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Authentic India

15days from
£2,777*per person

Overview

A responsible & enriching journey

Forge meaningful connections, partake in local initiatives, and support sustainability efforts through responsible excursions and interactions.    A deeply enriching journey through India’s major cities, where history, culture and women’s empowerment come to life, from stays in small, family-run hotels to engaging with local families and inspiring business owners.  Begin in Delhi, observing the majestic Qutub Minar and delving into the old town, covering the Jama Masjid Mosque, Humayun's Tomb, the Red Fort, and Agrasen-Ki Baoli. Gastronomic delights await as you embark on a walking tour, uncovering the city's culinary traditions and foodie hotspots before a visit to a non-profit organisation dedicated to women's empowerment and child education, offering a glimpse into their remarkable efforts. Continuing to Agra, you'll be captivated by the mesmerising Taj Mahal and the grandeur of Agra Fort. Lunch at Sheroes' Hangout, a café empowering resilient women who've conquered adversity, serves as another poignant stop. Jaipur's architectural wonders, from the Chand Baori Stepwell to the ancient Harshat Mata Temple, showcase more of India’s architectural triumphs. A stop off at an organic farm and a look into a local family's daily life, a cooking class and home-cooked dinner bring you closer to the region's traditions. The tour then surveys Jaipur's City Palace, Jantar Mantar, and the Hawa Mahal. An electric eco-friendly rickshaw ride allows you to see the city from a different perspective and a tea break at the Marigold Hotel ensures a moment of reflection. In Udaipur, the ‘City of Lakes’, you’ll sail across Lake Pichola and participate in an enchanting evening aarti ceremony. An optional morning cycle tour means you can watch the city come to life as the sun rises. You'll explore more of Udaipur's treasures with calls at the City Palace, Jagdish Temple, and Saheliyon-ki-Bari, followed by an authentic Thali lunch and a vintage car museum tour. A thought-provoking talk by Amdavad No Richshawala, an advocate of 'gifting forward,' is followed by time spent in Ahmedabad, meandering around its flower market, sipping tea in a local haveli, and seeing Sabarmati Ashram and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) Federation. Mumbai is the final destination with guided tours of Mani Bhavan, the Prince of Wales Museum, and the Dhobi Ghat, as well as an optional tour to discover the city at dawn.

Itinerary

  • Board your overnight flight for the journey to India. 
  • After your overnight flight, you’ll arrive in Delhi, and be welcomed by your friendly, local tour manager. A private all-female driven transfer will take you to the first hotel in a quiet neighbourhood of the city.   In the afternoon, the exploration will begin with a visit to one of Delhi’s most famous and historical monuments, Qutub Minar. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a five-story tower built from red sandstone and marble and adorned with intricating carvings. Forming part of the Qutb Minar complex, it was believed to have been constructed as a victory tower or a minaret attached to a mosque.  You’ll then have an opportunity to traverse the bustling city in various modes of local transport, including a tuk-tuk, the Metro and a rickshaw.   Dinner will be enjoyed back at the hotel on the rooftop overlooking the city.  
  • Following breakfast, set off on a morning sightseeing excursion of Old Delhi, where you’ll witness its vibrant culture and rich history. This enlightening tour encompasses all the city’s major historical landmarks, including the Jama Masjid Mosque, one of the largest in India, Raj Ghat, the majestic Humayun's Tomb, a stunning example of Mughal architecture Gandhi’s cremation site, and Agrasen-Ki Baoli, a centuries-old step well. An exhilarating rickshaw ride around Chandni Chowk, known for its markets and street food, will serve as another memorable highlight.   Later in the day, you’ll journey on a culinary walking tour around Old Delhi while learning about how the city has preserved its cultural history and epicurean traditions. During the tour, you’ll call at foodie spots, which are considered landmarks on Delhi’s culinary map and favoured by locals while tasting recipes that have been passed down through generations.  Later, you’ll pass by the India Gate, modelled after the grandeur of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It serves as a memorial dedicated to the soldiers who fought during World War I. The journey then takes you past the UNESCO-listed Red Fort, known as the Lal Qila deriving its name from the red sandstone that embellishes its soaring walls. This historic fortress is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture. Lastly, you'll pass by the grand government buildings, including the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, and the impressive Parliament House. These colonial-era architectural marvels blend British and Indian design influences.   In the afternoon, the group will visit an organisation that is dedicated to women's empowerment and child education. Non-profit groups like this in India play a crucial role in uplifting the lives of marginalised communities, promoting gender equality, and ensuring that children have access to quality education  An evening tea with Mrs. Khanna, the owner of Colonel Retreat, offers a unique and enlightening opportunity to learn about her entrepreneurial journey, challenges, and successes.  After a full day, you can join your fellow travellers for dinner.
  • Have breakfast, check out of the hotel, and board the coach to the railway station. You’ll then travel on the high-speed Gatiman Express to Agra, taking in the Indian countryside as you go. Once you’ve arrived in Agra, your exploration of the city will begin with visits to two of its most famed landmarks.   The first stop will be the Taj Mahal, and you’ll get to see the famed monument of love up close, glistening in the sunshine. This ivory-white marble mausoleum and UNESCO World Heritage Site, encircled by expansive Mughal gardens, is one of the greatest architectural achievements and a wish-list spectacle. Completed in 1648 and built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, it’s renowned for its Mughal design and elements, including a central dome, minarets, and reflecting pool.   Next, you’ll visit the royal pavilions, palaces, and courtyards of the majestic, red sandstone Agra Fort. From this 16th-century fortress set on the Yamuna River, you’ll experience your first view of the incomparable Taj Mahal and its gardens. Explore the intricate maze of structures within the fort as you learn about how it served as the residence of Mughal emperors for over three centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed in the 16th century by Emperor Akbar and later expanded by his successors.   After the morning's sightseeing, you'll head to a restaurant for lunch, Sheroes’ Hangout. This café, activism workshop, and community radio hub empowers remarkable women who have overcome heinous chemical burns. Defining themselves as ‘fighters’, these inspiring women have experienced unimaginable challenges, and during your visit, you can gain an insight into their journeys and help support their mission.    Post-lunch, your journey continues as you leave the city for rural Rajasthan to a tranquil village retreat. Get settled into your cottage-style accommodation, enveloped by the lush Aravalli Hills, and have dinner. 
  • Wake up in a serene paradise for breakfast and then set off on a morning excursion to. Chand Baori Stepwell, which was built over 1,000 years ago and is one of the biggest stepwells in the world. With intricately geometrically designed staircases, this architectural wonder serves as a source of water and a place of respite in the desert heat.   Adjacent to the stepwells, you’ll find the Harshat Mata Temple. This ancient place of worship is dedicated to the goddess of happiness and joy, Harshat Mata, and dates back to the 7th century before being damaged in the 10th century. Today, many of the statues, pillars and columns are dispersed throughout the site, and only the main parts of the shrine have survived.   The rest of the day is yours to savour at leisure, perhaps taking advantage of the in-house activities at the retreat or embarking on a walk to the nearby village. This experience allows you to immerse yourself in local life, observe the workings of an organic garden, and discover various elements of traditional farming.   In the afternoon, you can engage in a talk with the manager of the retreat. While listening to this, you can learn about the retreat’s sustainability initiatives and activities, eco-friendly practices, and community involvement. One of the stand-out initiatives at the retreat is ‘SAHIL’, a children's library. Through this small but impactful project, the retreat is able to provide a safe and educational space for the local children. After their school hours, they’re encouraged to visit the library to learn English.   As the day comes to a close, dinner will be had back at the retreat.  
  • Your day will start with breakfast at the retreat before venturing on a scenic drive to Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’ and capital of Rajasthan.   Along the way, you’ll stop at Ikaki Bagh, an organic farm located just outside the city, which is centred around eco-friendly practices. You’ll walk through the nearby village, connecting with the warm local people and seeing their homes. A delicious lunch, prepared with fresh, regional ingredients from the farm will then be enjoyed.   Later, you’ll call at a family home in Jaipur, and be welcomed into the traditional Rajasthani hospitality. This is another chance to go beyond the guidebooks and gain a glimpse of the daily life and customs of a local family.   In the evening, the tour will stop at Birla Mandir, also known as the Laxmi Narayan Temple. Built from pristine white marble and dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, this impressive structure is covered in detailed carvings. Your visit coincides with the evening aarti, the Hindu ceremony of light before relaxing over dinner at your hotel. 
  • Fuel up for the day ahead, as you’ll journey by Jeep to Amber, the ancient capital of the Rajput Empire and home of the extraordinary hill-top Amber Fort. You’ll get to explore the Royal Hills of this 6th-century hilltop structure and take in the magnificent views from the red sandstone ramparts. After you’ve visited the fort, you’ll get to learn about its ancient water harvesting system, partake in a workshop at a block printing studio, and visit a workshop where paper is made from elephant dung.  The exploration of Jaipur continues with a sightseeing tour. You'll visit the City Palace, a magnificent complex that blends Rajput and Mughal architectural styles and the Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 18th century. You'll also drive past the Hawa Mahal, a stunning pink palace with intricate lattice work that allowed royal women to watch street processions without being seen.    To appreciate the old part of the city from another angle, you’ll board electric eco-friendly rickshaws operated by well-trained women drivers from low-income households. The company that runs this rickshaw service provides visitors with a unique perspective on the city and also supports local women’s empowerment.   Taking a break from the bustle of the streets, you’ll travel to the Marigold Hotel, situated in the old part of Jaipur, for afternoon tea. This allows you to embrace a moment of relaxation after all the activities and to share stories with the other travellers over hot refreshments and baked treats.   Following another meaningful day of discovery, you’ll return to the hotel for dinner.  
  • Once you’ve had breakfast, the tour will take a culinary turn, beginning with a walk through a local market. As you stroll, you can soak up the colours and aromas of the stalls, engage with vendors, and witness the variety of goods on offer  In the afternoon, you’ll join the women from a local family on a visit to a vegetable market. Here, you'll have the chance to handpick fresh vegetables for your evening dinner and learn about the importance of fresh, locally sourced produce. With your fresh vegetables in hand, you’ll be shown how to cook traditional and popular dishes with a local family and be guided by the expertise of your hosts as you prepare a meal. Dinner will then be served, and you’ll get to taste your efforts while listening to stories and engaging with the family.  
  • The day kicks off with a conveniently packed breakfast, as you’ll travel early to the railway station and board a train to Udaipur, the ‘City of Lakes’ set around artificial lakes and home to a collection of magnificent royal residences.  At the station, you’ll be met by a guide and driven to the hotel, just a short walk from the City Palace and Lake Pichola. You’ll have some time to relax before embarking on a boat ride across the serene waters of Lake Pichola. This picturesque lake is surrounded by palaces, including the famous Lake Palace, which seems to float on its waters. As you glide along the lake, you'll witness the architectural beauty of Udaipur's waterfront.   In the evening, you’ll visit a local temple, where you’ll get to witness another spiritual aarti ceremony of prayers and lighting lamps.   The group will then return to the hotel for dinner.  
  • Have breakfast and a leisurely morning or join an optional early morning cycle tour of Udaipur.   This will start with a ride to Fateh Sagar Lake as the sun rises before you weave your way through the lanes of the city, passing the lakes as you go. You’ll then come across Shilpgram, a handicraft village cooperative, where tribal and rural artisans showcase and sell their work. As you continue, you’ll head towards Badi Lake and turn onto a serene country road running alongside several waterfalls. At the lake, you can hydrate, enjoy a light refreshment, and take some photographs. The group will then return to the city via a different route, winding through forests and villages.   A morning city tour will then commence, stopping by the majestic City Palace, a grand structure of towers and balconies, and Rajasthan’s largest palace. You’ll also visit Jagdish Temple, a towering Hindu shrine, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and the beautiful gardens of Saheliyon-ki-Bari, the ‘Gardens of Maidens’, adorned with marble fountains and encompassing lush lawns.   For lunch, you’ll enjoy a special Thali lunch, a traditional Indian meal that consists of a variety of dishes served on a single platter. The group will continue to a vintage car museum, which houses a collection of cars owned by the royal family of Udaipur. Here, you can admire the classic automobiles, carriages, and other historical memorabilia.  The rest of the day will be at leisure to explore the city at your own place, or you can see a local potter's colony, where you'll witness the skilled artisans at work, shaping different ceramics. Alternatively, you can wander around the nearby vegetable market.   As night falls, you can make your way back to the hotel for dinner.  
  • Check out of the hotel after breakfast and set off on a morning drive to Ahmedabad, the largest city in the state of Gujarat, interspersed by the Sabarmati River.   When you arrive, you’ll check into a Barque-style heritage hotel, one of the oldest buildings in the city, and get settled in, perhaps having a drink at the open-air café.    In the afternoon, you’ll meet a rickshaw driver, dedicated to the concept of ‘gifting forward’. You’ll learn how he actively seeks to make a positive difference in the lives of others by letting underprivileged locals ride for free and others can pay what they’re willing.   This evening, you’ll have dinner at your hotel and an evening to unwind.
  • You’ll have another early breakfast and then dive into the heart of the city with a visit to the enchanting flower market, awash with bright colours and fragrances. Browse the fresh blooms and witness the locals selling and buying as you walk around.   The tour will continue with a heritage walk through the historic streets of Old Ahmedabad, allowing you to admire the architecture and winding, narrow lanes. A well-deserved break and tea will be enjoyed at a local haveli, a charming traditional townhouse.   Later in the day, you’ll visit the Sabarmati Ashram, one of the many residences of Mahatma Gandhi, set on the banks of the Sabarmati River. Next, you’ll see the 15th-century Dada Hari Stepwell, five stories deep and built from sandstone, as well as the Shreyas Folk Museum, displaying regional textiles, crafts, and ceremonial objects.   To conclude the day, you’ll head to the Self-Employed Women's Association, which helps and supports women who work for themselves, particularly in the informal section, like street vendors, artisans, and labourers. This collective power allows them to have a stronger voice and better working conditions and pay.
  • Have breakfast, check out of the hotel and travel to the railway station for the train to Mumbai where you’ll be welcomed by a guide and transferred to your hotel at the end of Marine Drive.   The rest of the day will be free to walk around a local market or visit a local railway station to experience the life of a Mumbai resident.   Dinner will be enjoyed back at the hotel.  
  • An optional excursion is available this morning, to explore the city as the sun rises. You’ll start with the newspaper vendor distribution network to understand how this system works. The tour will then continue to watch the local men and women bargain with wholesale fruit and vegetable vendors to purchase fresh produce for the day. Sassoon Docks is the next stop, and here you’ll see fresh fish delivered into the city. As you travel through the streets, returning to the hotel, you’ll observe the locals going about their daily lives, with bread boys delivering bread, milk men carrying canisters, and vegetable and flower markets coming to life.   After breakfast, you’ll venture on a guided tour of Mumbai, visiting several of the city’s historical and cultural landmarks. Mani Bhavan, a museum, and historical building dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, will be the first stop. Serving as Gandhi’s headquarters for around 17 years, this mansion houses a library, a photo gallery, and a room where Gandhi stayed. You can view his spinning wheel and bed on the floor, as well as the terrace where he was arrested in 1932.   The Prince of Wales Museum is next, and in this ornate building with detailed lattice work, around 50,000 artefacts documenting the history of India can be found. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formally known as the Victoria Terminus Station, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another striking structure, with its Victorian Gothic Revival architecture built over 10 years.   As you move on, you'll experience the unique spectacle of Dhobi Ghat, an open-air laundry where skilled dhobis (laundry workers) wash, dry, and press clothes in a traditional manner. Originally constructed in 1890, the site is made up of more than 700 washing stations and from the sides, you can observe the massive scale of this age-old practice. The day’s exploration ends at the Gateway of India, a grand arch monument located on the waterfront of the city. It was constructed to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911 and served as the exit point for the last British troops leaving India.  The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore at your own pace before you join the other travellers for a farewell dinner.
  • Relish your final breakfast at the hotel, check out and travel to the airport for your return flight to UK, arriving later this afternoon.  

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Set off on a tour of Old Delhi, where you’ll witness its most famous landmarks, including Jama Masjid Mosque, Humayun's Tomb, and the Red Fort
  • Embark on a culinary walking tour, call at the local foodie spots, and learn about the epicurean traditions
  • Spend time at a non-profit organisation dedicated to women's empowerment and child education
  • Enjoy talks with owners of a local retreat and hotels, learning about their entrepreneurial journeys
  • Board a train to Agra and see the Taj Mahal, the famed ivory-white marble mausoleum
  • Explore the royal pavilions, palaces, and courtyards of the majestic, red sandstone Agra Fort
  • Discover Jaipur’s Chand Baori Stepwell (Abhaneri), one of the biggest stepwells in the world and the ancient Harshat Mata Temple
  • Observe the eco-friendly practices of an organic farm and enjoy lunch with regional ingredients
  • Visit the extraordinary hill-top Amber Fort and take in the magnificent views from the red sandstone ramparts.
  • Take to the streets of Jaipur on an electric eco-friendly rickshaw visiting the City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Maha
  • Walk through a vegetable market with a local resident, learn how to cook traditional dishes, watch a demonstration, and have dinner at a family’s home
  • Join an optional early morning cycle tour of Udaipur, riding through the streets and countryside as the sun rises
  • Travel by train to Udaipur, set sail across Lake Pichola and catch an evening aarti ceremony at a local temple
  • Journey around Udaipur on a guided tour, stopping at the City Palace, Jagdish Temple, and the pretty Saheliyon-ki-Bari
  • Amble through Ahmedabad flower market, sip tea at a local haveli and call at Sabarmati Ashram and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) Federation
  • Ride a train to Mumbai and opt for an excursion to navigate the city’s streets at dawn

Our Price Includes

  • 13 nights half-board accommodation in a series of hotels in Delhi (2 nights), Abhaneri (2), Jaipur (3), Udaipur (2), Ahmedabad (2), and Mumbai (2) plus one night on the aircraft
  • 13 breakfasts, four lunches, and 13 dinners
  • Tour of Old Delhi with visit Qutub Minar and culinary walking tour
  • Visit to a local women’s organisation and a tea with hotel owner
  • Train journey to Agra and visit Taj Mahal and Agra Fort
  • Visit to the Chand Baori Stepwell, Harshat Mata Temple and visit to Ikaki Bagh
  • Visit to Ikaki Bagh and a family home
  • Visit to Birla Mandir with an aarti ceremony
  • Visit to Amber Fort and a tour of Jaipur
  • Eco-friendly rickshaw ride and afternoon tea in Jaipur
  • Visit to a local market and vegetable market and a cooking class and demonstration
  • Train journey to Udaipur, boat ride across Lake Pichola and aarti ceremony at a local temple
  • Thali lunch and visit to a vintage car museum
  • Talk with a rickshaw driver, visit to a flower market and tea at a local haveli
  • Visit to Sabarmati Ashram and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) Federation
  • Tour of Mumbai
  • Return flights to Delhi, returning from Mumbai
  • Transfers throughout
  • Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager
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Other Information

Hotels

Please note that the hotels in Jaipur and Udaipur don't have a lift. In total, you'll need to be able to climb 24 steps in order to access all of the hotel facilities.

Passports and visas

British citizens require machine-readable passports when travelling overseas. Your passport must contain two blank pages and be valid for 180 days after your return date from India. British CITIZENS and most other European nationals satisfying certain conditions may use the online e-Tourist Visa application process at a cost of $10 (US) per person for entry to India for arrivals in the months of April, May and June or $25 (US) per person for arrivals in other months. Fees are subject to change. Other passport holders must apply for a full visa. Note that all travellers of Pakistani descent, regardless of citizenship, will generally be subject to more detailed processing by the Indian authorities, which can take up to four months from application.

Hotel transfer times

The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.

Foreign Office travel advice

Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.  

Outbound flights

All outbound flights leave in the evening and land at your destination the next day. All return flights leave in the morning and land in the UK on the same day. On-board meals will usually include dinner and breakfast on outbound flights, and lunch and a snack on the flight home. Drinks are complimentary.  

Luggage allowance

You are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.  

Special requirements

If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

Disabled access

The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made. In many developing countries access is sometimes not as easy as at home. Should you have walking difficulties, getting around monuments and attractions may be harder and, in some cases, impossible. Should you have any concerns whatsoever please do contact us prior to travel.

Travel vaccines

Requirements and advice can vary over time, and from person to person, so please contact your GP about eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or any other preventive measures.

Road conditions

In developing countries road networks are continually being improved and expanded, which can mean that, from time to time, roadworks and rough road surfaces can extend journey times. Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads.

Holiday code

N2525

Holiday provided by Newmarket Holidays

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: fully flexible booking policy, covid-19 cancellation cover insurance as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Newmarket Holidays (ABTOT 5509, ATOL 2325, ABTA V7812), you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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