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 (4.88)
Program No. 18716RJ
Length
21 days
Starts at
3,799
Flights start at
1,050
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21 days
20 nights
49 meals
18 B 16 L 15 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
En route
In Flight
The Suryaa Hotel New Delhi

Activity note: The hotel is booked for this night so if your flight arrives on this day, you can check into your hotel at 2pm. If arriving to India today, an airport transfer is not included and you will need to make arrangements to get to the program hotel.

DAY
3
Arrivals, Orientation, Old Delhi, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk
Delhi
B,D
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 steps to climb up with no hand rails. 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

Morning: Orientation: 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.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: 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 Chandni Chowk named for the silver merchants --while the drivers navigate narrow alleyways and the bustle of people. Then conclude at the Raj Ghat, the cremation ground of Mahatma Gandhi.

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

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
New Delhi, National Museum, Gandhi Smriti, Hosted Dinner
Delhi
B,L,D
The Suryaa Hotel New Delhi

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Join a local expert at the hotel who will discuss the "Relevance of Gandhi in Today's World". Start off with an overview of India's system of government in the world's largest parliamentary democracy as the Group Leader leads you in a private bus excursion past the Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan), nation's supreme legislative body; the President's House (Rashtrapati Bhavan), a huge complex that serves as the official residence of the President of India and India Gate, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, that commemorates Indian soldiers who died during World War I. Next proceed to the National Museum which comprises of some 2,000,000 objects representing more than 5,000 years of Indian cultural heritage.

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

Afternoon: Next, visit Gandhi Smriti, 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.

Dinner: We will divide into smaller groups of 6-8 for home hosted dinners with local urban Indian families in their homes with bottled water, coffee/tea. Enjoy this opportunity to interact with family members and learn about their culture and traditions.

Evening: We will return to the hotel after dinner for an evening at leisure. If you choose, continue enjoying the company of new Road Scholar friends with informal activities such as board games, cards, or sharing your favorite experiences of the day.

DAY
5
Drive to Agra, Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, View of Taj Mahal
Agra
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Agra

Activity note: The drive from Delhi to Agra is about 132 miles, approximately 4 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel , we will board our private bus for Agra. En route, the Group Leader will provide an overview of Indian history.

Lunch: Buffet lunch at the hotel with bottled water, coffee/tea.

Afternoon: Our field trip this afternoon is to the mausoleum of Itmad-ud-Daulah. popularly known as the “Baby Taj” It was the first monument in India built entirely in marble rather than red sandstone. The tomb was built between 1622-1628 by the Queen of Jahangir, Nurjahan, as a memorial to her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg. Its fascinating history chronicles the “rags to riches” saga of a poor merchant who rose to become chief minister of the Mughal emperor. The elaborately carved tomb in the Islamic style — like a jewel box set in a tranquil garden on the banks of the Yamuna River — was an inspiration for the Taj Mahal years later. We’ll then continue to Mehtab Bagh, a garden complex aligned with the Taj Mahal on the opposite side of the Yamuna River and join a local expert to learn about Mughal history and architecture as the sun sets over the Taj Mahal.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Free Time
Agra
B,L
Trident Hotel Agra

Activity note: At the Taj Mahal, a short wait is expected at the entrance gate. Once inside, the walking tour is around 1.5 hours with benches to rest throughout.

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 favourite 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, our next field trip is to 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: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to sample local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Remote Villages of Rajasthan, Camel Cart Ride, Lecture
Kalakho
B,L,D
Dera Village Retreat Kalakho

Activity note: The drive from Agra to Kalakho is about 103 miles, approximately 4 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our private bus and depart for Kalakho. Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, "If you want to experience the soul of India, then you must go to her villages." Kalakho 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. The preferred mode of exploration for visitors is via camel cart.

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

Afternoon: 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. In the early evening before dinner, the Group Leader will present an overview of the caste system, its evolution and deep roots in Indian society.

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

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Abhaneri Step Wells, School visit, Free Time, Performance
Kalakho
B,L,D
Dera Village Retreat Kalakho

Breakfast: At the retreat.

Morning: We will be taken for a field trip to explore the small village of Abhaneri, 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 temple. Next we will stop and visit with children at a local school (subject to school holidays).

Lunch: At the retreat.

Afternoon: Free Time. You are also welcome to join in learning how to play Cricket. In the late afternoon, for the very energetic, there will be an opportunity to go on a challenging nature hike in the nearby mountains. 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.

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

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Kalakho, Pink City of Jaipur, Dinner with Local Family
Jaipur
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Jaipur

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

Breakfast: At the retreat.

Morning: After checking out of the Retreat, we will depart by private bus for Jaipur. En route, the Group Leader will discuss the history, culture and people of Rajasthan.

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

Afternoon: Moving on to Jaipur, experience the essence of this amazing city as we take in the riot of colors and activities on a walk through the local market.

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: Amber Fort has steps and uneven walkways. There are a few sitting areas and ramps available throughout the fort. Walking at the fort is around a half-mile.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: 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. Continue your 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 your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: This will be a long travel day requiring patience and stamina. We will fly from Jaipur to Bangalore and then drive about 118 miles, approximately 5 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Early 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 your flight to Bengalore (also known as Bengaluru). Upon arrival in Bangalore, collect your luggage and board the coach to Mysore (also known as Mysuru).

Lunch: En route.

Afternoon: During our drive to Mysore, the Group Leader will present an introduction to the history of South India, whose culture, traditions, and architecture are markedly different from those of the North.

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

Evening: At leisure. Relax after the long day.

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

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning join your Group Leader at the hotel for a presentation on an Introduction to Indian Mythology. Set out for your 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. Then you will visit Mysore Palace, official residence of the Wodeyars--the erstwhile 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: We will be divided into smaller groups of 6-8 per group for a culinary experience which includes shopping at local flower, fruit and vegetable market with the guides, followed by a visiting 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

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 your own to enjoy what you like.

DAY
14
Drive to Vythiri, Plantation 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 stops along the way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll depart on a full-day drive by private bus to 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 Karnataka into the state of Kerala.

Lunch: At the plantation.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will take a walk with the plantation owner to learn about the spice crops grown in this area. We'll then continue our drive to Vythri and check in to the hotel.

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

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: The drive from Vythiri to Calicut is about 40 miles, approximately 3.5 hours with tea factory visit and 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. First make stop at 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. Continue your drive to Calicut and arrive in the early afternoon.

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

Afternoon: Check into the hotel and learn about Ayurveda from the hotel doctor. Watch Kalarippayattu, a Martial Arts Performance traditional to Kerala.

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: Depart for a walk to the city and learn about the history of this area and its importance during the spice trade. Explore the beaches, light house, colonial buildings and 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: Hotel buffet.

Afternoon: Free Time. Afternoon at leisure.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
17
Train to Alleppey, drive to Kerala Backwaters
Kerala Backwaters
B,L,D
Kerala River Cruises

Activity note: Train ride is in the early morning and about 6.5 hours followed by a drive of 1 hour to board the boats. Depending on the size of the group, several houseboats may be used for the group.

Breakfast: Boxed for the train ride.

Morning: To full experience India, you need 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 to Alleppey. From there, we will continue on a one hour drive to the backwaters of Kerala.

Lunch: En route at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Arrive late 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
Kerala River Cruises

Activity note: Enjoy idyllic and rural India.

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. You are just as much of interest to the village residents, as they are to you, waving and calling out as the boats pass by. An abundance of birdlife is found in the area. You will also have a presentation about traditional boat building of Kerala by your Group Leader. The houseboats will tie up at sunset, to overnight along the water’s edge.

Dinner: Aboard the houseboats.

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: The drive from Thottapally to Cochin is approximately 3 hours with stops along the way. Shoes need to be removed at St. Francis Church.

Breakfast: Aboard the houseboats.

Morning: Disembarking the houseboats, we will board a coach for the drive to Kochi (also known as Cochin). On arrival, visit St. Francis Church, the original burial site of the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, who died in Kochi in 1524.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Explore Fort Kochi on a guided walk with your Group Leader through the historic old town stops to the Chinese fishing nets and little markets along the way.

Dinner: 'Farewell Dinner' at the hotel with bottled water, coffee/tea.

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

DAY
20
Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, Kochi Discovery, Free Time
Cochin
B,D
The Gateway Hotel Marine Drive Ernakulam

Activity note: Shoes need to be removed at the Jewish Synagogue. Coordinate with the Group Leader regarding transfers to the airport. Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information. The hotel is booked for the full night so check out is not until tomorrow morning for those of you that have later flights.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast, we depart for our visit to the Folklore Museum and learn about Kerala culture. Explore the "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 subtle mix of burnt, coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg whites--that gives the effect of polished marble. We will also visit 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 in China. The center of historic Kochi is easily walkable, with many small shops and market stalls interspersed with the Colonial architecture of this coastal city. Join the Group Leader and visit a local market.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free time this afternoon for you to relax, explore Kochi or get ready for your early morning flight. Check with the group leader to discuss transportation to the airport this evening and reference your program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see “Ground Transportation from Last Location".

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Late night preparation for early morning departure to the airport, around 1am tomorrow.

DAY
21
In Transit From Program
In Flight

Activity note: Departures are very early in the morning today. If you are leaving later on this day, hotel check out is at 11am.

Morning: Depart around 1 am for the Kochi airport (COK) to board the flight returning to the U.S (around 4:30 am). This concludes our program. 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 our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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