Colourful Cities & Backwaters
This all encompassing journey of giant discovery offers a unique way to explore the cultural sights and ancient delights of exotic India. With so much on offer, from peaceful temples, lively markets, natural landscapes and epic wildlife, there is nowhere else on earth quite like it.
You’ll begin your Grand Tour in the capital city of Delhi, soaking in the time-honoured sights and exquisite cuisine. You’ll travel by private car, train and plane as you uncover the sacred city of Varanasi and marvel at the iconic Taj Mahal and native wildlife of the Ranthambore National Park. You’ll walk through the winding cultural streets of Jaipur and Jodhpur, experience authentic rural Rajasthani life in Narlai and hop on and off the local public transport of Mumbai. You’ll complete finish your tour in Kerala to explore its colonial capital Kochi, trek in the rolling, green tea estates of Munnar and indulge in some relaxation in the Backwaters.
Sample some of Delhi's tastiest street food in the bustling Chandni Chowk bazaar
Uncover rich, cultural heritage as you cycle through the rustic backstreets of Udaipur
Take an evening boat ride down the Ganges River in Varanasi and see pilgrims carrying out spiritual rituals
Sip a local cup of tea in the rolling hills of a peaceful Munnar tea plantation
Travel by local bus, taxi and commuter train in Mumbai to discover the fascinating underbelly of this diverse city
Cruise down the palm-tree lined rivers of the backwaters, watching local life go by
This grand tour of India includes international flights, transfers, selected excursions, accommodation and most breakfasts.
From the first conversation until you arrive home from your holiday, you’ll be looked after by one of our Travel Designers who has travelled extensively in the region and will give advice from their personal experience on how to make the most out of your trip.
All of our trips are entirely bespoke and we will continually refine your itinerary until it’s perfect.
The day has come for your exciting Grand Tour of India as you board your flight to Delhi. You will arrive into India's bustling capital, ready to begin your North Indian adventure!
When you land you'll be greeted by a friendly VIVID representative and your driver who will take you to your hotel. Here, you can freshen up and indulge in a tasty breakfast before heading out on a tour to help you get your bearings in the vast New Delhi. You’ll drive past the breathtaking Presidential Palace and impressive India Gate, a memorial raised in honor of the Indian soldiers martyred during the Afghan war. Your tour will continue with a drive along the Rajpath, past the Parliament House, and topped off by a visit to Gandhi Smriti, a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.
On your final day in Delhi, you’ll head out in the morning to explore both Old and New Delhi in greater depth. Beginning in contemporary New Delhi, you’ll uncover the magic of the 12th century Qutub Minar, and the picturesque garden squares of Humayun's tomb - known to have inspired the Taj Mahal.
From here, the beckoning streets of Old Delhi await your exploration. You’ll wander along, absorbing culture as you go, starting with the open-air memorial of Raj Ghat where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. Discover the beauty of the 17th century Jama Masjid mosque, and enjoy a local cycle rickshaw through the busy, narrow lanes of the Chandni Chowk bazaar. Enjoy some time at leisure in the afternoon before diving back into the bazaar in the evening as your local guide steers you through the various types of Delhi street food before dining on an indulgent evening meal.
Things to do
You’ll be taken to Delhi airport to catch a short flight to the vibrant and sacred city of Varanasi. On arrival, you’ll be picked up by your driver and whisked away to your hotel located right on the banks of the sacred river Ganges, taking your time in the afternoon to wander along the river at your own pace. You’ll learn all about the importance of this city in Hinduism where pilgrims flock to the river to wash away their sins and ashes of their loved ones are scattered into the water. In the evening take a private boat trip down the Ganges to watch the ghats (steps leading down to the river) come to life as the daily Aarti ceremony is carried out.
On day 5, the early morning sunrise beckons your innate exploration, as you head out by boat to gently travel down the river and watch pilgrims quietly make their way to the ghats to carry out their rituals. Head back to the hotel for a fresh breakfast before embarking on a unique walking tour through the bazaars and alleyways of the ancient heart of the city. Brave the narrow lanes, pungent smells and busy locals going about their everyday lives and be rewarded with a unique insight into life in the hectic underbelly of sacred Varanasi.
Things to do
On day 6, you’ll be driven to the airport for a quick lunchtime flight to Agra, home to the magnificent splendour of the Taj Mahal. You’ll waste no time in touring the beautiful ancient architecture of Agra Fort and the aptly named 'Baby Taj'. To top off this fantastic tour, you’ll head to the Mehtab Bagh gardens and watch the sun set over the Yamuna River, offering an unparalleled view of the alluring Taj Mahal.
Things to do
Day 7 has arrived and with it comes a morning sunrise excursion to the Taj Mahal - there's no doubt that the first sight of India's most famous mausoleum bathed in morning light is something to behold. Breathe in the sheer beauty of this magnificent monument before heading back to your hotel for a sumptuous Indian breakfast.
The next phase of your grand tour sees an adventurous rickshaw ride around the colourful Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary with a local naturalist, who will teach you all about the local species of birds. Then it’s all aboard as you head off on a train journey to Ranthambore National Park. Indian stations are exciting but often hectic places - a true experience in themselves! Your local guide will help you through the station and onto the train, allowing you to soak up the hustle and bustle around you. On arrival you'll be taken to your hotel, located in lush green forest surroundings of the park.
On day 8, more wildlife awaits as you head out on safari through Ranthambore hoping to spot the lurking tigers, sambar deer, nilgai antelope and plentiful birdlife. Safaris take place in the early morning and afternoon as this is best time to spot animals; be sure to bring an extra layer of clothing as it can get a little chilly as you whizz through the cool morning air in your open-top jeep.
You’ll undertake one final morning safari in the scenic landscape of Ranthambore National Park before your private driver takes you to the lively city of Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital. The city’s colourful streets encompass a vibrant mix of ancient and modern culture, and in the late afternoon, you’ll discover the buzzing bazaars of the Pink City to see some local craftsmen at work and sample some Jaipur street food.
On day 10, you’ll spend the day exploring Jaipur’s highlights, starting off outside the city visiting the vast Amber Fort and the Jaipur's famous stepwell known as Panna Meena Ka Kund. The heart of the Pink City is a real melee of bustling transport, dilly-dallying local camels and gentle cycle-rickshaws and you will head through this in the afternoon to visit the impressive facade of the Hawa Mahal Palace, the Jantar Mantar observatory as well the City Palace which gives a fascinating insight into life as a Rajasthani maharaja.
Things to do
Day 11 sees you heading west in Rajasthan to Jodhpur where you will be welcomed by the sea of blue houses which make up the heart of this spectacular city. Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure to relax at your hotel and enjoy its rooftop views over the mighty Mehrangarh Fort or head out and explore the city.
On your second day in Jodhpur you'll be met at your hotel by a local guide who will show you the main sights of this breathtaking city. You’ll start off at marvellous Mehrangarh, an architectural treat for the eyes in the form of an ancient fort that towers high above the city. Discover its halls and courtyards before enjoying panoramic views from its ramparts over countless blue houses below. From the fort you'll descend the steep cobbled road into the Blue City itself before getting lost in the tangled jumble of winding streets. Walking around you’ll need to dodge street vendors, cattle and whizzing tuk-tuks but it truly is the best place to soak up the sight and smells of this fascinating city.
You’ll then spend the afternoon at leisure, ducking into the mishmash of shops and bazaars or simply relaxing with a cool drink in hand back at your hotel.
Activity & Adventure
South is the direction of the day, as you are driven to the rural village of Narlai where you will be staying at the beautifully renovated, former hunting lodge of Rawla Narlai. Here, slip into a slower pace of life as you take your time to relax in the glorious grounds or, if you're feeling energetic, hike up the nearby Elephant Hill, where you can take in epic sunset views of the surrounding Aravalli hills.
Day 14 is yours to make of how you wish. Embark on an unforgettable leopard safari, where you can spot these wild cats in the rocky hills of the Narlai landscape or take a stroll into the local village. In the evening, you'll be whisked away by traditional ox and cart to an atmospheric stepwell lit by hundreds of candles and dine on an array of tantalising Indian dishes.
You’ll be driven from Narlai this morning to Udaipur, making a stop at the renowned Ranakpur Jain Temple. As you make your way inside, bask in the spectacular architecture which differs from other treasures in Rajasthan and take in the remarkable engravings on the individual pillars. Continue on from Ranakpur to Udaipur which is often called the 'City of Lakes' with a number of peaceful lakes set in and around the city. You'll be staying on the banks of its most famous one - Lake Pichola - and you'll arrive with plenty of time to watch the sunsetting over its shores.
On day 16, you’ll get going with an early morning cycling tour to explore some of Udaipur's lakes and back-lanes at a time of day when there's little traffic about. As you cycle gain an insight into the city's rich, cultural heritage and the lives of people that live here. The rest of the day can be spent at your own leisure. From a private boat trip on the shimmering waters of Lake Pichola to uncovering quirky gems in the form of local handicrafts, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Southern India beckons as you catch an early morning flight today to the sprawling city of Mumbai. You’ll be picked up by a private driver and taken to the bustling district of Colaba where your hotel is located. You’ll head out for a classic tour of Mumbai, soaking in the essential sights including the Gateway to India, High Court, University and Marine Drive before finishing up at the esteemed Taj Mahal Palace Hotel for a traditional high tea.
On day 18, you’ll explore the undiscovered charms of Mumbai, as you embark on a local public transport tour. From careering bus rides and packed commuter trains to thrilling local taxi journeys, you’ll peel back the bustling layer of the city and weave in and out of local sights, from the Chor bazaar or 'thieves market' to Dhobi Ghat - Mumbai's enormous outdoor laundry. You’ll finish your unforgettable tour by meeting a Dabbawalla; someone who delivers hot lunches all over Mumbai to city workers - hectic has never looked so enticing!
Things to do
You’ll be greeted on arrival and driven to Fort Cochin, a part of the city that is steeped in colonial history and where your hotel is located for the next two nights. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to wander the city's tranquil streets or, in the evening, you could attend a local Kathakali dance. Get lost in the unique hand gestures and facial expressions that make up these dazzling performances.
On your final day in Cochin, you’ll rise with the sun as you head out on foot on a morning walking tour in Fort Cochin. Uncover the colonial influences and rich history of the Mattancherry Dutch Palace and Jewish Synagogue before enjoying an afternoon at leisure to browse the markets or sample some of the city's many delicious cafes and restaurants. To finish your time in Kochi you may wish to take an evening harbour cruise to watch the sunsetting over the Chinese Fishing Nets which line the shore.
Things to do
Activity & Adventure
Day 21 and you'll be driven inland in Kerala to discover the rolling tea plantations of Munnar located up in the dazzling Western Ghats. On arrival learn the process that sits behind the famous Munnar tea as you head to a local factory and plantation where you can watch tea pickers at work, and sample a cup or two for yourself.
On your 2nd day in Munnar put on your walking shoes as you'll be heading out on a trek through the Letchmi Hills! Uncover striking views of Anamudi peak and Idukki dam as you hike through the local villages, tea and spice plantations, and emerald-green grasslands of the area. Take as much time as you wish strolling through this stunning landscape and enjoy breathing in the fresh mountain air.
Things to do
Today is a day like no other. You’ll rise early as you take a drive from the contoured landscape of Munnar to the shimmering backwaters of Alleppey, where a small crew will be waiting on the jetty to welcome you onto your houseboat, which is exclusively yours for the next 24 hours.
Sit back, relax and enjoy cruising through the maze of river and waterways whilst watching local life on the riverbank pass you by. In the afternoon you will enjoy a short trip off the boat on a traditional wooden canoe. Here you can explore some of the narrower canals before enjoying a spectacular sunset over the palm-fringed waterways and a fresh Keralan dinner on deck.
After a dreamy overnight stay on your houseboat, you will disembark in the morning, and be driven to your final destination in the backwaters, where you will be staying for the next three nights. Relaxation and tranquility await at the end of this active Indian adventure as you will be staying in a beautiful property located on the banks of Lake Vembanad.
These final few days are all about chilling out so treat yourself to a Keralan massage, lounge in the pool and simply kick back and enjoy the property's intimate setting and its picturesque views over the backwaters.
On your final day on this exhilarating trip, you’ll be driven to Kochi for an early-morning flight back to the UK, where you can look back on special moments, and look forward to regaling your friends and family with newly-made memories.