India Trip of a Lifetime
Travel in India isn’t possible just right now, but we can all still dream. This is a truly once in a lifetime destination, packed full of exotic and extraordinary travel moments. Except once you have visited India once you will want to come back!
This trip of a lifetime experience will take you around India in four weeks, from famous highlights like the Taj Mahal to Himalayan mountains and lots of local culture.
While it’s not possible to visit India now, this experience will give you bucketlist ideas and a starting point for planning your own trip of a lifetime to India.
Days 1 & 2 - Delhi Arrival
Explore Old Delhi in a Traditional Cycle Rickshaw
Be prepared to step into another world that will stimulate all five senses like never before. You will find yourself consumed by the crowd of Old Delhi as you navigate its bustling alleyways aboard a traditional cycle rickshaw. Labourers weave their way through the crowd with sacks of spices while women dressed in colourful saris gaze into windows full of gold jewellery. Your ears will be buzzing from vendors screaming to compete for customers and you may find the mixture of aromas quite overpowering. But try not to let yourself be too overwhelmed, for this is the true beating heart of India.
Old Delhi Foodie Walk
Pull yourself into the chaos of Old Delhi. Succumb to the mixture of aromas and mouth-watering sights coming from bubbling fryers and smoking coals. Amongst the labyrinth of laneways in Old Delhi’s bazaar, you’ll be drooling over all the delicious food you can smell and taste on this walk for true foodies. From juicy, sweet and fried jalebis to aloo chaat or fried potatoes dunked in spices and chutney, you can sample all of the best Indian street food in one stroll through the bazaar. Your experienced local guide knows which ones are safe for the belly.
Listen to Qawwalis at Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi
The intoxicating fervour of the performance is undeniable. The mesmeric chanting to a blend of Indian and Persian music fills the space crowded with worshippers. You may not understand the words being recited but you almost feel compelled to join in the clapping at this 700-year-old Sufi shrine. This musical performance of Sufi poetry is considered a melodic way to connect to the Almighty and you will get to witness this unique ancestral tradition being upheld in India.
Days 3 & 4 - Agra
Kohinoor Presidential Suite at Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra
Wake up with the silhouette of the Taj Mahal outside your bedroom window. Linger your gaze as the colours of the sky and backdrop to the Taj change with each moment of the rising sun. You are surrounded by a room inspired by a Mughal-style palace with marble columns and domed ceilings. Whether you choose to slip into the large bathtub or lounge on the terrace, the monument of love will still be within view. You can be enchanted by the vista of the Taj for as long as you desire, for your room consists of anything you could possibly need and more.
Taj Mahal Out of Hours, No Crowds
You’re being whisked ahead of the line that’s already building up at the front. As you enter the gate, the most famous monument to love is glowing in its ivory white marble. It’s the perfect, private moment with the Taj Mahal, a completely exclusive time to be alone with a world wonder. You can enjoy your encounter with the impressive mausoleum in a rare total silence to fully grasp its beauty. Before the crowds, it’s just you and the Taj.The landmark took 22 years to build and sees millions of visitors each year, and yet, few get to experience the Taj Mahal quite like this.
Fatehpur Sikri Tour with a Historian Guide
Discover a former 16th century Mughal capital that few others tend to reach. You’ll be relieved with the quietness of this fortified city built by Emperor Akbar. Despite it being just west of Agra, few travellers come to see this impressive masterpiece of Hindu and Islamic architecture.Wander through its red sandstone walls with an historian who will explain the three palaces, one for each of the Emperor’s wives, and the mosque which is still in use today.
Days 5 & 6 - Jaipur
Jaipur City Tour With Local Historian
A cornerstone of India’s Golden Triangle, the chaotic and vivid streets of Jaipur will overwhelm you if you let them. But dodge the buzzing motorbikes, cart-pushing labourers and pesky auto rickshaws and take a step back to observe the orderly and intoxicating madness of Jaipur’s bazaar. You will find plenty of tranquillity within the walls of the city’s impressive historic buildings. Step inside the City Palace in the centre of the old city and let the soft, pinkish tones wash over you – it is called the Pink City after all. The remarkable Rajasthani architecture is stunning, and your guide will explain its history as the royal residence.
Living With an Elephant for a Day in Jaipur
Spend a day with the gentle giants of Jaipur and learn how they have been cared for by generations of local families. You can spend your time bathing an elephant, painting them in traditional Rajasthani decoration and feeding them. Wander with them as they sway from side to side and appreciate what an incredibly strong and majestic mammal they are. None of the elephants will wear saddles, as the tourist trend of riding them is not an ethical practice to support.
Explore Jantar Mantar Royal Observatory with an Astronomer
Step back in time to the early days of stargazing. Imagine the 18th century astronomers charting the paths of stars and celestial patterns with their bare eyes. Your astronomer and guide will highlight the importance of the early astronomical instruments built in the 1700s at the UNESCO-listed Royal Observatory in Jaipur. The patterns observed back then still influence agricultural practices in Rajasthan today.
Days 7 & 8 - Udaipur
Sunset Boat Cruise on Lake Pichola in Udaipur
Float along the placid waters of Lake Pichola and cast your eyes across the urban skyline of Udaipur, to watch the old buildings be doused in the perfect golden light of the setting sun. The city palace dominates the waterfront and its imposing walls appear like a fortress. Yet, at the water’s edge you’ll see people congregating, with women offering prayers, vendors selling trinkets and sweets and kids chasing each other along the steps. Birds skirt along the water’s surface and the Lake Palace on the island of Jag Niwas is perfectly reflected onto the lake, producing countless picture-perfect moments.
Udaipur James Bond Movie Locations Tour
Play Bond, James Bond, for a day in Udaipur. Follow in Roger Moore’s footsteps and sip a martini, shaken not stirred of course, while you try your hand at the tables in the casino of the Shiv Niwas Palace. Visit Octopussy’s home at the Taj Lake Palace in the middle of the stunning Lake Pichola and continue on to the hilltop Monsoon Palace with an incredible view over the City of Lakes. Just hope that you don’t end up being held captive here by Kamal Khan like Bond, because the spectacular palace offers one of the city’s best sunset viewpoints.
Days 9 & 10 - Mumbai
Star As an Extra in a Bollywood Movie in Mumbai
If you believe your true calling is to be an actor, then this can be your chance to shine. Amongst all the colourful saris, uplifting dances and cheesy romantic story lines, you can find your starring role as a foreign extra in a Bollywood movie.Bollywood is a booming film production industry in Mumbai and you will spend the day as an extra on set. This is your chance to look behind the set of some of one of biggest productions in the country.This is not a tourist experience and it is a little unpredictable. But you should end up on screen a few months and you will interact with actors and production crew.
Mumbai by Dawn City Tour
To understand the city of Mumbai is to experience it at dawn. Although the city never fully sleeps, you can witness the urban energy slowly regaining momentum at daybreak.You’ll spend the crisp morning observing the urban sprawl, which will shed some light on the hard-working people who grind and hustle their way through the day. Away from the tourist sights and behind the old colonial facades, you’ll discover the authentic Mumbai, when the monstrous city is stirring into vitality. At this slower pace, you’ll get to notice the finer details of the city that you would otherwise miss in daylight’s peak hour.
Days 11 to 13 - Goa Beach Relaxation
Goa Scenic Helicopter Flight
Get a different perspective of the long stretches of golden sand in Goa from the sky. You’ll take off in a private helicopter from the Park Hyatt Resort and fly over the pristine beaches and swaying palms of Majorda, Colva, Benaulin and Varca. As you fly along the coast, you’ll be able to look down and gaze at the local fishing boats lined along the water's edge and the beachside shacks at the edge of the palms. A birds eye view of the crashing waves and little explored coves, will give you a whole new outlook on a place known for hippie vibes and beach parties.
Lunch at an Indian Spice Plantation in Goa
It’s rare for people to know exactly how spices are grown and processed. On this tour of a spice plantation in Goa, you’ll come to learn about the different herbs and spices grown in this part of India. You’ll see the roots and bark of the trees and the seeds collected from the fruit, which become flavourful additions to our meals.After the plantation tour you’ll come back to have a fresh South Indian meal served on a banana leaf, with the commonly found spices you had seen earlier in your walk.
Waterfall and Spice Excursion in Goa
Away from the beachside bars and hippy markets, Goa’s lush landscape hides waterfalls and spice plantations. Tear yourself away from the beach and head inland for a day as you explore beautiful, clear water cascading through green forested slopes. You’ll be surprised at the serenity to be found away from the crowded shoreline. Then, explore some of Goa’s more traditional industry, away from the tourist scene at a plantation. You’ll be able to see the spices in their natural environment and learn about how they are grown and processed. There’s certainly more to Goa than you might have originally thought.
Day 14 & 15 - Safari!
See Wild Tigers Up Close in Nagarahole National Park
There’s nothing quite as heart stopping as seeing one of these wild majestic cats in their natural habitat. In Nagarahole National Park, you’ll scour the wilderness for a chance to have your moment with the Bengal tiger.As well as being one of the best tiger reserves in the country, this also a good place to spot the Indian leopard, sloth bear, striped hyena, Asian elephant and barking deer. It’s all possible within this small pocket of wildlife paradise in Karnataka.
Days 16 & 17 - Kerala
Walking Tour of Cochin
Feel the ocean breeze against your face as you watch local fishermen bring in their daily catch with old Chinese nets. Wander along the sandy beach and smile at the vendors of the various street food stalls.You can’t help but feel a sense of calm. Cochin, the laidback port city in Kerala, will entice you to stay longer than you planned. Walking through the seaside area known as Fort Cochin will take you back to when the Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese and British ruled the port. But the old colonial buildings along the quaint streets have since been converted into delicious seafood restaurants and quirky shops.
Theyyam Dance Performance in Kerala
The sound of beating drums reverberates through a small crowd gathered around this rare act of worship. Performers emerge dressed completely in colourful costumes, with their faces painted in an elaborate design. As they start to move to the sounds of the drums, you’ll come to understand that this is not just any dance performance. Theyyam is a very unique act of worship found only among the Malabar Coast of Kerala. It’s an ancient Hindu ritual performed by lower caste members of society outside rural village temples. To catch a glimpse of a Theyyam performance is an incredibly rare spectacle.
Cooking Workshop with Gourmet Expert in Kerala
There’s nothing that can quite beat the sweet, rich aromas of a South Indian coconut-based curry. With the help of a local gourmet expert, you’ll learn various curry and Indian snack recipes. You’ll also participate as Leela Manjuran reveals how to prepare and cook the ingredients. The strong curry scent will linger in your senses for hours afterwards and you’ll get to carry your new cooking skills home with you.
Scenic Trek Through Kerala's Tea Plantations
To discover India beyond its chaotic cities is to take a hike into the hills. Kerala is home to vast tea plantations, with their perfectly manicured plants stretching in lines over hills, for as far as the eye can see. You’ll breathe in the fresh air and absorb the unusual silence of being out in nature in one of Kerala’s largest estates. As you walk over the green valleys with a local guide, you’ll be able to appreciate the beautiful landscapes of Kerala’s tea growing region. The hike can be adjusted to suit whatever your fitness allows.
Days 18 & 19 - Houseboat Relaxation
Kerala Luxury Houseboat Overnight
You will glide down the famous backwaters of Kerala in a traditional houseboat made from coconut fibre rope, wooden planks and bamboo. As you navigate these skinny canals, you can witness everyday life of the people who have lived in and around Fort Cochin for generations on the banks of the waterways. You’ll be drawn away from the river view only by the appetising aroma of fresh, local cuisine presented on a banana leaf before bedding down for the night to the sounds of the lapping water and wetland wildlife.
Days 20 & 21 - Varanasi
Death and Rebirth Varanasi Night Walk
Prepare yourself for a confronting and enlightening experience at the Manikarnika or Burning Ghats of Varanasi. Hindu pilgrims come to this ancient city to cremate their loved ones or to simply die there themselves, in the hope to be liberated from the cycle of life and death. On this night walk, you will visit a temple amongst the Burning Ghats to understand how the Goddess Kali is able to liberate people’s souls by killing the ego. It’s a moving experience that combines the physical, emotional, philosophical and supernatural elements of Varanasi all in one.
Private Aarti Ceremony in Varanasi
Each evening you can witness the pulsating spirituality of Varanasi’s ghats. This is the holy city at its most vibrant and enchanting best. The nightly aarti ceremonies take place close to Dashashwamedh Ghat. Crowds gather around the steps to enjoy a show of bells, chanting and swinging lamps led by priests. It’s one of the most energetic acts of devotion you can witness in India.In this special Varanasi moment, you’ll have a private aarti ceremony with a priest, as he recites Sanskrit chants and invokes positive blessings for your future. You will be sprinkled with holy water and a dot to the forehead, in this intensely spiritual experience.
Ganges Temple Ceremony in Varanasi
Varanasi is a place like no other. For many, this ancient city is the very quintessence of India itself. It evokes many images of India first-time visitors preconceive in their minds. On this private experience you’ll observe the pilgrims as they come down to the banks of the mighty Ganges River to wash away their sins. Listen as religious chants are belted into the smoke-filled air and priests lift lamps as an offering to Mother Ganga.You can join the pilgrims at the water’s edge and let an offering float down the river, joining hundreds of others in a mission to find peace amongst this frenzied place.