India Grand Tour Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Destinations:
India
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AII
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

28 Days Flight Inclusive
27 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

The variety that India offers is unparalleled - on this incredible journey we sample some of the country's many highlights. In the north we delve into the hustle and bustle of Delhi and Jaipur, admire the exquisite palaces of Rajasthan and marvel at the serene Taj Mahal. For the spiritually inclined there is time to experience the holy River Ganges at Varanasi. For wildlife we head to Ranthambore National Park and search for the elusive tiger. As we travel further south, there are cave temples and ancient ruins to explore and Goa's tropical beaches to relax on. We then visit the magnificent Mysore Palace before heading to the hill station of the British Raj at Ooty. Back on the coast, we explore historical Cochin, a port which has been luring traders and explorers for over 600 years. Our journey ends with a cruise on a traditional houseboat, with the chance to kick back on the tranquil backwaters of Kerala.

At a Glance

  • 22 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat, all en suite, 3 nights sleeper trains
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned private bus and train
  • Countries visited: India

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the holy city of Varanasi
  • A full day to explore the ruins of Hampi
  • Relax on the beaches of Goa
  • Cruise the backwaters of Kerala on a houseboat

Is This Trip for You?

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely) This holiday is designed so that you can see the best parts of India using a mixture of private buses and the extensive railway network. There is a lot to see in the time you are there, but it is paced so that it doesn't feel too rushed. India is a large country and we cover a lot of distance by road, travel time is kept to a minimum but please be aware there are a number of long drives, however there is also plenty of time for sightseeing and the trip ends on a very relaxing note. You should come armed for an experience: India can be hard work and the heat and the bustle of some of the cities can be a little overwhelming. That said, there are many places where you can find peace and there are few places in the world where you will return armed with great stories and memories to last a lifetime. Many people return to India time and time again.

Please note that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are responsible for the conservation of many monuments in India, including the Taj Mahal, and very occasionally this may mean that work is taking place at sites visited on this trip. The ASI’s schedule is never published so it is not possible to forewarn our clients of when work will be taking place.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

Group normally 5 to 16, plus local leader and driver. Our Indian team of leaders have proved very popular with their incredible knowledge, passion and hospitality adding greatly to the experience. There is no better way to experience Indian culture than letting an Indian guide show you around their country. You may be accompanied by 1 leader throughout the whole of this 30 day trip or the leader may switch around half way through the trip in order to cater for local specialism and language.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
5
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Delhi
End City:
Kovalam

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Delhi; afternoon free.

    The group flight will arrive into Delhi in the morning and we will transfer to our hotel. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us at the hotel during the day (rooms may not be available until noon but it is often earlier than this). The rest of the day is free to relax or explore Delhi.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Morning sightseeing; overnight train to Varanasi.

    Today we have a morning sightseeing in Old Delhi including the famous Red Fort and Jama Masjid (India's largest mosque). In New Delhi we see the fine colonial buildings, as we drive through the area, built by the British Raj in the early years of the 20th century and set in spacious tree-lined boulevards; these now house various Indian governmental departments. We then board our overnight sleeper train to Varanasi, India's most sacred city.
    Sleeper Train

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Morning arrival; free to explore temples and markets.

    We arrive at Varanasi in the morning and transfer to our hotel. Varanasi, located on the river Ganges, is one of the holiest cities in India and stands at the centre of the Hindu universe. As such, the city lives and breathes Hinduism: there are thousands of pilgrims, wandering holy men (Sadhus), religious leaders and casual visitors. It is a city to get immersed in by exploring its maze of narrow lanes, ghats, the many temples and watch the Hindu ceremonies that occur around the clock. There is time to explore the emporiums specialising in silks and brocades or maybe take a massage by the banks of the Ganges.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Boat ride on the spiritual Ganges; sightseeing; overnight train to Agra.

    Just before dawn, we take a boat out on the Ganges to witness the extraordinary spectacle on the ghats, the steps leading down to the river. Every day thousands of Hindu pilgrims come to these three miles of riverbank to immerse themselves in the waters of the holy Ganges. The rest of the day is free to continue exploring the city or relax at the hotel. In the late afternoon we board the overnight train to Agra.
    Sleeper Train

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Arrive Agra; visit the Red Fort.

    After arriving in Agra we check into our hotel then start our sightseeing with a visit the imposing Red Fort of Akbar, the third Moghul Emperor. The forts mighty sandstone walls enclose the beautiful white marble Pearl Mosque and the palaces, halls, courtyards and fountains of his sons and successors, Jehangir and Shah Jahan.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Sunrise visit to Taj Mahal; to Jaipur via Fatehpur Sikri.

    At sunrise we visit the beautiful white marble Taj Mahal, built by the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1631. The Taj is serenely beautiful and never fails to amaze a first time visitor. A few miles outside Agra is Fatehpur Sikri, the emperor Akbar's deserted royal city. The mosque, designed to hold ten thousand worshippers, the palaces, residences and halls of audience are all made of decorative red sandstone. But this magnificence only lasted 14 years, as in 1584 Akbar left Fatehpur Sikri to secure his outlying territories, leaving this city much as we see it today - in perfect condition. Continue journey to Jaipur. Total driving time approx. 7 hrs.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Visit City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Amber Fort.

    Jaipur was built in the early 18th century and is a planned city of broad avenues built of sandstone and painted pink at a later stage. In the centre of Jaipur is the City Palace, formerly the residence of the Maharaja it is now a fine museum containing rare manuscripts, paintings, royal garments and weapons. Close to the palace is one of the most intriguing sights of India, the observatory of Jai Singh. This is an assembly of immense astronomical instruments made of marble and brass set in a pleasant garden. We will also see Jaipur's impressive landmark, the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds. A few miles from the main city is the splendid Amber Palace; the imposing hilltop fort contains large courtyards and interiors with fine decorations including inlaid alabaster panels and a Chamber of Mirrors. We walk up the hill and through the massive gateway to the courtyard. Jaipur is a centre of many handicrafts, such as durries (woven rugs), carpets, printed cloth, semi-precious stones, leatherwear etc. It will be difficult to leave a workshop without buying anything!
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Drive to Ranthambore National Park; evening game drive.

    We make an early start and drive about 180 kms (approx. 5 hours) to Ranthambore National Park. This famous park is the best place in Rajasthan to search for wild tigers.  We stay in a lodge not far from the park entrance.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Morning game drive; optional visit to ancient forts and villages; overnight train to Mumbai.

    This morning we head back into the park for our second game drive.  Ranthambore National Park comprises 1334 square km of wild jungle scrub and is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.  Spotting a tiger is partly due to luck however there's plenty of other wildlife to see including 300 species of birds.  In the late afternoon we board our sleeper train to Mumbai. 
    Sleeper Train

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Arrive Mumbai; free day for sightseeing

    We arrive in Mumbai and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore this vibrant and fascinating city.  Mumbai is the country's most cosmopolitan city yet some of Asia's biggest slums are found here. It is India's financial powerhouse, where businessmen walk amidst skyscrapers, and it is home to the most prolific film industry in the world, Bollywood. A playground for the country's rich and famous, with large shopping centres, bustling bazaars, hip restaurants and a trendy nightlife. Alongside this, half of the residents live in slums. There is lots to do in this city, from shopping in the bazaars to taking an evening stroll at the famous Chowpatty beach.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 11

    To Aurangabad; visit Ellora Caves.

    We will take the early morning train to Aurangabad and then have a short drive to the cave temple complex at Ellora, a World Heritage site. The caves date from the 6th to the 8th century AD and have been painstakingly hewn out of the hillside. There are more than 30 Buddhist, Jain and Hindu temples, crowded with finely carved images. It is thought that the caves were carved by priests and pilgrims who used this ancient trade route. The highlight of the complex is the amazing Kailasa Temple, a replica of the mountain abode of Shiva and probably the world's largest monolithic structure. Carved out of solid rock it measures 33m. In spite of its massive proportions, the temple is carved all over in the most intricate detail. Later we drive back to Aurangabad.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Visit Ajanta caves, explore Aurangabad.

    We drive to the caves at Ajanta (approx. 2 hrs). The 29 caves are spectacularly located in a pass in the Vindhya Hills and were only discovered in 1819 by a company of British soldiers on a tiger hunt. The caves were created between the 2nd century BC and the 7th century AD. They were cut from volcanic lavas in a forested ravine. They contain many carvings and beautiful wall paintings, depicting scenes from Buddhist legends. In the afternoon we drive back to Aurangabad. Later, if we have time, we can visit the Bibi-ka-Maqbara (optional) an imitation of the Taj Mahal which was built by the Moghul Emperor Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb, as a mausoleum for his mother Rabia Ul Durani in the late 17th century.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Day long drive Aurangabad to Bijapur; a glimpse into rural India

    Today is a long drive to Bijapur (approx.9-10 hrs.). Bijapur is a small and pleasant Muslim town with fine old buildings dating back to the 14th century, when the Muslim rulers of Delhi conquered the area. The city is dominated by the magnificent Gol Gumbaz, the huge mausoleum of its 17th century ruler Mohammed Adil Shah. The Jama Masjid Mosque is one of the finest in India, with its graceful, slender minarets.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Morning sightseeing of Bijapur; drive to Hospet.

    Morning sightseeing visiting Gol Gumbaz and Jama Masjid. In the afternoon we drive to Hospet (approx. 3.5 hours), which is our base for the next two nights. The evening is free.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Full day exploring ruins at Hampi.

    Today we have a full day-visit to the beautiful ruined city of Hampi. Hampi is the site of the old capital of the Vijaynagar Kings, who ruled from the 14th to 16th centuries. Once the largest Hindu empire in India the city was destroyed in a battle in 1565 by the Deccan Sultans when Islam was spreading to South India. The ruins are almost ethereal and amid the boulder-strewn landscape we can see the finely carved pillars of the Ramachandra Shrine, the old market place, plus many other temples and monuments in the South Indian Dravidian architectural style. In the evening we return to our hotel in Hospet.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Drive from Hospet to Goa.

    Today we drive (approx. 10 hrs.) over the magnificent Western Ghats to Goa. The state of Goa was a Portuguese colony from 1510 until it was returned to India in 1961. The great Catholic missionary St Francis Xavier came to Goa in the 16th century and his body, perfectly preserved, lies in the Bom Jesus Basilica and a large part of the Goan population is still Christian. Goa became a meeting place of east and west, where merchants could buy and sell pearls, rubies, coral, silks, Chinese porcelain and exotic spices. These days Goa is an idyllic place with tropical white sandy beaches and palm fringed shorelines. We enjoy two nights in this blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures. If you enjoy seafood there are a number of beach side restaurants to tempt you. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 17

    Goa free day or optional sightseeing

    You may like to visit Old Goa, the spiritual heart of Portuguese Goa. Goa was famous for its spice trading and there is a chance to visit one of the spice farms dotted around the wetter, hilly, inland areas of Goa. Another recommended trip is to the Menezes Braganza House at Chandor, a fine Portuguese mansion, which shows the opulent lifestyle of the Old Portuguese families who established great plantation estates. Or you may just want to relax and explore the golden beaches dotted along the coast.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 18

    Drive from Goa to Mangalore en route visit Udupi

    Today we drive to Mangalore stopping en route to visit one of Karnataka's top tourist drawcard the Krishna Temple at Udupi.  This temple draws Hindu pilgrims from all over India. After our visit we continue on to Mangalore a major port on international trade routes since the 6th century. 
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 19

    Drive from Mangalore to Mysore.

    In the morning we drive to Mysore (approx. 8 hrs.), the city of royal places and spend two nights here.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 20

    City tour of Mysore, afternoon visit Maharajah's Palace.

    Mysore is the city known for its sandalwood and the manufacture of incense sticks. It is Karnataka's second largest city. We have a sightseeing tour of Mysore and its surroundings. Just outside of Mysore is Srirangapatnam. Tipus' famous battles against both the French and the British are depicted here in the murals on the walls of his delightful summer palace. Ruins of the Fort and the Gumbaz, the family mausoleums are also here. Returning to Mysore we spend the afternoon exploring the beautifully restored City Palace. Designed by Henry Irwin and built in 1897 it is one of the largest palaces in the country and has been beautifully restored and maintained. The stained glass, wall paintings, ivory inlaid doors and ornate golden throne are all remarkable. The rest of the day is free to wander round the bazaar and maybe visit an incense making shop.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 21

    Drive from Mysore to Ootacamund hill station. (Ooty)

    It's a beautiful drive of about six hours as we cross the border from Karnataka into Tamil Nadu. We drive through the Mudumalai and Bandipur National Parks where we may spot deer, elephant and monkeys as we drive along and leave the plains for the Niligiri Hills arriving at Ootacamund hill station where we will spend two nights.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 22

    Ooty sightseeing. Optional Toy train steam railway trip.

    Ootacamund is queen of the southern hill stations and was a refuge for British Officials and tea planters in Southern India. At 2286m the climate is much cooler here and evenings in winter can be quite chilly. In the morning we will drive to Dodabetta Peak. At 2638m it is the highest peak in the Nilgiri Hills. From the top on a clear day we can see as far as the Mysore Plateau. For those who want, there is a pleasant walk through a variety of woodland (eucalyptus, conifer, shola) to Snowdon Peak (2450m) after which we walk back to the Botanical Gardens in town. The Botanical Gardens contain over 1000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees including orchids, set amidst beautiful lawns. In the afternoon, if there is time and the narrow gauge Blue Mountain Railway is open, we will take the delightful one-hour train journey up to Conoor.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 23

    Drive from Ooty to Cochin.

    A fairly long drive today (approx. 9 hrs.) as we leave the Niligiri Hills and head to the coast winding our way through lush tea and coffee plantations. We leave Tamil Nadu and enter Kerala as the road winds through forested hillsides. The ghat journey from Coonoor is one of the most scenic in South India giving superb views of the plains below. Magnificent groves of the slender areca nut palm trees line the road en route to Cochin.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 24

    Tour of Cochin; optional Kathakali dance show.

    Cochin is situated on the Malabar, or 'Pepper Coast', and is one of South India's most interesting towns, believed to have been the first European settlement in India. Rich in history it retains a relaxed, quiet atmosphere. We have a sightseeing tour of Fort Cochin where most of the historic buildings are located amongst the narrow streets. The Portuguese Vasco de Gama landed here in 1500 and began trading with the Raja of Cochin. The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in the mid 1500's and then was largely rebuilt by its second occupants, the Dutch. Built in traditional Kerala style the wooden architecture and wall paintings are still well preserved. St Francis Church is where Vasco de Gama died in 1524 and the building reflects the new European influence in the area. The Santa Cruz Cathedral is close by and was originally used as a warehouse by the British. The Chinese fishing nets line the entrance to the harbour and were introduced by the Chinese in the late 14th century. There is also time to wander round the tiny back streets hunting for souvenirs in the many antique shops and warehouses. In the evening there is the option to see the traditional beautiful dancing of Kathakali.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 25

    Drive from Cochin to Alleppey; backwater cruise on houseboat.

    We drive to Alleppey (approx. 2 hrs.) where we board our houseboats and begin our cruise around the backwaters of Alleppey. The houseboat cruise is one of the highlights of the trip - these enchanting houseboats; built of Anjili wood and bamboo were the traditional method of transport of goods for hundreds of years. Now they have been decorated and made into comfortable cruise boats. As our boat meanders through areas of lush tropical vegetation we have the opportunity to view not only the prolific bird life but also gain a differing perspective on village life. The cruise takes us along shallow, palm-fringed canals where coconut fibre, copia (coconut meat) and cashews are loaded on to dugouts. In the evening the boat is anchored in the backwaters and we can watch the sunset over the rice paddies. All the houseboats are comfortably equipped and have twin bedded rooms with bathroom. There is a cook, boat driver and assistants for each boat and the food served is traditional Keralan fare using local produce. No trip to Kerala would be complete without the wonderful experience of the backwaters aboard these traditional houseboats.
    Houseboat

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 26

    Drive from Alleppey to tropical beaches of Kovalam.

    In the morning we drive to the coastal town of Kovalam (approx. 5 hrs.). Once a relaxing hideaway on the old hippie trail, this beachside town has now been discovered, but the influx of tourism has not diminished this beautiful setting.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 27

    End Kovalam.

    If you are travelling on Land Only arrangements then your trip will finish this morning after checkout. If you are travelling on the group flight we transfer to Trivandrum airport for our flight back to London.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

AII9: 22 Nights hotels, 1 Night houseboat, 3 Nights sleeper trains

 22 nights hotels, 1 night houseboat, 3 nights sleeper trains. There is a variety of accommodation throughout this trip. Hotels vary from higher standard to a more standard property. On this trip we do our best to secure comfortable rooms for you even in the more remote areas. The houseboats are comfortable and all rooms have toilet facilities. Each boat has 3 to 5 twin bedded rooms. The houseboat also benefits from a deck & dining area. The number of boats will vary depending on group size and availability. Customers should be aware that the gas water heaters used on all houseboats are open-flued systems, as used in many parts of India. While this complies with Indian law, it does not meet UK standards and therefore we must inform travellers that there is a risk (while minimal) of carbon monoxide emissions. We have asked our leaders to install a Carbon Monoxide alarm, and to brief your group about keeping their rooms ventilated at night (i.e. window open) to ensure sufficient air circulation. 

Overnight trains

The overnight trains will be booked in 2-tier (or 3-tier depending on availability) sleeper A/C. Please note that the single supplement excludes overnight trains. There are many excellent trains in India however the standard of seating and sleeping is not in line with European standards. All seats are pre-allocated at the time the tickets are issued, meaning that we are not able to guarantee the whole group are together on the train, your leader will manage this as best as possible and will always check on you during the journey. Indian trains are safe to travel on however we would recommended that you keep any valuables with you at all times. Snacks are often offered on board (at an additional cost) but you may wish to purchase your own food prior to the journey. Whilst some trains have western-style facilities, the majority of services are equipped with squat toilets. When arriving in a city, after an overnight train, your hotel room may not be available immediately however your leader will try and get your rooms as quickly as possible or a room to freshen up in.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from 884.00 CHF

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner included.

You should allow at least £13 (US$17) per day for lunch and dinner. You can eat out very cheaply in India, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. Where meals are not supplied, our group leaders always encourage people to try local restaurants and street food vendors. They can make recommendations which will help boost small businesses and celebrate local specialties. In Jaipur, Varanasi and Delhi, we can even see how the food is made e.g. masala chai (tea), samosa (mashed potato snack), jalebe (Indian doughnuts), lassi (yoghurt drink). In most of the towns there is a good choice of restaurants and a choice between Indian and Western style food. If you are a vegetarian, India is an ideal destination. Tea and soft drinks are very cheap. A (large!) bottle of beer is approximately £3 (US$5). Mineral water is widely available. Please note that service in restaurants can be quite slow.

Transportation

All transport, unless otherwise stated, is minibus and train. Although this is basically not a demanding tour, it is a busy itinerary with lots to see and traffic and road conditions can significantly increase the driving time so you should be prepared for some long days and some early starts. Driving times will vary depending on how many stops are made e.g. photo or comfort, on some drives it may be necessary to all order common dishes at lunch in order to save time; we may also carry packed breakfasts and small snacks.

Game drives: in Ranthambore National Park, due to local restrictions enforced to limit the number of visitors to the Park, tiger spotting is from a large open truck called a 'canter' that seats a maximum of 22.  The cantors are licensed and usually allocated by the National Park authorities and while our local contacts do their best to secure the most appropriate vehicles, we are unable to guarantee vehicle standards and maintenance.

 

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

During October/November and February/March/April the days are normally warm to hot and nights cool or mild. Humidity is very low and little or no rain can be expected. In March, April and October it can get very hot during the day. Evenings in Delhi can be surprisingly cool. It gets very cold in the early mornings and evenings in December and January and warm clothes are essential. Fog is also a real possibility during this period. Please note that night time temperatures in Delhi can be very cold and only a little above freezing in December and January. The evenings and early mornings (particularly at Ranthambore Tiger Reserve) can be surprisingly cool, so bring a jumper as well as sun hat, sun cream and sunglasses. The most important feature of the Indian climate is the monsoon. The main monsoon strikes the coast of Kerala in late May and sweeps its way northward over the next month or so. The midsummer months are unbearably hot in south India. The ideal time to visit is during the dry season from October to March although there can be some rain in Tamil Nadu from October to early December. Days will be hot and the nights warm, the average range of maximum daytime temperatures being 20 to 30degC and 6 to 20degC at night. In Ooty the temperatures can be considerably cooler and you can expect temperatures to drop to a few degrees above 0degC at night on winter departures.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 31 Days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Jet Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.


Travelling land only: 30 days starting in Delhi and ending in Kovalam

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Delhi in the morning of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Accommodation check‐in times are normally from around 12 noon.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight - please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense

The cost of a taxi is likely to be about £10 (approx. US$13) should you decide to make your way independently.

Location start:
Delhi
Location end:
Kovalam

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Sunhat and sunglasses

Sun cream and lip salve with sun protection

Light casual clothing

Warm sweater/fleece

Light waterproof

Daypack

Torch

Trainers/Walking shoes

Sandals/Flip-flops

Anti-bacterial hand gel

Small personal first aid kit

Additional warm layers

Scarf (for Winter departures)

Gloves (for Winter departures)

Cable lock, or small chain and padlock, to lock your bag up on the train

Mens and womens clothing should cover shoulders and be on or below the knee. Women especially should always dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention and not to cause offence; vests, tight fitting trousers, short skirts and shorts are not recommended.

It doesn't matter what type of bag or case you use on this trip although it is preferable to use a soft holdall (with wheels if necessary) or rucksack/travelsack as they tend to be easier to manage on the overnight trains. You should also bring a small day bag for your valuable items.

Please remember that you are expected to carry your own luggage at times, so don't overload yourself.

Optional Equipment

Umbrella (for sun and rain).

Please note you DO NOT need a sleeping bag for this trip, although you may like to bring a sheet sleeping bag for the overnight sleeper trains.

Reading List

A Brief History of the Moghuls by Bamber Gascoigne

The 20th Wife by I Sundaresan

Shadow Princess by I Sundaresan

Art and Architecture of India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain (Pelican History of Art, 1984)

Concise History of India by F. Watson (Thames & Hudson, 1974)

Practical Information

Passport

India

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

India

Visas are required if you are British and for most other nationalities. For UK residents full details of the visa process can be found here. Other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies.

If your trip visits Ladakh, in the very north of India, or Sikkim in the northeast, do not mention this on your Indian visa application. This can sometimes slow down or even cause the embassy to reject your visa.

When you reach immigration, you are required to pick up an immigration form. If you have an e-visa, ensure you stand in the correct queue - please follow the signs to the e-visa booth (in Delhi this is at the back of the immigration hall). You will need to fill out an additional form at the booth - please make sure that you have the details of your start hotel ready (these details can be found on your Final Joining Instructions).

 

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

India

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. Some of our India trips spend time at altitude. In regions over approx. 2000m, there is low to no risk of mosquito-borne diseases. For trips going to altitudes of over 3000m there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please see the TRIP NOTES for further information.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Malaria prophylaxis is essential on this trip, and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take.

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

India's Timezone:
Asia/Kolkata IST (GMT +05:30)

Electricity

India's Electricity:

230/240 volts AC, 50 Hz.

There are recharging facilities at all the hotels and jungle cottages, the electricity supply is not 100% reliable but it is usually only off for short periods of time.

Money

India's Currency

The national currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (February 2019) of approximately 90 to the UK£ and 70 to the US$.

It is illegal to import or export rupees. Do not accept torn or (very) dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. Please ask for low denomination notes of 100 and 500 Rupees as the new 2000 Rupee notes can be difficult to use out of Delhi. You can change money back from Rupees into Pounds or Dollars at Delhi airport (before going through security), but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India.

ATM Availability

ATMs are now widely available in the course of the trip (Visa and MasterCard are best) though you should not rely on these 100% of the time, so please take some cash with you as well. Please inform your bank before departure that you are travelling to India and carry the relevant telephone number with you in case they put a block on your card.

You can pay with credit cards in bigger shops all over India

Well known brands of travellers cheques can be exchanged but this can take time and banks are not always open when you need them.

You can bring Sterling or US Dollars.

 

It is illegal to import or export rupees. Do not accept torn or (very) dirty Indian banknotes from banks or in change as they will almost certainly not be accepted as legal tender in India. Please ask for low denomination notes of 100 Rupees, as 500 Rupee notes will be more difficult to use. You can change money back from Rupees into Pounds or Dollars at Delhi airport, but you must produce an exchange receipt showing that you changed money in India. Money change facilities are available on arrival at Delhi's international airport although the rate is usually lower than in the cities. You can change US$ and £ in cash in all the major towns and cities.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Many sights now charge a small fee for cameras and you should allow another £20 (approx. US$26) for these. It is recommended that you allow at least £7 (US$9) per day for personal expenditure such as stamps, postcards and soft drinks. Shopping opportunities throughout this tour are endless and we suggest that you take money for souvenirs ‐ even if you are generally not a keen shopper we have found that most people succumb to some of the wide variety of handicrafts on offer.

India has very good opportunities for shopping, especially for locally made goods, and during your trip it is highly likely that your local guides will take you to emporiums as well as workshops where these goods are made. Many people find this a great opportunity to buy local handicrafts, silk, jewellery and carpets. Guides will often assume that visitors will want to go shopping, it is very much part of the culture, but if you do not wish to go please make this clear to your local guide at the time.

Tipping

Tipping is very much part of the culture in India and is usually expected. Tipping can often be an awkward affair, especially when in an unfamiliar country where you are not sure when or how much to tip. As such, your tour leader will offer to arrange and look after a group tipping kitty which will be used to tip hotel staff, local sightseeing guides, bus drivers as well as any other support staff used throughout your trip. Your leader will suggest how much to contribute, depending on group size, but it is usually in the region of 5000-5500 INR (approx. GBP£57-63 or US$75-82) per person. At any time during the trip your leader will be happy to show you an account of how the kitty is being distributed. Please note that for smaller groups the leader may have to collect more than the above amount. 

Tipping of leaders is not included in the kitty and is at your own discretion. If you wish to show your appreciation a tip of around £2-£3 (US$3-4.50) per person per day would be appreciated.

By definition, gratuities are not something that can be included in the tour price.

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.