A Compass representative shall meet you at the airport and arrange for your transfer to the hotel.
Delhi, India’s capital has seen great empires rise and fall around it for millennia, with each new batch of rulers building over the works of their predecessors. As a result, the city abounds in monuments and ruins of stunning diversity. The seat of the world’s largest democracy, it also boasts of magnificent symbols of government that pay architectural tribute to the ideals of self-rule and democracy. These co-exist side by side with wide multi-lane motorways, shopping malls, fast cars and ultramodern steel-glass office complexes that characterize any large 21st century metropolis.
Overnight at Delhi.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Your definitive luxury holiday in India begins at its ancient capital, in Old Delhi.
The day begins with Raj Ghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. The shrine bears testimony to the simplicity of the man who changed the world with the power of ideas. A simple black stone structure with an eternal flame burning at one end.
The majestic Red Fort was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1639, and remained seat of the empire for the next two centuries. Today, the Prime Minister of the India delivers his Independence Day speech to the nation from the ramparts of this red sandstone structure.
A raucous, roller coaster rickshaw ride through the winding medieval alleyways of Old Delhi takes us to Jama Masjid, one of Asia’s largest mosques. We shall view this magnificent structure from outside, its lofty and highly ornate domes and minarets reminiscent of a scene from the Arabian Nights.
The rickshaw will carry you to the narrow bylanes of Chandani Chowk.
After lunch, proceed for a sightseeing tour of New Delhi.
New Delhi was built by the British in the 1930s as their imperial capital. Majestic government and administrative buildings line the wide, tree-lined avenues of what is also known as Lutyen’s Delhi, after Sir Edwin Lutyens who was commissioned to design the city in 1911.
Our journey begins at India Gate, the red sandstone arch erexted in memory of Indian and British soldiers who laid down their lives in World War I. Close by are the majestic Parliament House, the seat of the world’s largest democracy and the Rastrapathi Bhawan, the Indian President’s official residence. Inside are the famed Mughal Gardens with its ornate fountains and manicured lawns. Mughal Gardens are open to the public during spring.
Drive to Qutub Minar. Built by Qutubuddin Aibak, a slave general in 1193, it is India’s tallest stone towerand marks the site of the country’s first Muslim kingdom. The iron tower in a square opposite is unique in that it never rusts, although it has been exposed to the elements for centuries.
The stately Humayun's Tomb is perhaps the first example of the Mughal style of architecture, inspired by Persian styles, more examples of which may be seen in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.
The structure was erected in memory of Emperor Humayun, father of the illustrious Emperor Akbar, by his widow Hamida Banu Begum. An avid scholar who died an untimely death after falling down the steps of his library, Humayun himself was an architecture enthusiast and well-versed in the Persian style of building. It is said that he himself drew up the blueprint of his tomb in his lifetime, but there is no documented evidence to that effect.
The lotus-shaped Bahai temple south of Delhi is also of interest. An ideal place for meditation, this Bahai House of worship is open to people of all faiths.
Return to the hotel and relax.
Overnight at Delhi.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later, board your spacious, comfortable Compass recommended vehicle for your journey to Agra.
On the way, stop to visit Sikandra.
A beautifully maintained tree-lined monument at Sikandra marks the grave of the illustrious Akbar the Great. A great believer in harmony and equality of all religions, this visionary Mughal Emperor created Din-i Ilahi, a unique religion that combines the fundamentals of Islam, Hindusim, Buddhism and Christianity. His memorial imbibes architectural motifs of all the faiths that inspired him.
Drive to Agra and check into your hotel.
The Mughal capital of Agra on the banks of the Yamuna River is a bustling town teeming with narrow, winding alleyways that hark back to an era gone by. Dotted by magnificent monuments including UNESCO World Heritage SItes Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj Mahal, the city is a dazzling contrast of red sandstone and white marble structures.
Later in the afternoon, proceed for a guided tour of the city.
Standing across the river from the Taj, the majestic red sandstone structure of Agra Fort was erected in 1565 by Mughal Emperor Akbar the great. Little did he know that the same fort would later serve as prison for his grandson, the Emperor Shah Jahan, in the end of his days. From his prison perch of Muamman Burj, an exquisite octagonal marble tower atop the fort, Shah Jahan would spend his last days looking out longingly at the Taj.
Itmad-ud-Daulah is perhaps the Mughal Empire’s best kept secret. Empress Nur Jehan, wife of Jehangir, son of Akbar, commissioned the structure as a memorial to her father. Mistakenly called Baby Taj, Itmad-ud-Daulah is in fact decades older than the Taj and may have served as its design blueprint. A must-see hidden gem.
In the evening, attend a performance at Kalakriti, a stunning performance art based rendition of the history of the Taj.
Overnight at Agra.
Wake up early to view the Taj at the crack of dawn. The best time of the day to see this wonder of the world.
Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his queen Mumtaz Mahal and designed by Persian architect Ustad, the magnificent Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. A massive white marble structure so delicate that it appears to float in the air, the Taj is otherworldly in its beauty and is best viewed in moonlight or at dawn and dusk. Close observation reveals breathtakingly intricate inlay work carved into the marble, and bears eloquent testimony to the triumph of Mughal art, culture and architecture at its peak. Your luxury holiday in India is incomplete without the Taj Mahal.
Return to the hotel for breakfast.
Later, board your vehicle and drive to Fatehpur Sikri.
Fatehpur Sikri, built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 in honour of sufi saint Salim Chishti was the capital of the Mughals for 14 years. The white marble Tomb of the Salim Chisti with its intricately carved marble screens occupies pride of place in the central courtyard of the structure.
Attractions include the colossal Buland Darwaza, a victory gate built to mark the conquest of by Emperor Akbar, the Diwan-i-Aam where the emperor held his legendary hearings with the general public and the Diwan-i-Khas where he held private consultation with his nine ministers, or as he called them, his navaratna or nine gems.
Fatehpur Sikri also houses the palace of Jodhabai, Akbar’s Hindu wife, and the house of the legendary Birbal - Akbar’s Hindu minister and one of the navaratnas - the tales of whose extraordinary wit and wisdom are the stuff of popular culture in India, inspiring countless comic books and children’s animation TV shows.
Continue to Jaipur. You have some time to yourself after checking in to the hotel.
Jaipur, also known as the ‘Pink City’ from the facelift it received in 1853 to celebrate a visit by Prince Albert, is dotted with havelis (traditional mansions), bazaars, opulent palaces and rugged majestic forts that showcase the glorious past of its rulers, the Rajputs.
The Rajput princes were fierce warriors some of whom declared loyalty to the invading Mughals and proved to be formidable allies of the empire. Among them was King Jai Singh II, whom the Mughals gave the title Sawai Maharaja, or “King and a quarter”. Jaipur gets its name from this valiant king.
Visit the Birla Temple in the evening. A stunning white marble structure, the three towers of the Birla Temple stand for three different approaches to religion. Carvings on the ornate pillars celebrate Hindu gods and goddesses along with Christ, Virgin Mary and St. Francis of Assissi.
View the hypnotic evening Aarti, the ritual lighting of oil lamps.
Overnight stay will be in Jaipur.
Breakfast will be served in your hotel. Afterwards, leave for a sighseeing t
Situated on the top of a hill, the magnificent Amber Fort Palace offers a panoramic view of the old city. Established in 1592, its rugged exteriors belie the delicate architecture inside, a rare fusion of traditional Rajasthani and Islamic styles. Reach the fort the old fashioned way, atop a ceremonial elephant along a cobbled path up that opens into several havelis, step wells, courtyards and temples. Visit Sheesh Mahal or chamber of mirrors, Jas Mandir with its ornate ceilings and latticework and the stunning Shila Devi temple with its intricately carved silver door.
The sprawling City Palace has been home to the rulers of Jaipur since the 18th century. The architecture of the palace is a blend of traditional Rajasthani and Mughal styles. The City palace Museum is located here and houses various items from Jaipur’s princely and warrior past.
The scientific-minded King Jai Singh II, an astronomy enthusiast, commissioned five observatories named Jantar Mantar around West Central India in the early 1700s. The one in Jaipur is the largest and the best preserved. The massive architectural instruments are constructed out of local stone and marble some of which are still in use. We shall walk through and explore this surreal maze of giant geometric objects.
The exquisite outer facade of Hawa Mahal, the "Palace of Winds," resembles a manmade honeycomb and is one of Jaipur’s most iconic and oft photographed sights. Designed to facilitate maximum air circulation and cross ventilation, the five-storied Hawa Mahal is made of lime and mortar, and decorated with impossible intricate trelliswork. From the privacy of its ornate jharokhas (traditional Rajasthani windows), the ladies of the court could gaze out at life in the streets below.
In the evening, relax, shop or explore the city of Jaipur on your own. Jaipur is famous for its shopping, particularly gold and silver jewellery, pottery, tie-dye materials, silk, saris, wooden handicrafts and carpets.
Later, at your charming ethnic village resort, enjoy a cultural evening with a folk dance performance by local tribal artistes. A sumptuous Indian dinner will mark the perfect end to a great day.
Overnight at Jaipur.
Breakfast will be served at your hotel.
Later, you will be transferred to Jaipur airport in time for your flight. Upon arrival in Mumbai, a Compass India Inc. representative will meet you at the airport and facilitate your hotel transfer.
You’ll have some time to yourself after checking in.
Originally an archipelago of seven islands on the Arabian Sea, Mumbai was named after Mumba Devi, patron goddess of the Koli fishermen indigenous to the area. In the 19th century, reclamation work joined up the islands in a long, narrow strip of land that is the Mumbai we know today. This bustling metropolis is India’s commercial capital and home of Bollywood, the world’s largest movie industry. A city of contrasts, Ferraris and Porsches stand shoulder to shoulder on Mumbai roads with strikingly retro Premier Padmini cabs, and glitzy malls stocking super luxury brands co-exist side by side with buzzing local markets.
Later, proceed for sightseeing around Mumbai.
Built in 1911 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to the land of their subjects, this magnificent arch of Gateway of India was ironically also the point from where the last British ship departed India after the latter gained independence in 1947. A flight of steps leads down to the sea where motor launches bob in the water, offering short cruises to tourists. After sundown, and weather permitting, the excursion is well worth the fare as the view from the sea towards the dramatically illuminated Gateway is nothing short of splendid. Towards the east lies Apollo Bunder, abuzz with street vendors, fortune-tellers, evening walkers and tourists.
The decidedly un-fortress-like business district to the North of Kolaba is popularly known as Fort and gets its name from a long-dismantled East India Company fort that, soon after the Maratha Wars, gave way to the grand colonial buildings which give this part of Mumbai its distinctive architectural flavour. Of note is St. John’s Church, dedicated to British soldiers who laid down their lives in Afghanistan and Sind in the 19th century.
Flora Fountain/ Hutama Chowk: This fountain situated in the heart of the city was erected in 1869 in honour of a British Governor of Bombay. Sir Brtle Frere. Flora Fountain marks a junction of five streets and known as the 'Picadilly Circus 'of Mumbai, which is decorated at its four corners with mythological figures, the Fountain is a structure in dull stone with a figure the Roman Goddess of flowers, at the top.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victoria Terminus is one of India’s busiest railway stations and. a unique amalgamation of Indian and Gothic architectural styles. The centerpiece of the station is a 160 foot high dome and an ode to progress in the form of the statue of a woman carrying a torch. Movie buffs may be interested to know that Victoria Terminus featured prominently in the Academy Award winning “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The English Gothic Mumbai High Court Building was designed by Col. J. A. Fuller, a British engineer, and dates back to 1878. On the western face of this majestic structure stand the statues of Justice and Mercy.
Made of local Kurla stone, the 280 foot tall Rajabai Clock Tower is an amalgam of Venetian and Gothic styles of architecture, and boasts of absolutely stunning stained glass windows. Presently, the tower houses the University of Mumbai library.
Built in 1880, the terraced Hanging Garden on Malabar Hill sits atop the three reservoirs which supply water to all of Mumbai and offers a spectacular view of the city.
In the evening, proceed to Marine drive.
To travellers flying into Mumbai, the city’s most recognizable feature is perhaps the Marine Drive, a long sea-facing promenade that runs from Nariman Point to Malabar Hill in a shallow arc, curving along the lapping waters of the Arabian Sea. In the evening, the Marine Drive glitters in a stunning crescent of light and is appropriately named “Queen’s Necklace.”
Overnight at Mumbai.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later, proceed for an excursion to the Elephanta Caves.
The Elephanta Caves are situated on an island to the North-east of Apollo Bundar. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, they date back to the 6th and 7th centuries and get their name from a giant elephant statue found on the site which now resides in the Jijamata Garden in Mumbai.
Cut from solid basalt, the caves depict magnificent figures of Lord Shiva in his various forms. One of the caves features the Ardhanarisvara, a figure bearing both male and female features, representing the masculine and feminine energies that unite to keep the cosmos in balance, somewhat similar to the concept of Yin and Yang. The central cave has a colossal figure of Mahesha Murti, depicting the three faces of Shiva.
Open from three sides, the temple lets in slanted light from many angles creating the illusion that the sculptures are moving as the light changes with time.
The caves are accessible by a very steep flight of stairs. It is also possible to be carried up on a chair. Your Compass India Inc. guide will be happy to arrange one for you should you require it.
The Dhobi Ghat is Mumbai’s indigenous public laundromat service. Dhobis (laundrymen) go around the city collecting dirty laundry from neighbourhoods and return here to put them through some tough love. Hundreds of synchronized fishermen at their wash pens dip clothes in soapy water and dash them against flogging stones repeatedly, expelling dirt in violent soap bubble explosions. Later, the clothes, now clean, are ironed and home delivered, all for a pittance. The choreography of hundreds of dhobis at work is an iconic image of a city that evidently likes washing its dirty linen in public, and has appeared in countless TV commercials and movies, the latest in line being Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.
Overnight will be in Mumbai.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later, you’ll be transferred to Mumbai airport. A Compass India Inc. representative shall meet you at the airport and transfer you to a comfortable, spacious Compass certified vehicle. Drive to Alleppey (Alappuzha).
The city of Alleppey or Alappuzha is the headquarter of Alappuzha district
and highly popular with travellers. The name Alappuzha means “the land between the river and the sea” and its intricate network on inland canals earn it the title of “Venice of the East.” This watery network has long been Alleppey’s lifeline, from its days as one of the best known ports on the Malabar coast up until modern times as the world’s gateway to the Backwaters. Alleppey too is an important venue for boat races, in particular the Nehru Trophy Race on the Punnamada Lake. Other attractions in Alappuzha include the beautiful Alappuzha Beach, the Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, the Edathua Church and the Krishnapuram Palace.
Alleppey is also your entry point into ’s famous Backwaters, a massive 900 square kilometer network of lakes, rivers, streams, lagoons and canals that both connect and divide the region, giving rise to a unique amphibious culture and way of life that’s perhaps unique in the world. Here, the saline waters of the Arabian sea mix with fresh water from inland streams resulting in a knife-edge ecosystem that’s as fragile as it is distinctive. Teeming with fish, mudskippers, crabs, turtles and otters, the lush vegetation on its banks is home to flocks of cormorants and terns. Human habitation in the region too are a gift of the backwaters, with the brackish channels snaking into the land often being the only means of transportation between villages and towns. Tranquil and mysterious, the backwaters feature, for obvious reasons, prominently among the highlights of your luxury holiday in exotic South India.
Later, check into a traditional thatched houseboat and embark on a leisurely cruise of the backwaters. Equipped with all the modern amenities that you need, the houseboat is the best and most luxurious way to see , drifting effortlessly into places other modes of transportation cannot reach. Houseboats also allow one to take things at one’s own pace, and the rare luxury of procuring fresh produce for all meals while on board.
Later in the evening, attend a short traditional cooking class with your onboard chef.
Overnight at Houseboat.
Breakfast will be served on board.
Enjoy a leisurely morning aboard the houseboat as it gently cruises to Kumarokom, while on the banks, village bazaars bustle to life as the morning progresses.
Barely 16 kms from the city of Kottayam, Kumarokom is located by the Vembanad, ’s largest fresh water lake, and is one of the important venues for ’s famous boat races. During the festival of Onam, hundreds of traditional boats, some seating as many as fifty highly vocal rowers, steak down the lake amidst much fanfare, competing for top spot.
Also of note, a bird sanctuary renowned for its visiting flocks of migratory birds.
Your stay in Kumarokom begins with a visit to the sanctuary.
Disembark from houseboat at Kumarokom where you will be met by your vehicle. Proceed to Cochin by road.
The ancient port city of Cochin or Kochi comprises a cluster of islands and peninsulas in a serene saltwater lagoon. Ferries connect the islands to Ernakulam town on the mainland. Dotted with lakes and gently swaying palm groves, Kochi’s otherworldly beauty, coupled with the lure of spices and seafood, draw scores of travellers every year to this natural harbour.
In the evening, visit the beachfront for a sight unique to Kochi.
Kochi’s famed Chinese fishing nets are perhaps one of the most iconic and oft photographed sights of . Mounted on teak and bamboo poles and supported by large stone counterweights, they hang gossamer-like all along the Fort Kochi seafront. Their origins are obscure with some claiming they were imported by the Portuguese from Macau while according to others, the credit goes to Chinese traders from the court of Kubla Khan himself.
Wind up your day with a Kathakali performance later in the evening. A traditional dance drama form involving elaborate costumes, highly stylized expressions and choreographed to hypnotic music, the Kathakali performance is a truly unforgettable addition to the leg of your luxury holiday in India.
Overnight at Cochin.
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Later proceed for a guided tour of Kochi.
The Old Cochin area is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, and the Paradesi Synagogue built in 1568 is a must-see treasure of this eclectic corner of South India. Known for its distinctive tiled roof and bell towers, the synagogue’s interiors feature intricately hand-painted blue and white Chinese willow tiles of which no two are alike. Elegant Belgian chandeliers adorn its central area. An exquisite oriental rug and gold crowns received as gifts from visitors are also on display.
Also of interest is the intriguing International Pepper Exchange that deals in the global trade of black pepper. Nearby are Vasco Da Gama Square, the Santa Cruz Basilica that counts among India’s oldest churches, St. Francis Church where Vasco Da Gama was originally interred, VOC Gate and Bastion Bungalow, all of which, according to local records, go back to between the mid fourteenth and early fifteenth century.
Overnight at Cochin
Breakfast will be served at the hotel.
Later, proceed to the Cochin airport for a flight to home.