Iconic India - India
India is an incredible country: from north to south, it brims with natural diversity and cultural riches. On this spectacular journey, discover iconic sights like Delhi’s Jama Mosque, the glorious Taj Mahal, and Rajasthan’s grand forts and palaces. Then head to the luxuriant Malabar coast to explore the fragrant spice plantations and jungle-fringed backwaters of Kerala. Meet with artisans, fishermen, and villagers along the way, and witness ancient crafts and traditions that continue to thrive.
Day 1 Delhi
Arrive at any time; your arrival transfer is included through Women With Wheels, a G Adventures–supported project.
Day 2 DELHI/AGRA
Set out to discover Delhi, the capital of India, which consists of two cities: historic Delhi and New Delhi, built by the British in the early 20th century. Explore New Delhi’s lively Paharganj district with a youth guide from the G Adventures–supported City Walk project, and hear about how the program provides opportunities to disadvantaged street youth. Then delve into the narrow, winding lanes of Old Delhi, visiting the 17th-century Jama Masjid—the largest mosque in India—and the Sikh temple Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, located close to a busy shopping area. Drive to Agra this afternoon.
Day 3 AGRA
Spend the day in historic Agra, which served as the capital of the Delhi sultanate and later of the Mughal Empire. Discover the Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; widely considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, this breathtaking mausoleum was built by the emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Afterward, visit the exquisite tomb of Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather, often referred to as the “baby Taj,” and explore Agra Fort, an impressive red sandstone citadel which conceals palaces of white marble within.
Day 4 AGRA/JAIPUR
Travel to Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan. On the way, stop at the magnificent Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri, a masterpiece of red sandstone, and hear about its fascinating history. The emperor Akbar built a short-lived capital here in the 16th century to honour a Muslim saint from the village of Sikri who had predicted the birth of his son, Jehangir. Then visit the Rajasthani village of Abhaneri for a walk around the Chand Baori—an ornately decorated stepwell or water tank constructed over a thousand years ago—learning about ancient Indian methods of water conservation.
Day 5 Jaipur
Explore Jaipur, known as the “Pink City” for its rose-coloured buildings. Take a tour of the sprawling Amber Fort, the former residence of Jaipur’s Rajput rulers; and visit Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building with distinctive honeycombed windows. We’ll also meet with a local historian to discuss India’s complex social fabric, customs, and architecture. Tonight, consider going to the cinema to watch a Bollywood movie—a truly unique experience.
Day 6 Jaipur/Pachewar
Drive to the rural village of Pachewar, where we stay in a beautiful heritage home. Exploring this traditional community is like stepping back in time: walk and meet with local residents, observing potters, silversmiths, and cobblers at work; wander amid old temples and mud homes, perhaps witnessing a cooking demonstration; and note how urbanization and modernization have altered village life.
Day 7 Pachewar/Delhi
Drive back to bustling Delhi. This evening, opt to join the group for a farewell dinner.
Day 8 Delhi/Kochi
Fly to the port city of Kochi. Settle into your hotel and enjoy free time to relax the rest of the day. Opt to catch the sunset over the Arabian Sea, framed by hundreds of boats and fishing nets.
Day 9 Kochi/Thekkady
Set out to explore Kochi, an enchanting port city on the Malabar Coast and the site of the first European settlement in India. Visit Mattancherry Palace—built in the mid-16th century by Portuguese colonists and expanded later on by the Dutch—and venture to the colourful streets of the Jewish Quarter, where antique shops and cafés abound. Then travel to Thekkady, the spice capital of India, and tour a spice and tea plantation with a local expert to understand the medicinal value of the region’s signature spices—from cardamom and nutmeg to vanilla and turmeric—as well as the process of producing black tea, India’s favorite drink.
Day 10 Thekkady
Thekkady is also home to Periyar National Park, one of India’s most celebrated elephant reserves. This morning, enjoy a boat ride on the stunning Periyar Lake, looking out for elephants, deer, monkeys, and a variety of rare birds. Afterward, visit the home of a local family for a cooking demonstration and a delicious, spice-filled lunch. Relax this afternoon, or opt to take a nature walk before heading to a local theatre for a performance of a kalaripayattu, an ancient Kerala martial art.
Day 11 Thekkady/Kumarakom
Continue to the lush village of Kumarakom on Vembanad Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala. Explore the rural, palm-lined backwaters of this renowned bird sanctuary and hop on a boat to Manjira village, where we’ll meet local villagers and learn about coconut farming and rural customs. Witness a fascinating toddy tapping demonstration and enjoy a refreshing swig of coconut water, straight from the tree.
Day 12 Kumarakom
This morning, meet with a representative of the Vembanad Wetlands Conservation Program to learn about the ongoing work by local communities to conserve the lake and surrounding wetlands. This project was created by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), an organization that National Geographic has collaborated with in the past. Continue by boat to a fish sanctuary established by local fishermen with support from the program, and see firsthand how their traditional ways of collecting and processing clams have become models for the sustainable management of the lake’s resources. Then venture on a private houseboat to enchanting Alleppey, a golden streak of land surrounded by rivers, lakes, lagoons, and canals. Relax on the deck and enjoy the scenery, watching daily life unfold along the water.
Day 13 Kumarakom/Kochi
Drive back to Kochi and take a walk in Fort Kochi, a delightful seaside district with vestiges of Portugese, Dutch, and British colonial architecture. Visit a local fish market and explore a maze of stalls selling fresh seafood. This evening, attend a performance of kathakali, the classical dance-drama of Kerala which combines storytelling with acting, dance, and martial arts.
Day 14 Kochi
Depart at any time.
Reference : GAH