Family Indian Discovery

Resort:Family Indian Discovery
Operator: Explore
Destination: Asia, India
Price From: £1185.00

Over View

Combine north and south India in two weeks. Visit the magnificent Taj Mahal, explore the grand monuments of Delhi and cruise the backwaters of tropical Kerala in the south. Spend a night at a homestay, cook up a fragrant curry using local ingredients, hire bikes and explore ornate temples and, kick back and relax with two days relaxing on the stunning Indian Ocean.

Houseboat – Float through the backwaters and sleep on a traditional boat

Periyar National Park – Look out for wildlife on a boat trip in the park

Kochi – Discover Fort Kochi, St Francis Church and Mattancherry Palace and watch a Kathakali show


Day 1 Arrive in Delhi with city tour of New Delhi

Arrive in New Delhi, India’s bustling capital which successfully combines the ancient with the modern. Amidst the tall and modern skyscrapers, there are still the remnants of a bygone time with numerous monuments and temples.

For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 1.30pm for the welcome meeting and to take us on our afternoon city tour which will visit the imposing India Gate (war memorial arch), the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President’s residence as well as Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India. Our Leader will be on hand in the evening to suggest evening dining options.

If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you’ll need to arrive into New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport (airport code DEL), which is 18km, around 40 minutes from our hotel.

Please note that if you wish to join the city tour today, you must arrive at the hotel by 1.30pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least one hour to clear the airport. From the airport to the hotel is around 40 minutes’ drive, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 11am. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

Day 2 Travel to Agra and visit its fort. Witness sunset at the Taj Mahal

We drive to the Mughal city of Agra (around 4 hour’s drive) known to the world as the city of the ‘Taj Mahal’. Agra is still associated with the Mughals, who besides being the countries rulers were also great builders. Agra Fort, which is the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire, is a vivid reminder of the opulence and makes Agra one of the most remarkable cities in India.

Late this afternoon we proceed with a sunset visit of the world-renowned Taj Mahal – The legendary Taj Mahal is celebrated for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty. Emperor Shah Jahan built this exquisite white marble mausoleum for his favourite queen, Mumtaz Mahal, commissioned in 1631, it took 20,000 artisans 22 years to complete. Watching the sun set over this great monument is a wonderful way of watching the fading light illuminating the contours of this ‘dream in marble’. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Taj Mahal has always evoked varying emotions from wonder to poetic verse and over the centuries has become a symbol of love and flawless beauty.

Day 3 Travel to Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Continue to Jaipur known as ‘the pink city’.

This morning we drive to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur. The National Park was originally called Ghana which means dense forest and is now named after the Keoladeo Shiva temple in the centre of the park. Initially a Maharaja’s hunting estate built in 1956, it is now a bird sanctuary to some 375 species of birds including egrets, darters, cormorants, herons and painted storks with their colourful beaks and plumage. We are taken on a bird-watching tour by cycle rickshaw and hope to see some of these magnificent animals.

Our journey continues on to Jaipur, the vibrant capital of Rajasthan which is renowned for its forts and palaces that have encapsulated an image of the ‘Pink City’ due to its pink-coloured buildings. An ideal base for touring the royal state, the city has the distinction of being the third jewel of India’s ‘Golden Triangle’. Its main claim to fame is that it is India’s first ‘planned’ city built by the famous 18th century astronomer King Sawai Jai Singh II.

Day 4 Full day in Jaipur. Visit the Amber Palace and Fortress.

We travel to the ancient capital of Amer to see the fabulous Amber Fort situated on a ridge just outside Jaipur city. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements with ruins that are spread over the surrounding Aravalli hills. Our visit incorporates the chambers and hallways of the palace, famous for its design and decoration as well as Ganesh Pol, an imposing gateway painted with images of the elephant-headed god, Ganesh. We also stop at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) – a five-storied wonder with a spectacular pyramidal facade with overhanging windows with latticed screens, domes and spires.

In the afternoon, we visit the City Palace Museum which has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, armoury including swords with chiselled handles, an art gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings and rare astronomical works. We also see the awe-inspiring Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological and astronomical observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century.

Day 5 Fly to Kochi

Bidding farewell to northern India, we fly to Kochi a port city on the Indian Ocean and the commercial capital of Kerala. Cochin or Kochi has long been praised as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. Strategically located on the east-west sea route, Kochi is Kerala’s major port and boasts one of the finest natural harbours in the world and is the most cosmopolitan of the state’s cities. Depending on which flight we take you may have time to wander around the historic centre.

Day 6 Drive to Fort Kochi, visit the Mattancherry Palace and watch the famous Kathakali Dancers

We take an auto-rickshaw (3-wheeler automated ‘scooter’) to Fort Kochi. Fort Kochi is the oldest European settlement in India (built in 1500), and has a mixture of English, Dutch and Portuguese influence. There is time to wander and take in some of the sites including the Chinese fishing nets or wander around the fish market as well as visit the Jewish quarter. Our next stop is Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and is popularly known as the Dutch Palace. The Palace features Kerala murals, depicting Hindu temple art, portraits and exhibits of the Rajas of Kochi. A blend of colonial and Kerala architecture, it was a gift to the local ruler by the Portuguese in exchange for trading rights. The palace was later renovated by the Dutch and so gained the other name.

This evening see the famous Kathakali dancers. With its origins coming from the traditional temple rituals and an art form known as Koodiyattam, the performers use face makeup which can take up to three hours to paint on and makes this dance so unique within the country. Their features are heavily emphasised with their facial expressions and coordinated eye movements being important within the dance – during our visit, we can see the process of applying the make-up.

Day 7 Drive to Thekkady, free afternoon

This morning we drive to Thekkady via the meandering roads through the high ranges and past rubber and tea plantations. We should arrive early afternoon; the rest of the day is free.

Day 8 Boat trip in Periyar National Park, visit a Tea factory and drive to Chennmkary Village

After breakfast, we drive to Thekkady which is the closest settlement to the Periyar National Park. A stunning setting on the shores of Lake Periyar, it is home to a myriad of wildlife such as elephant, wild pigs, monkey and the flying squirrel. The park also boasts some 260 species of birds including darters, ospreys and kingfishers. We take a guided boat trip in the hope of spotting some of these wild creatures although sightings cannot be guaranteed. The park itself is made up of a variety of habitats including open grasslands and semi-evergreen forests with an abundant number of ferns, orchids and air-plants all making up a beautiful ecosystem.

We then drive to Chennmkary Village via a visit to a tea factory at Vandeperiyar. The site houses photographs and machines depicting the flourishing tea industry that the region is famous for with an explanation of each stage of the tea making process (please note that the tea factory visit will not be available on the 22nd December 2019 departure). When we reach Chennmkary we meet our hosts for the next two days and explore the village.

We will also walk among the seemingly numerous fruit and medicinal plants that surround the village, as well as strolling through banana and coconut plantations.There is also the option to travel by canoe and visit the famous temples of Karumadikuttan, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Accommodation at Chennmkary is spread over several village houses that is simply styled with traditional Kerala furniture. Due to space constraints, families may need to share a room together. The houses are close together, approx. 5-10 minutes walk between them and all have bedding and towels provided. The locals will cook the meals for the group and we all dine together giving the opportunity to understand how they live. The villagers grow their own rice, vegetables, coconuts and spices which are all used in the meals.

Day 9 Free-time to explore Mancombo Village

Today is left free to explore the area with the opportunity to take a stroll through the serene Kerala hamlets and experience the tropical forests filled with the fragrance of medicinal flowers. To cover more expanses you can sail through the interior villages and backwaters in a non-mechanized open canoe to get a chance of experiencing traditional Kerala hamlets.

Day 10 Drive to Alleppey and board a houseboat to the Kerala Backwaters

This morning we drive to the lively backwater centre of Alleppey where we board our houseboats and begin our relaxing cruise into the network of the Kerala backwaters. Converted from old rice-barges, with walls and roofs of coir, these simple vessels have a number of en-suite rooms and an area to relax and watch riverside life as we go by. On the more open canals, you can see boats with large sails – the bow often carved in the shape of a dragon. These vessels are a lifeline for the villages with a number acting as taxis, mail delivery carriages and goods transport. You may see great pyramids of coconuts or even the odd buffalo being carried along in this time honoured fashion. We plan to stop off at several points of interest en-route including the Chambakulam Saint Foreine Church and Chambakulam Chundan – the famous snake boats. Traditional Kerala cuisine is served on board.

Day 11 Drive to the beach resort of Mararikulam

Disembarking the houseboat, we drive the short journey to the resort in Mararikulam with the rest of the day free to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and beach activities. Mararikulam is a typical fishing village which is located on the southwest coast of Central Kerala and offers an unblemished and pristine shoreline, swaying coconut palms, thatched huts and a view point to watch the striking sunsets.

Day 12 Day at the resort of Mararikulam

Free day at resort.

Day 13 Trip ends in Mararikulam

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Mararikulam.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Mararikulam at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Cochin International Airport (airport code COK), which is 75km, around two hours from the hotel.