Pre and Post Cruise Tour Destinations


You can choose any of the following 3 Pre & Post Cruise Tours

1. Golden Triangle: 6 Nights / 7 Days

2. “God’s Own Country” Kerala Land Package: 7 Nights / 8 Days

3. Eastern Himalayas Land Package: 4 Nights / 5 Days

 


Golden Triangle: 6 Nights / 7 Days

India’s Golden Triangle comprises the three most visited cities in the country’s north-west – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, which are all connected to each other by good roads and rail links. On the map, these form a rough triangle. This route has been dubbed “golden” for the extraordinary wealth of cultural and historical splendor on offer in each of the three cities. Anyone who is culturally curious, a spiritual seeker and looking for an immersive experience will enjoy this land tour.

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi

Namaste. Welcome to India. You will be met at the airport by your Tour Guide and escorted to your hotel.

Day 2: DELHI
India’s capital city and seat of power for nearly a thousand years, Delhi bridges two distinctly different worlds – Old Delhi, the former capital, with its narrow lanes and splendid mosques; and New Delhi, established by the British, and featuring wide tree-lined boulevards and majestic buildings. Delhi is a city waiting to be explored and our tour begins with a visit to Khari Baoli, Asia’s largest wholesale spice market selling spices, nuts, herbs and teas from all over the world.

In the afternoon, you will experience a Bollywood style show at the Kingdom of Dreams, India’s first live entertainment destination spread over 6 acres, and whose global ambassador is Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan.

In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at Bukhara, globally recognized Indian restaurant and the preferred dining destination of gourmets, presidents and heads of state for over 35 years.

Day 3: DELHI
Enjoy a day long tour of the city, starting with a visit to the Red Fort, a historical fort and the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, built from red sandstone. The imperial apartments consist of a row of pavilions, connected by a water channel known as the Stream of Paradise, and are some of the most important surviving structures of the Fort.


Opposite the Red Fort lies Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque), one of the largest mosques in India, made of red sandstone and white marble. It was completed in 1656 at a cost of one million Rupees and accommodates up to 25,000 worshipers. The interior of the prayer hall is divided into isles by arches and features walls and floors made of marble inlay panels.

Next we visit the Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, located on the banks of the river Yamuna. The memorial lies in the midst of landscaped gardens and is made of a simple black marble platform that marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation on 31 January 1948, a day after his assassination. It is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns perpetually at one end.

We will drive past the Rashtrapati Bhawa, formerly known as the Viceroy’s House, and now the official residence of the President of India and stop for a photo opportunity at the India Gate, a war memorial which commemorates the 82,000 Indian soldiers who died in the First World War. 13,218 war dead are commemorated by name on the monument. Even though a war memorial, the India Gate evokes the architectural styles of the triumphal arch like the Arch of Constantine in Rome and is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

We will visit the Humayun’s Tomb, tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, commissioned by his wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum (also known as Haji Begum) in the 16th century. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 and has since undergone extensive restoration work which is now complete.

Last we visit the Qutub Minar, a minaret that forms a part of Qutb complex, another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area of Delhi. The minar is a 73 meters tall tower, contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps and is surrounded by several significant monuments.

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 4: Delhi to Agra transfer (209 kms / 1 hr 40 mins by Gatimann Express)
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we will take the Gatimaan Express (India’s first semi high speed train) to Agra, arriving shortly before 10am. We will check-in to our hotel and enjoy lunch before heading out on a tour of the city.

Agra is located on the right bank of the river Yamuna and was established before 1000 BC. The golden age of the city began with the Mughals, when it became their seat of power and zenith of art and romance. The passion of the Mughals for building endowed Agra with some of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

Agra Fort (more accurately described as a wall city), a UNESCO World Heritage site built by the great Emperor Akbar in 1565 AD and the main residence of the Emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638, will be our first stop.

Within the fort are a number of exquisite buildings, including the Moti Masjid, Diwane-IAm, Diwane-I-Khas and Musamman Burj, where the Emperor Shah Jahan died under house arrest.

Next we visit the Taj Mahal, India’s most aweinspiring and iconic monument commissioned by the heart broken Emperor Shah Jahan after his beloved wife Mumtaz died in childbirth. It is an ivory-white marble mausoleum completed in 1653 and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

The tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. It’s a large marble structure standing on a square plinth and consists of a symmetrical building with an archshaped doorway topped by a large dome and finial. Like most Mughal tombs, the basic elements are Persian in origin.

During our tour, we will learn all about the mausoleum’s fascinating history, precious building materials and intricate craftsmanship. Your first glance of the Taj Mahal at sunset will take your breath away.

Overnight in the hotel

DAY 5: Agra to Jaipur transfer (approx. 232 kms / 5 hrs by coach)
After breakfast we will enjoy a scenic drive to Jaipur with a stop at Fatehpur Sikri, a city built by Akbar the Great in the 16th century to serve as the capital of his vast empire. It is at Fatehpur Sikri that the legends of Akbar and his famed courtiers, the nine jewels of Navaratnas, were born and it is one of the best preserved examples of Mughal architecture in India.

We then continue our drive to Jaipur, the magnificent capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan, founded in 1726 by Maharaja Jai Singh II after whom the city is named. Under the architectural guidance of Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, Jaipur was planned on the principles of Vastu Shastra and Shilpa Shastra, a traditional a traditional Hindu system of architecture, dividing the city into nine blocks laid out in a grid pattern with wide avenues.

During the rule of Sawai Ram Singh, the city was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876. Many of the avenues remained painted in pink, giving Jaipur a distinctive appearance and the epithet Pink City.

Pink City

No vacation is ever complete without shopping and when it comes to India, insiders head straight to Jaipur, a place where traditional crafts and designs get remade in unexpected and stylish ways.

DAY 6: JAIPUR
In the morning, we will visit the Amber Fort in Amer, about 11 kms from Jaipur and located on a hill. The fort was built by Raja Shri Maan Singh I in late 16th century and is known for its artistic style, blending both Hindu and Rajput elements of architecture.

It comprises an extensive palace complex built from pale yellow and pink sandstone as well as white marble and is divided into four main sections, each with its own courtyard. With its large ramparts, series of gates and cobbled paths, this magnificent fort overlooks the Maota Lake and offers extensive views over the deep narrow valley and the wider plains beyond.

On the way back, we make a photo stop at Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), essentially a high screen wall built so that the women of the royal household could observe street festivals while unseen from the outside. Constructed of red and pink sandstone, the palace sits on the edge of the City Palace and extends to the zenana (women’s chambers).

Your afternoon tour includes the City Palace, a sprawling complex in the heart of the city which incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings in Jaiput, Mughal and European architectural styles. The most prominent and most visited structures in the complex are the Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Mukut Mahal, Maharani’s Palace, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum.

Located near the City Palace and Hawa Mahal, we will also visit the Jantar Mantar monument, which features a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments that were completed in 1734 as well as the world’s largest stone sundial. Built from local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale and allows the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye.

Overnight at the hotel

DAY 7: Jaipur to Kolkata
After breakfast, transfer to Jaipur International Airport and fly to Kolkata.

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“God’s Own Country” Kerala Land Package: 7 Nights / 8 Days

Kerala (also known as Keralam) is South India’s most beautiful state. A slender coastal strip with nearly 600 kms of Arabian Sea shoreline, a languid network of glistening backwaters and the spice and tea covered hills of the Western Ghats.

Kerala is home to wild elephants, exotic birds, tigers and vibrant traditions such as Kathakali plays and temple festivals which bring even the smallest villages to life. It’s hard to deny Kerala’s liberal use of the slogan “God’s Own Country”.

Day 1 : Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) Arrival
Our representative will meet you at the airport on arrival in Kochi and transfer you to for check-in.

Kochi, also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, was an important spice trading centre and flaunts one of the finest natural harbors in the world. It was the first of the European colonies in India and first princely state to join the Indian Union in 1947 when India gained independence from the British Colonial rule.

Enjoy our half day sightseeing tour with our first stop at the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations, built in 1567 by the Malabar Yehudan people. Close to the synagogue lies the Mattancherry Palace, popularly known as the Dutch Palace, featuring Kerala murals depicting portraits and exhibits of the Rajas of Kochi. Next we visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India dating back to 1503. The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was buried in this church in 1524 before his remains were moved to London fourteen years later.

During a leisurely walk along the Fort Kochi promenade, you will have the opportunity to take a closer look at the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, locally called Cheena vala, believed to be brought by Portuguese Casado settlers from Macau, once a Portuguese colony. Each structure is at least 10 meters high and is operated by a team of up to six fishermen.

Day 2 : Kochi to Munnar Transfer (150 kms/4 hours)
After breakfast, we drive from Kochi to Munnar, a town and hill station situated 1,600 meters above sea level in the Western Ghats mountain range. It is surrounded by rolling hills dotted with tea plantations established in the late 19th century, and was a former resort for the British Raj elite.

On our way to Munnar, we visit Valara waterfalls, Cheeyappara Waterfall as well as a tea plantation. After hotel check-in, we proceed to the Tea Museum located on the Nalluthanni Estate, where visitors and tea lovers can see various stages of the tea processing – crush, tear, curl – and learn about the production of Kerala black tea variants.

Day 3 : Munnar
Today we explore the Rajamala (Eravikulam) National Park, where the endangered Nilgiri Thar (the mountain goat of southern India) is protected together with several other species of rare animals, birds and butterflies. The park is also home to southern India’s highest peak, the Anamudi, reaching almost 2700 meters, and offers magnificent views of the surrounding tea plantation. It becomes a hot destination when the slopes are covered in a carpet of blue, resulting from the flowering Neelakurinji shrub which blooms only once every twelve years. The next flowering season is in 2018.

We also visit the Mattupetty Dam, where the large amount of perennially available water allows wild animals and birds to flourish and is known to be one of the visiting grounds of elephants in the region. The Top Station which derives its name from being the uppermost station of the Kottagudi Aerial Ropeway, and offering a panoramic view of the majestic Western Ghats and the valley of Theni district Tamil Nadu is our next stop. On the way to the top station, we stop at one of the most beautiful places in Munnar, Echo Point, a natural echo phenomenon that is surrounded with mist covered hills and water falls and offers an ideal location for nature walks.

Note: Visits to Eravikulam National Park are subject to restrictions during the Nilgiri Thar’s breeding season (February/March).

Day 4 : Munnar to Thekkady Transfer (110 kms/ 3.5 Hrs)
On our way to Thekkady, we will drive through some of the most picturesque hills, forests and spice trails. Most of the route consists of forest roads with views of streams and small waterfalls. We will make several stops at viewpoints so take a lot of pictures to carry the memories with you.

Thekkady is located near the Tamil Nadu border and is home to the Periyar National Park, known for its elephant and tiger reserve. The park is named after a lake located at the centre of the park and is often called the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or Thekkady. On arrival, we will check-in to our hotel and relax over lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy a Periyar Lake cruise, which is the main way to tour the sanctuary.

On the cruise, you can expect to see deer, bison, wild boar, otters, monkeys and elephants by the water’s edge in their natural habitat. Other activities such as a nature walk, bamboo rafting, elephant and Jeep safaris are also available for you to book.

Day 5: Thekkady to Kumarakom transfer (150 Km- 4 Hrs)
After breakfast we will drive to Kumarakom, set in the backdrop of the Vembanad Lake, the greatest backwater in Kerala, and check-in to our waterfront hotel. Kumarakom is a beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting wanterways and canals adorned by white lilies.

We will enjoy a lunch cruise aboard the Kettuvallam, a traditional wooden Kerala houseboat and an integral part of the region’s culture and heritage, which was in the past used to carry men and goods, particularly rice and spices to Kochi. Cruising along the backwaters of Kerala is an unforgettable experience. Surrounded by its all-natural décor, the houseboat provides an ideal observation platform, not only for underwater life, flora and fauna, but also for the charming rural life slipping by in slow motion. Together with lovely food served on board and a fine level of hospitality, your cruise will be an unforgettable experience.

In the evening we disembark our Kettuvallam and return to the hotel for overnight.

Day 6 : Kumarakom to Kovalam transfer (180 kms/5 hrs)
Kovalam is a small coastal town and beach resort. Kovalam’s name means a grove of coconut trees and true to its name, the town offers an endless sight of coconut trees. Kovalam was among the most prominent tourist spots in India during the hippy era which transformed this casual fishing village into one of the most important destinations in India.

With high rock promontory and a calm bay of blue waters, this beach paradise attracts tourists from all around the world. Check-in to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.

Day 7 : Kovalam
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), Kerala’s capital and largest city. Long before becoming the major IT hub of Asia, Trivandrum was a trading post for spices, sandalwood and ivory and is consistently ranked among the best cities to live in India. The International Film Festival of Kerala, which is held every year in December, is one of the most anticipated for movie buffs in India and is also Asia’s largest film festival in terms of viewer participation.

On our tour, we visit the famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple, built in an intricate fusion of indigenous Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture typically associated with the temples built in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. It is the richest Hindu temple in the world with an estimated $22 billion worth of goldand jewels stored in its underground vaults.

Next we visit the Kanakakunnu Palace, one of the last vestiges of the colonial era. It was built during the reign of Travancore king Sree Moolam Thirunal in the early twentieth century and served as the main venue for royal banquets. These days, the prestigious All India Dance Festival is hosted annually by the Department of Tourism at the open-air auditorium.

We continue for a photo opportunity at the Kowdiar Palace, built in 1934 on the occasion of Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal only sister’s marriage. The palace has 150 rooms and entry is restricted as it is the private residence of the royal family.

Day 8 : Kovalam
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for your onward journey.

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Eastern Himalayas Land Package: 4 Nights / 5 Days

The perennially snow-capped mountains, lush green tropical and temperate forests, gurgling streams and the rich flora and fauna make East Himalaya a true Shangri-La or “Nye-mae-el” which simply means “heaven”.

Day 1 : Bagdogra to Kurseong
We fly into Bagdogra in West Bengal and transfer to Kurseong which is about 55 kms (2 hours) away. Check-in at the Cochrane Place and spend your evening at leisure.

Kurseong (locally known as Kharsang) is a hill station located at an altitude of 1,458 meters. Stories suggest that the town’s name comes from the Lepcha language word for “small orchid” because of the little white orchids dotting the surrounding valleys. Kurseong is surrounded by a myriad of tea gardens and the serenity and tranquillity of this place is what mostly attracts tourists. Nestled on the foothills of the Himalayas, Cochrane Place is the restored stately British colonial home of Percy John Cochrane, MBE. This boutique hotel is perched high up on a ridge with rooms overlooking the mighty Himalayan mountain range and the lush tea gardens far below.

DAY 2 : Kurseong – Darjeeling transfer
In the morning, enjoy a tour of the Makaibari Tea Factory, the world’s first tea factory established in 1859 and the first in the world to be certified organic in 1988. Makaibari follows a form of integrated forest management utilizing permaculture where the tea bush is part of a multi-tier system of trees and plants typical of sub-tropical rainforest, as opposed to a monocultural farm that grows only one crop. The company sustains seven villages and employs close to 1600 people. Prime Minister Modi presented Makaibari Darjeeling Silver Tips Imperial tea to H.H. the Queen during his 2015 visit to England.

Enjoy an authentic Anglo Indian lunch at the Cochrane Place, before heading to the Kurseong Toy Train Station for a picturesque train ride to Darjeeling (approximately 3 hours). This unique Himalayan Railway was built between 1879 and 1881 by the initiative of Sir Ashley Eden, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999. The entire railway is 78 kms long between Siliguri and Darjeeling and has 13 active stations.

Enjoy your evening at leisure. Overnight in Darjeeling.

Darjeeling, also called the Queen of the Hills, comes from the Tibetan word dorje, meaning the thunderbolt sceptre of the Hindu deity Indra. During the British Raj, Darjeeling’s temperate climate led to its development as a hill station for British residents seeking to escape the summer heat of the plains. The development of a sanatorium for British soldiers and health resort quickly followed.

Extensive tea plantations were established and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea resulting in the internationally recognized and most popular black Darjeeling tea. The snow clad Himalayan ranges tower over the town in the distance and Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak at 8, 598 m is the most prominent mountain visible. On a clear day, you can also see Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain at 8,850 m.

DAY 3 : Darjeeling
After breakfast, we will explore Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park (also called the Darjeeling ZOO) and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. The zoo was opened in 1958 and is the largest high altitude zoo in India. It specializes in breeding animals adapted to alpine conditions, and has a successful captive breeding program for the snow leopard, the critically endangered Himalayan wolf and the red panda. The Mountaineering Institute (MI) was established in 1954 to encourage mountaineering as an organized sport in India and was sparked by interest created by the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.

Tenzing Norgay was the first director of field training and to this day, adventure, basic and advanced mountaineering courses are being conducted by the institute. There are two museums attached to the MI. The Mountaineering Museum (MM) which was established in 1957 and features a collection of historical mountaineering equipment and the Everest Museum (EV) showcasing history of Mount Everest climbs.

DAY 4 : Darjeeling
Today we visit the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center established on October 2, 1959, following the dramatic escape of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from Tibet. During this period of mayhem, thousands of Tibetans left their home country and fled into neighbouring countries bringing with them nothing but the clothes they wore and provisions they could carry. In support of these refuges, a center was established to help them assimilate in their new country. The production of Tibetan handicrafts remains to be the main activity and source of income for the center. Tibetan carpets, thankas, wood carved items, metal and leather items such as shoes and boots are being exported to 36 countries around the world.

In the evening, enjoy a short walk across the Mall (or Chowrasta, a place where four roads meet), the social center of Darjeeling. Take a seat on one of the many benches and watch the people, mountains and valleys around you. Or visit some of the old heritage stores to browse or shop.

DAY 5 : Darjeeling – Bagdogra Transfer
After breakfast, we transfer to Bagdogra airport (3 hours) for your onward journey.

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