Experience a kaleidoscope of colour and culture

Travel to the far-flung corners of India on this epic Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid. 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. Then bask in the tropical southern climate, cruise along the Kerala Backwaters, come face-to-face with local customs in small rural towns, and laze on the gorgeous beaches of Goa – India's idyllic holiday destination. Enjoy the freedom to be immersed in the diverse cultures of colourful, chaotic and enchanting India on this small-group adventure.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Delhi, India
Finish
Goa, India
Destination
India
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
HHRCC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Rajasthan is the India that many people imagine when they dream of travelling to this captivating country – ancient forts, palaces, rural villages and the colourful cities of Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur.

  • Pushkar and Varanasi are among the holiest cities in India. Climb to hilltop temples at sunrise, dodge cows in the street, and observe pilgrims praying along the ghats of the sacred Ganges River during a boat cruise.

  • Ride out into the Thar Desert on a camel safari. Feast on Rajasthani cuisine at sunset before bunking down to camp between the sand dunes.

  • Glide through the backwaters of Kerala on a pole boat, going ashore for a village homestay – a beautiful break and a perfect way to get close to local customs and culture.

  • The word ‘colourful’ gets thrown around a lot when people talk about India, but the gateway towers of Meenakshi Amman Temple truly are a technicolour dream.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid, made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local guide and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary has a mix of included activities and free time when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in.

  • Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

  • We are covering a lot of distance in a vast country, so this trip involves some very long bus and train rides. These can at times be a bit gruelling but offer a quintessential and authentic Indian experience. Read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

  • Sleeper trains are a great way to travel long distances while still getting maximum time in each place. 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. More information can be found in the Transport section of the Essential Trip Information.

  • When camping in the Thar Desert, you’re truly in the middle of nature, so conditions are basic and there are no toilet facilities. Please bring water, face wipes, hand sanitizer and any other supplies you may need.

  • You will also be travelling by local bus on this trip. While conditions are basic, this is a great way to rub shoulders with the locals while enjoying the passing scenery.

  • This trip runs all year round, so it’s important to be aware of just how hot it can get in India in the summer months and choose the season that best suits you. Depending on the time of year, temperatures in northern India can get very hot and very cold. Please bring layers and a range of adequate clothing, including thermals and sun protection.

Itinerary

Namaste and welcome to Delhi! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive in Delhi with time to spare before the meeting, consider finding your feet with an Urban Adventure. The Hidden Gems of Delhi tour offers something a little different from the standard itinerary, taking you to sights most tourists never see.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Humayun's Tomb - INR500
  • Delhi - Qutub Minar - INR500
  • Delhi - Red Fort - INR500
  • Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2700
  • Delhi - Delhi Food Walk Urban Adventure - INR3500
  • Delhi - Home-Cooked Delhi Urban Adventure - INR4000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

To find out more about Urban Adventure tours like the Hidden Gems of Delhi, speak to a booking agent or visit urbanadventures.com/destination/delhi-tours.
This morning set off by metro to Old Delhi to explore on a 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 mosque, then stop by the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) to learn about the religion. Tonight, transfer to the railway station and 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 some of your own food for the journey too.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Delhi - Old Delhi walking & rickshaw tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The total train journey will be 750 kilometres and take approximately 19 hours.

Compartments on the train feature padded berths with sheets, a pillow and a 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. More information can be found in the ‘Transport’ section of the Essential Trip Information.
If there are no delays, you should arrive into Jaisalmer around midday. Pack a small overnight bag, leaving the rest of your luggage at a hotel, then drive by jeep to the Thar Desert. Meet your guides and climb on the back of a camel, then set off through the desert for the 3-hour ride to the camping ground. Your guides will get a campfire going and cook a traditional Rajasthani dinner while you relax and watch the sunset. Spend the night stargazing and sharing stories in this incredible setting.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaisalmer - City tour
  • Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
The campsite is very basic, with a windbreak set up against a sand dune. Water and soft drinks are available for purchase. Bedding is on a camping cot with a pillow, sheets, mattress and blankets provided. There are no structured bathroom facilities so please bring toiletries with you, including hand sanitiser. Toilets are simple long drop style.

During the winter months (December and January), temperatures in the desert can drop below zero. Your leader will monitor the weather forecast to decide whether this activity will go ahead. If not, you’ll take a day trip to the Thar Desert instead of the overnight stay. Some travellers also like to bring a sleeping bag and base layers for camping in the colder months.
Rise early to enjoy the sunrise over the sand dunes then eat a simple breakfast. Ride back to the edge of the desert by camel (approximately 90 minutes) and return to the city by private vehicle. On arrival, choose whether to relax or join the group on an optional trip to the Jaisalmer Folklore Museum. This small museum displays a private family collection of printing blocks, musical instruments, religious artefacts and decorations which offer insights into the cultural heritage of Jaisalmer.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Jaisalmer - Folklore Museum - INR10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day to explore Jaisalmer. The city’s eponymous fort holds twisting alleys with markets where you can wander for hours. You can also find a series of Jain temples dating from the 15th and 16th centuries within the walls of the fort, and it’s easy to spend a few hours admiring their elaborate carvings. The opulent havelis (traditional Indian mansions) found throughout the city make another fine place to spend some time admiring the desert architecture.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning take a private bus to the railway station and then a 6-hour train ride across the desert to the blue city of Jodhpur. Enjoy a guided walk to explore the sights, including a visit to one of the oldest markets in India – the Sadar Bazaar. Here you can haggle over Bollywood soundtracks, bangles, leather shoes and colourful saris, or simply soak up the energy of a typical Indian market. Jodhpur is home to some of the best lassis in India, so make sure you try one while you’re here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jodhpur - City walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The total train journey will take approximately 6 hours. This is a Third Class AC train.
Today you have the option to visit the colossal Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest in India. The fort is still run by the Jodhpur royal family. If you choose to visit, you can explore the palaces, galleries and artillery inside the fortress walls and admire great views over the city. If you’d prefer to see a more down to earth kind of Rajasthani life, it is also possible to spend today touring nearby Bishnoi villages. Spending time in these villages offers a glimpse into rural Rajasthani life and the chance to learn about the rich cultural traditions of the people who live there.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Jodhpur - Bishnoi villages day trip - INR750
  • Jodhpur - Meherangarh Fort - INR600
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning take an auto rickshaw to the bus station and board a local bus for an 8-hour journey to Udaipur. This romantic city is set amid the Aravalli Hills and curls around Lake Pichola, a man-made lake created in the 14th century. On arrival, take a guided walk to get your bearings. Explore twisting alleyways filled with shops and bazaars selling things like silver jewellery, shoes, bags, leather goods and miniature paintings.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Udaipur - City walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s bus journey travels 300 kilometres and takes approximately 8 hours.
Enjoy a free day to explore the sights of Udaipur. Perhaps take a short boat ride on the famous Lake Pichola (seasonal) and see the palaces of Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas rise out of the water and their own reflections. Otherwise, you could tour the lakeside City Palace complex, the largest palace in Rajasthan, where you can check out vivid murals and royal antiques. Alternatively, learn the secrets behind making the perfect Indian thali during a half-day cooking class.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Udaipur - Lake Pichola boat ride from Lal Ghat - INR350
  • Udaipur - City Palace - INR300
  • Udaipur - Cooking class - INR600
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take another free day in this beautiful city. Maybe you’d like to visit Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace), a 19th-century palace perched on a hill overlooking Lake Pichola. Named after Maharana Sajjan Singh of the Mewar Dynasty, Sajjan Garh offers ridiculously great views of the city below. Or perhaps you’re more inclined to visit the nearby village of Shilpgram, an ethnographic museum and arts hubs where traditional crafts are sold, and artists perform. Your Lonely Planet app will definitely be of use today! This afternoon, meet the group back at your accommodation and head out to enjoy a concert that combines seven traditional Rajasthani folk dances.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Udaipur - Cultural performance - INR150
  • Udaipur - Sajjan Garh Palace (Monsoon Palace) - INR300
  • Udaipur - Shilpgram craft village - INR25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Transfer to the station and travel by train for around 7 hours to the city of Ajmer. Hop in a private vehicle for a 45-minute drive to your hotel in Pushkar. One of the India's holiest towns and a market centre for the surrounding villages, Pushkar is a great place to immerse yourself in Hindu traditions. On arrival, head out to explore the town on a walking tour, wandering through the main bazaar along the way. Finish with a walk around Pushkar Lake and past the bustling ghats and temples, observing the devout as they worship at the holy waters.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pushkar - Walking tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s train journey travels 300 kilometres and takes approximately 7 hours. This is a seated carriage with air conditioning.
Today in Pushkar is free for you to do as you please. Early morning risers can choose to 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 for breakfast. Later in the day, maybe pay a visit to the colourful Brahma Temple, which is dedicated to the Hindu god. If you’ve planned your tour to coincide with the Pushkar Camel Fair (which changes each year), today will mainly be set aside to experience one of India’s most famous festivals.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Pushkar - Brahma Temple - Free
  • Pushkar - Savitri Temple - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
We do all we can to ensure that travellers booked on a trip that coincides with the Pushkar Camel Fair (which changes each year) will get an opportunity to see the best of the festival. However, we offer no guarantee that the announced dates will not change. Pushkar hotels raise their rates considerably during the festival, so departures across this period may be at a higher price. Although we make bookings months in advance, accommodation in Pushkar tends to overbook at this time. We ask for a flexible approach from people travelling at this time as accommodation, order of activities and type of transport may need to change.
Return to Ajmer and travel by local bus to Jaipur (approximately 4 hours). On arrival take an auto rickshaw to your hotel, then head out to explore Rajasthan’s capital on a guided walking tour. This tour includes a visit to the market and the beehive-like Palace of the Winds (Hawa Mahal), built in 1799 so that women of the royal family could observe street festivities without being seen by the public. Your evening is free, so perhaps ask your leader to point out the best place to grab dal baati (dal served with wheat rolls).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jaipur - Walking & market tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s local bus journey travels 150 kilometres and takes approximately 4 hours.
Enjoy a free day in Jaipur, with plenty of optional activities to choose from to fill your day. For many travellers, an optional hot air balloon experience is one of the highlights of Jaipur. If you’d prefer to stay grounded (but still like expansive views) the Amber Fort is both an excellent example of Rajput architecture and a great place from which to see the surrounding area. Or maybe get among the crowds in the city’s bazaars to shop for artisan goods and semi-precious stones. For a true local experience, tonight you could immerse yourself in Bollywood with a movie at a classic cinema.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Jaipur - Amber Fort - INR500
  • Jaipur - City Palace - INR700
  • Jaipur - Bollywood Movie at Raj Mandir Cinema - INR400
  • Jaipur - Balloon Safari - USD260
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Ballooning can be done in the morning between September and June. For additional details, please see the ‘Important notes’ section of the Essential Trip Information.
Head to Abhaneri by private vehicle (approximately 2 hours). This rural town provides a lovely detour from the bigger cities in Rajasthan. Visit the Chand Baori, a 20-metre-deep stepwell where water was collected and locals used to gather to escape the heat. Built in the late ninth century, the baori is a mind-bending feat of construction. Next visit another jewel of Abhaneri, the Harshat Mata Temple. This temple, which is now mostly ruins, was first constructed between the seventh and eighth centuries and dedicated to the goddess of happiness and joy.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Abhaneri - Stepwells & Harshat Mata Temple
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s journey by private vehicle covers 95 kilometres and takes approximately 2 hours.
Head east by private transport for the 2–3-hour journey to Agra, via Fatehpur Sikri. Rich in Mughal heritage, Agra is a city of gardens, temples and open rooftops. On arrival visit the Taj Mahal, a white marble mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal attracts over three million visitors each year, so be prepared for crowds. The rest of the day is free for you to explore. If you’re after a cool drink or a light meal, maybe head to Sheroes Hangout. This cafe is staffed by survivors of acid attacks and is located 10 minutes’ walk from the Taj.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Agra - Taj Mahal - INR1300
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s journey by private vehicle covers 60 kilometres and takes approximately 2–3 hours.
Enjoy a free day before boarding the train this evening. Early risers might want to head back to the Taj Mahal for a very memorable sunrise. While you’re here, be sure to visit 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, board a 12-hour overnight train to Varanasi (Third Class AC).
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Agra - Agra Fort - INR600
  • Agra - Akbar's Mausoleum - INR210
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s overnight train journey covers 700 kilometres and takes approximately 12 hours.
On arrival in Varanasi this morning transfer by auto rickshaw to your hotel. Head out on a guided walk around the Old City, following your leader through the narrow alleyways. The rest of your day is free with to do as you please. This evening, there are two options you should consider, both centred around the holy Ganges. The first is a sunset cruise along the river which allows you to observe life from a unique perspective in the fading light of day. If you’d prefer to stay on land, you could watch local priests perform a ganga aarti (fire ceremony) at the Dashashwamedh Ghat.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Varanasi - Old City tour
Optional Activities
  • Varanasi - Sunset candle ceremony - INR140
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
There's so much to see and do in Varanasi. Use Intrepid’s guide to help plan your time at intrepidtravel.com/adventures/varanasi-guide-india.
Enjoy a free day to explore this holy city. We highly recommend starting very early and take an optional sunrise boat trip along the Ganges, passing pilgrims bathing and praying along the colourful ghats. Alternatively, head out to the ghats on foot to watch the dhobi-wallahs (clothes washers) drying clothes along the riverbank. You could even continue your stroll to the sinking Vishnu temple near the Manikarnika Ghat. Perhaps ask you leader about how to visit Sarnath, about ten kilometres outside of the city, where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first speech after finding enlightenment.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Varanasi - Sarnath (entry) - INR250
  • Varanasi - Sunrise boat trip - INR80
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, you have some free time to explore more of Varanasi. Perhaps visit the Vishwanath Temple, or simply grab some chaat and watch the world go by. If you’re craving a little peace and quiet before you board another overnight train, consider heading to the Kriti Gallery to check out some contemporary work by local artists. In the afternoon, board the overnight train for a 15-hour journey to Delhi.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today’s overnight train journey covers 800 kilometres and takes approximately 15 hours.
Arrive in Delhi in the late morning and hop in a taxi to the hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or explore the city at your own pace. The Home Cooked Delhi tour, which sees you visiting a local’s home for a leisurely meal, is a great way to immerse yourself in the city while still relaxing. Tonight, maybe get together with your group and head out for some dinner – your local leader will have plenty of recommendations.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Delhi - Gandhi's Delhi Urban Adventure - INR2700
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
For the Home Cooked Delhi tour and other immersive, locally guided adventures in Delhi, speak to a booking agent about Urban Adventures or visit urbanadventures.com/destination/delhi-tours.
Enjoy a free morning in Delhi before transferring to the airport for an included flight bound for Trivandrum. Please note that this flight is most likely unaccompanied, however you’ll be met in Trivandrum and transferred to your hotel by a local representative. Tonight, there is another group briefing at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your new travel pals and group leader who’ll join you for the next stage of your journey. Afterwards, take a walk around Trivandrum and perhaps join an optional group dinner – your group leader will know of some delicious spots to eat at.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a welcome meeting tonight to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet travellers joining you. It’s important that you attend the meeting as your new leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Please note that Kerala is officially a dry state, with alcohol sales and consumption limited to bars in five-star hotels.
In the morning, head up the coast by private vehicle for around 2 hours to the town of Varkala. Once settled into your hotel, use the free time to explore the Keralan coast, which is home to some of India’s best beaches. Soaring cliffs protect Varkala’s sandy bay and, depending on the time of year, dolphins can be spotted from high up on the rocks. In the evening, maybe head into town to one of the numerous restaurants serving fresh, local seafood caught right off the coast.
Accommodation
  • Resort (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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 pretty laidback. Today is also the perfect time to check your Lonely Planet app and see what else is popular around the area. Take the rest of the day to relax, beachside or otherwise, before the rest of South India beckons.
Accommodation
  • Resort (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, take a 3-hour train journey along the Keralan coastline to Alappuzha (Alleppey). Once an important trading port and now renowned for the annual Snake Boat race in August, Alappuzha is the starting point for most journeys into the backwaters. An auto rickshaw will take you from the train station to the boat boarding point. Explore the Keralan Backwaters in a pole boat before heading to an island village for an overnight homestay with a local family. Your guide will take you on a walk around the village and introduce you to the community.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kerala Backwaters - Pole boat ride
  • Guided village walk backwaters
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Accommodation tonight is on a multishare basis. All the families in the community live within a few hundred metres of each other, with at least one person in each family speaking a reasonable standard of English. Food is traditional Keralan home-style cooking. Standards and configuration of rooms may differ between homestays.
In the morning, cross the backwaters by private boat back to Alappuzha. You’ll then take a 2-hour local bus to Kochi, arriving around midday (12 pm). Once arrived, go for a walk around the Fort Kochi area, where you’ll be staying for the next two nights. In the early evening, there’s the option to attend a classic Kathakali dance performance – a snapshot into traditional cultures of the region.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kochi - Kathakali performance - INR300
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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. Afterwards, why not join an Urban Adventure day tour, such as Aromas of Kochi, to get more of an in-depth look into this city and its cuisine. Visit urbanadventures.com/destination/kochi-tours for more information, and check with your local leader in advance if you’d like to book one of these trips.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kochi - Fort Kochi walk
Optional Activities
  • Kochi - Dutch Palace - INR5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning, get ready for a day of travel as you head by private vehicle to Periyar National Park (approximately 7–8 hours). After checking in to your hotel, head out on a tour of a local spice farm, sampling cardamom, pepper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Afterwards, enjoy a relaxed evening around your accommodation, perhaps settling in for an early night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Periyar - Spice plantation visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, enjoy a free day with an optional walk around Periyar National Park. Encounters with animals in the wild are never guaranteed, and this is more of a jungle walk than an animal-spotting tour, but do keep an eye out for tiger tracks, spotted deer, Indian elephants or gaur – the world's largest species of buffalo. In the afternoon, unwind with an optional ayurvedic massage or just relax in your scenic setting.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Periyar - Guided nature walk - INR750
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Our usual route is the Green Zone walk in the national park. Please note that tigers are extremely rare and shy in Periyar National Park. It is, however, a lovely walk, the local guides are villagers who have lived in the area for generations and are very knowledgeable about the area’s flora and fauna. Bring water – we start early but it gets very hot and humid later in the morning. Leech socks are available to rent for a small fee – this is one critter that we often do spot!
In the morning, take a local bus to Madurai (approximately 4–5 hours). This buzzing city is crammed full of bazaars, pilgrims and cycle rickshaws. After a walking tour to see the sights, perhaps visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple. This ancient temple is still in use and features a labyrinth of lamplit corridors leading to shrines.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Madurai - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Madurai - Sri Meenakshi Temple - INR50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day in Madurai. Perhaps head to the Gandhi Museum to learn about the man who fought for India’s independence or wander through the 1000 pillars of Aayiram Kaal Mandapam. This is also a great opportunity to haggle with vendors at the bazaars and the tailors' market. Keep in mind that this evening, you’ll take an overnight sleeper train to Mysore. The journey is approximately 14 hours, so you may want to bring some extra snacks.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Madurai - Gandhi Museum - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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 all genders.
On arrival, transfer to your hotel in Mysore. Mysore is an easygoing town with a pleasant climate. Go on a walk with your group, checking out the ornate Mysore Palace along the way. There’s also the option to visit the Keshava Temple in Somnathpur, which is a stunning example of Hoysala architecture. The temple is a 1-hour drive out of town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mysore - City walk
Optional Activities
  • Mysore - Keshava Temple - INR200
  • Mysore - Maharaja's Palace - INR200
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day in Mysore, with plenty of optional activities to keep you busy. If you’ve seen all you need to in town, 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 around 7 pm tonight, meet up with your group and board a 10-hour overnight train to Hampi.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Mysore - Chamundi Hill & Temple - INR100
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, arrive in Hampi and cross the river to your guesthouse by canoe. Hampi is a temple town situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. Once you’re settled in, make an optional visit to the architectural masterpiece of Vittala Temple. This 16th-century temple contains mandapas (pillared pavilions), a pool, a palace and the popular stone chariot, which according to Hindu mythology was the vehicle of the Lord Vishnu.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hampi - Vittala Temple - INR500
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast, explore the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire and the huge boulders on the outskirts of town. In the early evening, drive for around 3 hours by private vehicle to Hubli, where you’ll board a 9-hour overnight train to Goa.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Once your train arrives in Goa, head to the hotel and check in. Brimming with Portuguese influences and known for the sandy beaches lining its coast, Goa is a fascinating region in India's south-west. The day is free to do what you like. Perhaps relax on the beach, sip a cocktail at a local bar or go for a city walk. Tonight, why not get together with your travel crew for a beachside dinner – Goa is definitely cause for celebration.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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. If you would like to spend more time in Goa, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

Transport

Auto rickshaw, Boat, Bus, Camel, Canoe, Car, Cycle rickshaw, local bus, Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Taxi, Train

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night), Guesthouse (5 nights), Heritage Property (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (21 nights), Overnight sleeper train (6 nights)

Included activities

  • Delhi - Old Delhi walking & rickshaw tour
  • Delhi - Jama Masjid
  • Delhi - Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple)
  • Jaisalmer - City tour
  • Jaisalmer - Camel safari & overnight desert camp
  • Jodhpur - City walk
  • Udaipur - City walk
  • Pushkar - Walking tour
  • Jaipur - Walking & market tour
  • Abhaneri - Stepwells & Harshat Mata Temple
  • Varanasi - Old City tour
  • Kerala Backwaters - Pole boat ride
  • Guided village walk backwaters
  • Kochi - Fort Kochi walk
  • Periyar - Spice plantation visit
  • Madurai - Walking tour
  • Mysore - City walk

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Iconic India trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. This trip is a combination of two of our most popular departures. As such the make up of your group and your tour leader may change on Day 22.

JAIPUR HOT AIR BALLOON FLIGHTS
Hot air balloon flights are operated by Sky Waltz in Jaipur. Flights operate from September 1st to April 31st and last approximately 60 mins. Return transfers, tea and coffee plus light refreshments and a certificate of flight are included in the cost. You can register your interest and pay your tour leader at your joining meeting on day 1 of your trip. Payment must be made by cash in either INR/AUD/USD/GBP only and is USD$260pp (subject to change). Flights are subject to availability and weather conditions (tickets are fully refundable in case of bad weather).

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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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