Best of India: Taj Mahal, Rajasthan & Kerala

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Best of India: Taj Mahal, Rajasthan & Kerala

4,995.00 6,295.00

15 DAYS / 14 NIGHTS

2 Nights at Oberoi New Delhi
1 Night at Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra
2 Nights at Rambagh Palace, Jaipur
1 Night at Raas, Jodhpur
2 Nights at Fateh Garh, Udaipur
2 Nights at Brunton Boatyard, Kochi
2 Nights at Kumarakom Lake Resort, Kerala
2 Nights at Marari Beach Resort, Kerala

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STARTING FROM $6,295 $4,995 PER PERSON

HIGHLIGHTS

In a country as diverse as India, it’s difficult task for the first time visitor to settle on an itinerary that encompasses all of the “must-see”. While one could easily spend a month exploring the truly unmissable sites of India, we find that our “Best of India” itinerary allows travelers to experience the most important sites and destinations in two weeks. Our active journey allows for the ultimate exploration paired with India’s most deluxe yet authentic accommodations.

This 15 day, 14 night itinerary takes you from north to south, and from the geographic heart of the country to the coast. Beginning in Delhi, you will begin to discover the rich history of India and its quest for true independence that began long before the British empire. From the bustling city you’ll make your way to Agra, home of the famed (and recently restored) Taj Mahal. Staying at the Oberoi Amarvilas, your room will look directly upon the magnificent architectural feat and will provide easier access for visits at sunrise or sunset.

You’ll then head to Rajasthan, the land of colors. This vibrant state is rich in history, culture, architecture and of course food. Explore the palaces and breathtaking scenery by day, and indulge in the luxury of your exceptional hotels, all of which are either former palaces or cultural heritage sites.

The final segment of the trip takes you south to Kerala, the land of tea leaves and backwaters. Allow the pace of your journey to slow as you experience firsthand the wonders of ancient Ayurveda in the place where it all began. Enjoy the green landscapes and beaches, providing a stark contrast from your time in the northern part of the country. Discover a more traditional and perhaps more mystical side of India.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • 14 nights accommodation based on double/twin occupancy

  • Daily breakfast

  • Additional meals as specified in itinerary

  • Excursions and touring as specified in itinerary, all on private basis

  • All airport and ground transportation on private basis

  • All entrance fees as specified

  • *Not included: gratuities, visas (if applicable), international or internal flights, meals and drinks not described below, items of a personal nature


 

DETAILED ITINERARY

Oberoi Delhi Suite

Day 1

Arrival to New Delhi
Oberoi New Delhi

Welcome to India! A representative of Craft Travel, holding a sign in your name, will meet you in the arrivals area upon exiting baggage claim and escort you to your hotel.

Delhi is one of India’s most vibrant cities. It is not only a city that has played capital to various dynasties, but is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Today, apart from being at the political forefront, it also leads the country in terms of art, culture, culinary experiences, shopping, entertainment and overall standard of living. The city, like other ancient cities, is a beautiful homogeneous mix of the old and the new. Delhi is a microcosm of all that is India.

Overnight at Oberoi New Delhi (B)


humayun tomb

Day 2

Exploration of Delhi
Oberoi New Delhi

Breakfast is at the hotel. After breakfast start your tour with a visit to Jama Masjid, India’s largest and Delhi’s most spectacular mosque. Drive past the magnificent Red Fort (Closed on Monday) – a marvel in red sandstone, built on the banks of River Yamuna by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. This fort was built on the lines of the Agra Fort and has similar architectural marvels.

From here, board pedicabs to converse the busy and crowded streets of ‘Chandini Chowk’. Literally translates Chandini Chowk mean Golden Street and used to be the main royal market for the Mughal Empire; today, this is Delhi’s largest wholesale market and represents some of the most expensive real estate. The craziness of the market can be easily ignored as you become an onlooker of life in this huge bazaar. You traverse through two main streets Khari Baoli, the largest spice market and the jeweler row of Kinari Bazaar where in small cramped little shops significant trade of gold and silver is carried out.

The pedi cabs drop you back at your vehicle and you are driven to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial – Rajghat. Located in a huge open park this monument is as peaceful and tranquil as the man himself.

This afternoon, visit the Qutub Minar, the tallest minaret in India. Built in the 12th Century, this minaret is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is made of the traditional red sandstone and marble as also seen in later Mughal architecture. The complex also has an ancient iron pillar, which is 1600 years old. While the Qutub Minar is inscribed with Koranic verses for its entire length of 237 feet, the iron pillar in the same complex is inscribed with Brahmin poetry extolling the kings of the Gupta period.

Lastly you are driven through Lutyen’s Delhi where you drive past India Gate – the memorial to the Unknown Soldier, Rashtrapati Bhawan – the Presidential Palace, the Parliament House and other beautiful buildings built by the noted British architect. This entire area of Delhi is lush, with parks, wide roads and rambling beautiful houses.

Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Overnight at Oberoi New Delhi (B)


oberoi amarvillas room view taj mahal

Day 3

Delhi to Agra & Taj Mahal
Oberoi Amarvilas

Travel distance (by car): 126 miles / 04 hours

In the morning after breakfast at hotel drive to Agra. Agra was the erstwhile capital of the Mughal Empire. Located in central India, on the banks of the Yamuna River, this city has always been very important in the country’s history. Today, it is known around the world as the home of the Taj Mahal. Unlike most other Indian cities, Agra has not grown into a large metropolis, but maintains its small town status. It is replete with monuments and places of interest.

On arrival our representative will meet and greet you and your guide will take for the sightseeing tour of Agra, beginning with a visit the Agra Fort. This fort, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the best example of Mughal architecture in India.  Spread over a mile and a half, along the banks of the Yamuna River, the fort houses various palaces, gardens and places of worship. Originally a Hindu red brick fort, this monument played home to various empires. It is under the reign of the greatest Mughal Emperor Akbar, that the fort was rebuilt with red sandstone and his grandson Shah Jahan is responsible for the look that can be seen today. The high red stone monument stretches for around one and a half miles. The palace is a notable for its smooth blending of Hindu and central Asian architectural styles. See the Diwan-i-Aam (hall of public audiences), Diwan-i-Khas (hall of private audiences), the Khas Palace, the Sheesh Mahal (palace of mirrors), the Shah Jahani Mahal (Shahjahan’s Palace), Jahangiri Mahal (Jahangir’s Palace) and the Akbari Mahal (Akbar’s palace) inside the fort.

Later sunset visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Taj Mahal. This monument is an amazing feat of human industry, a perfect example of beauty, symmetry and aesthetics. It is only once you enter the main gates and gaze upon the Taj, does the enormity of the task of building this mammoth structure impress. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjehan, this is a tribute of love for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal. As the rays of the sun hit the marble they make it glitter, and change color, reflecting stark white against a very blue sun.

Overnight at Oberoi Amarvilas (B)


Day 4

Agra to Jaipur
Rambagh Palace

Travel distance (by car): 145 miles / 5 hrs

This  morning after a leisurely breakfast you will be driven to Jaipur.  

Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II (after whom it was named), Jaipur was India’s first planned city. Jaipur was built on the classical architectural principals of Vaastu Shastra. The city was divided into blocks and for the first time there was a segregation of residential and commercial areas. The City Palace built at its heart covered almost a seventh of the area of the entire city. It is popularly known as Pink City, due the hue of the buildings across the old town.

On arrival, check in to your hotel.

Evening cooking demonstration followed by dinner. After dinner return to the hotel.

Overnight at Rambagh Palace (B, D)


Hawa Mahal

Day 5

Exploration of Jaipur
Rambagh Palace

An early breakfast is planned at the hotel, followed by sightseeing of Jaipur. The tour starts at Amber Fort with a stop at the Hawa Mahal for photographs. The Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds is a beautiful façade built for the ladies of the royal family. It is where they sat and watched the procession and festivals on the main avenue without being seen. Proceed to Amber Fort, a classic example of Hindu and Rajput architectural styles. Its large ramparts lead up to a fort that is spread over four levels, each with large courtyards. The fort houses various palaces including the summer, winter and monsoon palace as well as temple. Built on a high hill, the fort can be seen for miles and has been recently renovated.

After visiting Amber, return to Jaipur to see the City Palace. The City Palace is the residence of the erstwhile royal family but some parts including the museums are open to visitors. The palace contains various smaller palaces, which house the armory museum and the artists’ exhibition. The liveried palace staff can be seen going about their business. On display in the museum are clothes, pictures, and objects from everyday life, horse buggies and elephant Howdahs.  The intricate styling of the city palace doors, the enormous silver urns, the beautiful frescos and the lovely palaces make this an enticing place to visit.

Lastly visit an observatory built by the astronomer king Jai Singh II - the Jantar Mantar. The collection includes many architectural astronomical instruments that were used to measure time, predicting eclipses, and tracking stars, do astrological calculations & predictions and more. Fourteen large instruments are still in working condition.

Jaipur is one of the best places to shop, from bargains to high-end jewelry, carpets and objects d’art. We invite you to spend the evening shopping and strolling through the vibrant streets of this city.

Overnight at Rambagh Palace (B)


Raas jodhpur pool and exterior

Day 6

Jaipur to Jodhpur
Raas

Travel Distance (by car): 210 miles / 6 hours
This morning after an early breakfast breakfast drive to Jodhpur.

The second largest city in Rajasthan, Jodhpur has a long and valorous history involving severe hardships and battles. Founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha a Rajput King, Jodhpur became the capital of his kingdom Marwar. Located on the strategic Delhi – Gujarat road, the town prospered as a trade route. The state has always been known as a center for art and architecture, and has the monuments to prove it. Today, Jodhpur is on the jet setter circuit, a favorite for polo players and global fashion industry leaders.

On arrival check in to your hotel.

This afternoon proceed for sightseeing tour of Jodhpur visiting Mehrangarh Fort to see this breathtaking edifice perched on a 37mts high hill. Built by Rao Jodha, this fort is today one of the best museums in the country and has galleries that include Elephant howdahs, palanquins, paintings, woodcraft, textile and more. The base of the Mehrangarh hill, is surrounded by houses painted blue, to signify that Brahmins lived in them. These days even though not all houses are blue there are still a significant number and it is these that give the city its name – The Blue City of Jodhpur.

Jaswant Thada, this is an architectural landmark located in Jodhpur. It is a white marble memorial built by Sardar Singh in 1899 in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The Jaswant Thada is a traditional cremation ground of Jodhpur rulers.

After the tour return to the hotel.

Overnight at Raas (B)


fateh garh udaipur exterior

Day 7

Jodhpur to Udaipur
Fateh Garh

Travel Distance (by car):  165 miles / 5 hours
This morning after breakfast you will be driven to Udaipur.

En-route you will visit the famous Ranakpur Jain Temple. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.

In the midst of these hills lies the little town of Ranakpur, made famous by its amazing Jain Temple. The beautifully carved temple has 1444 unique pillars and 29 halls. All the relief work is done in beautiful ivory marble.

Udaipur is today considered one of the most romantic places in the world. This gem of destination is located amongst rolling hills, bedecked with sparkling lakes. Founded in 1559 by Mahrana Udai Singh II, Udaipur was the final capital of the state of Mewar. Here the king was designated caretaker and not ruler in the name of the Lord Shiva. Thus the title given to the kings here was Maharana and the current Maharana is the 76th descendent of the family. Due to its strong location, Udaipur was never conquered either by the British or the Mughal Empire.

Overnight at Fateh Garh (B)


updaipur lake

Day 8

Exploration of Udaipur
Fateh Garh

After breakfast, visit the City Palace Complex – built along the banks of the Lake Pichola, this is a series of Palaces that have been built since 1559. The maintenance and building of the palace continues to this date. Inside the palace you visit the museum with its collections from the royal wardrobe, paintings, carriages, armoury and more. After this, visit the silver gallery – one of the newest additions to the palace to see the fantastic collection of silver of the House of Mewar. Walk out of the Palace Complex and through the quaint streets outside to visit the imposing Jagdish Temple. Unlike the temples at Ranakpur, the Jagdish Temple has intricate carvings right around it. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu (The Preserver in the Hindu trinity of Gods), the temple was built in 1651 by the Maharana – Jagat Singh. The rest of the day is at leisure.

This evening a private boat ride on Lake Pichola is planned so that you can enjoy watching the sun settle over the horizon from your unique vantage point.

Return to the hotel after the ride for an evening at leisure.

Meals Included: B, L

Overnight at Fateh Garh (B, L)


17367046.jpg

Day 9

Udaipur to Kochi
Brunton Boatyard

Travel Distance (flight): 1.5 hours

This morning after an early breakfast you will transferred to Udaipur airport to board your flight to Kochi via Mumbai (change of aircraft in Mumbai).

On your arrival in Kochi you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

The allure of a small seaport, the swaying of coconut palms, old heritage buildings, quaint streets all come together to make a lovely city that is perfect for vacationers. Kochi is also a natural harbor and because of this, people from around the world came here to trade, work and live. All these people have left an indelible mark on the city. Kochi is a great city to walk in, and at every turn you are greeted with a new experience, from heritage buildings to churches or temples, beaches dotted with Chinese fishing nets, to smalls village schools and much more.

Overnight at Brunton Boatyard (B)


Mosaic Lodge Cottage Room Views

Day 10

Exploration of Kochi & Kerala
Brunton Boatyard

This morning, after breakfast proceed for half-day tour of the satellite towns of Kochi (Cochin) and Ernakulam which comprises of visits to the Dutch Palace, the Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis Church and the Santa Cruz Basilica. See the Chinese fishing nets, which dot the harbor as you drive along the coastline. The tour ends in the Fort Kochi area where you can walk through the historical Dutch and Portuguese for antiques and souvenirs.

In the evening enjoy a Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali is as much a tribute to God and a form of prayer as a folk dance. In this, dancers don elaborate costumes and masks to portray scenes from the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharat. Using intricate facial expressions and dance movements, the artists tell stories of love, valour, morality and adventure. Kathakali, a dying art is being kept alive in small schools across the state and tourism is the only thing keeping it alive. You will be taken to just such a school, where you can watch the performers adorn their costumes and then perform for you.

Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Overnight at Brunton Boatyard (B)


Kumarakom Lake Resort exterior beach

Day 11

Kochi to Alleppey & Kumaramakom
Kumarakom Lake Resort

Travel Distance (by car): 33 miles / 30 minutes

This morning start your drive to Alleppey where your very own Kettuvallam or houseboat awaits your arrival. The houseboat will take you through the famous Kerala backwaters traversing through paddy fields and villages, into the magnificent Vembanad Lake before reaching your plush backwater resort in Kerala. The houseboat which was earlier used for transporting goods across Kerala’s backwaters, is today a relaxed and romantic way to cruise down the state while getting an up close and personal look of how life is lead in this state. Each houseboat is fully equipped with a lounge with a sun deck, usually one bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and a kitchen. The houseboat has a staff of three, the driver, the guide and the cook, who are all work towards making your stay as comfortable as possible and catering to your every need. A hot lunch and afternoon snacks are served before your reach your resort for the night.

You are met and assisted with checking in upon arrival at Kumarakom.

The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and is part of the Kuttanad region. An enchanting backwater destination, Kumarakom is a perfect leisure getaway. Here you can see how people have adapted their lives to the waterways and do everything on these winding canals. Your evening is at leisure.

Overnight at Kumarakom Lake Resort (B, L)


Kumarakom Lake Resort boat tour

Day 12

Day at Leisure
Kumarakom Lake Resort

Enjoy your day of leisure exploring the facilities and activities offered by the hotel. We strongly recommend you try the various Ayurvedic spa treatments on offer.

Overnight at Kumarakom Lake Resort (B)


marari beach drone shot

Day 13

Kumarakom to Marari
Marari Beach Resort

Travel Distance (by car): 19 miles / 45 minutes

After breakfast drive to the beach destination of Marari. This is a short drive through small villages. Marari is a virgin beach located very conveniently close to Kochi. En-route to Marari, we stop at a coir factory. Kerala is the largest coir manufacturer in the world and you can visit one of the little factories that dot the horizon to see how it’s made. You can watch as the workers use their hands and antiquated milling machines to convert dried husk first to coir length and then to intricate sheets.

After this visit, continue to Marari and check in at the Marari Beach Resort. Marai Beach Resort sprawls expansively across 25 acres of land. The resort, like its namesake, is separated from the sea by a windbreak of stretching palms. There are a mere 52 cottages, separated by generous stretches of open parkland, dotted with fruit-laden trees. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight at Marari Beach Resort (B)



marari beach daily yoga

Day 14

Day at Leisure
Marari Beach Resort

Enjoy your day of leisure exploring the facilities and activities offered by the hotel. We strongly recommend you try the various Ayurvedic spa treatments on offer, as well as complimentary daily yoga and a tour through the property’s organic farm.

Overnight at Marari Beach Resort (B)


marari garden villa with pool

Day 15

Departure from India

After a leisurely breakfast, you are driven from your hotel to Kochi International Airport to board your flight home or to your next destination.

Meals included: B



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