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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 (4.93)
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
Jan 6 - Jan 26, 2022
Starting at
4,399
Jan 13 - Feb 2, 2022
Starting at
4,399
Feb 3 - Feb 23, 2022
Starting at
4,399
Feb 10 - Mar 2, 2022
Starting at
4,399
Sep 15 - Oct 5, 2022
Starting at
3,999
Oct 13 - Nov 2, 2022
Starting at
4,399
Dec 1 - Dec 21, 2022
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
Jan 6 - Jan 26, 2022
Starting at
5,549
Jan 13 - Feb 2, 2022
Starting at
5,549
Feb 3 - Feb 23, 2022
Starting at
5,549
Feb 10 - Mar 2, 2022
Starting at
5,549
Sep 15 - Oct 5, 2022
Starting at
5,049
Oct 13 - Nov 2, 2022
Starting at
5,549
Dec 1 - Dec 21, 2022
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
Eyewitness Guide India
by Eyewitness Guides
A handsome, beautifully illustrated guide to India. It features color photographs, history and plenty of background information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's "Who wants to be a Millionaire?"
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.
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.
India Adventure Map
by National Geographic Society
The most detailed shaded relief map (at a scale of 1:2,100,000) of India available.
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.
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.
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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 is available today for all participants who have early arrivals. Hotel check-in is from 2:00 p.m.

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 Information Packet to learn about transfers and taxi services. Hotel check-in available from 2:00 p.m. The 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. The program starts in the early evening with Orientation followed by our Welcome Dinner.

Afternoon: Orientation is 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 by pursuing your personal interests. 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 with a 'Welcome to India' drink at the hotel. Coffee, tea and bottled water 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. Scarves are provided by the temple. You are welcome to bring your own full-sized scarf as well.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: At the hotel, we will be joined by a local expert to discuss "The relevance of Gandhi in today's world." We 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. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We board our motorcoach 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 rotis with the women there. Sikh temples are special places where everything is run by volunteers. It is a requirement for all Sikhs to volunteer their time at the temples. We return to our hotel and freshen up before setting out for dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; 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 for females. Shoes and shorts are not allowed inside. To get into the mosque there are around 30 - 40 steep, wide steps without handrails. Walking sticks are recommended for those who have difficulty walking and climbing. The bicycle rickshaw ride in Old Delhi is through an extremely crowded market. The trip to Raj Ghat entails walking approximately a quarter of a mile.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Coffee, tea and bottled water included.

Morning: We board our motorcoach for a field trip into Old Delhi, driving past the massive sandstone walls of the Red Fort. We gain an appreciation for this symbol of Mughal power and pomp. Arriving at Jama Masjid, we explore the largest Muslim mosque in India. Our adventure continues as we ride bicycle rickshaws around the heart of Chandini Chowk (named for the silver merchants) while the drivers navigate narrow alleyways crowded with people. We continue to Raj Ghat, the cremation ground of Mahatma Gandhi.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Our Group Leader takes us on an excursion via motorcoach past 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 commemorates Indian soldiers who died during World War I. Along the way, we learn about the Indian system of government, current politics and the world's largest parliamentary democracy from our Group Leader. We return to our hotel and have free time this evening.

Dinner: At own arrangements. Take the opportunity to sample some local fare. The Group Leader will be 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. The visit to Agra Fort involves long periods of standing, walking and a few small steps.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We check out of the hotel and transfer by private motorcoach to the train station. Today we will experience the Indian railway system as we travel to Agra. Upon arrival in Agra, we board our motorcoach to explore the Agra Fort. Originally planned as an impregnable military structure by Akbar, the Agra Fort eventually acquired all the elegance, lavishness and majesty of an imperial palace.

Lunch: Buffet at a local restaurant. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we transfer to our hotel and check in. In the late afternoon we transfer by coach to Mehtab Bagh, a garden complex aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite side of the Yamuna River. Here 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 visit involves long periods of standing, walking, and a few small steps. The drive from Agra to Gadoli is approximately 103 miles / 4 hours, with rest stops along the way. Walking around the retreat on flat, level paths.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet after returning from the Taj Mahal.

Morning: We 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 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 check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach and depart for Gadoli, a small Indian village in Rajasthan. En route we enjoy an overview of the 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." Surrounded by forests in the Aravalli Hills, Gadoli is 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. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We continue our drive to the village. After check-in we have some free time to settle in to 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 approximately half a mile today on mainly flat, level surfaces.

Breakfast: At the Retreat. Coffee, tea and bottled water included.

Morning: To understand life in an Indian village, we set out in small carts pulled by camels (subject to availability) to a nearby village belonging to the colorful Meena tribal group. The Bhil Meena are a tribal group found in the state of Rajasthan. 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. There they formed alliances with the aboriginal families. We visit the traditional mud huts, decorated with floral and animal designs on the walls and floors, and interact with villagers as they conduct daily activities in their homes. Afterwards, we visit a local school to interact with the students and learn about the education system in remote villages (subject to school holidays and exams).

Lunch: At the Retreat. Coffee, tea and bottled water included.

Afternoon: We have free time this afternoon. Participants are welcome to take part in a game of cricket on the grounds of the Retreat, and learn how to play. In the late afternoon, for the very energetic, we have the opportunity to go on a challenging nature hike in the nearby hills.

Dinner: At the Retreat. Coffee, tea and bottled water included.

Evening: We enjoy an authentic, traditional Rajasthani folk dance and musical performance - perhaps try a few steps with the dancers. Rajasthan folk dances and accompanying music are lively and festive.

DAY
9
Abhaneri Stepwell, Depart for Jaipur, Dinner with Family
Jaipur
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Jaipur

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

Breakfast: At the Retreat. Coffee, tea and bottled water included.

Morning: After checking out of the Retreat, we depart by motorcoach for Jaipur. En route, we 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 is 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 temple. As we travel, our Group Leader will lead a discussion on India's place in the world.

Lunch: At the hotel. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We 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 with time to freshen up before our dinner with local families this evening.

Dinner: Traditional dinner with a family at their home. Coffee, tea and bottled water included.

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 access 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 around the fort for approximately half a mile.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Morning: We will be joined by a local expert for an overview of Contemporary Women's Issues in India. Afterwards, we board our motorcoach and set out to discover the 11th-century Amber Fort (pronounced Amer), situated about six miles north of Jaipur. The fort was 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, as well as 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. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we 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 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: At own arrangements. Take the opportunity to sample some local fare. Your Group Leader will be happy to 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 (can be packed to take with you) at the hotel.

Morning: After an early morning check-out from the hotel, we depart for Jaipur airport with our 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 free time in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Buffet at the hotel. Coffee, tea and bottled water included.

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: This morning we join our Group Leader for an introduction to Indian mythology. Afterwards, we board our motorcoach and set out for the nearby Chamundi Hills where Chamundeshwari Temple is located. 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. Following this 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 participants for a culinary treat. We begin by 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: We begin our exploration of the south of India in the towns of Somnathpur and Srirangapatnam. Somnathpur 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, the 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: At own arrangements. Take the opportunity to sample some local fare. Your Group Leader will be happy to offer 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 / 7 - 8 hours, with lunch and rest stops along the way. En route we drive through Bandipur National Park and spice plantations.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we depart on a full-day drive by motorcoach to Vythiri, the Hill Station of Wayanad. The route 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. We cross from the state of Karnataka into the state of Kerala.

Lunch: At a spice plantation we enjoy a traditional Kerala lunch in banana leaves. Coffee, tea and water included.

Afternoon: After lunch we join a local spice and agriculture expert for a guided walk through the plantation to learn about the spices and crops that are grown in this area. We re-board our motorcoach and continue our drive to a local tea factory. Here we learn about tea growing and production in India. Afterwards, we continue our drive to Vythiri for a late-afternoon check-in at the hotel.

Dinner: Buffet at the hotel. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages 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 approximately 50 miles / 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. En route we learn more about Kerala; a prosperous, progressive, communist state. On arrival in Calicut, we visit an Ayurveda center and meet with 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.

Lunch: Buffet at the hotel. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We check in to the hotel and take some time to relax after our long journey to southern India. This afternoon is free for you to enjoy as you wish. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. In the early evening, we are invited to 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 art 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 of approximately 1 mile.

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 importance during the spice trade. We will explore the beaches, lighthouse, colonial buildings, and an ancient church built by the Portuguese. We will see areas occupied by the Dutch, French, German, Italian and Chinese. We shall view 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. Our train ride begins at around 6am and takes approximately 6.5 hours, followed by a drive of approximately 1 hour to board the boats. Depending on the size of the group, different styles of traditional Keralan houseboats may be used. All will dock and travel together.

Breakfast: Boxed breakfast for the train ride.

Morning: To fully experience India, one needs to take a long ride on a train. This day gives us that opportunity. We will depart early this morning on a 6.5-hour train ride south to Alleppey. From there, we will continue on a one hour drive to the backwaters of Kerala.

Lunch: On board the train.

Afternoon: We arrive in the mid-afternoon to the riverside meeting point where we board our privately-chartered, traditional Keralan houseboats. From here, we begin cruising the river.

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 its most idyllic.

Breakfast: Aboard the houseboats.

Morning: We enjoy a full day of cruising today. The backwaters in the countryside take us along tranquil waterways and give us a view into rural life. Look out for skiff-fishermen in their cockleshell boats; large flotillas of ducks; thatched houses on the banks; women, neck-deep in water, searching for fish with their feet; cattle grazing in lush pasture-land. We will stop in waterside villages along the way and walk around 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. An abundance of birdlife is also to 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, City Walking Exploration, 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 St. Francis Church. Fort Kochi walking exploration is approximately 1 mile, mainly on flat surfaces.

Breakfast: Aboard the houseboats.

Morning: Disembark the houseboats and board a motorcoach 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 re-board the motorcoach and transfer to our hotel for check-in.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We explore the Old Town of Kochi in the Fort Kochi area on a guided walk with our Group Leader. We 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. We pause to visit the Church of St. Francis, the original burial site of the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama who died in Kochi in 1524.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner with a 'Farewell to India' drink at the hotel. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Share your favorite experiences amid the camaraderie of your new Road Scholar friends. Prepare for departure after your final program 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. The official program end is on Day 21 with departures at 12:30 a.m. to the airport for flights home early in the morning (typically departing for the US around 4:30 a.m.). Tonight is a free evening to rest up for flights home or, if desired, participants can choose to leave earlier this evening. For those leaving tomorrow, the hotel is booked for the full night; check out is not until tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We depart by motorcoach for our fieldtrip to the Folklore Museum. This unique museum is a fine example of traditional Kerala architecture. Made of wood, stone and clay tiles, it houses up to 6,000 works of Kerala art. From here we set out for 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. The palace contains excellent mythological murals and a rare example of traditional Keralite flooring - a mix of burnt coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg whites - that gives the effect of polished marble. Afterwards, we board our motorcoach to explore the Jewish synagogue. Built in 1568, it was 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. Coffee, tea and bottled water included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We have free time this afternoon to relax, explore Kochi, or prepare for our early-morning flights tomorrow. Check with the Group Leader to discuss transportation to the airport. If you are an independent traveler, see “Ground Transportation from Last Location" located in your Information Packets.

Dinner: At own arrangements. The hotel has several dining options to choose from.

Evening: Late night check-out for early morning flights tomorrow. The hotel is booked for the full night for those with later departures, check-out time is 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

DAY
21
Departures, Program Concludes
In Flight

Activity note: Early morning departures at around 12:30 a.m. for flights booked by Road Scholar, leaving at around 4:30 a.m. Departure transfers to the airport will be grouped. If leaving later on this day, hotel check out is at 11:00 a.m. Participants who book their own flights can choose to leave the night prior, but there are no Road Scholar airport transfers provided.

Morning: Depart at around 12:30 a.m. for Kochi airport (COK) to board flights returning to the U.S. (around 4:30 am). This concludes our program. Refer to the Departure Transfer section in the Final Information Packet for transfer information. Please note that departure transfers are grouped transfers and you may have to arrive at the Cochin Airport earlier than the time required time for your flight. For participants leaving later today, the hotel check-out time is 11:00 a.m. 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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