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The Best Tour of India - 22 Days


Day 1: Arrive at Delhi - most flights arrive either in the evening or at night, and we recommend that our guests consider arriving a day earlier as this allows you to recuperate from jetlag, and serves as insurance against international flight delays and cancellations. Additional night(s) can be added when you are finalizing your international flights.

Street Musician at Jaipur

Welcome to India, home to incredible historical monuments, a plethora of natural wonders, and the world’s most colorful culture. Our services begin with your luxury VIP greeting as you disembark at Delhi airport.

You are greeted as soon as you exit your plane and you will now be escorted through the complete arrival process, including immigration, baggage claim, and customs. Your VIP airport greeter will introduce you to your Accompanying Tour Director or an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator.

You are now driven to your top-ranked luxury hotel and assisted with your check-in. Check-in is available from 3 pm onward – slightly earlier arrivals may be able to get an earlier check-in, or you can park your baggage with the bell desk and use the hotel facilities until check-in. The iconic Oberoi Delhi recently underwent a two-year hotel closure while undergoing a complete and exhaustive rebuild, including the installation of the Indian capital’s most sophisticated ventilation and air filtration system. Your suite at the Delhi Oberoi includes access to the exclusive Resident’s Lounge with its associated benefits.

The next day’s plans are briefly reviewed and, if you so desire, you are given an introduction to the features, tools, and functions on the Easy Tours App, which can be downloaded on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Day 2: Delhi. (B,L) Begin your exploration of India in the morning with a drive through Lutyens’ historic New Delhi, which starts a stone’s throw away from your hotel.

India Gate

India Gate

This drive will include photo opportunities at the following attractions - the exterior of the massive and awe-inspiring Rashtrapati Bhawan (known as the Viceroy’s House during the British era) and Delhi’s landmark structure, the India Gate.

From here you will be driven to visit the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, making your way through Connaught Place, which is New Delhi’s downtown, and still retains its colonial architecture and design.

The Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, a gold domed Sikh House of Worship, is the most prominent Gurudwara in Delhi, and was first built as a small temple in 1783 and then expanded over the next few decades. The campus includes the temple, a kitchen, a school, an art gallery, and the holy pond (Sarovar), whose water is called Amrit (Holy Nectar). As with all Sikh Gurudwaras, volunteers, including children and the elderly, the extremely wealthy and not so well-off, perform almost all the chores required to keep the Gurudwara functioning.

A fascinating part of this is the daily langar (community meal), and you will witness as thousands of meals are served to all visitors who want one, regardless of race, religion, gender or belief. Only vegetarian food is served, so that no religions dietary restrictions are violated. Click here for a CNN story on how U.S. based Sikhs contributed with large langars during the Covid-19 pandemic

Drive to ancient Old Delhi and break for a late lunch, which will be a choice between set menus at the historic Curzon Room in the century old Maidens Hotel, which is owned and operated by the Oberoi Group. Your first stop after lunch is the Jama Masjid (1650 A.D.), the largest mosque in India. The Masjid is a magnificent example of Mughal architecture and is constructed of red sandstone and white marble. It is an active place of worship and its courtyard can hold 25,000 worshippers. Bare legs and shoulders are not permitted inside the mosque, and we include rented sarongs and scarves from the vendors at the entrance.

One of your most enduring memories of India will be your next experience as you walk through the ancient Chandni Chowk Bazaar. The cacophony of sounds, the cries of hawkers and the animated bargaining, sounds which have echoed through the centuries, all combine with the incredible colors and the diverse smells emanating from the street food stalls and spice markets to make for an experience that is unique to this ancient bazaar.

Red Fort Entrance

Red Fort Entrance

Your walk will end at the awe-inspiring Red Fort. The great city inside the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort offers visitors a large number of architectural and historical attractions. The Red Fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire for more than two hundred and fifty years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is an amazing example of a blend of Persian, Indian and European architecture. Both this fortified city and the Jama Masjid (Mosque) were built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who created the Taj Mahal.

Day 3: Delhi: (B) Very near your lodging is the magnificent tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, which will be your first stop this morning. Delhi has such an abundance of amazing monuments that this Tomb Complex (1562 A.D.) does not quite get the acclaim that it deserves.

Humayun's Tomb Front

Front View of Humayun's Tomb

It is one of Delhi’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and its striking beauty, flawless proportions, incredible design, and the surrounding exquisite gardens will all combine to captivate you.

A five-minute drive will take you to the gorgeous Lodi Gardens. Spread over 90 acres of extremely expensive real estate in the heart of New Delhi, this massive verdant garden area has ancient trees, lush landscaping, and beautiful flower beds surrounding an interesting collection of royal tombs from the 15th & 16th century. A large number of birdlife is also found here.

From the gardens you will enjoy a walk (driving is an option) through an affluent area of New Delhi, ending up in the Lodi Art District. Delhi may not be famous for its street art and murals, but the large amount of street art found all over this upscale part of the city will both surprise and delight you. The subject matter ranges from quirky to distinctly ethnic Indian, and there will be surprises around every corner. You will now break for lunch.

Throughout your tour, when lunch is not included, your Tour Director will recommend choices between highly rated restaurants nearby that serve Indian or western cuisine, all where good hygiene is practiced. Your Tour Director will also assist you in getting seated, and, if you so desire, make recommendations for local specialties.

After lunch you are driven to the awe-inspiring 12th century Qutab Minar, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Delhi has over 500 ancient structures strewn over its vast expanse, with many of them in various states of disrepair. In terms of amazing achievements of man from almost a millennium ago, the Qutab Minar is unmatched in its architectural brilliance and longevity.

Qutab Minar

Qutab Minar

This 240 ft tall medieval tower is a symbol of victory and a spectacular example of Persian architecture with intricate carvings and gorgeous inlaid calligraphy. There is a winding stairway inside the tower that goes up all the way to the balcony at the very top of the tower – unfortunately, this is no longer accessible for visitors.

Within the Qutab complex, amidst the ruins of the Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque, stands the legendary 2500-year-old Iron Pillar. The pillar stands 23 feet and 8 inches tall, weighs about 7000 pounds, and has inscriptions that are still legible to a great extent. This massive cast iron structure is said to have been moved from its distant cave shelter to Delhi around the 12th century, and since then has withstood the ravages of Delhi’s weather (and recent pollution) without rusting.

Next you will be driven to the Hauz Khas Complex. The lake in the complex was created by Delhi’s rulers in the 13th century, and it is surrounded by structures from the same period, including an Islamic seminary, a tomb, a mosque, and various other pavilions. Enjoy a walk through this ancient oasis before heading back to your hotel

Optional Home Dining & Cooking Lesson: Before returning to your hotel, you can choose to be driven to an experience that many of our guests really enjoy while in Delhi. You will be hosted by an accomplished chef and her family at their home. A delicious dinner and conversations will follow, and cooking lessons are included. You will be asked about this option soon after reserving your tour.

Day 4: Delhi - Varanasi. (B). You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel in the morning and driven to the airport where you are assisted with boarding your flight to Varanasi, the oldest continuously inhabited city on our planet, with a history that dates back five millennia. Upon arrival at the Varanasi airport, you are driven to nearby Sarnath, a major Buddhism pilgrimage site.

Dhamekha Stupa, Sarnath

Dhamekha Stupa, Sarnath

Attractions in this holy rural area include the massive 2300-year-old Dhamekha Stupa located near where the Buddha preached his first sermons. This Stupa was constructed by Emperor Ashoka, who is credited with the spread of Buddhism in the world.

Sarnath was also where the first Buddhist Sangha was formed and the area is home to a number of other Buddhist monuments that you can briefly visit, including the Chaukhandi Stupa and the Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple.

A highlight of the visit for our guests is the very small Archaeological Museum, with its impressive collection of artifacts, including the spectacular 4 headed lion which is India’s national emblem – this stop is optional.

From here you will proceed to your boutique small palace hotel, the historic Nadesar Palace. Your luxurious palace is situated among 28 acres of verdant gardens and is an oasis in the middle of this extremely congested city. There is no other real luxury lodging in Varanasi.

Day 5: Varanasi. (B) Two of the highlights of your time in Varanasi are the sunset and sunrise cruises on the Ganga. Start your day with an early morning boat cruise on the Ganga. The best time to visit the Ghats is at dawn, as that is when there are the fewest people around, and when locals practice yoga and devout pilgrims take their morning dip. It is also a great opportunity to experience some of Hinduisms ancient and iconic rituals.

You can simultaneously witness the ceremony of a recently deceased Hindu’s ashes being immersed in the river so that the soul can achieve salvation, while nearby, another Brahmin priest orchestrates the naming ceremony of a newborn.

Sunrise Dip on a Festival Morning

Sunrise Dip on a Festival Morning

Your boat offers an excellent view of all the activity on the Ghats - women bathing discreetly while still wearing their sarees, priests offering prayers as they immerse themselves in the holy water, and others who seem oblivious to their surroundings as they practice yoga or meditate on the banks of the Ganga.

Return to your palace for breakfast and to freshen-up and/or enjoy the facilities. There are few food outlets in Varanasi that we consider acceptable, so we recommend that you enjoy an early lunch (or snack) at your palace before venturing out in the early afternoon.

Now you will explore the really ancient parts of Varanasi, including visits to some of the iconic temples that lie along the banks of the holy river – please note that, as your Tour Director will point out, some temples are only open to Hindu’s. You will walk through the narrow lanes and through the crowded bazaars to discover a way of life that has not changed much over the past few millennia. Your Tour Director will guide you on a walk on some of the Ghats - it is a lot less crowded on these Ghats before the evening ceremony, which allows for a close-up look as pilgrims and locals go about their rituals and related activities. The Ghats on the holy river’s banks stretch for a few miles, and are always full of activity, but the middle of the whole expanse is where the holiest Ghats are located, and where the main evening ceremony takes place.

Priest Performing Sunset Aarti, Dashashwamedh Ghat

Priests Performing Sunset Aarti, Dashashwamedh Ghat

Your walk ends with you boarding your boat for a cruise that ends with a close-up view of the iconic Ganga Aarti ceremony on the now crowded Dashashwamedh Ghat, the holiest place on the river.

You can float your own lamps from your private boat while you watch the ancient prayer and oil lamp ceremony at sunset. Your boat enables you to enjoy a great view of the ceremony and hundreds of lamps as they float down the holy river.

Day 6: Varanasi - (Delhi) - Agra. (B) You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel in the mid-morning and driven to Varanasi airport. Your travel plans are subject to change today due to the unpredictability of the only Varanasi to Agra flight option. Lunch will be served on both flight options listed below.

If the direct flight is used, you will be driven from Agra’s small military airport to the iconic Oberoi Amarvilas. Agra airport has, in the last decade, only permitted two flights (one is from Varanasi) from the national carrier, Air India, to operate, and only on a limited number of days. Both these flights get cancelled frequently. When it does operate, the Varanasi to Agra flight operates only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

In the more likely circumstance that the direct flight does not operate, you will fly to Delhi and then you are driven from Delhi Airport to Agra on North India’s best highway, an elevated tollway that does not permit any of India’s usual chaotic road traffic to impede your journey.

Farmers in the Countryside

Farmers in the Countryside

No pedestrians, cows (or other livestock), bicycles, or other two-wheel traffic is permitted, and you will be able to see the fertile farmlands and rural activity surrounding the tollway.

Upon arrival at your luxury resort, you will be assisted with your check-in. Easy Tours includes an upgraded room with a private balcony that overlooks the Taj Mahal, framed by the lush gardens and trees of the Amarvilas. Please note that all Oberoi Vilas Resorts offer multiple experiences, including private cooking lessons with their master chefs. These can be reserved by us, or at the resort.

Day 7: Agra. (B) Enjoy a sunrise visit to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the incomparable Taj Mahal. Morning is the best time to experience it during most of the year, except for some years during which morning fog in late December and most of January can affect photography. Since it is more expensive for Indian tourists to enter at that early hour, the massive monument and its surrounding Mughal gardens have a lot fewer visitors than the rest of the day. The world’s greatest monument dedicated to love is obviously a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Taj Mahal was completed by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 A.D. as a memorial to his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. This spectacular white marble mausoleum was created by about 22,000 skilled craftsmen, many of whom were brought here from far away nations, and it took twenty two years to complete.

As the rising sun’s rays illuminate the precious stones inlaid in the marble, they will gleam momentarily and change colors. When you experience the Taj Mahal with an Easy Tours’ Tour Director who shares unique insights into its innumerable facets, some of their passion for this masterpiece may rub off on you.

Return to your resort after this and enjoy breakfast. Enjoy your resorts spectacular facilities and views for the rest of the morning, or you can join your Tour Director for a walk-through Agra’s ancient Kinari Bazaar. Lunch can be at your resort, or a local restaurant, and after lunch you will head to the first red sandstone fort of North India, the Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in 1565 by India’s greatest Mughal ruler, Emperor Akbar. Its royal audience halls, immense stone courtyards, marble mosque and the private royal chambers give us a glimpse of the grandeur of the Mughal Empire. There are unique views of the Taj Mahal from a section of the fort, including the room where Emperor Shah Jahan’s infamous son and successor, Aurangzeb, imprisoned his father during the latter years of his life.

Taj Mahal - Late Afternoon

Taj Mahal - Late Afternoon

After exploring the fort you will proceed for a sunset visit to the Taj Mahal. Experience the amazing Taj and its surroundings in bright sunlight, culminating with an opportunity to admire the sun’s rays setting on the façade of the world’s finest monument.

When the Taj Mahal closes right after sunset, enjoy the short walk to your resort, which is just a few hundred yards away.

Day 8: Agra - Ranthambore. (B,L,D) You are assisted with your check-out from your resort in the mid-morning and then you are driven to the Chand Baori stepwell at Abhaneri, located just off the highway, before you turn into the countryside towards Ranthambore. A packed meal from the Oberoi Amarvilas is included for the first part of your journey, and we recommend enjoying this before you arrive, or as soon as you arrive at the stepwell.

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/india-beautiful-stepwells-spc/index.html. The massive 10th century Chand Baori stepwell is one of the most impressive in all of India and is located next to a charming Rajasthani village. The depth of the stepwell is that of a modern 7 story building, and there are stairs (no longer accessible to visitors) leading down to the bottom from three of the 100 foot (35 meters) plus wide sides of the opening – the stairs significantly add to the symmetry and visual beauty of the structure.

Farmer Family with Camel

Farmer Family with Camel

After this you will walk through the small village to get a brief introduction to the lives of the simple but proud Rajasthani villagers. There will be young boys and girls herding goats, sheep, and cows around the area, camels carrying loads for their owners, and many other experiences that are only found in rural Rajasthan.

There is a potter’s hut that you can stop at, as well as opportunities to view other indigenous activities. This is a real village, and not a tourism destination. if you communicate with the villagers through your Tour Director, their simplicity, warmth, and hospitality will captivate you.

Continue on with your journey to Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore National Park). The second half of this drive is through rural Rajasthan and there are multiple photo opportunities of the colorful villagers as they go about their daily activities. You will also encounter many camels and other livestock on this drive. On your arrival you are assisted with your check-in at one of India’s two Aman Resorts, the Aman-i-Khas. Located on the fringes of Ranthambore National Park with unrivalled access to nature, the small boutique resort has 10 large luxury tents and provides an unsurpassed jungle experience.

Since 2006, Easy Tours of India has tracked the percentage of tiger sightings for our guests in Ranthambore National Park. More than 85% of our guests have had tiger sightings during this period, with many of them getting multiple sightings.

Day 9: Ranthambore. (B,L,D) Covering an area of 410 square kilometers, Ranthambore National Park runs along the eastern spur of the Aravalli mountain range until it meets with the Vindhya ranges. Ranthambore was once the Jaipur rulers’ private hunting ground. In 1972 it was declared a Sanctuary and was brought under the Project Tiger Conservation platform.

Dry deciduous forest covers most of the park, and the vegetation is lush around the many small lakes and ponds. The open grasslands that are the tiger’s favorite terrain account for much of the land on the higher slopes. This varied flora supports a large number of animals including a variety of deer and antelope, crocodiles, the sloth bear, over 320 species of birds, leopards and of course, one of India’s highest densities of the Bengal Tiger.

Enjoy private jeep wildlife safaris into the park in the morning and afternoon. As in all of India’s National Wildlife Parks, safaris are operated by the Forest Department, in either jeeps or large old trucks (called canters) with up to 20 passengers. The front seats of Ranthambore’s small jeeps have to be occupied by the forest departments wildlife guide and the jeep driver. Almost all jeeps operate on a shared basis, with 5 or 6 passengers on the two bench seats in the back.

Alpha Male Tiger at Ranthambore

Alpha Male Tiger at Ranthambore

Your safari will be just for you in a private jeep, with much better views of the wildlife, as well as the ability to get unobstructed photographs.

In between safaris, you have the option of a guided visit to the Ranthambore Fort. This excursion does have a fairly steep climb with approximately 700 feet of stairs. The massive Fort is one of the finest examples of the ancient Hindu concept of Vana-Durg, or a fort protected by a jungle. The history of this Fort (built in 944 A.D.) is a chronicle full of tales of blood and valor. Successively occupied by the Muslims, Rajput’s and Mughals, the insides of the fort today lie partly in ruin. There are superb views of the park to be had from its ramparts. There is also an ancient temple located in the fort which attracts a continuous stream of pilgrims from the surrounding villages. A note of caution – a large number of aggressive langurs (a larger than average South Asian monkey breed) have made the Fort area their home and it is not advisable to have food or shiny objects visible as you tour the fort, as such items will be aggressively snatched away, which could cause injury.

Day 10: Ranthambore – Jaipur. (B,L) Return to your resort after the safari to freshen up and have breakfast, after which you are at leisure for a couple of hours to enjoy the facilities and views of your resort. You are assisted with your check-out from your jungle resort just before noon and then you will enjoy lunch there before you are driven to the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur. Sawai Madhopur, the community located next to Ranthambore), is a rural small town, and you will drive through it to get a glimpse of life here before you head for Jaipur, which is a UNESCO World Heritage City. The first half of this drive is also through rural Rajasthan and there are multiple photo opportunities. You are assisted with your check-in at your boutique luxury palace hotel upon your arrival at Jaipur.

Unlike its only luxury competitor at Jaipur, the palace is centrally located in the city, and not at a 30-minute drive. Set in 47 acres of lush greenery, this exquisite 19th century palace hotel is the former royal residence and offers expansive facilities and bespoke experiences, including some of the best fine-dining restaurants in Jaipur.

Day 11: Jaipur. (B,L) Start your day with an excursion to the Amer Fort and Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located a little ways away from Jaipur. After 25 years of construction, this awe-inspiring complex was completed in 1599 AD. You will be driven to the back entrance of the main complex, thereby avoiding a long ascent. Easy Tours does not offer elephant-back ascents up the ramparts of the complex as many of the elephants are not well taken care off. There are nonprofits and other organizations that care for elephants in the Jaipur region, and in many other parts of India. A half day elephant experience at such a center, with no riding, is an option this afternoon.

Amer Fort and Palace

Amer Fort and Palace

The massive Fort and Palace complex is one of India’s finest examples of Rajput architecture. Explore the chambers and hallways, which are famous for their exquisite designs and handcrafted embellishments.

Your Tour Director will regale you with the history of the various structures as you take in the amazing workmanship of the craftsmen who created them. Return to the valley beneath the fort/palace complex and you will now enjoy one of the two experiences listed below, which you will be asked to select soon after reserving your tour.

Option 1: Elefantastic Experience: Very near the Amer Fort and Palace Complex is Jaipur’s premier ethical elephant experience. Upon your arrival at the camp, you will be served lunch and, after lunch, enjoy an experience with its resident elephants. You can assist in bathing, feeding, and applying safe decorative colors, as well as learn about the steps being taken by the organization to further the cause of protecting these magnificent animals.

OR

Option 2: Sanganer Excursion: Enjoy an excursion to the small town of Sanganer just south of Jaipur’s border. On the way to Sanganer you will stop at the Trident Hotel (owned and operated by the Oberoi Group) for lunch. Sanganer is home to a large home-based textile printing industry. There are hundreds of families that work on these crafts in their homes, and you will visit a few of them and watch as they skillfully transform plain white cloth into beautiful designs. Sanganeri printed fabrics became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries in much of Europe and they were one of the major exports of the East India Company. Dyeing of Sanganeri printed textile is done by using natural vegetable colors and the finished cloth initially emits a very pleasant smell.

Sanganer is also famous for its Calico printed bed covers, quilts and saris. In Calico printing, the outlines are first printed, and then the color is filled in. Bold patterns and colors are popular. They are printed repeatedly in diagonal rows. Doo Rookhi printing is also famous here. In this technique, artists print on both sides of the cloth. Sanganeri prints are famous for their delicate floral sprigs.

After the textile printing exploration, you will visit the facilities of families that are involved in making handmade paper. This fascinating process has been going on in Sanganer for almost 300 years. While you are here you have the option to visit Sanganer’s ancient Jain temple, Shri Digambara. This large fascinating house of worship is purported to be well over a millennium old and there is a plethora of Jain statues to be found here.

Day 12: Jaipur (B). Begin your exploration of the walled pink city of Jaipur. You will start with a visit to Jantar Mantar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a fascinating stone observatory built in 1728. Among other instruments, it includes a massive stone sun dial that is accurate to within 2 seconds. After the observatory comes a photo opportunity at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind).

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal

This intriguing facade was built in 1799 so that the ladies of the court could use its unique windows and observe the bustling bazaar without being visible from the streets.

Continue the tour with an exploration of the City Palace, the royal residence that was built in a delightful blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. A part of this massive complex is still occupied by the Royal family and is not accessible to the public. Your Tour Director will regale you with stories of royalty as you admire their trappings. This immense complex also houses a number of museums that include displays of armor, miniature paintings, and a large and impressive collection of ancient royal garments and accoutrements.

Next you will take a stroll through the great Jaipur bazaar in the heart of the pink city and watch the locals as they shop for pretty much everything a consumer can possibly want. You will break for lunch at a time of your choice as a couple of decent dining options are nearby. In this atmospheric and crowded bazaar, street sellers of vegetables, fruit and other goods occupy the curbs with their displays. There are stores selling spices, nuts, flowers, toys, footwear, hardware, and a lot more is mixed in with street food vendors and brick and mortar eating establishments. Byzantine alleys lead into inner courtyard shops, where the experienced locals shop for items at slightly lower prices.

From here you are driven to the outskirts of Jaipur to the ancient Hindu pilgrimage site of Galtaji in the Aravalli Hills. The complex of temples here is collectively known as the Monkey Temple because a large tribe of monkeys lives here and believes they own the complex. The complex of temples has several ponds that are fed by springs on the hilltops, and Hindu pilgrims consider taking a dip in these to be purifying. The monkeys agree and swim around the main pond with reckless abandon, and many of them can be seen diving into the pool from various vantage points.

Part of Galtaji Temple Complex

Part of Galtaji (Monkey) Temple Complex

Enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful Galtaji Temple, which is crafted in pink stone. There are other ancient temples in the complex, such as the Balaji Temple.

Monkeys are everywhere, and they are obviously in-charge! For someone not used to their social behavior and grooming practices and rituals, observing them can be fascinating.

Those who want to enjoy a medium uphill trek can accompany their Tour Director to the small hilltop Sun Temple to enjoy surrounding views.

Guests who want to do so will be driven back to your lavish Palace for a late afternoon of relaxation. Jaipur is India’s shopping mecca for all sorts of exquisite hand-crafted items, fabrics, carpets, as well as jewelery, and those who are interested in shopping can have their Tour Director serve as a personal shopper until the late evening.

Day 13: Jaipur - Udaipur. (B). You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel in the morning and driven to the airport. You are assisted with boarding your flight to Udaipur. Upon arrival at the Udaipur airport, you are driven to the fabled City Palace Complex, which contains multiple old palaces and other structures. At the Palace complex you will explore beautifully decorated rooms with thousands of exquisitely sculpted mirrors covering the walls, massive ivory doors (a dark reminder of Indian royalty’s passion for hunting), brightly colored stained-glass windows, expansive inlaid marble balconies and the unique peacock courtyard.

There are amazing views to be had from this structure, especially of Lake Pichola, the Lake Palace hotel and Jag Mandir Island, with the Oberoi Udaivilas as a backdrop. Enjoy a tour of the amazing Crystal Gallery, which houses the world’s largest collection of priceless crystal. Marvel at pieces like the complete bedroom furniture set in crystal and the gorgeous crystal fountains in the courtyards.

City Palace

City Palace Complex, Udaipur

While you are experiencing the complex, your lunch break today can be at the boutique café within the complex, or at the lakefront Sunset Terrace restaurant at the entrance of the complex.

From the City Palace jetty, you will be assisted in boarding the palace boat and then you will enjoy the short cruise to your exquisite Palace Hotel, located in the middle of the picturesque lake. Your suite has scenic lake views and the magical palace has been transformed into a more luxurious abode since it was featured in James Bond’s Octopussy.

Day 14: Udaipur. (B) With its small-town atmosphere, laid back Udaipur is one of India’s best places to explore on foot, and your Tour Director will take you for walks in interesting parts, including parks and small local bazaars. You will also enjoy a slightly bumpy (there are no shock absorbers) three-wheeler scooter ride through the streets. Lunch can be at one of Udaipur’s lakefront restaurants followed by an exploration of more of charming Udaipur with your Tour Director, or you can choose to take a boat back to your enchanting palace and enjoy lunch and then its magical charm and facilities for part of this afternoon.

Late afternoon: you are driven to visit the Monsoon Palace, a small hilltop structure that offers amazing views of the picturesque city of Udaipur and its lakes and palaces. If you are interested in trekking up or down on this excursion, please let us know in advance so that your Tour Director can adjust the day’s activities to accommodate the extra time needed. The journey up the hill takes you through a protected wildlife sanctuary and occasional wildlife sightings can be experienced. Enjoy the spectacular sunset from this vantage point before returning to your hotel.

Day 15: Udaipur – Mumbai (B) Although your Tour Director and chauffeur driven vehicle are available to you this morning if you desire to explore more (after checking out), we recommend that you enjoy this morning at leisure to for your last couple of hours at the palace. Also, if you wish to enjoy this beautiful small city and your gorgeous palace for longer, additional days at the Lake Palace are highly recommended by our previous guests and can be added soon after you reserve your tour.

You are assisted with your check-out around noon and then you are driven to the airport to board your flight to Mumbai, India’s most cosmopolitan city. Although a snack or meal will be served during the flight, you may want to snack at your resort before heading to the airport. Upon your arrival in Mumbai, you will be driven to your iconic oceanfront lodging and assisted with your check-in.

Gateway of India

Gateway of India

Your gorgeous historic hotel has the best location in Mumbai, across the street from the Gateway of India and the ocean.

The legendary hotel (not including the adjoining Taj Mahal Towers, a nondescript mid-level hotel that opened in 1973) started construction at the end of the 19th century, and was completed in December 1902, well before the Gateway of India monument that it faces. Your upgrade to a suite in the Palace Wing includes Taj Club facilities and its associated benefits.

The area around your hotel is where middle class residents of Mumbai come in the evenings to enjoy the ocean breeze and socialize. It is a great place to walk on your own, as locals sit on the seaside promenade and street vendors hawk their wares to them, from street food to toys to foot massages! You can safely and comfortably explore the surroundings of your Mumbai lodging until the late evening.

Day 16. Mumbai. (B) Proceed for a guided city tour of Mumbai. The tour begins across the street from your hotel, at The Gateway of India, situated overlooking Mumbai’s harbor. This structure was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai and India in 1905. After this a short drive takes you to the impressive Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, previously known as Victoria Terminus.

Chhatrapathi Shivaji Terminus

Chhatrapathi Shivaji Terminus

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is India’s finest example of Gothic architecture and one of the world’s busiest railway stations.

From here you will enjoy a walk-through Mumbai’s most interesting historical areas, stopping every few minutes to admire fascinating attractions. You will walk on busy promenades, passing by impressive Gothic and Victorian buildings that were constructed during the British Raj. You will stroll through busy street bazaars and public parks where cricket is being played on most days.

You will admire the historic Flora Fountain, and then the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, known as the Prince of Wales Museum until very recently. This is Mumbai’s premier museum, designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, and includes sections of paintings, archeology, and natural history. Even if you are not into museums, a short exploration is recommended, or you can just admire the architecture from outside. Another short walk will take you by historic Horniman’s Circle and on to Mumbai’s Town Hall, situated next to Mumbai’s docks. After this we recommend that you take a very short walk and break for an informal lunch at the iconic Leopold Café, a popular establishment that opened in 1871 and was one of the targets during the 2008 terrorism attack on Mumbai. Your hotel is also very nearby, in case you want to eat at one of its amazing restaurants.

After lunch you will drive to visit the famous Dhobi Ghat. Here you can observe Dhobi’s doing Mumbai’s laundry by hand the same way they have for more than a century, by flogging the clothes on stone! Over 100,000 pieces are laundered every day, hung to dry on seemingly unending clotheslines, then ironed, and delivered to far reaching areas of Mumbai. The profession is passed on from generation to generation.

Continue your exploration by driving further on Marine Drive (also known as the Queen’s Necklace) and go up Malabar Hill, where the Hanging Gardens provide a panoramic view of the city and bay. In the middle of the afternoon, you are driven back to your unique hotel to enjoy its surroundings, views, and extensive facilities.

Day 17: Mumbai – Fort Kochi (Cochin). (B) You are assisted with your check-out in the morning and then you are at leisure to explore more of the fascinating metropolis of Mumbai - your Tour Director will make suggestions based on your preferences, including an option to explore part of another one of Mumbai’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai, a set of 94 gorgeous buildings located in Mumbai’s historic Fort area. These include residential buildings, commercial offices, hospitals, and single screen movie theatres, including the popular Regal and Eros cinemas.

There is a break for lunch, after which you are driven to Mumbai airport in time to board your late afternoon flight to Cochin. Upon your arrival at Cochin Airport your North India Tour Director will bid you farewell after introducing you to your Kerala Tour Director.

Guiding in South India requires proficiency in the local languages - India has 19 languages, and over 500 dialects. North India residents are unable to effectively communicate in local languages. We offer two lodging options in the Cochin area, which you will be asked to select soon after reserving your tour.

Brunton Boatyard Option: You are driven to historic Fort Kochi to the bayfront location of the 19th Century Dutch boat building facility, where you are assisted with your check-in.

Brunton Boatyard

Brunton Boatyard

Although fairly upscale, the boutique Brunton Boatyard does not boast the luxury of your previous hotels, but it is the best lodging in the ancient historic seaport, with by far the best location, and the finest coastal Keralan cuisine (very different from other cuisine in India) with Dutch and Portuguese influences.

You are right next to most of the major attractions of this extremely charming town, and evening walks are encouraged.

OR

Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty Option: A modern large resort hotel on the edge of a peninsula near Fort Kochi, this fairly new hotel is more luxurious than most Grand Hyatt’s, and definitely the most luxurious lodging in the Cochin region. Easy Tours only uses their Grand Terrace Suite, a large suite with an expansive terrace and floor to ceiling windows that have breath taking views of Lake Vembanad and the surrounding lush foliage, part of the northern end of the fabled backwaters. Keralan coastal cuisine is also a specialty here, and the multiple restaurants offer many varieties of cuisine. There is also the opportunity for local excursions on foot, or on the resort’s bicycles. Please note that besides the lush surroundings and water views, Bolgatty Island does not offer cultural opportunities near your resort.

Day 18: Cochin. (B) Depending on your choice of lodging, this day will start with either a 1-minute walk from the Brunton Boatyard, or, if you are staying at the Hyatt, by taking a short scenic drive across two bridges to the Ferry at Fort Vypin. You will board the ferry for a short ride along with daily commuters, some of whom are pedestrians, others in their two, three, and four-wheel modes of transportation, and enjoy a short and fascinating cruise across the bay - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxlMdp_8-Zk. For those staying at Brunton Boatyard, the same ferry ride is also an option as the Fort Kochi Ferry stand is right next door.

Start your exploration of the fascinating port city of Fort Kochi and marvel in its culture and architecture, a result of centuries of various European influences combined with rich indigenous history. The easy walking tour begins from the most photogenic of Cochin’s attractions, the so-called Chinese fishing nets.

Chinese Fishing Nets

Chinese Fishing Nets, Cochin

Folklore will have it that these enormous nets (or at least their design) were brought here by famed Chinese explorer Zhang He about 600 years ago. Local fishermen manipulate these massive nets with an ease that comes from centuries of practice.

Ownership of the net and its prized location is handed down from generation to generation. The lowering and raising of the nets has a synchronicity and rhythm that is quite an amazing sight. Some of the nets are more than a century old as the fishermen patch them up and keep going.

Next comes the St. Francis Church, which was established by the Portuguese Franciscan Friars in 1503. This is one of the first European churches built in India, and the famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco Da Gama, the first European to reach India by sea, was buried in its courtyard for a few years before his remains were returned to Portugal. Continue exploring more of the fascinating ancient port city with a walk (or drive) through the charming streets and alleys, surrounded by Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture, and full of chic small cafes, boutique stores, art galleries, and a lot more. Recommended are David Hall, a historic building that has rotating art exhibits and a great cafe, and the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, which has an impressive collection of colorful artworks.

You will enjoy lunch and then visit Dutch Palace, also known as Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555, which is famous for its murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana and the Puranic legends. Please note that the Dutch Palace is a squat building that bears no similarity to the opulence of other palaces, or even mansions, of India. Not far from the palace is the Jewish Synagogue (closed to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays), which was built in 1568 and is still an active house of worship for the few remaining Jews in the area. Next to the synagogue is Fort Kochi’s ancient and colorful Jew Street with its antique stores and souvenir and art outlets. There is evidence of a Jewish presence in Kochi from 70 A.D.

Optional: In the evening you are driven to an experience that is extremely highly rated by many of our guests. You will be hosted by a famous Keralan Chef and her family at their home. A delicious dinner and conversations will follow, and cooking lessons are included. You will be asked about this option soon after reserving your tour.

Day 19: Cochin – Backwaters cruise on Oberoi MV Vrinda. (B,L,D) You are assisted with check-out from your resort and driven (about a 1.5 hour scenic drive) to a jetty on the backwaters.

Backwaters of Kerala

Backwaters of Kerala

Your destination today is the Oberoi group’s MS Vrinda eight cabin luxury cruiser that plies these inland lakes and waterways known as the Kerala Backwaters. Bid a temporary farewell to your Kerala Tour Director until the end of your two-night luxury backwaters experience.

There is also a 3-night cruise option which you can opt for at an additional cost. The Oberoi MV Vrinda follows a schedule that changes on alternate days. Both options are equally interesting, and only one is shown below. The itinerary for the next day and a half is from the Oberoi Group.

You will join your fellow passengers when you embark on the vessel for your two day adventure. Once all guests are on board, Vrinda sets sail along the main waterway on Vembanad Lake and enters the Alleppey canal. Guests could actively participate with the local fishermen and understand the life cycle of Karimeen also known as Pearl Spot. Lunch will be served on board.

The cruiser sails along the scenic waterways for four hours and returns to the Vembanad Lake in time to watch the sunset. Later in the evening, guests enjoy a performance of the highly ritualized Kathakali dance which tells stories from the ancient Hindu epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata. Performances begin with the application of elaborate makeup which is based in traditional Ayurvedic principles. The vessel will anchor for the night at the Vembanad Lake jetty. Dinner is on board.

Day 20: Backwaters cruise. On board Vrinda, with a rice boat excursion. (B,L,D) Motor Vessel Vrinda will sail from the Vembanad Lake jetty and head south, towards Alleppey. Breakfast will be served on board. Sailing through scenic backwaters, guests can observe life along these water highways while passing through one of the few areas in the world where farming is done below sea level.

Traditional Houseboat on the Backwaters

Traditional Houseboat on the Backwaters

Guests will be transferred to a traditional rice boat to navigate through the narrower sections of the backwaters. For the next few hours, guests will observe and experience a way of life unique to this region, accompanied by a guide.

This section of the cruise includes a visit to the half-statue of Lord Buddha at Karumadi and a traditional Kerala tharavad (family residence).

Later in the day, guests return to Motor Vessel Vrinda where lunch will be served as the boat passes through picturesque stretches of the backwaters on the way back to Alleppey. Motor Vessel Vrinda will return to Vembanad Lake, where guests can enjoy Vrinda Vadiyam, a musical fusion of classical instruments. Motor Vessel Vrinda will anchor for the night at the Vembanad Lake jetty.

Day 21: Backwaters – End of Tour or Taj Exotica Ocean Resort Options. (B) Motor Vessel Vrinda will sail along the main waterway channel on Vembanad Lake and head South, past Pallathurathy. Breakfast will be served on board; following which guests will check out by 10:00 am.

Disembark from your luxury cruiser and then you are greeted and driven to the Cochin airport, about a 3 hour drive. There are three options on this day of the tour, and your choice will be influenced by where your international flight departs from, or whether you want time at a world-class oceanfront resort. Island and Ocean resort choices are given below the regular departure options.

THE FOLLOWING DEPARTURE OPTIONS ARE OFFERED FOR GUESTS NEEDING GUIDANCE ON THIS SUBJECT. Please note that almost all international flights depart from India’s airports either very late at night or early in the morning.

Departure Option 1: International Flight from Delhi: Guests that have roundtrip flights in and out of Delhi. You are driven to the airport in time to board your flight to Delhi – additional costs will apply for the Cochin – Delhi flight. Upon your arrival in Delhi you will be driven to the Oberoi Gurgaon and assisted with your check-in. During your check-in, please remind the hotel staff of your flight departure timing - Easy Tours will already have informed them.

Day 22: Delhi – International Flight. Check-out at the appropriate time (your room is available until noon) and a luxury Oberoi vehicle will transfer you to the airport where you will board your international flight. At the airport you will connect with your Airport VIP Services Representative, who will escort you through customs and immigration. Additional services can be added upon request. Our services end with your Oberoi Gurgaon assisted check-in.



OR

Departure Option 2: International Flight from Cochin: Guests who booked multi-city international flights (many airlines will allow this, usually at almost the same cost as roundtrip flights), into Delhi and out of Cochin, thereby avoiding a flight within India. Some of the better international airlines, including all the major middle eastern airlines like Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways, have international flights departing from Cochin in the early morning. Far eastern carriers such as Singapore and Cathay Pacific used to have flights from here which have been terminated during the pandemic, but we are hopeful that they will return once air travel recovers significantly. If you are on one of these flights, you will be driven back to Forth Kochi after your cruise.

Arrive at Fort Kochi and, after a break for lunch, experience a ferry ride to Cherai – your baggage will remain in your vehicle as you explore during the early afternoon, and your vehicle will take a long drive to meet you at Cherai. Visit the 19th century Azheekkal Sree Varaha Venkateswara Temple – the temple Ratha (Chariot) is unique and very impressive. Also visit the Portuguese Fort, which was built in 1503 and is the oldest European structure in India. You will also stop at the Pallipuram Church, completed in 1577 by the Portuguese.

We recommend that you depart the area towards the airport (about 1.5 hours with normal traffic) by 4 PM at the latest, as rush hour along the way can cause significant delays. Arrive near the airport and you are assisted with your check into your upscale airport lodging, the Courtyard by Marriott, lodging that is far superior to U.S. based Courtyards. During your check-in, please remind the hotel staff of your flight departure timing - Easy Tours will already have informed them.

Day 22: Cochin – International Flight. Check-out at the appropriate time (your room is available until noon) and a Hotel vehicle will transfer you to the airport where you will board your international flight. At the airport you will connect with your Airport VIP Services Representative, who will escort you through customs and immigration. Additional services can be added upon request.
Our services end with your Cochin Airport Hotel assisted check-in.

Explore Island and Ocean Resort Options

Lodging

Delhi
The Oberoi New Delhi - Oberoi Suite
Varanasi
Taj Nadesar Palace - Palace Room
Agra
Oberoi Amarvilas – Premier Balcony Room with Taj View
Ranthambore
Aman-i-Khas – Luxury Tent
Jaipur
Rambagh Palace – Historical Suite
Udaipur
Taj Lake Palace – Historical 1 Bedroom Suite
Mumbai
The Taj Mahal Palace (Palace Wing) – Executive Suite 1 Bedroom
Fort Kochi
OR (Your Choice)
Bolgatty
Brunton Boatyard – Sea Facing Deluxe Suite  

Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty – Grand Terrace Suite with Lake View
Backwaters
Oberoi MS Vrinda – Deluxe Cabin
Delhi
OR
Cochin Airport
The Oberoi Gurgaon - Deluxe Room

Courtyard By Marriott – Executive Club Room

Inclusions

VIP Airport Services during International arrival and departure
Accompanying Tour Director to assist you throughout your on-tour flights and drives
Daily breakfast at all the hotels
7 Lunches, included in all 3 Meals at Ranthambore and on Oberoi MS Vrinda
4 Dinners, included in all 3 Meals at Ranthambore and on Oberoi MS Vrinda
Optional Cooking Lessons & Dinner with Expert Chefs at their Homes at Delhi and Cochin
3 Private Jeep Safaris at Ranthambore National Park
All safari related costs at Ranthambore, including park entry, naturalists, vehicle fees etc.
Private sunrise and sunset boat cruises on the holy river in Varanasi
Both Sunrise and Sunset visits to the Taj Mahal
2 Night Oberoi Backwaters Cruise at Kerala, Upgradable to 3 Nights
Three Wheeler scooter ride through the streets of Udaipur
Local Ferry Ride in Cochin
Hotel check-in is at 3 pm and checkout is at noon for almost all the hotels
All transfers and sightseeing by personal upscale vehicle
Complimentary Wi-Fi in all vehicles, except for remote regions
Services of an accompanying Easy Tours Tour Director during your tour
Bottled water during sightseeing/excursions and other drives.
All currently applicable taxes.

Not Included

International Travel
Expenses of a personal nature like tips, laundry, telephone calls, drinks etc.
Meals other than those specified above
Travel insurance, visa etc.
Camera fees – still and video

Dates & Prices

Dates Price For
Per Person, based on Double Occupancy
Per Person
On-Tour Flights
Total For
2 Guests
Availability
15th Dec, 2021
to
20th Dec, 2021
$14971 $826 $31594
Reserve Now
5th Jan, 2022
to
15th Apr, 2022
$14971 $826 $31594
Reserve Now
Prices include all Current Taxes & Surcharges

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