Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
Let VUDA show you these fascinating destinations while you relax and enjoy!
Join VUDA on this exploratory tour of India's highlights. A well balanced trip with a fabulous mix of experiences, encompassing the highlights of North and South India.
Starting with highlights of the Golden Triangle and Rajasthan; Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, where we'll experience the delights of Old and New Delhi, Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, Amber Fort-Palace, Hawa Mahal and much more. We'll take in the intricate carvings of the old temples of Khajuraho and visit the holly city of Varanasi, situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges.
Heading south to the old fort town of Kochi, the tea plantations of Munnar, spice plantations & wildlife at Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, a peaceful lakeside setting in Kumarakom before enjoying Kerala's backwaters on an overnight cruise. Finishing off with some well deserved Zen time, where you're free to relax on the beach/around the pool, sample some Ayurveda treatments and practice Yoga.
A fantastic introduction into this magnificent country.
Click here to download full tour details - or continue reading below (based on 2012 tour, will update with 2013 ASAP);
Singapore 1 night, Delhi 3 nights, Varanasi 2 nights, Khajuraho 1 night, Agra 2 nights, Jaipur 3 nights, Kochi 1 night, Munnar 1 night, Periyar 2 nights, Kumarakom 1 night, overnight Kerala backwater cruise 1 night and Kovalam 3 nights.
Day 1 AUCKLAND - SINGAPORE
Group meets at Auckland International Airport for check in procedures.
1:35 pm, Depart Auckland on flight SQ286 to Singapore.
7:00 pm, Arrive Singapore.
Arrive at Singapore, after completing customs and immigration formalities we'll be met & assisted by our representative for our arrival transfer to the hotel.
Our accommodation in Singapore is TBA for 1 night including breakfast.
Day 2 SINGAPORE - DELHI (B)
After breakfast, free time to explore this modern city or relax by the pool.
This afternoon we will be collected from our hotel and transferred to the airport in time for our onward Singapore Airlines flight to Delhi.
6:55 pm, Depart Singapore on flight SQ408 to Delhi.
10:10 pm, Arrive in Delhi.
Arrive at Delhi, the capital city of India, after completing customs and immigration formalities we'll be met & assisted by our representative for your arrival transfer to the hotel.
Our accommodation in Delhi is in Star Rocks Hotel for 3 nights including breakfast.
After settling into our rooms enjoy a good nights sleep, ready for all the adventures to come!
Day 3 DELHI (B,D)
After breakfast, we'll meet for a trip briefing, before heading out for a day of sightseeing.
This morning, enjoy the highlights of New Delhi. Drive past Government Buildings and Presidents House and India Gate - The war memorial. We also visit Qutab Minar, a spectacular example of Indo-Islamic architecture topped by a 234-foot-high tower. Continue to Humayun's Tomb, also known as the forerunner to the Taj Mahal.
Afternoon at leisure before enjoying a Welcome Dinner.
Day 4 DELHI (B)
This morning we will be taken for a visit of Old Delhi. Even when Bombay and Madras were mere trading posts and Calcutta a village of mud huts, Delhi had been the seat of an empire for 500 years. Through the centuries, eight cities have been built on this site, by Hindu, Mughal and British rulers, each adding its own flavour.
In the old part of Delhi, we visit Raj Ghat, a beautiful serene monument on the bank of the Yamuna River. This is where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated, and we will see an impressive shrine to India's best-known statesman. Next, we will visit the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India; we take a short ride by rickshaw through the crowded lanes of the Chandni Chowk bazaar.
Proceed to Kari Baoli, wholesaler market for spices and observe the late morning hustle-bustle in one the biggest spices markets in Asia. Continue your walk and visit the famous Paranthe Wali Gali (Parantha is a baked or light-fried multi-layered India bread, generally stuffed with variety of vegetables and spices) - opportunity for you to have a taste of a parantha with stuffing of your choice - made right in front of you.
Afternoon is at leisure to explore the bustling city on your own.
Day 5 DELHI - VARANASI (B)
This morning, we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Varanasi, the holiest of Hindu cities. Known as Benares during British times, Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a written history dating back more than 4,000 years.
9:35 am, Depart Delhi on flight IT 231 to Varanasi.
10:45 am, Arrive Varanasi.
On arrival in Varanasi, we will be met and taken to the nearby ancient Buddhist learning centre of Sarnath. Here, Gautama Buddha preached his first sermon to his disciples, as portrayed in Bernardo Bertolucci's film Little Buddha. We then visit the Sarnath Museum, which houses some of the greatest treasures of Indian Buddhist art, including Ashoka's Lion Capital-the National Emblem of India-and the beautiful Teaching Buddha, among the most beautiful sculptures in the world. On return, visit a nearby village where Munshi Premchand was born, he was one of the most famous of Indian writers.
Proceed to the Hotel. Our accommodation in Varanasi is in Hotel Ideal Tower for 2 nights including breakfast.
Later, we will visit the unique Bharat Mata (Mother India) temple, dedicated not to gods and goddesses, but to Mother India herself. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, this relatively modern temple houses an intricate relief map of the Indian subcontinent, carved entirely from white marble.
In the evening witness the aarti ceremony on the Ganges. As the day comes to a close, we'll ride by rickshaw through the bustling streets to the bathing ghats located alongside the sacred River Ganges. People flock in large numbers every day to bathe and worship in the temples built beside the riverbank. Feel the timelessness of Varanasi as the sun sets and as the temple priests perform aarti, the sacred light ceremony, on the banks of Mother Ganga. The young priests sway in seemingly choreographed movements, worshiping the river goddess with incense, flowers and earthen lamps.
Day 6 VARANASI (B)
At sunrise, when the temples are bathed in soft light, we board our small boat for a cruise on the Ganges. From our boat we witness the everyday life in the holiest of cities, as people arrive at the ghats at dawn to take a ritual dip, perform yoga asanas, wash clothes and offer flowers and incense to the holy river.
We can photograph riverside temples and bathing ghats in the rich, golden dawn light. Photography of the cremation ghats, however, is not permitted. We see devotees performing their daily religious rites. At stone steps on the river's edge, we join our hosts in a feeling of pilgrimage: for them, the heart of their faith, for us, a superlative cultural experience. We then continue our guided walking tour of the innermost part of Varanasi, including one ashram, before returning to our hotel for breakfast.
Later this afternoon, visit the Banarsi silk (unique to this city) weavers village before visiting old bazaar. Benares Brocades or Varanasi Silks are some of the richest sarees produced in India and is the most in demand sari for weddings and functions. The famous Varanasi sari has elaborate brocaded ornament, often infused with gleaming zari and woven on very heavy gauge silks. The ornament style associated with it is primarily Persian. Delicate floral and architectural ornaments, figures and animals rendered in detailed multi color thread work lend the sari its elegance.
Day 7 VARANASI - KHAJURAHO (B)
After breakfast, we will be transferred to airport for our flight to Khajuraho - a UNESCO world heritage site in central India, famous for its erotic sculptured temples.
11:10 am, Depart Varanasi on flight IT 231 to Khajuraho.
11:55 am, Arrive Khajuraho.
On arrival in Khajuraho, we will be met and transferred to our Hotel.
Our accommodation in Khajuraho is in Hotel Ramada for 1 night including breakfast
Although remote and very quiet today, in the tenth century Khajuraho was the centre of the thriving civilization of the Chandelas. The magnificent group of temples (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) was built between the 09th and 10th centuries by the Chandela Dynasty, which dominated Central India at the time. Khajuraho oozes with passion, eroticism, dance, music and other finesses of creative arts depicted in the sculpture and images of the temples.
This afternoon we visit the east and west temple complexes that the Chandelas constructed. The erotic stone carvings here have come to symbolize the important role of love and prana energy in Hindu thought. British archaeologists excavated these intricate stone carvings during colonial times, when they scandalized post-Victorian English sensibilities!
This evening, enjoy cultural dance performance in an Auditorium.
Day 8 KHAJURAHO - AGRA (B/L)
This morning we have the chance to begin the day with a relaxing yoga and meditation class before breakfast at our hotel. Learn basic yoga exercises and breathing techniques from a local expert.
After breakfast we begin our overland journey to Alipura (2 ½ hour drive). We will stop for lunch at a local venue in this village of medieval palaces and temples built by Bundela rulers. After lunch we continue overland journey through village roads to Jhansi (3 hour drive).
From Jhansi we will board our train for Agra (approximate 2 hour journey).
5:00 pm, depart from Jhansi by Shatabdi Express train
8:10 pm, Arrive in Agra
Upon arrival at the railway station in Agra, we will transfer to our coach and continue for check in at our hotel.
Our accommodation in Agra is in TBA for 2 nights including breakfast.
Day 9 AGRA (B)
This morning you will have an opportunity to see and experience one of the most important festivals of India- "Holi", the Festival of Colour which is celebrated with great fervour in North India. Holi festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of 'good' over 'bad'. Holi is the spring festival of India, celebrated by playing with vibrant colours. The colourful festival is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and rejuvenate the social ties. During the festival, people smear colour on each other's face and splash water, playfully. To enjoy and make the most of this experience, you'll need to approach it with curiosity, an adventurous spirit, a healthy sense of humour and probably a set of clothes that you may not wear again!
In the afternoon, we go back in time when there were no motorised vehicles, and visit Agra Fort on Tonga's (Horse Cart's). This immense fort and palace was the seat of power for four generations of Mughal emperors; they ruled all of northern India from the early 16th century until the consolidation by British colonial rule in the early 1800s. Agra Fort's architecture is an almost perfect fusion between military might and lavish beauty. Built in red sandstone the complex includes magnificent palaces, halls of public and private audience, and beautiful gardens.
Later, before sunset we will experience an exotic view of legendary Taj Mahal, with a visit to green lawns near Taj Mahal for High tea. As the sun goes down experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the eternal symbol of love, with a sunset view of Taj Mahal. As the Taj changes colour depending on the time of day it is recommended that you witness this by visiting in the morning and evening.
Day 10 AGRA - FATEHPUR SIKRI - JAIPUR (B)
Today we rise early to view a unique and special sight: sunrise at the Taj Mahal. This grand edifice, built by Shah Jahan from 1631 to 1653 to enshrine the remains of his Queen Mumtaz Mahal, took 20,000 workers to build. We walk into the inner chambers of this renowned "Monument to Love," and seek out several vantage points to see the magnificent play of light. The semi translucent white marble is inlaid with thousands of semi-precious stones in beautiful patterns and the building has four identical facades, a perfect exercise in symmetry. It's truly a wonder of the world!
After breakfast, we travel overland to Jaipur; en route we visit Fatehpur Sikri, the mysterious ghost city founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in late 16th century and capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585. The architectural grandeur of this deserted city cannot be described in words and one can only experience the aura of its magnificent edifices by seeing them. The buildings within Fatehpur Sikri are a unique blend of different architectural traditions.
Upon arrival we check in at our hotel.
Our accommodation in Jaipur is in Hotel Shahpura Palace for 3 nights including breakfast.
After sometime at leisure, we enjoy a heritage walk through the old part of Jaipur city. Later we witness Aarti (prayer) ceremony at the Laxmi Narayan Temple.
Day 11 JAIPUR (B)
This morning, after breakfast, we drive just 30 minutes north of the city to explore Jaipur's Amber (pronounced "am-er," with a silent "b") Fort-Palace. The Fort is a stunning and well-preserved 16th-century structure, built on four levels. An elephant ride will help you ascend to this hilltop fort (elephants are subject to availability). The 10th century Amber Fort is ringed by hills, with ramparts guarding all approaches and watchtowers set at strategic points. Among its many splendours is the Sheesh Mahal, a small room whose ceiling, covered with tiny mirrors, looks like a sky filled with brilliant stars. We make our way back down the hill and return to Jaipur.
This afternoon/evening we will enjoy a culinary experience in an ancestral home of a local Jaipuri family, where generations have lived together in a joint family system for as long as the family history dates back! The architecture of this ancestral home is like a typical Rajasthani Haveli, speaking volumes about the history of the place.
The present generation of the Rajput family residing at the haveli is keen to share their history and heritage with guests from all over the world. They are generous receptive hosts, who will welcome you in traditional Rajasthani style. Your etiquette hosts are well read and will surprise you with their knowledge on the history of Rajasthan, which they can narrate as a fable without the need to read from a book! The beautiful collection of traditional arts and antique furniture is also sure to impress.
Women of the family have excelled in the art of Indian cooking and are happy to share their grandma recipes with guests. You get the opportunity to learn to cook a typical Rajasthani meal, or just sit back and enjoy the grand feast! A true cultural and culinary delight.
Day 12 JAIPUR (B/D)
This morning, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Jaipur, known as the "Pink City" for the rosy hue of its sandstone buildings. First, we visit Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). This is actually not a palace, but rather a facade of 956 delicate, honeycombed sandstone windows used by the ladies of the palace to watch the outside world without being seen. Next we see the Jantar Mantar, a remarkable astronomical and astrological observatory built in the 18th century and City Palace museum, where the current maharaja of Jaipur lives.
Afternoon is at leisure to explore this colourful city on your own. Explore the colourful bazaars of Jaipur.
This evening, see a Bollywood film at one of India's oldest movie theatres.
Day 13 JAIPUR - KOCHI (B)
Today, we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Kochi - the commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala.
8:10 am, Depart Jaipur on flight 9W2052 to Mumbai.
9:45 am, Arrive Mumbai
On arrival, proceed in transit to board our onward Jet Airways flight to Kochi.
10:35 am, Depart Mumbai on flight 9W2101 to Kochi.
12:20 am, Arrive Cochin (Kochi)
We will be met on arrival into Kochi and transferred to the hotel.
Our accommodation in Cochin is in Hotel Killians for 1 night including breakfast.
Later, enjoy a city tour of Kochi, visiting the Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, Fort Cochin, St. Francis Church and Chinese fishing nets.
Day 14 KOCHI - MUNNAR (B)
(Optional) Early morning cycling tour in the Fort Cochin area.
This morning, embark on your drive to Munnar, one of the most popular hill resorts of south India. British rulers called Munnar ‘Switzerland of India' for its natural surroundings and cool climate. The entire area is occupied by thick forests and tea estates. The specialty of Munnar is jungle honey, tea and a rare flower ‘Neela Kurunji' which blooms once in 12 years. Here we will learn about the history of the area at a tea factory, little has changed since the 1890's.
After some sightseeing proceed to the hotel for check in.
Our accommodation in Munnar is in Hotel Windermere for 1 night including breakfast.
High up in the Cardamom Hills, the town is surrounded by rolling tea plantations, the highest in the world at 6000ft, and interspersed with planters' bungalows and grand old churches from the Raj era. There are many interesting walks around the plantations and hills. Trek through cardamom forests and landscaped tea shrubs. Take picnics besides scenic waterfalls or hill-tops with panoramic views.
This afternoon, you will be taken for a walk through the tea plantation and to the nearby factory as well to see the process of picking and packaging process of tea.
Day 15 MUNNAR - PERIYAR (B)
This morning, embark on a scenic drive to Periyar, the wildlife and spice plantation hub of Kerala.
Upon arrival in Periyar, check in to our hotel.
Our accommodation in Periyar is in Cardamom County Resort for 2 nights including breakfast.
This afternoon, enjoy boating on the serene Periyar Lake, in the heart of the sanctuary or enjoy nature walk into the forest. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the finest elephant reserves in southern India.
Day 16 PERIYAR (B)
Start your day with Yoga lessons in the hotel.
Morning at leisure for independent activities.
This afternoon, enjoy a spice plantation tour and learn about the mystery and history of Indian spices. The spice plantations in Kerala are captivating farms to wander in, since different spices are cultivated in different sections of each plantation. While exploring the Kerala spice plantations, you can go for nature walks, bird watching treks, taste the various spices and breathe in the fragrant air.
In the evening, watch a spectacular Kathakali performance. Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in India. It is a spectacular combination of drama, dance, music and ritual. Characters with vividly painted faces and elaborate costumes re-enact stories from the Hindu epics of Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
Day 17 PERIYAR - KUMARAKOM (B)
After breakfast, embark on our drive to Kumarakom, a coastal town in the backwaters of Kerala.
Upon arrival in Kumarakom, check in to our hotel.
Our accommodation in Kumarakom is in Lakesong Resort for 1 night including breakfast
Kumarakom is one of Asia's largest freshwater lakes spreads across the land of green magic, Kerala. Vembanad Kayal, as it is called in the regional language, acts as a giant reservoir, a balancing tank against floods, and a major ecological resource, which has conditioned the flora, fauna and lifestyles of the people who live on its banks.
Spend the rest of the day is at leisure for independent activities. Indulge in Ayurvedic massages or Spa offered at the resort.
Day 18 KUMARAKOM - APPEPEY (HOUSEBOAT) (B/L/D)
After breakfast, travel to Appepey to board our houseboat to cruise through the backwaters of Kerala.
The backwater cruise in a country boat is the best way to explore the villages and rural life. Join the backwater cruise the most fascinating and enjoyable route available. Kerala backwaters consist of a complex network of lagoons, lakes, & canals and are best experienced while slowly rowing down the labyrinth of canals in a traditional thatch-roofed houseboat, known as 'Kettuvallam'. See life on the banks, lush green rice fields, and coconut groves with occasional temple or church as you cruise through the canals. Relish the special Kerala style meals prepared by your chef on board.
Overnight stay is on-board the Houseboat
Day 19 APPEPEY - KOVALAM (B)
After breakfast on board the houseboat, drive to Kovalam; en route we visit Trivanduram Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Kovalam, once a fishing village, and now a paradise for beach lovers. Kovalam has 4 main beaches, all within short walking distance from each other, providing visitors with their fill of sun, sea and sand.
Upon arrival in Kovalam, check in to our hotel.
Our accommodation in Kovalam is in Hotel Travancore Heritage for 3 nights including breakfast.
Rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore the beautiful beaches and Ayurvedic treatment centres in the vicinity.
The next few days are all about relaxing, swinging in hummocks and reflecting on our journey through this incredible country. Practice yoga, treat yourself to one of the many renowned Ayurvedic treatments on offer, amble the beach at sunset, meander the shops for the last few souvenirs, savour the flavours of south Indian cuisine. Do nothing at all or sample it all.
Ayurveda is grounded in a metaphysics of the "five great elements" - all of which compose the Universe, including the human body. Ayurveda deals elaborately with measures of healthful living during the entire span of life and its various phases. Ayurveda stresses a balance of three elemental energies or humors: vata (air & space - "wind"), pitta (fire & water - "bile") and kapha (water & earth - "phlegm"). According to Ayurveda, these three regulatory principles- Doshas - are important for health, because when they are in balanced state, the body is healthy, and when imbalanced, the body has diseases. Ayurveda also focuses on exercise, yoga, meditation, and massage. Thus, body, mind, and spirit/consciousness need to be addressed both individually and in unison for health to ensue.
Day 20 KOVALAM (B)
Spend the day at leisure for independent activities. Enjoy, indulge, immerse, relax and reward.........
Day 21 KOVALAM (B/D)
Spend the day at leisure for independent activities.
This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner party.
Day 22 KOVALAM - TRIVANDRUM - SINGAPORE
Spend the day at leisure for independant activities. Today we have late check out at the hotel.
** Note that you have the option of extending your stay in Kovalam.
This evening we will be collected from our hotel and transferred to the airport in time for our onward Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore.
10:40 pm, Depart Trivandrum on flight SQ5397 to Singapore.
Day 23 SINGAPORE-AUCKLAND
5:35 am, Arrive in Singapore.
** Note that you have the option of staying on in Singapore.
On arrival, proceed in transit to board our onward Singapore Airlines flight to Auckland.
8:50 am, Depart Singapore on flight SQ281 to Auckland.
11:50 pm, Arrive Auckland.
Full itinerary details and tour inclusions available on request - please contact Travel VUDA today!