hill-top stronghold of Amber Fort. Today, we'll take a jeep ride up to the fort to wander its royal halls and take in the views from the ramparts.
After an included lunch, you'll be free to spend the afternoon relaxing or join us for an optional tour to Elefantastic Sanctuary. Interact with the gentle elephants that live here, away from the throngs of mass tourism, as you feed, walk and even bathe your giant friend.
Day Seven: Included Jaipur city tour
Enjoy today's city tour of Jaipur will reveal the museums and ancient observatory of the City Palace complex, and view the ornate- many-windowed facade of the Palace of the Winds.
Return to the hotel for lunch and time to relax and perhaps take a refreshing dip in the pool.
Dinner tonight will be taken at the Nokha House, hosted by the Rathore family in traditional Rajasthani style.
Day Eight: Included Taj Mahal tour
This morning we will leave Jaipur for Agra, India's City of Love. After lunch we'll visit the Ta Mahal, the extraordinarily beautiful monument built by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, but our first stop will actually be the pavilions, palaces and courtyards of Agra Fort. And from there we'll head to the Taj Mahal with time to watch the sun set behind its delicate domes and spires.
Day Nine: Included Taj Mahal tour
Today's early start will be rewarded by another unforgettable view of the Taj Mahal, from across the Yamuna River as the sun rises.
We'll return to the hotel for breakfast, and then leave Agra behind as we head to Abhaneri. This ancient village is home to Chand Baori, one of the oldest and most intricate stepwells in India, its 13 storeys and 3500 steps offering access to water and much-needed refuge from the sun's heat.
After lunch at Umaid Lake Palace, a Heritage resort hotel laid out in the style of a Mughal residence, and a tour of its 20-acre landscaped gardens, we'll continue to Ranthambhore National Park. This former royal hunting ground is now a key centre for Project Tiger, and its grasslands, streams and beautiful pools are home to striped hyenas, sambar deer, sloth bears and of course tigers.
This evening, prior to tomorrow's adventures, enjoy a 'tiger talk' with a local naturalist.
Day 10: Included Ranthambhore wildlife safari
Today revolves around two open-air vehicle safaris in Ranthambhore National Park, one in the morning and one after lunch. Join an expert naturalist guide to search your surroundings for signs of tigers, leopards and the many other species that make their home in the park.
Day 11: Optional Ranthambhore Fort tour
This morning, rest and relax, or join the optional excursion to ancient Ranthambhore Fort, which sits atop hills above the National Park, and rewards those prepared to climb its 273 steps with stupendous views.
In the afternoon we'll bid farewell to Ranthambhore, and make our way into the Aravali Hills, heading to the jungle resort of Vanaashyra. We'll stop en route at the fascinating ruins of Bhangarh Fort for a welcome tea or coffee, before continuing to Vanaashyra, where your private cottage will be waiting. After a relaxing afternoon, why not ride a camel-drawn cart into the local village and enjoy a cookery demonstration before dinner?
Day 12: Day at leisure
Spend the day relaxing in the resort after your time spent sightseeing. Why not ride a camel-drawn cart into the local village and enjoy a cookery demonstration before dinner?
Day 13: Fly to Kochi
Begin your extended tour with a flight to the southern Indian jewel of Kochi, where you will be met by your tour guide and escorted to your first hotel - the four-star deluxe Trident. Check-in, rest and relax, or take a dip in the courtyard pool, prior to taking dinner in the hotel's restaurant.
Day 14: Included tour of Kochin
Begin your exploration of Kerala, 'God's Own Country', today, with a tour of historic Kochin. Take in the Portuguese-built and peculiarly named Dutch Palace, the spectacular Paradesi Synagogue and the area's photogenic Chinese fishing nets. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Kathakali dance show.
Day 15: Travel to Periyar
This morning travel to Periyar, inland from Kochi, to spend one night in the Greenwoods Hotel. After checking into your hotel, enjoy an enlightening tour of a local spice plantation. In the evening, relax in your hotel, taking advantage of its spa, swimming pool and treehouse cafe.
Day 16: Included wildlife boat tour on Lake Periyar
Rise early on the fourth day of your extension to take to the waters of Lake Periyar for a wildlife boat tour, after which we transfer to our third and final stop, coastal Alleppy. Check in to your resort hotel set on the lush banks of the Punnamada Lake, and spend the rest of the day recharging your batteries.
Day 17: Included cruise on a traditional 'kettuvallam' houseboat
Today, get to know Kerala's famed backwaters, as you take lunch on a traditional 'kettuvallam' houseboat and cruise by as all life plays out on the area's labyrinthine banks. Later, return to your hotel and enjoy a restful evening looking back on your journey through incredible India.
Day 18: Fly back to the UK
On your final day in India, transfer from Alleppy to Kochi, and board your flight back to the UK.
India - Tigers, the Taj Mahal, Shimla & Kerala Extension Hotels
Hotel transfer times
The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.
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.
Train to Shimla
Dependent on flight times from Delhi, the 'toy train' journey may take place on Day Five, en route back down to Chandigarh.
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.
You are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.
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.
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. Some journeys are made on winding mountain roads and passes, which may also make for slow travelling - although the scenery is usually worth it! Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads.