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The Heart of India aboard the Deccan Odyssey

11days from
£5,999*per person

Overview

11 Days - Signature Tours

Itinerary

  • Fly to Delhi Our exciting adventure begins with an overnight flight to Delhi.
  • New Delhi  On arrival, we'll transfer to New Delhi for a one-night stay in a five-star hotel. After a short rest, we'll begin exploring the city with a guided orientation tour of New Delhi.  Designed on an imperial scale by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1911, New Delhi is a bustling hub that reflects the Raj legacy and is home to the former Viceroy's Palace, now the Presidential Palace.  It's divided by wide, tree-lined avenues and punctuated by many historical monuments which we'll see on our tour.  On our orientation tour, we’ll follow the imposing Rajpath - or Kingsway - a vast parade, passing both the India Gate and the office of the Indian Government as well as some of Delhi's older monuments. Our tour includes Qutub Minar, known as Victory Tower - it's the tallest stone tower in India - and the nearby Humayun’s tomb, an outstanding example of Moghul architecture and the first mausoleum of its type, pre-dating the country's famous Taj Mahal by nearly a century.  Included experience An orientation guided tour of New Delhi.​​​​​​​
  • Old Delhi  This morning, we continue exploring the city, visiting Old Delhi with a guided walking tour from the Salaam Baalak Trust. We'll see the city through the eyes of the children who used to live and work on the streets of Delhi as you wander through narrow alleys and bustling bazaars. And we'll hear stories of the Mughal era and first-hand accounts of life today within the walled city as we uncover lesser-known attractions, known only to the locals, with this eye-opening experience.   National Rail Museum  Later, we'll head back to New Delhi to the National Rail Museum to see their collection of rare trains. The collection is spread over 11 acres (and 160 years of rail history in the Indian sub-continent) with 88 decommissioned locomotives, saloons, carriages, cranes and special coaches - it's a trainspotter's paradise.  Board the Deccan Odyssey  Then, it'll be time to transfer to Safdarjung Railway Station, board our luxury train and embark on a voyage across the magnificent landscapes of India.  The rest of the afternoon and evening is spent settling into your cabin and enjoying the train's state-of-the-art facilities, including our first dinner - a selection of Indian, oriental and continental delicacies - in the restaurants on board. Included experience A guided tour of Old Delhi and visit to the National Rail Museum.   Signature Experience After our tour of Old Delhi, we hop aboard a bicycle-driven rickshaw through Chandni Chowk, a densely populated neighbourhood in Old Delhi, home to one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi. Then, we'll stop for lunch at a beautifully restored Haveli, a recipient of UNESCO's Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Here we'll step into a time capsule from the Mughal era with all its architectural beauty and grandeur. Lunch will include delicious delights created by experimental chefs who combine artful presentation with tasteful Indian ‘tadakkas’. It's a mouthwatering mix of Old Delhi delicacies and rich Mughlai cuisine.
  • Ranthambore National Park  After a peaceful night's sleep lulled by the steady rhythm of our luxury locomotive, we'll arrive at Sawai Madhopur.  We'll enjoy a delicious breakfast on board before setting out for a game drive through Ranthambore National Park, one of North India's biggest and most popular national parks. Through years of conservation, Ranthambore has become the best place to go to spot tigers in India. If that isn't exciting enough, you may see large numbers of sambars, the largest Asian antelope, as well as marsh crocodiles, wild boar and rare sloth bears and leopards. Travelling in groups of six through the park with a local guide and driver, we'll go in search of these magnificent creatures. As we explore their natural habitat your local guide will tell you all about the animals you're seeing and the park itself. Keep your binoculars at the ready - over 300 bird species call the park home, including crested eagles, painted storks and wild peacocks. Look out for the playful troop of black-faced langur monkeys near the main entrance gate. It'll be back to the train for lunch before we tour the local villages around Ranthambore National Park. Surrounded by the rolling hills of Arvallis and Vindhayas, the villages of Sawai Madhopur offer insight into the daily lives of the farmers and typical Indian village life. (If you like art, don't miss the folksy sketches - or Mandana – that decorate the walls of their mud houses.) Included experience Game drive through Ranthambore National Park and tour of local villages in Sawai Madhopur.   Signature Experience Our way back to the train this afternoon, we'll stop for high tea at the intimate Sawai Madhopur Lodge, a former hunting post of the royals. We'll bask in the charm of yesteryear on its shady colonnaded veranda with views of the gardens and the forest beyond. 
  • The Taj Mahal  Arriving in Agra this morning, we'll visit one of the world's most iconic monuments - the Taj Mahal. It's a true highlight of the trip. The early morning light, as the mist rises from the Yamuna River behind it, captures its ethereal beauty at its best - it's not hard to see why this stunning marble palace is known as the 'Crown Jewel of India'. Built to house the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal - Emperor Johan's wife - it combines extraordinary craftsmanship, meticulous symmetry and abundant history (no wonder it took 20,000 men 22 years to finish). We think it's one of the most amazing monuments on the planet, but you'll have plenty of time to marvel at it from all angles to decide for yourself if you agree.  The Baby Taj  If one Taj Mahal isn't enough for you, try two! After lunch at a local hotel this afternoon, we’ll make our way to the tomb of  Itmad-ud-Daulah, known locally as ‘The Baby Taj’. Built by Shah Jahan's wife for her father, it was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. It's a chance to see the marble inlay workmanship Agra is famous for and explore the structure's jewel box design. Later, we'll return to the Deccan Odyssey for another sumptuous dinner as we travel on towards Jaipur. Included experience Visits to the Taj Mahal and the Baby Taj.
  • Tour of Jaipur  We'll wake up in the last city of India's famous Golden Triangle, Jaipur, where we'll hop off our luxury train to tour the Pink City. Starting with the Hawa Mahal, the famous Palace of the Winds. Constructed with red and pink sandstone common to the area (hence the nickname the Pink City), it's over 200 years old. But it's not just a historical relic but a living testament to the artistic and architectural brilliance of its era. It's beautifully decorated with paintings, intricate carvings and many windows. The lattice detail was originally designed to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life and festivals celebrated in the street below without being seen. Next, we'll visit the home of the current Maharaja (who's only in his 20s!), The City Palace. In the heart of the Old City, the palace is made up of a complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings constructed over the ages to create a map of Jaipur's architectural history. It is a striking blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. Housed inside are a collection of costumes, carpets, paintings and an impressive armoury. Amber Fort  Then it’s on to the immense Amber Fort located in the hills just a short drive from the city. Sampling all the most fascinating sights, the guided tour includes sections reserved for the Maharajah's wives and concubines as well as a remarkable hall of mirrors, with tiny delicate convex mirrors embedded like mosaics in the walls and ceilings. Look out for the Belgium crystal chandeliers hanging above exquisite marble floors, cut from the very quarries that supplied the builders of the Taj Mahal in this wonderfully opulent setting. Jantar Mantar  Another highlight of the day is a stop at the Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built in 1726, known to be one of the best preserved of India's historic observatories. At first glance, the oversized instruments may look like geometric modernist sculptures, but each has a specific function and is remarkably accurate. It has been described as ‘cosmic architecture’ and our expert guide will explain their religious and scientific significance. Free time in Jaipur  Free time after lunch is a chance to wander through Jaipur’s fascinating markets and test your bartering skills. Included experience Guided tour of Jaipur, including visits to the Palace of Winds, the Amber Fort, the City Palace and the Jantar Mantar observatory.
  • Udaipur City Palace  This morning, we'll arrive in Rajasthan's most beautiful city, Udaipur. The city is set against the backdrop of the Aravalli Hills around a series of man-made lakes, giving it its nickname: the City of Lakes. It was dubbed "the most romantic spot on the continent of India" by British administrator James Tod who wrote the Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, a history of Rajasthan. The massive City Palace on Lake Pichola's east bank is one of the most imposing in the city. Since the 16th century, this palace remained an architectural beauty. On our tour of the complex, we’ll enter through the famous triple-arched gate, the tripolia, where the Maharajas were famously weighed with the equivalent in gold and silver which was then distributed amongst their subjects. Behind the walls are a myriad of pavilions, terraces, courtyards and gardens to appreciate, as well as rooms extravagantly decorated with mirrors, tiles and paintings that house a large collection of artefacts that make up the City Palace Museum. You’ll really get a sense of the overwhelming opulence of the royal court.  Tour of Udaipur  In the afternoon, we'll take a walking tour through Udaipur's markets, known for beautiful handicrafts and artwork like the traditional Rajasthani Pichwai and Phad paintings done by the local artists, camel leather bags, footwear, silver and camel bone jewellery, famous Rajasthani Bandhani and Batik sarees. As you sit down to dinner on board our luxury train tonight, we'll continue our journey southwards through the endlessly fascinating Indian countryside. Included experience Visit Udaipur's City Palace and a walking tour though Udaipur markets.   Signature Experience After our visit to Udaipur's City Palace, we'll take a boat trip across Pichola, seeing the palace from a unique perspective. In the middle of the glass-like lake is the shimmering 17th-century Jagmandir Palace, known as the Lake Garden Palace, floating like a white marble ship at its centre. Here, we'll stop for lunch while enjoying wonderful views of the city. 
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park  Travelling overnight, we'll arrive in Vadodara this morning. Known as the cultural capital of Gujarat, it's home to the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park. This vast and largely unexcavated archaeological site is cradled within an impressive landscape. At the top of Pavagadh hill, which rises dramatically from the surrounding plains, is the sacred Kalika Mata Temple - to which thousands of Hindu pilgrims flock every year to worship the goddess Kali. Highlights from the rest of the site include prehistoric sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat as well as other vestiges, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures and water installations.  Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum  After lunch on board, we'll head to the dome-topped Maharaja's Palace in Vadodara to visit the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum. Aptly located in what used to be a school for the Maharaja's children, it now houses educational exhibits, including paintings of Indian royalty, sculptures and an Oriental gallery. We'll end our visit with an elegant high tea at the Laxmi Vilas Palace before returning to our train. Included experience Visit to the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park and the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum and high tea at Laxmi Vilas Palace.
  • There'll be plenty of time to relax this morning as we wind into the state of Maharashtra. Now could be the time to find out what's so special about an Indian massage (a skill they perfected over the last 5,000 years) in the onboard spa or simply watch the beautiful Indian countryside slip by as you chat with your fellow explorers in the lounge. We'll enjoy lunch on board before arriving at Aurangabad. Our destination is the Ellora Caves, one of India’s most unusual UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Spread across the Sahyadri hills, Ellora is one of the most important examples of ancient rock-cut architecture in India - and that's no mean feat as there are over 1,500 to choose from! The age, size and complexity of the carvings are unique in India and many of the temples are still in use today. Surrounded by beautiful green forests, the caves (which date back to 600 AD) stand as a testament to the achievements of structural engineering and craftsmanship. The gentle slope of the hills allowed builders to cut down into the rock from above, much like the rock-carved temples of Petra in Jordan. With Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples and monasteries - the caves served every purpose and they're embellished with remarkably detailed sculptures. It's amazing to think they were made using only simple tools and human hands. After exploring the caves, we'll return to our luxury locomotive for our last night on board.
  • This morning, the Deccan Odyssey pulls into Mumbai’s magnificent Victoria Terminus, a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture and one of the world’s busiest railway stations. After breakfast, it's time to bid farewell to our home for the past seven nights and enter the bustling metropolis of Mumbai, India's commercial capital. Known as Bombay until 1995, Mumbai was formed in the 18th and 19th centuries as part of an engineering project. Recognised as the cultural capital of India, it's synonymous with the Bollywood film industry and the birthplace of Bollywood Day. Some of India's most beloved landmarks can be found here, with architectural influences visible in the city's buildings from Art Deco to Indo-Saracenic. Listen as our guide points out the sights on a tour of Mumbai, including the iconic Gateway of India, where British viceroys and governors would land on arrival in the country. We'll also visit the Prince of Wales Museum, founded in the early years of the 20th century by prominent citizens of Bombay to commemorate the visit of the then Prince of Wales - who later became King George V - and renamed after Shivaji - the founder of Maratha Empire - in 1998. Housed inside the Indo-Saracenic building are approximately 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from foreign lands, categorized primarily into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History. The building is surrounded by a garden of palm trees and formal flower beds. Our tour continues into the hillock and upmarket neighbourhood of Malabar Hill where the colonial bungalows that once peppered the hillside have now been replaced by apartment blocks. Here you'll spot Mumbai's famous Hanging Gardens, an oasis in a hectic city with colourful blooms of indigenous flowers, trees and hedges. As our guided tour ends, we'll pass the magnificent statue of a Roman goddess at the top of Flora Fountain and the washers of Mumbai cleaning linens from hospitals and restaurants at Dhobi Ghat. We'll drive down the beautiful seaside promenade that is Marine Drive and see the crowds flocking to Crawford Market, the most well-known market in South Mumbai.
  • It’s time to say phir milenge - or, rather, ‘see you later’ - to your fellow explorers and to reflect on all the sights, sounds and stories of our brilliant adventure through India as we transfer to the airport for our flight home.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Travel through the expansive Indian countryside in one of the country’s most luxurious private trains, the Deccan Odyssey. 
  • Go in search of tigers and other native wildlife in Ranthambore National Park and visit the surrounding villages for a taste of local daily life.  
  • Explore some of India's largest and most historic cities with visits and guided tours in Udaipur, Jaipur, Mumbai and New and Old Delhi, including a cycle rickshaw ride through a bustling marketplace. 
  • Discover India's abundant history with visits to UNESCO-listed sites of Ellora Caves and Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, the Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum in Vadodara and the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai. 
  • See the magnificent Taj Mahal with its pure white marble and exquisite craftsmanship, and visit the inspiration for its jewellery box design, the Baby Taj. 

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a room/cabin. Sole occupancy is available at the relevant supplement. The price includes: 
  • Scheduled flights to/from Delhi and Mumbai 
  • All transfers 
  • Two nights in five-star hotels with breakfast 
  • Seven nights in a deluxe cabin with en-suite facilities on the Deccan Odyssey train with daily breakfast, lunch and dinner including tea/coffee, bottled water and soft drinks at mealtimes 
  • Butler service on board 
  • All tours as mentioned including 
  • Porterage of one item of luggage per person 
  • The services of a Riviera Tour Manager 
  • Included excursions: entrances fees: Delhi and Mumbai city tours, Ranthambore safari, guided visits to Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Vadodara and Ellora Caves 
  • Visa not included. 
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Dates and Prices

 
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Departure Airport:
London Heathrow (LHR)

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Price from:£5,999
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Accommodation

The Deccan Odyssey Train -

A journey on the Deccan Odyssey is an exploration of India's diversity, exotic locales and discovery of her timeless traditions.  Travel across the India taking in the vibrancy, sounds and colours of cities and countryside from the comfort of this luxury train. This exclusive train really is one of the world’s great travel experiences with 13 carriages of luxury, carrying just 80 guests between Delhi and Mumbai. Each carriage has just four deluxe twin or double air-conditioned cabins, each with their own private bathroom. With fine bed linen and tasteful wood panelling, you will be immersed in the atmosphere of a bygone age and for the ultimate in attentive service, each carriage even has its own butler. Within the train’s royal blue carriages there are two beautifully appointed, wood-panelled restaurant cars serving superb mouth-watering international and Indian cuisine created by top Indian chefs. This, plus crisp table linen, fine china and superb service ensures dining on the Deccan Odyssey completes the luxurious dining experience. After each day’s touring, unwind in the bar and lounge car, where you can share your travel experiences with like-minded travelling companions over something which fits the occasion, such as a cup of fine refreshing tea or perhaps a G and T, as the unchanging visions of rural India gently slip by. Should you wish to pamper yourself, another carriage has its own gym. If you’d like to catch up on some reading or simply relax and admire the passing scenery, there’s a comfortable lounge car with a small library. The entire train also offers complimentary Wi-Fi should you need to keep in touch with home.  

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Other Information

Holiday code

R617

Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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