Tours

Colours of India

Tour departs: 14 September 2018
Tour length: 22 Days

Overview

Tour Departs – 14 September 2018.

Tour Length – 22 Days.

India is full of contradictions and idiosyncrasies where each day you can stand in awe and amazement at things you have never seen before. It is a country of extremes, 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 – from nomadic tribesmen in traditional dress to international businessmen in silk suits. Their openness, friendliness and hospitality as well as their curiosity will be etched in your mind as everlasting memories of a trip to India.

 

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

 

 

Itinerary

Friday 14 September                          Auckland – Singapore

The early afternoon departure means plenty of time for same day connections from other parts of the country. Arrival time into Singapore is mid-evening, and we are met and transferred to our hotel for an overnight stay.


Saturday 15 September                      Singapore – Delhi                                                                                (B)

After a leisurely breakfast we check out of the hotel and are met by our tour coach and guide.  This morning we visit the magnificent Gardens by the Bay followed by a ride on the Singapore Flyer.

Gardens by the Bay spans a total of 101 hectares of prime land at the heart of Singapore’s new downtown – Marina Bay. Comprising three waterfront gardens – Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central – Gardens by the Bay will be a showcase of horticulture and garden artistry that will bring the world of plants to Singapore and present Singapore to the World.   Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest observation wheel.  Standing at a stunning 165m from the ground, the Flyer offers you breath taking, panoramic views of the Marina Bay, the city and beyond.

Later this afternoon we are transferred to the airport in time to check in for our late afternoon flight to Delhi.

On arrival into Delhi this evening, we are met by our local agents and transferred to our hotel for a three night stay.

Accommodation – Le Meridien Hotel


Sunday 16 September             Delhi                                                                                                   (B,LD)

After a leisurely breakfast, 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, located just opposite the Fort with its black and white striped onion domes and minarets, ride a rickshaw through Chandni Chowk – the “shopping mall” of the Mughals with its little lanes and bylanes selling silks, jewellery, semi-precious stones or brassware, Indian sweets, meats, utensils etc.  This evening, a tour highlight – enjoy a welcome dinner at a private Indian home.

Accommodation – Le Meridien Hotel


Monday 17 September            Delhi                                                                                                   (B,L,D)

Today we discover the sights of New Delhi which Edwin Lutyens designed especially for the British in the 1930s.  The tour begins with the imposing Presidential Palace – Rashtrapati Bhawan, flanked by the splendid towers and cupolas of the Secretariat building and the elegant circular Parliament House.  Then visit India Gate, the 42 metre arch, a memorial dedicated to the Indian soldiers killed in war.

Our sightseeing includes a visit to Humayun’s Tomb.  Built by the wife of Humayun, Haji Begum, in the mid – 16th century, this red sandstone structure is considered to be the predecessor of Taj Mahal. The structure is one of the best examples of Mughal Architecture. Humayun’s wife is also buried in the red and white sandstone, black and yellow marble tomb.

We then visit the Lotus Temple – a Bahá’í House of Worship completed in 1986. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent and has become a prominent attraction in the city.

Later, we proceed to Qutab Minar – undoubtedly one of the finest stone towers in India and one of the most important landmarks of Delhi. Iltutmish, the son-in-law and successor of Qutubuddin, completed its construction. Built in red sandstone, this tower sports the inscriptions of verses of Holy Quran and some intricate carvings. Situated in the courtyard of the Quwwatu’l-Islam, the famous Ashoka Iron Pillar, belonging to the 4th century, has a Sanskrit inscription in Gupta script confirming the date.

We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

Accommodation  – Le Meridien Hotel


Tuesday 18 September                       Delhi – Agra                                                                                                     (B,L,D)

After breakfast, we 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 we 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 two nights.

Accommodation – ITC Mughal


Wednesday 19 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.

Accommodation – ITC Mughal


Thursday 20 September                     Agra – Jaipur                                                                                        (B,L,D)

After breakfast, we continue our journey by coach to Jaipur.  We travel via Fathepur Sikri, the Lost 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 two night stay.  This evening we enjoy a special Rajasthani Gala dinner.

Accommodation – Hotel Jai Mahal Palace


Friday 21 September                          Jaipur                                                                                                  (B,L,D)

After breakfast we visit the magnificent Amber Fort standing atop a hill, riding up to the Palace on the backs of elephants, just like the Maharajas did in former times.  We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then a sightseeing tour of Jaipur city.  During our tour we see Hawa Mahal “Palace of the Winds”, the five story building with unique overhanging latticed balconies designed to catch the cool breeze, the City Palace – former Royal residence and museum with its imposing Rajasthani architecture.  Dinner at the hotel, evening at leisure.

Accommodation – Hotel Jai Mahal Palace


Saturday 22 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 three night stay at our stunning lakeside hotel.

Accommodation – The Trident


Sunday 23 September             Udaipur                                                                                              (B,D)

This morning we visit the beautiful City Palace with its elaborate grey and red mirror walls and ceilings covered with frescos, Pratap Smarak 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.   Afternoon free for independent sightseeing or shopping.  In the evening we enjoy a cruise on Lake Pichola while sailing past picturesque Ghats and Palaces.
Accommodation – The Trident


Monday 24 September            Udaipur                                                                                              (B,D)

Free day today to further explore Udaipur or enjoy the facilities of our luxurious accommodation.

Accommodation – The Trident


Tuesday 25 September                       Udaipur – Delhi – Varanasi                                                                 (B,D)

After breakfast we transfer back to the airport in time to join the flight to Delhi and connecting flight to Varanasi.  On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a two night stay. The Holy City of Benares        (Varanasi) is the oldest living city in the world and also the holiest of Hindu Pilgrimage sites.  This evening, we enjoy a rickshaw ride to the Ghats (steps to the river) and witness “Aarti” at the Holy River.

Accommodation – Taj Gateway Hotel Ganges


Wednesday 26 September                  Varanasi                                                                                              (B,L,D)

This morning we rise early for a boat ride on the Ganges River to see the various Ghats.  You may like to light a candle, make a wish and watch the light float down the Ganges. The Ganges is the living pulsating heart of the city and we watch the pilgrims pay homage to the Sun God.

Take in the sights and sounds of life in the city as we wend 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 take an excursion to Sarnath – where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon nearly 25 centuries ago.

Accommodation – Taj Gateway Hotel Ganges


Thursday 27 September                     Varanasi – Mumbai – Cochin                                                   (B,D)

After breakfast we return to the airport in time to join the flight to Cochin. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel for a relaxing three night stay.

Accommodation – Hotel Vivanta By Taj Malabar


Friday 28 September                         Cochin                                                                                                  (B,L,D)

Cochin the “Queen of the Arabian Sea” on India’s west coast, capital and industrial heart of the state of Kerala, 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, Chinese Fishing Nets, Jewish Synagogue and Fort Kochi.   We then enjoy a cooking class followed by lunch.  This evening, we enjoy a Kathakali Dance and Kelaripayattu Martial Arts performance.

Accommodation – Hotel Vivanta By Taj Malabar


Saturday 29 September                      Cochin                                                                                                 (B,L,D)

After breakfast, depart for Kumbalangi village.  Kumbalangi is a small village, surrounded by backwaters and lush green paddy fields.  Enjoy a boat ride through the backwaters to the village.  Disembark at the island for further exploration of the village and watch men and women at simple everyday occupations – cooking, weaving, fishing, harvesting coconuts. Later enjoy your lunch with delicacies of Kerala state.  Later this afternoon we visit a private home and have time to meet and get to know the family.

Accommodation – Hotel Vivanta By Taj Malabar


Sunday 30 September             Cochin –  Backwaters Cruise – Kumarakom                                                    (B,L,D)

After breakfast we depart for Allepey and board our Riceboat for our cruise through the Kerala backwaters.   Sail in a traditional Riceboat along the palm fringed, tranquil backwaters that were once the state’s trade highways. With 41 west flowing rivers, the backwaters stretch to almost 1,900 kilometres. Witness local life with children swimming and playing in the water, women attending to their daily chores and men fishing from their canoes.  A most relaxing experience with lunch on board.  After disembarking we proceed to our lakeside resort at Kumarakom for an overnight stay.

Accommodation – Kumarakom Lake Resort


Monday 01 October                            Kumarakom – Trivandrum – Kovalam                                                 (B,L,D)

After breakfast, we drive to Trivandrum and see the sights of the city with lunch at a local restaurant.  We continue to our beach resort in Kovlam.

Accommodation – The Leela Kovalam


Tuesday 02 October                            Kovalam                                                                                               (B,L,D)

A free day today to enjoy Kovalam.  We enjoy a farewell dinner this evening.

Accommodation – The Leela Kovalam


Wednesday 03 October                       Kovalam – Trivandrum – Singapore                                                   (B,L,D)

Day at leisure – a chance to relax and prepare for the homeward journey.  Rooms held for late check out until 6.00 pm.  Enjoy dinner at the hotel before our transfer to the airport for our late evening flight to Singapore.


Thursday 04 October              Singapore – Auckland

We arrive in Singapore early morning and make our way to our airport hotel where day room accommodation has been reserved.


Friday 05 October                               Auckland

We arrive in Auckland late morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map

 

 

Accommodation

The tour cost is based on using First Class / Deluxe hotels all the way. Many of the hotels will be as good as you will find anywhere. We have included most meals – full breakfast daily, most lunches and most dinners. As well, a very comprehensive sightseeing program is included but balanced by ample time for rest and relaxation.

Singapore – Grand Copthorne Waterfront

Delhi – Le Meridian

Agra – Oberoi Amarvilas

Jaipur – Taj Jai Mahal Palace Hotel

Udaipur – Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel

Varanasi – Taj Gateway Hotel

 

Prices

Tour Costs

Sharing twin or double accommodation: $14,500
Supplement for single accommodation: $3,850

The tour cost is based on using First Class / Deluxe hotels all the way. Many of the hotels will be as good as you will find anywhere. We have included most meals – full breakfast daily, most lunches and most dinners. As well, a very comprehensive sightseeing programme is included but balanced by ample time for rest and relaxation.

Costs Include
  • Economy Class airfares – cost to upgrade to Premium Economy or Business Class available on request
  • Prepaid government and airport taxes, security and fuel surcharges as at 1 September 2017
  • First class or Deluxe hotel accommodation
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • Sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • Services of touring and local guides as appropriate
  • All tips and gratuities to coach drivers, guides and cruise staff
  • Baggage handling of one piece per person
  • Escorted by Maher Tours Leader

 

 

Costs Exclude
  • Meals other than those specified.
  • Visa fees.
  • Travel Insurance (advice and assistance offered)
  • Items of a personal nature e.g. telephone calls, laundry, gifts etc.

“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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