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.
Program No. 18716RJ
Length
21 days
Starts at
3,699
Flights start at
1,000
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21 days
20 nights
48 meals
18 B 15 L 15 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Enroute
In Flight

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.

DAY
3
Early Morning Arrival, National Museum, Gandhi Smriti
Delhi
B,D
The Suryaa Hotel New Delhi

Activity note: The order and the days of the itinerary may change due to local circumstances and holidays.

Breakfast: At the hotel, enjoy a buffet breakfast.

Morning: After breakfast, join your group leader for the program orientation. The Group Leader will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, the same will be informed as quickly as possible.We begin with an overview by our Group Leader of India’s system of government in the world's largest parliamentary democracy. As we drive past India Gate, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, note that it commemorates Indian soldiers who died during World War I. We will also view the Parliament House (Sansad Bhawan), the nation’s supreme legislative body; and the President House (Rashtrapati Bhavan), a huge complex that serves as the official residence of the President of India. We will then proceed to the National Museum. The museum’s collections comprise some 200,000 objects representing more than 5,000 years of Indian cultural heritage.

Lunch: On your own. Group Leader will be happy to provide suggestions.

Afternoon: Next, we will 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. We will then return to the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, enjoy our official welcome dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Old Delhi, Home Hosted Dinner
Delhi
B,D
The Suryaa Hotel New Delhi

Activity note: The bicycle rickshaw ride is through an extremely crowded market. Many steps at Jama Mosque. Shoes and socks are not permitted in Jama Masjid; gowns are provided by the mosque.

Breakfast: At the Hotel.

Morning: We will be joined at the hotel by a local expert who will discuss the relevance of Gandhi in today’s world. We’ll then 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, we’ll 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. We’ll conclude at the Raj Ghat, the cremation ground of Mahatma Gandhi.

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 and give directions.

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

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

Evening: At leisure. We will return to the hotel after dinner.

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

Activity note: The drive from Delhi to Agra is approximately 4 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

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

Lunch: At the hotel in Agra.

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 “rag 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: At the hotel, enjoy a buffet dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

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

Breakfast: At the hotel 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. You 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 the hotel.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: 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.

Evening: At leisure.

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

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

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, 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.

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.

Dinner: At the retreat.

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
8
Abhaneri Step Wells & Local Culture
Kalakho
B,L,D
Dera Village Retreat Kalakho

Breakfast: At the retreat.

Morning: We will take 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. Interact with the local 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 active (Level 6) nature hike in the nearby mountains. In the early evening before dinner, the Group Leader will present an overview of caste system, its evolution, and deep roots in Indian society.

Dinner: At the retreat.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Kalakho, Jaipur, Pink City of Jaipur
Jaipur
B,L,D
Trident Hotel Jaipur

Activity note: The drive from Kalakho to Jaipur is approximately 3 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: At the retreat.

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

Lunch: At the hotel.

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: Dinner with a local family at their home.

Evening: At leisure.

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

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. Our field trip continues to the Hawa Mahal ( Palace of Winds), whose elaborate, honeycombed sandstone is a famous icon of the city.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

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
Transfer to Mysore via Bangalore
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, then have a 5-hour coach transfer to Mysore.

Breakfast: Continental cold breakfast due to early flight.

Morning: After an early morning check out, we will depart for the airport and fly to Bangalore. Upon arrival in Bangalore, we will collect luggage and board the coach to Mysore.

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: In the hotel after arrival and check-in.

Evening: At leisure. Relax after the long day.

DAY
12
Palace of Tipu Sultan, Home Hosted Dinner
Mysore
B,L,D
Radisson Blu Hotel, Mysore

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: 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: We will be divided into smaller groups of 6-8 with for 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: Dinner with the hosts at their home.

Evening: We will return to the hotel after dinner.

DAY
13
Chamundeshwari Temple, Mysore Palace
Mysore
B,L
Radisson Blu Hotel, Mysore

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will join the Group Leader for a an introduction to Indian mythology. For our first field trip today, we will set out 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. We will then visit Mysore Palace, official residence of the Wodeyars — the erstwhile royal family of Mysore. Built in 1912 in the Indo-Saracenic style, it blends Hindu, Muslim, Rajput, and Gothic features.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

DAY
14
Transfer to Vythiri
Wayanad
B,L,D
Vythri Village

Activity note: The drive from Mysore to Vythiri is approximately 7-8 hours with lunch and stops along the way.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Checking out of the hotel, we’ll depart on a full-day drive 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: En route at a 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: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Coach to Calicut with stop at local tea factory
Calicut
B,L,D
The Gateway Hotel Beach Road Calicut

Activity note: The drive from Vythiri to Calicut is approximately 3 hours.

Breakfast: At the resort.

Morning: After a restful morning, we depart for Calicut near the Coast of Andaman Sea in the state of Kerela, India. First make stop at local tea factory and learn about tea growing and production. Tea is a huge part of the Indian drinks and this region is one of the tea plantations in South India. Continue your drive to Calicut and arrive in the early afternoon.

Lunch: At a the hotel.

Afternoon: Check into your hotel after lunch. Take some time to relax before your evening activity. The hotel is located close to town and the each area.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: This evening watch a Kalarippayattu, a Martial Arts Performance traditional to Kerela.

DAY
16
Ayurveda Presentation, Calicut Discovery, Free time
Calicut
B,L,D
The Gateway Hotel Beach Road Calicut

Breakfast: Before breakfast, learn about Ayurveda, a traditional massage that has healing properties. Then continue to a buffet breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Depart for a Heritage walk to the City. Explore the beach covering, light house, colonial buildings, ancient church by the Portuguese, areas occupied by the Dutch, French German, Italian, Chinese, North Indian Gujarathi settlements, Arab settlements, old trading houses and local Muslim settlements. Learn about the history of this area and its importance during the spice trade.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time in the afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
17
Train to Eurakulum, coach to Kerala Backwaters
Kerala Backwaters
B,L,D
Privately Chartered Houseboats

Activity note: Train is early in the the early morning or early afternoon depending on the days of the week. Train ride is about 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: To full experience India, you need to take a ride on the train. This day gives us that opportunity. Depending on the day of the week, we will depart early morning or early afternoon on a 3.5 hours train ride to Eurakulum. From there, continue on a two hour coach ride to the backwaters of Kerala.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: We expect to 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
Privately Chartered Houseboats

Breakfast: Aboard our 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 our 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. The houseboats will tie up at sunset, to overnight along the water’s edge. We'll also have a presentation about traditional boat building of Kerala.

Dinner: Aboard our houseboats.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
19
Transfer to Cochin
Cochin
B,D
The Gateway Hotel Marine Drive Ernakulam

Activity note: The drive from Thottapally to Cochin is approximately 3 hours with stops along the way.

Breakfast: Aboard our houseboats.

Morning: Disembarking the houseboats, we will board a motorcoach for the drive to Cochin. We expect to arrive mid-day.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Explore Cochin on an expert-led walking field trip. We will visit 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(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. 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 (closed on Friday, Saturday and & Jewish holidays).

Dinner: At the hotel, enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

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
Market Discovery, Free time
Cochin
B,L,D
The Gateway Hotel Marine Drive Ernakulam

Activity note: Coordinate with the Group Leader regarding transfers to the airport. Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: The center of historic Cochin 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: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Free time this afternoon for you to relax, explore Cochin or get ready for your early morning flight.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Departures.

DAY
21
In Transit From Program
In Flight

Activity note: The hotel is booked for the full night so check out is not until 11am for those you may have later flights.