Depart the United States for Mumbai (Bombay), where early in the morning on the third day, you will arrive in India. After you have enjoyed a morning of rest and relaxation, your afternoon tour provides you with an initial exposure to the wonder that is India. Stops will be made at the museum, the famous Gateway to India and the former headquarters of Mahatma Gandi. Next morning, fly to the city of Bangalore. Known for its beautiful botanical gardens and distinctive style of architecture, it is considered one of the finest of Indian cities and is the gateway for your tour of southern India. The city has become one of the major forces within the technological computer age within India. An excursion to Mysore includes a visit to Mysore Palace, where the former Maharaja maintains residence and where one receives a clear portrayal of life within the Raj.
After a leisurely breakfast, fly to the quaint city of Cochin, Kerala’s prime destination. Spread across innumerable islands, it has a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and the “backwaters” of Kerala. Cochin’s history is remarkable for its blend of cultures that have left their influence over the many centuries. A full day tour of Cochin is framed in the strong colonial influence that left its mark upon the region. The Portuguese Church of Saint Francis and the remarkably beautiful Jewish Synagogue of 1568 are just two of the impressive highlights of your city tour. Your guide leads you on a walking tour of the old city, allowing your imagination to envision how it thrived in centuries past. On the next morning, embark on perhaps one of the most memorable experiences of your tour – a private boat trip on the “scenic backwaters” of Kerala – a seemingly endless series of lakes, canals, rivers and rivulets.
After a night’s rest, travel to beautiful Cardamom Hill, center for tea gardens, rubber plantations and spice fields. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary centers on a mammoth artificial lake and is home to vast herds of roaming wild elephant and over 250 species of birdlife. If chance be with you, sightings within this region can be rich and very exciting. A morning departure takes you across colorful countryside to one of the oldest cities in all of southern India. Known as “Temple Town,” Madurai is located on the banks of the Viagi River. The area is alive with a brilliance of color, the truly varied lifestyles of its inhabitants an intriguing delight and the sheer diversity and vast magnitude of this region a true fascination. Next morning on your luxury custom tour visit Meenakshi Sundareshwar! Built during the 17th century, it ranks as one of the largest and most colorful temples in all of India. Apart from the innumerable sculptures, the sheer presence of the myriad of devotees in the sprawling complex easily helps bring the temple to life with continual ceremonies, weddings, musical sound and glittering markets.
Your day begins with a flight to Madras, the gateway to the Tamil Nadu region. It offers an introduction to Tamil food, its customs and its people. It is possible, for those who are familiar with this tribal region, to accurately identify with exactness the village where a person lives simply by the manner in which they dress. A morning drive takes you cross-country drive to Mamallapuram, an ancient Hindu town that dates back to the 5th century. A world heritage site, the city is known for its sublime rock art and several of the carvings, including an epic frieze, help make the journey to this remote area a special highlight of your visit. Thereafter, fly to West Bengal and its capital city, Calcutta. Formerly known as the showpiece capital of the Raj, arguably it is the most spirited community within India. Considered the Pearl of the Orient, its history speaks volumes, both colorful and tragic, about its influence on world trade and British rule.
As you begin your morning tour of the city, you will easily understand why a tour of Calcutta is unlike any city tour ever taken. It realistically portrays life at each and every strata, it presents chaos in depth, yet somehow it maintains tranquility among its entire people that defies logic. Simply stated, Calcutta is a must-see experience for each and every traveler. It captivates all of the senses, nearly all of the time. One may choose never to return, however, all will be thrilled to have arrived for a visit. A morning flight wings you to cosmopolitan New Delhi, India’s capital city. Having visited small towns and villages, the comparisons will be striking as you drive along the wide boulevards, so unlike any other city within India. An early morning departure takes you to the city of Agra, site of the resplendent Taj Mahal. Your guide realizes the importance of this treasure and will allow you to stroll along the footpaths of the gardens with ample time for you to photograph, enjoy and reflect upon the serenity inspired by this remarkably beautiful setting. Return by air to New Delhi. Begin your tour of New Delhi with a view of the Parliament, India Gate and President’s House. Continue to “Old Delhi” to see the Jama Masjid Mosque, where a call to prayer pervades the narrow cart lanes of the Chandi Chowk Bazaar. It is a photographer’s dream, with each opportunity presenting an endless array of color and action. Visit the colorful and most interesting Sikh Temple, where the welcome is warm and friendly. Return to your hotel for an evening of rest and relaxation. An airport transfer prepares you for your flight return to the United States bringing with you those many cherished moments to recall over a lifetime.
Travelers to Southern India enjoy world-class accommodations; many former palaces have been renovated into modern hotels. Gorgeous hand-crafted carvings, paintings, and textiles make your stay a treat for the senses. Strike out from your luxurious surroundings to explore one of the most fascinating cultures on Earth.
India is a richly diverse country, comprised of 22 states and the region of Kashmir. It supports a population of nearly one billion. Despite more than fifty years as a democratic nation, Indian states still retain their unique cultural and religious heritage.
Hinduism is the main religion, followed by eighty percent of Indians. It is considered the world's oldest organized religion; a complex belief system of three main gods who manifest in thousands of incarnations. India's religious tolerance has allowed a variety of other religions to flourish, including Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Islam, and Sikhism.
The echoes of British colonialism still can be felt in the structure of the Indian civil-service bureaucracy, as well as the architecture of Colonial-era buildings.
Primarily an agrarian society, with most of the population living in abject poverty, India is a country of striking contrasts. A few wealthy families maintain a stranglehold on trade, profiting by forcing India's inhabitants to purchase their comparatively expensive and shoddy goods. It is only in the past few decades, as cosmopolitan and technology-embracing cities like New Delhi and Bangalore have blossomed, that a middle-class has begun to emerge.
Even as India is poised to embrace the future, it still preserves the ornamented treasures and artwork of its past. Overpowering in detail and meticulous craftsmanship, these man-made wonders astound and delight. The Taj Mahal, created by the toil of twenty-thousand laborers over a span of two decades, is alone worth the trip.
Come to India to relax, and enjoy a slower pace at all levels of society. Drink in a rich cultural heritage that has evolved over nearly ten thousand years of history: from Indus Valley and the Vedics, through British Colonialism and Mahatma Gandhi's fight for independence, and into the Information Age.
As many an Indian will advise: please come to listen, not to preach; come to witness, not to judge; and most importantly, allow India to change you, rather than try to change India.