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18716
India

The Best of India: Treasures of the North and South

Dive into the vibrant culture of India, discovering its grand cities, sacred monuments and exquisite gardens on this unique academic adventure.
Rating (4.95)
Program No. 18716RJ
Length
21 days
Starts at
3,999
Flights start at
1,050
India

The Best of India: Treasures of the North and South

Dive into the vibrant culture of India, discovering its grand cities, sacred monuments and exquisite gardens on this unique academic adventure.
Length
21 days
Starts at
3,999
Flights start at
1,050
Program No. 18716 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 23 - Oct 13, 2021
Starting at
3,999
Oct 14 - Nov 3, 2021
Starting at
4,399
Dec 2 - Dec 22, 2021
Starting at
4,399
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 23 - Oct 13, 2021
Starting at
5,049
Oct 14 - Nov 3, 2021
Starting at
5,549
Dec 2 - Dec 22, 2021
Starting at
5,549

At a Glance

Traverse India on a comprehensive journey that takes you from the Golden Triangle capitals of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in the north to the frescoed fortress of the “Tiger of Mysore” and the bayou-like Kerala backwaters in the south, learning customs and traditions from locals and absorbing India’s history from experts who know it best.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking up to two miles a day over sidewalks and roads that are often broken and uneven; some stairs are unavoidable. A few bus rides up to 5 hours long with sightseeing and rest stops along the way.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Enjoy home hosted dinners with local Indian families.
  • Watch as the sun rises and sets over the marble domes of the Taj Mahal.
  • Explore and enjoy the tranquility of the Kerala backwaters on a houseboat.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Slumdog Millionare
by Danny Boyle
FILM Slumdog millionaire is the story of an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai; who with the whole nation watching; he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's "Who wants to be a Millionaire?"
An Autobiography, Or the Story of My Experiments with Truth
by Mohandas K. Gandhi
There is no substitute for reading Gandhi in his own simple, direct prose. A highly recommended glimpse into the personality and life of this remarkable figure.
Taj Mahal
by Giles Tillotson, Mary Beard (Editor)
An enlightening pocket guide to the myth, meaning and legends of the celebrated tomb, "the queen of architecture."
India, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Chandrahas Choudhury (Editor)
Each of these 14 stories evokes place and landscape, providing an excellent introduction both to contemporary writers and to India's diverse cultures and history.
The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy
This luminous, Booker-prize winning novel is part mystery, part family saga -- a tale of lost innocence set in Kerala during the tumult of the 1960s.
Birds of India
by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp
Thoroughly revised, with 73 new plates and many others updated or repainted, the second edition of the masterful Birds of India now features all maps and text opposite the plates for quicker and easier reference.
In Spite of the Gods, The Strange Rise of Modern India
by Edward Luce
Luce tackles the challenges and reality of the world's largest democracy with insight and balance in this portrait of a nation in transition.
India
by Stanley Wolpert
Reflections on India - its religion and philosophy, its art, culture and politics - by the dean of the country’s American historians: beautifully written and provocative as well as evocative.
Curry, A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors
by Lizzie Collingham
This cultural history with recipes is appetizingly organized as a menu (biryani, vindaloo, chai, etc.). Curry explores the origins and spread of Indian food and the interplay between Muslim, Hindu, Portuguese and British traditions on the Subcontinent.
The Lunchbox
by Ritesh Batra
FILM A young housewife and a lonely widower begin an unlikely correspondence when Mumbai's eerily reliable lunchbox delivery service makes a mistake.
Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God
by Jonah Blank
Blank's entertaining portrait of contemporary India and Sri Lanka mixes reporting, anecdote and myth as he travels, sometimes in the footsteps of India's great hero Rama.
A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry
Set in 1975 in an unnamed Indian "city by the sea," this tender novel follows the intermingled fortunes of a Parsi widow, her boarder and two tailors. A Booker Prize finalist.
India, A Sacred Geography
by Diana L. Eck
Professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard, Diana Eck turns her interest in temples and places of pilgrimage into a celebration of the diversity of popular religious traditions in India in this richly rewarding travelogue.
Monsoon
by Sturla Gunnarsson
Monsoon is more than a weather system in India, it is a way of life — “the soul of India.” This visual masterpiece takes you beyond the rains, into the stories of local people whose lives are deeply affected by the annual onslaught. From meteorologists to fisherman, gamblers to Bollywood film stars, their stories provide a poignant reflection on the economic, cultural, and spiritual power of monsoon.
Handmade in India
by M.P. Ranjan (Editor), Aditi Ranjan (Editor)
Featuring 3500 color photos and organized by region, this sumptuous album covers the diverse crafts of India with style and authority.
Malgudi Days
by R. K. Narayan
Wonderful tales from one of India's foremost writers about a fictional South Indian town, populated by quirky characters whose unique approaches to tradition and modernity are the stuff of great short stories.
Midnight's Children
by Salman Rushdie
Crowned Best of the Booker in 2008, Rushdie's greatest novel is a madcap, comic take on the birth of modern India in all its splendid and unexpected manifestations.
City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi
by William Dalrymple
Dalrymple infectiously interweaves his own experiences over a year in Delhi with the art, architecture, history and literature of the city.
Eyewitness Guide Delhi, Agra and Jaipur
by Anuradha Chaturvedi (Editor)
With chapters on Taj Mahal, Amber Fort Palace, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Red Fort and dozens of other highlights for the traveler, this compact, gorgeously illustrated guide to Delhi and its environs features 900 color photographs, maps and site plans.
Eyewitness Guide India
by Eyewitness Guides
A handsome, beautifully illustrated guide to India. It features color photographs, history and plenty of background information.
Travelers' Tales India
by James O'Reilly, Larry Habegger
A collection of 45 descriptive and thought-provoking short excerpts on Indian life and culture, including contributions from Rushdie, Naipaul and Dalrymple, plus some valuable excerpts from books long out of print.
Hindu Art and Architecture
by George Michell
An excellent survey of Hindu art and architecture, explaining the meaning and construction of principal images and buildings, as well as the development of Hinduism and the corpus of myths that have influenced its artistic tradition.
Gandhi
by Richard Attenborough
FILM This film is based on the life and trials of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons, A Journey Among the Women of India
by Elisabeth Bumiller
A wonderfully written and fascinating portrayal of Indian women from Bollywood stars to Indira Gandhi to prostitutes. It's an insightful portrait of the country as seen through the eyes of its women.
Ladies First
by Uraaz Bahl
FILM Ladies First tells the story of Deepika Kumari who, born on the roadside to abject poverty in rural India, went in search of food, stumbled upon archery, and within 4 years became the number one archer in the world. Deepika's tumultuous path is documented to the Rio 2016 Olympics. This short documentary is a available on-line.
Lion
by Garth Davis
FILM An Indian man who was separated from his mother at age 5 and adopted by an Australian couple returns home, determined to find his birth family
India Becoming
by Akash Kapur
Kapur returns to the country of his birth for this reveals the rich tapestry of contemporary India as told through the lives of ordinary people.
India Adventure Map
by National Geographic Society
The most detailed shaded relief map (at a scale of 1:2,100,000) of India available.
The White Tiger, A Novel
by Aravind Adiga
Mordant, funny, angry, horrifying, this Booker Prize-winning tale of a village pauper turned success (and murderer) skewers the ambition, inequity and corruption of 21st-century India.
Nine Lives, In Search of the Sacred in Modern India
by William Dalrymple
From Sufi dervish and Buddhist monk to outcast and temple worshiper: nine people, nine lives, all captured by Dalrymple as he journeys throughout India in search of remarkable individuals transformed by religion. At turns bemusing, dazzling and heart-wrenching, this is his first travel book in 15 years.
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21 days
20 nights
48 meals
17 B 17 L 14 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Enroute
In Flight

Activity note: The first program hotel ( Suryaa Hotel New Delhi) is available today for all participants who have early arrivals. Hotel check-in is at 2:00 p.m. Please see Arrival and Ground Transportation Notes in your Final Mailing to learn about transfers and taxi service. Program officially starts tomorrow (Day 3) with evening Orientation and Welcome Dinner.

Afternoon: The first program hotel ( Suryaa Hotel New Delhi) is available today for early arrivals. Refer to the Arrivals and Ground Transportation sections in your Final Mailing to learn about transfers and taxi service. Hotel check-in available from 2:00 p.m. Program officially starts tomorrow (Day 3) with evening Orientation and Welcome Dinner.

DAY
3
Arrivals, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Delhi
D
The Suryaa Hotel New Delhi

Activity note: Hotel check-in. Program starts in the early evening at Orientation and Welcome Dinner.

Afternoon: Orientation at 6:00 p.m: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: 'Welcome Dinner and a Welcome Drink' at the hotel with bottled water, coffee/tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

DAY
4
Lecture, Gandhi Smiriti, Sikh Temple
Delhi
B,L,D
The Suryaa Hotel New Delhi

Activity note: At the Sikh Temple, socks are not allowed and it is obligatory for men and women to cover their heads and scarves are provided by the temple. You are welcome to bring your own full-size scarf as well.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, we will join a local expert who will discuss "The relevance of Gandhi in today's world." Then depart by motorcoach for a visit to Gandhi Smirti, where Mahatma Gandhi --the "Father of the Nation" -- spent his last 144 days from September 9, 1947 until he was assassinated on January 30, 1948. It has been preserved as a museum that displays Gandhi's few personal effects as well as paintings, pictures, sculptures and other relics. The memorial perpetuates Gandhi's legacy, highlights his values and ideals and offers guidance for those who wish to follow his path.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Board the motorcoach and we set off to explore the living culture of India as we visit a Sikh temple in Old Delhi. We will spend time listening to the prayers and visit the soup kitchen that offers daily free meals for anyone in need of food. We will explore the kitchen and for those interested lend a helping hand by making some roties with the women there. The Sikh temples are special where everything is run by volunteers. It is required for all Sikhs to volunteer time at the temples. Return to the hotel and freshen up before setting out for the evening.

Dinner: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Pack and prepare for our trip to Agra tomorrow.

DAY
5
Old Delhi, Jama Masjid, New Delhi
Delhi
B,L
The Suryaa Hotel New Delhi

Activity note: When visiting Jama Mosque, gowns are provided to the women. Shoes and shorts are not allowed inside. To get into the mosque, there are around 30-40 steps that are steep and wide, without handrails to climb up. Walking sticks are recommended to those who have difficulty walking and climbing. The bicycle rickshaw ride in Old Delhi is through an extremely crowded market and the trip to Raj Ghat is around a quarter-mile walk.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel with bottled water, coffee/tea included.

Morning: We will board a private motorcoach and depart for a field trip into Old Delhi, driving past the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort. Gain an appreciation for this symbol of Mughal power and pomp. Arriving at Jama Masjid, explore the largest Muslim mosque in India. The adventure continues as we ride bicycle rickshaws around the heart of Chandini Chowk named for the silver merchants while the drivers navigate narrow alleyways and the bustle of people. Then conclude at Raj Ghat, the cremation ground of Mahatma Gandhi.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: The Group Leader leads us in a private bus excursion past the Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan), the nation's supreme legislative body. We will also travel past the President's House (Rashtrapati Bhavan), a huge complex that serves as the official residence of the President of India; as well as India Gate, which is reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, commemorating Indian soldiers who died during World War I. En route, learn about the the Indian system of government, current politics and the world's largest parliamentary democracy from our Group Leader. Return to the hotel. The rest of the evening is independent for you to do as you choose.

Dinner: On our own to sample local fare. The Group Leader is happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Train to Agra, Agra Fort, Taj Mahal at Sunset
Agra
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Agra

Activity note: Two hour train ride from Delhi to Agra. Agra Fort involve long periods of standing, walking and a few small steps, low and wide.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Check-out of the hotel and board our private motorcoach to the train station to board a train to Agra. We will experience the Indian railway system as we a train ride to Agra.. Upon arrival in Agra, board our motorcoach to explore the Agra Fort. Originally planned as an impregnable military structure by Akbar, the Agra Fort, over a period of time, acquired all the elegance, lavishness and majesty of an imperial palace.

Lunch: Buffet lunch at a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch to coach our hotel for check in. In the late afternoon we coach to Mehtab Bagh, a garden complex aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite side of the Yamuna River, where a local expert will tell us about Mughal history and architecture as the sun sets over the Taj Mahal.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Sunrise at Taj Mahal, Coach transfer to Godoli
Gadoli
B,L,D
The Clement Village Retreat Gadoli

Activity note: Early morning wake up call, to depart for sunrise at Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal involve long periods of standing, walking and a few small steps, low and wide. The drive from Agra to Gadoli is about 103 miles, approximately 4 hours with rest stops along the way. Walking around the retreat there are flat level paths.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet after returning from the Taj Mahal.

Morning: We will set out pre-dawn to watch the rising sun bathe the pristine white marble of the Taj Mahal in warm hues of gold, ochre and orange (subject to weather conditions). As the UNESCO World Heritage Convention states, “An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage.” The building is unique due to its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, and medium of construction and ornamentation. We will have some time to explore the exquisite grounds and view the highly decorated interior chamber before we return to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, we will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach and depart for Gadoli, a small Indian village in Rajasthan. En-route enjoy an overview on Changing faces of Indian villages, led by our Group Leader. Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, "If you want to experience the soul of India, then you must go to her villages." Gadoli is one of those villages. Surrounded by forests in the Aravalli Hills, we are off the standard tourist path. This is a place where old customs and traditions are maintained with festivals throughout the year that celebrate events significant to communities such as Brahmins, Rajputs, Mahajans, Jains, and Kayasthas.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We continue our drive to the village and check in in the late afternoon, with some free time to settle into the retreat. In the early evening before dinner, the Group Leader will give us an overview of the Indian caste system, its evolution, and deep roots in Indian society.

Dinner: At the Retreat.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Villages of Rajasthan, Camel Cart Ride, Cultural Dance
Gadoli
B,L,D
The Clement Village Retreat Gadoli

Activity note: Walking around ½ mile today on mainly flat level surfaces.

Breakfast: At the retreat with bottled water, coffee/tea

Morning: To understand the life in an Indian village, we will set out on a trek in small carts pulled by camels (subject to availability) to a nearby village belonging to the colorful Meena tribal group. The Bhil (Tribal) Meena are a tribal group found in the state of Rajasthan in India. According to some traditions, they are said to be descended from those Meenas and Rajputs who, in the wars between their own tribes or with Muslims, were compelled to quit their native home and seek refuge in the vastness of Rajputana, where they formed alliances with the aboriginal families and established tribe. Visit their traditional mud huts, decorated with floral and animal designs on the walls and floors and interact with villagers as they follow daily activities in their homes. Next, we will stop and visit with children at a local school for an interaction with the students and learn about the education system in remote villages (subject to school holidays and exams).

Lunch: At the retreat with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Afternoon: Free Time this afternoon. Participants are also welcome to join in learning how to play cricket on the retreat grounds. In the late afternoon, for the very energetic, there will be an opportunity to go on a challenging nature hike in the nearby hills.

Dinner: At the retreat, enjoy a plated meal boasting local flavor with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Evening: Enjoy authentic traditional Rajasthani folk dance and musical performance and try a few steps with the dancers. Rajasthan folk dances and accompanying music are lively and festive.

DAY
9
Abhaneri Step-Well, Depart for Jaipur, Dinner with Family
Jaipur
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Jaipur

Activity note: The drive from Gadoli to Jaipur is about 63 miles, approximately 3 hours with rest stops along the way. The afternoon walk through the crowded market is around a half-mile on uneven ground with some small stone steps.

Breakfast: At the retreat with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Morning: After checking out of the retreat, we will depart by motorcoach for Jaipur. En-route, we will explore the nearby village of Abhaneri. This small village is notable for one of Rajasthan’s least well known, but most fascinating landmarks, Chand Baori, one of India's deepest and largest stepwells. These unique steps were built in the 8th-9th century as a water supply, as cool places of resort and for ritual cleansing before visiting the adjoining Harshita Mata templeEnroute, the Group Leader will discuss India's place in the world. Enroute, the Group Leader will discuss India's place in the world.

Lunch: At the hotel with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Explore Jaipur and experience the essence of this amazing city as we take in the riot of colors and activities on a walk through the local market. After our walk we return to the hotel and rest up for our dinner with local families this evening.

Dinner: With a traditional family at their home with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Amber Fort, City Palace, Jantar Mantar
Jaipur
B,L
Trident Hotel Jaipur

Activity note: Participants will ride in Jeeps to go up and down to the main entrance of the Amber fort. The fort is set up on a hill and has several flights of stairs with uneven walkways. Walking at the fort is around a half-mile.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Morning: At the hotel, join a local expert for an overview of Contemporary Women's Issues in India. Next, board our motorcoach at the hotel and set out to discover the 11th century Amber Fort (pronounced Amer), situated about six miles north of Jaipur and established as the original capital of Rajasthan, six centuries before the construction of Jaipur. Amber Fort is an example of Rajput architecture with its terraces and ramparts reflected in the Maota Lake below. The interiors of the fort have various royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, mirror and glass work complemented by exquisite wall paintings. We continue our field trip with a photo-stop at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), whose elaborate, honeycombed sandstone is a famous icon of the city.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we will visit the City Palace, still the Maharaja's residence but largely given over to a museum containing rare manuscripts, fine specimens of Rajput and Mughal paintings, royal apparel and an armory. We will conclude the afternoon at Jantar Mantar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by city founder Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, between 1727-1734, the Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments. The Jaipur observatory is the largest and best preserved in India.

Dinner: On our own in Jaipur to explore local fare. The Group Leader will offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Fly to Mysore via Bangalore
Mysore
B,L,D
Radisson Blu Hotel Mysore

Activity note: Early morning wake up call. The flight from Jaipur to Bangalore takes approximately 2 hours, 40 minutes. The flight from Bangalore to Mysore takes approximately 50 minutes.

Breakfast: Early morning, cold breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: After an early morning check out from the hotel, we will depart for the Jaipur airport with a packed breakfast to board our flight to Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru).

Lunch: At Bangalore airport.

Afternoon: We fly on to Mysore and transfer to our accommodation. We have some time at leisure in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Hotel buffet with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Chamundeshwari Temple, Mysore Palace, Home Hosted Dinner
Mysore
B,L,D
Radisson Blu Hotel Mysore

Activity note: Shoes need to be removed in Chamundeshwari Temple and Mysore Palace.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will gather with our Group Leader for a presentation on and introduction to Indian mythology. We board our motorcoach and set out for our first field trip for the nearby Chamundi Hills, where Chamundeshwari Temple is situated on the top of the hill. The temple is dedicated to Sri Chamundeshwari, the titular deity of the Mysore Royal Family, also described as "Mahishasura Mardini" for having killed the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura. Next we visit Mysore Palace, official residence of the Wodeyars--the former royal family of Mysore from 1350 to 1950. Built in 1912 in the Indo-Saracenic style, it blends Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic features.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: In the late afternoon, we will be divided into smaller groups of 5-8 per group for a culinary experience which includes shopping at local flower, fruit and vegetable market with our guide, followed by a visit to the host’s kitchen for a cooking demonstration. This is a great opportunity to meet with the families of South India and learn about the southern cuisine.

Dinner: With a local family at their home. We will return to the hotel after dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Somnathpur, Srirangapatnam, Palace of Tip Sultan, Free Time
Mysore
B,L
Radisson Blu Hotel Mysore

Activity note: Shoes need to be removed at the Temple.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today, we begin our exploration of the south of India in the towns of Somnathpur and Srirangapatnam. Somanthpur is a small village renowned for its splendid and grand Keshava temple, built on an elevated star shaped platform in Hoyasala style, with elaborate and intricate sculpturing. The sides of the raised platform are decorated with richly carved friezes, portraying rows of cavalry, elephants, and scenes from the epics. The names of the sculptors are inscribed on their works. Srirangapatnam was the island fortress of Tipu Sultan, the legendary "Tiger of Mysore" who put up a valiant fight against British domination. High stone walls and moats enclose the palaces, temples, and a great mosque. Tipu's summer palace, with its beautiful frescoes, the tombs of Tipu and Hyder Ali at Gumbaz, Royal Mosque, Wellesley Bridge, and the celebrated Sri Ranganatha Temple are other monuments from its glorious past.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Free time. Afternoon at leisure.

Dinner: On our own in Mysore to explore local fare. The Group Leader will provide suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Drive to Vythiri, Spice Plantation Visit, Tea Factory Visit
Wayanad
B,L,D
Vythiri Village

Activity note: The drive from Mysore to Vythiri is approximately 93 miles, approximately 7-8 hours with lunch and rest stops along the way. Enroute we drive through Bandipur National Park and spice plantations.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll depart on a full-day drive by motorcoach to Vythiri, the Hill Station of Wayanad. En-route, travel what has been described as one of the most picturesque drives in India. As the road winds through Bandipur National Park, look out for monkeys playing along the road side and possibly a rare glimpse of the elephants that sometimes inhabit these forests. Cross from the state of Karnataka into the state of Kerala.

Lunch: We stop for lunch at a spice plantation. Enjoy a traditional Kerala lunch in banana leaves with bottled water, coffee and tea.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will take a walk with a local spice and agriculture expert who will escort us through the spice plantation and provide insight of the spices and crops that are grown in this area. We re-board our motorcoach and continue the drive to a local tea factory and learn about tea growing and production. Tea is a huge part of Indian drinks and this region is known for the tea plantations in southern India. Once finished, we continue our drive to Vythiri for a late afternoon check-in.

Dinner: Hotel buffet with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverage available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Drive to Calicut, Ayurveda, Kalaripayattu Performance
Calicut
B,L,D
The Gateway Hotel Beach Road Calicut

Activity note: The drive from Vythiri to Calicut is about 50 miles, approximately 3.5 hours with rest stops along the way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After a restful morning, we depart for Calicut (also known as Kozhikode), near the Coast of Andaman Sea in the state of Kerala. Enroute learn about how Kerala is a prosperous progressive state while remaining a communist state. On arrival in Calicut, visit an Ayurveda center and learn about Ayurveda from an Ayurveda expert. Ayurveda was developed in India over 3,000 years ago and is based on beliefs that mind, body and spirit need to be in balance for health and wellness. Later we will check in to the hotel.

Lunch: Hotel buffet with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Afternoon: Check into the hotel and take some time relax from our long journey to southern India. The afternoon is free. Check information about Free Time activities sent out in our first program mailing. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. In the early evening at the hotel, watch a special Kalaripayattu martial arts performance traditional to Kerala. Kalaripayattu, is an integral of the Malayali culture. . Bodhidharama, a Buddist monk, who visited China during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Ling dynasty, is believed to have presented the world with a self-defense system; from which evolved almost all the present day martial are forms. Scholars believe that his philosophy was influenced by the ancient martial culture of Malabar - Kalaripayattu the mother of all martial arts.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
16
Calicut Discovery, City Walk, Free time
Calicut
B,L,D
The Gateway Hotel Beach Road Calicut

Activity note: Walking around Calicut is an easy walk and approximately 1 mile total.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will set out via tuk tuks with our Group Leader and explore the city to learn about its history and its importance during the spice trade. We’ll explore the beaches, light house, colonial buildings, and an ancient church built by the Portuguese. Journey to the areas occupied by the Dutch, French German, Italian, Chinese, North Indian Gujarathi settlements, Arab settlements, old trading houses and local Muslim settlements.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Free Time. Afternoon at leisure. In the early evening before dinner, our Group Leader will provide us with an overview of the Lifeline of India: Indian Railways. This will give us perspective for our journey tomorrow as we tavel by train to the Kerala backwaters region.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Pack and prepare for the early morning train ride tomorrow.

DAY
17
Train to Alleppey, Drive to Kerala Backwaters Region
Kerala Backwaters
B,L,D
Adventure Resorts & Cruises

Activity note: Early morning wake up call. Train ride is in the early morning, departing around 6am and is about 6.5 hours followed by a drive of 1 hour to board the boats. Depending on the size of the group, different styles of traditional Keralan houseboats may be used for the group. All will dock and travel together.

Breakfast: Boxed for the train ride.

Morning: To full experience India, one needs to take a ride on a train. This day gives us that opportunity. Depending on the day of the week, we will depart early morning or early afternoon on a 6.5 hours train ride south to Alleppey. From there, we will continue on a one hour drive to the backwaters of Kerala.

Lunch: Enroute.

Afternoon: Arrive mid-afternoon at the riverside meeting point to board our privately-chartered, traditional Keralan houseboats and begin cruising.

Dinner: Just before sunset, our houseboats will tie up for the night with dinner served on board.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
18
Kerala Backwaters Exploration
Kerala Backwaters
B,L,D
Adventure Resorts & Cruises

Activity note: Enjoy rural India at is most idyllic.

Breakfast: Aboard the houseboats.

Morning: Enjoy a full day of cruising the backwaters into the countryside along tranquil waterways for a view into rural life. Passing skiff-fishermen in their cockleshell boats; large flotillas of ducks waddling down to the water from thatched houses on the banks; women, neck-deep in water, with their waist-length hair heaped in a crown, searching for fish with their feet and the aimless cattle who graze in lush pasture-land. We will stop in water-side villages along the way and walk the paths that front the small houses to observe daily life.

Lunch: Aboard the houseboats.

Afternoon: As we continue cruising, observe more of life on the water. We are just as much of interest to the village residents, as they are to us, waving and calling out as the boats pass by. An abundance of birdlife is found in the area. The houseboats will tie up at sunset, to overnight along the water’s edge.

Dinner: Aboard the houseboats.

Evening: At leisure. Pack and prepare to disembark the boats tomorrow morning.

DAY
19
Drive to Kochi, Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis Church
Cochin
B,L,D
The Gateway Hotel Marine Drive Ernakulam

Activity note: The drive from Thottapally to Kochi is approximately 3 hours with rest stops along the way. Shoes need to be removed at Jewish Synagogue and St. Francis Church. Fort Kochi exploration around 1 mile, mainly on flat surfaces.

Breakfast: Aboard the houseboats.

Morning: Disembark the houseboats and board a coach for the drive to Kochi (also known as Cochin). On our way to Kochi, we stop at a coir factory to learn first hand about the many uses of coconut fibre. Later we will re-board the motorcoach and depart to the hotel for check-in.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Afternoon: Continue to discover the Old Town of Kochi in the Fort Kochi area on a guided walk with our Group Leader. Discover the Chinese fishing nets, historical buildings and little markets along the way. The center of historic Kochi is easily walkable, with many small shops and market stalls interspersed with the colonial architecture of this coastal city. Next we will stop to explore the St. Francis Church, the original burial site of the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, who died in Kochi in 1524.

Dinner: 'Farewell Dinner and a Farewell Drink' at the hotel with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Share your favorite experiences amid the camaraderie of your new Road Scholar friends. Then, prepare for departure after your closing activities tomorrow.

DAY
20
Folklore Museum, Mattancherry Palace, Free Time
Cochin
B,L
The Gateway Hotel Marine Drive Ernakulam

Activity note: Participants will leave around midnight tonight to transfer to the airport. Official Program End Date is Day 21 with departures at 12:30 a.m. to the airport for the flights home early in the morning on Day 21. Tonight is a free evening to rest up for flights home or if desired, participants can choose to leave this evening. No transfers are provided. For those leaving tomorrow, the hotel is booked for the full night; check out is not until tomorrow morning at 11am.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Depart by motorcoach for our fieldtrip to the Folklore Museum. The unique museum is the best example of traditional Kerala architecture, made of wood, stone and clay tiles and houses up to 6,000 works of Kerala art. Next, set out to the Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace), built in the 1550s by the Portuguese and taken over by the Dutch, who later presented it to the Rajas of Cochin (closed on Friday). The palace contains excellent mythological murals and a rare example of traditional Keralite flooring--a subtle mix of burnt, coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg whites--that gives the effect of polished marble. Afterwards, we will board our motorcoach to explore the Jewish synagogue, built in 1568 and considerably embellished in the mid-18th century by Ezekiel Rahabi, who built a clock tower and paved the floor of the synagogue with hand-painted tiles brought all the way from Canton, China.

Lunch: At the hotel with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Afternoon: Free time this afternoon to relax, explore Kochi or prepare for our early morning flight tomorrow. Check with the Group Leader to discuss transportation to the airport early tomorrow morning and reference the program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler, see “Ground Transportation from Last Location and the Taxi/Transfer sheet" located in your Fist and Final Mailing.

Dinner: On our own. The hotel has several dining options to choose from.

Evening: Late night check-out for early morning flights tomorrow. Hotel is booked for the full night for those with later departures, check-out 11am tomorrow.

DAY
21
Departures, Program Concludes
In Flight

Activity note: Departures are very early in the morning today around 12:30 a.m. for flights leaving around 4:30 a.m. Departure transfers will be grouped transfers to the airport. If leaving later on this day, hotel check out is at 11:00am. Participants can choose to leave the night prior, but there are no Road Scholar airport transfers.

Morning: Depart around 12:30 a.m.for the Kochi airport (COK) to board flights returning to the U.S. (around 4:30 am). This concludes our program. Reference the Departure Transfer section in the Final Mailing for transfer information. NOTE: Departure transfers are grouped transfers and you may have to arrive at the Cochin Airport earlier than the required time. For participants leaving later today, the hotel check-out time is 11:00am. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join us on Facebook and Instagram to share photos of your program. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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