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India Encompassed
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From the beautiful symmetry of the Taj Mahal to the unforgettable backwaters of Kerala, this comprehensive Indian journey is a photographer's delight. Sail along the sacred Ganges River in Varanasi and explore Abhaneris carved stepwells in the North before flying south to search for tigers in the wild and exotic spices in relaxed hill stations. With an intriguing combination of included activities and free time, city streets and rural spirit, you're sure to gain an understanding of the people and some insight into this fascinating land.

  • Duration: 28 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of:
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: AHHE/126379
  • Starts: Delhi, India
  • Finishes: Kerala Backwaters, India
You will Visit
  • Delhi
  • Kochi

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Delhi

Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included through the G Adventures-supported Women on Wheels project.

02

Day 2: Delhi

Enjoy a youth-led morning walk through Delhi by G Adventures-supported City Walk project. Later, visit Old Delhi, explore the spice markets, and visit Jama Masjid and Connaught Place.
Enjoy a youth-led walking tour of Delhi with G Adventures-supported project, City Walk. This tour offers a unique perspective of Delhi while supporting at-risk youth.

Later, visit Delhi's famous Jama Masjid (Great Mosque) and climb the minaret for a bird's eye view of the Old City. Walk through Chandni Chowk, one of India's oldest and busiest markets, and learn the history of the Sikh religion at the important Gurdwara, (Sikh place of worship) Gurdwara SisGanj. Stop for photos at the colourful spice market before finishing at the Victorian Connaught Place, one of the most prominent architectural remnants of British rule.

03

Day 3: Delhi/Jaipur

Arrive in Jaipur and explore this gorgeous 'pink city'.
Drive to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan and start exploring. Opt to visit the Jantar Mantar, or Royal Observatory. Don't miss the opprtunity to see a Bollywood film at the famous Art Deco Raj Mandir cinema.

04

Day 4: Jaipur

Stop and take a photo of the 'Palace of the Winds' and wander the organized streets of the 'Pink City'. Later, enjoy a visit to the Amber Fort, famous for its mixture of Hindu and Muslim architecture.
Head out to visit the ruined city of Amber, the former capital of Jaipur state. Stop and take a photo of the Hawa Mahal palace complex, elaborate formal gardens, and a small lake.

05

Day 5: Jaipur/Dhula Village

Travel to Dhula Village and get a closer look at rural life in Rajasthan during a cycling excursion. Tonight opt to relax by the fire and take in the starry night sky.
Tonight's accommodation is in spacious and comfortable tents outfitted with beds, lamps, and simple en suite bathrooms.

06

Day 6: Dhula Village/Āgra

Opt for an early morning hike to a ruined fortress. Later, stop by the impressive Abhaneri stepwell en route to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

07

Day 7: Āgra

Visit the famous Taj Mahal, Baby Taj, and Agra Fort.
Visit the sparkling Taj Mahal for sunrise then stick around to explore (if the light is better around sunset, we may visit later in the day instead). Later, visit the walled city of Agra Fort by cycle-rickshaw and the I'timad-ud-Daulah, or the Baby Taj.

08

Day 8: Āgra/Alīpura

Travel to Alipura and stay in a heritage property in the village.
Leave early and travel along typically rough Indian roads to Alipura, a friendly village which will be our base for two days.
Here, stay in a heritage property with time to wander the town and interact with locals.

09

Day 9: Alīpura

Enjoy a day trip to Khajuraho to visit the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, India's largest group of medieval temples, known for their kama sutra statues.
Travel 1.5 hrs to Khajuraho, one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Learn the history of these world-famous temples on a guided tour and enjoy a taste of a little erotica from the Middle Ages.
After, opt to visit a nearby waterfall (seasonal) or watch an evening dance performance.

10

Day 10: Alīpura/Orchha

Visit Orchha, a quiet rural town along the banks of the Betwa River and enjoy a puja ceremony. Visit a unique paper-making plant en route, set up to assist tribal women from the area.
En route to Orchha, visit a unique paper making plant, set up to assist tribal women from the area. All the paper is made from recycled clothing and wood pulp. Continue on to Orchha and enjoy an orientation tour of this small town. Set on the banks of the Betwa River, it is the perfect antidote to the chaos of India's cities. Later, attend an evening puja ceremony at the Ram Raja Temple.

11

Day 11: Orchha/Varanasi

Visit the Orchha Palace complex and enjoy free time before the overnight train to Varanasi. Opt for a local cooking class with a family.

12

Day 12: Varanasi

Take an orientation walk through the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. Marvel at the ghats from the River Ganges as you enjoy boat trips at sunrise and sunset.
Disembark the train in legendary Varanasi, the quintessential Indian holy city where millions of Hindus visit for pilgrimage, to worship, to mourn, or to die.

There is time here to shop, wander, and absorb the atmosphere of this unique city, while optional activities include the monasteries and ruins of nearby Sarnath, the site of the Buddha's first sermon.

13

Day 13: Varanasi

Watch the sunrise from a boat along the Ganges. Enjoy free time in this holy city.

14

Day 14: Varanasi/Delhi

Cut out the travel time with an afternoon flight back to Delhi.

15

Day 15: Delhi/Kochi

Fly to Kochi. In the evening, meet your South India CEO and some new group members.
Transfer to the airport and fly to Kochi. In the evening, there will be a welcome meeting for new travellers joining the group.

16

Day 16: Kochi

Take a orientation walk to the Dutch Palace, Jewish synagogue, and town. Enjoy a kathakali performance.
Enjoy an early morning orientation tour of Fort Kochi. Enjoy free time to explore before an evening performance of kathakali, a form of traditional dancing from Kerala.

17

Day 17: Kochi/Kalpetta

Take a morning train followed by a scenic drive to reach Kalpetta, in the Wayanad district.

18

Day 18: Kalpetta

Walk the nature trails in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and prehistoric Eddakal Caves.
Here, we go on nature trails in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and visit the Edakkal Caves, which are believed to have been a shelter of neolithic people.

19

Day 19: Kalpetta/Mudumalai

Spend the night at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary provides one of the most important refuges for elephants and bison in India.
We leave the hills for the plains, and stop for the night at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.

Spend part of the afternoon on a short safari and spot the variety of wildlife within the park.

20

Day 20: Mudumalai/Mysore

Visit the Chamundi Temple and Mysore Palace.
Imagine life as a Maharaja on a guided tour of the Mysore Palace. Later, join the throngs of pilgrims at Chamundi Hills, with its temple on top, and Nandi the Bull (ridden by the Hindu god Shiva) a short walk below.

In your free time, visit the Devaraja fruit and vegetable market or join a yoga class at one of the many local institutes.

Opt to drive to Somnathpur, home to one of the most famous Hoysala Temples in India.

21

Day 21: Mysore/Māmallapuram

Enjoy a full day of train travel to Chennai before a short bus ride to Mamallapuram. Visit the Shore Temple.
Arrive by train to Chennai before continuing south for a short ride to the small village of Mamallapuram. Visit the 7th century Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

22

Day 22: Māmallapuram

Free time to explore Mamallapuram.

23

Day 23: Māmallapuram/Puducherry

Continue to Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry) and learn about Sri Aurobindo Ghose at the ashram.
In the morning, drive to Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry), formerly the the largest French Colony in India and an important trading town. There is a strong French influence in the city's layout, with wide boulevards and French-style houses, but the city is undoubtedly Indian.

24

Day 24: Puducherry/Madurai

Travel inland to Madurai, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

25

Day 25: Madurai

Hope on a cycle rickshaw for a tour of the city before visiting the famous Meenakshi Temple.
After visiting the temple complex, opt to visit the handicraft shops or duck into the cool shade of the covered, stone tailor's market where, for a few rupees, rows of expert tailors will whip you up a custom shirt in minutes, all done on antique foot-pump sewing machines. In the late evening, opt to visit the Meenakshi Temple again for a glimpse of the nighttime rituals.

26

Day 26: Madurai/Periyār Sanctuary

Drive to Thekkady. Take a guided tour of spice plantations in the Cardamom Hills.
Thekkady, adjacent to Periyar National Park, is the spice capital of India. On arrival, enjoy a guided tour of the spice plantations and a tea factory.

Opt for a boat ride on the Periyar Lake.

27

Day 27: Periyār Sanctuary/Kerala Backwaters

Take a private bus to Alleppey followed by a riverboat to a homestay. Experience local life and a guided walk along the lagoon.
Travel down to the backwaters from Thekkady to catch a private boat for the short journey to the village homestay.

In the afternoon, explore the island with a local person to observe the different facets of local life — it's a great opportunity to meet and talk with the people who live in this unique location.

Just before sunset, hop on a small country boat and journey along with the locals to enjoy sunset on the winding backwaters.

28

Day 28: Kerala Backwaters/Kochi

Travel back to Kochi where the trip ends upon arrival.
The morning is spent enjoying the last of our host family's hospitality. Learn to cook some of the wonderful food, watch the toddy tappers at work, or wander around the village and explore more of the life on the backwaters.

Depart the homestay and travel back to Kochi. The trip ends on arrival to Kochi in the early afternoon.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • G Adventures for Good: Women on Wheels Transfer, Indira Gandhi International Airport G Adventures for Good: City Walk, Delhi Local Living: Kerala Backwaters Homestay, Alleppey
    • Old Delhi walk with stops at the Jama Masjid, Gurduwara, Chandni Chowk, spice markets, and Connaught Place
    • Amber Fort tour (Jaipur)
    • Rajasthani rural village stay
    • Village cycling excursion (Dhula Village)
    • Taj Mahal and I’timad-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj) entrance
    • Agra Fort entrance and guided tour
    • Orchha Palace complex visit
    • Western Temple complex visit
    • Ganges River boat trips at sunrise and sunset, including candle flower ceremony
    • Fort Kochi orientation walk
    • Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary walk
    • Mudumalai NP safari
    • Chaumundi Temple and Mysore Palace visit
    • Mamallapuram Shore Temple visit
    • Pondicherry orientation walk
    • Madurai cycle-rickshaw ride and Sri Meenakshi temple visit
    • Cardamom Hills spice plantation tour
    • Internal flights
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    Accommodation
    • Hotels/guesthouses (24 nts), comfortable tented camp (1 nt), sleeper train (1 nt), homestay (1 nt, multi-share)
    • 3 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
    Transport
    • Train, local bus, private vehicle, auto-rickshaw, camel cart, boat, plane
    Group Leader
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides
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Tour Highlights:
  • Discover ancient forts and temples
  • Revel in the beauty of Agra's Taj Mahal
  • Sail the Ganges in venerable Varanasi
  • Stay with the locals in the Kerala backwaters
  • Smell spices at a plantation in the Cardamom Hills


Reviews (10)
Harpreet D Posted on: 

An intense trip with a lot of travelling but very well worth it. If you are restricted for time its the best way to see India without breaking the bank.

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Patricia S Posted on: 

The combination of the northern loop and the southern loop gave me all I could have hoped for in a month -- and the order of the two was great. The frenetic pace of the north followed by the laid back feeling in the south left me feeling I could easily return to India

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Theresa B Posted on: 

I truly enjoyed the variety of locations & activities. I really felt I left India with a mind full of amazing memories and it was wonderful to have a small glance into the rich history and culture that is India.

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Jean M Posted on: 

To me India was something special. I had a tight schedule and not too much time to prepare my trip. I like adventure and in the past I traveled mainly by myself. I was kind of prejudiced against organized trips. But G Adventures changed my whole perception about the thing. I really enjoyed myself. For once I didn't have to worry about means of transportation or finding a place to sleep or to eat. The days were filled with discoveries and joy. Above all I made many new friends and really enjoyed sharing such an experience with other people.

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Amy W Posted on: 

India Encompassed really did include everything that I wanted on my first adventure to India. The combination of the north and south truly allowed an excellent opportunity to experience different aspects of India. The north was hectic, intense but stunningly beautiful. The south was the perfect antidote to the north. A much needed change of pace. What an experience. Thank you!

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Marjorie M Posted on: 

I was very pleased by the diversity of experiences offered by the tour and the well thought out itinerary. The tour leaders were excellent and the transportation and hotels exceeded my expectations.

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Jessica A Posted on: 

We've been backpacking in a lot of countries and I was not prepared for the luxury we had in this trip. I totally loved it. My own towel, some places had swimming pools and even the rooms where very nice. I think I couldn't have made this trip any better myself. I enjoyed the group and it was nice to have some free time once in a while, you could be cultural or just relax.

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Keith P Posted on: 

Both the tour leaders on this trip were very knowledgeable and efficient. The tour was well organised with plenty of activities to do every day.

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Gabriela B Posted on: 

The trip was beyond fantastic and if I could I would do it all over again. The trip was great mostly due to very knowledgeable and friendly tour leader Jai (Jaivardhan) Singh. Thumbs up for Jai, he made this trip an experience to remember not just another vacation.

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Megan G Posted on: 

Awe inspiring! I fell in love with India and can't wait to go back!

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