Visit India and experience a kaleidoscope of colour and cultures

Travel to the far-flung corners of India on this trailblazing adventure tour. In the north, ride camels through Jaisalmer's desert, lose yourself in the electric bazaars of Jodhpur, witness pilgrims performing ancient ceremonies on the ghats of Varanasi and marvel at the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. Bask in the tropical southern climate, cruise along the Kerala Backwaters and come face-to-face with local customs in small rural towns. This fantastic trip finishes off on the gorgeous beaches of Goa – India's idyllic beachside holiday destination. Enjoy the freedom to be immersed in the diverse cultures of colourful, chaotic and enchanting India.

New Delhi, India
Goa, India
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12
Carbon offset
1 020kg pp per trip


  • Mingle with pilgrims in Varanasi
  • Be left breathless by the Taj Mahal in Agra
  • Travel south and cruise down the Kerala Backwaters
  • Bliss out in Goa, India's beachside playground
  • Visit the Maharaja's Palace in Mysore
  • Ride a camel through the Thar desert
  • Explore delightful Old Delhi
  • Visit Jodphur, India's 'Blue City', and discover colourful bazaars
  • Catch a Bollywood film in Jaipur
  • Sip sweet chai overlooking the glistening Udaipur Lake


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2015 - 31 December 2015

Discover the beating heart of Old Delhi - its narrow streets burst with stores selling silk, copper and spices. Board an overnight sleeper train and head towards Rajasthan.
In the morning, set off with the group to explore Old Delhi on a guided walking tour. Experience the chaos of an Indian traffic jam, as you inch your way through the streets around Chandni Chowk marketplace in a traditional cycle rickshaw. Visit the Jama Masjid, Delhi's oldest and India’s largest mosque, and then stop by the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the Sikh religion. Tonight board a 19-hour overnight train to Jaisalmer. Local vendors will board the train at various stops to sell snacks, but it’s advised that you bring your own food for the journey.
From Jaisalmer, experience nomadic life on an overnight camel safari through the Thar Desert. Eat local specialties by the camp fire and sleep under a blanket of stars.
Rise early to enjoy the sunrise over the sand dunes before having a simple breakfast. The ride back to the drop off point from the desert takes around 90 minutes. Return to the city by jeep, where you can take an optional trip to the Folklore Museum. This small museum displays printing blocks, musical instruments, religious artefacts and camel decorations, offering insights into the cultural heritage of Jaisalmer.
Today is a free day to explore Jaisalmer. This old fortress city has long been a centre for nomadic tribespeople who come to trade in the twisting alleys and markets inside the walls. Perhaps visit the Jain temples, do some shopping or admire the ornate havelis (traditional Indian houses) found throughout the city.
Sip on a lassi and admire views of the colossal Mehrangarh Fort. Wander among colourful saris and sparkling bangles in the Sadar Bazaar, one of the oldest markets in India.
You have the option to visit the colossal Mehrangarh Fort today. The fort is one of the largest in India and is still run by the Jodhpur royal family. Explore the palaces, galleries and artillery inside the fortress walls and admire great views over the city. Today’s other option is to take a tour of the nearby Bishnoi villages. Take a glimpse into rural Rajasthani life and learn about the rich cultural traditions of these peaceful, nature-loving tribespeople.
India's most romantic city, Udaipur, is a centre for artists and musicians. Why not visit the dramatic Monsoon Palace or have dinner at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the lake?
Enjoy a free day to explore the sights of Udaipur. Perhaps take a short boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola and see the palaces of Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas rise out of the water of their own reflections (season depending). Take a guided tour of the lakeside City Palace complex, the largest palace in Rajasthan. While inside, check out vivid murals and royal antiques, and pop into the impressive Jagdish Temple that’s dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. Alternatively, learn the secrets behind making the perfect Indian thali during a half-day cooking class at the Spice Box school.
Today’s excursion sees you visit Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace). Perched atop a hill overlooking Lake Pichola and built it in 1884, the palace was named after Maharana Sajjan Singh of the Mewar Dynasty. You might like to join a trip to the nearby rural arts and crafts village of Shilpgram, where mud huts, artistic performances and traditional rural ways of life can be observed. Back in Udaipur, enjoy a concert combining seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances.
Mingle with holy men in spiritual Pushkar and seek out a bargain in side-street bazaars. Early risers can take a walk to Savitri Temple for an inspirational sunrise.
Early morning risers can hike up the hill to the Savitri Temple for sunrise views over the town. If the chai man is there enjoy a steaming cup of tea at the top. Later in the day pay a visit to the colourful Brahma Temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu god, Brahma. If you’re lucky enough to be in town for the Pushkar Camel Fair, experience one of India’s most famous festivals. Notes: The Pushkar Camel Fair is held in November each year. However, the fair is based on the lunar calendar so dates can vary and be hard to confirm. We will do all we can to ensure that travellers booked with a trip to coincide with the fair will get an opportunity to see the best of the festival, but we cannot take responsibility if the dates of the fair change. Pushkar hotels raise their rates considerably during the festival, so departures across this period will be subject to a surcharge. Although we make bookings months in advance, accommodation in Pushkar tends to overbook at this time. That’s why we ask for a flexible approach from people travelling at this time.
See the intricate, pink sandstone latticework of the Hawa Mahal, the 'Palace of the Winds'. Have a unique cinema experience at an optional Bollywood movie screening.
For many travellers, a hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. Ballooning can be done over the city early in the morning between September and June. For additional information, please see the ‘Important Notes’ section of the trip notes. In the afternoon, visit the Amber Fort. Set on a hilltop overlooking Maota Lake, the fort is an excellent example of Rajput architecture. Entering the Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors) is a particularly memorable experience.
Take an optional trip to the famous Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, a welcome relief from the chaos of modern India.
Discover spectacular views from the Red Fort and admire the elegant architecture of the Taj Mahal of Agra - sunrise over this iconic monument is worth rising early for.
Today explore the spectacular Red Fort on the banks of the Yamuna River. Built in 1565 by Emperor Akbar, the fort was originally designed to be a military structure. If you have extra time, you may like to continue onto Akbar's Mausoleum to pay your respects to the great emperor. In the evening, take a 12-hour overnight train to Varanasi.
The holiest place for Hindus, Varanasi is a city of ritual and ceremony. Walk the ghats for a heady experience or hire a boat and see the city from the water.
Start very early with a sunrise boat trip along the Ganges, passing pilgrims bathing and praying along the colourful ghats. See dhobi-wallahs (washerwomen and men) drying clothes along the riverbank. Make sure you keep an eye out for the sinking Vishnu temple near the Manikarnika Ghat. The rest of the day is free for you to do as you please. Perhaps take a trip out to Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first speech after finding enlightenment. The Dhamekh Stupa dominates the landscape of this holy site.
In the morning, you have some free time to explore more of Varanasi. Perhaps visit the Vishwanath Temple, which is laden with 800 kg of gold plating. Slow down your pace with a visit to the Kriti Gallery, which displays the work of local Indian artists. In the afternoon, board a 15-hour overnight train to Delhi.
Watch the sprawl of India’s capital come into view from the window of the overnight train. Enjoy a free day exploring the sights and sounds of the city. If you want to pick up any souvenirs for friends back home, now is the perfect opportunity. Then it’s time to say goodbye to confounding, overwhelming, incredible India.
Hang out with the locals on Kovalam Beach or check out the museums, palaces and bazaars.
Take a dip in the Arabian Sea, sip chai at a cliff-top cafe, practise some yoga or visit the ancient Janardhana Temple.
Enjoy a free day in Varkala. This is a great place to sit back and relax, but if you want to get active there are plenty of water activities on offer, such as surfing and windsurfing. Even though this is a popular destination for Indian tourists, the beaches are quiet and laid-back. If you have time, perhaps rent a scooter and ride through fishing villages to Varkala Light House.
Cruise past palm trees, rice fields and coconut groves on a sunset boat trip through the winding backwaters of Kerala. Enjoy an island homestay, including a delicious home-cooked Keralan meal.
Explore the heart of Kerala on a local ferry. This fascinating city is an invigorating mix of Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and English influences. See spice bazaars, the beautiful Dutch Palace and perhaps catch a Kathakali dance performance.
Today, head to the Mattancherry part of Fort Cochin to explore the old Jewish quarter, synagogue and Dutch Palace (Kochi Palace) on a guided walking tour. The tour takes around three hours, with the rest of the day free to do as you wish. Why not join one of our Urban Adventures day tours, such as Fort Cochin by Bike, Home Cooked Kochi or Kochi Food and Culture Tour. Please check with your leader in advance if you’d like to book one of these trips.
Journey to the lush Periyar National Park in the ranges of the Western Ghats to spot leopards, monkeys and around 60 other types of mammals at play in the wild. Visit the elephant and tiger reserves on site to better understand the plight of these endangered animals in India.
After breakfast, enjoy a free day with an optional walk around Periyar National Park. Be on the look out for tigers and other wildlife such as bison, wild boar, elephants and spotted deer. Set high in the ranges of the Western Ghats, this wildlife sanctuary surrounds a picturesque lake formed by the building of a dam in 1895. If you’re lucky, you might even see Indian elephants bathe playfully in the lake.
Weave through chaotic streets filled with bazaars, pilgrims and rickshaws or explore the labyrinthine corridors of the Sri Meenakshi Temple.
Today is a free day in Madurai. Perhaps head to the Ghandi Museum to learn about the man who fought for India’s independence or wander through the 1,000 pillars of Aayiram Kaal Mandapam. This is also a great opportunity to haggle with vendors at the bazaars and the tailors' market. In the evening, take an overnight sleeper train to Mysore (approximately seven hours). Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing with locals of the same or opposite gender.
Famous for its silk, incense and sandalwood, relaxed Mysore also boasts amazing temples. Take time to climb Chamundi Hill and be sure to visit the Maharaja's Palace.
Today is a free day in Mysore, with plenty of optional activities to keep you busy. Perhaps explore the countryside surrounding Mysore. Climb up Chamundi Hill to the Sri Chamundeswari Temple at the top, which is dedicated to the goddess Durga. At 7 pm board an overnight 10-hour train to Hampi via northern Karnataka.
Wander through the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire, nestled in an outlandish boulder-strewn landscape. Hampi also has plenty of temples, chilled cafes and great little markets to explore.
After breakfast, explore the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire and the huge boulders on the outskirts of town. Use the rest of the day to explore. In the early evening, drive for around three hours by private vehicle to Hubli, where you’ll board an overnight nine-hour train to Goa.
This southern adventure concludes in Goa, famed for its palm-fringed beaches and relaxed pace. The Portuguese influence endures in the city's whitewashed churches.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time. Goa is a great place to end the trip – if you can, we recommend staying on for a couple of nights to relax and explore.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners
Auto rickshaw, Bus, Camel, Cycle rickshaw, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Train
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night), Guesthouse (7 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (15 nights), Overnight sleeper train (6 nights), Resort (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Backwaters - Village walk
  • Delhi - Old Delhi walking tour
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Jaipur - Walking tour
  • Jama Masjid
  • Kerala Backwaters - Pole Boat Ride
  • Madurai - Walking tour
  • Orientation Walk of Jaisalmer
  • Periyar - Spice farm tour & dinner
  • Pushkar - Walking tour
  • Varanasi - Old city walking tour


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Important notes

1. The internal flight from Delhi to Trivandrum is NOT included. Please see important notes for details.
2. Please see website for Pushkar Camel Fair dates

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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India Unplugged , October 2015

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