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India Grand Tour

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days 27 US$ 3,749
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highlights
  • Explore the holy city of Varanasi
  • A full day to explore the ruins of Hampi
  • Relax on the beaches of Goa
  • Cruise the backwaters of Kerala on a houseboat
Start and end in New Delhi, the India Grand Tour tour is a guided cultural, religious and historic sites tour that takes 27 days. You will travel through New Delhi and Kovalam in India. India Grand Tour is a small group tour which includes accommodation, transport, meals and others.

The variety that India offers is unparalleled - on this incredible journey we sample some of the country's many highlights. In the north we delve into the hustle and bustle of Delhi and Jaipur, admire the exquisite palaces of Rajasthan and marvel at the serene Taj Mahal. For the spiritually inclined there is time to experience the holy River Ganges at Varanasi. For wildlife we head to Ranthambore National Park and search for the elusive tiger. As we travel further south, there are cave temples and ancient ruins to explore and Goa's tropical beaches to relax on. We then visit the magnificent Mysore Palace before heading to the hill station of the British Raj at Ooty. Back on the coast, we explore historical Cochin, a port which has been luring traders and explorers for over 600 years. Our journey ends with a cruise on a traditional houseboat, with the chance to kick back on the tranquil backwaters of Kerala.
customer reviews
4.7 - Excellent Based on 10 reviews
Amazing India
Justin From USA On
5 - Excellent
“India is everything. Dirty. Amazing. Expensive. Cheap. Culturally impressive. I'd highly recommend this tour to anyone. The guide was great, and the arrangements were superb!”
Grand Tour of India
5 - Excellent
“This was an excellent trip. The places and sites visited were fantastic and had a great variety of interest - from temples, palaces, forts, places of historical interest, wildlife and a fantastic scenery throughout.”
One for the Bucket List!
5 - Excellent
“Another wonderful trip with Exodus. A great overview of India inevitably means a lot of long travel days but overall a good balance of historic sights and wonders with relaxing moments and opportunities for exploring by yourself.”
Incredible India
5 - Excellent
“A truly amazing trip, well organised with some amazing sights, some of which were a wonderful revisit for me and some spectacular new sights. The trip could have been utterly ruined by the demanding and selfish attitude of two of the group who treated the tour manager as their own personal assistant and simply wanted everything their way and at their time. Some of the hotels were very basic and knowing about this before you go could help prepare you instead of being a shock after a long journey. However these are very minor points on what is an incredible trip through a wonderful country.”
The group flight will arrive into Delhi in the morning and we will transfer to our hotel. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel during the day (rooms may not be available until noon but it is often earlier than this). The rest of the day is free to relax or explore Delhi.*Comfortable Hotel*
Today we have a morning sightseeing in Old Delhi including the famous Red Fort and Jama Masjid (India's largest mosque). In New Delhi we see the fine colonial buildings, as we drive through the area, built by the British Raj in the early years of the 20th century and set in spacious tree-lined boulevards; these now house various Indian governmental departments. We then board our overnight sleeper train to Varanasi, India's most sacred city.*Sleeper Train*
We arrive at Varanasi in the morning and transfer to our hotel. Varanasi, located on the river Ganges, is one of the holiest cities in India and stands at the centre of the Hindu universe. As such, the city lives and breathes Hinduism: there are thousands of pilgrims, wandering holy men (Sadhus), religious leaders and casual visitors. It is a city to get immersed in by exploring its maze of narrow lanes, ghats, the many temples and watch the Hindu ceremonies that occur around the clock. There is time to explore the emporiums specialising in silks and brocades or maybe take a massage by the banks of the Ganges.*Comfortable Hotel*
Just before dawn, we take a boat out on the Ganges to witness the extraordinary spectacle on the ghats, the steps leading down to the river. Every day thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to these three miles of riverbank to immerse themselves in the waters of the holy Ganges. The rest of the day is free to continue exploring the city or relax at the hotel. In the late afternoon we board the overnight train to Agra.*Sleeper Train*
After arriving in Agra we check into our hotel then start our sightseeing with a visit the imposing Red Fort of Akbar, the third Moghul Emperor. The forts mighty sandstone walls enclose the beautiful white marble Pearl Mosque and the palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains of his sons and successors, Jehangir and Shah Jahan.*Comfortable Hotel*
At sunrise we visit the beautiful white marble Taj Mahal, built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. The Taj is serenely beautiful and never fails to amaze a first time visitor. A few miles outside Agra is Fatehpur Sikri, the emperor Akbar's deserted royal city. The mosque, designed to hold ten thousand worshippers, the palaces, residences and halls of audience are all made of decorative red sandstone. But this magnificence only lasted 14 years, as in 1584 Akbar left Fatehpur Sikri to secure his outlying territories, leaving this city much as we see it today - in perfect condition. Continue journey to Jaipur. Total driving time approx. 7 hrs.*Comfortable Hotel*
Jaipur was built in the early 18th century and is a planned city of broad avenues built of sandstone and painted pink at a later stage. In the centre of Jaipur is the City Palace, formerly the residence of the Maharaja it is now a fine museum containing rare manuscripts, paintings, royal garments and weapons. Close to the palace is one of the most intriguing sights of India, the observatory of Jai Singh. This is an assembly of immense astronomical instruments made of marble and brass set in a pleasant garden. We will also see Jaipur's impressive landmark, the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds. A few miles from the main city is the splendid Amber Palace; the imposing hilltop fort contains large courtyards and interiors with fine decorations including inlaid alabaster panels and a Chamber of Mirrors. We walk up the hill and through the massive gateway to the courtyard. Jaipur is a centre of many handicrafts, such as durries (woven rugs), carpets, printed cloth, semi-precious stones, leatherwear etc. It will be difficult to leave a workshop without buying anything!*Comfortable Hotel*
We make an early start and drive about 180 kms (approx. 5 hours) to Ranthambore National Park. This famous park is the best place in Rajasthan to search for wild tigers.  We stay in a lodge not far from the park entrance.*Comfortable Hotel*
This morning we head back into the park for our second game drive.  Ranthambore National Park comprises 1334 square km of wild jungle scrub and is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.  Spotting a tiger is partly due to luck however there's plenty of other wildlife to see including 300 species of birds.  In the late afternoon we board our sleeper train to Mumbai. *Sleeper Train*
We arrive in Mumbai and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore this vibrant and fascinating city.  Mumbai is the country's most cosmopolitan city yet some of Asia's biggest slums are found here. It is India's financial powerhouse, where businessmen walk amidst skyscrapers, and it is home to the most prolific film industry in the world, Bollywood. A playground for the country's rich and famous, with large shopping centres, bustling bazaars, hip restaurants and a trendy nightlife. Alongside this, half of the residents live in slums. There is lots to do in this city, from shopping in the bazaars to taking an evening stroll at the famous Chowpatty beach.*Standard Hotel*
We will take the early morning train to Aurangabad and then have a short drive to the cave temple complex at Ellora, a World Heritage site. The caves date from the 6th to the 8th century AD and have been painstakingly hewn out of the hillside. There are more than 30 Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples, crowded with finely carved images. It is thought that the caves were carved by priests and pilgrims who used this ancient trade route. The highlight of the complex is the amazing Kailasa Temple, a replica of the mountain abode of Shiva and probably the world's largest monolithic structure. Carved out of solid rock it measures 33m. In spite of its massive proportions, the temple is carved all over in the most intricate detail. Later we drive back to Aurangabad.*Standard Hotel*
We drive to the caves at Ajanta (approx. 2 hrs). The 29 caves are spectacularly located in a pass in the Vindhya Hills and were only discovered in 1819 by a company of British soldiers on a tiger hunt. The caves were created between the 2nd century BC and the 7th century AD. They were cut from volcanic lavas in a forested ravine. They contain many carvings and beautiful wall paintings, depicting scenes from Buddhist legends. In the afternoon we drive back to Aurangabad. Later, if we have time, we can visit the Bibi-ka-Maqbara (optional) an imitation of the Taj Mahal which was built by the Moghul Emperor Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb, as a mausoleum for his mother Rabia Ul Durani in the late 17th century.*Standard Hotel*
Today is a long drive to Bijapur (approx.9-10 hrs.). Bijapur is a small and pleasant Muslim town with fine old buildings dating back to the 14th century, when the Muslim rulers of Delhi conquered the area. The city is dominated by the magnificent Gol Gumbaz, the huge mausoleum of its 17th century ruler Mohammed Adil Shah. The Jama Masjid Mosque is one of the finest in India, with its graceful, slender minarets.*Standard Hotel*
Morning sightseeing visiting Gol Gumbaz and Jama Masjid. In the afternoon we drive to Hospet (approx. 3.5 hours), which is our base for the next two nights. The evening is free.*Standard Hotel*
Today we have a full day-visit to the beautiful ruined city of Hampi. Hampi is the site of the old capital of the Vijaynagar Kings, who ruled from the 14th to 16th centuries. Once the largest Hindu empire in India the city was destroyed in a battle in 1565 by the Deccan Sultans when Islam was spreading to South India. The ruins are almost ethereal and amid the boulder-strewn landscape we can see the finely carved pillars of the Ramachandra Shrine, the old market place, plus many other temples and monuments in the South Indian Dravidian architectural style. In the evening we return to our hotel in Hospet.*Standard Hotel*
Today we drive (approx. 10 hrs.) over the magnificent Western Ghats to Goa. The state of Goa was a Portuguese colony from 1510 until it was returned to India in 1961. The great Catholic missionary St Francis Xavier came to Goa in the 16th century and his body, perfectly preserved, lies in the Bom Jesus Basilica and a large part of the Goan population is still Christian. Goa became a meeting place of east and west, where merchants could buy and sell pearls, rubies, coral, silks, Chinese porcelain and exotic spices. These days Goa is an idyllic place with tropical white sandy beaches and palm fringed shorelines. We enjoy two nights in this blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures. If you enjoy seafood there are a number of beach side restaurants to tempt you. *Standard Hotel*
You may like to visit Old Goa, the spiritual heart of Portuguese Goa. Goa was famous for its spice trading and there is a chance to visit one of the spice farms dotted around the wetter, hilly, inland areas of Goa. Another recommended trip is to the Menezes Braganza House at Chandor, a fine Portuguese mansion, which shows the opulent lifestyle of the Old Portuguese families who established great plantation estates. Or you may just want to relax and explore the golden beaches dotted along the coast.*Standard Hotel*
Today we drive to Mangalore stopping en route to visit one of Karnataka's top tourist drawcard the Krishna Temple at Udupi.  This temple draws Hindu pilgrims from all over India. After our visit we continue on to Mangalore a major port on international trade routes since the 6th century. *Standard Hotel*
In the morning we drive to Mysore (approx. 8 hrs.), the city of royal places and spend two nights here.*Comfortable Hotel*
Mysore is the city known for its sandalwood and the manufacture of incense sticks. It is Karnataka's second largest city. We have a sightseeing tour of Mysore and its surroundings. Just outside of Mysore is Srirangapatnam. Tipus' famous battles against both the French and the British are depicted here in the murals on the walls of his delightful summer palace. Ruins of the Fort and the Gumbaz, the family mausoleums are also here. Returning to Mysore we spend the afternoon exploring the beautifully restored City Palace. Designed by Henry Irwin and built in 1897 it is one of the largest palaces in the country and has been beautifully restored and maintained. The stained glass, wall paintings, ivory inlaid doors and ornate golden throne are all remarkable. The rest of the day is free to wander round the bazaar and maybe visit an incense making shop.*Comfortable Hotel*
It's a beautiful drive of about six hours as we cross the border from Karnataka into Tamil Nadu. We drive through the Mudumalai and Bandipur National Parks where we may spot deer, elephant and monkeys as we drive along and leave the plains for the Niligiri Hills arriving at Ootacamund hill station where we will spend two nights.*Standard Hotel*
Ootacamund is queen of the southern hill stations and was a refuge for British Officials and tea planters in Southern India. At 2286m the climate is much cooler here and evenings in winter can be quite chilly. In the morning we will drive to Dodabetta Peak. At 2638m it is the highest peak in the Nilgiri Hills. From the top on a clear day we can see as far as the Mysore Plateau. For those who want, there is a pleasant walk through a variety of woodland (eucalyptus, conifer, shola) to Snowdon Peak (2450m) after which we walk back to the Botanical Gardens in town. The Botanical Gardens contain over 1000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees including orchids, set amidst beautiful lawns. In the afternoon, if there is time and the narrow gauge Blue Mountain Railway is open, we will take the delightful one-hour train journey up to Conoor.*Standard Hotel*
A fairly long drive today (approx. 9 hrs.) as we leave the Niligiri Hills and head to the coast winding our way through lush tea and coffee plantations. We leave Tamil Nadu and enter Kerala as the road winds through forested hillsides. The ghat journey from Coonoor is one of the most scenic in South India giving superb views of the plains below. Magnificent groves of the slender areca nut palm trees line the road en route to Cochin.*Comfortable Hotel*
Cochin is situated on the Malabar, or 'Pepper Coast', and is one of South India's most interesting towns, believed to have been the first European settlement in India. Rich in history it retains a relaxed, quiet atmosphere. We have a sightseeing tour of Fort Cochin where most of the historic buildings are located amongst the narrow streets. The Portuguese Vasco de Gama landed here in 1500 and began trading with the Raja of Cochin. The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in the mid 1500's and then was largely rebuilt by its second occupants, the Dutch. Built in traditional Kerala style the wooden architecture and wall paintings are still well preserved. St Francis Church is where Vasco de Gama died in 1524 and the building reflects the new European influence in the area. The Santa Cruz Cathedral is close by and was originally used as a warehouse by the British. The Chinese fishing nets line the entrance to the harbour and were introduced by the Chinese in the late 14th century. There is also time to wander round the tiny back streets hunting for souvenirs in the many antique shops and warehouses. In the evening there is the option to see the traditional beautiful dancing of Kathakali.*Comfortable Hotel*
We drive to Alleppey (approx. 2 hrs.) where we board our houseboats and begin our cruise around the backwaters of Alleppey. The houseboat cruise is one of the highlights of the trip - these enchanting houseboats; built of Anjili wood and bamboo were the traditional method of transport of goods for hundreds of years. Now they have been decorated and made into comfortable cruise boats. As our boat meanders through areas of lush tropical vegetation we have the opportunity to view not only the prolific bird life but also gain a differing perspective on village life. The cruise takes us along shallow, palm-fringed canals where coconut fibre, copia (coconut meat) and cashews are loaded on to dugouts. In the evening the boat is anchored in the backwaters and we can watch the sunset over the rice paddies. All the houseboats are comfortably equipped and have twin bedded rooms with bathroom. There is a cook, boat driver and assistants for each boat and the food served is traditional Keralan fare using local produce. No trip to Kerala would be complete without the wonderful experience of the backwaters aboard these traditional houseboats.*Houseboat*
In the morning we drive to the coastal town of Kovalam (approx. 5 hrs.). Once a relaxing hideaway on the old hippie trail, this beachside town has now been discovered, but the influx of tourism has not diminished this beautiful setting.*Comfortable Hotel*
If you are travelling on Land Only arrangements then your trip will finish this morning after checkout. If you are travelling on the group flight we transfer to Trivandrum airport for our flight back to London.
what’s included
Accommodation
  • 22 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat, all en suite, 3 nights sleeper trains , 22 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat, 3 nights sleeper trains
Meals
  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner included
Transport
  • Transfer for group flights
Others
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned private bus and train
  • Travel by air-conditioned private bus and train 
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to/from New Delhi are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this India Grand Tour tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for India Grand Tour
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Payment

A deposit of 375 USD is required to confirm this tour. The remaining balance will be charged 69 days before departure. For any departures within 01 November 2019 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The India Grand Tour tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this India Grand Tour tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this India Grand Tour tour. You can cancel the tour up to 70 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 69 days of departure.
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  • Custom Destination: {{tripPlannerCustom[myRequest.id].destination}}
  • Custom Activity: {{tripPlannerCustom[myRequest.id].activity}}
  • Group Size: {{myRequest.no_of_adults > 0 && myRequest.no_of_children > 0?',':''}} {{myRequest.group_type=='Single'?'1 Person':myRequest.group_type=='Couple'?'2 People':''}}
  • {{myRequest.departure_month || myRequest.duration?'Approx. Dates':'Travel Dates'}}: {{myRequest.start_date | readableDate}} to {{myRequest.end_date | readableDate}} {{myRequest.departure_month}}, {{myRequest.duration}} Not decided yet
  • Tour Type: {{myRequest.tourtype | tourtypefullName}}
  • Age Group: {{myRequest.age_group}} yrs
  • Type of Tour: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].type_of_tour}}
  • Accommodation Option: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].accommodation_option}}
  • Budget Per Person: USD {{myRequest.approx_budget_amount}}
  • Budget Flexibility {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].budget_flexibility}}
  • Trip Planning Stage {{myRequest.trip_planning_stage}}
""
Can you handle {{getFirstName(activeuser)}}'s enquiry? Rejection Reason
{{myRequest.reject_reason?myRequest.reject_reason:'Sorry, Your trip request has been rejected.'}}
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