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Tours

Colours of India & Sri Lanka

Tour departs: 03 September 2021
Tour length: 28 Days

Overview

Tour Departs: 03 September 2021

Tour Length: 28 Days

This tour has long been rated as perhaps the most spectacular and interesting of all of our tours we offer. India is full of contradictions and idiosyncrasies where each day you stand in awe and amazement at things you have never seen before. It is where wealth and poverty sit side by side, where politicians consult astrologers before selecting election dates, where once godly maharajahs have become hotel managers and where bullock carts carry space age weapons in Republic Day parades. After all the spectacular scenery, monuments, temples and palaces, we always come back to the people, all 1.21 billion plus of them who inhabit India. Their openness, friendliness and hospitality, as well as their curiosity will be etched in your mind as everlasting memories of a wonderful trip to India.

For 2019 we are combining the tour with Sri Lanka; a diverse island nation comprising of sandy beaches, scorched plains, rainforests & remarkable mountainous landscapes.  Sri Lanka is famed for its tea plantations & for the countless Buddhist ruins scattered throughout the land, dating back to the mid-3rd century BC. May 2009 ended a 26 year-long conflict, thus launching a new chapter in Sri Lanka’s long & interesting history.

 

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

NORTHERN INDIA:

This is the land of the Maharajas, the beautiful palaces and forts and the Holy River – The Ganges. Highlights include:

  • Delhi, the nations capital, both Old and New Delhi
  • Agra and the Taj Mahal, the “monument to love”
  • Jaipur and the Amber Fort
  • Udaipur and Lake Pichola
  • Varanasi,The Holy City on the Ganges

SOUTHERN INDIA:
In complete contrast to the North, we focus on the beautiful state of Kerala with its palm-fringed beaches, serene backwater canals and tropical forest.  We include:

  • Cochin – commercial hub of Kerala
  • Kumarakom – paradise amongst the waterways
  • Kovalam – golden sand beaches

 

SRI LANKA:

  • Minneriya National Park – the Largest known Asian Elephant Gathering Place in the world
  • Polonnaruwa – ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan capital city
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic; ever since 4th Century A.D

 

Itinerary

Friday 11 September
Auckland – Singapore
The early afternoon departure means plenty of time for same day connections from other parts of the country. We arrive into Singapore mid-evening and are met and transferred to our hotel for an overnight stay.

Saturday 12 September
Singapore – Delhi (B)
This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Singapore including the Singapore Flyer and a relaxing river cruise. The rest of the day is free until our mid afternoon transfer to the airport. Arrive late evening into Delhi – the capital of India – a city of
marvellous contrasts, its past and present meshing seamlessly. The major gateway into India, Delhi is the logical start for our exploration of northern India. We are welcomed by our local hosts and transferred to our hotel for a three-night stay.

Sunday 13 September
Delhi (B, L, D)
We commence our sightseeing tour of Old Delhi which dates back to the time of the Mughals. We begin the tour by paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat – a simple black marble slab where his last words “He Ram” are inscribed in brass. We drive past the magnificent Red Fort or Lal Qila built by Emperor Shah Jahan. Also see the largest and the most elegant mosque in India – the Jama Masjid, ride a rickshaw through Chandni Chowk – the “shopping mall” of the Mughals with its lanes and bylanes selling silks, jewellery, semi-precious stones or brassware, Indian sweets, meats, utensils and more. We enjoy a welcome dinner tonight.

Monday 14 September
Delhi (B, L, D)
Today we discover the sights of New Delhi which Edwin Lutyens designed especially for the British in the 1930s. We begin with the imposing Presidential Palace – Rashtrapati Bhawan. Then visit India Gate, the 42-metre arch & the imposing and elegant Humayun’s Tomb. Later, see the Qutab Minar, Delhi’s famous landmark, the imposing victory tower 73 meters high built in 1192, with elaborately and intricately tapering storeys.We also see the amazing Iron Pillar of the 4th century – the 7.2 metre pillar which has not rusted through the centuries, and the Lotus Temple, Mother Temple to the Baha’i Faith on the Indian sub-continent. This evening enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Tuesday 15 September
Delhi – Agra (B, L, D)
After breakfast, depart by coach for the drive through the outskirts of Delhi and through rural areas and many small villages arriving at the Mughal city of Agra. En route, visit Sikandra, the much under-rated mausoleum for Emperor Akbar combining the best of Hindu and Muslim architecture. We arrive into Agra late afternoon where we stay for 2-nights.

Wednesday 16 September
Agra (B, L, D)
We rise early this morning to visit the beautiful Taj Mahal at sunrise. This enduring monument to love has been described as a “tear on the face of eternity”, a perfect blend of design and grandeur. One of the wonders of the world, it took 22 years to complete the enchanting mausoleum. We return to the hotel for breakfast and later we visit Agra Fort built in red sandstone and commissioned by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565. Remainder of day at leisure.

Thursday 17 September
Agra – Fatehpur Sikri – Jaipur (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we continue our journey by coach to Jaipur, dubbed the “Pink City”. We travel via Fatehpur Sikri, the Ghost City, perfectly preserved and built by Emperor Akbar on the spot where Saint Salim Chishti blessed him with a son. We enjoy lunch at Bharatpur before arriving at Jaipur for a 2-night stay.

Friday 18 September
Jaipur (B, L, D)
Today we visit the magnificent Amber Fort, perched atop a hill & nestled among the Aravali Hills. We see Hawa Mahal or “Palace of the Winds”, with unique overhanging latticed balconies, built in 1788 for the ladies of the royal household. Also, the Observatory-Jantar Mantar, built between 1727 and 1734 with a specialised function for astronomical measurement. Then to the City Palace or Chandra Mahal, a seven storied citadel with imposing Rajasthani architecture & home to the present royal family.

Saturday 19 September
Jaipur – Udaipur (B, L, D)
After an early breakfast, we depart the Pink City of Jaipur for the City of Lakes – Udaipur.
We arrive for a 3-night stay at our stunning lakeside hotel.

Sunday 20 September
Udaipur (B, D)
This morning we visit the beautiful 300-year old City Palace with its elaborate grey and red mirror walls and ceilings covered with frescos. Comprising of 11 palaces, it is by far the largest palace complex in Rajasthan, now a museum. We visit Jagdish Temple and Sahelion Ki Bari – the Garden for the Maids of the Queen with four pools ornately and delicately chiselled with kiosks and elephants in marble. The afternoon is free. Tonight, enjoy a cruise on Lake Pichola while sailing past picturesque Ghats and Palaces.

Monday 21 September
Udaipur (B, D)
A full day at leisure to enjoy the facilities of our luxurious accommodation and relax.

Tuesday 22 September
Udaipur – Delhi – Varanasi (B, D)
This morning, transfer to the airport in time to join the flight to Delhi, connecting with a flight to Varanasi. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 2-night stay. Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world and also the holiest of Hindu Pilgrimage sites.

Wednesday 23 September
Varanasi (B, L, D)
This morning we rise early for a boat ride on the Ganges River. The Ganges is the living pulsating heart of the city and we watch the local people take their ritual dip, perform yoga asanas & pay homage with flowers and incense to the Sun God, Surya. Continuing on, we wind our way through the narrow lanes and streets of the city before we return to the hotel for breakfast and a rest. This afternoon we visit Sarnath – where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon nearly 25 centuries ago. This evening, we enjoy a rickshaw ride to the Ghats and witness “Aarti”, a sacred light ceremony on the banks of Mother Ganga.

Thursday 24 September
Varanasi – Mumbai – Cochin (B, D)
Late this morning, we return to the airport in time to join the flight to Cochin, via Mumbai. On arrival, we are met & transferred to our hotel for a relaxing 3-night stay. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Friday 25 September
Cochin (B, L, D)
Cochin the “Queen of the Arabian Sea”, has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. This morning we visit the interesting sights of this harbour city including St. Francis Church, Dutch Palace, the Chinese Fishing Nets, Jewish Synagogue and spice markets. This evening, we witness the famous dance drama of Kerala, the Kathakali.

Saturday 26 September
Cochin (B, L, D)
We depart for Kumbalangi Village this morning; a small village, surrounded by backwaters and lush green paddy fields. On arrival, country boats await to take you through the backwaters and observe village life. Disembark at the island and watch men and women at simple everyday occupations – cooking, weaving, fishing, harvesting coconuts. Later enjoy your lunch with delicacies of Kerala state. Tonight, we visit a private home & have time to get to know the family and learn about their lifestyle & culture.

Sunday 27 September
Cochin – Kumarakom (B, L, D)
This morning, we depart for Alleppey & board our rice boat for a cruise through the Kerala backwaters, sailing through palm-fringed, tranquil waters that were once the state’s trade highways. A wonderful opportunity to witness local life with children swimming and playing in the waters, and men and women fishing from their canoes. We have a relaxing lunch on board. Later, we proceed to our lakeside resort at Kumarakom for an overnight stay.

Monday 28 September
Kumarakom – Trivandrum – Kovalam (B, L, D)
This morning we drive to Trivandrum and see the sights of the city, with lunch at a local restaurant. We continue our drive to our beach resort in Kovalam for an overnight stay.

Tuesday 29 September
Kovalam (B, L, D)
A full day at leisure for you to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Wednesday 30 September
Kovalam – Trivandrum – Colombo – Negombo (B, D)
This morning we transfer to the airport in time to join a morning flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka. On arrival later this afternoon, we drive through the city and visit Colombo Fort, the Dutch Church of Wolfendhal, Sea Street in the heart of Pettah, located in the Bazaar area and more. We overnight in Negombo.

Thursday 1 October
Colombo – Pinnawala – Habarana (B, L, D)
Following breakfast today, we proceed towards Habarana, en-route visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, founded in 1975 to house abandoned and wounded elephants. At the conclusion of the visit, we transfer to our hotel where we stay for 2-nights.

Friday 2 October
Habarana (B, D)
This morning we travel toward Minneriya National Park; a small town in Sri Lanka, and famous for two things, the Minneriya lake built by King Mahasen and for the wildlife sanctuary; a hot spot for safari lovers due to the abundance of elephants. Then we visit Polonnaruwa, the medieval capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th – 13th C.A.D. The monuments are very well preserved and here we see the Parakrama Statue, Royal Palaces, Audience Halls, Vata-da-ge, Thuparama, Rankoth Vehera, and many more.

Saturday 3 October
Habarana – Sigiriya – Kandy (B, L, D)
We travel to Kandy this morning, stopping en-route at the Sigiriya Rock Fortress; a 500ft rock surrounded by a triple-moated defence system. On its summit is the foundation of what was once a spectacular palace and gardens, complete with a swimming pool. It is also known as Lion Rock due to the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the major fortress. Later we visit the Matale Spice plantations, among the best on the island, before transferring to our hotel for a 2-night stay.

Sunday 4 October
Kandy (B)
This morning we begin our sightseeing in Kandy. We visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – ever since 4th Century A.D, when the Buddha’s Tooth was brought to Sri Lanka hidden from sacrilegious hands in an Orissan princess’ hair, the Relic has grown in reputation and holiness in Sri Lanka and throughout the Buddhist world. It is considered Sri Lanka’s most prized possession. Afternoon is at leisure.

Monday 5 October
Kandy – Nuwara Eliya (B, D)
After breakfast, we head to Nuwara Eliya; the ‘Little England’ of Sri Lanka, set against backdrops of Tea Plantations. It is considered one of the coldest places on the island. All around Nuwara Eliya you will see evidence of the British influence; The local houses resemble British country cottages or Queen Ann style mansions. Here we visit a local tea plantation before checking in to our hotel for the night.

Tuesday 6 October
Nuwara Eliya – Galle (B, L, D)
Today we transfer towards Galle. We visit the Galle Fort on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka and first built by the Portuguese in 1588 and then extensively fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. The fort, also known as the “Ramparts of Galle” withstood the Boxing Day tsunami which damaged parts of the coastal town. We overnight in Galle.

Wednesday 7 October
Galle – Colombo – Singapore – Auckland (B)
Sadly, all good things must come to an end as we transfer to Colombo Airport in time to join our late morning flight to Singapore, and then to Auckland.

Thursday 8 October
Arrive Auckland mid-morning.

Map

 

 

“The accommodation is an absolute luxury, but one stills the feels the essence of the country!

 

The tour of India, was sensational, and for me personally far exceeded my expectations. I would do it all again, and intend to.

Also credit must go to both Sanjay and Satish, for their professional expertise. Nothing was too much trouble for either of them  and I think we all felt they gave more than 100%.

For one who hasn’t  travelled on an organised  group tour previously, I couldn’t fault it, well organised and a great overview of everything.”

-NT

What a wonderful 3 weeks we had in India, and with our two wonderful guides – Sanjay & Satish.  They both gave us a wonderful insight into the history & culture of North & South India.  I loved being taken back in history to the time of the Indian Mughals in Rajasthan & hearing all about life in India, in today’s world.  I loved every minute of my time in India & the memories & things we saw & experienced, will be everlasting.  There were so many highlights, but right up there was of course, sunrise at the Taj Mahal & the Holy City of Benares, one of the main reasons I came on this trip, as not all tours from New Zealand include Varanasi. We were exposed to many delicious Indian lunches & dinners.  One of the most memorable lunches was the one we had with Vivek & Sanjay at the beautiful Villa Maya.

We felt very privileged to go to Ajay’s & Anu’s gorgeous home & garden on the outskirts of Delhi, for a delicious dinner.  Please thank everyone involved for their generous hospitality.  It was definitely another highlight of our wonderful time in India.

“Namsakar. Our tour of Delhi, Varanasi, Agra and Udaipur is behind us but what a sensory extravaganza it was. Varanasi is the oldest living city in in India and, perhaps the world, at 5000 years old. The Ganges River at night with the moon rising was a sight to behold. India is an ancient culture for the forts, monuments, shrines and other historical sights are really fascinating.”
– Jill from Napier

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