Essence of India Tour

Essence of India Tour India

"Dear Debbie, thank you so much for an amazing trip. It's been such fun all the way and brilliantly organised by you. I never thought I would be a tour person but I felt very comfortable, but then I was with some lovely people. Look forward to my next trip in the north with you"

Lucie, Jan/Feb 2015

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Maximum Group Size: 10

Tour Length 23 days / 22 nights

Starts in Delhi on Thursday 4th October 2018

Finishes in Mumbai on Friday 26th October 2018

Fully Escorted by a representative of Incredible Indian Tours

Cost from USD4090 per person twin share (USD5000 including Optional Single Supplement)

.IN THEIR OWN WORDS – Some testimonials from our Guests

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Essence of India Group Tour

Overview Highlights Itinerary Trip Notes Downloads Bookings Gallery

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Accommodation Transport Meals
22 nights Hotels Airport Transfers 21 Breakfasts
Private A/C Minibus 2 Lunches
2 Domestic flights 5 Dinners
Taxi & Rickshaw for sightseeing

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This is an exciting and classic trip, from the banks of the holy Ganges to the magnificence of the Mughal cities. We experience the land of the Kings – Rajasthan, and Mumbai, the sprawling, commercial capital of India. We will show you the well known and introduce you to some wonderful secrets. The massive forts of Rajasthan, the opulence and splendour of Maharajah's palaces, markets and bazaars, holy cities, a town seemingly lost in time, a camel safari and a search for the elusive Bollywood star all make for a trip full of highlights and contrasts.

Experience Incredible India and Rajasthan on this Small Group India Tour, fully escorted within India by a western female tour leader with the service of local guides for various activities and sightseeing.

Highlights

€ be part of the craziness and excitement of India's capital city Delhi

€ witness sunrise over the Ganges in holy Varanasi

€ be left breathless by the unsurpassed Taj Mahal

€ explore the palaces and bazaars of Jaipur

€ experience the Desert city of Jaisalmer

€ be amazed at Jodhpur's majestic Meherangarh Fort

€ discover India's only Brahma temple in Pushkar

€ spend the night in heritage hotels in Khimsar and Bijaipur

€ enjoy the beautiful lake city of Udaipur

€ live it up in glitzy and glamorous Mumbai

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Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 Delhi

Arrival Day. After a group meeting at midday to discuss the trip, we spend the afternoon visiting New Delhi’s Rajpath and the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Humayans Tomb.

Hotel: The Hans

Day 2 Delhi

This morning we travel to Old Delhi visiting the Jama Masjid, (the largest Mosque in India), the Old Delhi spice market and Chandni Chowk, the busiest marketplace in Asia.

There are many other options here in Delhi ­ including the Craft Museum, Red Fort, Purana Qila, Qutab Minar and the Lotus Temple.

Hotel: The Hans

Days 3-4 Varanasi

A morning flight takes us to Varanasi.

We take a walk along the ghats on the riverbank and explore the old city, enjoy an evening ceremonial “aarti” on the riverbanks and take a dawn boat ride on the Ganges. We visit Sarnath, the site of Buddha’s first sermon and still have plenty of free time to explore the ghats and alleyways of ancient Varanasi.

Hotel: Hotel Banaras Haveli

Day 5 Agra

We fly direct to Agra, arriving early afternoon with time to explore some of the remarkable sights of Agra ­ including the magnificent Red Fort and 'Baby Taj'.

Hotel: The Retreat

Days 6-8 Jaipur

We have a dawn visit to the truly amazing Taj Mahal before driving to Jaipur, the 'Pink City' and capital of Rajasthan. Amber Fort is a splendid example of Rajput/Mughal architecture and was the old capital of Rajasthan prior to 1727. We take a wander through the markets and colourful bazaars of Jaipur and have the chance to see the splendid City Palace Museum and the wondrous Jantar Mantar. There is free time to explore some of Jaipurs many sights, or markets. We also experience a Bollywood extravaganza at the Raj Mandir cinema.

Hotel: Arya Niwas

Day 9 Khimsar

We drive west into the Thar desert today, stopping near Nagaur for the night at the grand heritage hotel of Khimsar Fort.

Hotel: Khimsar Fort

Days 10-12 Jaisalmer

Like something out of 1001 Arabian nights, Jaisalmer is both exotic and mysterious with a unique fort, which unlike all others in India is still lived in, and accommodates a quarter of the towns population.

We wander the ancient streets of the fort and the town, visiting the intricately carved sandstone havelis (merchant's mansions) and temples. Jaisalmer is famed for its handicrafts and there are many wonderful shops in the bazaar.

On the afternoon of day 11 we head out to the desert for a short camel safari followed by dinner in the desert.

Hotel: Nachana Haveli

Days 13-14 Jodhpur

Travelling on to Jodhpur we explore the palaces of the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort and the colourful markets in the city below. Famous throughout the country for its special Makhani (butter) lassi's, Jodphur is also where the pants come from. We also take a jeep tour around some traditional Rajasthani villages and visit local handicraft makers.

Hotel: Haveli Inn Pal

Days 15-16 Pushkar

The mellow and friendly Pushkar is a firm favourite with travellers and modern-day hippies. Picturesquely situated around a holy lake lined with whitewashed temples and ghats, Pushkar comes alive for a week every November with the annual Camel Fair when tens of thousands of people and camels descend on the small town.

Hotel: Pushkar Palace

Days 17-18 Bijaipur

We head to the south-eastern corner of Rajasthan to Castle Bijaipur where we get to spend the night living like Maharajahs (and Maharanis). The Castle is still run by the local rulers, who take us out on a village safari to experience tribal village life Rajasthani style.

Hotel: Castle Bijaipur

Days 19-21 Udaipur

A short journey brings us to Udaipur. Often called the romantic city, Udaipur lives up to its name with its white washed havelis and palaces lining the banks of the charming lake Pichola. We visit the City Palace complex (one of the largest palace complexes in India) and take in a classic Rajasthani Dance show. We wander the local markets and learn how to make a sensational Indian curry. Why not try your hand at a spot of miniature painting or discover the lake on an afternoon cruise. Udaipur is a friendly and charming city just made for exploring. On the evening of day 21 we fly to Mumbai

Hotel: Udai Kothi

Day 22 Mumbai

We have a full day in Mumbai, the exciting and frantic commercial capital of India, where we visit some of the sights including the Gateway of India, Dhobi (laundry) washers and Chowpatty beach.

Hotel: Residency Hotel

Day 23 Departure Day

There are no organised activities today. You are free to depart at anytime.

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Bookings

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Trip Notes

Group size

Minimum 4, Maximum 10

Days

23 days / 22 nights

Starts in

Delhi

Finishes in

Mumbai

Tour inclusions

Arrival and departure transfers

All accommodation as specified

All transportation between overnight stops and to and from included sightseeing

Entrance fees for all sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tips for hotel staff, porters, guides and drivers as applicable

Meals as specified

Tour exclusions

Visa costs

Meals other than those listed

Drinks, meal tips, laundry and other items of a personal nature

International flights

Accommodation

Hotels (22 nights)

This tour uses a variety of accommodation. From family run guesthouses to Grand Heritage hotels, we experience a wide range of accommodation styles. Hotel rooms are twin share with private bathrooms with western style toilets.

Optional single supplement

If you are a single traveller, you are not required to pay a single supplement as we will match you up with other travelers. However if you do not wish to share accommodation, but would like to guarantee your own room throughout the tour a single supplement of USD910 will be payable.

Transport

2 Domestic flights, Private airconditioned minibus, 2 boat rides on the Ganges in Varanasi, 1 boat ride in Udaipur, Jeep for village safaris, Taxis and Rickshaws for some sightseeing.

Activities included

The following is a list of included activities on this trip. Other activities are optional and will be at your own expense.

Old Delhi, Humayans Tomb, (Delhi)

Dawn Boat Cruise, Sarnath Visit, River and city walk (Varanasi)

Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Baby Taj (Agra)

Amber Palace, Jantar Mantar, city walk, Bollywood movie (Jaipur)

Camel safari, Old City Walk (Jaisalmer)

Meherangarh Fort, Market walk, Bishnoi Village Tour (Jodhpur)

Village Safari (Bijaipur)

City Palace, Cooking class, Market walk, Traditional dance show, Lake cruise (Udaipur)

Gateway of India, Crawford Markets, Dhobi Ghats, Chowpatty Beach (Mumbai)

Meals included

22 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners

Meals

Traveling with Incredible Indian Tours we ensure that you will experience a vast array of the gustatory treats available in India. Generally, meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options. This allows you to choose where, and what to eat. More often than not however we eat together as a group. Your leader will offer suggestions for favourite restaurants throughout the trip.

Money Matters

Exchange rates as at April 2018

AUD1 = 50 INR

CAD1 = 51 INR

EUR1 = 80 INR

GBP1 = 93 INR

NZD1 = 48 INR

USD1 = 65 INR

There are many ATM machines (which accept both Cirrus/Maestro debit cards and Visa and MasterCard) throughout India. This is a safe and convenient way to access money in India, however we suggest that you bring a small amount of money in cash (suggested $300) in case there are times that ATMs are not available. The major currencies, including AUD and CAD are no problem in general to exchange. Travellers cheques are no longer commonly accepted. Visa & MasterCard credit cards are accepted in major shops and restaurants in the bigger cities.

Spending money

Although entrance fees to specified sites are included in the tour price, there are additional sights that you may like to visit. Many sites levy camera fees.

Spending money requirements will differ from one person to the next. You will need to take into consideration your spending habits when allowing for drinks, shopping, and optional activities.

It is recommended you allow enough money for the following:

Meals ­ USD500 (or equivalent)

Optional Activities ­ USD100 (or equivalent)

Money for drinks, shopping and incidentals.

Tipping

Tipping is an integral part of Indian life and is essential to a smooth trip. To make things easier we cover tips for hotel room boys, local guides and for drivers of private transport we use. We do NOT cover restaurant tips. You will need to allow approximately 10-15% on top of your restaurant bill.

Tips – allow USD50 (or equivalent)

Physical rating 2/5

You may need to carry your bag/pack up and down hotel stairs. There will be plenty of walking around towns or sites, which due to the warm to hot weather in India at this time of year will make general sightseeing a little more strenuous.

Culture shock rating 3/5

Conditions in India are not always as comfortable as in other countries. You may need to occasionally deal with a squat toilet, cold showers or power failure.

Travel insurance

Travel Insurance is highly recommended whilst traveling to India and is compulsory for any group tour with Incredible Indian Tours.

Visas

All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. Most nationalities can apply for an e-Tourist visa. The Indian Government is in the process of extending this e-Tourist facility to more countries so check this website to find out the latest eligibility details.

https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

For the e-Tourist visa, you need to apply within 120 days of travel 60 days validity. The visa is issued online and takes up to 3 days.

Regular tourist visas (issued by the Indian Embassy or Consulate) for those nationalities who do not yet have availability of the e-Tourist facility, or for those who require a visa longer than 60 days, are usually issued for 6 or 12 months and are either Single, Double or Multiple Entry. As the validity begins from date of issue, be sure you do not apply for your visa too early. For information, or assistance with obtaining a visa, check out the following websites.

Australia http://www.vfsglobal.com/india/australia/visa_services/index.html

New Zealand https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html

USA https://www.in.ckgs.us/visa/

UK https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html

Canada http://www.blsindia-canada.com/touristvisa.php

Health

We recommend that you consult your doctor for current medical travel information about before departure. Your leader will be carrying a basic first aid kit, but we suggest you bring along your own as well as any personal medical requirements .

The following websites have up-to-date information about health requirements.

Australia https://www.travelvax.com.au/

New Zealand http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/travelling

USA https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/

UK http://www.travelhealth.co.uk/

Canada https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/vaccines

Communications

Most of our hotels have wifi as do many restaurants and cafes in India.

You can also purchase a local prepaid sim card (for unlocked cell phones) and data sticks (for mobile internet on your laptop) easily and inexpensively in India. Recommended are Vodafone, Airtel and Jio. You will need extra passport photos for this as well as photocopies of your photo and visa page from your passport.

Your tour manager

Your tour escort is there to organise and streamline your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Whilst they are not a guide per se, they will share their local knowledge, give you suggestions for your free time and manage the day to day running of the tour. They will introduce you to their local friends and recommend great local restaurants and experiences. They will have a broad general knowledge of India, so do feel free to tap into their wisdom. At some sites, local guides may be hired where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting.

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in responsible travel. This includes being respectful to the local culture (ie dressing appropriately, and learning a few basic cultural do's and don'ts), being mindful of the environment, and leaving a positive image behind. Remember we are ambassadors for our country. Bringing a few photos of your family and home with you is a great way to interact with the locals by giving them a glimpse of your world whilst you visit theirs.

Joining hotel and arrival information

Hans Plaza

15 Barakhamba Road, Connaught Place

New Delhi 110001

Ph: +91 11 6615 0000

Transfer/joining instructions

Your airport transfer pickup will await you holding a sign with your name when you exit the baggage claim area of the arrivals hall. There may be large crowds here so please look carefully for your transfer.

Arriving early

Our hotel in Delhi is located in the main business/shopping district of Delhi, the Connaught Place market area and is surrounded by a mix of local and western shops and restaurants, The hotel has a restaurant and a cafe, and all rooms have in-room safes, minibar, coffee & tea making facilities, air conditioning, 24 hour room service, wifi connectivity and cable TV.

Early arrival information

If you are arriving earlier than day 1, extra accommodation in Delhi is available at USD130 Single/Double (or equivalent) per night per room. Please notify us as early as possible if you require extra accommodation as hotels in Delhi tend to be heavily booked up well in advance. Flights from Mumbai or other cities can be arranged conveniently and inexpensively over the internet using one of India's regular or budget airlines:

For online bookings visit: http://www.cleartrip.com/flights

Finishing hotel

Residency Hotel

26 Gunbow Street & D.N. Road

Fort, Mumbai 400001

Ph: +91 22 2262 5525-9

Staying on

If you are staying on in Mumbai after the tour, extra accommodation is available at USD85 Single/Double (or equivalent) per night per room. Again, if you will require extra accommodation in Mumbai, please advise us as early as possible as rooms tend to get booked out quickly at peak season times.

What to take

We will be on the move a lot, so try to pack as lightly as possible. The smaller your bag in India the better, as the various modes of transport we use tend to have limited storage space. In addition, you will find that your bag probably needs space to expand for all that shopping!

India is very conservative and we ask that you dress accordingly. As a guideline, shoulders and knees should always be covered. The wearing of shorts is looked upon by locals as akin to wearing your underwear and will limit your entry into mosques, temples and other places of worship. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool. Singlets, tank tops and shorts are not suitable attire for India.

Note that most Indian domestic airlines have recently reduced their check-in baggage allowance to 15kg. If you have heavier luggage, you may need to pay the excess at the airport for your internal flights. Excess luggage charges are around Rs300 (USD 5) per kilo.

Laundry

Inexpensive laundry facilities are offered by most hotels we use where we have a two-night stop.

Weather

The weather during our journey should be great. Daytime temperatures will be warm to hot, in the range 25-35deg C. Night time temperatures will be comfortable. Rain is not very likely at this time of year, but sun is, so sunblock and a hat are essentials.

Checklist

Travel documents: passport, visa, travel insurance (don't forget your emergency insurance contact details), air tickets.

Photocopy of above documents

Day pack

Health vaccinations/medication

First aid kit

Money: ATM card (widely available and easy to access); credit cards (widely accepted in big cities); cash and travellers cheques (for emergencies)

Money pouch

Alarm clock and torch/flashlight

Mosquito repellent

Ear plugs can be very useful if you are a light sleeper

Lock for your back pack or bag

We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt to store your passport, air tickets, credit cards and cash. Avoid bringing valuable jewellery with you. Some hotels we use have safety deposit boxes. A lock and chain are useful for securing your luggage on overnight train journeys.

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