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India's vibrant capital extends a lively welcome, launching an unforgettable journey through India's most exquisite sights. On arrival in Delhi, you'll be transferred to your hotel where you'll meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception with drinks and local appetisers this evening.
Savour the scents of spice as you embark on an exhilarating rickshaw ride, navigating the busy streets of Old Delhi. See the Red Fort, a sandstone fortress which once housed the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for centuries. Next, ride through the colourful Chandni Chowk market and watch it come to life as the day's trading begins amidst the sounds of enthusiastic salesmen and endless traffic. Visit Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. Admire its ornate façades before boarding a waiting vehicle to drive to Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Pay tribute to this beloved figurehead, who led the campaign for India's independence from Britain. You'll come face-to-face with the site where he was cremated following his assassination in 1948. Today the simple square platform of black marble is surrounded by a tranquil park, befitting of its status as a place of contemplation. Your next stop is Agrasen Ki Baoli, one of the most noteworthy stepwells in Delhi. Hidden amidst the cacophony of Delhi's streets and business towers, this ancient water reservoir rises from the depths of the earth to stand atop 103 stone steps. Spend a few moments of serenity amidst its centuries-old ornate arches before returning to your hotel for an afternoon of leisure or consider one of our Optional Experiences.
'Dive Into Culture' this morning and join a guided walking tour run by one of the rehabilitated street children who were taken in by the Salaam Baalak Trust in Delhi. Your visit will 'Make A Difference' to this non-profit organisation and the street children for whom it cares. Later, walk through Paharganj Bazaar, rubbing shoulders with the locals who flock to the market to shop every day. Escape the noise and head to New Delhi, designed and built by the British in the 1920s. Your first stop here is a visit to the UNESCO-listed Humayun's Tomb, the earliest example of Mughal architecture in India. Recently renovated with the gardens restored to their former glory, you'll see first-hand why it served as the inspiration for the design of the famous Taj Mahal. Enjoy local flavours for lunch at a local restaurant near India Gate, then head to the Qutub Minar complex, also a UNESCO listed site. This fluted 'Victory Tower' is decorated with elaborate inscriptions, geometric carvings and elegant balconies. Returning your hotel later, you'll drive past Lutyens' Delhi to view the elegant colonial façades leading British architect Edwin Lutyens left behind on the cityscape. You'll have the rest of the afternoon free, or perhaps join one of our Optional Experiences.
It's time to leave Delhi behind, bound for the Uttar Pradesh city of Agra. While there are many reasons to love Agra, its own 'monument to love', the Taj Mahal is perhaps the most captivating. You'll have an opportunity to see its sun-kissed white marble façades just before sunset, watching as its elegant walls glow with rose and golden hues. Admire this well-preserved landmark from all sides. Step away from your fellow travellers for a minute and contemplate the magnificence of this man-made wonder before re-joining your group. This evening, you could choose to end a memorable day at an optional sound and light show prior to dinner.
There's more to Agra than the Taj Mahal as you'll come to discover the morning during your visit to the UNESCO-listed Agra Fort. Stroll through the chambers of a royal residence that was built in the 16th century and served as the principal residence of four generations of the influential Mughal emperors until the capital was moved to Delhi. Continue on to the long-deserted 'Ghost Town' of Fatehpur Sikri, which was built at great expense by Emperor Akbar in 1569 only to be abandoned soon afterwards because of a lack of water. The city remains beautifully preserved, albeit with an air of melancholy - a rusty-red sandstone masterpiece without a population. Later, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Bharatpur. Then experience first-hand a quintessential experience of getting around in India when you board a train bound for Ranthambore where you'll stay for the next two nights.
Start the day with an early morning visit to Ranthambore National Park, which was once the hunting ground of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Before the heat of the day sets in and the wilderness awakens, keep a keen eye out for the resident animal and birdlife that find sanctuary here. You'll also want to have your camera ready in case the park's tigers make a brief appearance. Return to your hotel for a late breakfast, followed by some time to relax or consider joining an Optional Experience. After lunch, there's more time to explore the park for glimpses of the various species of bird and wildlife. Dinner is served this evening at your hotel.
Continue your journey to Jaipur, the Pink City. After some free time for lunch, join a workshop on hand-block printing, one of the most famous traditional art forms of Rajasthan. A skilled 'Local Specialist' will show you the tricks of the trade as you observe how the prints are handmade using small wooden blocks and hone your own block-printing skills. Later, you'll see the talents of local craftspeople on display during a visit to a local market. Admire the colourful textiles and perhaps buy a memento or two to take home. Jaipur is particularly renowned for its embroidery and blue pottery. This evening, join a local family for an exclusive 'Be My Guest' dinner in their home. 'Connect With Locals' and savour some of the local delicacies.
One of today's highlights is a visit to the UNESCO-listed Amber Fort. But first, stop to admire the red and pink façades of the Palace of Winds, whose latticed windows once revealed the outside world to the sheltered ladies of the royal household. Continue with a visit to the ornate City Palace, an impressive complex of buildings from different eras and gardens in the heart of the Old City. You'll have some free time for lunch before visiting the UNESCO-listed Jantar Mantar Observatory, featuring the world's largest sundial. Later, you could choose to join our optional Aarti ceremony, offering a blessing to one of the Hindu deities and hopefully receiving one in return.
A brush with Rajasthan royalty awaits as you leave Jaipur behind and head to Deogarh. This small city is perhaps best known for being home to the royal family of the Deogarh thikana. You'll overnight in one of Trafalgar's 'Stays With Stories' properties - Deogarh Mahal, once a magnificent fort at the centre of an expansive territory. Tread in the footsteps of the Rawats (Rajas) of Deogarh and watch the world discreetly from behind the fort's jali windows. This evening, a 'Local Specialist' will share the captivating stories across the centuries as you relive the old tales of family feuds and innumerable legends.
Join the locals in their favourite commute when you board a metre-gauge train from Kambali Ghat to Phulad this morning. The rail connection was originally launched by the British to unite the regions of Mewar and Marwar who didn't enjoy the friendliest of relationships at that time. Today it is the lifeline of the local people. 'Dive Into Culture' watching the rural landscapes flash past as you experience first-hand a typical experience of India. This afternoon, you could choose to take an optional village walk with a 'Local Specialist'. Or simply enjoy some free time and relax at your historic hotel, soaking up its regal atmosphere. Join your fellow travellers for an enchanting cultural dance show, followed by dinner.
Royalty behind, romance ahead. Your next stop is Udaipur, the City of Lakes. The historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar, Udaipur is dazzling with its many palaces, temples and Havelis (mansions). After lunch at a local restaurant, take a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola and admire the golden hues glinting off lakeside façades. Located at the heart of Udaipur, Lake Pichola and the beautiful Aravali Hills provide a mesmerising backdrop for yet another glorious day in Rajasthan. There's no better way to end the day than on the water.
Discover the history of the Mewar dynasty this morning when you visit Udaipur's exquisite City Palace. Admire the panoramic views of the city and Lake Pichola from the palace's ornate façades. No expense was spared in its construction. Its balconies, towers and cupolas are adorned with marble, murals, silver-work and coloured glass befitting of the building's stature as the home of the Maharanas for many centuries. Take a leisurely walk past the 17th-century Jagdish Temple next, then find sanctuary in the Garden of the Maids, said to have been designed by Rana Sangram Singh himself to provide a tranquil space for his queen and her 48 maids. This garden is dotted with lotus pools, marble pavilions and elephant-shaped fountains. This makes it the perfect space to centre yourself for a 'Dive Into Culture' encounter with the city's lively markets and bazaars. Jostle for your spot in the liveliness of the locals' day to day.
Say a fond farewell to Rajasthan and board your early morning flight to Mumbai, India's largest city. There's nothing subtle or serene about this cosmopolitan metropolis. Expect larger than life, loud and high-spirited as you spend the next day discovering all it has to offer. But first, embark on a cruise across Mumbai Harbour to see the centuries-old rock-cut temples on Elephanta Island. This UNESCO-listed labyrinth of caves features ancient temple carvings, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Return to your hotel later for dinner and some free time.
Embrace the magnetism of Mumbai, starting with a visit to the iconic Gateway of India, an iconic archway on the water's edge that welcomed the first-ever visit to India of a British Monarch in 1911. Afterwards, visit Dhobi Ghat where you'll 'Dive Into Culture' exploring the world's largest outdoor laundry. Here thousands of kilograms of clothes are brought from all over the city each day for washing. See the UNESCO-listed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a historic railway station built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Then, continue to Churchgate Station and see the Dabbawallas (Tiffin Carriers) who have been ferrying hot lunch boxes by bike across the city to office workers for over a century. Later, visit Mani Bhavan, a museum and historical building which was once Mahatma Gandhi's residence during his stay in Mumbai. You'll have some free time this afternoon to relax or considering joining an optional Bollywood Tour to uncover the captivating world of film-making in India.
Dip more than your toes in the bountiful backwaters of Kerala, 'God's own country'. This slice of southern India is a lush garden filled with spices, brilliant colours and the enchanting sounds of nature. Relax on the tranquil shores of the Arabian Sea, let the freshest seafood melt in your mouth and sink into a more straightforward way of life - one where nature sets the pace for the day. But first, take and your flight from Mumbai and on arrival at Kochi Airport, you'll be transferred to your hotel. Later, join your local Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception with local appetisers.
Your love affair with Kerala's lush landscapes begins today. Head to Periyar, named after Kerala's longest river which winds its way deep through the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, your first stop. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sounds of nature during an immersive Nature Walk with an expert 'Local Specialist'. Tread lightly along the dense forest trails, learning about the endemic flora and fauna, as Banyan, Teak and Bamboo trees provide a serene backdrop for a lesson in Kerala wildlife. You may be lucky enough to see herds of wild elephant and bison seeking to quench their thirst along the quiet shores of Periyar Lake. Or keep a keen eye out for hornbills, flycatchers and kites - some of the many species of local and migratory birds that flock to this pristine sanctuary. Your soul soothed after connecting with nature, you'll head to your hotel to freshen up for an exhilarating 'Dive Into Culture' Kalarippayattu performance. Watch as trained Kalari warriors show off this most ancient of martial arts, jumping and somersaulting in the ultimate coordination between mind and body. After a day of adventure, you'll enjoy dinner at your hotel.
The intoxicating scents of cardamom, cinnamon and cloves will linger long after today's encounter with Kerala's famous spices. Your first stop today is a visit to Kumily Spice Garden. Here you'll learn how the locals grow and share an astounding variety of flavourful spices, ranging from pepper and ginger to vanilla and cardamom, the queen of spices. Gain insights into the entire process of spice cultivation at close quarters and discover how Kerala's spice trade with the world has shaped its culture and heritage to this day. There's more to experience as you head to Kumarakom, a tranquil village set on the peaceful banks of Lake Vembanad, the largest lake in Kerala. Embark on a walking tour and 'Dive Into Culture' as you admire the vibrant day-to-day of village life in the regional market and on its lively streets.
Kerala's intrinsic relationship with water takes centre stage today. Enjoy a leisurely start, then board a traditional houseboat for a cruise surrounded by Kerala's iconic backwaters. Take a deep breath and enjoy the slow, sultry pace of life fringing the narrow canals as you wind your way to Alleppey. Watch villagers wave to each other from their wooden Shikaras (traditional boats), see how life unfolds along the palm-fringed shoreline. Even your ride for the day is rooted in history. These houseboats, known locally as Kettuvalloms, were formerly old barges used to ferry rice and spices. Upon arriving in Alleppey, you'll disembark and return to Kumarakom for dinner and a relaxing evening.
Remnants of Kerala's colourful centuries-old trading history are best explored in the old port city of Kochi. It was here that Chinese, Arab and European merchants would come to buy the fragrant spices that found their way to tables all over the world. In turn, they left their mark on Kochi's architecture, cuisine and traditions. Colonial bungalows, Catholic churches, mosques and a European fort dot the cityscape of what was once known as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea'. Enjoy some free time for lunch and then embark on a city tour to see this multi-cultural centre first-hand, including views of the Mattancherry Dutch Palace and St Francis Church, built by Portuguese traders. Visit the Fort Kochi area and see the traditional cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, unique to this part of Kerala. Admire how these fixed land installations made on bamboo scaffolding are artfully lowered into the sea to catch the seafood for which Kochi is so famous. This evening, 'Connect With Locals' and enjoy a cooking demonstration with a local family followed by a delicious 'Be My Guest' Farewell Dinner.
Your epic encounter with India has sadly come to an end, but your memories will last a lifetime. Take a transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
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