Big India

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Big India

from £960
Duration: 26 days
Countries: India
Travel across this huge country on this adventure tour. In the north witness pilgrims performing ancient ceremonies on the ghats of Varanasi and marvel at the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra.
Summary

Big India

Down south, bask in the tropical southern climate, cruise along the Kerala Backwaters and come face-to-face with local customs in small rural towns. This fantastic trip finishes off on the gorgeous beaches of Goa – India's idyllic beachside holiday destination. Enjoy the freedom to be immersed in the diverse cultures of big, colourful, chaotic and enchanting India.

ITINERARY

DAY 1: DELHI

Namaste. Welcome to Delhi, India. Today is an arrival day with no planned activities, except for a pre-departure meeting tonight at around 6 pm. Please look for a note in the lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform the accommodation as soon as possible. After the meeting, perhaps pop out for an optional group dinner.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 2: DELHI/OVERNIGHT TRAIN

This morning head out on a walking tour around the commercial heart of Delhi, visiting Chandni Chowk (Sheeshganj Gurudwara) and Connaught Place along the way. Explore Old Delhi on a bicycle rickshaw to dig that little bit deeper. You'll then have some free time to do as much sightseeing as you can, before boarding an overnight sleeper train bound for Varanasi. The journey should take around 13 hours and you'll arrive into Varanasi early in the morning.
Optional Activities

Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
Included Activities

Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
Delhi - Old Delhi Walking Tour
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 3: VARANASI

Arriving into Varanasi early, head straight to the hotel to freshen up before plunging head first into this holy city, which is one of the world's oldest. Explore the narrow laneways and backstreets on a walking tour with your guide, before watching the world pass by along the ghats. Your evening is then free to do as you wish.
Included Activities

Varanasi - Old City Walking Tour
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 4: VARANASI/OVERNIGHT TRAIN

Wake up early and experience one of the highlights of your time in India. This morning, jump in boats and watch the sunrise over the Ganges. Pilgrims bathing, cremation fires and riverside haircuts - India is best before dawn and this is the best way to see it. The rest of your day is free to explore, before catching an overnight train to Agra tonight (approximately 11 hours).
Included Activities

Varanasi - Sunrise Boat Ride
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 5: AGRA

Arriving into Agra early this morning, head to the most iconic site in India, the Taj Mahal. The highlights of India just keep coming. You have a full day to explore Agra on a motorised rickshaw trip, with Agra Fort being another incredible optional activity in the afternoon. The rest of your day is then free.
Included Activities

Agra - Taj Mahal
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 6: JAIPUR

Jump on a bus this morning and travel for around four hours to Rajasthan's pink capital, Jaipur. On arrival into the city stop off at the Hawa Mahal (pink sandstone palace) before heading to your hotel. Use the opportunity to freshen up and then venture out for a walking tour of the old city. In your spare time, perhaps take an optional tour of the Jaipur City Palace.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 7: JAIPUR

For many travellers, a hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over Jaipur on the morning of day 7, between September and June. For additional information, please see the important notes section of your trip notes. Later in the morning, enjoy a guided tour of the medieval Amber Fort with a local guide. The rest of your day is then free to explore Jaipur on your own.
Optional Activities

Jaipur - City Palace - INR400
Jaipur - Observatory - INR200
Included Activities

Jaipur - Hawa Mahal photo stop
Jaipur - Amber Fort
Local Guide
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 8: BUNDI

Travel for around three hours this morning to Bundi, which feels like a world away from the chaos of Jaipur. Home to the famed stepwells and a ruined hilltop castle, it's a compact town best explored on foot. Meet your local guide and see this charming town through his eyes. Your guide will take you around the stepwell, Bundi Palace and may even point you in the right direction of best cup of chai in Rajasthan.
Included Activities

Bundi - Stepwell
Bundi - Bundi Palace
Bundi - Town walk
Local Guide
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 9: BUNDI

Enjoy a free day checking out more of Bundi. There are approximately 50 stepwells in Bundi, as well as a pretty impressive lake. Bundi is a friendly town and it's really fun to wander in the streets leading up to the palace - this is a good way to get a feel for the town. Tonight, catch an overnight train to Delhi, which takes around ten hours.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 10: DELHI

Arrive into Delhi early, with the day free to do some more exploring. There are shopping experiences aplenty or perhaps book an Urban Adventure to get your last proper taste of North India. An optional group dinner tonight is a great way to finish this part of your trip.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 11: TRIVANDRUM

Enjoy a free morning in Delhi before making your way to the airport to fly to Trivandrum.

The internal flight from Delhi to Trivandrum is NOT included. Please book a flight that arrives into Trivandrum before 4.00pm so you can meet your new group at 6:00pm.

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Included Activities

Orientation Walk - Trivandrum
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 12: VARKALA

Varkala sits on India's Keralan coast and is home to some of the whitest and most pristine beaches in the whole country. The sandy bay here is protected by soaring cliffs, the beach sits below the rock face, whilst the town itself sits prettily along the cliff edge above, a string of laid-back bars, restaurants, guesthouses and hotels. It's a great place to just kick back and relax, but if you want to get active, there are plenty of water sports on offer. Sitting on the sand and watching the sun dip below the horizon is the perfect way to end a day here.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 13: VARKALA

Enjoy a free day in Varkala. This is a great place to sit back and relax, but if you want to get active there are plenty of water activities on offer, such as surfing and windsurfing. Even though this is a popular destination for Indian tourists, the beaches are quiet and laid-back. If you have time, perhaps rent a scooter and ride through fishing villages to Varkala Light House.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 14: KERALA BACKWATERS HOMESTAY

Take a local train along the Keralan Coast to reach Alleppey (approx 2.5 hrs).

Auto rickshaws take us from Alleppey train station to the boarding point for our boats.

Alleppey's sleepy, palm-shaded backwaters are Kerala's hidden treasure. Once an important trading port and now famous for its August 'snake boat' races, Alleppey is the starting point for most journeys into the backwaters and also hosts a mid-December musical festival.

Crossing the backwaters, head to an island village to stay with local families (approx 1 hour).

Explore the backwaters with a local guide to observe the different facets of local life - this is a great chance to meet and talk with the people who live here. Strolling under palm trees and weaving in between the rice fields that cover the island, learn about their lifestyles.

Take a leisurely pole boat ride around the lake and enjoy the outstanding scenery.

Accommodation is on a multishare basis and all the families live within a few hundred metres of each other, with at least one person in the family speaking a reasonable standard of English. Food is traditional Keralan home cooking.

Included Activities
Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
Backwaters - Village walk
Included Activities

Kerala Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
Kerala Backwaters - Village walk
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 15: KOCHI

Crossing the backwaters by private boat, head for Alleppey (approx 1.5 hrs).

Take a local bus to Kochi (approx 2 hrs).

Spread over several islands, Kochi is a fascinating place full of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences.

Stay at Intrepid Kaliveedu. This is a special lodge offering very different ambience with large landscaped gardens, air-conditioned rooms and a central location close to most of the sights in Fort Cochin.

We will reach Kochi around midday. Today we will go on an orientation walk with our leader and take in the sights in the vicinity of our accommodation.

Some of the sights to see include St Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica and the famous Chinese fishing nets.

There's the option of attending a Kathakali dance performance tonight at 5pm. This classical dance is a highly charged and powerful drama that combines devotion and physical virtuosity with symbolic storytelling to produce one of the most impressive and vibrant forms of theatre in the world. It requires lengthy and rigorous training to attain complete control of the body and sensitivity to emotion so as to be able to render all its nuances through facial expressions and hand gestures.
Included Activities

Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 16: KOCHI

Today, head to the Mattancherry part of Fort Cochin to explore the old Jewish quarter, synagogue and Dutch Palace (Kochi Palace) on a guided walking tour. The tour takes around three hours, with the rest of the day free to do as you wish. Why not join one of our Urban Adventures day tours, such as Fort Cochin by Bike, Home Cooked Kochi or Kochi Food and Culture Tour. Please check with your leader in advance if you’d like to book one of these trips.
Optional Activities

Kochi - Dutch Palace - INR5
Kochi - Kathakali performance - INR300
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 17: PERIYAR

Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats is the Periyar National Park and Tiger Reserve. This wildlife sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake, formed by the building of a dam in 1895, which meanders around the contours of the wooded hills and provides a permanent source of water for the local wildlife. Though it's a tiger reserve, tourists come here to view the Indian elephants in the act of ablution and playfulness by the lake.
Included Activities

Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 18: PERIYAR

After breakfast, enjoy a free day with an optional walk around Periyar National Park. Be on the look out for tigers and other wildlife such as bison, wild boar, elephants and spotted deer.
Optional Activities

Periyar National Park - Guided Wildlife Walk - INR200
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 19: MADURAI

Crammed full of bazaars, pilgrims, cycle-rickshaws, beggars and street markets, Madurai showcases southern India at its colourful and lively best.
Visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple, which lies at the heart of the city. This ancient, still active temple is a labyrinth of lamp-lit corridors which lead to shrines where some mysterious and interesting rituals are performed.
Wander the bazaars and the tailors' market.
Optional Activities

Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple - INR50
Madurai - Aayiram Kaal Mandapam - INR50
Included Activities

Madurai - Walking tour
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 20: MADURAI/OVERNIGHT TRAIN

Today is a free day in Madurai. Perhaps head to the Ghandi Museum to learn about the man who fought for India’s independence or wander through the 1,000 pillars of Aayiram Kaal Mandapam. This is also a great opportunity to haggle with vendors at the bazaars and the tailors' market.

In the evening, take an overnight sleeper train to Mysore (approximately 7 hours).
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 21: MYSORE

Board a local bus to Mysore (approx 3 hrs).
Mysore is an easygoing town with a pleasant climate, perfect for wandering around on foot.
A visit to Mysore isn't complete without a look around Mysore Palace. One of the most ornate palaces in India, its interior is a riot of colour, mosaics and mirrors.
Visit the Keshava Temple in Somnathpur - a stunning example of Hoysala temple architecture (approx 1 hr from Mysore).
You have plenty of time to explore the surrounding countryside, so head out and climb Chamundi Hill - site of the Sri Chamundeswari Temple, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Optional Activities

Mysore - Keshava Temple - INR200
Included Activities

Mysore - Orientation Walk
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 22: MYSORE/OVERNIGHT TRAIN

Today is a free day in Mysore, with plenty of optional activities to keep you busy. Perhaps explore the countryside surrounding Mysore. Climb up Chamundi Hill to the Sri Chamundeswari Temple at the top, which is dedicated to the goddess Durga. At 7 pm board an overnight 10-hour train to Hampi via northern Karnataka.
Optional Activities

Mysore - Maharaja's Palace - INR200
Mysore - Chamundi Hill & Temple - INR100
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 23: HAMPI

Arrive in Hampi and cross the river to our guesthouse by canoe.
Hampi is a beautiful ancient temple town situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River.
Optional Activities

Hampi - Vittala temple - INR250
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 24: HAMPI/OVERNIGHT TRAIN

After breakfast, explore the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire and the huge boulders on the outskirts of town. Use the rest of the day to explore. In the early evening, drive for around three hours by private vehicle to Hubli, where you’ll board an overnight nine-hour train to Goa.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 25: GOA

Famous for the sandy beaches that line its coast, Goa is a fascinating and distinctive region in India's southwest. Brimming with Portuguese influences and bursting with fresh food, this region has earned its idyllic badge.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.

DAY 26: DEPART

There are no activities planned for the final day and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time. Goa is a great place to end the trip – if you can, we recommend staying on for a couple of nights to relax and explore.
Meals Included

There are no meals included on this day.


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Details

Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £960

Phone:

Call 0333 333 9952 to enquire or book

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Auto rickshaw, Bus, Cycle rickshaw, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Shuttle Bus, Taxi, Train, Van

Accommodation

Guesthouse (2 nights), Heritage Property (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (11 nights), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights), Resort (2 nights)

Included Activities

Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
Delhi - Old Delhi Walking Tour
Varanasi - Old City Walking Tour
Varanasi - Sunrise Boat Ride
Agra - Taj Mahal
Jaipur - Hawa Mahal photo stop
Jaipur - Amber Fort
Local Guide
Bundi - Stepwell
Bundi - Bundi Palace
Bundi - Town walk
Orientation Walk - Trivandrum
Kerala Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
Kerala Backwaters - Village walk
Kochi - Fort Kochi sightseeing
Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
Madurai - Walking tour
Mysore - Orientation Walk

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