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India Encompassed
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From the beautiful symmetry of the Taj Mahal to the unforgettable backwaters of Kerala, this comprehensive Indian journey is a photographer's delight. Sail along the sacred Ganges River in Varanasi and explore Abhaneris carved stepwells in the North before flying south to search for tigers in the wild and exotic spices in relaxed hill stations. With an intriguing combination of included activities and free time, city streets and rural spirit, you're sure to gain an understanding of the people and some insight into this fascinating land.


Duration: 28 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Physical rating: Light
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 126379
Starts: Delhi, India Finishes: Kochi, India
You will Visit
  • Delhi
  • Kochi

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Delhi

Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included through the G Adventures-supported Women on Wheels project.

Included Activities:
Women on Wheels Transfer
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting

02

Day 2: Delhi

In the morning enjoy a city tour by local streetkids, a G Adventures-supported project.

Later, visit Delhi's famous Jama Masjid (Great Mosque) and climb the minaret for a bird's eye view of the Old City. Walk through Chandni Chowk, one of India's oldest and busiest markets, and learn the history of the Sikh religion at the important Gurdwara, (Sikh place of worship) Gurdwara SisGanj. Stop for photos at the colourful spice market before finishing at the Victorian Connaught Place, one of the most prominent architectural remnants of British rule.

Included Activities:
Guided Walking Tour with New Delhi Streetkids Project
Jama Masjid Visit
Gurdwara Sis Ganj Visit
Delhi Spice Market
Connaught Place Visit
Chandni Chowk Visit

03

Day 3: Delhi/Jaipur

Drive to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and start exploring. Opt to visit the Jantar Mantar, or Royal Observatory. Don't miss the opprtunity to see a Bollywood film at the famous Art Deco Raj Mandir cinema.

Transport:
Private Vehicle (5.00-6.00 hours, 260km)

04

Day 4: Jaipur

Head out to visit the ruined city of Amber, the former capital of Jaipur state. Stop and take a photo of the Hawa Mahal palace complex, elaborate formal gardens, and a small lake.

Included Activities:
Amber Fort Visit

05

Day 5: Jaipur/Dhula Village (1D)

Tonight's accommodation is in spacious and comfortable tents outfitted with beds, lamps, and simple en suite bathrooms.

Included Activities:
Village Cycling Excursion

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s), 50km)

06

Day 6: Dhula Village/Āgra (1B)

Opt for an early morning hike to a ruined fortress. Later, stop by the impressive Abhaneri stepwell en route to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

Included Activities:
Abhaneri Stepwell Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s), 250km)

07

Day 7: Āgra

Visit the sparkling Taj Mahal for sunrise then stick around to explore (if the light is better around sunset, we may visit later in the day instead). Later, visit the walled city of Agra Fort by cycle-rickshaw and the I'timad-ud-Daulah, or the Baby Taj.

Included Activities:
Taj Mahal Visit
Agra Fort Visit
Baby Taj Visit

Transport:
Visit the Agra Fort by human-powered cycle-rickshaw.
Cycle rickshaw

08

Day 8: Āgra/Alīpura

Leave early and travel along typically rough Indian roads to Alipura, a friendly village which will be our base for two days.
Here, stay in a heritage property with time to wander the town and interact with locals.

Transport:
Train (2.50 hour(s))
Private Vehicle (3.50 hour(s))

09

Day 9: Alīpura

Travel 1.5 hrs to Khajuraho, one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Learn the history of these world-famous temples on a guided tour and enjoy a taste of a little erotica from the Middle Ages.
After, opt to visit a nearby waterfall (seasonal) or watch an evening dance performance.

Included Activities:
Khajuraho Temples Guided Tour

Transport:
Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours, 96km)
Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours, 96km)

10

Day 10: Alīpura/Orchha

En route to Orchha, visit a unique paper making plant, set up to assist tribal women from the area. All the paper is made from recycled clothing and wood pulp. Continue on to Orchha and enjoy an orientation tour of this small town. Set on the banks of the Betwa River, it is the perfect antidote to the chaos of India's cities. Later, attend an evening puja ceremony at the Ram Raja Temple.

Included Activities:
Tarragram Visit
Puja Ceremony

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.50-3.00 hours, 96km)

11

Day 11: Orchha/Varanasi

Visit the Orchha Palace complex and enjoy free time before the overnight train to Varanasi. Opt for a local cooking class with a family.

Included Activities:
Orchha Palace Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (1.00 hour(s), 20km)
Basic overnight train (beds) (13.00 hour(s))

12

Day 12: Varanasi

Disembark the train in legendary Varanasi, the quintessential Indian holy city where millions of Hindus visit for pilgrimage, to worship, to mourn, or to die.

There is time here to shop, wander, and absorb the atmosphere of this unique city, while optional activities include the monasteries and ruins of nearby Sarnath, the site of the Buddha's first sermon.

Included Activities:
Evening Ganges Boat Tour

13

Day 13: Varanasi

Watch the sunrise from a boat along the Ganges. Enjoy free time in this holy city.

Included Activities:
Morning Ganges Boat Tour

14

Day 14: Varanasi/Delhi

Cut out the travel time with an afternoon flight back to Delhi.

Transport:
Flight

15

Day 15: Delhi/Kochi (1B)

Transfer to the airport and fly to Kochi. In the evening, there will be a welcome meeting for new travellers joining the group.


Additional Notes:
You may have one CEO for the North and one for the South. In this case you will be transferred to the airport in Delhi and fly unescorted to Kochi -- either on your own or with any other travellers who are continuing on for the south portion of the tour. Upon arrival to Kochi, there is free time to relax until the welcome meeting in the evening.

Transport:
Plane (3.00-3.50 hours)

16

Day 16: Kochi

Enjoy an early morning orientation tour of Fort Kochi. Enjoy free time to explore before an evening performance of kathakali, a form of traditional dancing from Kerala.

Included Activities:
Orientation Walk
Kathakali Dance

17

Day 17: Kochi/Kalpetta

Take a morning train followed by a scenic drive to reach Kalpetta, in the Wayanad district.

Transport:
Train (4.00 hour(s))
Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s))

18

Day 18: Kalpetta

Here, we go on nature trails in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and visit the Edakkal Caves, which are believed to have been a shelter of neolithic people.

Included Activities:
Wayanad Nature Walk

19

Day 19: Kalpetta/Mudumalai

We leave the hills for the plains, and stop for the night at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.

Spend part of the afternoon on a short safari and spot the variety of wildlife within the park.

Included Activities:
Mudumalai Jeep Safari

Transport:
Private Vehicle (3.00-4.00 hours)

20

Day 20: Mudumalai/Mysore

Imagine life as a Maharaja on a guided tour of the Mysore Palace. Later, join the throngs of pilgrims at Chamundi Hills, with its temple on top, and Nandi the Bull (ridden by the Hindu god Shiva) a short walk below.

In your free time, visit the Devaraja fruit and vegetable market or join a yoga class at one of the many local institutes.

Opt to drive to Somnathpur, home to one of the most famous Hoysala Temples in India.

Included Activities:
Chamundi Temple Visit
Mysore Palace Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.00-4.00 hours)

21

Day 21: Mysore/Māmallapuram

Arrive by train to Chennai before continuing south for a short ride to the small village of Mamallapuram. Visit the 7th century Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Included Activities:
Shore Temple Visit

Transport:
Enjoy a scenic ride to the east coast aboard Indian's vast rail system. Play cards, meet your fellow passengers or let the landscapes soak in.
Train (8.00 hour(s))
Private Vehicle (1.00-1.50 hours)

22

Day 22: Māmallapuram

Free time to explore Mamallapuram.

23

Day 23: Māmallapuram/Puducherry

In the morning, drive to Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry), formerly the the largest French Colony in India and an important trading town. There is a strong French influence in the city's layout, with wide boulevards and French-style houses, but the city is undoubtedly Indian.

Included Activities:
Orientation Walk

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.00-2.50 hours)

24

Day 24: Puducherry/Madurai

Travel inland to Madurai, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Transport:
Private Vehicle (6.00-7.00 hours)

25

Day 25: Madurai

After visiting the temple complex, opt to visit the handicraft shops or duck into the cool shade of the covered, stone tailor's market where, for a few rupees, rows of expert tailors will whip you up a custom shirt in minutes, all done on antique foot-pump sewing machines. In the late evening, opt to visit the Meenakshi Temple again for a glimpse of the nighttime rituals.

Included Activities:
Cycle-Rickshaw Tour
Meenakshi Temple Visit

26

Day 26: Madurai/Periyār Sanctuary (1D)

Thekkady, adjacent to Periyar National Park, is the spice capital of India. On arrival, enjoy a guided tour of the spice plantations and a tea factory.

Opt for a boat ride on the Periyar Lake.

Included Activities:
Cardamom Hills Spice Plantation Tour

Transport:
Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s))

27

Day 27: Periyār Sanctuary/Kerala Backwaters (1L, 1D)

Travel down to the backwaters from Thekkady to catch a private boat for the short journey to the village homestay.

In the afternoon, explore the island with a local person to observe the different facets of local life — it's a great opportunity to meet and talk with the people who live in this unique location.

Just before sunset, hop on a small country boat and journey along with the locals to enjoy sunset on the winding backwaters.

Additional Notes:
For this homestay, you will only need to take a small overnight bag. Your main bags will be transferred directly to the hotel in Kochi.

Included Activities:
Kerala Backwaters Homestay

Transport:
Private Vehicle (4.00-5.50 hours, 145km)
Boat (0.25 hour(s))

28

Day 28: Kerala Backwaters/Kochi (1B)

The morning is spent enjoying the last of our host family's hospitality. Learn to cook some of the wonderful food, watch the toddy tappers at work, or wander around the village and explore more of the life on the backwaters.

Depart the homestay and travel back to Kochi. The trip ends on arrival to Kochi in the early afternoon.

Included Activities:
Departure Day (Activities)

Transport:
Boat (1.50 hour(s))
Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s))

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Arrival transfer included through the G Adventures-supported Women on Wheels project
    • Walking tour with a guide from the G Adventures-supported New Delhi Streetkids Project
    • Old Delhi walk with stops at the Jama Masjid, Gurduwara, Chandni Chowk, spice markets, and Connaught Place
    • Amber Fort tour (Jaipur)
    • Rajasthani rural village stay
    • Village cycling excursion (Dhula Village)
    • Taj Mahal and I’timad-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj) entrance
    • Agra Fort entrance and guided tour
    • Orchha Palace complex visit
    • Western Temple complex visit
    • Ganges River boat trips at sunrise and sunset, including candle flower ceremony
    • Fort Kochi orientation walk
    • Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary walk
    • Mudumalai NP safari
    • Chaumundi Temple and Mysore Palace visit
    • Mamallapuram Shore Temple visit
    • Pondicherry orientation walk
    • Madurai cycle-rickshaw ride and Sri Meenakshi temple visit
    • Cardamom Hills spice plantation tour
    • Kerala backwaters homestay with guide
    • Internal flights
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    Accommodation
    • Hotels/guesthouses (24 nts), comfortable tented camp (1 nt), sleeper train (1 nt), homestay (1 nt, multi-share)
    • 3 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
    Transport
    • Train, local bus, private vehicle, auto-rickshaw, camel cart, boat, plane
    Group Leader
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides
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Tour Highlights:
  • Discover ancient forts and temples
  • Revel in the beauty of Agra's Taj Mahal
  • Sail the Ganges in venerable Varanasi
  • Stay with the locals in the Kerala backwaters
  • Smell spices at a plantation in the Cardamom Hills


Reviews (10)
Harpreet D Posted on: 

An intense trip with a lot of travelling but very well worth it. If you are restricted for time its the best way to see India without breaking the bank.

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Patricia S Posted on: 

The combination of the northern loop and the southern loop gave me all I could have hoped for in a month -- and the order of the two was great. The frenetic pace of the north followed by the laid back feeling in the south left me feeling I could easily return to India

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Theresa B Posted on: 

I truly enjoyed the variety of locations & activities. I really felt I left India with a mind full of amazing memories and it was wonderful to have a small glance into the rich history and culture that is India.

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Jean M Posted on: 

To me India was something special. I had a tight schedule and not too much time to prepare my trip. I like adventure and in the past I traveled mainly by myself. I was kind of prejudiced against organized trips. But G Adventures changed my whole perception about the thing. I really enjoyed myself. For once I didn't have to worry about means of transportation or finding a place to sleep or to eat. The days were filled with discoveries and joy. Above all I made many new friends and really enjoyed sharing such an experience with other people.

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Amy W Posted on: 

India Encompassed really did include everything that I wanted on my first adventure to India. The combination of the north and south truly allowed an excellent opportunity to experience different aspects of India. The north was hectic, intense but stunningly beautiful. The south was the perfect antidote to the north. A much needed change of pace. What an experience. Thank you!

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Marjorie M Posted on: 

I was very pleased by the diversity of experiences offered by the tour and the well thought out itinerary. The tour leaders were excellent and the transportation and hotels exceeded my expectations.

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Jessica A Posted on: 

We've been backpacking in a lot of countries and I was not prepared for the luxury we had in this trip. I totally loved it. My own towel, some places had swimming pools and even the rooms where very nice. I think I couldn't have made this trip any better myself. I enjoyed the group and it was nice to have some free time once in a while, you could be cultural or just relax.

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Keith P Posted on: 

Both the tour leaders on this trip were very knowledgeable and efficient. The tour was well organised with plenty of activities to do every day.

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Gabriela B Posted on: 

The trip was beyond fantastic and if I could I would do it all over again. The trip was great mostly due to very knowledgeable and friendly tour leader Jai (Jaivardhan) Singh. Thumbs up for Jai, he made this trip an experience to remember not just another vacation.

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Megan G Posted on: 

Awe inspiring! I fell in love with India and can't wait to go back!

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