India Encompassed Trip Notes
Trip code: GIIE
Trip valid from: 01/09/2010
Trip valid until: 30/09/2011
Trip length: 24 days
Trip starts in: Delhi
Trip ends in: Kochi
Maximum group size: 16
- Train Travel - A Quintessentially Indian Experience
- Udaipur And Lake Pichola
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Taj Mahal
- Jaipur’s Amber Fort
- Cochin's Diverse History
- Varkala On The Arabian Sea
- The Great Thar Desert Trading Town Of Jodhpur
- Houseboat Backwater Cruise In Kerala
- Off-the-beaten-track In Nimaj Bagh
This all-encompassing journey through India gives you the lot! Bustling cities, a pilgrimage to Varanasi - the spiritual heart of India, the colourful splendour of the temples and palaces of Rajasthan, remote village lifestyle, peaceful southern backwaters, amazing wildlife sanctuaries and beautiful beaches. This incredible journey really has India covered!
DelhiToday is an arrival day and no activities are planned, so you may arrive at any time. If you are arriving early, please check the noticeboard in the foyer of the hotel for suggestions of things to see and do in Delhi. A pre-departure meeting takes place this evening at the hotel. Please also check the noticeboard for details of this meeting and for any other messages from your tour leader. Please also bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the meeting. Afterwards we have the opportunity to go out for an optional group dinner.
Delhi - overnight trainOur tour leader takes us into the old city's market area known as Chandni Chowk, as well as Connaught Place - the commercial heart of New Delhi. The rest of the day is free for relaxing or doing some further sightseeing on our own. Red Fort and the impressive Jama Masjid (Great Mosque) are two of the city's most notable landmarks, whilst Raj Ghat is a monument that marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. In the evening we catch our overnight sleeper train bound for Varanasi.
Varanasi - overnight trainRegarded as the spiritual heart of India, Varanasi is the city of Shiva built on the banks of the sacred Ganges River. Thousands of pilgrims flock to the great ghats to bathe in the holy waters - a ritual that is believed to wash away all sins. The city claims to be one of the oldest in the world and it’s a magical place where we are able to witness the rituals of life and death on the ghats, on an early morning boat ride. Our tour leader also takes us for a walk through the back lanes and crowded alleyways of this timeless city. After our time in Varanasi we board another overnight sleeper train and head back westward to Agra.
AgraAgra is home to India’s most famous site - the majestic Taj Mahal. After settling in we visit this amazing 17th century marble mausoleum, built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his second wife who died giving birth. Started in 1631 the project was completed in 1648 and employed a workforce of over 20,000 people. Construction materials were brought from all over India with the marble from Rajasthan transported by over 1000 elephants. Our tour leader can also help us arrange an optional visit to Agra Fort.
Tordi GarhOne of the features of a Imaginative Traveller’s trip through Rajasthan is visits to small, out of the way villages. Tordi Garh is a small town that we have identified is a true ‘off the beaten track’ experience. After a 4 hour bus trip from Agra, we are met by jeeps and drive a couple of hours through beautiful countryside to Tordi. Very few travelers have even heard of Tordi and even fewer visit it, because it’s hard to get to on your own. We explore the village, meeting potters, visiting an old village temple, walking though markets and meeting families on the way. Ruined temples and a fortress lie further afield and we enjoy a visit to these sites. Our host is the owner of the palace at Tordi. He is a direct descendant of the feudal lord who built the palace in the 16th century. The accommodation has unforgettable ambience and charm and really makes the visit to Tordi a special highlight.
JaipurThis morning we travel by jeep to Jaipur - the vibrant and colourful capital of Rajasthan. Here, traditionally dressed Rajput men wearing colourful turbans and sporting magnificent moustaches make their way through crowded streets packed with cars, camel carts, rickshaws, trucks and bicycles. On our second day in Jaipur we travel 11 kilometres out to the stunning medieval Amber Fort. This fort was built in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh and is a superb example of Rajput architecture. Several hours are needed to explore this huge fortification and we include the services of a local guide for our tour. Our tour leader also takes us to an area known as the Old Bazaar where the Hawa Mahal, better known as The Palace of the Winds, is situated. This five-storey façade with its pink, honeycombed sandstone windows is one of Jaipur's best-known landmarks. We also have ample free time in Jaipur and there are many interesting things to see and do; our tour leader will be happy to assist us with getting to some of these places.
Nimaj BaghEarly this morning we take a five-hour local bus ride to the village of Nimaj, arriving there in the afternoon. We stay at the Nimaj Bagh, an orchard run by the erstwhile nobles of Nimaj. Our leader will take us around in the surrounding villages where we meet the local Gujjars (cattle breeders) and other communities. The village of Nimaj is where we will get closest to the locals and have ample opportunities to interact with them and learn about their way of life.
JodhpurThis morning we take the three-hour ride on a private air-conditioned coach to Jodhpur and arrive there around midday. This city lies at the edge of the Thar Desert and is dominated by the imposing Meherangarh Fort, which sits atop a sheer rocky ridge in the middle of town. We visit the fort, which is run by the current Maharaja of Jodhpur, as well as the bustling Sardar Market. It’s a great place to explore with several alleyways leading off to various bazaars selling fruits, vegetables, spices, textiles and handicrafts.
UdaipurA six-hour hour local bus journey takes us to Udaipur. Sometimes known as the 'Venice of the East', this beautiful city built around the shores of Lake Pichola is full of fascinating temples, ornate palaces and impressive 'havelis'. The charming setting of the Lake Palace on Jagwinas Island is unforgettable. During our stay we visit the Jagdish Temple, an Indo-Aryan temple containing a black stone image of Vishnu as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe. We also visit the City Palace, surmounted by balconies, towers and cupolas, where there are excellent views of the city and lakeside from the upper terraces. There are many other options available for sightseeing and our tour leader will be happy to assist in arranging these.
KochiWe are transferred to the airport where our tour leader bids us farewell. We will be unescorted for the flight and met on arrival in Kochi (Cochin) by our specialist south India tour leader who will escort us for the remainder of our journey. You will need to change planes in Mumbai, but your baggage will be checked directly through to Kochi. On arrival the rest of the day is free to relax or explore the area around our hotel in Fort Cochin. As southern India is quite different from northern India, there is a short meeting with our new tour leader where we are briefed on what to expect for this next section of our trip. We may also be meeting up with other travellers of ours who are just joining on for this part of the tour.
KochiKochi is set on a cluster of peninsulas and islands in the Indian Ocean and is a fascinating blend of cultures. From time immemorial it has been the favourite destination of globe-trotters and explorers. Blessed by one of the finest natural harbours in the world, Kochi has been eulogised as the 'Queen of the Arabian Sea'. We include a tour of the Fort Kochi peninsula where we discover the Dutch Palace, which was restored by the Dutch and presented as a gift to the King of Kochi, and St Francis Church - the oldest Christian church in India, built by Portuguese Franciscan monks in 1503. The church itself is testament to the history of historic Cochin, having been used at various stages by Roman Catholics, Dutch Protestants and Anglicans. We also visit the famous Mattancherry Jewish Synagogue, originally built of wood in 1568. The area surrounding the synagogue is full of spice shops selling cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and a host of other spices. We also take a look at the unique Chinese fishing nets, which are set up close to our hotel.
Vaikom - KochiThis morning we drive to Vaikom for a day visit, where we include a boat ride through the small waterways and visit various local industries such as like coir making, toddy tapping, spice producing, mat weaving and pot making. We visit a riverine village and meet the families living in this stunningly unique environment. The backwaters of Kerala have become the lifeline of the state, with a number of towns like Allapuzha, Kumarakom, Kollam, Kuttinad located amidst the maze of waterways. Late in the afternoon we drive back to Kochi for our overnight stay.
Backwater Cruise - AlleppeyToday we catch a bus to the small market town of Alleppey (Alappuzha) that is built on a network of canals and surrounded by coconut palms. Upon arrival we board our houseboat, converted from a Kettavallum, or traditional rice barge, and sail the beautiful backwaters of Kerala. This large aquatic area is a vast network of lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals, and the people who live in this region have created their own distinct lifestyles. From our comfortable houseboats we witness the peaceful way of life on these amazing waterways. After watching the sun go down over the backwaters we return to dock at Alleppey and transfer to our nearby backwater hotel.
Periyar National Park Wildlife SanctuaryToday we catch the local bus to Thekkady, on the edge of one of India’s most popular wildlife reserves. Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary surrounds an artificial lake that was built by the British in 1895. It is home to gaur, wild boar, sambar deer, langur monkey, wild elephant, various antelopes and a wide variety of birds. We include an early morning cruise on the lake, which is a great way to start the day. The rest of the time is free to explore the area and perhaps take an optional jungle walk with a local guide or visit a nearby plantation.
VarkalaWe spend the next three days at Varkala - a beautiful beach town on the Arabian Sea about an hour's drive from the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). The main beach here is Papanasham Beach, which is long and golden with a backdrop of red laterite cliffs from which mineral water springs forth. It is a chill-out place and in the mornings and evenings we can witness fishermen pulling up their nets from the sea. Our tour leader is able to take us to various beaches in the surrounding areas and advise us on various optional activities such as witnessing an evening Kathakali or Kalaripayatt show. It is also a town famous for Ayurvedic massage centres - ideal for rejuvenation!
KochiWe take a morning day train back to Kochi and arrive back there by noon. We have a final free afternoon in Kochi, which offers a great opportunity to do some final shopping for souvenirs to take home. Our trip ends the following morning.
Itinerary VariationWhile the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Whether you’re taking in man’s greatest works at places like Petra or Angkor Wat, experiencing grand set-pieces like the Trans-Mongolian Railway or trying your hand at regional specialities like tango in Buenos Aires, getting to grips with local cultures is what travel’s all about. A few tips from a local guide and a sense of adventure are pretty much all you need. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get the lowdown on high Tibet among Lhasa’s magisterial temples; follow up Delhi’s eye-popping bustle with a fix of its fiery food; and mix manic markets and Incan masterpieces in Peru.
Take your pick: hunt for tigers in northern India, listen to monkey chatter and birdsong in the jungles of Costa Rica and Peru or gawp at the Galapagos’ diversity. And of course, there's the big one: Africa. The names alone evoke images of wildlife: the Serengeti, Masai Mara, Kruger. And the reality’s even better. Africa’s got the lot, so go beyond the Big Five by hiking to close encounters with gorillas in Uganda’s forests, walking with lions at Zimbabwe’s Antelope Park, or canoeing past crocs on the Okavango Delta. From the Cape’s loveable penguins to Egypt’s loping camels, Africa’s animals await.
No particular level of fitness is required for this holiday. You need only to be in good health.
Experienced regional tour leader and all transportation and accommodation as indicated in detailed Trip Notes. The following sightseeing trips are included: Delhi - an orientation walk around Chandi Chowk and Janpath including transport; Agra - one visit to the Taj Mahal including transport, entrance and local guide fees; Tordi Garh - village walk and jeep safari; Jaipur - one visit to the Amber Fort including transport, entrance and local guide fees; Jodhpur - one visit to Meharangarh Fort including transport, entrance and local guide fees; Udaipur - one visit to the City Palace and Jagdish Temple including entrance and local guide fees; Kochi - tour of Fort Cochin including entrance, transport and local guide fees; Vaikom - boat ride through narrow canals; Alleppey - one day backwaters' cruise with lunch on board; Periyar National Park - one boat ride plus entrance, transport and local guide fees.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, airport/departure taxes, visas, pre or post tour accommodation, meals, optional tours sightseeing or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature, laundry and flights unless specified. Some places that we visit charge additional fees if you are entering with a camera or camcorder - your city guide will advise on these and they can be paid for locally.
2 nights Historic hotel,19 nights Hotels/guesthouses,2 nights Overnight train
Single room supplementMost of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.
Bus,Jeep,Local bus,On foot,Plane,Riverboat,Sleeper train,Taxi
*prices below are guide onlyAgra - Agra Fort entrance
- - US$8
- - US$170/entrance fees US$18 & US$8
- - US$50 per car / US$20 entrance fee
- - US$5
- - US$40 per car/entrance US$5
- - US$50 per car/entrances US$15.
- - US$40 per car/entrance US$3.
- - US$50 per jeep
- - US$30 per car/entrance US$10
- - R100
- - US$10-15 depending on number of participants
- - US$16 per person - duration 1 hour
- - US$45 per car/entrance US$2
- - US$40 per car
- - US$40 per car/entrance US$4
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at email@example.comThe Imaginative Traveller & Gecko's Adventures This trip is operated by our partner company, Gecko's Adventures. Gecko's is an Australia based company with more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a code shared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Gecko's travellers on your trip.
Last updated: 19/10/2011