Holi is celebrated all over India and its many regions. In our opinion, the best place for upscale explorers to safely observe and participate in Holi is the charming, laid back city of Udaipur in Rajasthan. Besides being one of India’s best cities to relax and explore, with its abundance of hills, lakes and palaces, Udaipur’s residents tend to be more cultured than some of the people found in India’s larger cities, where foreigners participating in Holi celebrations can draw unwanted attention and even some harassment.
When our guests participate in Holi in an upscale area of Udaipur along with our guides and staff, they can experience the best of Holi festivities without any risk of other participants paying them undue attention. We provide traditional Indian clothing to all our guests for this festival, and the resulting multi-hued attire is yours to keep afterwards.
All our guests also get preferred seating for the ancient and colorful Holika Dhan ceremony at Udaipur’s City Palace on the eve of Holi. The King of Udaipur and the Royal Family lead the ritualistic ceremony with the King lighting the traditional Holika Pyre, which is followed by regional cultural entertainment and a sumptuous feast
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. The cost of an additional nights Hotel stay can be quoted upon request.
Our services begin here
. You are greeted at the airport by an Easy Tours Travel Facilitator and ushered to a chauffeur driven vehicle. You are then driven to your hotel and assisted with your check-in. The next day’s plans are briefly reviewed and you are presented with your welcome package. Among other things, this package includes a beautiful journal for your explorations, travel documents such as your air tickets and hotel vouchers, as well as copies of documents (such as our General Travel Guide) that were sent to you earlier.
Day 2: Delhi.
Begin your exploration of India with a guided city tour of New Delhi. This excursion begins with a drive through Lutyens’ New Delhi. This drive will include photo opportunities at the following attractions - the exterior of the massive and awe-inspiring Rashtrapati Bhawan (known as Viceroy’s House during the British era) and Delhi’s landmark structure India Gate. From here you will be driven to visit the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. This gold domed Sikh Temple
is the most prominent Gurudwara in Delhi and is associated with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan. It was first built as a small temple by Sikh General Sardar Bhagel Singh in 1783, who supervised the construction of nine Sikh shrines in Delhi during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Alam. 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, the concept of langar (community meal) is practiced here and anyone may eat in the Gurudwaras Kitchen. Thousands of meals are prepared daily and served to all visitors, regardless of race, religion or other status. The food is prepared by the religious leaders who are assisted by scores of local volunteers. You will witness the fascinating processes of cooking, serving and cleanup for these countless meals. Only vegetarian food is served, so that no religion’s dietary restrictions are violated. After the langar ceremony, you will drive through Connaught Place, which is New Delhi’s downtown.
There is a break
you have the option to drive to the nearby National Museum, the crown jewel of India’s Museums, for a very short tour. If museums are not your cup of tea
, your Guide will offer alternatives to this highly recommended experience.
The museum is charged in its mission statement with being “the epitome of national identity”, a goal that it undoubtedly achieves. There is a plethora of exhibits and artifacts and a comprehensive tour would take well over a day. Our visit will be brief
, and your Guide will walk you through the Pre History Gallery’s Harrapan Collection and its displays from the Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished on the banks of the river of the same name. Most visitors to India are unaware of the fact that this was the most advanced and widespread of the world’s three oldest civilizations, and that the nation of India derived its name from this magnificent river.
You will be amazed by the sophistication of the exhibits of pottery, tools, coins, jewelry and other artifacts that range from 10,000 BC to 1000 BC
Please let us know if you would like a more extended visit while finalizing your tour reservation process.
The last part
of this excursion is the awe-inspiring Qutab Minar (1193 A.D.). This 239 ft tall medieval tower is a symbol of victory and a beautiful example of Persian architecture from that period. 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 they are no longer accessible for visitors. The Qutab Minar and its Monuments are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the Qutab complex
, amidst the ruins of the Quwat-ul-Islam Mosque, stands one of the legendary Ashoka Pillars. This large iron pillar has withstood the ravages of Delhi’s weather (and recent pollution) and has not rusted in over 1500 years.
From the Qutab Minar you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 3: Delhi.
Continue your exploration of Delhi with a guided city tour of Old Delhi. This tour begins with the amazing Red Fort. Both the Jama Masjid (Mosque) and this massive structure were built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who created the Taj Mahal. The great city
inside the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort offers visitors a large number of architectural and historical attractions;
it was once known as the 8th wonder of the world. The Red Fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire for more than two hundred and fifty years and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an amazing example of a blend of Persian, Indian and European architecture. One of your most vibrant and enduring memories of India will be your next experience as you drive, walk and ride through the ancient city's streets and alleys for a couple of hours; enjoy a fascinating rickshaw ride, and extended walk with your guide through the crowded ancient alleys of Chandni Chowk. The cacophony of sounds both ancient and modern from the cries of hawkers and the animated bargaining that have echoed through the centuries, to the modern motor horns, the riot of colors from spices to saris, and the equally diverse smells emanating from the street food stalls and spice markets that form part of the bazaar, this is truly an assault on the senses at every level. Next is an exploration of the Jama Masjid (1650 A.D.), the largest mosque in India. The Masjid (Mosque) 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.
There is a break
After lunch a short drive will deliver you to an oasis of calm and serenity, which also happens to be your last destination in Old Delhi. The cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi (Raj Ghat) is a simple yet stirring memorial to the father of the nation. Lush lawns extend beyond the enclosure surrounding the black marble platform occupying the spot where the Mahatma was cremated. An eternal flame burns next to the platform.
you will drive to visit 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. It is Delhi’s third UNESCO World Heritage Site and its amazing architecture and the elaborate gardens will captivate you as your guide explains the unique architectural and historic facets of this monument.
After exploring the tomb you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 4: Delhi - Agra.
Check-out from your hotel in the mid-morning and you are driven to Agra on North India’s newest highway. Arrive at Agra and there is a break for lunch at a popular local restaurant.
After lunch, you will be driven to your hotel, where you will be assisted with your check-in.
you will visit the first red sandstone fort of North India, the Agra Fort, a 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.
Enjoy a sunset visit
to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the incomparable Taj Mahal. 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 and it took twenty two years to complete. When you experience the Taj Mahal with an Easy Tours Tour Guide who shares unique insights into its innumerable facets, some of their passion for this masterpiece may rub off on you. Explore the amazing Taj and its surroundings until it is time to admire the sun’s rays setting on the façade of the world’s finest monument.
Day 5: Agra - Jaipur.
Enjoy a visit to the magnificent Taj Mahal at sunrise - the best time to see it during most of the year! Due to it being more expensive for Indian tourists at that time, and the early hour, the massive monument and its surrounding Mughal gardens are a lot less crowded than in the afternoon. As the rising sun’s rays illuminate the precious stones inlaid in the marble, they will gleam momentarily as the marble’s color changes. You will return to your hotel to freshen up and have breakfast after the excursion.
Check-out from your hotel and then you are driven to Abhaneri
. You can either get a packed meal from your resort, or, before your arrival at Abhaneri, you have the option to stop for lunch at a reasonably priced nature resort that serves organic and all natural food, most of which is freshly picked from their estate. Chand Baori is a unique monument that is located next to a charming Rajasthani village. Please note that the local guides in Abhaneri are not as proficient in the English language as the guides you will have in other destinations, and their accents can be hard to understand. The massive 10th century Chand Baori
stepwell is one of the most impressive in all of India. The depth of the stepwell is that of a modern 7 storey building, and there are stairs leading down to the bottom from three of the 100 foot plus (35 meters) four sides of the opening. Enjoy a guided exploration of the stepwell and then you will walk through the small village to get a glimpse of 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 India. There are potters huts that you can stop at, as well as ladies weaving traditional garments, as well as opportunities to view many other indigenous activities. This is not a disguised effort to sell local wares, as is often found in tourism destinations. These are real villagers, and their simplicity, warmth, and hospitality will captivate you.
After this you will continue on with
your journey to Jaipur. Check-in at your hotel upon your arrival at Jaipur.
Day 6: Jaipur.
Start your day with an excursion to the Amber Fort and Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located a short distance from the walled city. Just like the Emperors of a few centuries ago, enjoy the ascent up to the ramparts of the fort on top of a colorfully caparisoned elephant. If you prefer not to ride the elephants, you can be driven to the rear entrance of the monument. The massive Fort complex was originally built by Raja Mansingh and 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. Return to the valley beneath the Fort and you are driven to the historic Samode region for a unique Rajasthani experience. The custodians will give you a guided tour of the unique Samode Palace, presently operating as a luxury boutique hotel.
The famous Rajasthani lunch
is included at the Palace.
After lunch you will experience a camel back (camel-drawn cart is an option) safari through surrounding rural area, which is also dotted with historic monuments. A village walk will take place, when you can observe how the locals go about their daily lives and work. Please bear in mind that this is a semi-arid locale and there are no large sand dunes. You are driven back to your hotel in Jaipur after the camel safari.
Day 7: Jaipur. Continue
your adventure with an exploration of the walled city of Jaipur, including the magnificent City Palace. You will visit Jantar Mantar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is the fascinating stone observatory built by Raja Jai Singh in 1728. Among other instruments, it includes a giant sun dial that is accurate to within 2 seconds. After the observatory comes a photo opportunity of the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Wind). 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. Continue the tour with an exploration of the City Palace, the former royal residence (a part of which is still occupied by the Royal family and is not accessible to the public), built in a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. This immense complex also houses a number of museums that offer a large and impressive collection of costumes, armory and miniature paintings. You will also take a stroll with your guide through the “pink” bazaar in the heart of the old town, and watch the locals as they bargain for their everyday necessities.
There is a break
for an early lunch.
You are now 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 all the monuments. We recommend that you don’t carry any food in your hands, as it may be snatched away. The complex of temples has several ponds that are fed by springs on the hill tops, 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.
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. After this excursion, you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 8: Jaipur - Udaipur.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and driven to the airport. You are assisted with boarding the morning no-frills flight to Udaipur.You are greeted on arrival at the Udaipur airport and driven to your boutique hotel, where you are assisted with your check-in, if an early check-in is available. If it isn’t, you can drop your bags off and use the facilities to freshen up.
Proceed for a city tour, including a tour of the fabled City Palace. At this Palace complex, explore the beautifully decorated rooms with thousands of exquisite, handcrafted mirrors that cover the walls, the ancient ivory doors (a dark reminder of Indian royalty’s passion for hunting), the 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. Enjoy a private 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, discovered recently in a store room off the palace.
There is a break
you will enjoy a cruise on Lake Pichola and visit the historical and beautiful monuments at Jag Mandir Island (if available - the royal family at Udaipur will occasionally rent out the island for large celebrations, and on those occasions the island cannot be visited by tourists).
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 short drive 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 9: Udaipur - Mumbai.
Today is Holi, the festival of colors, one of India’s biggest festivals. We do not recommend celebrating Holi in almost all cities of India as this festival includes intoxicated youth who can get aggressive in the celebratory crowds, especially with foreign visitors.
The upscale area (in the small city of Udaipur) where our guests celebrate is an exception and the celebration here is a lot of fun, but not crazy. The locals take to the streets and everyone douses each other with powdered colors as well as colored water. You will walk through residential neighborhoods and small bazaars as you celebrate. Our guests are provided with traditional Indian clothing on the day before Holi and you are welcome to keep the colored clothing as a memory afterwards.
Return to your hotel after the celebration.
You are assisted
with your check out from your hotel and then there is a break
for lunch. After lunch you are driven to the airport in time to board your early evening flight to Mumbai. You are greeted upon arrival at the Mumbai airport and driven to your hotel where you are assisted with your check-in.
Day 10: Mumbai - Aurangabad.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and then you proceed for a guided city tour
of Mumbai. The tour begins at
the city’s signature landmark, 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. Drive around Horniman Circle and visit the Town Hall, right beside the docks of Mumbai, and the Victoria Terminus (now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). It is India’s finest example of Gothic architecture and one of the world’s busiest railway stations. Next you will Visit the Prince of Wales Museum, built to commemorate King George V’s first visit to India in 1905. Designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, the museum has sections of art, paintings, archeological exhibits and natural history.
There is a break
The tour then takes a drive through the Flora Fountain and Fort area where you can view the impressive Gothic and Victorian buildings that were constructed during the British Raj.
Continue the tour with a drive up to Malabar Hill where the hanging gardens give a panoramic view of the city and the Queen’s Necklace (Marine Drive). The tour ends with a visit to the famous Dhobi Ghat where you can observe the age old tradition of the Dhobis doing Mumbai’s laundry!
After this tour,
you are driven to Mumbai airport in time to board your early evening flight to Aurangabad. You are greeted upon arrival at the Aurangabad airport and driven to your comfortable hotel, where you are assisted with your check-in.
Day 11: Aurangabad. The Ajanta & Ellora monuments and caves
(both are, individually, UNESCO World Heritage Sites) near Aurangabad are widely recognized as India’s most amazing archeological sites. We have had many of our guests’ wonder why they are not standard on most other tours. A recent guest, who has been to over 90 countries,
said that they “blow Angkor Wat out of the water”.
Enjoy a full day guided
excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ajanta We recommend that you take advantage of the packed lunch that the hotel can provide for its guests, for both today’s and tomorrow’s excursions. Buddhist monks and local craftsmen began excavating, sculpting, and painting at Ajanta in the 2nd century B.C. The incredible variety of paintings and sculpture were created in hard rock by using primitive yet ingenious lighting, tools and materials. These 28 caves are a testimony to the devotion of the Buddhists, as well as the talents of their skilled craftsmen.
Of particular interest is the concept of Vertical Excavation. When your Easy Tours Tour Guide passionately explains this concept and describes the processes, you will be awed by the achievements of the craftsmen. Although the caves themselves are very impressive in their design and massive volume of sculpturing and excavation, it is the art inside the caves that will take your breath away. The incredible artistry and colors of the paintings and sculptures is unique - such art has not been seen anywhere else, not just in India, but anywhere in the world. Ajanta's incredible paintings are even more impressive considering that the color and texture you're admiring today was created by artists about two thousand years ago.
After exploring the caves at Ajanta you drive back to Aurangabad and your hotel.
Day 12: Aurangabad - Mumbai.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and then you will proceed for a guided excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ellora. Explore the magnificently sculptured cave temples and monasteries of Ellora. There are 34 Caves here, and any one of them would individually be considered a significant attraction in most nations. They were built between 600 - 1000 A.D. and are devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Seventeen of these caves illustrate a resurgence of Hinduism in this area, as reflected by their Hindu themes, sculpture and art. The epitome of this is Cave 16, the awe-inspiring Kailash Temple. It was finished during the 8th century and is supposed to evoke one of the abodes of Lord Shiva, Mount Kailash in the Himalayas.
The Kailash Temple
is notable for its immense scale and detail; it is the most awe-inspiring of all of the amazing monuments at Ajanta/Ellora. More than 200,000 tons of rock was excavated and six generations of craftsmen worked for a hundred and twenty years to create this masterpiece.
On your way back
from the caves, time permitting you will stop at Daulatabad Fort. This 14th century hilltop Fort is an impressive sight but what will amaze you is your guide’s illustration of the multiple ingenious architectural facets that were used to make it virtually impregnable. The once sloping sides of the massive stone hill were manually carved sheer on all sides so that no one could climb straight to the top.
After this tour,
you are driven to Aurangabad airport in time to board your evening flight to Mumbai. You are greeted at the airport by a hotel representative, and ushered to your chauffeur driven vehicle. You are then driven to your hotel where you are assisted with your check-in by hotel staff.
Day 13: Mumbai - Cochin.
Check-out from your hotel and then you are driven to the airport by a Hotel vehicle in time to board your morning flight to Cochin. Upon your arrival at Cochin you are greeted at the airport and ushered to your vehicle. You are driven to historic Fort Kochi and then there is a break for lunch. After lunch, you will be driven to your boutique hotel, where you will be assisted with your check-in.
Start your exploration
of South India with a guided visit to the island of 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. There are some interesting artifacts in the church.
This exploration is
followed by a walk on Cherai beach that allows you to experience coastal Keralan culture.
You are then escorted back to your hotel where you are at leisure for a couple of hours.
In the evening
you are driven to an experience that is the highlight of many of our guests’ time in Kerala. You will be hosted by a famous Keralan Chef and her family at their home.
A delicious dinner will follow, and cooking lessons are included. At the end of dinner you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 14: Cochin.
Start your exploration of the fascinating port city of Cochin and marvel in its culture and architecture, a result of centuries of various European influences
combined with rich indigenous history The guided tour begins from the Jewish Synagogue, 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 Cochin’s ancient and colorful Jew Street with its antique stores and souvenir peddlers. There is evidence of a Jewish presence in Kochi from 70 A.D. After the synagogue you visit 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 famed Vasco Da Gama was buried in its courtyard for a few years before his remains were returned to Portugal.
There is a break
You now visit
the most photogenic of Cochin’s attractions, the Chinese fishing nets. 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 - it is a vocation handed down by generations. The lowering and raising of the nets has a synchronicity and rhythm that is quite an amazing experience. Some of the nets are more than a century old as the fishermen patch them up and keep going. Finish your exploration with a short guided walk through Fort Kochi and experience the unique local culture and architecture - Fort Kochi is one of India’s best cities to explore on foot. You will be driven back to your hotel after your walk.
Your Easy Tours Facilitator will pick you up from your hotel and accompany you to a local theatre where you will experience Kerala’s ancient performing art - a Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali literally means the art of storytelling through dance and the dance form is an ancient forefather of many Asian dance forms.
Day 15: Cochin - Backwaters cruise.
You are assisted with your checkout and driven to the backwaters. Arrive at Alleppey and you are assisted in boarding your Houseboat.
Take our word for this
, your backwaters cruise will very likely become one of your most treasured travel memories. The incredible lushness of the vegetation around the fresh water canals, rivulets and lakes, the beauty of the water bodies themselves and the abundance of coconut trees and other exotic plants create a subtropical environment not found elsewhere on this planet. When you combine this with the opportunity to be part of a unique way of life that hasn’t changed much for a few centuries, it results in most visitors’ second highest rated experience in India (after the Taj Mahal). Relax and have a great time until the next morning as you cruise the amazing backwaters. The cook and other staff make sure that all your needs are taken care of, while serving you with delicious Kerala cuisine. You have the option of taking shore excursions at one or two of the tiny rural communities as you cruise by - the locals are very friendly and communicative.
Day 16: Backwaters Cruise - Cochin - International/Mumbai/Delhi Flight.
Disembark from your houseboat in the morning and then you are driven to Cochin airport in time for your outbound flight.
Departure Option 1:
If you are boarding your international flight from Cochin, since most international flights depart late at night or very early the next morning, we recommend that we reserve a room for you at the Courtyard by Marriott at Cochin airport. This is a much more upscale hotel than most western Courtyards, priced very reasonably, and located next to the airport with a complimentary shuttle.
Departure Option 2:
If you are boarding a daytime flight to Mumbai/Delhi (this can be arranged as part of your tour - the flight cost is not included in your Travel Supplement)
in order to connect with your international departure from that city, you will have three options.
Departure Option 2A:
If your international flight departure is less than four hours from your scheduled arrival time at the domestic terminal at Mumbai or Delhi, you will ask the airline staff to assist you with checking in for your next flight (occasionally this may require a transfer to another terminal - airport coaches are available) - OR
Departure Option 2B:
If your international flight departure is four or more hours from your scheduled arrival time at the domestic terminal at Mumbai or Delhi, you are greeted at the Mumbai/Delhi airport by an Easy Tours Facilitator and your personal chauffeur. Your personal vehicle and chauffeur are available to you until 9 pm for your assisted check-in at the airport. This is a good time to do some last minute shopping and/or sightseeing if you are so inclined - OR
Departure Option 2C:
If your flight departs early the next morning, you may want us to arrange a room for you so you can rest.
Our services end at Mumbai/Delhi/Cochin airport.