Arrive at any time; your arrival transfer is included through Women With Wheels, a G Adventuressupported project.
Set out to discover Delhi, the capital of India, which consists of two cities: historic Delhi and New Delhi, built by the British in the early 20th century. Explore New Delhis lively Paharganj district with a youth guide from the G Adventuressupported City Walk project, and hear about how the program provides opportunities to disadvantaged street youth. Then delve into the narrow, winding lanes of Old Delhi, visiting the 17th-century Jama Masjidthe largest mosque in Indiaand the Sikh temple Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, located close to a busy shopping area. Drive to Agra this afternoon.
Spend the day in historic Agra, which served as the capital of the Delhi sultanate and later of the Mughal Empire. Discover the Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World; widely considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, this breathtaking mausoleum was built by the emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Afterward, visit the exquisite tomb of Mumtaz Mahals grandfather, often referred to as the baby Taj, and explore Agra Fort, an impressive red sandstone citadel which conceals palaces of white marble within.
Travel to Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan. On the way, stop at the magnificent Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri, a masterpiece of red sandstone, and hear about its fascinating history. The emperor Akbar built a short-lived capital here in the 16th century to honour a Muslim saint from the village of Sikri who had predicted the birth of his son, Jehangir. Then visit the Rajasthani village of Abhaneri for a walk around the Chand Baorian ornately decorated stepwell or water tank constructed over a thousand years agolearning about ancient Indian methods of water conservation.
Explore Jaipur, known as the Pink City for its rose-coloured buildings. Take a tour of the sprawling Amber Fort, the former residence of Jaipurs Rajput rulers; and visit Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building with distinctive honeycombed windows. Well also meet with a local historian to discuss Indias complex social fabric, customs, and architecture. Tonight, consider going to the cinema to watch a Bollywood moviea truly unique experience.
Drive to the rural village of Pachewar, where we stay in a beautiful heritage home. Exploring this traditional community is like stepping back in time: walk and meet with local residents, observing potters, silversmiths, and cobblers at work; wander amid old temples and mud homes, perhaps witnessing a cooking demonstration; and note how urbanization and modernization have altered village life.
Drive back to bustling Delhi. This evening, opt to join the group for a farewell dinner.
Fly to the port city of Kochi. Settle into your hotel and enjoy free time to relax the rest of the day. Opt to catch the sunset over the Arabian Sea, framed by hundreds of boats and fishing nets.
Set out to explore Kochi, an enchanting port city on the Malabar Coast and the site of the first European settlement in India. Visit Mattancherry Palacebuilt in the mid-16th century by Portuguese colonists and expanded later on by the Dutchand venture to the colourful streets of the Jewish Quarter, where antique shops and cafs abound. Then travel to Thekkady, the spice capital of India, and tour a spice and tea plantation with a local expert to understand the medicinal value of the regions signature spicesfrom cardamom and nutmeg to vanilla and turmericas well as the process of producing black tea, Indias favorite drink.
Thekkady is also home to Periyar National Park, one of Indias most celebrated elephant reserves. This morning, enjoy a boat ride on the stunning Periyar Lake, looking out for elephants, deer, monkeys, and a variety of rare birds. Afterward, visit the home of a local family for a cooking demonstration and a delicious, spice-filled lunch. Relax this afternoon, or opt to take a nature walk before heading to a local theatre for a performance of a kalaripayattu, an ancient Kerala martial art.
Continue to the lush village of Kumarakom on Vembanad Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the state of Kerala. Explore the rural, palm-lined backwaters of this renowned bird sanctuary and hop on a boat to Manjira village, where well meet local villagers and learn about coconut farming and rural customs. Witness a fascinating toddy tapping demonstration and enjoy a refreshing swig of coconut water, straight from the tree.
This morning, meet with a representative of the Vembanad Wetlands Conservation Program to learn about the ongoing work by local communities to conserve the lake and surrounding wetlands. This project was created by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), an organization that National Geographic has collaborated with in the past. Continue by boat to a fish sanctuary established by local fishermen with support from the program, and see firsthand how their traditional ways of collecting and processing clams have become models for the sustainable management of the lakes resources. Then venture on a private houseboat to enchanting Alleppey, a golden streak of land surrounded by rivers, lakes, lagoons, and canals. Relax on the deck and enjoy the scenery, watching daily life unfold along the water.
Drive back to Kochi and take a walk in Fort Kochi, a delightful seaside district with vestiges of Portugese, Dutch, and British colonial architecture. Visit a local fish market and explore a maze of stalls selling fresh seafood. This evening, attend a performance of kathakali, the classical dance-drama of Kerala which combines storytelling with acting, dance, and martial arts.
Depart at any time.