KEBABS AND CURRIES
20 days

We begin in the Indian capital, Delhi, which enjoyed a preeminent position in no less than seven empires, before arriving in Agra to gaze at the wondrous Taj Mahal. Here we will also visit lesser known tombs and a classical Mughal garden before plunging into flamboyant and romantic Rajasthan. The cities of Jaipur and Udaipur with their palaces, lovely museums and tales of chivalry are a heady experience. Next, experience Mumbai’s chutzpah, its vivid contrasts and historic buildings before travelling all the way south, down the West Coast to Kochi.

In Kerala the pace is more relaxed. Kochi’s unique atmosphere is derived from a superbly blended mix of centuries of history and cultures inspired, primarily, by the ancient spice trade. After strolling through the streets of Fort Kochi, take a cruise down Kerala’s backwaters. Next stop, a spot of quiet in the verdant green of Idukki. After this, delve into the Tamil heartland in the temple town of Madurai and end the tour in Chennai, currently enjoying a cultural renaissance of classical music, dance and theatre. If India is considered more than the sum of its parts, well this tour sums it up rather well.

DAY 1 | DELHI

Arrive in Delhi today, where accommodation is held from 12 noon.

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DAY 2 | DELHI

Full day tour of Old and New Delhi, exploring the medieval and pre-modern faces of India’s historic capital epitomised by the Jami Masjid and Chandni Chowk, Humayun’s Tomb and the legacy of Lutyens and Baker.

DAY 3 | DELHI / AGRA

Drive south this morning along the old imperial way to Agra (192 km/ 4 hours plus stops). Afternoon tour of the exquisite Tomb of Itimad-ud-daulah, and Mahtab Bagh, a classic Mughal garden gradually being restored to its original glory.

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DAY 4 | AGRA

Sunrise and day time tours of the Taj Mahal (closed Fridays) and the grand Agra Fort. Agra’s little known but interesting facets are discovered late this afternoon during a private heritage walk.

DAY 5 | AGRA/ FATEHPUR SIKRI/ JAIPUR

Drive west today towards Jaipur (224 km/ 5hours plus stops), capital of Rajasthan. En route, visit the deserted medieval Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sikri, a perfect synthesis of Hindu, Mughal and Persian architectural styles.

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DAY 6 | JAIPUR

Morning tour of Amber, the ancient fortress-capital that preceded Jaipur. Afternoon tour of the City Palace and its museums and the Jantar Mantar observatory, followed by an early evening walk through the old city bazaars.

DAY 7 | JAIPUR/ UDAIPUR

Morning flight to Udaipur. Late afternoon motorboat cruise on Lake Pichola, followed by an early evening walk through the old city.

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DAY 8 | UDAIPUR

Morning tour of the grand City Palace and its immediate surroundings, the vibrant Folk Art Museum and the lakeside panorama. Afternoon at leisure for independent explorations.

DAY 9| UDAIPUR/ MUMBAI

Morning flight to Mumbai. Afternoon tour of the country’s financial and trade capital, centre for arts and entertainment, and the home of Bollywood.

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DAY 10 | MUMBAI

Morning excursion by public motor launch to the Elephanta Caves (closed Mondays/ one hour journey each way). Afternoon free for independent explorations and perhaps a first-run Bollywood movie.

DAY 11 | MUMBAI/ KOCHI

Transit from northern to southern India with this morning’s flight to Kochi. Late afternoon harbour cruise, followed by a performance of Kalaripayattu, the sword-fighting martial art of Kerala.

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DAY 12 | KOCHI

A full day tour of this atmospheric and historic port city (note: Indo-Portuguese Museum closed Thursdays, Dutch Palace closed Fridays, Pardesi Synagogue closed Fridays/ Saturdays).

DAY 13 | KOCHI/ KUMARAKOM BACKWATERS

Drive to Alleppey (64 km/ 1.5hours) and enjoy a brief look around this market town. Around noon, embark on your private rice boat for a backwater sightseeing cruise and a comfortable night on board.

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DAY 14 | KUMARAKOM BACKWATERS/ IDUKKI

Disembark at Kumarakom this morning and drive up to Idukki (80 km/ 2.5hours), set amidst the cool tea, coffee and spice growing highlands of the Western Ghats. Stay two nights at a private spice plantation.

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DAY 15 | IDUKKI

Today’s activities include visits to an organic tea plantation and a famous Ayurvedic medicine making facility, with time at leisure.

DAY 16 | IDUKKI/ MADURAI

Drive east to Madurai (182 km/ 4.5hours plus stops), descending along busy roads into the plains of Tamil Nadu.

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DAY 17 | MADURAI

Morning and evening tours of the iconic Meenakshi temple, its surrounding bazaars, and principal sights such as the Thirumalai Nayak Palace and Teppakulam Tank.

DAY 18 | MADURAI/ CHENNAI

Morning flight to Chennai. Afternoon tour of the city (note: Government Museum & Art Gallery closed Fridays/ holidays).

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DAY 19 | CHENNAI

Drive along the fringe of the Coromandel Coast to Mahabalipuram (126 km roundtrip/ 1.5hours each way), site of the 7th century port city of the Pallavas. Returning to Chennai, visit Dakshinachitra (closed Tuesdays/ holidays), a unique cultural and architectural exposition on southern India.

DAY 20 | DEPART CHENNAI

Depart Chennai today for your onward destination.

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We look forward to welcoming you to slow travel in the Indian subcontinent,

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RAMAN

Expert in North India & the Himalayas