Uncover the delights of India’s famed Golden Triangle - Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, then head south to tropical Kerala. Visit historic Fort Kochi and the picturesque hill station of Munnar with its verdant tea plantations, relax in sleepy Kumarakom and spend a night aboard a house-boat, gliding along the palm fringed backwaters.
India's Golden Triangle comprises the three most visited cities in the country's north-west - Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, which are all connected to each other by good road and rail links. On the map, these form a roughly equilateral triangle, some 200-250km along each side. This triangle has been dubbed "golden" for the extraordinary wealth of cultural and historical splendour on offer in each of the three cities.
Jaipur, capital of the largely desert state of Rajasthan, is home to some of Asia's best bazaars. You could spend weeks in Delhi, the sprawling, fascinating Indian capital, and not see it all, while Agra, once the heart of the Moghul empire, boasts the unparalleled beauty of the Taj Mahal, which adorns the banks of the Yamuna river. The Golden Triangle is a classic introduction to India: if you've never been to the subcontinent before, start here. Which usually involves a flight into Delhi.
Delhi, being such a large (population around 14 million) and diverse city, absorbs its tourists with ease. Agra and Jaipur both have sizeable numbers of Western tourists roaming around. Jaipur, as capital of Rajasthan, has a role as a commercial and administrative centre that has nothing to do with tourism, and a population of 2.5m. The city's alluringly frenetic old quarter is known as the Pink City after its red-washed buildings, packed with stalls selling everything from silk to milk. Of Jaipur's numerous monuments, the Hawa Mahal - an ornate five-storey façade, designed to allow the women of the royal household to observe the street in anonymity - has become an icon of Rajasthani architecture.
Completing the triangle, Agra - for all its monumental splendour - can be a trial, with the perpetual smog and the hard-sell hawking. It can at times feel like a swollen village: its parks and public spaces have an oddly suburban ambience. Yet it boasts a stupendous Moghul fort in the city centre and the ethereally beautiful Taj Mahal.
The marble mausoleum is by far the most popular tourist site in India - and despite the hype and the cliché it is an astounding and mesmerising building. In addition, Agra offers other jewelled tombs and architectural marvels as well as a medieval-like maze of ancient bazaars, a mass of hooting, tooting traffic and some of the most rapacious shopkeepers in the country. Motorised traffic is banned from the complex surrounding the Taj Mahal.
Day 01:Old and New Delhi
Day 03:The Pink City of Jaipur
Day 05:Abhaneri step well
Day 06:The Taj Mahal
Day 07:Return to Delhi
Day 08:Delhi to Kochi
Day 09:Kochi sightseeing & Munnar
Day 11:Kerala Backwaters
Day 14:KochiCustomize Trip
Day 1Old and New DelhiUpon arrival at Delhi meet with representative of Pink Mountain Treks and Expedition and transferred to hotel. The following morning, attend our welcome meeting before we set out on a full day sightseeing tour of Delhi. In the evening, we enjoy a namaste dinner at our hotel.
Day 3The Pink City of JaipurDelhi - Jaipur. Today we drive to the Pink City of Jaipur - the vibrant capital of the state of Rajasthan. Sightseeing includes a tour of the City Palace which is a wonderful example of Rajput architecture and Jantar Mantar - the world’s largest stone astronomical observatory.
On day 4 early-risers can opt for a morning hot air balloon ride over Jaipur, and sail over hilltop forts, regal palaces, sleepy villages and stone carved temples. Today we travel beyond Jaipur to the beautiful 16th century Amber Fort. In true Indian style we take an elephant ride (subject to availability) or by jeep if you'd prefer, up to the entrance of the fort and tour the well-preserved interior and grounds. Then we stop at a cotton weaving house to see a demonstration of fabric dying and block printing before returning to Jaipur. Evening at leisure.
Day 5Abhaneri step wellJaipur - Abhaneri - Bharatpur. Departing Jaipur we stop in the village of Abhaneri to see Chand Baori, which is the largest and deepest step well in the world. This incredible well has a staggering 3500 steps and is 13 stories deep. Next, we discover local life, traditions and visit the village school (if open) where we operate our ‘Change for Children’ programme. After hotel check in at Bharatpur and time to freshen up we visit Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we’ll enjoy a leisurely bicycle rickshaw ride through the park.
Day 6The Taj MahalBharatpur - Agra. En route to Agra, we visit Fatehpur Sikri, former imperial capital of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Built between 1569 and 1585, it has been deserted for more than four centuries, by all accounts abandoned in 1600 due to a meagre supply of water. In Agra, we visit the impressive Agra Fort before touring the legendary Taj Mahal and witnessing a glorious golden sunset. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who tragically died in childbirth in 1631, the Taj Mahal in Agra is described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love and remains one of India’s most enduring symbols.
Day 7Return to DelhiAgra - Delhi - breakfast. After breakfast we drive back to Delhi. Spend the remains of the day at leisure in India’s bustling capital.
Day 8Delhi to KochiDelhi - Kochi. We catch an early morning flight to Kochi today, in the beautiful southern state of Kerala. With a history that has seen Jewish exiles and Portuguese, Dutch and British colonisation, Kochi is a melting pot of culture and architectural styles. After some time to freshen up and explore, later this evening we will watch a Kathakali dance performance, a must in Kerala with colourful costume and meticulous movements.
Day 9Kochi sightseeing & MunnarKochi - Munnar. On the morning of day 9 we enjoy a guided tour of historic Fort Kochi. We'll see the large Chinese fishing nets that decorate the coast and explore the winding streets of the old town, visiting St. Francis Church - the oldest European church in India, Paradesi Synagogue (exterior only) and a Dutch palace. After touring we drive east to Munnar, a picturesque hill station surrounded by verdant tea plantations.
On day 10 we'll take a stroll through one of the many tea plantations that this region is famous for. Our guide will brief us on the different varieties of tea produced in Munnar and how they are processed. There will be a chance to visit a local market before heading back to our hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to spend at your own leisure.
Day 11Kerala BackwatersMunnar - Alleppey - Keralan backwaters. Departing Munnar early this morning a 4-5 hour drive through gorgeous scenery will bring us to Alleppey where we will board a simply furnished private rice-boat for a picturesque and leisurely cruise through Kerala's backwaters. Passing palm-fringed shores and small villages, this is the best way to witness rural life on the backwaters and enjoy the stunning scenery. Meals will be prepared on board with fresh, local ingredients so you can sit back and relax as all is taken care of.
Day 12KumarakomKeralan Backwaters - Kumarakom. After our final meal on board the houseboat on day 12 we disembark at Kumarakom, a cluster of islands on Lake Vembanad. This sleepy hamlet is surrounded by a maze of tropical waterways and shrubs, the ideal spot to while away a couple of days. Soak up the scenery, kick back at the hotel or consider visiting the local bird sanctuary - spread across 14 acres it's popular with migratory birds including Siberian cranes and parrots.
Day 14KochiKumarakom - Kochi. Today marks the end of our memorable journey. After breakfast we travel back to Kochi with an included transfer to the airport. Please note: flights from Kochi should depart after 2pm.
Kailash Mansarovat tour with Pink Mountain Treks and Expedition let you to feel most memorable adventure trip of the life.…In Detail