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The Best Culinary & Cultural Tour of India

- 19 Days

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Day 1: Arrive at Delhi - most flights arrive either in the evening or at night, and we strongly 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. An additional night’s hotel stay can be added at the time of reservation.

Indian Food

Welcome to India, home to a dizzying array of unique culinary offerings, 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 you exit the jet bridge from your plane and are escorted through the complete arrival process, including immigration, baggage claim, and customs. After this process you will be met by an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator or your Accompanying Tour Director and ushered to a chauffeur driven vehicle. You are now driven to your top-ranked luxury hotel and assisted with your check-in if it is 3 pm or later.

Your suite at the Delhi Oberoi includes 24-hour butler service and access to the exclusive Resident’s Lounge with its associated benefits. The next day’s plans are briefly reviewed. While you are here, we recommend that you take the time to enjoy the incredible facilities of your hotel, including their heated indoor and outdoor pools and their wonderful spa and its fascinating offerings. Yoga sessions are available in the mornings.
(Overnight – The Oberoi New Delhi – Oberoi Suite)

Day 2: Delhi. (Breakfast & Dinner) Start your day with a conversation with a senior chef at your hotel after you enjoy a breakfast that includes a large selection of Indian and western offerings, including scores of made to order options. You will be given an introduction to common Indian spices, and learn how they add flavor and color while providing health benefits.

Indian Spices

Indian Spices

During breakfast the hotel chefs will ask for your preferences on which ingredients you want to focus on for your paratha dinner on this day, and this practice will go on for the rest of your culinary journey with us.

Please note that most of our guests on our culinary and other journeys do not want 3 full meals during their travels. Indian breakfast foods can be rich and there is such a large variety and assortment of delicious Indian and western foods that are on the lavish buffet as well as available to order, that most guests will skip lunch, or ask for a banana, an apple, or something similar for lunch. If you do get hungry during the morning or early afternoon, your Tour Director Guide will recommend options for a full lunch during your sightseeing.

Delhi has more amazing culinary options than any other city in India and we will only be able to introduce you to some of the local cuisine’s highlights during the three full days you will spend here. The food you will experience and learn about here will include some of the amazing street food that Delhi is famous for, but your street food experiences will all be with the expert chefs at your luxury hotel, thereby avoiding the extreme issues most American stomachs would be guaranteed to suffer if they actually ate on the streets.

Begin your exploration of India in the mid-morning with a drive to one of Delhi’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the awe-inspiring 12th century Qutab Minar. Delhi has over 500 ancient structures strewn over its vast expanse. 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 tower is a symbol of victory and a spectacular example of Persian architecture, with intricate carvings and gorgeous inlaid calligraphy.

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.

Next you will be driven to the beautiful Lodi Gardens. This massive garden complex is spread over 90 acres of priceless real estate in the heart of Delhi, and contains the tombs of various rulers of the Pashtun Dynasty that ruled much of Northern India during the 16th century. There are lush lawns and a plethora of flowers and plants mixed in with all the monuments.

Very near the gardens is the Lodi Art District, your last destination before returning to your hotel. Delhi isn’t famous for its street art and murals, and 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. A google presentation on the Lodi Art District - https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/lodhi-art-district-st-art-india/NQKi787tb1GHJA?hl=en.

Return to the Oberoi in the late afternoon and, after you freshen up, a tailor will take measurements for your traditional Indian apparel, which will be expertly tailored and presented to you at Jaipur. You will be shown options for colors and other customizable elements and can select based on your preferences. These garments will be made of fine materials and will make some of the special experiences on your exploration even more memorable.

Paratha Cooking Lesson and Dinner: Your chef instructor and F&B staff will start your cooking lesson journey with an introduction to the wonders of the North Indian Paratha, and the art of making it along with associated chutneys and other accompaniments.

Some of the scores of different types of parathas are popular breakfast items, others are among the most prevalent street food, while others are used as standalone meals or as accompanying breads with lunch and dinner. Although wheat flour is now used as the primary grain in over 98% of paratha’s served today in India and other nations, years ago the simple folk of India mainly used ancient and much healthier grains such as amaranth (rajgira), barley (jau), pearl millet (bajra), finger millet (ragi), and sorghum (jowar) in their daily preparations. Throughout your culinary exploration of India, you will be exposed to cooking with some of these ancient grains, although the ubiquitous wheat option will always be present for those who want it.

Ancient Grains

Ancient Grains

There are dozens of types of parathas and they can be made of one, or a combination of, grains. They are delicious plain but the most popular versions are stuffed parathas, which have the option of many different stuffing’s, most common among which are spiced potatoes, paneer, cauliflower and other vegetables, along with other options. Parathas, just like other Indian food, are always accompanied by a large assortment of delicious spicy pickles and chutneys, as well as other pleasures such as yogurt raitas. We feel that it is hard to beat a large dollop of fresh churned unsalted butter on top of a hot paratha! You will enjoy the fruit of your preparations as a filling dinner that you have helped prepare!
(Overnight – The Oberoi New Delhi – Oberoi Suite)

Day 3: Delhi. (Breakfast and Dinner) Start your morning with another delicious breakfast just as the day before. Along with your preferences from all the other options, you will be served a fresh crispy dosa, made to your preferences, with sambhar. Originating in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, dosas are now one of India’s most popular foods and are eaten for both breakfast and lunch. This large round ultra-thin crepe is served folded over and is accompanied by sambhar, a delicious and thin lentil-based stew containing morsels of fresh vegetable and delightful bland spices. Dosas are always accompanied by a selection of hand ground chutneys, the most common of these being a coconut chutney. Most dosas are made with a black lentil and rice fermented batter, but there are a few other options available, including a delicious and healthy version made of Ragi (finger or red millet). Along with your choice of batter, you have the option to have your dosa plain, or served as a ‘masala dosa’ that includes a potato and vegetable gravy inside the dosa.

You will now enjoy a short drive through some of Lutyens’ historic New Delhi. You will stop for a view of the exterior of the massive and awe-inspiring Rashtrapati Bhawan, which was known as the Viceroy’s House during the British era. From here you can also enjoy a striking view of the India Gate at the other end of majestic and historic Rajpath, the former Kingsway.

Almost next to India Gate is the crown jewel of India’s museums, the National Museum. You will experience a short visit to the Harrapan Gallery here. The museum has about 200,000 artifacts but you will explore just a very small section that pertains to the Indus Valley Civilization. A Cradle of Civilization, the Indus Valley exhibits will awe you with their amazing four and five millennium old artifacts and will give you insights into some of what you will experience during your tour of India. Those who are not interested in museums at all can ask their tour director to substitute this visit with other experiences. Guests who want more time at the museum should let us know soon after reserving their tour.

Next you will drive through a section of Connaught Place, which is New Delhi’s downtown and still retains its colonial architecture and design. Arrive at the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, which is a large gold domed Sikh House of Worship and is the most prominent Gurudwara in Delhi. It was first built as a small structure in 1783 and then expanded over the next few decades. The campus includes the temple, a kitchen, a school, an art gallery, and the Sarovar (Holy Tank) 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.

Humayun's Tomb Front

Front View of Humayun's Tomb

A short drive from here will get you to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the magnificent tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. Delhi has such an abundance of amazing monuments that this Tomb Complex (1562 A.D.) does not quite get the acclaim that it deserves. Its striking beauty and flawless proportions will captivate you.

After these stops a drive on tree lined avenues surrounded by embassies of the world’s major nations will bring you to your next experience, where you will stop for a walk through one of Delhi’s most colorful middle-class bazaars, the Sarojini Nagar Market. This massive street level bazaar has multiple sections, from garments to vegetables to street food, and outside the brick-and-mortar structures are street stalls and other sellers with just a small table of displays. Always abuzz with activity, you will be able to experience a portion of the bazaar as the middle-class residents of Delhi go about their shopping and bargaining.

Late Afternoon – You will return to your hotel and freshen up, after which it is time to enjoy a Chaat cooking session with the hotel chefs. Along with being India’s gastronomical capital, Delhi also has the most amazing street food (chaat) in the country, although residents of Mumbai and Kolkata will most likely not agree with either of the preceding statements. Everywhere you go in India, you will see thousands of street vendors with manually pushed carts and small roadside stalls who have a constant stream of locals enjoying the incredible tastes of chaat. Much as you might be tempted, we only recommend chaat and other street food at the upscale restaurants where you will dine – many of them offer some chaat options on their menu’s.

You will learn about some of the dozens of different popular chaat items, and before you start on the cooking experience you will sample a few, including what is arguably the most unique street food there is, the golgappa.

Golgappas

Golgappas

Also known as pani puri in other parts of India, the explosion of flavors that a golgappa creates on your palate cannot be described in words – it is a combination of spicy, tart, sweet, crunchy and more.

Learn how to make two of the most popular street foods that are fairly easy to make, aloo (potato) tikki and aloo chaat. While you are learning you will be enjoying multiple other amazing chaat items. After this don’t be surprised if you end up asking for different chaats throughout your time in India!
(Overnight – The Oberoi New Delhi – Oberoi Suite)

Day 4: Delhi. (Breakfast and Lunch) For breakfast this morning you will be served fresh Chole Bhature, among the most popular foods in Delhi and North India, as well as a street food staple. As always, a large selection of Indian and western options at the buffet, including scores of made to order delights, will also be available. Chole is a term used for the three different variety of chickpeas found in India, but you will dine on this day on a thick traditional chickpea dish that is amazingly delicious, and Bhaturas are a puffy fried bread made of leavened flour. These are eaten by locals for breakfast and lunch and are a routine part of the standard breakfast offerings at your hotels. There are many accompaniments for Chole Bhature, with the primary one’s being traditional Indian achaars (pickles), which are small pieces of vegetables and fruits, preserved for weeks or longer in brine or vinegar, along with various Indian spices. Chopped onions are another common accompaniment.

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid

Your first destination today is the Jama Masjid (1650 A.D.) in Old Delhi, 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 enjoy a walk through the ancient Chandni Chowk Bazaar, home to the world’s largest spice market. The cacophony of sounds which have echoed through the centuries, the cries of hawkers and the animated bargaining, along with the incredible colors and the diverse smells emanating from the street food stalls and spice markets combine to make for an experience that is unique to this ancient bazaar. An option to experience a cycle-rickshaw through the bazaar is available for those interested in it. Next you will drive around the 75-foot tall and 1.6-mile-long sandstone walls of the Red Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can ask your Tour Director Guide to include a visit inside the Fort – it is not standard on our tour for two reasons – there are some similarities to the Agra Fort which you will visit, and quite a large part of this fortified city is currently occupied by the Indian Army and off limits to visitors. The Red Fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire for more than two hundred and fifty years. Both the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid were built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who created the Taj Mahal.

From Old Delhi you will head back to central Delhi and the Indian Accent restaurant at the Lodhi Hotel for a late lunch. This is one of three worldwide Indian Accent restaurants (the other two are among the top-rated Indian restaurants in London and New York) and its menu combines traditional Indian flavors with innovative global ingredients and cooking techniques to create an unmatched dining experience – we feel that the original branch at Delhi serves the best food when compared to the other two. Indian Accent has been awarded an impressive number of ‘Best Indian Restaurant in India’ awards from the most reputable publications over the last 8 years. The restaurants founder chef, Mr. Manish Mehrotra, is similarly the recipient of more top chef awards than anyone in India. You will select from a choice between vegetarian and non-vegetarian six course chef’s tasting menus. You will be driven back to your hotel in the middle of the afternoon.

We recommend you retire early as your departure will be slightly early on the following morning. You are on your own if you want to eat dinner tonight and we recommend a light meal at the excellent 360° multicuisine restaurant, or one of your hotel’s other fine dining restaurants. This evening, if not earlier, you will select your breakfast preferences for the following morning as you will be eating the meal on your short train journey to Agra.
(Overnight – The Oberoi New Delhi – Oberoi Suite)

Day 5: Delhi - Agra. (Breakfast and Dinner) You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel in the morning after your Tour Director has collected your breakfasts and you will be driven to the nearby Nizammudin Railway Station. An Indian railway station is an experience an itself, always abuzz with activity as India’s vast masses travel on the world’s largest rail network. Although the stations premises are not particularly sanitary, your train and your compartment are very clean and the best that India has to offer on its passenger trains, with comfortable and wide reclining seats and a clean and pleasant environment.

You will be on India’s fastest train, the Gattiman Express, which reaches speeds just under 100 miles an hour on parts of this journey. You will be assisted in boarding your compartment, the best available on the train, and your baggage will be ported to the racks above your seats. After an hour and 40 minutes during which you will enjoy your breakfast and watch the countryside zip by, you will be assisted with your disembarkation at Agra Cantt Railway Station, as porters unload your bags.

You are driven to your gorgeous luxury resort where you will drop your bags off and use the facilities to freshen up after your first views of the magnificent Taj Mahal from the spectacular lobby. There is a very small chance that your room might be available for a very early check-in, but you will most likely be assisted with your check-in after lunch. Please note that the Oberoi Amarvilas has a great spa, an amazing pool straight out of the Arabian Nights, and many other facilities. They offer multiple hotel experiences, which can be reserved by us in advance upon request. There are nightly cultural performances at the resort, just as there will be at your resorts in Jaipur, Narlai, and Udaipur.

You will be driven to the first red sandstone fort of North India, the Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an amazing example of a blend of Persian, Indian and European architecture and was built in 1565 by India’s greatest Mughal ruler, Emperor Akbar.

Chamber in Agra Fort

Chamber in Agra Fort

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 the Taj Mahal’s creator, Emperor Shah Jahan, was imprisoned during the later years of his life by his infamous son and successor, Aurangzeb.

After this you will return to your spectacular resort and its Taj Mahal views. You may want to avoid lunch this afternoon – if you feel hungry, we recommend a light snack so that you are ready for what is in store for dinner. Your resort has a very good multi-cuisine restaurant, as well as an excellent Indian Fine Dining restaurant with tasting menus available. You are assisted with your check-in around 2 pm, if an earlier check-in is not available.

After relaxing and enjoying your memorable view for a little while, you will proceed for a late afternoon 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 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. 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. When the Taj Mahal closes right after sunset you have the option to ride a golf cart or enjoy the short walk to your resort which is just a few hundred yards away.

Dinner is a delight for your taste-buds this evening. The Peshawri Restaurant at the ITC Mughal Hotel is the smaller sibling of the world’s most famous Indian Restaurant, the Bukhara in the ITC Hotel at Delhi. The food is the same and the cuisine originates from colonial India’s North West Frontier Province, now located in the Afghanistan and Pakistan regions. Everything is slow cooked and both the nonvegetarian and vegetarian offerings are among the very best traditional North Indian food you will eat in your lifetime. You will order ala carte from their menu and watch as the chefs do their magic in the open kitchen. Utensils are not offered and you are supposed to eat with your hands – they do provide a very large bib as this will be a messy meal. For dishes such as Daal Bukhara (slow simmered for 24 hours), the world’s largest naan, the amazingly delicious four-foot Naan Bukhara can serve as a way to scoop the daal. We caution you about overeating this evening as you will have an early start on the next day for the sunrise at the Taj Mahal.
(Overnight – The Oberoi Amarvilas - Premier Balcony Room with Taj View)

Day 6: Agra - Jaipur. (Breakfast and Dinner) 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 this early hour the massive monument and its surrounding Mughal gardens have a lot fewer visitors than the rest of the day.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

As the rising sun’s rays illuminate the precious stones inlaid in the marble they will gleam momentarily and change colors.

Return to your resort in time for a breakfast of the large selection of Indian and western options at the breakfast buffet, including scores of made to order delights. By now you will be somewhat familiar with the myriad Indian offerings available, including pooris or bhaturas with chole, south Indian offerings like dosas, idlis and vadas accompanied by sambhar, pakoras, and obviously the option to order your favorite western egg creations with breakfast meats, assorted breads, fruit juices, hot beverages, and a lot more.

You are assisted with your check-out from your resort after breakfast and then you are driven to the Chand Baori stepwell at Abhaneri, located just off the highway to Jaipur. Snacks and refreshments will be available in your vehicle enroute. 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. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/india-beautiful-stepwells-spc/index.html. 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 plus wide (35 meters) sides, creating symmetry and beauty to the ancient structure.

Continue on with your journey to Jaipur, a UNESCO World Heritage City. Located in the heart of the city’s most prestigious area, with 47 acres of lush manicured greenery, your home in Jaipur is the awe-inspiring Rambagh Palace, the Maharaja’s former residence. You will stay in a Historical Suite and upgrade options to higher suite categories are available. The Palace is next to Jaipur’s finest golf course, the Rambagh Golf Course, and tee time and equipment can be arranged with prior request and an extension of your stay in Jaipur. There are Rajasthani cultural performances at your palace almost every night.

After checking in you will be presented with your bespoke Indian garments and whenever you are ready, today or on another day, the Palace Butlers will be happy to assist you in donning your new clothes – female hotel staff will assist ladies with their clothing. Today is a good day to dress up as an Indian Royal as your dinner experience befits the apparel.

Dinner will be at an incredibly charming and atmospheric venue this evening. The unique Steam Bar & Restaurant on the Rambagh Palace grounds is comprised of a lovingly restored 19th century narrow-gauge steam train and a recreated colonial era railway station – you can eat in the train compartments or on the authentic colonial era platform next to the train. You will select from a choice of wonderful multi-course set menus that highlight the local cuisine.
(Overnight – Rambagh Palace – Historical Suite)

Day 7: Jaipur. (Breakfast and Dinner) For breakfast this morning you will be served fresh Kachoris, quite possibly the most popular food among the natives of Rajasthan. As always, a large selection of Indian and western options, including scores of made to order delights, will also be available. Kachori’s are a deep-fried partially stuffed pastry with a variety of possible stuffing’s, that is relished by North Indians for breakfast and lunch.

Jaipuri Kachori

Jaipuri Kachori

The magical state of Rajasthan is the home of a unique kachori culture, and Jaipur is famous its Pyaaz (Onion) Kachori’s, although the stuffing includes traces of other vegetables, along with a mixture of delightful spices.

Today will start with three of Jaipur’s off the beaten tourism track historical destinations, which also happen to be among the most wonderful opportunities for photography in India. First you are driven to a very scenic location in Jaipur adjacent to a public park, The Albert Hall Museum, which was completed in 1887 by the architect Samuel Swinton Jacob. You won’t enter the museum (unless you would like to) as this stop is solely for you to walk around and take-in the absolutely gorgeous Indo-Saracenic architecture. Rudyard Kipling (himself the son of a museum curator) on a visit was so impressed that he wrote "it is now a rebuke to all other museums in India from Calcutta downwards".

From here you are driven to the ancient Hindu pilgrimage site of Galtaji, located in a crevice in the Aravalli Hills. This 15th century complex of temples here is sometimes referred to as the Monkey Temple by tourists because a large tribe of monkeys lives here and believes they own the complex. The picturesque complex of temples has seven ponds that are fed by springs on the surrounding hilltops, and Hindu pilgrims consider taking a dip in these to be purifying. The beautiful temple complex has been a retreat for a sect of Hindu ascetics since the 16th century.

The monkeys agree and swim around the main pond with reckless abandon, and many of them can be seen diving into the tank 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, and you will visit a couple of them, including the Balaji Temple.

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

From here you will be driven to Jaipur’s best kept secret, the royal cenotaphs known as Gaitore ki Chhatriyan. By now you will have seen many examples of Chhatri’s (ornate umbrella shaped domes), but those that cover the individual tombs and structures here are a sight to behold, and an incredible Instagram opportunity. In a city full of UNESCO Sites and incredible colors, this complex is sometimes our guests’ favorite memory of Jaipur. Although you are still in today’s Jaipur, this spots serenity and scenery is a surprising break from the crowds and noise. The complex was first used in 1733 AD for a tomb that marked the cremation site for Jaipur’s Rajas. Although each of the smaller structures is worth a detailed exploration, the highlight is the large intricately carved white marble cenotaph of Jaipur’s founder, the legendary Maharaja Sawai Jai Singhji.

On the way to your next destination, you can stop for lunch at the excellent restaurant at the upscale Trident Hotel, but there are other alternatives that you can discuss with your Tour Director Guide. After lunch you will explore the awe-inspiring Amber Fort and Palace complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This complex was completed in 1599 AD after 25 years of construction. You will be driven to the back entrance as Easy Tours does not offer elephant-back ascents up the ramparts of the complex because many of the elephants are not treated well. Please note that there are organizations that rescue and care for such elephants in camps 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 that can be added to your Jaipur exploration upon request, potentially adding another night at Jaipur.

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. From the Fort return to your gorgeous Palace Hotel in the mid-afternoon and freshen-up.

Rajasthani Dinner Cooking Lesson and Dinner. In the late afternoon you will be escorted to a special venue at your palace where a live cooking stand has been set up just for you. A journey into the local culinary specialities will begin, with dishes ranging from the mutton and chicken dishes that the royals ate, to the unique and delicious flavors of vegetarian cuisine that developed over thousands of years in the villages and small towns on the Rajasthani desert. Unique local ancient grains (millets have traditionally been a staple in this state) will be in the breads as well as a khichdi that is distinctly rural Rajasthani. Take a break to freshen-up before dinner as the chefs put the finishing touches to your meal and tonight would be a great time to again don your Indian clothing.
(Overnight – Rambagh Palace – Historical Suite)

Day 8: Jaipur. (Breakfast and Lunch) Enjoy a diverse selection of local, national, and western delicacies for breakfast, including scores of made to order delights. After breakfast you will begin your exploration of the walled pink city of Jaipur 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 you have the option to be driven to your nest 3 destinations, or you can choose to walk – the total distance of the walk not including exploration of the sites, is about half a mile, and your stroll will be through parts of the fascinating main bazaar in the heart of the pink city and watch the locals as they shop for pretty much everything a consumer can possibly want. This atmospheric and crowded bazaar has street sellers of vegetables, fruit and other goods occupying the curbs with their displays. There are stores selling spices, nuts, flowers, toys, footwear, hardware, and a lot more, mixed in with street food vendors and brick and mortar eating establishments. Byzantine alleys lead into inner courtyard shops.

Located next to Jantar Mantar is 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.

Another few minutes of walking will bring you where you have 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 to the people on the streets.

Jaipur is India’s capital for jewelery, and the largest supplier of exquisitely crafted jewelery to much of the world, and Johri Bazaar (jewelers’ market) is a historic enclave that happens to be the center of the largest precious stone cutting area on our planet. You will experience a short walk through a section of the area (please note that all the jewelry manufacturers are located on higher floors and so you will not be seeing the jewelers at work) and soon arrive at a small boutique hotel, The Johri. This five-room inn has an excellent restaurant where you will enjoy lunch. Locally sourced fresh organic vegetarian cuisine is served here, and you will order ala carte from their menu of seasonal and regional offerings. We strongly recommend all their chaat and appetizer items, but their main entrees are not to be missed either.

Optional late afternoon activity: 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 your personal shopper, or you can choose to return to your spectacular palace hotel. You are on your own for dinner on self-pay basis tonight and, as before, we recommend a light western meal at the excellent Marble Arch restaurant, or the palace’s atmospheric fine dining Indian Restaurant.
(Overnight – Rambagh Palace – Historical Suite)

Day 9: Jaipur – Narlai. (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel in the morning after a slightly early breakfast that, as always, contains dozens of Indian and western preparations, as well as many options for made to order dishes. Join your Tour Director Guide and your chauffeur and you are now driven to historic Rawla Narlai, a 17th century Royal Hunting Lodge located right in the middle of a wonderful and authentic ancient village. Rawla means Royal Palace, Narlai is the name of the village.

Much of the so-called rural tourism offered in Rajasthan is of smaller villages that receive a constant stream of visitors and most of their guest experiences are, at least partially, staged.

Rajasthani Village

Rajasthani Village

This large village 16th Century village (almost 6000 residents) of Narlai is centuries old and the people are genuine and warm villagers.

The ancient royal lodge has been meticulously restored by its owners, the Royal Family of Jodhpur, and calling it boutique would be a vast understatement. There are two wings – one being the original 17th Century hunting lodge, and a more modern wing that was built around 20 years ago. Near the lodge and visible from various vantage points is a massive ancient volcanic granite boulder called Elephant Hill, with a historic small Hindu Temple at its peak, and many caves carved into its facade.

Please note that the lodge is a unique rural historical experience and is not a luxury hotel – the amenities will not match your previous lodging. Although the rooms in the new wing are larger and have more modern conveniences and much more natural light, we recommend the rooms in the ancient wing as their incredible historical charm is a unique experience not found elsewhere. However, if you do not want a paucity of natural light, we recommend the new wing. Rooms in both wings have upscale traditional Rajasthani artwork, furnishings and décor, and the heritage wing rooms obviously have more antiques. If you choose the new wing, you will still experience a lot of the 17th Century lodge’s original features. You will select your room preference at the time of your reservation.

The cuisine served at the lodge wins accolades from everyone who stays here, and most of it is sourced from their own organic farms and orchards, as well as other farms surrounding the village. The chefs are attentive and will customize your meals to your preferences, and just like in most resorts that you will stay in while in Rajasthan, there are live local cultural performances every evening. The lodge also offers exceptional service levels – nothing is too much for the staff.

Rajasthani Villagers

Rajasthani Villagers

After checking in and a slightly late lunch, you will enjoy an extended walk through the large village to get an 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, and many other experiences that are only found in rural Rajasthan. There will also be multiple opportunities to view various indigenous activities. if you communicate with the villagers through your Tour Director Guide, their simplicity, warmth, and hospitality will captivate you.

Ancient Stepwell Dinner Experience: After sunset you will be assisted in climbing aboard a traditional bullock cart and transported through the dark countryside to a charming 16th Century stepwell. Your magical dinner will be at the stepwell, accompanied by live local folk music and accented by hundreds of oil lamps adorning the steps of the stepwell. As you enjoy a multi-course dinner of local delicacies and the lodge’s attentive service, the oil lamps and countless stars will illuminate this amazing night.
(Overnight – Rawla Narlai – Grand Heritage Room)

Day 10: Rawla Narlai - Udaipur. (Breakfast and Dinner) Guests can select one of two activities for the early morning today, or choose to relax and sleep in. Couples and family/friends can temporarily separate to enjoy one or the other – advance notice of your preference will be needed. Guests can ask for two nights at Narlai (most who stay here tell us that they would have liked more time here), giving them the option to indulge in both activities – the only reason we do not make two nights standard here is because some of our guests need truly luxurious lodging as much as possible.

The first option, after tea/coffee and a snack, is to accompany one of the lodge stewards (they do this daily) up the 756 ancient hand carved steps that lead to the peak of Elephant Hill where you can enjoy the spectacular views and visit the small Hindu Temple. Your lodge steward will carry a hot beverage and snacks for your refreshment at the top of the boulder.

Large Male Leopard at Bandhavgarh

Large Male Leopard

The other option is to board one of the lodge’s jeeps with a lodge naturalist and head into the surrounding jungle in search of leopards, who are known to be elusive animals.

Sightings of tigers at India’s better National Parks are much more frequent than leopards, but leopard sightings are fairly common around Narlai, which is not a National Park. At the least you will enjoy an adventure into small rural communities and the jungle – 88% of our guests have had one or more leopard sightings during this adventure. The ride is bumpy as you are traversing rough terrain.

In both cases you will return to the lodge to have a late delicious breakfast and then you can enjoy your fascinating surroundings for a little while. You will be assisted with your check out just before noon and then you will proceed for the drive to Udaipur with a stop enroute. A very short scenic drive will bring you to one of India’s least mentioned historical and architectural marvels, the 15th Century Jain Temple that is an active place of worship.

Explore the awe-inspiring marble Ranakpur Jain Temple Complex. The main temple’s twenty-nine halls are supported by fourteen hundred and forty-four massive yet intricately carved marble pillars, and no two are of the same design. There is an abundance of intricate sculptures and friezes and the enormous scale of the monument and the exquisite details of its design have to be experienced to be believed.

After this you will continue on with your journey to Udaipur. This is one of the most picturesque drives in all of India, and snacks will be available in your vehicle during the drive.

Drawing Water from a Well

Drawing Water from a Well

As you go through the Aravalli hills there will be photo opportunities of village life and livestock, including many camels.

The rolling landscape, the languid lifestyle, and the charm of the local villagers might make you ask for a stop or two during this 2-to-2.5-hour journey. Arrive at magical Udaipur in the late afternoon and you are driven to your spectacular lakefront resort where you are assisted with your check-in. In the last two decades the Oberoi Udaivilas has twice won ‘best hotel in the world’ award in the annual Travel & Leisure magazine’s U.S. based readers survey for very good reasons. The architecture, gardens and other facilities and services are the best among all of the highly vaunted Oberoi Hotels.

Freshen up after checking in and then proceed to a special venue where the amazing chefs at Oberoi Udaivilas have a cooking lesson set up for you. Your interactive cooking lesson will include local specialties made with lamb, chicken, vegetables and ancient grain breads. After your dinner is prepared you will enjoy a break, during which you can also enjoy the unique local entertainment that the resort orchestrates in the evenings. After the entertainment you will enjoy your preparations for a delicious dinner.
(Overnight – The Oberoi Udaivilas - Premier Room with Semi Private Pool)

Day 11: Udaipur. (Breakfast and Lakefront Royal Dinner)  Enjoy a slightly early breakfast from, as always, a large selection of Indian and western options, including scores of made to order delights. The reason for the slightly early morning breakfast is that the City Palace Complex has an hour at the beginning of every morning where they charge a little more and thus get significantly fewer visitors at that time. Your exploration of the vast complex will almost certainly take longer than an hour, but you will have done most parts that the later visitors will flock too.

City Palace

City Palace Complex, Udaipur

The fabled City Palace Complex contains multiple old palaces and other structures.

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, and Jag Mandir Island. 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.

Next you will explore Udaipur. 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 small local bazaars and other interesting parts of this charming city. You will also enjoy a slightly bumpy (there are no shock absorbers) three-wheeler scooter ride through the streets.

After you experience Udaipur, you will return to your gorgeous resort for a short break to freshen up and enjoy the wonderful facilities, and also get a snack at one of their great food outlets if you are so inclined.

In the 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. The journey up the hill takes you through a protected wildlife sanctuary and occasional small wildlife sightings can be experienced.

Return to the lake area and proceed for a cruise on captivating Lake Pichola in one of the Oberoi boats to enjoy wonderful sunset views of Lake Pichola and magical Udaipur. Return to your resort after the cruise for your last night at Udaipur. Just like the day before, ethnic entertainment will be available at your resort in the early evening. Take however long you want to refresh and enjoy the views and hotel facilities before an enchanting dining experience - dinner timing and your selection between vegetarian and nonvegetarian cuisine will be prearranged based on your preferences.

Experience an amazing Royal Dinner at a special lakefront venue that will make your meal a favorite memory – western food options can be substituted with prior request. This is another evening that is definitely a great time to again don your Indian clothing.
(Overnight – The Oberoi Udaivilas - Premier Room with Semi Private Pool)

Day 12: Udaipur – Mumbai. (Breakfast) As on other days, you will enjoy a diverse selection of local, national, and western delicacies for breakfast, including scores of made to order delights. You are at leisure to enjoy your wonderful resorts facilities until your late morning assisted check-out. You will then be driven to the airport which is located well outside the city and assisted in boarding your mid-afternoon flight to Mumbai. Your flight in on India’s best full-service airline and passable meal options will be served during the flight.

If you wish to enjoy this beautiful small city and your gorgeous hotel for longer, additional days at Udaipur are highly recommended by our previous guests and can be added. 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 one of the many atmospheric restaurants before heading to the airport.

Mumbai Panorama

Mumbai Panorama

Upon your arrival in Mumbai, you will be driven to your oceanfront lodging and assisted with your check-in.

Your gorgeous historic hotel has an enviable 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 beautiful suite includes Palace Lounge facilities and its multiple associated benefits. We do not include dinner today as the lounge serves excellent canapes and top shelf drinks from 6:30 to 8pm, and then there are delicious chocolates and cognac at 10pm.

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.
(Overnight – The Taj Mahal Palace – Executive Suite 1 Bedroom)

Day 13. Mumbai. (Breakfast and Lunch) Enjoy breakfast from the large selection of Indian and western options at the buffet, including scores of made to order delights. Proceed for a city tour of Mumbai. The tour begins with a short drive to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (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 area, stopping every few minutes to admire historic attractions, while being surrounded by local residents going about their daily activities. The next 2 to 3 hours can be an experience where you will walk under 2 miles, stopping frequently at the multitude of attractions, or you can ask to be driven for most, or all, of the stretch. You will stroll through busy street bazaars and public parks where cricket is being played on most days, stopping to take in the incredible architectural details of century plus old Gothic and Victorian buildings that were constructed during the British Raj.

You will admire the historic Flora Fountain, and then another short walk will take you to Horniman’s Circle. Next, after a 2-minute walk, is Mumbai’s Town Hall, situated by the Mumbai’s docks. After this you will take another short walk and stop to enjoy a brief tour inside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, which was 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 beautiful architecture from outside.

A ten-to-fifteen-minute walk from here, or a very short drive, will bring you to Mumbai’s landmark structure, The Gateway of India, situated overlooking Mumbai’s harbor and right across from your hotel. This structure was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai and India in 1905. After admiring the structure, you will cross the street to your hotel and proceed for lunch.

Lunch is at the Taj Palace’s top rated Fine Dining Indian Restaurant, Masala Kraft. You will select from their Masala Sketch Meals options, which are incredible multicourse meals. The preparation of the Sketch meals is done with you interacting with the chef, who will be happy to share their expertise and secrets as they go about the cooking. This lunch will be one of the most innovative and delicious Indian meals that you will eat on your journey.

After lunch you will drive to Mumbai’s main Dhobi Ghat where you will observe the Dhobi’s doing Mumbai’s laundry by flogging the clothes on stone in the same manner that they have for more than a century. Over 100,000 pieces are laundered every day and 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 and go up Malabar Hill where the Hanging Gardens provide a panoramic view of the city and bay. In the late afternoon you are driven back to your hotel in time to avoid the infamous Mumbai rush hour traffic.
(Overnight – The Taj Mahal Palace – Executive Suite 1 Bedroom)

Day 14: Mumbai – Fort Kochi (Cochin). (Breakfast and Dinner) We recommend a hearty breakfast from the large selection of Indian and western options at the buffet, including scores of made to order delights. You are assisted with your check-out in the mid-morning and then you will proceed to Mumbai airport in time to board your early afternoon flight to Cochin. You will not get to your Fort Kochi lodging until the late afternoon and your no-frills flight (there are no business class or full-service airline options on this routing – this is the only such flight on your journey) will only serve fairly poor food. 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.

You are driven to historic Fort Kochi to the bayfront location of the renovated 19th Century Dutch boat building facility that is your lodging, Brunton Boatyard, and assisted with your check-in to your sea facing suite. This extremely charming boutique 22 room lodge does not boast the luxury of most of your previous hotels, but it oozes a magical charm and has incredible service levels.

Brunton Boatyard

Brunton Boatyard

This is by far the best lodging in the ancient historic seaport, and many of our guests rate their experience here higher than the ultra-lux hotels they have already stayed at.

It has by far the best location and some of the finest coastal Keralan cuisine, very different from other cuisines in India with its Dutch and Portuguese influences – the restaurant chefs and servers will amaze you at every meal. You are right next to most of the major attractions of this fascinating historic small town, ideal for morning & evening walks. Excellent Ayurvedic massages and treatments are available in their small spa.

You should have a little time to enjoy their complimentary tea, which includes some delicious finger food and good coffee options, before boarding the Brunton Boatyard’s boat (the last boat made by the Dutch shipbuilder, over 60 years ago) and joining other hotel guests for a sunset cruise on Cochin’s massive Harbor. Upon your return from the cruise, you have the option to join a few Brunton guests for the boutique lodge’s regular cooking class, followed by dinner at their excellent History Fine Dining Restaurant. Brunton Boatyards description of the class is - Brunton Boatyard's master chefs share some of their skills with you at the evening cookery classes. Here you will learn the secrets of traditional Kerala cooking. And of course, you will enter the magical world of Indian spices. What they are, how to use them, combine them, and savor the special magic they bring to even the most commonplace foods.

Fort Kochi has been known as the Malabar Coast for centuries because the world’s finest spices are grown on the misty mountains of the Western Ghats, a UNESCO World Heritage List sight near Cochin. The incredible spices grown here prompted nations like the Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, British and many others, to come here to trade.
(Overnight – Brunton Boatyard – Sea Facing Deluxe Suite)

Day 15: Fort Kochi. (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) Enjoy breakfast in the Armoury Restaurant and select from a menu of fresh Keralan, North Indian, and western items. The fresh fruits served here are incredible, and you can eat indoors or alfresco with a bay view.

This day’s exploration will start with a 1-minute walk from the Brunton Boatyard to the most photogenic of Cochin’s attractions, the 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 generational experience. Ownership of the net and its prized location is handed down from generation to generation. The lowering and raising of the nets, with the fishermen deftly walking up and down the angled wooden poles and manipulating them in and out of the water with thick, well-worn ropes, has a synchronicity and rhythm that is fascinating to observe.

Continue exploring more with an 8-to-10-minute walk through historic Fort Kochi’s charming streets and alleys that are surrounded by Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture, and full of chic small cafes, boutique stores, art galleries, and a lot more. Arrive at Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica and experience its impressive collection of colorful artworks. A 5 minute walk from here will bring you to the St. Francis Church, which was established by the Portuguese Franciscan Friars in 1503. This is the first European church 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.

A 2-minute walk will bring you to David Hall (closed on Mondays), a 17th century historic building that has painstakingly restored and houses a rotating selection of art exhibits, mainly focusing on young artists. David Hall is operated by the CGH Earth Group, owners of the Brunton Boatyard, and a company that is quite possibly the most socially and environmentally progressive hotelier on our planet. The excellent and popular small café in the building will be your stop for lunch, and you will order ala carte. The food is CGH Earth quality, but here the focus is on comfort Indian and western cuisine and drinks, including woodfired thin crust pizza’s prepared in an Indian clay oven – we strongly recommend trying the seafood topped ‘Fort Cochin’ Pizza!

After lunch a 10-minute drive through Fort Kochi will bring you to the Dutch Palace which was actually built by the Portuguese in 1555 and is famous for its detailed carved wooden murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana and the Puranic legends. Also known as Mattancherry Palace, this is an unattractive squat building that bears no similarity to the opulence of other palaces, or even mansions, in India. Very near 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.

Jew Town Sign near Synagogue

Jew Town Sign near Synagogue

To get to the synagogue you will walk on Jew Street which runs through Jew Town – ancient street signs still identify these names!

Fort Kochi ’s ancient and colorful Jew Street now has antique stores and souvenir and art outlets. There was a Jewish presence in Kochi from 70 A.D. and the charming synagogue you will visit once was a busy house of worship for the locals. Return to the Brunton and enjoy the facilities and surroundings for a little while.

Private ‘Taste of History’ Cooking Lesson with Brunton Chefs: At around 4:30 this afternoon you will join the chefs for a private cooking lesson with the most amazing array of coastal flavors you can imagine. The menu of the fine dining restaurant, History, is based on recipes gathered over many years from local residents of Fort Kochi. These include immigrants who are of local Keralite, Syrian Christian, Jewish, Persian, Dutch, British, Konkan (from the Goa region), Tamil and many other origins. The first Executive Chef at the Boatyard started gathering these recipes a long time ago by visiting local homes, and the practice has continued until this day, as they continuously refine each recipe to perfection.

Your preferences for the main ingredients will be solicited this morning and you will now learn about dishes that most Indian chefs do not know how to make, but rave about when they get to try them. Around 7 pm, after you have had an opportunity to freshen-up, you will dine at the wonderful History Restaurant on a six-course menu that you have helped prepare.
(Overnight – Brunton Boatyard – Sea Facing Deluxe Suite)

Day 16: Cochin – Kumarakom Lake Resort/Backwaters. (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) Enjoy the usual wonderful breakfast this morning and then you are at leisure for a couple of hours to experience the facilities, or for your last walk through the charming historic area of Fort Kochi around your lodging. You are assisted with check-out from your boutique lodge at noon and you will now enjoy a special South Indian lunch, by ordering from a menu with delicious choices of dosas, Idlis, Vadas, and obviously the ubiquitous Sambhar, a staple that everyone in India is now in love with.

After lunch you will proceed on about a 1.5 hours scenic drive to the charming pastoral region of Kumarakom. Upon arrival at your gorgeous lakefront resort you will feel that you have traveled back in time. This is when you will really start understanding why the state of Kerala dubs itself as ‘God’s Own Country’. You are in a location that defines the word idyllic, with a calmness and peace not found almost anywhere else.

Backwaters of Kerala

Backwaters of Kerala

Your Kerala Tour Director Guide will bid you a temporary farewell after getting you checked-in – all services will be provided by the gracious resort staff while you are here.

Your magical resort offers a variety of unique local activities as well as great places to walk around in. The activities include evening cultural performances such as Kathakali dance and Keralan martial art performances. Other complimentary activities include, but are not limited to, evening tea (coffee and other beverages are available) snacks at their charming outdoor traditional tea stall, guided tours of their organic farms, and a lot more. Your villa’s backdoor opens to a tiny private tropical garden oasis and the 800-foot-long meandering pool. There is also the large lakefront resort pool for those who are interested.

The architecture of the resort is uniquely traditional Keralan, with large sections of teak that were transported directly over long distances from centuries old Keralan homes and then painstakingly put together plank by plank. Some of Kerala’s best Ayurvedic practitioners and therapeutic treatments are highly recommended – the staff at the resort will assist you in planning this. Many guests from Western Europe take advantage of the 1-to-3-week complete Ayurvedic packages at the resort, which include special diets that are designed individually for your needs – we can facilitate such an extension if you so desire. The Fine Dining Restaurant, Ettukettu, offers a fine selection of Keralan, Indian, and other cuisines, while the lakefront seafood bar, Vembanad, offers incredible fresh seafood.

Dinner today will be a Keralan fresh seafood dinner set-menu at the lake facing Vembanad restaurant – with prior notice other cuisine options can be arranged for those who do not want seafood.
(Overnight – Kumarakom Lake Resort – Heritage Lake View Villa with Private Pool)

Day 17: Kumarakom Lake Resort - Backwaters Cruise - Kumarakom Lake Resort. (Breakfast with Lunch on the Houseboat) Enjoy breakfast from the large selection of delicious choices that are available to you, both as a buffet and on the made to order menu – just like at the Brunton Boatyard, trying out the amazingly flavorful local fruits is highly recommended.

Traditional Houseboat on the Backwaters

Traditional Houseboat on the Backwaters

Just before noon you are assisted in boarding your private 1 Bedroom Resort Houseboat for a day cruise.

Most descriptions and photographs of the backwaters illustrate the lushness and beauty of the vegetation around the fresh water canals, rivulets and lakes, with the charming water bodies and the abundance of coconut trees and other exotic plants creating a subtropical environment not found elsewhere on this planet. To many of our guests the most charming part of their cruise is the opportunity to be part of a unique way of life that hasn’t changed much for a few centuries, because you are literally seeing life as the locals have lived for a long time in this area.

Although now there are small dirt and paved roads leading to most homes and other structures, the residents of this area have always depended on the waterways for most of their movement from one place to another, and this practice continues today. What are streams to you are their streets and alleys, and much of the time you are cruising through their backyards. You will witness men, women and adolescents rowing themselves to their destination, children in crisp uniforms being rowed back from school, women doing their laundry and dishes by hand in the fresh water streams, fishermen and produce sellers rowing up to the backdoors of the small homes to sell their wares to housewives, farmers in their water-soaked fields, pier-stations with passengers waiting for the commuter longboats that ply these waters, children swimming and playing in the shallower streams, and a whole lot more. As you take in the amazing cornucopia of visual delights, the cook and other staff make sure that all your needs are taken care of, while serving you with freshly made local cuisine for lunch.

At sunset, when all houseboats on the backwaters anchor on the shores of the lake, you will disembark from your houseboat directly at the jetty of your magical lakefront resort. Dinner is on your own this evening and we suspect that you will not be very hungry.
(Overnight – Kumarakom Lake Resort – Heritage Lake View Villa with Private Pool)

Day 18: Kumarakom Lake Resort. (Breakfast and Dinner) Arise a little early this morning and you will experience the backwaters as few visitors ever do. After some morning tea or coffee, you will be assisted in boarding a traditional Keralan small rowboat and head out for an exploration before the regular daily activities on the lake start. Your boat will be rowed by a local who has grown up on the backwaters and you will cruise through small waterways that the larger tourism boats cannot access. The serenity and charm of your idyllic surroundings at this time of day is worth getting up early for this morning.

South Indian Breakfast

South Indian Breakfast

Return to your resort for another delicious breakfast. You are at leisure to experience your resort and its multiple available activities for the remainder of the day.

Special Farewell Dinner on the Backwaters: This evening you will experience a candlelit dinner in a private location at the edge of the lake. Your preferences for the multi-course meal will have been solicited from you earlier on this day.
(Overnight – Kumarakom Lake Resort – Heritage Lake View Villa with Private Pool)

Day 19: Kumarakom Lake Resort – End of Tour. (Breakfast) There are three departure options on this day and your choice will be influenced by where your international flight departs from, or whether you want time at a world-class oceanfront resort.

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: For guests who have roundtrip flights in and out of Delhi.

Day 19: Kumarakom – Cochin – Delhi. (Breakfast) You are driven to the airport (additional costs will apply for the Cochin – Delhi flight) and assisted with your check-in and then you bid farewell to your Kerala Tour Director – this flight will not include your Tour Director flying with you. Most international flights out of Delhi are either very late at night or early in the morning. If you do not require lodging as your flight is in the evening your chauffeur will be available to you for up to 4 hours to explore in the area around Delhi airport, or dine nearby. If your flight is in the early or late morning/early afternoon, upon your arrival in Delhi you will be greeted at the airport and driven to the Oberoi Gurgaon (room charges apply) 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.
(Overnight – The Oberoi Gurgaon - Deluxe Room)

Day 20: 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 be introduced to your Airport VIP Services Representative who will escort you through customs and immigration.
Our services end with your Oberoi Gurgaon assisted check-in.



OR

Departure Option 2: For guests who booked multi-city international flights arriving in Delhi and departing from Cochin. Some of the better international airlines, including most of the major Far and Middle Eastern airlines like Singapore, Qatar, Cathay, Etihad and Emirates have international flights departing from Cochin in the early morning.

Day 19: Kumarakom – Cochin. (Breakfast) If you are on one of these flights you will check out of your resort and be driven back to Forth Kochi before noon – you can opt to check out and have lunch at the resort on self-pay basis. Arrive at Fort Kochi and experience a public 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. You can briefly stop at the Pallipuram Church which was completed in 1577 by the Portuguese. You will depart the area towards the airport (about 1.5 hours with normal traffic) before 4 pm as rush hour along the way can cause significant delays. Arrive next to the airport and you are assisted with your check in at your airport lodging, the Courtyard by Marriott, which is fairly upscale and far superior to U.S. based Courtyard’s. During your check-in, please remind the hotel staff of your flight departure timing - Easy Tours will already have informed them.
(Overnight – Courtyard By Marriott – Executive Room)

Day 20: Cochin – International Flight. (Breakfast)  Check out of your hotel at the appropriate time based on your flights timing and a courtesy hotel vehicle will drive you to the small airport. At the airport you will be introduced to your Airport VIP Services Representative who will escort you through customs and immigration.
Our services end with your Courtyard by Marriot assisted check-in.



OR

Departure Option 3: Ocean Resort in Goa or the Maldives Options.

Lodging

Delhi
The Oberoi New Delhi – Oberoi Suite
Agra
Oberoi Amar Vilas – Premier Balcony Room with Taj View
Jaipur
Rambagh Palace – Historical Suite
Narlai
Rawla Narlai – Grand Heritage Room
Udaipur
The Oberoi Udaivilas – Premier Room with Semi Private Pool
Mumbai
The Taj Mahal Palace (Palace Wing) – Executive Suite 1 Bedroom
Fort Kochi
Brunton Boatyard – Sea Facing Deluxe Suite
Kumarakom/Backwaters
Kumarakom Lake Resort – Heritage Lake View Villa with Private Pool Plus Resort Operated Houseboat
Delhi
OR
Cochin Airport
The Oberoi Gurgaon - Deluxe Room

Courtyard By Marriott – Executive Room

Inclusions

VIP Airport Services during International arrival and departure
Accompanying Tour Director to assist you throughout your on-tour flights and drives
Gift of custom Tailor Made Indian Apparel for Special Occasions, for your journey and later
Sunrise and Sunset visits to the Taj Mahal
E-Rickshaw Ride in Old Delhi
Three Wheeler scooter ride through the streets of Udaipur
Daily breakfast at all the hotels
7 Lunches
12 Dinners including the special experiences mentioned below
Special Dinner Experience at ‘Steam’ at Rambagh Palace in Jaipur
Special Stepwell Dinner Experience at your Royal Hunting Lodge at Narlai
Special Lakeside Dinner Experience at your gorgeous resort in Udaipur
Special Dinner on the Bay Experience at Brunton Boatyard in Cochin
Special Farewell Dinner on the Backwaters at Kumarakom Lake Resort
Lunches/Dinners include only regular hotel bottled water
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
Camera Fee’s for Regular Cameras
Delhi - Agra Train travel by Executive Class.
Complimentary Wi-Fi in all vehicles, except for remote regions
All currently applicable taxes.

Flights on this Journey

Sector Class Baggage Allowance
Prepaid Increases Available
Udaipur - Mumbai Business Class 66 lb.
Mumbai - Cochin Coach baggage prepaid to 55 lb.

Not Included

International Travel
Expenses of a personal nature like tips, laundry, telephone calls, drinks etc.
All alcoholic and non-alcoholic premium beverages are not included
Meals other than those specified above
Travel insurance, visa etc.
Camera fees for professional DSLR and Video Cameras

Dates & Prices

Annual 4th of July Sale. From 6.20.22 to 7.10.22

Annual 4th of July Sale. From 6.20.22 to 7.10.22 - Exp. Jul 10th
Dates Price For
Per Person, based on Double Occupancy
On Tour
Flight Cost
Total For
2 Guests
Availability
16th Apr, 2022
to
30th Sep, 2022
$19100 $17190 $466 $35312
Reserve Now
1st Oct, 2022
to
20th Dec, 2022
$23800 $21420 $466 $43772
Reserve Now
Prices include all Current Taxes & Surcharges
This Exclusive Journey has very limited availability and online reservations are not possible. Some of the included luxury boutique resorts are very small and the few enhanced room/suite types we use can be sold out months in advance. Yes, even in 2022! Please fill out the Inquiry Form to see if your choice of dates is available.