Grand Tour of India

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Become acquainted with one of the most vibrant countries in the world. Embark on a journey, from the deserts of Rajasthan in the north, to the backwaters of Kerala in the south to experience the land of extraordinary contrasts.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Delhi (2N) - Varanasi (2N) - Khajuraho (1N) - Agra (2N) - Ranthambore (2N) - Jaipur (2N) - Pushkar (1N) - Khimsar (1N) - Jaisalmer (2N) - Jodhpur (2N) - Udaipur (2N) - Aurangbad (2N) - Mumbai (1N) - Kochi (2N) - Nedemudy (1N) - Kovalam (1N) - Trivandrum - New Zealand

Day 1-2: New Zealand to Delhi
Fly to Delhi for a two night stay.
Day 3: Delhi City Tour
Explore Old Delhi with a walk through Chandni Chowk Bazaar to Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, then take a Rickshaw ride to Khari Baoli, Asia’s largest spice market. After lunch, view India Gate and Parliament House before exploring Gandhi Smriti and Qutab Minar.
Day 4: Fly to Varanasi
Fly to Varanasi this morning. The oldest living city in India and the religious capital of Hinduism, it is situated on the banks of the holy River Ganges. Thousands of pilgrims flock to the bathing ghats (steps) each day to worship. Visit the Buddhist sites at Sarnath, where the ruins date back to as far as the 3rd century BC.
Day 5: Discover Varanasi
Rise early this morning to commence a cruise on the River Ganges to view the ghats at sunrise when they are abuzz with activity. Explore the city before enjoying some time at leisure. Later, return to the ghats of the River Ganges by rickshaw, to witness the Puja ceremony of Ganga Aarti, a Hindu devotional ritual.
Day 6: Khajuraho's Temples
ly to Khajuraho. This afternoon marvel at some of the world’s finest temple architecture at the Western and Eastern Groups of temples. In the Western Group, the most important temple is the Kandariya Mahadeo Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Explore the Vamana Temple and the Javari Temple. The Eastern Group of temples represent some of the finest Jain temples including Parsvanatha, Adinath and Ghantai temples. This evening enjoy a dance display.
Day 7: Train to Agra
Travel via Orchha to Jhansi and board the Shatabdi Express train to Agra, arriving in the evening.
Day 8: Taj Mahal
Rise early to see sunrise at the Taj Mahal. Later, visit a marble inlay workshop and Agra Fort.
Days 9-10: Ranthambore
Drive to Ranthambore National Park, home to leopards, hyena, bears and tigers. Stop at the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri. The next day enjoy both an early morning and an afternoon canter safari.
Day 11: Journey to Jaipur
Journey to the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur for a two-night stay.
Day 12: Explore Jaipur
Begin the day with a brief stop at the Hawa Mahal, the ‘Palace of the Winds’, before travelling out of the city to admire the majestic Amer Fort. Back in Jaipur visit the Maharaja’s City Palace and Jantar Mantar, the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world. Later browse the local bazaar at Choti Choper before a traditional dinner and a dance performance.
Days 13-14: Pushkar and Khimsar
Travel to Pushkar. Sat on the banks of one of India’s most sacred lakes, there are 52 ghats used for worship by Hindu pilgrims. This afternoon visit the lake and the Brahma Temple before a camel cart ride to witness the sunset in the desert. The next day continue on to Khimsar, perched on the edge on the great Thar Desert in the heart of rural India. Spend the afternoon exploring the local area.
Day 15: Khimsar to Jaisalmer
Drive to Jaisalmer and visit Sunset Point for spectacular views.
Day 16: Explore Jaisalmer
Visit Jaisalmer Fort, a Jain temple complex, and Badal Vilas Palace. Later, visit the Sam Sand Dunes and take a camel ride.
Day 17: Mehrangarh Fort
Journey to Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan located at the entrance to the Thar Desert in a region called Marwar. Visit Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada Memorial, the museum located in Umaid Bhawan Palace and the local vegetable and spice market.
Day 18: Bishnoi Village
Enjoy a jeep safari to Rohetgarh to visit a Bishnoi village. The Bishnois were founded in the 15th century by Jambeswarji, and follow 29 principles of a non-violent Vaishanavas sect.
Day 19: Lake Pichola
Travel to Udaipur, visiting the Jain temples of Ranakpur en route. This afternoon cruise on Lake Pichola.
Day 20: Discover Udaipur
Explore the Folk Museum, Mewar Art Gallery, Sahelion Ki Bari Gardens, the magnificent City Palace and the local bazaar.
Days 21-22: Journey to Aurangabad
Fly to Aurangabad (via Mumbai). Tomorrow, visit the caves of Ajanta.
Day 23: Ellora Caves
Discover the Ellora Caves, which date back to the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Later, fly to Mumbai.
Day 24: Mumbai City Tour
Tour Mumbai, including the Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Hanging Gardens and Chowpatty Beach. Stop at Dhobi Ghat, the Crawford Market, Flora Fountain, Kamala Nehru Park and Mani Bhavan. This evening, fly to Kochi.
Day 25: Explore Kochi
Visit the Dutch Palace and Fort Kochi. See the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, St. Francis Church and Santa Cruz Basilica. Enjoy a traditional Kathakali dance performance this evening.
Day 26: Kerala Backwaters
Visit the Jewish Synagogue in Kochi before driving to Nedumudy to board your overnight houseboat and cruise the backwaters.
Day 27: Travel to Kovalam
Disembark your houseboat in Alleppey and travel to Kovalam.
Days 28-29: Kovalam - Depart Trivandrum to New Zealand
Explore Trivandrum before transferring to the airport to board your flight to New Zealand

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:


Single Supplement from $2,250
Land Only (Delhi to Trivandrum), 27 days from $9,980 per person twin share
Additional charges: Tipping - US$150 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
27 Feb 19 departure coincides with Holi Festival celebrations and sightseeing may be affected
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
 
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular in India and you will find high quality coverage. India has active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.
 
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have wifi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and India is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size, and services used during the trip.
 
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be fun and entertaining, especially in local markets all over India where souvenirs can be purchased for next to nothing. However all passengers must realise that the authenticity and value of goods is always questionable.
If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Some shopping is made up of copied brand items and reproduced antiques.
 
In keeping with most people’s interest whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities in local shops and government factories. This may vary depending on local conditions, and should never interfere with your itinerary’s included sightseeing.
 
Each region has its own specialty; a traditional handicraft perfected by the locals over centuries, a climate that encourages rich spices to grow, or a type of wood, stone or precious jewel in abundance nearby. Textiles are a popular souvenir, including silk brocades from Varanasi in the north or Kanchipuram in the south, tie-dyed cottons from all over Rajasthan, saris, hand woven Tibetan carpets from Darjeeling or Dharamshala, or the woollen shawls pashminas of Kashmir and Ladakh.
 
There is also the heavy and elaborate silverwork of Rajasthan, “spring picked” tea from the hill stations, and the spices, wooden carvings or facemasks of Kerala.
 
If you prefer set prices, head to the government-run shops, usually called “cottage industries” or “emporium” which sells quality but reasonably priced goods. The more up market tourist shops will also have fixed prices. Markets, street stalls, and local shops can be noisy, crowded, and confronting, but this remains one of the most rewarding experiences of travelling in India. If your itinerary includes some free time and you would like to go shopping, ask either your National Escort/Guide or the hotel staff for advice on how to best get there. They should be able to tell you if you need a taxi or a rickshaw, how much you should pay for the journey and provide you verbal or written directions to give to the driver. Remember to take a hotel business card with you to find your way back!

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost. Breakfast is served in the hotel and includes a combination of western and local dishes. As traditional in this region, lunch and dinner are served in a banquet style, so you can try the variety of specialty dishes. The amount of food served is more than ample for the whole group.
 
We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people so dishes are not too spicy or unusual in their taste. One of the great myths about India is that the food is of poor quality and always hot and spicy. This is definitely not the case! In fact, North Indian dishes whilst often very rich and indeed spicy don’t contain as much chilli as South Indian dishes. Indian cuisine is predominately vegetarian; however more meat (chicken and lamb) dishes are available in the North. On our group tours, we use a variety of local and hotel restaurants, which provide variety in both the dishes and methods of cooking. If you like Indian food from home, you will have no problems with the real Indian food as it is similar, only more flavoursome. You’ll love it; though don’t expect to lose weight on your holiday, Indians love to eat and eat big. In tourist centres, some restaurants and hotels may also serve western dishes to provide variety. You may also prefer to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars and tea/coffee from home.
 
Drinks will be at each tour member’s own expense. Beer is widely available and cheap. Wine lovers should remember that western style wine is very expensive to import into India, so is not stocked except by upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks, and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice, fruit juices, or lassies (yoghurt based sweet or salty drinks) from a trusted restaurant; where they will use boiled or bottled water to prepare ice and drinks.
 
Tea is very popular and Indians simply love visiting the many street stalls which brew chai (also known as masala), a sweet, spiced tea brewed with boiling milk. Hotels will usually serve tea and instant coffee at breakfast or other meals – you can usually request the chai or masala style tea as well.
Packed meals: On some days, your National Escort/Guide may arrange for a simple, packed meal for your group. It may be a matter of schedule (on long driving days), hygiene (on train journeys), or your location (in remote areas) and we ask you to bear this in mind. Although this is not a full meal, most of our passengers seem to enjoy this change from the large portions and more elaborate banquets enjoyed most days.

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Why Book This Tour?

This all-encompassing, epic itinerary takes you through the best that India has to offer, showcasing the rich history, culture, and many natural wonders found throughout this fantastically varied country.

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