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Epic India

Epic India

From $ 2,585 AUD

Description

Travel across wild India on this trailblazing 23-day adventure tour. In the north, see pilgrims performing ancient ceremonies on the ghats of Varanasi and stare at the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. Down south, go in search of wild elephants and tigers on safari and take a joy ride on the famous toy train, passing through hill stations, and enjoying the mountainous scenery along the way. This fantastic trip finishes off seaside in the important port city of Kochi – India’s idyllic beachside holiday destination. Soak up all the freedom and diverse cultures of this big, colourful, chaotic and enchanting country. Oh, and did we mention all the biryani and chai you’ll eat? Experience real India with a knowledgeable local leader and a wicked itinerary to suit.

Trip Name
Epic India
Last Updated
2021-01-26
Days
23
Capacity
16
Highlights
  • Capture your best selfie in front of the Taj Mahal – a marble masterpiece and the mother of all mausoleums, this Indian icon is all part of Agra’s allure.
  • Get among the relaxing vibes of Rishikesh with a one-hour morning yoga class, then sleep under the starry Indian sky surrounded by nature and mountain views.
  • Spend a day exploring the world of Bollywood in Ramoji Film City: a huge park full of filming locations. You’ll feel like you’re on the set of a blockbuster!
  • Go in search for elephants and tigers, as well as macaque, civet, giant flying squirrel, striped hyena and leopard on an included safari in the lush Bandipur National Park.
  • Taste the perfect cuppa with a visit to one of Coonoor’s tea plantations. Learn about how tea leaves go from plant to cup.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Delhi
Namaste, welcome to Delhi! Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm, if you arrive early, there's plenty to do in this wonderfully chaotic city. Wander the streets, sip on your first chai or practice haggling in one of the many markets. If you prefer some structure, there's a variety of Urban Adventure day tours that offer a great first taste of Delhi. Find out more at urbandventures.com
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.
Day 3 - Varanasi
Arrive into Varanasi early and head straight to the hotel to freshen up before plunging headfirst 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.
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).
Day 5 - Agra
Arrive into Agra early this morning, then 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.
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.
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. Make sure to grab another cup of chai before settling in for this evening's 13-hour overnight train journey. Tonight, you'll hop a train bound for Rishikesh.
Day 8 - Rishikesh
Arrive early in to Rishikesh, a spiritual town lying in the verdant foothills of the Himalayas. Embark on an orientation walk with your leader before enjoying free time to roam at your own leisure. Aptly named the 'Yoga Capital of the World', Rishikesh is a great place to relax and seek a little enlightenment. In your free time, why not visit The Beatles Ashram – a spiritual retreat inhabited by the famous band in the sixties. In the evening, perhaps take a stroll along the holy Ganges River as temple bells ring and the nightly fire ritual of Ganga Aarti begins.
Day 9 - Rishikesh
This morning, get among the relaxing vibes of Rishikesh and take part in a one-hour yoga class. Afterwards, perhaps tuck into a masala dosa for breakfast before walking or riding it off on one of the trails along the Ganges. For something more adventurous there is the option to white-water raft down the Ganges. In the afternoon, reunite with your group for a walk through the jungle nearby. Tonight, experience sleeping under the stars just outside of Rishikesh, you’ll be staying in a fixed campsite with twin-shared tents and western-style toilets surrounded by nature and mountain views.
Day 10 - Delhi
Have a chilled morning at your campsite before returning to Rishikesh where you’ll be able to use a day room to freshen up and have a shower. Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around Rishikesh before catching an evening train (approximately 5 hours) back to Delhi.
Day 11 - Hyderabad
Fly to Hyderabad for the second half of your trip. The flight and local transfers are included in the cost of the trip. Please note you will not be escorted by your North India tour leader on the transfers and the flight. This morning, say goodbye to some of your crew who may not be joining you for the second stage of the trip, and take a flight from Delhi to Hyderabad, the capital of southern India's Telangana state. At 6 pm, you’ll get to meet your new leader and travel friends. There’s much to see in this busy tech-focused city. Check out the Golconda Fort and its well-manicured gardens, head to Hussain Sagar – a heart-shaped lake with a large standing Buddha statue, and pick up a delicious biryani on your travels. Once you’ve had your important meeting, get the gang together and tuck into some local food! Your group leader will know a great place to go.
Day 12 - Hyderabad
This morning, take a walking tour of Hyderabad with your leader to get your bearings and learn a little bit more about this southern Indian city. You’ll also get the chance during the day to discover the weird and wonderful world of Bollywood with a visit Ramoji Film City. This 2000 acres of land is the largest integrated film city and the largest studio complex in the world. It can accommodate up to 20 film units at one time, with various shooting locations such as a London street, Japanese gardens, an airport, a hospital, and even a laboratory.
Day 13 - Hyderabad - Overnight Train
Today, take a visit with your group to Charminar, also known as the Four Minarets. Constructed in 1591, this monument and mosque has become an icon of Hyderabad, and provides an area where locals Islamic communities come together in the surrounding markets to celebrate events and festivals. The afternoon is free for you to explore, and a perfect opportunity to take up one of the optional activities on offer, like a visit to the Golcanda Fort and the Salar Jung museum. This evening, be ready to take an overnight train to Chennai.
Day 14 - Puducherry
Arrive in the morning to Chennai, and then take a private vehicle to Pondicherry via Mamallapuram. You’ll have time to see the sights of Mamallapuram, including the striking granite structure of the Shore Temple overlooking the Bay of Bengal, the ancient carvings of Arjuna’s Penance and the Pancha Rathas (Five Rathas). These five Hindu temples clustered in the southern end of the city are extraordinary examples of structures carved from single large rocks in the 7th century, fully hidden in the sand until they were excavated by the British around 200 years ago. Afterwards, arrive in coastal Puducherry and perhaps relax with a coconut curry. The total driving time today is approximately 5 hours.
Day 15 - Puducherry
The city of Puducherry (Pondicherry) has a strong French influence, seeing it was a French colonial settlement in India until 1954. Explore this cultural mix on a sightseeing walk with your group leader and visiting the French quarter, as well as Arbindo Ashram and Ganesh Temple. During your free time take a walk along the Beach Promenade.
Day 16 - Madurai
Today, take a local bus from Pondicherry to Villupuram (approximately 2 hours), and then a 6-hour train journey to Madurai. Once arrived and checked-in, take a leader-led orientation walk around Madurai city, where you’ll spend the rest of tomorrow exploring. This evening your leader can take you on an optional walk through Madurai market, where you can try crispy dosas, flaky parotta (flatbread) and jigarthanda (Madurai’s answer to a lassi). You might even witness the art of a chai walla (chai street vendor) seamlessly pouring between the jug and cup, and putting on a bit of a show while preparing your drink.
Day 17 - Madurai - Overnight Train
Wake up in Madurai and go check out the historic Meenakshi Temple, located on the banks of the Vaigai River. It’s colourful and ornate structures are definitely worth a photo. Otherwise, there is the option to visit the National Gandhi Museum, housing important artefacts of Ghandi, as the city of Madurai played an important part of his journey. Make sure you take some time to relax today, as you will board an overnight train bound for Mysore (approximately 14 hours).
Day 18 - Bandipur
Arrive in Mysore in the morning (approximately 10 am), and head directly to the ornate Mysore Palace. This is the official royal residence of the Wadiyar dynasty and is the seat of the Kingdom of Mysore. It dominates the skyline of the city and is a clear example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Afterwards, head by private transport to Bandipur (approximately 1.5 hours). On the way, stop by your local driver’s home for a biryani lunch. Delicious!
Day 19 - Coonoor
This morning, head out and take up an included safari in the Bandipur National Park. The park covers 874 square kilometres and has many endangered animal and plant species in its boundaries. The park is well-known for spotting elephants and tigers, as well as macaque, civet, giant flying squirrel, striped hyena and leopard, to name a few. After your park safari has come to an end, travel by private vehicle for around 2 hours to the highland district of Coonoor.
Day 20 - Coonoor
Coonoor is in the heart of India’s tea plantations and one of the three Nilgiri hill stations, along with Ooty and Kotagiri. The actual township of Coonoor is a colourful and bustling place perched on the hillside. Today, enjoy a ride on the famous toy train ride on the mountain railway line, passing through the other Nilgiri hill stations, and enjoying the mountainous scenery along the way. Also included today is a visit to one of the surrounding tea plantations, where you’ll get to walk through the estate and learn more about the process of tea making and have a taste, of course.
Day 21 - Kochi
This morning say goodbye to Coonoor before taking a private vehicle to Coimbatore (approximately 2.5 hours). Around mid-day, we embark on a five hour train journey to Kochi – a major port city on India’s southwest coast.
Day 22 - Kochi
This morning we explore Kochi on a leader-led sightseeing tour of Kochi, where you’ll pass the Dutch Palace, the Jewish synagogue and the unique sight of shore operated lift nets, more commonly known as Chinese fishing nets. There is also the opportunity to book into an optional cooking class or to learn the art of Kathakali dance. Ask your group leader for more information if this interests you.
Day 23 - Kochi
With no activities planned for the final day, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time. That doesn’t mean that your adventure has to end! There is a selection of Urban Adventures tours that may interest you, including Aromas of Kochi – a sightseeing experience around the Fort Kochi area, visiting a pappadum factory, among other highlights. Visit urbanadventures.com/destination/Kochi-tours for more information.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
03-11-202125-11-2021AUD $ 2,585-

Accommodation

Homestay (1 nights),Hotel (16 nights),Lodge (1 night),Overnight sleeper train (4 nights)

Transport

Auto rickshaw,Cycle rickshaw,Jeep,Public bus,Private vehicle,Train,Overnight sleeper train,Metro,Shuttle bus,Taxi

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