Spirit of North & South India - Insight Vacations

Spirit of North and South India (Luxury Gold - Summer 2017)

Duration: 16 days Visiting: India

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Multihued cities, palaces, temples and forts give way to the lush Kerala Coast on this tour. Drifting through the peaceful tropical backwaters on your deluxe houseboat contrasts with time spent in the megacity of Mumbai. The one constant is the exemplary service, opulent hotels and unrivalled care provided throughout this Luxury Gold itinerary.

• Learn how to express emotions with the raise of an eyebrow at a vibrant performance of traditional Kathakali dance

• Stay at the Taj Lake Palace, set in a majestic location on Lake Pichola

• In Kochi, cooking instructor Nimmy Paul unveils her secrets of traditional cooking techniques

  1. Day 1

    Your Journey Begins

    Board your overnight flight (please ask about our great deals).

  2. Day 2

    Delhi, a Rich Melting Pot of Old and New

    Welcome to India! On arrival at Indira Gandhi International Airport, you are greeted with a traditional floral garland and transferred to your modern five-star hotel. Tonight, join your Travelling Concierge for a Welcome Reception with a delicious meal.

  3. Day 3 - Relaxed Start

    Delhi Sightseeing

    (Relaxed Start) Start the day with a cycle rickshaw ride through Old Delhi, including the bustling lanes of Chandni Chowk market. Stop for a photo at the impressive Red Fort, then visit the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Raj Ghat. You can also explore India's largest mosque, the magnificent Jama Masjid, built by Shah Jahan in 1650. Afterwards, tour the wide boulevards of New Delhi. Drive along the ceremonial Rajpath, past the imposing India Gate and Parliament House. See Qutub Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit the Tomb of Emperor Humayun, one of the best-preserved Mughal monuments in Delhi.

  4. Day 4

    An Agra Adventure

    On arrival to Agra, witness the hustle and bustle of everyday life as you make your way through the city to Agra Fort, a powerful fortress of red sandstone. After your tour through the palatial Royal Pavilions and gardens, there is free time to relax. Later, walk through a village in the shadow of the Taj Mahal with one of the villagers to discover the way of life as agriculturists next to India's most famous monument. Enjoy tea and pakoras on a rooftop with exceptional views.

  5. Day 5

    The Taj Mahal and The Princely Park of Ranthambore

    In the morning, admire the lustrous Taj Mahal, bathed by the first rays of dawn. Later journey to the historic city of Bharatpur and stop for lunch, before continuing to the station for the rail journey to Ranthambore. On arrival, transfer to your luxurious hotel, built in the style of a traditional Rajput hunting palace, nestled in the foot hills of the Aravalli Range, near the Ranthambore National Park.

  6. Day 6

    In Search of Tigers in Ranthambore

    Early morning journey into the former private hunting grounds of the Maharajahs of Jaipur, in search of the elusive tiger. More commonly seen in the dry, deciduous forest are the wild boars, monkeys, spotted deers and antelopes but if you are ever going to witness tigers in their natural habitat, this is the place. Return to your resort for breakfast and the day at leisure. At dusk, enjoy another foray into the national park with an expert naturalist. Besides the wildlife, there are also lake palaces, ‘chhatris', old fortifications and a majestic 1,000-year-old fort within the park.

  7. Day 7

    Jaipur, the 'Pink City'

    Embark on another exciting adventure game in the morning, into the territory of the majestic tiger— every wildlife enthusiast and photographer's dream. After lunch, drive through the rural countryside where flat, green fields are abundant with brightly coloured flowers. Your destination is the stunning Rajasthan capital of Jaipur. Later, join the Meena tribe and learn about their way of life and farming rituals before enjoying dinner at a local restaurant.

  8. Day 8 - Relaxed Start

    Jaipur Sightseeing

    (Relaxed Start) Experience a typical morning for most Hindus with a puja at one of the most important Krishna Temples in the country, Govind Dev Ji temple. Then, visit the vegetable market and try your hand at bargaining with the stall holders. Enjoy a unique excursion, as you ascend by jeep to the Amber Fort, a superb example of Rajput architecture, with its terraces and ramparts reflected in the Maota Lake below. Inside, the royal halls are decorated with intricate ivory, mirrors and glass, complemented by exquisite wall paintings. Back in Jaipur, see the famous ‘Hawa Mahal' (The Palace of Winds) and visit the City Palace, now a museum housing a fabulous collection of Rajasthani and Mughal Art. A final stop is made at the famous Jantar Mantar, the observatory, constructed between 1727 and 1734 by Maharajah Jai Singh II. Back at the hotel you, are at leisure.

  9. Day 9

    Jaipur-Mumbai-Kochi

    In the morning, board your flight to Mumbai and onto Kochi. On arrival, transfer to your sophisticated hotel, offering panoramic views of the backwaters and the city.

  10. Day 10

    Kochi sightseeing, cooking school and Kathakali

    Sightseeing of Kochi shows you the oldest Jewish synagogue in the commonwealth. Next, witness the renowned mythological murals of Mattancherry Palace, built in 1557 by the Portuguese. Stop by India’s oldest European-built Church of St. Francis to see the tombstone of Vasco de Gama, interred here before his remains were returned back to Lisbon. Meet Nimmy a local cookery instructor as she demonstrates traditional Kerala home recipes. Then feast on some of the delicious treats during our included lunch. In the evening, you will attend a performance of traditional Kathakali dance.

  11. Day 11 - Relaxed Start

    Kumarakom

    (Relaxed Start) Witness glorious scenery en route to Kumarakom. On arrival, the rest of the day is free to explore.

  12. Day 12 - Relaxed Start

    Kumarakom and Vaikom Village

    (Relaxed Start) For those who want to rise early in the morning, there is an included bird watching tour at Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. Set within lush acres of woodland, become acquainted with the vast variety of migratory birds, that flock to the Himalayas. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Guided by boat, explore the narrow canals of Vaikom village, one of the oldest townships in Kerela and with many spots untouched by modernity. Gain insight into the life at the village and try your skills at weaving from wild pineapple leaves or coconut husks, before sharing lunch at a local’s home.

  13. Day 13 - Relaxed Start

    Kumarakom and the Alleppey Backwaters

    (Relaxed Start) Transfer to the local jetty to board your delux houseboat for a cruise on the backwaters of Alleppey. Journey through waterways that traverse past picturesque villages, fields brimming with ripe paddy and rows of swaying coconut palms. Relax, enjoy the tranquil setting and prepare for a luxurious night on-board.

  14. Day 14 - Relaxed Start

    Magical Mumbai

    (Relaxed Start) Journey to Kochi for your flight to the vibrant city of Mumbai. Transfer to your hotel for leisure time, perhaps relax and enjoy the comforts and facilities of your deluxe hotel.

  15. Day 15

    Mumbai Sightseeing

    Enjoy the view of the city skyline on your cruise to Elephanta Island, the glorious abode of Lord Shiva. Visit the complex of ancient cave temples listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The massive entrance hall, supported by large pillars, houses the Mahesamurti, an enormous three-faced statue of Shiva. In the afternoon, embark on a sightseeing tour visiting the Gateway of India, commemorating the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Admire the collection of Indian paintings and sculptures at the Prince of Wales Museum, visit Jehangir Art Gallery, Crawford Market and see the meticulous Hanging Gardens on top of Malabar Hill. In the evening, enjoy a Celebration dinner with drinks.

  16. Day 16

    Depart Mumbai

    Your magical journey comes to an end with transfers to the International Airport for your onward flights.

Highlights

 

EXCLUSIVE INSIGHTS

  • Delhi: Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the bustling streets.
  • Agra: Visit the Taj Mahal, a monument of love, built by a king in memory of his beloved queen.
  • Agra: Walk through a village in the shadow of the Taj Mahal with one of the villagers to discover the way of life as agriculturists next to India's most famous monument. Enjoy tea and pakoras on a rooftop with exceptional views. Money generated from the tour is used for sanitation in the village and education for women.
  • Jaipur: Experience a typical morning for most Hindus with a puja at one of the most important Krishna Temples in the country, Govind Dev Ji temple. Then, visit the vegetable market and try your hand at bargaining with the stall holders. All food items purchased will be donated to a local orphanage.
  • Agra: Inside Agra’s red sandstone fortress, witness the fairytale palaces, audience halls and mosques of the Mughal rulers.
  • Ranthambore: Venture inside this former royal hunting ground and enjoy three game safaris with a naturalist.
  • Amber Fort: Ascend by jeep to stroll through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Enjoy the shimmering mirrored walls and ceilings, the airy rooms that housed queens and concubines, and the wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Vaikom: Guided by boat, explore the narrow canals of Vaikom village, one of the oldest townships in Kerela and with many spots untouched by modernity.
  • Kochi: Attend a performance of traditional Kathakali dance.
  • Kumarakom: Rise early for a fascinating bird watching experience at the Bird Sanctuary.
  • Alleppey: Cruise the glorious backwaters and spend the night on a traditional houseboat.
  • Mumbai: Cruise to Elephanta Island, the glorious abode of Lord Shiva and visit the complex of ancient cave temples.
  • Delhi: Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through the lanes of the Chandni Chowk Bazaar. Stop for a photo of the Red Fort. Visit the Gandhi memorial at Raj Ghat. See the Qutub Minar tower. Drive along the Rajpath to see the India Gate and Parliament House. Visit the Tomb of the Emperor Humayun.
  • Agra: Group picture taken at the Taj Mahal.
  • Jaipur: Enjoy a Jaipur city tour including a visit to the City Palace Museum housing traditional Rajasthani and Mughal Art. Visit the Jantar Mantar the Royal observatory built in 1726. See the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds).

EPICUREAN DINING

  • Delhi: Enjoy a taste of Jalebi, the favourite sweet and learn about its production from the one of the best candy wallahs in the old town.
  • Jaipur: Spend some time with the Meena tribe, before continuing on to Dera Amer where your Highlight Dinner awaits.
  • Jaipur: Savour a delicious Celebration Dinner with wine.
  • Mumbai: Showcasing the best of Indian cuisine, our mouth-watering Gala Dinner with drinks in the nation's largest city is the perfect environment to celebrate your time in India.
  • Kochi: Meet Nimmy a local cookery instructor as she demonstrates traditional Kerala home recipes. Then feast on some of the delicious treats you've seen being made during our included lunch.
  • 14 Buffet Breakfasts (BB), 5 Lunches (L), 1 Highlight Lunch (HL), 1 Afternoon Tea (AT), 3 Dinners (D) and 1 Highlight Dinner (HD); plus 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 1 Dinner (DW) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD) all with wine, beer or soft-drinks. 23 Dec: This departure has a Christmas Highlight Dinner included

HIGHLIGHT HOTELS AND LOCATIONS

  • Agra: The Trident by Oberoi is the perfect base to experience this city steeped in history. The hotel features tastefully appointed rooms which overlook the central courtyard and gardens and offers a superb range of facilities.
  • Ranthambore: The luxurious Nahargarh lies nestled at the foot hills of Aravalli Range neighbouring the Ranthambore National Park. The hotel boasts luxurious rooms, modern facilities and a superb restaurant offering global cuisine.
  • Jaipur: Located close to the famous Amber Fort, the Trident by Oberoi offers stunning views of the Mansagar lake and Jal Mahal. The rooms are tastefully appointed and offer all the modern amenities.

OUTSTANDING HOTELS

  • Kumarakom: Winner of the World Travel Award as India's Leading Resort for four years, the Lake Resort exudes the charm of Kerala's true heritage while offering a complete range of New Age amenities for a luxuriously comfortable stay

INCLUSIVE LUXURY GOLD SERVICES

  • Be escorted by the crème de la crème of Insight Travelling Concierges - handpicked for every departure. This skilled guide will act as consummate organiser and be your 'friend in a foreign land'.
  • Enjoy the unique comfort of Insight's luxury air-conditioned 40-seat coach, with extended leg room and an on-board restroom. It's Business Class comfort, complete with complimentary bottled water for you to enjoy during your luxury coaching tour. (Alternate coaches and vehicles, without on-board facilities or 40 seats, may be used on occasion).
  • Personal radio headsets, gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights without missing any of your local expert’s fascinating insights and commentaries (Available on groups for 8 or more).
  • At every hotel, you'll be treated to seamless baggage handling with prompt delivery to inside your door.
  • Hotel and restaurant tips are included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus, we include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
  • Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi (where available).
  • With Insight Flourishes, from time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.
  • Included airport transfers between the airport and your Insight tour hotels.

Accommodation

 

Hyatt Regency New Delhi

New Delhi (Central) - India

Trident by Oberoi Hotels Agra

Agra (Scenic) - India

Trident by Oberoi, Agra

Nahargarh Ranthambore

Ranthambore (Scenic) - India

Nahargarh, the most luxurious hotel lies nestled at the foot hills of 'Aravali ranges' neighbouring the Ranthambore National Park. Surrounded by a 16th century style fortress, Nahargarh is built like a traditional Rajput hunting palace complete with a vast "Char Bagh" or formal Mughal garden.

Cruising

(Crusie) - India

Trident by Oberoi Hotels Jaipur

Jaipur (Scenic) - India

Trident by Oberoi, Jaipur

Crowne Plaza Kochi

Kochi (Traditional) - India

Kumarakom Lake Resort Kumarakon

Kumarakon (Resort) - India

Winner of the World Travel Award as India’s Leading Resort for four years, the Kumarakom Lake Resort exudes the charm of Kerala’s true heritage while offering a complete range of New Age amenities for a luxuriously comfortable stay.

Trident Nariman Point Mumbai

Mumbai (Traditional) - India

Guest Reviews & Experiences

Our guests rate us 4.5 out of 5 based on
493 independent user reviews received during the past year.

  • 08 May, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Lots of variety - old and new, rich and poor - I felt like we experienced a lot!

    Service: Great accommodation. Good tour guide - helpful in lots of little ways, added extra where he could. Great Local Guides - very knowledgeable and friendly. The internet on the bus up north was fabulous!! - please add to the southern part of the tour if you can.

  • 21 April, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: All round good experience and service.

    Service: Took me where I wanted to go in luxury.

  • 07 April, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Almost all was fine with exception that on some days the tour tried to push too much into one day, leaving too little time to enjoy what we were trying to see. This was particularly true of the day in Mumbai where we were rushed through the Gandhi museum and the city museum. I suggest that maybe adding another day to the tour to allow a reasonable time to visit the sites would be in order.

    Service: I would definitely book another Luxury Gold tour. Representatives were on time, knowledgeable and courteous.

  • 07 April, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Would have liked more time in Jaipur. Would have also liked better information on the free time and amenities at the nice resorts in the South.

    Service: Not sure what you include under service - 1. trying to find information about the trip on your outdated website was frustrating at times. Calling to inquire was not helpful since the nice people answering the phone wanted to be helpful but they had never been on the specific trip. However, the trip itself was excellent since we had an excellent guide (Devender).

  • 25 March, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Well planned iternary...only complaint is the inferior quality of our houseboat excursion...old boat ....terrible bed , poor food. Most every day was exciting and full of surprises.

    Service: Hotels were amazing as was our guide "..events chosen were also good.

  • 24 March, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: I liked the tour, guides, people, hotel and food. The only waiste of time was looking for a tigar since the chance was slim.

    Service: The over night boat ride didn't give us the same food as the other 2 boats. The chicken was burned making it impossible to eat. We weren't served fruit like the others. My shower wouldn't work. I spunge bathed from the sink. The bus that picked us up in Mumbai was dirty. We were on the bus ready to go but the bus wouldn't start so we waited for another bus. These events didn't represent luxury gold. Taj, our tour guide was amazing! I would highly recommend touring with him.

  • 17 March, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Excellent sights, hotels, food and Tour Guide

    Service: Sights, hotels, food, and Tour Director were all excellent.

  • 10 March, 2018

    TRIP:
    SERVICE:

    Trip: Loved the first half of the itinerary in the north, although would have perhaps liked a little more time in the hotels to enjoy the beautiful amenities. The second half of the itinerary was very pretty and we loved the different experiences. We felt that some of the churches and synagogue were not that necessary to see and could easily have had that time to relax. Our travel guide Taj, was exceptional and extremely knowledgeable. He smoothed out the bumps and twists and turns on the way. He did an amazing job and we couldn't praise him enough. We appreciated the driver or co-driver always at the door of the coach to hand out the hand sanitiser when we returned from being off the bus. All in all, a wonderful holiday.

    Service: Everything was well organised and the staff we dealt with were very efficient.

NB: Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking.
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All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however is subject to change, please confirm all details at time of booking. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions page.